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The Buzz 7/21/11

MACK ATTACKS Sometimes the most innocent requests can lead to melodrama, especially when it involves the city of Pensacola. The IN requested a copy of the alternative redistricting map that Supervisor of Elections David Stafford was asked to develop by the City Redistricting Commission.

The alternative map, labeled “City Sample C,” had more contiguous districts. It shifted Maren DeWeese out of District 3 and into District 4 with Larry Johnson. District 6, which is held by Brian Spencer, became the downtown district with a 56.44 percent white majority.

The map was posted on Rick’s Blog (ricksblog.biz) late Wednesday afternoon. By that night, Redistricting Commissioner Diane Mack was irate that she had not received the map prior to the newspaper.

At 8:56 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, Mack fired off an email to Elaine Mager, Supervisor of Elections David Stafford, City Attorney Jim Messer and Council President Maren DeWeese:

“Elaine:
I don’t know who is responsible for releasing the latest districting map sample to the media (Outzen’s blog) before it was sent to the Commission members, but it was a violation of protocol and I hereby register my objection and complaint. Please forward to the appropriate parties.”

The next morning, Stafford replied that IN publisher Rick Outzen had made the request several hours after the alternative map had been sent to Mager. Stafford copied Messer, Mager and commission chair DeeDee Davis on the email to the Outzen.

Mack wasn’t satisfied and wrote in her reply to Stafford: “To send the information to him was out of order and a discourtesy to us. The proper procedure would have been to inform him that the map had not been distributed to the Commission and to refer his request to Commission Chair.”

She told Stafford that she planned to take up the issue at the next commission meeting.

Stafford replied: “Thank you for sharing your opinion on proper procedures for public officials responding to requests for information. That said, I don’t intend to continue this dialogue over e-mail, but will be happy to address it at the next meeting.”

An hour and a half later, Mack apologized to Stafford, but still kept the controversy going: “The question remains is who took it upon him/herself to put a bug in Mr. Outzen’s ear that there was something to be requested.”

This is indeed the question.

FLYERS BODYCHECK COUNTY Chuck McCartney, president of the Pensacola Ice Flyers, sent an email to the media last week about the allegations made at a recent Escambia County Commission meeting that his team was in default with its lease agreement for the Pensacola Civic Center.

According to McCartney, team owner Tim Kerr was surprised by the allegation and complained that no one had contacted his organization for its season ticket sales figures.

“I can’t believe they are saying I am in default of my lease agreement, without ever calling me for accurate numbers,” said Kerr. “The lease states that I needed to sell 1,250 season tickets for the 2009-2010 season only, before I could obtain a lease with the county. I exceeded that figure when you include full season tickets, half season equivalents and corporate season tickets, so a lease was signed in July of 2009.”

Kerr was adamant that the Ice Flyers are not in default in its lease agreement. “We met the season ticket number imposed for our first year and we have met every other obligation under the current agreement over the last two years and we will continue to meet those obligations for the remaining two seasons left under our current agreement.”

The owner said that he had renegotiated an increase in the facility fee added to every ticket sold to help reduce the expense to the county of maintaining the ice sheet. “I am upset that they would attack my credibility without any input from our organization. I can show the proof that we are in complete compliance with our current lease agreement.”

McCartney agreed that the Ice Flyers need to sell more tickets to help increase the revenue the county receives from parking sales, concessions and facility fees. “I am committed to making that happen or hockey will not be in Pensacola after this current lease,” said McCartney. “We also had a setback with the oil spill last summer and that had an impact on our sales and we are confident we can be more successful at the gate in the coming years.”

The team president said that Kerr is planning a visit to Pensacola to meet with the County Commissioners in the near future to provide a clear understanding of the numbers directly from the Ice Flyers organization and prove that the Ice Flyers are not in violation of the current lease agreement that is valid until the end of the 2012-2013 season.

MPDP LOSES AGAIN Federal Judge Casey Rodgers denied the motion by Maritime Park Development Partners, LLC to dismiss the lawsuit Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc. filed against MPDP. CMPA has alleged fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation and violation of Florida’s competitive bidding statute, Fla. Stat. § 287.055, in relation to a public development contract.

MPDP sought dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepted all factual allegations of the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

Judge Rodgers found that the First Amended Complaint adequately alleges, with a plausible recitation of particular facts, that MPDP, its officers, and its alter ego or predecessor in business made knowing misrepresentations intended to induce reliance and that did induce reliance, resulting in damage to the plaintiff.