Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pensacola Jewel Thieves

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
Othello, Act III, Sc. 3
Four of five Escambia county commissioners have stolen the jewel of Pensacola's soul -- again. To be sure, that jewel has never been particularly secure. Only a few months ago, the last of another set of corrupt Escambia county officials was released from prison and placed on probation, following what was (until now) the latest in a long and sorry saga of corrupt county government in Pensacola. Now, it's plain we have a new set of thieves.

Today, Jamie Paige follows up on the bid-rigging scandal with some choice quotes. ["Bidding Process 'Ruined,' Mclaughlin Says."] On one side is county administrator Bob McLaughlin, a man of integrity whose contract was not renewed by the same commissioners who are now stealing the county's good name:
"We have an ordinance in place and it was not followed, and the perception now is that anybody could walk the halls and get something," McLaughlin said. "It just ruined the integrity of the sealed bid system. It's broken."
On the other side are the bid-riggers: Gene Valentino, Grover Robinson IV, Wilson Robertson, and Kevin White. Now that the light of day is shining on their actions, Kevin White -- to his credit -- admits he made a "mistake" in voting to re-bid the project.

But Robertson is saying nothing, Grover Robinson still offers the risible excuse that he voted to corrupt the bidding system in order to save taxpayer money, and Gene Valentino is defiantly unrepentant. Like a randy husband caught naked by his faithful wife in the embrace of a loose woman, Valentino has the gall to blame Bob McLaughlin for blowing the whistle on him!

The PNJ editorial board comes down hard -- though perhaps not hard enough -- on all of them. Adopting the stern tone of a parent speaking to an errant child, the editorial concludes:
It needs to stop here. Commissioners have already embarrassed themselves, but they can still restore some shred of the county's reputation by reversing their decision to rebid the contract, and honoring the integrity the process is supposed to guarantee.
Although we agree the decision should be reversed immediately and the county should offer the legitimate low-bidder a modicum of compensation for any added expense the commissioners have caused it to incur, we're dubious that this particular set of commissioners will ever be able to "restore" the county's reputation.

For one thing, right now the county is recruiting for a new county administrator to take McLaughlin's place. It was going to be an uphill struggle to begin with, since the 'personality' reason these commissioners offered for not renewing McLaughlin's contract was patently ridiculous from the start. Now, how deep will the county have to scratch in the barrel of candidates to find someone willing to be a toady to these good-name snatchers?

Any administrator hired by a commissioner board as bad as this one risks not only losing his professional reputation and good name, he or she could be put in jeopardy of going to jail at any time -- right alongside commissioners like the current crowd, who appear to be completely oblivious to the rule of law.

Saving taxpayer money were you, Grover Robinson? "'Tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands." But what have you done with the county's good name?


Anonymous said...

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Best regards
Darek Wish

Anonymous said...

We have some extreme prejudice in some of our commissioners. This is ludicris. Robertson owns a paint contracting company. It all boils down to how much money you have as to how far you can buy your way in.