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6/21/2007

Columns > Council Watch

COUNCIL WATCH
Paying attention to city government so you don't have to

 

There was no way to know what to expect from this week’s dais dalliance, as media trucks lined up in front of City Hall and a zigzag of people stretched halfway through the rotunda awaiting security clearance. Was eternal happiness finally approved? Uh, no, that was a month ago.

In fact, most of the tittering audience was here for a recognition of the partners and funders of the Parramore Youth Advisory Council and its Kidz Zone. About 40 suits stood mayor-center with five black kids arrayed in front of them for a photo, then left.

That’s when things got saucier. Well, after a while anyway. Following the consent agenda and Sam Ings’ extended outro (“also … also …”), the city agreed to further dig its claws into the Community Redevelopment Agency dirt by making official the new size, necessity and blight of the downtown redevelopment area (now including the Citrus Bowl!), just in case the county didn’t know they were serious about this venue stuff.

Then – over the wishes of two disgruntled citizens (one with legalese on transparencies and a fast speaking voice) and after a sexy Wal-Mart lawyer gave the city a big smooch – commissioners approved the rezoning of 25 acres in College Park. Aunt Wanda, you’re gettin’ a Super Wal-Mart!

Item: The city approves an extension of its annual agreement with Chemical Lime Co. of Alabama Inc., for hydrated lime.

Translation: In your typical Mexican-style cerveza, the addition of a lime for the sake of hydration – and a hint of tart flavor contrast – can be quite appealing. But a lime’s rehydration does not hydrated lime (aka calcium hydroxide) make. No, that comes from treating calcium oxide (or quicklime) with enough water to convert the oxides therein to hydroxides, silly. The resulting dry powder can be useful in steel manufacturing and non-ferrous metal smelting – not to mention ore flotation! – but for Orlando, hydrated lime is useful for treating water, specifically at the Iron Bridge Regional Water Reclamation Facility. Unfortunately, the price has recently risen from $119.99 per ton to $131.13 per ton, which means that the wastewater division’s estimate that the city will need to drop $430,000 on it in the next year is completely understandable. But only if you drink a lot of cervezas.

Item: The city approves an agreement with Shaw Environmental Inc. for engineering services related to the Municipal Solid Waste Conversion Technology Project.

Translation: We’re all going to die. Well, not really. But similar gasification (her again!) facilities the world over have suffered everything from catastrophic explosions to complete inoperability over the past decade, all under the auspices of making us greener, nicer people who don’t have to get our fingers dirty recycling anymore. It will be nice if it works. It will smell bad if it doesn’t. Then we all die. Anyway, the city seeks to pay out $112,000 for data gathering and evaluation of the current technology, which is something like due diligence with a diamond on it.

Item: The city approves an ordinance rezoning property located at 205-215 E. Central Blvd., generally located at the southwest corner of Lake Eola Park.

Translation: If we build enough shiny, tall buildings around the lake, maybe the people (read: homeless) will forget it’s even there! Two historic buildings – a home from 1925 and a two-story commercial erection from 1927 – built in the city’s first great boom will give way to a 225-room mixed-use hotel to be built during the city’s latest bubble-burst. An appeal filed by an adjoining property has been duly “settled” and “dismissed,” clearing the way for clearing on the way. Commissioner Sheehan called it “bittersweet” before approving the item. Progress!

Item: The city approves an award to Hallmark Fire Apparatus for the purchase of fire hose nozzles and appliances.

Translation: And with vertical progress comes the need for more vertical firefighting capabilities. The Orlando Fire Department and its training division are currently “revamping” their ability to deal with high-rise flare-ups, seeing as recent studies showed them decidedly inept at squirting upwards. A new set of nozzles (and “appliances”) should do the trick, bringing in 11 new such devices at a cost of $58,846.06. So, there you have it: It’s not the length of your hose, but the power of your nozzle. Filthy!

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com
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