Council Watch

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

Though we didn't actually smell the proceedings of pork passing and chicken rearing at this week's council corral – we had a very important meeting, of course – we did watch them remotely long enough to know that we were glad to be on the couch instead. Forty-five minutes of awards and presentations – one of which included the phrase “a private courtyard in the rear” – were followed by a Happy Birthday singalong for Commissioner Daisy Lynum. Lynum, who revealed that she “loves some meat,” giggled and demurred at the annual chorus of tunelessness while the rest of the world cringed.

Sadly, this was Commissioner Phil Diamond's final meeting – meaning the actual value of the city commission will be diminished by at least half – and we're sad we missed that. But we can't take much more bad news around here.

“It's been the honor of my life to serve this community,” Diamond said, almost shakily. The honor was ours.

Item:The city approves a lease agreement between the city of Orlando and GRAT LLC for a restaurant space at the Amway Center located at 430 W. Church St.

Translation: Oh, hey, remember that $480,000 temple of sporty pleasure and stoner abandon that the city erected on Church Street for money-bombed gay-hater Rich DeVos? Well, it turns out that there's still room in there for something or other that feels a lot like a themed restaurant featuring waiters with flair. GRAT – which, unfortunately, will not be the name of the restaurant – actually consists of the same restaurateurs that brought you NBA City at Universal Studios and the Montecristo Club at what is now Orlando's own ground zero (the old Amway Arena), and is promising “high-quality food and beverages including alcohol.” Welcome to The Club at NBA City! The devil, as usual, is in the financial details: The city has devised a base monthly rent of $4,167, though GRAT may opt instead just to share some of its nachos-and-beer-and-Goldschlager profits. Any sales up to $500,000 would require a 4 percent stipend to city coffers; between $500,000 and $750,000 would bring 6 percent; anything over $750,000 would mean 12 percent. Oddly, there's a caveat involving an outdoor dining area that will potentially allow smoking, even though the city promised (via LEED certification) that there would be no butts with the basketball. Cigars all around!

Item: The city approves the use of Florida state contract #071-000-12-1 with Don Reid Ford of Orlando, Florida, for the purchase of nine 2012 Ford Fusion unmarked police patrol vehicles.

Translation: Even when you don't think they are, they are watching you make that illegal left turn into that apartment complex where you purchase your meth and tomatoes. In order to maintain this intense level of hidden surveillance, the Orlando Police Department is looking to purchase nine new 2012 Ford Fusions before the May cut-off date for 2012 models. Why? Not sure. The city claims that “time is of the essence,” because it always does, but also because the 2012 models have 6-cylinder engines, which, says the city, are cylindrically required for this type of work by the fuzz. By working through a state contract rather than the established county one, the city will save $10,611 when it pays a scant $18,514 for each of the vehicles from Don Reid Ford. But you shouldn't even know that. You shouldn't know anything. Just know that there is always somebody watching and allow your paranoia to flourish!

Item:The city approves a business assistance program agreement between SVAMPATO LLC, doing business as Big Italy, and the city of Orlando, 5700 International Drive.

Translation: What you should know is that the city loves to eat in a very big way. SVAMPATO – which sounds like commercial-grade tomato paste, really – is opening a 6,000-square-foot pizza emporium out in the Touristan of International Drive. And when we say emporium, we must include the fact that the company – operating, naturally, as Big Italy – will offer more than 100 types of pizza (venison pizza? Alligator pizza?) along with 50 different pasta dishes. Because that sounds awesome to people who grow toe fungus from walking barefoot around Wet 'n Wild, the city will chip in $20,000 – the maximum award, because this is maximum pizza – via its business-assistance program. Big Italy promises to create 35 big jobs and spend more than $1 million to make this leaning tower of awesome a reality, so it's all a mozzarella wash, right?

Item: The city approves a temporary-use permit allowing a two-year urban chicken pilot program at up to 25 residences

Translation: The city's dark secret has finally been revealed! Well, actually this publication revealed it two years ago (“Clucking around,” July 28, 2010), but now it's sort of legitimate – if you don't count Commissioner Daisy Lynum's longtime griping about all the chickens running around Parramore and you don't assume that she's just been seeing things. This program will basically codify what already exists (to anyone who knows where Palmer Feed Store is, anyway) in a closely monitored, pilot-program. Twenty-five houses will be allowed to freely fly the coop and raise chickens, the $50 planning fee will be waived and a planning official will be watching to help decide whether to actually make this a real thing a couple years down the chicken road. In other news, the sky is falling.

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