Email to county commission from voter regarding Perdido Key name change

Douglas Underhill copied me on this email to the county commissioners. He has doggedly tried to found out how DOT came to change the name of Perdido Key to Perdido Key Beach. BTW I love his quote from Attorney General Pam Bondi at the end.

On March 18th the county provided me with a response to a request for information regarding the effort to rename Perdido Key “Perdido Key Beach”. The response you provided created more questions than answers, so I submitted a similar request to the FDOT. Their response included nearly a dozen emails between Wendy Ecret, Jared Purdue and Brian Pettis on this subject.

This email string was cleverly titled “Test”. Everyone involved in this name change knew it would not be popular if it saw the light of day…that is expressly stated in some of the emails. It is also clear now that the effort to put a motion in front of you for a name change was done after the fact: the state changed the name on the 2013 map based on some back channel influence that has yet to be fully explained (but I’ll get that before I’m done). The motion that you voted on and later rescinded was meant to cover the paper trail on something that had already been done.

Given the history this county has with attempting to obfuscate pet projects such as the Perdido Bingo Parlor, one would have to completely suspend disbelief to see this as anything less than a conscious effort to subvert the process in place for public records requests. Any rational observer would recognize that these employees knew this was going to be a hot item and knew that titling the email string “test” would prevent it from showing up in a public records request search.

I am asking each one of you individually to help a citizen get to the truth about where this effort came from and why. I think it is a small thing to ask of elected officials to explain what is being done in the public name and who is pressing this effort. I am sure you are all aware of the growing concern that Escambia County is slipping back into our old ways of backroom deals and crony capitalism. This represents an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to open governance. I thank each of you in advance for any assistance you might provide.

Very Respectfully,
Douglas Underhill
Perdido Key

In Florida, transparency is not up to the whim or grace of public officials. Instead, it is an enforceable right.

– Attorney General Pam Bondi