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sunshine

What would happen if Mayor Dyer is not in office?

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Chances are Jeb Bush will remove Buddy Dyer position as mayor of Orlando and replace him with a republican candidate...

This is very sad for Orlando area as I can predict that...

1, downtown will be dead again cuz Ken probably going to remove all the incentives that are in the process of approval...so no traidtion tower, no uptown and no publix...

2. we can forget about PAC, Citrus Bowl and Arena

3. Relationship with county will get better, Ken is a candiate that encourage sprawl.

Very sad.....

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Is it time for re-election? I think Dyer has done enough for the downtown boom to stay, but it would take a big hit if you put someone in there that doesn't value having a progressive downtown.

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Is it time for re-election?  I think Dyer has done enough for the downtown boom to stay, but it would take a big hit if you put someone in there that doesn't value having a progressive downtown.

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Dyer, Apte booked, released

By Mark Schlueb

Sentinel Staff Writer

March 11, 2005, 9:41 AM EST

Update 9:41a.m. Dyer's campaign manager Patti Sharp, a longtime Democratic strategist, arrived at the jail at 9:37 a.m. with her attorney and turned herself in on an arrest warrant. She had no immediate comment.

Update 9:34 a.m. Dyer and Apte are charged with "providing pecuniary gains for absentee ballot possession or collection." Dyer and Apte left the jail at 9:14 a.m. without comment. With Dyer was his Deputy Chief of Staff, Orlando Police Capt. Joe Robinson. Apte exited the jail with his attorney. Dyer and Apte were booked and released on their own recognizance.

Update 9:19 a.m. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer showed up at the Orange County Jail at 8:35 a.m. today to be booked on charges stemming from an indictment handed up by a grand jury Thursday.

Dyer was joined by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and faced a crowd of television news cameras when he arrived.

"I haven't seen the charges, but I will have a statement for everybody later today," Dyer said. Dyer entered the jail, greeted a clerk with a cheery, "Good morning," and was taken to a secure area to be processed.

Orange Circuit Judge Alan Apte showed up 8:26 a.m. at the Orange County Jail with his attorney and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents this morning to be booked on an arrest warrant issued as part of an indictment from the grand jury. -- Mark Schlueb

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An Orange County grand jury handed up four sealed indictments Thursday after hearing two days of testimony about potential election fraud during the Orlando mayor's race last year.

The names of those charged were not released because the court sealed the indictments until arrest warrants can be served by state agents as early as today. But speculation centered on whether the list would include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer or one of his many aides who testified before the grand jury.

Dyer's lawyer chose his words carefully late Thursday when asked directly whether the mayor was among those facing indictment.

"If in fact the mayor was one of the four people, I am truly shocked," said attorney Robert Leventhal. He added that he was prepared to vigorously defend his client if he is charged.

"I've been either on the law enforcement or defense side of cases for over 30 years, and I've never seen anything so political -- political in the sense that elections have been run this way for years all over the state," Leventhal said. "Dyer's campaign differed in no way from those of numerous other officeholders."

Grand jurors heard testimony from at least 10 witnesses behind closed doors Wednesday and Thursday -- including Dyer, a Democrat first elected mayor in 2003, and key members of his 2004 re-election campaign.

Dyer canceled a ceremonial appearance that had been scheduled Thursday night about an hour after the indictments were issued, and a city spokeswoman said Dyer was consulting with his attorney. No one answered the door at the mayor's College Park home, where a handful of news reporters waited late into the evening.

"The law says if a person is not in custody, those indictments cannot be released," said special prosecutor Brad King, who is a Republican. "Everything is to remain sealed until the warrants are served."

The grand jury also issued a five- to six-page written report, which also remains under court seal. The report includes the names of those indicted and perhaps others; under the law, those named in the report will be given 15 days to respond.

The indictments and the report are the culmination of a nearly yearlong investigation of possible absentee-ballot fraud in Orange County elections. State law enacted in 1998 after widespread fraud in the Miami mayoral race made it illegal to pay someone or to be paid "for distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, delivering or otherwise physically possessing absentee ballots."

Violating the law in question is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. It's unclear how many people were indicted; a single indictment can name several individuals, or one person could be named in more than one indictment.

The indictments, once unsealed, could cast doubt on the validity of last year's election. Second-place finisher Ken Mulvaney has sued to have some absentee ballots thrown out, which could send the race into a runoff. The lawsuit has been delayed repeatedly as the parties involved awaited the outcome of the criminal investigation.

At the center of the state probe was Ezzie Thomas, a retired west Orlando businessman who began working for local campaigns in 1998. He has been dubbed the "ballot king" by Democratic Party officials because of his expertise at delivering high absentee-ballot results for the clients who hire him. He earned at least $52,574 from 10 political campaigns between 1998 and 2004, including $10,000 from Dyer's '04 re-election bid.

Thomas testified under subpoena Wednesday with the promise of immunity. But like several other witnesses, he was granted only "use immunity," meaning he cannot be prosecuted for his own statements but could be prosecuted based on evidence presented by others.

Thomas declined comment Thursday, other than to say he had received no indication that he was one of those indicted.

Most of the witnesses called before the grand jury were associated with Dyer's campaign: the mayor himself, who testified without immunity; Thomas; campaign manager Patti Sharp; strategist David Dix; and fund-raiser Kelly Cohen.

Two months ago, Dyer described Sharp as "in charge of the entire field operation." He said that "she would have been the one who directed all the volunteers and all of the people who were working on a get-out-the-vote operation."

Sharp, who testified under subpoena, said Thursday that she did not know who faces indictment and declined further comment.

Other witnesses included City Commissioner Betty Wyman and political consultants Lorin Jones and Gus Gallo, who reportedly overheard or participated in discussions about the nature of Thomas' work for Dyer.

But the grand jury probe apparently went further than Dyer's campaign:

Leslie Trask testified Thursday morning. Trask is the ex-wife of Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Alan Apte, who paid Thomas $5,000 to work on his 2002 judicial campaign.

Apte could not be reached for comment.

State Sen. Gary Siplin was scheduled to answer questions from the grand jury, but his attorney filed court papers to avoid appearing Thursday morning. The Orlando Democrat paid Thomas $6,500 for working on his campaigns in 2000 and 2002.

Asked whether he had been indicted, Siplin had little to say. "I don't have any comment. I'm in Tallahassee," he said.

An indictment means the grand jury, which hears only evidence presented by a prosecutor, sees enough evidence to require a trial, but it is not an indication the person is innocent or guilty until a trial is held on the charges.

King, the state attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit based in Ocala, said Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents would likely contact attorneys for those facing indictment and arrange for their clients to turn themselves in. After being processed, those charged will be released until trial.

"I do not believe there is any likelihood of their flight, so I would recommend to the court that they be released on their own recognizance," said King, who was assigned to the case by Gov. Jeb Bush after the local prosecutor stepped aside to avoid a conflict of interest.

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Dyer will be out while the investigation continues, trial etc. Gov. Bush has two choices, Mayor Protem Vicki Vargo will take Dyer's place or Bush can appoint someone else

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If downtown really is booming, then developers will continue to develop, no matter who is in office. I wouldn't worry too much about that.

As for who will replace Dyer while he is under investigation, the last I read is that the Governor's office and City attorneys are looking at the city's charter. They might wind up promoting the Mayor Pro Tem, which I think is Vicky Vargo, to fill the position until all of this is sorted out. Too soon to tell.

I do think that this will seriously delay any project that isn't nearly ready to break ground. City Hall will all but shut down for quite some time.

As for Dyer, I like him alright because he's had some good ideas for downtown. But he comes across as being a shady character, and I don't have much resepect for all of the times he's attempted to skirt the state's Sunshine Law. That's just not cool. This might all be politically motivated, but Dyer hasn't done much to keep himself out of this predicament.

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If Dyer found guilty, what would happend to Glenda Hood and Mel Martinez that used the same guy?

Besides, Dyer is the one that push for the PAC and Arena.

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If Dyer found guilty, what would happend to Glenda Hood and Mel Martinez that used the same guy?

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I'm not quite sure, as I don't really understand what laws were broken.

From my understanding, it's illegal to pay someone to collect absentee ballots. But I think a few years ago, it wasn't illegal to pay someone to collect absentee ballots.

And I'm not sure why it's a crime. Is it okay for someone to volunteer to go out and collect absentee ballots? Or were these ballots fake? Or were they legitimate votes for Dyer? Or were these fraudultent votes?

Beats me. Hard to get too worked up about it, in my opinion. I haven't seen it explained in any way that makes me really believe that Dyer should be indicted.

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o crap

just what orlando needs, one of the few visionaries in a position of power to go out in handcuffs. Vicki Vargo? Who the hell is that? Never heard of her, and I hope she's nowhere near as anti-progressive as Glenda Hood.

Now Ken Mulvaney, was that the rich advertiser who narrowly lost to Dyer? He actually didn't seem that bad, he was my second choice for mayor, and he actually had a downtown vision as well. However he seemed more interested in transportation improvement than downtown development. I can only bet that whatever comes of this, nobody will win and the citizens of orlando are the ones who will end up getting screwed. I can bet that this is politically driven as well, but with no solid evidence I can only sit back & watch this bs unfold.

Ahh, what a sad turn of events this is.

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Well, I would agree that it's sad. I like the man personally. And there's no denying that he's strong on downtown.

On the other hand, if he is in fact guilty of election fraud, would any of you still prefer to retain him as mayor simply because you fear his replacement may not be as bullish on downtown ?

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Vicki Vargo is not in favor or tax incentives for development, as she has voted against I think most of them. As for the race between Ken Mulvaney and Buddy Dyer. There were also several other candidates, Dyer recieved 51 percent of the vote while Mulvaney recieved somewhere I think 31percent. The only thing he narrowly lost to Dyer was the chance for a run off election. In which case Dyer would have won big. Since Dyer received over the 50 percent, no run off was required between the top two.

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I agree with Dale, I like the guy personally. But I do think he is somewhat shady, and got himself into this mess all on his own.

On the plus side, with our mayor being indicted, it almost feels like we're living in Miami! Woo hoo! We're in the big leagues of possible government corruption!

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Vicki Vargo is not in favor or tax incentives for development, as she has voted against I think most of them.  As for the race between Ken Mulvaney and Buddy Dyer.  There were also several other candidates, Dyer recieved 51 percent of the vote while Mulvaney recieved somewhere I think 31percent.  The only thing he narrowly lost to Dyer was the chance for a run off election.  In which case Dyer would have won big.  Since Dyer received over the 50 percent, no run off was required between the top two.

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Which only serves to magnify the idiocy (if proven) of resorting to chicanery when he faced no formidable opponents.

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Dear God I didn't know a grand jury was investigating Dyer. What a shame, I thought he was Orlando's 1st big time mayor. Will this kill 55W or the Vue? I don't think so, but could this challenge some of the deals he has done for Dynetech, the benchmark, and traditon towers? possibly I guess. What about light rail and the Citrus Bowl.... this sucks, if anyone can supply feedback as to what they think the effects may be I apreciate it.

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Please post on www.orlandosentinel.com about your opinion...

There is a questinaire there and at the same time, u can see what some stupid people said on there

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I just think we can forget about PAC, Citrus Bowl, Magic, Arena and light rails....going back to the "oversized lakeland" category.

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I just think we can forget about PAC, Citrus Bowl, Magic, Arena and light rails....going back to the "oversized lakeland" category.

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Yes, and I think that Disney is going to probably pull up stakes and move to Ft. Lauderdale.

Take a chill pill, sunshine (maybe we should change your name to 'rainy day'). ;)

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According to WESH, Ernest Page is Mayor Pro Tempore, not Vickie Vargo, and would likely be Dyer's replacement if he is suspended. Not sure if that is good or bad, as I don't know where he stands on the issues. Interestingly though, he was the last public official to be removed from office by the governor, back in the early 80's.... nice! :huh:

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Actually both Vicki Vargo and Ernest Page are Pro tems with no order of succession. However insiders say she is also on the Gov. list for successor which makes her more likely candidate.

Does this mean Dyer will not be speaking at the Vue groundbreaking on Tuesday :lol:

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^ We'll just have to get used to being the laughingstock of the nation for a while.

The good things is folks won't be thinking about Mickey Mouse when they think of Orlando.

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Let's guess that Ernest will become Mayor Pro-tem for the next 45 days, and Vargo will run for Mayor, 'cause the Mayor Pro-Tem cannot run for office, and everyone knows Vicki wants to run for Mayor.

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^ Then if the stereotyping holds, let's get all our high-rises ramrodded through the next 45 days, then perpare to pave over Lake Eola as soon as Vargo takes office. B)

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lol in a perverse way this is kind of exciting. A real scandal! I'm not worried that a downtown rennaisance will come to a standstill, only the projects that haven't received their incentives at this point. Its not clear yet either if Dyer will officially get kicked out of office because he is claiming his innocence, so we shall see. I guess we can all be thankful for the time he was there, and getting things going full force. Despite his short, unlawful perhaps, term, he still did more for Orlando than Glenda Hood ever did.

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Orlando Business Journal:

Future of downtown projects uncertain with Dyer indictment

Noelle Haner and Bob Mervine

Staff Writers

Today's indictment and arrest of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is raising concerns among business community leaders.

Since Dyer took office, a number of community and economic developmet projects have been proposed and put on the drawing board, including a downtown performing arts center and overhauls of the Citrus Bowl and TD Waterhouse Centre.

With Dyer's future uncertain, some now are questioning the future of these projects.

"The news brings to me an overwhelming feeling of sadness," says Margot Knight, president and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida Inc. "Progress on every community project is affected by this distraction. It also fuels cynicism in the public's perception of government."

Dick Batchelor, a former state legislator and political consultant agrees. "This indictment is a setback in so many ways. Whether or not you have agreed with Mayor Dyer, you have to certainly say he has been a visionsary and not shied away from challenges. Who will pick up that mantel remains to be seen."

There may be genuine reason for concern.

Ken Mulvaney, who ran against Dyer last year for mayor and whose allegations of ballot tampering helped lead to Dyer's indictment, may have another chance at winning the mayor's seat if a judge throws out absentee ballots collected by Dyer's campaign next week. If the ballots are tossed, a runoff election between Dyer and Mulvaney is almost certain.

Mulvaney indicates he would be very cautious regarding the number of downtown projects that have been proposed under Dyer's administration. "Most of these projects, such as the performing arts center, are just being talked about. No one has come to the table with any money for them. A lot of these projects are nice, but is the money there? It comes down to money," he says.

Even so, some in the business community remain cautiously optimistic about the future of downtown Orlando.

"Long-term, I don't think it would have any effect," says Tico Perez, an Orlando attorney and former candidate for mayor of Orlando. "Short-term, it creates uncertainty and that brings challenges. The timing of what happends next is important. I only can hope for a quick resolution."

Craig Ustler, a principal in Ustler Partners Inc. and Condo HQ Orlando LLC, agrees. "It's too early to say what kind of impact it will have on business, but it's not good," he says. "Overall, the city council and staff share and understand the mayor's vision. I don't believe it will affect the nuts and bolts of getting things done. Whoever the person is going in, they won't rock the boat from day one. They will go in as a manager of the existing vision."

Still, there are others who are personally concerned about Dyer.

"It's unfortunate. Buddy has been a good friend to lots of us in the business community. No one wishes this on him. I hope he will be exonerated quickly. I have faith in the system," says Phil Rampy, a principal in Old Towne Brokers Inc. and Condo HQ Orlando LLC.

Joanie Schirm, president GEC Inc., was shocked by the events. "I admire Mayor Dyer for a life of community service. It's a sad day for Orlando," she notes.

Percy Luney, dean of the FAMU Law School, insists the community should not rush to judgment on the indictment or its impacts on the city of Orlando.

"An indictment is still just an indictment," Luney says. "A person is persumed innocent until he is found guilty. It's a shame that there is a lynch mob mentality on just the indictment. Every citizien is owed his or her day in court."

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