As Mayor Buddy Dyer recites his self-congratulating “State of the City” address today, a new national study has ranked Orlando as one of the worst-run cities in the country. Analysis of data compared 150 of the most populated cities across six key categories: Financial Stability (including city debt), Education, Safety, Health, Economy, and Infrastracture/Pollution. Will Buddy Dyer talk honestly about any of the issues which caused Orlando to rank in the bottom third of the top 150 cities in America? No.
Instead, everyone knows Buddy Dyer will do nothing more than pat himself on the back and thank his rubber stamp City Council. The façade must continue after all. The “State of the City” is nothing more than spin from City Hall’s third floor. The latest study contradicts a lot of that spin and is quite the commentary on the Dyer administration as well as the impact of the incumbent mayor’s destructive policies, although many of us have been saying it for years.
The new WalletHub study ranked Orlando #105 out of 150 American cities when analyzing the effectiveness of local leadership. Buddy Dyer also can’t refute WalletHub, as earlier this month he touted another study from the group claiming Orlando was #1 in Recreation. The Mayor was so excited, he even posted the WalletHub story on his official social media as early as 5:22am, and he got some local media to cover the story. Buddy Dyer sure liked WalletHub’s analysis on July 7th, but how does he feel about them now?
“How do we measure the effectiveness of local leadership?” WalletHub’s Richie Bernardo wrote. “One way is by determining a city’s operating efficiency. In other words, we can learn how well city officials manage and spend public funds by comparing the quality of services residents receive against the city’s total budget.”
The methodology is clear and supported by actual data. It shows the City of Orlando is not getting the job done for residents under Buddy Dyer and his rubber stamp City Commissioners. Being ranked this low – in the bottom third of 150 American cities on these issues – is not good any way you look at the data. On the matter of the city’s financial stability, I exposed Dyer’s secret debt in 2014 and reported later that year how the debt was starting to come due putting an extra strain on the city budget. Dyer and the City Council raised taxes and cut services that year after a $52 million budget crisis was announced.
It sadly may not surprise many that Orlando ranked a horrible 131st in public safety, with factors like violent crime rate, property crime rate and fatalities per capita being scored. Not many around Orlando feel safe these days and that ranking is one of the scariest to see. Despite all of Dyer’s spin on jobs and economy, Orlando ranks in the bottom 50% of all cities for local economy. Again, many residents do not feel the impact of a “booming” economy putting more money in their pockets. As Dyer’s City Hall raised taxes and cut services, residents fell further behind. Orlando is obviously still far from the “world-class city” status Dyer has wanted for years.
While any study is just a snapshot, the new study serves as an important reminder not to listen to the spin from elected officials, especially at events set up for the sole purpose of self-promotion and praise. Buddy Dyer has to convince himself things aren’t as bad as they really are – but they are that bad. Hopefully some of these real issues – public safety, the reality of our weak local economy, and debt – will become the issues of the City Commissioner elections this year. Sadly, civic participation has also diminished under Dyer, with historic low turnout in recent city elections. But Commissioners Robert Stuart, Regina Hill and Jim Gray should be held responsible for their votes as well.
It’s beyond time for Buddy Dyer to go. Orlando has needed new leadership, new vision and a fresh start from the Dyer administration for years.