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Council Watch



The city put on its brave face for this week's foray into circumstantial civics, with the mayor cracking an unfunny joke about cell phones to commissioner Robert Stuart, commissioner Patty Sheehan talking about birds and aquatic art, and commissioner Phil Diamond managing to say the word "great" three times in one sentence. Everybody celebrated the city's volunteers because, well, they work for free and save the city $2 million a year, so that's nice. It seemed as if nothing could be wrong at all in the City Beautiful.

Except SunRail. The mayor huffed and puffed with a positive grin about how it's just an inch away from passing the state Senate and House, but then uttered the word "logjam" in reference to the ongoing state budget battle. The commissioners commended the mayor on his futile diligence and everybody crossed their toes for the impossible.

There was no mention of swine flu.

Item: The city approves a lease of city-owned property located at 700 N. Lake Formosa Drive.

Translation: Finally realizing the Chrissy Snow—shaped hole left by the end of Three's Company — and perhaps the fact that we haven't been scraping lint off of couch quarters like this since 1978 — the city has decided to launch its own double-entendre-filled pilot of situational landlord comedy in order to raise some cash. By some odd circumstance involving the expansion of Loch Haven Park a few years ago, the city found itself in possession of a 1,400-square-foot single-family home right by the lake. The humble abode boasts three bedrooms and two bathrooms, which apparently is to the liking of future tenants William Tarpley, Jarett Dolan and Peter Ciceron. Jarett will obviously have to play Janet, duh, but the other two will have to fight it out, Battle of the Network Stars—style, to see who really wears the pigtails and the hotpants. The tenants, according to their one-year trial lease (Three's a Crowd only lasted one season, after all), will fork out $999 total for monthly rent, plus a $1200 deposit. Fine (and cheap!), but the fun part is that the city is basically their landlord and will be responsible for the yard and exterior issues, meaning that Buddy Dyer is bound to pop by at any time in a bathrobe and call somebody gay. Yay!

Item: The city approves a qualified target industry tax refund resolution for Ziehm Imaging Inc.

Translation: The city continues its virtual quest for digital excellence this week by tapping into the mobile technologies of Ziehm Imaging. The city knows Ziehm is good because they're from Nuremberg, Germany, and the Germans make good stuff, like ShamWow! Ziehm already has one stateside sales and support center, in Riverside, Calif., but aims to take the rest of North America by securing a 5,000-square-foot stronghold right here in sunny Orlando. (We beat out South Carolina!) In order to qualify for the QTI incentive, a company has to offer something amazing, which in this case is 20 new jobs averaging $60,000 a year. And just to rub our faces in it, the city points out that the average Orlando wage is, gulp, just under $40,000. Because they're so awesome, Ziehm will get $16,000 over four years from the city and a total of $80,000 from the state, both of which won't go very far in offsetting the $1 million in proposed construction costs for the facility. Then again, of those 20 promised dream jobs, workers filling 16 of them will be shipped in from California.

Item: The city adopts a resolution to approve airport facilities revenue bonds.

Translation: A lot of economic bond-speak gobbledygook adds up to the fact that SunTrust Bank will not be renewing its bond agreement with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority to maintain its airport facilities when said agreement expires at the end of July. Because nobody else is stepping in to take over the debt, the city will authorize the issuance of "refunding revenue bonds" to the tune of $125 million in 2009. If they don't, the Aviation Authority will eat some big interest rate losses when those already holding bonds are forced to turn them back in to the bank. In related news, the sky is falling.

Item: The city approves its hosting of "Get Your Wild On! Downtown" for purposes of banners on downtown flagpoles.

Translation: Not to be confused with Joe Francis' titillating Girls Gone Wild franchise, "Get Your Wild On!" promises to be something altogether more awkward and embarrassing. The third week of June, downtown will turn into a zoo — one with real live giraffes and unicorns and wildebeests clogging up Orange Avenue — in support of conservation. There will be an art show that should include a photo of the mayor eating three bananas at once; there will be a "Jungle Crawl," meaning area restaurants will have animal-themed appetizers and drinks (blood!); and there will be a continued feeling that life here is just a sad old theme park. Sigh.

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