COUNCIL WATCH 


"Would you like me to share with you some good news from the Lord?" rattled a wandering, Bible-toting, red-eyed zealot outside City Hall near the Depression-era Christmas tree. Ha! Of course there would be no good news inside the semisecular council chamber, where District 3 commissioner Robert Stuart opined that "in times like these, crime goes up," District 4 commissioner Patty Sheehan praised the improvements on the I-4 off-ramp leading to the Mall at Millenia just in time for Christmas, and District 5 commissioner Daisy Lynum made some racially sensitive reference to her "tribe" and their dancing abilities. Same old same old, then, as the year's final council meeting wrapped itself around yet another ill-advised development issue.

Item: The city approves the downtown movie theater completion agreement.

Translation: Way back in 2004, when the city was still licking leftover chili from the crease beneath Cameron Kuhn's overhanging gut, the promise of a movie theater in the doomed Plaza complex downtown incited the overuse of the phrase "live, work and play" by those who are paid to say things like that. The original deal incentivized the life-saving cinematic proposition with a cool $3.5 million to be paid out over 10 years. Then, of course, Kuhn was financially popped like the windbag he is. But seeing as living, working and playing are still a priority — like laughing at the pieces or dancing in the ashes — the city is on to Plan B. They've crafted a $6 million package to see to it that the 12-screen, table-with-food-service-and-stadium-seated theater is done by next summer; that money will supposedly be paid back (with interest) from the overflow of funds coming into the parking garage and adjoining retail outlets. (Good luck!) As part of the agreement, the theater will donate 1,500 tickets to the kidz of the Parramore Kidz Zone and reserve one screen for foreign or independent films "for a portion of each year." (Non-American boobies!) Lynum, for her part, noted her "hesitance" in dealing with people she does not know. So they introduced themselves. Awkward. Also, commissioner Sheehan grew the outline of a set of balls by suggesting the whole thing was unethical. Mayor Buddy Dyer did not like that kind of talk. Public hearing in January, y'all.

Item: The city approves an award to Seminole Harley-Davidson/Buell for the purchase of 35 2009 Harley-Davidson FLHP Road King motorcycles.

Translation: The CHiPs are down and Ponch and John need new hogs to go out and woo the ladies, so OPD has put in a request for the purchase of 35 new Harleys to make loud noises and break down a lot. The 35 Harleys will be two-tone — "Dark Peace Officer Blue" and "Glacier White Pearl," natch — and will feature 12-volt cigarette-lighter power outlets. (The cool cities are getting BMWs these days; just sayin'.) Four of them, suspiciously, will have windshields 2 inches shorter than what is typically required for keeping bugs out of the teeth of pigs. Midget cops? Anyway, the new wheels will cost the city $546,525, and all "emergency equipment" will be recycled from 2007. Except for a new white LED light!

Item: The city approves an award to Star Trac, Fitness Pro and Busy Body Gyms To Go for the purchase of fitness equipment.

Translation: Seeing as the city is largely about looking good and getting nowhere — and by the way, how much weight has Buddy lost? — it shouldn't come as a surprise that somewhere in the grand overstatement of the marble city concourse there is a gym full of stationary transportation simulators. In order to maintain their collective wellness, the city is presently restocking their workout room with five treadmills ($28,475), three ellipticals ($15,885), two recumbent bikes ($7,390), two upright bikes ($6,990), one spinner bike ($3,995), two rowers ($1,950), one upper-body ergometer (or hand pedals: $3,250), and one stair-climber ($3,800). You're not paying for it, though. It's all covered under the city's health insurance plan.

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

Translation: The sky is falling. The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Meanwhile, new state estimates show that sales tax and gas tax funds aren't going to add up fast enough to keep up with our spending habit. The city's general fund has been adjusted to reflect a $1.56 million decrease and the gas tax fund is now down $538,514. The city claims it was already prepared for the losses and has set some money aside; nothing to see here, etc. Merry Christmas! We're poor!

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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