News Pensacola Politics

Council Revives Search for Staff

February 8, 2012

The Pensacola City Council is again discussing bringing someone on as its staff person. The board met with a prospect last  year, but the candidate turned down the position after meeting individually with board members.

When the item came before the council—a scheduled discussion item for the Feb. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting—President Sam Hall asked Councilman Brian Spencer, who sits on a committee dealing with hiring a staff person, how the search was going.

“Actually, President Hall, I recall that subject was brought up and—I believe it was your first meeting, you asked us to hold off,” Spencer said.

The councilman mentioned that he did have some applications. This revelation seemed to surprise Councilwoman Megan Pratt.

“Do we have applicants?” she asked.

“Yes we do,” said Councilman Ronald Townsend. “I have a stack of about 20 applications.”

The city clerk mentioned that she had emailed some prospective candidates’ resumes to the council members.

“But I didn’t hear from anyone,” she said.
This led to a reexamination of what exactly the council was looking for in a staff person. And the fact that the last candidate may have gotten cold feet because he felt the position was ill-defined.

“Whoever takes this job is in a very awkward position in serving two masters,” said Pratt, before suggesting that perhaps the job be contracted out.

Spencer said he looked forward to the committee members reconvening and continuing the search for staff. He later requested that City Administrator Bill Reynolds sit in on the meetings.

“I personally have a different perspective than I did eight months ago,” he said. “I intend to go into the process with a more open mind.”

President Hall apologized to council for neglecting the issue.

“I just want to issue a mea culpa on this one—I had the best intentions,” he said. “After a month, quite frankly, I just let it slip.”

Hall said that the privatized model—contracting the job out—might be a “very doable and somewhat attractive” option. The president said he had also discussed the position with Reynolds; he and the city administrator talked about finding someone already working for the city to serve as the council’s staff.

Councilwoman Sheri Myers then said she had not received the email with the resumes.
She asked if anyone else had received it. Hall said he hadn’t received the email, nor had he seen resumes upon requesting them.

“Maybe that’s why you didn’t get any comments,” Myers told the clerk.

Councilman P.C. Wu cautioned the council to consider the that the mayor could potentially fire the new staff person. That had come up last time, he reminded them.

“If you say the mayor has the ability to hire all staff, how do you get around that,” he asked. “I’m not trying to throw oil in the ointment, I just want to make sure everything we do is legal.”

President Hall also raised the specter of hiring a staff person and then finding that the mayor wouldn’t be hospitable— “so, we could have a council executive without a place to come into work.”

“That’s part of the advantage of hiring out,” Pratt said.

Reynolds said that the council’s speculation seemed a bit wild to him.

“It’s my sincere wish that council would have it’s staff and once that staff is in place we can work through the issue,” he said. “I cannot imagine some of the scenarios being drawn up here.”

Wu continued to insist the position had to be better defined. He said he didn’t want to find himself in the same spot he was in last time when it came time for the individual interviews.

“They said, ‘If I take this job, do you fire me or is the mayor going to fire me?’” Wu recalled. “And I did not know the answer.”

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  • Greatescape February 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Sorry jimbob, but your analysis doesn’t hold. If Wells was a shameless double dipper, etc. then why was he brought back right after being fired? If you know anything about Al Coby then you know that he was the most loyal & knowledgeable employee. When did he ever not carry out the mayor’s agenda? If working for the city for a long time means you should be fired, then why do employees like Dick Barker, Don Suarez, Al Garza & others still have jobs?
    I could go on, but the mayor absolutely gets to choose who works for him. He can fire employees just because he doesn’t like the way they look.
    What is most troubling is the way that he treats employees. You admit that these employees weren’t bad people. I agree. But if that’s the case then why were they treated in such a disrespectful manner? Why didn’t he have conversations with Cohen, Bray & Stalup? Why did he have someone else fire them & why were they prohibited from speaking to their staffs & working towards a smoothe transition? If they had stolen money from the city, I could understand, but they were fired without cause. The mayor never voiced his concerns with any of these employees & did not give them an opportunity to address any deficiencies.
    Frankly, with this mayor, it’s all about appearances & the employees he fired don’t “look” the way he wants them to look.
    Glad he works for you.

  • jimbob February 11, 2012 at 8:32 am

    1) Bray aligned herself with Pratt who attempted a coup to upstage the Mayor – the effort backfired in a big way
    2)Wells is a shameless double dipper who was so entrenched in the old ways at City Hall he could never change his modus operandi and move at the pace allowed under the new city charter
    3) Coby also deeply entrenched in the old ways at City Hall – he moved to the beat set by Council which was no beat at all
    4) Cohen botched the Avalex and Hixardt deals and completely alienated every citizen he came in contact with

    I am not saying any of these former city employees are bad people – for the most part they were simply on the wrong end of the power curve after the change in leadership at City Hall. Wu is a big proponent of the entitlement mentality and thinks all city employees should have a job for life. The real world just does not work that way. I don’t understand the pity party for people who have moved on with their lives – a couple of whom are laughing all the way to the bank as they collect fat pension checks . I voted for change at City Hall and that is what is happening – rock on Mayor Hayward.

  • Greatescape February 10, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Jimbob — What evidence do you have that Bray, Cohen, Coby, etc. wouldn’t get on board? If that’s true then why did the one white male — Wells — get hired immediately as an independent contractor doing legal work for code enforcement? That leaves 2 black males & 2 white females (one disabled) that the Mayor chose to fire.
    Wu is right, but it doesn’t matter because the Mayor knows how to count votes & shut up his detractors.

  • jim davison February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    the Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight blows yet another toe off of their proverbial foot…

  • jimbob February 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Councilman Wu is clueless. All of the staffers who have left – Stalcup, Wells, Coby, Bray, Cohen – had to go in order for this city to move forward. None of them could/would get on board the Mayor’s train and as such they were no seats for them. As to the bit about “being hostile” please provide an example.

  • PcolaPublius February 10, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Councilman Wu is absolutely correct to bring up the issues of the mayor firing or being hostile toward the Council bringing on a staff member. The mayor has already shown a tendency to do just that. If Reynolds “cannot imagine some of the scenarios being drawn up here” then he must not have been watching in recent months. I knew Reynolds was new to the job, but I didn’t think he had missed all of that.

  • Government overload February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    These different layers of government and government agencies CMPA, CRA, DIB, City Council are needed for 57,000.00 citizen town?

  • helpmehere February 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    you can’t make this stuff up – it is better than watching original episodes of the Three Stooges!