COUNCIL WATCH 


It looked like a bomb dropped in front of the commissioners’ lengthening faces as Rabbi E. Arnold Siegel brought the controversy with an unscripted preamble to his invocation. “In the country where my father was born, they were forced to say these prayers over their government officials,” he said before calling that (and this) particular act “tyrannical.” Hilarious.

Following a perfunctory proclamation for the Orlando Opera’s golden anniversary – and the presentation of a giant photomontage of microscopic opera photos to the mayor – another bomb appeared, this one in the form of the bomb threats from the erstwhile Pine Castle Jeep Range. It was there that yet another old bomb was found close to a house and a day-care center last week (hello, Veterans Day), and all agreed that something really important had to be done. All except a gaggle of accelerated-reading children present in Dr. Seuss hats. They were sleeping.

Item: The city approves a qualified target industry tax refund resolution for Intellon Corp.

Translation: As the city stumbles through its urban planning logarithm, integrating all of its circuits into a Main Street mainframe of artificial smiles and the real estate fembots that wire them, they must continue to feed that shiny machine. To that end, Orlando is actively courting the techy Intellon folks away from their current Ocala digs, while simultaneously trying to look as serious as its competitors, Toronto and San Jose, Calif. Time to roll out the incentives: $20,000 in tax breaks over six years, plus another $100,000 from the state. All of this for 20 new jobs with an average salary of $96,645 (more than twice the state average!) over in the Lee Vista area. We are the modern.

Item: The city approves a stipulated order of taking and final judgment including attorney’s fees, expert’s fees and costs.

Translation: There are still three holdouts on the Hughey Avenue event center site impeding the erection of Rich DeVos’ Golden Pleasure Dome, so it’s time for some ED (eminent domain, you dirty thinker) negotiations. One of the subject parcels is presently owned by Hughey Holdings LLC, and operates under the auspices of E-Sciences Inc., an environmental consulting business which ironically sits on polluted land. The owners balked at the city’s appraisal value of $2.8 million, nearly doubling it with their own $5.4 million estimate. Ballsy! Anyway, after some legal fisticuffs and beads of boardroom brow-sweat, a settlement has been reached in the amount of $3.9 million, plus $446,000 in attorney’s fees. A very expensive erection, indeed.

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual purchase agreement with Design Lab Inc. for providing police uniforms.

Translation: Did you know that the city spends $386,714 a year on ill-fitting cop clothes? Somebody call the fashion police.

Item: The city approves an annual award of agreement to Akerman Senterfitt and Edison PA for federal lobbying services.

Translation: Earmarks (like earwigs and earworms) are the sorts of things that you squash on the floor. But when it comes to being a city with its infrastructural head in the clouds, they are as necessary as a protein-rich sustenance that keeps you alive. The city employs Akerman Senterfitt and Edison (the same legal team that brought you “How the Dr. Phillips Foundation Ate Orlando”) for their federal lobbying needs, including $8 million in pending earmarks and appeals, $10 million for a proposed “downtown circulator” in the next highway bill and $842,000 in unpaid FEMA funds for “stump removal.” There’s also $1 million for Parramore redevelopment and $5 million for a regional U.S. Marshals task force (boo!) waiting in the wings. All the lobbyists need is $85,000 a year, too, which isn’t even enough to take U.S. Rep. Ric Keller out to dinner once, is it?

Item: The city approves award of contracts to United Rental Inc., Acme Dynamics and Custom Earthworks Inc. for providing rental equipment and operators for muck removal at the Orlando Wetlands Park.

Translation: With so much dirty money being thrown around this week, it’s nice to see the “wetlands demucking project” – wherein the city rents heavy equipment and contracts operators to scrub out the wetland treatment areas – and its sparkling ambitions. Sure, it comes with a price tag of more than $500,000, but there’s a lot of muck in Orlando. Sadly, most of it will not be affected by this project.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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