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Rants & Raves 11/15/12

New Downtown Odor
There is a stench emanating from downtown, not from the former ECUA site, but from the trio of Commissioners [Wilson] Robertson, [Gene] Valentino, and [Kevin] White. These paragons of virtue fired the previous county administrator for a lack of personality and then have the temerity to fire the recent incumbent for the same reason. Then in an irrational rush, they hire Touart who previously resigned amid numerous ethical allegations.

What’s the rush? Newsom, assistant county administrator, should be able to fill-in until after Nov. 20, when the new BCC would take over and make its own determination. Was it the fear that the newly inaugurated board would not rubber stamp the Robertson-Valentino-White selection? Was White’s vote against [County Administrator Randy] Oliver a get-even for not hiring him for a county job—shades of the Equestrian Center fiasco.

Robertson and Valentino want a yes man, hence their ousting of Bob McLauglin, previously, and now Oliver.

Now the taxpayer again must pay for a national search for a replacement, if we can get one with Robertson and Valentino as board members. As an aside, why does Sheriff Morgan accuse anyone that disagrees with him of moral lapse? He did this with both McLaughlin and Oliver over budget disputes.  —Arnold L. Seligman, Cantonment, Fla.

Corruption Proliferates
“Oliver Fires Back” (Independent News, Nov. 8) references Touart’s previous stint as, “There were constant rumors of inside deals, although grand juries and the ethics commission always cleared him.”

Thankfully, in the upcoming 2013 session, state legislators are backing ethics reform bills based on Integrity Florida research recommendations, and I praise incoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz’s efforts toward this end.

Sadly, however, some of the research prompting this reform was conducted in Escambia County and resolving the ineffectiveness of the Ethics Commission only solves part of the problem.

Public corruption has proliferated in the First Judicial Circuit under current State Attorney Bill Eddins, whom I believe favorably employs prosecutorial discretion for some while wrongfully prosecuting others. There is an ever-growing list of similar cases handled decisively differently by Eddins’ office, and the aforementioned article stinks with cases suspect of political cronyism.

It seems that with Eddins the message carries no weight but is rather dependent upon the messenger. Apparently, if an elected official or political insider complains, Eddins reacts with break-neck speed (Ex: Escambia Sheriff candidate John Powell); however, if it’s a newcomer, outsider or whistleblower, there’s really “nothing” they seem able or willing to do but provide time delays, benefitting the accused.

Even with grand juries, Eddins can too easily manipulate the process by choosing what is presented and how that is presented to jurors, who are sworn to secrecy. Therefore, I implore any grand jurors who may have felt state prosecutors showed favoritism in discouraging charges against certain officials or too aggressively pursued charges against others to contact Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office by calling 1-866-966-7226.

Since there is seemingly a question as to whether a state law violation is necessary to pop corrupt officials with federal honest services fraud charges, until we get a new State Attorney, who is willing to appropriately pursue official misconduct charges against public officials and do so in a timely manner, the corruption will continue to eat us alive like a cancer and shed unfavorable light on the downside of what is otherwise the upside of Florida.  —Romi White, Milton, Fla.

No Butt Beach
Cigarette butt litter is a major problem on our Pensacola beaches, making them appear less attractive and unsightly. The direct litter of butts on our beaches is only one part of the problem. Cigarette butts discarded in parking lots, along sidewalks and in street gutters miles from the coast inevitably make their way through storm drains, creeks and rivers to the beach and the ocean.

Over 176,000,000 pounds of cigarette butts are discarded in the United States each year. According to the Ocean Conservancy, on Coastal Cleanup Days cigarette butts were the number one trash item found. Filters and plastic wrap from cigarette packages remain in the environment for long periods of time. Cigarette butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic (not cotton, as some believe), which can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin our once picturesque beaches, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment and the wildlife.

Our beaches are one of the best things Pensacola has to offer, so help set an example for others and choose not to litter. Our Earth is not an ashtray.  —Rebecca Fraker, Pensacola, Fla.

Melting Pot America
Stubbornly, America has turned the page from a distance past to an inclusive future. To live in this time period and see the past fading away in the 2012 elections can be compared to that time when America was transitioning from an age of horse-back-riding to the age of automobile. At that time period, there were many horse-back-riders that resisted that coming change to the automobile. However, there were those that accepted a future with automobiles, and knew that horse-back-riding was a fading past.

The 2012 election results should serve as a wake-up-call to many in the Republican Party that the future is about real inclusiveness; and the past, a past that is fading away, has out lived its usefulness. The America that once was, reflected in the crowds Gov. Romney drew on the campaign trail, is a fading America holding on to outdated notions of the past.

With the Obama win, the world has witnessed an America leading the way toward a tent where all ideas are heard and all talents are considered. That America was seen in the crowds President Obama drew on his campaign trail. That America has turned the page from an old way to a new way; that new way will lead the world in tolerance.

The Obama win is about a melting pot, America updating and modernizing its tolerance.
—Alfred Waddell, West Dennis, Mass.

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