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 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.








Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Aaron P." Asks a Question: "What is Wrong with This [sic] County Commissioners?"

He asked, I answered....  my response is below

  My Response to "Aaron P"


15 comments:

Eric Haines said...

A few corrections/clarifications may be in order:

1) The Sheriff IS cutting SRO's. He was initially cutting 7 of 18. Now after negotiations he is cutting 5 SRO's.
2) What backlash? We didn't get one phone call from people upset about SRO cuts. We have received overwhelming support in our budget request.
3) Other Constitutionals receive outside funding from the state and fees. At least two of them ARE receiving enough funding and have stated they intend to give 3% raises to their employees, contrary to the boards request to join them in no raises.
4) You say you want raises for all first responders. Are you aware that after one year, BOCC corrections officers are making 2% MORE than an ECSO deputy? In addition, most that are at the road camp make that PLUS an extra $3k? Escambia--The only county in Florida where CO's make more than LEO's.
5) The $3.6 million is our secondary request. If you were to read our budget request or our budget presentation you would see our primary request was for the completion and implementation of the BOCC salary study. I don't know why this fact is regularly being left off. I suspect because it will be so much higher than our request the public will see how reasonable our $3.6 million is.
6) I'm not going to get into the specifics of our budget as that is outside your purview at the level you want to discuss it. Re: a second high priced chief deputy, is the board's memory so short that they forgot hired the same person as a second "high priced" assistant county administrator? He is a bargain with the resume he has. It is also silly to assume you know what the future plans and goals of the Sheriff are which is why the statute is specific as to what level you are allowed to meddle in a Sheriff's budget. I know you have been made aware of that by the BOCC's legal counsel.
7) Same goes for LET except you do have a right to review. We will see if there are 3 votes to do the same. Ultimately the Sheriff will continue his philosophy that drug money was gained by ruining communities and as long as he has say in where it goes, he will use it to help rebuild the community. If the board won't approve where he wants it to go, it will sit there. It's ironic that the board spends much more on non profits and their own discretionary funds and those come out of general fund but somehow the Sheriff needs guidance in spending it on other things.
8) I sent you a letter outlining the sheriff's increases and you are well aware he did not have discretion on where his budget increases went. As one example that you are aware of, the ISF was abolished by the BOCC and we were made to carry it in our general budget. This was an increase of $1.5 million mandated by the board. We preferred it the other way and now the board wants to count that as a discretionary increase. Ridiculous.
9) The largest recipient of LOST?!? We aren't even slated to receive what the BOCC has given themselves for discretionary. $48.5 million for ECSO vs $50 million BOCC discretionary. And there are hundreds more millions going to the BOCC on top of that.
10) I keep hearing the commissioners love leo's and first responders. Besides lip service what does that mean? How many of the board have been to the jail? Two that I know of. Done ride alongs? Come to officers funerals? Visit them in the hospital when they are shot? Pay them all a fair salary? If someone says they support their family it means a lot more than simply saying it.

We were promised for years when property values started going up that our pay would be fixed. Now we are told there are other issues (a jail that btw has received a much higher percentage increase than the ECSO). I am very confident that when external people look at what we are doing with the little money we are funded they will be amazed and force the board to start working to fix the untenable situation the BOCC is attempting to keep the ECSO in.

Anonymous said...

The sheriff is his own worse enemy, I find his tactics distasteful. Thank you for clearly answering this. I do believe Underhill is talking out of both sides of his mouth and is a poor leader for the BOCC. His methods of distraction and diversion are making the entire board look bad. It's not hard to see through the tactics. I appreciate this clear communication. Stand strong.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Eric--why do you feel that an 8% increase is in order given the clerk and the SOE are taking reductions? What "Deal" do you keep referring to? I have asked Jack, and he has stated unequivocally that there is no "deal" between the BCC and the ECSO to fix compression all in one year. What deal? And, why is compression suddenly coming to the forefront this year, with a DEMAND that it be fixed all at once, this year? I find it amazing that the departments within our budgetary control are taking budget cuts and no employees for the BCC are slated for raises--yet you all brush that aside as if it means nothing and demand nothing short of a 8% year over year budget increase. I guess I don't understand the logic behind that. Nor do I understand the unending personal attacks on us. Believe it or not, some of us are working toward compromise, even as your boss refers to us as bullshit artists, irrational, liars, etc. etc. I don't get it Eric. Help me understand how this tactic helps?

Eric Haines said...

You sure glazed over a lot of issues you got wrong in your original post. Percentages mean nothing to me. That's what I used to hear from employers when I made minimum wage. "But your getting a 5% raise." Wasn't even enough to go to McDonald's. "What should the current funding of the Sheriff's Office be?" is the question, not how much of an increase it is. It's also what the Governor will be looking at. If percentages were the case, how did the fire budget go up almost 200%? Jail medical 40%? Your giving an answer to the wrong question.

We aren't asking for a full fix in one year. This is a step towards fixing pay issues. Has anyone on staff told you what to anticipate for this salary study? We've let the BOCC control everything from the selection of the company to the selection of comparative agencies to picking the lowest level we should be at. If you think 3.6 million is the whole fix you are being kept in the dark.

Please don't act like the innocent in the war of words. It's the whole board. Accusations of malfeasance, public records delay, bad faith and contract violations by the Sheriff. Stauatory violations of the let fund. You don't say some of these but you don't hesitate to like the comments on Facebook when they are made.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Eric--we're not talking about minimum wage salaries when we are talking about percentages. So lets talk percentages.....Over the last five years, your office has received yearly increases averaging 4% in year over year increases. This year, our county budget has increased roughly 4.25%--from $437 Million to $455 Million. But your boss demands an 8% increase. I asked him if we got from a 1.57% increase to a 4% increase for his office like what the county has experienced--would that be acceptable? His answer was NO. the full 8% increase or the budget will be appealed. Eric, you do know that there is no guarantee the Governor will rule your way if it goes to Tallahassee, right? Plus, this could really get drawn out and could take months and months to settle. You know that, right? How about this one: Raises for dispatchers, Lieutenants and below, fire, EMS, and corrections? How about that, Eric?

Eric Haines said...

Commissioner, if you want to talk percentages I'll take what jail medical or fire got. Otherwise let's leave it up to the professionals and agree to implement whatever the salary study says all employees should be getting. There is no get well plan by the BOCC for their or our employees. Keep in mind we've already been told there are massive holes in the inmate housing plan that is supposed to save $1.6 million and that next year will be worse. Whats the plan commissioner? Cuts? They didn't materialize. Wait for property values to rise quicker than the costs of every other BOCC "need"? Been waiting years and next year the homestead exemption will pass and we will be less than this year? What is the plan Commissioner?

Jeff Bergosh said...

Eric-what the plan CAN'T be is an unending, incessant series of ad-hominem personal attacks directed at us personally for not genuflecting to your every whim. When you call us imbeciles, stupid, question our intelligence, out integrity, call us irrational--do you really think this helps the cause? I have approached this whole process with a willingness to find compromise; your side has come out swinging like we are mortal enemies. How about we get back to treating one another with dignity and respect instead of the nonstop series of personal attacks? Are you allowed to suggest this to your boss? If so, please do.

Anonymous said...

Don't expect the taxpayer to fix LEO compression issues. If the older cop get bent out of shape because he didn't get raises, so what. The entire community suffered from the recession and had to do what they had to do to suck it up. Don't you know about upside down mortgages, bankruptcy-- homelessness? The strong arm Bull Shit of LEO is showing. If they want to quit-- quit, get someone else to do their job. You know if you can pull your finger out of a bowl of water and it still leaves a mark you are irreplaceable-- right. Well you are all replaceable. I think the attrition may not be related to salaries but to poor leadership. just saying..

Jacqueline Rogers said...

"How about we get back to treating one another with dignity and respect instead of the nonstop series of personal attacks?"

Like ignorant "Peanut Gallery" to any citizen that disagrees with your view? You constantly try to discredit opposing views at BCC meetings.
And you didn't address the response from Chief Deputy Haines.

Only two commissioners want to have a face to face meeting with the Sheriff and his officials (Underhill and May.)
What are you guys so afraid of having a PUBLIC meeting where everyone (both sides) will be forced to answer questions candidly.
Do you agree to attend a special BCC meeting if it was scheduled to work these differences out? The public would like to see it done soon.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Jacqueline Rogers: I have never personalized it, never directly attacked someone personally and publicly-- even when attempting to move an initiative forward--that holds true as it pertains to my 10-year stint on the school board as well--and believe me--there were lots of reasons to go negative and personal but I didn't and I haven't. I also do not raise my voice because that is ridiculous. Do I respond when groups of folks attack me? Yes, and thus the peanut gallery comment--which again was not personalized to you or anyone else. (but if the shoe fits, by all means slip it on and wear it) And when I referred to some folks who had disagreements with me on the intricacies of the OLF 8 land swap as "ignorant" I also (at the very same time) said I did not mean that in the pejorative sense--I said that. Rewind the tape. I did not attack anyone as I said that and within the context--even though some twisted that and made it into something it wasn't And yes, several who have expressed disagreement with that project are ignorant about all the aspects of it. Finally: I have on three separate occasions communicated directly to the Sheriff that "We need to speak in person, face to face".....He has rebuked these efforts saying: " I don't participate in futile efforts" I'm willing to meet--is he?

Anonymous said...

I know you have been on the board for 6-months and these issues are hard, but everyone must rise to meet challenge. We have to raise the pay for the line deputies. I also know the sheriff has been here 9-years and promised to leave at 8, but as a slick politician, he's still here. I suspect he'll try for another 4 after this, read his lips?. What I've also noticed is all of his senior people leave eventually and when they do, there is no love for the sheriff (haines and simmions will be no different), so this speaks of him, not you. I also notice that the sheriff is top heavy and has many (8 or so) full time social media trolls, whose high salaries and non police work take away from the lieutenants, Sgts and below. But hey, I must run my empire
(into the ground), like
1. too top heavy of a staff, 2 asst chiefs, colonels, lt colonels and commanders (navy and airforce ranks that are equivalent?) majors etc. All the line deputies know this and grumble, but are too afraid to be loud about it, lest they lose their heads ala game of thrones
2. Losing out on the fair extra duty, which was great for the deputies, but the sheriff can't get along with the fair folks either (surprise, surprise) , so another loss for the deputies
3. Restricting extra duty assignments to use against the county, but in reality hurts his own deputies who want to work (of course rent and do boy haines won't work these, but he won't let his deputies work them either. Again why? So there can be pain to the county at the expense of his deputies. What a great leader. What a swell guy.)
4. Fighting with everyone. Didn't he write the current governor a condescending letter telling him how to do his job a while back. Didn't he also have a beef with a local federal judge. Does he have a beef with the sheriff in the mirror every morning?

I really want to know who on the board the sheriff worked with over the last 9 years on his compression issue? Valentino? What? Robertson? Nope. Young? What? White? Come on. Robinson? Right. He has a beef with everyone. The only one he can stomach is proud proclaimer "i'm a combat vet" underhill, who is in lock step with the sheriff 100%, meaning underhill does what he's told, even to the point of agreeing to raise taxes?! Wow, not a great policy when you have to face voters in a year. I mean really, who has the sheriff brought this up with in the past? He has no personal relationship with anyone on the board, past or present (excepting proud proclaimer combat navy cypher/IT man underhill), which is just weird and odd, just like his made up sheriff uniforms. Just my 10 cents. Oh, and I cannot leave my name as he might pull his annual funding from the LET funds for my organization and we need the money.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
I just learned about your blog from ECW group. I am glad it was linked. I'll be checking this regularly, too. I like to get my information by reading. I can't stand videos, which are too slow and too much about personality. Thank you again for the content of our blog. I checked the archives, you're pretty thorough.

Anonymous said...

Who is behind conjuring justice blog? http://www.conjuringjustice.com/

Anonymous said...

I must speak anonymously because, after living here a short five yrs I have found this county government very sketchy and not friendly to its citizens. I have observed as an outsider looking in and there is incompetence at all levels. The good ole boy network is alive and well here. The Escambia Citizens Watch FB page is nothing but a bunch of fighting kids, in my opinion, and real issues can never be discussed openly because once an issue is raised you are attacked. The commissioners have a tough job to do and I appreciate them trying to do the right thing. I see wasteful spending day in and day out. That wasteful spending could be used in other ways, perhaps in raised salaries for our deputies. I see wasteful spending there, also. Not sure why a big media production budget is needed. I see too many top level staffs across the county and not enough real workers to help our citizens and communities. The county govt needs to remember who they serve and who pays their salaries. I am so disappointed in our move here that we are ready to move on to a more congenial community. I have brought these issues up but no one seems to care.

Jacqueline Rogers said...

Thanks for your response and willingness to meet with the Sheriff. I maintain that it must be a public meeting where claims can be immediately vetted instead of all the back and forth.
I look forward to a special meeting being scheduled then as we are up to three commissioners willing to attend and that constitutes a quorum.