Stand down, fumbles and Act II this week

Last week was one of those rare weeks when news seemed to come from every direction.

We had Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, the first African-American female to ever hold that position, resign hours before Attorney General Pam Bondi and other law enforcement agencies announced nearly 60 arrests across six states for an illegal gambling operation ran out of Internet cafes tied to Carroll’s former client, Allied Veterans of the World. Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino wants to be considered as a replacement, I’m serious.

Speaking of Valentino, he lost his cool at last Thursday’s commission meeting. When fellow Commissioner Grover Robinson refused to stop speaking, Valentino stood and shouted, “Stand down, commissioner.”

But that video moment wasn’t the best of the week for local government. You have to watch City Attorney Jim Messer fumble through city council questions about the proposed lease for YMCA for parcel 8 at the Community Maritime Park. Apparently the lease magically appeared on his desk and Messer had no idea where it came from…although he eventually said probably from City Administrator Bill Reynolds. Sitting next to Messer was at least one person who knew how the lease came to be and he kept his mouth shut—Mayor Ashton Hayward. So much for transparency and public trust.

This leaves us with ACT II of the Maritime Y debate. The city council has approved the new Y being built on parcel 8 on Pensacola Bay and has instructed the CMPA to work out the lease. The CMPA Board of Trustees meets on Wednesday, but unexpectedly the CMPA Operations & Audit Committee has injected itself into the discussion and has the lease on its agenda for today. Hmmmm, could be interesting.