Escambia County News

Visit Pensacola delivers new bylaws to the county, they decide who minority director is (No surprise)

September 20, 2013

Hotel lobbyist Ron Ellington has delivered a new set of bylaws for Visit Pensacola to the county attorney. The new bylaws allow for a permanent seat for a minority. However, that minority isn’t chosen by any outside group and is instead chosen by the rest of the directors.

Hmmm, to whom do you think that minority board member will be beholding?

Here is the new clause:

Must be Chairman of the Board or a Board member designated by the Chairman. The initial member shall be an African American entity. The Visit Pensacola Board will establish objective, published criteria for selecting future minority Board members. The Board will solicit applications from the minority community beginning six (6) months from the end of each two (2) year term for this Board seat through a series of publicly advertised and held meetings. It will make the final decision by a majority vote of the other seated members for the group that best meets the published criteria. Minorities, which may be further enumerated by the Board by a majority vote, shall include any ethnic, racial, gender, or sexual preference minority group recognized by the Federal Government.

No other board member has to go through this scrutiny. All others are selected by their organizations.

Visit Pensacola is seeking a state ethics commission opinion on whether the PSA executive director can sit on the board that is giving his organization funds. Ellington doesn’t know if a city council member or county commissioner can legally sit on the board.

Read: Visit_Pensacola_Bylaws_092013_redline.

The TDC approved the old bylaws. Do these new ones have to go back before them?

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  • joe September 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks Rick and George for the in-depth replies.

    The African American tourism stats are interesting and should receive fair consideration

  • George Hawthorne September 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Joe and Rick,

    I think everyone is getting off the point of the importance minority representation on the DMO Board and the true importance of having African-American representation in the governance structure of the DMO.

    Part of the problem with the African-American “vocal” proponents of representation is that they have NO understanding of the tourism market. They are basing their “arguments” on civil rights, equality, lack of inclusion, past discrimination and other issues that have NOTHING to do with developing the African-American tourism market in order to help boost the local market share from these significant travelers.

    This is not a “civil rights” issue this is a “tourism” issue and the question SHOULD be:

    “How do aggressively pursue the leisure travel and tourism dollars available from African-American travelers that could help bolster Escambia/Pensacola’s tourism industry without having the unique cultural awareness of a “tourism-marketing experienced” African-American involved in the DMO?”

    However, to fully appreciate the value of having “qualified” African-American representation on the DMO board we must first fully understand the value of the African American travel market that we are currently NOT tapping into in any substantive proportion.

    Accordingly, let me provide some of the statistics on this most important market below:

    Compared to travelers overall, nearly three times as many African-American person-trips involve group tours. (8.5% vs. 3%)

    African-American conventions and seminars account for 7% of all trips taken by African-Americans, compared to 4% for the general population.

    African-Americans travel three times as often in a rental car as their primary mode compared to travelers overall. (9% to 3%)

    African-Americans outrank all other Americans in visiting historical places and museums. (17% to 16%)

    African-Americans are more likely to stay in hotels, motels, and bed & breakfast establishments than total travelers. (55% to 52%)

    The African-American travel market is one of the top three fastest growing segments in all areas of the industry.

    African-American travelers spend more than $40 Billion yearly.

    The African-American market represents 45% of the $90 Billion in total annual revenues generated from multicultural travel.

    For more information regarding the African-American travel market and more eye-popping statistics on what we are missing please view the following link:

  • joe September 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    African American children are 70+ percent born to songle parent households. Know why? there are 3rd and 4th generation people telling their youth that’s how you get good govt benefits….don’t expect you to post this Rick

    • Rick Outzen September 23, 2013 at 8:10 am

      A common myth. The facts don’t support that African-Americans in Escambia County are “telling their youth that’s how you get good benefits.”

  • joe September 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    What’s with the designation that a board member must be an African American? Not merely an unrepresented minority? Asian American? Iranian American? Are they not entitled to seats on these boards? Does one have to have brown or black skin and proclaim they are have ancestors from Africa to get consideration of minority status in America today. I get the level the playing field and make sure everyone has a voice concept but I have a hard time embracing there is only one minority group receiving any recognition in this country.

    • Rick Outzen September 23, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Though you are coming at the issue from a different angle, I do agree that everyone should have a voice in the make-up of the board of Visit Pensacola or whatever independent group overseas tourism.

      However, what is the largest minority in Escambia County? According to the 2012 census estimates, African-American: 22.9%

      American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.9%
      Asian alone 2.9%
      Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, 0.2%
      Two or More Races, 3.0%
      Hispanic or Latino, 5.1%

      There aren’t any specific stats for Iranian American.

      BTW: Females are in the majority – 50.5 percent

  • CJ Lewis September 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Florida Statute §760.80 “Minority Representation on Boards, Commissions, Councils, and Committees” provides more authoritative guidance as to whom is considered to be a “minority” with respect to State law. Because Visit Pensacola seeks to stand in the shoes of Escambia County, a political subdivision of the State of Florida, State law should govern this matter rather than Federal law. F.S. §760.80 also recognizes “the importance of persons with physical disabilities on such panels.”

    On the downside, within the City of Pensacola, Mayor Ashton Hayward has refused to acknowledge that he is subject to F.S. §760.80 in his usurped role as the Appointing Authority for the Downtown Improvement Board, created by the Florida Legislature. Hayward stripped Council President Maren DeWeese of that authority after she had already exercised the power of her office appointing Councilman Brian Spencer in January 2011 to the DIB.

    Although city voters approved the new Charter on November 24, 2009, removing the Mayor from the Governing Body of the City, effective at noon on January 10, 2011, the City Council has to date refused to request the Florida Legislature amend the DIB Act formally making the Presiding Officer (Council President) of the Governing Body the Appointing Authority as had been the case as far back as 1972, first exercised by appointed Mayor Eugene Elebash up through appointed Council President DeWeese.

    The issue of F.S. §760.80 arose in a big way when Hayward appointed John Peacock to the DIB. City Administrator Bill Reynolds, speaking for Hayward who refused to attend the meeting as required by City law, scolded the Council that it was solely Haywards “prerogative” who he wanted to appoint to the DIB. This is consistent with Hayward’s position that he is not subject to City laws let alone State laws if he finds them objectionable or inconvenient.

    Just like most of Reynolds’ hissy fits, the Peacock affair was captured on video during a Committee of the Whole meeting. It is worth pointing out that Reynolds is not licensed to practice law in Florida, even though he liked to begin many of his lectures on State law directed at the Council saying, “As an attorney….” He will not be missed.

    Peacock’s appointment then brought the composition of the DIB to five White Males. The two ex officio members of the DIB are also White Males, Commissioner Grover Robinson IV and Councilman Spencer. Unexplainably, Hayward has to date refused to make the Executive Branch – “City Planning Department” – appointment required by State law, an appointment not requiring the advice and consent of the City Council.

    The DIB stands in the shoes of the City of Pensacola performing municipal functions and rendering municipal services. According to the 2010 Census, the City of Pensacola’s population includes 52.6% Women and 28% African-American. The DIB has only one woman on it and is all White. No African-Americans serve on the DIB. As far as I know, no one on the DIB has a disability unless being under the control of Hayward is considered a disability.