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COLUMN

Happytown

The week that Gadhafi got killed, the occupiers got arrested and the chamber got off scot-free. Is there no justice? Well, sometimes.

Photo: Salem Bankena, License: N/A, Created: 2011:10:20 21:12:28

Salem Bankena

Some Libyans in Orlando celebrated the death of Moammar Gadhafi with cake

Photo: , License: N/A


You know what else is adorable? Rich businessmen paying little or nothing for rent while the other 99 percent camp out under tarps. Turns out that the neighboring Hatfields to Occupy Orlando’s McCoys, the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, is indeed living virtually rent-free in that weird box of a building it calls home. According to some rather dated City Council meeting minutes dug up from 1997, the city renewed its 20-year lease with the chamber back in 1997 (the original lease was signed in 1968, which accounts for the building having the distinct feel of a Brady Bunch episode).How much has the chamber been paying the city for the distinct pleasure of being locked in a time of cigar-smoking backroom leisure? Oh, just $20, or – let’s get our calculators out – $1 per year. Populist outrage!

Now, the sweetheart deal is no big secret – we alluded to it somewhat in last week’s Council Watch – but it does come in sharp contrast to the $62,000 the city voted to throw at the chamber to buy 20 seats in the organization’s Entrepreneur Academy for rich people on October 17. Moreover, it doesn’t compare terribly well with the salary of the chamber’s president – and Commissioner Robert Stuart’s brother – Jacob Stuart, who, according to 2009 tax filings by the chamber, raked in $360,000 in direct salary and $31,600 in other related compensation. It should be noted that Commissioner Stuart abstained from voting on his brother’s corporate welfare check to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but it should also be noted that much of the chamber’s brass are already in the pocket of the mayor (again, duh). Now who’s occupying what, again?

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