Pensacola Politics

Pensacola: Weekly Wrap-up – May 7

May 7, 2016

Five o’clock passed on Friday afternoon without a press release from Mayor Ashton Hayward’s office announcing any decision on the careers of Interim Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Fire Chief Joe Glover. The investigation has officially entered its fourth month.

State Attorney’s Office issued four indictments tied to its investigation two charter schools that were closed a year ago–Newpoint Academy and Pensacola Newpoint High. Newpoint Education Partners, LLC, which ran the schools and other charter school around the country, and three of its vendors, with close financial ties to NEP, were charged with grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime. More indictments may follow.

Ascension Health announced that its new, five-story children’s hospital will be named “The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart” in honor of Rishy and Quint Studer.

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) are suing the City of Pensacola to challenge a 25-foot tall Christian cross in public Bayview Park. Mayor Hayward on the city’s “Transparent Pensacola” page stated last year when the issue first came up: ““We want to respect all religions without showing preference to any. Personally, I hope there is always a place for religion in the public square. I surely don’t want to remove it; however, this is a question we are going to refer to our attorneys.” No recent changes have been to this section of the TP page.

Judge Scott Duncan refused to rehear the case regarding the city’s lease for the Pitt Slip property. The mayor told the media that he is consulting with Beggs & Lane as to what his next legal move will be.

Pensacola City Council meets next week. It will hold a workshop to discuss proposed charter amendments. The most publicized proposal is to reduce the number of council members from seven to five and eventually increase their salaries to $30,000. However, council members have put up for discussion 10 other items:
1. City Council confirms appointment of City Administrator
2. City Council determines the organization of the city
3. City Council confirms/consents to hiring/firing of department heads
4. Council President and VP by chosen a rotation basis by district
5. Removal of resolution veto power
6. Creation of an independent personnel board
7. Repeal charter and reinstate council-manager form of government, with five council districts
8. Require mayor to be member of City Council
9. Establish Ethics Anti-corruption code, board, office and campaign finance program
10. City Council appoints City Clerk and City Attorney

The Florida Medical Examiners have released their report on drug-related deaths for the first half of 2015. The report revealed that the First District, which encompasses most of Northwest Florida, had a 34 percent increase in drug-related deaths, particularly in heroin- and fentanyl-related deaths that more than doubled when compared to the first of half of 2014.

Cox Communications recognized 48 students from Escambia County who have overcome extreme challenges in life, such as mental or physical disabilities, severe medical conditions, language barriers or family adversity. The students were chosen by a committee of leaders at their school. During the event, Cox presented the students with an engraved medallion and certificates of honor from Cox. Congressman Jeff Miller’s office also recognized the students with a certificate.

Escambia Board of County Commissioners agreed on Thursday to move forward with new jail safety measures to improve monitoring of sick inmates. Last year, the county jail had six deaths, which led to firing of Corrections Director Michael Tidwell. Assistant County Administrator Chip Simmons has led the safety and health care efforts at the jail.

Pensacola Ice Flyers beat the Peoria Rivermen to win the SPHL President’s Cup Finals.Josh Cousineau scored in the final second of regulation play for the 5-4 victory.

Pensacola Fire Station No. 3 had to be evacuated ahead of schedule early due to health concerns regarding mold in the building. The city is building a new fire station that is expected to be completed next year.

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