Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

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The Buzz 9.16

Taxis Tiff Last week, City Council decided to hold off on approving an amendment to an ordinance that would affect taxicab operations.

The amendment to Ch. 7-10 of the Vehicles for Hire law brought forth during the Council’s finance committee meeting included such changes as: increased permit and inspection fees; clarification of revocation laws between a cab company and driver; stricter requirements for criminal history; an increase in insurance rates; and clarification of rates for individuals when traveling to multiple locations.

One of the main reasons Council revisited the cab issue was due to allegations of some cabbies taking advantage of military service men and women by charging them more than the meter rate—particularly those traveling to and from NAS and the airport.

Councilmembers held off on approving the amendment due to complaints from cab drivers and companies over the additional fees that they’d incur during the current economic downturn.

“Many said it was not time to raise taxes and to hold off a year,” says Mayor Mike Wiggins, who chairs the finance committee. “Council thought the fee of $250 (for permits) was too excessive.”

But to help deal with the issue of outrageous cab wages, Councilwoman Diane Mack brought forth an idea to include approved taxi companies with a good reputation on the City’s website.

Wiggins tells IN he has no problem with that suggestion if it can help solve the problem.

“Young enlisted men and women have been taken advantage of,” he says. “We need some rules to take care of that.”

Because the agenda item was voted down, it will not be brought forth at Thursday’s regular meeting. City staff will review recommendations from Council before putting it back on the agenda at a later date.
County Administrator Crunch According to Escambia County spokesperson Sonya Daniel, the Board of County Commissioners has narrowed down its administrator search to seven candidates:

(In no particular order)

—Oliver, Charles (Randy)

—Lewis, Gregory

—Stevens, Steve

—Carlton, Melinda

—Griffin, Kenneth

—Peterson, Rebecca

—Inkel, Maurice

Here is the position ad the county ran in February:

County Administrator. Salary: $120,065-$145K plus excellent comprehensive benefits, automobile allowance, and reasonable relocation expenses. ICMA (CM) recognized in 1979. Five-member board of commissioners; county’s legislative and policymaking powers are vested in board. Located in northwest Florida and covers 661 square miles. Growing, full-service county offers exceptional quality of life amenities at an attractive cost-of-living. Position is at the will of the board and under a 1-year contract with provisions for renewal. Requires bachelor’s degree in public/business administration/closely related field and at least seven years responsible executive-level (director, president, vice president, local government administration at the level of bureau chief, department head, assistant city/county administrator or city/county administrator/manager) experience in public (government) or private sector management with at least three years overseeing an organization of similar size.
Elementary Letter Controversy Earlier this month, annual letters were sent home to Escambia elementary students’ parents explaining each school’s FCAT grades.

In those from Cordova Park, A. K. Suter and N. B. Cook, African-American and Economically Disadvantaged students are singled out as not making Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and mathematics under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“At our school, African-American students did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and mathematics,” says A. K. Suter Principal Russell Queen in a Sept. 3 dated letter. “Economically Disadvantaged students did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in Reading.”

According to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), here is how the African-American students at Suter scored:

Third grade had 16 black students: eight scored 4 in reading; four scored 3.

Fourth grade had 14 black students: two scored 4; five scored 3. Fifth grade had 25 black students: four scored 4; 11 scored 3.

There are 55 black students in grades third through fifth. Thirty-four passed with 3s and 4s (62 percent). Do they deserve to be singled out?

In those grades, 14 white students scored below 3. They aren’t mentioned in the letter unless they are in the “Economically Disadvantaged” student group.

Sixty-seven percent of African-American students passed at Cordova Park.

In checking FCAT scores in reading, we found that 67 percent of the black students there scored 3 or higher; 24 percent had 4s and 5s. In math, 63 percent scored 3 or higher; 27 percent had 4s and 5s. In writing, 92 percent scored 3 or better and 58 percent had 4s and 5s.

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