Jeremy's Notebook

Airport, ECAT, YMCA … ‘Civility’

March 29, 2013

city councilThe new director of the Pensacola International Airport spoke last night about the city enterprise’s financial outlook and how it might be improved.

“We’re gonna run our airport like a business,” Greg Donovan told the Pensacola City Council, “and there are some decisive decisions that have to be made.”

Standard & Poor recently downgraded the airport’s revenue bond rating from stable to negative. The financial service cited below-average liquidity and debt service coverage, a high debt burden and competition.

Donovan, fresh on the job, told the council that the airport’s budget would be dropping $1.8 million. When asked how such cuts could be made, the director described the new  numbers as a “more accurate budget,” a budget that reflects “actual vs. forecasts.”

In order to reduce the budget, the airport director plans to reduce service contracts, find procedural efficiencies and cross-utilize staff.

“But at the same time, it’s not just about cutting expenses,” Donovan said, “it’s about raising revenues.”

Efforts toward that end will include reworking arrangements with current tenants—charging them for utilities—exploring additional food and beverage options and increasing parking-lot rates.

Also during tonight’s council meeting, the board formalized it’s decision to dedicate the city’s portion of a 4-cent gas tax—recently levied by the Escamiba County Commission—to fund mass transit, via approving an interlocal with the county.

Earlier, during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, council approved the interlocal only after stressing to Interim County Administrator George Touart that the city would like to have an additional seat at the Mass Transit Advisory Committee’s table. Councilman Charles Bare raised concerns Thursday about the likelihood of that seat materializing once the interlocal was approved.

“I’m just concerned we’re going to pass this, and there’s no inclination for them to do it,” Bare said.charles bare megan pratt

The council approved the gas-tax interlocal 8-1, with Bare dissenting.

The council also decided to hold off on approving a mid-year supplemental budget resolution. Councilwoman Sherri Myers complained that Chief Financial Officer Dick Barker had not initially been specific enough in detailing the budgetary math, and requested more time to review the numbers. Bare said he considered Barker’s vagueness an “insult.”

City Administrator Bill Reynolds assured council that he would provide as specific information as desired. Councilman Brian Spencer suggested a one or two sentence description of the various budgetary changes—“what is cause and effect in terms of these reductions that we are being asked to pass.”

bill reynoldsThe city council also formalized their motions to have President P.C. Wu approach the YMCA about reentering negotiations for a spot at the Community Maritime Park, and named themselves as the audit committee that will select an auditor to conduct the city’s annual financial audit. Bare and Myers were on the losing side of each of those 7-2 votes.

In other business, Spencer—who heads up the council when it sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency—informed the board that he had not scheduled a CRA meeting because he hoped to approach Hixardt Technologies—to discuss the company’s proposed two-year extension on a land-for-jobs deal—before the board met again. Council Vice President Jewel Cannada-Wynn also requested that a proposed policy from the city administration on how to best deal with the selling of public property be placed on the council’s next COW agenda.

Also at yesterday’s city council meeting, President Wu went back and forth with a member of the public about why City Attorney Jim Messer could not be referred to as a “pathological liar.”

“To accuse somebody of lying is a very, very serious charge,” Wu said. “—I will not permit it in the future.”

The citizen was referring specifically to statements made by Messer over the course of the city council’s YMCA-conversations. Wu told the man that he wouldn’t tolerate the charge of “liar,” and that he should instead say, “in my opinion they made me feel something was inaccurate.”

Councilwoman Myers later argued that the citizen did, in fact, have the right to say whatever he chose, due to First Amendment protections. Wu countered that he had the authority as council president to call for “civility.”

You Might Also Like

  • George Hawthorne April 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm


    I got your response and responded. What do you say about your statements I cited?

  • Wilson Robertson April 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Rick, It has been more than six hours in the middle of a work day, please post my answer to George about RESTORE, Thanks

    • Rick Outzen April 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      I released your comment from 9:57 a.m. I don’t have anything else from you.

  • George Hawthorne April 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm


    Thanks for your comments and opinion. That is the great thing about America and democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinion … however, not their own FACTS. Let me enlighten you on your misrepresentations of FAACTS.

    I have never advocated for any “set-aside” nor the fair bidding process and never will, because, it implies that minority and female business can’t compete in an competitive process. The Equal Business Opportunity Program that I developed was neither. Each of the participants BID on the jobs, however, because of the “program” were afforded the opportunity to have a level playing field.

    Secondly, I didn’t refuse to give Rick information about the GCAACC, I simply said that I wanted to respect the wishes of the Board participants and wanted to reveal the strategic plan after a restructuring process was completed. The “plan” was released to Rick and published in this Blog.

    Thirdly, the John Jerralds “fight” (and his attempt to “takeover the GCAACC)was a “political” fight because I had serious issues with his “political” leadership and publicly expressed them and supported his opponent. He LOST his election and the candidate that I supported WON. How did that fight work out for him?

    I do support more diverse inclusion of minority business enterprises and the improvement of minority communities and the development of a thriving minority middle-class.

    Why? Because, it is good business for everyone and lack of inclusion, lack of opportunity and generational poverty sets an environment for more crime, lack of education and increased “public support” entitlements that EVERYONE must PAY for.

    Dale, Wilson is a grown man and can debate his own case for his actions and we can have substantive debate without petty name-calling and personal attacks.

    Let’s rise the level of debate like you did in the latter part of your comments … that I in fact fully agree with!

  • George Hawthorne April 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm


    Another – engagingly entertaining but still deceptive- comment from you!

    Have you forgotten your statements at the March 14th, Committee of the Whole Meeting regarding the discussion of the function and process of the RESTORE Committee?

    Commissioner Robinson was pushing for the advisory process to accommodate public input. He was pushing for a visionary plan that looked at where to get the most stratgeic “change” for Escambia County over the long-term.

    He stated, “I truly believe that these issues that we decide on need to be transformational, they need to transform—” Robinson also said, “something that we could not have done before hand.”

    The commissioner urged the board to facilitate public input and “a little bit of visioning.”

    He further stated, “Because otherwise we’re just gonna throw projects up against the wall with no expectation of what we want to achieve,” Robinson then said. “We’ve got to figure out what we want to achieve.”

    You, Commissioner Wilson Robertson, then countered that YOU didn’t see the use for such visioning and suggested RESTORE funds be used for job-creating, shovel-ready projects and then started stressing the importance of “infrastructure” projects and specifically the Beulah Interchange.

    Your exact words were, “I wanna see’em go to bat and get approved and get started as soon as that money comes in,” you then further stated, “I don’t want a grandiose plan that takes years to develop and is put on a shelf.”

    Clearly that sounds like a “pre-concieved” notion as to where you want this money to go doesn’t it?

    You have been singularly focused on getting the RESTORE process to “overlook” a reasoned vision and inclusive process in favor of “pushing” infrastructure projects that “public records” show that you have relationships with the key beneficiaries in the Beulah Interchange area and other areas that you are pushing.

  • 1 2 3 4