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Sunday September 23rd 2018

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The Buzz 7/12/18

A Baby Shower Fit for Queens After the success of last year’s Bey-B Shower, Black Women Empower Collective is ready to honor even more moms-to-be on Saturday, July 28.

“Last year we celebrated 25 moms; this year we hope to have 40,” said volunteer Marissa McCaskill.

The Bey-B Shower came from the philanthropic mind of Haley Morrissette, co-founder of Black Women Empower Collective. She was inspired by Beyonce’s instantly famous pregnancy announcement and said she wanted to mark the occasion by supporting local women who were expecting brown or black babies.

“Black children don’t always get the start they need. We want to help bridge the gap,” Morrissette told InWeekly last year.

The Bey-B Shower is an afternoon of education and celebration. There will be baby shower games, food and gifts. Organizations such as LEAPS, 90Works, Early Learning Coalition and WIC will be available with resource materials. McCaskill said there will even be a prenatal yoga instructor there.

“To bring a child into this world, there’s so much responsibility,” McCaskill said. “These women should be celebrated. And we want to incorporate an element of self-care, which is why we will have self-care boxes for moms with journals and cosmetics—something to remind them to take time for themselves.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnancy-related deaths have risen steadily in the United States. And there’s a considerable disparity between white and black women. Black mothers in the U.S. die at nearly three times the rate of white women.

It’s an issue that hits close to home. According to Amnesty International and the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there has been a large increase in maternal mortality in the last decade in parts of the Gulf South. University of West Florida Professors Dr. Meredith Marten and Rosalind Fisher are studying chronic stress among mothers in Pensacola to learn more about poor maternal health.

“Women in marginalized communities don’t always have access to prenatal care,” McCaskill explained. “Some mothers are single mothers who are balancing households on their own and can’t make it to appointments.

The Bey-B Shower not only supports expecting moms through resources by giving them a network of other moms they can turn to postpartum.

“It’s important that mommy and baby are cared for,” McCaskill said. “So often they are forgotten about. It really is great to see the women connect with each other.”

Space for the Bey-B shower is limited. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, visit bit.ly/pcolabeybshower.

To learn more about Black Women Empower Collective and find out how you can support the Bey-B Shower, visit facebook.com/blackwomenempowercollective.

UWF Dean Named The University of West Florida Usha Kundu, MD College of Health has named Dr. Denise M. Seabert as the new dean of the college.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Denise Seabert as the new dean of the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, UWF provost and senior vice president. “Dr. Seabert’s expertise in health and wellness education will be a great addition in our efforts to take the college to a new level through academic teachings, research in the health fields and community outreach.”

For more than 20 years, Seabert has provided leadership in obesity prevention, HIV education and academic standards for health and wellness. She has authored numerous textbooks and received university and national organization service awards for her contributions. She comes to UWF from Indiana’s Ball State University.

Seabert plans to focus on enhancing the college’s already well-established programs and strengthen its role in community health throughout the Pensacola region.

“Our health education programs are the gateway for our students to learn and grow in their discipline but also in their exposure to the Pensacola community,” Seabert said. “These programs offer our students high impact practices, such as internships, practicums, clinical placements and undergraduate student research.”

She added, “All of these programs immerse our students in the larger community and provide the area with increased exposure to best practices in health. The more our programs engage with the community, the more our students learn and value the opportunities our region offers.”

ECUA Faces Grand Jury Emerald Coast Utility Authority Board members have scrambled the last week of June to get legal representative as they were called to appear before a county grand jury.

In May, the News Journal reported that the state attorney’s office was investigating whether ECUA made legal payments without board approval. We’ve heard the investigation may have expanded into whether the board has exercised the proper oversight of the utility. Stay tuned.

Backstory on Resignation
City Administrator Eric Olson and his special assistant, Rusty Wells, are the ones who insisted that Butch Hansen had to resign as the council’s budget analyst. And they intimated that CFO Dick Barker and his staff wouldn’t work with him.

Hansen stung the mayor’s office and Barker when he sent the Pensacola City Council his analysis of the proposed $9.6 million Bayview Community Center. The council’s budget analyst believed Mayor Ashton Hayward never intended to build the center for the $6 million that the council had initially approved. He questioned how the city finance department handled the budget and design of the project. On June 14, the council voted, 7-1, for the mayor to keep the project within its budget.

On June 22, Hansen announced his resignation as a budget analyst, citing pressure from the Hayward administration. The bone of contention was Hansen had filed to run for City Council District 6 seat. The mayor’s office alleged that it was an ethics violation for him to run for office and work for the city council.

A week later, the daily newspaper reported that the former Navy captain had withdrawn his resignation.

Inweekly asked Hansen how his resignation came about. He said it was Wells who first approached Council Executive Don Kraher to discuss the situation.

“So there were discussions going on from when I initially filed to run for the District 6 seat,” said Hansen. “Some people—and nobody’s given me specific names, but it was intimated it might be from the finance department—were concerned about me working to support the council while I was a candidate. And I hadn’t heard any more about that until about a week after the council meeting.”

City Administrator Olson approached Hansen. The budget analyst was told the city policy was that he’d have to take a leave of absence.

“And that was interesting because I’d already looked up the city policies in their HR policy manual, which is the only place that addressed this situation specifically … said exactly the opposite, that if I wasn’t an officer of the city or a subordinate officer, then there was no reason to resign or take a leave of absence or anything else,” Hansen said.

“And I confirmed with the general council in Tallahassee for the elections commission that, in fact, my role was a part-time advisor to the council on budget issues. I didn’t fall into that category at all.”

But the mayor’s office wouldn’t accept that opinion.

Hansen said, “Then they said, ‘Well, A, that policy’s been superseded. B, it doesn’t even apply to you.’ But I said, ‘Well, even if it’s been superseded, nobody’s run for office here in a couple of years, and that was your policy. So I don’t understand why you’re telling me the people were required to take a leave of absence if even your now superseded policy, of which, by the way, is still on your website, was your policy.’”

He continued, “Then they cited the ethics code, and they said, ‘But this is an ordinance and this does apply to you, and that people could construe that you would be getting a personal gain or a personal …’”

Hansen asked what personal gain he would receive. The mayor’s office replied “political gain.”

“The whole thing was silly to me, which led me to believe that they were digging deep to find a reason to convince me to leave,” he told Inweekly. “But the real thing was, it was intimated that, ‘Well, if city employees have a problem providing you information or talking to you because they don’t know if they’re talking to candidate Hansen or employee Hansen, then they may just not talk to you.’ And so that would hurt my effectiveness in trying to help the council get through the budget workshops.”

He was told a decision had to be made by Friday, June 22, the qualifying deadline to run for council.

“I submitted my resignation on Friday, and it just detailed exactly why, because to run a campaign and have anybody from the city intimate that I may be at all unethical, I wasn’t willing to start a campaign. And every question and answer session, the first question I’d have to answer is why I’m ethical. That’s a losing proposition,” explained Hansen.

What happened to get him to withdraw his resignation?

Hansen said, “Mr. Wingate (council president) got involved in talking with the administration and the attorney and then asked me to come down and sit down with them. And so I had a meeting with him and with Eric Olson. The tone was much different then, and I was gaining some assurances that there was nobody that thought I was unethical, and there was nobody that would not cooperate with me in helping the council. So I withdrew the resignation.”

Florida Disaster Website The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, FloridaWest, Visit Pensacola, The Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, The Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Century Chamber of Commerce and the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to help Escambia County businesses better prepare for and recover from hurricanes and other disasters.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) recently launched a new website, floridadisaster.biz. Businesses are encouraged to register on the website before a storm arrives. Registration is free, and the site provides excellent resources for businesses before, during and after a storm. Businesses will have access to a Business Disaster Toolkit, road closure info, resource listings, Business Damage Assessment applications and information on aid such as Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans and SBA Disaster Loans.

“Businesses that take the time to prepare today can open their doors faster after a disaster,” said Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Using the resources at floridadisaster.biz, and through connections with local economic development organizations, business owners can make their communities more resilient and better prepared to weather any storm.”

Becoming a Smart City Last month, Congressman Matt Gaetz hosted a roundtable discussion with several industries in the field of technology, government and community leaders to cultivate ideas for Pensacola to become a “smart city” serving as a hub for 5G beta testing. This venture is the beginning of a series of discussions to kickstart Northwest Florida’s evolution to emerge as a leader in 5G technology.

At the 5G Tech Summit, representatives from Cox Communications and AT&T gave presentations on the benefits of 5G technology and its potential impact on communities. Other companies and community representatives at the event included: IHMC, AppRiver, ITEN Wired, Mediacom, Innovation Coast, Pensacola Socialdesk, University of West Florida, Co:Lab Pensacola, FloridaWest, Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Power, Escambia County School District, Collier Merrill, Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown and Pensacola City Administrator Eric Olson.

Enhanced 5G capabilities will allow communities to improve services in the areas of healthcare, energy, transportation, law enforcement, e-commerce, education and more. Florida currently ranks third in the nation in the race to 5G. Many of Florida’s major metropolitan areas are estimated to produce thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in GDP growth.

“I am glad to see our local businesses and community leaders working in cohesion with local government on a venture that will improve the quality of life for every Northwest Floridian. I hope that Pensacola can be the leader in 5G technology and serve as a model for cities throughout the country and the world,” Rep. Gaetz said.

Christmas in July To benefit sick and injured children during their time in the hospital, The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart has launched a Christmas in July Toy Drive. The Children’s Hospital is seeking donations of toys for its playrooms and child life program, as well as to offer patients at the bedside. For infection control and safety reasons, items must be new, and toys must be washable (plastic or wood). Please, no toys with violent themes. The hospital’s areas of greatest need can be found at studerfamilychildrenshospital.com.

Donations for the Christmas in July Toy Drive can be dropped off at the information desk in the lobby of The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, located at 5151 N. 9th Ave. Donation receipts will be provided. For information, call 416-2657.

Mark Your Calendars Councilman Sherri Myers is hosting a town hall meeting 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 17 at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, 7979 N. 9th Ave.  She will focus on the FY 2019 budget and issues of importance to the residents of Camelot, Dunmire Woods and Creighton Heights communities.

The Florida SBDC at UWF is presenting “Starting a Business” noon-4 p.m.  Friday, July 20 at Pensacola Chamber, 890 S Palafox, Ste. 202. Attendees will learn the essentials of getting started in business, including idea evaluation, legal business structures, regulations and licensing, business plan basics, finding capital and more. The fee is $50. UWF students and employees of UWF, call 474-2528 to register for no fee. To register, visit sbdc.uwf.edu and click on “Training Opportunities.”