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COLUMN

Council Watch

Billy Manes pays attention to city government so you don't have to

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There was a slight stench of giddy afterparty fumes as this week's civic champagne tree came to full gurgle. Sure, the room had to endure the do-gooder presentations – a half hour of them, no less – about how physically healthy those on city staff are (no smoking!) and how hard the city is working to come up with "out of the box" ideas to prevent that common ailment in children known as "summer learning loss" via connections with the public school system, but the real red-eyed bliss came when everyone on the dais referenced the utter awesomeness of the 80th Annual Conference of Mayors, Vice President Joe Biden (naturally) included. Kegger!

"I had more fun than anyone," Commissioner Daisy Lynum gleefully sauced before mentioning something about another event where she would spend time with 2,000 black men.

Commissioner Patty Sheehan, though likely still "charmed" by the bacchanalia, wanted to make sure that Orlando knew not to feed crappy food to the Lake Eola swans. But some foods are worse than others when it comes to feeding waterfowl, she said, noting that two swans had recently died.

"Popcorn is lethal," she popped. As are bread and circuses.

Item: The city approves a memorandum of understanding between the City of Orlando and Orange County Public Schools relating to Audubon Park Elementary School.

Translation: Remember those virtually unwinnable games of tug-of-war back in the knee-scuff days of snot-nosed elementary school recess? Well, that seems to be precisely what's been going on between the city and OCPS recently over the appearance of – gasp – 27 portable classrooms at the new Audubon Park Elementary School in Baldwin Park. It all started when that new Audubon Park Elementary School took the place of the old Audubon Park Elementary School, thereby servicing both the Pleasantville spawn of a poorly designed new-ish residential community and the rest of the scum of the earth that don't live in those buildings pressed too close to one another, but still live in the district of the old school. Meanwhile, the old school remains standing and serves as a "swing school" for children orphaned by upgrades on their "home" schools (this school year the old building hosted Princeton Elementary's flock of chickens). Anyway, because of "rapidly growing" attendance – and, apparently, the loud guffaws of neighbors with nothing better to do than complain – the city has come down on the school board for allowing so many portables, citing the state's constitutional "class-size amendment" and previously agreed upon site agreements from 2006 for the school. Moreover, the city is suggesting that the excess of portables violates the donation agreement of the land for the school and a "joint use park and easement agreement" forged between the city and the school board. OCPS, naturally, thinks it's above these laws and is exempt from municipal fiddling. Time to break out a memorandum of understanding! Under this agreement, OCPS has given a "good faith" assessment of when it will allow the old school to return to serving the old neighborhood (the 2015-2016 school year), and will agree to dress up the ugly old portables at the Baldwin Park school with amazing new landscaping! That's right. Just put a bush in front of it.

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