The Buzz 1/19/23 – Inweekly
Bar Grant Applications The Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association, is accepting grant applications for 2023. Grants are awarded to organizations that successfully demonstrate how a proposed program aligns with one or more of the tenets of the mission of the Foundation, which are to foster greater access to the judicial system, improvements to the overall quality of the administration of justice, law-related education and increased public awareness of the judicial system, and improved management and operation of the court system.
“The foundation is committed to supporting the community while furthering our mission,” said Foundation President Shekka Drayton. “We encourage all organizations whose initiatives align with our mission to apply.”
Grants awards are typically in the $500-$1,500 range. Recent grant recipients include Santa Rosa Teen Court, Pensacola Kappa Charity Foundation, Pine Forest High School and Magic 106.1 Black History Month radio vignettes, Legal Services of North Florida’s Jazz for Justice, the State High School Mock Trial Competition and the Local First Judicial Circuit Mock Trial Winning Team. For more information on the Foundation and to download an application form, visit esrba.com/bar-foundation.
Sacred Confusion The movie “Sacred” may appear on the Peacock network—the key word being “may.” A mini-series based on the film is even more tenuous.
The problem is “Sacred” creator Elrico Tunstall and his team repeatedly presented that they have a deal with Peacock.
On WCOA’s morning show in late December, Tunstall said, “The story is after 11 long, hard years going through so many trials and tribulations and so many no’s, we finally received a yes. We talked to the execs over at one of the leading distribution networks in the entire country, and that’s Peacock.”
He added, “Peacock came in and, and man, we are glad to say officially Pensacola, Fla., will be shown to the world, streaming to the world through Peacock.”
On Saturday, Jan. 7, over a thousand people showed up for auditions for a six-part series based on the movie they believed would be on Peacock. After receiving complaints from other local filmmakers, WEAR-TV contacted NBC and Peacock, and neither had any knowledge of “Sacred” being on the Peacock schedule.
Tunstall and his attorney, Chris Crawford, appeared live on WCOA’s “Real News with Rick Outzen” to answer questions about the future of “Sacred.” Tunstall’s production company has an agreement with a distributor who is “their best to place it with Peacock,” according to Crawford.
“Peacock has taken an interest in African American-produced movies, and we believe with 100% certainty that the movie will be on Peacock,” said the attorney. “Can I sit here today and give you the date certain? I can’t. That’s up to Peacock. But from everything we’ve heard, the movie will be on Peacock.”
What about the mini-series? Crawford said, “The production company (Tunstall) made a business decision to take the plot from the movie and make a series with the hope that that will also be on Peacock. The distributor that we have for the movie is the same one that we have for the series, and they are in discussion with Peacock.”
The attorney showed the agreement to Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen but would not disclose the company’s name due to a non-disclosure agreement. Crawford said he spoke to the distributor and was told they didn’t want to deal with calls from the media.
When asked if he felt like he jumped the gun in mentioning Peacock so early, Tunstall replied, “Well, no, not really because the deal with the movie being on Peacock is done. That is in place. It’s just the fact that it takes 90 days to actually be streamed on a platform, and I really feel like that is the problem that we’re running into.”
Crawford pushed back against allegations that those attending the Jan. 7 auditions were defrauded.
“Well, anybody who has ever been to an open casting before thinks that they’re going to be on HBO, NBC or ABC before they ever got cast. That’s like me going to Tom Thumb with a $25 million lottery, not winning and saying, ‘Well, I thought I was going to get it. What do you mean?’ It was nonsensical for me to think that people are defrauded because there’s no guaranteed deal with Peacock for the series.”
So what is the distributor’s commitment to the series? Crawford said, “The deal with the distributor for the series is what they call a shop-around deal. So how it works is some distributor who takes a liking to the story will sign an agreement where they have the exclusive right to do different things, to either sell it, to produce it, to market it, to do all these things. Sometimes they get paid upfront; the majority of the time, they get paid once it is sold to somebody else from the royalties at a certain percentage. That’s what we have here. It’s a contingency contract for the distributor to land the project with somebody.”
He continued, “And the distributor, to be very honest, I would say specializes in African American-produced content. They have relationships with Peacock that has taken an interest in African American content … That’s why we feel very hopeful that the series would be on Peacock, but they also have a relationship with Pluto, Prime, Breezy with many other streaming content providers.”
When pressed for more specifics, Crawford added, “It’s a two-year shop-around deal for the series. The distributor has two years to land the series with a streaming service, and then they are to get paid. They are working with Peacock, but they don’t have anything to fully sell yet. The movie had a sizzle trailer that you can see on the website, and that’s one of the things that helped land the movie deal with Peacock. So we need to produce the content before we can get a final answer.”
A National Treasure Passes Pearl Harbor survivor Frank Emond of Cantonment passed away at age 104 last week.
Last May, he broke his own Guinness World Record as “World’s Oldest Conductor” when he led the Pensacola Civic Band in the seventh-annual Pensacola Memorial Day Concert at the Community Maritime Park amphitheater.
Retired Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad, the president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, discussed Emond with Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen on WCOA’s morning show.
“Frank was a World War II survivor. He was a musician who happened to be up on deck on board the USS Pennsylvania on Dec. 7th,” shared Cozad. “He played the French horn, but you know, that day he fought fires. He carried the dead, did first aid and helped his shipmates. The guy was just treasure.”
Before Emond died, Cozad visited him in the hospital. “He was not very lucid. I whispered in his ear, ‘Frank, you gotta eat. You gotta get stronger because we need you there for the Glenn Miller Orchestra.’ And I’ll be darn. The next time I went in, he was awake, recognized me, and we talked.”
He continued, “I’ll tell you the thing that will stay with me forever is when I got ready to leave, I went over and patted him on his shoulder and said, ‘Hey, Frank, everybody loves you. We love you. We love what you stand for, and we’re praying for you.’ And, you know, he was pretty weak, but he stuck his hand out and shook my hand. I’ll never forget that. We truly lost an American treasure.”
Miraflores Burial Grounds As a result of research following the discovery of human remains at Miraflores Park in June 2021, the city of Pensacola will be conducting a burial ground study of the park’s grounds to assess, interpret and commemorate the site.
“These were people. They were part of a community. These people could be ancestors of current Pensacolians,” Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves said at this presser on Jan. 10.
The bones were discovered in the crawl space of the Boy Scout building by scouts who were cleaning the area. With assistance from the University of West Florida’s Anthropology Department, local authorities determined that the remains were likely disturbed during the construction of the building in 1934.
Since the discovery, the Florida Department of State has determined that the remains were likely interred in a historic African American cemetery within the park’s modern boundaries and that the site falls under the city’s jurisdiction. Historical documents show the park was a burial ground during the 1880s when it was known as Havana Square, according to Adrian Walker, the city’s newly hired cultural affairs/resources coordinator.
The city will be careful in how it studies the site. Walker said, “It is important that we do not disturb the ground any further at Miraflores Park and that we respect the final resting place of these historic community members.”
The plans are to conduct a Ground Penetrating Radar, or GPR, survey of the property. Beyond tree roots, there should be little to prohibit such a non-invasive, subterranean search for further burials. Walker said, “Fortunately, Miraflores Park is relatively undeveloped, other than the Boy Scout building and modern amenities, so we are hopeful that the GPR survey will provide favorable results.”
If further burials are discovered during the GPR process, the city would then move to denote the sites in some way. The skeletal remains found in the crawlspace represent two individuals. According to research conducted by UWF bioanthropologist Katie Miller Wolf, one individual was female, between the age of 35 and 44, while the other was male, between the age of 40 and 47. It is not known when the individuals were buried.
“The skeletal analysis consisted of over 100 co-mingled, or mixed-up, skeletal fragments,” explained Walker. “This type of analysis is lengthy, and it requires the utmost care, attention to detail and respect as we look at each skeletal fragment individually.”
In addition to revealing the gender and age range of these individuals, the skeletal analysis also revealed something else—ancestral clues.
“Ancestry is difficult to determine, with partial skeletal remains,” said Mayor Reeves, “but features of the female individual suggest there are traits that align with the various known populations in historic Pensacola, such as African, Creole and European.”
“During the historic period, Pensacola was very diverse and composed of a multi-cultural community that is not always easily defined,” said Walker. “In Pensacola, Creole typically refers to an individual of African descent and European descent, that being usually Spanish or French.”
Having a cemetery like the one that once graced this site disappear is relatively common. Walker said, “This goes back to how history has played out. Those people were marginalized during the historic period and then eventually somebody comes through and wants to build a building, or they want to clean up a park, and so they do, and then it gets lost with time.”
The city’s cultural affairs coordinator said that Pensacola is actually fortunate in this instance, as burial grounds such as this are often discovered on long-developed property. Since the 1880s, Miraflores has been largely left alone. Walker said, “There’s a whole preservation aspect we have that other communities don’t have.”
“To put it frankly, there’s something we can do about learning more, where in some instances, you know, that is not always the case,” Mayor Reeves said. “You may know it’s there but can’t do much about it. But since it’s a city park, a relatively undeveloped city park, there’s something we can do.”
To that end, Reeves said, the city is forming a community advisory group tasked with gathering public input on how best to interpret and commemorate the former burial grounds and the eventual reinterment of the two individuals discovered beneath the Boy Scout building. The mayor said he didn’t know if this discovery of a former burial ground would merit potentially shifting the property’s use from a park to a commemoration site.
“It’s too early to say; we’ve got to see and evaluate what we’ve got,” Reeves said.
More information regarding the former burial ground at Miraflores Park will hopefully be learned during the community advisory group process, Walker said. The city archeologist is hopeful that some community members might have information on the site stemming from stories passed down through the generations.
“That’s where even social memory can play a big part,” Walker said. “We may be able to gain a lot from the community if there’s any social memory of that space that didn’t get written down because it was about a marginalized community.”
Mayor Reeves plans to convene this community advisory group soon. The city has also launched a webpage dedicated to this topic, cityofpensacola.com/miraflores.
Havana Square Notes Inweekly spent time reviewing newspaper archives and found a report from City Engineer Galt Chipley to the city board of commissioners that was published in The Pensacolian on Aug. 13, 1887. Chipley wrote, “I find all the city squares and Bayview Park free of trespass except Malaga Square, occupied by a schoolhouse, and Havana Square, which is being used as a negro graveyard.”
He recommended, “If Pensacola grows, as we expect, this square will be the most beautiful in the city. It is situated on rising ground and at such an elevation that a fine view of both bayou and bay can be had. I would suggest that further interment should be stopped, and all those already buried should be removed.”
The newspaper made no mention of whether the bodies buried at the cemetery were ever removed. We know of two that were not.
The Boy Scout building in the park was named the Elebash Boy and Girl Scout Center in 1952 to honor the late Eugene Elebash—an initiative by the Kiwanis Club. Eugene Elebash Sr. founded Elebash Jewelry Co. with his brother LeGrand when they bought a watchmaker and jewelry business in 1919 from Peter Lindenstruth.
Havana Square was renamed Miraflores Park on June 12, 1965, to honor Pensacola’s sister city, Miraflores, Peru. A bust of Peruvian poet Ricardo Palma was placed in the park.
Supporting Schools Navy Federal Credit Union hosted over 120 Escambia County district administrators and principals from more than 60 schools to share how Navy Federal team members support students and education. Nearly 4,000 Navy Federal employees participate in the credit union’s School Partnership Program, which offers a variety of ways for employees to volunteer at local schools.
“We are grateful for that friendship and support provided by Navy Federal,” said Escambia County Superintendent Dr. Timothy A. Smith. “The heart and generosity they provide to us is a difference-maker.”
Navy Federal’s School Partnerships Programs in the Pensacola Area include field trips to its Pensacola campus, Life Skills Toolkits and volunteers for Pen Pals and Book Clubs. Other Navy Federal volunteer partnerships include the “School to Work” program through Big Brothers Big Sisters and the “Ready Kids” reading program.
“It’s amazing to know that Navy Federal is there to support our students and families,” said Ferry Pass Elementary School principal Catrena Fieg. “As a principal, it’s great to know there is a resource to help guide our students that shows that our community cares.”
“It was wonderful to have our partners back on campus,” said Jennifer McFarren, Navy Federal’s Corporate Social Responsibility manager. “We’re excited to share how our volunteers can make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of our future community leaders.”
Educators can email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the program or learn more.
Investing in the City Last week, Mayor D.C. Reeves announced plans to allocate funding from the city’s budget to make significant investments in three vital areas—public safety, strategic planning, and parks and facilities maintenance. The funding allocation aligns with Mayor Reeves’ commitment to ensuring public safety for all city residents, along with his vision for creating a cohesive strategic plan to help ensure the City of Pensacola’s success in the future.
“These really are the anchor priorities for me,” Reeves said at his Jan. 10 press conference.
According to City Finance Director Amy Lovoy, the investments that Mayor Reeves will recommend to the Pensacola City Council represent about 3 or 4 million dollars. He will be drawing from carry-forward funds stemming from the city’s general fund, where there is about $5 million available, and from Local Option Sales Tax, or LOST, carry-forward funds, where there is another $2.8 million available.
The largest recommended investment is the construction of a new pool house at Roger Scott at the cost of $1.2 million. The pool currently subsists on port-a-potties. The mayor plans to use $600,000 from the carry-forward funds toward new bathrooms. “A city pool, almost morally, being run without an operable bathroom is not something I’m interested in.”
As he told Inweekly earlier this month, Reeves prefers to upkeep existing facilities instead of developing new projects—“While it may not be as fun as a groundbreaking, these things have to happen. I’m just in the mode of wanting to maintain the things that we have.”
Reeves added, “It’s fun to build shiny new things, but when we have 94 parks and 10 community centers, we need to keep those up.”
Where public safety is concerned, the mayor will recommend to the council funding technology upgrades at the Pensacola Police Department, including body camera upgrades, two additional officers to work the city’s urban core, a new tactical rescue vehicle, additional barricades and security fencing, as well as the implementation of traffic calming measures. Reeves is also looking to reaffirm already-on-the-books expenditures, such as ensuring that funds remain available for the newly created deputy fire-chief position.
Mayor Reeves also hopes to use these carry-forward funds for a collection of other maintenance and strategic planning purposes. There are plans for a city-wide strategic plan for $300,000, as well as an assessment of the city’s Land Development Code and a congestion management plan. New positions—a new senior grant writer and economic and neighborhood development director—are on the table. He also wants a study to ensure city employees are receiving equitable pay. Sidewalk improvements, money for park maintenance, city hall improvements and an assessment of public safety buildings round out the mayor’s requests.
In determining how best to expend the city’s carry-forward funds, Mayor Reeves said his team talked with each city department, including the Pensacola Police Department and Pensacola Fire Department, to ascertain the greatest needs.
“These aren’t just things that we’ve come up with last minute, and these are things that we have researched,” he said. “We asked a lot of questions. We didn’t just come in with the back of a napkin and say, ‘These things sound good;’ we want to invest this money wisely.”
Ultimately, the Pensacola City Council has the final say on budgetary decisions at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19. Mayor Reeves said he has conferred with each of the seven council members and feels confident his requests align with their visions for the carry-forward money.
“Obviously, these are things that I have discussed with them,” Reeves said. “I feel like that is my duty, to make sure they understand the direction we’re going. So, I would say that we feel pretty good about it. I wouldn’t want to put our council in a position of proposing things they’d never heard of or that they would have a lot of questions about.”
PART Protest In conjunction with the national day of action convened by the Women’s March, Pensacola Abortion Rights Taskforce (PART) will host a rally for abortion rights at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22, in front of the Federal Court House, 100 N. Palafox.
“With the Dobbs’ decision in June, the Supreme Court overruled both Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992),” PART said in its press announcement. “The decision stripped away the federal right to abortion, putting the issue in the hands of individual states. One in three people who might seek an abortion (women, nonbinary persons and transmen) have already lost access to abortion in their home states.”
PART was formed in response to Pensacola’s only abortion clinic, American Family Planning, having its license suspended for minor infractions.
The organization wrote, “January 22 is the anniversary of the Roe decision. It will be a national day of action. Across the country, we will affirm that our movement is #BiggerthanRoe. Pensacola will be doing its PART. As we raise our voices across the country, we will send the message to our lawmakers that we will not sit back while our rights and freedoms are taken from us.”
DIB Board Vacancy Mayor D.C. Reeves is accepting applications to be considered for a vacant position on the Downtown Improvement Board. Qualified individuals interested must fill out an online application, bit.ly/3IRHcAh, by Monday, Jan. 23, at 5 p.m.
To qualify, prospective members must own property within the DIB District, be subject to ad valorem taxation or be a lessee required by lease to pay taxes on the property. City and county employees are not eligible. Members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. The term for this appointment expires on June 30, 2024.