Jeremy's Notebook

Working it Out at the Workshop

February 6, 2013

city councilThe Pensacola City Council will hold a workshop tomorrow to go over the body’s rules and procedures. Specific topics on the agenda include an overview of legislative parliamentary procedure and the nature and conduct of committee meetings.

To assist in the workshop, the city council has enlisted attorney Doug Sale. It’s the same attorney who was tapped to work for the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2011 before heading home after telling council “you have got some issues that must be resolved in this city before something much more serious than hiring a little ol’ lawyer from Panama City comes before you.”

During tomorrow’s workshop, the council will also discuss proposed changes to the rules and procedures. The changes are being proposed by Councilman Charles Bare.

Bare is suggesting that council establish five specialized committees and scrap the current committee of the whole structure. He has argued that such a move would make the council more efficient.

The councilman outlines five committees in a Dec. 10 email: Audit/Budget, Enterprise, Rules/Boards and Intergovernmental Relations, Public Safety and Neighborhood Services, and Economic Development. Each committee would consist of three members.

Tomorrow’s city council workshop is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Pensacola City Hall.

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  • CJ Lewis February 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Doug Sale’s comment – “[Y]ou have got some issues that must be resolved in this city before something much more serious than hiring a little ol’ lawyer from Panama City comes before you.” – should be read in the broader context of what was then happening in December 2011.
    Sale made the above comment, and more, as he was about to walk out the door. As I recall, Sale also told the CRA, i.e., City Council, that they were “dysfunctional.” Although speaking to the City Council as CRA, Sale’s comments were directed at the city government as a whole.

    In 2011, the first year of the new Mayor-Council city government was painfully described by one City Council member as, “A year of 12 dirty diapers a day with the screaming.” Mayor Ashton Hayward was the screamer. As a governing body, by December 2011, the City Council had collectively failed to exercise effectively “the legislative powers of the City.” In large measure, the City Council was most hindered by ceremonial figurehead members (P.C. Wu, John Jerralds, Ron Townsend and Sam Hall) unable or unwilling to grow into the new job. Seeing an opportunity to exercise openly undefended legislative powers, Hayward became a City Hall bully browbeating and bureaucratically tormenting the City Council in every way he could.

    As if guided and compelled by his inner-Machiavelli, Hayward seized, and still seizes, ever opportunity to misread the City Charter to his advantage, especially Section 4.01.(a)(1) granting him the power and duty, “To exercise the executive powers of the City, and supervise all departments, including but not limited to, the power to appoint, discipline, and remove all officers and employees, unless otherwise provided in this Charter.” Hayward uses this part of the Charter as the foundation for most though not all of his abuses of power.

    Hayward seems to imagine the City Council is a mere department of the City under his supervision. In truth, back in December 2011, when Sale made his comment, Hayward did have a majority of the City Council under his firm control. However, by early February 2012, that number is reduced to just three – P.C. Wu, Brian Spencer and Andy Terhaar. The City Council is, as of this date, almost an independent branch of city government as anticipated by the Charter. Four Council members – Megan Pratt, Sherri Myers, Charles Bare and Gerald Wingate – are openly pro-Charter advocates with Larry Johnson and Jewel Cannada-Wynn leaning that way.

    However, back in December 2011, when Hayward still exercised tight control over the City Council, Hayward correctly realized his control over the City Council could also be extended over the City Council members when they served in their legally separate role as the commissioners of the Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), a dependent special district of the City of Pensacola. The CRA is very similar in nature to the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board (DIB), also a dependent special district of the City of Pensacola.

    Because the Mayor, by flawed design, is not a member of the City Council, Hayward plays no role on the CRA except as may be given to him by the CRA through interlocal agreement with the City of Pensacola. [Hayward’s minimal role on the DIB is limited to making several appointments on behalf of the City Council.] Hayward, openly frustrated that not all of the administrative authority of the City of Pensacola is concentrated only in his hands, challenged CRA Chairperson Megan Pratt’s lawful authority to enter into a contract on behalf of the CRA, as directed by the CRA members, to retain Sale as the CRA’s general legal counsel.

    Hayward threatened to withhold payment on monies due to Sale for work already performed for the CRA. Pratt defended her action to hire Sale, authorized by formal action of the CRA, but had to yield when a majority of the City Council caved to Hayward’s new claim of administrative authority over the CRA. In defense of Pratt’s actions, Florida Statutes §163.356(3)(c) provides that, “An agency may employ an executive director, technical experts, and such other agents and employees, permanent and temporary, as it requires, and determine their qualifications, duties and compensation. For such legal service as it requires, an agency may employ or retain its own counsel and legal staff.” When the issue next arises, and it will, Sale will again tell the City Council the truth and, this time, a majority should listen to him.

    • Rick Outzen February 7, 2013 at 9:49 am

      The issue on Pratt hiring Sale was she never held a CRA vote on his contract –or a RFP on the position.

  • Whoa there February 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Look for this workshop to quickly deteriorate into a Bare/Myers gabfest as they jockey for position as Mouth of Council.