Donovan/Nobles petition update

It appears Marty Donovan and Jack Nobles are pursing their petition drive against the maritime park. Anne B. Bennett just dropped off a letter in support of Donovan and Nobles’ effort. In the letter, Bennett says that petition supporters can call Marty’s office and request a petition card or go by and pick one up. Her letter “Why A New Petition…” misspells Quint Studer’s name as “Studder” and attacks him and his baseball team repeatedly—which proves my earlier point that the petition is part of some weird, personal vendetta against Studer.

What is particularly disturbing about the misspelling of Studer’s name is that the man was born completely deaf in one ear and only has particular hearing in the other. It took years of speech therapy when he was in elementary school to overcome his speech impediments. Today is considered one of the top speakers in the country on health care and leadership. To mock Studer’s physical handicap is a low blow, even for the Donovan/Nobles group.

The other eight people involved in this petition are Byron H. Keesler, Todd H. Snyder, Dorothy V. Rowe, Jackie L. Johnston, Mark S. Greskovich, Malcolm F. Johnston, Patricia E. McGrath and Justin K. Otto. I’m not sure that they completely support Ms. Bennett’s attack on Quint Studer, but they should be asked.

Ms. Bennett’s comments about the “hobby-team” and “sub-minor league team” are right out of 2005 Save Our City playbook, created by C.C. Elebash, Charlie Fairchild and Donovan, that failed to defeat the park and stadium in 2006. Here we are five years later still having to fend off the same arguments.

Much of letter is about the financing and bond issue which Donovan tried to get a petition to stop last November and failed. The new petition can not overturn the bonds. The new petition is not about the stadium or even the developer’s contract on the stadium–the vote that they are trying to rescind is on the general construction contract, called a Design-Build. Donovan missed challenging all the other votes on the park.

Here is her letter:

Why A New Petition…

Over time the Maritime Park development plans have constantly changed except for Mr. Studder’s hobby-team’s baseball stadium. The funding has changed so much that is nothing like what the people voted for. It is important for people to find out about the deal that they did not vote for, to rethink and decide what they want to pay for. By signing the petition regarding the city’s contract with this developer, you give yourself, and others, that opportunity.

Originally the $40 million loan was to be repaid by the Community Redevelopment Agency, mostly downtown business district. The CRA extended itself to include others who may or may not wish to have been included. Still the CRA could not sell bonds because they were already $21 million in debt.

Now the city has taken on the now $45.6 million Maritime Development debt with its $3 million yearly interest to be paid by all city taxpayers. Worse yet, the city assumed the CRA $21 million financial liability with its interest. Since it is illegal to comingle CRA and city monies, how can it be ethical to assume their debt? With the looming city pension problems, that seems inappropriate to me.

The focus of this project has been on a baseball stadium for Mr. Studder’s sub-minor league team (no major league affiliation). It did not meet the requirement for a real minor league team and I have not seen nor heard of any upgrades to that standard. Mr. Studder will rent the stadium for less that fifty (50) home games a year and may move his team after about seven (7) years. Mobile’s minor league team has discussed moving but we could not invite a real minor league team to a substandard facility. It looks like Mr. Studder is transferring the cost of doing business for his hobby to the public.

Mr. Studder said he would give the profits from the team to the city. Interesting! He has been subsidizing the team with hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. How moving his team from a low cost central location to a site that is more costly to operate and is more distant from the majority of the population will improve his profit is questionable. It is already the least attended team in their league.

Pensacola could be left wth a facility too costly for locals to rent or schools to use for games. It could be a white elephant taking up six (6) prime acres in the middle of what should be a real park (not a development) for the general public. There should be playgrounds, picnic areas, a bandshell, dog path and an exercise trail. With so many people running and walking their dogs up and down our business district streets, we have ample evidence that a recreational park is what we need more than additional restaurants etc to divide tourist dollars. Removing the stadium from the plan would free up $15 million for debt reduction and/or additional amenities for the public.

No matter which way you would vote regarding the stadium, please sign the petition giving the community a chance for a clear choice on the revised plans and findings. Call 850-382-6104 for an emailed copy of the petition or go to 223 E. Government Street to pick up one. Time is short, please act promptly.

Anne B. Bennett

The flaws in her logic and numerous misstatement of the facts are very obvious. Let’s see who can pick out the most.