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COLUMN

Happytown

The one where we go to the oath of office ceremony for the Orlando City Council and Mayor Buddy Dyer, dive into the slimy mess of Florida's voter purge, then come up for air only to find that boy band members grow up to be anti-abortion activists. This is your Happytown!

Photo: Barry Kirsch, License: N/A

Barry Kirsch


On the occasion of the rainiest Friday of the year, the last thing we were ready for was a simulated gala at 10 a.m. at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, suits and dresses included – but wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what we got.

Like most attempts to make the status quo style council not appear to be turning back into the Jam, the June 1 oath of office ceremony for re-elected Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, three re-elected commissioners and one new one (by default, really, as former Commissioner Phil Diamond dropped his seat to run for the big one), Friday's affair resounded like a huge foghorn in an echo-chamber, signaling more of the same, same, same. That's what the meager 15-percent standalone April election turnout wanted, after all – more raindrops and roses and buildings on buildings. And, hey, even the program had an embossed rendering of the majestic City Hall on its cover. Smile like you mean it!

In front of what could possibly be the largest American flag we've ever seen, the scene unfolded with that same glibly casual (yet somehow formal) flair we've come to expect from an administration resting beneath the moniker of “Buddy”: a harmless face atop a rattling can of bad deals. While the torrents of rain turned into puddles outside, platitudes descended into hollow applause indoors. But first, as always, the joint Orlando Fire Department and Orlando Police Department Honor Guard – accompanied by firemen in skirts playing bagpipes and drums – waved guns uncomfortably close to the assembled mass of important people on the tiny Bob Carr stage. A prayer followed thanking God for DPAC, the Amway Center and the “colorful mayorwho knows how to match his ties and socks.” (Green … and green!)

Up first for ye old swearing in was newbie Commissioner Jim Gray of District 1, who effused that “This whole campaign chapter of my life made me the perfect candidate for Ripley's Believe It Or Not.” Aw, shucks. The rest – Commissioners Tony Ortiz, Sam Ings and Patty Sheehan – gave predictable praise to their big man, with only Sheehan getting a little teary eyed when she said, somewhat ominously, that “This job has been the longest love affair of my life.”

Then it was time for the mayor, who, instead of holding to the one-minute rule on speeches, opted for yet another go at a State of the City-style ramble, this time veering from the script with a vague promise of a new “all hands on deck” initiative from OPD to fight crime. “If you are committing crimes and breaking into our homes, OPD is going to catch you,” he threatened. Wait, where have the hands been if not on deck?

Finally, Dyer summarized his entire decade in office as an unmitigated success – because no evidence is needed during a party thrown for oneself – adding, “Yes, we have done so much, but we still have work to do. So today we recommit ourselves to keep it going!” Oh, it's already gone.

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