I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What Does an Analysis of the Crime Statistics from the Beach Show?

In the wake of the implementation of an open-container ordinance at Pensacola Beach's Quietwater Beach Boardwalk,
Miscellaneous crimes have increased 250%, Obstructing Justice incidents have doubled, and very dangerous DUI infractions are up 73% since open containers of alcohol were banned on the boardwalk.

Since the enactment of an open container prohibition on Pensacola's boardwalk, several crime categories have spiked at Quietwater beach:  Alcohol offenses except DUI are up 85%, Substance abuse complaints are up 200%, and retail petit theft complaints are up 167%

As we are lobbied to keep the current ordinance in effect, we are told that crime at the beach is way down.  I asked for and received the statistics and I've been able to analyze the data that was provided.

Since the open container ban on the boardwalk was enacted, some crimes are down--but here is the key...Many crimes are up in the wake of the change, most notably the number of DUI arrests are way up.

So, just as I assumed, the data on the crime shows a mixed bag, with some infractions going down, and some going up. 

This fact, combined with the fact that a one year look does not a trend establish, leads me to believe that we need to concentrate on enforcement, let the ordinance sunset, and keep our focus on punishing transgressors not punishing everyone for the misdeeds of a small minority of folks who act up in public.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jelly Doughnut Discipline, Redux: Open Containers of Alcohol on Quietwater Beach Boardwalk

Punishing the innocent many for the actions of the guilty one or few = Jelly Doughnut Discipline

Eight years ago I dealt with Jelly Doughnut Discipline serving as a School Board Member.  What is Jelly Doughnut Discipline?  It is a political maneuver, typically for convenience, expediency, or to appease a certain constituency characterized by the punishing of many for the sins of the few or the one.  Myself and some others have coined this term from a scene in the 1987 war movie "Full Metal Jacket."  In that scene, Private Pyle brings a Jelly Doughnut from the Mess Hall into the Barracks in violation of the rules.  Instead of punishing the transgressor, Private Pyle,  Sgt. Hartman allows Pyle to eat the doughnut while the rest of the squad "pays the price" by doing push ups.  Instead of punishing the one, Hartman punishes the many.  Jelly Doughnut Discipline.

Now in my new life as a County Commissioner here in Escambia County, I see the concept of Jelly Doughnut Discipline reappearing.  Specifically, the ordinance limiting open container consumption of alcohol on the County's Pensacola Beach Boardwalk which was supposed to sunset in June is being considered for renewal.  We are told that because of some rambunctious often criminal behavior by some folks that utilize this facility---everyone will be punished by not being able to enjoy an adult beverage here anymore.  My understanding:  the ordinance enacted last year was to be temporary.  Data would be analyzed before making the measure permanent.  Up until the meeting yesterday--I still hadn't received data--only anecdotal presentations from the hoteliers representatives and law enforcement.

A couple of facts:  The Quietwater Beach Boardwalk is a specialty center owned by Escambia

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Take Aways from the Joint Meeting between BCC and ECSD

The Escambia County Commission and the Escambia County School Board held their first joint-meeting since 2010 on Tuesday.  The meeting was productive and generated some good discussion on multiple subjects of mutual interest.  The meeting was covered by the PNJ and also by WEAR.

My takeaways:

1.  These meetings need to occur more frequently--when I am chairman next year I will suggest we do these joint meetings annually.

2.  Discussions of combating pockets of poverty are more productive when all the stakeholders are aligning their efforts mutually--and numerous good ideas about collaboration were discussed at this meeting directed at addressing this problem.

3.  The library card for all Escambia Students was/is a solid idea

4.  The utilization of ECAT by students to attend choice school programs is solid.

5.  The discussions about providing safe walking routes to school were good, I will work hard to help facilitate this because I know we are a "car-rider" county because in many instances there are not safe/walkable routes to school.

6.  The discussions about HIV/AIDs infections in Escambia County and how to better align our mutual efforts in combating this epidemic were good--not sure what the outcome or change in this arena will be.  Conversations about what the high-risk behaviors are that lead to these infections are difficult and rife with concerns about "political correctness."

7.  Kevin Adams had a very interesting concept about forming a safe-neighborhood task force that I strongly support.

8.  My discussion of a SEED-style boarding school ginned up lots of conversation---mostly positive.  Bill Slayton is opposed and said we need to keep working on Pre-K for 3,000 students per year and not try to do "too many things at once."  Doug Underhill said in no way would he ever support this concept because he stated that "no matter what, the parent child bond should never be broken!--even if the parent is a crackhead"  I disagreed with both Slayton and Underhill.  Slayton obviously feels we can only do one thing at a time and he obviously agrees with many that pre-k is the panacea that will fix everything academically. It is not.  The Vanderbilt Peabody and 2012 HHS Head-start Impact studies show otherwise; when we look at academic achievement sustainment at grades one and two and we measure the study group against the control group-- the Tennessee pre-k students show no greater achievement than do the control group of students who did not attend pre-school....Bill Slayton obviously has not read these studies....  I stated at the meeting that I could not disagree more with Underhill's assessment-that I believe that in some circumstances leaving a child in dysfunctional home environment is DANGEROUS.  Children are routinely separated from bad parents by the courts, when such children are abandoned, abused, and neglected.  It's called the termination of parental rights and it saves kids.  Guess Doug doesn't believe in that either.  I couldn't disagree with him more.

Watch the entire video here

Upcoming Meetings and Events for District 1

District 1 will be hosting several meetings over the next month, and the public is encouraged to stop by and weigh in on topics of interest to you and your community!

1.  Coffee with the Commissioner:

Tuesday, March 21st 6:30AM-7:30AM  Denny's 4625 Mobile Highway Pensacola

2.  District 1 Round Table with ECUA, School Board, Sheriff's Office, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, and Property Appraiser's office:

Monday, April 3rd 6:00PM-8:00PM  West Florida High School Cafeteria 2400 Longleaf Drive, Pensacola.

3. District 1 Town Hall:

Monday, April 24th 6:00PM-7:30PM  Bellview Middle School Cafeteria, 6021 Mobile Hwy Pensacola.

On WCOA's "Difference Makers" Show

I was a guest on the Quint and Rishy Studer sponsored program "Difference Makers" yesterday morning on AM 1370 WCOA.  I enjoyed the chat with Don Parker, and appreciated the invitation to appear on the show.

We talked a lot about what my take aways from 10 years on the school board are, the Newpoint debacle, local school enrollment issues,  and also charter schools. 

We then transitioned into how I became a County Commissioner and some of the challenges facing the BCC (Jail, OLF 8, Infrastructure) and also some of the initiatives I intend to pursue in this office. 

All in all a fun show.

You can listen to a replay of the show here (part I) and here (part II)