Pensacola Politics

Mayor on MURAC

December 3, 2012

city of Pensacola press release:

Hayward to hold press conference concerning URAC report

 

On Friday, December 7, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward will hold a press conference concerning the report of his Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee (URAC). The press conference will begin at 10:00 AM at Plaza de Luna, located at the south end of Palafox Street in Downtown Pensacola.

 

The committee was tasked with assisting the Mayor in implementing the redevelopment of the CRA District, including downtown, the waterfront, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Mayor Hayward asked the committee to envision what downtown Pensacola can realistically become in the next three to five years and to develop recommendations on which actions should be taken to achieve those goals.

 

When:                  Friday, December 7, 2012, 10:00 AM

 

Where:                 Plaza de Luna, 900 South Palafox Street

  • CJ Lewis December 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    The URAC was formed by Mayor Hayward to help him come up with ideas to present to the Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) on which he does not serve. The City Council designated itself the Local Governing Authority when the CRA was created in 1981 to eliminate “slum and blight” over much of the City. When the Charter Review Commission removed the Mayor from the City Council, the Mayor lost his role on the CRA.

    The CRA is a dependent special district of the City with immense powers prescribed in Chapter 163 Part III of Florida Statutes. Few City Council members seem to have ever read in their secondary roles as CRA Commissioners.

    Hayward unexplainably and unexpectedly fired two CRA Administators in a row (Thaddeus Cohen and then Becky Bray) without cause and without notifying the CRA. Only a few members of the CRA lateer objected that Hayward had no authority to to fire their CRA staff. Hayward later said he would refuse to sign the checks to the CRA’s independent attorney leading that person to resign.

    Hayward has no independent authority to implement the recommendations of the URAC with respect to the slum and blighted two square mile Urban Core Community Redevelopment Area south of Cervantes Street between “A” Street and 17th Avenue. As Chief of Staff John Asmar described the intent to the City Council when the URAC was formed, Hayward would review the URAC’s recommendations and report back to the CRA within the scope of the interlocal agreement that expires in January.

    For the moment, the third CRA Administrator within a two year period does even not work for the CRA Chairperson Brian Spencer. In fact, under Hayward’s May 15, 2012 instruction prohibiting contact between City Council members and City employees, Spencer must ask his questions about the CRA to the CRA Administrator through the Office of the Mayor.

    The CRA should request the URAC present its findings to the CRA in a special meeting to be held in early January. It would be best to make it a gala even in Council Chambers and the event televised on Channel 4 so the public can hear the full details and listen to how Hayward responds to questions from the CRA.

    The big mystery is who will soon replace Spencer as CRA Chairperson now that his traditional one year tour of duty, following on the trail of the one year tour of Megan Pratt, is about to expire. More interestingly, perhaps the CRA Chairperson will have a backbone proposing the CRA get out from under the thumb of the Mayor and his Office of the Mayor staff as well as the Hayward-friendly City Attorney.

    Using its own legislative power, the CRA can at any time hire its own staff to include an Executive Director, CRA attorney and Budget Analyst. The CRA could even constitute a new CRA Citizens Advisory Committee to which it might appoint those members of the URAC who are city residents.

    • Rick Outzen December 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      C.J.
      The CRA never had a vote in 2011 whether to hire an independent attorney. The chairman, Megan Pratt, did it without getting a CRA vote to solicit RFPs or approve a contract. CRA funds were spent without the approval of the CRA or the mayor. The CRA had to retroactively approve her actions, which were technically illegal, and then voted to not retain the attorney she chose.