Council Watch 

It's rarely a good sign when all of the seats are taken in the city's political theater, and Monday's miscellany — back after a three-week hiatus — would prove the rule.

The first hour was stacked with back- patting in the form of awards and presentations: a solemn acknowledgement of Black History Month, a tirelessly documented presentation on everything the city did for Martin Luther King Day celebrations and a rousing (or yawning) frolic through the paycheck philanthropies of city staff (in which we learned that the city has a power-lifting team!). Typically, after such a crowded dossier of huzzahs, the crowd magically disappears. This week they stayed.

There was trouble brewing, see. Trouble involving the pairing of race and concession stands. Trouble that required another PowerPoint on how the city did nothing wrong. Thanks, Orlando.

Item: The city approves an advisory committee ranking for the annual agreement for food services at the Amway Center, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and the Florida Citrus Bowl, and authorizes the director of purchasing to execute an agreement with the top-ranked firm.

Translation: Like a bad case of acid reflux, this item — originally introduced on Feb. 1, but then postponed due to racial controversy — returns after a mayor-mandated three-week "look-see." As is typical of the city's psychosis, the venues food-service agreement was deemed a problem for all the wrong reasons: not because it skewed in favor of megalomaniac Rich DeVos (handing over a handsome profit margin for the Magic of $6 million annually, with the city dropping its revenues from $4 million to $2.6 million), but rather because of sour grapes from certain black community leaders over the ranking of bids from the applicants. It turns out that Orlando Foodservice Partners, the highest ranked bidder and current food provider for all three venues, has substantial minority representation among its subcontractors, just not the right minority representation. Reading between the lines, it's apparent that some on the council preferred second-ranked Aramark and were willing to get vocal about a "tainted" ranking process. Now, duly coagulated after three weeks, the deal goes to the highest-ranked bidder: Orlando Foodservice Partners. Daisy Lynum voted no, while Phil Diamond recused himself because of lawyerly obligations (but not before making it clear that he thought the city was stupid for signing a deal that makes them less money on a newer, bigger arena).

Item: The city approves a lease for a portion of Citrus Bowl office space to the United Football League.

Translation: Having just capped off their undefeated inaugural season with a championship loss to the crazy Las Vegas Locos (OK, Locomotives), Florida's own farm-league footballers, the Florida Tuskers, are ready to settle down in the Citrus Bowl. Why? Well, on the same day that their coach, Jim Haslett, left for the Washington Redskins, the Tampa Bay Rays sold their interest in the team, leaving them stranded in Orlando. The city offered them a 1,000-square-foot hole on the second floor of the stadium for just $1,300 per month so long as they don't make a mess (they're responsible for their own janitorial needs). You won't even know they're here.

Item: The city approves an award to B&H Gun Rack Inc. for factory or reloaded frangible practice ammunition.

Translation: Frangible ammunition breaks apart when it meets a hard surface, reducing the chance of splashback or ricochet — an important precaution when dealing with lawmen in training. The Orlando Police Department apparently takes its target practice seriously, as it's contracting with Merritt Island cop-stuff wholesalers B&H Gun Rack for an indefinite quantity of minimally invasive bullets, which are estimated to set the city back $143,065.

Item: The city approves a qualified target industry tax refund resolution for iGPS Co. LLC.

Translation: We're sure Steve Jobs is sick of this sloppy co-opting of his lower-case "i," but the city is enamored enough with the futuristic pallet-rental persuasions of three-year-old iGPS to play incentive softball with the company in order to keep their business here. iGPS already calls downtown Orlando home, but because the plastic-pallet-with-GPS-devices-installed business is booming, the company has just put it out there that it may consider building out its offices in Dallas … unless. That's the magic word! To ensure that iGPS constructs its additional 33,500 square feet right here where they should at a cost of $200,000, the city will throw $93,500 at them over six years (the company is promising 85 new high-paying jobs), while the state will offer $467,500 in target industry tax incentives. So, basically the $2.6 billion company will get it all for free and make a profit.

a profit.

Item: The city approves an occupancy agreement for a caretaker at Lake Fairview Park.

Translation: Somebody named Kevin Hughes gets to live rent-free at a house at Lake Fairview Park, providing that he's observant and able to lock and unlock gates and bathrooms daily. You, unfortunately, are homeless.


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