The Buzz 11/28/19
Kondrat’yev Speaks Out
On June 1, Inweekly’s Jeremy Morrison taped a red slushie drink inflight as it struck Congressman Matt Gaetz as he left a town hall event at Brew Ha Ha. The drink-slinger, Amanda Kondrat’yev, was sentenced last week to 15 days in prison for assaulting the congressman.
The 35-year-old wife and mother of two, who briefly ran against Gaetz as a Democratic challenger in the 2016 election, will begin her sentence Dec. 2. In addition to the 15 days in prison, Kondrat’yev will serve one year of supervised probation and pay a $500 fine.
Inweekly writer Scott Satterwhite caught up with Kondrat’yev after the sentencing. She explained why she tossed the cup.
“I saw the alignment of events with the “milkshaking” trend in the UK and the town hall happening down the street,” she said. “I decided to jump on what seemed like perfect comedic timing.”
At the time, “milkshaking” was a growing trend in Europe, where people threw milkshakes at political targets.
Kondrat’yev said, “I wanted people to see how ridiculously bad things are here and where we could make an important change by changing our Congressional representative.”
She added that throwing the cup was an impulsive move that “looking back now, wasn’t the smartest choice.”
“My life is forever changed because of my actions,” said Kondrat’yev. “However, I wanted to change the conversation, and the fact that people are talking about me means it’s working. Even if it’s hateful, let them expose themselves. I already knew the hate was there. Maybe now others see it, too.”
She admitted she was severely depressed and having disordered thoughts that day. The arrest has been a catalyst for her to seek help.
“At the time, I didn’t care what happened to me. I barely felt alive at all,” said Kondrat’yev. “I shouldn’t have let myself get that low. I was being treated for depression, but it wasn’t enough. I’ve since gotten a proper diagnosis and additional new medications.”
She continued, “I’ve also been placed in therapy to deal with trauma and PTSD. I should have found a better way to get help and be heard, but I was unable to at the time.”
When asked if she had anything that she wanted to add, Kondrat’yev said, “I want anyone that is feeling helpless to know that you are not alone. You have worth, and your life can change for the better, even if, or when, you hit rock bottom. I’ve had some extremely dark days, but I still believe that we will win. I want future generations to survive and thrive. That hope for the future keeps me going.”
More Murals Downtown
In the fall of 2017, the University of West Florida Historic Trust applied for and received funding from the National Park Service for the creation and installation of two maritime-themed murals in downtown Pensacola.
Bobby Switzer, vice president of Lamar Outdoor Advertising, devised a plan of installing the murals through the use of outdoor vinyl, framing devices and lighting. The goal was to have the artwork completed in time for the Visit Pensacola Tall Ships Festival.
As the ships sailed into the Port of Pensacola in April 2018, they were welcomed by these murals—one installed on the south side of the Museum of Commerce, featuring a historical image of the Tall Ships’ arrival in 1765, and another mounted on the west side exterior wall of the Voices of Pensacola, highlighting the Port of Pensacola in 1903.
With the success of this project, Switzer then applied the same techniques to the Blount and Brent buildings that he and his brothers, Charlie and John, were renovating. The brothers incorporated an outdoor mural on the exterior of their building.
With the overwhelmingly positive community response, UWF Historic Trust board chairman Collier Merrill formed a committee through the Historic Trust to create a formalized mural program. The committee of 10, known as Pensacola Outdoor Project (POP): Murals, is led by Historic Trust board member Scott Barrow with the support of the Historic Trust staff and the guidance of the Architectural Review Board.
The POP: Mural committee’s vision is to work with the community to create large, mounted photographs of significant historic scenes displayed on strategically-located, prominent buildings and structures throughout downtown Pensacola, enabling residents and tourists alike to learn about Pensacola’s history through these displays coupled with signage for each along with the creation of an educational, self-guided trail. POP: Murals will become the centerpieces of Pensacola’s unique and dynamic downtown, highlighting our history and providing a focal point for cultural heritage tourism.
To date, POP: Murals has approved six murals. Three have been installed on the Blount Building, Voices of Pensacola and Museum of Commerce. The Merrill brothers are installing on Seville Tower a mural-based watercolor painting by Herbert Rudeen, which was commissioned by their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Burney M. Henderson. The ships in the painting were named after his wife and two daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine and Jane, and “Bagdad” after the donor family’s area of business, Bagdad Land & Lumber Co.
Regions Bank is installing a mural of the San Carlos Hotel, circa 1910, on 70 N. Baylen St. IRIS: Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems has plans for a mural on the Isis Theatre Building, 4 N. Palafox St.
Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley delivered her 100-day review of county operations to the county commission on Monday, Nov. 18—actually 141 days after she took office.
Consistent with Gilley’s early performances, the presentation contained buzz words and folksy jargon, like, “When I came on my first day, I told you that I was here to eat frogs and get bloody in the arena, and I’m still in that position. I’m still willing to eat your frogs, and I’m still willing to get bloody in the arena.”
Inweekly hasn’t seen her “eat frogs” or “get bloody in the arena.” We’ve seen her talk about plans, reorganization and visioning but seen few accomplishments. Last Monday’s presentation bought her more time, but if she delivers as promised, next year could be a busy year.
Gilley has made eight senior staff changes and has slowly built her management team. Her former boss, Jerry Maygarden, has been brought on as an assistant to County Administration. Her friend Sharon Pitts left Kelly Services to be her assistant and lists her job on LinkedIn as “Chief of Getting Things Done.” Gilley has formed the Office of Compliance and Ethics and hired Keith Morris to head it.
By March 2020, Gilley will have reorganized county departments under the two categories community and administrative or public safety and infrastructure. She will hire an assistant county administrator to manage each category.
Last Monday, Gilley announced she wants to develop technology governance and real estate teams. She plans to launch a MyGov citizens information portal to make it easier for citizens to obtain information, simplify public records request procedure and rework the current website.
In June 2020, she will hold workshops to create her “Strive to Thrive in 2025”—a five-year strategic plan that she hopes will be in place by Oct. 1.
The ECUA held its Organizational Board Meeting for 2019-2020 on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Lois Benson, District 2, was re-elected to serve as ECUA Board chairman, and Dr. Larry N. Walker, District 5, was re-elected vice-chairman. Vicki Campbell, District 1, was re-elected chair of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, and Dale Perkins, District 4, will serve as its vice-chairman.
District 3 is still without a representative on the ECUA board, while Gov. Ron DeSantis makes up his mind about a replacement.
Deborah Benn, Chuck Kimball, Clorissti Shoemo, Maurice J. Inkel, Jr., Pueschel Schneier, Randy Ponson and Louise Ritz were appointed to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee.
District 1 Poll
The 2020 primaries are nine months away. Inweekly hired the Political Matrix to check the temperature of District 1 Republicans.
The polling service surveyed 422 likely Republican Escambia District 1 voters and found the incumbents in the race for County Commissioner and ECUA ahead. However, there are still a large number of undecided voters in these contested races—which isn’t unusual since the candidates haven’t started campaigning that much.
Jeff Bergosh has nearly a 12-point lead over Casey, 37.9%-26.1%, with 36% undecided. In the 2016 GOP primary, Bergosh garnered 41% of the vote in a three-person race. Casey received 29.8% and Karen Sindel 29.4%.
For the District 1 ECUA seat, Vicky Campbell has a substantial lead of more than 20 percentage points, 35.5%-13.7%. Half of the voters surveyed were undecided. The Margin of Error for the poll was +/- 4.5%, with a confidence level of 95%.
Baptist Health Care has announced its plans to relocate operations to property located near I-110, just outside the boundaries of the city.
“It happens to be to a location that is currently outside the city, but it is adjacent to the city,” Mayor Robinson said in his weekly press conference last week. “So, we were very glad to hear they wanted to remain in the city and were annexed in.”
Earlier in the month, the Pensacola City Council took the initial steps towards annexing the hospital’s new property into the city. They’re expected to make the final step in that direction in December.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to expand the boundaries of the city of Pensacola and continue our relationship with Baptist Health Care and Baptist Hospital,” Robinson said.
While the city will not be gaining property tax revenue by annexing Baptist’s new property into the city limits, Robinson said that there are other benefits to the move.
“I think at the end of the day, having one of your largest employers located in the city of Pensacola is a good thing for us,” the mayor noted.
Earlier this year, the city worked with Baptist to take advantage of a legal mechanism that allows the hospital to voluntarily pay some tax, which is then used to fund indigent healthcare at the facility. Robinson said that arrangement with the city also played into the hospital’s decision to annex.
“Them staying in the city limits will allow us to continue to do that work,” he noted. “I think that’s a big part of them wanting to stay in the city.”
While the city will not gain any property tax revenue from the annexation, it does stand to gain some when Baptist exits its current campus. It’s not sure yet what the exodus will look like or how long it might take; there have been indications that Baptist will retain some healthcare-related presence on the site.
“As they move their existing campus out, there’s a chance that more of that falls back on the tax rolls,” the mayor said.
Regardless, Robinson stressed, the hospital’s move from the neighborhood will present unique circumstances.
“I think we have an awesome opportunity to redevelop and re-envision what that is in West Pensacola,” he said. “You don’t get many chances to rework a community, to breathe life into a community and help that area, so there’s a lot that can be done, and we can see further growth in that section of Pensacola.”
The merger of Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, Pensacola News Journal and more than 100 other dailies, and GateHouse Media was completed on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
The new chain will own one in five daily newspapers in the United States—more than 260 dailies. Michael E. Reed, the New Media chief executive since 2006, will lead the combined company. He told the New York Times that while he believes the new entity will have an annual savings of $300 million, the bulk of it “is not going to come from editorial.”
The new entity will control newspapers across North Florida—PNJ, Santa Rosa Press Gazette, Fort Walton Beach Daily News, Destin Log, Crestview News Bulletin, Holmes County Times-Advertiser, Walton Sun, Panama City News Herald, The Times of Apalachicola, Washington County News, Tallahassee Democrat, St. Augustine Record and Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union.
New UWF Trustees
The Florida Board of Governors has appointed Stephanie White, wife of former State Rep. Frank White and daughter of Sandy Sansing, to replace Mort O’Sullivan on the University of West Florida Board of Trustees. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has reappointed Alonzie Scott, and Jill Singer moves from being a governor appointee to one appointed by the Florida Board of Governors.
Scott, director of the Enterprise Talent Management Office and a senior executive advisor at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division, will continue to serve for the remaining three years of his term as a governor appointee, subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
White, a local attorney, and Singer, vice president of national security for AT&T, will serve five-year terms beginning in January 2020.
“These individuals have the proper credentials and Argo spirit needed for guiding UWF,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “I welcome their insight and value their commitment as Board of Trustees members.”
Mark Your Calendar
The Santa Rosa County Environmental Department is partnering with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to hold a Waste Tire Amnesty Day from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30, at Central Landfill, 6337 Da Lisa Road, Milton.
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh hosts his 29th Coffee with the Commissioner from 6:30-7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Denny’s, 4625 Mobile Highway.
The Florida SBDC at UWF presents “Marketing Like a Human” from noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Synovus, 125 W. Romana St., presented by Briana Snellgrove, CEO of Social ICON. The attendance fee is $30 (required, non-refundable online payment) and includes lunch. To register, visit sbdc.uwf.edu, and click on “Training & Events.”
The Florida PTAC at UWF offers a workshop entitled “Set-Asides for Small Business” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Synovus, 125 W. Romana St. Attendance fee is $25. Pre-registration is required. To register, visit sbdc.uwf.edu, and click on “Training & Events.” Registration closes 24 hours before the workshop.
Bras for Cause & Drag Night, hosted by I Support the Girls-Gulf Coast, will be 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Dolce & Gelato, 2050 N. 12th Ave. Bring a new or gently used bra and be entered into a raffle.
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.