Council Watch 


So a Catholic priest walks into a municipal meeting and has nothing to say other than some generalization about the city council being "our rock." What does he do? He reads from the agenda aloud: Thank you, Lord, for "business and financial services, for economic development, for parks and recreation, for fire, for Orlando venues, for public works," etc. Let's eat! Such was the performance of Father Brian Sheridan of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church at the religious outset of this Monday's biweekly bullshit briefing.

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Beyond the annual old-lady-isms of the Historic Preservation Board Calendar contest – this year featuring train stations from Cracker times – there wasn't much fanfare. Well, there was one thing, and it looked like a soccer ball. Or football?

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Item: The city authorizes an application to be a World Cup host city in 2018 or 2022.

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Translation: Fifteen years ago, the City Beautiful impressed the world by slipping into its mesh-briefed polyester shorts and showing off its bulging soccer calves. The cultures of Holland, Ireland, Belgium, Morocco and Mexico congealed into a spicy stew, and Orlando was considered one of the better host cities for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, even going so far as to convert the upper dome of City Hall into a mammoth half-soccer ball that, like a Halloween costume in black Sharpie, took forever to scrub off. Now, in either nine or 13 years, the city is hoping to retread that path and bring back the economic development glories that befell downtown. Remember the housing boom? This being the future, there are a number of uncertainties cropping up in the city's financial globalism, what with the Citrus Bowl renovation inching its way down the city's priority list, Church Street Station – then cited as a hub for party overflow – being a brick tomb of doubt, and the fact that it will cost $12 million to $14 million to meet the requirements of the USA bid committee. Bloated payoff estimations put potential economic impact between $300 million and $500 million should our attempts be successful, so, yeah, exciting and amorphous. Maybe David Beckham can buy Church Street?

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Item: The city approves a modification to the federally funded sub-grant agreement with the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management for a hazard mitigation project to wind-retrofit Mennello Museum.

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Translation: Because it took them a little time to get their shingles in a row, the proposed buttressing of the Mennello Museum against troublesome wind events that was originally pitched back in 2005 – when wind events were the rage – ended up being more expensive. In 2007, city council approved the financing of the project, with FEMA shelling out $60,512 and the city ponying up $19,149. That was going on 2005 prices for roofing materials, though, and we all know how the roofing business has been since people stopped having roofs. Now the federal grant (the extension of which this item approves) has been increased to $91,570 and the city is responsible for $29,575. The project was finished a year ago. This is just the resulting boilerplate.

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Item: The city approves the execution of a memorandum of understanding with Orange County Public Schools, extending the period in which the Orlando Police Department and OCPS will continue implementation of a gang-prevention program developed pursuant to a United States Department of Labor grant previously awarded to OCPS.

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Translation: Just like 21 Jump Street, only without the smolder of Johnny Depp, the Orlando Police Department likes to stay hip to the jive of potential criminals going through the motions of academia. Last year, the cops were funded by a $125,000 labor department grant to Orange County Public Schools. With that money and an additional $131,250 this year, OPD assigned one person to implement the policies of the cleverly named "Building School District Based Strategies for Reducing Youth Involvement in Gangs and Violent Crime Through a Workforce Development Approach," or BSDBSRYIGVCTWDA. Turns out that the cops haven't been able to spend the money quickly enough, so the grant's second year is being extended through March 2010. In other words, Holly Robinson Peete gets to keep her job for three more months.

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Item: The city holds a hearing receiving comments and holds a discussion concerning the issuance of a city of Orlando industrial development revenue bond not to exceed $30 million for the Orlando performing arts center project.

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Translation: An angry mob of opera baritones and knife-jointed ballerinas crashed into the dais like an aesthetic explosion, all glitter and blood and noise. Except they didn't. Nobody cared to air their frustrations because there weren't any to be had at this nebulous gesture at allowing public input. Apparently, this item merely allows the city to maintain some sort of tax exemption in their performing arts center refinancing negotiations, according to city spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh. Once voted upon in the near future, it could save the city $1 million, she says. Pins will drop someday.

; bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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