We received this viewpoint from Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino:
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Mr. Kevin Doyle, Publisher
Mr. Richard Schneider, Editor
The Pensacola News Journal
101 E Romana St.
Pensacola, FL 32501
I write you in response to the un-authored editorial in the Pensacola News Journal of May 21, 2012. This “opinion” was off base and out of line. You call this your “opinion”?
There is no question in my mind that you, The Pensacola News Journal, have historically done what you could to minimize my hard efforts as Commissioner for over these past 5 years. You’ve done it to other officials unjustly as well. This behavior is despicable from such an important news source as you. You stifle the enthusiasm and good intentions of existing and newly-elected officials who possess that “ball of fire…” you referred to. Most elected officials attempt to make constructive change when serving their community. Most possess sincere and well-founded intentions. In my mind and others this editorial was nothing more than a personal attack, a cheap shot.
The News Journal has not accurately or fairly reported the bad behavior of other commissioners – commissioners whom I have seen personally spoon-feeding you falsehoods. Your editorial further suggests in effect that it was tragic that my contributions seem fewer these days then when I first started in 2006. Are you that blind and out-of-touch?
You characterize my recent efforts in public service a “sad decline”, asserting that my “ball of fire has slipped into the role of a bitter politician”. Shame on you! This could not be further from the truth. The fact is that I have learned to distance myself from your bad behavior and commentary so as not to stifle the successes we have accomplished county-wide (and not just on Perdido Key).
If your intention is to sell newspapers with inflammatory commentary, with less regard for the truth, then you have overwhelmingly achieved your objective.
I do not work to seek your approval or to improve your ratings. I work for the people of Escambia County. I’m so proud of our Precinct Leader meetings, our Coffee with the Commissioner meetings, and our West End Advisory Committee meetings. I’ve seen you at none of these regularly-scheduled events, publicized in your paper! This finely-tuned network of constituents saved me in my time of need. The citizens understand better than you much of the dysfunction you choose to ignore. Your selective opinions are consistent with the way bad behavior is prosecuted in this community!
If you possess the courage of your convictions, I would be happy to debate the merits and demerits of your editorial position. You pick the time and place. In the marketplace of ideas, I am confident that in a neutral forum (and not the one-sided venue presented on the pages of your paper), that my position will carry the day.
I have invited you to my morning coffee meetings (which get no attention by your newspaper), meetings under way three times a week in three separate areas of my district, for over 5 years. NEVER, have you responded to my offers to hear what the PEOPLE are saying about government waste and redundancy, consolidation, the media, economic development, future land use visioning, politicians, roads, infrastructure, et al. These meetings have been and will always be open to the public. The citizens come at 7:30 AM before work, because they have a passion to know what’s really going on in their neighborhoods and with their government.
It was their passion in 2006 that caused me to step-up and run for County Commissioner. Our substantial number of successes since then causes me to want to stay in this position for some time. It’s certainly not for the money. I am looking for continued progress in this County. Future elected officials must remain vigilant and must conduct themselves with class and dignity. A better quality of life for those who choose to reside here and stay here is the only thing that matters. So, providing the right kind of incentives for those businesses wanting to come to town with new jobs is essential. It’s difficult to entice such prospects when they ‘Google’ the PNJ before they get here and read such diatribe.
You may not like me; you may not always agree with me, but you don’t have the right to question my passion or “fire” for this job. I continue to work extremely hard as a commissioner. When I decide to leave this job, do not take from me the ONLY thing I want from this job, my integrity. I’m not bitter as you suggest, just disappointed with your glib and sometimes unsubstantiated characterizations. My bosses, the citizens, know better.
Bottom line: If you or anyone else thinks they can do a better job, then by all means step-up and run for County Commissioner. Meanwhile, I’m staying on the high road.
Gene M. Valentino