Pensacola Politics

Spencer Gets Round 2 as CRA Head

December 12, 2012

The Community Redevelopment Agency, made up of the Pensacola City Council, selected new leaders this week.

Councilman Brian Spencer was reelected as CRA chairman, while Councilwoman Megan Pratt, who previously served as chair, was elected as vice-chairman.

Both Spencer and Pratt were nominated by Councilman Larry Johnson.

“I think you should have an opportunity to continue on,” Johnson told Spencer before the vote.

Councilwoman Sherri Myers nominated herself for both the chair and vice-chair positions.

As their first order of business, the new CRA board—which includes four new city council members—denied forgiveness on a $500,000 loan to the Community Maritime Park Associates. The CRA instead requested the CMPA to provide a list of revenue sources, as well as a plan for growing those sources, and extended the loan until the fall

“It should act like a business,” said Council Vice President Jewell Canada-Wynn, “and not like a public service project.”

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  • John Peacock December 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Good point George! It is so sad that some people are so committed to destroying individuals and systems trying to move the community forward

  • George Hawthorne December 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm


    Wait for it, wait for it. These “facts” will never come because they don’t exist, however, that never stops the lies and misrepresentations. Quint,could stand in the middle of the park and “make it rain” with $100 bills and some would say he was trying to buy the public. You can’t have a rational conversation with irrational people.

  • George Hawthorne December 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    John Peacock,

    The problem with your idea is we are not dealing with “rock people.” They are trolls that live under bridges and they always try to impede the progress of anyone that tries to cross bridges in search of progress.

  • joe December 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Thank goodness Myers wasn’t put in charge of the CRA. I will look further into Kerrigan’s apparent assertions.
    My opinion is the manner the Bay ballpark was handled was a bad financial decision for the COP but can’t stand to listen to those who blame Mr. Studer. Yes, he bought votes with his investment in Belmont/Devillers and wooed local church leaders but he has also opened his wallet and invested heavily where he will ultimately not experience a good rate of return. He has made a positive difference to the COP, downtown especially.
    I find it hard to place blame on UWF for pulling out (The maritime park was becoming scandalous, their President left, donations were tanking) but one would have to look at it as they could bring the maritime museum idea back. The same folks who would have contributed to the project under UWF’s umbrella can do so through another not-for-profit, and The CMPA chairman is also a highly active member of UWF’s advisory board. Unfortunately, there may be some truth to the conspiracy theory that the Maritime museum was never really intended but thrown in there to get the votes to pass the project.
    Perhaps Mayor Hayward and the in crowd can ask Levin, Papantonio if they want everything there to bear their names. Fred Levin did spend 30+- million to get a law school named after him. It couldn’t hurt to ask and poof, the problem of no money to make the bond interest payments disappears.

  • downtown don December 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I agree with Rick, let’s keep the momentum moving forward. I have no issue with the CRA, and believe the two best candidates are at the helm. I do find it funny that Councilperson Myers nominated herself…anyone else hear the crickets?

  • Helpmehere December 13, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Ouch – that is a low blow to pin the blame on UWF. I call foul on that. Oliver is about to make it painfully clear why we can’t look forward – the payment for sins of the past is about to come due. Will Oliver be fired when he reveals the painful truth behind CMP finances?

  • John Peacock December 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

    We need to find a bigger rock! Big enough to make it harder for the CAVE people to crawl out from under

  • CJ Lewis December 13, 2012 at 9:13 am

    The reelection of Downtown Crowd duo Spencer and Pratt again makes the compelling case for getting rid of the CRA. Contrary to what Mayor Wiggins used to say, the money spent/wasted by the CRA is not “free.” The dollars are diverted from the City “and” County General Funds to provide special lifestyle amenities to the Downtown Crowd making the life of the upper crust a little easier. It’s hard to imagine that there’s any “slum and blight” still left inside the gated community of Port Royal let alone on the upscale streets of Aragon. People living north of Cervantes, west of “A” and east of 17th go without to subsidize the lifestyles of the privileged like Spencer and Pratt.

    No one would notice or care if the CRA were abolished except groups like Studer Properties eager to leverage the power of the CRA to its benefit. Studer Properties has embedded one of its people Chuck Tessier inside the Office of the Mayor as “Staff Consultant to the Mayor for Urban Redevelopment.” Tessier has his picture and biography in the URAC Final Report and is quoted saying of his role shaping the report, “It has been a true honor to work with the Mayor and this committee to help plan a direction for downtown Pensacola.” Abolishing the CRA would reduce though never eliminate the practice of local fat cats leveraging public dollars for private gain.

    Hayward is now stalling a public records request requesting a copy of the paperwork that put the Tessier sweetheart “deal” in place. It might just be more honest to let Quint Studer appoint the members of the CRA too. As Bob Kerrigan and Bill Rankin discussed the Community Maritime Park fiscal nightmare this week on their award-winning Channel 4 Within Reason, they avoided naming names but it seemed clear enough that Quint Studer is the “tail” in Kerrigan’s analogy of the tail wagging the dog to funnel CRA taxpayer dollars to enrich one person.

    The public still has a right to know why the CRA’s big gamble in the blind on its economic development masterpiece the Community Maritime Park – initiated without the City conducting an economic impact or economic viability study – mostly turned into just a baseball stadium no longer even owned by the citizens. (The private CMPA now owns everything built with taxpayer dollars to include the now private Blue Wahoos Stadium.) In addition to her role rubber-stamping decisions on the City Council, and her role on the CRA to include as its leader and now it’s assistant leader, Pratt also served on the CMPA from early 2008 to just a few days ago. Along with Larry Johnson, Pratt will have a lot of explaining to do to city voters in 2014 for a seemingly unending series of bad decisions. Both Johnson ($1,000) and Pratt ($500) accepted campaign dollars from the Studers, a small investment in two local politicians now paying big dividends.

    • Rick Outzen December 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

      I’m still waiting for someone to show how Studer has been enriched. Stadium isn’t private. To abolish the CRA makes no sense, especially with the funds needed to pay ECUA $19 million and other commmitments (Tech Park note and CMPA bonds). We all know why the only amenities at park to date are the waterfront park area, amphitheater and the stadium. UWF backed out of the conference center and maritime museum. There is no mystery or big conspiracy there.

      It’s time to move forward.

  • Helpmehere December 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    What has the CRA done lately other than look over the shoulder of the CMPA?