The 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.