Panama City Beach. . .Development interests have threatened economic retaliation against local business owner Peter Rougier for promoting growth management regulations in Panama City Beach, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER has submitted the documents to Governor Jeb Bush in an effort to initiate an investigation within Bay County by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
According to the PEER filings, a threatening flyer was hand-delivered to Rougier last week by former Panama City mayor Philip Griffitts. Griffitts reportedly told Rougier that powerful interests were threatening to organize a boycott against Rougier's family businesses, apparently for his planned participation in a scheduled City Hall growth management demonstration the following Thursday. Griffitts stated that Mr. Rougier had "pissed off some very big people," and that the threatened boycott would "break" him financially. Rougier and his wife, Elaine, own three local businesses: Ms. Crazy's Restaurant, Ms. Crazy's Daiquiris, and Crazy Pete's Sunglasses.
Today's petition is an addendum to an earlier petition PEER filed in February calling on Governor Bush to commission a full investigation into potential misconduct by Bay County officials and developers involving abuse of the public trust, breach of the public trust for private gain, violations of the Sunshine Law, public records law and open meetings law as well as the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act, corruption of public servants by threat, and other statutes. The earlier petition alleged "an aggressive, sophisticated and well-organized enterprise with the ultimate purpose of dismantling impediments to unbridled growth in Bay County." To date, the Governor's office has taken no action on the earlier petition.
"This is one more troubling insight into the Bay County pro-developer morass," stated PEER's Florida Counsel Steve Medina, "People have the right to participate in the political process without being victimized."