News Pensacola Politics

Jerralds vs. Hawthorne and the Battle Over the GCAACC

March 16, 2012

By the time Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds called the police, George Hawthorne had summed up the Friday afternoon meeting as “odd” and “ludicrous.”

“George, I’m not gonna play with you,” Jerralds told him.

The councilman was opening up his public meeting concerning the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, of which Hawthorne is the chairman. Jerralds, who is not a member of the chamber, had earlier said that he needed to come to its “assistance and resuscitate it.”

Hawthorne said he had learned of the meeting through the press. The GCAACC chairman refused to leave when Jerralds threatened to call the police.

“You’re not gonna make me look like a fool,” Jerralds said.

“You already made yourself look like a fool,” Hawthorne replied.

Eventually a Pensacola Police Officer arrived and Hawthorne stepped into the hallway. The meeting continued, during which citizens discussed, among other things, the role of an African-American chamber of commerce.

The GCAACC chairman stayed in the hallway for a while talking with police, but left Pensacola City Hall before the meeting ended. During the meeting, Jerralds conceded to the gallery’s request to let Hawthorne back in the room, but the chairman did not return.

“I told you it was gonna be fireworks,” Hawthorne said via phone as the meeting continued.

The GCAACC chairman said that he chose to leave rather than “tie up the Pensacola Police Department with this foolishness.”

“He’s mad because I say he’s an ineffective leader and I want somebody to run against him,” Hawthorne said. “That’s what all this is about.”

Hawthorne said he planned to file a complaint next week with the State Attorney’s Office in regards to Jerralds throwing him out of the meeting. He feels that was an abuse of Jerralds’ authority as a city councilman.

In the meeting room, members of the African-American business community talked shop for the full two hours Jerralds had reserved the meeting room.

—check back for the complete story

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  • jim davison March 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    game, set, match to Hawthorne….

  • George Hawthorne March 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm


    For John Jerralds to say that I have not achieved any results is another one of his lies in an attempt to discredit the leadership that I have provided in the community. He has tried to bring this lie to the CMPA board and was summarily dismissed as false and they saw it as a personal agenda against me.

    Here are the facts, I am the person that drafted the “minority inclusion” agreement called the Equal Business Opportunity (“EBO”) Agreement and my company is the Program manager for this project. The minority inclusion at the Maritime Park is the MOST successful in the history of Pensacola.

    In the Park’s construction we have achieved more that $4,000,000 in construction contract with LOCAL minority contractors, in comparison to the City procurement of $4,000,000 in minority construction contracts between 2005-2010.

    I developed all of the policies and procedures under which this EBO Program operates. These policies and procedures having been proven to be successful provide a template for future City procurements.

    I also manage the day-to-day operations of this Program at the Park and provide technical assistance and contract administration assistance for the minority contractors to help build their capacity and experience with projects of this magnitude.

    Minority employment at the Maritime Park for ALL contractors is more than 45% in all skilled and non-skilled positions.

    The total economic impact for LOCAL minority workers and contractors exceeds $10,000,000.

    As the GCAACC Chairman, I have drafted, negotiated and got executed a formal strategic partnership agreement with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce (“PBACOC”) in order to bring together the GCAACC and the PBACOC to end the divide between the black and white business community. I am a member of the PBACOC Board of Directors and enjoy a GREAT relationship with the PBACOC Board Members, CEO and Staff that has ended the feuds between the PBACOC and GCAACC that had occurred in 2008-2010.

    This “partnership” has developed some very strategic initiatives that are currently being implemented:

    1. The PBACOC has formed a Minority Business Council that is chaired by Lumon May which is the liason for the PBACOC in the partnership with the PBACOC.

    2. The GCAACC worked directly with the PBACOC in the recent fight for tourism management (remember the incident with Grover Robinson). That has led to the new strategic direction that is currently occuring with the search for a new marketing and advertising strategy that is inclusive of a multi-cultural, multi-location and diversity of things to do in Pensacola.

    3. The PBACOC has adopted a strategy and goal emcompassed in the Vision 2015 to provide technical assistance and entreprenurial training to develop 40 new and existing minority businesses over the next 3 years.

    4. The PBACOC and GCAACOC were the lead sponsors of the Regional Equity and Prosperity Summit in September 2011 that brought together federal agencies, regional businesses and local officials to develop strategic initiatives for economic development opportunities for Pensacola (john Jerralds did not attend).

    5. I sit on the Tourism Council’s budget subcommittee and provide input to ensure that there is “inclusion” for “diverse” tourism advertising/marketing for the area.

    6. Lumon May (PBACOC Minority Business Council Chair),Jim Hizer and I are working together to develop and implement economic development strategy to increase job opportunities and business development in underserved minority communities.

    These are just a few of the accomplishments and objective that I have executed both as a private business owner and as GCAACC Chairman. These are unprecedented in Pensacola.

    All of these accomplishments and objectives are based in my personal “philosophy” of bringing together ALL of Pensacola and provide EVERYONE opportunities for the betterment of Pensacola/Escambia.

    On the other hand, John Jerralds has made a political career based upon division of the races and exploiting racial stereotypes and perpetuating an atmosphere of “racial division.”

    He does this so he can create a perception that he is the “protector” of the Black community from this “great white oppressor” in order to remain politically relevent. He offers no solutions, no programmatic initiatives and no track-record of legislative accomplishments.

    My “brand” of mutual cooperation, relationship building and working together between Blacks and Whites coupled with my track-record of success is a threat to John Jerrald’s “brand” of racial division and racial “in-fighting.”

    The fact is in John Jerrald’s “world,” if there is no “great white oppressor” to protect the “people” from and he has no solutions, no programmatic initiatives and no track-record of legislative accomplishments he becomes a “political” dinosaur destined for extinction in a “multi-cultural” world of mutual cooperation and mutual inclusion.

    He is a politcal “relic” from a time of racial division and fear of other races, I have challenged him on his “brand” and he doesn’t like it.

    However,I have received a call from the 1960’s and they have asked for John Jerralds to give them back their “politcal tactics and operating strategy.”

  • Tony Jimmison March 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Mr. Jerralds, spoke about how much money Mr. Hawthorne made off of mari-time park with out any results, I suggest he take that up with the city council, or maritime board, to call a public meeting is wrong, he call in question the charcter of Mr. Hawthorne, which should not have been done in public, if I was a memeber of the Gulf Coast Chamber I would be outraged, the city council needs a face lift, George please clear the record of the acusations of you making money off of minority inclusion on maritime, I think you are a person whow wants to see everyone move forward

  • George Hawthorne March 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm


    You are absolutly correct not only did the Chamber follow all reporting requirements it went through a year end audit the last year of funding with the City and County. All funds that are received from the City are reimbursements for specific operating expenses.

    However, here is the real story John Jerralds has misrepresented to the press and the public about the GCAACC funding from the City for this year.

    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 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.

    I am tired of people claiming that we are “looking for hand outs” and that is the reason we are moving away from utilizing PUBLIC money for our operations.

    John Jerralds is so reckless he has never even checked with the City administration to see that not only have we NOT taken any City money in FY2012 but we have NEVER executed the agreement to receive City funds.

    This is strictly a “personal” agenda against me because I strongly oppose his political leadership and effectiveness for his constituents in District 5.

    The GCAACC has made great strides in bringing together the African American community with the Pensacola community as a whole. No racial group is an island and we in Pensacola need to be one community.

    That is a key reason why the greatest achievement of the GCAACC is development of a strong “strategic partnership” with the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce in order to work together to for all of Pensacola.

    John Jerrald is a political “relic” from a time of division and confusion in this community and I will not play his “game” of black vs. white … we are all Pensacolans

    This is a time for “Strategic Vision not Political Grandstanding.” More importantly, John Jerralds should not be allowed to utilize his elected official status, city property and the Pensacola Police department for his unethical political pandering.

  • helpmehere March 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    then all is okay. If not, George has some ‘splainin to do

  • helpmehere March 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    riddle me this – why is the PBACOC required to provide monthly financial statments,an annual audited financial statement and tons of other documentation (as they should as long as they obtain public funding) while the GCAACOC has to provide nothing, nada, zilch? Has anyone asked a simple question such as how many dues paying members do you have? Can I have a copy of your CPA prepared financial statement for 2011? Can we see your budget for 2012? What percentage of your funding is provided by public sources and how much is provided by your members? Let’s put the theatrics aside and get down to the cold, hard facts. Is that too much to ask? If they make basic standards for a non-profit entity accepting public funds

  • Dale Parker March 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

    After watching the City Council fight for every tiny crumb of power they have left for the last 18 months after supporting a Charter they OBVIOUSLY never read I suppose this is what they are reduced to doing.

    Apparently, they no longer have any authority in City Government so now our council will go out and attempt take overs of chambers, councils and boards. I have seen increased involvement in some of the various boards and wondered if this was an attempt to expand their severely weakened power. However, after this little power grab, I am now convinced that this is their goal.

    I suggest that the next time Mr. Jerralds and the Council has an important agreement, document or charter come before them, that they read and understand it clearly. But, maybe that is just a little too much to hope for.

    What Mr. Jerralds did was completely out of line. IF he had an issue with the way that Chamber was run he should have contacted its Chairman by letter and possibly request to speak at their scheduled meeting. But to schedule meeting without his knowledge almost sounds like a play from Grover’s book and the Tourism board.

  • Hiram Duplessis March 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Geralds should just review the fianancial and programatic reports that are submitted by the GCAACC. As an organization funded by the City and County, I’m sure there are some reporting requirements. The records are open to the public and I’m sure that Hawthorne wouldn’t mine a discussion based upon them.

  • Tony Jimmson March 17, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I am not a fan of two chambers, but Mr. Hawthorne is correct, John Jerralds was out of line to call this meeting, he was totally disrespectful to the members of the African American chamber, Mr. Jerralds continues to try and divided this community, based on race, I support Mr. Hawthorne, I would agree if I had been accused like he was by Mr. Jerralds I would be filling a complaint as well, Mr. Jerralds wake up and help your community and stop grandstanding, can we find a African American leader to run against John Jerralds

  • Teresa March 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    “Hawthorne said he planned to file a complaint next week with the State Attorney’s Office in regards to Jerralds throwing him out of the meeting. He feels that was an abuse of Jerralds’ authority as a city councilman.”

    Da Ja Voo…I have heard this quote from this man so much it’s like going thru It’s a small world at Disney…It takes a few days to get it out of your head.

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