For the love of God will someone please make Sam Ings shut up? I lost 20 minutes of my life listening to the District 6 commissioner drone on about the Saturday morning prayer service he attended and the 279 people who came to some event, each of whom he individually thanked. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, Sam, and I think I can speak for the entire city council when I say that we’d rather be at the bar.
Speaking of the Irish, commissioner Patty Sheehan was nice enough to buy everyone something green to wear, presumably so she wouldn’t have to pinch them later. She brought Mayor Buddy Dyer a tie and brought a few others green necklaces, all of which, she told us several times, cost less than $25, and which she paid for with personal funds. She’s so ethical.
There were the usual invocations and announcements – the city will hold a mock disaster drill May 3 – along with proclamations and self-congratulations. And commissioner Betty Wyman, who leaves office May 1, wanted to thank everyone for being so nice to her these last 16 years.
“You do have two more meetings,” Dyer reminded her.
“I do?” she replied, summarizing the whole of her tenure with two little words.
ITEM: The city donates $2.5 million to the University of Central Florida Foundation for the acquisition and construction of a medical school.
TRANSLATION: The city’s ponying up some bucks for UCF’s medical school, which will eventually be clustered alongside the Burnham Institute, a veterans hospital, a children’s hospital and other medical facilities that will bring in a lot of rich doctor types who make a lot of money and will buy tickets to the touring version of Cats at the new performing arts center, the city hopes.
ITEM: The city approves banners for Wrestle Mania 24.
TRANSLATION: There’s actually going to be an event at the Citrus Bowl that doesn’t feature monster trucks! Of course, it’s wrestling. But the redneck soap opera does constitute a step up. Right? We should all be grateful that facility will host something people care about, even if the people involved are Bud-drinking meatheads with double-digit IQs. Oh, and to promote this event, the city’s going to hang a bunch of Wrestle Mania 24 (which, incidentally, is sponsored by the Downtown Development Board) banners all over town. Because nothing says “Orlando’s arrived” like bad actors in tights.
ITEM: The city purchases 12 Dodge Durango Flex Fuel Vehicles from Maroone Dodge of Miami.
TRANSLATION: Earlier this month, the Orlando Sentinel got its undies in a wad – a two-part series plus an editorial! – over the fact that city workers don’t drive Priuses and wear Birkenstocks. As it turns out, the city already was going green before the Sentinel got all preachy-pants. The city bought 12 flex-fuel trucks for its police department for $319,392 from a Miami dealership. Why Miami? According to the city, it solicited bids for the purchase twice and even contacted five local dealerships directly. Apparently, no one from these parts wanted City Hall’s business. Infer from that what you will.
ITEM: The city awards an annual contract to LaserCraft Inc. to provide red-light cameras and citation system.
TRANSLATION: And finally, today’s main event: a showdown between two giants, each vying for the city’s approval in a no-holds-barred fight, complete with a stenographer!
Last year, the city solicited bids to establish and run a system to catch red-light runners. The city got six bids, narrowed those down to four, then selected a winner – LaserCraft, which would charge the city about $1.1 million annually for the next three years. (The city believes the extra citations will bring in $2.25 million per year.) But the No. 2 bidder, American Traffic Solutions, didn’t give up. It appealed its case to the city council, rambling on about pixels and monochromatic images, four lanes versus six lanes, pricing structures and so forth. Essentially, ATS was saying it could kick LaserCraft’s ass. LaserCraft responded with a slightly more eloquent version of “nuh-uh,” and the city council denied the appeal and gave LaserCraft the contract. A single tear ran down the cheeks of red-light runners everywhere.
Editor’s note: Council Watcher Billy Manes is traveling on assignment this week. His shoes were capably filled by Jeffrey C. Billman.email@example.com