"National Preparedness Months," read a tripod foamboard up against the dais. "Preparing makes sense."

This reporter could only be described as unprepared when typically cheery District 3 commissioner Robert Stuart walked by and slapped him on the head with a stack of papers because of something "tacky" that was written in this very column a few weeks ago. Ouch.

Of note: One featured preparedness speaker was introduced as an Austrian "constable" from the Austrian embassy (because "Austria is the world standard"), and when he showed up at the lectern, totally fit the part: floppy hair, a fitted pinstripe suit, a frown-with-accent. Things were atypically global, if only for a moment.

Then it was back to these parts and what the mayor said had "everybody talking": the court ruling in Escambia County on the taxes that we may not be able to use for the venues. "We weren't expecting the case," he said.

Should've been prepared.

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with Oracle USA Inc. for financial software license and maintenance support.

Translation: Back in the day, the city's finances would have been kept in green-hued ledgers, with eraser marks and occasional red ink (is it blood?) quantifying the debits and credits, overseen by a pinched-nosed accountant in a tight visor. But in these days of CRAs and TDTs, the financial smoke and mirrors require something a little more quadratic- formula. So in comes Oracle USA and its "critical ERP software" to handle the city's primary budget, revenue, payables, accounting, purchase and fixed asset management. But at a contract value of $190,962 (a $5,562 increase over last year), shouldn't it at least be able to cook the numbers a bit? Oh, wait.

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with Orlando Utilities Commission for the installation and removal of holiday decorations.

Translation: Because Orlando puts the "O" in ornamentation-without-substance, this little bit of early holiday planning makes more than fixed-income grandma sense. The one-year — with an option for four-year extension — agreement sees to it that 900 trees are lit, the "Joy/Peace" sign wavers near Lake Eola, the charming yellow star threatens to crash onto Orange Avenue at Central Boulevard, and that the general feeling of small-town Main Street continues to glimmer in an area filled with law offices, bars and absolutely nowhere to buy Christmas presents. Sure, it may cost up to $230,000 to erect, maintain and dismantle it all, but OUC pays for all the power. Christmas in September, then. Next.

Item: The city approves an award of continuing services authorization to Glatting Jackson for community venues—related master-planning services.

Translation: A quick perusal of Glatting Jackson's "about us" web page and you get the general modern-developer-airhead idea: "To help clients develop quality communities, we use a holistic design approach that merges the economic, environmental and social elements of communities." Ugh. Anyway, the city's enlisted Glatting Jackson since 2005 in coming up with the "blueprint" for the downtown venues and "additional related tasks." Now, in order to obtain "additional master-planning services" — like, say, how do you do it when the courts have all but removed a large source of your funding? — the city's forking out an additional $195,000. That's a lot of money for saying, "You just don't," and then giggling a little, isn't it?

Item: The city approves an award to Double R Manufacturing Inc. to provide and install a vehicular gate access system for wastewater administration.

Translation: It's only funny because there actually is a federal guideline that requires electronic, remotely monitored fences at wastewater facilities. How hard up would you have to be to hit a shit repository? Still, there's apparently a market for electro-fences, one that may not have any standards of its own. Of the two bids that came in, one was for $192,900 and the other $63,850; you know, give or take 300 percent. The city chose the cheap fence.

Item: The city gives a first read to an ordinance amending Chapter 43 of the city code — section 43.86(5) and section 43.87(2)(c) regarding the time of panhandling.

Translation: You can no longer panhandle between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., blue box or not. Which sucks, because the city may need to be getting out its own tin can pretty soon.

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