News Pensacola Politics

Hawthorne makes emergency request to be added to City Council agenda

March 19, 2012

A letter from George Hawthorne regarding Councilman John Jerrald’s meeting on Hawthorne’s Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce:

March 18, 2012

Honorable Sam Hall City Council President City of Pensacola
City Hall

221 Main Street Pensacola Florida 32501

RE: Request to be added to next City Council Meeting Agenda Dear Honorable Councilman Hall,

This letter comes to you with great regret and concern regarding a very unfortunate series of events and activities by Councilman John Jerralds last Friday, March 16, 2012. The following outlines my account of the events and subsequent claims being made by me regarding alleged egregious violations of my civil rights and misuse of public position by City Councilman John Jerralds.


On Friday, March 16,2012, Councilman John Jerralds called a meeting as a City Councilman at City Hall regarding his desire to “reinvent and renew” the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce (“GCAACC”).

In his press release, of such meeting, he further stated, “if you want to know what it all about, then show up and find out!” (the press release is attached hereto)

His press release further states,

“He is excited about the prospects of being apart of exploring new possibilities for the chamber. He looks forward to working with those who are serious about making this happen and believes that with realistic goals, objectives and a strong base of supporters anything is possible. All is welcome, so please feel free pass along this information and come be a part of this transformation process.”


I, the Chairman of the GCAACC, was never called nor informed of such meeting by Councilman John Jerralds nor authorized or requested that he conduct such meeting. In fact, I found out about the meeting from the press that started calling me and inquiring about such meeting. I also found out that he reported this meeting at the last City Council Meeting as part of his communications.

After, John Jerralds started the meeting and made some opening comments about the purpose of the meeting consistent with the press release as attached, He then asked the audience, “if the GCAACC is a viable organization that needs to be continued?” Then he asked if there were any comments from the attendees. I asked to be recognized.

I was then duly recognized by Councilman Jerralds at this point who then asked me to come to a microphone. I went to the microphone and stated that, “this was an “odd” meeting since I had found out about the meeting through the press” and that he never contacted me about such meeting. I then started talking about what the GCAACC position is and that this meeting is not authorized by the GCAACC and what the GCAACC organization does.

Councilman Jerralds then got out of his seat approached me and loudly told me to quit speaking.

I then asked him under what authority was he calling this meeting?

He then stated, “As a City Councilman I called this meeting and this is City Hall and I can have you removed if you don’t stop speaking. This is my meeting and you are not going to make me look like a fool and if you don’t stop talking I will have you removed”

I then calmly stated, “He had already made himself look like a fool.” All of this occurred within 60 seconds of my arrival to the microphone.

Then Councilman Jerralds left the room and called the Pensacola Police to have me removed from the meeting.

The police then came to the meeting room and asked me to come outside the room to discuss the issue. I immediately complied

After lengthy discussions with the very reasonable police officers and calls to the Police Chief, then the senior officer on-site made the determination that they could not make me leave as this was not a City Council Meeting.

However, I was informed that if I wanted to stay that they would have to place an officer in the meeting.

Although it was detrimental to the interests of the GCAACC to leave, I felt it was not fair for me to tie up the Pensacola Police Department resources for such foolishness of John Jerralds. I then respectfully left City Hall without further incident. Additionally, I requested a copy of the police report filed regarding this matter.



The last year the GCAACC has received any funding from the City was in FY2011 (which ended on September 30 2011) in the amount of $10,000. We made every report as requested. The GCAACC never made a request or has received any public dollars in FY2012 from the City and therefore we are not required to make any reports to either entity, nor is there any legal justification, legal precedence nor City/State statutes that allow an elected official to call such a meeting about a privately-funded non-profit entity.

The GCAACC was allocated $10,000 in funding from the City in the FY2012 budget. However, I have not executed the grant agreement for these FY2012 funds and the grant agreement contract has been sitting in the GCAACC office since last October. I have purposely not executed this agreement because I am “repositioning” the Chamber to be operated 100% from private funding. In fact, I have personally funded the expenses of the GCAACC in this transition period to private money self-sufficiency.

Furthermore, John Jerralds has misrepresented these facts to the press and public, trying to further his personal vendetta against me. If John Jerralds had a genuine interest and/or desire to “reinvent and renew” the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, he would have contacted the Chairman of the organization to be involved with the conducting and organizing such meeting.

Cleary, Mr. Jerralds had no genuine interest in helping the GCAACC and the sole purpose of this meeting was to attempt to discredit the organization and its leadership. This is evidenced through his press release, statements to the press and statements made at this meeting all being consistent with his questioning my leadership of GCAACC.

The point is, John Jerralds had no basis for him to try to have ANY meeting about a “privately funded”, “private non-profit organization” that acts for the benefit of its members. John Jerralds is not a member, donor or even supporter of the GCAACC. To allow such actions by an elected official against a private organization is a dangerous precedence to be set. Additionally, the fact that John Jerralds has represented that he conducted such activities under his authorities and powers conferred upon him as a City Councilman elevates these actions to an egregious violation of City and State laws amounting to violations of my civil rights and misuse of public position.


Based upon the foregoing Statement of Facts and Lack of Purpose and Authority to hold Such Meeting, it is my claim that the actions of Councilman Jerralds were an egregious misuse of public position by an elected official and furthermore a violation of my civil rights under the including, but not limited to, following legislative statutes under the respective jurisdictions enabling such laws:



City Charter Section 4.02. – City Council.

(a)Powers and Duties. City Council Members shall exemplify good citizenship and exhibit a

cooperative spirit. The City Council shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) To legislate for the City by adopting ordinances and resolutions in the best interest

of all citizens of the City.

(2) To adopt the annual budget and all other appropriations necessary for efficient City


(3) To inquire into the conduct of any municipal office, department, agency or officer

and to investigate municipal affairs, and for that purpose, may subpoena witnesses,

administer oaths and compel the production of books, papers, or other evidence.

(4) To override the Mayor’s veto of an ordinance or resolution by an affirmative vote of at

least six (6) Council Members.

(5) To devote such time as is necessary to the performance of City Council duties, and

hold no other elected public office or be an employee of the City while a City Council


No powers were conferred to a City Councilman to conduct such inquiry into the conduct of a privately-funded non-profit private business

City Charter Section 4.04. – Prohibitions.

(b) Interference with Administration. Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations

made in good faith, the City Council or Council Members shall deal with the City officers and

employees, who are subject to the direction and supervision of the Mayor, solely through the

Mayor. Neither the City Council nor Council Members shall give orders to any such officer or

employee, either publicly or privately. It is the express intent of this Charter that

recommendations for improvement of municipal governmental operations by individual Council

Members be made solely to and through the Mayor.

The City Charter expressly prohibits the actions of John Jerralds to give orders to the Pensacola Police Department to remove me from a non-City Council meeting. Especially from a meeting that is being held about the organization that I am the Chairman. PPD officers are city employees subject to the direction and supervision of the Mayor.




SECTION 4. Freedom of speech and press.—Every person may speak, write and publish sentiments on all subjects but shall be responsible for the abuse of that right. No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions and civil actions for defamation the truth may be given in evidence. If the matter charged as defamatory is true and was published with good motives, the party shall be acquitted or

History.—Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 13, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1998.
SECTION 5. Right to assemble.—The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, to instruct their representatives, and to petition for redress of grievances.

Clearly my the aforementioned rights conferred under the Florida Constitution have been violated by the actions of Councilman Jerralds. First, by stopping my speech (with police powers) regarding the subject matter of the meeting after being duly recognized by Councilman Jerralds. Then attempting to use police power to deny my right to assemble.

F.S. 112.313(6)

Misuse of public position is addressed under F.S. 112.313(6) which states:

(6) Misuse of public position.–No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others. This section shall not be construed to conflict with s. 104.31.

Clearly, John Jerralds corruptly used and attempted to use his or her official position as a city councilman or City Hall property or Pensacola Police resources which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself by calling a meeting to elevate himself or others to a position of authority within the GCAACC and attempting to affect, influence, direct, manage, and/or other actions having impact on the operations of GCAACC.



Given the foregoing facts, statements and claims, I am respectfully requesting to address these matters to and to discuss remedies and resolution of my claims regarding these matters, specifically I want to address the following issues with the council before I decide where I take this incident from here:

  1. Was this a city sanctioned-event or meeting by councilman Jerralds?
  2. Was Councilman Jerralds acting under his own authority?
  3. Specifically, who directed or requested these actions of Councilman Jerralds if he didn’t

    act alone?

  4. What are Councilman Jerralds next actions as he has stated he will be conducting other

    meetings about the GCAACC?

  5. Will these meetings be held at City Hall under the authority of the City Council?
  6. What actions are going to be enacted, by the City Council, regarding the GCAACC and

    these matters?

Council President Hall, I look forward to hearing from you regarding the serious nature of this inquiry that and confirming these issues will be addressed at the next meeting as requested.

Respectfully Yours,

George Hawthorne

George Hawthorne Chairman


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Sam McKerall, esq.

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