Pensacola

Mayor’s attorney injects himself in CRA meetings with its attorney

November 29, 2017

Attorney Tom Cloud yesterday notified Councilwoman Sherri Myers that he had not consented to her and her fellow council members meeting alone with the CRA’s attorney, Doug Sale.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward hired Tom Cloud of Gray Robinson law firm to represent his administration in the lawsuit concerning him not following state law when the mayor did not have the Community Redevelopment Agency approve the $50/year lease of Bruce Beach to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The CRA was also required to issue an RFP for Bruce Beach.

Gray Robinson handled the mayor’s appeal concerning the local option gas tax allocation.

The CRA held a special meeting this month and hired Sale because the CRA, not the Pensacola City Council, was named in the lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Inweekly reported that Cloud was attending a series of private meetings that Sale scheduled for today with each individual CRA members.

Couuncilwoman Myers questioned Cloud about having the mayor’s attorney in the room.

“Please understand that I consider your presence in that meeting a conflict of interest,” wrote Myers in an email Tuesday afternoon. “Therefore, I will not meet with you in a meeting with Mr. Sales.”

She did agree to talk Cloud today. “However, I will schedule a meeting for you to have a private meeting with me tomorrow. Please let me know your schedule as soon as possible.”

Myers asked for Cloud to bring “all correspondence you have had with any person, including the City Attorney, regarding your representation in this matter.”

Cloud replied, “While I disagree with your conclusions, I will respect your request. Mr. Sale is aware that I have not consented to his meeting alone with a member of city council and my position on that has not altered.”

In a phone interview, Myers said that the mayor and CRA may be in conflict in the lawsuit and the mayor shouldn’t have his attorney listen in on their meetings with Sale.

“For eight years, I have tried to get the various outside attorneys that the mayor has hired to talk with me about their litigation,” she said. “They refused, saying they worked for mayor.”

She continued, “Now, the mayor’s attorney is saying he also represents the council. Well, Mr. Sale is meeting with us, his client, as CRA members not council members.”

Myers is worried that her fellow board members wouldn’t understand the distinction. She said, “I’m an attorney, they aren’t and may compromise our position in this lawsuit.”

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Ames December 1, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    It seems all but one counsel member are spineless handmaidens, can’t accomplish much with a situation such as that. There is a need for new counsel candidates…

  • Reply CJ Lewis November 29, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    The issue about litigation decisions comes up over and over. There is nothing in the new City Charter or in the records of the Charter Review Commission that even hint that the new elected Mayor was being given new powers over litigation decisions. If you ask Mayor Hayward, he will claim that he alone can decide which powers he exercises and which powers he will allow the City Council to exercise. In fact, on this issue, the Mayor has no more power than the City Manager he replaced. For years, I have urged the City Council to directly challenge Hayward’s assertion that he can exercise the City Council’s power. For the most part, they refuse afraid to do so. In this case, the City Council could vote to direct the City Attorney to seek clarification from the court to determine if the new Charter gives this and all future Mayors the power to make litigation decisions. Concurrently, the City Council could vote to direct the City Attorney to seek an Advisory Legal Opinion from the Attorney General to verify that no state law gives the Mayor such power. In truth, the situation is far worse given that last year the City Attorney claimed to exercise the power to make an appeal to the state’s Administration Commission and got away with it unchallenged by the City Council that said and did nothing.

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