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COLUMN

Happytown

The week where Hizzoner Buddy Dyer loved the state of his city while not necessarily minding the rules of campaigning (again). Also, small business is not all business, folks. Businesses are people, too!

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First: a confession. We’ve spent

so much time wringing our hands over the national conversation lately that we haven’t even taken a moment to smell the roses of the City Beautiful. Well, thank God for freakin’ Mayor Buddy Dyerlast week, who reminded us that things stink around here, too! It was time for the mayor’s annual “State of the City” speech, or the circumstantial pomp-fest that inevitably ends with the mayor exploding into bits of glitter and candy and amphetamines representing each of Orlando’s numerous, Kevlar-coatedaccomplishments. The state of the city? Awesome, as always.

Now that Dyer is trying to remove himself from his City Hall habitat – we hear he’s probably running for governor in 2014, he denies it – he decided to deliver his personal plaudits from the far-off clime of Lake Nona, mostly so that he could say “I built this (medical) city on rock & roll!” And that he did, with nods to the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, the MD Anderson Orlando Cancer Research Institute, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the University of Florida Academic and Research Center, the Nemours Children’s Hospital and the (delayed) Veterans Administration Hospital setting the stage for a rather antiseptic takeon success.

With such milestones heralded as a “culture of collaboration,” the mayor continued his résumé bullet points with all of the sloganeering you can imagine: SunRail, the Amway Center, DPAC, the Blueprint Office, Main Street districts, crime, cow-tipping and corporate welfare.

“Some critics use inflammatory terms like ‘corporate welfare’ to attack any program that uses tax incentives to support local businesses,” he said. “To them I would say, you are mistaken. We’re not giving businesses a handout. We are giving them a hand up.”

And a handjob. Anyway, further mumbling about “clustering” via the Creative Village followed (as it has for more than five years) and everything declined into a gaping maw of self-congratulations. That is, until the mayor decided to close with the peculiar notion that Orlando is like a baby of uncertain descent.

“In our city, we want success to have a thousand fathers … and mothers, too,” he said. “In fact, our future depends on us working across party lines, geographic boundaries and even ideological differences. Our future depends on us sharing the responsibility … and the credit.” Who’s your daddy?

In other dizzying Dyer news, did you know that he’s up for re-election next month? Of course you did. As it does every time there’s a municipal election, an ugly scandal has reared its ugly head just one month out from the April 3 city elections. Two of Dyer’s challengers, Mike Cantone and Ken Mulvaney – joined by perennial candidate-for-anything Lawanna Gelzer, who is now running for Sam Ings’ District 6 commission seat – announced their intent to repeat the chaos of 2005 by accusing Dyer and Ings of having their campaign staffers illegally request absentee ballot forms on the behalf of some voters. Voter fraud! Though most of the media (and the officials the media talked to) dismissed the outlying candidates’ claims as somewhat frivolous, it’s hard to deny the scent of money in the air; Dyer does, after all, have a boatload of money and a Super PAC on his side. But wait, there’s more!

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