Jeremy's Notebook

Hooper Visits DIB

January 8, 2013

The chairman of the now disbanded Mayor’s Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee sat down with the Downtown Improvement Board this morning to discuss the committee’s recent report.

“We are by no means anti-DIB,” Brian Hooper told the board. “We just want it to be more efficient.”

For much of the last year, Hooper presided over Mayor Ashton Hayward’s downtown-centric committee. The group was tasked with making recommendations aimed at continuing the growth of the city of Pensacola’s urban core.

“It really is the only authentic urban place along the panhandle, along Northwest Florida,” Hooper said.

The advisory committee issued a report full of recommendations in the fall. Where the DIB was concerned, it suggested streamlining the organization and placing it within the mayor’s office.

“It started a firestorm, basically, for us,” said DIB Treasurer Ed Carson, adding that the report was making the search for a new executive director awkward. “The timing of this report couldn’t have been worse for that particular endeavor.”

Carson suggested that the advisory committee didn’t fully comprehend the DIB. He said it would have been nice to have had input during the committee’s process.

“That’s a fair point,” Hooper said, noting that his committee had sought input and had conferred with former DIB executive director Kim Kimbrough. “None of us are dummies, we tried to understand it the best we could.”

DIB board member John Peacock said that the committee process was in the past. That the board should now explore the future.

“If we had to recreate the DIB today, would we do it the same way?” he asked. “There’s a big perception in this town, albeit unfair, that the DIB is not effective.”

Peacock made a motion, which the board passed, to accept the mayor’s advisory committee’s report and to take it under consideration.

“I think it’s a great start to reinvent DIB, if you will, not that it’s necessarily broken,” he said.

Hooper told the DIB that he did not know which of the advisory committee’s recommendations Hayward would act on.

“All these recommendations are advisory, I have no idea what Mayor Hayward wants to do with them,” he said. “He hasn’t spoken to me. I have no idea what he thinks of any of these recommendations.”

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  • fun n games January 9, 2013 at 7:30 am

    CJ – I do not know on what basis you make the claim that city council is the local governing authority for DIB. The DIB is a state agency and answers only to the property owners in the district that pay the second mill. Hooper now realizes the the Mayor can’t force it to do anything other than what the Mayor’s planted DIB members try to pull off. Peacock nothing more than a trojan horse dispatched to carry out the agenda to neuter DIB.Funny how Carson -a non-Hayward appointee and significant downtown property owner – continues to call out the charade. Even funnier to watch him roll his eyes every time Peacock opens his mouth at DIB meetings.

  • CJ Lewis January 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Hayward created the Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee (URAC) under the authority of the interlocal agreement between the City and the Community Redevelopment Agency, a dependent special district of the City whose Local Governing Authority is the City Council. We know that because that’s what Hayward’s Chief of Staff John Asmar told the CRA and public. It’s awkwardly looking like Hayward has no plans to ever report back to the CRA as promised last year.

    As for the DIB, it’s Local Governing Authority is the City Council. Hayward has no executive, operational or adminisrative role save making apppointments to the DIB Board in place of the Presiding Officer of the City Council. In mid-2011, Hayward unceremoniously stripped the Council President of the power of appointment. The City Council, a council of lazy fools, have never even reviewed the DIB Act in the City Code to conform it to the new Charter that became effective January 1, 2010. Most Council members have never even read the DIB Act. They’re a sad and clueless lot.

    The DIB, also a dependent special district of the City, was created in 1972 by the Florida Legislature at the request of the City Council. As former DIB Executive Director Kim Kimbrough very clearly explained last year before he left, the DIB has accomplished its legisative purposes prescribed in the DIB Act. Anyone who claims a continuing need for the DIB as an extra local government bureacracy armed with its own taxing authority needs to first read the DIB Act.

    Like John Peacock, one of our community’s strongest advocates for getting rid of unnecessary layers of extra government and resulting taxation, I support consolidation and agree that its time for the DIB to be dissolved and consolidated back into the City of Pensacola. I just don’t happen to agree with the rest of Peacock’s plan to also dissolve the City of Penscola into Escambia County, at least not while people like Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson can get elected. The current DIB does nothing at all that the City of Pensacola cannot do.

    As for the lack of DIB input into the URAC study, that was intentional. If Hayward had wanted the URAC report to formally reflect input from the DIB, he would have invited the DIB to appoint an ex officio member to the DIB. As far as I know, he did not. Talk is cheap with one’s actions and inactions always telling the truer story. The DIB is doomed and will soon enough be on life support. I’ll be shocked if the DIB still exists after the Florida Legislature’s 2014 session. In its place, downtown merchants can create their own private Pensacola Downtown Merchants Association not armed with any governmental powers to include taxing authority.