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10/18/2007

Government > Council Watch

COUNCIL WATCH

 

Oh, no. An absence of parking options and/or seating options at this week’s civic chatterbox and the walls were breathing with standing-room-only spectatorship of the philanthropic variety. During the protracted invocation, District No. 6 commissioner Sam Ings’ lapel flashed caution with a blinking red light. What did it all mean?

Well, for starters there were the giant checks being donated by Disney in the name of the mayor’s Educational Partnership Grant program, specifically for the Center for Drug-Free Living and Washington Shores Elementary School. Then came a reasonably emotional tribute to the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment involving veterans from the Korean War. An amusing gift plaque from the Mormons declaring the last week of October to be Week of the Family followed, crossing this week’s church/state line. And finally, the red bleeps on Ings’ chest were defined as symbols of “Lights Out After School” programs designed to keep kids off the streets. Brilliant.

The real treat, though? The mayor’s reference to the “Jack-Orlando Pumpkin Palace,” mostly because Orlando could use a little more jacking.

Item: The city authorizes increasing museum admission prices by $4 per person during the “Paintings of George Bellows” exhibition at the Mennello Museum of American Art.

Translation: This particular bit of adaptive legislation makes perfect sense. The Friends of the Mennello Museum scraped $241,950 from their diamond-encrusted clutches to get the honor of playing real-city host to this collection of paintings from early 20th-century sensation, George Bellows, and the city wants you to pay them back. Bellows’ realistic portrayals of the building blight versus the upper crust polo crowds of old New York City could resonate here in modern times, after all – DPAC, meet Parramore – and we could all learn a haughty lesson about juxtaposition.

Item: The city approves the ranking of firms to provide production architect services for the performing arts center.

Translation: Speaking of DPAC, things are rolling along actually getting the damn thing built to acoustic perfection while pretending that nothing is financially wrong. The design architect has already been selected – Barton Myers Associates – and they will work hand-in-artsy-hand with whomever is selected as production architect in making sure that you can still hear pins dropping in those giant spaces. Two bids have come in: one from HKS, who rank first, and the other from Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects. HKS wins for now because their plan includes a 30 percent minority business involvement. The other one has a better name, though.

Item: The city approves an award to Robo-Control Inc. for providing automatic actuators for chlorine and sulphur dioxide shut-off systems in wastewater treatment facilities.

Translation: Ack! This apparently needs to happen in a hurry, as only one bid was received and therefore one bid considered. The wastewater folks had an informal budget proposal of something like $360,000, and Robo-Control transformed their way in with a bid of $497,262. The city was like, “nuh-uh,” and Robo-Control instantly offered a $100,000 reduction. “There is not adequate time for re-solicitation,” says the city, “as the actuators need to be installed as soon as possible to prevent accidental release of chlorine or sulphur dioxide gas.” Yes, they damn sure do.

Item: The city approves award and execution of contract to construct the pedestrian signals re-lamping project to Professional Highway Maintenance Inc.

Translation: The city is a smart shopper. Its engineer’s estimate for replacing the LED or incandescent lights in its “walk/don’t walk” signs with LED “countdown” pedestrian signals was $233,732. Five bids came in (the highest being a whopping $446,720 from Control Specialists Company … greedy!) and the city jumped for the lowball: a scant $205,925 from Professional Highway Maintenance Inc., or Big Joe’s House of Cheap Safety.

Item: The city approves a termination of lease for the former LYNX downtown bus station.

Translation: It would seem that the city forgot something when it moved LYNX operations down to the acid-trip swirl that is the bus station right outside of the Weekly office windows. In 1983, LYNX entered into a 25-year lease for its old depot on city property, but in all the excitement of the new 2004 erection, they forgot to terminate said lease. Oops.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com
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