Just one month into 2013 and it's already time to award the first round of Flubbies — recognizing the region's biggest public-relations flubs.
We're talking moves so dim they made the Superdome's third-quarter lights look bright.
There's a surprising amount of competition so far for the Flubbies. Seems like lots of folks are taking a turn on the low stoop of public-image blunders.
But some stand above (or is that below?) the rest.
Biggest bluff. Did anyone really think the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was going to let the Florida Theatrical Association take blockbuster shows like "Wicked" anywhere other than the new center when it opens next year?
The decision by the center's executive board to try to self-present Broadway shows rather than partner with the association posed the biggest financial risk to the theater since it started coming out of the ground.
Not only did the decision alienate the local arts community, big donors and arguably its biggest champion, Mayor Buddy Dyer ... it appears that it just wouldn't have worked.
Last week the arts center reached a deal with the theatrical association to co-present shows, but not before it raised the ire of people closest to the project.
Most tone deaf. Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez turned heads with his power-hungry transition
Ramirez came into office cutting salaries of established employees — never popular, though sometimes necessary. Then he started hiring cronies at higher pay and gave his wife her own office in the courthouse.
In his strangest move yet, Ramirez issued a six-page dress code for employees. It's notable for its specificity (panty hose must be worn in front of juries) and for this command (in all caps), "SO LET IT BE WRITTEN. SO LET IT BE DONE."
Does this guy think he's a courthouse administrator or the Pharaoh?
Worst timing. Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies happily rolled out plans last month for a new building devoted to women's health.
Hospital President Kathy Swanson talked about how women are the "heart of families."
Then, just days later, Winnie announced it would lay off staff that those very customers ... er ... patients loved the most. The hospital cut some of the maternal education classes it offers, as well as the nurses best known to local moms because they ran the breast-feeding program.
Talk about horrible timing. But there's more flubbing.
The hospital pays lip service to women's health and then overlooks simple things in its multimillion-dollar buildings, like not having a dedicated room for these women to meet.
These support groups and classes for women are more than social gatherings. Lactation consultants can help detect problems with newborns and correct feeding issues that otherwise might send a baby to the doctor or back to the hospital. And the nurses help women with breast-feeding related infections that can easily land them back in the hospital.
Enough mixed messages.
Most suspicious. This round of Flubbies wouldn't be complete without a nod to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who insisted his new drones were no big deal while refusing to say much about them at all.
Demings would have been better off if he had explained from the get-go that these mini-helicopters with cameras wouldn't be used to spy on residents. He eventually demonstrated the drones for the public, but not before dodging a lot of questions. "No big deal" and secrecy just don't mix. See Orange County's "textgate" and the saga of Gov. Scott's former First Dog Reagan for further evidence of that.
email@example.com or 407-420-5448