Council Watch

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don’t have to

If city council was a color,
this week’s mind meld would have been a peppy pink. Several commissioners donned pink T-shirts (over their ties and under their blazers, attractively) in recognition of “Pinktober,” a celebration of the sadness that is breast cancer. Eek. Mayor Buddy Dyer made a cringe-worthy reference to the commissioners being “models,” and everybody grumbled.

But it wasn’t all a pastel paradox. The week of Oct. 30 was also declared the “Week of the Family,” some vague notion that includes terms like “values” and “virtues” without sounding too much like a religious meeting of the abstinence club around a Georgia campfire. “Loving one another” is important, see. And family is part of that. Or something.

The biggest news, however, was that through some legislative wizardry, the city would more than likely be receiving $10 million in infrastructural stimulus money to get that Creative Village nonsense off the ground. Somewhere a drop rested in a bucket.

Item: The city approves its first amendment to the Mills Virginia bike trail agreement with the Mills Virginia Corporation.

Translation: Nothing evokes the crisp, wind-in-your-hair optimism of Orlando’s autumn like a two-wheeled trip through the city’s flora and fauna on a bright afternoon. Likewise, nothing evokes the peculiar despair of overdevelopment and blight like a 14.5-acre former lumber yard that just three years ago was supposed to blossom into an upscale monument to pedestrian euphoria and, erm, medical condos. The now-uncertain $350 million Mills Park development that promised to bring life (and death!) back to the intersection of Mills Avenue and Virginia Drive has been a boondoggle from the get-go, largely because of high hopes and their inevitable bottom lines. But written into the city’s original deal with the Mills Virginia Corporation was a component of the city’s ambitious north-south bike line, the Orlando Urban Trail, and the city doesn’t want that glorious green notion to die. The so-called Dinky Line Trail – slated to run from Virgina Drive to South Lake Formosa Drive – was a concession the developers of Mills Park agreed to in order to up the ante on their density regulations, but now that “the Mills Park development schedule is uncertain at this time,” according to the meeting agenda, the city will amend the agreement to just take on the construction of the damn trail by itself. So, basically, Mills Park is not happening (duh) and your bicycle sojourns will be riddled with misery.

Item: The city approves the use of a National Association of State Procurement Officials contract awarded to Physio-Control Inc. for 10 LifePak defibrillator/
monitor units.

Translation: This week in hot firemen, the city is requesting 10 additional LifePak 15 defibrillator/monitor units (including accessories!) to be purchased from Physio-Control, the only company the city is actually allowed to get the devices from. The deal is part of the soft start of the fire department’s intended takeover of emergency medical services slated to hit the streets with just 10 ambulances in February. This particular portion of the perfunctory measure will set the city back $276,286. Breaking the bank to mend a heart. Sigh.

Item: The city approves an amendment to a property exchange agreement between the city and the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

Translation: Rather than make a deal with one of the area’s many devils (like it usually does, Rich DeVos), the city signed some screed in sacrificial blood back in May 2007 with the Catholic Diocese. That agreement allowed the city to make some swampy improvements to the Lake Fairview area in exchange for some parcels upon which Jesus was, at the time, weeping. Apparently the Lord’s tears required the diocese to purchase a stormwater pipe – though all that digging did produce some “fill dirt” which the Catholics happily utilized – and now the city will write a check to God in the amount of $275,000. Church and state must never be separated.

Item: The city approves a stipulated final judgment in the case of City vs. Super Stop.

Translation: It seems like only yesterday (it was actually October 2007) that the city was all excited about road improvements it had planned for an area near the Beach Line Expressway. “Narcoossee! Narcoossee! Narcoossee!” the city chanted like some socially insensitive Native American cartoon characters from days of yore. The only problem was that in order to make the Narcoossee improvements, the city had to pull out its eminent domain wild card and usurp the native lands. Those lands at the time belonged to a Super Stop gas station that probably sold chewing tobacco. Now, Super Stop is taking the city to trial to recoup on the city’s ill-gotten gains. The city will value the land at $700,000 when the Dec. 6 trial occurs; Super Stop, naturally, aims much higher at $7 million. The two parties have already reached a settlement amounting to $2.2 million, a promise of some stormwater easements from Super Stop and a face-saving muzzle on any other claims the company might have against the city. Remember the Alamo? No, they
rent cars.

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