Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 24th 2014

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Winners & Losers 9/19/13

Winner
Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival
One of Pensacola’s long-standing events has been named to the 2014 American Bus Association’s (ABA) Top 100 Events, an annual compilation of the best events for group travel in the United States and Canada. The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, which was established in 1971, has become one of the largest juried art shows in the Southeast. The festival has been included in Sunshine Artist Magazine’s list of top 100 arts festivals in the country for nearly a decade.

Colleen Castille
Following on the heels of the Greater Pensacola Chamber, Mayor Ashton Hayward has also named his interim city administrator to a more permanent position. Castille stepped in mid-July when Hayward fired his first administrator for leaking confidential information to the mayor’s political opponent. She is a former secretary of both the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Community Affairs under Gov. Jeb Bush. That leaves one interim remaining.

Carl Hixon
Annually on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Carl Hixon hosts at his restaurant, Georgio’s Pizza, a “First Responder’s Day” that recognizes the contributions of all first responders. This year, he held a First Responders Pizza Eating Competition, which was won by Escambia Sheriff’s Investigator Scott Mashburn. Hixon donated $1,500 to the sheriff’s office in Mashburn’s honor to benefit law enforcement and the community.

Loser
Greater Pensacola Chamber
The once great business organization gave up tourism without even a whimper to a group that was only recently incorporated and without IRS non-profit status. A last minute, behind-the-scenes lobbying effort failed to garner three commission votes. Next up? Economic development.

Local Taxpayers
When the hotel owners figured out how to take over tourism for Escambia County, their meetings were done in secret. They lobbied the county commissioners in secret. They didn’t tell their plans to the Escambia County Tourism Development Commission before they went public. They wouldn’t share them with the Greater Pensacola Chamber board of directors. No documents were given to county staff before the committee of the whole meeting. Still the board voted for them to get $5.5 million in tax dollars. And this is what we get after bashing the chamber for not operating in the “Sunshine?”

Pam Bondi
The Florida Attorney General decided to postpone the execution of Marshall Lee Gore. She didn’t do it to further examine legal facts regarding the case. No, she had a fundraiser scheduled for the same day at her waterfront home. Donors for a campaign for which has no opponent are apparently more important than the families of the two women that Gore killed 25 years ago. Bondi did later apologize to Gov. Scott, but only after the media blasted her decision.