Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday May 21st 2019

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The Buzz 4/25/19

Petition Failed City officials say the deadline petition drive to disrupt the expansion of MRO campus has passed without the group ever presenting any signatures to city hall.

In February, Citizens against Corporate Welfare announced that it wanted the Pensacola City Council to reconsider its approval of an interlocal agreement with Escambia County Commission regarding the expansion of the maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at the Pensacola International Airport.

The group had 60 days to collect at least 4,055 signatures from registered voters living inside city limits. The petition would have forced the city council to reconsider its vote. Had the council refused to reverse it, the issue would have been voted on by city voters.

City spokesperson Allie Norton told Inweekly late last week, “The petition was to be turned in by 5 p.m. on April 5. Mr. Cosson (Citizens against Corporate Welfare co-founder) did not make the deadline.”

Inweekly reached out to Cosson, who refused to comment or confirm the petition drive was over.

Down to Eight Escambia County commissioners will be selecting the next county administrator from a pool of eight candidates. Commissioners finalized the candidate list last week, with several adding their own picks to an existing pool selected by a team from the Florida Association of Counties.

The candidates selected by FAC that are still on the list are Craig Coffey, Patrick Thompson and David Strahl. Two weeks ago, Commissioner Jeff Bergosh chose to throw Chris Martin’s name onto the list. Martin is the recently retired commanding officer of NAS Pensacola. Bergosh said, “If we’re going to add names, we’re going to honor some military service.”

Commissioner Steven Barry selected Janice Gilley, a former county commissioner (2002-04), to place in the pool. Commissioner Robert Bender decided to include Cedric Alexander, of Pensacola, on the prospective list.

Chairman Lumon May held out on naming his additions until the Tuesday, April 16, meeting—local Kimberly Washington and Ricardo Mendez, of Miami. Bender requested May limit his addition to one candidate, but the chairman declined, noting that the county would only be footing the bill to bring in one candidate from out of the area and that both of his selections broadened the pool.

“They bring diversity,” May said, adding that he’d done his homework on each candidate. “They both bring a different ethnicity to the board.”

On Monday, April 29, the candidates will meet privately with each commissioner before sitting for sessions with the entire board. The commissioners will rank the candidates until they’ve settled on the top three, which will then be whittled to one.

‘Dirty and Dangerous’ Environmental organization Oceana last week released a report that the group says finds offshore oil drilling to be a precarious proposition. The report runs counter to a narrative being put forward by the American Petroleum Institute, which hopes to open up new offshore territory and contends drilling has become safer since the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report, titled “Dirty Drilling: Trump Administration Proposals Weaken Key Safety Protections and Radically Expand Offshore Drilling,” comes at a time when the federal government is finalizing a five-year drilling plan that determines offshore leases and could potentially open up additional areas to drilling, including in the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida.

“Less safety and more drilling are a recipe for disaster,” Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins said in a statement. “President Trump must drastically reverse course to prevent another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster.”

The Oceana report contends that the offshore drilling industry is poorly regulated, inherently risky and ill-equipped to deal with an oil spill or leak. It points out that The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement incorporates industry-written standards into regulations, then routinely grants exemptions to those regulations. It also touches on blowout preventer technology—a technology touted by API—which it describes as “the last line of defense against a catastrophic spill,” and argues it remains untested in the extreme environment encountered in a real-world scenario.

Also in the report, Oceana provides data designed to deter. The organization notes that there were at least 6,500 oil spills in U.S. waters between 2007 and 2017 and that the sizes of those spills are routinely lowballed. It also argues that the relatively low financial penalties incurred by drilling operations—$44,675 per violation, per day—do little to deter corner cutting in an industry accustomed to $1 million-per-day operating costs.

“We should not be expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to new areas when there’s overwhelming bipartisan opposition,” Hoskins said in the release. To read the full Oceana report, visit usa.oceana.org/dirtydrilling.

Florida Dems Love Biden The latest Inweekly/Political Matrix poll revealed that former Vice President Joe Biden has an enormous lead in Florida over the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls—leading with 42.4 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders at a distant second at 12.7 percent.

Sanders is immediately followed by South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (8.6 percent) and then Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke—both with 7.1 percent.

The survey sampled were 840 likely Florida Democratic voters with a perfect voting score for the general election cycles. The voters were called using an Interactive Voice Response system during the hours of 5-7 p.m. on April 11-14. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.5 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

Summit to Stop the Violence Pensacola government and citizens don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about gang activity. But ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. Kenneth Daggans and the Black Fist Outreach Ministry are hoping to change the conversation and decrease gang activity in the process.

Earlier this year, Inweekly covered the inspiring turn-around of Pensacola resident Daggans. A former gang member and addict who served significant time in prison before turning his life around, Daggans is now working to create his own reform program to prevent Pensacola youth from going down the same path.

Daggans’ ministry, Black Fist Outreach Ministry Inc., will be hosting its first-ever Gang Prevention Summit noon-3 p.m., Saturday, April 27, at the Fricker Community Center, 900 N. F St.

The event will feature multiple speakers and performances, including artistic and spoken presentations from graduating members of the Healthy Opportunities and Options to Promote Success (HOOPS) program—which is an organization contracted by the Department of Juvenile Justice to reform and deter juveniles.

The youth, ranging from ages 12 to 17, have been part of the 90-day mentorship program which Daggans volunteers with and will share the coping mechanisms and tools they have learned. In addition to speakers, there will be a Tai Chi demonstration and musical performances by the Pensacola Persuaders Gospel Band.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and Escambia District 3 Commissioner Lumon May will be in attendance, and the event will be hosted by radio personality Sonshine of Magic 106.1.

Dr. Emma Watts, a Pensacola resident who has spent decades ministering to and counseling inmates at the Escambia County Jail, also helped to organize the event. Watts, who began her mentorship after her brush with crime decades ago, offered valuable insight about what makes a gang member.

“Ninety percent of our juveniles, they are searching to belong to something,” said Watts. “[Daggans] was looking for that love that he wasn’t getting. Now, he is trying to instill into [the juveniles] that a gang is not where you want to be. He is trying to show them a different type of unity. You can structure your life to become whatever you want it to become.”

The term “gang” conjures up an organized crew of strongly-bonded individuals whose goal is to maintain clout and protect those on their team. On the contrary, the image of gangs we see here in Pensacola are most often disorganized, loosely-affiliated groups of young men without leadership who may be willing to do whatever it takes to prove themselves.

This lack of structure means that vigilante violence, assaults, attempted murders and more can happen seemingly anywhere at any time. Daggans says his ministry seeks to turn around the lives of young juveniles who are either in gangs or considering joining.

“I am reformed due to a structured organization. Black Fist offers structure,” Daggans said.

Intervention, Daggans says, is vital. He told Inweekly, “If I had someone stepping up and out when I was 14 years old and addicted to drugs, I would have had a better chance at having a productive life. When I became a leader, I did it to make a difference. When I step out into society and meet the guys who want to be reformed, I know where they hurt.”

Watts says that alongside religious ministry, the essential step of reforming juveniles is showing them that there is another way to live. “I want them to know that, ‘I don’t have to be a bad person. I can become the person God created me to be.’ [God’s] purpose surely wasn’t to go out there and destroy other people’s lives.”

Park Entrance Fees Waived In honor of the sacrifice paid by Rosamond Johnson and his family, the National Park Service will waive entrance fees to all park areas during the annual commemoration on May 4 from 9 a.m.-noon. The annual commemoration event will be held on the same day at 10 a.m. at Johnson Beach. The national seashore was granted a fee waiver by the NPS regional director at the park’s request.

After enlisting in the U.S. Army at 15 years old, Johnson died in combat two years later on the Korean Peninsula. While engaged with the enemy, on July 26, 1950, Private Johnson carried two wounded soldiers to safety. He was fatally wounded while attempting to save a third injured man. On August 21, 1950, Rosamond was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he sustained while saving his fellow soldiers.

At the time of his death, Pensacola beaches were racially segregated. The Sunset Riding Club, Inc. leased a county-owned recreational area in 1950 for the sole use of bathing and recreational facilities for “colored citizens.” In honor of his ultimate sacrifice, and in recognition as the first Escambia County resident to die in the Korean Conflict, the recreational area became known as Rosamond Johnson Beach. The area became part of Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1971, and the name was retained.

Free Shredding Event Gilmore Services, WEAR-TV, Cat Country 98.7 and the Better Business Bureau are offering individuals an opportunity to shred their sensitive documents 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, April 27, at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds. In addition to shredding, resources on how to protect your identity will be provided.

An individual may bring up to 50 pounds of their personal sensitive information to be shredded. Documents to be shredded should be removed from binders, but staples and paper clips are acceptable. Please do not tie bags or tape boxes.

The Community Shred Event is not for businesses; no corporate business/company documents will be accepted.

Mark Your Calendars Women for Responsible Legislation will hold their monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.,  Thursday, April 25, at Pensacola City Hall. This month’s WRL speaker will be Escambia County Tax Collector Scott Lunsford.

The City of Pensacola will celebrate Arbor Day at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 26, at Miraflores Park, 1601 E. La Rua St. In addition to planting a live oak at the park, Parks and Recreation invites guests to register for a free raffle for one of three trees to be given away.

The City of Pensacola invites you to a ribbon cutting at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, April 26, for the new playground at Armstrong Park, 300 W. Lakeview Ave. The new playground features new climbers, slides and interactive elements for all ages.

Downtown Improvement Board will meet 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, in the Bowden Building, Room #1, 120 Church St.

The women of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart are holding their annual Spring Fling Event, which is a huge Flea Market and Arts and Crafts Fair, 8 a.m.- 3 p.m., Saturday, April 27, in the Parish Hall and surrounding grounds at the corner of 12th Avenue and Moreno Street.

Escambia County Extension will host a special “Growing with Extension” Open House from 8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, April 27, at its office, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment. The event will feature gardening demonstrations, an introduction to various 4-H youth programs, a healthy-eating seminar, cooking demonstrations, discussions about coastal sustainability practices and livestock management.

The 2019 “Walk for Mommy & Me” will take place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at Carpenter’s Park on Munson Highway in Milton. The walk is sponsored by the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County WIC Program and supports the Department of Health’s Healthiest Weight Campaign, emphasizing the importance of physical activity and good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Mayor Grover Robinson and Councilwoman Sherri Myers will host the District 2 Town Hall at 6 p.m., Monday, April 29, at Asbury Place behind Cokesbury United Methodist Church, 5725 N. 9th Ave.