A letter sent to the Pensacola City Council by Butch Hansen, its budget analyst, asserts that he was forced to resign by the mayor’s office because “City Administration” believed Hansen’s candidacy for City Council District 6 was an ethics violation.
The City HR Policy Manual states “Florida statutes may restrict certain employees qualifying for public office; employees not excluded by statute may seek any municipal, county, state, or federal elected position without resigning or taking a leave of absence, providing campaigning does not interfere with their normal job performance.” (Section G-5(C).
Hansen said that he checked with the general counsel of the Florida Elections Commission and was told that Florida statutes did not exclude him from running for office.
However, the mayor’s office told Hansen that the HR policy didn’t apply to him. Instead, they said his candidacy violated paragraph 2.6.3.f of the City’s Ethics Code that states an employee must not act upon or participate in a decision-making process with respect to any matter before the city that may “personally or financially benefit” him.
“Furthermore, I was informed that my participation in budget discussions, formally or informally, could be viewed as being potentially benefitting to me personally (in a political sense), which would therefore be viewed as an ethics code violation,” wrote Hansen.
Hansen disagreed with City Administrator Eric Olson but decided to resign to “avoid concern over any perceived or potential ethics code violations.”
Read Resignation Letter.
Note: Understand the illogical of this. The Code of Ethics applies to city employees, volunteer board members and elected officials. No council member or mayor seeking re-election could ever participate in any city vote or budget discussion during the election cycle if their political careers would benefit from the vote. And, of course, nearly all their votes are done with an eye towards re-election. The budget for the last seven years essentially has been the mayor’s campaign platform.
Another low political blow by the mayor’s office – forcing out the budget analyst before the budget workshops. This is reminiscent of how Mayor Hayward fired Council Executive Lila Cox in June 2014 as she was also preparing for the budget hearings.
The thuggery on the seventh floor of City Hall no longer amazes me.
What is the mayor’s office afraid that Hansen would have uncovered in the FY 2019 budget?