The city of Pensacola has one position on the Escambia County RESTORE Advisory Committee. The appointment needs to made before Jan. 31. The only requirement for the member is that the person not be a city employee or contract employee.
Mayor Ashton Hayward has had five months to present his pick for the advisory committee. Nine days before the deadline, City Administrator Bill Reynolds tells the city council at its Committee of the Whole meeting that David Penzone, who headed the mayor’s pension advisory and parlayed that into a consulting job with the city, is his pick.
Hayward could have put something in the council’s agenda packet, which was distributed on Jan. 15. Instead he waited two days after the daily newspaper printed its profile of Penzone. The mayor intentionally gave the council little time to review his choice.
And while Reynolds told Nate Monroe of the PNJ that Penzone meets the county’s requirements, why did Hayward choose someone that dances around those requirements?
I guess he will argue this morning that the consulting contract is with Penzone’s company so technically the businessman is not a contract employee. Or he might say that Penzone’s contract is no longer active. (Note:The last check to his company is dated Jan. 3, 2013)
However, mayor’s selection brings up other issues. He has established four advisories: Port of Pensacola, Pensions, Urban Redevelopment and Veteran’s Park. None of the chairpersons have been female or a minority.
While I don’t believe every single appointment or hire by Hayward has to be a city resident, the RESTORE advisory committee is unique. It will be making recommendations on what to do with more than $100 million.
The citizens of the city of Pensacola need to be at that table—not just someone beholden to the mayor. In this instance, the people’s voices are more important that the mayor’s agenda. Hayward has other ways to get his points before the county commission.
There should have been no melodrama or backroom politics with this selection.