Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday November 26th 2014

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Shame Issue

Taking Lipstick Off The Pig

In August 2006, the Prosperity Pensacola released the Escambia County Indicator Report. The report presented data on 62 indicators of community well being, spanning seven areas:  families, public safety, health, education, economy, community and environment.

The report, which was funded by the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, was intended to provide a baseline for identifying priorities, developing solutions and tracking progress toward a better life for all members of the community, particularly the children.

“You can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken,” said Jean Norman, former United Way of Escambia County president, when the report was released. “The only way there will be improvement is to measure. These indicators will help us measure progress as we move forward.”

Sadly, Prosperity Pensacola no longer exists. No follow-up reports were ever produced.

In his book “Results That Last,” Quint Studer writes, “What gets measured gets improved.”

Pensacola and Escambia County proved that axiom. The local officials haven’t measured and this community hasn’t improved. What has been measured isn’t reported to the public if the statistics aren’t favorable.

Studer also believes that measurements are what hold people accountable, which is why we have published our inaugural Shame Issue. We are not only publishing the numbers, but also comparing them to other communities.

The city of Pensacola’s six murders in 2012 might not seem to be many, but when you realize that the city has a little over 50,000 people, the per capita rate is higher than most of the state. The same goes for domestic violence and child abuse.

This community must get our elected officials to face the statistics. We must measure their performances not by their press releases, ribbon-cuttings and photo opportunities, but by objective numbers.

The politicians and bureaucrats don’t really have a choice. Others are measuring our city, county and school districts as they decide to move to our area or move their company and jobs here. The numbers published in this article are available online to anyone who knows how to do the research.

And if the potential employers and residents don’t know the statistics, other communities do and take advantage of our abysmal numbers to lure prospects away from us.

Incentive programs are nice in attracting businesses, but nearly every community has incentives. It’s public safety, schools and health that can close the deal—all three are sore spots for Escambia County and Pensacola. If the company executives are African-American or another minority, the chances of convincing them to come here are even slimmer because of the huge racial disparities.

The statistics in this article have been gathered from local, state and federal government websites. Frankly, they are depressing and an embarrassment.

However, nothing will improve unless we face them. There simply isn’t enough lipstick that we can put on this pig to make it a beauty queen.