Pensacola Politics

Pratt interlocal agreement promotes Bray to CRA executive

November 23, 2011

The interlocal agreement that Councilwoman Megan Pratt and her attorney Doug Sale have created for the City of Pensacola’s CRA and the City of Pensacola would have elevated Becky Bray to CRA Executive Director. Bray would report directly to the CRA chair (Pratt) and not the mayor. The CRA board would have the power to fire her and must approve whomever the Mayor puts in the position to replace Bray.

Anyone looking for a definition of “power grab” needs only to read the Pratt proposal. It’s important to understand the CRA board never voted that this clause be drafted. The agreement was never “workshopped” and Pratt is the only CRA board member who has had input with Sale on the draft.

The normal course of action-one that would have been transparent to the citizens and allowed for public input-would have been for the CRA chair to ask from motions from her fellow board members for amendments to the interlocal agreement. Discussion could have taken place. The public could have commented. The CRA board could have voted on the amendments and then the staff and the chair could be directed to draft the appropriate legal language for the final hearing and vote.

Instead, the CRA board must vote on the agreement that was prepared outside of the Sunshine two days before the current one expires.

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  • As city charter turns two, questions remain | Pensacola Digest November 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    […] Hayward told the PNJ’s Jamie Page that he could not discuss the reason for Bray’s dismissal, except that he “want[ed] to go in a different direction with the person running the CRA.” However, reporting by the Independent News and Rick Outzen suggests that the firing stemmed from the CRA’s hiring an outside legal counsel to draft a new interlocal agreement that would put authority back in the hands of the CRA (i.e. the city council) — something Outzen characterizes as a “power grab.” […]

  • james November 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Failed power play by Pratt and Bray – nothing more, nothing less. I can only imagine the chatter over Thanksgiving dinner at the Benson home – Mama Lois has her hands full getting baby girl out of this fiasco. Bray was bad for business – she did her best to kill the Hixardt deal and Pratt had her hands in that mess as well. Great work by Hayward and Asmar salvaged the deal to keep and create new jobs in Pensacola. Diane – your effort to paint the clearing of dead wood at city hall as some type of anti-diversity ploy is nothing short of shameless and very pathetic. Why don’t you and CJ Lewis go sit in the corner of the room and play half-wit?

  • steve November 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    How many other major actions or contracts has the CRA entered into that wasn’t voted on? I do not think the PC attorney is Ms. Pratt’s attorney but someone the CRA hired, apparently with Messer’s concurrence, and it is probably within Ms. Pratt’s scope of duties to do so.

    As far as reading the exchange between Mr. Outzen and Ms. Mack: the real story is probably somewhere in the middle. On a side, Ms. Mack is undoubtedly not happy with the prior election results and blogger Rick gets his information and posts accordingly so that he can maintain the invitations to Jackson’s and the Fish house for dinner, in my opinion.

  • Sherri Myers November 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Rick, I am the CRA board member who raised the issue of changing the language of the interlocal agreement to provide for CRA input over the hiring and firing of staff that is paid for by CRA funds. You do your homework, so I am assuming you either watch the CRA meeting in September, or you viewed the video of the meeting. I agree with some of the issues you have raised. For instance, I did not know until the September CRA meeting that the CRA had its own attorney. Furthermore, I only saw, for the first time on your blog, the letter from Mr. Sales that was signed in June by Ms. Pratt retaining Mr. Sales law firm. I did not have any input into drafting the interlocal agreement that will be present to the CRA. It was my intention that the CRA board would have been more engaged in the process. Your points are valid concerns. However, I do take issue with you charaterizing Ms.Pratt’s actions as a “power grab”. The CRA board is the only entity that has the power and authority to operate the CRA. The Mayor only has the power and control that the CRA allows him to have through an interlocal agreement. There is no power for the CRA to grab – the CRA already has it. The issue is – does the CRA want to give the power it has to the Mayor in some form or fashion without any restrictions.
    Sherri Myers

    • Rick Outzen November 24, 2011 at 3:39 am

      Thank you, Sherri, for writing. You have a person hiring attorneys, directing City staff, expending CRA trust fund dollars and drafting an agreement without any CRA board votes. When will the Pensacola City Council police itself?

  • Suzanne L. November 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I suggest you check the mirror as well, Mr. Outzen because your agenda has been showing from the beginning on this issue. But it IS your blog, so I suppose that is your prerogative.

    • Rick Outzen November 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Suzanne,
      That is correct it is Rick’s Blog. My agenda has been clear. The chairman of the CRA can not, absent of any specific rule, procedure or city ordinance, execute a contract or expend CRA funds without a vote of the CRA board. That is the issue.

      If you or anyone else can show me where the CRA chair had the legal authority to do what she did, then I will let this issue go. Ms. Pratt has admitted there were no council votes on hiring an outside attorney, approving Doug Sale’s contract or on the modifications that she had made to the interlocal agreement.

      It’s not about personalities or whether you or l like Ashton Hayward, Megan Pratt or Becky Bray. This is about the legislative process and the laws regarding trust funds, which is what the CRA funds are. It’s also about Sunshine laws and the right for the public to have input on city council and CRA issues. Additionally, there appears to have been no Request for Qualifications for the new attorney.

      Then after all this circumvention of Florida laws, city charter, city ordinances and the council’s own rules, we have a proposed agreement that gives power and position to the two people who guided the attorney in drafting it-Megan Pratt and Becky Bray.

      This isn’t how I believe the CRA or any city board or council should be run.

  • Diane Mack November 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

    The very fact that this blog has the opportunity to examine the issue thoroughly is evidence of how much more transparency there is in the work of the City Council than in the actions of the Mayor’s office.

    Everything that happens in the Mayor’s office is a fait accompli by the time the information becomes public (IF it becomes public) unless it requires City Council concurrence. Where is the public input there?

    The termination and hiring patterns for executive, middle management, or professional level positions in the City since January of this year have been telling.

    Termination/Forced retirement/Coerced resignation:
    White males– 1
    African-American males– 2
    White females– 3
    African-American females– 1
    Employee with physical disability– 1

    New Hires:
    White males– 5
    White females– 2

    • Rick Outzen November 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      Diane,
      You need to check in a mirror. Your agenda is showing.

      Mayor Hayward was elected to change City Hall. People who wanted things to stay the same voted for Mike Wiggins. The terminations and resignations should come as no surprise. When the CEO’s of most organizations change, there is usually a significant change in executive, middle and professional level positions.