Jeremy's Notebook

Bare Calls for Investigations

July 14, 2013

barePensacola City Councilman Charles Bare has placed several items on this afternoon’s agenda that are aimed at the mayor’s office. Two are budgetary in nature, and one entertains an investigation into the “situation on the 7th floor.”

The councilman is requesting that the city council investigate the expenditures, over the course of three fiscal years, of Local Option Sales Tax/Penny for Progress funds for renovations to city hall, specifically to Mayor Ashton Hayward’s offices. Bare specifically cites “more than $5,000 for furniture for the 7th floor reception area.”

In a related request, Bare is also asking council to place a $50,000 limit on the amount of money the mayor is allowed to move from one area of the budget to another without council approval. He contends that Hayward used his “current authority to realign dollars for City Hall improvements.”

Finally, the councilman is asking for a discussion on some issues recently highlighted by a State Attorney investigation. Earlier this month, State Attorney Bill Eddins brought non-criminal public records charges against now-fired City Administrator Bill Reynolds and Press Secretary Derek Cosson, and also revealed a World of Beer encounter during which Reynolds handed off sensitive employee information pertaining to former Chief of Staff John Asmar to former city councilwoman Maren DeWeese.

Bare is requesting the council consider hiring an outside attorney to conduct an investigation “into allegations and accusations within the city administration relating to the relationship between the former Chief of Staff, the former City Administrator and other employees.”

“Over the past few months the situation on the 7th floor has been a source of rumors and allegations,” Bare states in the agenda memorandum.

The councilman provides a copy of an email from Asmar’s attorney, Eric Stevenson. The letter, which the attorney emailed to all council members, takes issue with the subject of Reynolds’ leak—an harassment claim against the chief of staff—and argues that members of the city administration were intent on damaging Asmar’s reputation.

“The Mayor and his staff have painted John a villain, and the Mayor and his staff repeatedly have attacked John publicly and privately,” Stevenson’s letter states. “In my opinion, these actions were taken for the ‘protection’ of the perpetrators in question, for their own personal benefit and professional status, and to disparage the characters of any in opposing including John. Their actions also damaged the character of other innocent employees involved in this matter.”

Bare also points out the former chief of staff—whose attorney states “has every intention of clearing his name”—has made a claim to have documents and other information that show illegal activity within the city administration.

“The City Council has a duty to investigate activity within our government for the protection of citizens as well as employees,” Bare states in the memorandum.

In addition to Councilman Bare’s request pertaining to the mayor’s office, council has plenty of other issues slated for today. The council is set to tackle appointments to the Downtown Improvement Board and Environmental Advisory Board; consider a tentative 2014 millage rate of 4.2895; appoint a designee, as per a request from the Community Maritime Park Associates board, to “join in discussions with representatives from Northwest Florida Professional Baseball, regarding various outstanding issues identified in the Oliver Report and elsewhere”; approve the library interlocal with Escambia County; consider the Airport Land Use Plan; and conduct a public hearing on the Maritime Redevelopment District.

Today’s meeting is also a first. Whereas city council previously held Committee of the Whole meetings to discuss items slated for the regular Thursday-night council meeting, the body recently revised its rules and procedures and will now convene on Mondays for an ‘agenda conference.‘ The agenda conference is held “for the limited purpose of understanding the intent of the item and not to decide whether to approve it.”

The council’s agenda conference begins at 3:30 p.m. at Pensacola City Hall.

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  • George Hawthorne July 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Ms. Henry,

    Is that really nice? Ms. Mary is an elderly woman and she may not know any other outlet for her issues, she lost her husband and probably this is the one thing that she clings to remember the better times in her life. She is probably someone’s mother, grandmother and/or aunt. If you would be blessed to live to her age, who knows what may trouble you have some compassion and understanding and not berate her. How would you want your mother, grandmother or even you at that age to be treated?

  • ms Henry July 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Hey mary
    Put a freaking sock in it. No one does anything because ur a kook.

  • helpmehere July 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Jim – that is funny. That said, I always take the actions of lame duck politicians with a grain of salt. There is no need for an investigation until such time as the city employee who was allegedly harassed files a formal complaint with the appropriate authority. Not sure who that is but I can guarandamtee you it is not city council. Please let the professionals handle this if in fact there is something there to be handled.

  • Rickle July 15, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Sour Grapes and playing politics. Bare will smear Hayward until he can become mayor.

  • jim Ramsey July 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    George Deleon- Is that you Derek?

  • CJ Lewis July 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

    The first two topics directly relate to the Council’s Charter Section 4.02.(a)(2) constitutional authority, “To adopt the annual budget and all other appropriations necessary for efficient government.”

    Right now, that authority is pretty useless given Mayor Hayward’s belief that he is above and beyond legislative oversight.

    The third topic is especially serious because former Chief of Staff Asmar has made a lot of big allegations of lawbreaking against Hayward.

    If the City Council still has in place its contract with attorney Doug Sale in Panama City, he would be a possible pick. Sale has the added benefit of having been on the receiving end of Hayward’s abuse of power.

    Today’s marathon meeting should make Councilman Johnson’s case for an even smaller five member Council. He should propose another Charter amendment to get rid of two single-member Council districts in 2014. Councilman Bare would probably second Johnson’s motion.

  • George Hawthorne July 15, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Mary – I feel for you on your issue, however, your consistently “speaking to the peanut gallery.” Get a lawyer and litigate the matter in court (the proper venue for your grievances)because you are getting no satisfaction or movement blogging to individuals that have no ability to rectify your issues

  • Mary Mead July 15, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Correction:

    Brian Spencer is my district representative and refused to stop the apparent illegal/criminal actions against us, refused to meet with me and refused to answer my communications.

    I also spoke with and wrote to Charles Bare. He also refused to stop the apparent illegal/criminal actions against us, he aksi refused to meet with me and he also refused to answer my communications.

    Their actions were the same – nothing.

  • Mary Mead July 15, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Councilman Bare stated, “The City Council has a duty to investigate activity within our government for the protection of citizens as well as employees.”

    Councilman Bare further stated that Mr. Asmar “has made a claim to have documents and other information that show illegal activity within the city administration.” Frankly, who doesn’t?

    I have extensive documentation, which I have repeatedly presented to: Councilman Bare (and all other Council Members), the city administration, the Escambia County Sheriff, FDLE, the Florida State Attorney General, the FBI, etc. This documentation clearly shows illegal activity within the city administration – that our business, officially authorized by Department Heads in May, 2000, and by the Pensacola City Council at an official meeting in January, 2001, and has been illegally prohibited, without due process, from operating as we were officially authorized since March 19, 2005 – the day before the announcement that the Maritime Park would be built at the end of our street.

    We have been illegally closed down for over 8 years with no income from our retirement investment property. This amounts to much, much more than $5,000 for reception area furniture.

    Councilman Bare quoted from an email that “members of the city administration were intent on damaging Asmar’s reputation,” and that, “The Mayor and his staff have painted John a villain.” The city administration has repeatedly painted me as a villain. The city administration made false statements regarding me to FDLE, the FBI, etc., which appears to be a crime in itself. They stated that the prohibition was due to many complaints against me but I furnished a report from Chief Simmons where his research had found no complaints against me or against the business which had operated in the same location for more than 25 years.

    My documentation further shows that all members of the present and past city councils refused, and still refuses, to stop this apparent illegal/criminal activity. All recipients of this documentation chose to protect the perpetrators in question, evidently for their own personal benefit and professional status, and to deny citizens their rights under city, state, and federal regulations.

    Councilman Bare is my district representative. What has he done in regard to this situation: he has repeatedly refused to meet with me, has refused to answer my communications and has refused to stop the apparent illegal/criminal activity against me, a law-abiding, elderly, widowed grandmother who is a veteran. I served honorably during the Vietnam era and the cold war.

    Mayor Hayward has also refused to stop apparent illegal/criminal activity against me, refused to meet with me and refused to answer my correspondence.

    It appears that Councilman Bare will investigate only those areas which will advance his own personal agenda and not what is best for the City of Pensacola – to maintain law and order for all.

  • George Deleon July 15, 2013 at 2:12 am

    This doesn’t smack of sour grapes? Bare taking some puny jabs as he’s being phased out as unecessary? It must sting that his rival achieved the Mayorship of Pensacola, and to add insult to “injury” Bare is being let go, being deemed unecessary. Its laughable! :)