This looked like it could get good. Overhead, the flat-screen beamed images of a sweaty-backed Mayor Buddy Dyer being tackled by a gaggle of kids from the Parramore Kidz Zone, while on the council floor embattled state Sen. Gary Siplin made the rounds in a light fedora and pinstripes. Was it Personal Caricature Day? No.

In fact, Siplin was present to drop off a giant fake check for $400,000 to benefit Parramore (surely not a campaign gesture, no!), and Dyer was sick. "I have a bit of a cold," he said, deferring a proclamation reading to the city clerk for the sanctimonious "Week of the Family" blur. "Whereas …." Boring.

Of note? The Rev. Willie Barnes invoked a visiting-down-the-street Barack Obama to "embrace" Orlando during his prayer. Better still, one visitor dropped a suspicious stick from her purse during her early exit, and did so right next to a line of cops. Was it a joint?

No, but one would have been welcome.

No, but one would have been welcome.

Item: The city approves contracts for red light infraction hearing officers between the city of Orlando and the hearing officers.

Translation: The city's new, relatively unconstitutional (and therefore kept from the state Department of Transportation's jurisdiction; it's a code enforcement issue, see?) traffic watchdog system of the future isn't going to just run itself. Oh, wait. It's automatic, meaning it runs itself. But should the "criminals" who aren't really criminals choose to contest their infractions, the city is hiring three hearing officers to be entrusted with overseeing all contested citations — commissioner Patty Sheehan boasted that there had already been 3,000 citations in one month, and that the evidence was "extremely compelling," and thereby incontrovertible. Christine Groves, Mike Irwin and Carroll Barco — who apparently meet the city's loose qualifications of having a good standing with the Florida Bar and completing a 40-hour training course — will each preside over hearings at City Hall, and they'll be raking in $50 an hour to do so. The city estimates this will only cost $7,200 a year total, meaning that there will only be 144 hours of angry finger-waving allowed. Next!

Item: The city approves an amendment to its current agreement with SecurAmerica LLC for armed and unarmed security guard services.

Translation: Back in June 2007, the city signed an agreement with SecurAmerica to provide the city with rent-a-cop services at an annual cost of $1.14 million. This year, perhaps noticing that the city is willing to fork over $50 an hour to navel-gazing attorneys, the security guards are requesting a wage increase of 25 cents an hour for officers and 50 cents an hour for shift supervisors, bringing the new billing rate to $12.74 an hour for unarmed services and $12.94 for armed ones (of course, the lowly guards only get a portion of that — $8.75 to $9.50 an hour). Also, erm, somewhere in this $1.18 million agreement is $35,000 for embroidery. Sew expensive!

Item: The city approves a lease agreement between the city of Orlando and Casa de Mexico de la Florida Central Inc. for space on the ninth floor of City Hall.

Translation: What would Lou Dobbs think? The city's been leasing out 468 square feet of its ninth floor to Mexico — or at least according to the website of Casa de Mexico, a Mexican nonprofit organization "founded to pyrsue fudraising activities `sic`" — since 1997, and wants the munificent fiesta to continue for at least two more years. They even get a cut rate on their tiny office shoebox: one-half of the current average commercial rate, or $7,020 per year ($15 per square foot). For that amount, they get use of the elevators, hallways and restrooms. Suspiciously — or not — they are not "entitled" to use the first-floor galleries. Why does Orlando hate Mexicans? And yet still live with them?

Item: The city approves the award of the fiscal year 2008 "Solving Cold Cases through DNA" grant.

Translation: Hip to the incessant permutations of the CSI meme, the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the city $98,838 to fund overtime, travel and DNA processing for the Orlando Police Department. Of course, this being a federal grant, there are a number of pesky "special conditions" that must be met and documented by the always-good-with-the-paperwork police, things like: They can't use the money for "statistical research"; they should prioritize violent crimes over nonviolent ones; and, well, they have to be fair about stuff. So that "travel" portion can't be used to jet down to Miami and make fun of David Caruso's thinning red hair. Pity.


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