City Council to get budget analyst, mayor accepts defeat

April 11, 2017

The Pensacola City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to override Mayor Ashton Hayward’s veto of the hiring of a budget analyst at a special meeting Monday at the Hagler Mason Conference Room.

Council President Brian Spencer and members Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Sherri Myers and P.C. Wu all spoke in favor of the override.

The city voted March 9 to hire a budget analyst. Hayward then issued a veto on March 14 saying in part in a letter, “There are more pressing needs within the City of Pensacola that would directly benefit the taxpayers.”

District 2 Councilwoman Sherri Myers took issue with the veto because voters passed an amendment to the city charter in 2014 allowing the position independent of the mayor.

“I support the override,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do for the citizens of Pensacola.”

There was no public comment on the issue. But Cannada-Wynn, who represents District 7, said letting the veto stand would have the effect of giving the mayor power over whom the council hires.

“We need a budget analyst for council to exercise our power as the legislative branch,” she said. “I do think (the veto) is interference by the mayor. The charter allows us to have an independent staff.”

P.C. Wu added, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Spencer said his reaction to the mayor’s veto was “less dramatic” than the other council members stated. He said it was necessary to have informed budget conversations with the mayor’s office.

“I see this as moderate turbulence, not being in an aircraft in a tailspin,” he said. “In the long run for Mayor Hayward or future mayors, this will be better for our city in the future.”

The council will reaffirm its vote in the consent agenda at Thursday’s regular meeting because Pensacola City Attorney Lysia Bowling disagreed with Spencer and said the vote should be held then, not in a special meeting.

“There is ambiguity,” she said.

At 7 p.m. last night, Mayor Hayward, who did not attend the meeting, issued a statement accepting the override:

“I completely respect Council’s decision to override my veto of hiring a budget analyst.

The purpose of the veto was to underscore my objection to what I thought was an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers.

Our team has always worked well with city council on all legislative issues, and I expect that to continue.”

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  • CJ Lewis April 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

    When the dust settles on this matter at the end of the week, Mayor Hayward is likely to come out the real winner with an expanded veto power. The City Council plan, if you want to call it that, is to concede that this and all future Mayors exercise a power to veto whatever they want in addition to the ordinances and resolutions described in the City Charter. Notwithstanding the screwed-up nature of Councilwoman Cannada-Wynn’s Legislative Action Item, there is no dispute that the action was not taken by ordinance or by resolution, both terms defined by a state law that also describes the minimum standard process for the adoption of ordinances and resolutions, a standard make significantly harder by additional language in the City Charter. Hayward has not shown that the City Charter gives him the authority to veto Cannada-Wynn’s Legislative Action Item. For its part, the City Council has opted to not make him prove he exercises such a veto power. Instead, the City Council has opted to take the path of least resistance effectively amending the City Charter by default conceding that the Mayor can veto whatever he finds offensive. By Monday, everyone will have forgotten what happened this week. However, at some point in the future, the City Council may decide to hire its Legal Aide (effectively its City Council Attorney). If Hayward vetoes that action, what then? Obviously, the City Charter gives the Mayor no power to veto the City Council’s action to set the qualifications, pay and responsibilities of the Legal Aide. However, the City Council should not be shocked if and when Hayward tries this again. Hiring a Budget Analyst is important but ensuring that the Mayor does not expand the veto power is more important. As it so often does whenever Hayward grabs power, the City Council has opted to avoid resolving the issue.

  • George Hawthorne April 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

    OK, now can the “adults” in the room discuss the Mayor’s lack of transparency related to city-owned land dispositions and the clearly preferential treatment of “some people” in acquiring and leasing city-owned land. Some of the specific examples lack of transparency includes transaction like the airport hangar leases, Palafox Street properties, Maritime Park properties, etc., etc, etc.? The Mayor “quietly advances these deals and the City Council approves such deals (many times with even their members with conflicts) – and the “taxpayers” get unnecessary expenses” – that the Mayor said he wanted to avoid. Good Looking out Mayor:)