COUNCIL WATCH 


Those hoping for a hot-summer ethical showdown in reference to the recent Daisy Lynum redneck scandal – something about racist ropes that doesn’t bear repeating – would be sorely disappointed at this dull installment of Your City at Work. A lone WKMG-Channel 6 reporter tried to corner Lynum at the dais for a sound-bite response, but Lynum walked out of the room, leaving him there with his microphone arm outstretched. Sad reporter.

Instead, the afternoon’s festivities were weighed down with inscrutable discussions about millage rates and the fact that we’re raising them in order to bridge that $30 million budget gap. What’s a millage rate? A number that determines the property taxes you have to pay, silly. Only District 1 commissioner Phil Diamond spoke out in opposition, mostly because his district is rich. Not-rich-District 6 rambler Sam Ings delivered his usual monologue, this time including a reminder: “A black baby dies every six days in Orange County.” Thanks, Sam.

Item: The city approves an amendment to the State of Florida’s State Tree Research and Analysis Tool for Urban Forest Managers grant agreement.

Translation: Orlando is a concrete jungle populated with all sorts of mean streets, flora, fauna and water features, so it only makes sense that we would be acknowledged by the state as the Central Florida reference city in its very important study of climate variations to be read by precisely no one. Fine. But the state already fronted us $35,792 in grant money back in April, and that grant was set to expire on June 30. Clearly somebody forgot to count the trees or whatever, and now the city is all “due to an unanticipated delay in starting up grant activities” and begging for an extension until the end of September. There’s a tree-falling-in-the-woods-inaudibly joke in here somewhere.

Item: The city approves an employment agreement with Frank Usina, community venues project manager.

Translation: Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new fall guy. Usina’s CV is 26 years long with the city, centered largely on planning, permitting and economic development. Now he’s crawling out of the cubicle shadows to become the go-to guy for all things venues, right down to making sure that the unthinkable gets accomplished by the 2012 due date. He’ll be rewarded a handsome $105,860 yearly salary until everything is erect, then, pending any sort of need for him anymore, he’ll have the option of sifting himself back into the city’s rubber-stamp machine. For now, though, his middle name will be Blame.

Item: The city approves Amendment No. 4 to the Orlando Performing Arts Center agreement.

Translation: Speaking of venues, OPAC – or DPAC, or ipecac – is still a bit of a twinkle in the mayor’s cloudy eye. The First United Methodist Church parcel is tied up in escrow and awaiting a “planned development” ordinance for further church campus development. As such, the original deadline of Aug. 31 doesn’t seem very likely anymore, and the city is asking to push it back to Dec. 31. This amendment also decreases the number of seats in the acoustic hall, because the original plan had seats too close to the stage. Whatever. The city is still sticking to its scheduling guns, though, clarifying that this in no way will affect the opening date of cultural salvation shaped like a building, budget deficit be damned.

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

Translation: The city is a sorority girl at a state university who doesn’t feel like canceling her tanning appointment to get her term paper on the Enlightenment done, basically. Following its two-day court case fighting the First Vagabonds Church of God and their desire to, erm, feed people, the judge has ordered both parties to craft written closing arguments by Aug. 8. The city’s willing to pay Christopher Skambis $250 an hour (not to exceed a total of $12,500) for what its own legal department can’t or won’t do. But the city, it should be noted, is very, very pretty.

Item: The city approves a grant funded by the city, county and local government law section of the Florida Bar for a student internship program for the city attorney’s office.

Translation: And what Skambis doesn’t do, some poor intern surely will. The Florida Bar is handing the city a matching grant of $2,500 for two intern positions to assist the city attorney’s office “with a variety of tasks.” Feeding the homeless is presumably not among them.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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