‘See me, hear me, touch me, do me," or some such reverent plea for the holy act of civic kindness was the tone of guest minister the Rev. Shaun King's tepid invocation, but it was an even more perfect setup for the bizarre rock moment that followed. Gibson Guitar's Orlando GuitarTown calamity has come to a close, and Gibson bigwig — and "managing director of strategic alliances"! — Michael Waggoner was present to present a giant fake check for $182,371 to four deserving local charities — one of which was the Downtown Arts District — who partially put the whole thing on and yet still somehow qualified as a charity. Rock & roll synergy! Waggoner told the story of how Orlando became a host city — basically, a conference call where everybody was like, "Why not?" — and a magical guitar string broke somewhere in the distance.
It wasn't all "Come Together" camaraderie, though. During a budget update peppered with details of the city's chopping-block campaign to rid departments of staff, commissioner Sam Ings bowed up at the mayor with some "How many cuts came from the executive office?" rhetoric. Awkward!
Item: The city approves the first amendment to the AirTran Airways Inc. economic development incentive agreement.
Translation: In the city's angular municipal lexicon, the term "amendment" rarely brings with it any substantial reward. It's never more for less, or "Surprise! We're all getting fish-shaped cars that swim through the sky!" or "Hey, you know what this means? All debts are being formally scrubbed away!" No, the city only amends things to make them worse, less likely or, like movable goal posts, smaller on the horizon. We weren't particularly excited in February 2008 when the city announced its plans to incentivize econo-wingmen AirTran and the new operations center they were bringing to Orlando — "remember ValuJet `AirTran's former name` … and that crash in 1996?" we frowned — but the promise of 121 new, well-paid jobs and a total capital investment of $6.9 million in an already lagging economy was commendable. Now, with the winds of unemployment blowing skin off the bones of Orlando's struggling workforce, the city is agreeing to bump the deal — from 2010 to 2015 — "due to current economic factors." AirTran is still on schedule to build the headquarters by next year; it's just that the job creation aspect of the whole thing will have to wait. So, starting in 2015 (a year after AirTran's "job creation schedule" kicks in), the city will begin disbursing the $186,600 that it promised AirTran for saving us in our darkest hour of need, six years later.
Item: The city adopts a resolution approving the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority authorizing the issuance of not-to-exceed $70 million in special purpose facilities taxable revenue bonds.
Translation: More flightspeak from the city, only this time the transaction deals with terrestrial concerns. On Aug. 19, GOAA moved forward with its plan to issue $70 million in bonds to fund "all or a portion of" its intended upgrades to the rental car system at Orlando International Airport, including "designing, construction, operating, relocation and maintaining" — or everything associated with the very essence of -— new rental car facilities required to get tourists from point B to points C-Z in the great Orlando distraction flume. Neither GOAA nor the city's taxpayers are to be responsible for backing this surprise expenditure; instead, the bonds are to be supported by a customer facility charge and contingent only on such airport revenues. In related news, will you have trouble remembering the Alamo if they relocate it? Heh.
Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with U.S. Peroxide LLC for a sulfide control system.
Translation: Once again the city has found itself pressed nose-first up against the truism "shit stinks," flailing its arms around in a smelt-it-dealt-it manner to cover up the fact that it hasn't found any alternatives for dealing with its embarrassing malodorousness. Currently, the city is under contract with beauty supply magnate U.S. Peroxide for the industrial-strength Febreze used to mask the stench of its wastewater lift stations, but that contract is up and nobody bothered to find a new chemist. For now, the city will just extend its contract by four months and throw an estimated $97,764 at the Atlanta company to avoid having to say "excuse me" over the next four months. Fart jokes!
Item: The city approves the extension of its annual purchase agreement for concealable body armor in accordance with the terms, conditions and pricing schedule of the state of Florida contract.
Translation: It's boom days for the cops again — it always is, except for that time when everybody was fooled into feeling bad for the Taser tendencies of doughnut-eaters — so the city is extending by six months its contract for impenetrable underwear with Special Products Group of Boynton Beach, Harrison Uniform Company of Orlando and Law Enforcement Supply of Tampa. These sexy garments don't come cheap (nothing fuzz-related does); OPD drops an estimated $190,000 a year on the wound-curbing goods. This time maybe they'll be firstname.lastname@example.org
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