Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 20th 2014

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Outtakes 9/13/12

Battle For Our Future Mediocrity is the natural state of things in Pensacola. Don’t make waves and risk nothing and then life is decent. The status quo is maintained. Nothing bad happens and one can drift along.  Life just happens.

In Pensacola, mediocrity had been so perfected that those we dared to dream, to have vision and to actually take action were criticized. With the barest amount of facts, the dreamers and doers were undermined with cries for more studies, more meetings—knowing that time and delays were the enemies of action.

The status quo worked for some, particularly those in power. But what happens when the status quo is shattered? When mediocrity is rejected?

For the past six years, this community has rebelled against status quo. This isn’t a hypothesis. It’s a fact. Only a handful of local elected officials, city and county senior leaders and administrators, and chamber officials today are the same as the people in those positions in 2006.

Voters approved the Maritime Park and rejected two petition drives that would have halted it. They approved a new city charter that replaced the city manager with a strong mayor. The mayor that was elected wasn’t a veteran politician, but someone who had never held any elected office.

Suddenly problems that had been so long avoided were being handled—job creations, city pensions, waterfront development, revitalization of downtown and racial disparities. The dreamers and doers began to take control.

Mayor Hayward, Greater Pensacola Chamber and its Vision 2015 team have aggressively pursued jobs. Pensacola State College has developed the programs to train the new workforce, and the University of West Florida has major expansion plans.  Escambia County has set into motion its plans to dole out millions of RESTORE Act funds.

Across the community, more progressive voices are being heard. The Pensacola Young Professionals has begun to more actively speak out for its generation. The African-American ministers are organizing and speaking out on the problems facing their neighborhoods. Think Beyond Pensacola is pulling together a diverse network aimed at building a more sustainable community.

However, the pull to return to status quo is overwhelming. With every push by the mayor, chamber and new county leadership, there is a pushback. Those who lost the fights of 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 want to rewrite history to explain away their defeats.

The next two years, including the November 2012 election, will determine who will win the battle of progress vs. mediocrity.  This paper will continue to fight for progress.

We like underdogs.