Public Safety in Pensacola is purely a fictitious concept. EMS, Fire and the Sheriff’s Office are in a tattered state of being. No one is truly safe. Between crooked deputies, the tentative fire department hierarchy and untrained and certified EMS, I pray for the citizens of my beloved hometown. It is truly sad to see such a vibrant and dynamic city (county) become equivalent to Detroit (Wayne County), Michigan or Baltimore, Maryland, cities run into the ground by its own governance.
While this sort of inward breakdown is frequently seen in international cities struggling with regime change or some sort of cataclysmic, covert act that throws the government into chaos, these few US cities have found loopholes to the checks and balances in place to prevent this type of chaos. Their steadfast manipulations have made the cities in precarious straits. It’s not just abandonment of fiduciary duties, it is abuse of staff, misdirection of actual events, and blind eyes being turned towards these behaviors by colleagues and political alliances. It has taken years for the cities to fall into this anarchy and thus it will take years to repair.
Surgically removing individuals that are the source of the bedlam, like Kwami Kilpatrick in Detroit (whose every connection within the local agency was self serving and against the interest of his constituency), is the prudent and most expedient way to handle these situations without the cities caving in. However, sometimes removing the causal or most contaminating force such as Kilpatrick, isn’t enough. Time has shown that this strategy wasn’t the most pragmatic way to handle that local corruption, especially in Detroit, because the support staff and remaining government outside the mayor’s office, had adopted a mindset that showed that there unable to proceed ethically and legitimately. To this day, Kwami is nevertheless considered a martyr in many circles, politically and otherwise. He maintains support and backers who have never seen the depravity and deterioration done and they don’t know what he did wrong. Unfortunately, it is my belief, this is the case in Escambia County.
What is the answer? I don’t know. That is for brains bigger than mine. But it is an emergency situation, where NO locals can fix the problems set in place over the last few years. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but when I started talking to people and heard about the political favors and backroom deals, I called it corruption and EVERY ONE I talked to would immediately say, “no, it’s not corruption; it’s just people doing “favors””. I would say, “so it’s corruption”, because that is the definition of corruption, going outside the laws and policies/procedures to do “favors” for personal, professional, or political gain. THAT IS CORRUPTION, even if these “favors” are seemingly, benignly done, at first.
The hiring of Janice Kilgore and Janice Gilley were opportunities missed to correct some of the persistent issues within the county. They were hired because they knew the people and issues. They can seamlessly be shifted into positions. But those things that make them good, immediate answers are the things that make them the exact wrong people for those jobs. Yes, hiring from the outside will take more time and there will be a learning period for whoever comes in but that time in choosing qualified outsiders is also an investment into anti-corruption measures for the future. Right now, the county is in the same position of scramble they historically find themselves in, just prior to or after a colossal uproar which will inevitably happen. Same cycle, different day. People who do not heed history are destined to repeat it and we are in for that one more time.
The most dangerous but most reliable way to handle the problems at hand today, is what I assume Governor DeSantis will be forced to do, purge all the constitutional officers and bring in people from the outside, with an absolute clean slate of support staff from other counties within the state. Each resignation, firing and investigation into the various essential departments will insure that DeSantis will be forced to intervene.