Winners & Losers 9/22/16
The Florida Tax Collectors Association presented the Escambia County Tax Collector with the Excellence in Financial Operations Legacy Award, which recognizes offices that have achieved innovation, customer focus, a well-managed budget and a clean audit in finance operations. The award is given only to those tax collectors previously recognized with the Excellence in Finance Operations Award.
The U.S. Senator from Florida announced that Eastern Shipbuilding Group has been awarded a $10.5 billion contract to build two dozen new U.S. Coast Guard cutters.
Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce Committee that oversees the Coast Guard, said the contract to build 25 new Offshore Patrol Cutters could bring 2,000 new jobs to the Panama City area, where the company is based. At a cost of around $484 million per ship, it’s the largest contract the Coast Guard has ever awarded in its 226-year history.
Its Festival de San Fermin and the Sixth Annual “Running of the Bulls” raised $2,000 for the USO of Northwest Florida. The USO centers provide a warm and comforting place where service members can connect to loved ones via Internet or phone, play video games, catch a movie, have a snack, or just put up their feet and relax. USO centers can be found locally at Pensacola International Airport, Fort Walton Beach Destin Airport, and NAS Pensacola.
State Attorney Bill Eddins announced that Joseph Graves, former FDLE chemist charged with racketeering and other offenses, had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years state prison. The case was brought in 2014 after Escambia County Sheriff’s Office investigators discovered that drug evidence in cases worked by Graves had been removed and replaced with over-the-counter pills. An extensive investigation of the case found missing drug evidence in more than 90 cases worked by Graves.
Patsy D. Blackshear
The former Planning Director for the Walton County Planning Department entered a plea as charged to Perjury in an Official Proceeding and Perjury in an Unofficial Proceeding.
Circuit Judge Ross Goodman withheld adjudication of guilt and sentenced Blackshear to five years of probation and the ability to terminate her supervision after two and a half years if there are no violations of probation.
FY 2018 State Budget
After cutting taxes by $784.9 million over the last three years, lawmakers face a lean budget year during the next session. The outlook projects a surplus of just $7.5 million. The following year, a budget gap of $1.3 billion could open up, followed by $1.8 billion the year after that. Republican leadership doesn’t plan to raise taxes, so we should expect spending cuts. Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency, may be the first casualty.