Council Watch 

The billowing dark clouds of impending storms crept through the city's air ducts and into council chambers at this week's bad-mood celebration. The Rev. F. Jay Deacon — a Unitarian! — huffed and puffed about "crumbling dreams of despair" and "acid fog," effectively blowing the house down. Still, it wasn't all bad news, said the mayor: The Magic made the playoffs, he's "confident" about SunRail saving the world, JetBlue and Lufthansa are joining together to build an aircraft repair hangar and hey, buy local, Orlando!

District 4 commissioner Patty Sheehan rightfully pissed on it all with a welcome rant about schools closing, the city begging for grants to maintain public services and stimulus Band-Aids. "There's no such thing as a free lunch!" she grumbled. Amen.

Item: The city approves an award to Spies Pool LLC for the annual purchase of sodium hypochlorite for the city of Orlando's swimming pools.

Translation: With personal bathing options dwindling as the economy sours, citizens would do well to know that public bathing is making a huge comeback, and not just at your local bathhouse. The city boasts a total of 11 public swimming pools, most with a $3 entry charge, in which you can communally clean yourself while recreating and urinating. In order to make this process sanitary, the city will spend $107,000 on sodium hypochlorite (commonly known as bleach) this year, but will forgo its original plans to replace the pools' tanks because of the coming bread lines and apocalypse. It should be noted that the current means of production of sodium hypochlorite is known as the "Hooker process." That, dear reader, may provide some direction in dealing with your current unemployment. Hookers in swimming pools!

Item: The city authorizes expenditure for Lake Eola Phase I improvements.

Translation: It is very, very important that we remodel the city's iconic retention pond right now. The city applied for a $260,000 grant from the Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs department this year and has been secretly notified in Morse code plucked out over a string between two cups that they'll be receiving the entire amount, tentatively. That means the city itself will only need to pony up $273,000 from the $1 million allotted by the Community Redevelopment Agency in last year's budgetary Crisco-wrestle. Of course, this is just the first phase of improvements — which include continuing the sidewalks around the remaining one-third of Lake Eola and installing speakers all the way around the lake so that you can barely hear whatever nonsense is going on at the amphitheater while iSolating yourself on your iPod — so the rest will probably go to deal with that spurting thing in the middle. The sidewalks should be done by the end of the year, with the hi-fi freakout following in the spring.

Item: The city approves the acquisition of 31,581 square feet of real property located at 56 E. South St. from Orlando Performing Arts Center Corporation for the Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center.

Translation: It's still happening! The city will pay OPAC $3.47 million for their lot appraised at $3.79 million. Shuffling money around looks like progress.

Item: The city approves a budget amendment necessary to reduce the city budget in order to align with the March revised state revenue estimates.

Translation: Uh-oh. While the city continues its "we meant to do that" explanations of how to deal with things while the money blows away, they have to admit the fact that state revenue estimates are forcing them to reduce their annual general fund budget by $1.03 million hurts a little, right? Nah, they'll just take it out of their capital investment plan fund, the one that builds and fixes stuff.

Item: The city approves a budget amendment necessary to eliminate 25 police officer positions that were added as part of the adopted fiscal year 2008-2009 budget.

Translation: Last year, everybody was going on about how the federal COPS program was going to put more cops on the streets, more boots on the ground, more pigs in the crime mud. Turns out the grant would only cover 31 percent of each of the 25 proposed new positions, or $37,500 of the $119,600 cost (which includes guns, uniforms, equipment and doughnuts). The remaining $821,000 would come out of, gulp, the aforementioned general fund. "Current economic conditions" have again prevailed, and we have to send the money back. None of the positions were filled, and the city's now applying for another COPS grant to save 15 positions already staffed.

Item: The city approves an award to Lawmen's & Shooters' Supply for the purchase of .223 practice ammunition.

Translation: Hey, but at least the cops will have practice ammo! Two hundred cases of fake bullets will only set us back $68,000, just more than half the price of one real cop. Maybe we should invest in half-cops.


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