Council Watch

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

This week's civic bowl of alphabet soup came with a new kind of cracker! Commissioner Jim Gray took his first turn at filling Phil Diamond's old District 1 seat with a joke. “As the new guy, I'd like to keep my comments to 30 minutes,” he laughed, before making no real comments at all. Hilarious!

Anyway, the rest was the same old, same old, which basically means it devolved into a discussion of chunks of metal retrieved from the Amway Arena implosion that were really heavy. Each commissioner got one, leading Commissioner Daisy Lynum to assert, “I didn't really need this heavy thing, except maybe to knock someone out.” Indeed.

Item: The city approves the amended and restated Amway Arena demolition agreement.


Anyone missing the hilarious irony of the Creative Village banners draped around the ground-zero rubble of the old magical home of the Orlando Magic is probably blind and not reading this column. But, there it is, shaped like a Parramore pockmark created from a premature-development meteor. Back when the creative demolition was announced last fall – the main event didn't occur until late March – the mass destruction was to be undertaken in two phases, with the second phase kind of hanging out there without much explanation of how much or how soon. Now that the shrapnel has cooled and everything just looks like ominous blight, the city is claiming that “due to [Creative Village Development LLC]'s and the city's efforts with respect to recycling and other cost-cutting techniques, Stage I and Stage II demolition can be completed within the current budget at this time.” That current budget was a matter of controversy when it was announced, with then Commissioner Phil Diamond wondering why the city (via taxpayers) was paying $2 million to implode a city-owned building before any real private investment had been announced for the whimsical bit of neon-lit, techy urban planning. Of course, one dissenting vote doesn't mean anything, so the bombs were sent in. The new agreement, because of the addition of the second stage, includes nine benchmarks instead of six, and calls for (relative) completion of the demolition by August 2012. But if you think that's going to make it look less like an eyesore, it probably won't. All of the crushed concrete will remain on-site (allegedly underground) until the end of the Creative Village infrastructure development period on Feb. 25, 2016.

Item:The city approves the continued use of the contract renewed by Orange County with Advanced Data Processing Inc. (doing business as Intermedix-ADPI) for rescue ambulance billing services and the associated TripTix field reporting software contract with Intermedix to run concurrently beginning August 1, 2012.

Translation: Ever since the city decided to bring the majority of its ambulance services into its own bureaucracy, it has relied upon outsourcing the billing and tracking components of transporting the city's wounded. Thanks to an Orange County contract, Advanced Data Processing handles the tough task of harassing people for the hundreds of dollars that it takes to carry them away; the company is paid on a per-transport basis and gets 6 percent of all non-Medicaid accounts received and $11 for every Medicaid beneficiary hauled away. The annual revenue on this grim job is about $5 million for the city – $5 million! Anyway, this item also includes a continuation of the Fire Department's use of Advance Data Processing's TripTix software, which documents each ambulance trip for the sake of reporting and billing – via 45 “ruggedized” laptops in the ambulances – at a cost of 4.45 percent of net collections. Break a leg!

Item: The city approves an agreement between the City of Orlando and Orlando Health Inc. regarding the Orlando Health/Amtrak SunRail station and impact fee credits.

Translation: Speaking of sick, back on July 29, 2011, the city threw down $2.7 million to the Florida Department of Transportation for the construction of one of its future SunRail stations adjacent to the Orlando Health campus, mostly because it wanted the depot to look nice. Now, Orlando Health is returning the favor in the form of a $1 million reimbursement with no strings attached! Not really. Orlando Health gets first right of refusal on any advertising at the station, some infrastructural improvements and a “quiet zone” somewhere in the path of the oncoming train. Also, this item includes a benign memorandum of understanding that suggests that the hospital will get impact-fee credits for non-SunRail developments to its campus. Back, scratched.

Item:The city accepts a grant funded by the Florida Bar for a student internship program for the city attorney's office.

Translation:Ah, the life of an intern: grabbing coffee, smiling through hate, Facebooking hidden messages about how awful the oldz are that challenge you to do slave labor while they run out and smoke. Boone High School boasts a law magnet program, from which the city will pick one lucky student to come and work in the city attorney's office doing a “variety of tasks” and filling in when the rich folk take vacations. The Florida Bar provides a matching grant of $1,250 for this undertaking, meaning that some lucky (and ambitious) legal eagle will take home $2,500 at the end of the summer. What did you do on your summer vacation? You made enough to throw your first lawyer party! Hookers and blow!