Pensacola, Florida
Thursday December 14th 2017

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The Buzz 3/17/16

Praise for Miller Congressman David Jolly called into “Pensacola Speaks” last week to praise his colleague Jeff Miller, who announced his retirement from Congress.

“Obviously this is a bitter sweet day knowing that Jeff and Vicky have made the decision that’s clearly right for them but is a loss to the Congressional Delegation, Florida, and Escambia County,” said Jolly.

He said Miller’s legacy is primary in the veterans affairs arena, where the Congressman from Chumuckla has chaired the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee since 2011.

“At a time when the nation faced a crisis in the VA heath care system, it was Jeff’s leadership that helped guide the Congress and helped guide the country through that. That will forever be Jeff’s legacy,” said Jolly.

Rep. Miller also received kudos from Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward.

“An and I extend our heartfelt appreciation to our dear friend Congressman Miller for his service and dedication to Florida’s 1st district,” said Hayward. “I have come to value our friendship and his important role in our government, particularly through his service as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, his assistance in the recovery of the Deepwater Horizon disaster affecting the Gulf Coast and passage of the RESTORE Act.”

He wished Miller and his wife Vicki the “very best in all of their future endeavors.”

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, who served as our Congressman from 1995-2001, tweeted:

“Jeff Miller, thank you for fighting for Northwest Florida and the vets! I’m proud to call you my friend.”

Dominoes Rep. Jeff Miller has set off a series of dominoes with his announcement that he will not seek a ninth term.

Congressional openings are rare. Over the past 60 years, Northwest Florida has only had four U.S. Representatives — Bob Sikes, Earl Hutto, Joe Scarborough and Jeff Miller.

The last two, Scarborough and Miller, were relatively unknown when they announced their candidacies. Scarborough trailed in the 1994 GOP primary but beat Lois Benson in the run-off. Miller staved off potential candidates, such as Collier Merrill and Don Gaetz, by being the first to announce and raising a hefty war chest.

Who will run to replace Miller? State Rep. Matt Gaetz, State Sen. Greg Evers, Escambia Supervisor of Elections David Stafford and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward were the names being bounced over the weekend.

Gaetz has raised nearly $1 million for his state senate bid, so he has good head start. Evers has polled well in the district, and name recognition could be critical in a crowded field.

Stafford has a great record as supervisor. He is the former chief of staff for Rep. Scarborough and the son of a retired judge. However, he will have to give up his office to run.

Hayward can run without stepping down as mayor. He has been a prodigious fundraiser. His former COO Tamara Fountain helped two Okaloosa County judges get elected in 2012, so she may help in the eastern part of the district.

Escambia Commission chair Grover Robinson texted Inweekly that he is not interested. State Rep. Mike Hill may seek Evers’ seat, as may Rep. Doug Broxson and Rep. Clay Ingram.

Long shots are Sheriffs David Morgan and Wendall Hall – both ever popular with good name recognition. Another one is former Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino, who often said he wanted to run for Congress. With the recent merger of his company with JetPay, he may have the wealth to self-fund his campaign.

Lost and Found Escambia County School Board member Jeff Bergosh recently released a report on why the district’s freshmen are leaving the high schools before their cohort graduates.

In February, Inweekly reported the district loses approximately 30 percent of its classes between freshman and senior years. The Class of 2015 had 3,485 students in its freshman year. By its senior year, the class had lost 1,049 students, a little over 30 percent.

Bergosh asked the district staff to research the issue and was given the report, which he published on his blog.

The report showed (the numbers are slightly different from the enrollment figures reported by the state):

The 2015 senior class had 2,745 students:

-Standard Diploma: 1,996  (73%)
-Withdrew to enter adult program: 294 (11%)
-Certificate of Completion: 159  (6%)
-Promoted/retained/transferred to another district school: 131 (5%)
-Special diploma: 74 (3%)
-Dropout: 58  (2%)
-GED: 20 (0.7%)
-Juvenile Justice: 13 (0.5%)

Of the 2011-12 freshman class, 969 students were removed from the cohort for these reasons:

-Transferred out of state/country: 552
-Transferred to another Florida district: 258
-Home School: 97
-Private school: 57
-Death: 5

“There are about 500 kids of the 1,000 that go missing; there are about 500 that transfer out of state or out of the country, and I think that’s a function of our military and military presence,” said Bergosh.

He said this report should be studied further. “We’re going to lose a third of the cohort every four years or is that just the price of doing business as a county that has a high transient population, a lot of military going in and out,” Bergosh said. “It does have an impact, though, and it was a high number.”

He added, “I think it’s just a good data point to have for the community and the population to know that there’s an explanation behind losing 1,000 students over 4 years.”

Power of Radio Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson recently thanked the listeners of News Talk 1370 WCOA’s “Pensacola Speaks” for emailing state lawmakers asking them to not let House Appropriations Committee chair Richard Corcoran use the $300 million of BP settlement funds for projects outside of Northwest Florida.

Two weeks ago, Inweekly reported that Corcoran had deleted a Senate amendment to the appropriations bill that would have ensured the funds would be handed over to Triumph Gulf Coast, the authority established by the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Act of 2011 to safeguard how the funds are spent.

On March 2, Corcoran, who is also the Speaker designate for 2017-18, issued a statement reaffirming a commitment that the funds go to the counties impacted by the 2010 BP oil spill.

“Let me give your listeners and you a huge ‘thank you’,” said Commissioner Robinson on yesterday’s show. “At the end of the day, if it hadn’t been for Rick Outzen, we would never have gotten that commitment. Rick, thank you for what you do. We wouldn’t have gotten that done without you.”