Last Night’s RESTORE Conversation

The Pensacola City Council will continue its conversation this morning over Mayor Ashton Hayward’s pick for Escambia County’s RESTORE Act advisory committee. Last night it was getting a bit tense.

“I think my colleague a couple of seats down will recognize this as an ambush on the city council,” Councilman Charles Bare said, referring to nearby City Administrator Bill Reynolds. “We should have had time for the public to see this, and not just some mention of it.”

The councilman was upset that the mayor did not reveal his RESTORE pick—David Penzone—until the end of Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. He wasn’t alone.

“The mayor obviously knew who he was going to bring forward,” said Councilwoman Sheri Myers.

The city must select someone to sit on the RESTORE committee by Jan. 31. The selection is to be made by the mayor and approved by the city council.

“We’re cutting it close,” said Councilman Larry B. Johnson. “We’re cutting it real close.”

There was an appetite on the council to hold off on its decision. They had questions about Penzone. They also had questions about how the appointee was delivered to them.
Councilwoman Megan Pratt said she wanted to be able to support Hayward’s pick. That the RESTORE selection should have been “an opportunity for the mayor to show his leadership with the council.”

“And for the mayor to reach out to the council and make sure he has the votes,” Pratt said.

Council President P.C. Wu pushed for an up or down vote.

“Our job is to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Wu told the council. “We’re playing a very dangerous game with a very short fuse.”

The council instead decided—on a 5-3 vote—to schedule a special meeting to continue the discussion early next week. Reynolds rejected the ‘ambush’ charge— “it was not a surprise”—and countered that the mayor would be calling the special meeting for 12 hours after last night’s meeting—for 8 a.m. this morning.