The daily newspaper has hammered away at the Greater Pensacola Chamber and its chairman Sandy Sansing for telling its former CEO, Jim Hizer, that his employment contract would not be renewed at an evening meeting at the Irish Politicians Club inside McGuire’s Irish Pub.
What the Pensacola New Journal has failed to mention is its role in that meeting.
Yesterday at its August board meeting, Sansing filled in the chamber board on exactly how that meeting took place and what was said to Hizer.
“I think we’ve all tried to treat Mr. Hizer with the respect and discretion that any of us would hope for if we were in his shoes,” Sansing said, reading from a statement he had prepared for the meeting.
“I would like to clear the air about the meeting at the IPC at McGuire’s that was reported again today in the paper.
“To go back in time, I called Mr. Hizer’s office on a Wednesday morning and scheduled a meeting with him at his office on the Friday morning of that week to tell him about the Executive Committee’s unanimous decision (to renew his contract).
“On the afternoon of that same Wednesday, I received a call from Mr. Hizer informing me that he had been called by Carlton Proctor of the PNJ and informed that he knew that his contract was not going to be renewed. I was quite surprised and told Jim that I would call him back.
“Shortly thereafter I received a call from Carlton about this. He stated that the paper wanted to run a story the very next day. I asked Carlton to please hold off a day or two on the story so we could meet with Jim face to face. Carlton said that he would check on this. He called back and said that his supervisors were committed to run the story the next day.
“I then received calls from his superiors and asked them to give us a day or two to talk to Jim first. They said that they had the story and wanted to run it the next day. I said that I understand, but it is not right for Jim to read about this in the paper first. They said if we wanted to talk to Jim first, then we had better do it that night.
“I then called our attorney, Todd LadDoucer, and Lewis Bear. We discussed our options and we decided to try to setup a meeting that night with Mr. Hizer. I called Mr. Hizer around 6 p.m. and asked if we could meet that night.
“He said yes and, I do believe, he recommended the IPC because it was convenient to all, as he was coming from Gulf Breeze, and it had private rooms.”
Then Sansing paused and asked Carlton Proctor, was covering the board meeting on Monday for the PNJ, “Carlton, have I been correct in my recollection?”
Proctor said that he had.
Sansing continued, “We had a majority of the Executive Committee present. I began the meeting by telling Mr. Hizer that we had unanimously decided that, due to a number of reasons, we could not accept his terms. I then asked Mr. Hizer, ‘To help you and your family, how would you like us to present this to the press and public?’
“He stated that he would like it said that, ‘We could not come to mutually agreeable terms’ and nothing else. We agreed.”
Sansing then asked the Executive Committee members present at yesterday’s board meeting, “Does anyone have anything to offer or corrections on what I have said?”
The executive committee members nodded their heads in agreement.
Publisher’s Note: I serve on the chamber board, not the executive committee. I publicly at a subsequent board meeting challenged the decision of the executive committee on Hizer’s employment without taking it to the full board for the final vote. It was my belief that the entire board had the final say on this not the executive committee. The board did later vote to accept the recommendation to not renew his contract.