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THE BUZZ | Vol 5, No. 47, December 8, 2005
(Schools Closing)

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The Buzz

CAMPAIGN TRAILS U.S. Rep. Jim Davis was in town Dec. 6 to rally the troops for his bid to win the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2006. Buzz Ritchie and Melinda Hilterbrand introduced the Congressman, who spoke passionately about his campaign. It was Davis’ third visit to Pensacola this year.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Wendell Hall may have some competition should he decide to seek a third-term in 2008. Gulf Breeze deputy chief Robert Randall is making the rounds and soliciting support to run against Hall. Randall will have strong support in the south end of Santa Rosa County.

Commercial real estate broker Grover Robinson IV has begun organizing his campaign to unseat long-time Escambia County Commissioner Tom Banjanin. His December organizational meeting was packed with enthusiastic supporters.

In Santa Rosa County, Chuck Smith who unsuccessfully ran against Ed Gray III for Santa Rosa School Board’s District 5 seat in 2004 has changed districts and now plans to run against Diane Coleman in District 3 in 2006. Milton political observers think Smith has a chance to unseat Coleman, but it’s still early.

While there may be a new diet plan in Tallahassee, it’s called the “zero tolerance” plan. House Republicans, lead by House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City, have proposed a sweeping ban that would prohibit lobbyists, or the companies that hire them, from giving any gifts, including meals and drinks, to state legislators, as well as to the heads of state agencies and to many top officials in state agencies.

If approved, Florida would join only three other states with so-called ‘‘zero tolerance’’ restrictions. Florida’s ban would go farther than any other state, except Wisconsin. It’s much stricter than a proposal by Senate President Tom Lee who wanted lobbyists to report more thoroughly when they wine and dine lawmakers.

Current laws allow lawmakers to accept gifts, including meals, if valued at less than $100. They also call for lobbyists to disclose when they provide gifts to lawmakers valued at more than $25. But lobbyists have found numerous ways to get around the reporting requirements, including billing more than one client for the money spent on a meal, bringing down the average price paid per lawmaker.

Although Bense denies his zero tolerance proposal is a political ploy, some political insiders suggest it’s a move to make the restrictions so tight that the House and Senate will vote down any changes.

Whatever happens, you can bet the lobbyist will find a loophole.

CLEO ROARS INTO THE FUTURE The independent Citizens Law Enforcement Oversight committee held its second meeting on Dec. 2 at the Center for Social Justice. 

 CLEO is an independent group of local residents committed to improving law enforcement services to area residents.  It will investigate complaints about police agencies or their officers submitted by the public and will suggest policy changes or other remedies based on their findings

David Craig is the president. Other members include LeRoy Boyd, Dr. Michael Berkland, Patrece Cashwell, Brent Cox, Elvin McCorvey, John Jerralds and Susan Watson.             

The first formal written complaint CLEO is investigating is an allegation of false arrest and excessive force against the Pensacola Police Department received from Samia DuFour.

They are also investigating the Jeffrey Springman incident, which involves a police dash cam video. It depicts the apparent kicking and impact weapon blows inflicted upon Springman by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies. 

The CLEO Web site address is  A complaint form can be downloaded and other information about CLEO, its board and contacts are available.