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Monday September 1st 2014

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Visit Pensacola in the Sunshine

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This morning Escambia County citizens will get to hear, for the first time in a public forum, about the latest set of bylaws for Visit Pensacola, Inc. — the new 501(c)6 organization that wants to control $5-6 million in tax dollars generated by the hotel industry.

The discussion will be held in County Commission chambers at 9 a.m. as part of the Board of County Commissioners’ Committee of the Whole.

We have heard that Visit Pensacola has been recruiting board members and has cut its list down to between 50-30 people. All of this has been done outside of the public view and no one knows who is deciding who will be the final board members or what is the criteria this mystery group is using in making its choices.

Here is the latest draft that we’ve been able to get our hands on: VisitPensacolaBylaws-Draft11_13.

Commissioner Gene Valentino has also drafted a proposal and county staff has done a comparison chart: Visit Pensacola comparison chart.

The meeting will be streamed over the internet. What you want to watch for is whether the hotel industry will push to get their plan on the agenda for Thursday, Nov. 21. The public will only have two days to review the bylaws.

The incoming commission chairman, Lumon May, has already said he wants the final vote to happen at the Dec. 5 regular meeting–which is the date the commissioners approved back in September. However, I know the commissioners getting calls from those wanting to curry favor with the hotel industry.

Power plays, Egos, Control over millions of dollar and the Public’s Interest—all will be in play.