They Just Don’t Get It

They don’t get it

I have been a long time customer of Vannoy’s Tires. I had some work done on my car today and there were many other customers there.

Many of those customers were wearing masks.

None of the employees dealing with the public were wearing them.

No explanation for it just their “independence” resulting in exposing the rest of us.

How sorry is this?    

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Florida State Budget Transparency?

State budget transparency? How bringing home the bacon can become a sneaky legislative maneuver

From the Florida Phoenix
By Danielle J. Brown -June 30, 2020

Like many lawmakers who work to bring home the bacon for constituents, State Sen. Travis Hutson pushed for $10 million in the new state budget for Manatee County road projects.

He secured the funding, even as Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed hundreds of other local projects in the 2020-21 budget.

However, Hutson doesn’t represent Manatee County. He lives on the Atlantic side of Florida, representing Flagler and St. Johns counties and the north part of Volusia in the Legislature. His constituents won’t be using that $10 million.

Instead, those dollars will go to the Gulf side of Florida, where Senate President Bill Galvano represents Manatee County and a part of Hillsborough.

A series of road projects in Manatee County called the “44th Ave East Extension Projects” will get $10 million from the 2020-21 state budget, even though a key senator pushing the project isn’t from the legislative district and his constituents live across the state from Manatee County. Credit: Manatee County Capital Improvement Plan

The legislative maneuvering raises questions about the lack of transparency in the budget process, giving the impression that lawmakers are working outside the interests of their own constituents.

Also at issue is whether lawmakers are following the rules designed to promote openness and ensure the public understands where all the money is going.

Every year, lawmakers work to get tens of thousands or millions of dollars into the state budget to secure projects for their constituents.

The Legislature launched a process requiring lawmakers to fill out a form, explaining their projects and the money needed. House members file a bill for their projects. Senators, essentially, “sponsor” a local project and use a “Senate Form” to document the information. Typically, both a House member and a senator work together to get a project into the budget.

But, Galvano didn’t have his name attached to any local projects in the state budget because of a tradition related to top legislative leaders, according to an aide.

Katie Betta, a spokesperson for Galvano, said in an email to the Florida Phoenix that “Senate President Galvano has followed the long-standing tradition of the Senate, which has been that the Senate President does not file bills or local funding requests.”

The Phoenix found that other legislative leaders also have not filed documentation for local projects this year.

Those include House Speaker Jose Oliva and two state representatives who are scheduled to be House Speakers: Chris Sprowls and Paul Renner. State Rep. Travis Cummings, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, also did not show documentation of local projects, the Phoenix found.

But that doesn’t mean those lawmakers didn’t get anything into the state budget for their constituents.

Hutson filed a project requesting $10 million for the 44th Avenue East Extension, according to legislative documents. A state House representative, Tommy Gregory, filed a similar request for the $10 million. Gregory represents parts of Manatee and Sarasota.

Neither of the lawmakers responded to the Florida Phoenix, which contacted both men at least two times.

The Manatee project’s form explains that this will be “a four-lane divided roadway with sidewalks, bike lanes/multi-use path, street lighting, an overpass over I-75, and a crossing over a reclaimed water storage lake. This section will include four 12-foot lanes, a 22-foot median, curb and gutter, four-foot bike lanes, and five-foot sidewalks in each direction.”

Hutson is not the only senator sponsoring local projects in a different district than their own.

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican representing Nassau County and part of Duval County, filed a project for Manatee County.

He filed a $5 million project for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), a Clinic Based Health Service Outreach in Bradenton.

“Sen. Galvano asked me to run the project on his behalf, and that’s what I did…He has so much to do, so much to run, so much to worry about — that it’s an honor when he calls and says, ‘I need help with this,’” Bean told the Phoenix in an interview.

Bean says his involvement showcases the teamwork within the Senate and is a testament to Sen. President Galvano’s concern for his constituents in Manatee County — by ensuring projects are filed for the annual budget even if Galvano is unable to do it himself.

When asked if this takes time away from representing his own constituents, Bean was confident in the ability to share attention between the projects in his districts as well as Galvano’s project in Manatee County.

“I am a multitasker,” said Bean. “That’s why I have a yellow pad, I have a smartphone, and I have a really great team — we utilize everybody to keep track of everything.”

In another case, Rep. Elizabeth Anne Fetterhoff, who represents a part of Volusia County, said she filed a $4 million local project in Miami-Dade, rather than in her own district.

She said she took interest in the Miami-Dade project after working on a mental health bill.

“I made the request for funding the Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery because I am passionate about mental health on a statewide scale. This project came to my attention after working with Judge [Steven] Leifman, out of Miami, on my other bill, HB 293, Certain Defendants with Mental Illness,” Fetterhoff said in a written statement to the Florida Phoenix.

DeSantis vetoed that project.

“Unfortunately, everything can’t be funded, but we can continue to fight for this project next year,” Fetterhoff said in the written statement.

In other transparency issues, local projects turned up in the state budget with no formal documentation, the Phoenix found.

By the time the state House and Senate approved the 2020-21 budget in March, the Bradford County Fair Association had made it into the lengthy document with an amount of $500,000.

However, there wasn’t a lawmaker involved as a sponsor for the project or a form to explain to the public why the money was wanted or needed.

DeSantis vetoed the Bradford fair project.

The governor also vetoed the Hernando County Fair Association ($424,065), a project with no sponsor or form; the Northeast Florida Fair Association ($250,000), and the Putnam County Fair Association ($750,000), also with no sponsor or form that would allow the public to understand why a project was worthy to be in the state budget of Florida.

In addition, the new state budget includes several projects labeled “recurring base appropriations projects” that show only a title.

While those projects may be worthwhile, it’s not clear if there’s competition for the dollars or any requirements for performance to ensure the project is necessary.

A $200,000 human services project in the state budget is simply listed as “Here’s Help.”

Another project is listed as “Alliance for Aging, Inc.,” with an amount of $152,626.

A criminal justice project is listed simply as “Community Coalition, Inc.,” with an amount of $950,000.

None of these projects were vetoed by the governor.

Florida Phoenix editor Diane Rado contributed to this report.


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1000 New York Lawyers Helping Congress and Trump

We are supposed to believe that the Congress and Executive Branch were too stupid to draft and then implement section 1102 7(a) of the CARES act and PPP so as to prevent some of the bigger companies in the country from immediately grabbing most of the money intended for small businesses. Big banks were all on the ready to help their best “small business” clients working all night drafting loan applications so those favored clients would be first in the free money line. It is the biggest legal theft of government money in history. As the list of the grabbers is revealed, a national shaming should ensue, unrelenting until they give the money back or go out of business.


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No reason to pile on Trump’s errors and mistakes. When however, people in desperate need of money for basic necessities of life are told to wait a few more days because he wants his name on the checks Congress ordered him to send, you would think that can’t be true. No person, however vain, however narcissistic, would do that. You would think no one seeing the suffering and the anguish of the people of this country would do such a thing.

But, none of this is surprising; it is who he is. Like the scorpion who promised the frog if he carried him across the pond, he would never kill him, Trump’s nature is he does not care for anyone or anything other than himself. He is truly an awful human being. It has nothing to do with being a Republican. He is not and never has been. It was just a way to get elected. Romney warned us, when he said Trump was a con man. But it was really much worse.

Bob Kerrigan


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The Worst of the Worst

When Senator Loeffler no doubt shared her inside knowledge of the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat with her husband, together they dumped stocks and bought others calculating their financial benefit from the very crisis we face now. One thing that spreads faster than this virus ever will is insider stock information from reliable sources. Her husband is the Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. If he told just a few people, the geometric expansion of those aware of the threat could have been a major precipitous cause of the stock market fall. Senator Burr’s self benefit may not have caused as explosive an expansion of the knowledge of the future ominous threat, but you can bet some stock brokers who see this kind of unusual stock dump from a U.S. Senator spread the word to their clients immediately.

Loeffler should hand over the stocks she bought based on the inside information she was provided to the U.S. Treasury and pay to the U.S. Treasury the calculated loss she avoided to today’s individual stock prices. Burr should resign and do likewise. Let’s hope that investigative reporters will dig and keep digging to find out if any other member of congress did the same thing however devious the scheme might be.

Democrats and Republicans have to agree anyone of them who profited from inside information need to forfeit the calculated benefit and resign. The fact that some of them did it while making public statements dismissing the threat is worthy of the most aggressive criminal prosecution possible. It is beyond low-life politics, beyond the usual level of political dishonesty, and beyond the usual profiting that most of them do with inside information. What they did in this instance is the act of a traitor to the people of this country.

Bob Kerrigan


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Odd Couple to Join “Stable Genius” Defense

The Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr who coincidentally share a room at the Eternal Hope nursing home will join the Trump team. They will alternate afternoon naps so one of them will always be on alert when a new legal theory is needed. The “Biden is Too Old” Trump campaign strategy will be placed on hold. The GOP will provide cases of Ensure for the duration of the event.

There was a great deal of Trumper excitement when the announcement was made. The initial response from the Dynamic Duo that referred to being selected for a peach judging contest was quickly corrected.


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City of Pensacola Data Breach

January 15, 2020

Re:      City of Pensacola Data Breach

Dear (?):

             The City of Pensacola reported a customer data breach on 12/9/19.  Mayor Robinson notified city residents of the breach by letter dated Jan 10, 2020, which may have exposed personal financial information of city residents.  He does not say how the breach occurred or who was responsible.  He does not say if the city paid a ransom.  At least 175 cities have faced the same Maze-caused security breach.  Why the city was unprepared for it should be addressed.   Because of the breach, here is what he said the city residents were being offered:

“To date the City has no evidence that personal information was stolen however, to protect the City’s active customers, active vendors and employees/retirees and to relieve any concerns, the City has contracted with LifeLock, a Symantec company, to make available at no cost to you for one year its LifeLock Defender™ Choice. As you may be aware, LifeLock is an industry leader in providing credit and identity theft monitoring and remediation services and products. Their incident response team has extensive experience in assisting people who have sustained an unintentional exposure of their personal information.”

The LifeLock salesman no doubt was quick to offer their services with assurance they would get thousands of our paid renewals year after year.  The fine print in the company contract says they do not monitor all transactions at all businesses.  No one can.  The one-year plan is $108.00, but if you want the best protection the company offers a deluxe plan for $325.00 a year.   You wouldn’t want to buy the cheaper plan if you really wanted protection.  LifeLock is offering the cheaper plan free for one year.    

When you sign up, according to their website, they will need “a little information, name, date of birth, email address, social security number etc.”  They then claim they will see if anyone is using your information.  You have to give them all your personal information trusting they will protect you.  If the city isn’t sure any of our personal data was stolen, why are they recommending we give all our personal information to this company?

Most of us don’t know much about this company or what they provide.  They advertise almost exclusively on talk radio with commercials suggesting identity theft occurs every so many seconds calculated to scare listeners into buying their claimed protection.  The founder of the company had his identity stolen 13 times after publishing his social security number ostensibly to show how they could protect your identity.  On one occasion, he only found out when the collection people called his wife’s phone number.  The Federal Trade Commission fined them 12 million dollars for fraudulent representations.  The city’s observation that they are “industry leaders” had to come from the company.  A free subscription to LifeLock, it’s like getting a free prescription for opioids.  The company wants you locked in for life, renewing every year at whatever they decide to charge at the time.  

The Mayor suggests how we can help ourselves:

In addition to utilizing the LifeLock solution, which we strongly encourage you to take advantage of, we also caution you to be vigilant in protecting your personal information. By way of example, you might change all of your website and computer passwords, check your bank and credit card statements to see if there have been any unusual or unauthorized transactions or activity, and take similar remedial measures that only you can do, as suggested on the attached document.

How we might protect ourselves was never an issue before the city allowed our private financial data to be exposed.  

How did this security breach happen?  The city should explain it.  If a ransom was paid, how much was it and why wasn’t all the data backed up so a ransom could be avoided?  How can the city assure us the criminals who did this can be trusted to destroy the data they stole?  

                                                                        Very truly yours,

                                                                        Robert G. Kerrigan


Read Enclosures Here (PDF) — Letter sent out by the City of Pensacola, Jan 10, 2020.


Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Mayor Grover, National News, News Articles | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

FAKE NEWS (2019)

Trump’s constant refrain charging fake news hit a common nerve. I recall jury selection in the Anderson Columbia vs the PNJ case many years ago. The dislike among the jury venire for the PNJ was palpable. I also recall with vivid clarity the unfair treatment I received from the PNJ when I ran for office in 1986. Over 30 years ago and I remember exactly what they did. I also was certain who outside the PNJ influenced it.

We soon forget the favorable press we receive but never forget the slightest unfairness from a single story. The reason I think, is because we see the unfairness as having no way to redress it while the story written is perceived by readers as being true when it is not . It is that bully pulpit power that causes us to dislike and even sometimes hate the newspaper that published it.

We had people on our Anderson Columbia jury venire panel say they would never believe anything they read in the PNJ. So it goes though with a free press. It will always be that way, but Trump saw a common enemy that almost everyone had a reason to join in the chorus screaming fake news. The view that you may disagree with what someone says but will fight to protect their right to say it sounds quite patriotic. It is however rarely true.

We root for the press to be exposed as unfair. Trump also knew though that the press was easy to manipulate. True locally and true nationally. There is no independent press and there never was one. How could anyone watch the PBS News Hour and not conclude it has a left leaning bias? FOX, CNN and MSNBC are obviously openly biased, ABC and CBS news lean left. It is futile trying to find unbiased news coverage because it rarely exists.

When a PNJ writer writes of the virtue of whatever Mr. Studer dreams up at the time (like brain bags and baseball), we should know by now it is hardly objective. The PNJ editor sits on boards of Mr. Studer’s organization. Channel 3 News content is now controlled by the Sinclair brothers with their right wing advocacy infecting the news reported. There is no objective local news coverage. Maybe there never was. And maybe our hope is that with many voices from many sides all tilted one way or the other depending on the writer or editor’s desires will lead us to dig out the objective truth for ourselves. There is little intent by anyone in the news business to help us do it. It may well be that Mr. Trump has done us all a favor by calling out the fallibility of thinking reported news was ever objectively done.


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Outzen Journalism

Governor DeSantis did not rescind the nomination of Ashton Hayward to the Triumph Board. Former Mayor Hayward declined the appointment. Rick Outzen knew or, by any reasonable journalistic effort, would have known that Governor DeSantis could not rescind the nomination because it did not require Florida Senate confirmation. Outzen knew or reasonably should have known that former Mayor Hayward declined the nomination as had accurately been reported by the PNJ. One way Outzen publishes a false statement is by attributing it to another blogger, in this case But Outzen didn’t even read the Florida politics article, he just saw Ashton’s name on a list. Had Outzen read it he would have realized this site erroneously said Ashton had been nominated to the Florida Commission on Community Safety. Outzen, so anxious to publish anything negative about Ashton Hayward, leaped to the conclusion that Ashton’s nomination to the Triumph Board had been rescinded.

That may be okay journalism for his owners and handlers but it is not in conformity with accepted journalism standards — not that he has ever given them much consideration.

Post Updated — Feb 28 2019 09:07 AM

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The Bowling News (Feb 2019)

This was your day to honor me, the annual bowling league presidents’ recognition day. It was fun seeing all of you in a more relaxed atmosphere drinking and laughing as you toasted me. And so many “Thanks to you, Mr. President”, it was overwhelming. This isn’t a national holiday yet but it’s gaining momentum thanks to the hard work of many of you. The cake was beautiful and the festive decorations were spectacular!

I have never formally stated why I shut the league down for several weeks. I did it because I could. I knew paychecks at the bowling alley would be impacted but the lesson I wanted every one of you to learn was as President I can do pretty well whatever I want. To the whinny comment that it was all about me demanding shiny new bowling pins it was a much bigger issue. I won’t go into my many reasons for doing it but make no mistake I can do again for no reason at all and you will accept it or I will dismiss you from the league. I know this sounds high-handed but I am the president, enough said.

We had two major events once we started back up. The company that started A Place for Mom has started a new venture and the area VP came to address us. A Place for The Misses is very simply an alternative to enduring the nagging and complaining that reaches a level of intolerability. The VP said demand has been substantial and apparently the problem is far more pervasive that I would have thought though I can surely see a few candidates in the league. I am now not permitted to name names because of concern over libel lawsuits. But it is obvious who they are.

Our next speaker was talking to us about an evangelical conversion center being built here by his company, God Was Not a Limp Wrist. Embarrassingly he was not warmly received and some of our more flaming gays booed the poor guy even though he was dressed in pink in an attempt to reach across the divide. The closeted remained predictably silent. I started to think about it as he spoke. The real problem in our society is Republicans who proudly wear their Make America Grope Again (copy write protected) hats. Can they be converted to normalcy in some form of a political conversion experience? Can the civilized world except them back if they publicly disavow their Dear Liar in chief?

Yes, I collected the league election ballots (through a trans Republican operative) from our members’ homes and, yes, he counted them, but that is what leaders do. Followers wait around at the polling areas or the elections office for someone else to announce winners and losers. I owe you more than that.

Bowling Con saw another successful celebration. We brought in speakers who have had their bowling alleys close or bankrupted to help us know how we can be successful understanding the failures the speakers have experienced. Yes we paid them from your dues but this is more like a charity donation than anything else. Think about how we helped them and quit complaining about the payment we made to these bowling loser execs.

Many thanks to the transition team captains. Why would I need a transition team if I was reelected? It is because I care about what you think. I want your voices to be heard. I cherish the input. All transition committees unanimously concluded that my vision is the vision that leads you and they had no doubt we will continue to achieve greatness.

I should also say my profound gratitude for the Pace award in the category of Most Distinguished Person on the Dead End Government Street Corridor. My recognitions directly benefit the league members’ standing in the community.

We all join in mourning the passing of the Publix cat. That’s why we had a moment of silence at our last event. I don’t know where the snickering came from in the silent moment but a fair observation would be that the cat could have been effectively utilized inside Publix if you know what I mean.

Your President and CEO

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Have the Republicans had Enough?

Have the Republicans had enough of their Dear Leader yet?

Read this from the Washington Post

Trump’s troop deployment strung ‘lethal’ razor wire on the border. This city has had enough.

by Eli Rosenberg
February 7, 2019

Arturo Garino said one of his constituents told him about the razor wire on Saturday night. Garino knew the military had installed a line of wire across the top of the fence that divides Nogales, a border town of about 20,000 in Arizona, from its sister city in Mexico, after troops were deployed to the border by President Trump before the midterm election. The resident, who lived just steps from the border, was calling Garino, the mayor, to complain that troops had been out again to deploy more wire across the 18-foot fence over the weekend.

Border fence razor wire 2What Garino saw when he arrived at the fence surprised him: Row after row of razor wire had been strung on the fence so that it covered nearly the entire surface in parts. Photographs show as many of six separate coils of wire — typically made from steel and studded with hundreds of razor-like barbs — covering portions of the fence, lending it the appearance of a war zone or a high-security prison.

Garino said he was confused. Trump’s push was for a wall, which the town already has. So what was the point of the wire?

“This is overkill,” Garino said in a phone interview. “It’s way over the top.”

Trump has painted a vivid picture of life on the border: Lawlessness; hordes of people seeking to cross; horrific crimes committed after immigrants make it into America.

That is the universe created in the president’s Twitter feed and speeches, on cable news shows and partisan blogs. But the border is its own world — a nearly 2,000
mile stretch of land that exists mostly quietly and undisturbed. And towns like Nogales share the space that has been thrust into center stage of the president’s political ambitions.

The razor wire is what happens when those two worlds meet — when heated talk becomes policy in the real world. And on the ground in Nogales, it is not being received well.

The town’s city council passed a resolution unanimously on Wednesday to formally condemn the wire, and demand that it be taken down over safety concerns. Residents and business owners have told local reporters that it makes the town feel like a war zone — “an inquisition,” one said — and worry about the effect on its life and commerce downtown. Local newspaper columnists have panned it; a letter writer, Allen Zale, who said he served with the Army, said it reminded him of his time stationed in Berlin.

Garino said he’s concerned that the wiring is more of a danger than a safety feature because of the way it is installed down to the ground. The town’s code prohibits the use of the wire, which is also known as concertina wire, except in industrial parks and storage areas. Even then, it has to be at least six feet off the ground, he said. The wall it adorns stretches through many residential areas in the city, as close as 10 feet in some places to people’s property.

The tensions with the town have been exacerbated by the fact that federal authorities have shut out local officials from the process, Garino said. “They should have the respect to call my office and call our police and fire chief and says these are our plans,” Garino said. “They didn’t call anybody, they just went and did it. They are not being good stewards in our city and that’s not right.”

He shared his concerns during a sit down with three agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday, but said they had a ready made response, speaking about “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” and telling him that they had had a lot of incidents with people jumping the fence, he said.

“But that was strange, because the police chief, assistant chief and deputy city manager were there, and we don’t know of those things happening,” Garino said. “I don’t know where they’re getting their stats.”

The experience had left him with the feeling that the government wasn’t installing the wiring for safety reasons but for some other motivation.

“They can’t say they’re putting something up to protect us,” he said. “They’re putting up something that’s lethal all the way to the ground.”

A draft of the Nogales City Council’s resolution had noted the dangers posed by the wire, too.

“Placing coiled concertina wire strands on the ground is typically only found in a war, battlefield or prison setting, and not in an urban setting such as downtown Nogales, Arizona,” it said. “Placing coiled concertina wire that is designed to inflict serious bodily injury or death in the immediate proximity of our residents, children, pets, law enforcement and first responders is not only irresponsible but inhuman.”

The wire is an example of the work being done by the thousands of active-duty troops and National Guardsmen who were sent to the border by the president in 2018. The number of forces on the border numbers about 6,550: about 4,350 active duty troops and 2,200 National Guard forces.

William Speaks, a Defense Department spokesman, said that the military had installed more than 70 miles of concertina wire along the southern border, adding that it was working on an additional 160 miles. It said the military had spent $132 million so far supporting CBP. But estimates indicate that the cost of both deployments could tally about $1 billion by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

In a statement distributed by spokeswoman Meredith Mingledorff, the Customs and Border Protection said that it was the process of adding four to six additional lines of concertina wire in “high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations.” It said that the locations it was installing the wire were on U.S. government property, outside of the town’s jurisdiction.

“Currently there are no plans to remove the concertina wire,” the statement said. Safety fencing has been installed around the fence in places where the wire is low to the ground, along with warning signs in Spanish and English, it said. “In locations where there is high pedestrian activity, the concertina wire is limited to only the upper portion of the wall,” the statement said.

“Hardening of current infrastructure specifically in high-risk locations of the urban area help reduce the illicit activity, to include violent criminals, in these areas and increase the public safety.”

It declined to provide any specific statistics about border related crime in the area. Border Patrol agents seized 254 pounds of fentanyl and 395 pounds of methamphetamine in a record bust last week in Nogales, but the narcotics were being smuggled in a truck heading through a port of entry.

And the area has long been known to be the most popular target on the U.S. border for illicit tunnels. A 50-foot long tunnel into the city from across the border, suspected of being constructed to run drugs, was discovered in December before it was completed. Evan Kory, whose family owns businesses in downtown Nogales, told the Arizona Daily Star that militarized operations near the border wall had felt like a threat.

“You hear on the news that an invasion is coming, but in fact,” he said, “border communities have been invaded by our own government.”

Scott Zimmerman, the CEO and founder of K17 Security, a Maryland-based security consulting company, said in an interview that the safety concerns of local officials did not strike him as hyperbolic.

“When you look at that amount of wire that is something you’d most frequently see around a high security prison, a nuclear facility, things along those lines,” he said. “Not something we commonly see here in the U.S.”

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat who represents the area, joined local officials in calling for the wiring to be removed.

“The additional wire is nothing more than a spectacle by the Trump administration to reinforce his twisted narrative of rampant lawlessness at the border,” he said in a statement. “Border residents know that this mischaracterization couldn’t be further from the truth, and will not stand for the lies perpetrated by the Trump administration.”

Border fence razor wireGarino said that life in Nogales differs sharply from the way the border has been portrayed in the political world in recent months.

The city’s fate is closely connected to Nogales, Mexico — a bustling city of a few hundred thousand on the other side of the fence with which it exchanges millions of dollars of goods and other commerce every year, Garino said. This symbiosis has given rise to a name that marries the two cities, despite the boundary between them: Ambos Nogales, or Both Nogales in Spanish.

“I always say this is one city of 400,000 people divided by a fence. But now it’s divided by concertina wire,” Garino said. “If the president gets his billions of dollars they’re not going to spend it in Nogales. We’ve had a wall. Now we have a wall with concertina wire.”


Posted in Democratic Party, Military, National News, News Articles, Politics, Republican Party | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s so Wrong with Blackface?

Don’t get what’s wrong with blackface?

Here’s why it’s so offensive…

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Black Shoe Polish

Dressing up in KKK outfits and putting black shoe polish on your face. All just good college fun and for the Virginia Governor (Ralph Northam), fun in medical school.  Now the AG of Virginia (Mark Herring) says he did it, too…

This has nothing to do with political correctness. It is a window, however, into one’s character. I have never met anyone or recall ever seeing anyone do what these elected officials have done. I suspect most people haven’t either.  The affront to a black person is obvious. It denotes second class citizenship and is unacceptable offensive conduct. The Republican defense of Brett Kavanaugh was that it happened a long time ago so everyone should move on and respect what a fine fellow he is now. The Democrats, however, should unite and demand all these boys resign — it doesn’t matter when it happened, it happened. We can’t know how deeply it hurts black people, but it does, and we should care that it does.

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Grover’s Proclamation

That “vindictiveness at the city is over” is like saying “all dope smoking at employee’s desks will be prohibited from now on.” His “reassignment” of city personnel for efficiency reasons should not be confused with reassignment of those employees for retaliatory purposes. The fact they were loyal to the former mayor is no consequence in that analysis.

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City of Pensacola Firefighter Investigation

If the reader wants an accurate picture of who these purportedly aggrieved firefighters were, this exhaustive report (not read by or covered by the PNJ or Outzen) is quite revealing. The fact that the “The Studer Times” is dependent on and quotes Outzen as a source, pretty well sums up the ongoing debacle at the PNJ.



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Virtually every sports writer said “this was his best team ever.”

There really is no dispute. This was Alabama’s best team ever. Twenty-two 4 – 5 star players all going to the NFL. It was not the best team ever in the SEC; that was Florida’s teams with Tebow. This Alabama team though was an assembly of the finest football players ever brought together on one team.

But it all fell apart. How did it happen?

All fifty-four Alabama football coaches are meeting in a no holds barred session to determine who should be blamed. Poor defense, inept division one offense, terrible kicker, bad play calling, fall down blocking, poor conditioning. Was it one thing or a list of every possible mistake that could be made in a major game?  When recruits were promised stardom and fame because they were joining all 5 star teammates, should they have been told that failure was possible at Alabama?

It will take time to sort this all out. Alabama will continue to have the best recruiting classes, the most Sports Marketing majors in the nation and several players getting degrees. But, can they win some competitive games again? Only time will tell.

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Stormy Saban

The feedback has been swift and very critical of my earlier post.  I never intended to be critical of Coach Saban. He called a brilliant game especially in the second half. No one could have suspected that he would call a fake field goal.  It was a total surprise to everyone except Clemson. This wasn’t a repeat of Alabama’s field goal attempt from 70 yards out returned by Auburn for a winning score with one second on the clock at the time or was it a Kirby Smart fake punt that looked like a high school play (he was 0 for 3 tries for the season.) No, as Coach Saban explained his plan was perfect, the execution was the problem. The kicker was supposed to block two defensive linemen each weighing 300 lbs. who could run like deer so the backup quarterback could sprint to a first down. If players don’t execute perfectly drawn plays it certainly isn’t the coach’s problem.   Every morning Saban and his wife lie in bed and watch the Weather Channel for an hour. A lot of people don’t appreciate that about him. Who could have predicted a perfect storm for all these Alabama coaches with literally a coach for every player on the field?

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Don’t Count Alabama Out

Alabama has for the most part good football players and one of the best SEC coaches ever.  But in order for Alabama to be competitive with ACC teams they simply have to play them during the season.   An average offensive line in the ACC would have little challenge against any Alabama defensive front.  The secondary for Alabama is consistently below average against most power five teams (slow and small).  The SEC has created the image of being a competitive football conference by avoiding scheduling meaningful competition outside the SEC.  It’s like grandpa playing checkers against a 4 year old.   He wins but can he compete against adults?  There is a path forward for the SEC but it will require scheduling changes which will mean at least for the next few years, lopsided out of conference losses but these humiliating losses are the price that has to be paid to bring the SEC into competitive equality with the ACC and the other three power five conferences.

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What A Scene It Was

Yesterday, the elderly new city administrator was helped to the front door of city hall to meet the new residents of the hall. Lined up outside were all of the guys from the city’s past. With walkers, canes, Geritol to-go cups and Ensure cans in hand, the old white guys waited in line for their promised return to power. In the front of the line was Rusty Wells who had a special feeling for city council meetings in the past that he promised to bring to the affairs of the city. The only fringe benefit they were asking for was afternoon naps. It seems a small price to pay for the ton of baggage they bring to help the mayor return to the glory days of the vacant downtown of the 70s.

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Future Trump Cabinet Member gave a Serial Sex Abuser the Ultimate Break

How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime.


A decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break…

On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami’s top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay

It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.

Alexander Acosta

Alexander Acosta, now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, was the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida when he negotiated an end to the federal investigation of Jeffrey Epstein.

Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.

His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to
coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.

The eccentric hedge fund manager, whose friends included former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, was also suspected of trafficking minor girls, often from overseas, for sex parties at his other homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean, FBI and court records show.

Facing a 53-page federal indictment, Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life.

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage women, grins for his mugshot on Florida’s sex offender registry. He once compared his crimes to ‘stealing a bagel.’

But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people

Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there
were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.

The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted
immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to
interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.

As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was
sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls
— or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it.

This is the story of how Epstein, bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system, and how his
accusers, still traumatized by their pasts, believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them.

“I don’t think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did,’’ said one of Epstein’s victims, Michelle Licata, now 30. “He ruined my life and a lot of girls’ lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn’t prosecuted so it never happens again.”

Now President Trump’s secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country’s labor laws, including human trafficking. He also
has been on a list of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month.

Acosta did not respond to numerous requests for an interview or answer queries through

But court records reveal details of the negotiations and the role that Acosta would play in arranging the deal, which scuttled the federal probe into a possible international sex
trafficking operation. Among other things, Acosta allowed Epstein’s lawyers unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement.

“The damage that happened in this case is unconscionable,” said Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents some of Epstein’s victims. “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?”

As a result, neither the victims — nor even the judge — would know how many girls Epstein allegedly sexually abused between 2001 and 2005, when his underage sex activities were first uncovered by police. Police referred the case to the FBI a year later, when they began to suspect that their investigation was being undermined by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office.


“This was not a ‘he said, she said’ situation. This was 50-something ‘shes’ and one ‘he’
— and the ‘shes’ all basically told the same story,’’ said retired Palm Beach Police Chief
Michael Reiter, who supervised the police probe.

More than a decade later, at a time when Olympic gymnasts and Hollywood actresses
have become a catalyst for a cultural reckoning about sexual abuse, Epstein’s victims have all but been forgotten.

The women — now in their late 20s and early 30s — are still fighting for an elusive justice that even the passage of time has not made right.

Like other victims of sexual abuse, they believe they’ve been silenced by a criminal justice system that stubbornly fails to hold Epstein and other wealthy and powerful men

“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,’’ said Courtney Wild,
who was 14 when she met Epstein.

Over the past year, the Miami Herald examined a decade’s worth of court documents, lawsuits, witness depositions and newly released FBI documents. Key people involved in the investigation — most of whom have never spoken before — were also interviewed. The Herald also obtained new records, including the full unredacted copy of the Palm Beach
police investigation and witness statements that had been kept under seal.

The Herald learned that, as part of the plea deal, Epstein provided what the government called “valuable consideration” for unspecified information he supplied to federal
investigators. While the documents obtained by the Herald don’t detail what the information was, Epstein’s sex crime case happened just as the country’s subprime mortgage market collapsed, ushering in the 2008 global financial crisis.

Records show that Epstein was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns, the global investment brokerage that failed in
2008, who were accused of corporate securities fraud. Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by the executives, who were later acquitted. It is not
known what role, if any, the case played in Epstein’s plea negotiations.

The Herald also identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein from 2001 to 2006. About 60 of them were located — now
scattered around the country and abroad. Eight of them agreed to be interviewed, on or off the record. Four of them were willing to speak on video.

The women are now mothers, wives, nurses, bartenders, Realtors, hairdressers and teachers. One is a Hollywood actress. Several have grappled with trauma, depression and
addiction. Some have served time in prison.

A few did not survive. One young woman was found dead last year in a rundown motel in West Palm Beach. She overdosed on heroin and left behind a young son.

As part of Epstein’s agreement, he was required to register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to the three dozen victims identified by the FBI. In many cases, the confidential
financial settlements came only after Epstein’s attorneys exposed every dark corner of their lives in a scorched-earth effort to portray the girls as gold diggers.

“You beat yourself up mentally and physically,’’ said Jena-Lisa Jones, 30, who said

Epstein molested her when she was 14. “You can’t ever stop your thoughts. A word can trigger something. For me, it is the word ‘pure’ because he called me ‘pure’ in that room and then I remember what he did to me in that room.’’

Now, more than a decade later, two unrelated civil lawsuits — one set for trial on Dec. 4
— could reveal more about Epstein’s crimes. The Dec. 4 case, in Palm Beach County state court, involves Epstein and Edwards, whom Epstein had accused of legal misdeeds in
representing several victims. The case is noteworthy because it will mark the first time that Epstein’s victims will have their day in court, and several of them are scheduled to testify.

A second lawsuit, known as the federal Crime Victims’ Rights suit, is still pending in South Florida after a decade of legal jousting. It seeks to invalidate the non-prosecution
agreement in hopes of sending Epstein to federal prison. Wild, who has never spoken publicly until now, is Jane Doe No. 1 in “Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 vs. the United
States of America,” a federal lawsuit that alleges Epstein’s federal non-prosecution agreement was illegal.

Federal prosecutors, including Acosta, not only broke the law, the women contend in court documents, but they conspired with Epstein and his lawyers to circumvent public scrutiny
and deceive his victims in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The law assigns victims a series of rights, including the right of notice of any court proceedings and the
opportunity to appear at sentencing.

“As soon as that deal was signed, they silenced my voice and the voices of all of Jeffrey Epstein’s other victims,’’ said Wild, now 31. “This case is about justice, not just for us, but for other victims who aren’t Olympic stars or Hollywood stars.’’

In court papers, federal prosecutors have argued that they did not violate the Crime Victims’ Rights Act because no federal charges were ever filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an argument that was later dismissed by the judge.

Despite substantial physical evidence and multiple witnesses backing up the girls’ stories, the secret deal allowed Epstein to enter guilty pleas to two felony prostitution charges.
Epstein admitted to committing only one offense against one underage girl, who was labeled a prostitute, even though she was 14, which is well under the age of consent — 18 in Florida.

“She was taken advantage of twice — first by Epstein, and then by the criminal justice system that labeled a 14-year-old girl as a prostitute,’’ said Spencer Kuvin, the lawyer who
represented the girl.

“It’s just outrageous how they minimized his crimes and devalued his victims by calling them prostitutes,’’ said Yasmin Vafa, a human rights attorney and executive director of
Rights4Girls, which is working to end the sexual exploitation of girls and young women.

“There is no such thing as a child prostitute. Under federal law, it’s called child sex trafficking — whether Epstein pimped them out to others or not. It’s still a commercial sex act — and he could have been jailed for the rest of his life under federal law,” she said.

It would be easy to dismiss the Epstein case as another example of how there are two systems of justice in America, one for the rich and one for the poor. But a thorough analysis of the case tells a far more troubling story.

A close look at the trove of letters and emails contained in court records provides a window into the plea negotiations, revealing an unusual level of collaboration between federal prosecutors and Epstein’s legal team that even government lawyers, in recent court documents, admitted was unorthodox.

Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein’s heavy-hitting lawyers — Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black,
former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky.


That included keeping the deal from Epstein’s victims, emails show.

“Thank you for the commitment you made to me during our Oct. 12 meeting,’’ Lefkowitz wrote in a letter to Acosta after their breakfast meeting in West Palm Beach. He added
that he was hopeful that Acosta would abide by a promise to keep the deal confidential.

“You … assured me that your office would not … contact any of the identified individuals, potential witnesses or potential civil claimants and the respective counsel in this matter,’’
Lefkowitz wrote.

In email after email, Acosta and the lead federal prosecutor, A. Marie Villafaña, acquiesced to Epstein’s legal team’s demands, which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by
shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in Miami, instead of Palm Beach, where Epstein’s victims lived.

“On an ‘avoid the press’ note … I can file the charge in district court in Miami which will hopefully cut the press coverage significantly. Do you want to check that out?’’ Villafaña wrote to Lefkowitz in a September 2007 email.

Federal prosecutors identified 36 underage victims, but none of those victims appeared at his sentencing on June 30, 2008, in state court in Palm Beach County. Most of them
heard about it on the news — and even then they didn’t understand what had happened to the federal probe that they’d been assured was ongoing.

Edwards filed an emergency motion in federal court to block the non-prosecution agreement, but by the time the agreement was unsealed — over a year later — Epstein had
already served his sentence and been released from jail.

“The conspiracy between the government and Epstein was really ‘let’s figure out a way to make the whole thing go away as quietly as possible,’ ’’ said Edwards, who represents Wild
and Jane Doe No. 2, who declined to comment for this story.

“In never consulting with the victims, and keeping it secret, it showed that someone with money can buy his way out of anything.’’

It was far from the last time Epstein would receive VIP handling. Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn’t face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in
Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the
day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable
office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff’s department rules stating that sex offenders don’t qualify for work release.

The sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, would not answer questions, submitted by the Miami Herald, about Epstein’s work release.

Neither Epstein nor his lead attorney, Jack Goldberger, responded to multiple requests for comment for this story. During depositions taken as part of two dozen lawsuits filed
against him by his victims, Epstein has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination, in one instance doing so more than 200 times.

In the past, his lawyers have said that the girls lied about their ages, that their stories were exaggerated or untrue and that they were unreliable witnesses prone to drug use.

In 2011, Epstein petitioned to have his sex offender status reduced in New York, where he has a home and is required to register every 90 days. In New York, he is classified as a level 3 offender — the highest safety risk because of his likelihood to re-offend.

A prosecutor under New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued on Epstein’s behalf, telling New York Supreme Court Judge Ruth Pickholtz that the Florida case never
led to an indictment and that his underage victims failed to cooperate in the case. Pickholtz, however, denied the petition, expressing astonishment that a New York prosecutor would make such a request on behalf of a serial sex offender accused of molesting so many girls.

“I have to tell you, I’m a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this. I have done so many [sex offender registration hearings] much less
troubling than this one where the [prosecutor] would never make a downward argument like this,’’ she said.


Jeffrey Epstein home

Jeffrey Epstein’s home on El Brillo Way in Palm Beach, FL

The women who went to Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion as girls tend to divide their lives into two parts: life before Jeffrey and life after Jeffrey.

Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.

After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden
Correctional Institution in Florida’s Panhandle.

Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of

She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. Wild, who later helped recruit other girls, said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those
who were easy to manipulate into going further each time.

“By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,” said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.

The girls — mostly 13 to 16 — were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told
recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man — Epstein — a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald.

The lead Palm Beach police detective on the case, Joseph Recarey, said Epstein’s operation worked like a sexual pyramid scheme.

“The common interview with a girl went like this: ‘I was brought there by so and so. I didn’t feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn’t feel
comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,’ ’’ Recarey said.

During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to
find him more girls.

Recarey, in his first interview about the case, said the evidence the department collected to support the girls’ stories was overwhelming, including phone call records, copies of
written phone messages from the girls found in Epstein’s trash and Epstein’s flight logs, which showed his private plane in Palm Beach on the days the girls were scheduled to give
him massages.

Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to
him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls
were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.

Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein’s victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report.

The police report shows how uncannily consistent the girls’ stories were — right down to their detailed descriptions of Epstein’s genitalia.

“We had victims who didn’t know each other, never met each other and they all basically independently told the same story,’’ said Reiter, the retired Palm Beach police chief.

Reiter, also speaking for the first time, said detectives were astonished by the sheer volume of young girls coming and going from his house, the frequency — sometimes several in the same day — and the young ages of the girls.

“It started out to give a man a back rub, but in many cases it turned into something far worse than that, elevated to a serious crime, in some cases sexual batteries,’’ he said.

Most of the girls said they arrived by car or taxi, and entered the side door, where they were led into a kitchen by a female staff assistant named Sarah Kellen, the report said. A
chef might prepare them a meal or offer them cereal. The girls — most from local schools
— would then ascend a staircase off the kitchen, up to a large master bedroom and bath.

They were met by Epstein, clad in a towel. He would select a lotion from an array lined up on a table, then lie facedown on a massage table, instruct the girl to strip partially or fully,
and direct them to massage his feet and backside. Then he would turn over and have them massage his chest, often instructing them to pinch his nipples, while he masturbated,
according to the police report.

At times, if emboldened, he would try to penetrate them with his fingers or use a vibrator on them. He would go as far as the girls were willing to let him, including intercourse,
according to police documents. Sometimes he would instruct a young woman he described as his Yugoslavian sex slave, Nadia Marcinkova, who was over 18, to join in, the girls
told Recarey. Epstein often took photographs of the girls having sex and displayed them around the house, the detective said.

Once sexually gratified, Epstein would take a shower in his massive bathroom, which the girls described as having a large shower and a hot pink and mint green sofa.

Kellen (now Vickers) and Marcinkova, through their attorneys, declined to comment for this story.


One girl told police that she was approached by an Epstein recruiter when she was 16, and was working at the Wellington mall. Over the course of more than a year, she went to
Epstein’s house hundreds of times, she said. The girl tearfully told Recarey that she often had sex with Marcinkova — who employed strap-on dildos and other toys — while Epstein
watched and choreographed her moves to please himself, according to the police report. Often times, she said, she was so sore after the encounters that she could barely walk,
the police report said.

But she said she was firm about not wanting to have intercourse with Epstein. One day, however, the girl said that Epstein, unable to control himself, held her down on a massage
table and penetrated her, the police report said. The girl, who was 16 or 17 at the time,
said that Epstein apologized and paid her $1,000, the police report said.

Most of the girls came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes or foster care.

Some had experienced troubles that belied their ages: They had parents and friends who committed suicide; mothers abused by husbands and boyfriends; fathers who molested
and beat them. One girl had watched her stepfather strangle her 8-year-old stepbrother, according to court records obtained by the Herald.

Many of the girls were one step away from homelessness.

“We were stupid, poor children,’’ said one woman, who did not want to be named because she never told anyone about Epstein. At the time, she recalled that she was 14 and a
high school freshman.

“We just wanted money for school clothes, for shoes. I remember wearing shoes too tight for three years in a row. We had no family and no guidance, and we were told that we
were going to just have to sit in a room topless and he was going to just look at us. It sounded so simple, and was going to be easy money for just sitting there.”

The woman, who went to Epstein’s home multiple times, said Epstein didn’t like her because her breasts were too big. The last time she went, she said, one girl came out crying and they were instructed to leave the house and had to pay for their own cab home.

Some girls told police they were coached by their peer recruiters to lie to Epstein about their ages and say they were 18. Epstein’s legal team would later claim that even if the girls
were under 18, there was no way he could have known. However, under Florida law, ignorance of a sex partner’s age is not a defense for having sex with a minor.

Wild, who worked for Epstein until she was 21, said he was well aware of their tender ages — because he demanded they be young.

“He told me he wanted them as young as I could find them,’’ she said, explaining that as she grew older and had less access to young girls, Epstein got increasingly angry with her
inability to find him the young girls he desired.

“If I had a girl to bring him at breakfast, lunch and dinner, then that’s how many times I
would go a day. He wanted as many girls as I could get him. It was never enough.’’


Epstein’s scheme first began to unravel in March 2005, when the parents of a 14-year-old girl told Palm Beach police that she had been molested by Epstein at his mansion. The
girl reluctantly confessed that she had been brought there by two other girls, and those girls pointed to two more girls who had been there.

By the time detectives tracked down one victim, there were two and three more to find. Soon there were dozens.

“We didn’t know where the victims would ever end,” Reiter said.

Eventually, the girls told them about still other girls and young women they had seen at Epstein’s house, many of whom didn’t speak English, Recarey said. That led Recarey to
suspect that Epstein’s exploits weren’t just confined to Palm Beach. Police obtained the flight logs for his private plane, and found female names and initials among the list of
people who flew on the aircraft — including the names of some famous and powerful people who had also been passengers, Recarey said.

Jeffrey Epstein private jet

Jeffrey Epstein’s current private plane, painted a distinctive blue, is parked at an executive hub at Palm Beach International Airport on Thursday morning, May 24, 2018. It is how he shuttles between his homes in the Town of Palm Beach, New York City, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During the decade when, police say, he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, he used a different plane, which tabloids nicknamed ‘The Lolita Express.’

A newly released FBI report, posted on the bureau’s website as a result of the Herald’s Freedom of Information Act request, shows that at the time the non-prosecution deal was
executed, the FBI was interviewing witnesses and victims “from across the United
States.” The probe stretched from Florida to New York and New Mexico, records show.

Indeed, one lawsuit, still pending in New York, alleges that Epstein used an international modeling agency to recruit girls as young as 13 from Europe, Ecuador and Brazil. The girls
lived in a New York building owned by Epstein, who paid for their visas, according to the sworn statement of Maritza Vasquez, the one-time bookkeeper for Mc2, the modeling

Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade police sergeant who was also a homicide investigator and a member of the FBI Organized Crime Task Force, said the FBI had enough evidence
to put Epstein away for a long time but was overruled by Acosta. Some of the agents involved in the case were disappointed by Acosta’s bowing to pressure from Epstein’s lawyers, he said.

“The day that a sitting U.S. attorney is afraid of a lawyer or afraid of a defendant is a very sad day in this country,’’ said Fisten, now a private investigator for Edwards.


Now, a complex web of litigation could reveal more about Epstein’s crimes. A lawsuit, set for trial Dec. 4 in Palm Beach County, involves the notorious convicted Ponzi schemer
Scott Rothstein, in whose law firm Edwards once worked.

In 2009, Epstein sued Edwards, alleging that Edwards was involved with Rothstein and was using the girls’ civil lawsuits to perpetuate Rothstein’s massive Ponzi operation. But
Rothstein said Edwards didn’t know about the scheme, and Epstein dropped the lawsuit.

Edwards countersued for malicious prosecution, arguing that Epstein sued him to retaliate for his aggressive representation of Epstein’s victims.

Several women who went to Epstein’s home as underage girls are scheduled to testify against him for the first time.

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, a child sex abuse survivor who has lobbied for tough sex offender laws, said Epstein’s case should serve as a tipping point for criminal cases
involving sex crimes against children.

“Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff’s office in
Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?’’ Book asked.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Villafaña, in court papers, said that prosecutors used their “best efforts’’ to comply with the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, but exercised their “prosecutorial
discretion’’ when they chose not to notify the victims. The reasoning went like this: The non-prosecution deal had a restitution clause that provided the girls a chance to seek
compensation from Epstein. Had the deal fallen through, necessitating a trial, Epstein’s lawyers might have used the prior restitution clause to undermine the girls’ credibility as
witnesses, by claiming they had exaggerated Epstein’s behavior in hopes of cashing in.

Acosta has never fully explained why he felt it was in the best interests of the underage girls — and their parents — for him to keep the agreement sealed. Or why the FBI
investigation was closed even as, recently released documents show, the case was yielding more victims and evidence of a possible sex-trafficking conspiracy beyond Palm Beach.

Upon his nomination by Trump as labor secretary in 2017, Acosta was questioned about the Epstein case during a Senate confirmation hearing.

“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor’s office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees he register [as
a sex offender] generally and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,’’ Acosta said of his decision to not prosecute Epstein federally.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in opposing Acosta for labor secretary, noted that “his handling of a case involving sex trafficking of underage girls when he was a
U.S. attorney suggests he won’t put the interests of workers and everyday people ahead of the powerful and well-connected.’’

Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who is one of the nation’s leading advocates for reforming laws involving sex crimes against children, said what Acosta and other prosecutors did is similar to what the Catholic Church did to protect pedophile priests.

“The real crime with the Catholic priests was the way they covered it up and shielded the priests,’’ Hamilton said. “The orchestration of power by men only is protected as long as
everybody agrees to keep it secret. This is a story the world needs to hear.’’


CREDIT: From the investigative reporters at The Miami Herald. More here…

UPDATE: Sex Offender Epstein Settles Suit — Averting Victim Testimony (AP, 12-04-18)

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Kavanaugh’s WSJ Op-Ed

From: Careen Shannon

In his WSJ piece, Kavanaugh wrote, “I testified before the Judiciary Committee last Thursday to defend my family, my good name and my lifetime of public service. My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate. That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony—both in my opening statement and in response to questions—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character.”

A couple of things struck me when I read this particular passage. First, he correctly says that in his testimony he “denied the allegation.” But he doesn’t bother to say here that the allegation against him is false.

I also did a double-take at the phrase “wrongly accused.” I don’t think I’ve actually every heard anyone say (or seen anyone write) that before. The usual phrase is “wrongfully accused,” not “wrongly accused.” This is an experienced federal judge, who understands the difference that small nuances in language can make (such as “shall” versus “can” versus “may,” or the importance of the placement of a comma in a statute). So this phrase, “wrongly accused,” is something he chose with care. Why?

The word “wrongly” essentially means “incorrectly.” Given how careful Kavanaugh was in last week’s hearing not to go on the record with straight answers to a number of simple, yes-or-no questions, I think this is an interesting choice. “Wrongly” in this context could simply imply that there are details in the allegation that are incorrect.

“Wrongfully,” on the other hand, means “unjustly.” That is why we usually hear this word in phrases like “wrongfully accused” or “wrongfully convicted”—the implication being that they got the wrong guy. I find it interesting that he’s not saying that.

I won’t even get into the larger absurdity of how a man whose testimony demonstrated such vitriolic partisanship could possibly be an independent, impartial Supreme Court justice….

Careen Shannon is a Partner based in Fragomen’s New York office.


I Am an Independent, Impartial Judge

Yes, I was emotional last Thursday. I hope everyone can understand I was there as a son, husband and dad.
By Brett M. Kavanaugh
Oct. 4, 2018 7:30 p.m. ET

I was deeply honored to stand at the White House July 9 with my wife, Ashley, and my daughters, Margaret and Liza, to accept President Trump’s nomination to succeed my former boss and mentor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, on the Supreme Court. My mom, Martha—one of the first women to serve as a Maryland prosecutor and trial judge, and my inspiration to become a lawyer—sat in the audience with my dad, Ed.

That night, I told the American people who I am and what I believe. I talked about my 28-year career as a lawyer, almost all of which has been in public service. I talked about my 12 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often called the second most important court in the country, and my five years of service in the White House for President George W. Bush. I talked about my long record of advancing and promoting women, including as a judge—a majority of my 48 law clerks have been women—and as a longtime coach of girls’ basketball teams.

As I explained that night, a good judge must be an umpire—a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no political party, litigant or policy. As Justice Kennedy has stated, judges do not make decisions to reach a preferred result. Judges make decisions because the law and the Constitution compel the result. Over the past 12 years, I have ruled sometimes for the prosecution and sometimes for criminal defendants, sometimes for workers and sometimes for businesses, sometimes for environmentalists and sometimes for coal miners. In each case, I have followed the law. I do not decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge. I am not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge.

As Justice Kennedy showed us, a judge must be independent, not swayed by public pressure. Our independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic. The Supreme Court is the last line of defense for the separation of powers, and for the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution. The justices do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. They do not caucus in separate rooms. As I have said repeatedly, if confirmed to the court, I would be part of a team of nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would always strive to be a team player.
During the confirmation process, I met with 65 senators and explained my approach to the law. I participated in more than 30 hours of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I submitted written answers to nearly 1,300 additional questions. I was grateful for the opportunity.

After all those meetings and after my initial hearing concluded, I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations. My time in high school and college, more than 30 years ago, has been ridiculously distorted. My wife and daughters have faced vile and violent threats.

Against that backdrop, I testified before the Judiciary Committee last Thursday to defend my family, my good name and my lifetime of public service. My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate. That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony—both in my opening statement and in response to questions—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character. My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.

I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.

Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good. As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed. I will continue to be the same kind of judge I have been for the last 12 years. And I will continue to contribute to our country as a coach, volunteer, and teacher. Every day I will try to be the best husband, dad, and friend I can be. I will remain optimistic, on the sunrise side of the mountain. I will continue to see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone.

I revere the Constitution. I believe that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our constitutional republic. If confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case and always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.

Judge Kavanaugh has been nominated as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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It Doesn’t Matter

It really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong — Kavanaugh or Ford. What has become obvious is the judge does not have the judicial temperament to be on the Supreme Court. He is quick tempered and has an abiding hatred of apparently every registered Democrat. He showed no respect for the role of the United State Senate, if not open disdain for it, and his caustic comments undermined public confidence in both the Congress and the judiciary. His testimony revealed a profound sense of entitlement and privilege. These are the character traits he has shown when under stress or when challenged.

I suspect there are very few judges in the country that believe he is fit for the Supreme Court of the United States. Polite as almost everybody has been questioning on the subject, he may have a drinking problem. He certainly had one in the past.


Posted in Democratic Party, News Articles, Politics, Republican Party | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

White Men Partners Announcement

Arnold Kowiskiful has presented the City of Pensacola with a stunning opportunity. He proposes the development of a sex toys production and distribution facility at the Port. He promises 13 new jobs!

The plan is for the products to be shipped in from China via our port, repackaged after USA testing done here, and then shipped to Cuba. The jobs will be product tester positions and will pay a full minimum wage. Although he has had good luck just using volunteers, we told him we want good paying jobs. His company will distribute “dildo dividends” to the City of Pensacola based on the volume of sales to Cuba. This is a win win.

At White Men Partners LLC we are all about jobs and family values. You can maintain your standards and still make deals with people who are in businesses where we don’t necessarily agree with all their products. Mr. Kowiskiful has agreed to open an outlet store next to the Olive shop on South Palafox Street so we can buy his products at a discount — win win win!

We conducted the same intensive interview with him that we did with the rock crusher guys. Mr. Kowiskiful is the real deal in sex toys.


Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Port of Pensacola | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


White Men’s Partnership LLC is proud to announce our significant role in bringing a new company to the airport. We have not met the owners, but we have been busy behind the scenes making this happen. We do not fully know what business they are in but we know they are foreigners. We were intimately involved in the strategic master plan to bring some business here. We now want to bring a highly professional rock crushing company to the port. More jobs!!

We did our due diligence! We talked to these men for one full hour before deciding it was a go. We explained what family values really means at the Port. They nodded with approval. They didn’t say much but we are good at reading faces. The fact we didn’t understand every word they said did not detract from the excitement we had for the crusher and all those good crusher jobs.

As many of you know, we were instrumental in bringing Navy Federal to the area. We are not a pathetic junior chamber of commerce as some critics have suggested. We are NOT washed up old white guy has beens. We also are not an exclusive old white man’s club as we have been called by people who don’t want jobs brought here. We admit black business owners for the same $3500 a year and they are entitled to all the benefits of full associate members.

We are all about jobs and we are not about side deals with rock crushers or any other job creators. Why is it in this community that where good honest white men get together and propose creating jobs there is a presumption of inside dealing, kickbacks, and other unsavory practices? Why?

We have lots of members and they all want the same thing – the best for poor people. Not more cushy high rise condos for rich Democrats. You could join us for $3500; send your check to the attention of: Mr. Chubby. We will give you a window sticker that says “We helped bring Navy Federal here”.

Join us today for a full or associate membership depending on admission criteria.


Posted in City of Pensacola, Florida, Local Business, Pensacola Airport, Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Port of Pensacola | Tagged | 1 Comment

BREAKING? New Bridge Concrete Cracks Raise Questions

Article from the Navarre Press (original article here), reposted here in its entirety.

By Rob Johnson, Navarre Press, July 18, 2018

Cracks in newly placed concrete during the current construction of the Pensacola Bay Bridge recently caused two temporary halts to work on the deck of the $400 million span, state officials told the Navarre Press Wednesday.“Cracks were identified in some of the newly placed concrete…,” said Tanya Branton in an email. “Work on this portion was halted while the concrete placement methods and materials were evaluated.”

The work stoppage was specifically on the new concrete bridge deck following an inspection in March. FDOT described the inspection as “routine.” It’s unclear whether the inspection came after the fatal collapse of a bridge at Florida International University in Miami on March 15.

Branton said the Pensacola Bay Bridge deck work stopped twice—first between April 5 and April 16 of this year, and again between June 26 and June 27.

Construction of the bridge began in 2017 and is scheduled to be finished in 2020. But the contractor, Skanska USA, faces a deadline on Jan. 26, 2019 to finish the eastbound section—meaning essentially three of the eventual six lanes—in order to earn a $15 million completion bonus.

Experts in bridge construction say the seriousness of cracks varies. “Any cracks should be taken seriously and looked at by an engineer,” said John Pepper, a Fort Lauderale construction engineer who testified in court cases related to flaws in building projects.

Pepper said cracks can be from “improper mixing of concrete,” among other problems.

FDOT’s Branton said, “Although cracking in concrete is not uncommon and can be attributed to many different issues, the concrete deck cracking found in the new Pensacola Bay Bridge deck has been attributed to the concrete mixture drying faster than anticipated during and after placement.”

The inspection, evaluation of the cracks and the decision to restart the work all came from within the ranks of FDOT and Skanska.

No public announcement of the cracking was made nor was any outside agency or contractor not involved with the bridge already called in to evaluate.

“An outside, independent testing company should immediately be employed to evaluate if there is any basis to believe the bridge has construction related problems,” said Pensacola attorney Bob Kerrigan.

Kerrigan, who has criticized the bidding procedure through which Skanska won the bridge contract, added: “It is unfair to sound an alarm before we know what is actually going on but FDOT should not be the entity evaluating the problem because they are the ones that selected this contractor.   FDOT should immediately disclose everything they now know.”

Orlando attorney Matt Morgan said the bridge cracks underscore why bonuses of the sort being offered to Skanska to finish the work by a certain time are unwise: “As with any construction project, safety should always be the primary consideration. In my opinion, monetary bonuses on construction projects can lead to unnecessary risk and pressure on team members to complete the job as quickly as possible.”

Morgan, who has filed a lawsuit in the FIU bridge collapse on behalf of some victims, added, “Complex construction projects should always proceed in a deliberate, cautious and calculated manner to ensure the safety of the general public.”

Branton, who said public safety is always her agency’s top priority, noted, “The contractor’s current work schedule shows they are on track to achieve the bonus for shifting traffic to the new eastbound bridge.”

See also:
“Cracks where FIU bridge buckled may have signaled ‘imminent failure'”
“State asks judge to block release of records that might show why FIU bridge collapsed”
“The FIU Bridge Collapse: Do We Need Slow Engineering?”

Posted in Department of Transportation, Florida, News Articles, Tallahassee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge Nickinson Boots ACLU Transgender Lawsuit

REPOST — From this blog on September 26, 2017

ACLU Dangerously Meandering Off Course

acluThe ACLU has brought its mighty financial sources against a person who apparently insulted someone. The ACLU long a champion of protecting the constitutional rights of all has lost their way and in doing so fosters disrespect for our judicial system. They have elected to sue an “event organizer” because she insulted a guest by asking the person to move to the back of the room to another table.

So what’s the legal claim? The person asked to move “identifies” female although apparently a male and wanted everyone to know it. Let me see if I have this right. If just before the event earlier in the day a man with a beard, a beer belly, and a pierced nose decides to wear a dress and spike heels waddles up to the front and makes a scene by his appearance, an event organizer cannot politely ask her (her for that evening) to please move to the back of the room?

According to the Pensacola News Journal article (Sep. 25, 2017) the ACLU claims this is to be a really important case, another Brown v. Board of Education as a landmark case preventing discrimination against “transgenders.” So, the ACLU picks on an individual with inferior resources to establish their new cause celeb. In the meantime the public fumes over the allocation of the judicial resources that will be needed to litigate this ridiculous lawsuit which should have been handled (if at all) with an apology. And the erosion of public confidence in the judicial system has another straw added to the camel’s back. That’s the real victim here not the person who claims to be offended.

And now, from today’s Pensacola News Journal…

PNJ, June 19, 2018, reported by Kevin Robinson

Judge Rules Against Pensacola Woman in Transgender Discrimination Suit

A judge has ruled against a Pensacola woman who claims she was discriminated against because she is transgender.

The suit was based around allegations that Nevaeh Love, a woman who was assigned male at birth, was singled out and asked to move from her seat at an adults-only fundraising event. Event organizers testified that Love’s presence at the front of the venue made the performers uncomfortable, and she was asked to sit further back.

In a case presented directly to Judge Edward P. Nickinson in April, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida argued that denying Love her seat of choice because she is transgender was a violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act.

In a final order filed last week, a judge wrote that in most circumstances — say, if Love had been denied a seat at a restaurant, a room at a hotel or an opportunity at her place of employment — her case could have merit.

But adding sex to the equation changes things, according to the judge.

The fundraising event featured a troupe of male exotic dancers and was advertised as open to “ladies only.” The dancers purportedly “expressed objections to performing their show, which involved some degree of disrobing and mingling with the patrons, if a person they considered to be male was to be in the audience,” the order said.

“In some circumstances … the physical attributes, male or female, of a person’s body simply can make a difference,” the judge wrote. “No person should be required to perform body-contact sexual or sexually suggestive acts with another except by consent. The court believes that a judgment in favor of Ms. Love, in this case, would violate that basic premise.”

Nickinson’s order continued, “Here, the dancers clearly did not consider Ms. Love to be a ‘woman’ for purposes of their performance, and the court sees no reason why, for that limited purpose, Ms. Love should be able to force those dancers to think otherwise.”

The ACLU had looked to Love’s case to establish an important precedent for Florida’s transgender community. Florida’s Civil Rights Act was written to protect citizens from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, but the language of the act does not specifically list gender as a consideration.

Nickinson did address that issue in his ruling, noting, “In concluding that Ms. Love should not prevail on her claim, in this case, the Court does not take issue with any of the multitude of cases finding that statutory prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex extend to transgender persons.”

The judge ended his order by noting the defendant, Katoshia Young, had attempted to find a “middle ground” that would have been satisfactory to both parties, but that Love had requested a refund and left the venue before any such resolution could be reached.

Neither party was awarded anything in the decision, but the court retained jurisdiction to award costs or fees if appropriate.

Read the original PNJ article here.


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Outzen: Governor my name is Rick Outzen and I am a local journalist. I was responsible for spearheading the drive to kill the fish hatchery here

Governor: I did not know that, what is your name again?

Outzen: Richard Outzen, I work for the interests of Quint Studer.

Governor: I know of Mr. Studer, so what is the question?

Outzen: Will you guarantee we will still get the fish hatchery project here but in another location?

Governor: I know the project will be good for this area.

Outzen: But, Governor both me and the PNJ, who helped kill it for Mr. Studer, want to know if it is still on but, to be built somewhere else because we are getting some bad community feedback about what we did?

Governor: Fish Hatcheries are important to Florida and I support them.

Outzen: It isn’t just me, Mr. Studer needs to be able to tell everyone he didn’t cost the community 20 million by having me and the PNJ kill the fish hatchery. He is still reeling from criticism about the 5 million the city gave him, the 60 million price tag for the ballpark and parking issues and other stuff.

Governor: Some of these public private partnerships end up being mostly funded by government and mostly profited by the private sector.

Outzen: Governor, we all know you have done a lot for us because of your relationship with Mayor Hayward. I never intended to criticize Mayor Hayward; it’s just that Mr. Studer didn’t want the fish hatchery near his property. You can understand that, right?

Governor: It is said he wouldn’t hurt this community for all the tea in China and he only seeks win-wins.

Outzen: I promise I won’t write a petty, sarcastic, rude untrue editorial about the Mayor if you will promise me that this hatchery build isn’t a dead fish. You understand all we wanted was to keep a place near the storage tanks for the poor people to sunbathe? We were just trying to preserve their proper beach place in the community.

Governor: Here is what I can promise: I will talk to the Fish and Game people who worked on this for years and spent 1.7 million of taxpayers money planning it and tell them if Mr. Studer promises not to change his mind again they should trust him. You know trust once broken is hard to mend.

Outzen: Does that mean we will get 20 million even though the hatchery is now deceased?

Governor: The money will be delivered here by courier after the election in November. I hope this community will support my candidacy for the U S Senate.

Outzen: We are all on board Governor. You can trust me, Governor, I am Mr. Studer’s media point person here and I give you my word as a editorial/ad salesman/journalist I will not make this in any way look like the Mayor did anything but try and help our community.

Governor: You promise?

Outzen: Rainbow scout’s honor and pinky promise (Pinky handshake extended).

Governor: What was your name again?


Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola News Journal, Republican Party, Studer | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Letter from Mary

This letter to the editor of a Dallas newspaper is reprinted with permission.

May 16, 2018



Posted in Politics, Religion, Republican Party | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


To Quint Studer and all those who helped him kill a 20 million dollar investment in our community with the accompanying loss of jobs, research to protect our fisheries and an educational tourist attraction. He couldn’t have done it without the help of the PNJ, a dysfunctional city council and Thing One and Thing Two filing a lawsuit. There will be no new location of the fish hatchery selected in our community, the state will look elsewhere. The state officials involved are too classy to say it but they are out of here and with it a tremendous investment in the city is lost.

A person who controls the city council and the print media warns anyone who is considering coming here to invest: you will be vulnerable to his whimsical manipulations. The State of Florida abandoning this project is an ominous warning to other investors — Pensacola is now clearly a one man town. Speculation may continue as to why he did it but there is no doubt that he did it.

Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola News Journal, Studer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Sad Day for Pensacola

The trial judge dismissed the lawsuit regarding the fish hatchery. It was a correct interpretation of the law. The lawsuit had no merit. But, Mr. Studer may have effectively killed the fish hatchery. And, no, Ms. Meyers, the state is not going to hand us 18 million anyway. Our community will have lost an infusion of millions, a wonderful tourist attraction and related supporting jobs.

This is what happens when weak politicians are beholden to one man whose whimsical opinions control public policy. It is a sad day for Pensacola, but a predictable outcome, if the State of Florida says “we are out of here” — which looks likely.

You may read the seven page dismissal order by clicking on the image below:

FWC fish hatchery dismissal pensacola

Fish Hatchery Dismissal Order


Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Florida Circuit Court, Local Business, Studer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Omnibursting with Spending


Weekly Wastebasket | March 23, 2018

Around 8 PM Wednesday night, a 2,242 page behemoth omnibus spending bill appeared on the House of Representatives Document Repository web site. Weighing in at $1.3 trillion, the bill amounts to $582 million a page. About 17 hours and another 1511 pages of explanatory text later, the bill passed the House. The Senate quickly followed suit in the wee hours of Friday morning. The math works out to House members having about 16 seconds to speed read each page in the package, their Senate colleagues granted a more leisurely 28 seconds per page. Not to put too fine a point on it, but no one – no one – knew what they were voting on.


It’s worth putting this frantic last minute mad scramble to fund government into context.

And that context lies in the scramble happening one week shy of the six month mark of fiscal year 2018, meaning that Congress began punting back in September.

Actually, you could soundly argue that it started well before that. The House got all twelve spending bills done, but they bore little resemblance to what got enacted.

The Senate didn’t even try. Not a single FY2018 spending bill graced the Senate floor last year.

The first nine months of the year were mostly dedicated to a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The last three focused on jamming through a deficit-financed tax cut. Only after that, did Congressional leadership turn to their only constitutionally-mandated annual duty. And the only duty that, unlike efforts to reform health care or tax policy, has a hard deadline; pass bills funding federal agencies or the government shuts down.

And what did they do? They agreed to add about $150 billion in additional spending over budget cap levels for fiscal year 2018 and for fiscal year 2019 by adding the tab onto the $20 trillion national debt.

Quote of the Week:
“Nobody knows what’s in it. I don’t know what’s in the damn thing…I have no intention of voting for this bill until I know everything that’s in it…Whoever came up with this isn’t qualified to run a food truck.” ~ Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on the Omnibus spending bill. For the record, he did vote against the bill.

Article from:
© Taxpayers for Common Sense (3/23/18)
651 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20003

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Former candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Rick Outzen (Arizona 2008 primary) and former candidate for the city council, Maren DeWeese, announced while holding hands within minutes of the Mayor’s decision not to seek reelection, that they too would no longer have a purpose for their continued quasi-journalist existence.

The relentless mostly baseless tirades against the Mayor were fun while they lasted, Outzen said. He thanked his supporters and all of his anonymous sources for making his paper what it was. He pushed back however on the charge he annually sold his top 100 Influencers positions. Outzen said he and his co-editor C J Lewis and his Tilapia fry-cook co-owner assured they would seek other ways to undermine the Mayor in whatever future endeavors the Mayor undertook.

Our thanks to the one person who attended the DeWeese/Outzen “news conference” for reporting this developing story.

Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, News Articles, Pensacola City Council, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy: Into the Record Books with an Asterisk

Bull headed, stubborn, aloof and won’t listen. This is how you build great cities? Maybe Mr. Studer should just walk up to our mayor’s office and say, “Come on down to one of the Studer meetings and tell us what your vision was, how you did it and why it has been such a success.”

We really don’t benefit much by speeches from self-promoting politicians who join the speaking circuit. What did they pay for this guy to come here?


The following is from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 3, 2006, by Dennis B. Roddy:

A strange deal with the feds was the latest twist in a career that began with activism, ended with aloofness…

In a city renowned for political horse-trading, Tom Murphy preferred to travel by foot: walking door-to-door, retailing himself as a leader beyond politics, a youthful voice of reform in a town he said was slowly dying from doing things the old way.

former-pittsburgh-mayor-tom-murphyNow, with a two-year federal probe ending in a strange agreement not to prosecute in return for Mr. Murphy’s acknowledgement that he traded a generous contract for the support of the firefighters union, a self-made reform politician goes into the record books with an asterisk.

This was a former seminarian and Peace Corps volunteer who in 1975 got chucked into the back of a police wagon when, he says, he stopped to help a group of youths who were being beaten by police.

In 1989, Mr. Murphy, then a state legislator from the North Side, came in a surprising second in the Democratic mayoral primary to incumbent Sophie Masloff, beating three others, including the favored county Controller Frank Lucchino.

Elected mayor four years later, he succeeded in building two stadiums and a new convention center. But in the course of those successes, the often aloof Mr. Murphy alienated old friends and newfound allies, finally losing both his political edge and his reformer’s label.

“The dark side of the force is strong. I don’t know how much it was Tom or how much it was the system that pushes people,” said Mark Fatla, who entered Mr. Murphy’s orbit during his days at the Community Technical Assistance Center, part of the stew of community groups with whom Mr. Murphy built his early base.

Mr. Fatla recalled Election Night 1993, when the room was filled with community activists drawn to the campaign.

“By the first re-election campaign, those persons were not active or their participation had been reduced,” Mr. Fatla said. The first signs of problems were budget cuts for community groups, he said. Later, it was access.

“I think as he became enmeshed in the bigger issues in the mayor’s office, it got harder and harder to talk to him, but it got much harder to hold his attention. And when you did talk to him you got the sense that his mind was already made up, that he wasn’t open any longer to what you were telling him. I think that was the change,” Mr. Fatla said.

To many who saw the transformation, Mr. Murphy’s disaster was caused by his straying from his political base and embracing another — the more traditional city politics with which he never felt comfortable and whose practitioners never quite accepted him.

Mr. Murphy and his chief lieutenant, Executive Secretary Tom Cox, cut their teeth as North Side community developers. In the idealistic atmosphere of the early 1970s, he should have fit in — but didn’t.

“Tommy was not a reformer. Tommy was a loner. There’s a big difference,” said Bob Cohen, a Shadyside consultant who preceded Murphy as director of the North Side Civic Development Council.

Tom Murphy was first elected a state representative in 1978. Mr. Cohen, who now advises clients in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, views Mr. Murphy’s management style as both his strength and weakness. Appointed to the chairmanship of the Insurance Committee in the state House, Mr. Murphy disappointed party leaders by refusing to raise campaign funds from lobbyists who did business with the committee, a long-standing Harrisburg practice Mr. Murphy found repugnant. Caucus politics did not interest him.

“Tommy was the world’s worst politician,” said Mr. Cohen.

In 14 years as a state representative, Mr. Murphy strengthened his reputation as a neighborhood builder, but never became a coalition builder.

Instead of making the Harrisburg tavern circuit, where lobbyists and legislators share drinks and ambitious legislators map out deals, Mr. Murphy’s work in the house was literal. He spent his evenings rehabbing a rundown house he co-purchased with four other members for $4,000 at 1616 Green St. in Harrisburg.

“He would stay back and work on that house. He wanted the neighborhood to look better,” said Allen Kukovich, one of the residents at 1616 Green.

Mike Dawida, another legislator who entered the House the same year as Mr. Murphy, and with whom he aligned himself politically, recalled his colleague as an idealist capable of spotting important policy issues, but not adept at working the legislative levers to bring them about.

“He wasn’t always good at working with the Legislature. Others would have to take up the ideas,” Mr. Dawida said.

Mr. Murphy’s biggest weakness, Mr. Dawida said, was a failure to listen.

“Reformers tend to be people who listen. He didn’t cultivate that talent very well,” Mr. Dawida said. “It got a lot worse in the mayor’s office.”

Dan Cohen, who served on City Council during Mr. Murphy’s tenure as mayor, remembers a man who rarely initiated contacts on his own.

“There was an aloofness,” said Mr. Cohen, who now works as a telecommunications lawyer. “Was Tom a politician? Not as we typically use the term. He was the anti-politician.”

That anti-politician posture would sometimes frustrate Mr. Murphy’s supporters. His staff would sometimes be frustrated that, during fund-raisers, the mayor didn’t seem to know who his biggest donors were.

For that matter, he didn’t always know when his fund-raising events were scheduled, said Sal Sirabella, deputy mayor under Mr. Murphy.

On one occasion, Mr. Sirabella recalls Mr. Murphy returning from a run and saying, ” ‘You know what? I think we have a fund-raiser tomorrow. Isn’t it great that we don’t even know when our fund-raisers are?’ ”

Some Democratic ward leaders gradually became disenchanted. “The only time he knew my name was when he was up for re-election,” said Barbara Ernsberger, who has chaired Shadyside’s 7th Ward Democratic Committee since 1994 and who was elected city Democratic chair during Mr. Murphy’s administration.

She recalls putting in a phone call to the mayor’s office to suggest a meeting between Mr. Murphy and the Democratic committee.

“I was told we were not on his agenda,” she said.

A partnership with Allegheny County Commissioners Mike Dawida and Bob Cranmer helped Mr. Murphy build two new stadiums and a convention center. That, too, frayed.

One notable moment came Sept. 29, 1998, when government buildings along Grant Street were evacuated when an unexplained noxious odor wafted through. City and county emergency officials didn’t communicate with each other, even though they shared some of the same buildings. The ensuing turf battle between the city and county climaxed when Mr. Murphy announced he was calling off plans to merge the city’s 911 center with Allegheny County’s.

Mr. Dawida was stunned by the reaction.

“I guess what I’m saying is there were these issues that popped up from time to time when a little bit of listening would have done the guy some wonders,” Mr. Dawida said.

Relations with City Council were strained, thanks to both fiscal constraints and Mr. Murphy’s infrequent communication with council, said Dan Cohen.

Then came the publicly financed construction of two new stadiums despite taxpayer resistance, and the mayor’s controversial effort to revitalize Downtown’s Fifth and Forbes retail district.

Mr. Murphy wanted to seize properties and turn them over to a Chicago developer. “We asked for an open process, and in fact it was a closed process,” said Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. A Murphy enthusiast in 1994, Mr. Ziegler joined the many vocal critics of the Fifth and Forbes plan.

Mr. Dawida sees Fifth and Forbes as the turning point leading to Mr. Murphy’s slide.

“He had invested a lot of his capital in it because the Downtown of Pittsburgh was always a kind of showplace,” Mr. Dawida said. “It was the public perception that this was a very important thing and then it never happened.”

When retailer Nordstrom pulled out, Mr. Murphy abandoned the plan. But with his neighborhood base disenchanted, and his foes energized, the mayor had to build a new base.

He reached out to firefighters.

In April 2001, Mr. Murphy attended a meeting at Larry’s Roadhouse with his campaign manager David Caliguiri, Arlington neighborhood activist Michele Balcer and Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joseph King.

On April 30, Mr. King wrote to union members that he’d reached agreement with the city on contract basics that would preserve jobs and raise wages between 4 percent and 8 percent. Mr. King later estimated that the raises would have cost the city $10 million to $12 million over four years, had the deal not been trimmed after 2002.

At around the same time, the 870-member union switched its endorsement from then City Council President Bob O’Connor to Mr. Murphy.

“I told Tom at the time I thought it was a bad deal. But he didn’t often listen,” Mr. Dawida said.

Mr. Sirabella doesn’t think the fire union’s endorsement decided the 2001 primary, which Murphy won by 699 votes.

Nonetheless, had 350 people — firefighters or otherwise — moved from Mr. Murphy’s to Mr. O’Connor’s column, the former wouldn’t have had to contend with a budget meltdown and, presumably, last week’s odd settlement that suggested Mr. Murphy had done something if not indictable, at least wrong.

To some old friends, it seems almost as if Mr. Murphy’s lack of skill in the kinds of insider dealing he so flatly rejected starting with his Harrisburg days, might have left him unprepared for the junctures at which politics and governance sometimes merge.

“It would seem to me that there are some people who might be what’s described as wheeler-dealers in political jargon, who might know how to handle those situations better, perhaps, than someone who’s not used to figuring out how to deal with tough contracts when there’s an election coming up,” said Mr. Kukovich. “It takes someone with rare skill. For someone who’s not adept at that sort of thing, I guess it can be a problem.”

It remained for Mr. Dawida to sum up the paradox of his old friend: “He was bullheaded, stubborn and opinionated. But he wasn’t ever dishonest. This kind of thing implies that he was and he wasn’t.”

Read original article here.

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Businesses Reaping the Benefits of the Florida Panhandle


Businesses are reaping the benefits of the Florida Panhandle

Author: Rick Byars, Community & Economic General Manager, Gulf Power
29 Jan 2018

Holidaymakers have recognised the appeal of the Florida Panhandle for decades. Now, the region’s industrial sector is proving its worth too


Bordering Alabama to the west and north, Northwest Florida’s commuting labour force comprises more than 1.2 million talented workers

The American state of Florida is perhaps best known for attractions such as Walt Disney World in Orlando, South Beach in Miami or any of the beaches found along the peninsula. Tourism aside, Florida is also an economic powerhouse. If the state were a country, it would be the 18th-largest global economy, at a value of $839bn (€710bn).

As the third-largest state in the US, with a population of more than 20 million, Florida offers a wealth of diverse opportunities for businesses to develop. However, it is one of the lesser known parts of the state that boasts the greatest potential for growth over the next five years: the Florida Panhandle, or Northwest Florida, is a picturesque strip of coast best known for its quaint beach towns.

Northwest Florida encompasses metropolitan areas such as Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Panama City. While its beautiful beaches with sugar-white sand and pristine waters have drawn in tourists for decades, it also has a significant military presence, with six major aviation-related bases, including Eglin Air Force Base, the largest in the world.

Growth potential
Today, Northwest Florida has diversified beyond the tourist towns and military-focused communities that once dominated the region.

The talent pipeline serving the Florida Panhandle is helping industries to thrive throughout the region

The population has grown to 1.9 million, and the Panhandle now has three international ports, three airports, 400 miles of freight rail tracks and countless miles of interstate highways. Because the region borders Alabama to the west and north, Northwest Florida’s commuting labour force comprises more than 1.2 million talented workers.

Those who live and work in Northwest Florida are employed in a range of sectors. The region’s multiple manufacturing industries include aerospace, watercraft, food, wood products, plastics, textiles and chemicals.

Recently, two major aerospace companies chose Northwest Florida as the location for their expansion plans. VT MAE, a business unit of VT Systems and the US headquarters of ST Engineering, is expanding its maintenance, repair and overhaul operations by moving to a 173,000sq ft facility at the Pensacola International Airport. This $46m (€39m) project will employ a 400-strong workforce.

Florida first
Additionally, GKN Aerospace is building a manufacturing facility in Panama City, creating 170 jobs with a $50m (€42m) capital investment. The site will be located at the Venture Crossings Enterprise Centre, an industrial park adjacent to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

It’s a designated Florida First Site, a status that means all risks have been mitigated and the land is certified project-ready by a third-party consultant. In the Florida First Sites portfolio, there are nine total tracts of land, all 50 acres and above, which are ready for development.

While manufacturing is a large industry in the region, the Panhandle also boasts hi-tech, unmanned systems, back office and cybersecurity companies. The talent pipeline serving the area is helping these industries thrive. Northwest Florida has much to offer companies considering expanding in the US, and the south-east in particular.

Original Article here…

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Open Carry

The United States Supreme Court just assured some semblance of gun sanity will remain in Florida. They refused to consider reversing the Florida Supreme Court’s rejection of open carry. Long championed by Matt Gaetz (Gaetz said on a WNRP 1620 AM radio interview he favored open carry, even in church), open carry would allow every misfit, coward, underachiever, and law enforcement wanna-be to strap on a gun and walk into restaurants and every place else — Look at me! A tough guy with a gun!

Open carry was universally opposed by all law enforcement. But the hard core Gaetz supporters loved it and so did he. The argument that “we have concealed carry so what is the difference?” misses the mark (no pun intended). The weapon is concealed and any effort used to intimidate someone with it is a crime. The visual intimidation of someone wearing a Wild West double-holster with six-guns is self-evident. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, as least for now.


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Three Blogs by Escambia County Commissioner Bergosh

Jeff Bergosh is County Commissioner for Escambia County, District 1. The following links are to his blog, — the words and the research are his…

Timeline of Raises at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office

A Review of the BCC’s Answer to the Sheriff’s Budget Appeal

Pay Compression: A 3-Year Look at ECSO W-2 Data



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Was Don Gaetz with this Company in 2002, 03 & 04?

“Chemed Corp. and VITAS Hospice Services agree to pay $75 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations relating to billing for ineligible patients and inflated levels of care.”

Read more below…


Click anywhere on the image to read full size.

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Something Smells Real Fishy

Mr. Studer is circulating a survey that he claims supports his change of mind on the Hatchery. He attributes the survey results to The Political Matrix, though he claimed he hired them. No such organization is listed in Florida for a fictitious name. They appear to have a web site and their number one listed client is Rick Outzen. On their Linkedin page they claim “we are proud to be working with Rick Outzen and the Independent Weekly”. Of course Mr. Outzen is proud to work with Mr. Studer for a number of economic reasons.

Understanding Mr. Studer is the master of the survey technique where the survey results are used to sell or influence others. For many years he sold hospitals on how to convince the patient that their care was better than it actually was so the patient survey results were improved based on his nursing scripting techniques. Hospitals loved it because it meant they could get better survey results (hence greater government reimbursements) but not materially improving health care, for example, by hiring adequate nursing staff or giving patients private rooms. Nurses disliked the scripting because it required them to make phony caring comments and disingenuous patient friendly chit chat.

So, it is with respectful cynicism we wonder about these survey results that support Mr. Studer’s relentless push to shut the Hatchery project down. The primary questions are push-poll questions, suggesting the answer he wanted in the question asked. The intellectually honest first question would be: “Are you familiar with the proposed fish hatchery to be built in downtown Pensacola?” I would bet 90% would say they were not. That would render the survey invalid with any additional related questions. Instead the survey uses push-poll questions that intentionally and dishonestly provide the respondent with a negative impression of the hatchery.

1. Do you support the State of Florida investing nearly 10 million dollars of BP remediation money for the construction of an experimental fish hatchery on downtown waterfront property and an additional 8 million for its operation?

Notice the use of “experimental” and “waterfront property” and an unsourced need for 8 million more.

2. Do you think the mayor or the city council has provided adequate communication with the public regarding the details of the proposed experimental Pensacola Fish Hatchery?

Mr. Studer ran a full page ad laying out every conceivable detail when he supported it. The issue was widely covered in the media. Most people do not care.

3. If you knew that the $18 million experimental Fish Hatchery would only guarantee 8 to 12 permanent jobs for five years, on a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to support the project?

Notice the use of “only guarantee” and “experimental”. None of the other many benefits of the hatchery are noted.

4. Of the following locations, which area would you prefer an experimental fish hatchery be located between a new custom build facility at Bruce Beach or in an existing vacant warehouse at the Port of Pensacola?

Notice “custom built” implying a Cadillac where a Ford Focus would be adequate. Existing vacant warehouse suggests a facility was available and they could be moved in tomorrow which is not true for many reasons.

5. Would you rather see the largest city owned bay front property developed into a publicy [sic] accessible waterfront park or an experimental industrial fish hatchery?

Waterfront Park, next to massive storage tanks? Not suggesting how this would be paid for is not disclosed. He finally finishes off the push poll by “experimental industrial fish hatchery” . Tossing in industrial to make it all the more awful.

6. How happy are you with the Mayor’s leadership in promoting an experimental fish hatchery for Bruce Beach?

Everyone knows how Studer and Outzen dislike the mayor. The mayor’s leadership – Outzen and Studer just can’t let that go. The recurrent theme: promoting unhappy with the mayor’s leadership. Outzen is so oddly fixated on the mayor while Studer desperately wants to act like the mayor. A happy match.

So would it be rude to ask what does Mr. Studer have to do with this polling? Regardless, and more pointedly, did he write these push-poll questions? I suspect he did. It takes skill to write push poll questions like the ones used in this non-scientific, invalidly sampled survey —a survey he admits he paid to have conducted.


Posted in City of Pensacola, Community Maritime Park, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola City Council, Pensacola News Journal, Studer | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just Do What Mr. Studer Wants Done with the Hatchery

Brian Spencer should not be faulted for doing what his client, Mr. Studer wants. For the rest of the Council however, reneging on a contract, especially with the State of Florida, could have dire consequences for our city. Casually tossing out a suggestion of a “better site” at the Port is the kind of half-baked poor decision making typical of a weak city beholden to one man who is subject to change his mind again tomorrow.

Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Local Business, Pensacola City Council, Studer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Following Our Community Leaders

They were against it before they were for it, which explains why they are against it now.

Are we headed for a  different end than the lemmings?

Posted in City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola City Council, Republican Party, Studer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Own “Jared Kushner”

Trump has nothing on us.

We have a man who has more titles and talents than Kushner will ever have. Our guy is in charge of community health care, early childhood education, entrepreneur development, civic-con leadership — whatever that is, strong city advocate for weak cities, head of local baseball operations, strings attached philanthropic pace setter, motivational speaker, author, investor, coffee expert, survey results presentation specialist, olive and candy retailer, used car salesman ( waiting confirmation), major sponsored EDATE political candidate funder, self-help seminar sponsor and keynote speaker, landlord, restaurateur, full time volunteer, mentor to many and friend and adviser to all.

Top that Donald!


Posted in City of Pensacola, Community Maritime Park, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, Pensacola City Council, Republican Party, Studer | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Has The Big Fish Flipped & Flopped?

May 5, 2014 — Letter addressed to Mayor Ashton Hayward and the Pensacola City Council from Quint Studer regarding Bruce Beach and The Fish Hatchery…

Click on Letter for Full Size…

Posted in City of Pensacola, Community Maritime Park, Escambia County, Local Business, News Articles, Pensacola City Council, Studer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Loss Analysis – Beach Lease Conversions to Fee Simple

No county commissioner has ever asked for an economic impact analysis of fee simple conversion of beach leases. We understand why they have not. The county will lose millions if these leasehold conversions take place.

1. ½ of the residential leases on Pensacola Beach are not considered in perpetuity; meaning the land is not taxed. In many cases the land is as valuable as the structure. These lease holders will not convert to fee simple because it would amount to as much as double the county ad valorem tax

2. The other ½ of residential leases will convert to fee simple title because they will pay no more taxes than they are now being assessed because their leases are taxed as if they own the land. Net annual loss to the county on the loss of those lease fees – $2 million.

3. Condos: The recent decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal exempts condo owners from paying any tax attributable to the land. They will not convert. Estimated annual loss — at least $2 million.

4. Commercial leases. Any commercial lease holders that convert to fee simple will cause those lease fees to be lost and the taxes now assessed will not increase. Unknown loss of revenue, however, revenue will be lost. In addition, the 5% surcharge on beach sales will be lost if leases are converted to fee simple. Current annual revenue — $1 million.

5. Escambia County will lose millions. No public official will dispute this basic truth. Why has Escambia County paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a federal lobbyist lobbying congress since 2011 for passage of this act?


Posted in Democratic Party, Escambia County, Florida, Local Business, Politics, Republican Party | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Editorial: Senators Nelson & Rubio Should Scrap Beach Bill

Editorial from Pensacola News Journal Editorial Board published Oct. 8, 2017…

navarre-beach-sceneNo matter what side you’re on in the contentious battle over a Senate bill that would allow private ownership on area beaches, one thing is certain. This is federal government action designed to intervene in a local government issue. For that reason alone, Senators Nelson and Rubio should scrap the legislation and allow local citizens to work out issues of taxes, fees and fairness on Santa Rosa Island.

It is unnecessary and inappropriate for federal officials to impose a sweeping major change in the historic status quo of public ownership of a natural treasure like Santa Rosa Island. Especially when the central premise for the bill comes from demands for fairness in county-regulated fees and taxes. We don’t use acts of Congress to solve disputes over parking meter rates. Nor should we look to federal officials to resolve questionable allegations of unfairness in a local tax issue.

Conservative backers of the bill such as Rubio and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz ought to explain to voters exactly why a federal government that should butt out of health care ought to be making sweeping land management decisions for citizens of Escambia County. If that’s not “big government,” then what is?

For Nelson’s part, after initially backing the bill, he has since raised doubts and called for revisions that would put preservation restrictions on Navarre Beach similar to what the bill calls for on Pensacola Beach. Specifically, Nelson’s spokesman said, “(He) still supports the overall purpose of the bill, but wants to add some additional assurances that Navarre Pass will stay closed and conservation areas preserved.” Nelson is right to call for increased preservation guarantees, but still misses other troubling questions with this bill.

Currently, Escambia County citizens own the Navarre portion of the island and lease it to Santa Rosa County. The proposed legislation would transfer ownership of that land to Santa Rosa, whose officials have rejected the sort of preservation restrictions that the bill contains for Escambia’s portion.

Therein lies the inherent flaw in treating the island as dual territories subject to different standards and protections. The barrier island is a highly unique and sensitive ecosystem. Tides and winds and forces of nature do not recognize imaginary dotted lines or arbitrary dictates and ambitions of neighboring county governments. Public ownership of the island was intended as a protective measure for a rare natural environment with a larger sense of posterity in mind.

Undoing that historic public ownership should require direct and widespread public input from all the citizens who have a stake in the island. That has not been the case at all with this proposed legislation.

Furthermore, before any such move should be considered, citizen stakeholders ought to be provided with a concrete financial analysis of a transfer to private ownership. Neither county nor federal officials have shown Escambia County citizens any hard numbers of what this legislation would mean for taxpayers’ bottom line. Since when are real estate transactions negotiated without some specific appraisals, assessments and dollar amounts on paper?

How much would be gained or lost in tax and fee collection?

How much is all this publicly owned land worth?

Do our commissioners, representatives or senators even have any idea?

We spend thousands on economic impact studies for everything from hockey to road closures in this county. So where’s the science-based economic report to justify the transfer of ownership that this legislation proposes? Show citizens the numbers that deserve their support.

Additionally, Gulf Islands National Seashore has historically been a leading voice for stewardship and a watchman over the entire island. In the past, Seashore officials have rightly opposed a Navarre pass, private ownership and increased development due to the fact that on such a sensitive sliver of sand, changes on one end of the island will inevitably alter the other end. Cut a pass in Navarre and you’ll feel it in Fort Pickens.

Senator Nelson and Rubio should look back at Gulf Island’s historic positions on the issue and seek direct, candid input from National Park leaders and rangers who have become deeply acquainted with these issues over the years. Their opinions are significant and they know the island better than most.

But in the end, the hundreds of thousands of Escambia citizens who own the island ought to decide this issue. The island is their treasure and heritage. And with all due respect to our federal officials, Escambia citizens know the beach better than senators from South Florida or a congressman from Fort Walton.

The beach belongs to locals. And with this overreaching legislation, our federal officials are trespassing.

Link to the original editorial here: PNJ Editorial 10-08-2017

Posted in Democratic Party, Escambia County, Florida, News Articles, Pensacola News Journal, Republican Party, Santa Rosa County | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Proponents of the beach bill claim that nothing in the bill itself has any negative impact on the beaches of Santa Rosa Island. That statement is not only false on its face, but it neglects to take into account what sociologists, legal scholars, philosophers, and software engineers recognize as inherent when dealing with complex systems. The law of unintended consequences serves as a warning that any intervention in a complex system tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.

The intended benefit of S. 1073 is not solely to grant fee simple title to leaseholders in Escambia County but also to protect the public, recreation, conservation, and preservation land in and around Pensacola Beach. However, those conservation protections are not guaranteed in the ways outlined by the Department of the Interior in its recommendations on previous versions of the bill. The issues DOI found with the bills are described in this 2013 testimony:

“Our primary concerns lie with the lands within Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach that remain natural, in a pristine condition, and that provide vital wildlife habitat and have outstanding opportunities for public recreation. As written, this bill does not adequately define those areas to ensure they remain in public ownership, protected from development, and available for public use and enjoyment, as intended by the Act of July 30, 1946. Specifically, the county resolutions referenced by the bill do not identify current planning documents by date for both counties, leaving land use zones subject to change, rezoning, and redefinition of management prescriptions and permitted uses. Further, if rezoned, nothing in this bill would prevent the sale of these lands for private ownership and development.”

Supporters of the current legislation point to this preservation section of the bill as evidence that these conservation/preservation areas will be held in perpetuity. The Department of the Interior, much more accustomed to dealing with land use legislation, obviously felt that the wording of the bill was insufficient to achieve the stated goal. This bill’s wording duplicates that of the 2013 and 2015 bills and is, once again, insufficient. And DOI made 4 recommendations which have not been incorporated:

  1. To assure public beach access in perpetuity, public parking and beach access corridors identified within the Escambia County and Santa Rosa County planning and land use documents as of August 1, 2013 (other than parking and beach facilities), should remain publicly owned and undeveloped.  This could be accomplished by retaining the applicability of the reversionary clause from the Act of July 30, 1946, for those lands, and by specifically referencing in the bill the county planning and land use documents as they existed on the date the bills were introduced.
  2. nbsp;

  3. Lands zoned “preservation” or “conservation/recreation” within the Escambia County and Santa Rosa County planning and land use documents as of August 1, 2013, should remain in public ownership and in preservation or conservation/recreation status in perpetuity.  This, too, could be accomplished by retaining the applicability of the reversionary clause from the Act of July 30, 1946, for those lands, and by specifically referencing in the bill the county planning and land use documents as they existed on August 1, 2013.  The language should include the definitions, management prescriptions and permitted activities for “preservation” and “conservation/recreation” zones in the county planning and land use documents as they existed on the date the bills were introduced, so that the terms cannot be redefined or reinterpreted at a later date. Further, the term “recreation” should be clarified to refer to passive recreation only for these lands.
  4. nbsp;

  5. Authority should be provided for Gulf Island National Seashore to accept by donation conservation easements for the lands zoned preservation or conservation/recreation within Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island.
  6. nbsp;

  7. There should be a prohibition on any dredge and fill permits that would allow for the construction of a channel through Santa Rosa Island, and the construction of associated jetties, groins, bulkheads or revetments, and the dredging or filling of any wetlands, estuaries, or embayments.

Using those recommendations as a guideline, this bill is worse for the island. Allowing Santa Rosa County the opportunity to remove all conservation/preservation protections is also an intended outcome, a benefit for which Santa Rosa County Commissioner Sam Parker voiced his appreciation on a morning radio show. Santa Rosa County, according to Parker, wants to be able to utilize all of their resources on the island. Apparently, he does not consider conservation, preservation, wildlife habitats, and maintaining a healthy island adequate utilization of the mile closest to Eglin AFB.

It’s difficult to discern if cutting off public access to the beaches is intended or unintended. As Commissioner Robinson pointed out recently, most lot lines stop behind the dune line, but there are several (as yet, there is no clear number) that extend to the water line. Given the contentious argument in Destin about hotels, condos, private residences, “private beaches,” and mean high water lines, I think many here would be averse to opening up a brand new legal can of worms.

Arguably, unintended consequences got us to the place where we are now. When the county advertised tax-free leases on the island in the middle of the last century, no one could have foreseen that the Florida legislature would pass a law opening the door to taxes on 99-year leases. But, they did. And no one could have foreseen that the Florida Supreme Court would issue multiple rulings upholding that law and declaring the responsibility of the equity-owner of the leasehold to pay them. But it did.

Escambia County has full responsibility for the entire island, whether it’s fully exercised or partially ceded to Santa Rosa County. We hold the legal title and we cannot wash our hands of the consequences, intended or unintended, of decisions that impact the whole island. Leaving open the possibility of another cut in the island would be irresponsible—environmentally, ecologically, and geologically. As Dr. James Morgan, a coastal geologist who extensively studied the island wrote in 1988 about a proposal to recreate Navarre Pass, “Santa Rosa Island is one of the few barrier islands that is not on the endangered list –let us not deliberately institute a project that might put it there.”

In the event that the current legislation fails, we respectfully ask that you place a referendum on the 2018 ballot and allow the 318,000 Congressionally-appointed stewards of Santa Rosa Island the opportunity to have their voices heard in this matter.

Blog Attributed to Vicki Neapolitan as addressed to Escambia County Commissioners


Posted in Escambia County, Florida, Military, Politics, Republican Party, Santa Rosa County | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Beach Lease

In the public discussions one woman has been an outspoken advocate for exchanging her lease for fee simple title. We decided to analyze her lease. We suspect she does not realize the effect of losing the tax exempt status of her land if she exchanges her lease for a fee simple title.

1. Her total assessed value for land and house for 2016 was $208,423 (which seems extraordinarily low)

2. She has $100,000 in exemptions for senior homestead

3. Because her lease is for a fixed term SHE PAYS NO TAXES ON THE LAND which is assessed at $ 84,187

4. $208,423 – $184,187 equals a county taxable amount of $24,236 or a tax of $160.36 based on millage of 6.6165

5. Had she been taxed on the non-homestead assessed value it would have been – $717.00 (6.6165 x $108,423)

6. Had she lived anywhere else in the county the land would be taxed.

7. Her lease fee is approximately $360.00 per year

8. Her total lease fee and county ad valorem tax would be $520.36

9. She has paid $196.64 less in county taxes ($717.00 – $520.36). She does not pay taxes based on the land value because her lease is for 99 years or until 2180. This fixed term lease is true of most residential leases on the beach.

10. So much for the double taxation argument.

This can be verified by checking the foregoing for 1008 Via Deluna Drive. This calculation ignores school and other taxes that do not credit for the non-taxed land. Only the county tax allows exemption for non-taxed land.

Related Documents (PDF):

Property Appraiser (1008 Via Deluna Drive)

Real Estate Tax (1008 Via Deluna Drive)

Assignment of Leasehold Interest

Residential Lease


Posted in Escambia County, Florida, News Articles, Santa Rosa County | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions Sent to Grover Robinson

How could Escambia initially pledge Navarre Beach bed tax revenue for Escambia bonds? I thought you said it was as if Escambia deeded Navarre to Santa Rosa in 1956?

What is your position on the status of sub leases? If the master lease holder refuses to accept fee simple title can the sub lease holders demand it nevertheless?

If the master lease holder wants fee simple title, will that nullify his lease with the sub lease holder?

How can federal legislation interfere with the contractual relationship between the lessor and the sub leasing party? Isn’t that prohibited by the U.S. Constitution?

Do you agree that there will be many lawsuits filed because of this legislation?

Do you agree that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of leases that are different from one another? If so how will this legislation affect each lease?

Were minutes taken of your meeting with Matt Gaetz?

How is this proposed legislation different from what has been previously introduced in the U.S. Congress?

You have said all leases up for renewal are renewed. What then is the justification for the current legislation?

Now that it is well known that these lease fees are nominal and that the Fla Supreme Ct has rejected the double taxation argument in the Accardo case do you still maintain it is double taxation?

You have said that waiving lease fees will “raise taxes” but if the leases are eliminated won’t that produce the exact same result?

In addition when leases are converted to fee simple the 5% added charge for retail sales on the beach will be lost. You have said it was one million, how much was it last year? How will this be made up?

In your meetings with Matt Gaetz was the issue of the Air Force interests discussed? If so what was discussed? Shouldn’t we be concerned about anything that harms the military mission at Navarre?

You have said that Santa Rosa can do what they want with Navarre Beach now and Escambia can’t do anything about it? Where in the 1956 lease can authority for that position be found?

Will you support a binding referendum for all voters in Escambia County regarding supporting or opposing federal legislation changes on Santa Rosa Island?

The Escambia County Commission has been trying to tax structures and land on Pensacola beach since at least 1990. What have you done to oppose the imposition of these taxes in the past?

Why has no economic analysis been done of the effects of this legislation?

Do you see a conflict between Escambia County and Santa Rosa County if they elect to dig a pass at Navarre?

Shouldn’t Escambia exercise its control over Navarre Beach to prevent this from happening?

You have said that this legislation allows Santa Rosa County to do what it wants with Navarre Beach. Other than one guy from Santa Rosa County that met with you and Matt Gaetz when has there ever been a statement by elected officials in Santa Risa County that they favor doing away with protected conservation and public access land which this bill effectively does?

This is perhaps the shortest act ever enacted into law. Do you think you understand all consequences of this legislation? Why wasn’t this proposed language offered to the public at any time in the last year for public comment?

Do you agree that if fee simple title is granted to the owner of Flounders for example he can build a condo hotel on the property where now the SRIA has preserved designated uses through these leases?

Will you tell the county to produce all the leases that extend beyond the dune line?

You have said something about beach land filling changing the gulf side property line – what is the authority for this statement?

Do you foresee any issue with the incorporation of Pensacola beach as a city? Why was this specific authorization to do so included in the legislation?

You have repeatedly said that we need this legislation so we can then address all the many problems that exist. Will you state clearly each problem you envision that either will be created by this legislation or will need to be addressed that cannot be addressed without the legislation?

Do you agree that this legislation will financially enrich some lease holders on the beach? Have you identified who those are?


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Air Force says Reopening Navarre Pass would Interfere with Missions

United States Senate, WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has received written confirmation from the U.S. Air Force that reopening Navarre Pass in Santa Rosa County would directly interfere with the Air Force’s ability to conduct future testing and training missions at Eglin Air Force base.

“Reopening Navarre Pass … would interfere with current and future Air Force and DOD missions,” Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, wrote in a letter to Nelson.

Nelson, who has always opposed reopening Navarre Pass, says legislation he sponsored earlier this year with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) doesn’t go far enough to prevent future cutting of the pass, which was opened only a few months before Hurricane Betsy closed it in 1965.

Nelson says he sponsored the bill with Rubio to give those holding a 99-year lease on Santa Rosa Island full ownership rights of the property, while also preserving the current land conservation areas and public access to the beach.

He says while Escambia County has agreed to keep the current conservation areas in place, the current legislation, as written, doesn’t go far enough to prevent Santa Rosa County from developing the conservation areas or reopening the pass.

“The Air Force has made it clear that reopening Navarre Pass would interfere with its testing and training missions,” Nelson said. “The legislation filed earlier this year doesn’t go far enough to prevent future cutting of the pass and needs to be changed in order to protect our national security interests.”

(A copy of the Air Force’s Sept. 27 letter to Nelson is available to read here.)


Posted in Democratic Party, Escambia County, Florida, Military, Politics, Republican Party, Santa Rosa County | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matt Gaetz: Worth A Listen

Listen carefully to this interview with Matt Gaetz and note the following: He claims the wording of the legislation came from Grover Robinson and the Santa Rosa representative meeting in Washington, D. C. with Gaetz. A United States Congressman allowing local elected officials to effectively write federal legislation directly interfering with local control over Santa Rosa Island.

He refers to the poor people on the beach suffering double taxation when he knows the Florida Supreme Court has rejected that baseless position. He has no answer why the Santa Rosa representative insisted on language in the bill not preserving current public access at Navarre Beach. He claims he wants to leave that to local officials of Santa Rosa County. So why pass federal legislation then? It is all double talk support for a very bad idea.

He also claims he will work on having the Air Force “replicate” their island installation defense mission so a pass can be dug through a barrier island at Navarre. That’s a very bold promise from a freshman congressman but it shows why this is being jammed through.

As the double taxation argument crumbles from its fictional foundation, Gaetz and Grover have switched to argue their real goal is to protect the island from actions of local elected officials in the future. A federal government fix to prohibit future actions of local elected officials. A “Big Brother” solution from purportedly conservative politicians. It is as we have previously written a solution in search of a problem to solve. And we have no idea who exactly is gaining financially nor how much this is going to cost the taxpayers.

Posted in Escambia County, Florida Supreme Court, Military, Politics, Republican Party, Santa Rosa County | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACLU Dangerously Meandering Off Course

acluThe ACLU has brought its mighty financial sources against a person who apparently insulted someone. The ACLU long a champion of protecting the constitutional rights of all has lost their way and in doing so fosters disrespect for our judicial system. They have elected to sue an “event organizer” because she insulted a guest by asking the person to move to the back of the room to another table.

So what’s the legal claim? The person asked to move “identifies” female although apparently a male and wanted everyone to know it. Let me see if I have this right. If just before the event earlier in the day a man with a beard, a beer belly, and a pierced nose decides to wear a dress and spike heels waddles up to the front and makes a scene by his appearance, an event organizer cannot politely ask her (her for that evening) to please move to the back of the room?

According to the morning newspaper article the ACLU claims this is to be a really important case, another Brown v. Board of Education as a landmark case preventing discrimination against “transgenders.” So, the ACLU picks on an individual with inferior resources to establish their new cause celeb. In the meantime the public fumes over the allocation of the judicial resources that will be needed to litigate this ridiculous lawsuit which should have been handled (if at all) with an apology. And the erosion of public confidence in the judicial system has another straw added to the camel’s back. That’s the real victim here not the person who claims to be offended.


Posted in City of Pensacola, Democratic Party, Florida, Florida Circuit Court, Florida Supreme Court, Local Business, Pensacola News Journal, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment