Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After protest, Gov. Rick Scott cancels Pensacola probation office move

After Gov. Rick Scott was picketed by angry protesters Thursday, his SUV departed abruptly.

After Gov. Rick Scott was picketed by angry protesters Thursday, his SUV departed abruptly.

TALLAHASSEE — A day after Gov. Rick Scott was picketed by angry Pensacola residents and refused to talk to them, he abruptly canceled a controversial plan by his prisons chief to shift a probation and parole office to a residential neighborhood.

Scott's action Friday followed a furor as he left a fundraiser Thursday at the Fish House, a popular Pensacola waterfront restaurant.

About three dozen residents of the historic North Hill neighborhood, some carrying picket signs, had gathered on a public street outside the seafood restaurant, hoping to make a direct appeal to Scott to reconsider the decision to put a probation and parole office in a former Coca-Cola plant. They said they had public safety concerns about parolees and probationers walking in an area with many single-family homes.

According to a report in the Pensacola News Journal, Scott not only did not stop to listen to the residents, but the driver of his black sport utility vehicle flashed its lights and blew its siren as his three-car caravan drove off, scaring the residents.

"Off the SUV went. We stood there, absolutely dumb-founded," said Patti Salvaggio, a protester. "Would it have been that difficult for him to roll down the window and say, 'I'll look into it'?"

The Department of Corrections said Friday that it would cancel plans to relocate to the bottling plant by April 1.

"At the direction of Gov. Scott, the Department of Corrections will maintain its lease with its current probation and parole office provider," the statement said. "We're committed to not only keeping families safe, but being good community partners. We appreciate the many discussions we had with area families on this issue. We took their input seriously."

The state did not say whether it faces legal problems for breaking a lease with a landlord. "We will be working with the real estate broker and property owner to find a solution for the North Hill location," prison spokeswoman Misty Cash said.

Scott was well aware of the neighborhood opposition, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said Friday.

The mayor said he briefed Scott by phone last week and that Scott went to City Hall on Thursday for a followup meeting.

"As soon as he knew about our concerns, he was very proactive," Hayward said of Scott. In a statement posted on the city's website, the mayor added: "We had a frank conversation about this issue and the impact such a facility could have on our neighborhoods."

Salvaggio said she appreciated Scott's intervention, but that she was still aggrieved by the state's lack of openness with residents, who learned of the project only recently. She said city officials declined to provide permitting documents for the project.

"We had no idea this was going on until three weeks ago," she said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

After protest, Gov. Rick Scott cancels Pensacola probation office move 03/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 9:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roosevelt Blvd closed at I-275 after truck hauling crane hits overpass

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A truck transporting a construction crane hit the Interstate 275 overpass at Roosevelt Boulevard Tuesday.

  2. One Pasco County student arrested for bringing weapons to school, another for threatening shooting

    Crime

    Two Pasco County students from different schools were arrested Tuesday, one for having weapons on school grounds and the other for threatening a school shooting.

  3. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier

    K12

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]