Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Ghost of Scandals Past

Today, the PNJ once again goes after Escambia County administrator George Touart's scalp. "Touart represents a 'good old boy' style of politics that is hurting the county," the newspaper editorializes. Tonight, he should "announce his retirement as administrator at the end of his current contract in April."

This is no namby-pamby 'good government' editorial. It not only deconstructs Tuart effectively, it also bares some mean-looking fangs for the county commissioners to see -- just in case they have the idea Tuart's problem isn't their problem, too:
[C]ommissioners share the blame, because Touart answers to them. And they answer to the voters. They now have a responsibility to clean this mess up, one way or another.
Coming from the PNJ, that's a rare and undisguised threat to crusade against any hold-out commissioners who don't work and vote to force Tuart's retirement.

For those who've been asleep the past month, ace reporter Michael Stewart has an accompanying summary of the facts. Here is an excerpt:
The issue erupted last week after the News Journal revealed that Touart has a contract to purchase a Panama City condominium with Neal Nash, vice president of Martine's Corp., which was about to sell the county 217 acres of property off Bauer Road for $1.4 million to be used for Perdido ball fields.

Touart failed to tell commissioners about the condominium contract before the land purchase came before the commission for a vote. He also did not reveal he once owned a $62,000 boat with Nash and that the two had vacationed together.

In addition, Touart is a partner in Global Employment Services, a Mississippi-based company that bought three lots in Nature Trail subdivision for $147,500. Nash is a partner in the Nature Trail development.
***
After questioning by the News Journal, Touart also revealed last week that he and then-Commissioner Bill Dickson and local accountant Barry Dickson invested $27,000 each to go in with a group of investors to purchase property in Biloxi.

Investors in the 2005 land purchase included local developers Cliff Mowe and the late Allen Levin.
***
The News Journal later learned that Touart's business, Global Employment Services, has been employed by Beck Disaster Recovery to provide labor for disaster cleanup in several states. Global Employment Services provides temporary and permanent staffing to companies and industries.

R.W. Beck Group Inc., which owns Beck Disaster Recovery, has been providing recycling and other services to the county since 2001.

Today's editorial sends an unmistakable message: if county commissioners don't force Tuart to quit, the newspaper will work ceaselessly to see that voters retire them, too. That could mean anything from unrelenting pressure by an aroused press to the eventual call (conveniently timed as we approach an election year) for a grand jury investigation, followed by subpoenas... indictments... trials... and even convictions.

Commissioners, take note: As Julie Hauserman wrote for the St. Pete Times, there was another Escambia County commissioner scandal
not so long ago. It, too, "started with a pair of questionable county land purchases and widened from there."

If by tomorrow Touart hasn't announced his retirement, keep a lookout for the Ghost of Scandals Past. He's sure to be paying a visit by Christmas-time. We suspect he'll look a lot like this fellow.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am still unsure of how this has actually harmed the county residents? The lines might have connected the dots but I do not see the impact on citizens. No journalist yet has tried to do that. I find it ironic that those who do not have money are angry at the people who make money. Why go after the man for being business savy? Stop wasting our time with garbage.

panicbean said...

When you represent the people, by governing those same people, then it is those same peoples' right to know if you are profiting by representing them, while representing them.

See how easy that was?

"I find it ironic that those who do not have money are angry at the people who make money. Why go after the man for being business savy? Stop wasting our time with garbage."

Hmmmm, someone must be paying their employees too little or not paying the taxes they owe us, the people. That is what I presume from your uninformed post.

But thanks for the useless insight, anyway.

panicbean

Anonymous said...

"When you represent the people, by governing those same people, then it is those same peoples' right to know if you are profiting by representing them, while representing them."

He is not profiting at the peoples' expense, he is profiting because he is smart. I still see no harm.

"But thanks for the useless insight, anyway."

My useless insight comes from being very close to three of the names being spoken of.

"Hmmmm, someone must be paying their employees too little or not paying the taxes they owe us, the people. That is what I presume from your uninformed post."

I know more about Touart's business dealings then you will every know, because I am directly involved. Keep your head in the sand, we will all benefit from it.

panicbean said...

"I know more about Touart's business dealings then you will every know, because I am directly involved. Keep your head in the sand, we will all benefit from it."

By 'benefit', did you mean 'profit'?

The question just begged to be asked, no? The fact that you 'claim' to be 'that close' to the three people involved should not/nor does it, bring me any comfort. And I would take the bet that it doesn't to the people of Escambia County, either.

I will say I do admire your ability to tote the party line of what is good for me, personally, must be good for the people of Escambia County.

Kudos to you on that one, sir/madame.