Pensacola, Florida
Sunday December 17th 2017

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The Buzz 3/16/17

Sanitation Rates Could Rise Jerry Moore, the head of the City of Pensacola’s Sanitation Services, wants to raise sanitation rates.

Last week, Moore told the Pensacola City Council that a recent rate study recommends that the city raise its sanitation rate. He said, “We need a $1.26 rate increase on our operational side of our sanitation rate, just for everyday operations. We need that increase in revenue.”

He also said the department needs a process for replacing its aging equipment. The rate study recommended a $1 equipment surcharge be added immediately to the bills and an additional dollar in FY19.

“Then as an alternate, Council could consider using LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) funds for yard trash and transfer station equipment–which is the equipment that supports all these other activities like storm cleanups and illegal dumps and picking up piles that are vacant properties that we don’t have an account for and we never get paid for, but it helps keep the city clean.”

Mayor Ashton Hayward has not announced if he plans to ask the council for a rate increase and to shift Local Option Sales Tax funds to pay for capital improvements for the Sanitation Enterprise Fund.

ECUA disputed several of Moore’s statements. Both Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties had composition studies that were used during negotiations to utilize the ECUA Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).  Copies of those studies and the City of Pensacola study were available for review, according to ECUA spokesperson Nathalie Bowers.

The ECUA MRF is specifically designed to sort and recycle glass and is successfully processing these materials and marketing the recycled paper and glass with no contaminated paper issues.

Bowers told Inweekly the ECUA sanitation rate is lower than is the City’s rate.

“The current City of Pensacola sanitation rate is $22.80 per month with an additional monthly fuel surcharge of $0.90 or a total monthly rate of $23.70,” she said. “The requested rate increase and proposed equipment surcharge would increase the City sanitation rate to $25.96 per month.  For comparison, the current ECUA sanitation monthly rate is $21.33 per month with no fuel or equipment surcharges.”

Free Speech Talk Keith E. Whittington, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University and current Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Politics, will be the guest lecturer at the University of West Florida. His topic will be “Why Free Speech is Central to the Mission of a University.”

His talk will be 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 21, at Music Hall inside the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on the UWF main campus. The public is invited.

Whittington has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency. His book “Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History” won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book in law and courts and the J. David Greenstone Award for best book in politics and history.

Hayward Seeks Triumph Dollars Mayor Ashton Hayward doesn’t want the Escambia Board of County Commissioners to be the sole body that decides how the BP oil spill settlement, also known as Triumph dollars, is spent locally, according to City Administrator Eric Olson.

At the Mar. 6 Agenda Review, Olson told the Pensacola City Council that the mayor has proposed that cities be included directly in any distribution of funds. He said, “That is what we’re pressing for in Tallahassee.”

The mayor has sent letters to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and members of our legislative delegation asking them to consider it. Olson said the mayor has been working to get the City of Pensacola inserted in the legislation being considered by the House Select Committee on the Triumph Gulf Coast.

“… you all know the difficulty we have with RESTORE, that we now have to go to the county if we want some of these funds,” said Olson. “So, we missed out on leveraging opportunities. We can’t pledge it as a match for another grant, so we would really like to have some guarantee that we’re getting some of that money.”

He added, “And remember there’s $400 million in the bank; $300 million would go to the eight counties. That means $75 million is in the bank (for) Escambia County if we went by the formula used for RESTORE…Our mantra is we want to make sure we get our fair share of the money.”

To date, all BP funds directed to the impacted counties have been handled at the county level.

Mayor Hayward suggested in his Feb. 14 letter to Speaker Corcoran that the formula used to allocate local option sale taxes be used with the Triumph dollars. He wrote, “Regardless of the final distribution formula, the point I want to stress is that cities must be guaranteed a seat at the table.”

Sources in Tallahassee told Inweekly that the mayor’s request was met with little enthusiasm. The time to have argued for individual allocations for cities was in 2011 when the Florida Legislature passed the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Act.

Equal Means Equal The League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area will screen the documentary film, “Equal Means Equal” at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Mar. 18, at the Tryon Branch Library located at 1200 Langley Avenue.

The film, created by filmmaker Kamala Lopez, features interviews with well-known feminists, such as Patricia Arquette and Gloria Steinem, along with stories of ordinary women across the country impacted by discrimination and legislation ignored. It makes a solid case for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was approved by Congress in the 1970s but fell three states short of ratification.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Coffee will be served at 10:15 a.m.

Chamber Tackles Triumph The Greater Pensacola Chamber will be recommending projects to be considered for funding by Triumph Gulf Coast as part of its initiative to advocate for better policies.

“Triumph Gulf Coast provides a unique opportunity for Escambia County to develop projects that will diversify our economy, strengthen our infrastructure and further develop our workforce.” said Chamber Policy Chairman Justin Beck.

“This is a perfect topic for the chamber to help convene the business community and generate ideas for projects that are really going to have a true impact,” he told Inweekly. “What we want to do is be that voice and to help influence that the right projects that can have the most impact.”

Triumph Gulf Coast is a nonprofit corporation created by the Florida Legislature to administer funds recovered by the Attorney General for economic damage to the state resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The first payment of $400 million has been received by the state of Florida, meaning $300 million is due to be distributed to Triumph Gulf Coast. Legislation has been filed in both chambers of the Florida Legislature to further clarify the intent of the monies received by Triumph Gulf Coast.

The Chamber’s Policy Committee has already begun its initial analysis of local economic development, infrastructure, and workforce development projects. The Chamber will look to collaborate with other community stakeholders before making its final recommendations.

Escambia County’s RESTORE Advisory Committee has already reviewed 124 projects that were recommended by the community and chose the top 10.

“We kind of got a good start there, but we know there are a number of other projects and ideas that are out there, and we want to be that convener that brings people together and hears all of the potential ideas and projects that might be considered and that we could potentially forward to the Triumph Gulf Coast Board,” said Todd Thomson, the chamber’s vice president for public policy.

“We want to make sure that we find projects that benefit the most people and the widest, kind of cast the widest net among the communities so that these are lasting

The Fighting Gaetz Family Don Gaetz said watching his son Matt confront hundreds of angry protestors against his son’s policy to eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Education and Obamacare on Open Gaetz Day reminded him of one of his clearest childhood memories.

His 5-foot-7 dad, Jerry, set an example as an imposing politician. Gaetz said his dad was the mayor of a small North Dakota town and a manager for the railroad. It was the 1960s, and his father hired Native Americans to work for the railroad. Many in town didn’t like that and decided to protest.

However, his dad stood on the railroad tracks and faced down the angry town folks.

“He was a Barry Goldwater Republican,” said Gaetz, who tears up at the memory of his father and son. “He told them they would work in the community, send their kids to school in the community and live in the community, if they wanted to.”

Gaetz saw his father in his son Matt on Open Gaetz Day and said it was a proud moment for him. He revealed his son likes to wear a T-shirt with a quote from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that reads: “I love a man who grins when he fights.”

“He didn’t try to run away. He doesn’t back down ever,” Gaetz said. “That’s who Matt is. He doesn’t take it personally.”

Of course, Don Gaetz was not known to back down in something he believed in either. The Florida Department of Education threatened him when he was Superintendent and decided the Okaloosa County school district would stop promoting its K-12 students onto the next grade if they failed to pass. It’s a practice known as social promotion. State law declares students can only be retained once in elementary school.

The school district also gave those who failed to pass $2,000 to hire tutors to help them learn the subjects they were required to know. Gaetz said within three years, 92 percent of Okaloosa students legitimately passed their grade level.

Gaetz remembered that he called then-Gov. Jeb Bush and Bush told him: “Don, there are only two people who can remove you from office. The voters of Okaloosa County or the governor of Florida, and I’m standing beside you.”

Feminism in Black and White Race and Reconciliation is presenting a panel discussion entitled, “Feminism, Womanism, in Black and White,” on Thursday, March 16, 6-8 pm, at the Earl J. Bowden Building, 120 Church Street.

Tensions arose during the recent Women’s Marches when many people of color refused to participate, saying that traditional feminism has been a movement for white people and continues to marginalize women of color. The panel plans to explore these issues. Local activists Mary Collins, Samantha Jackson, Haley Morrissette, and Nicole Bowman will talk for about 10 minutes each, followed by audience discussion.