I've decided that Orlando Magic executives should formally declare that they want world peace.
Because whatever these guys want, they get.
First, there was the arena. The billionaire team owner and his multimillionaire players said they wanted taxpayers to build them a new one. And they got it — despite overwhelming objections from the unwashed masses.
Then the team wanted Mayor Buddy Dyer to approve a massive new video screen on the side of their new arena — even though state officials weren't sure such a thing was even legal.
The Department of Transportation raised questions about the sign's potential to "distract motorists" (something forbidden by state statute, if it actually interferes with safe driving).
The DOT also noted that such signs are usually required to promote only the products primarily peddled inside the building. (And it's hard to argue that airline tickets are the main reason people go to a basketball game.)
And then there's the size of the gargantuan screen. At 2,454 square feet, it's approximately 250 percent the size of what's usually allowed for billboards.
Rules, schmules, declared King Buddy. After a bit of legal maneuvering and wordsmithing — and herding enough of his council sheep back to the flock — the deal was done.
Personally, I don't really care much about the sign itself. It's hard for me to get terribly worked up about the possibility of this sign being distracting when we already have video billboards and texting drivers all over Interstate 4.
As a matter of fact, call me your typical Neanderthal male, but this gigantic translucent screen sounds pretty darn cool. Gimme a gigantic remote control to go with it, and I might move my Barcalounger downtown.
But this episode is still a telling little vignette.
It tells us that when the Magic want something, Buddy wants it, too.
And when Buddy wants something, the rules are flexible.
Hugs and slugs
• A hug to Orlando's rising music star, Francesca Battistelli, who is up for a Grammy this weekend. The 24-year-old Christian music singer earned her chops playing at local churches, including Faith Assembly — and is now a nominee for Best Gospel Performance with her single, "Free to be Me." I recently caught up with Francesca, who said the nomination caught her so off guard that the only thing she could do was "start jumping up and down." Good luck this weekend, Francesca.
• A slug for Charlie Crist's proposal to cut corporate income taxes — which are already among the lowest in the United States. If you want to cut something, Governor, how about all those fees you and your pals in the Legislature piled on top of regular Floridians last year for things like vehicle registration? Besides, is it really worth axing social workers or postponing road projects just so you can score a few points (and campaign checks) at the next Chamber of Commerce cocktail?
I read your column today about "Crist's Idea for School Cash: Good Gamble." Then I happened to go to Publix and [saw a lottery sign] that said "Over $20 Billion for Education." With that size contribution from the Lottery, why are the Florida schools always so short of funding? — Peter G.
Because, Peter, Florida politicians are so skilled at shell games that, they could con a carny out of a week's pay. Yes, they took the new lottery money and spent it on schools. But they took a lot of the other money that should also have been spent on schools and directed it elsewhere. The way to hold pols accountable is to make sure they beef up "per-pupil spending" — a figure with which it's harder for them to play games.
Scott, do you really think Crist's plan [to beef up school funding] will work? Or that It's enough? — Susan A.
Susan, I think you have to treat politicians like puppies that constantly poop on the kitchen floor. In the rare instances when they actually do something right, you have to heap on praises — even though you know you'll get pooped on again.
Scott, Thanks for keeping the heat on the pols. … Both parties need to clean up their acts. … The general public needs to clean up their act and make better decisions. … it seems easier to just take talking heads' word on issues (or non-issues) instead of looking for other viewpoints and making up their own mind. — John B.
Amen, John. Anyone who can't see warts on both sides isn't really looking.
Scott Maxwell, who thinks most all of Washington could use some Compound W, can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun