Pensacola, Florida
Monday October 14th 2019


Winners & Losers 4/4/19

Lewis Bear, Jr.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Bear to the Triumph Gulf Coast board of directors, which was created by the Legislature to distribute $1.5 billion from the BP oil spill settlement to the eight Panhandle counties affected by the spill. Bear is president and CEO of the Lewis Bear Co. He also serves on the University of West Florida board of trustees and as the chairman of the Pensacola-Escambia Development Commission. Bear was named to the top of the Inweekly Power List in 2009.

Global Connections to Employment
Food Management (FM) magazine recently ranked GCE No. 39 in the Top 50 Contract Management Companies list. FM editors do extensive research to compare and assess the largest contract management companies, including firms like Sodexo and Aramark. GCE, who fills most of its 1,700 positions with people with disabilities, has consistently made the list since 2010.

Gulf Power Foundation
The University of West Florida GeoData Center was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Gulf Power Foundation. Since 2013, Booker T. Washington High School Marine Science Academy students have collected water quality data at Bayou Texar. The Amplify! grant will allow the GeoData Center to help the academy integrate information collected into an online mapping Geographic Information Systems platform. Funds will also go toward training students on new tools for real-time data collection. Students at the Marine Science Academy will receive new tablet computers for entering and cataloging the data they collect.

Conduent State & Local Solutions
The Florida Department of Transportation plans to fine the contractor $4.6 million for problems with the state’s toll road system. Millions of toll transactions got delayed as a result of a billing system upgrade last June. When the transactions finally began to show up, some customers incurred bank overdraft fees as a result. Last Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the continued suspension of fees and penalties for SunPass and Toll-By-Plate customers until June 1. FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault replaced his director of toll systems.

Ellenwood Academy, LLC.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody last week filed a court action against Brandon-based Ellenwood Academy, LLC. “for deceptive marketing of illegitimate high school diplomas to consumers in Florida and nationwide.” The school allegedly charged $195 for high school diplomas that are not accepted by any institution in the State University System. More than 3,000 people enrolled in the program between 2015 and 2017, according to the AG’s office.

Daily Newspapers
CS/HB 1235 could end the requirement that government and legal notices be disseminated in print newspapers with paid circulations. Current Florida law requires state or local government entities to purchase newspaper advertising to get out notices. The bill would replace the newspaper provision with a requirement that such notices could be posted on a searchable public website. If passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by the governor, city and county agencies could save thousands annually by posting their legal notices on their website.