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9/30/2010

Columns > Council Watch

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

 

Appropriately enough, it was all about watching things at this week’s civic slumber party. Lining the back walls of the council chambers were the so-called “big dogs” of local law enforcement staring blank cop stares at the gathered minions. “I think we have pretty good security at today’s meeting,” Mayor Buddy Dyer chuffed. The uniformed Village People tryout queue was in honor of Orlando Police Chief Val Demings receiving her “the mayor loves me!” award and a celebration of intimidation vis a vis various area neighborhood watch programs. The phrase “Bon voyage, crime!” was actually uttered. Erm. 

With that out of the way, the commissioners could get down to more important business – most notably hyperventilating about the fact that Family Feud just wrapped its first season here in Orlando (and that was amazing), but there was also the announcement that a local Comfort Suites is about to be the subject of an episode of Undercover Boss! “I hope it’s a good one,” said Commissioner Robert Stuart, nervously. It won’t be. 

Item: The city approves an amendment and extension for an agreement for parking staffing services for the Orlando Venues.

Translation: The spotting pubescence of transition is proving to be quite the difficult task for the gangly and socially awkward City Beautiful. There are, as most “What’s Happening to My Body?” pamphlets will warn you, arrangements to be made: the Clearasil of shifting liquor licenses from the soon-to-be-dormant Amway Arena to the deeper-voiced Amway Center, the Tampax of establishing red-box areas for ticket scalpers at the new joint, and this, the temporary birth control of making certain that the people minding the parking in the back are taken care of. The city has utilized Lanier Parking Solutions of Florida to handle the eye rolling and money taking for its Centroplex properties since 2008, shelling out some $461,000 annually to ensure that the calamity of event parking is as poorly choreographed as possible. “The city has been satisfied with the performance of the vendor,” it says. Now the city needs to move that flash mob south a couple of blocks to include the Geico Garage (that’s right, we’re selling garage names now), the Church Street Garage and the HD Supply Garage. Meanwhile, Lanier will continue to handle the automotive whirligigs at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and the Florida Citrus Bowl. This 14-month extension of the city’s contract with Lanier effectively keeps the costs the same, although at least two of the affected garages will be charging you $20 just to park your car (and there’s an app for that! You can prepay). That small change will save the city from financial failure, reportedly, but will it heal the embarrassment of unexpected erections? Oh, growing pains. 

Item: The city approves the use of a Florida Sheriff’s Association contract with Wheeled Coach Industries for the purchase of 10 wheeled coach ambulances.

Translation: Just last week the city was hemming and hawing about the difficulty of basically turning its withering fire department into a revenue generating triage on wheels; the fire chief took to the podium to discuss how unrealistic such a venture would probably be considering that the firemen just barely squeaked by on a stimulus grant that saved them from having to ax a significant portion of their population. So it can only come off as odd that the city is moving forward with the acquisition of 10 brand new ambulances for the OFD, right? Giving in to its proclivity toward shiny new things, the city will lay out $1.4 million on 10 brand new 2011 Dodge Ram ambulances, one of which will feature a TranSafe bariatric ramp and winch system (“It only takes 45 seconds to complete the installation!” boasts the TranSafe website), because sick fat people are heavy. 

Item: The city approves continuing professional services authorization with Dyer, Riddle, Mills and Precourt for a supplemental scope study for traffic signal design at the intersection of Michigan Street and Division Avenue.

Translation: DRMP is the city’s go-to consultancy for infrastructure development matters, but the company is also the former tenant of the Orlando Weekly’s current office space (now shared with the disgruntled DUI nicotine party of the Florida Safety Council), so we basically breathe DRMP’s old air and consider ourselves to be experts on just about everything. It is doubtful, however, that the city would toss $4,799 in our direction in the interest of designing (not even installing) a single traffic signal. Apparently, a horrific storm took out a stoplight at the intersection of Michigan Street and Division Avenue earlier this year. Upon closer review, DRMP found that the right-of-ways in the area were all wrong, meaning the company would have to redesign everything, including “pedestrian features” like ramps and signage. Storms make business happen. 

Item: The city approves a memorandum of understanding with General Electric to research, develop and deploy projects that contribute to the achievement of Orlando’s sustainability and economic development goals. 

Translation: Like a clumsy third cousin of the Declaration of Independence, the city’s evergreen “memorandum of understanding” notion would rather just sit home and watch Oprah than do anything meaningful. And so it is that this week the city pulls out the weak handshake in the service of its clumsy sustainability dream. No money is being exchanged – not yet – but this does give the city its seemingly annual platform for saying things like “green development” and “clean technology” in the same sentence as “smart grid” and “electric vehicles.” Hey, GE makes bombs, too! Get under your desk. 

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