April 19, 2014
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos fell 3-1 to the Montgomery Biscuits in the final game of the series at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. The Wahoos (7-8) drop below .500 for the first time this season. The Biscuits (9-6) have won three games in a row.
RHP Michael Lorenzen pitched 5.0 innings and gave up 2 R/1ER while giving up six hits in his shortest start of the season. For the first time this season, Lorenzen did not record a strikeout. Reliever Mikey O’Brien pitched well in relief eating up 3.0 innings for the Wahoos and gave up no runs. O’Brien gave up three hits and made a great catch on a line drive back up the middle to end the top of the eighth.
Designated hitter Yorman Rodriguez had a breakout game with four hits. Rodriguez’s four hits were the most by a Wahoo in a single game this season. Shortstop Devin Lohman had a two-out RBI in the fourth inning to cut the Biscuit lead to 2-1.
Biscuits LHP Grayson Garvin was scheduled to go just 3.0 innings and did just that giving up no runs and striking out six Wahoo batters. RHP Matt Neil made his first appearance of the season in relief of Garvin and pitched 2.2 innings giving up just 1 R/ER on four hits.
LHP Braulio Lara shut the door on the Wahoos over the final 2.1 innings of the game. Lara earned the save and gave up just one hit.
First baseman Cameron Seitzer went 0-for-4 but had a sacrifice fly in the top of the first to give the Biscuits the lead. Right fielder Joey Rickard put the Biscuits up 2-0 with a sacrifice fly in the second inning.
The Wahoos travel to Jacksonville next to take on the Suns in a five-game series. The Wahoos will send RHP Daniel Renken (0-0, 0.00) to the mound for the first game of the series on Saturday. Jacksonville will go with RHP Anthony Desclafani (2-1, 3.79).
by Joey Truncale
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos lost to the Montgomery Biscuits 3-1 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium Friday night. Photos by Michael Spooneybarger/ Pensacola Blue Wahoos) for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
April 19, 2014
A Florida Department of Transportation maintenance contractor will be performing striping operations at various locations throughout Escambia County through April 27. The slow moving operations will be performed at night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the following locations:
- State Road 4 in Century from U.S. 29 to the Escambia River Bridge
- State Road 95 (Palafox Street) from Pinestead Road to Diamond Dairy Road.
- State Road 95 (Palafox Street) from U.S. 90 eastbound to Ten Mile Road.
- I-10 east and westbound from the Florida/Alabama state line to mile marker 2.3.
- State Road 750 (Airport Boulevard) from North 9th Avenue to North 12th Avenue.
- State Road 30 (Chase Street) from Palafox Street to North Jefferson Street.
- State Road 30 (Gregory Street) from Alcaniz to Palafox Streets.
- State Road 295 (New Warrington Road).
- State Road 292 (Perdido Key Drive/Sorrento Road).
All activities are weather dependent and may be delayed or re-scheduled in the event of inclement weather. Motorists are reminded by FDOT to travel with care through the work zone and to watch for construction equipment and workers entering and exiting the roadway.
April 19, 2014
The State Attorney’s Office has cleared a complaint against Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino that contended he did not respond to a public records request in a timely manner.
The public records request was made by Douglas Underhill for emails related to the CMT show “Party Down South”. Valentino said, and provide written documentation from his company’s IT director, that a technical issue with his personal iPad may have caused a problem that led him to answer county business emails from his personal email — a violation of the county’s technology party. That, in turn, led to confusion in providing the records upon Underhill’s original request.
“The failure to provide the records at the time of the original request was inadvertent, we will take no further action regarding this matter,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille wrote in a letter to Underhill.
April 19, 2014
The Capitol fell largely silent this week, as lawmakers, lobbyists and some reporters took time to relax after the opening month and a half of the legislative session. The sniping between Gov. Rick Scott and his chief Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, continued to generate emails and tweets.
But for the most part, it was time to reflect on where the session’s major bills stand and where they could be going. Here are some top issues to watch as the final two weeks approach.
TOP PRIORITY: BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN
Outside of once-a-decade redistricting sessions, lawmakers are fond of saying they have one constitutional duty every year: passing a balanced budget. This year, with the week of Passover and Easter falling just two weeks before the end of the session, hammering out a spending plan is going to be a sprint.
That’s because House and Senate budget writers have a nine-day window to hammer out whatever differences might be left behind after leaders agree on “allocations” for different areas of the budget. There could be a few side deals (announced or not) that would take some of the big-ticket issues off the table. But the budget has to be done by sometime April 29 in order for lawmakers to wait the required 72 hours and approve the spending plan on May 2, the last day of session.
The plan is likely to settle in around $75 billion and make room for Scott’s election-year promise of $500 million in tax and fee cuts. The Legislature has already decided to cut nearly $400 million in vehicle-registration fees, and the House and Senate are now arguing over how to divvy up another $100 million or so in tax cuts, with potential breaks on everything from back-to-school supplies to cement mixers.
Leaders on both sides say the differences are small, with the Senate being more generous to higher education, while the House gives more to K-12 schools and education-construction projects. The two also differ about how much to spend on water projects and what kind of projects to fund. And there are items that account for slivers of the budget but have drawn public attention, like $13 million set aside in the Senate to allow Florida State University to start its own engineering college, independent of the program it now shares with Florida A&M University.
One thing that’s unlikely to happen: the House and Senate conference committees agreeing to find a way to draw down federal funds intended to expand Medicaid, as House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, asked them to do in a letter Thursday.
“In my view, what plainly will not be acceptable to most Floridians is the current legislative stance of ‘no thank you’ to an estimated $51 billion of available federal money over 10 years to address Florida’s health coverage crisis,” Thurston wrote. “Floridians expect and deserve that their federal tax dollars be put to work in our state.”
GOP leaders say the federal government has proven to be an unreliable partner in funding for joint programs like Medicaid, and they’ve ruled out any Medicaid expansion.
EDUCATION DEBATES: IMMIGRATION AND CHOICE
One of the most closely watched non-budget bills of the session has been a measure that would grant in-state tuition rates to some illegal immigrants (SB 1400) and potentially help the Republican Party get a toehold in the rapidly growing bloc of Hispanic voters.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has led the charge to pass the bill after the House overwhelmingly approved a similar measure (HB 851). Just before the Legislature began its break for Passover and Easter, Latvala said enough senators had signed on to give him a majority that would support the bill.
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, sent a letter Thursday to supporters reiterating that he would not vote for the bill. Gaetz had suggested he would not block the bill if it would pass the Senate.
“Though I am likely in the minority in the Legislature on this matter, I cannot support taxpayer subsidies in the form of tuition discounts for undocumented or illegal students,” Gaetz said.
The prospects for the bill took a nose-dive later Thursday, when Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, announced that he would not put the measure on the committee’s agenda. The bill was scheduled to make a final stop before that panel and then head to the floor.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is still trying to push through a bill that would expand eligibility for the state’s de facto school-voucher system. But Gaetz sounded skeptical about the measure (HB 7167).
“There is no accountability provision in the House bill, and I think I still want to be faithful to the understanding that Speaker Weatherford and I had, when we articulated our work plan, that we would try to expand school choice with accountability,” Gaetz said.
SHOTS FIRED IN CULTURE WAR: GUNS AND ABORTION
With the November elections only a few months away, Republicans are also looking for measures that will fire up socially conservative voters — such as restrictions on abortion and bills advancing Florida’s reputation as a gun-friendly state.
The main flashpoint on abortion is a measure (HB 1047) that would largely bar the procedures if doctors determine that fetuses have reached viability. The bill passed the House and is scheduled to be heard Monday by the Senate Rules Committee.
Under current law, abortions in most cases are barred during the third trimester of pregnancy. But the bills would require that physicians conduct examinations before performing abortions to determine if fetuses are viable. If viability is reached, abortions would generally not be allowed — a change that the bills’ supporters say could prevent abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy.
It’s not clear whether the Senate companion (SB 918) can pass the full Senate, where moderate Republicans sometimes team with Democrats to try to block abortion restrictions.
The culture wars could also emerge over legislation that would allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without licenses during evacuations ordered by the governor. The House version (HB 209) has passed that chamber, and a counterpart (SB 296) could soon go to the floor.
Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, said the “last thing you need to worry about is being charged with a crime because you’re taking maybe one of your most valuable possession with you” when your house is damaged, the power lines are down and communications are out.
But Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, argued against the bill by noting that part of the intent of the state’s concealed weapons licenses is so individuals are trained to carry.
“Perhaps we can help encourage people that part of hurricane preparedness is that if you feel the need the carry a weapon on your person, if there is an emergency, get a conceal carry permit,” Rodriguez said.
A PLETHORA OF OTHER ISSUES
Lawmakers will grapple with dozens of other bills as they look to get out of Tallahassee in early May and start campaigning for the November elections. The issues range from industry fights, such as hospitals battling about new trauma centers, to quirky bills, such as creating the position of state poet laureate.
But while the Capitol gets filled with political intrigue and lobbying battles at the end of each session, it’s important to remember that some legislation can have far-reaching effects.
As an example, the House and Senate are still working on bills that would address gaps in Florida’s child-protection system after revelations in The Miami Herald about the deaths of children who had previously come to the attention of the state Department of Children and Families.
And in an issue that affects state employees and other government workers, such as teachers, both chambers appear to be headed toward overhauling the state’s pension system. Broadly, the effort seeks to encourage more workers to join a 401(k)-style investment plan instead of the traditional pension system. While employee unions have objected to changes, Weatherford and other lawmakers say an overhaul is needed to ensure the long-term financial stability of the retirement system.
STORY OF THE WEEK: Internet giant Amazon.com announced it will start collecting sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians as of May 1.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Indeed, the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes.” Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority in a case regarding whether pregnancy is covered under Florida’s Civil Rights Act.
by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
April 18, 2014
The focus of “Operation Clean Sweep” was to work with the 9 1/2 Mile Road Neighborhood Watch group, residents, churches and business owners to control and prevent the damaging effects of criminal activity, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Volunteers from the U.S. Navy also worked throughout the day to clean trash and debris from alongside neighborhoods streets.
During the sweep, there were two arrests, 33 traffic citations issued, 15 code violations, seven sex crime address verifications, one car seized and three tons of trash and debris removed.
Pictured above and below: Officials and volunteers ready for a Clean Sweep operation in the Milestone area Thursday morning. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
April 18, 2014
A special Easter program was held Thursday afternoon at the Century Branch of the West Florida Library. Children had a chance to listen to a fun story, eat treats, make a craft and meet the Easter Bunny. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
April 18, 2014
Kindergarten students at Molino Park Elementary school wrapped up their school week Thursday afternoon with an Easter egg hunt. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Smith, click to enlarge.
April 18, 2014
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a state law barring discrimination based on gender also applies to pregnant women, resolving divisions in lower courts and addressing a question confronting lawmakers this session.
The 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status,” includes pregnant women although the condition is not specifically identified in the law, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-1 opinion.
“Indeed, the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes. For this reason, discrimination based on pregnancy is in fact discrimination based on sex because it is discrimination as to a natural condition unique to only one sex and that arises ‘because of [an] individual’s . . . sex,’ ” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.
The case was filed by Peguy Delva against The Continental Group, which is a property-management firm. Delva contended, in part, that the firm would not allow her to cover other workers’ shifts to earn extra money and that she was not scheduled for work after returning from maternity leave, according to court documents. A Miami-Dade County circuit court and the 3rd District Court of Appeal sided with the company. The appeals court said there was “no doubt” the Delva, a front desk manager, had a sufficient claim of discrimination but that the law did not cover pregnancy. Delva no longer works for the company.
In a dissent, Chief Justice Ricky Polston agreed with lower courts that found the “plain meaning” of the law does not address pregnancy discrimination.
“On its face, the term ’sex’ does not refer to whether one is pregnant or not pregnant even though that status is biologically confined to one gender,” Polston wrote.
Federal law contains an explicit ban on discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy,” contained in the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But, unlike state law in discrimination cases, the federal law includes caps on some legal damages that depend on the size of the businesses. State law also gives plaintiffs more time to file lawsuits.
The Florida Senate unanimously approved a bill (SB 220) that would add pregnancy to the Florida Civil Rights Act, and a House companion (HB 105) is ready for a floor vote.
Despite Thursday’s ruling, Rep. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat and sponsor of the House measure, said the Legislature still needs to act.
“I think it’s great,” Berman, a lawyer, said of the court’s decision. “I think my bill is a codification and I think that it’s just as important as ever for the Legislature to pass it and for the governor to enact it as law.”
by Dara Kim, The News Service of Florida
April 18, 2014
The Northview Chiefs wrapped up their regular season Thursday as they hosted the Washington Wildcats.
The junior varsity Chiefs defeated Washington 4-3, while the NHS varsity lost to WHS 5-0.
The varsity Chiefs finished the season at 15-5, 7-3 in the district. The district championship games being Monday in Chipley. Northview will play on Tuesday in Chipley against the Monday winner between Freeport and Holmes County.
NorthEscambia.com photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.
April 18, 2014
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (7-7) lost the game and the series to the Montgomery Biscuits (8-6) on a rainy night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. The Biscuits defeated the Wahoos 3-2 in a rain-shortened contest and have won three out of the first four games in the series. Due to the thunderstorm, the game was cut-short after eight innings.
Steve Selsky led the charge again for the Wahoos going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and two RBI. Right fielder Bryson Smith had his third multi-hit game of the season going 2-for-4 with two doubles.
RHP Michael Colla made his third start of the season and it was an impressive one. Colla pitched 7.0 innings and had a season-best eight strikeouts. Colla did give up seven hits but only walked one batter in earning the win.
The Biscuits third baseman, Richie Shaffer, scored the first run of the game on a solo home run in the 2nd inning. Shaffer went 1-for-4 on the evening with an RBI. Catcher Luke Maile went 1-for-2 with a two-RBI single in the fourth inning to give the Biscuits a 3-0 lead.
Friday is the final game of the series between the Biscuits and Wahoos. Before the game, join Marcus Pointe Baptist Church and the Blue Wahoos for Egga-Wahooza on the Community Maritime Park lawn. The free Easter Egg hunt will include 30,000 eggs and a select few will be autographed by the Blue Wahoos. Registration begins at 4 p.m. with the Egg Hunt to follow at 5 p.m. No game ticket is required. The first 2,000 fans through the gates for the game will receive a Blue Wahoos wooden egg courtesy of Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance.
RHP Michael Lorenzen (1-0, 1.32) will make his third start of the season for the Wahoos. For the Biscuits, it will be the left-hander Grayson Garvin (0-1, 1.50)
by Tommy Thrall
Pictured: The Pensacola Blue Wahoos take on the Montgomery Biscuits at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium Thursday night. Photos by Michael Spooneybarger/ Pensacola Blue Wahoos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.