questionYesterday, United Way of Escambia County held a meeting in conjunction with Florida Dept. of Health and Partnership for a Healthy Community – labeled “Escambia Community Collaborative 2006”.

Some of those in attendance: Blaise Adams, Evon Emerson, Dr. John Cavanaugh, Dr. Tom Delano, Kevin Doyle, Flack Logan, Michael Duncan, Honor Bell, Dr. Rick Harper,  Steve Deneke, Rhette Anderson, Dr. John Lanza, Francis Dunham and representatives of Legal  Services, Council of Aging,  Dept. of Children & Families, United Celebral Palsy, DEP, Children Home Services, Catholic Social Services, Catholic Charities, Escambia Coalition on Housing, Lakeview Center, Families First and Better Save Our City.

No elected officials – no Escambia County Commissioners, No one from County Administration, no Pensacola City Councilmen and no one from Stop Our City.

Objectives: Define a vision for a strong, healthy Escambia County; community-wide focus to improve priority issues; develop strategies and target resources to combat problems.

Heated moment: PNJ Publisher Kevin Doyle pushed for the group to list six main issues. One participant chimed in what happens if we do a survey, but public doesn’t want to pay for the solution?

My response: “We lead! We say it’s no longer acceptable to be the poorest or second poorest county in the state of Florida.”

At Chamber Pres. Evon Emerson’s request – the group identified these issues:

Education, Affordable Housing, Poverty, Healthcare, Living Wage, Environment, County-wide Public Transportation.

There are more meetings ahead,but this was a good start.

trafficTampa Mayor Pam Iorio is proposing a downtown bus system, called downtown circulators, to move people from home to work or to dinner and a movie. She wants the buses in place by 2010.

The Tampa area Metropolitan Planning Organization is footing the bill for the research of circulators at the request of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Pensacola’s mayor, our regional transportation authority, ECAT and the DIB need to follow Tampa’s example.

The price of gas isn’t getting any cheaper.