Presser Notes: Fancy Trash, 17th Unveiled & Tenni$ Tantrum

By Jeremy Morrison

Will Pensacola residents go for full-service sanitation and pay extra to have their trash and recycling containers rolled to and from the curb? Mayor Grover Robinson isn’t sure, but he’s willing to give it a try.

“I guess we’ll see what happens,” Mayor Robinson said during his regular weekly press conference Monday morning.

The city’s newly rolled out and so-called “premium collection service” includes the drop-off for an added cost of $20 a month. John Pittman, the city’s director of sanitation services and fleet management, suggested the concept.

“John’s come up with another idea,” Mayor Robinson said, referring to Pittman’s previous move to pick up garbage and recycling cans on the same day.

Robinson continued, calling the premium service an example of a city employee trying something new to improve municipal services.

“My whole goal is to find ways to let them apply good ideas and see what happens. We may not have a whole lot of takers. We may. We just don’t know; we don’t know whether it’s something people want or not,” he said. “We try things out. Not everything has worked, but I think you’ll find us having the ability to try things out and experiment. Overall, I think that helps make us better. We find things that are not working, and we tweak’em.”

Roundabout-Interchange Ribbon Cutting

The 17th Avenue interchange is now open, offering drivers direct access to Bayfront Parkway from the new bridge flyover. Also open, the new roundabout under the flyover.

“Went through it twice now. Came through this morning, all good,” Mayor Robinson said. “It was really good going 17th to Bayfront; it has its own little lane. You just go right through; it’s awesome.”

The mayor received word from the Florida Department of Transportation that the interchange area was open Sunday morning.

“While I was in church, I got a text from DOT saying it was open,” Robinson recalled, noting that he’d already noticed by that point.

In addition to providing access from the flyover the Pensacola Bay Bridge to Bayfront Parkway and East Gregory Street, this newly opened component of the overall bridge project also allows for travel between the bridge, 17th Avenue north and southbound.

Still to be completed is work on the bridge itself, with the westbound (Gulf Breeze to Pensacola) structure expected to be completed in 2022.

Homeless Plan Presentation

The Homeless Reduction Task Force of Northwest Florida will be presenting a plan this Friday for spending $3 million in federal funds to address the issue of homelessness in the area. Mayor Robinson said that aside from assuring that the group set aside about a half million dollars to use on a program aimed at working with the private sector to realize affordable housing, he’s looking to the task force for direction.

“Most of the — really all of the suggestions, except LOTUS, are coming from the task force,” Mayor Robinson said. “The only thing that I’ve been concerned with is that we have about $450,000 for LOTUS.”

According to its website, LOTUS is a North Carolina-based non-profit that works to “raise awareness about homelessness while advising communities on how to engage the real estate sector in the solution.” When task force leader Connie Bookman initially presented the group’s plans to Pensacola City Council, no such allotment was dedicated for LOTUS, though she agreed the group could be helpful.

Most of the plan Bookman presented to the council involved providing existing service organizations with slices of the $3 million funding and putting some of it towards constructing temporary shelters and even tiny home-type communities. Notably, Bookman had told the city that she thought enough of the task force’s hopes could be realized in time to quickly relocate a homeless camp currently allowed to exist on a greenway under a stretch of the I-110 overpass.

“I think she said Nov. 13 to be exact, and then she kind of caveated that with ‘before Thanksgiving.’ And all of that is really contingent upon a lot of the efforts that are going on with individuals that are working on some spaces out in the county,” said Lawrence Powell, the city’s neighborhood administrator, adding that he did not know what properties Bookman might be eyeing.

Mayor Robinson said that he didn’t expect to have the homeless camp cleared until January, despite Bookman telling the council that, in short, she had divine insight into the matter.

“She kept saying it was going to happen before Thanksgiving, and I was like ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen that fast,’” he said. “God built the world in seven days, absolutely, but he didn’t have to deal with government and get a permit. So, if he had, it would have taken a lot longer. I tell you, government just is slow by nature. This is public money, so the nature by which it will flow through will take us until November to get that finalized and see what happens with council.”

Tennis-Love

The Roger Scott Tennis Center courts are due an upgrade, as the 50-year-old courts are showing age beyond the scope of the traditional patch-ups. To resurface the courts, Mayor Robinson plans to spend some of the city’s ARPA funds — money stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Also, he intends to partner with Escambia County on the effort.

“These are the conditions of the courts,” Mayor Robinson said, flashing images of cracks on the courts up on an overhead screen. “You can patch’em, but the more you patch, the quicker it goes. The quicker it goes, the more money you spend patching.”

The mayor said that ARPA funds are in fair play to pay for these repairs to Roger Scott’s courts, as the project will improve outdoor recreational opportunities. He’s committing $1.3 million and hopes Escambia County is good for a matching $1.3 million.

Initially, Mayor Robinson approached the city council for the extra funds to resurface the tennis courts, but was rebuffed because, as he explained: “Unfortunately, some members of the council, they just can’t seem — they want to be the mayor and show up and pitch another idea.”

The mayor said that hesitations among city council members centered on district-centric concerns, which he waved off, pointing to an upcoming redistricting process.

“It shocked me. It shocked me in some ways to think that people would not realize and understand how serious the situation is. But it didn’t shock me in some ways, because again, COVID has continued to show us that people get more and more selfish,” Robinson said. “You know, just going to find something to spend in District 2 — who knows, in a few short months, District 2 will look extremely different than it does today. So, if you’re just trying to put arbitrary things in arbitrary lines, it makes no sense.”

As part of the partnership with Escambia County, county residents will have the same access, at the same rates, to Roger Scott’s courts as city residents do. Though it’s not a done deal yet, Robinson said he was confident that the county’s five commissioners would ultimately go for the partnership — “even Doug Underhill, who voted against it, said that ‘if it came forward as its own item, I would vote for it,’” — as it meant Escambia would need not consider investing in its own tennis facility.

“I feel very good about getting money from outside the city and partnering with the county. There’s no reason, we have no county tennis courts — and for them to start that process would be a whole lot more than $1.3 million,” Robinson said.

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2 thoughts on “Presser Notes: Fancy Trash, 17th Unveiled & Tenni$ Tantrum

  1. Mayor Robinson said during his regular weekly press conference Monday, October 25, 2021, regarding his goal and the goal of Pensacola City employees:

    “My whole goal is to find ways to let them apply good ideas and see what happens. We may not have a whole lot of takers. We may. We just don’t know; we don’t know whether it’s something people want or not,” he said. “We try things out. Not everything has worked, but I think you’ll find us having the ability to try things out and experiment. Overall, I think that helps make us better. We find things that are not working, and we tweak’em.”

    This appears to be a false statement. After Grover Robinson was elected Mayor, I spent a lot of time repeatedly reporting the false charges against me regarding the illegal closing of our authorized business to Mayor Grover C. Robinson IV. He refuses to lift the illegal prohibition of me operating my legally authorized business so I can earn an income from our investment property. I have been paying all of the expenses for our business from our retirement since March 19, 2005.

    I have posted articles explaining illegal/criminal actions by City Officials against me on my facebook page (Mary Mead Pensacola). It also contains copies of open letters showing my correspondence to Officials in Florida reporting the sadistic persecution Pensacola City Officials continually use against me.

    Pensacola City Officials seek vengeance against me for exposing their “Certificate of Occupancy” scam which they used to trespass on every property in Pensacola (including ours), used to make illegal demands to steal many of our historic artifacts, and used to steal our life savings. I proved that they had misrepresented their authority in this matter and used force (threats of arrest, etc.) against law-abiding citizens. Florida statutes describe this corruption as a felony.

    The United States Constitution requires due process of law to close a business. There was no due process of law. The Florida Constitution requires each elected or appointed official to take an oath which includes “hereby solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida.” “If any person required by the provisions of ss. 876.05-876.10 to execute the oath herein required executes such oath, and it is subsequently proven that at the time of the execution of said oath said individual was guilty of making a false statement in said oath, he or she shall be guilty of perjury.”

    Violating our Constitutional rights is especially egregious since my husband and I are both veterans and served our country to defend and protect the U. S. Constitution. My husband was an elderly veteran at the time of the illegal closing and on June 21, 2009, I became elderly as defined in Florida Statutes. City Officials mostly remained silent from this time on. It appeared that they had decided to stop communicating and would wait until we died since we were both elderly. My husband passed away from cancer on 5/5/2010.

    I reported the Pensacola City Officials’ illegal/criminal actions against me to FDLE. Mr. Ramage, FDLE Counsel, called Pensacola City Attorney Wells for information about the situation.

    On Sep 9, 2010, it appears that Florida State Attorney, Mr. Bill Eddins, the Pensacola City Attorney, Mr. Wells, and Pensacola Community Development Department employee, Ms. Morris conferred and discussed the answer Mr. Wells was going to send to Mr. Ramage of the FDLE in answer to my reporting to FDLE, again, the illegal closing of our small business, an art gallery/antique shop holding functions, on March 19, 2005.

    It appears that they decided to send false statements and false charges (libel) about me to FDLE instead of the real facts. It appears the above Pensacola public officials deliberately conspired to and, in fact, did lie to FDLE about me to guarantee that I remained illegally closed down.

    The Pensacola City Attorney, Mr. Wells, stated to the FDLE General Counsel, “Numerous complaints were received from her neighbors and the city did direct her to cease holding outdoor events such as weddings.”

    The FDLE General Counsel stated to me, “after neighbors’ complaints, the City notified you that your zoning did not allow such outside activities.”

    The FDLE General Counsel, Mr. Ramage, made no effort to verify the false statements and false accusations made by the Pensacola City Attorney Wells about me. Based on the false statements Mr. Ramage, made false statements and false accusations about me to me as justification for the continued illegal closing of our authorized business.

    I have repeatedly stated that during the 25 years of operation of the business, including the previous owner, from 1980 until 2005, in the same location, there were no complaints before our illegal closing on March 19, 2005.

    I made a public information request for documentation in City Attorney Well’s office concerning me and my property. City Attorney Wells gave me my folder to go through and told his secretary make a copy of what I wanted. I discovered the following email which was written from the Pensacola Chief of Police, Mr. Chip Simmons, to the Pensacola Mayor’s assistant, Mr. Al Coby. I believe this email proves that we had no complaints in 2004 or 2005 or, in fact, ever on which to base the illegal closing.

    Pensacola Police Chief Simmons, Pensacola Mayoral Assistant Coby, and Pensacola City Attorney Wells kept this as a secret from me and never revealed to me the following information which provided documentation to prove there were no complaints against us before our illegal closing on March 19, 2005. The alarm responses were because ADT’s equipment went through a temporary spell of causing alarms in the middle of the night.

    From: Chip Simmons
    Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:17 AM
    To: Al Coby
    Cc: Thaddeus Cohen; Rita R. Lee
    Subject: RE:
    Thanks Al. I checked and we have no paperwork on the location or information regarding the complaint. We do have a total of nine alarm responses dating back to 2004.

    Pensacola City Officials stated that I could not sell art nor antiques and had to cancel all functions from March 19, 2005 on to include gallery nights, meet the artist nights, children’s tea parties, poetry readings, weddings, reunions, etc. My favorite weddings were the small, intimate candlelight ceremonies I held for servicemen and women from the local Navy base. I furnished candles and flowers, free of charge, and performed the ceremony myself as I am a notary public.

    As you can see above, Pensacola City Attorney Wells (and many others)
    made false charges, an unlawful action, as defined in Florida Statute 838.
    022 (Official misconduct) as a felony of the third degree because he is
    causing unlawful harm to me.

    838.022 Official misconduct.—
    (1) It is unlawful for a public servant or public contractor, to knowingly
    And intentionally obtain a benefit for any person or to cause unlawful harm
    to another, by:
    (a) Falsifying, or causing another person to falsify, any official record
    or official document;
    (3) Any person who violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    Pensacola City Officials used misconduct in this matter to steal historic
    artifacts from us worth tens of thousands of dollars and to steal our life
    savings of over $300,000.00. Pensacola City Officials used felonies
    (under cover of law) to withhold income from our lawful business
    Thereby committing grand theft against me over a period of 23 years
    easily amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Pensacola City Officials
    sometimes pretend they are unaware of the law as an excuse to
    commit felonies. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law
    and City Officials should be charged, investigated, and tried if so
    indicated.

    The 2019 Florida Statutes
    Title XLVI
    CRIMES Chapter 812
    THEFT, ROBBERY, AND RELATED CRIMES View Entire Chapter

    812.0145 Theft from persons 65 years of age or older; reclassification of offenses.—
    (1) A person who is convicted of theft of more than $1,000 from a person 65 years of age or older shall be ordered by the sentencing judge to make restitution to the victim of such offense and to perform up to 500 hours of community service work. Restitution and community service work shall be in addition to any fine or sentence which may be imposed and shall not be in lieu thereof.
    (2) Whenever a person is charged with committing theft from a person 65 years of age or older, when he or she knows or has reason to believe that the victim was 65 years of age or older, the offense for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:
    (a) If the funds, assets, or property involved in the theft from a person 65 years of age or older is valued at $50,000 or more, the offender commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    There are additional statutes which describe the illegal/criminal actions of Pensacola City Officials as felonies against my husband and me.

    You can drive by 520 North Spring Street (on the corner of Spring and
    Jackson Street) and see the damage caused to my beautiful historic
    house by illegal/criminal actions on the part of City Officials and allowed
    by higher officials all the way up to the Florida Governor. I ask that
    control of my historic property be returned to me so I can return it to
    the beautiful condition it was when we previously had control of our own property.

    I have repeatedly reported that my authorized elderly woman wartime
    veteran owned business is currently illegally closed down, without due
    process, by the Pensacola City Officials, and has been illegally closed
    down for over 16 years (this time) denying me income from my legally authorized business.

    I have repeatedly reported the City Officials’ illegal actions to the
    Escambia County Sheriff, Sheriff Morgan, the State Attorney, Mr. Eddins,
    the Florida Attorneys General, and the Florida Governors. All of them
    have refused to stop the sadistic punishment and persecution which
    has greatly harmed me and my beautiful historic property downtown.

    Pensacola Code Enforcement refuses to address lifting the illegal closing
    so that I can earn an income and return to properly maintaining my
    historic property. They threaten to assess me fines every day until I can
    maintain the property but all I have are my retirement funds and I can no
    longer do as much work as I once could before the illegal closing.

    Please stop the elder abuse, harassment, and sadistic persecution
    directed at me.

    Sincerely,

    Mary Mead

  2. Tennis-Love: The “facts” tell a very different story. In October 2016, the council held a LOST IV budget workshop. I was there. So was Councilwoman Myers. The council agreed to support a new project proposed by Mayor Hayward. The project was to reconstruct the 18 hard courts at the Roger Scott Tennis Center. The projected cost in 2016 to include a supporting project related to some sidewalks was $988,000. That estimate was later increased to $1.2 million. The council first put $500,000 in the Roger Scott Tennis Center Fund to pay for the project and then the next year it put in the remaining $700,000. On August 23, the council held its Fiscal Year 2022 budget workshop. Mayor Robinson did not attend. He only showed up for a very brief moment to stand at the podium, make an announcement and leave. He was not present when Parks & Recreation Department Director Brian Cooper next gave his presentation. Cooper described his department’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2021 (that ended on September 30) and Fiscal Year 2022 (October 1 to September 30, 2022). The fourth most important FY2022 project is described exactly this way – “Rebuild Roger Scott Tennis Center hard courts.” The project balance as of June 30 – accounting for some work already done by Mott McDonald – was $927,604. I have no idea what Robinson is talking about here and I don’t imagine the council members know either. He is just making stuff up and trash talking Myers because she found out what he was trying to do and spoke out in opposition at the BCC meeting on October 21. Ironically, Robinson told the BCC that “this is a council priority.” Yes, rebuilding the 18 hard courts is a council priority and a priority of Cooper too. It was Hayward’s priority too. It has been a council priority since at least 2016 when the council first formally agreed to support Hayward’s project. Whatever Robinson is now talking about to include asking the council to spend $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan dollars and the county to do the same is not known to the council. Three elected officials live near the Roger Scott Tennis Center: Commissioner Bender (Cordova Place), Robinson (Cordova Park) and Council President Jared Moore (Cordova Park, directly across the street from the tennis courts). On October 21, Robinson said that he did not belong to the Roger Scott Tennis Center. He boasted that he belonged to the Pensacola County Club and added, “A lot of people have private [country and yacht] club memberships.” Not me. For tennis center “members” who only use the hard courts, there are different rates for city resident versus non-city resident. But the rates are the same for everyone who has an “All-Courts” membership. On October 21, Commissioner Bergosh said, “I pay the higher fee because I’m a county resident.” That is only true if his membership is only for the hard courts. If he plays on the clay courts too, his membership rate is the same as city residents.

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