GENE VALENTINO It was only a misdemeanor charge, but Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino had to fight it if he wanted to be re-elected. On Aug. 14, Okaloosa County Judge James Ward dismissed the charge of illegally soliciting a campaign contribution from developer Dan Gilmore. The judge’s decision definitely makes Valentino the big winner of the week.
H. BRITT LANDRUM JR. He opened the doors to Landrum Personnel Associates, a private employment agency, 40 years ago on Aug. 3, 1970. Today, Landrum Human Resource Companies, Inc. has three divisions: Landrum Staffing, Landrum Professional Employer Services and Landrum Consulting. The Pensacola-based staffing and human resources company ranked 59 on the 2010 Florida Trend Top 200 Private Companies list, moving up 11 places from 2009.
KATIE WHITE The Pensacola native was recently presented with the William Meador Award by the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association. This award was established in honor of the late William Meador and is given by the Young Lawyers Division of the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar to an attorney who exhibits excellence in the practice of law with integrity and a commitment to community service.
KEN FEINBERG The man in charge of the $20-billion claims process for the BP oil disaster is straightforward about his new role. At the Aug. 10 public forum at the University of West Florida conference center, Feinberg promised that his claims process will be quicker, more generous and more efficient than the current BP one and any other remedy. Let’s hope so.
HARRY REID The U.S. Senator from Nevada has slammed plans to build a mosque near the New York City site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The proposed $100 million Islamic center to be built two blocks from where the hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers has been a spirited issue for right-wing talking heads on radio and TV for weeks. Reid has placed re-election above principle, and gambling the shift will help him win in November.
PENSACOLA CITY COUNCIL This governing body only hires two employees: city manager Al Coby, and city attorney Rusty Wells. A public record request for emails from the two inadvertently revealed a series of emails sent by Wells during a council meeting to a city staff member. In the emails, Wells insults council members and jokes that he would rather be surfing porn in his office. Councilwoman Maren DeWeese gave Coby and Wells an opportunity to deal with the disrespectful communications. When they did nothing, she made a motion to terminate Wells. Most of the council rallied to Well’s defense and tamely agreed, by a 6-4 vote, to let Mayor Mike Wiggins investigate this instead. The mayor and council would not even entertain a motion to suspend Wells while he is under investigation.
RUSTY WELLS What happens when a powerful, highly paid city position is handed down for nearly half a decade without accepting resumes from outside city government? The employee becomes entitled, untouchable by his bosses and can operate outside the rules. He also loses respect for his client. Enough said.