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News

Teresa Jacobs’ State of the County speech falls flat

"Year of Transformation" was actually a year of obfuscation and litigation

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Lying in state

Perhaps we should know better by now, seeing as every “State of” speech we’ve ever witnessed from either the county or the city has carried the seeming weightlessness of a hot air balloon ride over I-4, but for some reason we thought there might be something pressing or important coming out of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ corporate-sponsored mouth at the June 6 State of the County speech. After all, the speech was brought to you by the hotel lobby, SeaWorld, Universal and Disney, and it is a small world after all. One that is apparently full of small minds with big pockets and even bigger overgeneralizations.

“The Year of Transformation,” it was called, and that’s because, oh my God, we better leave that Year of Litigation behind. There was nothing new to speak of: SunRail, All Aboard Florida, the performing arts center, the soccer stadium, the relative hypocrisy of taking credit for things you used to oppose. Oh, and can we please call a moratorium on U2 anthems at political events? Thanks.

There were exactly two notable moments. One was when Jacobs reached for her water and then said, “I’d like to thank whoever put my water close. Some of you will get that joke later.” (She’s just like Marco Rubio!) The other was when the mayor introduced a series of new apps, specifically one that would convey county news directly to you without a middleman.

“To those in the media, that means we are trying to circumvent you,” she laughed. “I’m going to pay for that.” Ugh.

Things we didn’t hear about, perhaps expectedly, were those that might have some substance at their core. At the June 3 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, several LGBT activists stood up and asked the mayor – who spoke of “equality” at last year’s Come Out With Pride celebration, ostensibly for her own gain – to sign on to an amicus brief in one of the gay marriage lawsuits percolating through Florida’s justice system. (Buddy Dyer did it, as did several other mayors.)

I was not familiar with the lawsuit that’s going on regarding marriage equality, so I look forward to getting some more information on that,” said the woman who voted in favor of the marriage ban in 2008. She hasn’t changed, people. Wake up.

Anyway, obviously the most egregious of Jacobs’ oversights were those that might embarrass her, so immediately following the speech, the folks at Organize Now! issued a statement listing some of the gaps in her neverending story. Orange County pays less than any other metropolitan area in the country, a quarter of the county’s kids live in poverty, there’s lots of crime, no sick time, and no accountability for destruction of public records or using tax dollars to defend the indefensible.

“Let’s vow to continue to work together on the path to transformation,” Jacobs said. Yes, let’s.

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