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The Buzz 4/17/14

Food Truck Pilot Program Coming Sherry Morris, the city of Pensacola’s Planning Services Administrator, has sent the city council a draft document outlining the city’s upcoming Food Truck Pilot Program, which is modeled after the one in New Orleans.

“We believe that this program will be a good ‘first step’ toward creating and implementing a permanent set of regulations,” Morris said. “Our intent is to kick off the pilot program on May 1 and operate it for a six-month period. “

During the trial period, Morris and her staff will monitor the program to find what is needed for a formal ordinance governing food trucks and what that ordinance should include.

Food truck must be licensed. They cannot be parked within 20 feet of any intersection or traffic signs and signals. The truck will not be allowed on South Palafox Street between Garden and Main streets. They cannot sell alcoholic beverages or place tables and chairs near the truck.

Councilman Andy Terhaar reviewed the draft and told the Independent News he would like a 100-ft buffer from existing restaurants to be added.

“I think there needs to be a buffer, and I think it would be harder to add it in after the pilot program,” Terhaar said. “If they had it in there in the beginning and then wanted to remove it, I think that would be easier. I find it is always easier to make something less restrictive after it has had a chance to be tested than to make it more restrictive.”

Former Chamber CFO Sanctioned Circuit Judge Michael Jones has ordered sanctions against former Greater Pensacola Chamber CFO Brian McBroom, his attorney Harry V. Satterwhite of Mobile and Satterwhite’s law firm, Satterwhite, Buffalow & Tyler.

According to the judge’s ruling recorded in March, the sanctions were ordered because McBroom and his attorneys failed to voluntarily dismiss claims of breach of contract against his former boss, Jim Hizer and of wantonness and false-light against Hizer and the chamber.

Hizer, who was the chamber’s president and CEO at the time, terminated McBroom on Jan. 7, 2013. A few weeks later, auditors were unable to account for gift cards funded by grants from BP. At a chamber press conference, Hizer said it was McBroom’s responsibility to oversee the gift cards. On March 29, 2013, McBroom filed suit against the chamber and Hizer, which asked for $3.62 million in damages for breach of contract and defamation

Two months later, the executive committee of the Greater Pensacola Chamber voted to not renew Hizer’s contract. Though the missing BP cards and the McBroom lawsuit were not given as reasons for the decision, they most likely contributed.

In July 2013, the CPA firm Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund completed its investigation of the BP gift card program administrated by the Greater Pensacola Chamber. Of the 6,060 cards distributed by the chamber, only 65 cards went unaccounted.

Two months later, a judge dismissed all counts against Hizer and only left the breach of contract against the chamber remain to be considered. McBroom’s attorneys amended their complaint, alleged defamation against Hizer and the breach of contract against the chamber alone.

On the heels of Judge Johnson’s sanction ruling, attorney John Asmar, who represents Hizer, said he and the chamber attorneys have filed separate motions to have the remaining counts dismissed. That hearing will be May 9.