Outtakes: What’s Ahead
You can never predict the future, but here are the stories I will be watching in 2020.
ECUA Grand Jury Report
In July 2018, an Escambia County Grand Jury completed its review into complaints and allegations involving the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority. Based upon its review, the Grand Jury returned a report that was sealed by the Court. All matters contained in this report have remained secret for 18 months while ECUA and its attorneys have tied it up in appeals, which leads us to believe that whatever is in it must be damaging.
Terry Horne, executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement, told CivicCon participants last month the Pensacola City Council would hold in January a workshop to establish the priorities of the various elements of the waterfront redevelopment plan produced by SCAPE. Funding should be no problem since the council has already approved a $17 million bond issue. However, Council President Jewel Cannada-Wynn hinted to Inweekly reporter Jeremy Morrison that some of the funds may go to other projects. The workshop may take a detour from SCAPE plan.
Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Health launched an investigation into the Escambia County’s Emergency Medical Services after County Medical Director Dr. Rayme Edler alleged that several EMS employees had falsified training documents. Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers have twice visited the county’s public safety offices to seize county documents. Commissioner Doug Underhill has praised Dr. Edler as a hero. Commissioner Jeff Bergosh appears to have sided with others in the EMS department. Buy some popcorn, sit back and watch this one unfold.
Matt Gaetz’s Future
The Republican congressman is the highest-profile politician from Northwest Florida since Reubin Askew sought the Democratic nomination in the 1984 presidential election after two successful terms as Florida governor. Gaetz is all-in for President Trump and will likely be a popular surrogate for the president on the campaign trail. But where does he go from there? If Trump wins re-election, will Gaetz get a cabinet post? Will he run in 2022 for a statewide office? Will he join Fox News? And what happens to him if Trump loses? It’s a reality version of “Game of Thrones.”
Appointment of School Superintendent
The process has been running slower than molasses, but the public and media need to stay engaged. An advisory committee will narrow the list of applicants for the board to interview this summer. The people that the school board appoints to the committee will be crucial. Let’s hope no one tries to sabotage the process.
And these are a few more to keep an eye on—County Administrator’s hires, Mayor Robinson’s Citizen Advisory, Pensacola Entrepreneur Initiative and the Pensacola City Council races.