Dirty Smurfs

Escambia County officials have no interest in seeing a recycling center on a collection of remediated Superfund sites. They also don’t want to see any little blue men on the properties.

In December, the county was primed to hand off the properties until officials learned that Pensacola could be planning a recycling center—“a dirty murph,” County Administrator Randy Oliver explained—on the sites. Hoping to see the property developed differently, the county balked at the hand-off.

“We just need to get a better understanding,” said Commissioner Grover Robinson, prior to hearing the city’s response Thursday.

The commissioners had gotten the dirty-murph notion from a radio interview conducted with Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson was armed with a recording of the broadcast, and the rest of the board felt the mayor had been perfectly plain in the interview.

“There was a clear expression on the mayor’s part that he was interested in using it as a dirty murph, or muph, or something,” said Commissioner Gene Valentino.

John Asmar, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the city had no intention of placing a dirty murph—a recycling center—on the sites.
“Obviously, our target is in manufacturing and distribution,” Asmar said of the city’s plans.

But the commission wasn’t satisfied.

“When I asked the mayor in my office on Monday if he said that, he said ‘no,’” Commissioner Kevin White told Asmar. “But the tape says differently.”

White said he would feel “comfortable” if the commitment to not place a recycling center on the properties was put into writing.

“We have no intent in a recycling center—it’s on the record,” Asmar confirmed.

“—or dirty smurf, or anything of that nature?” clarified Chairman Robertson.

The rest of the commission began to crack up.

“There’s no dirty smurfs,” laughed Robinson. “Smurfs are the little blue things.”

“They’re just as toxic, though,” said White.

Assured by Asmar that there would be no dirty murphs—or smurfs—the county board seemed appeased.

“Send the message to they mayor that we trust him, John,” said Chairman Robertson. “No matter what the tape says, we’re sure you’re going to do the right thing.”