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Orlando Sentinel celebrates $100 million tax increase?

Stan Van Gundy

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In the build-up to choosing the “Central Floridian of the Year,” the Orlando Sentinel has been doing a series of profiles on various individuals who were in contention, calling each a runner-up, as it were.

An appropriate title considering former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is among those being highlighted. As you may recall, the Magic fired Van Gundy for being a perennial runner-up in the National Basketball Association.

The accomplishment that placed him in the running for “Central Floridian of the Year”?

No, it was not for ridding the “dried-up, little pond” known as Orlando of another ungrateful, petulant NBA superstar, as Dwight Howard proved to be.

It was for stepping out “as leader of a campaign to raise property taxes in Seminole County,” the Sentinel revealed.

Van Gundy used his celebrity status to lead the Citizens for Preservation of Property Values, a pro-tax political action committee that pushed a referendum to increase property taxes to raise money for Seminole County schools.

That’s right, the Orlando Sentinel is celebrating the successful effort to raise $100 million in taxes  — only the proponents never called it a tax increase, opting instead to refer to it as an “ad valorem millage increase.”

This in spite of independent studies showing higher spending does not produce measurable improvements; it just results in higher spending. For proof, look no further than neighboring Orange County, which spends $1,800 more per student than Seminole County but has schools with worse academic performance records and has seen property values go down.

The tax increase was opposed by Citizens for Accountable Schools, a citizen-led effort headed up by Seminole County resident Becky Erwin that found itself locked in a David vs. Goliath battle.

Erwin charged Van Gundy’s PAC with releasing a misleading campaign flier and later, after campaign signs being stolen or destroyed, called on Van Gundy to rein in his volunteers.

What, was Tony Soprano not available for “Central Floridian of the Year”?

All in all, it’s discouraging that the only newspaper in town, even with its shrinking circulation, finds cause to celebrate actions that serve to place additional financial burdens on local residents in such stagnant economic times as these.

Tom Tillison


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