Grand Jury Politics

Weekend Buzz: Critical Council vote, Abston for Mayor, Grand Jury Time

September 29, 2014

Critical City Council Vote
Last week, the daily newspaper cited the city’s natural gas utility, Pensacola Energy, for having some of the oldest pipes in the country. The situation could be worse if not for the foresight of city leaders in 2011.

Mayor Ashton Hayward, with the help of then-Chief of Staff John Asmar, had to fight the Pensacola City Council to raise gas rates in September 2011 to accelerate the repair and replacement of obsolete distribution structure.

The Ordinance Amendment was unpopular. It increased natural gas rates an average of 10 percent for residential customers, and 6.9 percent for commercial businesses. The vote was 5-4, with council members John Jerralds, Sam Hall, Larry B. Johnson, Brian Spencer and Ronald Townsend in favor, and Maren DeWeese, Sherri Myers, Megan Pratt and P.C. Wu opposed.

In May 2010, the Pensacola City Council rejected ESP’s plan to raise prices by 2.3 percent. It was an election year with the city holding that fall its first vote for a strong mayor. The board didn’t have the political stomach for the backlash.

Using a rate study by Black and Veatch, Hayward and Asmar were able to get five council members to support the rate increases a year later as part of Hayward’s first budget.

Abston for Mayor
The daily newspaper has an article about a Hopjacks’ dishwasher who got fired for a disparaging post on his personal Facebook page done on his own time.

Too bad he doesn’t work for the city. Apparently Hopjacks owner Joe Abston and Mayor Ashton Hayward have different views on ethics.

When he was Mayor Hayward’s public information officer, Derek Cosson created in 2012 this Facebook page to attack the city council. Cosson is today the city’s webmaster and works with Laura Bogan on the mayor’s social media accounts.

Choice Cosson quotes: “The recent figures from the professional PYP survey done by Mason-Dixon are a pretty clear indicator that most of City residents are tuning out the “white noise” and drama propagated by Maren DeWeese, Sherri Myers, Diane Mack, the FRAUD Christopher J. Lewis, and the rest of the KOOK PATROL.” (A fake Christopher J Lewis calling the real one a fraud)

“MOVE ON. That’s what most of my neighbors up here in District 1 say also. A few people I know in District 2 are talking about a potential recall of Myers.” (Cosson lives in District 6)

“Our city council is a three-ring circus full of people who are more concerned with being in the spotlight than working together to get anything done.”

Cosson is gainfully employed with the city and will take off about 20 hours in October to work on Hayward’s re-election campaign, according to paperwork he filed with the city.

Grand Jury Time

The State Grand Jury on the Escambia County Jail convenes tomorrow. County commissioners and employees have received subpoenas. We have been told that it will look not only at the causes of the April 30 explosion of the Central Booking and Detention Center, but also will look at the overall operation of the county’s correction facilities in light of the May 2013 DOJ report.

The Federal Grand Jury will reconvene again in Tallahassee. Mayor Hayward has told several of his supporters that he has been cleared. We will see.

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