From the first solemn ring of the church bells outside, it was clear that there would be very little to smile about at this week's governmental misery support group meeting. A Unitarian invocation worried about the homeless and Haiti, praying that whatever God it is that speaks to commissioners would do his best to make those things go away.
And then they brought out the knitted baby hats. A proclamation was issued in honor of Heads Up on Infant Mortality Awareness Day (hats = heads), because 1,667 babies died before the age of 1 in Florida in 2008. Less depressing: District 5 commissioner Daisy Lynum talking about donating her mother's milk in her younger days. Gross.
Item: The city adopts an ordinance regarding signage for the Amway Center and Amway Center parking garage.
Translation: When the mayor and city commissioners gave gay-hating pyramid blob Rich DeVos the keys to the kingdom a few years back — fast-tracking the erection of a city-owned events center, or else — nobody seemed to mind that the Orlando Magic owner's reputation for crass commercialism preceded him with a trail of Nutrilite tears. Now, as the Amway Center completion continues apace, there's an audible gasp of disbelief at the very idea that DeVos and company intend to hawk their wares on the side of the building via a 46-foot-tall, 54-foot-wide LED "lightstick" screen facing the congestion of I-4 with moving pictures. In fact, the screen was part of the Magic's plan all along; that advertising is where they would garner the $1.75 million in annual payments they owe the city for the naming of the behemoth. The main hang-up at this point comes from state laws that limit the size of billboards to less than half of the city's new tee-vee for reasons of safety. After an hour of "dazzle factor" presentations and safety tedium — of which "too much" was being made, said the mayor — the ordinance passed 5-2, allowing only 10 seconds of each projected minute to include motion.
Item: The city approves a not-for-profit impact fee assistance program agreement between the United Safety Council Inc. — doing business as Central Florida Safety Council — and the City of Orlando for property at 1505 E. Colonial Drive.
Translation: Oh, hey! Welcome, neighbors! To some it may seem ironic that the interminable clanging going on just beneath the Weekly's new second-floor office space on East Colonial will soon result in a new headquarters for a group that offers programs to DUI offenders and workplace- safety violators. For us, it's just a chance to make our idiosyncrasies more discreet. Anyway, the Central Florida Safety Council is throwing $400,000 into cleaning up our bottom floor (significantly more than the $47 in duct tape we employed in our December relocation), and because they're a nonprofit (non-technically, so are we!), they're eligible for city assistance in dealing with their impact fees. They'll get $852 toward their sewer costs and $8,681 to allay transportation fees. We, in turn, will continue to be enabled. Watch out for the bouncy elevator!
Item: The city approves utilizing contracts Y7-1090 with Cutler Repaving for hot-in-place recycled paving and Y8-1092A-LC with Hubbard Construction Co. for the provision of asphalt.
Translation: Speaking of self-referential nonsense, if you flip over a few pages to this week's cover story ("A tale of two neighborhoods," page 15), you'll find a little tale involving a brokedown palace in Southport, a remote nether region near the airport that we got lost for three hours trying to find earlier this month. This week, the city's public works department is moving forward with repaving the Boggy Creek Road path to that particular hellhole, fronting $265,298 to Cutler Repaving for some "hot-in-place" recycling action and $358,215 to Hubbard Construction for additional asphalt. We're on a road to nowhere.
Item: The city approves an award to NRA Group LLC — doing business as National Recovery Agency — for an annual agreement for collection services.
Translation: The city's hired some new kneecappers. Estimating that it will be owed nearly $2 million in the coming year, the city has contracted NRA to badger its debtors (with guns?) for what they owe, plus 14.75 percent. Best-case scenario: NRA pockets $279,660 off your broke ass and you don't have to sleep with the fishes.
Item: The city approves hosting "Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes From Film and Television" (a museum exhibition) for purposes of display banners downtown.
Translation: Captain Kirk's tunic and sash, Darth Vader's helmet and cape, the Wicked Witch of the West's pointy hat, George Clooney's Batman & Robin nipples and Dan Aykroyd's Ghostbusters II get-up will all be on display at the Orange County Regional History Center from February through May, and the city is so fucking excited! Because of this, there will be flags on poles downtown. Also, "this event will advance significantly the general welfare of the citizens of Orlando." Holy firstname.lastname@example.org