Politics

Open Letter to Tom Banjanin – …from the Hawk

August 31, 2006

question

Dear Commissioner Banjanin:

I passed you on Creighton Road today and I should have stopped — in order to ask you a couple of questions.You were standing on gravel, just off the road shoulder in the middle of your urban district.

I will confess that I have campaigned with my friend Grover Robinson. But as I passed you, the questions in my mind were much larger than politics. I have noticed that City of Pensacola thoroughfares have proper curbs and sidewalks.

I also found that Florida DOT intersections (the ones with horizontal traffic lights) have proper curbs and sidewalks. As to my questions, why were you standing on gravel? Why can’t Escambia County build sidewalks to protect pedestrians? Do you have a plan for building sidewalks or do you think the status quo is acceptable?

Should the Florida DOT stop building intersection sidewalks if the county has no intention to continue the paths? Do you believe the lack of sidewalks has contributed to pedestrian/bicycle fatalities during your time on the County Commission?

Disclaimer: I tried to send this message through my cox.net account, but can’t get the thing to work. If you believe this is an inappropriate use of UWF email, I encourage you to complain to University administration.

I look forward to your response,

Richard R. Hawkins

  • trapp1 September 15, 2006 at 7:22 am

    Array

  • No More Tom, Please! August 31, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    For those who do not pay attention to politics in Escambia County and believe that Tom Banjanin is out for the citizens, you are completely wrong. Banjanin only cares about his $64,000 pay check, plus benefits, from Escambia County for being a part-time commissioner. This salary may have gone up even higher, I just don’t know the exact amount, but a few years ago it was, in fact, $64,000.

    Banjanin has always watched who shows up at a meeting and he makes a sound bite statement to try to garner applause from the crowd. Look at some of the votes he made over that past few years:

    -He voted against improvements to pay for fire protection in Escambia County. All county incorporated residents would pay $36 more a year for fire protection if commissioners decide to raise the fire-plan money through a Municipal Services Benefit Unit. “I’m not convinced fire service needs to have that much money,” Banjanin said.

    -He voted against getting rid of the building caps on Perdido Key and enable zoning to handle growth issues. After he lost the vote he said, “This will be the death of Perdido Key. It will be all condos out there and it will never look the same.” (Banjanin doesn’t seem to like that 14 million dollars a year is generated from Perdido Key. The people who pay a majority of these taxes do not live here full-time and they do not put kids in schools. Perdido Key has always been the step child to Pensacola Beach. Plus, over 70 percent of Perdido Key is protected and will never be built on).

    -He voted against Charter government in Escambia County, even though a 56% majority of people in District 4 voted for it. Why was he against this? Because the new charter called for reducing the salaries of county commissioners and their administrative aids, thus Banjanin would be losing his easy income. His secretary, Peggy, made more money than he did as a commissioner. Her salary was in the range of $70,000 plus benefits. By the way, during Hurricane Dennis last year, Banjanin was Missing In Action. He didn’t let the county administrator or any official know that he was leaving the area. So when county officials were trying to find Banjanin to ask him questions, etc., he was nowhere to be found. Every other commissioner was at the Emergency Operations Center trying to do their jobs for the people of Escambia County. Not Banjanin!

    -Banjanin married his administrative aid, Peggy. Now the Banjanin family has two people on the government dole. She has since retired, but still receives a nice pension from the county.

    -He tried to cut the Pensacola Chamber’s budget for economic development because the Chamber was supporting Charter Government. He wanted the County to hire “in house” economic development people, not realizing that any company who inquired about relocating to the area would be open to public records. Many companies do not want the word to get out when they are thinking about relocating to another area. That’s why the Chamber is more effective recruiting companies that the county.

    -He voted against spending Local Option Sales Tax to renovate the Escambia County Court House Project. This was expected of Tom “Save Tax Dollars” Banjanin. Let’s keep Escambia County employees working in substandard conditions in an old, run down courthouse, not to mention the employees of Chris Jones’ office and the tax collector. Speaking of run down, has any every seen Banjanin’s office? It makes Sanford and Son look like the Hilton Garden Inn. He has a old, colorful, and musty couch complete with toy cars and military paraphernalia scattered around the drab office. That’s the image that executives see when stop by Banjanin’s office. They see is the rag tag commissioner from District 4.

    -He voted against putting the Local Option Sales Tax measure on the ballot. Months and months before the vote was held, Escambia County Commissioners had to vote to get the process rolling. Said Banjanin at the meeting, “We don’t need to have an additional tax on the citizens of the county.” Even after other commissioners and the county attorney explained to Banjanin that this was not a new tax, that it was going to be a continuation of the Local Option Sales Tax, he still voted no! Great move again. Millions are raised every year for roads, drainage, fire protection, police protection and Banjanin votes no. By the way, it was a 4 to 1 vote. Luckily the people his district and the entire county overwhelmingly voted to extend the LOST.

    -Banjanin talks about how he was the only county commissioner who was not removed from office during the scandal a few years ago. He says in his radio campaign commercial that he kept the county running smoothly during that ordeal and no county services ceased during the crisis. So Governor Bush appoints four new people to the commission. Did these new commissioners look to Banjanin for leadership? Did they elect Banjanin as Chairman of the Commission since he had over 8 years of experience as a county commissioner? The answer is NO. They elected Marie Young as Chairwomen. The newly appointed commissioners did not have the respect or confidence to elect Banjanin as Chairman. They know what informed votes know. Tom is not a leader; he only cares about his paycheck.

    -Banjanin is using scare tactics saying that he “is saving thousands of residents from being uprooted from their homes on Scenic Hwy if a new toll road is built.” He knows full well that Scenic Hwy. would never ever be used for a new road. But he scares the senior citizens and others who are not informed, and they vote for good old Tom. This reminds me of how he said that Jim Pennington, when he ran against Banjanin years ago, would try to move the railroad tracks on Scenic Hwy., and that Pennington would push to have condos built all along Scenic Hwy. Again, a major lie, but it works with uninformed voters.

    -Speaking of toll roads, years ago Tom cast the swing vote to kill an I-110 extension. Even though this project was not in his district, he voted no. This happened in the mid-1990s, and before many subdivisions were built along that route. What happened? People packed the room and said no. These people lived in District 5, not in his district. But pandering Tom had higher aspirations at that time to run for Congress so he wanted to make a lot of friends. If he would have voted yes, we would have a I-110 connector today.

    And finally, I could keep going, but I’m tired of writing. It hurts my brain to think what an uninspiring politician Banjanin is. If he is re-elected, he will serve 16 years as an Escambia County Commissioner. That’s too long for anyone to be effective with fresh ideas.

    I’ll leave you with this. When you see Banjanin waving at you on a street corner asking for your vote, you may want to look closely at the dandruff on his old pinstriped suit that he’s sported forever. And if you look even closer, you may see biscuits or some other food in his coat pocket that he stole from a Rotary meeting or other event where there was free food. Oh, the black Reebok tennis shoes look great with the suit, also.

    Tom Banjanin’s billboards state: “Fighter for Change.” That’s sad and laughable.

  • District 4 August 31, 2006 at 10:43 am

    For those who do not pay attention to politics in Escambia County and believe that Banjanin is out for the citizens, you are completely wrong. Banjanin only cares about his $64,000 pay check, plus benefits, from Escambia County for being a part-time commissioner. This salary may have gone up even higher, I just don’t know the exact amount, but a few years ago it was, in fact, $64,000.

    Banjanin has always watched who shows up at a meeting and he makes a sound bite statement to try to garner applause from the crowd. Look at some of the votes he made over that past few years:

    -Voted against improvements to pay for fire protection in Escambia County. All county incorporated residents would pay $36 more a year for fire protection if commissioners decide to raise the fire-plan money through a Municipal Services Benefit Unit. “I’m not convinced fire service needs to have that much money,” Banjanin said.

    -Voted against getting rid of the building caps on Perdido Key and enable zoning to handle growth issues. After he lost the vote he said, “This will be the death of Perdido Key. It will be all condos out there and it will never look the same.” (Banjanin doesn’t seem to like that 14 million dollars a year is generated from Perdido Key. The people who pay a majority of these taxes do not live here full-time and they do not put kids in schools. Perdido Key has always been the step child to Pensacola Beach. Plus, over 70 percent of Perdido Key is protected and will never be built on).

    -He voted against Charter government in Escambia County, even though a 56% majority of people in District 4 voted for it. Why was he against this? Because the new charter called for reducing the salaries of county commissioners and their administrative aids, thus Banjanin would be losing his easy income. His secretary, Peggy, made more money than he did as a commissioner. Her salary was in the range of $70,000 plus benefits. By the way, during Hurricane Dennis last year, Banjanin was Missing In Action. He didn’t let the county administrator or any official know that he was leaving the area. So when county officials were trying to find Banjanin to ask him questions, etc., he was nowhere to be found. Every other commissioner was at the Emergency Operations Center trying to do their jobs for the people of Escambia County. Not Banjanin!

    -Banjanin married his administrative aid, Peggy! Nice move. Now the Banjanin family had two people on the government dole.

    -He tried to cut the Pensacola Chamber’s budget for economic development because the Chamber was supporting Charter Government. That’s the answer Banjanin, cut economic development for the county. Good move! He wanted the County to hire “in house” economic development people, not realizing that any company who inquired about relocating to the area would be open to public records. Many companies do not want the word to get out when they are thinking about relocating to another area. That’s why the Chamber is more effective at keeping deals secret than the county. Banjanin didn’t get this and I’m glad he lost in this effort.

    -Voted against spending Local Option Sales Tax money to renovate the Escambia County Court House Project. This was expected of Tom “Save Tax Dollars” Banjanin. Let’s keep Escambia County employees working in substandard conditions in an old run down courthouse, not to mention the employees of Chris Jones’ office and the tax collector. Speaking of run down, has any every seen Banjanin’s office? It makes Sanford and Son look like the Hilton Garden Inn. He has a nice old, colorful, musty couch complete with toy cars and military paraphernalia scattered around the dusty office. That’s the image that executives see when stop by Banjanin’s office. They see is the rag tag commissioner from District 4.

    -Voted against putting the Local Option Sales Tax measure on the ballot. Months and months before the vote was held, Escambia County Commissioners had to vote to get the process rolling. Said Banjanin at the meeting, “We don’t need to have an additional tax on the citizens of the county.” Even after other commissioners and the county attorney explained to Banjanin that this was not a new tax, that it was going to be a continuation of the Local Option Sales Tax, he still voted no! Great move again. Millions are raised every year for roads, drainage, fire protection, police protection and Banjanin votes no. By the way, it was a 4 to 1 vote. Luckily the people his district and the entire county overwhelmingly voted to extend the LOST.

    -Banjanin talks about how he was the only county commissioner who was not removed from office during the scandal a few years ago. He says in his radio campaign commercial that he kept the county running smoothly during that ordeal and no county services ceased during the crisis. So Governor Bush appoints four new people to the commission. Did these new commissioners look to Banjanin for leadership? Did they elect Banjanin as Chairman of the Commission since he had over 8 years of experience as a county commissioner? The answer is NO. They elected Marie Young as Chairwomen. The newly appointed commissioners did not have the respect or confidence to elect Banjanin as Chairman. They know what informed votes know. Tom is not a leader; he only cares about his paycheck.

    -Banjanin is using scare tactics saying that he “is saving thousands of residents from being uprooted from their homes on Scenic Hwy if a new toll road is built.” He knows full well that Scenic Hwy. would never ever be used for a new road. But he scares the senior citizens and others who are not informed, and they vote for good old Tom. This reminds me of how he said that Jim Pennington, when he ran against Banjanin years ago, would try to move the railroad tracks on Scenic Hwy., and that Pennington would push to have condos built all along Scenic Hwy. Again, a major lie, but it works with uninformed voters.

    -And speaking of toll roads, years ago Tom cast the swing vote to kill an I-110 extension. Even though this project was not in his district, he voted no. This happened in the mid-1990s, and before many subdivisions were built along that route. What happened? People packed the room and said no. These people lived in District 5, not in his district. But pandering Tom had higher aspirations at that time to run for Congress so he wanted to make a lot of friends. If he would have voted yes, we would have a I-110 connector today.

    And finally, I could keep going, but I’m tired of writing. It hurts my brain to think what an uninspiring politician Banjanin is. If he is re-elected, he will serve 16 years as an Escambia County Commissioner. That’s too long for anyone to be effective with fresh ideas.

    I’ll leave you with this. When you see Banjanin waving at you on a street corner asking for your vote, you may want to look closely at the dandruff on his old pinstriped suit that he’s sported forever. And if you look even closer, you may see biscuits or some other food in his coat pocket that he stole from a Rotary meeting or other event where there was free food. Oh, the black Reebok tennis shoes look great with the suit, also.

    Tom Banjanin’s billboards state: “Fighter for Change.” That’s sad and laughable.

  • District Four August 31, 2006 at 10:32 am

    For those who do not pay attention to politics in Escambia County and believe that Banjanin is out for the citizens, you are completely wrong. Banjanin only cares about his $64,000 pay check, plus benefits, from Escambia County for being a part-time commissioner. This salary may have gone up even higher, I just don’t know the exact amount, but a few years ago it was, in fact, $64,000.

    Banjanin has always watched who shows up at a meeting and he makes a sound bite statement to try to garner applause from the crowd. Look at some of the votes he made over that past few years:

    -Voted against improvements to pay for fire protection in Escambia County. All county incorporated residents would pay $36 more a year for fire protection if commissioners decide to raise the fire-plan money through a Municipal Services Benefit Unit. “I’m not convinced fire service needs to have that much money,” Banjanin said.

    -Voted against getting rid of the building caps on Perdido Key and enable zoning to handle growth issues. After he lost the vote he said, “This will be the death of Perdido Key. It will be all condos out there and it will never look the same.” (Banjanin doesn’t seem to like that 14 million dollars a year is generated from Perdido Key. The people who pay a majority of these taxes do not live here full-time and they do not put kids in schools. Perdido Key has always been the step child to Pensacola Beach. Plus, over 70 percent of Perdido Key is protected and will never be built on).

    -He voted against Charter government in Escambia County, even though a 56% majority of people in District 4 voted for it. Why was he against this? Because the new charter called for reducing the salaries of county commissioners and their administrative aids, thus Banjanin would be losing his easy income. His secretary, Peggy, made more money than he did as a commissioner. Her salary was in the range of $70,000 plus benefits. By the way, during Hurricane Dennis last year, Banjanin was Missing In Action. He didn’t let the county administrator or any official know that he was leaving the area. So when county officials were trying to find Banjanin to ask him questions, etc., he was nowhere to be found. Every other commissioner was at the Emergency Operations Center trying to do their jobs for the people of Escambia County. Not Banjanin!

    -Banjanin married his administrative aid, Peggy! Nice move. Now the Banjanin family had two people on the government dole before she retired. Correction, she’s still getting retirement benefits from the county.

    -He tried to cut the Pensacola Chamber’s budget for economic development because the Chamber was supporting Charter Government. That’s the answer Banjanin, cut economic development for the county. Good move! He wanted the County to hire “in house” economic development people, not realizing that any company who inquired about relocating to the area would be open to public records. Many companies do not want the word to get out when they are thinking about relocating to another area. That’s why the Chamber is more effective at keeping deals secret than the county. Banjanin didn’t get this and I’m glad he lost in this effort.

    -Voted against spending Local Option Sales Tax money to renovate the Escambia County Court House Project. This was expected of Tom “Save Tax Dollars” Banjanin. Let’s keep Escambia County employees working in substandard conditions in an old run down courthouse, not to mention the employees of Chris Jones’ office and the tax collector. Speaking of run down, has any every seen Banjanin’s office? It makes Sanford and Son look like the Hilton Garden Inn. He has a nice old, colorful, musty couch complete with toy cars and military paraphernalia scattered around the dusty office. That’s the image that executives see when stop by Banjanin’s office. They see is the rag tag commissioner from District 4.

    -Voted against putting the Local Option Sales Tax measure on the ballot. Months and months before the vote was held, Escambia County Commissioners had to vote to get the process rolling. Said Banjanin at the meeting, “We don’t need to have an additional tax on the citizens of the county.” Even after other commissioners and the county attorney explained to Banjanin that this was not a new tax, that it was going to be a continuation of the Local Option Sales Tax, he still voted no! Great move again. Millions are raised every year for roads, drainage, fire protection, police protection and Banjanin votes no. By the way, it was a 4 to 1 vote. Luckily the people his district and the entire county overwhelmingly voted to extend the LOST.

    -Banjanin talks about how he was the only county commissioner who was not removed from office during the scandal a few years ago. He says in his radio campaign commercial that he kept the county running smoothly during that ordeal and no county services ceased during the crisis. So Governor Bush appoints four new people to the commission. Did these new commissioners look to Banjanin for leadership? Did they elect Banjanin as Chairman of the Commission since he had over 8 years of experience as a county commissioner? The answer is NO. They elected Marie Young as Chairwomen. The newly appointed commissioners did not have the respect or confidence to elect Banjanin as Chairman. They know what informed votes know. Tom is not a leader; he only cares about his paycheck.

    -Banjanin is using scare tactics saying that he “is saving thousands of residents from being uprooted from their homes on Scenic Hwy if a new toll road is built.” He knows full well that Scenic Hwy. would never ever be used for a new road. But he scares the senior citizens and others who are not informed, and they vote for good old Tom. This reminds me of how he said that Jim Pennington, when he ran against Banjanin years ago, would try to move the railroad tracks on Scenic Hwy., and that Pennington would push to have condos built all along Scenic Hwy. Again, a major lie, but it works with uninformed voters.

    -And speaking of toll roads, years ago Tom cast the swing vote to kill an I-110 extension. Even though this project was not in his district, he voted no. This happened in the mid-1990s, and before many subdivisions were built along that route. What happened? People packed the room and said no. These people lived in District 5, not in his district. But pandering Tom had higher aspirations at that time to run for Congress so he wanted to make a lot of friends. If he would have voted yes, we would have a I-110 connector today.

    And finally, I could keep going, but I’m tired of writing. It hurts my brain to think what an uninspiring politician Banjanin is. If he is re-elected, he will serve 16 years as an Escambia County Commissioner. That’s too long for anyone to be effective with fresh ideas.

    I’ll leave you with this. When you see Banjanin waving at you on a street corner asking for your vote, you may want to look closely at the dandruff on his old pinstriped suit that he’s sported forever. And if you look even closer, you may see biscuits or some other food in his coat pocket that he stole from a Rotary meeting or other event where there was free food. Oh, the black Reebok tennis shoes look great with the suit, also.

    Tom Banjanin’s billboards state: “Fighter for Change.” That’s sad and laughable.

  • MichaelO August 31, 2006 at 9:18 am

    THANK YOU Richard!

    I would love to flush the keys to my car down the toilet and ride my bike everywhere I need to go in this town. Not only would it help me do my part to save our environment, but it would also keep some much needed cash in my pocket and rapidly decrease this ever growing ‘working man’s’ gut I am forming.

    I do not dare attempt take this challenge on simply because this is one of the most pedestrian/cyclist-unfriendly cities I’ve ever seen.

    I’m a Pensacola native who loves this town, and have foregone opportunities in other communities simply because I love Pensacola, and wish to devote my energies to this community to help it progess to the next level.

    btw— I’ve taken some of your Economics classes and feel obliged to offer kudos to your wonderful teaching style. Never in a million years did I think I would be interested in Economics, until I learned from you.