Council watch 

Billy Manes pays attention to city government so you don't have to

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It's been the elephant in the room for the past year during these civic confabs of commerce and conversation: the notion that former russet potato, Mayor Buddy Dyer, had turned into the incredible shrinking politician, though only from certain angles (the ones not involving his head). People whispered, people purged, people tightened their Spanx and arched their brows at the optical illusion of a local leader possibly shapeshifting into a gubernatorial twig. Or was it just a sexy-time midlife crisis? Did he buy a convertible, too?
Well, all doubts were duly shrunk this week as the mayor kicked off his own party with an honor bestowed upon himself, natch. The American Heart Association gifted the mayor with the Honorary Lifestyle Change Award! Wait, lifestyle change? That won't play well in Tallahassee.

Item: The city approves Amendment No. 5 of the interlocal agreement with Orlando/Orange County for Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Translation: Because performance often requires the art of illusion – see the shell games and Incredible Disappearing Dollar kiosks at your local 1950s boardwalk attraction – it would only make sense that as the city once again eyes the pounding eyesore across from City Hall slated to someday introduce Orlando to the wonders of Andrew Lloyd Webber, it would choose to play a little game of its own (more of a game than we're about to let on, even). You might remember that the city apparently slighted the folks at DPAC by getting all pumped up for the Citrus Bowl back in July, because, you know, sports. Now, in an attempt to allow "certain assurances and commitments to be memorialized" at DPAC's behest, the city – assuring that this amendment will provide "no additional fiscal impact," with its public poker face – is trying to smooth things over with immense fiscal impact to the city (meaning you). How much is a friendship-bracelet apology going for these days? That depends on how you look at it. The city is (allegedly) sticking to its guns on the matter of forcing DPAC to raise sufficient funds on its own for the second, orchestral phase of the project (although "sufficient" has ranged from $70 to $80 million over recent months, and will probably go considerably lower if current logic prevails), but once that happens, the city's bloated purse will open up and sing an expensive tune. First comes the promised $77.5 million from the city coffers and bond issuances, with the added caveat that the city may even throw in more. What? And the money keeps on flowing from there: The city will pay $3.5 million to build the outdoor plaza between City Hall and DPAC; it will extend DPAC's line of credit from $3 million to $4.5 million; there's an $8 million letter of credit in there somewhere; and, because of "additional oversight" the project required because it was called out for behaving badly (fancy cars, expensive lunches, etc.), the city will kick in an additional $2.5 million. In other words, even if you never get to see Cats at DPAC, you've already paid for your ticket. Except maybe not? This item was mysteriously deleted at the last minute, just like magic! Pretend this never happened … until it does.

Item: The city approves the authorization for the director of purchasing to negotiate and execute a contract with Shingle Creek Real Estate Advisory Co. LLC for Citrus Bowl renovation project advisor services.
Translation: Did you know that the forthcoming Citrus Bowl renovations require additional oversight, too? We didn't either, nor did any other agencies that might have wanted to bid on this opportunity, we imagine. But when you're Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's childhood friend, Jay Berlinsky – a former Dyer advisor, CNL Realty & Development Corp. honcho and current Shingle Creek developer who also provided "oversight" for the gloriously rusted-out Amway Center – "required" is a fuzzy word. Berlinsky and Co. will be paid a handsome sum of $14,500 a month for 36 months to peer over the shoulders of all of the people actually doing the work, because, well, they've done it before and we have to spend that money somewhere. Besides, that's only $522,000 of the $189 million being tossed into the city's largest monster-truck urine-trough, and what's half-a-million dollars between friends? Answer: bad government.

Item: The city approves an award to Parramore Foundry & Machine Works Inc. of Orlando for manhole covers, rings and parts.
Translation: Since we're on the subject of getting fucked, here's an idea we can (and always do, at least in this column) really get behind: manholes! See, there are all kinds of manholes. You've got your bleached manholes, your hairy manholes, those tangy manholes, and your stretchy and your tight manholes. If you're a man, odds are you already have a manhole of your own, though you're likely to keep it covered. To that end (ha!), the city – which is surprisingly gender-free – occasionally (or annually) requires not only covers, but the rings and other parts (ew) to keep it's manholes in traversable shape lest somebody accidentally take a tumble down into one of its many tunnels to its underground world of offal. Parramore Foundry & Machine Works ("serving" Central Florida since 1932, according to its website) came in with the winning bid, and will walk away with $157,401 for a year's worth of industrial-strength prudence and discretion. At least some of the city's gaping holes will be covered, then.

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