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9/2/2010

Columns > Council Watch

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

 

Collars were stained decidedly blue as this week’s Extreme Makeover: City Edition staff meeting was called to order. This was, after all, the week that the Garbage Pail Kids from the scrapheap lobby descended on City Hall for the finalization of the copper-theft ordinance that’s been kicking around for months. “If they can’t arrest the criminals, they might as well arrest me,” a member of the scrap-metal contingent was overheard crowing. “There’s not enough room in the jail? That’s not our problem.” 

Naturally, Mayor Dyer and Co. brought out the suited crime-prevention brass to argue the city’s side (a side that’s now drifted to no cash transactions for second-hand copper) ad nauseam. “Quick cash” for “drug addicts” is bad, mmm’kay? It worked. The law takes effect in 60 days. Boring. Not as boring: Did you know that Commissioner Daisy Lynum travels a lot and holds a deep resentment for Memphis, Tenn.? “I guess people go there to see Elvis,” she chuffed. Viva, Las Lynum. 

Item: The city approves general policies, procedures and standards for temporary Amway Center special event parking.

Translation: Looks like the days of those come-hither glances from the toothless guy practically walking in front of your car to wave you into a questionable parking lot near an arena event are over. In a not at all surprising move toward regulation for the city – it just spent millions to build parking garages near the new Amway Center so you can pay $20 just to park there – your commissioners have established a prohibitive rubric for those hoping to turn a profit on their rundown vacant lots. To wit, each prospective parking entrepreneur will have to pay a $275 application fee in order to have the city consider allowing them to skim from what is meant to be a key revenue generator. Among those considerations, your lot must be in “compliance with city code requirements for parking spaces, access and circulation.” The city will even make “recommendations for reasonable aesthetic and safety improvements to include fencing, perimeter landscaping and signage.” If the city wants you to gravel your lot over, you will do it; if they want you to sod it back after the two-year permit expires, you will do that, too. Homeowners within the established perimeter are exempt from obtaining a permit, but their driveways better be up to code (that means paved; so no grass parking), or else. Also, no tailgating! 

Item: The city approves an award to DGG Taser Inc. of Jacksonville for the purchase of electronic-control devices.

Translation: Also likely to be employed by the Orlando Police Department in the Bud Light revelry of sports contests and Neil Diamond concerts, the city’s favored collection of “electronic-control devices” – something that sounds both cordial and cold – is apparently in need of an upgrade. There is only one “authorized” Taser dealer in Florida, and that is Jacksonville’s DGG Taser, where if you bring in an old Taser, they’ll give you $75 off of a new one! Well, the city’s in for 544 new ones – specifically “544 X-26 Advanced Tasers (black, laser sight, low intensity light, XDPM Bladetech holster, Model 26015)” – because this is a fucking party, y’all. We can afford to pull out these kinds of $402,533 stops because we got a stimulus grant specifically for such painful excesses of “electroshock” back in 2009. 

Item: The city authorizes the execution of a release form allowing the recovery of funds held by the U.S. Secret Service.

Translation: You know who should totally be trusted with big-ticket grants and high-powered pain inflictors? OPD. Former Orlando police officer Amy Bretches knows that; just this July she was found guilty on federal money-laundering charges (she’ll be sentenced in November) after she embezzled $200,000 in FEMA emergency-response reimbursement funds after the 2004 Orlando hurricane fiasco. That’s right, she opened an account under the city’s name and had the relief money transferred into it, moved it to a money market account in 2006 and was later – after new auditing procedures instituted by the city in 2008 – caught in her funny business which led to the city handing her over to officials. She retired in March, just in time to live out her glory years behind bars. The Secret Service seized the cash and will now hand it over to the city (minus just over $1,000 in handling fees). We’re rich! 

Item: The city approves Atlantic Pro Nutrients Inc. (doing business as Xymogen) for a Qualified Target Industry tax refund.

Translation: It may not be peddling snake oil – Xymogen’s “nutraceutical” market hinges more on weight loss and fish oil – but the company’s plans to “relocate” (it’s already here, threatening to leave, same old story) to a new 72,000-square-foot office that will house 58 new $44,000-a-year jobs in addition to retaining 64 existing jobs is enough to get the city on the QTI tip. Under this agreement, the city will throw in $34,800 over five years with the state ponying up $174,000 to keep Xymogen here. Don’t drink the organic Kool-Aid. 

Item: The city approves a minor subdivision plat at Greenwood Cemetery. 

Translation: And if that alternative medicine (or those Tasers, for that matter) happen to harm you, the city is making arrangements to expand its Greenwood Cemetery with 1,370 “future grave sites,” 244 of which are only one-foot-by-two-feet (gulp). Well, at least you’ll have somewhere to go. 

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