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COLUMN

Council Watch

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don't have to

There was something missing from this week’s simpleton symposium, something the average onlooker might have overlooked between midday yawns and pocket iPhone vibrations. Sure, the little pieces were all right where they were supposed to be: Commissioner Patty Sheehan was there to grandstand about the 133 couples already signed up for the city’s domestic-partnership registry; Commissioner Daisy Lynum extolled the virtues of a solid, cheap church breakfast; Commissioner Sam Ings unpacked his “and also” briefcase to let us know every last thing he accomplished (or appeared at) over a two-week period; Commissioner Robert Stuart boasted about being able to “shoot a lobbyist” at Otronicon. There was even some unseemly giggling at the capture of the alleged Thornton Park flasher.

But when the dais got down to its usual business of gladhanding and childlike bonhomie, the commissioners notably did not break out in a chorus to honor Commissioner Phil Diamond’s birthday. It was the worst birthday party ever! That is until Latin Lover (and Commissioner) Tony Ortiz insisted at the end that the mayor croon a birthday love song to his mayoral-race rival Diamond in unison with the rest of them.

“You’re the only one up here who can sing,” Mayor Buddy Dyer blushed. Balance was duly restored. And the yawns continued.

Item:The city approves an interlocal agreement between the city and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Lynx) to allow the city’s Capital Improvement and Infrastructure Division to serve as Lynx’s project manager for the East-West bus rapid-transit expansion project and the Parramore bus rapid-transit expansion project.

Translation: As it has been discussing for years, the city is finally moving forward with the expansion of Lynx’s free Lymmo service to include rapid-transit busing from the current confines of its downtown Groundhog Day infinite loop to something that actually services surrounding neighborhoods. Expectedly, this whole “let’s throw some new buses in the mix” thing is extremely expensive, considering that the roads connecting Parramore to Thornton Park to the Amway Center to a future SunRail station all exist already. Thanks to an earmark from U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville – who ought to know a thing or two about commuting, since her gerrymandered district stretches half the damn state – the city will get $2.4 million to buy four hybrid buses for the east-west route and $5.5 million for route construction – otherwise known as extra lanes. The city will also bill Lynx about $400,000 for the use of its in-house infrastructural brain trust. For a separate Parramore leg of this dream tour – one that includes the federal courthouse, Amway Center, Florida A&M University’s College of Law and the imploding cesspit known as the Creative Village – the city secured $10 million in federal TIGER grants, and will provide the additional $2.5 million (which appears, by current documentation, to have grown to $3.4 million) in matching funds; the city will also reimburse Lynx up to $500,000 for administrative fees. There is no such thing as a free ride.

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