The City of Tallahassee subsidized restaurant, The Edison, is in the news again after firing the highly respected hospitality operator Steve Adams.
The scrutiny has resulted in various media reports and an audit request by City Commissioner Scott Maddox.
However, what media reports have failed to address is a persistent question that appears in many different forms across social media: how did an expensive, non-family friendly restaurant end-up in the middle of a park built to attract families?
Matthew Isbell, a Tallahassee based Democratic political consultant weighed in on the controversial restaurant on twitter. Among his comments was this: “fact is, the Edison is political…” Mr. Isbell’s comments were based on the clientele the restaurant attracts. He also recommended the powers to be “turn it into a family restaurant or close it.”
The political ties the Edison has with the City of Tallahassee, as detailed below, explains Mr. Isbell’s observations and also explains why many people believe politics was at the center of this public -private partnership and continue to impact the operations and perception of the restaurant.
The political ties begin with Adam Corey, the owner of the Edison.
Mr. Corey was the treasurer of Andrew Gillum’s campaign for Mayor in 2014. In addition, Mr. Corey has donated to the campaigns of city commissioners Nancy Miller, Gill Ziffer and Scott Maddox and to the mayoral campaign of Andrew Gillum.
Mr. Corey was appointed to the Tallahassee Housing Authority. While on the board, Mr. Corey represented a company that builds affordable housing. After a story by TR, Mr. Corey left the board.
Mr. Corey is currently a registered lobbyist with the Tallahassee City Commission and represents a number of business interests.
The political ties between the Edison and the City of Tallahassee increased substantially when it was revealed that Sean Pittman was an investor in the restaurant.
Mr. Pittman has served as the City of Tallahassee lobbyist in various forms since the early 2000’s. His lobbying contract with the City of Tallahassee was recently extended by the full commission based on a recommendation by Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Mr. Pittman has made political donations to all five current Tallahassee City Commissioners and was paid as a consultant for Gillum’s 2014 Mayoral campaign. Pittman has also donated, personally and through business entities, $45,000 to a Gillum for governor affiliated political action committee.
Mr. Pittman, for a number of years, has hosted a Mayor’s brunch. The brunch is a private affair to honor the Mayor of Tallahassee. Recently, the event was held at The Edison and was sponsored by Mr. Pittman.
And finally, Corey, Pittman, and Gillum have a business/mentor/political relationship as Tallahassee Reports and the Tallahassee Democrat has documented in stories about their travels to various cities on behalf of various entities.
These political ties with the City of Tallahassee explains why The Edison is so often in the news and why the restaurant may never be able to escape “insider deal” characterizations.