For Mayor Ashton Hayward, the homeless issue has been one of over~reaching in he is battle against it and the Occupy movement. His homeless ordinances and the subsequent backlash after Winter Storm Leon expose his lack of political acumen and understanding of the needs of his city. They show his inability to understand the impact of his proposals on the least fortunate in of Pensacola and his inability to take personal responsibility for the the fallout of when his vision for downtown goes wrong.
This has become another WTF moment for Hayward and his administration. People are again asking who is advising the mayor and why does he continue to listen to them.
Every where you look homelessness is getting attention, as it does every winter. The “city that outlawed blankets” (which is how Pensacola is being portrayed across the nation) is a PR nightmare.
The slogan “Upside of Pensacola” now rings hollow. His strategy to combat the bad publicity for him and the city is to appoint an advisory board….a tactic he used on the west side of Pensacola, port, pensions and downtown redevelopment. Only the pension advisory was moderately successful in bringing about any significant changes, and that was only after the mayor hired the chairman, David Penzone, as a city consultant to make it happen.
This proposed advisory board will not work as the mayor thinks.
What Hayward and his team fail to recognize is the passion of the homeless advocates, they will not let the new advisory board be a publicity stunt to defuse the issue until after the 2014 election. They will expect results and expect them quickly. Councilman Larry Johnson, Hayward’s anointed chairman, is going to have his hands full, trying to please both Hayward and the homeless advocates while not hurting his chances for re-election and his bar business. Johnson is being placed on the hot seat.
A few Pensacola City Council members have pointed out that the current Florida League of Cities magazine, “Quality Cities,” focuses on how Florida cities are dealing with homeless issue. None of the mentioned cities have no-blanket ordinances like Mayor Ashton Hayward and his City Administrator Bill Reynolds pushed through the city council last year.
Here are some of the highlights from the article:
The City of Gainesville created a one-stop service center to provide its homeless residents with a full range of services: shelter, meals, clothes-washing facilities, social service assessments, counseling, health and medical services, job training and more.
City of Clearwater is praised for its consistent approach that has resulted in a drastic reduction in street-level homelessness. One of its strategies was to provide extensive training for public employees who regularly encounter homeless residents, including lifeguards, park workers and librarians – not just EMS and public safety personnel.
Read QC issue.
The homeless issue was one that Hayward could have shown real vision and innovation. Sadly that did not happen and now our city is being called “The Most Horrible City on the Planet.”