Council Watch 

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don't have to

There was something missing from this week’s simpleton symposium, something the average onlooker might have overlooked between midday yawns and pocket iPhone vibrations. Sure, the little pieces were all right where they were supposed to be: Commissioner Patty Sheehan was there to grandstand about the 133 couples already signed up for the city’s domestic-partnership registry; Commissioner Daisy Lynum extolled the virtues of a solid, cheap church breakfast; Commissioner Sam Ings unpacked his “and also” briefcase to let us know every last thing he accomplished (or appeared at) over a two-week period; Commissioner Robert Stuart boasted about being able to “shoot a lobbyist” at Otronicon. There was even some unseemly giggling at the capture of the alleged Thornton Park flasher.

But when the dais got down to its usual business of gladhanding and childlike bonhomie, the commissioners notably did not break out in a chorus to honor Commissioner Phil Diamond’s birthday. It was the worst birthday party ever! That is until Latin Lover (and Commissioner) Tony Ortiz insisted at the end that the mayor croon a birthday love song to his mayoral-race rival Diamond in unison with the rest of them.

“You’re the only one up here who can sing,” Mayor Buddy Dyer blushed. Balance was duly restored. And the yawns continued.

Item:The city approves an interlocal agreement between the city and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Lynx) to allow the city’s Capital Improvement and Infrastructure Division to serve as Lynx’s project manager for the East-West bus rapid-transit expansion project and the Parramore bus rapid-transit expansion project.

Translation: As it has been discussing for years, the city is finally moving forward with the expansion of Lynx’s free Lymmo service to include rapid-transit busing from the current confines of its downtown Groundhog Day infinite loop to something that actually services surrounding neighborhoods. Expectedly, this whole “let’s throw some new buses in the mix” thing is extremely expensive, considering that the roads connecting Parramore to Thornton Park to the Amway Center to a future SunRail station all exist already. Thanks to an earmark from U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville – who ought to know a thing or two about commuting, since her gerrymandered district stretches half the damn state – the city will get $2.4 million to buy four hybrid buses for the east-west route and $5.5 million for route construction – otherwise known as extra lanes. The city will also bill Lynx about $400,000 for the use of its in-house infrastructural brain trust. For a separate Parramore leg of this dream tour – one that includes the federal courthouse, Amway Center, Florida A&M University’s College of Law and the imploding cesspit known as the Creative Village – the city secured $10 million in federal TIGER grants, and will provide the additional $2.5 million (which appears, by current documentation, to have grown to $3.4 million) in matching funds; the city will also reimburse Lynx up to $500,000 for administrative fees. There is no such thing as a free ride.

Item: The city approves an application for funding from the 2012 National Rifle Association Foundation general grant.

Translation: When it’s not busy lobbying the faces off state and federal legislators to make certain that every god-fearing fat person has a holster sewn into his forehead, the NRA likes to paint itself into the corner of law-enforcement philanthropy. After all, who uses guns more than cops? Dogs do! Oh, whatever. This item will throw $10,000 at the Orlando Police Department’s K-9 unit, supplying the department with dog hurdles, trainer bite suits and bite-bar sleeves, batons, electronic collars and hands-free tactical flashlights. So, basically, what we have here is the greatest party ever. Who’s bringing the pills?

Item: The city approves an award to Zambelli Fireworks Manufacturing Co. of Boca Raton for professional fireworks display.

Translation:Speaking of useless things that explode, the city has to stay on top of the audio-visual aesthetics of its terribly expensive new Lake Eola fountain. Life is hard and people are broke, but you know what? Baby, we’re a firework. The city only received one response to its bid for a regular explosives crazyperson, Zambelli out of Boca. The company will cover the city’s beloved July 4 patriotism combustion with two separate options: a 15-minute display for $27,500 and a 20-minute display for $35,000. That last $7,500 five minutes should actually include a virtual sex scene made out of twinkling lights, but it probably won’t.

Item: The city approves the use of the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO – lead agency, state of Oklahoma) Contract #SW300, awarded to Physio-Control Inc. for five Lifepak defibrillator/monitor units.

Translation:Inevitably, fireworks lead to heart attacks. It’s just a reality in the PTSD world of broken people. Fortunately, the city has been on the long path toward updating its broken down lifesaving machine-fleet via an equipment replacement program. Under this agreement, the city will shell out $124,918.50 for five new defibrillators in order to make its fire department – which now handles a lot of ambulance calls – slightly more adept at shocking people back to life. Wake up!

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