DON’T BLAME US We were taken in by Rodney Rowe because of his self—purported political clout and understanding of running a not—for—profit. Mr. Rowe introduced himself to me back in October as the campaign manager for Governor Rick Scott. He even introduced me to the governor in October upon driving in on his campaign tour bus with him.
Mr. Rowe was given a considerable amount of responsibility that he asked to be given. This was based on his experience he claimed to have in campaign management and understanding of operating a not—for—profit and the fact that he was self—employed and had considerably more time than other board members to work on the project.
Mr. Rowe was supposed to have been present at ECUA’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Jan. 19 to present the letters he supposedly had for political support and our signatures.
We discovered from Jamie Page’s investigation that followed the CAC meeting that he has deceived us and misrepresented the facts regarding political support. Since learning from Jamie Page’s investigation of Mr. Rowe’s misrepresentation of the political support of our proposal, we have gone back and verified the actions and work of Mr. Rowe. We have learned we were deceived and misrepresented on other things as well.
While not able to contact him and not having heard from him since Jan. 18—the day before we met with ECUA’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee—we have been able to retrieve what appears to be approximately half of our written signatures from Mr. Rowe. He was responsible for processing (counting, copying and scanning) the written signatures. These signatures were presented to the City Council on Dec. 16. We have also determined there to be a huge discrepancy between the number of electronic signatures Mr. Rowe has been reporting to us all along and what we are now verifying.
These actions by Mr. Rowe have done considerable damage to our cause. It is even more disturbing when I think back to how Mr. Rowe repeatedly warned me that we have to guard against con artists and infiltrators that may want to sabotage our project.
I realize that I was too trusting of Mr. Rowe, regret it and again apologize to the citizens of Escambia County for not verifying or substantiating the work done by him. However, these setbacks will not deter us from going forward. I feel that Aquarium for Pensacola is trustee to the will of the citizens of Escambia County and there is still strong citizens’ support for the project. I remain convinced that marine research and an aquarium will be great for our community, our economy and I remain diligent to making it a reality.
We are in the process of seeing what political support there is for the project. As long as we are not proposing the use of City or County money or federal earmarks and with the possibility of private funding, I believe there will be political support at the state and federal level.
—William Young, III, Pensacola for Aquarium founder
Editor’s Note: The ECUA refused on Jan. 27 Young’s request for the delay by a 4—1 vote.
CONGRATS TO RISING STARS I so enjoyed seeing this year’s list of Rising Stars (Independent News, “2011 Rising Stars,” Jan. 28) and look forward to continuing to work for a better community with all of them. Thank you for all that you and your staff do at the IN.
—Jessica L. Jensen, Pensacola
IRRESPONSIBLE “And Pensacola is too nice to tell them” (Independent News, “Outtakes,” Jan. 28). I call it irresponsible. They are in a decision—making job as representatives and don’t have the guts to make the decision…and then they have the audacity to say, “I never said I’d support the project.” Irresponsible is the word.
—Richard Walker, Pensacola
CRYING OVER BIG BOY You are in big trouble with me! I am at work and my mascara is running down my face. I just got around to your Jan. 20 edition and started with your column, “Outtakes: Big Boy.” What a good story, but not one I should read in public. I’ll know better next time.
—Suzy Ratchford, Pensacola
THANKS I just wanted to say “thank you” for including us in your “Winners” section this week (Independent News, Jan. 20). My co—workers did an incredible amount of work last year! Our CEO read the piece to the whole office and I know it meant a lot to them to be recognized for their hard work.
—Karen Szulczewski, APR, Communications Director, Better Business Bureau
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE Helluva piece about Big Boy in the Jan. 20 edition of the IN. It never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact dogs can have on us humans. When one considers the amount of time dogs and people have coexisted together, it’s no wonder they fit so well into our family units.
We lost a 15—year—old dog (Cola) two years ago, and the wound is still sensitive; however, we did what I always suggest to others who lose a dog—we jumped right back on the horse and got a puppy. That puppy will never be the same as Cola and will not even fill the exact same role, but as for filling that specific hole in that specific part of the heart, well she does that right nicely.
I guess the best way I can describe what dogs do for us is to say that they love us pretty much unconditionally, and who couldn’t use some of that therapy these days? May you bring some comfort to the Outzen women in this sad time, and may a happy puppy find its way to your home before too long.
—Ryan Hatler, Pensacola