Jeremy's Notebook

The Calming Clarification

April 24, 2013

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.’”

  • Scott Miller April 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I can’t believe that anyone thinks that this is a good idea. Most of any money that results from a settlement that the state receives is supposed to go to the eight counties affected by the spill. If we set up a private non-profit entity that is not subject to sunshine laws, is not required to have public meetings or allow public comment AND is run by proxies of the Governor, Legislature, CFO, and Attorney General, then we can be assured that they will look after Tallahassee’s interests and not ours.

    What will happen is that money that we were already going to get from, for example the roads budget, will now come from this BP endowment. We won’t get any real benefit, it will all just be a big bait and switch.

    If Tallahassee wants to do this, instead of having Tallahassee leadership appointing the board members, the counties need to be able to appoint one representative per county to the board. That way the counties will be able to spend the money on things that they know they need and they will be able to keep each other honest.