Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Leftists Are Damn Proud Of Orlando This Morning!

Orlando covers all Politically and Environmentally Correct bases in the new city building projects just recently approved.

These venues also would be groundbreaking in their eco-friendly building designs, which will save energy and respect the environment. And the venues' finance package will provide recreational basketball courts for Orange County's children.

Why do I want to puke?


A day to make history
July 26, 2007

Orange County commissioners can make history today.

By voting to build a new downtown arena and performing-arts center and to renovate the Florida Citrus Bowl, the mayor and commissioners pictured above can give residents -- for the first time -- the top-quality entertainment venues they deserve.

These venues also would be groundbreaking in their eco-friendly building designs, which will save energy and respect the environment. And the venues' finance package will provide recreational basketball courts for Orange County's children.

Best of all, residents would get all this without having to pay higher taxes.

But the $1.1 billion venues themselves aren't the only things that would make it history. The approval would also put an exclamation point on the unprecedented cooperation between Orange County and Orlando. Over the years, the two governments have been scarred by parochialism and bitter politics, which has held this community back.

In the past year that has changed, with Orange Mayor Rich Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joining together to, among other things, diversify the economy. They pushed successfully for a UCF medical school, even after the site was moved from the county to the city. They mounted a joint effort to woo the Burnham Institute for Medical Research here.

And, now, they've worked together on a vision for downtown Orlando that will provide a cultural and entertainment boost for all of Central Florida. All this comes on the heels of both the city and the county approving plans for commuter rail.

Their leadership has been inspired. Mr. Crotty, in particular, has taken great political risk this year by championing an increase in the tourist tax to pay part of a new arena and to provide more marketing for Central Florida tourism.

Today county commissioners get their chance to make history themselves. Several already have.

Commissioner Linda Stewart insisted that these venues be built to "green" design standards and that the Orlando Magic team and supporters of the performing-arts center and the Citrus Bowl pick up the costs. When approved, these venues will set the standard for the environmentally responsible design for sports and entertainment facilities. As near as anyone can tell, this would be the first green arena and performing-arts center ever built. These facilities would be envied and emulated by communities around the country.

Commissioner Mildred Fernandez drove a hard bargain, too. She questioned whether Magic owner Rich DeVos was putting up enough money for the new arena. But increasing the Magic's share of the arena's cost would do nothing for Orange County taxpayers, since the team's money would only reduce the amount of tourist taxes going to the project.

Mrs. Fernandez instead pushed the Magic to promise to pay for five badly needed recreational basketball facilities for Orange County's children. The idea, also endorsed by Commissioner Bill Segal, is to fight juvenile crime by giving youth safe places to go and wholesome activities to keep them busy. The Magic agreed, providing another example that the team is committed to this community beyond the profits generated by a new arena. This also provides a concrete benefit to the taxpayers, whether or not they ever set foot in a new arena.

Finally, Commissioner Teresa Jacobs is pushing for a change to provide even more security to taxpayers. She wants to be sure that construction on the Citrus Bowl doesn't begin until there is enough money collected through the tourist tax to pay for it. It's an extra layer of security for a finance plan that is already the most scrutinized proposal in Orange County history.

By supporting Mrs. Jacobs' good suggestion, commissioners can then vote for these venues with the confidence that they are doing the responsible thing in protecting the taxpayers' investment. Most of the money for these venues will come from the tax on hotel rooms.

Commissioners should also recognize the historic private support for the performing-arts center. Private contributions already have reached $80 million.

So what role will Commissioners Fred Brummer and Tiffany Moore play in history today?

Imagine the impact of a 7-0 vote. What a ringing endorsement for an improved quality of life in this community.

That unanimity, too, would be historic. The Orange County Commission couldn't even muster unanimous support for the deal that brought Walt Disney World here 40 years ago. It had one lone opponent.

So, commissioners, take advantage of an opportunity you may never get again. A yes on these venues today will make Central Florida history.

MORE: The Downtown Makeover

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