COUNCIL WATCH 


Divine intervention rained down on our biweekly civic kaffee klatsch in the form of a sonic aberration this week, or at least so it would seem. As the mayor went to deliver his scripted opening, the microphones backfired with the voice of God (or a Peanuts principal), leading sharp-dressed Rev. Shaun King to wing it on his invocation. "Reeeeeverb," he pontificated hilariously, was just like the economic crisis and the whole reason that everybody was gathered in this very space was to deal with it.

"We're going to have some fun in the mayor's update," Mayor Buddy Dyer smirked soon after. We weren't. A gaggle of important people from the Florida A&M College of Law sales-pitched, Sam Ings—style, about just how much they loved Orlando for that $10 million that the city gave them in cash and in kind, and yeah, soon that degree you're paying for might actually mean something.

"The best is yet to come," one of them sloganeered. Well, obviously.

Item: The city approves the purchase of 46 2009 Chevrolet Impala police vehicles from Classic Chevrolet.

Translation: In Africa, the impala is known for its white underbelly and "M"-marked rear, usually seen while jumping 30 feet in the air to get away from you. The 2009 Chevrolet Impala, conversely, is all utilitarian sedan curves and droopy mom boredom. Regardless, the city plunked down more than $2 million last January to replace 86 vehicles in its police car fleet with new bits of blah that are reportedly "green," but not the color. Now it's ready to cut a $1.2 million check for 46 more of them, because they are addictive.

Item: The city approves temporary rent assistance agreements with the retail tenants in the first floor of the Church Street city parking garage.

Translation: Oh, economic crisis. Noting that this is precisely the financial climate in which you would want to construct a giant events center, the city went right ahead and broke ground on Rich DeVos' Golden Pleasure Dome™ earlier this year. "They will come!" the commissioners clapped their hands together and stared at a tear in God's eye. Well, nothing's coming, especially with everything now covered in soot and debris from the big erection, and the Church Street businesses that are supposed to bask in this boom are struggling. So, the city — or, according to the paperwork, the Orlando Magic organization — is cutting rent by 25 percent for two years for 11 businesses at the base of the Church Street parking garage. The cost to the basketball franchise is expected to be $49,259, which is nothing to Rich DeVos, frankly.

Item: The city approves a contract with the Skambis Law Firm.

Translation: Speaking of poor people, remember when the First Vagabonds Church of God challenged the city's ban on group feedings in city parks and won? Remember how a federal judge ordered Orlando to stop enforcing its ban because it was infringing on First Vagabonds' free speech rights? Good beat out evil, and the city proudly embraced the error of its inhumanity, right? Not so much. Instead, the city is paying Christopher Skambis and his law firm $30,000 to draft an appeal for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, wringing its fists and hoping to ruin Christmas for the poor and homeless everywhere. Dirt sandwiches for everyone!

Item: The city approves the purchase of Val-Matic check valves from Val-Matic Valve and Manufacturing Corp.

Translation: This week in wastewater, the city realized that the discharge piping in its reclaimed water pumps needs some new valves. Valves! They have hydraulic pistons that allow for "smooth flow transition," but seeing as they've been around since the late '80s, when the whole staff was required to wear acid-washed jeans, they're not working so well anymore. Now they need $98,000 for some new Val-Matics to look bravely into their wastewater fashion future.

Item: The city approves a city deed for the Florida Department of Transportation construction of commuter rail near Florida Hospital.

Translation: The city continues to operate on the bratty premise that it will get its commuter-rail toy train set soon, and takes one more step in that direction. They're handing over the deed of a 5-foot-wide strip of right-of-way between Princeton Avenue and Rollins Street to FDOT. Interestingly — or not — the city acquired the plat of land when somebody's business failed there in 1937. Sounds like a promising foundation for the future!

 

bmanes@orladnoweekly.com

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