Robinson had no vote on Downtown Parking program

Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson last night told Inweekly he was surprised that Drew Buchanan, who is running for mayor against him, had blamed him for the current issues regarding downtown parking.

In a press release yesterday, Buchanan said, “Mr. Robinson has served on the DIB for many years. He’s as much to blame for this parking blunder as anyone else. Frankly, it’s yet another example of his lack of leadership and vision.”

Robinson told the newspaper that he serves as a liaison between the Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) and the county commission. He doesn’t not have a vote. All the voting DIB members are appointed by the mayor of Pensacola. He typically sends his administrative assistant to the meetings to report back on the DIB.

“Since I am there for little more than information, I generally send Becky to the meetings,” he said.

The DIB minutes support the commissioner’s statement. He was not listed as attending any of the DIB meeting regarding the current parking program.

This morning, Bryan McCall, whose agency, Duncan McCall, handles Robinson’s campaign, took to Twitter to challenge Buchanan’s motives for his attack.

He tweeted, “Blaming DIB problems on a non-voting representative from the BCC is dishonest. It either indicates malicious intent or lack of understanding of the process. Either are not good qualities in a potential mayor.”

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1 thought on “Robinson had no vote on Downtown Parking program

  1. Just for the record, there is nothing in the DIB Act that says the County Commission member is a “liaison.” The law says that the County Commissioner is appointed by the County Commission Chairman to serve as an “ex officio member of the board.” The fact that Robinson neglects his duty mostly refusing to attend DIB meetings to participate in its deliberations makes you wonder why each County Chairman appoints him each year. I think this explains why Robinson’s campaign website makes no mention of his appointment to the DIB, something he may find embarrassing. Chairman Bergosh should immediately appoint a member of the County Commission who cares about the DIB to serve on the board, perhaps Commissioner May who I assume would be the DIB’s first ever African-American member. Perhaps the County should rotate who serve as its appointee to the DIB with the Vice Chairperson serving in that role, a new person appointed every year. As for the dissolution of the DIB, an initiative addressed in the city’s 2012 Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee Final Report that no one ever read, the DIB Act’s Section 13.(5) describes a very specific process for the abolishment of the DIB. As a general rule, when the Florida Legislature describes a specific process to take a legislative action, the Florida Attorney General has advised that this is the only process that can be used. The City Council could but likely will not ask the Attorney General if the City Council could also initiate an abolishment referendum on its own or unilaterally ignore the DIB and its electors asking that the Florida Legislature abolish the DIB. For sure, there is nothing in the City Charter, City Code or Policies of the City Council that give the Mayor the power unilaterally to act outside of the law to pressure the Florida Legislature to abolish the DIB. Buchanan seems just as misguided here as he was when declaring that he would give himself a new unilateral power to issue executive orders to decriminalize drug use inside city limits. The parking management issue is an easy fix. As of January 1, 2013, the City can terminate the agreement on 120-days written notice. Any four City Council members can vote to terminate the agreement. The Mayor has no role in the matter that is not subject to veto. Terminating the agreement would be a significant financial windfall to the city’s other dependent special district the Pensacola CRA. The city’s Strategic Budget Planner (the City Council has never filled the “Budget Analyst” position) should be tasked to work up the details to include the amount the DIB would have to begin paying to help pay down the Community Maritime Park debt. I have urged the City Council to take this action for years but they seem afraid to act. The City Council would have also to vote in its role as the CRA Board, a perfunctory action, no role played by the Mayor in that vote. Under the new City Charter, the Mayor exercises no powers of the “governing authority” the City or the CRA. Three issues usually misreported in the press need to be addressed. First, the DIB is not an “independent state agency” as the DIB claims on its website. Neither is it a not-for-profit corporation as it claimed for many years or a quasi-governmental body as the City claims. The DIB is a “dependent special district” of the city government, a city “agency” that is a separate and distinct legal entity. Second, the City Council has never conducted an independent review of the record of the DIB to assess if it has outlived its purpose described in Section 3 of the DIB Act. Everyone knows it has to include Mayor Hayward who recently said that there is no longer “blight” in the DIB District. Third, the City Council has never reviewed the DIB Act to conform it to the new City Charter. Under the new form of government, three references to “Mayor” should have been changed in 2010 to “Council President.” In fact, in January 2011, it was Council President Maren DeWeese who appointed Councilman Brian Spencer to the DIB. A few months later, Hayward stripped DeWeese and all future Council Presidents of the power to make appointments to the DIB. The City Council is now not even told if the DIB appointees meet the legal requirements to serve on the board. I have heard concerns that one current member does not qualify for appointment. Under the DIB Act, the Mayor has no power to approve or amend the DIB Budget and no power to remove DIB members, those powers vested in the City Council. It’s a big mess.

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