Mayor’s office sneaks in bad news updates at end of five-hour meeting marathon

The Pensacola City Council met for nearly five hours yesterday: agenda review, CRA meeting and council workshop. At the very end of the last meeting, City Administrator Eric Olson chose to give updates on a litany of outstanding city projects.

Some of the news was good, but most of it was not.

The biggest letdown was the state of Florida didn’t make the cut for the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which offered $1 billion nationwide for projects that protect communities from future natural hazards and promote resiliency at the state and local level. This was where the mayor’s office placed a lot of energy and resources to resolve many of the flooding issues in the city limits.

Four other FEMA grant applications have been bumped to Tier 2—meaning funds aren’t currently available for them.

The fish hatchery will not be completed until the summer of 2018. Living Shoreline – $11.7 million project to expand Project Greenshores – is on a similar timeline.

The Government Street Stormwater Project, which was approved in 2013, has been delayed because the bids came back over the $2.1 million budget. The city is seeking additional funds from the state.

DeepFlex is is waiting for refinancing. Its building has been hardened to endure hurricanes,according to Olson.

Councilman Charles Bare was upset that the City Administrator waited so late in the day to give his report.

“This should be during our council meeting,” said Bare. “There are only four council members here. There are no members of the public.”

He said, “We are completely doing a disservice to the public by having this part of a workshop.”

Olson appeared lost as to when he should give information updates. He said, “That is one of the questions–where does this fit? We need to give more information to the council and the public.”

How could the mayor’s office give more information?

1) Digital newsletters,
2) Emails and memos to the council members, and
3) Press conferences.

Experienced city administrators don’t have to ask the question – where does this fit?

I could understand this question might have been okay in the first few months of the Hayward administration back in 2011, but this is the mayor’s second term.