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.








Thursday, December 28, 2017

Letter from SAO Exonerating BCC--Shade Meeting was Legal and Appropriate



ECSO and ECSO Lawyer Lose on Complaint: State Attorney says "BCC Meeting was Legal."

The SAO sided with the BCC today;  The Shade meeting the BCC held in October was legal and appropriate.  The Sheriff  and his lawyer--and anyone else who thought it was inappropriate--were and are wrong...


The Chief Law Enforcement entity in the area, the State Attorneys Office, the "Super Judge" if you will, the office that decides what will be prosecuted and what will not be prosecuted, has spoken:

The State Attorney's Office  has told the Sheriff and the Sheriff's lawyer that their complaint lodged against the BCC was unfounded and without merit.

As I correctly predicted back in October right after we held this shade meeting-- because I knew all along it was perfectly legal and appropriate to do so--the State Attorney has now officially said that the shade meeting held by the Board of County Commissioners in October in response to the ECSO budget appeal was appropriate, comported with state law, and that the BCC violated neither the open meeting law nor the open records law.

Our attorneys and staff, as well as the BCC, were correct on this and the Sheriff and his lawyer were wrong.

We (BCC) were also 100% within our rights to not give the transcript of this meeting to ECSO when they demanded it--because under the law they are not yet entitled to receive it.

From the PNJ

 "Greg Marcille, assistant state attorney, said the County Commission complied with all noticing requirements for the meeting and listed multiple Florida Attorney General opinions and court cases citing that governmental entities are allowed to hold attorney-client sessions. 'For these reasons, it does not appear that the Escambia County Board of Commissioners violated the Sunshine Law by holding an attorney-client session," Marcille wrote. "Additionally no violations of the Florida Public Records law were committed..'The State Attorney's Office said the transcript can be kept confidential 'until such time as the litigation is concluded.' "


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

We Need a Decider!

 
What is better, 4-year construction of a $64 Million Dollar Tunnel, or 4 Months and an immediate, (relatively) inexpensive 100 foot road?
In order to cut through red tape, sometimes one needs to get to a decider who can come off his/her script, use common sense, and make a smart decision.

In Escambia County, we have a situation brewing that desperately needs a decider, at the Federal level, to intervene. 

This is about jobs, growth, and infrastructure--and millions of dollars are on the line. 

Everyone knows that the exponential growth of Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) in Beulah over the last several years was a good thing.  Everyone knows having the largest Credit Union in the World locate a second headquarters here is a good thing.  All 6,200 Pensacola employees that work at NFCU presently know that having NFCU in Pensacola is a good thing.  It’s all good!

But the growth is straining the infrastructure and even though NFCU’s campus is a mere 1 mile from the interstate—traffic still backs up into and out of Beulah morning, noon, and night.

I’m told by high-level sources within NFCU that it takes employees as long as 20 minutes to get out of the parking structure and onto 9-Mile road in the afternoons—due to the traffic congestion on the only way in and out.

This situation is straining morale for the workers and  the nearby residents that also deal with this problem daily.

In a year and a half, the four-lane expansion of 9-Mile Road will be complete and will help with the congestion going in and out of Beulah..

In 7-10 years, the Beulah Interchange will help significantly.
In the meantime, though, a second exit out the back of the NFCU property could easily be built.   And it would help immediately and immensely

It’s  literally about a hundred feet from the end of Navy Federal Way to the out-going lane of the visitor’s center off of Interstate 10. (see picture above)

A one-lane, egress-only road out the back of NFCU and into the visitor’s center exit ramp (100 feet) could be built quickly and (relatively) inexpensively.

Congressman Matt Gaetz and Governor Rick Scott have been engaged in this effort.  Mayor Ashton

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Moving Toward a Better Approval Process for Law Enforcement Trust Expenditures

Recent requests made of the BCC by ECSO appear to comport directly with what is contemplated under 932.7055 and this is a good thing.


Although we have both been busy with many other issues of pressing concern, the BCC and the ECSO appear to be moving toward a better approval process for Law Enforcement Trust Expenditures from the County's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

In multiple conversations with County Administrator Jack Brown, some off-line and several at publicly televised meetings, I have delegated my portion of this process to him and the staff.

Because we have no control of the internal process by which the ECSO vets requests made to them for expenditures, our largest part in the process going forward is the approval step.  The administrator and the staff have some good ideas on this part of the process to put into place.

And a couple of things are happening now with that.

Previously, the BCC would allocate funds on the front end of the process, and the ECSO would fund these outside organizations after the Clerk of the Court's office had received the paperwork from ECSO and certifications from ECSO that the expenditure comported with statute.  The BCC was unaware of the expenditures until "after the fact."  This is/was problematic for a number of reasons, and it is for this reason the BCC voted to move to change this process and also to request an AGO on whether or not this previous process was even legal under the law.  We are still waiting for that opinion....

Now, however,  over the last several weeks, I have received written correspondence like this directly from the Sheriff (via snail mail) requesting approval for expenditures from this fund--complete with back up documentation from ECSO's (new?) process and from the organizations requesting funds.  I think this process--if this is what we will be doing going forward-- comports with the statute.  However-- I continue to believe the previous process did not comport with 932.7055 Florida Statutes.

So Henrique Dias, the CFO for the Sheriff's Office, has now placed several items on the BCC agenda

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Kool Aid Chuggers....

Some People Love to Chug Kool Aid--even if it makes them look foolish to do so....


Some people are true believers, they love to chug the Kool Aid.  In fact, they love the Kool Aid so much they shotgun it by the pitcher like frenzied spring-breakers shotgunning  canned-beer at the beach in six-tubed bongzillas....

Some of these folks, had they been around in 1978, would have rushed to the front to chug the Kool Aid in Jonestown.  They would have knocked Jim Jones out of the way and said "Me First!"

These are the Kool Aid Chuggers.  

Chuggers are simpletons that are gullible, believe the propaganda they are fed, and spew out talking
from wikipedia "The vast majority
of parrots are cavity nesters" human parrots 

share this characteristic.

points based upon their flawed notion of reality--- as if what they have to say is somehow coherent at all, or that it is meaningful in any way. Sometimes chuggers know what they say is rubbish, but they say it anyway just because they can.  Sometimes these chuggers can't comprehend the reality of anything so they just regurgitate talking points like a squawking, annoying Parrot sitting in a cage.  Nobody really cares about what the Kool Aid chuggers think, though.  Nobody takes them seriously because people that know can spot them fast.  They are just amusing to watch in their folly and ridiculousness.

Take for example the guy I discussed in a previous entry to this blog.  He talks a lot about how he makes no money, gets no raises, thinks nobody wants him to get raises, etc. etc.  To hear it from this guy, you'd almost think he is on food stamps, working weekends at the Flea Market selling apples from a cart, buying his clothes at the second-hand rummage shop, and eating from the soup kitchen on skid row!  But wait!!, lo and behold, I come across his W-2s for the last several years and what do you know---he has clocked an average of  a 10% year over year pay increase for each of the last three years in a row!  10% per year!!!  (Who in the world would realize ten percent pay increases, year over year, for multiple years running in a string, and then beyatch about someone who got a 4% raise once in three years?  Who the hell would do this?!?, Well the answer is-- a Kool Aid chugger would!

But now I'm told that this same individual is "upset" because other constitutional officers (like his boss the sheriff) received raises totaling a little over 4% this year.  Okay, I'm not Einstein, but here's a quiz:   What is a better pay increase...4% or 10%?  Doesn't take a genius to work that one out, unless you are a Kool Aid Chugger going through life with blinders on like a horse at the racetrack running around in circles forever.....

So again, to refresh this Kool Aid guzzler's memory, here was his pay for the last several years:  Put down the Kool Aid and pay attention:

2014

$40,420.66  (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

2015

$45,665.39  (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

2016

$49,884.67   (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

So yes, this guy clocked increases of 10% per year over the last several years ( I do not have his latest W-2 yet, for 2017)

Okay, now here is where the chugger (and fellow travelers, uh, I mean chuggers) must  pay attention--here are the BCC pay increase percentages over the last three years, and the sheriff's pay increases over the last three years (which, by the way neither the sheriff nor the BCC has any control over--these salaries are set by the state.....)

Pay increases Sheriff:                                                 Pay Increases BCC 

2014     $144,171.00                                                   2014    $76,697.00
2015     $144, 521.00  (.028%--approx.)                       2015    $76,960.00   (.028%--approx.)
2016     $144,940.00   (.03%---approx.)                        2016    $77,270.00   (.03%---approx.)
2017     $151,139.00   (4.25%--approx.)                       2017    $80,664.00   (4.25%--approx.) 

3 yr. avg increase = (1.436%---approx)                         3 yr. avg increase = (1.436%---approx)

So, I guess if this guy still can't figure out he is clocking much bigger increases year over year than his boss and the rest of the constitutional officers like Commissioners are realizing--maybe there is no helping him.  Although he is entitled to his own opinion--he is not entitled to his own facts because #Factsmatter.




Cleaning up the Creekwood Mess....

Creekwood Homeowners got a raw deal.  Together with the County and ECUA--they are in the process of cleaning up this mess.....

What happened at Creekwood?

The Creekwood Home Owners Association (HOA) got a raw deal:  They bought nice homes in what appeared to be a nice community in a nice part of Escambia County’s District 1.

But back in the early 2000’s when Creekwood was being developed, a very common community wastewater amenity was permitted by the county to be constructed and operated by the builder rather than the utility that manages wastewater.  This was the first step in a series of events that turned into a huge mess for these homeowners over the past few years.

This amenity in question is a sewage lift station.  What is a sewage lift station?  That’s what many of the homeowners in Creekwood wondered I’m sure—many did not even know what a lift station was--let alone the fact that they would eventually OWN one!  Here is a brief primer and video on sewer lift stations (just in case you were wondering :)  ).

So the problem was that after this sewage lift station was initially constructed in the early 2000’s by the builder and deemed a “private lift station” (no longer permitted under updated county ordinances--thank GOD)—as the years went by the system became obsolete, it broke down, and in 2012—when the company that constructed Creekwood declared bankruptcy and went insolvent (until they quickly re-emerged under a new corporate name and began building houses again in Escambia County)—it (the old lift station) became property of the Creekwood Home Owners Association!  

Congratulations Creekwood homeowners--you're now the owners of a wastewater pumping system (and guess what, it's failing)!!!!

What?!?.

Yes, they were quit claim deeded the failing lift station...And the problem became that the system was aging, and the utility that manages wastewater, ECUA, refused to take ownership of this lift station because it didn’t meet current, revised, “standards."  And it was/is deemed to be a “private” lift station.  So the HOA got slammed with ownership of a failing system and began to pay to keep it running. Not popular.  These owners simply wanted what made sense, they wanted ECUA to take the lift station off their hands before it totally and completely failed.  If the system failed—no toilets would work, drains would not function properly, and the neighborhood would have a major sewage spill on their hands. If that worst case scenario happened—not only would it be expensive, it would be messy and a potential health hazard.

The ECUA would only agree to take ownership and responsibility for this lift station if it was rebuilt to be in compliance with current (very high-tech, high dollar) standards---at the homeowners’ expense.

Naturally, this idea did not sit well with many of the homeowners…..but the HOA agreed to meet

Expanded Use of Tourist Development Tax to be Contemplated this Session....



Right now Escambia County levies 4 of an available 6 cents on every dollar spent by tourists on room nights in Escambia County.

I've recently proposed raising this to levy the 5th cent, with a simultaneous push to modify the law to allow 4/10s of the 5 cent levy (or about $1Million yearly) to come back to the County and the ECSO to help offset recurring public safety expenditures at tourist areas of the county---Just as Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties currently do.

I'm working this issue locally, discussing it with hoteliers and twice now with my counterparts on the BCC.  My question is simple:  Should we not extract a small portion of this fee back to offset the tourism related expenditures which Escambia County property owners are currently subsidizing?  Residents should contemplate the answer to this question carefully.  Not only does tourist season increase demand on our infrastructure and in some instances limits our ability to access our own beaches on busy summer days--but to add injury to insult there are some that believe this is an acceptable situation and to even ASK about pulling back some TDT monies to help offset public safety costs associated with tourism is taboo.  I disagree--as do others. So we're supposed to pay all costs of public safety with revenue derived from residents, we're supposed to fund a new stadium with non-TDT funds, and we're supposed to use LOST money to pay $25-30 Million for round a bouts?  Really?

I think there will have to be some negotiating on all these issues, the Blue Penny, roundabouts, sports arenas, and spending TDT monies.  We need to work together and utilize all funding sources to the maximum allowable methods---AS OKALOOSA, WALTON, and BAY have already figured out...

But now, there is a new, interesting bill that has been filed that contemplates expanding the uses of the tourist development taxes for certain tourist utilized road and infrastructure projects.

This session will be interesting for sure...From the Miami Sun Sentinel:

"Tourist tax dollars could pay for roads, sewers and other projects under a bill being debated in the Florida Legislature. Currently, taxes on hotel rooms must go to tourism marketing or projects directly related to attracting tourists, such as beach renourishment or facilities such as aquariums and convention centers. Under the proposal, the tax could be used projects that would help tourism-related business. 'You can use the tax money to build a convention center, but you can’t use it to build a road to the convention center,' said state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, who sponsored the House version. 'You can improve a beach, but you can’t build a bike path to the beach.' Supporters say it is needed because some counties take in more money than they have tourism projects to spend on."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Progress is Coming to North Florida...Hopefully

Collier County School Board Member Erika Donalds (Chair, CRC Small Government Committee, Past-President of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members) closes on her initiative to make all Superintendents of Schools statewide appointed rather than elected positions, 12-14-2017


While the rest of the world is spinning and most of Florida is busily moving through their collective day today, a HUGE event is taking place in Tallahassee.

Today is the day Progress is Coming to North Florida....Hopefully.

The Constitution Revision Commission local government committee just voted to move forward to the full commission two important items:

By a 5-1 vote, a constitutional amendment mandating term limits for elected school board members; and

By a 4-2 vote, a constitutional amendment to make ALL Superintendents of Schools statewide appointed positions (appointed by the elected board of education like the rest of the world already does....)

These two issues are huge, absolutely imperative to moving our educational system, statewide (and locally in Escambia County), into the 21st century.

The committee was lobbied heavily today--with a large contingent of local (elected) superintendents from the panhandle and North Florida coming to today's hearing to plead their case.  It wasn't enough to move the needle, though.  Committee moved the initiative despite the lobbying by a  4-2 vote.

Now the major-league, statewide lobbying begins in earnest.  Getting this passed by the full commission will be a much tougher, much heavier lift. I will begin by doing my part to get this moving forward immediately--starting today.  We need a system of appointed superintendents of school statewide.  It is an Absolute must have!!!!!

I can't wait to speak before the CRC when they come to Pensacola for their listening tour!!!!!!!!!

Olive Branch Part III

the most recent discussions on potential revenue sources for ECSO were condescendingly called "limp-wristed, disingenuous entreaties" by our sheriff...


Tuesday morning at the committee of the whole, I brought forward some ideas that could help address our budget impasse with the sheriff.  I brought these idea(s) in good faith, in a spirit of cooperation and compromise.  Having deferred my item to the end of the meeting, the commissioners were fatigued and several had to leave to make other engagements.  I totally get that and I appreciated the discussions with the individual commissioners about each aspect of the Blue Penny plan --despite the late hour at the end of the workshop..

Within the discussions, though, I found several areas of plausible common ground between myself and my counterparts as it relates to a potential offer that might be presented to the sheriff.  (translation:  I think there may be 3-4 areas of the plan for which I could get three (3) votes)

So next month, at our January Committee of the Whole, I will bring a document that reduces these items where I perceive potential agreement into a draft agreement.  I don't want to sound like a broken record here--but there are areas where a compromise can be brokered among the commissioners; I have the information--from these discussions at the tail end of Tuesday's COW. I simply  need to write an agreement. Which I will do.

Such an agreement would serve as a starting place for a larger discussion on the sheriff's budget---because as everyone knows, the Governor and his cabinet are not in the business of solving our problems and we should be proactive in moving forward in our continuing effort to show good faith in the process.  The appeal process is meant to be, and designed to be, a method to compel mediation of these disputes between the parties.  This is why only 3 of these appeals have gone all the way to the Governor in the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, disappointingly but not surprisingly, the BCC discussions on brokering a compromise were mocked yesterday on the radio by the sheriff.  at minute 10:00 of the interview from WCOA yesterday, the sheriff characterizes proposals to increase his budget funding as "limp-wristed, dis-
ingenuous entreaties."  This is not surprising but it's shocking; sadly, though, this is simply more of the same:  ad hominem, condescending, personal attacks made by the sheriff against those of us

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Olive Branch Part II

Working together in a spirit of cooperation is essential


At this morning's Committee of the Whole, I will again bring forth some potential ideas for helping with our budget impasse with the Escambia County Sheriff Office.

Last month I brought the Blue Penny Proposal--portions of which were not well received, portions of which received some support (or at least some questions and queries that lead me to believe they could be supported).

My goal today, in the workshop setting, is to find out what parts, if any, of the Blue Penny Plan might garner support from my counterparts and staff members.  I also want to try to formalize some sort of an offer so that we can continue to move forward in the spirit of compromise.

It is understood by those who understand the process we are currently in that the objective is to achieve compromise, the objective is not to push the process to the wall and make the Governor solve our issue.  He has other pressing business with which to attend -- including hurricane recovery.

So to keep the process going forward, I need to flesh out the following items:

1.  Do we agree with setting a baseline budget for ECSO with increases commensurate to BCC yearly Total Budget year over year percentage increases?  Do we set a floor and a ceiling for such an arrangement?

2.  Do we agree with giving a dollar for dollar match, up to $350,000 yearly, for any County LET expenditures requested by ECSO for utilization in the SRO program?  (Could generate $700K yearly in freed-up general fund dollars for ECSO)

3.  Do we agree with giving a percentage of unexpended revenue back to ECSO at the end of the FY to help with ECSO payscale issues?

4.  Are we absolutely, 100% opposed to the 5th cent levy in order to offset public safety expenditures at our beaches?  If so, why?  (eg. hoteliers want LOST $ for things like convention centers, field houses, roundabouts and tunnels--why can we not broker a compromise on these issues utilizing the 5th cent and working toward the necessary legislative fix to enable this?)

These are items that need to be discussed to move forward with a spirit of cooperation.  The public at large in Escambia county are weary of this and expect us to work together to solve this deadlock.  We can move a step in that direction today if we have the will to do so.


Escambia County Legislative Delegation Hears from Residents and Public Officials

Members of the Escambia County Legislative Delegation (Sen. Doug Broxson, Rep. Frank White, and Rep. Clay Ingram) hear from the public on December 11, 2017 at PSC

The Greater Pensacola Area's legislative delegation held a public meeting last night at PSC to hear from citizens and public officials about individual priorities for the upcoming legislative session that will begin in January.

County Administrator Jack Brown presented four issues of great importance to the group on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners:  The Beulah Interchange (desperately needed to help traffic flow in Beulah and to help accommodate the exponential growth of Navy Federal Credit Union in Beulah--now sitting at 6,200 employees), making Pine Forest Road from I-10 to 9-Mile Road a 4-lane road (currently the road is three lanes, with only one lane going north), a legislative ask that once a new "entity" is established to house ECAT employees ( a transportation authority)--these employees be given the flexibility to opt-out of becoming a member of the Florida Retirement System, and finally Jack asked for help with improving the bridge at Old-Corry Field Road and Navy Blvd--it had been damaged in the 2014 flood.

Other entities and persons made pitches to the three person legislative delegation (Sen. Doug Broxson, Rep. Frank White, Rep. Clay Ingram)

The City of Pensacola wants more funding for affordable housing, and also funding for an expanded MRO facility at the Pensacola International Airport to create as many as 2000 jobs.

UWF wants infrastructure money to replace a $3.2 Million dollar switch-gear that is nearing 50 years in age..

PSC requested $19 Million to construct a replacement for a 62 year-old structure.

A very animated representative for the Machinists Union chastised the delegation for not supporting legislation last session that was beneficial to his union..."Our members vote, and they have been supporting you guys!"  he mused.

Sen. Broxson did a good job of tempering expectations for this session..."We had a hurricane this year that did a lot of damage to the southern part of the state so we need to be and we will be sensitive to those needs."

A woman purportedly representing the League of Women Voters unleashed a boat-load of requests in rapid-fire succession on a litany of topics.  She was moving so quickly that she had to be paused.  "Okay, can you please slow down, I can't keep up" Rep. Ingram said in jest.  The initiatives she requested support for were primarily left-leaning and some were outright ridiculous in my opinion (making solar panels mandatory for new construction, eliminating school choice options, automatic reinstatement of voting rights for all felons upon completion of their sentences, establishment of free medical clinics, opposition to open carry, etc.)  Some of the requests were interesting though, and some I would support (removing guns from folks that have  a history of violence, mental instability, or under restraining orders, universal background checks for gun purchases)

Overall, it was a good event and it was interesting to hear about what a broad swath of folks in the community want from their delegation.  These gentlemen have a tough job and I certainly appreciate their service to our area!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What does 286.011(8) Fl Statutes Say? What Does it Mean?

ECSO demands raises, we gave raises.  ECSO wants more revenue, we offer a potential plan for more revenue and it is rejected and we are mocked.  We are attacked, our olive branches are being broken and given back, and now we are accused of violating the state open meeting law.  Incredible..
Our meeting on 10-23-2017 was legitimate, it was vetted six ways from Sunday by a team of lawyers, and still we are being accused of violating state statutes by the ECSO.  Here, below, is the relevant statute that was followed.   We followed the law, we vetted the meeting by calling the SAO before the meeting was held, so why are we now being attacked by the ECSO when they know the meeting comports with statute?

Read the relevant statute for yourself, below:


"(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), any board or commission of any state agency or authority or any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision, and the chief administrative or executive officer of the governmental entity, may meet in private with the entity’s attorney to discuss pending litigation [emphasis added] to which the entity is presently a party before a court or administrative agency[emphasis added], provided that the following conditions are met:
(a) The entity’s attorney shall advise the entity at a public meeting that he or she desires advice concerning the litigation.
(b) The subject matter of the meeting shall be confined to settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures.
(c) The entire session shall be recorded by a certified court reporter. The reporter shall record the times of commencement and termination of the session, all discussion and proceedings, the names of all persons present at any time, and the names of all persons speaking. No portion of the session shall be off the record. The court reporter’s notes shall be fully transcribed and filed with the entity’s clerk within a reasonable time after the meeting.
(d) The entity shall give reasonable public notice of the time and date of the attorney-client session and the names of persons who will be attending the session. The session shall commence at an open meeting at which the persons chairing the meeting shall announce the commencement and estimated length of the attorney-client session and the names of the persons attending. At the conclusion of the attorney-client session, the meeting shall be reopened, and the person chairing the meeting shall announce the termination of the session.
(e) The transcript shall be made part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation."

On WCOA this Morning


The topics for discussion include the budget, the budget appeal by ECSO, my thoughts on assuming the chairmanship of the BCC, and the recent allegation that the BCC violated the open meeting law.

Interesting interview can be heard here.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Two Important Triumph Projects Moving Forward with Strong BCC Support!




Doubling-Down on a Big Lie....But Why?

"When one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it." Joseph Goebbels 1-12-1941

It came to my attention very recently that a member of the ECSO complained loudly to a person I know that "We went 6 years without raises"  Disturbingly, this person also singled me out for criticism.  "He [Jeff Bergosh] doesn't want us to get raises!"

Here are the multiple problems with these assertions, which are straight-up  LIEs.

#1.  This individual knows, or should have known, that despite being attacked all summer long with insults and ad hominem attacks by the ECSO---the BCC still came to the table and funded a 3% raise for all ECSO employees for this year.  This makes the 6th straight year the BCC has funded the ECSO with 3% raises.

#2.  Upon a look at this individual's W-2 earnings from the ECSO, the last three years income picture for this person looks like this:

2014

$40,420.66  (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

2015

$45,665.39  (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

2016

$49,884.67   (total compensation paid excluding side work which is accounted for via 1099 form that is provided by any private company that pays off-duty wages)

So, in looking at the total compensation paid to this individual, it is clear that year over year from 2014 to 2015 his total compensation increased by roughly 12.5%, and between 2015 and 2016 his compensation increased another 9% year over year.  (I don't know if that increase was due to overtime, a pay raise, a merit raise, and educational raise, and assignment pay increase, or shift differential pay increase, or uniform allowance increases,  or leave that was bought back--I have no way of knowing these things.  I also do not know how much more this individual earned working side jobs as an off-duty deputy making $25 dollars per hour.) But his total compensation is increasing.

And the second big lie is saying "We went 6 years without raises!"  What six years is my question?
ECSO Personnel have been funded for raises in 14 of the last 18 years, and 7 out of the last 8 years,  according to this chart provided by.....ECSO.  I wonder why people continue to lie about this, what is the purpose of that....knowing it will be easily debunked


Answer: there are not six years that ECSO was not funded for a raise in the last 18 years.  That lie is debunked by Tab 13 of the ECSO's own appeal of the budget this year---indicating that over the last 18 years, ECSO has been funded for some sort of a raise every year except 4 years during the recession.  So the big lie that is being repeated (That ECSO went 6,7,or 8 years without raises) is nothing more than that.  A big lie.  But why lie about something that is very easily and completely debunked already?

Drilling a Dry Hole Part II


Because the ECSO has now, through their attorney Gerald Champagne, filed a criminal complaint against the Board of County Commissioners, I feel compelled to speak up about this ridiculous, rubbish-filled, nonsensical complaint.

The relevant portion of the complaint, as ridiculous as it reads, does allege serious misconduct –and it should be addressed, and is being addressed, in a very serious manner…. The relevant excerpt reads as follows:

"On Behalf of Sheriff Morgan, we respectfully request that you initiate an investigation into this meeting on the basis that it was wrongfully closed to the public in violation of Section 286.011 (8), Florida Statutes (2017)."

If we have indeed violated the open meeting law (which Eric knows we didn’t, by the way)—there are potential criminal sanctions that could be imposed.  (A former Escambia CountyCommissioner and a former Escambia County School Board member each spent time in jail for violating the Florida Open Meeting and Public Records Laws).  So yes, when someone alleges something like this----This is an attack, an allegation I take very seriously.

But if we committed a crime by holding this meeting—why go to the SAO a month later? This makes no sense at all.  So I asked Eric Haines this very question on a Facebook back and forth he initiated with me after his office filed the complaint and the news broke on Rick’s Blog early Saturday…(I was aware of the complaint but had no intention of blogging about it unless it became media fodder, which it did on Saturday…..and thus my subsequent  Facebook post and blog post)

Eric Haines“…. I’m of the belief that your rationale is insufficient for a shade meeting…”

Me:  “You are being inefficient here Eric. You are a Florida Certified Law Enforcement Officer and so here's what you know: if you believe a crime has been committed (and apparently, you do judging from your vituperative objection to our legitimate shade meeting), and if you have probable cause that leads you to believe that a crime has been committed--you do not need to wait, Eric. You do not need to send an email a month after the fact to the SAO. You can draft a warrant to arrest all five (5) of us and take that warrant to a judge and see what happens; see if you would find ANY judge that, based upon this fact pattern, would countenance this ridiculous rubbish claim you are making. Good

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Drilling a Dry Hole......NOT a Humdinger

Suggesting our Executive Session from 10-23-2017 was somehow inappropriate is akin to someone drilling a dry hole


The Sheriff's Office, through their Attorney Gerald Champaign, has requested an investigation of the BCC's Legally appropriate (FL Stat. 286.011[8] )Shade Meeting from October 23rd 2017. The email from Champaign dated 11/17/2017 initiating the request that the SAO investigate the BCC also singles out (then) chairman Doug Underhill: From the November 17th email, when I was vice chair and Doug Underhill was Chair "We also observe the current chairman [Underhill] has publicly stated that it is his opinion that it's proper to conduct a "shade" meeting when the subject of the meeting is "potential litigation"... Problem is, I don't believe I ever heard then chairman Underhill ever say that; in fact it is my recollection that he opposed this appropriate meeting--even though he participated in this meeting before abruptly leaving the meeting after it had commenced. More importantly, a team of attorneys with the county vetted the legality of this meeting thoroughly before the meeting took place, and I am also told that the SAO staff was consulted before this meeting took place and that no issues were indicated at that time, before the October 23rd Meeting. So no, this is not a "HumDinger"---this is more of the same...Aggressive, strong-arm and scorched earth tactics to achieve budgetary ends. Even in the face of now multiple olive branches being passed from the BCC to the ECSO. Disappointing but there is no smoking gun here. No "there" there, if you will. Nope, not a "HumDinger" this is someone's futile effort at (to coin a term I have seen the Sheriff himself utilize) "drilling a dry hole."

Friday, December 1, 2017

I'm NOT Proposing a Tax Rate Increase on Escambia County Property Owners



....Because I have said over and over for eleven years running now that I will not vote to raise year over year property tax rates on Escambia County property owners. I never have, and I never will. I stand by that.  I also will not vote to impose new taxes that will only affect local residents.

So with this said--how in the world can we generate new revenue to offset tourism related public safety expenses in our beach and tourist areas so general fund revenues can be saved to increase Deputy Sheriff pay?

We can do what Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties are already doing.  Add a fifth cent to the Bed Tax.  I was astonished and dismayed to hear one of my peers flat-out reject this idea last night at the meeting, instead recommending a significant increase to the county-wide sheriff's MSTU (which would increase property tax rates on already over taxed Escambia County Property Owners).  This I would not support.  I would much rather put this burden on out-of-town visitors who come here.

Adding a fifth cent to the fees that out-of-town residents pay when they stay in Hotels, Motels, Condominiums, and R.V. Parks in Escambia County (Bed Tax) is a legitimate way to raise revenue---without impacting local taxpayers.  Right now the current levy of 4 cents generates right at $2.5 Million yearly per cent, for a total of $10 Million per year.  Adding the fifth cent would increase total collection to $12.5 Million per year--of which only $1.25 Million could be utilized to offset public safety expenditures if enabling legislation is passed in Tallahassee.  So the TDT fund would increase by over a million dollars yearly--even as a small portion of it was utilized, legitimately, to offset costs of the ECSO and County Public Safety for Tourism-related expenditures at our beaches.

So, as a part of a larger initiative to help address pay scale issues and to move us from an adversarial stance with ECSO to a more cooperative posture--I have put forth the Blue Penny Plan.  It is simple-here's how it works:  No increases to Escambia County Property Owners, Agree on a 5-7 year MOU/MOA between BCC and ECSO, Agree on a yearly base amount of funding (with built in yearly increases that match BCC revenue increases on a percentage of budget basis), agree to a BCC match of up to $350,000.00 for any LET funds the sheriff will utilize to offset his SRO costs each year (up to $350,000.00--which frees up $700,000.00 potentially in ECSO general fund dollars) and rebate 50% of ECSO unexpended funds returned to BCC at end of each FY (required by statute) during the term of the MOU/MOA.  This, combined, generates $1.35 Million per year to address pay scale issues, retention, and other financial needs of the ECSO--over an above the base level allocation and yearly adjustments yearly--- which can be used to fund additional pay raises as well.

This is why a small fraction of this fifth cent is a legitimate funding source to utilize in attempts to assist County Law Enforcement with their pay scale deficiencies.

This is how we can do it while not raising taxes on Escambia County property owners.

This is what I support.