The Buzz 11/14/19
Last week, we renewed Inweekly Martini Nights at Angelena’s. About 30 people showed up, and, as with past Martini Nights, several shared gossip and news tips.
The most intriguing tidbit came from Okaloosa County, where Republicans are talking about Congressman Matt Gaetz replacing Mike Pence as President Donald Trump’s running mate in 2020.
It sounds farfetched but not out of the realm of possibility. Gaetz has been a staunch defender of the president, has flown on Air Force One and spoken at several Trump rallies. Last Friday, he hosted Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle for a book signing of Donald Trump Jr.’s new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
Meanwhile, Pence hasn’t always seemed to be on the same page as the president. The Washington Post recently published a story citing anonymous “officials close to Pence” who appeared to be distancing him from Trump’s escalating Ukraine scandal.
Over the past year, there have been several rumors of Gaetz joining the White House. The Fort Walton Beach Republican had been mentioned as a contender for White House Communication Director and Attorney General.
Gender Gap in Pay
Transparency is an effective tool in combating the gap in pay for women. The gender pay gap tends to be narrower in job sectors were wages are transparent, according to a new analysis by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
In the federal government, where salary ranges are published, there is a 13% pay gap between men and women. In state governments, which also often post salary ranges, the gap is 18%. In the private for-profit sector, where there is typically little salary transparency, the gap is 29%.
“This underscores the need for all employers to be more transparent about what jobs in their organizations pay. When salary information is out in the open, both employees—and employers—can identify gender-based pay disparity and take steps to correct it,” said Kim Churches, the chief executive officer of AAUW.
These findings are included in the 2019 update to AAUW’s annual report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the report shows that in 2018, women received just 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man. Women of color often face a wider gap. Compared to white men, black women make 62 cents on the dollar, and Latinas make 54 cents on the dollar.
Looking for Elephants
Sources have shared that Gov. Ron DeSantis is insisting the replacement to fill the District 3 seat on the Emerald Coast Utility Board must be a Republican. The seat became vacant last January when long-time board member Elvin McCorvey passed away.
The dilemma for DeSantis is District 3 only has 8,749 GOP registered voters—23% of the district’s total voters. Whichever Republican the governor picks, the person likely won’t win the election next year.
In December 2017, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Lee Hansen to the Escambia County School Board to fill the District 3 seat vacated by Linda Moultrie, who had resigned. Last year, Hansen finished last in a four-person, non-partisan primary for the seat, only garnering 11% of the votes cast.
Meanwhile, District 3—which comprises 45% of the black voters in Escambia County—doesn’t have representation at the ECUA board meetings.
Pot on the Ballot
The News Service of Florida reports that a political committee backing a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana had submitted more than 57,000 petition signatures to the state Division of Elections as of Wednesday, Nov. 6.
The committee Make It Legal Florida registered with the state in August and had spent more than $1 million as of Sept. 30 as it gathers petition signatures. The proposed amendment, if approved by voters, would allow adults 21 or older to “possess, use, purchase, display and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason.”
The state Division of Elections had received 57,045 valid signatures from the committee as of Wednesday, Nov. 6. The committee needs to submit 76,632 signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the proposed ballot wording. Ultimately, it would need to submit 766,200 signatures by a February deadline to get on the 2020 ballot.
Another committee, Sensible Florida, Inc., which was formed in 2015, also is backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana. That committee had submitted 92,548 signatures. The Make It Legal Florida Committee, however, has the backing of at least two medical marijuana companies that poured money into its initiative in August and September.
The Great Dilution
The city of Pensacola appears to be considering circumventing the spirit of a commitment made in the wake of a police shooting over the summer. Instead of creating a citizen advisory board geared toward tracking law enforcement, the scope of that body may now be broadened to include all city services.
“The police are simply one service that the city of Pensacola provides,” Mayor Grover Robinson said during his weekly press conference. “The city of Pensacola provides a number of different services. If we’re not working with you with parks, if we’re not working with you with public works and a variety of other things, sanitation, how do you engage?”
On July 5, Pensacola Police Officer Daniel Siemen shot and killed Tymar Crawford in an event that the Pensacola Police Department deemed to be in conflict with its use of deadly force policy. The officer was fired by the city, but a grand jury more recently found Siemen should not face criminal charges.
Following the July incident, Robinson held discussions with community organization Dream Defenders, during which the concept of a citizen advisory board to oversee police-community relations was brought up. At the press conference, the board got expanded to an all-inclusive body overseeing community relations with all of the city’s various departments.
“I think there’s a good idea we should be doing more than just law enforcement. We should be doing all aspects of the community, so we’re looking to do that,” Robinson said.
The mayor said the conversations about community relations and engagement went beyond law enforcement and that it needed to include all areas, or neighborhoods, of the city as opposed to those with populations who may feel threatened by law enforcement or are concerned about the police’s interactions with the community in general. Instead of restricting the discussion to its original law-enforcement-based parameters and having “a very small discussion about things we’re already working on,” this broader conversation would include everything from fire protection to recreation to sanitation.
“It’s got to be broader than just the Tymar Crawford shooting or we’re not going to accomplish anything more than we’ve already accomplished,” Robinson said.
The mayor noted that the specifics of any advisory commission were still being considered. It’s not yet known its scope or how members will be selected. Whatever form it eventually takes, the commission is expected to materialize sometime next spring or summer.
Robinson, as well as Neighborhoods Administrator Lawrence Powell, will soon be meeting with Cedric Alexander to seek advice on how best to proceed on the issue of forming an advisory commission and other post-shooting issues regarding PPD.
“We’re simply talking to him because he has an expertise in dealing with this,” Robinson said. “He has been involved in other communities that have done this, so, again, we’re trying to learn.”
Alexander has a decades-long law enforcement career that began with the Leon County Sheriff’s Department in 1977 and went on to include obtaining a PhD in clinical psychology, serving as an assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, overseeing security at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, presiding over the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, advising President Barack Obama, serving as a CNN analyst and so on.
However, according to various media reports, Alexander has also faced criticism, most notably for his tenure in DeKalb County, Ga., where he served as deputy chief operating officer of public safety and faced criticism specifically to his response to an officer-involved shooting.
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Bayou Hills Evolves
The Bayou Hills Run has been a staple of Pensacola’s race repertoire since the late 1970s. Its route winds along Bayou Texar and through the East Hill neighborhood.
On Monday, Nov. 4, the mayoral presser served as the venue for announcing a new era for the Bayou Hills race. According to Rick Johnson, board chairman for Pensacola Sports, a sports marketing organization, the race will now be called the Bayou Hills Run City of Pensacola 5K/10K Championship.
This change in name signifies a sense of municipal ownership of the race. With that recognition comes a naming of a city “champion” and also an official nod to race winners from the Pensacola City Council.
“We will finally, for this great city, have a city championship as far as the running world is concerned,” Johnson said, explaining that last year marked Pensacola Sports’ first year managing the event, and the organization thought it should be taken to another level.
Other aspects of the Bayou Hills Run will be much the same as they always have. Notably, funds raised through entrance fees will still go to support the Creative Learning Academy, just as they have since it was known as the Creative Learning Center.
“We’re excited about this,” Johnson said. “This is exciting for us and exciting for the city of Pensacola.”
The Bayou Hills Run City of Pensacola 5K/10K Championship is scheduled for March 28, 2020.
Capitol Steps Return
It’s time for The Capitol Steps to once again “put the ‘MOCK’ in democracy.” On Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., guests will gather at the Pensacola Saenger Theatre to watch the Steps live in concert. The Steps have been entertaining fans by parodying politicians, and the offices that once employed them, since 1981. WUWF listeners will know the Steps from their wildly popular Politics Takes a Holiday special broadcast twice a year on National Public Radio.
Tickets for the performance are on sale now through Ticketmaster or through wuwf.org. All seats are $40, plus taxes and applicable fees. WUWF MemberCard holders may receive a 10% discount on up to 10 tickets by presenting their current WUWF card at the Saenger box office at the time of purchase. More information on the Capitol Steps can be found at wuwf.org/capsteps.
Call for Poets
The Santa Rosa County Writers’ Guild seeks poems for Issue IV of the Blackwater Literary Journal. For a limited time, the Guild is looking for poems from residents of Santa Rosa County. To be considered, the poems should be pasted onto the body of an email and sent to SRCWG@mediacombb.net.
Mark Your Calendar
Ascension Sacred Heart will provide free flu shots for persons who are poor, elderly or uninsured. One must be 18 years of age or older to obtain a flu shot through this service. Dates are 8-10:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, at St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic, 131 W. Intendencia St.; 9-11:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at Gull Point Community Center, 7000 Spanish Trail Road; 9-11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit, 10650 Gulf Beach Highway; and 9-11:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at Sanders Beach Community Center, 913 S. I St.
Women for Responsible Legislation will hold their monthly meeting 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St. This month’s speaker will be Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers who will be addressing the issue of pesticide effects on human health, particularly on children. WRL meetings are always open to the public. Refreshments served at 11:15 a.m.
Community forums on expectations of appointed school superintendent will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Blue Angels Elementary School cafeteria, 1551 Dog Track Road, and 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Pensacola High School cafeteria, 500 W. Maxwell St.
Keep Pensacola Beautiful is recognizing America Recycles Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, at YourTEK Professionals, 6425 Pensacola Blvd. People can bring ink and toner cartridges, batteries (no car batteries), markers, pens and electronics, such as monitors, laptops, phones, PCs and tablets, to be recycled. For more information, visit keeppensacolabeautiful.org.
The Florida SBDC at UWF offers the “Starting a Business” workshop from noon-4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, at Synovus, 125 W. Romana St. Attendees will learn the essentials of getting started in business—idea evaluation, legal business structures, regulations and licensing, business plan basics, finding capital and more. Attendance fee is $50 (required, non-refundable online payment). To register, visit sbdc.uwf.edu and click on “Training & Events.”
Landmark Dental and surrounding dentists will host their “No Smile Left Behind” event at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Landmark Dental, 611 E. Burgess Road. Dental services will be provided to veterans and their direct family members for free. They will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Planning Board will meet at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, Hagler-Mason Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.
The DIB is seeking public input on concerns surrounding the current and future state of public parking in downtown Pensacola. The workshop is 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, Bowden Building, Room #1, 120 Church St.
Zoning Board of Adjustment will meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, Hagler-Mason Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.
Pensacola City Council Meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, Council Chambers, First Floor, Pensacola City Hall, 222 W. Main St.