Feedback on the Port

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ahead of City Council's goal setting session tomorrow, I received the following feedback from my constituent C. C. Elebash regarding the future of the Port of Pensacola:


Goal Setting Session

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

City Council will hold a "goal setting session" with consultant Dr. Bob Lee this coming Tuesday, June 30. In preparation for the session, I was asked to submit my top five goals. They are listed below, in no particular order:

  • Green Community
    • Encouraging green buildings. Our city leading by example with all future buildings at least silver LEEDS certified.
    • Improving recycling efforts by recycling glass
    • Protecting our natural resources and environment
    • Adding beautification to our city's gateways. Beautifying our city. Planting more trees.
  • Increase Effort for Economic Development
    • Attracting the creative class to our community and keeping them here. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
  • Making Port profitable and mixed uses for our Port
  • Attracting Southwest Airlines to Pensacola
  • Adding More Mixed Residential Homes
    • Especially affordable housing
    • Increasing our city's population which should include annexation

What do you think the City's goals should be? I encourage my constituents to contact me with their input at


CFO Sink: "Save trees, rediscover your local library"

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink sent me a copy of her latest newsletter in which she encourages Floridians to rediscover their local libraries:

Summer is a great time for families to re-discover the local library. Library books are free, minimize resources since many people share one copy of a book, and are also a great resource for educating children about conservation, energy, and other important values. Why not make a family field trip to your local library, and check out some books by your favorite authors, or on subjects that will provide new ideas and inspirations?

Pensacola has a great library system. You can visit the Main Branch at 200 West Gregory Street, the Westside Branch at 1580 West Cervantes Street, or the Tryon Branch at 5740 North 9th Avenue on the PJC campus. There are also branches in southwest Escambia County and Century. For more information, see


Coastkeeper planting day at Dead Man's Island

Monday, June 8, 2009

Please see the below message from Elizabeth Williams of Emerald Coastkeeper. If you can, please come out to help us in our continuing efforts to protect and maintain our natural resources.

On Sunday, June 14th, from 9 am to 1 pm, Emerald Coastkeeper will be planting seagrasses on the historic Dead Man's Island. We will meet at the Wayside Boat Ramp. If you are coming from Pensacola, go over the 3 Mile Bridge and as soon as you get off the bridge and into Gulf Breeze, we will be at that parking lot directly on your right.

It is an easy 15 minute kayak trip to the island, and there will also be volunteers with boats to shuttle those without kayaks.

Come for as long or as short as you like- this is fun for the whole family! Children ages 8 and up are welcome with an adult.

Bring yourself some water, sunscreen and a snack.

For more information about Dead Man's Island, visit their website:

If you have any questions, please give me a call! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Elizabeth McWilliams
Director of Development
Emerald Coastkeeper
o: 850-429-8422
c: 850-221-9205


Salary shuts people out

Monday, June 1, 2009

Perhaps the biggest impact of the current Council member salary of $13,998 is that it results in a system that is really not open to the entire public. It closes off the system to many potential participants, particularly our young people. Emerging leaders who have an interest in serving in city government are likely shut out due to the low salary, because it would difficult to support yourself on such a salary, much less a family. Because Council service takes up so much time, and has the schedule that it does, it isn't really feasible in most cases to work another job.

I am fortunate enough to own my own business, and thereby can set my own hours and devote a significant portion of my time to Council service. Most other Council members are retired or have a spouse earning enough money to support their families — people who can afford to work a full-time job while earning a part-time salary.

I am confident that if Council member salaries are included in the forthcoming employee compensation study, we will discover that our Council members' compensation is significantly lower than cities of comparable size and character. I encourage citizens to consider whether or not we want to continue to support a system that is, again, not open to the entire public — and as always, I welcome your comments, which you can send to me via email at


Council member compensation

At the City Council meeting this past Thursday, I was disappointed when a citizen critcized the compensation which City Council members receive for their service.

Pensacola City Council members receive a salary of $13,998/year for what is for me a full-time job. I didn't run for City Council for the money, I ran because I had a desire to work to better my community. City Council has become my life. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about Council issues. Other than the various meeting I must attend, I spend a lot of time researching various issues, responding to constituents, and representing the City of Pensacola at various events. It is very much a full-time job.

In constrast, Escambia County Commissioners receive a yearly salary of $73,819, plus the use of an office and assistants, for performing many of the same duties for the county government. Escambia County School Board members receive a yearly salary for $35,938. ECUA Board members receive a yearly salary of $32,477.

Please see the below email from city resident and firefighter Larry Porto concerning the comments made at last Thursday's meeting:

From: Lawrence Porto
Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 11:49 AM
To: Al Coby; City Council
Subject: Benifits study

At Thursday nights Council meeting I was offended by the browbeating the Council had to endure from members of the Public concerning the compensation Council receives for the long hours of research, unending phone calls, tedious meetings and difficult decisions that go with your position. To accuse you of being over compensated is unfair and inaccurate, but I realize there are probably many others out there that hold that opinion.
I am in my 30th year with the Fire Department, and in that time I can remember only one pay increase for Council, and that was from 12 thousand to 14 thousand a year and happened several years ago. And compairing Councils compensation to that of the Escambia County Commissioners for virtually the same job is reveling. With the idea of dispelling that misguided Public opinion, I will ask Mary Ann Stalcup to include Councils compensation in the Benefit Study that was approved at Thursday's meeting. I am confident it will show Council is not over compensated.

Sincerly yours in Public service,
Larry Porto


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