COUNCIL WATCH 


The smirky serenity that denotes an absence of controversy beamed from the civic panel as this week’s nearly empty political tea party was called to order. A slight swell of pride burped up for a moment at the revelation that just prior to the 2 p.m. curtain call, the final tourist development tax bonds were sold, meaning more smooth sailing for downtown’s Extreme Makeover: Shiny Buildings Edition. In general, though, it all felt perfunctory, mailed-in and (but for the law) unnecessary. Maybe if the commissioners and mayor were rubbed together, something funny would happen.

“I have you down for general appearances today, Billy,” the mayor joked from his throne.

Yikes.

Item: The city approves an award to Control Technologies for the purchase of LED traffic signal bulbs.
Translation: Orlando is a city lousy with big ideas. Some of them are greenlighted, some bear caution, others are just bad and require some motivation from on high to command the city to “stop.” Regardless, at the inception of an idea, some kind of marker is needed to demonstrate that the city is indeed having an idea, and typically that marker comes in the form of an overhead light bulb. In this particular (rather meta) case, the city’s big idea involves the purchase of overhead light bulbs, and not just any light bulbs, either. In order to maintain its greening agenda, the transportation engineering division will perform a wholesale overhaul of its traffic light system, replacing its power-sucking incandescent signals with kinder, gentler LED ones. What will it mean to you? Maybe a bit of optical confusion at first. But for Sanford-based Control Technologies, it means $362,301 in cold, hard cash. Actually, that probably means something to you, too, Joe Taxpayer. Ideas aren’t cheap.

 

Item: The city approves an award of annual contract to Roscoe Moss Co. for Storm Flo Litter Collection Screens.
Translation: Ideas, like storm water, benefit from smart filtration. The city is already employing two Flo Litter Collection Screens in the removal of debris from storm-water runoff into Lake Lorna Doone and Lake Como. So pleased has the city been with the performance of these cylindrical catchalls that it will enter into an indefinite quantity contract with Roscoe Moss for a year (with four more years optional) to make sure that the rest of its lakes get the same trash-picking treatment. What’s more, the city will receive federal credits based on the amount of pollutants it keeps out of its lakes, making this another “win-win.” The price of victory? An estimated annual expenditure of $150,000.

Item: The city approves an award to Dell Computer Corporation for the purchase of 130 Dell Latitude ATG D630 notebooks.
Translation: Calling its old Panasonics “obsolete” like teenagers would in a Christmas Apple Store standoff, the police department will be unwrapping 130 brand-new Dell ATG D630 laptops – a “stallion of a workhorse,” according to Dell … butch! – for its patrol division. The city insists that because it’s in Florida – or, more precisely, because Florida has a deal with Dell, dude – it’s saving $76,247 on the purchase. In fact, we’ll be spending $238,795 ($1,836 each) for these rugged little horses, which means they’re far nicer than anything this column could be fingered on. But criminals, like ideas, require high-end processing.

Item: The city approves an employment agreement with Dr. Bill Vagianos, homeless prevention coordinator.
Translation: The city is operating under the big idea that it will end homelessness in 10 years. So it needs somebody who understands the problem and recognizes the ins and outs of the cardboard box. Over a period of two years, Vagianos (heh) – a veteran of the Department of Veterans Affairs – will be paid $164,500 to play lightning rod to the city’s various outreach organizations and government partners. A light bulb or two may be needed over his headspace.

Item: The city approves amendment No. 3 to the Orlando Performing Arts Center agreement, extending the date for parcel acquisitions.
Translation: Ooh, we couldn’t get the church parcel or the Maguire parcel nailed down in time. As such, the city is forced to postpone its giant OPAC idea for another six months. The city insists this will affect absolutely no one. “Such extension will have no impact on the construction schedule, target opening date, or any of OPAC’s financial obligations under the agreement,” they write. Move along, nothing to see here.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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