COUNCIL WATCH 


;Uh-oh. What appeared on paper to be a swift operation wasn't going to be brief at all. A dubious black table sat in front of the dais, as did a sea of people in very important suits. "Oh, that'll move quick," mayor's assistant Heather Allebaugh assured, lying through her teeth.

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;First on the docket were the perfunctory awards, in which approximately half the city staff was declared "employee of the month," and the revelation that the city is cited "nationally as a model for outstanding financial reporting." Who knew?

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;The big moment came when the Edgewater High School Girls Basketball Team was recognized for becoming state champions for the first time. The mayor grinned heartily when presented with an autographed team ball amid a rush of buoyant chatter. But the real grinning would come momentarily.

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;Item: The city approves documents relating to the joint partnership grant for the establishment of the Burnham Institute Medical Research Facility at Lake Nona.

;;Translation: Economic development staffer Brooke Bonnett set the tone with a litany of clichés ("stars have aligned," "timing is everything"). Then three suits fumbled through 90 minutes of PowerPoint so full of concentric circles that one could be forgiven for a hypnotic pass-out. Promises of "America's healthiest community," with defibrillators in every home, water parks, sporting centers, workforce housing models and a life sciences ecosystem all added up to something as preposterous as a "symphony of scientific synergy." Well, sign us up!

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;Predictably, that's exactly what happened, with each commissioner (save Daisy Lynum, who wondered AGAIN what it will all mean for the black people) guffawing at his or her own magnanimity in this world-changing event. "I'll be so proud looking back in 25 years to know that I was a part of this," etc. Effectively, the city will front $32.7 million in grants, while the county will kick in $40.7 million, all for the promise of a $4 billion turnaround in state economic impact.

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;Item: The city approves a lease with Community Concepts Services Inc. for office space for the Parramore Kidz Zone at the old Davis Armory building, 649 W. Livingston St. The city also approves a lease in the same building for office space for the Nap Ford Community School.

;;Translation: A tiny corner of ethnic compromise, then, for the otherwise glossy whiteness of the "creative village," whatever that may be. The rent is pretty cheap, though, with Kidz Zone folks only ponying up $550 a month for the first year (while maintaining that brilliant "z"), and Nap Ford coming in at $850 a month for its charter-school extracurricular operations (parent-teacher conferences, what have you). Maybe all children involved will learn to replace every "s" in their burgeoning vocabulariez with a "z" and the world will be a "zuper" place.

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;Item: The city approves short-term leases of property on the Carolina Florida Properties site, the future home of the new events center.

;;Translation: You can almost smell the progress creeping into the downtown corridor (you can definitely hear it: clank, clank, clank), but the City Beautiful — never one to miss out on some tasteful opportunism — is easing the transition with this sweet deal. Currently seven tenants are riding out month-to-month leases on this soon-to-be-demolished site, which means that's seven tenants who could be paying rent directly to the city after the ink is dry on the sale and before the building is demolished. That's $7,700 extra for every month that the city drags its feet on actually doing it all, doing it now and doing it right.

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;Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with Mac Papers Inc. for the purchase of office paper.

;;Translation: With all of these giant deals going down in the mayor's office, it is crucial that paper is never in shortage. Apparently, though, paper is getting more expensive. The city's original deal with Mac in 2004 saw taxpayers fronting $21.40 for each delivered case of letter-sized stuff, but due to the fine print of a price escalation/de-escalation clause (read: inflation), the price for delivered cases jumps to $28.03. Ikon offered a bid of $32.99 per delivered case, and Unisource gouged a price tag of $34.20 for the same, so, as always, we're totally getting the best deal. The deal allows the city to spend up to $80,000 this year on blank paper, a figure based on previous yearly statistics. Consequently, blank paper is making more money than anybody we know.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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