Winners & Losers 6/22/17
Gov. Rick Scott used his power of line-item veto to cut millions of dollars earmarked by state representatives for their districts. Somehow FloridaWest’s economic development site, The Bluffs, was spared the ax and will receive $3.1 million in funding for site connectivity and infrastructure improvements as part of the 2017-2018 State of Florida budget. While our local delegation of Senator Doug Broxson and Representatives Frank White and Clay Ingram deserve some credit, many feel that Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s personal lobbying with Gov. Scott may have been the difference maker.
Pensacola Police Department
While homicides were up in 2016, the law enforcement agency reported its total crime rate dropped last year. The 10.2 percent reduction in the total crime rate was the result of a 7.6 percent reduction in the overall violent crime rate combined with a 10.6 percent decrease in the property crime rate. Pensacola Police Chief Tommi Lyter attributed the decrease to economic vibrancy, development, and revitalization in the downtown areas as well as on the west side of Pensacola.
Escambia Community Clinics
The county’s health service celebrated on June 9 the opening of its newest site, ECC Cantonment Pediatrics and Pediatric Dental Clinic, located at 470 S. Highway 29. The clinic, ECC’s sixth pediatric practice location, provides pediatric medical, pediatric dental and behavioral health care in one convenient location, allowing for easy access to essential care for children and families.
Downtown Improvement Board
Undaunted by the recent repeal of the city’s anti-panhandling ordinance, the Downtown Improvement Board voted last week to extend its crusade to end panhandling within its confines to include pint-sized beggars. Candy-hungry tots will no longer plague downtown establishments in late October begging for handouts or threatening to “trick” the store owners. Instead, they will enjoy Halloween with the Blue Wahoos at their stadium. The Studers rescue the city once again.
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott used his veto pen to wipe out most of the higher-education policy initiatives advanced by Senate President Joe Negron during the 2017 legislative session. Scott vetoed SB 374, objecting to a proposed enrollment cap on baccalaureate degrees for the 28 state colleges and citing the Legislature’s decision to cut the state college system’s budget by $25 million. He also nixed an increase in the Bright Futures merit scholarship program to cover full tuition and fees for top-performing students.
Florida Democratic Party
The party apparently has forgotten how to be a party and ended its annual fundraiser, which had former Vice President Joe Biden as its keynote speaker, in acrimony, according to reports by the Tampa Bay Times. Stephen Bittel, the party chairman, appeared to be more interested in rushing through the program than recognizing Democratic lawmakers. He dismissed their complaints as “childish,” which triggered protest from other party leaders. Bittel has since apologized.