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Sunday September 21st 2014

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The Calming Clarification

grover robinsonA state senate bill amendment pertaining to RESTORE Act funds made local officials a bit nervous this week. It’s calmer now, after some language-tweaking and assurances from state lawmakers that counties will not be circumvented when the Clean Water Act windfall finally hits.

Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson made a trip to Tallahassee yesterday   for some clarification. By that time—with county-level officials across the Panhandle worked into a frenzy—Senate President Don Gaetz’s office was already stressing that the amendment—which itself has been amended to satisfy concerns—was not meant to circumvent the counties.

“We had just got the pot one problem clarified,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t appear to have ever been a problem.”

The commissioner—who has been Escambia’s point-person when it comes to the BP oil spill—said that the amendment to SB 1024 pertains to RESTORE money headed to the sate level. The couple of lines that were initially giving him pause have been removed.

“At the end of the day, we can certainly live with where we are,” Robinson said.

The commissioner also clarified the direction Escambia County’s RESTORE Act Advisory Committee will be taking. While other commissioners have made cases for the committee to start assessing potential projects, or to conduct “dryruns” and “mock practice sessions” on “dummy applicants,” it appears the advisory committee will be formulating a “vision.”

“We didn’t put them forward, we didn’t put qualified people with good ideas [on the committee] to do what they’re told to do,” Robinson said. “Why would you do that? The idea is to create a vision— say, ‘hey, this is where we want to go and how we want to get there.’”