Outtakes: The Other Rebuilding
Our community is experiencing a phenomenal building boom. All around us, new homes and retail spaces are springing up and adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to our property tax rolls.
Meanwhile, other building projects are happening or will commence over the next 12 months that will set the course for local government and public education for decades. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley have begun to rebuild their depleted administrations.
Over the past two decades, both local entities have shrunk their bureaucracies as budgets tightened during the recession and after the BP oil spill. Neither the city nor county governments have had much depth, and few department heads showed interest in developing talent and building a succession plan. Both entities have been rocked with investigations and scandals over the past few years.
It’s too early to tell how well their leadership teams will perform, but when they accepted applications from the outside, they have found talented professionals for the positions. Robinson has discussed adding an objective evaluation system to measure his employees’ performance. We hope Gilley will follow his example.
The Escambia County School Board will select its first appointed superintendent of schools by the end of August. He or she will have to tackle adding more diversity to the district’s administration. Mayonnaise on Wonder Bread has more color.
While only 46% of the students are white, current Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has surrounded himself with district administrators, supervisors and managers that are 86% white. Thomas’s 18 district administrators and managers over instruction include only one African American, one Asian and one of two or more races. Among his 24 non-instructional leaders, two are African American and one is Hispanic.
The Emerald Coast Utility Authority board has hired retired engineering director Bill Johnson to serve as executive director for six months while it conducts a national search for a permanent replacement for Steve Sorrell. In September, ECUA offered the job to Rebecca Shelton, the deputy director of facilities operations for a county water department in Georgia, but she turned down the job.
Visit Pensacola is also conducting a national search to fill the shoes of its former CEO, Steve Hayes, who has accepted a similar position with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in Pinellas County. Former County Administrator Jack Brown has taken over on an interim basis.
And lastly, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office will have a new leader because Sheriff David Morgan has announced that he would not seek a fourth term. The new sheriff will make changes.
By this time next year, our local governments will be completely rebuilt. Pay attention to the hires.