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, jeffbergoshblog.blogspot.com — 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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