Mr. Outzen, come and defend yourself…another bizarre chapter in Escambia County folklore

Just when we thought county government couldn’t get any more bizarre, Escambia County Commissioner Chairman Gene Valentino called me out yesterday afternoon during the board’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

He and Interim County Administrator George Touart were upset about being made losers in this week’s issue of The Independent News. Valentino demanded on camera that I show up, not hide behind this blog and defend myself.

Of course, I immediately walked across the street and sat down on the front row in board chambers and waited for any questions from Commissioner Valentino and Mr. Touart.

Valentino promptly said that I wasn’t going to be allowed to speak. After them taking a few more jabs at me, the commission moved on.

Too funny. We will have the video online by next Monday.

Once I was there, I decided to stay for the discussion of the hiring of a new county administrator—much of which I will report in next week’s issue.

Commissioner Wilson Robertson opened the discussion wanting to see if his fellow commissioners were willing to halt the process, save any money needed to interview the finalists and simply give Touart a one-year contract.

Touart was allowed to speak and asked for the one-year contract, that he wanted to begin Oct. 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2014—-actually 15 months more, but math has never held Touart back.

Commissioner Steven Barry made the motion that Touart be completely dropped from the candidate pool. That eventually got modified for the administrator search to be reopened, Touart not being allowed to apply and the goal for hiring the new administrator be by Dec. 1, 2013 but no later than Feb. 28, 2014.

Commissioners Lumon May, Grover Robinson and Barry voted for the motion. Robertson and Valentino voted against it.

There’s much, much more but you will have to wait.