Letter From the Editor: Powerful Forces

Issues that need a show of strength.

Welcome to the 2019 edition of our annual 50 Most Powerful issue. As always, it’s been a fascinating and sometimes rather painful process narrowing our picks down to 50 (actually it’s 53, counting three couples on the list). But the big news is there’s a new No. 1 in town: attorney John Morgan.

So who gets on the list? Among many factors, we consider those who influence our lives through the civic duties they carry out, the businesses or institutions they oversee, and the money they give to bring projects to fruition. Then there are those who have the power to inspire, whether through helping those less fortunate, fighting for social justice, or providing leadership in the world of arts and entertainment.  Many are familiar faces while others are first-timers who are making a difference. Others fall off the list, sometimes because of controversy but more often because we’re making room for new entries. Those are tough calls.

This year, we asked each individual on the list to tell us what they felt was the greatest need in our community. The responses included creating a “Central Park’’ for downtown Orlando; boosting state funding for the arts; more mass transit options; ramping up the wars on opioid abuse as well as homelessness; more home-grown arts experiences; more training programs for underemployed residents; improving water quality; and diversifying the local economy.

But the most frequent answer by far: affordable housing. Little wonder: A recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranked the Orlando metro area as the worst place in the country for low-income households to find places to live. That translates into only 13 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households desperately needing them.

As you’ll see in the profiles of the 50 Most, the housing crisis is on the minds of both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. There have been some bright spots, such as construction of the Village on Mercy, a multifamily housing community that is bringing 166 affordable apartments to Orlando’s Mercy Drive neighborhood. Dyer and the city also have pledged nearly $30 million the past five years to build or refurbish existing housing. LIFT Orlando continues to build affordable housing units in the shadow of Camping World Stadium. And Demings has appointed a 39-member panel to come up with some solutions to the crisis.

It is a daunting task. More power to them all.

Also in this issue, check out Joseph Hayes’ reviews of three outstanding dining spots: Jaleo, the new  Spanish restaurant by Chef José Andrés at Disney Springs; Bem Bom on Corrine, the Portuguese eatery that won Best New Restaurant in our reader dining poll; and Stasio’s Italian Deli & Market, which offers some fantastic sandwiches. In Extra Pulp, columnist Laura Anders Lee explores how sibling rivalry creates stronger bonds. And in The Find, Tara Bradley Connell discovers Retromended, a vintage clothing gem in the Mills 50 District. 

BARRY GLENN
BARRY.GLENN@orlandomagazine.com

Categories: Column