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Council watch

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

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Item: The city approves a property donation and park-improvement agreement between the city and Skyhouse Orlando LLC.
Translation: Speaking of dolled up money pits, Atlanta-based Skyhouse Orlando is looking to erect a $63 million, 23-story high-rise apartment right across from the downtown courthouse near that parking loop off Livingston Street that nobody really knows how to use. In order to butter up the city, Skyhouse has agreed to allow 5,072 square feet of the parcel to be used as part of a public park, which the company will maintain on its own for 10 years. The city, meanwhile, will return the favor in the form of some adjacent and abandoned city-owned land that Skyhouse needs in order to construct its 320-unit Barbie Dream House. "SkyHouse Orlando will add to the luxury rental home market for the young professional population who prefer to live downtown," one of the developers told the Orlando Business Journal, which means that there will be retail space and a parking garage included. We'll see if it ever gets off the ground.

Item: The city approves a mutual aid agreement between the city of Orlando (Orlando Police Department) and the city of Tampa for the Republican National Convention.
Translation: Thanks to the fact that Florida is allowing the Republican National Convention next month to turn into a gun show – surely without pressure from the National Rifle Association – the city of Tampa is anticipating that it will need increased police presence for matters of security. But, because this is a right-wing party covered in tea bags, surely that won't require any federal assistance, right? Wrong. The U.S. Department of Justice is handing Tampa $50 million to keep the wingnuts (and their enemies) in check, and OPD – keen to get in on the action, apparently – will pick up some of the patrolling slack and be reimbursed for doing so. Feel any safer?

Item: The city approves an award to Brenntag Mid-South Inc. of Orlando for caustic soda.
Translation: Well then maybe you should bring some caustic soda with you to the convention! As we seem to annually highlight in this column, the city loves it some caustic soda (or Sodium Hydroxide), mostly because it makes our wastewater smell less, um, wasted while it's being processed. This year, the city plans to spend about $78,000 on the stuff, which clearly means the city has a caustic soda drinking problem and, yes, you should be worried. Everybody's gone crazy!

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