It's been four long weeks since our last summit with the mayor and his merry commissioners. But things are going down: press conferences for new venues, gay pride parades, hotel lobby grand openings, etc.
Still, on Oct. 16, Mayor Buddy Dyer deluged city council meeting attendees with a "particularly long mayor's update," one that said a whole lot but somehow nothing at all. This after Rev. Linda Tice of the Reeves United Memorial Methodist Church sermonized the ceremony by noting that "woe is the life of the leader," and please God, if you have some spare time, how about lending a hand?
"Now we've got a lot of work to do!" Dyer stifled those with short attention spans who thought everything was already signed, sealed and delivered.
Presumably to aid in the process, Commissioner Daisy Lynum was put on the spot to recount a whirlwind 22-hour tour of Charlotte and Memphis venues that she took with Commissioner Sam Ings. Lynum lost her notes and referred to somebody else's, which she thought was "funny." The whole long story wrapped up with her recounting the size of their "famous" barbecue meal, and how the entire crew — predominantly African-American — were objects of point-and-laughs at the airport when they brought their doggie bags along, trailing the scent of barbecue. Oh, stereotypes. Watermelon? Let's talk water usage instead.
Item: The St. Johns River Water Management District presents a "celebration check" of $2.6 million to the city for the Eastern Regional Reclaimed Water Distribution System projects.
Translation: Director of Public Works Alan Oyler (oil and water, geddit?) presents, via PowerPoint, a humble production detailing the imminent threat to our aquifer. He suggests a proposed cap on usage in 2013. An initiative, referred to as "Water 2020: Water for the Future," is put forth, as are more numbers (9 billion gallons of water will be saved each year via the initiative, at a total investment of $61 million) and percentages (20 percent of the city's water will be reclaimed water, 10 percent of the county's). Everything comes to a impressive close when two representatives from SJRWMD present a cardboard check for some of the aforementioned millions. Applause. We're not going to dry up! We're not going to dry up! Scene.
Item: The city approves an admission fee increase to $8 per person for the Mennello Museum's run of "From Cassatt to Wyeth: American Masterworks from the Mitchell Museum." The increase is designed to offset a $175,000 contribution from the Friends of the Mennello Museum, and is only for the duration of this particular show (Nov. 3 through Feb. 25).
Translation: Dude, $8 is way too much to pay to go to a folk museum. Do you know what you can do with $8? Do you?
Item: The city agrees to approve, adopt and ratify changes to the existing collective bargaining agreement between the City of Orlando and the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1365, which represents the concerns of the firefighters, engineers and lieutenants of the Orlando Fire Department.
Translation: At issue here was the quagmire of retirement benefits, namely health care. The agreement produced removed a cap on the city's contribution from the time of retirement to the age of 55 for employees hired before July 31, 2006. For those hired thereafter, a Retirement Health Savings Fund would be established, requiring a monthly contribution of $85 for the employee in lieu of city-funded insurance. It all gets confusing after that, with a litany of percentages vested ultimately ending up in a substantial pension. Commissioner Patty Sheehan said she was glad it all got worked out.
Item: The city approves, via the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Economic Development Organizations that will have representatives on the Minority and Women Entrepreneur Business Assistance Program Advisory Board — or MEBA (conspicuous absence of "W" here) advisory board — as well as approving the initial composition of that advisory board, and authorizing the Economic Development Department Director to appoint new members in the case of a vacancy.
Translation: This is a new business incentive program approved back in August that is designed to assist the revitalization of Parramore in Daisy Lynum's district, and as such is a good thing. But instead of calling it "MEBA," wouldn't it have been more aesthetically pleasing to just throw in an "L" (for "Ladies," maybe) and call it "MELBA"?[email protected]