Studer says O’Brien insinuations are out of line

PNJ columnist Mark O’Brien continued his passive aggressive attacks on Pensacola Pelican owner and Studer Group CEO Quint Studer. O’Brien insinuates that Studer and his wife made a sizeable donation to Snoezelen/ Westgate Sensory Center because Studer wanted to gain favor from Federal Judge Lacey Collier, who has been a bigger support of the complex that has been named in his honor.

Here is what O’Brien wrote:

And one of Collier’s best supporters is Quint Studer, who donated $200,000 to the Lacey Collier Sensory Complex at Escambia Westgate Center — and who wants the maritime park to be home to his baseball team and his business. The sensory complex is for a good cause and this is no knock on Studer, who is generous to all. Still, a resident might justifiably feel queasy to see a federal judge dropping hints about his favorite charity.

In a phone interview this afternoon, Quint Studer told me that the he and Rishy donated the money after Rishy took a tour of the facility in 2005 with builder Bill Greenhut. Neither Quint nor Rishy met with Judge Collier about the donation.

“My background is special education,” says Quint Studer, who taught in Wisconsin and Illinois public schools for 10 years. “We have a special interest in those students.”

Studer went on to say that Judge Collier got involved with the Community Maritime Park Associates Board because of his relationship with the late Vince Whibbs, Sr. He wanted to help make Whibbs dream of the waterfront park become a reality.

The Studers made the donation to the center before Judge Collier become a member of the CMPA board. The $200K donation was made Feb. 11, 2005 – less than a month after Studer, Jack Fetterman and John Cavanaugh presented the concept of the park to the Pensacola City Council.

Judge Collier wasn’t involved with the park at the time.

Judge Collier, who gave one of the eulogies at Whibbs funeral, didn’t get involved with the CMP until over a year later in the summer of 2006.