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 19, 2018

Here is the Current Status of the Mediation Agreement between the BCC and ECSO

This entire weekend people have been calling me and asking me "What is the status of the agreement with the ECSO"

Channel three called on Saturday and Sunday.  I stated what I know, which is still all I know today outside of rumors, innuendo, and media speculation based upon snippets of an alleged memo from Eric Haines.  What I know on the timeline and status of this matter is as follows:

On Friday, March 9th, I participated in an all day mediation with other BCC reps and Chief Deputy Haines and Gerry Champaign from ECSO.

The end of that process culminated in a signed mediation agreement that day, on Friday, March 9th 2018.  That session ended with nobody asking the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Saturday 3-10-18 came and went, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Sunday 3-11-18 came and went, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Monday 3-12-18 came and went, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Tuesday 3-13-2018 came and went, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Wednesday 3-14-2018 came and went, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Thursday 3-15-2018  The BCC votes to affirm the negotiated, signed mediation agreement via a very heated, contentious 3-2 vote.  A press release is written, media announces the breakthrough, no questions, comments, concerns from ECSO, No press release from ECSO, no videos, no nothing. and no request for the mediator to come back, no mention of any additional problems or concerns.

Friday 3-16-2018  BCC attorneys and staff draft an interlocal agreement based strictly upon the agreed upon and signed mediation settlement agreement and send it to Sheriff Morgan's attorney, where to the best of my knowledge it is given to the sheriff and sits on his desk awaiting his signature and action.  (Late Friday afternoon I requested and received confirmation that the Interlocal was sent to Gerry Champaign, General Counsel for ECSO)  Late Friday afternoon, I also was told there were some concerns being expressed by the ECSO--however I went into the weekend with no indication the ECSO would not honor the written, signed mediation agreement.  Nor was I EVER Told that the Sheriff had unilaterally decided to not honor this agreement.

Saturday--I was told by Ch. 3 reporter Jamarlo Phillips that a memo had been circulated within the ECSO stating "mediation has failed" to which I replied that information is not accurate.  "Mediation succeeded, see the written agreement" I told him.  I then continued "The signed mediation agreement is a fair compromise and so far as I know right now we are moving forward, and I believe any statement at this point on this issue needs to come first from the sheriff"

On Sunday--I was called by Jamarlo Phillips and again he stated that a memo had been circulated within the ECSO stating "mediation has failed"  He asked if I wanted to appear on camera and give a statement, to which I said no thank you.  I told him "any statement at this point on this issue needs to come first from the sheriff"

So here we are at 5:00 AM Monday Morning--and the media has run reports inaccurately stating mediation "failed." Mediation did not fail, it succeeded as designed, the interlocal agreement is now on the Sheriff's desk, awaiting his action.  That is the status as of right now, to the best of my knowledge.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

What Prices are Large-Acre Properties in Beulah near OLF 8 Commanding over the Last 18 Months?

TRUE STORY: although the last 3 large-acre parcels in the area have sold for an average of $65,000.00 per acre--there are still some persons inaccurately espousing the flawed notion that OLF 8, a 636 acre site in the heart of Beulah, is only worth about $7,500.00 per acre...

....There have been three large-acre site sales (30 Acres +)in the immediate vicinity (within 1 mile) of the OLF 8 site in Beulah over the last 18 Months.  This is not surprising to me, because I have watched this area explode over the last 14 years as a resident of Beulah right across from OLF 8.

 Prices are going up like a rocket and properties are moving.

In spite of this fact, there has nevertheless been some noise put out recently by some individuals that "OLF 8 is only worth $4.75 Million."  Amazingly, some people actually believe this nonsense.

This misinformation is apparently based upon a badly flawed appraisal from nearly 6 years ago...and this opinion obviously disregards recent, actual sales data.  This opinion also fails to look at a more recent, yet still obsolete, appraisal from two years ago....

That latest appraisal of OLF 8 from May of 2016 shows a value of $17.8 Million for the 636 Acre OLF 8 site.  That's a lot more than $4.75 Million!

But wait--- it gets better....

In the two years since the creation of that  May 2016 appraisal showing that OLF 8 is worth nearly $18 Million--there have been a number of large-acre site sales in Beulah, within a one-mile radius of OLF 8.  And guess what?--the prices are skyrocketing.

Take a look at the facts that you can independently verify at the Escambia Property Appraiser's Website

--November 2016--35.02 Acre Site in Beulah purchased by the Residences at Nature Creek LLC for $2.5 Million ($71,400 per acre)

--June 2017--52 Acre Site in Beulah purchased by HAD Land Development Group Partners I LLC for $4.0Million ($76,923 per acre)

--September 2017--174 Acre Site in Beulah purchased by Pathstone FL 2017 LLC for $8.25 Million ($47,413 per acre) 

So are we all to suspend our belief in the free-market economy, forget Adam Smith and the invisible hand 101, forget Commercial Real Estate 101, --just because someone says this property is only worth $4.75 Million?? Apparently, there are some that would answer the hypothetical above in the affirmative....

But here is reality:

We are seeing that the private market has signaled large-acre sites on 9-mile road in Beulah are worth about $65,000 per acre now in this market--based upon recent "actual" sales.

Taking this actual sales data and multiplying it by the size of the cleared, mostly high and dry acreage of OLF 8--we get a gross value of  $41,340,000.

So how does anyone with any sophistication whatsoever not see this?  It is simple arithmetic based upon real sales data from recent real transactions.

But if we set this real data aside and instead choose to believe that the 636 acre site is, indeed, only worth  $7,468.55 per acre ($4.75 Million Divided by 636)--then what is the explanation for three private market firms paying more than $40,000.00 more than value, per acre, for the land they recently purchased--land that in several cases was not even cleared??

Answer:  The private market would not support these prices if this real estate was not worth this valuation at this moment in time.  

So I'd simply ask anyone who will countenance the ridiculous notion that the 636 acre site in Beulah in Spring of 2018 is only worth $4.75 Million this simple question:   If you are truly, objectively trying to argue, in light of the facts, that this site is only worth $4.75 Million-- on what DATA do you base this opinion and more importantly how in the world  could you  be so very badly wrong if you have even a basic understanding of economics and the private real estate market?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What's The Value of OLF 8 in Beulah?

If the hypnotist tells you the value of a property is $4.75 Million, but the appraisal says the same property is worth $18Million, who are you going to believe, the hypnotist or your lyin' eyes?

Now that the vote at the BCC has been made and by a 4-1 margin, phase II construction will be commencing at OLF X in Santa Rosa County, we are now entering the final stretch toward acquiring, finally, the property in Beulah known as OLF8.

Now, there are still many disgruntled naysayers that are out and about--trying to somehow portray this land swap as a sham, a scam, a "bad deal" and/or an outright ripoff for the taxpayer.  There are even people that know better spouting off saying this land is only worth  $4.75 Million.  This is an outright lie.  The property just as it sits was appraised several years back for nearly $18 Million (see the summary appraisal in the two pictures below).  The values out here have done nothing but go straight up since this appraisal was conducted--so what is the OLF8 really worth today?  Let's just say it is worth more than $18 Million--that is a given, and that is more than we will have expended to get title to this land.

So, to the taxpayers and to my constituents in District 1 I say this:  I would not have done the deal the way the BCC did it--and I admit it was sloppy and choppy. I came into office as this project was well underway.    But---this property is worth more in just cash value alone as it sits, than what we will end up spending to acquire it.  Just look at the appraisal below from several years back.  Once we acquire it later this year, we will very shortly thereafter be awarded a massive restore act grant nearly equal to the amount we have spent to acquire this land, and this grant will pay the costs to develop this property.  And once the property is developed and infrastructure is put in (at no additional cost to the County's General Fund or LOST fund) and a master plan is completed--what will the value of OLF8 be then, at that time, as an improved 636 acre site?  (Hint, a LOT MORE than what the appraisal from several years ago lists)

So please be informed--  don't listen to partisans that have personal vendettas against this deal and massive axes to grind against community leaders who worked to support this deal.  The naysayers would have you look at the actual appraisal I'm publishing below, juxtaposed with what THEY SAY OLF8 is worth, and ask you point blank "Who are you gonna believe---me or your lying eyes!"

Sadly, there are folks that are not checking the facts, believing things that are not true.  It is really fascinating to watch how easily some  people become captivated by the smooth talkers who have managed to perfect the art of manipulating people like miniature Gumby dolls.

But on this issue--please--open your eyes for just a moment, do not fall victim to the Jedi mind trick, and look at the appraisal below. Don't allow yourselves to be manipulated--

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Board of County Commissioners and ECSO agree on Mediation Agreement

This morning the Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to support a mediation agreement that was negotiated last Friday with representatives of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

There was a spirited debate, nobody was 100% happy with the agreement--but when the question was put to a vote, the Board voted 3-2 to move this agreement forward.  Lumon May and Steven Barry voted no on this agreement.

Next up, the attorneys for both agencies will reduce this agreement to a written interlocal agreement which will need to be signed by the sheriff and voted forward affirmatively by the BCC.

This is a big step forward.

See the agreement below:

Alcohol Ordinance at Pensacola Beach....

I was a guest this morning on Quinlan and Nolan radio show on AM790 WPNN.

The singular topic of discussion was the open-container alcohol ordinance at Pensacola Beach.

Last year's discussion was contentious, and this year I had hoped that a decision on continuing or sunsetting the ordinance would be made on objective, rather than subjective data.

A survey was going to be taken, but last week the board decided to scuttle that idea--in large part based upon the questions and more specifically because the proposed survey questions appeared to be leading questions that would potentially bias the survey.

We discussed this in detail, you can hear the interview here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

BCC and Escambia School Board Hold Joint Meeting

Members of the Board of County Commission and the School Board held a joint meeting on Tuesday. L to R Malcolm Thomas, Grover Robinson, Patty Hightower, Steven Barry, Bill Slayton, Doug Underhill, Gerald Boone, Lee Hansen, Lumon May, Kevin Adams, Jeff Bergosh, Jack Brown

Tuesday evening from 5:00-7:30 the Escambia Board of County Commissioners and the Escambia County School Board held a joint meeting.

Multiple subjects of interest were discussed, including safe walking to school around the county, and the need for more sidewalks.

Much of the discussion focused on the new Beulah Middle School--and the fact that access to that school will be challenging for students who walk due to the lack of sidewalks in the area.  Access coming out of Allegheny Road directly across the street from Beulah Middle School was also a hot-button discussion--as the current FDOT plan calls for that entrance to be a "right-turn only"--which the residents do not want.

We also discussed the graduation rate and the school board gave a presentation delineating the progress made with on-time, four year graduation (currently at 79.5% for 4 year graduation with a standard diploma).  This is a large improvement from the 2008 school year when the on-time, 4-year graduation rate was about 60%.

I once again brought the concept of a SEED style public charter boarding school--but there was no appetite for that here locally-mainly due to the astronomical ongoing costs per student.  But with Triumph grants available-I did think that perhaps this would have been a good funding source for start-up of a school locally.  No support for this from the school board, though.

I had a discussion about the feasibility of bringing a Law School and a Medical School to Pensacola, so that instead of exporting our students and their spending to places like Tallahassee and Mobile--we might keep them (and their expenditures for tuition, housing, food, etc.) here in the greater Pensacola area.  Folks seemed receptive, but not overly so..

My final discussion point was on establishing an Escambia Youth Commission like ones in Fulton County, GA, Seattle Washington, and San Diego California.  Quite surprisingly--this idea was met with much support--even from the members of the school board.  I look forward to working with members of the staff, and the school district, with establishing this new group over the next few months.

The video of the entire meeting can be found here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

BCC-ECSO Budget Impasse 2017-2018...Is There a Potential Breakthrough Coming Thursday?

UPDATE 3-15-2018--BCC Endorses Mediated Settlement with ECSO

There was an hours-long back and forth mediation held between representatives of the BCC and the ECSO this past Friday morning, afternoon, and early evening.

Obviously any specifics that came from that meeting are subject to a confidentiality agreement that all participants (myself included) signed.

But I will report this:  I am told my counterparts on the BCC have each been briefed about these discussions, and subsequent to these talks on Friday-another executive session (shade meeting) has been scheduled for this Thursday morning at 8:30 right before our morning's agenda review session.

My prediction is that we may have a big announcement this Thursday at some point--so stay tuned!

See the meeting notice announcing this closed session of the BCC below....