Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday January 23rd 2019

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Winners & Losers 2018

Inweekly has picked “Winners” and “Losers” almost from its very beginning. In 2002, we published our first annual edition with a crying baby on the cover. The winners included President George W. Bush, County Commissioner W.D. Childers and newly-elected Congressman Jeff Miller. Among the losers were Osama bin Laden and Enron.

Over the years, we focused more on local winners and losers in this special issue, which has made even more popular. We hope you enjoy the 2018 edition.

—Winners—
1955 Pensacola Jaycees Baseball Team
The community celebrated the historic youth team for their contribution to the civil rights movement. The group of 12-year-old boys and their families risked social, physical and economic repercussions when they played the first game of integrated Little League Baseball in the South against the all-white team Orlando Kiwanis team. The all-black team is the subject of a new documentary film, “Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story.”

Lisa Alverson
The Pensacola Police Department detective was named PPD Officer of the Year for 2018. She also was presented a Meritorious Service Award for outstanding achievement in the line of duty for finding the person who murdered a woman in her driveway in February 2013.

Lauren Anzaldo
The National Association of Social Workers named the acting director of the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Fleet and Family Support Center its 2018 Social Worker of the Year for the state of Florida. The criteria for the award requires that the recipient make a demonstrable difference in advocacy for clients, social policy, social work practice, program development, administration and research, and demonstrates outstanding leadership.

John Appleyard
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos signed the 95-year-old Appleyard patriarch to a five-year, no-cut contract as a color announcer. Appleyard joined broadcast play-by-play announcer Tommy Thrall in the middle innings of the Blue Wahoos’ Sunday home games.

John Armentrout
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida named Big Brother John Armentrout the Agency Big Brother of the Year. John was chosen for his dedication and love for his Little Brother, Joe, with whom he has been paired since November 2010.

Chelsea Bramblett
The Florida Coalition for Children awarded the child welfare case manager at FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview Center its Outstanding Youth Award. The award recognizes those who strive to make life better for foster youth.

Cindi Bear Bonner
The Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola advisory council member was presented with the Rally for Research Award from the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research in Atlanta. This award recognized Bonner’s significant impact while volunteering as director of Rally Pensacola.

Vannee Cao-Nguyen
Dr. Cao-Nguyen received the Joe Oldmixon Service Award for Outstanding Service to People with Disabilities at the Center for Independent Living Disability Resource Center’s Americans with Disabilities Act Awards and Volunteer Recognition Banquet. She serves as the Associate Vice President for Academic Engagement and the University’s Student Ombudsperson. Before her role as AVP, she served as Assistant Director and Director of the Student Disability Resource Center for eight years.

CivicCon
The speaker series hosted by the Studer Community Institute and News Journal raised the level of public discourse on community issues and encouraged civic conversations on ways to make Pensacola a better place. Hundreds attended the events, and even more people watched the talks online. Speakers have included former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, retired U.S. Senator Bob Graham and Strong Towns founder Chuck Marohn. Christian Wagley deserves credit for selecting the fantastic list of speakers.

Escambia County Animal Shelter
The shelter’s adoption, transfer and foster rates soared this past summer. During June, July and August, the shelter saw 460 adoptions, nearly doubling the 265 adoptions they had during the same period in 2017. The euthanasia rate also decreased significantly.

Don Gaetz
The former Florida Senate president successfully led the fight for Amendment 12 that made sweeping changes to how every local and state elected official and public employee conduct themselves, making them more accountable to the communities they serve. Amendment 12 established a six-year ban preventing legislators and other elected officials from lobbying the legislature or any other part of state government after they leave office.  Also, elected officials can’t do paid lobbying while serving in office.

Harry B. Harris, Jr.
The retired admiral in the United States Navy is the United States Ambassador to South Korea. He was the first Asian American to lead US Pacific Command in the U.S. Navy. Ambassador Harris grew up in the East Hill neighborhood of Pensacola. He went to A.V. Clubbs Middle School and was in the second integrated class at Booker T. Washington High School.

Ashton Hayward III
The former Pensacola mayor has been selected to serve as president of the Andrews Institute Research & Education Foundation (AREF) whose mission is to be an international leader in bringing new and groundbreaking solutions to sports medicine through research and education. The foundation also facilitates the Eagle Fund, a prestigious program providing world-class care to hundreds of Americas special operations warriors who have been injured. In this role, Hayward reports to the AREF board of directors that is led by Dr. James Andrews.

League of Women Voters of Florida
The League had two significant victories this past election cycle. The organization successfully advocated for early voting on college campuses and for Amendment 4, which restored the voting rights of convicted felons that have served their sentences. Its passage may be the largest enfranchisement of Floridians since the Voting Rights Act was passed in the ‘60s.

Jordan Leggett
The New York Jets tight end started the Touchdowns for Taylor campaign to raise funds for the Taylor Haugen Foundation. The campaign encourages supporters to pledge a donation to raise awareness of the severity of abdominal injuries and money for state-of-the-art protective gear to ensure safety for all athletes. Taylor Haugen was a 15-year-old Niceville High School student who passed away after a traumatic abdominal injury sustained during a 2008 football game.

Shannon Massingale
The Florida Coalition for Children recognized the behavioral health coordination manager at Lakeview Center as the Florida Therapist of the Year. Massingale has been at Lakeview Center since 2005, primarily working with children and their caregivers. She created a foster parent assistance program that offers therapy at no cost.

Gordon Paulus
The senior communications specialist at Gulf Power and member of the Pensacola chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association was sworn in as state president of the association’s board of directors.

Pensacola Heritage Foundation
In May, the City of Pensacola and the Pensacola Heritage Foundation unveiled a statue of Spanish Gen. Bernardo de Galvez, who defeated the British in the Siege of Pensacola in 1781. Retired Navy Capt  Bob Rasmussen and his daughter, Katherine R. Vincze, designed the statue.

Troy Rafferty
The International Academy of Trial Lawyers inducted the Levin Papantonio shareholder into its fellowship. The Academy limits membership to 500 Fellows from the United States and honors those who have achieved a career of excellence through demonstrated skill and ability in jury trials.

Grover Robinson
The three-term Escambia County commissioner prevailed in the hotly contested election to be the city of Pensacola’s next mayor. In his first three weeks, he has advocated for more public input at all city board meetings, held three Monday press conferences, attended the Dec. 13 Pensacola City Council meeting and had his first monthly meeting with Commissioner Chairman Lumon May. Not a bad start.

Gary Sansing
In June, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution naming its public forum as the “Gary Sansing Public Forum” as an enduring tribute to his service to the county and the community. Sansing, who passed away this year, frequently attended BCC meetings and spoke at many public forum sessions giving his opinion on local, state and national issues.

Satoshi Forest
The Escambia County Development Review Committee approved the site plan development order for a campground for the homeless at 1999 Massachusetts Avenue. The nine acres have approval for 20 temporary shelters and hygiene equipment, such as portable toilets and a hand washing station. The DRC vote ended a four-year legal battle.

Pete Shinnick
The University of West Florida head football coach Pete Shinnick was named the 2018 American Football Coaches’ Association Coach of the Year Award for NCAA Division II. Shinnick led the Argos to the Division II National Championship game in the program’s second-ever season of collegiate football.

Tammie Jo Shults
The Southwest Airlines pilot, who trained at NAS Pensacola, completed an emergency landing of a Boeing 737 in Philadelphia, saving the lives of 148 people and averting a catastrophe when one of the plane’s engines exploded. Shults was among the first female fighter pilots for the U.S. Navy.

Augusta M. Simon
The University of West Florida’s first African-American instructor received the UWF Alumni Trailblazer Award at a ceremony hosted by the Office of Equity and Diversity. She co-founded the UWF Black Student Union, now known as the African-American Student Association. Dr. Simon was also the first African-American resident hall advisor.

David Stafford
The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections and his staff worked the primaries and general elections nearly flawlessly. Stafford has been an early adopter of new technology and has been on the cutting edge of cybersecurity. Once the courts ruled early voting sites could be on university campuses, he made sure one was located on the University of West Florida campus.

Tris Weeks
The 17-year-old singer/songwriter raised nearly $36,000 for Imagine Dragon’s pediatric cancer foundation, the Tyler Robinson Foundation. Weeks has spent the entirety of her high school years doing benefit concerts and school and restaurant fundraisers. For her efforts, Weeks was named the 2017 Tyler Robinson Foundation Ambassador and was honored at a star-studded event in Las Vegas.

Jack Williams
Seville Quarter General Manager Jack Williams received the prestigious Lou Gregory Spirit Award from the Pensacola Runners Association Runners. The Lou Gregory Spirit Award is the highest award in Pensacola’s running community.

Joe Zarzaur
The Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association honored the Pensacola attorney with the 2018 Michael Doubek Community Service Award for Zarzaur’s commitment to the local community. The bar association renamed the award for Michael Doubek for his tireless stewardship of the ESRBA and the high standard he set for its members. Zarzaur’s most recognized philanthropic activity has been “Legal Graffiti,” an event hosted at Zarzaur Law during each Gallery Night.

—Losers—

Bayview Center Groundbreaking
On Monday, May 8, the mayor—flanked by Council President Gerald Wingate, chamber officials and others dressed in hard hats and using gold shovels—held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bayview Community Center. Such ceremonies traditionally celebrate the first day of construction for a building. The shovels and hard hats signify the work is about to begin. However, the mayor lost a vote later in the day on the council agenda recommendation to increase the project’s budget by more than $1 million and approve the construction. The council didn’t approve the contract until months later after the mayor got the cost within budget.

Town of Century
Town Clerk Kim Godwin filed a report with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office alleging her notes and audio recordings from the September town council meeting had been stolen. On Nov. 20, the Century Council approved minutes from an Aug. 3 budget meeting but had not received the minutes from meetings in September, October or early November. A week after the town council president demanded the minutes, Godwin filed a theft report.

City Sidewalks
In the 2017 Pensacola Resident Satisfaction Survey, city sidewalks received the second worst grade, slightly above city stormwater infrastructure. Former City Administrator Eric Olson told the Pensacola City Council that the administration was working on a prioritized list for sidewalks that would be released in January 2018. The sidewalk report was never shown to the public. Thanks to the Robinson administration, Inweekly has received the 2017 sidewalk ADA assessment report by Hatch Mott, an August 2018 PowerPoint presentation on streets without sidewalks and a survey of city lighting. Stay tuned for more.

Spiro Colaitis
The commander of the New York Naval Militia Southern Command and assistant superintendent for district operations for the Malverne, N.Y., school district was charged with voting in the polls in Nassau County, N.Y., and also by mail-in ballot in Escambia County, which is a felony. He was convicted, sentenced to 24 months of probation and ordered to pay court costs. Coalitis, a registered Republican, had not lived in Florida since 2005, and he had sold his property here before 2010.

Escambia County Health
The 2018 County Health Ranking report, issued by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranked Escambia 53 out of the state’s 67 counties. County residents are 136 percent more likely to die prematurely than the state average. Black county residents are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely.

ECSD Purchasing
The procurement department of the Escambia County School District appears to exact its vengeance on companies that challenge its authority. This time, the health of students was at stake. The district’s selection committee once again awarded the $1.8 million healthcare contract to a company that was formed last year and, before being awarded the deal earlier this year, only had two employees, no clients and failed to prove it had the funds in the bank to cover even a month of operations. The earlier contract had been thrown out by a county judge because of the “arbitrary and capricious” methods used to award it. In 2016, a judge threw out the award for the system’s custodial contract for similar shenanigans.

City of Gulf Breeze
The legal fight over a small parcel of land at the end of Catawba Street may have finally concluded, and the city will have to pay out $250,000 for the legal fees of the adjacent homeowners who have contested the public’s right to use the land since 2013. In November, the Florida Court of Appeals released its decision to uphold the lower court’s decision to compel the city to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees. It was the fourth appeal regarding the case that the city of Gulf Breeze had lost.

Mike Hill
The new Florida House District 1 representative was criticized for his political tactics during the GOP primary against Rebekah Bydlak. The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida issued a statement that the primary would “go down in history as one of the ugliest.” Charles J Gravois, the Panhandle RLC chair, accused Hill of engaging in unwarranted and deceptive attacks against Bydlak and called for Hill to publicly apologize. It didn’t happen.

Melissa Howard
The Sarasota Florida House candidate went to great lengths to show she graduated from Miami University in Ohio after a news report that she didn’t have the degree that she claimed. Howard flew to Ohio to find her diploma, which she posted online. FLA News retracted the article but later received information from Miami University that the diploma pictured was a fake. The diploma shown had the signature of Dean Robert C. Johnson. However, Johnson was the dean of the graduate school at the time and wouldn’t have signed Howard’s diploma for a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Also, Miami University doesn’t even offer such a degree. Marketing majors receive a Bachelor of Science in Business. College records show Howard attended the university but never graduated. Howard later dropped out the race.

Mary Beth Jackson
State Attorney Bill Eddins this past summer announced the release of the Okaloosa Grand Jury Report issued on June 13. The report was the result of the Grand Jury’s review of operations, policies and procedures of the Okaloosa County School District. The Grand Jury also looked into how Okaloosa Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson handled allegations of possible child abuse by a former school teacher. They found insufficient evidence to indict Jackson on any criminal charges. However, the Grand Jury was concerned about “her behavior, lack of leadership and failure to fulfill her obligations as superintendent.” The report stated, “For these reasons, we, the members of this Grand Jury, recommend that the Department of Education review this matter and take appropriate action against Ms. Jackson.”

Jeff Kottkamp
The former Lieutenant Governor of Florida created a furor when he claimed oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.” He co-chairs Explore Florida, a national organization which is backed by the oil industry, that advocates for allowing oil companies to investigate new places to drill in federal waters that are now off limits, including the Gulf of Mexico.

Steven Kunkemoeller
The vendor for Newpoint Education Partners, which ran three defunct charter schools in Escambia County, was sentenced by Judge Thomas Dannheisser to more than 55.5 months in prison to be followed by 10 years of probation. Kunkemoeller was convicted in March of racketeering and organized fraud for using a shell company to order school supplies and tripling the price before reselling them to Newpoint charter schools across the state, splitting the proceeds with alleged Newpoint founder Marcus May.

New Orleans Pelicans G League Team
In 2017, the NBA sought proposals from cities willing to host its G League team. Mayor Ashton Hayward rushed to make a presentation before team officials. The only problem was the city of Pensacola doesn’t own an arena, and the team wasn’t interested in holding practices at the Vickery Center. We were told that we were too picky and the details would be worked out. The Pelicans never created the farm team, and no one at city hall mentioned the idea again.

Eric Olson
The former city administrator held a job for two and a half years that he didn’t have the experience or qualifications to do. He resigned this summer after an independent investigation had found he had mismanaged complaints from employees in the mayor’s office. Some of Olson’s other miscues include trying to get the president of the North Hill Preservation Association reprimanded by her employer, messing up an investigation of the city’s fire chiefs, hiding the city had stopped recycling, and being investigated for creating a toxic environment in the mayor’s office.

Pensacola Ferry Service
The long-awaited ferry service funded by the National Park Service lost more than $300,000 during its first summer of operation according to its operator, Gulf Coast Marine Services Inc., which has opted out of running the service any longer. The two 150-passenger ferries cost $2.6 million each.  The National Park Service is searching for another operator.

Premium Parking
The New Orleans-based parking management company lost its contract to handle downtown Pensacola, less than a year after signing the agreement. The Downtown Improvement Board voted 4-0 on Tuesday, Aug. 14, to issue a 30-day notice and assumed control on Sept. 14. According to an analysis done by its staff, the DIB will save $150,000 if it handles parking management.

State Employees Charitable Campaign
Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that eliminated a decades-old state employees’ charitable campaign. United Way had long managed the payroll deduction program until the state hired a New Jersey firm to be the fiscal agent. The plan was suspended in December 2016 when House staff analysis found 63 percent of every dollar pledged would have gone to fiscal-agent fees instead of charities.

Transparent Pensacola
The web page Mayor Ashton Hayward created to give citizens more access to accurate information and hold his administration more accountable no longer exists. Transparent Pensacola was established in the summer of 2015 and showed promise. Unfortunately, the information was often more reactive than proactive. The page was so infrequently updated that citizens rarely looked to it for information. Few people even noticed when the Hayward administration removed the page.

Rob Williamson
The Santa Rosa County District 4 Commissioner seemed to be a sure bet for re-election. In June, he was named the second vice president of the Florida Association of Counties, which put him in line to become FAC President. Then he got into a battle with Navarre Press publisher Sandy Kemp and sent out mailers attacking the media and his opponent, David Piech, whom Williamson called “Chicago Dave.” Piech upset Williamson in the GOP primary, 20,248-12,052.