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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Live blogging the Sansom trial -- Day 2

22

March

It's Tuesday, day 2 of the Ray Sansom-Jay Odom trial. Live video here. A recap of Monday here.

hansen.jpg5:08 p.m.: Court has adjourned for day.

4:42 p.m.: Skip Martin, another budget staffer, has taken stand and Meggs is asking about the note that Sansom gave Hansen.

3:40 p.m.: Florida Legislature staffer Mike Hansen, a former top budget aide to Ray Sansom, has taken the stand. (pictured). Meggs asks Hansen if he knew about a 2007 memo issued by then Speaker Marco Rubio saying member projects, or earmarks, were banned that year.

Meggs is trying to establish that there was no money and that Sansom then circumvented the process by getting money through education PECO funds. Hansen said that Sansom gave him a note telling him to fund the airport project and markings on the paper indicated it was a top priority.

On cross examination, though, Hansen conceded a central defense point: That top legislative leaders often get projects in the budget. Hansen paused and appeared uncomfortable when Dobson asked if Sansom's project violated any legislative rules.

“That’s a question that I don’t think I’m prepared to answer," Hansen said. "Not that I’m aware of but I certainly have not ..." Dobson pressed and Hansen said, "I'm not aware of any."

3:17 p.m.: Former Okaloosa County airport director Jerry Sealy takes stand.

2:24 p.m.: Dino Villani, Okaloosa County's top emergency management official, has taken stand. He said he had a lunch meeting with Jay Odom in 2005 about an airport building. "It was an airplane hangar," Villani said, adding Odom talked about additional uses at the meeting. Funding also came up.

Villani said he told Odom: “I don’t think we would be able to get a grant from the state division of emergency management for this because of its location."

Meggs asked, "Did he have any response back to that?" Villani: “He wasn't concerned about that. He said he knew how to get funding from the state, he knew people.”

Meggs: "Did he name any of those people?" Villani: "Yes. Ray Sansom, Allen Boyd, couple other legislators."

2:10 p.m.: Next witness: Ken Wolfe, Okaloosa County emergency management coordinator. Meggs displayed plans an overhead projector and asked Wolfe to identify certain items: Hangar, pilots lounge, office, service counter, he testified. The plans came from a March 2007 meeting Odom coordinated to talk about a building at the airport.

2:03 p.m.: Picking up from the discussion after lunch, Judge Lewis is reading jury instructions. He said it's not unlawful for a citizen to seek a project that has personal benefit or for a lawmaker do help him. But he said it is unlawful if a state-funded building has negligible public use, that it was "a sham, a mere pretense."

12:37 p.m.: Break for lunch until 2 p.m. Judge Terry Lewis is lightly admonishing defense attorneys for objecting to Meggs' asking witnesses if they think an EOC in Destin is a good idea but then asking similar questions themselves. Lewis initially sided with the defense that such questions are not relevant, a blow to Meggs since he has some officials who say it was a bad idea. "It applies to both sides," Dobson said.

12:27 p.m.: A juror asks a question of McDaniel. Could county EOC in Niceville serve Destin? "Yes," he replies. But he told the defense that in the even a city in the county has an EOC the county would coordinate with that facility.

mcdaniel.jpg11:50 a.m.: A new witness is on stand -- Randy McDaniel, an emergency management official in Okaloosa County. He testified that the county would not participate in the Destin EOC project and would not put EMS personnel or equipment in the facility. But the defense successfully objected when Meggs asked him if he thought there was a need for the building.

Judkins, on cross examination, got McDaniel to testify that there was concern that Destin's project could interfere with funding for the county's EOC being built on the college campus in Niceville. McDaniel, however, said he was not sure that was why he was instructed to tell Destin planners the city would not participate. The defense suggests it was political, that the county was trying to protect its "pet project."

11:14 a.m.: Steve Dobson is questioning Kisela and asked if emergency vehicles would have been stored in building, had it been constructed. Yes, he said. Now, prosecutor Willie Meggs is questioning Kisela again. He asked several times if the budget request the city forwarded to the Legislature made any mention of Odom. No, Kielsa said. But he said the request mentioned a "public-private" partnership.

Meggs asked Kisela if the city would get any benefit from the airport building unless there was a storm. "No," he replied. Kisela also said that a bridge had not washed away during his time in the city, but Dobson got him to say that that was not only concern in a storm.

10:52 a.m.: A 10 minute recess has been called.

9:20 a.m.: The defense has begun cross examining Greg Kisela, Destin city manager. So far, the defense is asking a series of question to establish that co-defendant Jay Odom had long planned a private jet business at Destin Airport and had a lease with Okaloosa County for land there -- land that Northwest Florida State College would later sublease from Odom for the $6 million building at the heart of the trial.

Odom odommug.jpgattorney Jimmy Judkins is also establishing that in 2004 and 2005 the city endured several hurricanes. Kisela said Ivan and Dennis directly affected Destin. People also came to Destin after Hurricane Katrina, Kisela said. Judkins also asked about Odom's charitable efforts to help with food and clothing distribution during Katrina. Picture: Odom.

Judkins introduced a letter from Okaloosa County public safety manager Dino Villani that said additional fuel capacity could be a good thing at the airport. It's to counter expected testimony from Villani that the airport was not a good area for an emergency operations center.

The defense has made another reference to the Community Budget Issue Request that Odom got Destin to forward to the Legislature for $6 million in funding. That request was filed by Rep. Marti Coley and Sen. Don Gaetz. But it was never funded because CBIRs were banned in 2007. Judkins contends that if it had gone through, the project would have been precisely what Odom wanted. Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs, however, says Sansom's putting $6 million in the budget for an educational purpose shows how he disguised the facility to help Odom.

Judkins asked if Kisela thought there was anything "sinister" when Odom told him that the project had been "repackaged" as an educational facility. "It’s the legislative process," Kisela replied. "I don’t really understand completely how things get funded and not funded. It’s not uncommon for things to be repackaged."

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 6:09pm]

    

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