Outside City Hall during this week's scheduled meeting, the gaunt (except for ACLU Central Florida Chapter chair George Crossley) miscreants of the STOP coalition waved signs reading "Stop Harassing the Homeless!" and "Sharing Food Shouldn't Be a Crime!"
Inside, honorees assembled their tchotchkes and brushed their linens for photo ops. District 2 commissioner Betty Wyman fiddled with a tchotchke all her own — a light-up pen — which she flicked on and off with glee in the general direction of police chief Michael McCoy. The buzz in the air died down to an ominous silence. What would today bring? The answer: not much.
Tedious awards varied from the passable — National Vision Month, presented by Lighthouse Central Florida Inc., along with a poster of a new license plate to benefit the vision-rehab organization — to the questionable: Oct. 30 through Nov. 6 is National Family Week in the city of Orlando, an award given dubiously to Buddy Dyer for his "pro-family" stance by James Platt of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After a quick note that daylight-saving time is officially over and that it would therefore get dark earlier on Halloween, it was time to let these perfunctory folks perfunct.
Item: The city approved a contract with Motorola for necessary upgrades to its Motorola 800 MHz radio system, used by the fire and police departments.
Translation: As with most items of a technological nature, this one is confusing on paper. Migrating to the APCO Project 25 Open Standard Architecture "will allow the city to leverage its existing infrastructure and invest in a longer system lifecycle (16-plus years) with an open standards solution providing additional interoperability, flexibility, scalability and expandability to meet current and future needs." So, basically, this hot new $6.4 million hi-fi, coupled with the city's purchase of 28 portable radios from Motorola (total price: $128,632), means that this is going to be a Motorola Christmas! Commission-er Sam Ings offered his support. Sam Ings loves him some megahertz.
Item: The city approved the purchase of five 2007 Elgin Pelican P street sweepers and one 2007 Elgin Eagle street sweeper from Environmental Products of Florida.
Translation: In what the Public Works Department is calling a "continuation of this Standardization Program" (the city purchased two other sweepers already this year, totaling $300,000), the city's inhabitants can finally expect to see the yellow brick road that lies beneath all of that pesky oak-leaf detritus. The only question is which is better, the Eagle ($177,606 and six wheels) or the Pelican ($126,989 and three wheels)? Our bets are on the Eagle, Americans.
Item: The city approved "specific authorization for design services" with Lucido & Sole Design, who will attempt to finally square away that whole Lake Eola Park playground situation and several other ornamental obstructions.
Translation: A project manager ($98.65/hour), a landscape architect ($49.32/hour) and a word processor ($37.65/ hour) walk into a bar — er, a park — and on the city's dime agree to complete the Lake Eola Park Improvements Project No. 2708 for no more than $20,968. Well, their preliminary estimate puts it at $17,442, which could leave some extra money for swan-cleaning. According to commissioner Patty Sheehan, there's been a problem with the cement work — it has to be redone — and some issues with the "sail shade structures." She offers apologies for the delay. Children everywhere cry.
Item: An ordinance was adopted allowing a roll-off franchise for Tip Top Containers.
Translation: First you have to understand what a "roll-off franchise" is. It's like it sounds, if what it sounds like is a business that collects roll-off solid waste, predominantly from demolition or moving sites. In the case of Tip Top Containers, the city — which used to gather its own solid waste, presumably at a better rate —is enlisting them and their equipment to help alleviate the trash crisis. Tip Top will charge customers an inflated rate and pay the city a "pull fee" of $25 each time one of their gargantuan dumpsters is removed to be emptied. There are other $50 fines for delinquency to be addressed and a monthly $80 administrative fee for inspection costs and whatnot. Sixteen pages of boilerplate later, we were running to throw ourselves into the nearest city-approved landfill we could find. "I don't understand why we don't just handle this matter internally," Sheehan said. Because a transparent city keeps its trash in the sunshine, that's why.
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