Can Florida tourism survive without Visit Florida?

State lawmakers have proposed cutting the budget for Florida’s leading tourism agency.


ORLANDO — Is Florida tourism strong enough that it can survive, and thrive, without taxpayer money in the budget of a state agency that sells the Sunshine State internationally?
That’s a thorny question being debated by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives, who are locked in a battle over the future of state funding for Visit Florida.
This week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida, the state agency that works to boost job creation, and significantly reduce state funding of Visit Florida, eliminating the agency’s budget by 67 percent. Criticism of the agency that works to promote tourism intensified last year when state lawmakers criticized Visit Florida’s former chief for secretly paying rapper Pitbull $1 million to record a new version of his “Sexy Beaches” song to include footage of Florida’s hotels and beaches. Continue reading

Anti-tax crusader joins campaign against proposed rules changes at IRS

Political consultant Doug Guetzloe is working with the Tax Revolution Institute to push for an audit of the Internal Revenue Service.

Political consultant Doug Guetzloe is working with the Tax Revolution Institute to push for an audit of the Internal Revenue Service.


ORLANDO — When taking aim at a government agency, the chances of making the criticism stick likely depend on which f3ederal department is being targeted. If it’s a popular institution like the military, the chances are success seem dicey.
On the other hand, Doug Guetzloe didn’t hesitate when he was asked to serve as a consultant to an organization that is taking aim at what may be one of the least popular government agencies in U.S. history: the Internal Revenue Service.
Guetzloe, a political consultant based in Orlando who is also the founder of the grassroots organization Ax The Tax, said assisting the group known as the Tax Revolution Institute was an easy call.
“The IRS does indeed consider themselves above the law, and many times they are sloppy about what they do,” Guetzloe said. “But they have the ability — and they have certainly done so — to destroy people’s lives. They have put their victims on public display.” Continue reading

Assistance center set up for victims of Pulse attack

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando's Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre was set up at Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).


ORLANDO – The Orlando United Assistance Center, designed to provide long-term assistance to people impacted by the Pulse shootings, opens today.
The center located at 507 E. Michigan St. will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s located at the corner of Osceola Avenue and East Michigan Street.
Created by the City of Orlando and the Orange County Government, the center is expected to hire numerous representatives from the Hispanic and LGBT communities to be on staff to help the survivors of the attack. To learn more, call 407-500-HOPE.
On Monday, the city of Orlando also announced that it had established a partnership with Heart of Florida United Way to manage the center. That will include managing all daily functions such as the oversight of the building and its staff.
Heart of Florida United Way will also be responsible for arranging a series of partnerships with various service providers who can help meet the needs of the people visiting the center. Those partnerships will include arrangements with the Victim Service Center, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and Miracle of Love, Inc.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Heart of Florida was chosen because it has a vast network of partners in the nonprofit sector whose services could prove to be vital to individuals and families impacted by the shooting massacre on June 12 that claimed the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others. Continue reading

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