As 100 of Central Florida's most influential people weigh in on current events, attorney Larry Pino savors Orlando's opportunity with a future on fire.
Larry Pino, attorney and entrepreneur
ORLANDO TRANSFORMED. Last week: In remarks at the Harvard Club’s Leadership Series Breakfast this past Wednesday, Mayor Buddy Dyer recalled that early on in his administration then-Orlando Sentinel Publisher Kathy Waltz commented that Orlando suffered from “an inferiority complex.” He then went on to note that, after a decade and a half of one regional win after another across the broad spectrum of community endeavors, it is now not just about competing for Amazon HQ2, it’s about knowing we deserve to win it. Whether you were born here years ago, or moved here yesterday, today we all have the shared opportunity to experience a community transformed with a future on fire.
Marci Arthur, small business owner/culinary specialist
BANANA FUNGUS. Looking ahead: Bananas are dying. A fungus called Fusarium Wilt has been assaulting bananas, making its murderous way across Southeast Asia and Australia. Experts say the fungus has been spotted in Africa and the Middle East. It seems only a matter of time before it hits Latin America, the biggest source of bananas for the U.S. Fusarium Wilt appears impervious to pesticides. Scientists are trying to create genetically modified versions of the banana that can defy Fusarium Wilt's venom. Let’s hope so, lest bananas disappear from store shelves.
Dick Batchelor, president, Dick Batchelor Management Group
POCKETBOOK LANGUAGE. Last week: Now that a tax bill is coming up in Congress, there’s a whole new jargon to be learned. Local tax deductions: Currently you can deduct all state taxes from your federal returns. What will change? 401(k) plans: Will Congress attempt to lower the current caps, which are tax-deductible, to something that will generate too much political controversy? Corporate tax rates: Does Congress have the political clout to reduce the tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent? There will be debates in Congress regarding static scoring, global minimum tax for multinational corporations, and curbing the deductibility of corporate interest. One might want to learn some of this language because it will likely affect your pocketbook.
Andrae Bailey, founder/president, Change Everything
FEEDING CHILDREN. Last week: Feeding Children Everywhere, a charity based in Longwood, completed the Herculean task of packaging and shipping 4.4 million meals to Puerto Rico. In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Feeding Children Everywhere quickly mobilized more than 54,000 local volunteers to package one of every 10 meals that will be needed in Puerto Rico during that territory’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. We applaud the emergence of another great Central Florida nonprofit that is making a real difference in solving tremendous social problems at home and around the world.
UCF PRESIDENT DYER? Looking ahead: John Hitts’ announcement that he will retire as president of UCF has given rise to a lot of speculation about his successor, and a person mentioned as a possible replacement is Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. While some might dismiss Dyer as a “political” candidate, many who have worked closely with the mayor would encourage his naysayers to rethink their conclusions. Dyer’s political and civic credentials need no mention, but his academic credentials are impressive, as well. And with UCF poised to continue its rise as one of the nation’s great universities, someone with Dyer’s connections and national reputation should be hard to ignore.
Gary Cain, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida
‘SCHOOLS WITHOUT RULES.’ Last week: The Sentinel’s groundbreaking feature “Schools Without Rules” shone a bright light on the need for more oversight of private schools receiving precious public-education dollars. We have club members, many of whom are immigrants, whose parents have naively and unwittingly chosen to send their children to schools that are infinitely more adept at marketing themselves than educating children. Every school receiving public dollars must demonstrate an ability to equip its students with the basic math and reading skills that every high-school graduate must possess to compete in today’s economy.
Chris Carmody, shareholder, GrayRobinson
UCF-USF WAR ON I-4? Looking ahead: The first College Football Playoff rankings come out this Tuesday. Happy Halloween. And for three Florida teams, there will be treats. Miami is flirting with a playoff spot, but move down the list and you will find two newcomers — UCF and USF. Both are having a splendid season, and these teams are on a collision course to make their Nov. 24 matchup in Spectrum Stadium the most important game in both schools’ histories. The War on I-4 might — just might — determine a future playoff team. Is that bold? Yes. But if they both keep winning, it would not be out of the possibility. And how cool would it be to finish without a loss this season and send out President John Hitt in style?
Rudolph C. Cleare, executive vice president, The `Negro Spiritual’ Scholarship Foundation
MANNERS MATTER. Last week: A word to Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Where I come from, it is inappropriate for ANYONE — be he four-star general or president — to berate an older black woman of substance using untruths, and malign a younger black woman whose spouse is killed under tragically questionable circumstances. It has been done throughout history, but not by black folk. We know better, and we act better. America needs her leaders of all stripe to learn this simple lesson: Manners maketh the man.
FRAGILE FLORIDA. Looking ahead: Florida's natural beauty is among the greatest, and at the same time most fragile, of her treasures. As I walked along Anna Maria Island's Howard Beach at sunrise on a recent Saturday, I felt waves of worry. I ended my trek with a silent prayer, "May this unspoiled vista of clean sands, clear waters, native flora, fresh air, blues skies and bright morning light still be available for the enjoyment of all a century hence."
James Coffin, executive director, Interfaith Council of Central Florida
DUAL STANDARD. Last week: The invisible dam that long protected movie mogul Harvey Weinstein seems to have recently been washed away by the raging waters of multiple sexual-misconduct allegations. And similar dams around similarly powerful men seem to be showing similar signs of imminent disintegration. Which makes one wonder: If we all stand equal before the law, why is one showbiz personality fired and blacklisted in the wake of multiple sexual-misconduct allegations, while another showbiz personality, similarly accused, is made president of the United States? Will the court of public opinion reconsider its verdict about the latter? Or will it try to defend its inconsistency?
JOHN HITT. Last week: In the 25 years since John Hitt became president of UCF, the change that’s taken place has been nothing short of remarkable. The student population has tripled, and facilities have grown exponentially to include not just those used for education, but retail and residential as well. Not to mention a new arena and Spectrum stadium, home of the 18th ranked college football team in the country. Off campus successes include the medical school, along with a planned teaching hospital. The next big initiative is working with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to create a UCF/Valencia College downtown campus. Ironically Dyer may be throwing his hat in the ring to succeed President Hitt. Expect the selection process to be long and thorough.
Earnest DeLoach, lawyer, DeLoach Law LLC
AN APOLOGY TO A GRIEVING FLORIDIAN. Last week:
Dear Mrs Johnson:
I fear my attempt to convey the heartfelt sorrow for the loss of your husband Sgt. La David Johnson, and the pride and gratitude our country feels for his sacrifice, did not come across in my earlier call to you. To know that my poor choice of words made you question for even a moment my respect and admiration for Sgt Johnson, pains me deeply. My later defensive, disparaging comments, and those of my Chief of Staff, directed toward your friend and representative Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, only made my original failure all the worse. I ask your forgiveness and promise you I will use this experience to help me become the leader of the great country for which Sgt Johnson and his brothers in arms have their lives. God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States.
Pres. Donald J. Trump
Tom Dyer, attorney, founder of Watermark
TOO MANY MOONEES. Last week: “The Florida Project” has drawn big crowds at Enzian all month. The indy film focuses on Moonee, a precocious 6-year-old living with her mother in an extended-stay motel in Kissimmee. According to research by the University of Florida, there are lots of Moonees in Central Florida. Nearly 15,000 students in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties were identified as homeless last year. That’s 400 percent more than a decade ago, or 10 times the rate of population growth. These students are far more likely to miss school, be suspended, fail assessments. Like Moonee, a quarter of homeless students live in hotels.
Michelle Y. Ertel, consultant and political analyst
CONSTANTINE DOES EUROPE. Looking ahead: Anybody who has watched the career of Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine knows of his passion for the environment. Whether it is protecting Florida’s natural resources, keeping our precious black bears safe or maintaining Seminole’s eastern rural boundary, Constantine can’t help but throw himself deep into environmental advocacy. Now The European Union has noticed Constantine’s extraordinary advocacy and has invited him to participate in the prestigious Water Management Summit in Brussels, Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland. Of note, Constantine is the only Floridian and the only elected official invited to the esteemed gathering of environmental experts.
John L. Evans Jr., consulting unit chief for a global investment firm; former congressional staffer
HONESTY AND POLLITICS. Looking ahead: After dinner in 1792 with Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, Thomas Jefferson reflected of the former, "as a man, he's honest. But as a politician, he believes in the necessity of either force or corruption to govern men." Mr Adams, by contrast, was seen as honest as a man and politician. So which is it? Are we to be governed by well-intentioned Sophists, or transparent do-gooders? No small question to ponder as midterms loom, and that momentous discourse at dinner in 1792, continues to bear down on us all.
Rogue Gallart, president, Central Florida Disability Chamber
THANKS, HERZING UNIVERSITY. Last week: Herzing University-Orlando has expanded its business/MBA and nursing programs to prepare students with the critical skills they need in today’s work force and promote and advocate the importance of giving back to our community. Herzing University awarded several full scholarships and grants on the basis of academic achievement, financial need or community affiliations. Through partnerships such as these in our community, four of the CFDC Veterans Business Initiative candidates were able to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration degree. This to me is the essence of community partnerships that talk the talk and walk the walk. Herzing University has numerous campuses throughout the United States.
BRING ON STAR WARS. Looking ahead: We are less than two months away from the anticipated Star Wars: Last Jedi film and rumors have been swirling around Last Jedi for over a year and a half now, but the wait is almost over. Many fans on social media have already stated: "Shut up and take my money!" The Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of past stories. Last year Disney Springs had a major opening night event for Force Awakens, which I am sure will follow suit this year with The Last Jedi. Personal opinion … I hope the storyline is better in the Last Jedi than the Force Awakens.
Flora Maria Garcia, CEO, United Arts of Central Florida
POET LAUREATE. Last week: The Orlando City Council approved Susan Lilley as the city’s first poet laureate. Lilley will be the city’s official storyteller and promote an appreciation of poetry to residents. Lilley, an established poet who teaches at Trinity Preparatory School, received her bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Central Florida. Her ability to engage the general public was evident when she had the house packed in City Council chambers, smiling as she read an ode to Orlando’s “seasons,” an original work she tailored for her induction as the city’s poet laureate.
Jane Healy, former editorial page editor and managing editor, Orlando Sentinel
STADIUM FUNDING. Last week: A state bill that would curtail public funding of stadiums and arenas might sound great on the campaign trail. But it's a terrible idea as a one-size-fits all solution. One argument that should trump all others is the history of the Orange County hotel tax. When voters approved it in 1978, it was made clear that some of the money would go to things local residents wanted, particularly sports facilities. Some hotel owners resisted, insisting that all the money go to the convention center and tourism promotion. But public pressure upended that. For the Legislature now to deny the voters' sentiments would be outrageous.
Phil Hissom, founder/director of the Polis Institute, an Orlando-based think tank focused on revitalizing neighborhoods
CHESS AT LAKE LORNA DOONE PARK. Last week: Locations were selected for new chess tables that will be installed at Lake Lorna Doone Park. This is one small part of a forthcoming redesign of the park but a significant one, nonetheless. Park regulars steward one of most vibrant gaming scenes in our city. This could be the first of other installations if advocate Terrance Washington has his way — he hopes our chess culture will one day rival New York City’s. The game has certainly taken off in area schools — it is now in over 100 OCPS schools, with some clubs having over 100 members.
Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed
TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER, OSCEOLA. Last week: Osceola County is wise to consider a moratorium on development, taking time to plan a better future for all its citizens. They could be a model for the region. While the commissioners are planning for those who can afford the costly homes and condos/apartments of new developments, why not consider mitigation-type offsets to benefit the many working poor of the area? A 1 percent surcharge of the base costs of any building involving 10 units or more could go a long way in rehabbing existing rundown housing or finding alternative housing, helping many of those living in motels toward becoming permanently housed or eventual homeowners.
STORMY WEATHER. Looking ahead: The bleak report from the federal Government Accountability Office on the cost of not preparing for the effects of climate change, plus the EPA's muzzling of its own scientists from presenting evidence, does not bode well for our future. We who are living through the effects and costs of increasingly intense storms, a predicted consequence of climate change, will pay most for not facing the need to both take more initiatives in mitigating pollution and to prepare our communities for future catastrophic weather events. Ignorance is not bliss.
Eric Jackson, president/CEO, Total Roof Services Corp.
TRICK-OR-TREAT. Looking ahead: Halloween is upon us and, to be honest, except for the haul of candy as a kid and nationally recognized party while at Ohio University, I haven’t cared much about the holiday. But for the last 11 years, since moving to College Park, we’ve been a part of a multigeneration neighborhood Halloween gathering that has made me realize how special this night has become to my family. Then I also thought: When else does everyone go out in mass with kids in tow to walk up and down your neighborhood streets and greet or even meet your neighbors? Buy some candy, turn on your lights and make your community great.
Ric Keller, lawyer, former member of Congress
MILING FLORIDA TAXPAYERS. Last week: “It’s no use crying over spilled milk,” right? Normally, I agree. But not this time. Why? As Florida taxpayers, we’ve got 437,000 reasons to cry. That’s how much the state of Florida has to pay in attorney’s fees to a small organic dairy that won the right to sell “skim milk” labeled as “skim milk” (i.e., milk with the cream removed). The state wanted it labeled “imitation” milk, unless the organic dairy added in extra vitamin A. It wasn’t fake milk, and the federal appeals court sided with the dairy. Spilled milk is bad; spilled taxpayer money is worse.
J. Matthew Knight, M.D., board member, Tiger Bay Club
NEARSIGHTED CONGRESS. Last week: House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the Republican tax overhaul will include a fourth bracket above 35 percent to ensure that “high earners don’t benefit more than the middle class.” Independent Central Florida accountants, consultants, doctors, lawyers and other companies selling their expertise — already tormented by skyrocketing taxes and regulation — are in disbelief. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously stated that these service companies won't get the lowered “pass through” tax rate promised to small businesses. Unless Congress realizes its nearsightedness, too many local small business owners will be taking longer lunches and closing early.
YOUNG COMPOSERS. Looking ahead: Thomas Jefferson declared music "the favorite passion of my soul.” Next month, America’s most talented young musicians, age 13 to 18, descend on Orlando for the National Young Composers Challenge. It’s a half-day concert, master class and competition — all open to the public. The top six composers will win cash prizes and watch their work performed and recorded by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Best of luck to these brilliant kids. It’s great to see Orlando blossom as a cultural hotbed while our Dr. Phillips Center becomes a national destination for the arts.
CLIMATE CHANGE: THE ROOT ISSUE. Last week: We have our very own up-close and personal climate-caused refuge crisis. This is no distant Syrian drought issue. Following Hurricane Maria, more than 60,000 Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida, and another 200,000 are expected. This impact will be huge in so many ways — economically, socially and politically — and it is all directly related to global warming. It is time that the regressive, ignorant, science-denying Trump and Scott administrations stop ignoring the root issue here, which is climate change.
AFRAID TO VISIT AMERICA? Looking ahead: The Global Alliance for Banking on Values has moved its huge 10th anniversary conference from America to Canada in 2019 and one of its Metric Seminars in 2018 from the U.S. to Canada because too many of our members are afraid to come to America due to Donald Trump’s travel ban. It is a pretty universal feeling among the Asian, African and Middle Eastern members. This is a really big deal with hundreds of international change agents in attendance.
LONGWOOD’S FUTURE UP FOR GRABS. Last week: Candidates for the Longwood City Commission are squaring off in a heated battle to fill three seats — one by outgoing Mayor Joe Durso and two other seats where incumbents have a serious fight on their hands. Candidates are trading allegations and denials about expansion of gambling at the dog track in Longwood. The simple question I have for Longwood residents and businesseses is this: Compare Longwood to neighboring Seminole County communities. Do you think it’s time for a change?
WORK THINGS OUT. Looking ahead: It has gone beyond politics between Seminole County commissioners and the County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s office. As a close observer of the inner circles of both entities, I do not doubt that at least four of the county commissioners are simply afraid of the checks and balances placed on them by the clerk’s office — so fearful that the commissioners voted to sue the clerk’s office to wrestle away some of those checks and balances. It’s past time for the commissioners to drop their lawsuit and meet with the clerk to work things out — something they have so far refused to do.
LIFE WITHOUT MEAT. Looking ahead: Orlando was recently ranked the No. 3 best city in the U.S. (behind New York and Portland) for vegan and vegetarians by WalletHub. As an omnivore, I never gave much thought about going vegan until recently chowing down on a juicy jackfruit sandwich at Dixie Dharma at Market on South in Orlando’s Milk District. Recent studies have shown a plant-based diet helps fight risks for diabetes, heart disease and even colon cancer, while another study found that vegan Seventh-day Adventists lived on average 10 years longer than the typical American. There are plenty of great local vegan restaurants and vegan dishes to try locally even if you can’t go entirely meatless.
A.J. Marsden, assistant professor, Beacon College
MOUNT DORA MURAL. Last week: A community that prides itself on its artful spirit is challenging the Mount Dora Code Enforcement Department regarding a downtown mural. The city recently declared the mural to be “graffiti” and ordered it removed. The mural was a local artist’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and thousands in the community supported the piece by signing a petition. Let’s hope that the city listens to its residents and is more open-minded with regards to defining art. After all, if Van Gogh isn’t art, what is?
OPIOID CRISIS. Looking ahead: Gov. Rick Scott announced that he would seek $50 million from the Legislature for the opioid crisis but he has yet to announce how that money will be spent. This past year some counties in Florida have seen a 300 percent increase in opioid overdoses. Clearly, this is a crisis in need of a detailed action plan. We can’t randomly throw money at this and hope it goes away. Rather than using the money to create random and useless laws punishing the users, it is time to invest in treatment, prevention, education, and alternative forms of medication.
Khalid Muneer, former president, Asian American Chamber of Commerce
FLORIDA-JAPAN AVIATION SUMMIT. Last week: The move to market Orlando as a major economic hub seems to be paying off nationally and internationally. Hence the slogan, “Orlando you don’t know half of it,” is a great success. I attended the first Florida-Japan Aerospace and Aviation summit held at Hyatt Regency Orlando. It was organized by the Japanese Consulate to change the perception of the business community in Japan from Central Florida being home of Mickey Mouse and source of grapefruits to a world center of the growing aerospace industry. Thanks to Congressman Darren Soto for supporting this collaboration between Central Florida and Japan, which should bring more jobs to the area in the future.
Muhammad Musri, president, Islamic Society of Central Florida
RICHARD SPENCER AT UF. Last week: The Nazi leader Richard Spencer and his white nationalists, who instigated the violence last August in Charlottesville, Va., insisted on delivering a speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville a week ago, and there was not much that students or faculty could do about it. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency the Monday before to provide enhanced security which cost, according to the university, over half of a million dollars. While the public university can’t deny someone free speech, it should make them pay for the costs of the enhanced security their event requires.
HITT MADE UCF A POWERHOUSE. Looking ahead: June 30, 2018, is the date John Hitt set for his retirement as UCF’s fourth president. Back in 1992 when he took on this leadership role, UCF was a small unknown university nationally or internationally. But Dr. Hitt, with his incredible leadership and vision, was able to transform the university to a powerhouse, making it the second largest in the nation and one of America’s best schools. Now, UCF Board of Trustees have to choose a successor, but that is not going to be easy. Whomever they choose will have to fill the shoes of a very special community giant.
Pamela Nabors, president/CEO, CareerSource Central Florida
STRONGER TOGEHER. Last week: Orlando hosted the Workforce Professional Development Summit — as it does every year — for hundreds of work-force service providers across the state to converge and share insights, best practices and ideas. By working together with other state agencies, we make our local boards part of a vibrant statewide community. Earlier this month I attended the Investing in America’s Workforce Conference — a national event hosted by the Federal Reserve System — that brought together professionals from across the country to address the importance of investing in work-force services. A stronger work force supports a stronger economy — and makes a stronger community.
BRING ON HALLOWEEN. Looking ahead: I love Halloween, and I’m not afraid (pun intended) to admit it. My traditions skew “old school,” and include reading a scary book (I have the one and only Stephen King reading Bag of Bones to me on Audible), where the eerie combination of his incredible storytelling and my overactive imagination can really ratchet up the fear factor. I also try to catch some scary movies. My favorites don’t include gore; deep ghostly-types, like Ghost Story or The Others are more my speed — goosebumps, anyone? And of course I indulge in all things pumpkin — pumpkin spice lattes, Lara bars, etc.
Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, FundEducationNow.org
TALLAHASSEE RAW NERVE. Last week: “Schools Without Rules,” the acclaimed Orlando Sentinel investigative series on private schools whose students get Florida’s corporate tax credit vouchers, hit a raw nerve in Tallahassee. The series revealed that none of the “accountability” measures imposed by the state on district schools are required in the private, largely religious schools that have accepted a billion dollars of diverted tax funds in vouchers. The mere suggestion of voucher school accountability sends Step Up for Students into an apoplectic frenzy. If student outcomes at private voucher schools are so great, why don’t proponents demand a level playing field? What are they afraid of?
PRIVATE SCHOOLS. Looking ahead: Are for-profit charters really public schools? The 2017 Florida Legislature tipped the scales to favor charter expansion by forcing districts to hand over scarce capital funds to private corporations. Orange and 11 other districts are suing the state. In response, Step Up for Students voucher king John Kirtley is funding a faux “grassroots” parent group to badger districts to “drop the suit.” Kirtley also funds pro-privatization school board candidates via his DeVos-related PAC, the Florida Federation for Students. If corporate charter schools tell their parents and teachers to threaten districts for suing over 7069, it’s time to stop calling them public schools.
Matthew Peddie, host, WMFE's “Intersection”
PULSE MEMORIAL. Last week: More than a year after the shooting at Pulse, the site remains a destination for people to pay their respects to the victims. Work will start on an interim memorial in a couple months, and planning for a permanent memorial is underway. “Coming to the table and being part of the process is the most important thing that anyone can do from every community that was affected,” club owner and onePULSE foundation executive director Barbara Poma tells 90.7. So far, Poma says nearly 2,000 people have completed an online survey about the permanent memorial. That survey is online until Tuesday.
SIGN UP FOR HEALTH CARE. Looking ahead: Speaking at a Cabinet meeting a couple weeks ago, President Donald Trump said Obamacare is “finished.” Open enrolment begins on Wednesday, but navigators in charge of helping people enroll on the exchanges say they’re fielding calls from people confused about whether to sign up for next year, and how their health insurance will be affected. The Affordable Care Act has survived repeated attempts to repeal and replace it this year, but its future is far from clear.
Joanie Schirm, GEC founding president; World Cup Orlando 1994 Committee chairman
AN ‘A’ FOR JOHN HITT. Last week: Twenty-five years of highly respected leadership is rare. UCF President John Hitt has provided that. I know as I joined the Florida High Tech Corridor Council board right after he served as founder. I witnessed his drive to make UCF America’s Leading Partnership University. When Dr. Hitt arrived at UCF, he brought over a decade of high-level roles in academic affairs. The big elephant in the room is will the next UCF President come from a field outside academia? Will it be someone who primarily serves the university’s financial needs or someone who wishes more to serve students’ and professors’ needs? Dr. Hitt scores A for both.
AIRPORT SECURITY. Looking ahead: Since the man with the shoe bomb made us take off our shoes and go through a body scanner, our security at airports, including Orlando International Airport, has been safer. Now due to threats of hidden explosives, the feds are stepping up their game, particularly with direct international U.S.-bound flights. Homeland Security gave airlines 120 days to comply. Now, when you go to the airport, know that stricter security rules are in place. If you fly internationally, when you return, remember on U.S.-bound flights you will go through enhanced screening and possible short “security” interviews at check-in or the boarding gate.
Ed Schons, president, Florida High Tech Corridor Council
THANK YOU, JOHN HITT. Last week: There’s little question that John Hitt’s retirement announcement was last week’s biggest news. What’s intriguing is that his vision will be news for years to come as one who has helped us focus as a region — and even a state — on building opportunities many of us might not have thought possible. Most of all, he has taught us the art and benefit of collaboration and partnership. We all owe him a great big “thank you.”
Rick Singh, property appraiser, Orange County
RENT CONTROL? Last week: With the affordable-housing crisis growing in many cities around Florida, should the state begin to explore allowing rent control in some areas? A new ballot measure in California may be considered to significantly expand the state’s rent-control laws as California grapples with a lack of affordable housing. Stats show that one-third of renters in California are rent-burdened, the same for many in Florida. While rent control may not be the answer here, it’s worth exploring all options to ensure that we’re taking care of our residents.
STAY OR GO? Looking ahead: As reported by the Sentinel, a new poll finds that some Floridians will likely choose not to evacuate ahead of the next hurricane. Many regretted the decision to leave home, likely due to traffic, gas shortages and the depth of damage in some areas. Irma was predicted to be catastrophic for the entire state, and with just over $50 million in damages for Orange County, many likely feel as if they could have stayed home. No, if the state orders you to evacuate, please do so. This storm may have just blown some leaves into your yard, but the next one may be worse. Follow evacuation orders, please. They are meant to keep you safe.
Michael Slaymaker, professional fundraising executive
NATIONAL PHILANTHROPY DAY. Last week: The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ National Philanthropy Day breakfast is sold out. The annual celebration of our community’s best philanthropists will be held at The Ritz Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes on Wednesday. The packed room will honor the lifetime achievements of Harvey Massey. Outstanding Philanthropist will be Dr. Mary Palmer of the Orlando Philharmonic. Outstanding Fundraising Professional - Phillip Deal of the Children’s Home Society. The Youth in Philanthropy award will be given to Faith Cristina Duncan of the Down Syndrome Association. Congratulations to all. Thank you for changing our community with a giving heart.
QLATINX. Looking ahead: Equality Florida will be honoring the QLatinx organization at its Orlando gala on Nov. 3. QLatinx emerged after the Pulse tragedy as a safe place to gather for young Latin men and women. QLatinx has played a critical role in empowering LGBT people of color to become leaders and representatives of their communities. They offer social-justice education to encourage critical thought. The Kinsey studies tells us that approximately 10 percent of the 100,000 Puerto Rico transplants coming to Central Florida will be LGBT. Luckily they will have an organization like QLatinx to help them navigate their journey.
Kannan Srinivasan, president, Asian American Chamber of Commerce
ORLANDO CITY COUNCIL TO SUPPORT TECH FIRMS. Last week: Orlando tech startups could have a new way to raise money after Monday’s City Council meeting. Orlando leaders want to finalize a plan that would create a $150,000 fund to encourage tech entrepreneurs to start companies, with hopes of attracting the attention of private investors.
CHIC AWARDS. Last week: We were thrilled to recently surprise five local nonprofits with more than $1.5 million in grants from our Community Health Impact Council. These very deserving organizations play a vital role in caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Thanks to their efforts, low-income seniors in Osceola County will get better and more affordable health care, paramedics will be used to help Seminole County patients transition from the hospital to their homes, and a healthy food co-op will expand its services in the Parramore area. We are lucky to have these organizations making a difference and positively impacting the health of Central Florida.
SENDING “BLESSINGS FOR PUERTO RICO” FOR A SECOND TIME. Looking ahead: It’s been heartwarming to see how many have rallied and helped Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, but there’s still a long way until they’re back on their feet — and we need your help to get them there. Florida Hospital is hosting a second community drive today, Sunday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Florida Hospital Kissimmee, where we will be collecting supplies such as water, infant formula, nonperishable foods, diapers and manual can openers. These critically needed items will be shipped to the island in large cargo containers which will be turned into emergency housing for those displaced by the storm. I hope you’ll join us in this and future efforts to help those in the Caribbean.
Carol Wick, equity partner and principal, Convergent Nonprofit Solutions
HITT MOVING ON. Last week: John Hitt leaves behind an impressive legacy, taking UCF to unprecedented growth and national standing. Under his leadership, people were called to invest in a vision for the college. And invest they did. Mr. Hitt is one of the most successful fundraisers Central Florida has ever known. Thank you John for giving us a world class college as well as legacy of outstanding fundraising.
FUND-RAISING TIME. Looking ahead: As October comes to a close and Thanksgiving nears, it's that time again in the nonprofit world: year-end direct-mail solicitations. This tradition has been a standard for as long as I can remember. But times are changing and the digital world is having its impact. Direct mail is expensive, and the response nationally is declining. Nonprofits must adapt and make the hard decision. Snail mail or email or both? Giving Tuesday is a great alternative to this tradition. Let's save money and trees and give online.