September 13, 2006
Here is why William Cobb (Stop Our City supporter) believes the Community Maritime Park passed – as per his letter posted on gulf1.com:
False Representation by William T. Cobb
I am concerned that the (Artistic?) pictures printed so many times and so boldly by the Pensacola News Journal, depicting the ballpark as about 40% of the width of the “Trillium” property, probably were not knowledgeably analyzed by any of those who voted for the “Park?”.
Having checked the site personally, I see that the ball park, PNJ-depicted as 40% of the width of the property, would take only about 300 feet, including stands and all. What would be the Homeplate-to-fence dimension of such a ballpark? Will the Ball Park take a greater slice of the property in the final design?
All of the features of the depicted “Park” would have to be designed for Midget occupancy in order to get a semblance of the ballyhooed “Vision”.
I also think it wrong for the publications, and the fanciful “mailings”, to have shown a great expanse of Beach on the east side of the property, where there is none (and probably never will be), making the property appear larger than it is.
In summary, I believe that the Public was misled by the Promotions of the CMPA, with a majority of the Councilmen supporting, and that the Citizens will eventually see a vastly different “Park” that mainly serves the “Special Interests” that raised the huge “Campaign Fund”.
I believe that the producers of the “conceptual” drawings so widely used bear some responsibility for mis-informing the Public on a matter of civic importance.
Cobb will not accept that Save Our City was the one caught misrepresenting the facts – no maritime park, giveaway to a millionaire, just a ballpark, no citizen input, $1-a-year lease.
September 8, 2006
From my morning emails:
Search as hard as I could, I still failed to find one outrageous lie from SOC.
However, I did find one with the Maritime Park Promoters.
It involved stating that the park would be paid for only by “businesses within the downtown CRA area.”
Anyone who knows beans about the C.R.A. is aware that un-incorporated area taxpayers must pay 70% of the C.R.A.’s cost as the result of a lawsuit filed by the city.
Just as a sidelight, I have a eyewitness who on election night was sitting next to Councilman Nobles in David Stafford’s office.
When the early returns began to show supporters were winning, Councilman Nobles called Quint Studer and said, “Well old buddy, … we’ve done it.”
Of course we all know there was never any impropriety between Nobles and his “old buddy” Quint Studer. Why our state’s attorney had copies of emails that read like the script of new TV show, “The Sopranos” and personally interviewed hundreds of people all within less than 24 hours and found nothing!
Amazing! Wonder if that attorney needed any help finding their way home to Gulf Breeze.
P.S. Not to worry, I’m just one of those taxpayers who has financed the Gulf Breeze Sopranos for the last forty years and I never even get to vote…… and this is what our local media terms as, “fair.”
September 6, 2006
I promise not to beat up on Save Our City, but I do think there is value in analysing what happened:
SOC came out of the petition process with considerable momentum. For nearly two months, the Community Maritime Park supporters were silent and let SOC dominate the news. Their message was a series of sound bites – baseball park, $1-a-year, giveaway to a millionaire, no citizen input.
The SOC press conference held on the steps of City Hall on the emails re-enforced the message and added an new dimension of possible backroom deals.
Then I think SOC got overconfident and got distracted by side issues – like trying to abolish CRA, fighting the expansion of the DIB and the candidacies of Sam Hall, Jerry Howard, Bill and Tom Banjanin. They were making plans for beyond the referendum vote.
Charlie and Marty should never have spoken at the Rotary Clubs and other civic groups. The more details they tried to give the more people saw through their weak arguments. The more it motivated young professionals and others to vote “Yes.”
Their yard signs “We can build a better waterfront park” hurt them badly. It pointed out that they had no plan for the waterfront. SOC wanted the voters to focus on the “WE”, but it didn’t work.
Another mistake was claiming in their mail outs that there was no maritime museum. The public believed in Adm. Fetterman and knew his widow Nancy was working hard to build the museum. CMPA had a series of press conferences announcing big donations to the museum. This hurt SOC credibility.
Also Quint Studer became more visible the last two weeks. SOC’s personal attacks on him as greedy and out for himself didn’t match the man the public saw. Though SOC tried to back off of the attacks and claim they never happened, the public remembered.
Then Marty Donovan’s public name-calling hurt, too. Calling Jeff DeWeese a weasel on BLAB and attacking Duwayne Escobedo, the Independent News and me in the WSRE debate made him out as a bully and hurt his credibility, too.
And lastly, the charges made against the Pensacola City Council by Tom Garner hurt SOC – even though Garner says he has no relationship with SOC. Donovan was heavily quoted by Garner, but in the end, the State Attorney’s office believed the other council members, not Donovan. The public say it as desperate political attack by SOC – even though they weren’t involved.
September 5, 2006
How ’bout this one for a real tear jerker…
Welcome to Studerville!
We snicker and give WHOPPER promises for your money and your property!
Won’t be a dry eye in the whole county!
P.S. My son who is 31, leaves Escambia County this week for Georgia.
Reason: He’s fed up with all the local government lying and corruption.
RO Note: This is the mentality that hold us back. Attacks on Studer. No research. Then admits his son is moving away.
September 4, 2006
The past eight days have not been very good for Stop Our City. They took hits on all fronts and saw the public pick apart their political stunts and arguments.
NEWS JOURNAL SAYS VOTE ‘YES”
The week began with the Pensacola News Journal’s editorial board endorsing the Community Maritime Park plan (PNJ takes stand .
LEAGUE NOT HAPPY, BUT WON’T SUE
The Independent News discovers that the Escambia County League of Women Voters have no plans to sue the City of Pensacola over the referendum vote (League of Women Voters won’t sue).
GULF1 CENSORS PRO PARK COMMENTS
The anti-park web site – Gulf1.com – edits a letter from Jeff Deweese (Gulf1 pops the Weasel) and demands other pro-park writers to answer questions about the Main St. Sewage Plant (Gulf1.com underfire; Gulf1.com blasted again.) I replied with Answers to Gulf1.com questions.
ELEBASH RESEARCH REVEALED AS FAULTY
CC Elebash tries to debunk Montgomery baseball success (Elebash flunks finance). He also goes after the “downtown crowd” (More faulty research). He then bashes Roger MacDonald (Elebash bashes Roger MacDonald).
WIDOWS SPEAK OUT
Nancy Fetterman and Anna Whibbs write a viewpoint in honor of their husbands and in favor of the waterfront park (Message from Nancy Fetterman and Anna Whibbs).
CITY COUNCIL UNDER ATTACK
Tom Garner (Who is Tom Garner?) accuses City Council of violating Sunshine Laws (Garner charges City Council broke law). The City Attorney responds (City attorney answers). State Attorney dismisses it (Actual copy of State Attorney’s response to Garner complaint).
Atty Bob Kerrigan pays for independent review of CMP plan and finds nothing wrong. Issues press release in favor (Kerrigan’s independent review approves park).
WSRE DEBATE ALMOST DOESN’T HAPPEN
SOC tries to back out of WSRE televised debate on the park (Is SOC backing out?; WSRE responds), but they finally agree. Charlie Fairchild drops out and is replaced by Tommy White (Who is Tommy White?). Donovan attacks Independent News, this blog and me during the debate (Marty, tell us how you really feel). He also gets caught in a lie (Marty lied).
SOC GOES ON ATTACK WITH FLYER AND LETTERS …BUT FALLS SHORT
SOC mails out new flyer focusing on the baseball park (New Stop Our City mailout). SOC leader Melanie Nichols bad-mouths Studer in PNJ Letter to the Editor (SOC Nichols). Marty’s wife, Helene, writes PNJ letter to editor charging CMP for dividing her family and the community (Marty’s wife feels SOC is the victim). Charlie Fairchild writes a viewpoint in PNJ (Fairchild viewpoint). And Jerry Howard writes one for Gulf1 (Gulf1.com: Jerry Howard says vote No ).
O’BRIEN LIKED FIRST PLAN
We uncover a column by Mark O’brien in favor of first Trillium plan (How did PNJ columnist Mark O’Brien feel about first Trillium plan?).
MARTY PLAYS FEAR CARD
Marty goes on WEAR’s In Focus and talks about gated communities (Marty talks of gated communities on WEAR).
TOP URBAN DESIGNER SPEAKS FOR PARK
Ray Gindroz writes to clarify his role in the citizen input and planning process (Gindroz weighs in on CMP debate).
MOMENTUM FOR PARK BUILDS
A pro-park rally and fish fry on the Trillium property was well attended – Pro park has fantastic day.
September 4, 2006
Pensacola City Council candidate Jerry Howard wrote a letter to Gulf1.com:
Vote NO on September 5th by Jerry Howard
As we get closer to September 5th I would urge the citizens to consider the following as they relate to the CMPA Proposal to develop the Trillium property.
1. The citizens own this valuable 30 acres of waterfront property and the city of Pensacola has already purchased and invested $10 Million in this property. We don’t have to give away our 30 acres to any developer and then give them $40 Million to develop something that the community did not have any legitimate input on.
2. Why did Quint Studer and other community leaders begin their “dream” for the current CMPA only 6 weeks after hurricane Ivan when the community at large was still reeling from damages to their homes and businesses? Shouldn’t their efforts have been to rebuild our community and what was the rush on doing anything with the Trillium land?
3. Why did the City Council and our Mayor avoid public input on this process and meet in private meetings on this project when the City Charter clearly states that the sale of any city owned property must use the Request for Proposal procedure? The city council spent 23 minutes discussing this plan at the committee of the whole in January 2005 before giving conceptual approval of this $80 Million project. How many companies in the US do you know that would approve a project of this size with only 23 minutes of discussion?
4. Why does Quint Studer claim to be doing something FOR Pensacola when in fact the current CMPA proposal/contract clearly states the Pensacola is doing a lot FOR Quint Studer by giving the CMPA $40 Million which is to be used in part to build a baseball stadium for his sub-minor league team? If Qunit Studer wants to contribute to our community, then let his group PAY fair market value for the land the PAY for the Baseball stadium.
5. The city did follow the RFP process on the 1.8 acres of city owned property at the corner of 9th Avenue South and Romana streets and received five “local” responses from “experienced developers” and recently selected the best one for that project. This will result in selling the 1.8 acres with the revenue going to the city and then development on that property that will result in thousands of dollars of ad valoreum property taxes each year “forever”. This $20 Million dollar project will provide some “affordable” housing in
downtown Pensacola. Isn’t it interesting to see what happens when the RFP process is followed? What other proposals could we have received on the 30 acres of waterfront property other than a baseball park in the middle of it all?
6. What is the best use of the 30 acres of property? I don’t know so let’s ask all 56,000 Pensacola citizens what their ideas are through a series of publicized meetings and then complie those ideas until we get a clear consensus of opinion. Then and only then should a national RFQ be issued and we can then evaluate those proposals. The City Council will be in control of this RFQ process and if they (and the citizens) are against Condos, then simply state that in the RFP.
7. A vast majority of my friends, neighbors and business associates are voting NO because of all the questions raised above. Let’s hope that the city council (with some new members after November 7th) and”get it right” on the next time. It’s really easy to follow the rules set forth in the city charter and we’ll all be very pleased with the end result after an open and honest park planning process that involves citizen input and utilitizes the RFQ process. This is what brings a community “together.”
Let’s take this baby apart:
1. Anyone reading the actual documents will tell you this is not a giveaway. Ask Atty Bob Kerrigan who paid for an independent review (Kerrigan’s independent review approves park). Who is more believable – an attorney without nothing at stake or candidate running for office?
Also we can’t let Howard, Donovan and others say the process was not legitmate. We already know how Donovan twists words (Marty attacks;WSRE debate ; Never begged) and Howard is following the Donovan playbook. The planning and input process lasted 14 months from Jan 2005 approval of the concept to March 2006 approval of the final plan. There were over 50 public meetings held – including some run by Marty Donovan’s brother’s company – The Avery Center.
Also, I dare to say that Studer has made more charitable donations to this community since Hurricane Ivan than Fairchild, Donovan and Howard combined.
2. No one said the Studer-Cavanaugh-Fetterman began “their “dream” for the current CMPA only 6 weeks after hurricane Ivan.” I personally don’t like that he insinutates that Adm. Fetterman wasn’t thinking of the community’s well being, but I’ll let that go. The Pensacola News Journal reported that Studer and Fetterman were called to a meeting with city staff for a discussion of the park as possible catalyst for revitalizing the city after the storm (Pensacola News Journal, “A city divided”, Aug. 20, 2006).
Studer had been working on a new ballpark since 2003 (Pensacola News Journal, “Pelicans’ next order of business: Deciding on a place to play in ’03”, Jan. 12, 2003; Pensacola News Journal, “Firm: Baseball can thrive in area”, April 29, 2003).
3. I love these questions. The State Attorney ruled the meetings between the council and park proponents were to avoid public input (State Attorney’s response to Garner complaint). The 23 minute process wasn’t final approval – just the concept so that the public input meetings could be held. How many U.S. companies would hold a public meeting on a concept without first meeting with the proposers?
4. I’m surprised to see Jerry Howard personally attack Quint Studer. Marty (Marty really feels), his wife Helene (SOC is the victim) and Melanie Nichols (Nichols hates Studer) say that they and SOC haven’t “demonized” anyone. Howards attitude is the same as Mayor Folmer who held back Montgomery for 22 years until Bobby Bright was elected (News Story).
5. The Ninth Ave was a sale of the land. Why do SOC want to sell the Trillium land instead of leasing it? There was an RFP process, Donovan worked hard to get other proposals – no one was interested in building the public sector, maintaining it and giving all the profits back to the City.
6. How does the Howard public process work? Do we list all 56,501 ideas for the park that every Pensacola may have and then we have a show of hands? Then we tell national developers they have to build it. Where do their profit go? To them? or the City like the CMP plan? Does SOC guarantee to support whatever proposal comes of this process – even if it’s the Fetterman-Cavanaugh-Studer proposal?
7 . Mr. Howard, are your neighbors voting no because the “facts” you’ve given them? What will be your platform if the park passes? How will you bring the community together?
September 4, 2006
Please listen to it while reading the PNJ
September 4, 2006
Stop Our City founder Charles Fairchild gives the PNJ readers his final viewpoint on the Vince Whibbs, Sr., Community Maritime Park today.Viewpoint: Baseball park, flawed process biggest objections to proposal
For the first time, he reveals where he did his research on the baseball park component of the waterfront plan….Readers Digest. Yes, that same magazine we all read when we visit our grandmothers or the dentist office.
” Taxpayers tend to agree with the concept advanced by a University of Chicago economist who said: “If you want to inject money into the economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest in a ballpark.” (August 2005 Reader’s Digest, page 48).”
Of course, the economist (Adam Sanderson) was talking about major league baseball parks that cost hundreds of millions to construct, not minor league ballparks built in downtown areas. Somehow Fairchild fails to mention that fact. Here is the actual article ( Readers Digest). And this is the problem with Fairchild, Donovan and Elebash – They did no real research – just went out and found quotes to fit their position.
Andrew Zimbalist, the Stanford professor also mentioned in the article, doesn’t like the $400-500 million ballpark and football stadiums being built. However, in a Washington Post article on the Washington Nationals’ ballpark, Zimbalist admitted that even those huge stadiums work when mixed with other development. Ours will have the state maritime museum, conference center, UWF classrooms and commercial. Again Fairchild doesn’t mention all the facts.
Let’s look at the other objections of Mr. Fairchild
Deferred amenities: I like that Fairchild says there isn’t citizen input, then attacks the plan based on the amenities that were added because of the public input. But be that as it may – we all know construction costs have gone up –the delays caused by SOC haven’t helped. We also know that you have to clean up the property, build the roads, sidewalks, street lighting, etc and the construct the main buildings first for this project to have its true economic impact. The other fact is that private sector will step up and help pay for the amenities – like Skip Hunter’s $1 million donation for the outdoor amphitheater.
I led the fundraising, planning and construction of the new St. Ann Catholic Church in Gulf Breeze. We didn’t worry about the pews, altar, stained glass windows, baptismal font because we knew that once we built the church itself parishioners would step forward and donate them. They did.
If the picnic benches are so important to SOC, then they can help raise the money after we pass the referendum. It would go a long way towards healing the city.
“Private meetings were held between Pensacola City Council members and the promoters ” The State Attorney has determined this was not illegal or improper.
“City Council conceptually approved the CMPA plan before citizens could analyze” This is normal procedure for all governmental bodies – approve concept, then get input. Without a concept, there would be nothing to discuss. SOC had 18 months from the time the first Trillium proposal was defeated until Fetterman-Cavanaugh-Studer made their proposal – They and Donovan made no proposals, held no open meetings to get citizen input. After concept was approved, SOC and Donovan could still have come up with an alternative plan – they didn’t.
“Council amended the existing Community Redevelopment Agency waterfront plan” – so?
“Ray Gindroz, was hired by Quint Studer and instructed to steer the efforts” – Everyone knew that Gindroz was hired by Studer for one set of meetings. He also had been hired by the City on two other occassion to study downtown. Leadership involves developing a basic plan and getting input to modify and improving that plan.
“The city designed the request for proposals to conform to the CMPA plan.” This objection bothers me because this is what SOC wants to do if the referendum fails. They want an rfp that restricts what will be public and sell off the rest for condos and commerical development. The City did a RFP, except they wouldn’t sell any of the land. Donovan worked hard to get WCI and others to make proposals – any proposal not just for the RFP – none would.
“City Hall altered its established referendum precedent” This is true and is why the League of Women Voters are upset with the process. However, Fairchild told the LOWV that he liked the delay because it gave the SOC more time to state their case. Also SOC could have had the referendum sooner if they had submitted the petition signatures on a weekly basis,rather than all at one time. Doing the referendum vote as part of the Sept 5th primary – saved the City $100,000.
The one thing missing for Fairchild’s viewpoint is a guarantee that if the referendum fails, that he, Donovan and SOC will support whatever plan comes out of the process that he described. There is no guarantee that he, Donovan and SOC won’t make us go through an never-ending series of referendums.
September 3, 2006
WEAR TV’s In Focus program today focused on the Vince Whibbs, Sr., Community Maritime Park. Both Marty Donovan and Quint Studer were interviewed.
Marty played the fear card – We have no guarantees this won’t become another gated community like Port Royal. Wonder how the largest contributor to Save Our City (Bill Smart –Port Royal Cocktail Party Buzz) feels about Donovan attacking his neighborhood? Has Marty asked Smart to open up the Port Royal waterfront and marina to the public? Marty then tried to gloss over the new public park being built at the end of Palafox St where the Bayfront Auditorium was – fortunately the host Dan Thomas didn’t let Marty off the hook on that one.
Then Marty talked about public input. It was Marty’s brother Tim ( Avery Center) and his company – The Avery Center that ran many of the public input sessions. Marty doesn’t want the public to know that. Is Marty saying Tim didn’t know what he was doing?
Marty didn’t do well on the show unless you’re firmly in the Stop Our City camp already.
September 3, 2006
Yes – at least, on our opinions.
Our opinion writings – Winners & Losers, Outtakes and Rants & Raves – evoke strong emotions. We take strong stands on the issues – jail brutality, domestic violence, poverty, voting rights and the future of this community. At times, we use humor, satire and parodies to make our point – similar to Will Rogers, Jon Stewart, South Park or Stephen Colbert. Those being questioned or opposed don’t like it.
After reading an opinion piece in the Independent News, there is little doubt where we stand.
In this poltically correct world, such writings invite discussion, debate and some push-back (attacks). I wouldn’t want it any other way. However, I wish the attacks were over the issues and disagreements on our editorial positions…not personal attacks on me. Saying we aren’t “Independent” or “News” is very similar to what Gov. Mike Huckabee said when he banned the Arkansas Times from his press conferences because of the editor Max Brantley’s blog. It’s very similar to how Bilbo attacked my hero Hodding Carter and his paper – Delta Democrat Times – when Carter opposed his racist agenda.
Have we demonized Marty Donovan and the SOC group? No. We have revealed the flaws in their logic and the weaknesses of their facts. We’ve questioned their motives and campaign tactics. And we’ve used humor to show how ridiculous some of their positions have been. They have a right to be mad at us – because the other media was giving them a fairly free ride. We’ve held them accountable for their actions and words –something they aren’t use to happening.
But I can’t seat quietly – whether the issue is a person being tortured with a Taser, jail death or an intentional misrepresentation of Community Maritime Park plan. You can attack me all you want on TV or radio, but you can’t silence me.