“What a dump!” is effectively the only thought that comes to mind when we think of this year’s municipal election follies and their requisite dusty bad apples. To be clear, it’s not the city itself that we’re baffled by – with all its tall buildings lining one downtown street, the millions in bonds holding them up, the Amway naming rights straight out of the pyramids (or their schemes), the traffic on I-4, the blight on Colonial Drive. We’ve actually grown accustomed to the quirks off our little burg that is called the City Beautiful. Beauty, ladies and gentlemen, is subjective. Also, we like the people here, generally, and, were Central Florida not America’s veritable prison colony (mate!) of underpaid jobs and overhyped “attractions,” we’re not certain what we would do. Wherefore the thrill-rides?

But politics in Orlando – which is holding its municipal pageant on Nov. 3, even though that means nobody will vote – have grown a bit sour in the past few weeks. You’ll note that our cover star Commissioner Patty Sheehan, queen of downtown’s core and longtime LGBT advocate, is trying to stay above the fray, but not everyone else is playing nice in the political sandbox. This column is comfortable endorsing Sheehan, not only because she’s a bit of a firebrand for LGBT causes, but because, even approaching her fifth term (perhaps especially approaching her fifth term), she knows how to get things done. Her opponents, Randy Ross and Aretha Olivarez, may make formidable opponents in the abstract, but in an election which will likely tick below the 15 percent margin in turnout, Sheehan’s reputation (which has been recently dried out and refinished) precedes her well. Ross is running without much of a discernible platform beyond “I don’t know!”, and Olivarez (a veteran and entrepreneur) is leaning a little too hard on the “veteran” platform for our liking, especially in a city election.

Over in the mayoral race, the stench is starting to rise in advance of the election. We spoke with all three candidates, read their platforms, laughed at their jokes (no, we don’t want to kiss you, Mayor Buddy Dyer) and held onto our wits and our concerns. We also watched the hilarious Orlando Sentinel editorial board meeting with the three, and there is certainly a drinking game in there somewhere. Prop comedy!

“I feel like equality and fairness are a huge piece of [Orlando advancing], because we’re trying to attract the young, smart entrepreneurs and millennials, and they expect a progressive city,” Dyer says when asked about his history on LGBT issues.“The other thing is that Orlando sets the tone for the entire region. So we’ve been out front on many of the progressive issues, whether it’s domestic partnership registry, same-sex benefits or things of that sort, which I don’t mind being at the front of the sphere on issues of that kind.”

But beyond the platitudes, the horse race that is a mayoral election is bringing out the worst in everyone. His opponents, Paul Paulson (who is basically funding his own campaign to the explosive tune of $610,000; Dyer is at $373,00) and Sunshine Linda-Marie Grund ($3,500 raised) have, understandably, called foul on Dyer’s inaccessibility as he cakewalks back into office, most recently holding a joint press conference on Oct. 19. Those pulling the strings behind Paulson’s campaign have been quick to pull out the old mug shot of Dyer from his 2005 dropped indictment on the issue of absentee ballots, even though the main person pulling said strings, Tea Party operative Doug Guetzloe, spent time in federal prison.

“[Paulson]’s cast himself as a Tea Party Republican, so you bring all of that along with it, and I don’t think that’s the direction this community would enjoy needing for sure,” Dyer says. “But it’s a very negative tone.”

The two have been caught in a partisan front-runner war in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan race, each camp accusing the other of leaning heavily on party affiliations and low blows. The Sentinel came out against Paulson pointing toward some red flags in his charitable work.

“I would compare the Sentinel to the National Enquirer,” Paulson says. “They have been speaking half-truths and false truths about me.”

On the equality front, Paulson frequently drops the ‘B’ from LGBT, but is allegedly supportive of human rights.

“I embrace everybody,” he says. “This stems from my faith in Jesus Christ. It stems from my perspective as a military officer. I support the recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

As for Grund, she’s seemingly caught in the middle. A citizen politician with no party affiliation (which is apt, presumably, in a nonpartisan election), Grund leans toward environmental issues (specifically, the wetlands around Orlando International Airport) and feeding the homeless. But unlike Paulson, she’s not particularly keen on rolling back property taxes that have been raised over the past year, nor does she believe that we can unbuild the venues that have already been erected. “He’s building nice temples,” she says, sarcastically, about Dyer.

When the carnival is over, Dyer wins. But does anybody, really?Uprisings_DemocratDebate

“Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics,” Bernie Sanders said. “But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
“Thank you,” Clinton responded. “Me, too.Me, too.”

UpRising_Charlie_CristBecause we just can’t get enough of former governor, former Republican, former independent and former candidate for everything Charlie Crist, the white tuft of political opportunism announced
on Oct. 20 that he would indeed be running for Congress, for real this time. It’s like when you hear the ocean in a seashell, but somehow a little less pleasant. Crist, who now wears a tie that says, “Hey, I’m a Democrat,” won’t be alone in the Crock-Pot, though. It looks like former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker will be diving in, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times.

“I am intrigued by the idea,” Baker told the Times the night before Crist’s not-at-all-choreographed political lap dance. “A number of people I have great respect for have encouraged me to consider it and I will. I’ll decide by early next year.”

UpRising_MarcoRubioThough Senator and presidential hopeful head of hair Marco Rubio is currently denying the claim, similarly hopeful (at least in the presidential sense) former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is taking to the airwaves and claiming that his former political boyfriend/mentee is doctoring his campaign finance books. Gasp! Bush talked to CNN, which much mean everything he’s saying is true. Claiming that “I’m not into all that,” Bush went on to say that Rubio “kind of misled people” when he pulled out his giant fundraising ledger.

The Rubio camp, to be fair, is frat-boying back, calling Bush’s accusations (which are on his Twitter account) an “epic freakout” that reeks of bitterness. Rubio’s got more money, his camp says, which basically means Rubio’s is bigger. With Rubio polling at 13 percent and Bush at 8 percent, they should both probably pipe down a bit.

UpRising_SenateOn Oct. 19, during its special session, the Florida Senate actually did something smart. Wait, what? For years, the Senate has included a Confederate battle flag among its numerous other flags that make up what appears to be a Boy Scout patch. Out of nowhere, in advance of the redistricting fracas that we won’t even go into here, Orlando’s own Senate President Andy Gardiner, a Republican, pushed the motion forward. Of course, there was a back and forth, and not everybody was happy, because slavery is what brought that old family money, the teet from which so many in our state still suck. Once completed, the transition will include the Florida flag in lieu of the Confederate one. Does this mean Gov. Rick Scott will have the Confederate flag removed from his cowboy boots?

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