Guidelines

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 School Board, Staff, Administrators, Educators, or anyone else associated with the Escambia County School District. 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 student participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nine Mile Road Multilane Projects Begin This Month

The project was discussed at a recent DOT meeting held at Plainview Baptist Church.  The project to 4-lane Nine Mile Road from Beulah road to Pine Forest Road will commence this month and will run through 2019.  The project will include bike path and sidewalk, with sound barriers and improved signalization.  For more information you can check DOT's social sites here

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sixteen Months Part 2

District 1 School Board Candidate Kevin Adams and I in the fall of 2015, Campaigning in the southern part of District 1, door to door
Beginning a campaign more than a year away from the election date takes a lot of planning, stamina, and energy.  On July 7th, 2015, I pre-filed to run for the county commission seat that would be decided 16 months later, on November 8th, 2016.  16 months.  To run an election like this with multiple worthy opponents required discipline and determination.  Here is how we have run the campaign thus far...

WHO THE PLAYERS IN THIS ELECTION MIGHT BE...

I knew Jesse Casey was running, and I suspected that Karen Sindel would run.  I also heard about a deputy sheriff and a local architect that had considered running.  I knew the players and the potential candidates so  felt I had a good shot at winning, and the more participants the better--as I had a little name recognition that would play to my advantage going forward.  So, after putting in for the position, I started going door to door, every weekend and after work in the afternoons.  Door to Door is powerful.

THE TEAM

I teamed up with two friends that were running along side me in District 1 for two different offices; Kevin Adams decided to run for my school board seat, and our good friend Jim Faxlanger decided to run for the ECUA board seat.  So, although it was unconventional, we decided to team up for the campaign, to leverage our resources and create a force multiplier.  So after we all met our petition requirements, we began to move through the neighborhoods and streets in District 1-together.  Our initial strategy we coined as "Carpet-Bombing."  We would go to every house in a neighborhood,

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sixteen Months Part I


August 2015, Fish House Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser
On July 7, 2015 I pre-filed to run for the position of County Commissioner, District 1.  I did this knowing it would be a long and grueling campaign, a race that would last no less than 16 months...

August 2016, The Southpaw Grill, Primary election night victory celebration.
So now that I'm a good fourteen months into this evolution, and now that the primary election is behind me and the General Election is just 60 short days away, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what it is like to run for office, to run a 16 month long campaign to win a seat on the Escambia County Commission.  I've walked to 8,627 houses personally, written more than 900 personal letters, raised over $50,000.00 in campaign contributions, and experienced some of the most memorable situations in my life thus far--all in pursuit of a victory on November 8th,  So over the next 60 days leading up to the General Election I

The Nature Trail Paradigm: Self Sequestration

Nature Trail is a giant subdivision that sits in Beulah right across the street from Navy Federal Credit Union and the Navy property known as OLF8.  I love this subdivision and my family owned property in Nature Trail until very recently.  I live right next door to this development and I have many friends and acquaintances that live in Nature Trail.

Lots of things are happening in Beulah, from the expansion of Navy Federal Credit Union, to the expansion of  9 Mile road to become a 4-lane road, to the new freeway interchange off of Beulah road, to a new Middle School being constructed right down the road, to model airplane flyers operating their RC planes overhead, to sound barrier walls being constructed right outside of Nature Trail, to a large open field being prepared for development right across the street,  to a myriad of other issues that will affect the residents of this massive, exclusive subdivision.

These are taxpayers that live in Nature Trail, some of whom have invested more than $500K in their homes!

 So during last year's primary election campaign  (that I won last Tuesday)--- I sent 6 different mail pieces to the residents of Nature Trail----more than to any other group of constituents anywhere else in District 1.  Why?---because I could not come and meet these residents face to face.

I tried at one point in the campaign and was turned away at the gate.  "No Soliciting of any kind!"

Meanwhile, I walked to 8,627 other residences throughout Beulah and the rest of District 1 because candidates are welcomed in other neighborhoods throughout Beulah and  District 1--yet they are precluded from canvassing in Nature Trail.

Now--I get it, nobody likes having people come to the door to try to sell them vacuum sweepers or pressure washing services--I get that.  But I'm just trying to meet voters, I'm not selling magazine subscriptions, frozen steaks,  Tupperware sets, or wooden ships like a scene out of Napoleon Dynamite!

I'm just trying to meet voters, because I feel like if I'm going to ask someone to vote for me, I ought to make an effort to try and come meet them in their neighborhoods.

What perplexes me  most about all of this is that this very large group of property owners----apparently by choice--- is missing out on meeting the very candidates that will eventually be representing their interests on the Board of County Commissioners!

At Tuesday's BCC special meeting on OLF8--multiple Nature Trail Homeowners showed up and none of them appeared to have a complete understanding about all the happenings around them in Beulah----several almost seemed "frustrated" about not having a complete understanding of what is going on around them.  One resident got up and stated that he wanted a "Master Planned Community" for the entire County!

Whaaaaaatttt?  I thought to myself.....

So on a lark I decided to personally call Nature Trail yesterday to see about getting a "candidate forum" set up--- so that Nature Trail residents could, if they so choose,  hear from the last two remaining candidates for County Commission in this election. I assumed these residents might want to know our stances on all of the issues coming to a head in Beulah---right outside the front entrance of their subdivision----before the election happens on November 8th!

There are now only  two candidates left in the race to represent them, the Nature Trail residents and the rest of Beulah and District 1, on the County Commission.  One might think the residents would want to hear from Jeff Bergosh and Audra Carter----one of us will be their next commissioner!

So I attempted to reach the Homeowner's Association representative at a downtown phone number I got from the Nature Trail sales office, and I could not get him on the phone.  I could not get him to return my call, either.  His secretary took a message, and then called back herself 10 minutes later to tell me that politicians are "not permitted in the (common area) Lodge."  When I asked her why, she was somewhat short with me and said "What you are not hearing and understanding is that the covenants do not

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Comments on the OLF8 Beulah Project at BCC Meeting 9-6-2016


Here were my comments during the public forum section of last night's special BCC meeting on the subject of the OLF8/OLFX land swap with the Navy, and the impacts on Beulah of the contemplated development of OLF8 into a commerce park.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

OLF, Beulah, and Master Plans......Part II


A few people are talking about a master plan for Beulah, a few people.  But of the hundreds and hundreds I have met throughout Beulah over the last year as I campaigned door to door, I must say not one mentioned as their priority creating a "Master Planned Community" for all of Beulah.  Not one.  I heard a lot of  people concerned about unsafe roads, speeders in their neighborhoods, leash laws not being enforced, traffic on 9 mile road, concerns about unsafe intersections (Beulah and Mobile Highway, Millview Road and Mobile Highway, Klondike and Mobile Highway), and concerns about unsafe, narrow roads with no shoulders (Beulah Road, 8-Mile Creek Road, Klondike Road, Wilde Lake Blvd).  But nobody uttered the phrase "Master Plan" as even a part of their concerns about Beulah.  As a matter of fact, as a 12 year resident of Beulah, I hadn't ever heard anyone talk about making Beulah a "Master Planned Community".  This almost seems like a solution looking for a problem.....  This is just not something I have heard, as the only candidate in the race for county commission that is a full-time resident of Beulah.  So,  with this small group of vocal proponents of a Master Plan speaking up recently, I thought it might be prudent to discuss the differences between a Master Planned Community for Beulah, and the $635K Master Plan proposed as Phase I of the Restore Act project for OLF8. 

We can do either or both, a "Master Plan for OLF8" and a "Master Planned Community"---but this is a POLITICAL decision that must take the views and wishes of the entire community of Beulah into account, and it must not be rushed through for political expediency like a square peg being driven into a round hole.  So lets talk about what each of these concepts entails, with an emphasis for what is contemplated for OLF8....

There is a difference between a MATER PLANNED COMMUNITY and the OLF-8 MASTER PLAN under consideration in the RESTORE application.

Two different approaches.

A MASTER PLANNED COMMUNITY (Disney’s Celebration, FL, Texas' The Woodlands, Del-Webb properties in the Desert Southwest.) has a very strict program; where every area within the planning limits is pre-determined for a specific purpose. Beulah residents may (or may not) desire to have government bureaucrats imposing strict facility types, designs and precise land use requirements and control over their private property.

In the OLF 8MASTER PLAN considered in the RESTORE application, instead of bureaucratic governmental imposition, the approach involves considerations for streamlined and effective government investments – while maximizing flexibility for private land owners in the area.  The Beulah home owners I met with on their porches over the last year did not indicate to me that they wanted additional layers of bureaucracy thrown over their property-rights like a giant governmental wet blanket.  My sense is that the majority of Beulah residents I spoke with want infrastructure in place before additional development takes place.  The good news:  The project to 4-lane  9 Mile road is beginning from Mobile Hwy to Pine Forest.  The new interchange from Beulah Road to the interstate is planned and programmed.  These two projects will do much to alleviate the consternation over traffic congestion expressed by many Beulah residents I have spoken with.  So what is it, beyond these traffic issues,  that Beulah residents really want?

LETS TALK FIRST ABOUT THE OLF MASTER PLAN CONTEMPLATED IN THE RESTORE ACT APPLICATION:

The purpose of a RESTORE application was to convince the committee to approve a grant for Master Planning. It is a promotional document. It is not comprehensive (thus the need for a Master Plan); but it alludes to some of the strategies for providing a well-integrated and cost effective planning product – and project. As such, there could be any number of considerations with such a master plan. But in the application, there are two areas of programming focus with regional implications that are promoted:

            A) Community Economic, Physical and Programmatic Synergies.
            B) Regional Infrastructural and Environmental Considerations.

In the case of (B); the primary challenges are transportation, storm water and environmental protection. Other infrastructure (water, sewer, gas, power, communications, etc.); are currently under development with the various providers as part of the NFCU project. Those extensions would be a more routine consideration.  So the application tends to focus on the big considerations and lifts.

A1: Develop background information and input. Public information, studies, master planning, etc. (not done at Ellyson).

A2: Develop background information regarding process and timeline. Ensure that public Master Planning funds are not invested until the correct time. (Don’t waste public money).

A3:  Develop clear synergies with other programs, including state and local economic Plans and Programs, for example:

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Jeff Bergosh, Republican, for Escambia County Board of County Commission, District 1.