Yesterday, Pensacola City Manager Al Coby did his job as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the city without a reporter sitting in his office. He met with department heads, staff and the public without posting an agenda for the meetings or making them open for the press to see and hear. Coby may have even spoke with a few council members and the mayor without having a reporter listen in.
A few blocks away the Superintendent of Schools – the CEO of the public school system – is operating similarly. He meets with school board members individually and his staff privately to discuss operations and his plans for the future. In the Escambia County Office Complex, other elected officials – Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections- meet privately with their staffs, too. Each is the CEO of his/her agency.
At the Blanchard Judicial Center, State Attorney Bill Eddins, Public Defender James Owens and Clerk of Court Ernie Lee Magaha run their agencies similarly—as does Sheriff David Morgan on Leonard St.
The difference between Al Coby and all the other government CEOs – Al Coby is not elected and has a ten-member board that must come up with six votes to fire him.
Sunshine isn’t the issue with the proposed charter. It’s electing the City CEO or not. It’s setting term limits. It’s about giving the voters more say in their government.