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.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pay Stipends to Bidders?

At today's Committee of the Whole meeting the idea of paying stipends to bidders was brought for our consideration.  After reading the backup materials that I received only 2 days prior to this meeting, I was amazed that such a thing was actually being considered.
I reached out to several area professionals with extensive contracting/building experience in both the public and private sector in an attempt to see what these experts thought of this idea.  The consensus was that this practice is not common, and most of the folks I spoke with had never been paid a stipend for preparing and submitting a bid.
"It's a cost of doing business, period" said one Engineer I spoke with that spent 27 years in the Navy in acquisitions and contracting all over the world.
"I've never heard of this before" said a developer friend I called.
Another expert I have known for many years and who currently works out of state told me "I've heard of this, and for design-build projects that are not well-defined by the customer and that require a significant amount of design and staff time--this is not necessarily out of line."  He continued "but not offering the stipend is not going to chase away the top-line firms, they will be there and they will submit because they want the work."
So after staff presented their materials, I spoke up right away and explained that I could not support this, and that I would not support this.  I explained that as a school board member in a district that has done extensive building over the last decade, we have never offered stipends for bidders, ever.
And having worked for four different companies over the last 12 years at NAS Pensacola in a variety of facilities related positions---I have never seen this sort of a stipend program out here at the base, even during hurricane Ivan reconstruction where the base did hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects to address the immense damage from that storm.  
With all of this as the backdrop, I dug in my heels and unequivocally stated I wouldn't support stipends for the unsuccessful bidders competing for our jail rebuild project.
Although one commissioner did say he could support this concept "at the low end of the contemplated amount"---three other commissioners joined me and expressed that they would not support this--for a variety of very good reasons.
Escambia County will not be paying stipends for our unsuccessful bidders.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tremendous Concerns over Proposed Bay Bridge Design

At the TPO meeting this morning the big item of concern was the plan for the replacement of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.  The plan to stage the construction with one side being utilized for travel both directions was panned by many in attendance.  The issue is that the width of the travel lanes are going to be even more narrow on the bridge during construction than are the lanes currently--and the current lane widths barely allow access by fire/emergency vehicles now.

Everyone, so far as I could tell, agrees that the eventual finished product will be amazing, but for the two year period where we will have to rely on just one side of the bridge span to accommodate traffic in both directions--this plan still needs work.  The police chief of Gulf Breeze, the Gulf Breeze mayor, the deputy fire chief of Gulf Breeze, Escambia County Emergency Management Director, and others spoke out with dire warnings about this plan going forward.  "We do 2,900 trips a year on the bridge as is" said one ambulance driver who spoke.  He continued "We barely have enough room to maneuver our vehicles as it is right now, and sometimes we clip the mirrors of other vehicles....with even more narrow lanes, we are going to have problems."

Another concern:  That drivers that glance over at the new construction happening on the bay will increase the number of rear-end collisions on the existing bridge.  "I think we're all guilty of rubber necking and looking at stuff that is going on around us when we should be watching the road--I know I am" said the Gulf Breeze police chief.  "This will make that situation even more concerning"

My sense is that the contractor that is doing this design build project will come back after the new year, to February's TPO meeting, with a new phasing strategy based upon the concerns voiced today--as it is abundantly clear from purely a safety perspective the current plan is a non-starter.....

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Smashing Sour Grapes

It's no secret that failed 2010 Mayoral candidate Diane Mack was in the tank for one of my opponents in my recent campaign for County Commissioner in District 1.  In February, she wrote this piece in the PNJ.  During the campaign over the last 11 months, Diane Mack was a consistent facebook "like" to many of my opponent's posts on her campaign page.  Who cares, though? I didn't, I just went about my campaign doing what I do---campaigning hard and crushing elections.

Didn't matter what Diane Mack said, thought, or did--- I won the primary and general election by a large margin.

Here's the thing-----It really is not about two of my opponents in this last election being male or female--it is about who the voters select.  The voters selected me.  I'm sure Diane is distraught about the national elections as well, where her superstar Hillary Clinton was beaten by Donald Trump---despite Barrack Obama campaigning harder for her than any sitting President in American History ever campaigned for his successor....really embarrassing for him....

But back to local politics...

Just today----- along comes this piece of tripe in today's PNJ by Diane Mack....  Where she takes a shot at me by saying   "In this year in which we witnessed the defeat of a woman who was the most qualified of four candidates for a vacant Escambia County Commission seat (District 1) the community has been given an uncommon opportunity"  Here is what I have to say to Diane about her