After allowing him his few minutes of public comment at the microphone, the Pensacola City Council continued to the next speaker without comment. Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce Chairman George Harwthorne attended tonight’s council meeting to speak about the gathering City Councilman John Jerralds had called last week to explore the future of the African-American chamber.
“I wanted to come and address the unfortunate incident we had happen last week,” Hawthorne told the council.
Councilman Jerralds did not tell the GCAACC chairman about the March 16 meeting. Hawthorne was quickly thrown out of the meeting by the councilman when he showed up and attempted to speak about the organization.
The city councilman has been questioning the chamber’s leadership and direction. Hawthorne has said that Jerralds doesn’t have a grasp on the GCAACC’s operations and shouldn’t have involved himself.
“I clearly have a vision, and Mr. Jerralds has a vision,” Hawthorne told the city council. “Emotionally, I think his heart is in the right place.”
Yesterday, the GCAACC chairman said that he was unsure how best to approach Jerralds. He said that he had “an olive branch in my left hand” and “a baseball bat in my right” and that he had not decided which to use. Hawthorne said he planned “to pray on it.”
The chairman’s comments to the council, and towards Jerralds, were of the olive-branch variety.
“I look on the unfortunate incident as just that,” Hawthorne told the city council, adding that he thought Jerralds had sparked the rift with “his head, not his heart.”
Hawthorne also told the council that he planned to move the GCAACC in a privately-funded direction. He said that he appreciated the money they had set aside for the chamber—around $10,000—but that he preferred it go toward a minority business fund.
“We didn’t ask for it,” he said.
Jerralds said that he thought the conversation regarding the chamber was necessary, but that he didn’t wish to take a leading role, beyond facilitating the initial dialogue.
“I am not a businessman,” Jerralds said. “I have no intention of being a member.”