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.








Tuesday, June 25, 2019

An Ambitious 5-Year Plan for ECFR Part II: What Would Implementation Cost?

Leadership at ECFR has put together a very ambitious, draft  five-year strategic plan.  Funding such a plan would be a HEAVY lift.


As I described in a post yesterday-ECFR Leadership has put together a draft 5-year strategic plan for the BCC's consideration.  The goal is to modernize the department and add resources, both human and facilities/equipment/training. 

All board members have been contacted to see if they would like a meeting to discuss this with County Fire Leadership and Staff. 

My meeting was a couple of weeks back, but now that all commissioners have had the opportunity to be briefed, I'm putting this out so the public can see what is proposed for discussion, and what the cost would be.

It is ambitious, and it would be costly to implement.  For this year's budget, the ECFR has submitted a funding request of just over $18 Million for operating (County Stations and Pensacola Beach Station), with several LOST requests as well totalling $4.5 Million.  (You can see this year's request(s) broken out on pages 224-227 of this document)

See the breakdown of what implementation of the 5-year strategic plan would cost, what it would add, and what it would accomplish if implemented, below.

I look forward to discussing this with my peers--but I'm not sure how we could fund such a plan......





County Medical Director's Attorney also Sent a Letter to HR Department....

The below letter was sent to the County's interim HR Director last Thursday. 

I just received a copy of it today.

My question now is--who in the county will receive the next "do not contact" letter from this attorney--and have other departments already received these??  The Board Members ourselves--I haven't got one so can I call her? The administrator?  How is this going to work if we have questions?  How can she do her job if nobody can contact her?

I look forward to reading the county attorney's response to this letter.



Monday, June 24, 2019

An Ambitious 5-Year Plan for ECFR, Part I

Leadership at ECFR have put together a very detailed and ambitious 5-year strategic plan for the BCC's consideration...

Two and a half weeks ago, top leadership of Escambia County met with me in the large conference room of the 4th floor.

It was a meeting they requested, and all the players were present, to include the interim County Administrator, Interim Fire Chief, Interim Director of Public Safety,  Director of Budget and Finance, and multiple high-level members of  Escambia County Fire/Rescue.

They wanted to give each commissioner an individual preview of the 5-year strategic plan they had worked up, and this was my turn to get the presentation. 

The goal of the report and presentation was to provide a strategic five-year plan for the BCC's consideration, a plan that identifies critical funding needs for the fire service, alternative funding sources for the BCC to consider, and a mechanism by which fire protection and the ISO PPC for Escambia County could be improved.

The report and presentation went year by year, with each year's recommendations highlighted and fully explained.  at the end of the presentation, the cost per year of implementation of the plan was reduced to a one page chart, with the significant increases marked on the bottom line.

Some Highlights from each year:

Year one (FY2019-2020):

-21 New Positions (12 Firefighters, 1 Fire Prevention Officer, 1 Recruitment Officer/Volunteer Coordinator 3 Training Captains, and 1 Fleet Manager, 1 Grant Writer, 2 Fire Inspectors
-Replacement of Pleasant Grove Fire Station
-Additional Training and 
-Investment in New and Replacement Gear and Equipment (To include a fire boat)


Year two (FY2020-2021)

-24 New Firefighter Positions
-Fire Training Facility
-Fleet Maintenance Facility
-Increased funding for repair and maintenance of fire facilities
-Expanded volunteer retention and recruitment
-Expanded/specialized training
-Additional investments in new and replacement apparatus and gear

Year three( FY2021-2022)

-3 New Assistant Chiefs

Was the "Panic Switch" for Beach Toll-Booth Traffic Gridlock Engaged this Weekend?

Reports indicate that this past Saturday a modified version of the "panic-switch" was activated at the beach toll booth in order to clear traffic.  Unfortunately, though, all the cars flushed through will be billed if they are not on Sunpass, which will in effect quadruple the cost of the trip for the 1-time day visitor....which will make many folks angry......


Looking at some online sites this morning, and on some facebook chat sites, it appears that the county did, indeed, hit the traffic "panic switch" idea I proposed last week with great initial effect this weekend.

According to Andrew McKay's site, where he states he had an exclusive look into the issue in real-time, it says the toll-booths were opened-up and the lights synced, as I had envisioned, and the traffic flushed.  Bravo!  the plan works!  According to McKay--this modified "panic switch" was engaged a total of three times on Saturday--and each time it did as intended, it worked.

This is fantastic, and my hat's off to Commissioner Bender and the traffic division for taking action!

The ONLY tweak or modification that I'd suggest to their version of the "panic switch" is this:  Don't charge tolls at all when you have to flush the traffic through to ease the gridlock caused by the toll booth.

Like I said at last week's BCC meeting on this topic---If you charge drivers who are caught up in the traffic--when the gridlock is not their fault--this will create some anger among drivers;   If you open the booths up and usher traffic through WITHOUT going to zero-fare mode (and thus NOT charging)--the unsavory and unintended consequence will be that many in the line that waited to pay $1.00 are suddenly forced through and will eventually pay four times this much when they get the bill in the mail ($1.00 toll, plus $2.50 fee, plus $.50 cent stamp= $4.00---four times what the toll is).

Why not just "eat it" and give up a few thousand dollars in revenue on the rare occasions when the panic switch gets engaged--as I envisioned in my version above?   I think to pass them through toll- free at these times is the much more palatable option, and also the "customer-friendly" way to go--just as I stated at the meeting last week.  After all--we're grossing over $3 Million yearly in cash tolls--we could afford to eat $5,000.00 here and there for public safety and good public/constituent relations, right??

But hey, that's just my opinion.  Opinions vary.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

EMS Medical Director Has Hired a Lawyer.....



I received the above email late yesterday afternoon.  I spoke to the county attorney about this and asked "Can an employee just hire a lawyer on their own and say 'you can't talk to me' anymore"...To which I was told "yes"...but to which I was also told this is very, very unusual.....

And then to not show up at the meeting where the vote was to take place on training requested by EMS....?  What is up?

I've got a feeling we will get to the bottom of it real quick next week.

Escambia, Santa Rosa Have a Legacy of Lacking Good Journalism



We have had two back to back editorial whoppers from our local newspaper—slamming public servants.

The theme of last week’s crack offering from the two person PNJ editorial board:  Activists good—ALL elected officials bad (especially the locally-elected conservative Republican ones)—and nothing gets done if not for activists.   And elected officials everywhere can do nothing right… 

Okay-I will say that I admire folks that become active and engaged in their communities for good causes.   But what that cynical piece leaves out is that often it is a super-motivated ACTIVIST that ends up running for office in to make changes!  And the other important thing the PNJ article misses is that sometimes the mob gets it wrong—and it takes an elected statesman to make a tough vote---despite the vocal activist mob’s protestations-to get an issue right for the WHOLE community.

When I served on the school board, we voted to close schools and loud groups of protesting citizens packed rooms and screamed in our faces calling us terrible names—but by 3-2 votes we did what was required and necessary in those instances—not what was politically expedient.

The county commission vacated a roadway two years ago for a very beneficial purpose---by 3-2 vote and despite the protestations of many activist citizens.  But it was the right thing to do and took intestinal fortitude from 3 of 5 to make that vote—despite pushback from some citizens.  The PNJ would have criticized that decision no matter which way it would have gone. Because it is easy to throw rocks from the sidelines and play Monday Morning Quarterback when you are in the peanut gallery and not in the game.

And to say NO President has made any difference locally?  Are you kidding me PNJ?

What about Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation that changed America for good forever—Including Pensacola?

What about JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

Or Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech that led to the end of the cold war?

How can PNJ be so myopic?

And now comes this week’s piece—where conveniently once again several of the locally elected, conservative Republicans are targeted by PNJ as unworthy of the offices we hold.

“These guys should be run out of office, and people WE LIKE BETTER should replace them!” would have been an honest title for this week’s PNJ editorial.

The op-ed conflates the serious criminal wrongdoings of two high-profile former officials with artificially imagined “outrageous” behavior by several currently elected republicans locally.  Thrown 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Coffee with a Commissioner this Coming Wednesday, June 26th-Town Hall July 15th



I'll be having my 24th "Coffee with the Commissioner" event this coming Wednesday morning, June 26th from 6:30-7:30 at the Hardees at Wilde Lake and Pine Forest Road.

These meetings are very informal and allow citizens to interact with me directly, with staff members present to take concerns and address issues.

And in three weeks I'll be holding a town hall meeting in Beulah to discuss an upcoming climate survey that will be coming in the mail to residents of Beulah and the northwest portion of District 1.

This town hall will be at 6:00 PM at Beulah Middle School on 9-Mile Road at Beulah Road.

We will be giving an update on multiple topics of interest at the town hall, but the main topic will be rapid growth and finding the best, most intelligent way to manage this growth in this part of the county.

We will also be talking about OLF 8 and the work to master plan that land for the benefit of the community.

I encourage ALL interested citizens to attend one or both of these upcoming meeting so that you can give me your ideas thoughts on how the county can serve you better!

Jesse Panuccio Speaks at the Federalist Society of the Emerald Coast Meeting


Federalist Society of the Emerald Coast President Judge Gary Bergosh welcomes Jesse Panuccio to Pensacola Wednesday evening, June 19, 2019.

The Federalist Society of the Emerald Coast welcomed Jesse Panuccio to Pensacola Wednesday evening.  Mr. Panuccio, formerly the General Counsel to Governor (now Senator) Rick Scott in Florida most recently served as the number 3 official at the Department of Justice behind AG Sessions, and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

He left the DOJ in April and is moving to South Florida to enter private practice.

Panuccio was Introduced to Pensacola by Federalist Society of the Emerald Coast President Judge Gary Bergosh, and a crowd of roughly 60 local attorneys, elected officials, former elected officials, and other interested citizens gave him a rousing ovation and warm welcome upon his introduction.

"Yes, I served in the DOJ over the last year, and No, I am not going to be talking about Mueller, Comey, or the Russia Investigations" he quipped to some muted laughter as he started his remarks.

"I'm not going to be writing a tell-all book now that I am gone" he stated.

His 40 minute speech centered around what he felt were several big issues that staff at DOJ under AG Sessions had accomplished to limit the power of that office in particular--and all government agencies in general. Many of these accomplishments garnered very little media attention, as most of the media coverage of that office centered around the more high-profile Russia Investigation.  During his speech, Mr. Panuccio quoted multiple times from James Madison's Federalist Papers -- particularly citing passages where Madison warns of particular government branches exceeding their authority and the dangers posed by this tendancy if left unchecked.

Jesse Panuccio speaks to a large crowd of attorneys and elected officials Wednesday, June 19th at Seville Quarter in Pensacola


He seemed proud of the fact that over his time at DOJ-the office took on and limited the power and prevalence of "Guidance-Documents" and "Consent-Decrees"--two mechanisms by which the staff of the previous administration's DOJ had utilized to shape policy and push ideologies upon local governments without express Congressional authorization.

He also discussed the way the DOJ has recently curtailed the practice of allowing entities with whom the department had reached settlements to pay portions of such settlements to "unrelated third-party entities that may have no connection to the issue of the settlements themselves" he explained. 

The topics were very cerebral--but the crowd remained keenly attentive as Mr. Panuccio moved

"Panic Switch"-for Toll Booth Backups at the Beach



This picture, above, is the graphic depiction for what I envision as a traffic gridlock "panic-switch" This option for Pensacola Beach traffic issues related to back ups at the toll booth could be rapidly deployed when necessary and upon the outset of certain circumstances that could lead to conditions that threaten the life-safety of citizens.

Safety of persons trumps the revenues we would lose for brief periods when this process would be activated.

I will discuss this process with my counterparts on the board today.

We have the traffic infrastructure to implement this today--if we have the will to make it happen so we never again have a Saturday at the beach like last Saturday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Update on the Beulah Traffic Light from Today-6-18-2019....

I received the above email today about the issues with the lights at NFCU on 9-Mile Road in Beulah.

As I discussed yesterday--the timing went haywire on Friday of last week causing all kinds of consternation among residents out here over the weekend.

With cautious optimism that we got the issue resolved, I post the email (above) I received today on this subject.....


About the Salaries of State Constitutional Officers.....

PNJ Editorial Cartoonist Andy Marlette appears "hung up" over salaries elected officials make.  Someone should tell him the salaries are set by the state---not by us.


Andy Marlette of the PNJ has taken a really cynical, negative tack towards the salaries that commissioners in Escambia County make.  I wonder why, though?

I say this because in this recent cartoon of his from a few months back-- he says I, Jeff Bergosh, "rob" the citizens of an $80K salary.  Which is bogus.  (the basis of that cartoon was also bogus--the claim that I "shriek" at citizens.  Whatever that is, I don't do it.  My much more apropos, honest  version of his lame cartoon can be found here  ๐Ÿ˜  )

Now in his latest attack piece and cartoon, from just this week, twice he mentions my salary as a county commissioner, insinuating I don't deserve it and I don't earn it.

But I wonder why he is so hung up on our salaries as commissioners, anyway?  Does he not get a comparable salary as the local cartoonist here--could it be salary envy?

Does he possibly make less than we do???     Naah, I doubt that-- but who knows, right.  I'd say he should  knock down at least $46,000.00--$54,000.00 a year as the PNJ cartoonist--.  ๐Ÿ˜

Or Is he only mad that I get a salary--but other commissioners are just fine receiving theirs?

Is he mad that school board members like I used to be get salaries?  ECUA board members?  How about the City Council members?  I wonder if he is seething with envy about all of these elected

officials getting paid around here?  Somebody PLEASE give Andy a raise already--he's really, really triggered by the elected officials getting paychecks!!

Or is it just me I wonder?

I wonder if he is upset about the salaries of all politicians, state and local (he apparently hates most politicians, particularly and specifically conservative ones)--So this begs the following question: I wonder--does he think all elected officials should work for free?  If so, I wonder if Andy has worked out the fact that if all elected positions were non-paid---only independently wealthy, well-connected and politically savvy individuals could serve---which by and large would mean politicians at all levels would be older and whiter?  What would Andy think of that---I wonder if he has thought that

Big Take-Away's from a Sit-Down with the Scientists: IP Discharge Permit a Complicated Process

What is the latest on the state of District 1's Perdido Bay?  Read about it below from a meeting I had with FDEP. 


I have read a lot of opinion pieces in our paper lately about International Paper's discharge that eventually flows into Perdido Bay in District 1.

I must admit I am no expert on any of this stuff, so I reached out to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) so that I could meet with them to learn more about the issue, the process, and whether or not the stories in the news and cartoons were true or gross exaggerations.

As it turns out--the truth is not so easy to discern and lies somewhere in the middle of the competing claims.

So late yesterday afternoon  I sat down with Mr. Shawn Hamilton, the District Director of NW Florida for The Department of Environmental Protection.  Also present were Brandy Smith, External Affairs Manager for the FDEP, and Chips Kirschenfeld, the County's Interim Asst. County Administrator and Director of Natural Resources Management.

They presented me with reams of information and a summary of the last several decades of history between the state and IP as it relates to their permitting for discharging process water.  Although I was drinking from the fire hose as I tried to grasp as much of this technical information being provided as quickly as I could--I did manage to walk away knowing a lot more than I did before I took the meeting.

The big takeaways I bring from the meeting:

1.  International Paper (IP) is NOT currently "Breaking the Law" with their discharges.......but

2.  International Paper is NOT  currently meeting water quality standards.  IP currently operates an "Administratively Continued" Permit. (Permits only last 5 years under Federal Law--and the last IP permit took 15 years to issue)

3.  Perdido Bay as a water body is healthier now than it was in the 1990's--and IP is working to meet the standards of their current permit while also working to obtain a new permit from FDEP.

4.  A huge improvement occurred when IP, beginning in 2010, halted discharging process water directly into 11-Mile Creek and instead diverted this water through wetlands IP purchased to the west

Monday, June 17, 2019

What Happened to the Beulah Traffic Signals over this past Weekend--What is Happening Right Now?

This weekend in Beulah--the traffic signals on 9-Mile Road in front of Navy Federal Credit Union's two eastern-most entrances were way out of sync.

Something was definitely wrong--as the traffic began to stack up on 9-Mile Road going East and West---even though there were no cars going into or out of NFCU.  I was out running errands on Saturday and Sunday and knew, immediately, that something was wrong.

"Why is traffic stopped at 10:30AM on a Saturday??"

Drivers were getting frustrated---several went around cars waiting at the light and drove through the red lights.

So I immediately fired off emails to see if we could get this fixed ASAP.

And staff deserves credit for immediately engaging and working toward the solution right away.  Here are the emails:


"David [Forte],

This weekend the lights on 9-mile road at NFCU way and security place were WAY out of whack.  This created a nightmare for those of us going back and forth with our lives in and out of Beulah.  There would be long delays at both lights----long and unnecessary----even though there was zero traffic coming into and going out of NFCU.  It was ridiculous.  Can someone please look into this and see what went sideways with the timing this weekend—and can we please look at getting this fixed?  Thanks!

R/

Jeff Bergosh
Escambia Board of County Commissioners,
District 1
221 Palafox Place Suite 400
Pensacola, FL 32502
850-595-4910 office
850-377-2209 Voicemail
@jeffbergosh"

To which I received the following responses:

"Will report this immediately.


Thanks."



"Kelli/Eric,


Please see the below email from Commissioner Bergosh re: the two traffic signals on 9 Mile Road and Navy Federal (Navy Federal Way and Heritage Oaks), and direct/respond accordingly. 

Please, also, advise as to the resolution(s).

Thanks."

This afternoon I received an email describing what caused the signal timing issue, and also the resolution:

"All:

On Friday Ingram Signalizations’ directional bore crew begain installation of the new signal conduit to service the intersection of Heriatage Oaks and 9-Mile Road. Currently the entire intersection is operating using temporary loops. As work progressed from the installation of the water and sewer, through the roadway pavement several splices and temporary connections were made. During the directional boring the crew inadvertantly hit the homerun (the main connection for the loops beneath the roadway. The crews did not recognize that they had damaged the loops and the signal went into the default mode and operated on the timing. There is not much impact or change during the day, however it became very noticable during the evening hours and thus the compalints were received.

Ingram was on-site this morning troubleshooting the issue. They discovered the damage and tried to make repairs however, they were onable to locate one end. They pulled new cabling and have completed re-wiring of the intersection and it is back in actuation mode. Ingram also reviewed the Navy Federal Intersection and all loops and cameras were functioning properly."

I'm told the technicians are still working the issue as of right now....as the first fix hasn't solved the problem...

"Mr. Bergosh:

My staff just reported that the signal seems to be lagging again. We have contacted Ingram Signalization and they will go back out and see what is happening.

Sincerely,

Michael Lenga
Project Administrator
Radiation Safety Officer
Stantec
8130 Pittman Ave."






Saturday, June 15, 2019

Andy Marlette and Hatchet-Piece "Journalism"

PNJ cartoonist Andy Marlette loves to editorialize about how much he dislikes me and other conservative elected officials locally.  But is it honest to parade these hit pieces as "news" stories, when they are nothing but spin-job editorials?  I think not.  I think it's deceptive and emblematic of the reason most Americans no longer have faith in the media to tell the truth, unbiased with just the facts.


I think my very existence triggers Andy Marlette.  That and the fact that I am conservative.  And the fact that I don't kowtow to his agenda.  And that I don't agree with his biased fake news.  And that I push back when he makes cartoons about me.

But he also hates politicians--especially local ones.  Yes, it is one terrible article after another, with the local politicians being targeted.  He hates that we get paid, and he hates that we exist.  Funny how he never really pushes back against Democratic politicians though...Nope.  Just local and national Republican ones.  We're the bad guys.

But he also hates me because I am a Christian.  He HATES Christians, and people who are religious.  He makes fun of religion with cartoons that mock Jesus in a town that is very Christian and very conservative.  He really hates people that believe in God.

But apparently what he HATES more than anything else is anyone with whom he disagrees.

Heaven forbid we disagree with him on anything.  Do that, and get ready for the ad hominem vicious personal attacks, unfair characterizations, and cartoons.

So I wrote about the "Ambush" I walked into a couple of weeks ago when I was "invited" to sit with the 2-person editorial board of the PNJ---- I knew there would be an "article" coming out in the PNJ behind that meeting, seeking to run me down.  Yep, knew it was coming.....

.....It arrived today, just in time for the Sunday edition.  A steaming pile of garbage that takes my entire stance on the bridge naming out of context.  Here are the facts:

1.  I disagree with the PNJ's position that the Beall family name should be taken off the bridge, and I have been vocal about that.

2.  I have never once said anything disparaging about Chappie James

3.  I don't attack constituents on social media--I use social media to disseminate information and to interact with citizens--but I do not target people and attack citizens with social media

So this article just goes after me and insinuates that I must be a racist because I don't want to rip one family name off of the bridge and replace it with Chappie James' name, and that I am a horrible person that intentionally targets my constituents for attack on social media.  All of this is a bald-faced, made up lie.  A straight-up, ad hominem vicious personal attack on me because I have the audacity to push back against and disagree with Andy Marlette and the PNJ

But it does not end there....

Because its not always what is said in an article from the dishonest media that is important--often times it is what is conveniently left out.

For instance, in Andy's attack piece on me that will appear in print tomorrow morning, he conveniently leaves out the following facts about my statements at the bridge naming meeting:

1.  I support Chappie James being honored by having the Pensacola Airport named in his honor

2.  I will support the name that the Bridge Naming committee ultimately recommends--even if it is recommended to take the Beall name off and replace it with Chappie James's name.

3.  Regardless of the outcome--I will support naming Pensacola's airport for Chappie James ---and I will contribute to that cause financially--because that would be a fitting tribute to that great American.

The article glosses over those three facts, fully omitting them from the article in order to mislead the readers and frame me in a false light.  Instead-the piece just makes me out to be some kind of a racist--which is absolute garbage.

This is just one example of the reason nobody trusts the activist, agenda-driven left-leaning liberal media anymore.

They are dishonest and they do not tell the truth, and everything is a spin-job to make good people look bad while not reporting stories that do not support their flawed narrative (conservatives bad, democrats good).  Not a peep from any mainstream media--here or nationally--about the fake and destructive "activism" that led to the  Oberlin College case and what happened there. -Nope--stories like these do not support their biased narrative.

Thankfully, most of the voters locally don't buy the garbage PNJ is peddling--they "smell" it coming a mile away and smartly disregard it.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Citizens are Saying NO to Paying Commissioner Legal Bills

With respect to taxpayers funding legal defense for a commissioner's impending lawsuit, citizens are saying "talk to the hand" about that plan.... 

My email box is blowing up with angry citizen and constituent emails demanding that the BCC NOT pay legal bills for the D2 commissioner who is apparently once again being sued for libel-- according to the PNJ and Rick's Blog.

Of course the decision on whether or not to pay for a defense will be a full-board decision based upon all factors including relevant state statutes, county policy, and our county attorney's opinion.  Meanwhile, folks are saying "no way."





                                                                               From the email (s)

Citizens are emailing and saying "no way"
to taxpayer funded legal expenses for
a commissioner being sued for libel...
"I write with a request that the Board as a whole vote to deny the County taking on liability for Commissioner Underhills impending libel lawsuit initiated by citizen Scott Miller. The activity that initiated Mr. Millers lawsuit was that of Dougs comment on social media site Escambia Citizens Watch, not in the performance of his official duties as Commissioner. May I remind you of the COW meeting May 9th, where the social media policy was discussed between 4 of you in determining whether to bring it to the agenda for the next BCC meeting. Commissioner Bender stated it eloquently when he said “Not trying to take away your First Amendment rights, Jeff, but I’m not going to defend it either. It was also at this point that Doug left the dais, indicating he took no position on that part of the discussion. Commissioner Barrys comment about the use of technology not having impact on the board while the “use of Social Media and tenor of the comments, does have an effect on me.” is a perfect example of how Doug got into his predicament to begin with. 

His comments on that site, which by the way is NOT open to General Public viewing, are what the basis of his new lawsuit are based on. Therefore the County, us Taxpayers, should not be on the hook for his legal expenses associated with this case. He got himself into it, he can get himself out. I would predict that Dougs activities on Social Media will continue to be problematic for the Board as he continues to disparage those that don’t agree with his agenda with disparaging and libelous remarks."

From another citizen:

"Good evening Commissioners.
I am asking Commissioners Jeff Bergosh, Lumon May, Robert Bender, and Steven Barry to deny any request from Commissioner Doug Underhill for legal fees to be paid with our tax dollars.

Commissioner Douglas Underhill is a grown man fully capable of taking care of his own legal fees and he can say or write anything he wants however, it is his moral and financial responsibility when our citizens decide to hold him accountable for slanderous and/or libelous statements (written or verbal).

One could even argue that Jacqueline Aimee Rogers and her Escambia Citizens Watch Group (ECW) could have some culpability for allowing Douglas Underhill to continually violate the groups rules without removing Douglas Underhill’s membership privileges?

Commissioner Doug Underhill was clearly speaking for himself from his personal Facebook account on ECW (NOT GOVERNMENT BUSINESS) and he Clearly has publicly made a case that his personal Facebook account is not governed by the county board of commissioners policies!

Please commissioners, do not even entertain the idea of paying for Commissioner Douglas Underhill’s legal fees or put it on the agenda review or commission meeting for a vote. No need to even discuss it at the commission meetings or agenda review, ever, this is a private sector civil case having nothing to do with our county government.

I’m sure there will be many more slander/libel lawsuits to come for Mr. Douglas Underhill, we the taxpayers do not want to pay our hard earned money for Douglas Underhill “running his suck”, as Douglas says to others.
Commissioner Doug Underhill also says publicly that our county wastes too much tax dollars on frivolous expenditures and I would consider Douglas Underhill’s (slander/libel) defense legal fees a frivolous expenditures to the ninth degree!"


...and another...


"Gentleman,

We are not in favor of spending taxpayer money for defense of Libel/ Slander lawsuit for Douglas Underhill. We feel comments made on Social media should not be considered a board action but the person who made them should be held responsible.

I have not been a fan of the uncivil attitude brought in by this member of the board and frankly this one latest suit could be considered the tip of the iceberg if a class action began. Just say NO."

...and another...

"Dear all, 


This is precisely the reason that I have urged the BOCC to censure Commissioner Underhill throughout the course of the last year. His conduct--an acknowledged problem that has been publicly discussed on the dais--is a great liability to his peers, administration, staff, and the taxpayers of this County.

I'm sure it is not lost on many that in Commissioner Underhill's comments about Rolling Hills, he doesn't just aim his accusations at Mr. Miller, but also accuses past Administrator Larry Newsom of conspiring with Mr. Miller to defraud citizens and benefit financially.

If the County defends this lawsuit, isn't it tantamount to saying that the taxpayers should fund officials who libel the County administration?"

...and another...

"Gentlemen, 
As an involved citizen that has asked you all to take action regarding Commissioner Underhill's past actions I come to you now and ask that you give serious thought as to the responsibility of the citizens to pay for any legal defense of a narcissistic motor mouth that seems unable to haved a rational conversation with ANYONE who dis agrees with him.
You haved seen his words, captured in print, accusing both Miller and Newsome of "illegal and racially discriminatory" activities. He did this from his personal FB page while blocking many of his constituents from seeing and/or responding in violation of County policy AND State of Florida law. He posted FROM his personal FB page to a private FB page that purports to be representative of the citizen's however 100's have been blocked from participating on this forum.

I cannot see how we, the citizens should suffer the the cost of his irresponsible actions.

Please deny ANY TAX PAYER MONEY for this purpose."

...and another...

"I wrote a letter last night urging you to NOT pay personal liability suit to Underhill and  we stand by that. His behavior is an ongoing problem, so do not encourage his incivility please. These comments were made on facebook under a discussion about ST and as usual Underhill just resorts to name calling.

I am aware of problems with Rolling Hills and problems should be addressed in meetings with staff and county admin and legal in a civil setting, not on facebook during a discussion about ST. aerospace. You can search ECW and find it, they are also engaged with Florida West president. It's a typical Underhill Post. I watch them in horror and disgust on a regular basis.

It absurd for him to say he was asking the hard questions."


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

OLF 8: What's the Latest Information on the Master Planning of the Field?

The NFCU/BCC joint selection committee has narrowed the field for master planning OLF 8 down to a short list of just three firms for the BCC's consideration at an upcoming special meeting. 


The joint-BCC/NFCU committee charged with evaluating these eight planning firms and whittling down the list to the top three firms has met multiple times recently.

They have selected the top three firms from the list of eight, and this group of three planning firms will be invited to present their vision (s) for the developed OLF 8 to the public, and to the full Board of County Commissioners, at a special meeting on Monday, July 1st from 9:00AM-12:00 Noon.

Although I was not present, I was told the members of the joint committee charged with selecting this short list was given information on each of the firms that submitted applications for this work.

I'm told that there was not a whole lot of discussion;  the members of the committee ranked the slate of firms from 1-8 and the top three got the nod to move forward to the full BCC for our consideration and final selection at the special meeting July 1st.

I'm told the score between the #3 and #4 firms was razor-thin, and that there was a virtual tie for #4.

So who knows if it will just be three firms that present on the 1st---maybe one or two others will be added?  We shall see.

For my part- I only want to see the best, most qualified firm that will stay true to the guidance document we hammered-out get selected to do this work.

Read about the committee here.

Read about the 8 firms that submitted for this work here.

Here are all the local subcontractors who have partnered with the planning firms, here.

Look at the score sheets and tabulations, including the names of the 3 top finalists,  here. and below




We will see you all on July 1st!


Big Night Last Night in Beulah for the NW District 1 Advisory Committee

The NW Section of District 1--indicated above-- is the fastest growing area of Escambia County

Last night a very significant meeting was held in Beulah related to the growth of the NW portion of District 1.

The NW District 1 Advisory Committee has been meeting since last September-- and last night this committee took the next steps toward formulating a plan to address the rapid growth out here.

The PNJ attended last night's meeting and did a good write-up that will probably appear in tomorrow's print edition.

With Navy Federal Credit Union experiencing rapid growth of employment--the surrounding area has also exploded with growth in residential housing development.

The committee developed a list of questions over the last several months in order to ask residents directly what they want to see out here with respect to a plan for managing growth intelligently.

The Board of County Commissioners approved a $4,700.00 expenditure from D1 discretionary funds this past Thursday to engage UWF's Haas Center to take the list of questions and disseminate these to the community over the next several months.  UWF will conduct the survey and evaluate the data, reporting back to the NW District 1 Advisory Committee in late September or early October.

Members of the NW District 1 Advisory Committee discuss growth in Beulah at an April, 2019 meeting.  (r to l, Dr. Laura Bryant,chair., Joey Poitevin, David Liechty, and Paul Flores)

On September 9th--the NW District 1 Advisory Committee will meet to begin the building of an RFP for the planning, and the committee will also vote in a new chairman and vice-chairman for the committee. (The committee will take the months of July and August off to allow UWF to conduct the survey).

This data from the UWF survey will inform the construction of an RFP which will be utilized to engage a professional firm to create a plan for this area of Escambia County--either a traditional master plan or an overlay district--whichever makes more sense according to the survey and as determined by the advisory committee in conjunction with county staff.

I will hold a town hall in Beulah, at Beulah Middle School, on Monday, July 15th to hear from the residents and to encourage their participation in this entire process.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hurricane Season 2019--Discussing Common Sense Physical and Legal Preparations



We entered Hurricane season this past Saturday.  It goes through the end of November, so now is the time for us to begin preparations so that we are prepared in the event of a storm.

Our June episode of the "Bergosh Bulletin"--linked above--features John Dosh from our Emergency Management Department, discussing all the ways we can all prepare and where to find the resources citizens need to be prepared.

Additionally, my brother and Circuit Court Judge Gary Bergosh joins the show and he discusses his personal experience in losing his home to Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  He also discusses some common sense legal principles of which folks may not be aware as it pertains to protecting property, insurance policies, martial law, and other legal issues.

Thanks go out to John Dosh and Judge Gary Bergosh for joining us, and a big thank you goes out to the Escambia County Community and Media Relations office for producing this video.

The Urgency of our EMS Billing Issues, Put into Stark Terms Part II

A troubling decline in both the gross billing amounts and the amounts collected from our EMS department will be discussed today


The above graphic was provided by the staff of the Clerk of the Court and Comptroller, Pam Childers' office.

Last week a one-pager was issued describing the problem from a cash-burn, financial emergency standpoint.  I asked at that time for some additional information which was provided yesterday.

As you can see, EMS has a serious financial issue with the collections not keeping up with the revenue outflow.  ($611K being brought in on average monthly with $1.3Million going out in expenses)

Left unchecked, the BCC's general fund will be feeding this unit within about 40 days.



This is why it is of paramount importance that we vote today to immediately re-instate our relationship with the organization that can assist us with getting our billing out ASAP so that we can get our collections up.

But another troubling aspect of the chart I am seeing is this:  Where is all the business going?  from $52 Million in gross billing in 2017 down to $40 Million in 2018--why the big decline?  And 2019 is on track to have an even smaller total than 2018....so why are the billing numbers going downhill?

We get this on track today.  Today.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bridge Naming Citizen's Input: Beall and James Are Top 2 Submissions....Plus lots of Other Names....



1,069 folks submitted input.

Removing duplicates, 804 unique individuals submitted names for the bridge.

Chappie James was the number 1 name selected

Philip D. Beall was the number 2 highest total.

Lots of other variations submitted, see chart above.

This information will be provided to the bridge naming committee--who knows, maybe they will just combine the #1 and #2 top picks for names and combine them to form the

"Chappie James-Philip D. Beall Memorial Bridge"

It will be interesting to watch how this goes.

Thanks to all citizens that participated and provided input!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Urgency of our Billing Issues in EMS--Put into Stark Terms

As EMS reserve funds dwindle, the need to get our billing on track quickly takes on a greater urgency according to a memo from our Clerk of the Court and Comptroller Pam Childers

Thursday of this week we will vote to either bring aboard some temporary staff members or we will bring in an outside entity to help us get caught up on a nearly $9.6 Million dollar backlog of billing for accounts receivable in the EMS department.

At our last meeting when we discussed this subject (May 9th Committee of the whole)--I was under the impression that we would have this billing all caught up by the end of June--and by the end of the FY our collections from this billing would bring our revenue back in line with projections.

But then we received a concerning memo from our Clerk of the Court and Comptroller Pam Childers late last week.  From her memo to the Board:

"March 2019 the mid-year fund audit performed by Clerk staff, found that the billing was substantially behind by $9.6M. Recent inquiry indicated that November 24, 2018 to Current still needed to be coded/billed. Per conversations with EMS staff; Tamika Williams; billing was expected to be current by June 2019; however transitioning billing between two software systems caused further delay.  By mid-May 2019 the EMS cash has decreased to $1.3M. If this decline continues, EMS may temporarily require a solution to fund operations.

EMS billing has gone from 4 months behind to 6 months behind since September 2018.  The urgency to have billing current at September 30, 2019 is crucial.  Delayed billing has a negative impact on cash and collections, creating cash flow issues, loss of interest revenue, creating a material deficiency in operations and will delay the required financial audit.  Current staffing levels appear unable to catch up the backlog." 

We have got to get a handle on this ASAP.  At this point, I believe we must bring in outside contractors knowledgeable in this field, to get our billing and collections back on track.

further in her memo-the comptroller puts the danger of inaction or a slow response to this issue in

Florida's New Texting and Driving Law--Good Information for All Drivers

A more robust Florida texting and driving law goes into effect in one month...here's what you need to know about it.....


I received the below information from NAS Pensacola's Base Operating Support Safety Officer late last week.

It contains excellent information that drivers need to be aware of ahead of the implementation of Florida's new texting law -----which will go into effect on July 1st of this year.

Here is the information:

"What Florida Motorists Need to Know
  1. When Florida’s New Texting Ban Becomes Law – The new texting law will officially take effect on July 1, 2019, but even when it does, officers will only give motorists warnings until January 1, 2020. At that time, they can begin issuing citations.
  2. Texting While Driving a Primary Law – The bill signed by Gov. DeSantis makes texting while driving a primary offense, thereby allowing law enforcement officers to pull motorists over and issue citations solely for texting behind the wheel. Texting while driving had previously been a secondary offense, meaning officers were only able to cite drivers after they pulled them over for another primary offense, such as a moving violation.
  3. Handheld Devices Banned in Construction / School Zones – In addition to prohibiting texting by all drivers as a primary offense, the new law also bans the use of handheld wireless communication devices in construction zones and school zones, except for emergencies. This provision will take effect on October 1, 2019, with officers issuing warnings until January 1, 2020.
  4. Fines, Penalties, and First Offenders – Under the new law, a first texting offense will be punishable by a $30 fine and court fees. A second offense carries a $60 fine, court costs and related fees, and three points on a driver’s license. A first offense involving texting in school or construction zones also carries additional license points. First offenders can purchase hands-free Bluetooth devices, show proof of purchase, and complete a driver safety education course in order to avoid fines and license penalties.
  5. Permitted Cell Phone Use - Florida’s law bans text messaging while a vehicle is moving, but permits the use of cell phones and other similar handheld electronic devices (except in school and construction zones) for limited purposes. Drivers are still allowed to use phones and devices for Maps / GPS navigation, making phones calls, and reading emergency messages, such as weather alerts.
WHY A NEW LAW?

Texting while driving has been illegal in Florida for years, but existing law was largely ineffective in terms of enforcement. Because officers were not able to pull drivers over and cite them unless they committed another traffic violation, few motorists were actually cited under the law. In the entirety of 2018, for example, law enforcement issued just over 1,600 citations throughout the state.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Marlette Manipulation 12.0: "I Wanted to Finish Him OFF!!"







I manipulated Andy's attack cartoon on Mike Hill, above,  to better reflect the reality of the situation.  His article where he is talking to a chicken that he says is God, his previous cartoon mocking Jesus as an illegal alien, and now this cartoon from Saturday where Andy Marlette draws a disgraceful depiction of Jesus on the cross--Why does he continue to attack Christianity--In a Christian Community?

As I have done for over a decade now, in multiple instances and on a variety of his cartoons, I have once again taken one of Andy Marlette's lame cartoons and at least made it better and more reflective of reality.

Lately it feels like a sustained attack on Christianity--between his goofy editorials where he mocks God as a chicken, to the despicable cartoons where he depicts Jesus as a criminal in one, to being arrested for illegally crossing the boarder, to the one he did where he intimates Jesus is being crucified for being homosexual.  It is disgraceful and disrespectful.  Of course he and the PNJ enjoy the right of free speech, to mock Christians.  But why? Why mock  Jesus in this disrespectful manner--In a Christian community?

As I wrote in a blog post late last week, I recently was "invited" to sit for an "interview" with the 2-person editorial board of the PNJ (+ Jim Little).

It was a joke, a total set-up, ambush job.

Funny how the invitation I got came after I submitted an op-ed with which I know PNJ disagrees, and shortly after I manipulated their last "attack-cartoon" on Jesus.

Ok, so to summarize:  Based upon the attacks on conservatives and Republicans, God, and Christianity--it certainly appears as if the PNJ is deliberately trying to alienate their readers (customers).

I wonder what Gannet corporate thinks about this?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ambush at the PNJ “Corral”

My "Interview" with the 2-person editorial board of the Pensacola News Journal today felt like a total ambush job...read about it below.


My Spidey Sense was telling me something was amiss…  This is/was the first time I have ever been asked to sit down and talk with the entire two-person editorial board of the PNJ.  And what did I do to elicit this invitation?  Well, as I have done dozens of times over the last 13 years, I had emailed in an op-ed for the PNJ’s consideration.  Here is the 600 word guest editorial I sent them on Wednesday evening.

But instead of a yes or no (or pocket veto)—I was asked to come sit down and talk to the two-person editorial board (+Jim Little was brought in as well) earlier today.

Immediately, I was attacked by Andy Marlette.  He had an almost rabid look in his eyes as he began questioning me on a host of topics the second I sat down in the conference room and editor Lisa Savage joined us…

“You wrote on your blog for years that I called you and told you to stop making parody manipulations of my cartoons—but that isn’t true—I never called you!”  he said accusingly.  I told him that Jeremy Knipper from the PNJ called on his behalf and said “Andy doesn’t like you using his cartoons--stop”  Which is a fact.  So yes, there is a distinction; Andy told Jeremy Knipper to call me on his behalf to say I couldn’t use his cartoons.  It is a distinction with no difference.  Nevertheless, I said to Andy’s representative at that time--“you’ve got that wrong, go ask your attorneys.”  And Jeremy called back later to say “Yeah, you can use them.”  Andy didn’t like that part of today’s meeting, I guess….

He then looked over to his editor, in almost a tattle-tale whine, and said “He is taking my cartoons and changing them around and changing the words!”  and he continued “I don’t think it is legal, It’s not legal for him to do this, right?!?”  The editor responded to me “I don’t think you can do that, but we will check, I’ll ask Barbara about this.”  (I assumed this is their lawyer).  I simply stated the cartoons I manipulated were a parody, clearly marked and subject to fair use as such, and that I continue to believe it is legal to utilize them for parody.  (They will probably reach out to a senior attorney within their Gannett organization, probably a sharp conservative lawyer, and they will get their answer which will probably not align with what they think the answer should be, I suspect.)

Meanwhile—the question barrage was about to begin.

Andy started a series of rapid-fire questions.  “What do you think about the small number of minorities in leadership in the county?”  “What do you think should be done about this?”  What do you think I meant when I drew your last name next to a confederate rebel flag in multiple cartoons?”  “Why do you NOT think Senator Philip Beall was a racist?”  “Who said Philip Beall was a white-supremacist?” “Do you blog anonymously?” “Are you homophobic?”

I felt like I was being grilled.  A few times he busted out in an almost nervous bout of laughter.  It was weird.

“Why can’t you tell us about all the important legislation that Senator Beall sponsored while he was in the senate for 7 years?”  (I guess they thought I ought to be able to regurgitate his legislative record on command, on the spot, from memory?)

“None of Beall’s family live in the area any more—what do you make of that?”

“Why should we keep the Beall name on the Bridge—what does it matter?”

I took their gunfire and answered their questions for an hour.  I don’t think they liked my answers or the fact that I would not answer some of the questions the way they wanted me to answer them.  They did not like the fact that I pushed back against their line of questioning and held fast and stood up to them.  Here are some examples of their questions and my answers:
Jeff Bergosh:  “Andy—what did you think of the first bridge committee meeting”

Andy Marlette:  “I don’t know”

Jeff Bergosh: “You were there—what do you mean you don’t know?”

Andy Marlette:  “I guess it just seemed disorganized and not productive”

Jeff Bergosh:  “What do you mean? The elected a chair, set the meeting dates, decided upon goals and objectives, and the format for the meetings—I think they accomplished a lot!”

Andy Marlette:  “What does the “American Grizzly” and “Bear Magazine ”in your version of my

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Learn from History-Don’t Erase It!

Although America is the greatest nation in the history of mankind-our history is one of violence and cruelty to many.  But we have evolved and improved as a country.  Some want to erase history by tearing down statues and taking down monuments for political correctness' sake.  I think this is dangerous, and I DO NOT support this....History is what it was, not what we wish it had been...


In 2021, the  $427 Million replacement bridge now under construction over Pensacola Bay will be completed.  Current FDOT policy and practice dictates replacement structure(s) carry the same designations as the original structure(s) replaced-absent any new legislative action.

In this instance and by an act of the Florida legislature in 1961-the bridge connecting Pensacola with Gulf Breeze is officially recognized as the “Philip D. Beall Sr. Memorial Bridge”—although most locals call it the “3-Mile Bridge.”  (Sen. Philip D. Beall was a State Senator from Pensacola from 1935 until 1943.)

But some folks now insist we give this replacement structure a new name—stripping the Beall family name and re-naming it the Daniel R. “Chappie” James bridge.  (Chappie James was a decorated combat aviator, the first black man to become a 4-star general in the U.S. Military.)

I believe a better tribute for a great man like Chappie would be for us to rename Pensacola’s airport in his honor—after all, Chappie was an aviator!  If Louisville Kentucky can rename their city’s airport for their favorite son, Mohammad Ali, then why can’t Pensacola do this same thing for Chappie James?

Beall’s descendants have suggested a fair compromise amidst all this rancorous debate—a dual designation of the bridge, honoring both men. 

Unfortunately- this magnanimous, common-sense gesture was rebuked.

Our legislative delegation, meanwhile, has signaled its willingness to introduce legislation to change the bridge’s official designation-- if this is the will of the four interested communities.

Pensacola and Santa Rosa County have already taken formal votes on this.

Escambia County and the city of Gulf Breeze, however, have wisely moved forward with a committee approach for considering this issue--allowing individual citizens a voice in this decision.   (citizens may send their thoughts to:  namethebridge@myescambia.com )

I’m hopeful this committee will listen to all sides of this matter with open minds.

Because sadly--some folks that are supportive of changing the bridge’s name have now resorted to denigrating a family’s legacy by calling Sen. Beall a “racist”- an insidious claim that has no basis in fact!

This negative turn in the discussion has been devastating to Beall’s descendants. 

Senator Beall’s daughter sat in my office going through memorabilia recently—and emotionally asked me this: “Why do they want to erase my family’s history-our family wasn’t racist?”

Nevertheless-- individuals pushing to tear Beall’s name from the bridge continue assaulting his legacy, pointing to legislation the senator sponsored in 1935 that made Democratic primaries statewide "white only."

But these primaries were ubiquitous in the 1930s south; the Supreme Court decision in Grovey v. Townsend ruled that such primaries were lawful and didn’t deprive citizens of their 14th or 15th Amendment rights.  It was about party politics of that time, not race.

Meanwhile-- every racist injustice committed by Andrew Jackson, FDR, Robert Byrd, and other historic figures that have monuments locally and nationwide---apparently, these are a non-issue.  (Jackson owned slaves, FDR force-segregated black troops and illegally interred American Citizens of Japanese descent. Byrd was in the Ku Klux Klan—yet all these guys’ monuments stand proudly?)

It’s rank hypocrisy that’s borderline delusional.

Allowing ANY angry mob to become the de facto “monument police,” re-writing our history to suit their agenda and ideology, condemning selected historical figures while ignoring historical realities, acting as judge, jury and executioner to erase history—this is wrong!  

I don’t-- and we shouldn’t—countenance the sanitizing of history by condoning the forceful destruction of statues, the removal of monuments, and/or the stealing of families' memorial designations----on the orders of ANY angry mob.