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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Escambia Youth Commission Takes off this Month

This is the month where we put it all together and begin the process of establishing our Escambia Youth Commission.

This is one of  the initiatives I campaigned on, the one I felt we needed to establish locally since before I became a county commissioner.

We will vote to start our own Escambia Youth Commission this Thursday.

It's time.

Read about the Escambia Youth Commission--and how to join--- here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Massive, Positive Local and International Media Response to ST Engineering Aerospace Deal

Huge Economic Development Deal for Escambia County and Pensacola goes viral worldwide in the press.  Historic!

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners joined the city of Pensacola and Florida West in attracting the World's #1 leader in Air Frame Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services to come to Pensacola.

The County has now committed a total of $18 Million to this effort.

This week we signed an Historic Agreement in Singapore to massively expand this operation and bring thousands of GOOD jobs to our region!

The press coverage of this historic event has been huge...and it has been international.

Check out the coverage locally--- and overseas--of this monumental announcement and agreement!








and in lots of other outlets.

While some still believe economic development is "not appropriate" for local governments to pursue--I could not disagree more.  Actually---I believe what we are doing to grow jobs and diversify our tax base locally is an ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT FUNCTION!  I'm extremely proud of this agreement, this deal, and bringing these jobs home to Escambia County!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Huge Day for Escambia County and The City of Pensacola

ST Engineering Aerospace deal was signed on Saturday, October 27th 2018.  This project will bring 1,400 new, high-paying jobs to Escambia County

Saturday was a huge day for Escambia County and the city of Pensacola.

An historic agreement was inked between the city and ST Engineering Aerospace that will positively impact our community for decades to come.

Escambia County, Pensacola, and ST Engineering agreed to a $210 Million dollar deal to massively expand the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) footprint in our area.

Once completed, this will represent the largest footprint in North America for the World's #1MRO provider.

Locally, it will mean an additional 1,400 good-paying jobs at our airport--which will translate into 5,000 direct and indirect jobs of our area.

ST Engineering Aerospace deal was signed on Saturday, October 27th 2018.  This project will bring 1,400 new, high-paying jobs to Escambia County

This is a huge deal that was finalized this Saturday via a signing ceremony in Singapore.

Present for the ceremony were Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, Escambia County Commission Chairman Jeff Bergosh, and Florida West Executive Director Scott Luth---as well as every executive from ST Engineering's Far-East Headquarters.

Saturday was historic---and the Pensacola area and Escambia County will benefit from this deal for decades to come!

Once this project is fully completed, Escambia County will be home to TWO (2) Worldwide # 1 entities:

#1 Credit Union Worldwide   Navy Federal Credit Union

# 1 Airframe MRO, ST Engineering Aerospace.

ST Engineering Aerospace deal was signed on Saturday, October 27th 2018.  This project will bring 1,400 new, high-paying jobs to Escambia County

This is a huge win for our community--many thanks go out to Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Florida West for bringing this deal "in for a landing."

Friday, October 26, 2018

ST Engineering, Project Titan, and Creating Synergies That Will Help Our Community Move Forward

This week I had the honor and privilege of  learning all about ST Engineering in Singapore.  Our local delegation has spent the last several days finalizing an agreement to bring 1,400 good jobs to Pensacola.  In the process of doing this, we have met the top leadership of this firm and we have toured their facilities and learned all about their various capabilities and business lines worldwide.  The knowledge we have gained and the relationships we have forged this week have been tremendous----- and will benefit Escambia County with positive dividends for years to come!

I have been in Singapore this week meeting with leaders of VT Engineering.  Tomorrow we will sign an historic agreement that will bring nearly 1,400 more good jobs to Pensacola.

Developing a diversified jobs base is critical to the long-term future of our community.  Doing this means sometimes we must travel to meet would-be jobs creators.

This week I have had the honor and privilege of meeting all of the top brass from ST Engineering.  This company is the worldwide leader in Aviation Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services.

When we close this deal tomorrow, secure the funding from Triumph gulf coast, and begin with construction of three additional MRO hangars and an administrative facility at Pensacola Airport--this will be a tremendous win for Escambia County and Pensacola.

This project, once completed, will inject $400 Million into our local economy yearly while employing over 5000 citizens (direct and indirect jobs).  This is a win on the same level as was our win with bringing in Navy Federal Credit Union to Pensacola for their campus in Beulah.

Unfortunately, there are some that feel this sort of effort is somehow "not appropriate" for a local government to be involved in.

Some naysayers actually go further and say we should NOT do ANY economic development projects.  Many of these same folks believe bringing NFCU to Beulah was a "Mistake"

I can't have a rational conversation with folks that cannot see the value in working to bring the NFCU's and the ST Engineering's to Pensacola.  We must constantly be working to bring these sorts of initiatives home to our community--or else we are not doing our jobs.

This week, I have been criticized in the press for taking this trip I'm on currently;  I've been accused of wasting taxpayer money.

But I reject these accusations because they are ridiculous, naive, and short-sighted!

Developing personal relationships is how progress happens.

Getting to know the top leadership of ST Engineering  is worth the money spent doing so.

As this current project moves forward, I feel confident that other good projects will follow that will benefit our community---projects that may never have materialized had we not come to Singapore to meet the leadership at ST Engineering this week.

Additionally---this project will further grow a booming industry in our area and will facilitate the establishment of a "pipeline" for students to move into this business if they so choose.

And this pipeline will begin in elementary school for those students who show interest in working with their hands in this field.  This will create opportunities for MANY students in the inner-city communities of Pensacola who otherwise would never be exposed to this field of study.

How can the value of this alone be quantified?  Answer:  It can't be.  The money spent is worth it if it allows folks a new pathway to the middle class that didn't exist previously.

And this project has the very real potential of positively changing the trajectory of many young peoples' lives in our area and giving these same citizens a pathway to the middle class that might otherwise not exist.

But some narrow segments of the public locally scoff at this---and they belittle these efforts.

Sadly, these naysayers will always take shots at the leaders that engage in the work of economic development.  This  will not change.

But leaders that know the value of Business Development and Economic Development must never collapse from this pressure--there is simply too much at stake if we back away from these efforts and allow other communities to snatch these opportunities away from us because "some citizens" don't like leaders travelling to promote job creation.

Thank God the  majority of citizens understand the value and tremendous benefits derived from Economic Development projects that bring good jobs to our area.  Thank God for the intelligent, rational, understanding "silent majority."

They GET it, where others will NEVER "get it."

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My Response to NFCU Offer for OLF 8

NFCU has offered to pay for a master plan for OLF 8 in Beulah if they can select the firm that conducts this work.

I was travelling when the news broke about NFCU's offer to pay for a Master Planner to plan OLF 8 and/or to purchase OLF 8 outright from the county.  Here is my response to that letter.


Thanks for the information and I apologize for my late response (I commenced a long trip of 22 hours flight time just 15 minutes before you sent this—didn’t see it until now). 

The offer you forward is very intriguing, and I certainly believe it will soon be discussed by the full board (at our next committee of the whole). 

The chief concern that I have is our $30 Million Dollar Triumph grant.  

It is not mentioned at all in the letter—however we will be in the running to recoup these funds from Triumph if we can secure a minimum of at least an additional 1,000 good jobs total with this property.  If we simply build-out low-wage retail and more housing, we lose that grant and opportunity.  If we are not going to pursue good-wage job creation with ANY of the OLF 636 acres, that would be a travesty and at that point the only objective should be to list the property on the open market for sale to the highest bidder—so that the maximum amount of our investment in OLF 8 could be recouped for the taxpayers county-wide. 

I hope that is not the scenario that comes to pass.

With a spirit of cooperation in mind,  I re-worked the RFP (attached) to find a compromise between what staff put out initially and what you all countered with. 

I believe the compromise document is very good, and contains the lion’s share of all the additional information that NFCU, via Theresa Blackwell, had added.  The caveat is that I added back the language about Triumph gulf coast and our grant with that body.  I think one idea that might help is if NFCU committed to also pursue that Triumph Gulf Coast money with whatever master plan concept is sought.  If that could be a part of the agreement and the conversation it would be an easier sell I believe.  

As you know Debbie, I live in Beulah and I care about what happens out here just as you do. I’ve lived out here a long time.  However the larger concern has to be that this project, from its inception, has been a county-wide  project that carries the potential to greatly benefit the entire county and the region if we pursue job creation.  And although I strongly support some amenities for the Beulah community to be added as well—this property was not purchased with money allocated solely by Beulah taxpayers.  It was purchased with dollars from every taxpayer in Escambia County.

So whatever happens should be for the benefit of the entire county—not just Beulah—and I truly believe that everyone can get something from this property if we do it right. 

In short, I believe we can have a great project out here that does it all;  creates amenities for the local citizens

Friday, October 19, 2018

Board of County Commissioners Votes to Approve Resolution in Support of Appointing our Superintendent of Schools

Escambia County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution supporting appointing, rather than electing, our superintendent of schools

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners held a very contentious meeting last night.  Lots of topics were discussed, lots of speakers spoke on these multiple issues of importance.

Although the gallery got somewhat rambunctious at times, all in all it was a very good meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting, the board voted on a resolution in support of the ballot initiative mandating APPOINTING rather than ELECTING the superintendent of schools locally.

I am obviously, personally, very supportive of this initiative.

I've discussed it over and over as being totally necessary to correct an imbalance of power in the school district--and for multiple other reasons.

I was proud that the board took this position in support--after listening to multiple speakers (to include several 30+ year experienced retired ECSD teachers) urge us to vote to go APPOINTED.

Read the resolution passed by the BCC here.

Please vote Yes for Escambia County Schools at the end of your ballot on Election Day.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Say YES to Reduce Politics in Education!

Voters can reduce political influences in our public school system by voting YES on November 6th for Escambia County Schools to move to an appointed superintendent model.  In 1967 this very same question failed county-wide by the margin of ONE (1) vote.  Imagine where we might be 51 years later if that vote had passed?

People are sick and tired of politics.  Every day, in the news, infused in our life…politics.

On TV, online, on the radio—everywhere.  

It’s almost a dirty word because we’re all so sick of it.

Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to take politics out of every aspect of our lives—most people understand this reality.

But “politics” has no place in educating our children!

And there’s ONE thing each of us can do on November 6th to minimize the political nature of our education system locally.

Vote YES for an appointed superintendent at the end of your ballot. 

Vote YES to empower your Elected Board of Education to engage a professional committee to find the very best educational specialist--from a nationwide search--to administer Escambia’s schools.

Vote YES to make our top schools administrator a professional position--NOT a political one!

Because Escambia’s children deserve a professional, non-political administrator focused on student achievement –NOT a politician driven by political pressure, donor whims, fear of negative media, and the ever-present election-cycle calendar.

Say YES to allow your school board to set the performance standards, enforce policy, and supervise the administrator.
Leave the politics to our elected board of education, where it should rest.  Make your voice be heard through their elections.

After all, every two years county voters have a crack at multiple members of the elected board of education.

Under our current, antiquated system,  the elected board and the elected superintendent can shrug their respective shoulders, and play the blame game back and forth ad nauseum… "It’s because of Tallahassee and their lack of funding…” or “We need more [fill in blank] …”

It becomes cyclical Kabuki theater that allows all concerned to avoid responsibility—and a politically
 comfortable status quo is maintained in perpetuity to the detriment of our students while the same politicians are elected over and over and over and nothing changes.

We must do better though--our students' collective futures demand no less!

Under the modern, well-accepted appointed superintendent model--the board can immediately remove the superintendent  if performance targets are not met or if board policy is not dutifully and faithfully more waiting 4 long years until the next election.  No more politics of the election calendar stifling and stymieing decision making.

Skeptics of this change need only ask themselves these simple questions:

If you found yourself in the terribly unfortunate circumstance of being diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition, and you could seek out the best treatment available in the world, would you self-limit your treatment options to only the doctors and only the hospitals located in Escambia County Florida? 

If you were on the board of directors of a large corporation and you needed a new CEO to improve poor performance—or else your company would face insolvency--would you self- limit your CEO search ONLY to current company employees and ONLY in the geographical area in which your company was incorporated?

If you were a trustee of a top Division I College, and a decision was made to hire the best coach for your school's struggling football team from “out of the state”—would you really think that idea was bad?

The answer to each question above is NO—and you know it. 

So, let’s change Escambia’s educational paradigm locally and appoint the BEST professional school administrator like 48 of 50 U.S. states already do in 2018.

Let’s elect solid, passionate school board members and mandate that they hire the BEST administrator to run the schools like more than 99% of our nation’s 15,000 school systems already do in 2018.

Under an appointed model:

-Qualified local applicants for the Superintendent position are allowed and encouraged.

-Voters are given MAXIMUM power over the performance of the system by demanding their school board member(s) perform—otherwise they may be voted-out of office via two-year staggered elections.

-Your voice and your vote are NOT lost—they are intensified and magnified.

On November 6th ---we can improve Escambia’s public-school governance model.

But it depends on you.

Please put students, parents, and teachers ahead of politics.

Please vote YES for Escambia Schools at the end of your ballot on November 6th.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Project Titan: Moving Forward to the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

I was honored to speak at the ST Engineering Aerospace MRO facility grand opening in June.  We will soon be building three additional hangars at the airport and adding another 1,325 good paying jobs for Escambia County!

Project Titan, the effort to massively expand the ST Engineering Aerospace Maintenance, Renovation, and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Pensacola, is moving forward.

A ceremonial signing event will occur on Saturday, October 27th, in Singapore, memorializing this transformational project.

Escambia County has committed $10 Million to this effort ($18 Million total if the county's previous investment in ST Engineering's first facility is added).  Once completed, this project will massively, positively impact our county in many ways.  This power point document gives a great breakdown of the project and the benefits it will bring to our community.

I have been asked to provide a comment on this project, on the occasion of the signing of this historic agreement.  My statement is below:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Electing vs. Appointing our Superintendent of Schools Part I

"We don't need to hire no administrator or no professional staff round here--you only need to vote for me --I'm qualified--I got this--trust me!"  Boss Hogg, Sole Commissioner, Hazzard County Georgia

Should citizens elect, or should the school board appoint, the Superintendent of Escambia County's Public Schools?

This question will be coming on the November ballot for local citizens in Escambia County to decide.

I have long been a supporter of the more modern, efficient, and functional system of having the elected board of education hire the administrator of the schools---as  more than 99% or the rest of our nation's schools already do.

But push back is strong to this concept locally. Or, as Yoda might say "Much resistance to this good idea there is....."

The polling numbers I have seen from last July point to this being quite a challenge.

A recent Facebook video segment on this topic with community leader Quint Studer drew lots of angry, outspoken opponents to this plan.  (anecdotally, the "Likes" tally broke down on that post as follows: 61 thumbs up, 12 angry faces, two hearts, 1 LOL, 1 WOW, and 1 Sad)

So the folks opposed are obviously more vocal and energized in their opposition than those who are supportive of ending the antiquated system locally and moving to a modern, efficient appointment model.  But we got a lot of thumbs up "likes"--way more than the negative responses....

And I will say this:  I have also been able to turn several "No Way!" opinions into "Wow-- I did not know thats".  So in order to pass this, to bring it over the line, it takes one on one conversations with folks.

Because this is NOT an issue, framed by supporters of continuing the status quo, of "Giving up your vote!!"

This is not that.

Because the voters vote for the ones who are in charge, and the ones who are in charge bring in and staff the positions.

As an example--we recently hired a brand new Fire Chief for the County's Fire Service.  Should the board have NOT put out a nationwide call for qualified applicants?  Should we have simply put that position on the ballot and let the citizens choose, or let the 250 local firefighters hold an election to choose a "local" to be the next chief?  If we did that, would we get the BEST fire chief out there?

What about principals of schools?  Why not hold elections among parents and staff of particular schools to fill the principal jobs at such schools?  Would that result in us bringing in the best school

Beach Access Discussion That Was Postponed.....

The below pictured options will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.  Our Committee of the Whole meeting that was scheduled yesterday was canceled due to Hurricane Michael.

But once we get this meeting rescheduled, the below options will be discussed.  One option that appears to be the least expensive and the easiest to permit would be option 1(A) Clustered, which would provide 24 parking  spots at our soon to be opened beach access at Perdido Key. 

My personal preference is option 1(B) Expanded, below, because it gives us nearly 40 parking spaces at an effective cost per space that is nearly $1,500.00 per space less than option 1(A).

Can't wait to have this discussion, can't wait to give staff the guidance they need to #OpenOurBeach!

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Burger King and a Bunch of Ugly Buildings!

The Board of County Commissioners will discuss several topics at tomorrow's Committee of the Whole Meeting.  Two that are of particular interest to me are the Beach Access issue and the issue of finalizing the language for master planning OLF 8 in Beulah.

We have talked a lot about OLF 8 on this blog.  It is important-- and however that property is developed-- there will be impacts on nearby residents like me (I live right across the street, where I've owned a home for nearly 15 years).

It has been astonishing to watch how--as we have come closer and closer to acquiring this property--opinion about using this property to generate jobs has been pushed further and further from the forefront.  It's almost as if, in some strange way, these these items are inversely proportional.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a well-known community leader that lives in Beulah.  This individual has had a stellar career, and he is actively involved in business development.  So I asked him his opinion about why, suddenly, everyone is running away from the original plan of building good jobs with this property.

"Where are the renderings, where are the drawings" he said.  "I support whatever happens out there, but I want to see what we're talking about---right now all I have heard is it will be a Burger King and a bunch of Ugly Buildings."

"You know I'd never support that, right, because I live right across the street like you do?" I told him

He went on to discuss the fact that he wears multiple hats and his opinion on the project hasn't really changed but he has to be careful about what he says publicly about the project.  I get that, to a point.

But I also think there comes a point when something that was proposed and submitted as one thing is being pulled in opposite directions due to some strong special interests that want something different--something has to give.  At some point, if we whittle that RFP down to the point where the planner is told "Do whatever you want--do not focus on creating jobs at all" --then we will get a plan that resembles nothing close to what was initially proposed.  And at that point, our $30 Million Dollar Triumph grant will evanesce and that money will go to some other community in the panhandle.

Maybe that's what the special interests wanted all along......

For my part and my vote, and I have not wavered, I want to recoup as much of the county's LOST funds as possible by re-zoning (HCLI) the frontage acreage on 9-Mile Road--as suggested in our Brantley Appraisal. I do not support any more residential construction in the area or on this property (there are 1,200 condos, apartments, and homes currently under construction within walking distance from NFCU already--and our infrastructure can't take much more!)--however I will look at what our planner comes up with if this is what he/she honestly, independently believes is needed.   I do want to see some restaurants developed there for the community, an urgent care facility, and perhaps a postal annex store. I'd like to set aside space for future use for a second elementary school that Beulah desperately needs.  I want a world-class biking, hiking, walking trail all around this property for use by citizens, and a regional park with amenities for residents. We could use some of the triumph money to make a regional stormwater basin and we could enhance Frank Reeder Road to Beulah Road on the North side of this OLF 8 property if we can secure our Triumph grant money.   Also, set back from the road, in the interior of the parcel, I want to see us set aside space for us to create a minimum of 700 more good jobs so that we can stay in the running for as much as $30 Million from Triumph Gulf Coast--this is a fair compromise that gives everyone something from this property, and this is what I support.  This is what I will say at tomorrow's meeting, because it will not be, and never was going to be, just a "Burger King and a bunch of Ugly Buildings"

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fallen Redwood.........Something Not Revealed is NOT Something UnKnown

If the redwood falls in the forest and nobody is shown the video--trust me it still made a loud, crashing, and violent noise as it fell...... 

There is a saying we have all heard.....  If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?

Obviously the answer is simple:  Of course that redwood made a loud, crashing sound as it fell....

But if nobody wants to know about it, and nobody was there to hear it, and nobody is shown the video-- it is easy to sell folks on the idea that it made no sound---- right?.

Answer:  NO

I purposely, late last Friday on a holiday weekend, submitted paperwork to run for re-election to  my current office on the board of county commissioners.  I love my job and I thank God daily for his blessing bestowed upon me that has allowed me to serve my neighbors in District 1 first on the school board and now on the county commission.

But I also do have one eye on our local schools. I worry about the direction we are going.....

Just two weeks ago, a poll was conducted regarding the position of school superintendent for our local public schools.  I did not request this poll, nor did I pay for it.

I did not publish the results once I got them two weeks ago, BUT neither  did anyone else.

I'm publishing them right now though.  Right here, right now, below.


Lack of Follow-Through on Board Action and Votes Part I: Two Issues, Separate but Uncannily Similar

When the Board of County Commissioners makes a vote, the action behind that vote should be respected, and the action should be taken as quickly as possible.  That is the way a normal board functions.

Even if the vote is fractured, once the vote is taken, the vote is the vote.  That's the way our representative form of government works in our Constitutional Republic.

Look no further than the Kavanaugh confirmation from just yesterday.  A fractured, broken U.S. Senate took a vote, a nomination barely passed, and yet Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a mere two hours later.  Say what you want about the brokenness of DC--but once that decision was made, it was consummated at light-speed.

Because that's the way it should work--even if you are a politician on the losing end of a tough vote...

And I know what it feels like to be on the bottom of a losing vote.  It's no fun.

When I was on the school board for many years, I was on the bottom of a lot of votes.  For example--I voted against our brand new middle school being built in Beulah, because I knew we didn't need it  (we have excess capacity district-wide at the middle school level and a decreasing overall enrollment-trend in Escambia's public schools), and we needed another elementary school in Beulah, not a middle school.

I also knew this would result in busing students from way outside of Beulah into Beulah--and I supported (and still support) neighborhood schools, not social engineering and busing of students from miles and miles away to meet enrollment demographic targets.   I lost that vote, and that middle school was built.  And everything I predicted would happen, did happen. C'est la vie.....

But at least that action went forward.  A vote was taken and the action moved forward.

Because in order to function, once the vote is taken --board action must be respected and enacted forthwith!

Now that I am on the Board of County Commissioners,  I see issues where previous board votes, action, and direction are not being honored but rather they are being delayed, watered-down, and/or drastically modified after critical votes have been taken.

Obviously, the board can change course if they so choose.  This is a given and it comes with its own set of problems (i.e. if the board changes course abruptly, on multiple fronts, at multiple times--the board could appear to be wishy-washy, indecisive,  or even feckless) This is not good.....

Two issues I can think of (both of which were voted on and funded multiple times before I even joined the board) that illustrate this phenomenon are the public beach access at Perdido Key and the Jobs Creation Project at OLF 8.

Perdido Key Beach Mouse Habitat and Public Beach Access ---property was purchased in 2013 for $3.1 Million dollars with the purpose of creating protected beach mouse habitat  AND for providing Public Beach access.  To  date, the board's vote on that matter has not been followed;  we

Friday, October 5, 2018

Marlette Manipulation 6.0: Reptilicus Ridiculous....

Andy Marlette from the PNJ has a cartoon out today that I believe is based upon a story from last week where a snake was rescued at Pensacola Beach.  Initially, it could not be identified.  Eventually, it was identified as a rattlesnake.

So today, he published a cartoon with a play on that story and I was featured on it as well, with some unflattering descriptions. Within one week's time, I'm lampooned as two separate animals.

I'm just trying to cut through the BS and get a public beach access opened, and for that I'm featured in a cartoon?!?

  I think there are better ways to do this cartoon if we want to talk about snakes, so I went ahead and re-did his cartoon to make it much more apropos.

Who can identify the real beach snakes of Escambia County?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What Do Other Medical Examiners Around the State Make?

We've been paying our Medical Examiner nearly 3-times what the average Medical Examiner in Florida makes.....this is ending

This evening the BCC will vote on a stop-gap spending plan to fund our Medical Examiner (ME) for an additional 60 days.

This stems from some recent tension between the counties of the First Judicial Circuit and the the ME's office over pay for our Medical Examiner, which a recent audit revealed was nearly $800,000.00 per year under our previous arrangement.

Last week, the ME threatened to abruptly shut down operations over this pay issue.  So we are working a temporary solution until we complete the circuitous process to bring a new ME aboard--which requires the Governor to approve based upon some statutory requirements.

We're being asked to fund a little over $60,000.00 dollars tonight (which equates to two months' worth of payment toward our 46% share of the ME's Circuit-wide salary budget [nearly $900K] under the previous salary arrangement)

Okaloosa County voted Tuesday NOT to do this.

Instead, Okaloosa County agreed to fund its pro-rata share of a reduced salary level of $450,000.00 total circuit-wide.  Okaloosa's two month share under this proposal is just under $20,000 dollars.

Tonight I plan to follow suit with Okaloosa County and move we fund just two months' worth of our share (46%) of the same $450,000  salary level--$34,500.00 (over and above our 2-month share of the fixed costs.)

If we fully fund the percentage based on the previous salary level, in essence we will be subsidizing Okaloosa County; they would be receiving the same services at a much lower cost--which I do not support.

The 20 Judicial Circuits in Florida
The Medical Examiner, under the current structure makes nearly $800,000.00 yearly, which is too high for a public servant making a public wage.  This salary is DOUBLE the salary of the President of the United States, and 5 times what our Superintendent of Schools makes.  It is 4 times what our State Attorney and our County Administrator make.  It is too much.

Public employees should make a public wage, not private sector wages.  When someone from the private sector comes to work for the public sector, the wage is lower (e.g. Lawyers that make multi-million dollar salaries in private practice make just over $200,000.00 to serve as Federal Judges, The Governor who made Millions yearly in the private sector makes just $140,000 yearly in salary as the Governor of the state.)

This is public service, paid for by taxpayers.

And, as illustrated below, the average Medical Examiner statewide makes but a third ($285K) of what our ME has been making in salary.  This is going to change, we have to fix this, and I believe we will.

The average ME in the state makes about $285,000.00 yearly.  Ours up here in the panhandle makes nearly $800,000.00 per year...

Traveling Car Sales Drawing Scrutiny from Established Local Dealerships

I've been told there are travelling car salesmen setting up temporary, fly-by-night car "lots" at University and Cordova Malls, undercutting local dealerships and dumping "lemons" in our community to unsuspecting buyers.  Time for the BCC to look into an ordinance on this like every other Florida County already does....

I received an interesting call today from a local car dealer.

Apparently, there are groups of car salesmen from out of state and from South Florida coming up to Pensacola and opening temporary, short-term car sales operations in our local mall parking lots.

"Jeff, these groups are coming up here and dumping cars on our citizens and skipping town" he said, somewhat exasperated.

"Many of these cars are defective, and once these folks leave town, the buyers get stuck with these cars.  I have seen this, cars with bent frames and cars damaged in the floods." he continued.  "Locals bring this in to our dealership, and we often have to give them the bad news--the car is a salvage and not repairable"

In our conversation, he told me most, if not all, other counties in our state do not permit these sorts of fly by night sales.  He said he would send me additional information and I told him I would support some regulations to curb these sorts of practices, if such ordinances are not in contravention to state law.

I did not know this was an issue, glad I got the call.  If we need to put a stop to this, I'll bring an ordinance to do so very quickly. 

We don't want lemons being dumped in Escambia County!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What Will OLF 8 Master Planner Come Up With?

What will this big field look like, what will be built here on this property.....we will soon hire a planner to help us with this...

This Thursday, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners will be voting on a staff-developed RFP for hiring a firm to master plan OLF 8.

The draft of the RFP criteria is pictured below.

I'm primarily interested in the economic component and achieving highest and best use for the taxpayers.  I'm also going to lobby for inclusion of our current Triumph Application as a part of the RFP so the planner knows we are in the running for $30 Million if we can simply create a minimum of an additional 700 good jobs with this property.

Should be a good discussion Thursday, glad we are moving this forward.


Monday, October 1, 2018

On WCOA this morning

I'll be on WCOA later this morning discussing public beach access and the recent issues surrounding the salary dispute between the Medical Examiner's Office and the four counties of the First Judicial Circuit.

Listen to the podcast here.