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Winners & Losers 6/27/13

WINNERS

George Touart
The interim county administrator knows Escambia County politics. To win control of the Escambia County Jail, Touart had only to promise no tax increase and offer no specifics. Sheriff David Morgan made the “mistake” of presenting facts on how to handle the Department of Justice report. Imagine a county jail where Touart gets to decide who stays and who gets released. It’s coming.

Marine Corps League
These retired Marines are sponsoring the speaker series, “Heroes Among Us,” to raise funds for the Marine in Distress Fund, which is used to assist veterans that have had a life-changing event that’s beyond their control. The fund was initially set up to help Walter Mendez, a local Marine Corps veteran who was badly injured in a car accident in November 2012. Mendez broke 32 bones in the wreck and spent two weeks in and out of a coma at Sacred Heart Hospital.

Our Neighbors
When Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas congregation known for protesting funerals of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, sent out a news release announcing it would picket the funeral of Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Thomas Jr., hundreds of Escambia and Santa Rosa County residents filled church parking lots and lined busy city streets to honor the fallen Pensacola native.

LOSERS

Neighborhood Services
The city of Pensacola department not only failed to meet its revenue projections on several line-items in the budget it presented the Community Maritime Park Associates board when it took over the operations of the maritime park last spring, but it also held so few events at the park that CMPA and city almost got hit with a half million dollar property tax bill. Ouch!

Greater Pensacola Chamber
The chamber continues to get entangled in Florida’s Sunshine Law. This time its executive committee closed its meeting to the press while the leaders discussed the employment of CEO Jim Hizer. The problem is:  Hizer also heads Vision 2015, the economic development entity that accepts funds from Escambia County and the city of Pensacola. Any group discussion of Hizer’s employment needed to be done in the open.

Gordon Pike
The director of Escambia County’s Corrections Department has been named the point man for the county jail by the interim administrator and County Commission Chairman Gene Valentino. We predict that he will either be replaced or only a figurehead while George Touart brings in somebody else to run the jail. Pike has less than two years before he makes retirement. The odds aren’t good that he will make it.