Pensacola, Florida
Friday August 29th 2014

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ONE MORE TIME WITH FEELING The City of Pensacola is doing another study of the Port of Pensacola, which is the third or fourth since 2003. This one has some hope since it’s being run by Mayor Ashton Hayward and not city staff or the Pensacola City Council.

Hayward is appointing a Port Advisory Group comprised of local business and policy leaders to advise him on future opportunities for the Port and the Port property.
“Pensacola is fortunate to have a well-managed deep-water Port, but we need to increase our marketing efforts and utilize port space in the most effective way for the taxpayers and businesses that support it,” said the Mayor. “This advisory group will work with me to identify the best way to make our community’s waterfront and waterways a more profitable part of our city.”

Hayward stated that he planned to help the Port by increasing budgets for marketing and advertising, while at the same time exploring options for development. He cautioned that this advisory panel would not be another study group, noting the numerous City-sponsored studies of the Port over the past two decades.

“We’ve had plenty of studies of the Port. We now need specific actions. It’s clear that we have two great assets on the Port property. First is the working Port itself, which I’m hoping can become a more profitable enterprise with additional marketing dollars,” said Hayward, noting that he would be submitting a budget to City Council with expanded marketing funds for the Port.

“Second, we also have significant unused property on the Port, adjacent to our historic district, which is available for other uses. I’m not one to just stick money in a mattress, so I’m hoping this advisory group can present innovative ideas for using underutilized property at the Port that will generate revenue for the City and provide a greater return on investment,” said Hayward.

Members of the Port Advisory Group are:
Blaise Adams – RBC Bank, member of Hayward Transition Team
Debbie Calder – President, Navy Federal Credit Union
Bill Greenhut – President, Greenhut Construction
Rick Harper – Director, UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement
John Myslak – Suncoast Building Components
Wes Reeder – Attorney, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon
Hayward said the advisory group would be convened in a few weeks, with final recommendations to be submitted by October.

TO BE THE FOOL Actress, poet and artist Grace Zabriskie recently spent a week on the University of West Florida campus as an artist-in-residence. On Sunday, April 3, she fielded questions on her career and her professions at a special event held on the UWF campus.

Zabriskie debuted in “Norma Rae” and has played several memorable roles in film and on television, including “An Officer and Gentlemen,” “Wild at Heart,” “Twin Peaks,” “Seinfeld” and “Big Love.” She grew up half a block away from her father’s Bourbon Street bar and knew Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. She joked that she was “insufficiently discouraged” from acting and art when she was a child.

She talked about aspiring to be the fool. “There are kings and their courts, filled with ladies, nobles and advisors. Then there is that unique one—the fool—whose job is not just to advise, but to tell the truth. He must know the king well enough to somehow tell him the truth.

“I do aspire to be that fool, trying to figure out somehow to say the truth,” said Zabriskie, “to spend time watching, listening, paying attention and trying to see things as they really are.”
She said, “There is a price you pay for that. If you aspire to tell the truth–to watch, listen and think and tell the truth in some form, you can’t aspire to be like the lords and ladies.”

Zabriskie said that Capote may have been the greatest fool ever, except he wanted to be too much like the lords and ladies.

“I try to live my life a certain way so that I can be there to tell the truth to the king,” she told the audience.

DISTRICT PUBLIC RECORD REQUEST The IN hasn’t had the greatest success getting its public record requests answered on a timely basis. When Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas released on March 17 his investigative report that cleared Tate High School officials and his staff of any allegations of covering up the suspected sexual assault at the high school, the IN requested information on the sexual offenses that occurred during the 2009-10 school year and had been reported to the Florida Department of Education.

The request stated: “According to the Florida Department of Education’s School Environmental Safety Incident Report, the Escambia County schools reported 16 sexual offenses during the 2009-10 school year. The Independent News is requesting the documentation that supports the schools entering those offenses into the state system. We want to know what those offenses were and as many details as possible. Here are the offenses by school:

Pensacola High School:
3 sexual offenses;
Bellview Middle School:
2 sexual offenses;
Tate Senior High School:
2 sexual offenses;
Brown Barge Middle School:
2 sexual offenses;
Washington Senior High School:
2 sexual offenses;
Northview High School:
2 sexual offenses;
Brentwood Elementary School:
1 sexual offense;
Ferry Pass Middle School:
1 sexual offense; and
West Florida High School:
1 sexual offense.

On March 28, the IN met with School Board attorney Donna Waters and Deputy Superintendent Norm Ross and was told the District could not release the information because it might jeopardize federal funding if the information provided could be used to identify the students involved.

The IN stated it wanted to know what type of sex offenses could occur on school grounds that didn’t warrant being reported to law enforcement, because the FDOE report only showed three of the incidents being reported to law enforcement.
Ross couldn’t answer the question and admitted that he hadn’t even reviewed the school reports.

The paper revised its initial record request to ask only for the SESIR codes and statements of the alleged conduct, without the school, date, names, etc. by which students might be identified. Waters told the IN that she and staff would look at the material requested to determine what could be released.

As of its April 5 press deadline, the IN is still wrangling over the request.