Anti-charter tones down Fear & Smear campaign

The No Boss Mayor group has reduced its message down from six to four points and toned down the language.

They have combined these two points from the Oct. 16 notice:”1)Accountability for day to day administration is lost because the Mayor will only be accountable once every four years at the ballot box and doesn’t answer to the Council at all. 2)The voter’s voice is diminished because Council terms would be lengthened from 2 to 4 years.” The new point – which has dropped to #3 on their list: “This change doubles Council and Mayoral terms to four years, limiting accountability at the ballot box.”

They have brought in the words “backroom deals” as they revised this Oct. 16 point (it ranked #3): “A Boss Mayor will be able to make decisions behind closed doors and would not be subject to the Sunshine Law.” The new point —which keeps its #3 ranking: “The Mayor will be able to hold meetings behind closed doors with Council members, making backroom deals more likely.” ….The dropped “Boss,” too.

Their #4 from Oct 16—“Concentration of power in the Strong Mayor will weaken District representation”—- has been expanded: “This change would dilute the power of the District Representatives and force citizens to go through the Mayor’s office to address neighborhood concerns.” (this is now their last point).

They have dropped completely: “The huge cost to taxpayers for an increased Mayoral salary and support staff.” ….I guess we showed them how unfounded this claim was.

They have added a new point that now has the top ranking: “The Boss Mayor would have too much power. He would create the budget, hire and fire staff, and have a line-item veto over Council actions.”

Let’s see how to respond:

Claim: Four years reduce accountability The average tenure of Pensacola City Council member from 1990-2008 was over 8 years. Rarely, does an incumbent only serve one two-year term. None have over the past two decades that I can recall. Four-year terms allow a council member to learn the process and get more than one budget under their belt.

Claim: Strong mayor leads to backroom deals The mayor becomes the CEO and replaces the city manager has the head of the city government. The City Manager meets privately now with staff and city council. The Mayor will step into his shoes. There is no change in how this area of government operates under the new charter.

Claim: Weakens District representation The vote of council member will be more valuable – instead of 1 out of 10 members. Under new charter, he/she will be one out of nine. The citizens will go for help to whomever is most effective in meeting their needs. If a councilmember listens and works hard in his/her district, the voters will turn to them and see them as their advocate.

Claim: Too much power in strong mayor Now an unelected person – city manager – has all the powers that they fear an elected mayor will have. With two exceptions, 1) the new mayor will have to get approval from the council on the department heads that he hires – the city manager does not. 2) the new mayor has veto power – which the council can overturn with six votes (only one more that it takes to pass a measure. The veto is power that works in the checks and balances of both the federal and state governments.