City of Tallahassee Penalizes Local Business for Being a “Competitor”

City of Tallahassee Penalizes Local Business for Being a “Competitor”

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City of Tallahassee has penalized a local business, Gym Force Gymnastics Center, for being a “competitor’ to the City’s gymnastic services.

The City owns and operates Trousdell Gymnastics & Aquatics Center located on John Knox Road.

After filing an application to become an exhibitor at the annual Winter Festival, the owner of Gym Force was notified via email that the application had been denied.

Mario Palmentieri, Recreation Supervisor,  wrote;

“The Winter Festival Committee reserves the right to accept or deny any application.  As you know, the City of Tallahassee operates a Gymnastics Center and the promotion of it takes precedent at all City of Tallahassee produced Special Events.  Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.” (Full email is below)

Tallahassee Reports contacted Commissioner Gil Ziffer for his reaction.

Ziffer, who with his wife is a small business owner, was surprised to hear about the situation and said,  “I am a free market person. I prefer to see competition. It makes us all work harder.”

Tallahassee Reports has received a number of phone calls from gymnastic businesses and dance studios over the last two-three years about practices by the City of Tallahassee that they claim were designed to hurt their businesses.

However, until now, the lack of any documents kept Tallahassee Reports from writing about the issue.

The email below indicates that it is standard operating policy for the City to protect their “Gymnastic Center” operations, even at the expense of local businesses.

When contacted by TR, other businesses that offer gymnastic or dance classes said that the City significantly undercuts their pricing and makes it difficult to operate.

“Our local taxes subsidize our competition and that is tough to take, especially in a slow economy,” said one local business owner.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox had this to say;

“This is ridiculous. The City of Tallahassee should be encouraging and supporting local businesses instead of competing with them.”


Mr. Korepanov,

This email is in reference to the Gym Force Gymnastics Center’s application to become an Exhibitor at our annual Winter Festival event. Jan Bubsey has informed me about the situation and we are sorry for any inconvenience that this issue may have caused you.  As you can see from the attached copy of the application you signed and submitted, we ” The Winter Festival Committee reserves the right to accept or deny any application.”  As you know, the City of Tallahassee operates a Gymnastics Center and the promotion of it takes precedent at all City of Tallahassee produced Special Events.  Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Mario Palmentieri
Recreation Supervisor
Special Events, Disc Golf, Skate Park
Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Affairs
912 Myers Park Dr.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

41 Responses to "City of Tallahassee Penalizes Local Business for Being a “Competitor”"

  1. Today Gym Force Gymnastics received an apologetic voicemail response from the assistant for the new City of Tallahassee Manager, Manager Fernandez! In addition to the apology, Gym Force Gymnastics has been extended the opportunity to be a participant for 2 years in the Winter Cellebration as a vendor at no cost, should Gym Force decide to participate in the future. A very positive, noble, and welcomed response on his 1st day in office! It would be awesome to have the opportunity for Gym Force to have a face to face meeting to discuss possible future plans to be united and on the same playing field! Can anyone make this opportunity come to fruition ? Great start City of Tallahassee Manager Fernandez!

  2. Thank you Ron Galimore, an amazing Olympic gymnast, and one of the top administrators of USA Gymnastics. THE governing body for the USA Olympic Committee ! Trousdell Gymnastics and Gym Force Gymnastics both compete under the direction of USA Gymnastics federation. It is so encouraging to have his comments and support!

  3. While in Tallahassee to visit my family this past weekend, I was dishearten to read the Tallahassee Democrat yesterday morning and see that the City of Tallahassee denied a permit application for Gym Force to set up a booth at the Winter Festival because of protecting their “Gymnastics Operations.” This type of practice is disappointing and this local business deserves better.

    Gym Forces is a nationally respected gymnastics program that promotes a positive image of the city of Tallahassee. This program draws large numbers of visitors to the area on an annual basis for their events that create economic impact for local business and community.

    Gym Force has the best interest of everyone in Tallahassee interested in gymnastics, dance and cheer, regardless of which program they are enrolled in. The biggest difference is that Gym Force is a business and is not subsidized. The fees to participate in the City’s program are a portion of what Gym Force has to charge just to stay in business. The City should not be concern about another gymnastics business in Tallahassee. Practices like denying permits for “competing business” should stop and the city should be in the business of promoting all that Tallahassee has to offer. Local business deserves better, especially Gym Force.

    Ron Galimore
    Rickards Class of 76
    1980 Olympic Gymnast
    Chief Operating Officer, USA Gymnastics

  4. As the parent of a gymnast at one of the privately owned competing gymnastics facilities and a life long member of the Tallahassee community, this does not surprise me. The Program at Trousdell is a good program but the City should not provide preferential treatment to that program whether financially or other-wise. It amazes me the tuition cost difference between the City run program and the privately run programs. The City does not need to be in the competitive gymnastics business. If they want to provide recreational gymnastics services that is one thing, but to compete directly with and subsidize the costs for a competitive travel program, tax dollars should not be allowed to fund that at the cost to privately owned businesses.

    1. The tuition rates at Gym Force are the lowest in the southeast United States, as they must keep rates low to survive. Check out the city of Roswell Gymnastics program rates and community and National support, That’s a quality and contributing city municipality program to follow. Twice as many participants, equal rates, smaller facility, an so well respected in the USA!

  5. This is ridiculous. Any small business no matter what the company should be able to be represented. I have been in the winter parade with Gym Force and used to compete with them. They are a wonderful gym and shouldn’t be put up like this just because the city of tallahassee dosnt run them. In my opinion their a better gymnastics center anyway.

  6. Is this how the City of Tallahassee encourages
    small business to come to our fair city? I don’t
    think this action speaks well of our officials
    concerns for it’s citizen’s/small business’ welfare.

  7. I’m fairly certain the socialist city planners have been consulting with the city attorney on the best way to retract the position so clearly articulated by the parks and rec supervisor. And if you think the city obstructs their direct competition with trousdell gymnastics, start digging into the sweetheart deal that the ATAC swim team has enjoyed for years by monopolizing lane space and the trousdell pool and disallowing other teams or coaches to utilize the taxpayer funded space. I’m sure it is coincidence that one of the head coaches used to be the parks and rec administrator.

    1. So true! There is in NO way to attack the ATAC private swim program, as they are a fantastic addition to Tallahassee. Private Soccer, Private Baseball, Private Basketball, and MANY other sports use the City of Tallahassee are permitted to use the City of Tallahassee facilities. Why is this NOT the case with the local Gymnastics programs of Tallahassee, as we pay the same utility rates and taxes? Gymnastics facilities are willing to pay for services, just as the above sports are. At the City of Tallahassee parks and recreation dept. Birthday Parties and Private lessons, non participants are welcome to attend. Why not with programs that have the most education, certifications through USA Gymnastics, along with background checks, and safety certification?

  8. Most likely, the City should not have turned down their request; however the tone of many of the responses leads me to believe that there is a lack of understanding of the city’s program. Here is a short history of what was known as the Tumbling Tots which included the great Willie Galimore and the equally great and Olympian Carrie Englert Zimmerman.


    The Tallahassee Tumbling Tots were organized by Hartley Price in 1949. The project grew to such proportions that the City Recreation Board in 1953, voted unanimously to provide much-needed help. It was then that the City Recreation Department took over Tumbling Tots; Mr. Jim Hadaway was the supervisor, and classes were held in the City Armory. Members of the F. S.U. Gymkana gymnastic squad comprised the teaching staff. Mr. Bob May was the director/coach of the program from 1959 to 1966. During this period the Tots made many appearances in national magzines and television shows. They had six appearances on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. They have been featured in national magazines, movies, T-V shows and Walt Disney’s MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.

    In 1970 the Recreation Dept. enrolled 800 tumblers, the largest enrollment of children in tumbling at any one place in the United States. The average yearly enrollment is over 500 tumblers. The Tallahassee Gymnasts were organized by Bob May in 1964. This is the gymnastic program for high school or college students, and adults.

    Comment by Brent Pichard: “The biggest influence on the Tots program was Randy Trousdell a former FSU Gymnast (57-60). Randy joined the Tallahassee Recreation Department after graduation and progressed up to the top position as Director of Parks & Recreation (Leisure Services) in Tallahassee. (He retired in 2005 after 45 years.) It was he as an ex-gymnast who convinced the Northwood Mall to donate the huge space that would house the Tallahassee Tumblers free for years. It was he who convinced the city elected officials and the voters to build the huge beautiful facility which houses the program to the present day. It was he for whom they named they Facility and he more than deserved that honor.”

    The city did not get into gymnastics to compete with private enterprise but rather filled a void at the time much like city baseball, soccer and other sports. Today all of these sports have private interests competing with the city programs which more than likely preceded any private clubs. Most of these programs have to rent space to practice and compete from the City. Kind of ironic I guess.

    I don’t know why the City would be concerned with competition but understand over the years long before many of the current commissioners were even born their predecessors ran programs and developed the facilities for kids to play games.

    1. SO WHAT?!?

      The actions of the City are reprehensible! IF they are going to operate in the public marketplace, and CHARGE FOR SERVICES they should be held accountable for their socialist actions!

      SO WHAT ABOUT THEIR HISTORY?!? It means NOTHING in regards to this article! I can see you have a soft spot for the gymnastics program, but it’s terrible you should be holding the water for a government that is this manipulative!

    2. It is a different city parks and recreation department, with selfish agenda, and 2015. The origination and history was fantastic, yet now it is trying to be elitist and is not well received in the seven states of the southeast Unied States. This is not the program you may have been part of in the past, as there are very few gyms in the USA that support The program. Over 3000 Nationwide. Are you still proud of the 2015 City of Tallahassee program?

    3. By the way Willy Galimore was a Great NFL Football player, and NOT a gymnast. His son Ron Galimore was the 1980 Amazing Gymnast that moved away from Tallahassee to follow his dream! Refer to his comments regarding Gym Force and The city of parks and recreation department Trousdell Gymnastis program. We all attend and compete in the same compritions in the state of Florida and USA. I truly appreciate Ron Galimore’s comments, as he is a top Administrator of USA Gymnastics, the governing body of gymnastics and USA Gymnastics Olympics!!!

  9. I find it unreal that anyone on the city council would voice being outraged about the city undercutting anyone after how they handled giving Adam Cory a commercial lease for under &3.50 a foot and the millions to renovate the Edison Restaurant .

  10. I challenge the Tallahassee Report to write a positive story regarding the City of Tallahassee or the Mayor. The voters of Tallahassee time and time again have the opportunity to elect Erwin Jackson & you Steve Steward, and have continuously have chosen Mayor Marks & Mayor Gillum. Largely because of high level of constant negative. I agree that there are issues of concern, but my grandma told me… You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

    1. This is a factual article not an opinion piece. Since you find it “negative”, one can only assume that you agree with their decision to shut out a local business from the festival.

      We strive to keep our opinions in our “opinion” section. That holds true to all of our reporting. Our mission is to inform our readers on issues that are not reported by other local media. Thank you for contributing to a healthy discussion.

  11. Wow, just Wow. Another example printed in black and white of how our local government has opted to compete against privately owned and financed small businesses. This practice is shameful and the city staff and commissioners need to address this right away.

    1. Some City commissioners have responded against the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation dept. My hope is they will follow through with their opinions, unless it is idle words.

  12. I can confirm this. I used to try and teach scuba diving using the city pools, and it was tough getting dept of rec. to allow it. It eventually ended up being too expensive to rent time.

  13. Wonder if they have the same policy for the park and rec baseball programs and wonder if Mike Martin and FSU, Power Mill and Next level would get a letter like that if they wanted to participate in this event. If I was the gym owner I would have my attorney contact the legal representation for the city and see if they wanted to settle this before it went to court. What a monopoly and racket this is.

      1. Hey I am involved with trousdell gymnastic program.Everything said in this post is true. The program always has a waiting list of at least 200 people wishing to enrolled. Instead of refering. or offering information on other programs in town they prefer to keep people on a waiting list. Students are barred from competitive program due to age. The students might benfit from a referal to another facility. They are also considering closing down the dance program due to their inability to recuirt desired and hand picked Dancers. Don’t even get me started on their coaches most in it for party money only. Bring them down they should be private . No computer at house at this time.

  14. @Sam Adams — that 10% tax you refer to is a Florida Statute and applicable statewide in cities and counties. Contact your Rep!

  15. Since the City of Tallahassee provides a utility (Natural gas), it forces an energy tax on all of its competitors. This means that all who provide propane gas service to City residents must pay a 10% tax to the City. I find this reprehensible and would love to have the money needed to test this in Court.

  16. I moved to Tallahassee to escape corruption, it now seems that that move was a futile attempt. I used to brag about our capital city, but now I find myself embarrassed by the city government. If the powers that be can just disapprove applicants as they wish why even invite the public businesses to apply. What happen to fair trade practices, are you concerned that a private business will do it better than you. As a tax payer whose taxes go to help support these types of activities I resent you cart blanch to turn down any local business that you feel might offer a superior product. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!

  17. You talk about a socialist economy…The City of Tallahassee is running one. I have never seen ANYTHING government can do better than private enterprise except waste and duplication. Privatize the City of Tallahassee Gymnastic Center, cut off tax subsidies, and the door will close in two years. I guarantee it.

  18. Welcome to the Socialist Republic of Tallahassee run by the Czar Andrew Gillum.

    TR should also look into the expansion of City Government into the backflow testing and putting small business operators out of business. Pretty soon everybody will be working for the City of Tallahassee.

    1. Bingo.
      The City should start their own paper (call it “The People’s Paper”) and block the Democrap from putting up a booth to peddle their lies.
      In a related note, I wonder how much rent they charge Tallahassee Ford to let them park cars for sale in their side parking lot? They clearly don’t need it, since they don’t have that many employees anymore.

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