Gunther violated city code of ethics

April 18, 2013

Note: Fred Gunther believes that the city code of ethics does not apply to the CMPA. He sent me the following statement: “I believe the headline “Gunther Violates City Ethics Code” is misleading as no opinion has been rendered by the City Attorney’s office or anyone else that this is the case. The City Attorney has stated publicly that they can not represent the CMPA, as it is a 501c3 non-profit corporation and not a City Board.”

I believe that the CMPA is an extension of the Pensacola City Council and should follow the same code of ethics as the entire city government. The city council will have to make the final decision on the matter.

Yesterday, CMPA board member Fred Gunther tried to present a competitive bid for Parcel 1 at the Maritime Park. He recused himself from vote but only after raising concerns about the Beck proposal for the same parcel. The city ethics prohibits any such acts by a sitting city council or board member.

The codes states: “An official or employee must refrain from acting upon or participating in, formally or informally, a decision-making process with respect to any matter before the city, if acting on the matter, or failing to act upon the matter, may personally or financially be of personal benefit to himself, herself or a relative or business associate.

Furthermore, the code defines who qualifies as an official: “Official or employee means any elected or appointed official or employee of the city, whether paid or unpaid, and includes all members of a board, body, advisory board, council, commission, agency, department, district, administration, division, bureau, committee, or subcommittee of the city. This definition includes members of council and the mayor.”

The question for the Pensacola City Council is was Gunther given a copy of the code of ethics. What kind of orientation are board members given on Sunshine Laws and the Code of Ethics? Who handles the orientation?

If Gunther was given a copy of the code, then he should resign or be removed by the city council.

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  • reality show April 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    would this blog even exist if it were not for the Community Maritime Park and all of its attendant drama?

    • Rick Outzen April 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      CMPA, City Council, County Commission, Mayor, Pensacola, Escambia County all provide more than enough drama. LOL

  • CJ Lewis April 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I think the CMPA’s By-laws should prohibit any Trustee from doing business with the CMPA. My point is that this is an internal CMPA issue, not a violation of the City’s Code of Ethics, because the CMPA is not a City board.

    The bigger issue is why the CMPA would even consider a lease agreement with any corporation for a 18,000 square foot building on Parcel 1 when the CMPA’s own documents show that Parcel 1 can support a 4-5 story building totalling up to 73,500 square feet.

    The objectives of the City with respect to this project are to get as much money as possible from the sublease payments and property taxes. This is why the CMPA needs to hire a Master Developer, market the parcels to a national audience and let the bidding begin.

    • Rick Outzen April 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      The ethics issue is critical for the public to have any trust in its government.

      That aside, the City/CMPA/Council have yet to define the process for all proposals. A master developer is a possible approach, but until the three bodies reach an agreement on the process all leases or land purchases will be free-for-all with the mayor, council and board members making up rules as they go.

      Certain people don’t want a defined a process for that very reason. Decisions should be made on who a councilman, mayor’s staff member or board member like or dislike. All three have a sacred obligation to the public.

      That has been repeatedly violated.

      This isn’t that hard -cities and counties in Florida handle these types of proposals all the time without the melodrama.


  • CJ Lewis April 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

    There is no evidence that the CMPA is a board of the City. The City Attorney has said that the CMPA is not an instrumentality or a special district of the City. However, if the CMPA is determined to be a board of the City, making Gunther subject to the City’s Code of Ethics, the upside is that the City Council must “forthwith” remove Councilman Larry Johnson from the City Council.

    Section 4.04.(c) of the Charter prohibits, “No elected City official shall hold any appointive City office, City board membership, or City employment while in office, except as may be provided by State law.” There is no provision in State law for a City Council member to serve on the CMPA Board if it is a board of the City.

    Reading further in the Charter, Section 6.03.(c) directs, “If he or she ceases to possess any such qualifications during his or her term of office, or if he or she violates any express prohibition of this Charter, he or she shall forthwith forfeit the office, and the Council shall remove him or her from office.”

    Section 4.04.(c) is listed under Section 4.04. Prohibitions. If the CMPA is a City board, Johnson has violated an express prohibition of the City Charter and must be removed from office. If the City Council will not do its duty, Mayor Hayward must. Section 4.01.(a)(2) of the Charter requires the Mayor, “To enforce the charter and ordinances of the City and all applicable County, State or federal general laws, special laws or ordinances.”

    • Rick Outzen April 19, 2013 at 11:27 am

      The question is – does the city council condone a CMPA board member discussing and voting on park leases while being a realtor actively bringing leases -for which he will paid a commission-before the board?

      Gunther tried to have it both ways —shooting down everyone else’s proposals and then bringing his own client before the board. Huge, huge conflict of interest.

      He should have recommended the client to another realtor or, better yet, sent him to the mayor’s office.

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