Council Watch 


"Will Christ ever return?" That was the headline we found spread across the front of the Philadelphia Trumpet in the city's records office before this week's council confab, and it got us to thinking. Which is good, because given the fact that the mayor was due in short order at the airport to greet the arrival of the NBA Championship Finals trophy ("1-2-3, go Magic," the dais said in unison, quickly), there wouldn't be much else to take in this week. Just some fast talking, eye-rolling and going-through of the motions. Hurry!

"About the rapture. What is the city's position?"

City mouthpiece Heather Allebaugh had no comment.

Item: The city approves the application and acceptance of an award by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida JAG Countywide.

Translation: Back in 1988, 22-year-old police officer Edward Byrne was sitting in his vehicle on patrol in New York City outside the home of a cooperating witness in a drug arrest. Then he was shot in the head five times and killed by gang members. So that sucks. But in the world of silver linings — and if anybody needs one of those right now, it's the cops on the city's chopping block — Byrne's death prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to make federal funds available to improve policing conditions. This year's allotment includes the added bonus of magic Obama money, meaning the county will get a hefty check for $2.4 million. The city submitted eight projects to the Orange County Sheriff's office for things like better equipment, technology upgrades and overtime pay, and all of them were approved. The city will receive $457,832 for its efforts — money they've probably already spent.

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with Horizon Behavioral Services Inc. for an employee assistance program.

Translation: Fearing the suicidal tendencies of the growing pink-slip brigade, the city is opting to extend its five-year agreement with Horizon rather than go through the uncertainty of re-marketing for new shrinks when there is a "potential reduction in force" on its own horizon. According to its website, "Horizon's services will help resolve employee personal, wellness and professional concerns that can adversely affect workplace productivity," meaning they'll probably feed you enough pills to make you think that being fired is totally a good thing. New beginnings! Anyway, the city will spend about $50,000 — or $1.22 per employee (for now!) — on keeping the night sweats from growing into day sweats, and everybody will live happily ever after … until they lose their benefits.

Item: The city approves awards to Classic Chevrolet, Greenway Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Sun State Ford for annual agreements for original equipment manufacturer parts for automotive and light trucks.

Translation: In what could have been a hilarious disaster had initial reports in May been true — that Greenway was one of 789 Chrysler dealerships closing its doors, when in fact it was its sister company in Georgia that got the bad letter — the city is signing on for another 25 months with its favorite three troubled domestic brands. Although not a calamity outright, it does bring to light the fact that just about the only people still buying American cars are the nation's municipalities, which doesn't say much for the whole marketing thing and does make the term "bailout" somehow more bi-directional and meta. Expect your tax dollars to fund about $434,000 worth of replacement parts over the next two years. Go ahead, kick the tires. They're yours.

Item: The city elects two mayors pro tem for one-year terms, lasting from June 2009 until June 2010.

Translation: Bitch fight! Well, not really. Commissioner Phil Diamond nominated commissioner Robert Stuart (current pro tem two) for mayor pro tem one, a move seconded by commissioner Tony Ortiz. Ortiz, in turn, got the No. 2 nod from Diamond and Stuart. Commissioner Lynum muttered something about the order being wrong, when in fact she was wrong. All told, a sausage party signifying nothing.

Item: The city approves a one-hour extension of alcoholic beverage sales — from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. — for the 2009 NBA Championship Finals.

Translation: Remember back in 2003 when everybody got their knickers in a twist about the possibility of extending drinking hours for downtown bars? What about the children?!

Anyway, now citing the possibility of economic development in these tough economic times — and drunk on the blue-and-white cocktail of Magicmania — the city is having one of those 3.a.m. bisexual blackouts, and proposing that, hey, it might be a good idea to let people drink longer, especially when we're losing (blink, blink). Of course, this is just a momentary lapse of judgment on the city's part, one that probably won't make it to the water cooler in the morning; the extension to 3 a.m. of drinking hours (and 4 a.m. for bar hours) is only applicable on June 9 (which already happened) and June 11, the home games in the current championship finals. After that, it's back to the church and the ladies.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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