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Saturday July 26th 2014

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Musical chairmanships at Escambia County Commission

musical chairs 300x
The part of the BCC Nov. 7 meeting that got me the most text messages wasn’t the Patels protesting their near-arrest. No, people were fascinated and disturbed by the discussion over the rotation of the commission chairmanship.

The board has a policy to rotate the chairmanship in order of the districts:
2012-13 District 2 Gene Valentino
2013-14 District 3 Lumon May
2014-15 District 4 Grover Robinson
2015-16 District 5 Steven Barry

In October, Commissioner May had discussed with staff whether he could change the rotation because of business obligations he has coming up this next year. He wanted to swap with Grover. He was told that if he didn’t take the chair on Nov. 21, then he would go to the end of line.

On Thursday, Grover made an add-on agenda item asking that he and Steven Barry swap years. Apparently staff didn’t have a problem with his request–which is a discussion for another day.

The motion triggered a floor fight between Robinson and Gene Valentino – who has felt he was cheated out of a full term in 2008 when he took over from Mike Whitehead.

Valentino and Robertson didn’t want to waive the rotation policy. Grover argued that he was taking over the presidency of the Florida Association of Counties next year and worried about handling both responsibilities.

“Besides, if a new person is elected to this seat next year, you will be voting to switch with Commissioner Barry anyway,” said Robinson.

Valentino was visibly upset. “Your primary obligation is to serve this county, not be the FAC president,” said Gene to Grover.

The discussion degraded from there with commissioners interrupting each other, talking over one another, but in the end, by a 3-2 vote, the BCC voted to switch rotation over the next three years – May, Barry and then Robinson.