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COUNCIL WATCH

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Editor's note: Orlando City Council meetings are boring. They're long. They're tedious. They're packed with acronyms and motions and yeas and nays and other crap you don't have time for. That's where we come in. Council Watch goes to City Council meetings so you don't have to. We peel away layers of bureaucratese from the government onion to reveal the shiny nugget of useful info contained therein, and then report it to you every other week (at least until the summer intern leaves). Who loves you more than Mom? We do.

Editor's note: Orlando City Council meetings are boring. They're long. They're tedious. They're packed with acronyms and motions and yeas and nays and other crap you don't have time for. That's where we come in. Council Watch goes to City Council meetings so you don't have to. We peel away layers of bureaucratese from the government onion to reveal the shiny nugget of useful info contained therein, and then report it to you every other week (at least until the summer intern leaves). Who loves you more than Mom? We do.

The June 19 City Council meeting was jampacked with enough excitement to make it slightly more entertaining than watching grass grow! Between seeing the council members pretend not to hear an outburst to the mayor — "Please don't take my stick," shouted a shoeless, one-armed gentleman — and reminding a speaker that he can't say "motherfucker" because the meeting is being broadcast on TV, memories were made. It almost made us consider getting rid of cable and subscribing to Buddy Dyer-per-view. Almost.

Item: Adoption of an ordinance amending Chapter 13, Section 7, of the Charter of the City of Orlando to increase the threshold dollar amount for the purchase or lease of real property requiring notice and a public hearing from $1 million to $3 million. The ordinance also increases the threshold dollar amount for the purchase or lease of real property that may require approval as a consent agenda item from $1 million or less to $3 million or less.

Translation: Purchases from $500,000 to $3 million will appear on the consent agenda and come before the City Council for approval. Which means that, for the vast majority of big-ticket purchases the city makes, you won't be allowed to comment on them at a public hearing. Commissioner Phil Diamond raised a ruckus last time this went to the council, mainly because there was confusion over whether or not purchases under $3 million would have to go to the council at all, even on the consent agenda. This time around, his fears assuaged, the ordinance passed unfettered.

 

Item: Want to know why council meetings last so long? At the start of each session, the mayor passes out awards like candy, during which time he stops everything to walk out in front of the dais and pose for photos. Celebrating your 20th anniversary as a city employee? Come get your plaque. Run an organization the mayor likes? Step right up and say "cheese." This takes time, and dammit, we're impatient. Seriously, do you think anyone taking in this meeting at home on TV cares how long some senior assistant to the assistant deputy city planner has held his job? Neither do we.

This time, though, the awards presentation proved worthy of our interest. Mayor Buddy Dyer received HIS OWN AWARD! Well, not really an award — a recognition for his and the city's support of the 13th annual Hearts of Gold event, the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida's biggest fund-raiser. We even got video of the mayor singing "My Girl" with the Turtles at the May 3 blowout.

Translation: A few hours after homeless people and advocates praised the mayor for his selfless dedication to helping the underprivileged, the council voted to drastically restrict where and when charity groups could feed the less fortunate (see next item). Ooh, awkward.

 

Item: Approval on first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 18A of the City Code, prohibiting large group feeding in public parks and facilities in the community redevelopment area without a large group feeding permit, which would be limited to two per user per park per year. Because everyone and his mother wanted to have his say, this public hearing pushed the council meeting way past its bedtime, past 7 p.m. Ultimately, the ordinance passed 5-2, with newbies Robert Stuart and Sam Ings voting nay. It comes up for a second reading, where it looks certain to pass, in two weeks.

Translation: Don't feed the homeless! At least, not where anyone or anything we really care about — read: businesses — can see you. (See more in Happytown™, page 12).

Next meeting: July 10.

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