Jeremy's Notebook

The Kumbayah Provision

January 3, 2013

commissionThe Escambia County Commission tonight again tweaked the structure of its RESTORE Act advisory committee. This time, they addressed ambiguities pertaining to the city of Pensacola’s seat at the table after Commissioner Steven Barry wondered if the board might want to specify whether the mayor or the city council selected Pensacola’s representative.

“You don’t think that’s going to come back to us? Saying ‘either, or,’” Barry said.

The commission had purposefully not specified. Noting the tense relationship between Mayor Ashton Hayward and the Pensacola City Council, commissioners “didn’t want to get in the middle of that.”

“I really believe if they aren’t man and woman enough to work it out themselves we ought not get in the middle of it,” Commissioner Wilson Robertson said.

The city council has already chosen now-former council member Maren DeWeese to represent Pensacola on the RESTORE committee. Mayor Hayward has not yet made a selection.

Commissioner Lumon May suggested that Hayward handled economic development issues for the city, thus making him a logical choice to make the selection. Robertson said he didn’t feel comfortable vesting the entirety of the decision in one person.

“I don’t have a preference,” May replied. “The mayor has indicated through his staff that he would really like the opportunity to appoint.”

Interim County Administrator George Touart said the mayor’s office had communicated the same to him. He also said the city was seeking clarification on the matter.

Robertson suggested the city seat be scrapped if the mayor and council couldn’t “work out something this simple.” Commission Chairman Gene Valentino said maybe the county should give the mayor and council until the end of the month to reach an agreement, or else the decision would go to Hayward.

“I’ve got something I think will work,” Commissioner Grover Robinson told the board.

Robinson then proceeded to lay out a beautifully simplistic plan: the mayor will make the selection, but his decision must be ratified by the city council.

“I love it,” Robertson said. “I wish I could have thought of that.”

The commission approved the entirety of the RESTORE committee’s structure, with specifics to the city’s seat changed to reflect Robinson’s kumbayah provision. In addition to a city representative, the advisory committee will include seats for representatives from the fields of business, finance, transportation, government, environment, the general citizenry, as well as two at-large seats.

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  • EPenn January 5, 2013 at 6:59 am

    Well CJ, the BOCC was trying not to get involved, but since they have been asked by the City for clarification, they tried to do that… I believe the solution that was inacted is sound… (Mayor selects and council ratifies or not)… This structure is used in government from the top down (Presidential appointments, sumpreme court, etc..)… This is nothing new and is better than flipping a coin… lol

  • CJ Lewis January 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    This is just more evidence that the Board of County Commissioners are a bunch of inept clowns. The BCC is the Governing Body of Escambia County. Their counterpart the Pensacola City Council is the Governing Body of the City of Pensacola. Do they know that? City Administrator George Tourat is the chief administrative official of Escambia County. His counterpart in the City of Pensacola is Mayor Ashton Hayward. Do they know that? Is Tourat making the appointments for Escambia County? If not, why would Hayward make the appointment for the City of Pensacola? In 2009, Pensacola Charter Review Commission Chairperson Crystal Spencer explained, “Many of the Mayor’s powers are the same as the powers of the current City Manager.” If Pensacola still had a Council-Manager form of government, would the BCC have specified that City Manager Al Coby would make the appointment with the concurrence of the City Council? No. It will be interesting to see if the City Council acknowledges the authority of the BCC to direct how the City of Pensacola fills its seat on the Restore Act Advisory Committee. If the City Council directs Council President Wu to advise the BCC that they have already selected Maren DeWeese will the BCC refuse to seat her?