Pensacola, Florida
Thursday December 14th 2017

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The Buzz 6/9/16

Specht for Congress Steven Specht, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 1, sat down with publisher Rick Outzen on News Talk 1370 WCOA’s “Pensacola Speaks” to discuss his campaign.

Specht grew up in Marianna, worked his way through college at the University of Florida, and graduated in 2005.

“My intent has always been to go into the military,” he said. “I ended up spending four years in the Air Force as a linguist. My specialty was two Afghan languages: Pashto and Dari. “

After the Air Force, Specht did one more year over in Afghanistan as a contractor working with Marine Special Operations Command. He graduated from Florida State College of Law in May 2016 and has passed the bar. He lives in Pensacola with his nine-month-old son and his wife Lauren, who serves in the United States Navy.

Specht is running for Congress, because he believes the Founding Fathers wanted a citizen government, meaning they expected members of Congress to have “lived a life that allows them to have the body of experience that they can go to Washington and represent the people.”

“They did not envision career politicians spending their entire time in politics and then just graduating from a state position into a congressional position having never really lived the life of a citizen,” he said.  “Now, I have this vast world experience. I’ve worked many jobs ranging from construction to being a lifeguard to being in the armed forces.”

Specht said, “I’m the kind of guy that the Founding Fathers envisioned.”

He believes the Congressional race will be decided by how the voters of Northwest Florida view the federal government.

“We have one candidate that wants to go to Washington and fight Washington. We have a pragmatic Republican who knows how government works and wants to go and govern,” said Specht.

“Then there’s me,” he said. “I want to govern. I don’t want to dig my heels in on partisan issues. We don’t need someone going to Washington to shut the government down. We need someone that’s going to be willing to engage on key issues.”

BCC Wants a Plan The Escambia Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted 5-0 to table a supplemental budget amendment for $316,646 to clean up a contaminated groundwater plume that has halted the construction of the Corrine Jones-Government Street stormwater pond.

Petroleum and pesticide groundwater contamination is caused by the former Escambia County Mosquito Control facility at 603 W. Romana Street. In 2005, the site was designated a Brownfield, and the County entered into a Brownfield Site Rehabilitation Agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

As part of the agreement, the County is charged with remediating the contamination plume. The plume boundaries have been defined based on extensive groundwater testing and monitoring, and it has been shown to have migrated approximately 500 feet south/southeast from the former Mosquito Control site proper impacting the City of Pensacola’s Corrine Jones Park property located at 600 West Government Street.

The FDEP has required that the contaminated water be removed and treated. Since the source of the pollution was the county-owned facility, the City asked the BCC to pay for the remediation as part of its FDEP plan.

Commissioner Doug Underhill expressed concern that the county funds were being used on city-owned property without any assurance that those dollars may be needed to complete work on the mosquito control site.

Chips Kirschenfeld, the county’s senior scientist, explained, “In my opinion, spending that money now is going to speed up the decontamination and remediation that has been going on for years.”

Without the remediation at the Corrine Jones site, he estimated the remediation could continue for another 10 years. With it, the cleanup may be completed in two years.

Commissioner Grover Robinson argued that it would be less expensive to remove the plume downhill from the mosquito control site at Corrine Jones than trying to pump it out of the ground at Romana Street.

“I don’t see a plan. I don’t see a map with the plume. I don’t see the backup documentation necessary to make this expenditure,” said Underhill. He said he expects to see a plan of action and milestones for the completion of the overall remediation project.

The BCC agreed to discuss the item at its June 16 meeting. County staff will present documentation and analysis more aligned with Commissioner Underhill’s expectations.

Community Summit June 9-10 On June 9-10, Pensacola Habitat for Humanity presents the second annual Community Summit, a free event that is intended to spur discussion and action that will foster the development of sustainable communities in Northwest Florida.

This two-part event, presented in partnership with NeighborWorks America and Gulf Power, begins 1 p.m.  June 9 at Gulf Power headquarters with keynote speaker, Tom Chabolla, Senior Vice President of Field Operations at NeighborWorks America, Washington, D.C. Mr. Chabolla will reflect on his years of experience transforming and advancing communities throughout the country.

He will be followed by an expert panel featuring Christian Wagley, principal of Sustainable Town Concepts; Al Coby, former City Manager of the City of Pensacola; Jill Thomas, Chief Marketing Officer of Innisfree Hotels; and Robin Reshard, founder of Robert Robino Productions. The panel will offer diverse perspectives on topics ranging from environmental protection to responsible corporate citizenship.

On Friday morning, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in various projects in the local area led by the panel of experts, including “greening up” led by Wagley; a community and resident leadership training led by Coby; a tour of a community garden led by Jill Thomas; and a walking tour of the Belmont-DeVilliers area led by Robin Reshard.

Space is limited. To register to attend and ensure your spot, please visit: pensacolahabitat.org/invite.

Clarification Attorney Russell Van Sickle clarified that the conclusion that that Mayor Hayward was not bound to create the Independent Personnel Board, which we published in our June 2 “Buzz” column, had been incorrectly attributed to him.

The Beggs & Lane attorney spent three months investigating Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Fire Chief Joe Glover. His 132-page report and hundreds of pages of supporting documentation have been placed on the city’s website. Inweekly incorrectly attributed conclusions in an exhibit to Van Sickle.

Van Sickle said Exhibit XVII, which contained a timeline and analysis of the decision to delete the Independent Personnel Board, was provided him by the City of Pensacola. This unintentional error was ours. However, the City has yet to hold a press conference or public meeting to explain the report. Exhibit XVII was unsigned and didn’t state the source.

We asked Van Sickle for the author of Exhibit XVII so that we could attribute it to the appropriate party. While waiting for his reply, we corrected the article on Inweekly.net:

Van Sickle’s report did not address the change in the appeal process. City officials provided an analysis and timeline of the decision to remove the previously existing disciplinary process that Van Sickle included for informational purposes.

The analysis concluded, “The intentions conveyed by the City Administration to the local legislative delegation during the process of repealing the Civil Service Special Act were not executed and should not be interpreted to mean the Mayor would appoint an independent board and delegate all of his Charter authority regarding employment to that board.” (See note)

The analysis didn’t state who made that conclusion.

Missing from the city’s analysis were any interviews with Kuchera or former Chief of Staff John Asmar, who worked on the repeal of the Civil Service Act with the city employees and lawmakers. There was no mention that city employees were told four years ago that they would have an independent appeal board so they would support the Civil Service repeal effort. There also was no explanation why the Independent Personnel Board was added to the HR manual in 2013 if the mayor didn’t intend to abide by his commitment.

Mayor Hayward and Sisson have declined several interview requests from Inweekly.

Note: An earlier version had attributed the conclusion regarding the commitment for Independent Personnel Board to attorney Russell Van Sickle. The conclusion was made by unidentified city officials.