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Tuesday July 22nd 2014

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May Center Dedicated The family of the late Rev. Theophalis May was on hand July 2 for the long-awaited dedication of the Theophalis May Neighborhood Resource Center, a 15,000-square-foot community center built at Legion Field on Gregory Street

Rev. May was the pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist for 38 years and founded May Construction that built affordable housing and restored the L&N Marine Terminal and other historical buildings in downtown Pensacola. His son, Rev. Lutimothy May, succeeded his father as pastor of Friendship, and Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May has taken over the construction company.

Theophalis May was born in Castleberry, Alabama, lost both this parents at the age of 5 and moved to Pensacola when he was 7. He earned a GED when he was in his late 30s and went on to earn bachelor and master degrees and start his company.

Attorney Jim Reeves described the May patriarch as someone who could do the impossible when it came to restoring historic buildings. Rev. May received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1991 and was honored by the City of Pensacola in 2005 for “Dedicated Commitment in Affordable Housing.”

Mayor Ashton Hayward presented his widow, Mary May, with a plaque to mark the occasion. Mrs. May took her moment at the microphone to deliver a message of hope, a message that her husband taught to all seven of their children.

“If you believe, then you can receive,” Mrs. May told the crowd who packed the gym of the center. “These children can be saved.”

Gaetz Talks About Ethics Reform Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) recently stopped by the Inweekly offices to discuss 2014 Legislative Session, which, by most accounts, was a success for the Senate president and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel).

The Florida House is run much like a military organization with generals, captains and foot solders. The Florida Senate is comprised of 40 very independent lawmakers, who aren’t always on the same page.

“The Senate is like 40 Somali warlords,” Gaetz said. “We have people with strong and independent views, but the Senate was extraordinarily professional this session. It was very bipartisan, and we got done what we said we would get done.”

The Florida Legislature passed $500 million in tax relief, including a $400 million reduction in vehicle registration fees. It passed legislation to protect Florida’s vulnerable from sexually violent predators and to make Florida the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation. There were fewer surprises at the end of the session than in prior years.

“I think that’s because the governor was more surefooted this year,” explained the Senate president. “He communicated very well with members of the Senate and House. If lawmakers had ideas for legislation, the governor’s office was straightforward about whether that idea or proposal was going to make it through the veto process.”

He added, “Avoiding false starts and avoiding misunderstandings are keys to a successful session.”

Gaetz went into the session wanting to raise the standards of conduct in public office. He wanted to make it easier for the public to have access to financial disclosures of politicians and to give the Ethics Commission more “teeth.” He admitted that he was not as successful in ethic reform as he would have liked, but he has not given up.

“I wanted a few provisions that we weren’t able to get,” he said. “It’s like Jeb Bush said about education, ‘Reform is never finished and success is never final,’ but from the time I entered the Senate until my last day in the Senate, I’ll be pushing to lift the standard of ethics.”

Gaetz failed to garner the support to extend all of the ethics laws that passed at the state level to the local level.

“We got a lot extended to the local level, but not as much as I would have liked,” he said. “In local government there is a lot of opportunity for doing the right thing or the wrong thing. So much of the corruption and plain old stupidity that we’ve seen over the past few years in Florida government has been at the local level. I don’t think we’ve done enough there.”

Gaetz wanted to tighten the ethics law at the local level in regards to contracting and what he called “double dipping.”

He explained, “We have people who get elected to a local government position and then suddenly discover that they are ‘experts’ in a particular area that they happen to have authority over. Then they get hired as a consultant by someone who is in the garbage collection business or in the engineering business or some other business that transacts business with the local government.”

Gaetz said, “I do wish we could have passed stronger prohibitions against ‘double dipping’ at the local level.”

One the problems building support for his ethics reform was his past success. “We passed the most sweeping ethics law in 38 years last year,” he said. “This year there were people who just to me, “Don, we have ‘ethics fatigue.’ We’re tried of hearing about it.” That made it difficult to pass some of the local provisions, but we did get a lot of them passed.”

Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba Presentation The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba will make a stop in Pensacola on Wednesday, July 16. As a project of the award-winning Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), Pastors for Peace formed in 1988 “to pioneer the delivery of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean.” As part of their efforts, the organization works to bring an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, in place since 1962, and provide aid to the people of Cuba through “Friendshipments,” construction brigades and educational delegations.

Since 1992, Pastors for Peace has delivered 25 humanitarian shipments—or “Friendshipments”—to Cuba, which primarily include medical and educational supplies and equipment. According to its website, once in Cuba, the Pastors for Peace work with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Havana, the Cuban Council of Churches and a distribution committee with representatives from ten different Cuban denominations to deliver the Friendshipments.

With the stated aim being to “mitigate the impact of the embargo and mobilize thousands of U.S. citizens in favor of an alternative,” on the journey to Cuba each year, Pastors for Peace conducts public outreach like the upcoming session in Pensacola, to be held at Open Books.

Headquartered in New York City, Pastors for Peace organizes the annual caravan that now involves 14 routes across the U.S. The brightly painted vehicles of the ministry make stops along the way before meeting in Texas and crossing the border to Mexico and then traveling on to Cuba.

At the Caravan to Cuba’s stop in Pensacola, a community potluck dinner will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 p.m. at Open Books, 1040 N. Guillemard St. For more information about the event call 474-1495. For more information about Pastors for Peace, visit ifconews.org.