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.”

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  • Nic March 31, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    And you guys wonder why more of the public don’t attend these meetings. Maybe you don’t, and for your sake, it’s probably best that way.

  • Wilson Robertson March 31, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    George, your EGO is too big to waste any more time debating with you. Have a nice evening.

  • What a Joke March 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Mr. Robertson — you clearly aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer either. You spelled always as “alllways.” And “your” smarter — should have been “you’re smarter.” I would normally let those errors go, but given that you were attacking George’s intellect, you might want to try a little introspection.

  • George Hawthorne March 31, 2013 at 7:09 pm


    No I don’t think I am smarter than everyone else, however, I do use intellectual and factual arguments to make my case. I don’t make baseless claims or personal attacks because my arguments lacks merit. Clearly, you have made a personal attack on me without reason.

    This may be a good time to sound a note of caution to those political observers and constituents, like me, who make the fundamental error of attempting to apply logic, rationality and a sense of good order to the messy, disorderly world of politics in the “World of Wilson Robertson.”

    Wilson, your commentary in this post shows you as one who persist in making judgments and comments based on your personal likes, silly dislikes, and downright animosities. Reasoning along such lines can be extremely deceptive, as well as highly seductive to those who are uninformed and lack factual information.

    You have shown a proclivity to make “very un-convincing” arguments in support of your preferred perspective on various issues (like RESTORE) and for your questionable decisions (like the Gibbs affair).

    It is as though,you having decided beforehand what your desired outcome must be and then you ignore all other possible mitigating factors and alternative paths, you then select only those actions and initiatives that appear to advance your own interests (or those of your pre-selected benefactors) in matters of governance for the public “good.”

    Another popular exercise you have been shown to engage in – engagingly entertaining but still deceptive – is to build what appears to be a strong and logical argument … but totally based from a flawed premise, usually some personal prejudice or animosity arising from a partisan or self-interested impulse.

    The results of such dialectic can be startling, insofar as they may vary quite markedly from real-world phenomena as demonstrated by experience professionals and well informed constituents.

    Yet, despite the availability of evidence to the contrary, you will cling stubbornly to your preferred interpretation of the facts. Your history of legislative actions and administrative initiatives goes to show that while the facts may indeed show that you are embarking down the wrong path or erroneous decision, you still insist on having your own opinion of the facts and trounce down a path of “your own choosing.”

    Most of these disputed decisions made by you have been based upon a common perception of you “going down the path” that is self=serving to yourself and/or close friend and campaign contributors. Also, the evidence is there to prove these claims are valid and have merit.

    Now that you have “questioned” my level of intelligence, clearly, I have demonstrated my ability to articulate MY arguments regarding why you catch “flack” in these blogs, from the PNJ and from a large host of constituents.

    Why don’t you know “demonstrate” your “intellect” in defending your position and refute my commentary … without a personal attack or other form subterfuge that attempts to evade the issues and claims that I have made?

  • What a Joke March 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    George — You are so right. Mr. Robertson is a bitter man. He’s pretty pitiful.

  • Wilson Robertson March 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    You alllways seem like a nice guy, but as your statement about your intellect in your last blog shows, you always think your smarter than everyone else. sad.
    As for you L.Laird, you can brag all day about your size, but when you call people who stand up for our constitution crazy, you become a small man.

  • George Hawthorne March 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Mr. Laird,

    Wilson Robertson is so predictable, he can’t win his arguments on the merits of his factual debate or his intellectual capacity, so his ONLY option is to attack those who oppose his actions, decisions and/or positions with silly accusations and petty comments.

    I will chose to “fight my fight” with intellectual words, decisive and transparent action and in compliance with the legal statutes and in reliance with court case law.

  • L.Laird March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

    George.. “Me thinks” old crazy Uncle Wilson is challenging you and me to a dual with him. You being 7 ft., 350lbs, I being 6’2, 250lbs, no wonder uncle crazy goes around with 9 guns…

  • George Hawthorne March 31, 2013 at 8:02 am


    I have no interest in running for any elected office. I chose to support those people that have the passion for public service and are willing to serve with honesty and integrity. I supported YOU because I believed that you had those qualities.

    However, in my opinion, lately you have become a “bitter man” that has given way to petty remarks about anyone that does not agree with your actions or agenda.

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

    Furthermore, you have taken a position that “your way” is the “right way” and have not looked at the opinions and desires of “constituents” that have elected you to office. Also, you have had a history of making decisions that have not benefited the minority and impoverished citizens of Escambia County.

    As for my agenda, I am consistent and true to my convictions in the fight for inclusion and diversity … because it is good business for everyone. I will continue to focus on “process,” the “law” and advocacy for the “least and left out.”

    If you legislative actions and public retort is “on the same page” as my aforementioned agenda, I will support you. However, when your legislative actions and public retort comes in conflict with my aforementioned “agenda” we WILL “bump heads” and let the chips fall where they may.

    However, you will never “shut me up,” because, I subscribe to the theory of Dr. Martin Luther King when he stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

  • Leroy Carter March 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Mr Robertson gor an elected official you sure seem to enjoy trying to get into the dirt. I would expect someone in your position to show a little more class.

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