On the days leading up to this week's meeting of the civic minds, the sparks of fiscal friction were palpable, largely due to what was perceived as Mayor Buddy Dyer's fast-tracking of the agreement to build a new arena for the Orlando Magic. After a month of holiday doldrums and hangovers, the thought was this could be the city council meeting to end all city council meetings. Exciting!
But a "cool your jets" order came from Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, and, coupled with some caustic note-passing in the chambers, the fast track was swiftly decorated with tire spikes. The arena agreement was moved from "consent" all the way down-agenda to "new business," leaving the bones of contention for the after-party doggie bag.
Instead, commissioner Betty Wyman dozed behind her sunglasses and commissioner Robert Stuart agreed that Weekly writer Jeffrey C. Billman looks like a girl. We found out the reason this was a Thursday meeting — our leaders usually meet on Mondays — was that Dyer was doing the Gator chomp in Arizona.
Item: The city approves an extension of an annual agreement with Picasso Painting Contracting Inc. to paint mast arm assemblies on traffic lights.
Translation: Of all the things one takes for granted in one's lifetime, the lowly mast arm assembly — those tubes and poles that bring the beatable yellow light of caution into your vision line — surely ranks right up there. But the city does not take the maintenance of its mast arms lightly, choosing to honor this, the second year of a three-year term with cleverly named Picasso, with an estimated $57,750 for one year of service. What color will the assemblies be? "Whatever color they want them to be!" exclaimed the excitable commissioner Stuart prior to today's meeting. Puce. Puce sounds nice.
Item: The city approves the purchase of 80 gallons of aquatic herbicide from Agro Distribution, at a cost of $112,000.
Translation: Let the Orlando herbicide scandal begin! First of all, this isn't the "real" herbicide, but rather a generic knock-off: AVAST! SC (never trust exclamation points!). So it's either a case of Orlando being tight in the wad, or it's a coverup for something altogether more mysterious. Regardless, at a hefty $112,000 (which according to the Weekly calculator is $1,400 per gallon; what is this shit made out of anyway?) it sounds less like a weed killer than it does marijuana food. Reportedly, the Streets and Drainage Division utilizes this mystery sauce in the killing of aquatic (or psychotropic) vegetation in freshwater ponds, lakes, reservoirs, drainage canals and irrigation canals. A likely story.
Item: The city adopts a resolution that authorizes an equipment lease/purchase agreement with Bank of America for $7.2 million as a means of upgrading the city's 800 MHz radio system.
Translation: Does Bank of America give $7 million loans? For radios? Awesome. What this deal means is that big ol' BOA is ponying up for a much-needed equipment overhaul of Orlando's emergency services (cops, ambos, whatever). The city will make "rental" payments to BOA, with a purchase option at the final payoff. If this is as much like Rent-a-Center as it sounds, late-night television viewers, then might we suggest to the city that they try to get that money order in on time, lest some city's legs get broken by an angry repo man.
Item: The city opens up a discussion on, rather than directly approving, the Development and Operational Agreement (the summary of terms and conditions) between the city of Orlando and the Orlando Magic.
Translation: The city's commissioners, lathered up by their lack of consultation on the matter, bared their fangs for the cameras and the mayor alike — but not until after Allen Johnson of the Centroplex, Alex Martins of the Magic and the city's chief administrative officer, Byron Brooks, among others, PowerPointed their way through just how darn generous the Magic are and how blessed we are to have them. A pile of numbers resulted, causing commissioner Phil Diamond to conclude the whole thing is "half-baked." A summary of their responses:
— Phil Diamond: Uncharacteristically mad as hell.
— Betty Wyman: Wants to see a game before she dies.
— Robert Stuart: Fiscal issues, "show me the money," etc.
— Patty Sheehan: Poor people should have parking, too.
— Daisy Lynum: Has vertigo (!), can't do nosebleed seats.
— Sam Ings: Me. Vote for me.