Escambia County Politics

If commissioners take over jail, Touart will get three-year contract

June 20, 2013

I walked over to the agenda workshop held this morning for the Escambia County Commission. The board is being driven by Chairman Gene Valentino and Interim County Administrator George Touart to take over the county jail in 90 days. The final vote may come tonight.

Watching Valentino bully his fellow commissioners and Touart verbally abuse Sheriff Morgan and his staff, it became clear why Touart is set on running the jail.

Job security.

The jail will so screw up county operations that no one will want to take the county administrator position, especially with the U.S. Department of Justice breathing down their necks. Touart, with Valentino’s help, will make the operations so complicated and burdensome that a new person coming into the job won’t be able to figure it out, much less fix it.

I hate to see the commissioners cower to such thuggery.

Three votes could save this county…and most likely lives, too.

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  • Rick June 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    These 2 …..(Valentino and Touart )
    Are a disgrace …
    They make the Banty roster look like a saint ..
    One walks away from a meeting wondering ….
    No wonder nothing gets done Down there …
    They are embarrassing …..
    No honor
    No pride in the comunity
    All Touart wants is a job …, ( money )
    All the chairman wants is to slam the gavel
    Bully everyone
    And occasionally get his picture taken .,.,
    Passing out a plaque …
    And no body in this town speaks out ….
    Except. I N ( you )
    Thank you

  • Jacqueline Rogers June 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I watched the whole meeting, too! It was a tough one. I was glad that the commissioners allowed the Sheriff’s Office to address what was being said (but it took them long enough!)They should have had these type of open discussions from the beginning but they were being controlled by the administrator and Chairman. Valentino termed it “scrubbing” the options today.

    They don’t need to rush into anything. The DOJ is willing to work with them. It was clear that Touart and Valentino (and perhaps Robertson) will demand a decision tonight, but the others shouldn’t be influenced by their pressure.

    The Chairman’s conduct was so unprofessional today. He seemed hurt that the Sheriff Office avoided dealing with him. Why bother? He was clearly not interested in finding a solution with them to the point that he played political games to try and make the ECSO look bad. (“Misspeaking”)

    I was impressed with May, Barry, and Robinson’s ability to hold their own and even Robertson’s willingness to hear the Sheriff out.

    At one point, it sounded like Touart was having a mini-interview for the administrator job talking about all his experience and how problems came about when he wasn’t there, like we should all be sorry about his lapse in service. His shameless self-promotion and, in my opinion, inappropriate comments to other speakers, acting like he was a commissioner, are further proof why the commissioners need to replace him ASAP.

    When Robertson asked for details of the county’s ability to financially take over the jail, Touart seemed unwilling to present them until tonight.

    Valentino and Robertson, even when presented by other commissioners and staff that the ESCO was clearly still talking about finding a solution, kept falling back on the childish ploy of “No, he said this in a letter…” like there was no turning back! LOL!

    If May and the other commissioners truly want to see improvements in the jail, they won’t let it go to the hands of Touart and the whims of an ever changing BCC.
    They have had problems with even keeping their Code Enforcement officers in line in the past.

    From the DOJ report, it sounds like they approved of the work that Morgan has done in fixing deficiencies. Why not examine some of these ways to find money for the ECSO to continue to run it now that the political games have been put aside?

    I have seen some good leadership this week. We have had some great questions being asked in these meetings. Let’s hope that the cooler heads prevail and they stay true to their word about Touart being temporary.