The new PAC and petition drive against the bond financing is a smart political move by former City Councilman Marty Donovan. There is no downside politically. His political career tanked after the 2006 Community Maritime Park referendum. In 2004, Donovan won re-election against Larry Johnson with 2,847 votes (60%). In the park referendum vote, he could only get 1,562 (44%) in his district to vote against the park. Four years later the incumbent could only get 1,772 votes (37%) in a three-man general election and 819 votes (39%) in the runoff primary.
If the Donovan gets the 5800-plus signatures, it makes him a contender for Pensacola mayor or his old council seat, that’s held by Larry Johnson. There is no personal downside for Donovan.
As far as the petition drive itself, this is how the city charter works. It’s the only recourse the public has if it believes the city staff and council are not doing what the public wants. And while Donovan may want to make this a vote about building the Community Maritime Park, it is not. The petition drive, if successful, will call for a vote on the bond financing plan submitted by Mr. Barker, the city finance director, and Al Coby, the city manager—and which the city council approved. The council and staff will need to come up with a different plan if the referendum overturns the plan.
Financing and construction costs may go up or down, but that doesn’t concern Donovan. The higher Donovan can drive the financing and construction costs the better the success of his next petition drive and the resurrection of his political career.
I will do more on the bond financing itself when I get a little more time—after we get this week’s issue done.