Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 20th 2019


The Buzz 9/6/18

Expensive Primary Local candidates spent $826,380 on the Aug. 28 primary. The most expensive race, through Aug. 24 campaign election reports, was the Pensacola mayor’s race—$279,419.

Councilman Brian Spencer, who is running for mayor, spent more than any other candidate—$127,120. He was followed by District 2 County Commission candidate Alan McMillan with $96,308 and mayoral candidate Grover Robinson with $84,318.

The political action committee Escambia Citizens for Better Government spent $102,038 on local races. It primarily helped to promote District 2 Commission candidate Alan McMillan. District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill had the Integrity in Leadership PAC, which spent $55,539. We don’t know if all the money was to help Underhill’s campaign.

We know the Citizens for Integrity in Government sent out several mailers in support of Brian Spencer’s campaign. Its reports show it spent more than $100,000 with Premier Marketing and Consulting in August, but it’s unknown how much was to promote Spencer.

The Conservative Leadership Fund helped District 4 Commission candidate Kendrick Doidge and spent $82,673, but we don’t know if Doidge’s race was the only one the PAC was involved with.

It’s possible that $1 million was spent on the local primary races, not including the Congressional or Florida House races.

Praise for Campus Voting Sites The League of Women Voters of Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, All Voting is Local Florida, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund praised the Supervisors of Elections for establishing early voting on some of the college campuses in Alachua, Hillsborough, Leo, and Orange counties and encourages others to make it a top priority for the November election.

“We are aware of the logistical challenges that the timing of Judge Walker’s decision presented,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters. “This is not only a testament to our supervisors’ dedication to safe and secure elections but also their desire to ensure equitable and fair access to the polls for all Florida voters.

In July, Judge Mark Walker ruled that a ban placed on early voting sites on Florida campuses was unconstitutional and put an unfair burden on college students. Since then, the League of Women Voters and other voting rights groups have called on Florida Supervisors of Elections to ensure that college students are able to access the vote by placing early voting sites on campus. But several colleges, including those serving large populations of students of color—Florida A&M University, Florida International University and Miami Dade College—are without early voting sites two months before the general election.

Help Gero Recover Pensacola’s sister city, Gero, Japan, is still recovering from extreme flooding and landslides caused by the landfall of Typhoon Prapiroon in July. Gero experienced all-time rainfall records and saw thousands of citizens seek shelter. The city of over 33,000 citizens experienced extensive damage and property loss.

Pensacola and Gero established their status as sister cities in 1988 and have mutually benefited from decades of support. After the 2014 flooding in Pensacola, Gero residents provided financial support through United Way of Escambia County. $12,900 in relief funds were placed in a Flood Relief Distribution Pool, which was used to provide funding to local agencies supporting relief efforts. Gero also offered support to Pensacola following Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The Central Community Chest of Japan (CCCJ) is leading recovery efforts and is in charge of accepting monetary donations. The CCCJ is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Japan and is a long-time partner of United Way Worldwide.

Individuals interested in supporting Gero through the Central Community Chest of Japan may visit The CCCJ has the capacity to accept international donations.

Agriculture Commissioner Race Rep. Matt Caldwell won the GOP primary for Florida Agriculture Commissioner with 35 percent of the vote, besting fellow Florida lawmakers Denise Grimsley and Baxter Troutman.

Full Contact Strategies owner Ryan Wiggins was happy to see Caldwell win the hard-fought race. She told Inweekly, “Matt kind of got hit by all sides. ‘Big Sugar’ did not end up giving to his campaign, but he and Adam Putnam got attacked by the Everglades Trust, saying that they were causing this big algae problem down in South Florida, which wasn’t really fair.”

She continued, “And you had him running against Baxter Troutman, who is a legacy of grandson of Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., the guy the University of Florida’s football stadium is named after.”

Troutman is wealthy and spent $3 million on television advertising, according to Wiggins. Caldwell didn’t have that type of personal wealth.

“Matt’s background is he comes from a family that’s been here for 200 years,” said Wiggins. “His wife is a school teacher. Matt was in real estate, and he has been serving Florida for eight years now. He didn’t have the funds to self-fund the way Baxter Troutman did.”

She was impressed with how hard Caldwell worked to campaign statewide. She said, “I was really proud of Matt. He spent time getting to know our area—I mean, he was in the Panhandle every four weeks for the past 15 months and has really taken the time to get to know the state, get to know the issues at the grassroots level.” Wiggins added, “It was really nice to see real campaigning, real work succeed over just trying to buy the seat.”

Caldwell will face Democrat Nikki Fried, who won her three-person primary with 59 percent of the vote.

Achieve Report On Wednesday, Aug. 29, Achieve Escambia released its 2018 annual report. The nonprofit, which is funded by many of the top employers in the area, focuses on education by aligning community resources so “every generation achieves success, cradle to career.”

The four outcome areas that Achieve Escambia measures are kindergarten readiness, academic success, high school graduation and career readiness.

Over the past year, the 172 Achieve Escambia volunteers have contributed 3,150 hours to the partnership, the equivalent of $77,774.

In his message in the report, Leadership Council chair David Deliman said the organization had three major achievements in the 2017-18 school year—”establishing of a partnership with C.A. Weis Community School to improve early learning; joining the Florida College Access Network’s statewide campaign to connect more high school students to college and career; and setting goals, creating action plans and making commitments to prepare more children for school and more students for success after high school.”

This year, Achieve Escambia wants to align work of 20 childcare centers, churches and businesses with a common early learning improvement plan in the 32505 ZIP code. It wants to bring to Escambia County Help Me Grow, a one-stop-shop program that arms families with tools to address their child’s developmental delays, and will launch the Escambia County FAFSA Challenge to encourage graduates to apply for aid to continue their education.

Achieve Escambia has also set some long-range goals. By 2020, they want to see 60 percent of the children entering kindergarten be ready for school—increasing to 75 percent by 2025. Only 46 percent of the children today are prepared for school when they enter kindergarten.

By 2025, 60 percent of working-age adults will have at least a two-year college degree or a high-quality postsecondary credential. In 2016, only 40.9 percent of Escambia County residents had a degree or high-quality credential.

To learn more about Achieve Escambia,

Neighborhood Grants The City of Pensacola has begun accepting applications for FY 2018-2019 Pensacola Neighborhood Challenge grant program.

The Pensacola Neighborhood Challenge (PNC) grant program, previously known as PCIP, is a matching grant program that provides City of Pensacola neighborhood associations with funding to complete neighborhood improvement projects. Funds can be used for various neighborhood initiatives including beautification projects, signage, sidewalks or other improvements to public property. Funds can be matched by cash, in-kind contributions, volunteer labor or any combination of the three.

Applications are available on and will be accepted until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.

NICU Reunion The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart invites former patients and families of its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to the annual NICU reunion on Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Greenhut Auditorium at Sacred Heart Hospital, 5151 N. Ninth Ave.

The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart offers the area’s only Level III NICU. More than 1,000 babies are admitted to the NICU each year, with about 80 percent born prematurely, which is defined as being born between two and 16 weeks early. The Children’s Hospital maintains two specially equipped mobile neonatal critical care transport ambulances for the transfer of premature and critically ill newborns from other hospitals across Northwest Florida to The Children’s Hospital. The average length of stay in the NICU is 18 days.

This annual event is an opportunity for families to reconnect with the nurses, doctors and team members who cared for them throughout their journey, as well as with the other families whom they may have grown close with.

NICU reunion guests are invited to dress up in fairy-tale-themed costumes and enjoy games, story time, crafts and snacks, as well as indoor and outdoor play areas. The event is free to attend, but families are invited to bring a blanket or book to donate to babies currently in our NICU.

Mark Your Calendars Pensacola State College is teaming up with the school districts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties to host College Fair 2018 on Sept. 9, 10 and 11 at three PSC campuses. The South Santa Rosa County Schools fair is 4-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, PSC South Santa Rosa Center, Bldg. 51, 5075 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze. The Escambia County Schools fair is 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, PSC campus, Hartsell Arena, 1000 College Blvd. For more information, visit

Santa Rosa Republican Party will host a Turkey Shoot starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 8, at Bluegill Bait & Tackle, 8160 Tidwell Road, Chumuckla. For more info, call Ron Corley at 994-7882.

350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast Chapter 350 Pensacola are hosting a “Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice” rally at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St. For more information, email

Sierra Club Emerald Coast invites the public to hear Erin Handy of Oceana, who will speak on the campaign against offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting 2-3:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9, at the West Florida Public Library, 239 N Spring St.

The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Pensacola has revised the public meeting scheduled for the CRA Urban Design Standards Overlay. Public meetings will be held to consider adoption of the proposed CRA Urban Design Overlay District. Planning board meeting and public hearing on proposed overlay/recommendation to city council will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, in Hagler Mason Conference Room, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W Main St.

350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast will show the film “The Burden” that is about the struggle of the US military to provide energy to its troops in battle and the clean energy innovations the military is advancing. The showing is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 at West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring St.

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell will be the guest speaker at the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association’s September luncheon noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at V. Paul’s Italian Ristorante, 29 Palafox. Bell will present on constitutional amendments and the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission proposals. The public is invited to attend. The cost, which includes lunch, is $15 for Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association members and $18 for nonmembers. For reservations, email

Julie Still-Rolin is having a book signing for her latest book, “Evolving through Bullshit,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Open Books Bookstore, 1040 N Guillemard St. The book is about coming out in the South, overcoming midlife changes and making difficult decisions for self-improvement. A Little Madness Brewing Company will be there giving away samples of their craft beer.