Only the best city council meetings have giant plushie characters in attendance, and this week's exercise in dumb development (hello, new downtown mixed-use hotel) was served well by National Night Out attendees McGruff the Crime Dog and some giant, wide-eyed meth-head caricature of no apparent distinction. You should have seen them praying during the invocation! They couldn't close their eyes!

But mostly it was more of the same, highlighted as always by District 5 commissioner Daisy Lynum rattling off blurts of self-referential nonsense until duly corrected by Mayor Buddy Dyer. Speaking of the mayor, it's his 50th birthday this week! Nobody sang.

Item: The city approves the Solar America Cities cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Translation: While most of America drips brow-sweat off their creaky fire escapes, hoping against hope that they don't pass out and fall to their deaths atop their dormant economy cars, Orlando and Orange County are jumping the proactivity train as one of just 12 "solar cities" nationwide. The DOE has agreed to front the region 198,700 marketing dollars to counteract the fact that we can't afford to be alive anymore. The Orlando Utilities Commission and the county now wear the glorious name tag of "Green Future Alliance" while buzzing about town in search of a "solar implementation plan" that encourages solar hot-water heaters and photovoltaic systems for homes and business. Next year, in 1979, people are going to start hating Jimmy Carter, but for now he's golden.

Item: The city amends and extends a management agreement for the Orlando Skate Park with Action Park Alliance.

Translation: The cultural center of Orlando, known for hot moms and their sons who look like Shaun Cassidy, is rolling with the times. Action Park Alliance, which must be making a killing off of latchkey kids bruising their knees, must now pay either $750 in monthly rent or 3 percent of their overall revenue, whichever is higher. That number goes up to $750 or 5 percent next year, and then $1,000 or 5 percent the year after. Fine, and unbelievably cheap. This new plan also puts the company in charge of paying utilities, though, and in a nod to the extremity of extremeness will allow for use of BMX bikes on the track, but only in the hours when skaters aren't present. If you're over the age of 15 and not a mother in a tube top, this will not affect your life.

Item: The city approves a lease at 145 E. Pine St., the downtown library parking garage, with Sparky's Pet Resort Inc.

Translation: In another attempt to portray Orlando as a city where people actually walk around with purpose, the city is renting out space from its library garage to Sparky's Pet Resort, which is not so much a spa as it is a place to get your dog groomed. In a garage. The rent for the first year will total $4,875 and will increase just 5 percent for each of the remaining two years of the three-year lease. It costs more to park there for a year, mind you.

Item: The city approves an award of annual agreement to Rural Metro Corporation of Florida for emergency transport services.

Translation: Ooooh, a rift! The county will discontinue its partnership with Rural Metro when their contract expires at the end of September, probably because nobody really needs ambulances anymore and the hot firemen busily brushing their Dalmations need a little more work to do. The city, however, isn't interested in further troubling its fire department and will continue to use Rural Metro, at least through September 2009. There will be no money exchanged in the deal. Ambulances typically don't have trouble turning a profit.

Item: The city adopts a resolution to establish an emergency fuel surcharge for taxicabs.

Translation: That drunken cab ride from your favorite blackout corner is about to get a little pricier. Most trips will be assessed an additional 50-cent charge, while loftier sojourns originating or ending at the airport will cost you an additional $1, because gas costs too much (and airport passengers are ripe for the fleecing). Some taxi drivers are pissed at the plan, which they say takes the onus off companies like Mears, which ought to be lowering their leasing fees in order to aid the fuel-price-suffering drivers. They fear the undue burden on the general public will actually work against their fare tallies, which, as it stands, are barely enough to rent their cars. Expect more awkward conversations of the road-rage variety next time you need a lift.

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