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COLUMN

Happytown

The week that the county and the city made (fake) nice, rail made more racket and justice took a markdown.

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Train-kill:Another week, more rail trouble


We were promised a fight. With all of the behind-the-scenes municipal machinations surrounding the failing premise of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts project (again!), our hopes were high up in the bleachers - and smoking - for the quarterly DPAC board meeting on Feb. 24. Newly minted Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs had already pulled the gloves off and set the Jell-O in the ring when she sucker punched the city with 12 glorious pages of invective on Feb. 10 regarding the shady dealings of the city and its DPAC sister. Free lunches! Free cars! No money! Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was reported to have been "blindsided" by Jacobs' attack. DPAC princess Kathy Ramsberger, from the Land of Havesalot, was being tightly circled by the booster wagons, all leather-lined to protect her from the shit that was flying directly toward her face. This was going 
to be epic.

Except it wasn't. And maybe it was never going to be. See, there was always something fishy about the push-and-pull between the county and it's bratty city sister, some scripted Krystle and Alexis nonsense made for ornate studio-lot swimming pools and suspended disbelief. In fact, we're starting to wonder if this whole mess is about a theater or is a theater.

So it was when Jacobs was wheeled out with Dyer and DPAC board Chairman Jim Pugh Jr. last Wednesday for a hastily assembled, pre-board-meeting presser to discuss the salvation of DPAC by means of yet another nonprofit, the Community Construction Corporation (or basically, some rich people, Disney and the Orlando Magic), which intends to provide some phantom oversight to the construction end of the proceedings. Wait, all that righteous indignation was just acting?

Dyer potatoed his way out first to applaud the "collective community spirit" and apologize for Jacobs being "thrust into a difficult situation" so early in her reign. Then Jacobs was all, "Mayor Dyer is absolutely right," referring to some of the "open to interpretation" contractual language she spit venom at two weeks prior. Dyer was all, "We hope to break ground this spring." Jacobs was all, "I'm pretty sure we'll get the answers we need soon." And Pugh grumbled his way in just so that he could call Jacobs "my new best friend." Sickening.

Reality check: DPAC has so far not been able to provide any operating figures after six years of filing its nails over it, and the project will not break ground this spring. The city is now promising to make an additional $30 million appear out of nowhere (or your pocket).

We got up the gumption to poke one question in Dyer's direction, hoping to start a fight ourselves, and it almost worked. When prodded about whether this new semi-corporate olive branch collective might in any way affect the local arts component - or phase two of the project - Dyer shot spite through his eyes and teeth in our direction, mumbling something about "financial viability." It is on, bitches!

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