Pensacola, Florida
Sunday April 21st 2019

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The Buzz 7/7/16

Prescription for City Boards Quint Studer, local developer and founder of the Studer Group, discussed on “Pensacola Speaks” how the City of Pensacola could improve its boards and advisory committees. Over the past 12 years, he and his wife Rishy have built and renovated several buildings in downtown Pensacola. They are currently building a $50-million apartment building on the site of the former News Journal.

He said that his experiences with inspections and the planning departments have been mostly positive.

“There’s a standing operating procedure that every Wednesday at City Hall at 9 a.m. the head of Inspecting, Building, Permits and Planning, all those department directors are there, and you can go in, and you sort of bring your plans up and they give you suggestions,” Studer said. “I think it seems where there are standard operating procedures it’s worked well for us.”

He believes that the Architectural Review Board is important and should be preserved.

“With the ARB we think those people have served tirelessly,” he said. “However, we think it would be real healthy to look at what are the roles, what is the scope, what is our conflict of interest, how are they identified, and we think term limits would be healthy on all committees.”

Studer believes that city staff has been hesitant to speak out at board meetings. The administration and council need to give the staff the support and direction to have the confidence to question board members.

“My experience with–and I could be wrong–the ARB is periodically they get beyond their scope,” he said. “Well, if you have the staff person in there in a safe environment they would feel very comfortable saying, ‘You know, gentlemen, you can have that opinion but that’s not really here, what you’re here to decide,’ and a staff member’s goal is to keep the board from drifting out of its scope, out of its role and to sort of help keep it on track.”

He advised that the city should be pro-active in looking at all its boards and the staff required.

“Because what happens is you start doing these things when there’s an emotional issue when a board is under fire, which is very unfortunate,” said Studer. “Because it would be really nice if you set up your standing operating procedures right now, and even though they have certain issues, do it so it’s not being done under the heat of a fire or emotional issue.”

He added, “That’s why I truly believe the key is basic standard operating procedures.”

Great Job Market Wallet Hub has ranked Pensacola the third best Florida city for finding a job, trailing only Sarasota and Jacksonville Beach.

Pensacola ranked #10 in Job Market and #19 in Socioeconomic Environment, which gave our area total weighted score of 59.78 and nudged us ahead of Wesley Chapel, whose total score was 59.64.

Wallet Hub analysts compared 130 Florida cities using 16 relevant metrics that speak to two key factors important to job seekers: the local “Job Market” and the area’s “Socioeconomic Environment.”

In the individual metrics, Pensacola ranked third in “Highest Number of Job Opportunities.”

Alabama Loves Walmart While incoming Florida Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran, wants to move the state away from giving corporations millions to create jobs, Alabama has no problem writing checks.

Walmart is planning to build a super regional import distribution center in Mobile County. The center’s approximate size would be 2.9 million sq. ft. on a 400-acre area of land.  It will be Walmart’s sixth super regional facility in the United States and the fourth largest.  Walmart will create 500 jobs with an average annual salary of $36,000.

What did it take to lure one of the most profits companies in the country to South Alabama? $11.6 million, plus waivers on various fees.

Mobile County gave Walmart $2.3 million. The City of Mobile handed over $2.3 million, and the state of Alabama forked over $7 million.

The Devil and Mr. Bare As first reported on Rick’s Blog, The Satanic Temple of West Florida is on the agenda to give the invocation at the Pensacola City Council meeting scheduled for July 14. The news has generated a great deal of discussion on the web.

Mayor Ashton Hayward chastised the council for the decision during his weekly spot on News Radio 1620.

“Don’t we have enough hate in the world right now?”  he asked. “We saw what happened in Turkey yesterday; we saw what happened in Orlando a few weeks ago. Now we’re bringing this into City Hall?”

Council President Charles Bare scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, to discuss the invocations. He said on “Pensacola Speaks” that he plans to ask the council to consider replacing the invocation at its regular meetings with a moment of silence.

“My attention is to, at this point, have two agenda items,” he said. “One is a discussion of the process and the procedure, and the other will be an action item that will propose changing our invocation to a moment of silence.”

Bare said, “If they don’t want to, then I don’t see that we have any choice but to let Mr. Suhor speak, and that may open the door to others that want to speak, too.”

Bare was elected council president by his fellow board members in late November. He said that the city clerk has handled who does the invocations.

“Until I get a final copy of the agenda, I have no idea who it’s going to be,” he said. “That’s the way the system has always run.”

Once the city clerk passed on the request from David Suhor of The Satanic Temple of West Florida, the council president didn’t see any alternative without subjecting the city to a lawsuit.

“Not only does the Constitution say that, but there was a court case–I believe in 2014 that’s been mentioned, the Galloway Case–and it says that the city doesn’t have to do an exhaustive for all the religions that would be able to give an invocation, but if someone requests it, they cannot deny them,” said Bare. “In this case, he requested it, and I didn’t see a way to deny it, so I went ahead and scheduled it.”

In the Town of Greece v. Galloway, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that legislative bodies, like the Pensacola City Council, could open their meetings with a prayer. However, the government must allow equal access to all religions.

Bare said, “At this point, I think the council needs to decide where we go from here. That’s why I called the special meeting for next Thursday.”

The council president hopes that he will have a quorum at the meeting so that the council better manage the invocation process.

“I think we need to take control of the process of how we do invocations and not allow it just to be,” he said. “I don’t even know if it’s random at this point. I don’t know enough about our current process to really help the council with it because I wasn’t brought into it until late in this one.”

Bare said, “Hopefully, we will get a quorum, and we can make a decision.”