The mayor’s timeline doesn’t match in his story about how he came to pay for a transition team member to attend a conference. (See PNJ, “Pensacola mayor’s transition report was not quite free“)
The city paid $507.17 for Drew Buchanan to attend the Emerald Coast Regional Council on Feb. 25-26 on Navarre Beach. Buchanan handled the issues of walkability and traffic on the transition team.
When asked about the expenditure, Mayor Grover Robinson said, “If you’re in an official capacity, yeah, you’re spending time, you’re volunteering your time for the betterment of the city, why wouldn’t I want you to be as educated as you are and what you can be, and be on top of what’s happening?”
When the PNJ asked him about the trip, Buchanan said, “Everything I learned it went straight into my report.”
Here’s the problem: Buchanan’s report for the transition team was substantially completed on Feb. 15—10 days before the conference. Buchanan also had given a copy to Mayor Robinson before he attended the conference.
Buchanan’s report recommended the city adopt the “Complete Streets” program. At his Feb. 25 press conference-while Buchanan was in Navarre, Mayor Robinson announced the city would adopt the program and hire someone to run it.
Robinson said, “We are going to make a commitment that we will be having people at the city that will be looking at this and employees that will be addressing walkability, bikeabilty, parking, those kind of issues that we have in an urbanized area, and really looking at Complete Streets that are more than just streets for cars.”
Inweekly requested the email trail on Buchanan’s report. Initial draft was received on Feb. 15.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Buchanan was asked to send a measurable and barriers. He sent this:
* Success can be measured with frequent assessments and evaluations of the results from implemented infrastructure and policies, i.e. bicycle ridership, bicycle/sidewalk network mileage; pedestrian counts using protected facilities, such as sidewalks, crosswalks and multi-purpose paths; measure of students walking/biking to school; award of Bicycle Friendly Community status; statistics of bicycle and pedestrian injuries and/or fatalities; measurable usage of public on-street and off-street parking facilities; and citizen-citizen-initiated comments via 311 or traditional public feedback
* One barrier was the shear amount of diverse opinions, perspectives, and viewpoints shared from citizens on their own experiences within their neighborhoods and community on the issues of walkability, parking, and traffic. A large part of overcoming these barriers was accomplished through maximizing transparency, openness, and public input through a proactive public engagement process that spanned several meetings, dozens of one-on-one meetings with citizens and stakeholders, and via email, social media, and communication utilizing emerging media.
* Another barrier that was found to be challenging was the reality that regarding the issues of walkability and complete streets, the City had very little baseline metrics and a lack of consistency and continuity of City plans and staffing on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. policy. and Complete Streets planning and implementation. It’s critical that the City designates a point of contact for all bike-pedestrian-related issues that communicates and collaborates with appropriate departments and agencies.
On Feb. 28, Buchanan was asked to make any copyedits. None of them were substantially different from his original 2/15 report, although he did change the West Florida Regional Planning Council to Emerald Coast Regional Council and added a paragraph about collaboration on street lighting.
On March 1, the entire transition report -all components- was completed. The report was delivered publicly on March 4.
I have no problem with the mayor sending Buchanan to conference, but he shouldn’t fabricate a story to defend it.
The cover-up is always worse than the deed.