HORSING AROUND With Escambia County Commissioner Wilson Robertson getting the all clear on possible ethics charges over his role in the hiring of a recently brought-on and let-go marketing director for the county’s equestrian center, county officials can turn their attention to rehiring for the position.
“It closed, I think it was, a week ago Sunday,” Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver said of the job posting.
The county had 59 people apply for the position. Oliver reported that 46 applicants met the minimum qualifications.
Originally termed a marketing position, the job is now referred to as Equestrian Center Manager.
“There’s a misconception that this is solely a marketing position,” Oliver said.
The job became mired in controversy after Commissioner Robertson suggested that Forrest Gibbs would be good for the job. Although he did not come from a marketing background, Gibbs was eventually hired with a starting salary significantly higher than advertised to fellow applicants.
The Escambia County Commission ended up relieving Gibbs to avoid any perception of unethical behavior and requesting opinions on the matter from state agencies. Now Gibbs has reapplied for the position.
“He’ll be given the same consideration as any other applicant,” Oliver said.
Within the next couple of weeks, the county is expected to whittle the pool of potential applicants down to a dozen. Then the hiring panel, which has yet to be named, will conduct telephone interviews until zeroing in on about four finalists.
DREAMING ON THE SIDEWALK Occupy Pensacola is now heading into its seventh week. The last couple of weeks at City Hall have been made a bit less comfortable, since officials have taken the group’s tents and kicked the protesters to the curb. Not really the curb, but the sidewalk.
“They told people yesterday around 5:30 (p.m.) that they were redefining what the sidewalk was,” said Alistair McKenzie, who is serving as the group’s legal counsel, Monday, Nov. 28.
Occupy Pensacola released a statement, Sunday, Nov. 27 which called for back-up 99 Percenters in the face of probable arrests come 11 p.m.
“There was strong indication people will be arrested tonight for standing on public space,” the statement relayed an earlier visit from a police officer.
“I guess they had word that we were gonna do a raid last night for some reason,” Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons said the next morning. “There’s nothing new. I’m not sure where they got the impression that anything was new.”
Simmons said that Occupy Pensacola has not been allowed on City Hall’s lawn for a couple of weeks, and they can no longer pitch tents. That’s still the same. The group’s allowed on the sidewalk 24-hours a day, that’s another constant.
“The sidewalk is from east-west and north-south,” the Chief said, explaining that Occupiers were no longer allowed in the diagonal walkways crossing the lawn.
So now the movement occupies the corner. Gary Paull, a former Marine and original organizer of the local Occupy, woke up on his cot one recent morning to the sound of passing traffic.
Before long he was in a conversation with Simmons, showing off his “Cadillac of cots.” The Chief said he likes to stop and chat “because I love Gary.”
The two seem to be developing a relationship.
“I don’t know about a ‘close-bond,’” Simmons clarifies. “We talk.”
“We have a cordial relationship between two humans,” Paull added.
McKenzie, meanwhile, said he has filed another emergency motion to have the restrictions done away with—“because this is absurd.”