Downtown housing

April 24, 2005

There is a plethora of condo projects on the drawing board for Downtown Pensacola. Most will start at $300,000+.

Housing downtown is good for downtown businesses. Studies show that a downtown resident will spend three quarters of their disposable income in downtown area businesses.

The bad news is the housing is not affordable for most 20 & 30 somethings.

We need town homes in the $100K range. Apartments that are affordable.

When that happens, we will truly have a Downtown resurgence.

Last night’s party for the Matt Martin Fund was a tremendous success. Paradise Bar & Grill was overwhelmed by the crowd…which is now becoming a regular a occurance at IN events. At one point the bar was so packed that even owner Fred Simmons couldn’t get a drink.

MY 107 did a live remote. Special thanks to Kit Carson for coming over and sharing a few Coronas.

IN staffer Kate Sutley put together a great list of prizes. The raffle did very well.

I definitely believe in parties with a purpose. The next big bash is our first ever “Last Thursday” Party at the Gutter Lounge om April 28. We toast the 80’s and will again have a great time.

Who was the leak?

April 22, 2005

Yesterday’s PNJ story on Port of Pensacola director Chuck Porter and his shakedown of city employees and Port leasees for personal loans has got us wondering how the Gannett-owned hurricane rag got the news tip.

Who ratted how Porter? The PNJ hasn’t done a investigative piece like this in over a year. The daily hardly ever writes a negative piece on the Port or the City of Pensacola.

So who threw Porter – who is set to retire in the fall – under the bus?

The members of the Downtown Crowd do not like the Port – something on which I agree with them. Could it be that one of them leaked the story to Editor Randy “Hurricane” Hammer over drinks at the Fish House?

Good investigative news is always about who has the best inside sources – whether the story is about Tasers, polluted water wells or unethical behavior by a city official.

I am envious that the PNJ got this one…but I can’t help but wonder about the hows and whys. The daily manages its coverage so carefully and wants so badly to be liked by the community that it rarely goes after the status quo…..that is unless it wins favor (drinks?) for the paper’s management.

With Escambia County working on its new mega-complex on Palafox Street, this could be a great time to look at consolidating some City of Pensacola and Escambia County departments.

It’s ridiculous the City has nearly as many employees as the County. Do we need seperate inspection, engineering and planning departments? Why not combine the legal departments? Roads departments? Law enforcement?

I’m sure there are many more department combinations that make sense. Our local government is our top non-healthcare employer in the City of Pensacola. That doesn’t bode well for our economy.

We find ourselves feeding the City bureacracy rather than being creative. This is why we still have a Port and why the City Council was so reluctant to even consider selling City Hall.

Currently, ideas are created in a vacuum and public input is restricted.

Let’s downside city government – every other small business has had to do so since Ivan. Consolidation would let us do so without sacrificing service levels.

Is the SRIA serious?

April 19, 2005

I can’t believe the Santa Rosa Island Authority still plans to have the July 4th weekend Blue Angel Airshow.

Pensacola Beach is a wasteland that will take years to be rebuilt.

The road to Navarre Beach is closed and will not be opened for the show. The 100,000 fans who want to see the Blues will be funneled through Gulf Breeze across the Bob Sikes Bridge and past the toll gates.

When they get on the beach, where will they park? The only places open are the Boardwalk and Casino Beach parking lots – which are crowded on normal weekends.

In the past, locals rented condos and hotel rooms and spent the Friday night on the beach. Friends had places to gather all up and down the beach. This year there are few rooms available.

This has disaster written all over it.

I love the Blues, but the SRIA has got to come to its senses before someone gets hurt trying to watch the air show.

My favorite Gannett columnist – Mark O’Brien – missed the point on the Santa Rosa County Wet/Dry issue.

Santa Rosa County is severely hampered by being a “dry” county…just look at the sales tax collections, or more accurately the lack of collections, in comparison to Escambia and Okaloosa Counties.

There is no evidence that being “Wet” leads to more DUI’s or crime. In fact, a few years ago Santa Rosa had more DUI arrests than Escambia.

Santa Rosa County deserves fine restaurants that can serve liquor. I’m sorry adding a Zaxby’s or Ruby Tuesdays doesn’t qualify — well maybe in East Milton.

Isn’t it time our daily newspaper start thinking progessively and looking out for something more than its own profits and future awards?

Rumors abound about International Paper and Solutia closing.

IP has already shut down one paper mill. The company can produce its products overseas with cheaper labor (yes, there are places with lower wages than P’cola) and without the gov’t regulations. Watch for layoffs and for IP to drag out its plans to upgrade the plant to help clean-up Perdido Bay.

Solutia is in bankruptcy. It has already screwed over its Monsanto retirees. Quietly it has laid off workers since 2001. No one really knows what is happening on Chemstrand road. The current employees are afraid to talk. Just as with IP – Solutia can produce its products overseas much cheaper.

There was a time when the local heads of these operations were very visible; leaders of the Chamber; and active in community causes. Now they are invisible. Can you even name who they are?

I predict in three years both operations will either be sold or closed down completely. Are the Escambia County Commission and the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce prepared?

Rarely has an article generated the controversy that “SWF” (4/7/05 cover story) has.

Many 20-somethings loved it. Seeing it as a true depiction of what they face.

We’ve had 30’s and 40’s asked to be interviewed for similar pieces – because they feel few understand their plight.

Others have not been so kind (not that I worry about the negatives). I have been called racist – not interviewing minorities; sexist – only interviewing females; and perverted – only interviewing women my daughter’s age.

Why is it so easy to attack the writer? Maybe no one wants to hear the message. The words are the words of the interviewees. They are real people who shared their honest feelings.

Jobs, housing, limited social & entertainment opportunities are a real issues. People need to quit looking for hidden agendas and listen.

We should be able to share ideas without obloquy.

Opportunity lost!!!

April 15, 2005

The Pensacola City Council caved into the city staff and refused to look at selling City Hall.

One councilperson called me this morning to say he would have voted to look at the selling the building – but he felt sorry that the staff had to work in such cramped quarters. Heck some of them have to endure desks being three feet apart!!!

Most of us lost nice offices due to Ivan. We all are making sacrifices – Why can’t the well-paid city bureaucrats do so?

Is Pensacola city government run for the employees or its citizens? You only have to look at the Port to get the answer.

SELL IT!!!!

April 14, 2005

We need to sell Pensacola City Hall. Open it up to all bidders and make them include finding a new site for the city bureaucracy.

This is a golden opportunity to continue the revitalization of Downtown. Leadership is not for the timid. There could be no better compliment to the Community Maritime Park.

Where do we build a new city hall? Look at the corner of Barrancas Ave & Main St. The Pensacola Appliance is available. It abuts the cresote plot that the City already owns.

Can you imagine a better way to expand Pensacola and revitalize its western side? Barrancas, Government, West Garden St. would all benefit. The minorities would have their government closer to their neighborhoods.

This is a no-brainer!!!