7:11 PM EDT, May 23, 2013
Winter Park folks have a knack for debating anything. Old houses, post offices, dog parks, you name it.
Nowadays, it's hamburgers.
Specifically, folks are worked up that BurgerFi — with its counter service at the south end of Park Avenue — is undermining the sit-down service to which folks are accustomed.
That's right. Paper napkins are invading the Avenue. So sound the platinum-plated alarm.
Personally, BurgerFi burgers don't do much for me. Give me a greasy burger from Johnny's Filling Station. Or Luma. Or the Tap Room. Or Hamburger Mary's. You get the point.
But my kids love the grill-stamped burger buns and fancy soda machine. So we go sometimes. And every time we do, it's packed.
That's what strikes me as amusing. For years, Park Avenue boosters have been brainstorming ways to get more families there. Heck, a few years ago, they were even talking about plopping down a carousel in Central Park.
Yet, finally you have a business that's attracting gobs of families — and suddenly, there's a rush to turn BurgerFi into the next dog-park debate.
I moderated a political forum for the Winter Park Chamber Thursday when the topic came up. And Mayor Ken Bradley seemed eager to move on, calling BurgerFi "ultimately a good thing."
Smart man. I understand city codes and master plans. Sometimes it's important to make sure one doesn't get in the way of the other.
•Bill buzz. Not for nothing, but I'm increasingly hearing buzz that this Bill Nelson-for-governor thing may be the real deal. That would be interesting — not only to watch Nelson vs. Rick Scott, but also to see the scrambling to fill his U.S. Senate seat.
•Guns at school. It'd be nice to go a week without hearing another gun-at-school story. I'm guessing Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins thinks so too, which is why she announced the start of random screenings and metal detectors. I'm all for it. We already screen folks before they can walk in City Hall to meet a zoning official. You're darn right I'd like that same security for my kids.
•Something stinks. Last weekend, the Sentinel quoted Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard saying he wasn't surprised that former House Speaker Dean Cannon racked up $755,000 worth of lobbying fees during the first quarter of 2013. Said Ballard: "He spent his two years as speaker lining up a lot of that work, so it's not surprising at all." This is Tallahassee in a nutshell. Ask about such a thing when a powerful person is doing the alleged lining-up — and nobody says a word. But as soon as that same person is out of power, everyone acts like it was common knowledge. (Psst, guys, this is where that whole public-trust thing falls apart.)
•Scrubbing Google. The Palm Beach Post recently reported that Cannon has also teamed up with a "reputation building" company that attempts to manipulate Internet searches to produce favorable results for clients. The company promises to "bury" negative pieces, so that someone doing a Google search on, oh, let's say "Dean Cannon," would have to work harder to stumble across headlines such as "Dean Cannon Says 'Absolutely Not' to Returning Taxpayer Money," "Cannon lashes out at GOP critics …" and "Florida House Spent $200,000 on Rush-Job Oil Drilling Study." You can see the market for this service.
•Last weekend, I ran a 12-mile race through fire, ice and electric shocks, all with a sprained ankle. Yet that still wasn't as painful as listening to legislators give their tortured explanations for why they voted to both shorten early voting in 2012 and then lengthen voting in 2014. That's right, the same issue … contradictory stances … yet they argue both votes were right. Ugh. Bring out the shock wires.
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