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Council Watch 

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

There would be pain. But first, at this week’s civic argument for narcotic pill mills, there would first be beauty and redemption. The former came with some back-patting for six local businesses that mow their lawns and look pretty in the name of pleasing the “Keep Orlando Beautiful” program. Then came a dramatic and moving tribute to a hotel security staff brigade for saving a tourist’s life with a defibrillator. Standing ovation!

But the day’s real order of business would come later when a pain management clinic ordinance was introduced by a pretty blonde who was not on pills. Apparently, everybody else in Florida is high. Wonder why?

Item: The city approves continued retention of David B. King for experienced litigation services.

Translation: Orlando is a city built for attorneys – three-drink lunches over bland melted-cheese affairs, loosened ties and confident strides from repurposed brick office to repurposed brick office to the bar. Attorneys are the implied demographic in the city’s “live, work, play” mantra, because nobody else can really afford to do two of those things, and many are currently unable to do the other one. If you want to get ahead, sleep with an attorney. There should be a monument somewhere downtown that says that. There is not. What you will find downtown are homeless people, down-on-their-luck stereo-types of body odor and crime, and since 2006, the city has been engaged in a rather cruel war to make them go away. It isn’t working! So the city attorney – via the city proper – is once again turning to one of those that it loves the best, attorney David King, to assist in the never-ending lawsuit of public-feeding hate, City of Orlando v. First Vagabonds Church of God. King has a reputable curriculum vitae with the city, representing its interests on last year’s red-light camera lawsuit and during the great Buddy Dyer election imbroglio of 2004. He’s also a partner at the very same firm as city attorney Mayanne Downs, so that’s got to mean something. The city is asking for his help on this and future cases for a fee not to exceed $25,000 per case. $25,000 could buy a lot of loaves of bread, etc.

Item: The city approves an amended and restated road realignment agreement between the city and First United Methodist Church of Orlando Inc.

Translation: It’s an alliterative tongue twister! Actually, it’s messier than that. A couple of years ago, when it was rustling through the empty lying papers of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the city decided to cut a deal with First United Methodist to acquire a portion of their parcel for the project. There was a back-and-forth in which the city tried to make Jesus look greedy (or something) that backfired, and eventually the city was writing a check for $28 million in hopes of forgiveness. Now that even the mayor is publicly second-guessing the viability of the arts center and its operations, what better time to up the ante on this clusterfuck? Turns out the city needs to realign the bordering South Street and that’s going to take some of the land promised to the church away; the city will accommodate the church to the tune of $2 million for the injustice, plus $150,000 in reimbursement for “certain costs.” But there’s an upside! A church building that was going to be torn down will now stay standing, thereby making it the only actual structure in this venue boondoggle. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your theater.

Item: The city approves a purchase from Naztec Inc. for traffic signal controllers with ethernet connection in accordance with a Seminole County contract.

Translation: Now that we’re all rich, the city wants to upgrade the traffic maneuvering systems for our flying cars. The city’s been slowly upgrading the old drive-over-the-black-gooey-line-to-make-it-green stoplight scourges throughout the past 10 years, and with these 40 new controllers at a scant cost of $99,585, they’ll be able to “install more sophisticated enhancements.” Unfortunately, said enhancements do not include free wi-fi for your driving-while-checking-Facebook urges or giant TV screens airing CBS comedies. Instead, you’ll have to settle for video detection cameras and CCTV cameras watching your every wealthy move.

Item: The city approves a parking license agreement between the City of Orlando, Orlando Metropolitan Bridge Center Inc. and D&E Management Services Inc.

Translation: Back in the day, Bennett Road used to come off like a poor gay man’s Fleet Week; Navy recruits from the adjacent 
Naval training center would saunter up and down the sidewalk in various stages of shirtlessness and flared pants while the rest of us would simply raise our flagpoles in respect. Now that the military’s gone, the street has been repopulated mostly by the vinegar-and-water Ed Hardy soldiers of the Roxy Nightclub. Sigh. But there’s also the nearby Orlando Metropolitan Bridge Center where people actually play bridge! The city leases land to the old Bridge people, and the Bridge people (and the city) in turn rent their parking lot and grassy knolls out to D&E Management for Roxy overflow parking. Got it? It’s complicated … like bridge. D&E pays $2,205 a month for the privilege and everybody’s happy. Except the shuffleboard club.

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