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Council Watch

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



Happy days were here again as the city's (sort of) bi-weekly singing of the body politic coalesced into its harmonic 
Monday prayer chorus; even omnipotent Congresswoman Corrine Brown, D-anywhere in Florida she chooses, was on hand to update the dais on all things transportation, but mostly rail. Just as new Gov. Rick Scott finished waving a budgetary snake-flag over a tea party in Eustis, Brown seemed confident that somehow all of this rail stuff was going to happen on the public dime – and soon. Just think about whizzing down to Miami! Also, think about the 80,000 permanent jobs our new rail dream will bring.

"If you're trying to create 700,000 jobs in seven years, it seems like high-speed rail and SunRail should be part of that," Mayor Buddy Dyer added, not at all referencing Scott.

But it wasn't all tracks and tears and cheers in the council chambers. Some of it was just make believe.

Item: The city approves a master development agreement and purchase option agreement for Creative Village Orlando.

Translation: The utopian Atlantis of Orlando development for imaginary people inches closer and closer to its fictional reality this week with an even more complicated pinky swear that might or might not involve the exchange of blood. Last July, Craig Ustler – or Mr. Thornton Park – wooed the city into a memorandum of understanding after he showed city officials just how good he was getting at the latest edition of SimCity. Wouldn't downtown be better off if everything were lit in neon? Yes. Now the city is ready to loosely define the details of the Creative Village. Specifically, there will be at least 900,000 square feet of "office/creative workspace," 325,000 square feet of educational frivolity, 1,200 much-needed housing units, 125,000 square feet of shopping and 150 hotel rooms. Also, Ustler and his Creative Village Development LLC will play the role of "master horizontal developer," meaning all infrastructure and traffic lights and bells and whistles will be under its purview, and all of it must be "green" and "sustainable." For its part, the city will throw in $2 million toward the demolition of the old Orlando Arena (scheduled for December) and probably another $1 million from whatever grants it can conjure. Sure, this was supposed to come at no cost to the city, but that's just real estate agent speak for "location, location, location!" If everything plays out right (hint: it won't), CVD will have the option to purchase certain parcels as they are completed. If anything goes wrong (it will), the city and CVD each have the option to bow out of the proposed 20-year relationship for a mere $425,000.

Item: The city approves a helispot policy.

Translation: Do you know where your helispot is? It's right next to your prostate. The city's new helispot, however, rests atop the eighth floor of the Amway Center-adjacent GEICO garage where cars sometimes park. Because extravagance is the theme of our times, the city will now offer event promoters the opportunity to pluck KanyeGaGaBeiber straight out of the sky and teleport it to the Amway stage for the enjoyment and expense of countless squealing groupies. When dealing with air-traffic concerns, there's always going to be a strict rubric of Federal Aviation Administration guidelines; in this case, those include an 8,000-pound limit for incoming helicopters, 72 hours notice and $10 million in insurance. The cost of landing a helicopter atop a city structure must be huge, right? Nope. It's $100, or whatever lost parking revenues are incurred by the indulgence – whichever is greater. So, five parking spaces, then. And you thought you were fly.

Item: The city approves an increase to standing purchase order #19029 issued to Classic Chevrolet.

Translation: Turns out this resurgence of General Motors Americana might not be as sensational as the Super Bowl may have had you thinking. The city boasts a fleet of homemade jalopies that are apparently teetering on the lemon line, meaning it has to do something to remedy the "unanticipated increase in the need for repairs to General Motors vehicles." We already have a contract with Classic Chevrolet, which was signed last October, but that $85,000 is drying up quick. Before things get any worse – or at least for the next three months while the city tries to conform to its own competitive bidding rules – the city will increase the junkyard purchase order by $55,000 (or 550 helicopter landings).

Item: The city adopts ordinance 2011-9 relating to pain management clinics and the abuse of prescription pills.

Translation: Oh, dear. Here we go. The great scourge of all of Florida – barring copper theft, which was totally fixed by a city ordinance last month – is the dilated pupils of the throbbing masses of pill poppers zombie-wandering the streets from pill mill to pill mill in search of their next oblong oxycodone hit. It's a freakin' epidemic! You'll be glad to know the city has taken extreme steps to end this public menace (there are 23 pain clinics in Orlando! Hide!) and is now putting a temporary moratorium on new drug dens and moving drug dens and growing drug dens. Phew. Additionally, these enemies to society will be forced to accept electronic payments and not just cash; also, they can only operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., because zombies need to be seen in broad daylight to be believed. You can rest easy now. That is, unless you're in chronic pain.

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