Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pensacola Political Logic

Pensacola Beach people can have no more than the idle curiosity of friendly neighbors about today's referendum inside the limits of the City of Pensacola itself. We don't even get to vote for a majority to govern us on the beach, much less do we have a voice on the mainland.

Nevertheless, if you want to know more about the proposed switcheroo from a Council-City Manager form of government to a "strong mayor" system, Progressive Pensacola has the low-down. Or, you could bone up on the city's history, which shows the "strong mayor" system has been tried several times before, and never lasted.

The Pensacola Newsletter last Sunday came out in mealy-mouth fashion for trying something -- anything -- to shake up the city. Its editorial argument for a new charter essentially comes down to this: Pensacola voters can do better than the city manager and council we have now:
It's a profoundly pessimistic view that essentially argues that Pensacola dare not dream bigger, because the city and its people are not capable of it. * * * What we like most about the new charter is that creates a true leadership position accountable to voters."
Not to be pessimistic or anything, but who was it who elected the council they have now? And, what kind of 'accountability to voters' is it when you embed term limits for city officials in a proposed organic city charter?

Pensacola logic apparently goes something like this:
  • Pensacola city voters are perfectly capable of electing intelligent, dedicated, honest leaders.
  • Pensacola city voters are not capable of voting stupid, crooked, or ineffectual officials out of office, so we have to make sure they can't run for reelection too many times.
It seems to us the root problem in Pensacola, if there is one, is not the form of government. It's the abundance of stupid voters. Apparently, the writers of the proposed new city charter agree, or they wouldn't have provided for term limits in language that amounts to, 'Stop us before we reelect you again.'


C.J. Lewis said...

There is some interest "in the county." Two "Believe in Pensacola" signs guard the entrance to Newman Peacock Enterprises at 2930 Langley Avenue, part of an unincorported (lower tax) enclave surrounded on all sides by the (higher tax) city.

Probably the sharpest member of the council is District 3 Councilwoman Maren DeWeese. Her husband Jeff is leading the charge to impose pseudo-term limits on her. Fascinating dynamics.

Yes, as Reggie Dogan points out in his column today, we don't want to be like Ashville, Greenville (SC), Sarasota, Tallahassee, Milton or Gulf Breeze Proper which have successful Council-Manager governments. We want to be like Birmingham (bribery) and Charleston (Super Sofa Store fire disaster, embezzlement by city property manager, etc.).

Ray Russenberger had an interesting perspective when he testified to the city's Charter Review Commission in September 2008. He said he's "not able to be elected in Pensacola." He also said, "Current system does not work."

Anonymous said...

Isn't Bham barely avoiding bankruptcy?