Council Watch 

Only nine days earlier, on Nov. 6, the city — and for a moment, the nation, at least on the cable news crawls — bore witness to a cacophony of gunfire that shut down downtown, so this week's city council meeting would have to be a very special episode of Growing Pains. Well, sort of. Each commissioner seemed to have his or her own way of projecting empathy — Robert Stuart was somber, Patty Sheehan had a family member who could have been involved (and invoked "there but for the grace of God …" just because), Tony Ortiz was proud — but only one, Sam Ings, brought the spectacle to an unexpected level. He remarked that the mayor sure did look handsome in that press conference. Everybody laughed. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, commissioner Daisy Lynum was all excited about prescription drugs, specifically a new discount card for Orlando residents giving them an average savings of 20 percent. "As long as they're prescribed," she winked, not at all in reference to a certain former opponent with an E-Z name to forget.

Item: The city approves an award to American Bronze Foundry Inc. for a bid in response to a solicitation to provide and install two bronze statues, one light pole with a call box and one plaque.

Translation: Way back in August, long-winded raconteur Sam Ings drew some ire from residents in his district's Washington Shores neighborhood when he proposed planting two bronze statues smack in the middle of a residential intersection. August, you'll remember, was about the time when the cops and firefighters were tiptoeing around potential layoffs due to a failing city budget, so if Ings were a man of irony, he himself might have chuckled at the notion of replacing real people-protectors with bronze statues of the city's first black police officers, including the father of current Ninth Judicial Circuit chief judge Belvin Perry. He is not a man of irony; instead, he reportedly blew up at some local journalists for even posing the question. Now, with only one bid in for the project, Sanford's American Bronze Foundry will do the honors for $87,500 out of Ings' discretionary spending, "$4,900 less than the preliminary quote obtained before the solicitation was issued," reads the item summary. As a bonus, the installation will include a call box, which should provide endless hours of interactive entertainment.

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual contract with W.W. Grainger Inc. for industrial tools, supplies and equipment.

Translation: Did you know that the city is a member of the National Joint Powers Alliance? Does not the mere mention of such an agency conjure images of animated, flying, square-jawed figureheads? Simmer down. The joint powers are just discount contract negotiation arrangements to help the city get cheap deals on things like tools. The city plans to spend about $150,000 annually on monkey wrenches and other manly things until the end of the contract in May 2011, including clunky contraptions for the vaunted venues, fleet concerns and wastewater.

Item: The city adopts a resolution of its not-to-exceed $30 million industrial development revenue bond for the Orlando performing arts center.

Translation: This would be the approval of the new bond issuance that drew a public hearing of zero two weeks ago. If the motion is to be believed, it will cost the city (meaning you) absolutely nothing. Bank of America has expressed interest in purchasing the bonds, and the bank will handle the leg-breaking repo calls with the fine folks out at OPAC. The $30 million will go toward taking care of debt already associated with the new performing arts center (cough), in addition to helping move the magical musical erection forward.

Item: The city approves additional design services with Glatting Jackson for the Amway Center streetscape project.

Translation: Speaking of new places to spend your money on aesthetic immersion! Turns out that the $600,000 the city had budgeted for improving the surrounding streetscapes of megalomaniac Rich DeVos' Golden Pleasure Dome™ wasn't enough, and nobody saw that coming. The original plan saw Glatting Jackson toiling through a list of nine tasks to make the bitch sing, huddling around rooms and poring over "studies" to make sure that the whole topiary heaven met Orlando's feng shui standards. Now, eureka, there are nine more tasks involving signage, traffic signals, lighting and trees-that-grow-money planted, say, every 10 feet. The additional cost is not to exceed $304,180, but then again it wasn't to exceed $600,000 when first pitched in September 2008. "Not to exceed" is a pretty pliable designation around here.

Item: The city approves awards to Wood Mulch Products, Whole Landscape Supply, Cato Environmental Services and Florida Potting Soils for bids in response to solicitation for annual purchase agreements for pine bark, pine straw, wood chips and soil.

Translation: Utilizing the services of four separate companies (because not everybody has just the right "play sand"), the city intends to spend $149,300 over the next year on dirty, woody, barky, straw-y gardening stuff for Leu Gardens and other less prestigious parks. Dirt is not cheap.


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