Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 19th 2018


Outtakes—Six Summer Questions

By Rick Outzen

The local political scene tends to be quiet during June and July. However, we head into this summer with several questions. The answers will give us plenty of headlines for the rest of the year.

1.  Will Congressman Jeff Miller decide to run for the U.S. Senate?  The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs earned praise and a national attention for his bipartisan efforts during VA clinic scandal. In a race where no Republican candidate has much statewide name recognition, Miller can present that he is the best Conservative to take the post. His decision to run could trigger a series of political maneuvers that could impact state, county and city races.

2. Where will the Board of County Commissioners build the new county jail? Four sites are under consideration. Each has its flaws and opposition. The McDonald shopping center on the corner of Pace Boulevard and Fairfield Drive makes sense, but the owners want over three times the appraised value.  The EPA Superfund is, well, a Superfund site. The site on Airport Boulevard has Car City and Pensacola Christian College upset.  The fourth option is to rebuild on the flood-prone current site and switch to all-electric appliances.

3. What is happening at the Pensacola International Airport? The area’s key economic driver appears to be floundering. The city has been without an airport director for nearly a year.  The commerce park has only one tenant. The Florida Department of Transportation has not given its plan for funding the $3 million the city needs to construct the hangar and apron for VT-MAE.

4. Will anyone be charged in regards to the Newpoint allegations? The Escambia County School Board has voted to terminate the charters for the high and middle schools run by Newpoint Education Partners. The State Attorney’s Office is investigating whether any criminal charges will be filed against NEP staff for tampering with grades and test scores.

5. Will is the future for Santa Rosa Island? Untangling the leases, subleases and sub-subleases to grant simple fee titles is a legal nightmare. The fate of Santa Rosa Island Authority also hangs in the balance, if the county commission does away with lease fees.

6. The city of Pensacola will eventually have to make a decision on how it deals with its homeless population. The May workshop was a start, but when will the Pensacola City Council take action?  The Studer Community Institute wants to discourage the public from giving money to panhandlers and contributing to a trust fund, but that deals with only a symptom, not the issue.