Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope Santa was good to you and yours. As we enjoy the food, family and fun, someone is standing the wall to keep us safe. Say a quite thanks and take time today to remember those serving our country away from home.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sipping from the Firehose!

Police, Fire, Finance, Gas, Port, Engineering, Sanitation, CRA, Neighborhoods, Airport, Parks, Maritime Park, Homeless, New Business, Old Buisiness, Issues that Never Go Away, Whew!!! They might want to install seatbelts on our council chairs this term because we are going on an "E" ticket ride to change this city...


We were briefed for 10 hours on Saturday by the leaders in each area. Thank you to all! I came away with one overriding feeling. We live in a diverse & unique community, with a committed staff working very hard to make the best use of our City funds. Some will continue to stay. Some will DROP. All love Pensacola.

Our briefing was open to the public and will be posted on the web for all to see. It was informative on every level and citizens could benefit from what was shared. Check it out.

Where do we go from here? FORWARD!

I will meet this week with a County Commissioner to discuss his vision for our economic development opportunities in the future. I have yet to be included in the Chamber's meetings on economic development, yet I look forward to learning more about their goals for 2009.


I will sit down over the holiday and digest what I have learned, plan for the future and decide where I can best serve. Committee requests have come out. I chose Neighborhood Services first, Economic and Community Development second and Finance third. Mayor-elect Wiggins decides on each committee.


Many upcoming decisions we face will be tough. Some will object. Some will support. I will listen to all sides, but always put the people of District 3 first.


FYI:Our Police Department leads the nation in many areas. We have bona fide experts in many areas such as Jimmy Donohoe and the project he is leading with autistic and alzhiemers patients. He is also working on Environmental Law Enforcement which may help with our challenges at the bluffs. PPD and the PFD are committed to our City. Hug a cop or a fireman over the holidays.

We have many opportunities and much to be proud of as Pensacolians. Current Council actions are disappointing; to see those who have lead our city for so many years appear to be scrambling to lock in their visions for the future rather than stepping aside and letting the new council take the torch. Change is hard for some.


Pensacola's best days are still to come. Over $500 millon in new development is coming in the next 24 months. Our future's so bright...we gotta wear shades!

Happy Holidays to you and yours, please write to me with any ideas, concerns or thoughts you have. I am ready to get to work for YOU.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Perfecting the Process

I have received numerous emails concerning the how and why of the recent Airport Hotel Deal.
I feel the Airport Deal was rushed through to approval without the proper analysis and relied on incomplete data.

Although I agree that we need new construction and I favor the project in concept; I am seriously concerned with how it was presented and passed. This is a disappointing situation that some on City staff have created and I believe we need to review all aspects of the RFP and negotiation process.

I spent my entire career in lending following pre-established, well defined and specific procedures and there was not an inch of room for mistakes. I was accountable to six or seven aspects of each transaction and Federal Guidelines were paramount to the process. We had to do our work exactly the same for each case or else funding was denied.

The lost documents and misinformation in this most recent transaction speak to the need for open government. Our City needs to execute it's processes with transparency and systematic precise controls. Everyone should know exactly what is happening at any stage in the process of any transaction involving our city. The Citizen's deserve fair, consistent and honest representation that is documented and available.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Winds of Change

Today the DeWeese family visited Salzbergen in Niedersachsen Germany to tour the GE Wind Energy Production facility and we visited with old friends from when we lived here in Germany. We met with former colleagues of my husband and made some new contacts along the way. By coincidence as I sat talking with a friend she introduced me to a supplier who is looking for offices in Greenville SC and Tehachapi CA. I suggested he look at Pensacola as it is the largest wind production facility in the world.

Currently the German plant is producing the GE 2.5 megawatt wind turbine being sold mostly in Europe. Our uses in the US are geared more toward the 1.5 megawatt which the Pensacola facility produces in part.

One simple visit today showed me that Pensacola is in the position to take charge of a growing market for renewable energy. Two of Pensacola's Industries of the Year were renewable energy companies, GE Wind Energy and Jupiter Composites. Our Chamber would do well to engage a European contractor or someone familiar with the renewables market to farm and grow international business in the oldest international city in America. Many in Pensacola have contacts around the world, we just need to start looking at our resources differently.

Our Port is prime for expanding it's wind energy base and exploring other renewable energy opportunities.

Who in the world do you know?? Let's get started!!

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pensacola is an International Location!

Tonight I write you from Stuttgart Germany. I want to congratulate the GCCDC and I speak for the same hopes of our world connecting one hand shake at a time.

Can anyone that reads this blog post back ANY of our sister cities???

We are a undiscovered jewel and can go a long way toward success by word of mouth...let's start sharing our successes and grow our city organically.

I will be contacting 2 companies while here in Europe to encourage them to consider Pensacola for their North American growth plans. Only through thinking differently will we achieve different results.

WE ARE PENSACOLA, each and EVERY one of us!

email from GCCDC

We Did It!

Last summer a group from Northwest Florida banded together to create the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council in the hope that the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) would include the region in the itinerary of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The local response to our efforts was overwhelmingly positive, and we are happy to report that the national response was as well. The Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council is now participating in the IVLP, making this prestigious program accessible to the citizens of Northwest Florida.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's the Process Not the Project

First, I am encouraged that in this economy developers are still positive about building at our airport.

When issues like the Hyatt Hotel at the Airport come up, often the people close to the project think that others are either against change or that they oppose the project. Many citizens just dont understand how deals come together with the City. I'm included in this group.

On some issues we hold RFP's and several people bid on their plan for the property, a selection is made and the project moves on.

On others the RFP process is minimized or even non existent and when people hear a project is up for approval many had not even known it was considered.

Finally, there is the bait and switch. The bidders on an RFP bid for a project, win the RFP and then completely change the project and try to make the City accept their changes with no further cost to them. A great example of this type of project will be before the Council next month.

In my opinion, Pensacola needs a defined process, consistently applied for every project. Projects that change should have clauses that lay out how those changes must be approved and that changes will come with costs or heaven forbid that the project be built as committed.

The perception of fairness comes from consistency in the process. Let's get this right so that outside investors are willing to do business with Pensacola.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reprinted from WEARTV.com

ESCAMBIA COUNTY - Pensacola's Bluffs along Escambia Bay could be one of the most beautiful areas in our region.But for years, the Scenic Bluffs Park has been considered a bad place for families to visit, especially after dark.Now, an incoming city council woman wants to change that.

We spent some time at the bluffs to find out what park-goers think could help turn the situation around.Bill Pearson, Reporter said, "This is the tranquility that makes up the Scenic Bluffs Park in Pensacola. For those who come to use this park, its a hidden gem they've come to love."Robert Gravley loves to exercise here at least twice a week.Robert Gravley said, "It's quiet. Its safe, I think, during the time that I use it, during the day time, morning time. I don't come out here at night time."He doesn't come here at night for the same reason carolyn bailey doesn't.She fell in love with the park when she first moved to Pensacola... But she was quickly warned not to visit here after the sun sets.Carolyn Bailey Said, "They told me it was a dangerous place to go by myself. And I needed to be careful and not come down here by myself."Those words of warning aren't just wild speculation.According to Pensacola Police... Within the past week there have been three arrests here.One for battery.... two others arrested for exposing themselves in public.Bailey said, This place has a lot of history, with people going down into the woods and getting arrested."

Cases like these is why Maren Deweese, city council women elect for district three, is making it a priority to make this park safer... And easier to get to for several nearby neighborhoods once she's sworn into office on January 12th.A specific plan for the Bluffs has not been announced... But Carolyn would like to see more lights added through out the trail.Carolyn Bailey said, I think lights would be great. We'd get a lot more people come down here.Changes that many hope can strengthen and improve the future of this park for years to come. In addition to the three arrests last week... The Bluffs have a long, sordid history.In April of last year, 11 men were arrested in an undercover sting.They were charged with exposing themselves and solicitation of sex.
Last Updated: Monday, November 17 2008, 08:27 PM

Thank you to Channel 3 for covering this story. Together with our Police Department, we CAN take it back.

What should our Port look like?

In talking with the residents of District 3, tha majority believe our port should be mixed use; non-industrial port operations and more space for the residents and business to use. We must face the following facts:

  • Successful ports today have containerized operations (we do not)

  • Successful ports today have significant state support and focus (we do not)

  • Our closest competitor (Mobile) is Alabama's only deepwater port, has a shipyard adjacent to it and is treated as a jewel.

  • Our Port has a successful niche in large product handling and transfer (blades and turbines)

  • Our Port has rail allowing rapid offload and shipment which plays to our strengths

  • Industrial asphalt and concrete may give us some revenue but at what environmental risk?

  • The proposed Halcorp lease is for $300,000 per year; hardly a game changer

  • The proposed frozen chicken lease expansion would hardly be a game changer either

  • The elimination of these 2 leases would allow approximately 10 more northern port acres to be put out for RFP, allowing for alternative uses right now, while not disrupting the ongoing operations of the port.

Our strengths in the wind industry should be expanded on and our focus needs to be in differentiation from Mobile. Our Port is a highly valued natural resource that can thrive, and it should be preserved.

I don't believe that the proposed asphalt storage area is the kind of tenant we want long term.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Firemen and Their Perspective

I had the honor of my first meeting since the election to be with our brave firemen of the City of Pensacola. Our fire department was established in 1810, that's 35 years BEFORE statehood, so we have the oldest fire department in the state of Florida.

We discussed many issues important to their department and they shared their concerns and needs for the future. Pensions, fire safety education, manpower levels and grant funds were among the most important issues we discussed.

I learned a great deal from their years of experience and it would do us well as a city to listen even closer to their needs as a fire department. They have done a wonderful job with community education as fires happen less often than in the past. The fireman's safety goes hand in hand with their ability to protect us as citizens; we need to fund their department in order to maintain safe levels of manpower so when they are responding to our fires they are able to do so safely and quickly.

I see the need to work closely with their department to get more grant money for equipment, community support and education and even fire rescue trucks. We are leaving funds on the table that could go a long way to making our community even safer and reduce the citizens cost of funding the fire department.

Our firemen do a job that puts them at risk every day and I honor their quiet courage and look forward to working with them to maintain a safe and efficient fire department for the citizens of Pensacola.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Issues We Must Tackle

For any not in District 3, my positions on issues that are essential to making Pensacola and District 3 thrive include:


  • Term Limits - 2, four year terms. Under the present scenario, incumbents start running for re-election after the first year and nothing happens in the second year but studies and conceptual approvals.

  • Strong Mayor - I believe strong mayor is essential to our success as a city. It appears CRC agrees and is taking steps to change our form of government. I hope to support their recommendations.

  • Consolidation - Taking baby steps where we can such as permitting and back office operations under a shared services environment.

  • Budget Management - When our 2009 budget was passed, gas prices were at $3-4 per gallon. We have to freeze items which should be reviewed and cut where times have changed.

  • Scenic Bluffs Park - We need to make this park safer, more accessible and user friendly.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you. For my neighbors in District 3, please let me know what you think about these and other issues. Only through discussion can the best solutions be discovered.


Thanks,


Maren

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Welcome to the Pensacola District 3 Blogspot!

We Win! We Win!

What an amazing journey this past 3 months has been. We walked our neighborhoods, knocked on doors, and we asked in simple terms for our neighbors to trust me with Pensacola's future. I have been given a gift by the people of District 3 and I am ready to get to work on making Pensacola the thriving and vibrant place we all know it can be.

Only in stepping out and standing up for what you believe in can true change really happen. This race was what appeared to be the impossible task, yet with hard work, and a true plan for change, we spoke to the tough issues that face our city and our neighbors heard us loud and clear.

Thanks to everyone on our team for all of your hard work and support. Thanks for walking with me and getting the word out. Thanks for supporting our family over the past 3 months. Thanks for being our true friends. Thanks for believing in our dream. Thanks for being a part of making Pensacola a great place to live. Here's to the best we can be!!! It is time for me to get to Work now. I am in awe of the job I have been given, what an honor!!!

We did it together,we all WIN.

Thanks, Maren