Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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The Buzz 8/29/19

Holley Exits Dec. 6 When Mayor Grover Robinson came into office, he brought Chris Holley out of retirement to be his administrator. By the end of this year—Dec. 6 is the tentative date—Holley will be heading out.

“Chris has been very instrumental in helping to create the changes, I think, you’re seeing in-house,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

When Holley came on board, he stated that it would only be for a short-term duration. The mayor said that he was hoping for 18 months but also thought Holley had initiated many of the items he was brought aboard to address.

Specifically, the mayor credited Holley with his work putting together an administrative team and working to develop succession plans within departments. He also said that the administrator was instrumental in putting together a human resources manual and pushing for employee raises.

Robinson said that the city could take its time finding the next city administrator. He pointed to Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins, who himself is set to retire in 2020, as being able to pick up any slack and said he felt like he had about nine months to work on finding a replacement.

“Keith is still here,” the mayor said. “While he plans to leave in 2020, he still provides us an interim by which we would really have a significant amount of time to try to find who we have that makes the team move forward.”

Prior to taking off at the end of the year, Holley said he had a few more things he’d be working on. Items mentioned included filling the city’s vacant HR director position and also planning a staff retreat for November aimed at “building a level of trust among all the department heads.”

“Still plenty of work,” Holley said. “I’ll be around a while.”

District 5 Nominees The city of Pensacola has provided the list of potential appointees to Pensacola City Council’s empty District 5 seat.

Left vacant following the recent passing of Councilman Gerald Wingate, the District 5 council seat will be filled by the city council during a special meeting Sept. 4. Council members must submit their nominees to be considered for the appointment by 5 p.m. Friday.

The list is fairly reflective of community discussions had earlier last week—during which several District 5 residents threw their names in the proverbial hat—with a few new names also added to the conversation.

The appointee nominations thus far are as follows—Betty Allen, Taran Black, Teniade Broughton, Ron Helms, John Jerralds, Alexander Kozmon, P. Jay Massey, Tony McCray, Haley Morrissette and Walker Wilson.

Broughton, Helms, McCray and Morrissette all stated their desire to sit in the District 5 seat during a community meeting held at the Bethel AME Church Monday evening. Rodney Jones, at the same event, expressed some hesitancy due to Mayor Grover Robinson’s suggestion that whoever is appointed take a pledge not to run for the seat in 2020 in order to avoid a scenario where city council is handpicking an incumbent. Incidentally, Jones was nominated as a potential candidate but withdrew his name on Thursday.

The new names on the list include Allen, Black, Jerralds, Kozmon, Massey and Wilson.

Each nominee had to be submitted to the city by a council member in order to be considered for the appointment. Councilwoman Sherri Myers nominated almost every appointee candidate, with the exception of Black and Kozmon. Black was nominated by Councilman Jared Moore and Kozmon by council President Andy Terhaar. Terhaar also threw in on Massey’s and Wilson’s nomination, while Moore also submitted Allen’s name and joined Myers and Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn in nominating Broughton.

While Mayor Robinson has requested that the eventual appointee bow out of consideration in the 2020 election, he has acknowledged he has no authority to require such. The nominees have varying perspectives on this request. Helms and Jones, for example, have already filed to run for the seat in 2020.

If this list holds, city council will be deciding between these 10 nominees on Sept. 4. There is also a chance more names will be added prior to the Aug. 23 deadline.

Here’s a brief rundown of the nominees based on information provided on the applications they submitted to the city:

Alexander Kozmon lived in the district for nine years; had a 20-year career with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health; served as police lieutenant in Connecticut.

Betty Allen lived in the city for 41 years; former city employee; worked in community development and the city clerk’s office.

Haley Morrissette lived in the city for 10-plus years; member of Dream Defenders; works as a survivor care coordinator at Lakeview Center.

John Jerralds has been a city resident for 40 years; previously served on the city council.

P. Jay Massey has been a city resident for 23 years; co-founded Coco Design; works as a digital ADA/accessibility consultant.

Ron Helms has been a city resident for two years and two months; is a military veteran and ordained clergy; has filed to run for the District 5 seat in 2020.

Taran Black has been a city resident for two years; has “an unsettling desire to serve;” works as a case manager at Lakeview Center.

Teniade Broughton has been a city resident for seven years; focuses would be affordable housing and expanding access and programs at Woodland Heights Community Center.

Tony McCray has been a 55-year city resident; has served on the Human Relations Commission as well as on the boards of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber and the African American Heritage Society.

Walker Wilson has lived in the city for 16.5 non-consecutive years; serves as the president of the Pensacola Young Professionals; would focus on implementing the mayoral transition report, on which he worked for businessman Quint Studer.

Dream Defenders Dream Defenders has released the name of the Pensacola police officer who killed Tymar Crawford when the man got into an altercation with police after being stopped on July 5.

The officer was Daniel Siemen, according to the PPD public records attained by Dream Defenders. Siemen is currently on paid administrative leave.

“Because we believe this information should have been made public by the city as soon as it was available, we wanted to come to the community of Pensacola with this information first,” wrote the organization on its Facebook page.

Dreamer Defender is demanding that Siemen be fired from the Pensacola Police Department. They have scheduled a march on Pensacola Police Department for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Organizers said, “We’re meeting at the corner of C and Brainerd streets, where Daniel Siemen and two other Pensacola police officers ended Tymar Crawford’s life.”

Super Majority Dance On Thursday, Aug. 15, the Escambia County School Board held another workshop to discuss the proposed policies for the appointed superintendent. At the top of the discussion was Section 5 of the policies and whether a supermajority vote should be required to fire a superintendent without cause.

The board members danced around the problem without making a final decision at first but later agreed to drop Section 5 and have the superintendent’s contract dictate terms for termination.

Board member Kevin Adams made it clear he didn’t plan to vote on a policy that required a supermajority vote—four out of five school board members—to fire a superintendent.

“I won’t have any problem voting for us to advertise the policy, but when it does come around for a vote, I’ll be voting no on that supermajority reason,” he said. “I know we got three districts in the state of Florida that do have supermajority out of the 28, but I’d like to have a stronger board, not a weaker board. So, that’d be my reasons to vote against it.”

Board member Bill Slayton was disappointed. He said, “I just want to say, that’s your right, and I will not say anything against it except for the fact that I personally was hoping that this board would unanimously accept this document and not someone pull one vote for one sentence.”

Adams, who won re-election last year, said that no one told him that they wanted a weak school board while he was campaigning.

“I never heard anybody saying to dilute the authority of the board, not once, “ he said.  “I don’t know why we need to have that in there when we got 24 other school districts that don’t have it.”

Board member Paul Fesko also campaigned last year.

“I understand exactly what Mr. Adam’s is saying. I’ve had the same feeling during the entire campaigning,” he said. “The people that I spoke with were not in favor of supermajority. They said the whole reason was that for the board to be able to remove from office … and it shouldn’t take a supermajority to do that.”

The retired assistant school superintendent said that he had worked with people who were difficult and toxic but whose behavior might not have risen to the level that would garner a supermajority vote to terminate.

“I still have great reservations about it,” said Fesko. “I was 100% with Mr. Adams on this issue until the last meeting, we went into great lengths discussing it. I could be swayed either way.”

Hightower said that a school board could always change the policy later. Adams replied, “That may be the way; it’s just going to make it a little tougher.”

It first appeared the board would delay any decision, but later during the workshop, Hightower made a suggestion. She said, “I think you could eliminate five—the section that sets forth supermajority—totally, because basically, it says throughout the term of the contract. So, you’re going to have the contract language that will be what will govern it. “

“You can leave it out and let the contract be negotiated as to how he could be removed for cause or without cause,” said Waters.

Adams liked relying more on the superintendent’s contract than putting termination conditions in the policies. He said, “A lot of them do not have a lot of verbiage in their policy, and it refers to their contract.”

“Going to delete Section 5,” Hightower instructed Waters, “that entire section. Or the only other thing I could see would be, superintendent removal of is governed by the contract.”

Waters agreed to replace Section 5 with “termination of superintendent for cause or without cause shall be set forth in the contract.”

M.E. Nominee Withdraws State Attorney Bill Eddins announced last Friday that Dr. Scott Luzi has withdrawn his name for consideration as Chief Medical Examiner for the First District of Florida. The Search Committee will meet 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the Multimedia Room of the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building to discuss how to move forward.

State of the City Mayor Grover Robinson last week presented his first State of the City at a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Pensacola Chamber. He highlighted several areas of growth over the past years, including residential and commercial permits, ad valorem and sales tax revenue increases.

“What it is showing is that this is a community that people want to come to,” Mayor Robinson said. “It speaks to the quality of the place. But the only problem with that is every time we keep having growth, we’ve got to reinvest in ourselves.”

Part of that reinvestment includes new city staff members such as Complete Streets Planner Mike Ziarnek, Neighborhoods Administrator Lawrence Powell and Assistant City Administrator Kerrith Fiddler, who he said are all looking into ways to better serve citizens of Pensacola.

“That’s why we’ve hired the complete streets person,” Mayor Robinson said. “That’s why we’re looking into how can we make Pensacola the place that you want to live, that your children want to come back and live. And it takes reinvestment over and over in what we’re doing, so I think that’s what your team that serves you every day is trying to do as we’re moving forward.”

Mayor Robinson also highlighted the city’s “Florida’s First and Future” tagline. He said, “We want all of your companies that you’re working in to be working at that lead edge of what we’re doing so that we are not just simply limited by our past, but we also are looking at an unlimited future and working together.”

United Way Grant Training United Way of West Florida (UWWF) is beginning its annual partner agency certification process. Becoming a certified partner is the first step to becoming eligible to apply for grant funding through UWWF’s Community Investment Process.

Any nonprofit agency interested in becoming a United Way partner is required to attend one certification training session. At these sessions, attendees will learn the types of documentation and forms required to apply for certification and will walk through how to upload these to the online platform used for certification. To reserve your spot, email Rebecca Cleary, rebecca.cleary@uwwf.org.

Escambia County trainings are 9-11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, and 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the United Way of West Florida Community Room, 1301 W. Government St. Santa Rosa County training is 10 a.m.-noon at the Gulf Breeze Chamber of Commerce, 409 Gulf Breeze Parkway.

All agencies that attend a training will have until Oct. 11 to submit their certification documentation. United Way of West Florida’s Finance Committee and Board of Directors will review all documentation and determine whether agencies qualify for certification.

Mark Your Calendars Sherri Myers, Pensacola City Council District 2, is hosting a town hall meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at Tryon Library, 1200 Langley Ave. The meeting is regarding Broadview Farms/Parker Circle neighborhoods.

The Cpl. J.R. Spears Detachment of the Marine Corps League announces the Annual Heroes Among Us speaker series event for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug 29, in Rosie’s at Seville Quarter with Guest of Honor Lt. Colonel Andrew Del Gaudio, USMC, Ph.D.

City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation hosts a ribbon-cutting event for the reopening of Morris Court Park 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31. Morris Court Park is located at 1401 W. Lloyd St.

Penn State Alumni, Emerald Coast Chapter welcomes alumni, fans and friends of Penn State 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at Seville Quarter in Fast Eddie’s for the first annual meeting and game watch for the 2019-2020 year.