News Pensacola Politics

Who at City Hall is anonymously pushing mayor’s political agenda?

February 21, 2013

shocked_kids
Somebody is using the Pensacola City Hall’s server to promote Mayor Ashton Hayward’s political agenda on this blog, using a variety of names. Some of are clearly fake. Some of the comments attack the Pensacola police and the city council.

Derek Cosson, the mayor’s public information officer, says it isn’t him, but that at least one of the writers is his girlfriend—“whom I know has posted on your blog occasionally, despite my advice,” according to Cosson.

The IP address in question is 69.85.255.2. It’s the same one used in 2011 by Travis Peterson when he worked for Mayor Hayward. The IP address is tied to the city’s web sites: ci.pensacola.fl.us and http://www.cityofpensacola.com.

The discovery was made yesterday when “Pensacola Fact Check,” using the email address pensacolafactcheck@yahoo.com, submitted the following comment at 12:17 pm?

“PNJ’s Carlton Proctor reported a rumor from an unnamed source who claimed to be close to City Hall. Your paper then reported Carlton Proctor’s rumor in your paper. The journalism lines are increasingly becoming blurred between credible reporting and a game of telephone. Did either you or Mr. Proctor speak to Air Tran or City Hall? It is disappointing to think that both newspapers in Pensacola participate in spreading rumors.”

The last person to post a comment with the same IP address was Derek Cosson.

——————- Monday, 1/28/13
Derek Cosson
dcosson@cityofpensacola.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2013/01/28 at 6:07 pm

We apologize to viewers who were unable to watch the live video stream. Unfortunately, the stream went down shortly after today’s meeting began due to an equipment failure. The disk copy of the meeting video is intact and will be posted online tonight.

Derek Cosson
Public Information Officer
City of Pensacola

——————–

I did a further search on the IP address found a series of people using the same IP address. All of the comments were pro-Hayward. Several attacked the Pensacola Police, Pensacola City Council and Sherri Myers and Maren Deweese that have lawsuits against the mayor.

Two of the names mock C. J. Lewis who has often been a critic of Mayor Hayward.

Here the names associated with the city IP address –besides Derek Cosson: LJ Christopher, Lewis J. Christopher, Shelley, Rachel and Sandy.

Cosson has denied he has used any fake names in posting to this website:

Without exception, any time I have a comment about something on your blog it will be posted under my name or sent from this email address.

My understanding is that any traffic coming from the City’s network will carry the same IP address. Of the names and email addresses you listed, the only one which I am familiar with is Rachel, who is my girlfriend, whom I know has posted on your blog occasionally, despite my advice.

I promise you, neither I nor Mayor Hayward spend half as much time worrying about your blog or your paper as you seem to think.

Derek Cosson
Public Information Officer
City of Pensacola

222 West Main Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Work: (850) 436-5626
Cell: (850) 530-6133

In the past Pensacola city council members have had problems with Cosson being more of cheerleader for the mayor than a PIO for the entire city. The most recent incident was with Councilman Charles Bare (link).

Here are the comments that we have received from Cosson’s IP address. You can be the judge. These are the only ones that we have received from this address since August 2012. None of these comments are negative against the mayor—none. Using the times on these posts, the mayor and/or city council should be able to narrow this down.

Pensacola Fact Check
pensacolafactcheck@yahoo.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2013/02/20 at 12:17 pm

PNJ’s Carlton Proctor reported a rumor from an unnamed source who claimed to be close to City Hall. Your paper then reported Carlton Proctor’s rumor in your paper.
The journalism lines are increasingly becoming blurred between credible reporting and a game of telephone. Did either you or Mr. Proctor speak to Air Tran or City Hall? It is disappointing to think that both newspapers in Pensacola participate in spreading rumors.

——————- Monday, 1/28/13
Derek Cosson
dcosson@cityofpensacola.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2013/01/28 at 6:07 pm

We apologize to viewers who were unable to watch the live video stream. Unfortunately, the stream went down shortly after today’s meeting began due to an equipment failure. The disk copy of the meeting video is intact and will be posted online tonight.

Derek Cosson
Public Information Officer
City of Pensacola

——————-Friday, 1/25/13
LJ Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2013/01/25 at 8:47 am

Hayward definitely could have given the council more notice, but it’s sad to see these games played with something so important. Dave Penzone is highly qualified and would do a great job not just for the mayor but for the city. This is clearly about a power struggle and I hope we don’t all end up losing because of some petty council members.

——————-Tuesday, 11/27/12
Lewis J. Christopher
ljchristopher0202@gmail.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/11/27 at 10:45 am

Seriously? Adding committees just means more opportunities for the KOOK PATROL (Myers, Pratt, Bare, etc.) to grandstand for hours on end. We’d just have more 4-5 hour meetings!

——————-Tuesday, 11/14/12
Shelley
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/11/14 at 8:40 am

I’m so disappointed in our city council. With all of the problems facing this community THIS is what they’re spending time on? Everybody needs to grow up and move on.

——————-Thursday, 11/01/12
Sandy
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/11/01 at 8:55 am

@Alex, I guess all of the people that posted on the DIB and WEAR-TV facebook pages about the poor conduct of the PPD at Gallery Night are all liars too? Disappointing when our officers can’t admit they handled a situation badly.

——————-Wednesday, 10/31/12
Sandy
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/10/31 at 8:34 am

I was there at Gallery Night and the conduct of the police officers was APPALLING. I have always had great interactions with the PPD but officers were yelling, being aggressive, and treating everyone like it was a riot. I had some friends in from out of town and I was so embarrassed.

——————-Tuesday, 10/31/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/10/30 at 4:23 pm

The thing that’s really surprised me about this whole incident is how the police officers don’t understand WHO THEY WORK FOR… if you or I went into a meeting and badmouthed our boss we would be let go immediately. I think Hayward is showing a lot of restraint by handling the issue internally.

——————-Friday, 10/05/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/10/05 at 8:39 am

CJ, did you miss the part about County Administrator Randy Oliver wanting to get OUT of the library business? Besides, I can’t think of one thing the county has every done right. A county run library system would be a disaster.

——————-Wednesday, 10/03/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/10/03 at 6:16 pm

Wow. I wish I could say I was surprised. I’m in District 1, but I have to wonder if this is really what Myers’ District 2 constituents really care about — or are they more concerned with jobs, neighborhood issues, and public safety like my neighbors and I?

——————-Tuesday, 10/02/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/10/02 at 5:10 pm

Jim is right on. This was a classic example of why a strong mayor was needed. Heck, I’m surprised it only took the Clowncil 2 years.

I have to disagree with Mark Taylor. I think we should invest in economic development and improving the city, not in more staff and more bureaucracy.

——————-Friday, 9/28/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/28 at 2:50 pm

Great victory for Mayor Hayward. Glad to see someone finally put that KOOK Sherri Myers in her place. Did anyone see her ridiculous speech in open forum last night? Good god when will the madness stop.

——————-Friday, 9/28/12
Rachel
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/28 at 2:12 pm

CJ is off his meds again. Nobody will vote for his crazy Charter amendments. Why would we want the Mayor to be a member of the three-ring circus City Council? That would just take us back to the same dysfunctional system we had two years ago.

—————— Thursday, 9/27/12
Rachel
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/27 at 4:48 pm
Cal, no it doesn’t. That section of the Charter lists POWERS as well as duties. Attending city council meetings is clearly a POWER not a duty.

—————— Thursday, 9/27/12
Rachel
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/27 at 1:20 pm

As a woman, I doubt it was about gender — those women are just awful with their game-playing!

——————Thursday, 9/27/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/27 at 12:12 pm

What a joke… I think the mayor’s decision to not invite Myers, DeWeasel and Prattle probably had more to do with the fact that they are nuts and obviously not interested in working together…

——————Tuesday, 9/18/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/18 at 9:06 am

Joe: I tuned out Maren DeWeese a long time ago because she is nasty and personal and a drama queen. She loves to be the center of attention. Notice that all of her attacks on Hayward started after the was no longer the city council president and thus no longer in the spotlight.

——————Tuesday, 9/11/12
Lewis J. Christopher
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/11 at 5:42 pm

Our city council is embarassing. What a sideshow

——————Wednesday, 9/05/12
Derek Cosson
cityofpensacola.com x
dcosson@cityofpensacola.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/09/05 at 2:01 pm

Leroy,

Yes, the hearing will be broadcast on Cox Cable Channel 4 and streamed live online at cityofpensacola.com.

Derek Cosson
Public Information Officer
City of Pensacola

——————Monday, 8/27/12
Lewis J. Christopher
ljchristopher0202@gmail.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2012/08/27 at 2:32 pm

Hilarious! Sources say DeWeese realized she couldn’t win her Council race and is now desperate to stay in the headlines. Her blog, which reads like a schizophrenic off her medication, is sure to get even more entertaining as iit becomes the mouthpiece of her campaign for municipal domination.

After a strong start on the city council Mrs. DeWeese has appeared to lose it over the last two years. If I were her constituent I would be confused as to why she spends so much time and energy on conspiracy theories and silly vendettas against the mayor and not on improving neighborhoods. Think about it — what has she actually DONE? Does she have any accomplishments beyond trying hard to be the top star of the three-ring circus that is our city council?

It will be interesting to see whether her campaign will be financed by the Good Old Boy crowd as was that of recent Councilman-elect Charles Bare. Or will her maniacal quest for attention turn off even them?

————————–

And this is post from Travis Peterson in 2011 using the same IP address:

Travis Peterson
press@ashtonhayward.com
69.85.255.2
Submitted on 2011/08/11 at 12:36 pm

Rick-

I’m not going to comment on the specifics of this issue, but I want to clarify how most of these requests are handled so everyone-including your readers- are clear about the process.

When you file a public records request on someone’s email account, that request is sent to MIS (the tech department), which does an email “harvest” on the server, based on the parameters you provide (sender, receiver, time, date, subject matter, etc).

That process – because there are other City responsibilities that MIS deals with (such as making sure meetings are televised, that phones work, all those other “transparency” issues) can take a day or two.

Once those emails are harvested, the subject sender is sent those emails to review. Why are they reviewed, you say?

Well, suppose the sender is asking a coworker about lunch plans, or talking about some other clearly personal issues – that email is not subject to public records laws.

A better example: Suppose the sender is emailing a supervisor about a sick child or relative, or a private medical issue. If that email is made public, the City and the taxpayers have a potential HIPAA violation on their hands.

Better yet: Suppose the sender is on an email transmission about an ongoing City litigation. That email is privileged under Florida Public Records law, and if that email were made public, not only would the litigation be compromised, but the City and the taxpayers could potentially be placed in legal peril.

In addition, any emails that are redacted or not included in your public records request should be logged and the specific exemption referenced (personal nature, health information, etc), so there can’t just be a blanket “don’t send this out.”

So, the delay you are referencing now is because the subject person is apparently unable, or was apparently unable, to review those emails for personal or privileged information. That review protects the City and taxpayers, not the individual person.

The Public Records Law is very clear that information should be provided in “a reasonable time and under reasonable conditions.” It has just now been 24 hours since your request was received at 12:22pm on Wednesday.

I understand you will be receiving those emails soon. Hopefully we all agree that 24 hours is more than a reasonable time frame.

Thanks for tolerating this long post – I know you know this process, but I wanted to make sure that your readers are clear as well.

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  • Evan Johns February 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you. I enjoyed this thoroughly.

  • Amy February 24, 2013 at 6:59 am

    This is not at all surprising. The fact that someone at City Hall felt the need to defend the mayor on this blog speaks volumes for the Mayor and his administration.

  • jeeperman February 23, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Did you change something since Friday?
    Much faster so far as of 10am Sat.

  • joe February 22, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I haven’t been on this site lately and missed the latest on the Child Mayor’s antics.
    Having only enough knowledge to keep my own systems running and maintained even I know if the public is using the same network the City PIO uses there is a severe lack of security with City of Pcola IT, which I doubt is the case.
    So many of those comments appear to be written by the same person and with the names they use, like mocking CJ Lewis just shows the immaturity of the type of people with which the Mayor surrounds himself.

    Thanks for the late morning chuckle Rick and Mr. Cosson.

  • sj February 21, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Good to know that I am not the only one who recognizes the similarities in the syntax of these comments..

  • Richard Hawkins February 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Rick is also slow in 5K runs. He should do better.

  • What a Joke February 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    This is sad but really funny. When Hayward took office, he was extremely paranoid and that clearly has not changed. He didn’t want citizens coming into city hall without being screened — thus the fortress he built on the 7th floor. He didn’t want city employees watching city council meetings on their computers. He wanted to prohibit city employees from posting comments on blogs — even if they did so from their homes. He didn’t — and still doesn’t — understand that city hall is a public facility, built with taxpayer dollars so citizens are entitled to easy access. He didn’t — and still doesn’t — understand that watching city council meetings makes for an educated and involved workforce. He didn’t — and still doesn’t — understand that public sector employees don’t forfeit their first amendment rights when they work for the government. Not only doesn’t the mayor understand, he doesn’t care about the rights that citizens & employees have. He’s not a dictator, but he’s sure acting like one.

  • Dale Parker February 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    With regard to the IP address, many times the public WiFi would be independent of the enterprise network. For example, if the enterprise is operating a VPN the public WiFi would have a different IP address. This is easy enough to test, simply comment from the City’s public WiFi and see if the IP address matches. If not, then that would present an even bigger IT security issue for Cossen and that is why does she have access to a logged in City computer? Nearly every enterprise security policy I know of would prohibit this and view it as a security risk. In the city’s case an embarrassment issue. But I would assume you have to have character for that.

    With regard to blogging sites, nearly all of them are database driven and lots of them use Word Press. I do not know if yours uses Word Press, however, given the fact that it is feature rich, searchable and in given your recent revelations tracking IP addresses per comment and poster yours is most certainly database driven. Therefore, given the number of blog posts, related comments and content over time it is not surprising that the site is feeling the impact of a large content database.

    You may consider upgrading to a more robust database, a dedicated server or a more performance based blogging tool better suited for larger blogging sites.

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