In March, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward hired retained Evergreen Solutions LLC of Tallahassee to conduct an operational study of the City Clerk’s office. The report was completed on June 26 but not given to the Pensacola City Council on August 2.
City Clerk Ericka Burnett didn’t receive a copy until the following day after he already discussed the report in a budget workshop, according to an email she sent Mayor Hayward and the council.
According to report, the study was to address: What tasks should the City Clerk perform? How should Council meetings be managed by the City Clerk? How can the current operation be improved?
The report is being used by City Administrator Eric Olson to justify the transfer one employee from the City Clerk to the City Attorney.
Why spend tax dollars on a study? The mayor can reorganize departments without council approval.
Burnett has disputed the findings of the report – which covered such items as whether consent agenda items should be read in a council meeting. (Really)
From the City Clerk:
Mayor Hayward, Council President Spencer, and Members of City Council:
Today, I received and have read the Operational Study dated June 26, 2017 conducted by Queenell Fox of Evergreen Solutions, LLC. The statements/observations are out of context and redundant throughout. Ms. Fox clearly has no understanding of municipal functions, much less the knowledge of City Clerk functions related to Florida law. All City Clerk’s Offices function differently with various assignments of tasks and responsibilities which affect the number of personnel.
This study is a result of City Administrator Eric Olson taking the Clerk Administrative Assistant position from the Clerk’s Office and reassigning to the Legal Department. Mr. Olson’s reasoning for the change was that the position was needed for the Public Records Coordinator position. Please be reminded that the Public Records Coordinator was terminated in 2015 by the Administration and that position was reassigned to the Legal Department. The Clerk’s Office has always been staffed at 3 full time employees (FTE’s), so this was not a problem.
Mr. Olson also stated that implementation of the Granicus system alleviated some of the work load of the position. While the Granicus program has allowed for a more streamlined agenda preparation process, it still requires human interaction to function. Without the Clerk Administrative Assistant position, we are unable to provide back up, cross-train, or have full office coverage to operate efficiently and maintain the standard that has been long established by this office. This will most certainly impact City Council meetings. I have not requested additional staff. I want to maintain a staff of 3 FTE’s.
The overall lack of understanding the Clerk’s role in municipal government is the underlying issue. For more than three years I have provided revised job descriptions to Human Resources and the City Administrator that accurately reflect the duties of the employees of the Clerk’s Office. The current job descriptions are inaccurate and poorly written.
I also provided Ms. Fox with copies of the revised job descriptions as a guideline of our actual duties, functions, and responsibilities which align with the City Charter, state laws, and Council’s processes. The current job descriptions are not an accurate depiction of our duties, functions, and responsibilities.
To further illustrate the lack of understanding of the Clerk’s role, in my meeting with Mr. Olson wherein he informed me that the Clerk Administrative Assistant position was being transferred to the Legal Department, he stated that he does not know what we do.
I am able to provide documentation to refute the many discrepancies, not to mention errors and omissions, throughout the study. A few examples such as, 1) quoting the statute dictating proper adoption of ordinances and resolution and incorrectly relating it to the reading of the consent items; 2) inaccurate citing of peer cities’ population and number of staff in Clerks’ offices; and 3) inaccurately quoting Assistant City Clerk Robyn Tice’s salary as $7,000 more than it actually is. There are many, many more.
Further, I was not aware that Council meeting efficiency was a part of the scope of Ms. Fox’s study. We do not manage Council meetings as reflected in the report. The Council President and Council staff should have been informed by the Administration and made a part of the interview process. Administration never made me aware of the complete focus of the assessment being conducted.
In my direct involvement with this study, I observed that Ms. Fox spent more time interviewing other city staff than she did me or the Assistant City Clerk. My interview with Ms. Fox was completed in person in less than an hour as she was scheduled to go upstairs to interview Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins and Ms. Tice’s interview was rescheduled and conducted by phone, which lasted less than an hour. I am also aware that she met for hours with other staff prior to our scheduled interview.
Finally, I would like to make known my concerns regarding Ms. Fox’s qualifications and ethics. A simple “Google” search provided concerning articles related to her prior municipal employment and resignation in 2016, in Texas.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with each of you regarding the gross inaccuracies that make up her entire report.