Poll: Pensacola wants to know facts about investigation of fire chiefs

A InWeekly/Political Matrix poll of 444 likely Pensacola City voters conducted over the weekend found residents overwhelmingly want Mayor Grover Robinson to investigate why former Fire Chief Matt Schmitt and Deputy Fire Chief were fired.

On Jan. 29, 2016, City Administrator Eric Olson, his special assistant Rusty Wells, CFO Dick Barker, Chief Human Resources Officer Edward Sisson and Assistant Administrator Keith Wilkins met with Beggs & Lane attorney Russell Van Sickle and Allan Norton & Blue attorney Rob Larkin to come with a legal scheme that would place the chiefs on administrative leave and conduct an investigation that would undermine the chiefs’ EEOC complaints and give Mayor Ashton Hayward the cover to fire them.

The plan worked, but there was one huge catch. The city couldn’t defend its actions in federal court after Schmitt and Glover filed discrimination lawsuits. The city and its insurance carrier in October 2018 had to settle and pay the former chiefs $575,000.

The settlement was made in the waning days of the Hayward administration and hidden from the public until Inweekly reported it two weeks ago.

In our poll, we asked Pensacola voters whether or not they thought that Mayor Hayward and the city staff should have disclosed this settlement to the public. Very few were happy with Hayward’s secrecy.

Responses: 444Total%
No opinion/undecided306.8

We asked should Mayor Grover Robinson investigate as to why the city chose to allegedly retaliate against the fire chiefs and report his findings to the public?

Responses: 444Total%
No opinion/undecided5913.3

The percentage that asked for the investigation matches how many felt the city employees shouldn’t be punished for filing an EEOC complaint or discrimination lawsuit against the city.

No opinion/undecided5311.9

As part of their scheme to get rid of Schmitt and Glover, the Hayward administration removed the Independent Personnel Board of its HR manual without notifying the employees, city council or public. Three out of four Pensacola voters want it brought back.

Should the city of Pensacola have an independent personnel board to listen to the employees’ appeals of disciplinary actions?

No opinion/undecided4610.4


The persons sampled were Pensacola City voters with a voting score of 100% for the general election cycles. The voters were called using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system during the hours of noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 9. The Margin of Error for this study is +/- 4% with a confidence level of 95%.