Pensacola, Florida
Friday September 19th 2014

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The Buzz 10.21

SECOND BAYFRONT SUNDAY Councilwoman Megan Pratt reminded citizens on her blog that the second Bayfront Sunday will be held Oct. 24. Bayfront Parkway between Chase and Tarragona streets will be open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pratt wrote, “This is a great opportunity to enjoy our beautiful waterfront and downtown while enjoying exercise, being with your family, and meeting others from our city. While you are downtown, do consider patronizing the downtown businesses–road closures typically negatively impact their business, but I am hopeful that an event like this will provide a boost to their typical Sunday crowd rather than a hindrance.”

The event is only a trial. Attendance will determine whether the city will continue with such road closures in the future.

MLK BOULEVARD GROWS TWO BLOCKS Councilwoman Diane Mack successfully led the charge to rename two more blocks of North Alcaniz Street Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

A year ago, the late Leroy Boyd, founder and president of Movement for Change, had asked the Pensacola City Council to extend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive south of Cervantes, but later withdrew his petition. Mack’s motion didn’t involve that section of the historic street.

Without any prior notification to the city staff, her fellow councilmembers, or the property owners impacted by the name change, Mack made the motion at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 12. The motion passed unanimously with little discussion.

Three businesses protested the change and tried to get the council to delay the decision. Keith Haynes, owner of Haynes Van & Storage located at 3495 N. Alcaniz St., wrote the council, objecting to the sudden name change. Haynes pointed out that Alcaniz was one of the original six street names on the oldest known map of Pensacola’s streets. He wrote, “As a supporter of historic preservation, I have taken great pride in being able to tell friends and colleagues that we do business on one of the original six streets of Pensacola.”

Haynes questioned the timing of the motion less than four weeks before the November election. He wrote, “Mrs. Mack has never come to our business to discuss the pros and the cons of renaming our street.”

The motion passed unanimously at the Oct. 14 regular council meeting after a motion to delay the decision failed 7-3. On her new blog, Mack dismissed Haynes and the other two businesses as businesses that “opposed the name change previously.”

Mayor Mike Wiggins, who, according to Mack, committed to “work diligently toward correcting the failures of the past,” supported the name change and said the action was overdue. Mack wrote that Wiggins had passed her test with “flying colors.”

The original decision to rename Alcaniz Street took two and a half years with then-Councilman Wiggins in opposition. This second vote took only three days. Who says Pensacola isn’t progressing?

LOCAL ATTORNEY NAMED TO BP PANEL Brian Barr of the Levin Papantonio law firm has been appointed by Federal Judge Carl Barbier to the Steering Committee that will oversee the hundreds of lawsuits filed against BP and its partners with regard to the Gulf oil spill. Barr is one of only four attorneys on the committee.

The other three are Louisiana-based lawyers Jim Roy and Steve Herman, and Scott Summy of Texas-based Barron & Budd. Hundreds of attorneys were vying for these appointments.

TAXWATCH SUPPORTS AMENDMENT 8 The Florida Legislature has placed on the November ballot Amendment 8, which asks for voters to change the Florida Constitution’s current “maximum” class sizes to school-wide “average” class sizes.

Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, has issued a statement in support of the change.

“Amendment 8 is the right choice for Florida, its education system, and taxpayers. Future projected spending on compliance with the original CSR requirements is much too high, both in terms of its small return on investment and the state’s current budget outlook. Continuing on this path, Floridians will be faced with the potential for tax increases to finance the ballooning costs of compliance with the strict requirements under the current Class Size Reduction Amendment–tax increases that have already been seen in Broward, Orange, and Manatee counties.”

According to Calabro, Florida TaxWatch analysis has shown that spending on compliance could average $4 billion annually over the next ten years. He believes that the more flexible requirements of Amendment 8 will create “savings of $350 million–$1 billion annually, which could be used to fund a variety of critical services related to education, such as retaining the best teachers and principals and other initiatives to better impact student achievement while providing the flexibility and balance to reduce implementation costs and still ensure our class sizes are reasonable.”

LAST BIG MAYORAL DEBATE The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a mayoral candidate forum on Oct. 26 at the Pensacola Civic Center. A meet and greet will begin at 5 p.m. with the forum beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, features candidates Ashton Hayward and Mike Wiggins, Pensacola’s current mayor. IN publisher Rick Outzen is the moderator. WUWF and News Radio 1620 are broadcasting the debate live.

“Election day is quickly approaching, and the community affairs team at the chamber wants to make sure local citizens are aware of the issues,” said Lewis Bear Jr. of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “We are pleased to give our members and the public the chance to hear from both candidates in the mayoral run-off race.”

Outzen promises that the questions will be direct and the forum will be as lively as the ones held leading up to the August primary. We wouldn’t expect anything less.