Inweekly received today emails on the meetings of the “roughly 20-member group” that is pushing for a county charter study – going by the name,”Group for a Better Government.” The daily newspaper had been copied on all of them, giving them exclusive insight into the discussions until now.
For citizens to want to examining changing government is a healthy discussion. People also should know how the “sausage” was made in coming up with the proposal before the board.
At the first group meeting in May, John Peacock presented two ideas for the group’s mission:
1) Develop a platform and find good candidates to run or
2) Change the form of government to an elected County Executive.
The meeting came after Peacock had written a viewpoint in the daily newspaper calling for an elected County Executive: “Want to Save Escambia County?”
When they met again in June, the group agreed their mission was a combination of both ideas.
People were given assignments:
Rusty Branch, Dave Murzin – PAC Formation: “Responsible for researching process and costs associated with PAC formation. Probably $ needed. Start to develop a possible list of donors.”
Jerry Maygarden, Ken Bell, Ed Fleming – Charter Draft Development: “Responsible for drafting a preliminary skeleton/outline of a charter to start educating the public.”
Dickie Appleyard, Myra Van Hoose, John Peacock – Activate Community/Marketing: “Responsible for developing a preliminary plan for public education/marketing.”
Vicki Campbell, JC Tellefson, Al McMillan, Deb Corbin – Talent Search: “Responsible for finding additional talent to build and diversify the group as well as individuals potentially interested in running for office. ”
Also: “The recommendation was made by Jerry Maygarden that the County should hire or appoint an independent body to apportion/redistrict the County to keep politics out of this. I will work with Jerry to determine the best way for us to pursue that recommendation. ”
Peacock wrote the commissioners about it three days after the meeting: John Peacock letter.
The group met again in July. Several individuals agreed to approach county commissioners to get a charter formation commission on the agenda. Why? “This would clearly be the easiest and bypass the need for a petition drive. ”
The group decided to form a 501(c)4 instead of a PAC because “the general consensus was the 501c4 provided the the most amount of flexibility for our efforts.”
Other items the group felt equally strong about were
1) Developing a political platform in which to engage possible candidates
2) Developing position papers to advocate for “functional consolidation” and other ideas to improve government. Example, increase Mayor salary to attract more candidates.
3) Continuing to identify quality individuals to run
4) Continue to identify individuals to help with our group
The August meeting had in attendance– John Peacock, Rusty Branch, Brian Wyer, Ken Bell, Butch Hansen, Dave Murzin, Dickie Appleyard, and JC Tellefson.
The following items were discussed.
– Formation of 501c4. Mark Herron, attorney in Tallahassee, agreed to do formation documents and some initial reporting will be between $4-5000. Peacock would check with Ed Fleming to see if there is a lower cost alternative.
– “BOCC Chairman Bender has agreed to put a discussion of county government on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting on 10/14. We discussed a variety of ways of gathering community sentiment around this item and ultimately garnering support for the effort. The ask for this meeting will be to form a commission/committee to study forms of government that may be more appropriate for Escambia County and report back.”
– Dickie is going to reach out to local media (PNJ, Cat country, WearTv) to get a sense of support. (Inweekly, WCOA, NorthEscambia.com weren’t listed)
– Rusty is going to identify those individuals with relationships to members of the BOCC
– Brian Wyer is going to indentifying community leaders that we can approach for support. Brian also recommended doing virtual town halls to educate citizens about the “why”
Peacock was scheduled to speak via zoom to the League of Women Voters on 9/9. He added, “PYP will either be involved in that meeting or we will plan another meeting to garner support.”
The emails reveal little about the 9/20 meeting: “I apologize for the tardiness of the recap from the 9/20 meeting. GREAT Meeting! Helped to formulate a plan for the request we plan to make at the 11/9 BOCC COW meeting. I am working on the Escambia County Charter Study Commission document and plan to have that for your review next week. We can discuss and revise at the 10/18 meeting.”