Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday December 12th 2018

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The Buzz 6/14/18

Fixing Cervantes On Wednesday, June 6, an infant and an adult were killed trying to cross West Cervantes Street near M Street when they were hit by a white Dodge Challenger. The child’s mother was injured.

Since January, Inweekly has reported on the pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries on Cervantes Street. Last month, a pedestrian was fatally hit by a car near the intersection of Cervantes Street at Pickens Avenue. The death toll on Cervantes Street for 2018 has now reached four.

Commissioner Lumon May called Inweekly from the scene the night of the accident as he watched police and paramedics deal with the body of an eight-month-old.

“We have got to do something,” said Commissioner May. “These deaths need to end.”

The next day, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners voted to send a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation requesting immediate installation of pedestrian improvements and streetlights. The regional transportation organization has approved a plan for the state road in 2016, but the work could take up to five years to complete. The City of Pensacola last year made a request for a grant from the Triumph Gulf Coast board for the West Cervantes-Mobile Highway corridor.

However, the commissioners want something done now. The county is working with Gulf Power to modify existing lights with new LED bulbs. On Friday, a Florida Department of Transportation source told Inweekly that 79 lights would be installed by September. Gov. Rick Scott later confirmed the installation in an interview with the News Journal.

School Board Races Undecided A majority of Escambia County voters either don’t know the candidates or are undecided on whom to vote for in the three school board primaries on August 28. District 1 incumbent Kevin Adams leads Marjorie White, 25.4-13 percent, but 61.7 percent have no idea who will get their vote in the primary.

District 2 School Board member Gerald Boone chose not to see a fourth term, and the primary race for his replacement is wide open with 84.3 percent uncertain about the race. Raymond Guillory leads with 8.6 percent, followed by Paul Fetsko, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas’s former Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, with 4.6 percent and newcomer Kells Hetherington with 2.5 percent.

In District 3, name recognition appears to be the key, but 62.3 percent are still uncertain who will get their vote in the primary. Long-time School Board member Linda Moultrie, who resigned abruptly during her third term, leads with 19.9 percent. Her governor-appointed replacement, Lee Hansen is a distant second with 4.6 percent. Clinton Powell, Larry Williams and Walker Wilson separated by one vote, ranging from 4.1-3.6 percent of the vote.  Laura Edler trails with 1.7 percent.

The Political Matrix sampled likely voters of the primary and general election cycles using an Interactive Voice Response system and were called during the hours of 2-8 p.m. June 6-7. The phone numbers called were provided by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections office. The Margin of Error for this study is +/- 3.9 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

Port Losses Continue The Port of Pensacola’s revenues dropped 17 percent during the first six months of the current fiscal year, according to the unaudited quarterly financial statements that were released last week.

The city pays its pension costs at the beginning of the year, which slightly skews the numbers negatively. However, even when only half of the pension costs are charged to the first half of the year, the Port still lost $378,942, and the fund balance went from $241,938 to a negative $137,004.

City CFO Dick Barker pointed out in his summary that fewer ships are using the Port, which has impacted wharfage and dockage. The collapse of the DeepFlex project and the failure to find new tenants have caused the decline in property rentals.

Barker wrote, “Should this pattern continue for FY 2018, it is estimated that the Port would be short by $330,000 after depleting reserves.”

In other words, the city should expect another $200,000 in losses in the second half of the fiscal year.

To reassure the council, Barker added, “The Port’s financial position will continue to be monitored.”

On Monday, June 11, the mayor’s office announced that it had hired Moffatt & Nichol, an infrastructure advisory firm based in Southern California, to develop a vision plan and reinvestment strategy for the port.

According to the press announcement, the consultants will “explore innovative ideas, uses, and community priorities for some or all of the Port unearthed through thoughtful, focused engagement of Pensacola residents, port users and other stakeholders.” They will host two sets of interactive work sessions.

A community open house will be held June 26–27 not at the Port of Pensacola but at City Hall’s Hagler/Mason Conference Room. The topic for the meetings is “Your Waterfront and Port -Issues and Priorities.” A second series of public meetings will be held in late July or early August – topic “Future Visions of the Port of Pensacola.” Specific hours and interactive sessions have yet to be determined.

According to work plan on the special website developed to track the effort, portsidepensacola.com, the final report will be completed by Sept. 17 and will presented to the Pensacola City Council on Oct. 11.

It will be up to the new mayor and Pensacola City Council to determine if and how they will implement the plan.

Gary Sansing Honored On June 7, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution naming the Board’s Public Forum as the “Gary Sansing Public Forum.”

Gary Sansing, who passed away last month, frequently attended the scheduled Board of County Commissioners’ meetings and spoke at many public forum sessions giving his opinion on local, state and national issues. The commissioners felt naming the Board of County Commissioners’ Public Forum the “Gary Sansing Public Forum” was an enduring tribute to his service to the county and the community.

Inweekly reporter Sean Boone interviewed him in November 2009 when Sansing was participating in a protest about the death of Victor Steen, an African American teen that had been killed when a police car ran over him during a chase.

Here is the excerpt from the article that captures the spirit of Sansing:

The Panhandle isn’t known as a nesting ground for change. It happens slowly around these parts—often painfully slow.

No one knows that better than Gary Sansing, a man who’s been involved in the community for many years advocating transparency and fiscal responsibility at local government meetings.

It’s raining, but Sansing decides to stick around. Leaning against a rail to keep his balance, he gives an occasional shout of “Now” to a chant being repeated by the crowd of Steen supporters.

“This is how democracy works,” he says. “Pensacola has come a long way. It took our founders a long time to develop the constitution. It just takes a long time for things to happen.”

Sansing says he doesn’t know if Pensacola will ever be considered progressive, but he feels the community is resilient and has made strides to fix problems at hand.

“Even with this economic downturn, we haven’t noticed much change here,” he says. “We were not exactly booming beforehand. But there have been signs that things in the community are getting better.

“The turnout (of the kids) is good for the protest,” he adds. “Maybe by hanging around, they will learn something.”

We all learned something from Gary Sansing. A memorial service for the longtime community activist will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 16 in Ferdinand Plaza in downtown Pensacola.

Panhandle Tiger Bay Club Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and a best-selling author, will be speaking at the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club’s meeting noon-1 p.m. on Friday, June 22 at Skopelos at New World Landing, 600 S. Palafox.

Schweizer will speak on his book, “The New Corruption: Why It’s Worse Than You Think.” In the book, Schweizer addresses corruption in Washington, D.C. He names names and calls out both sides of the political aisle.

From 2008-2009, Schweizer was a consultant to the Office of Presidential Speechwriting in the White House. He also has served as a member of the Ultraterrorism Study Group at the U.S. government’s Sandia National Laboratories and is a former consultant to NBC News.

His earlier books, “Extortion” and “Throw Them Out,” appeared on the New York Times Best Seller lists and were featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

To RSVP for the luncheon, visit panhandletigerbay.com/tigerbay-events or email info@panhandletigerbay.com. The cost is $35 for nonmembers and $25 for military and students with IDs.

Coin of the Realm Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Christopher P. Canova, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida, recently announced that the Department of Justice is allocating 311 new Assistant United States Attorneys nationwide to assist in combating violent crime and enforcing our immigration laws and to help roll back the opioid crisis.

The allocations are as follows: 190 violent crime prosecutors, 86 civil enforcement prosecutors, and 35 immigration prosecutors. Many of the civil enforcement AUSAs will support the newly created Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force, which targets the opioid crisis at every level of the distribution system.

The two new AUSA positions allocated to the Northern District of Florida will focus on violent crime.

U.S. Attorney Canova said, “My office will use these two new AUSA positions to prosecute the predators who terrorize our communities. Everyone should feel safe to walk the sidewalks and let their children play in the yard.”

“We have a saying in my office that a new federal prosecutor is ‘the coin of the realm.’ When we can eliminate wasteful spending, one of my first questions to my staff is if we can deploy more prosecutors to where they are needed,” said Attorney General Sessions. “These exceptional and talented prosecutors are key leaders in our crime-fighting partnership. This addition of new Assistant U.S. Attorney positions represents the largest increase in decades.”

PSA Airlines Sets Up Base American Airlines’ subsidiary PSA Airlines will establish a maintenance facility at Pensacola International Airport (PNS). The facility will become operational by October.

“The addition of PNS will enhance PSA’s reliability, provide much-needed flexibility in meeting our maintenance program requirements and ensure we meet our planned capture rate as we continue to grow,” said PSA Airlines maintenance and engineering vice-president Gary Pratt in a press release. “The addition of Pensacola will ensure we meet our planned capture rate as we continue to grow.”

The Pensacola facility joins other maintenance centers that include Dayton International Airport (DAY), Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV).

PSA will deploy a team of 30-35 staff to include mechanics, leads, inspectors and warehouse personnel. Pensacola was identified as a sustainable location for workforces.

PSA operates an all-jet fleet consisting of exclusively Bombardier regional jet aircraft. The company operates more than 800 daily flights to approximately 100 destinations. PSA flies 35 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft and 39 Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft, in addition to 54 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.

Summer Job Fair CareerSource Escarosa and Pensacola State College will host a Summer Job Fair 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, June 21 at the Pensacola State College–Milton Campus Johnson L.I.F.E Center (building 4000), located at 5988 Highway 90 in Milton.

A special feature of this year’s annual event will be an area dedicated to careers in the construction trades. This state-wide initiative to create awareness about opportunities in the construction industry will connect area construction employers with individuals seeking employment in the construction sector.

In addition to construction, over 50 area employers will be in attendance hoping to fill their vacancies in health care, information technology, cybersecurity, aerospace, hospitality, customer service, retail, communications, governmental, manufacturing, corrections and more.

This no-cost event is open to the public. To reduce their time in line, job seekers are asked to pre-register at careersourceescarosa.com/job-fair-registration.

Mark Your Calendar The Northwest Florida Agency on Aging, Florida Department of Children and Families and Florida Department of Elder Affairs are hosting a seminar on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 9 a.m.- noon, Friday, June 15 at Bayview Senior Center.

The Council on Aging is holding its Senior Chill Out drive on Friday, June 15. The nonprofit seeks to collect as many ACs, fans and monetary donations as possible to help our vulnerable elders survive the oppressive Florida summer in comfort and safety. Drop by any of the area Lowe’s stores on Friday, June 15 from 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and purchase a window AC unit or a fan or make a financial donation to the cause.

The Escambia County School District is hosting two job fairs for individuals for school bus operators, substitute school bus assistants, garage maintenance workers automotive service workers and transportation dispatchers. The fairs are at 1-6 p.m. on Thursday, June 14 and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, June 16 at the McArthur Elementary School cafeteria, 330 E. Ten Mile Rd. For more details, visit facebook.com/escyellowbus.