At the last city commission meeting, City Commissioner Nancy Miller made a surprise move to hire interim city manager Reese Goad.
This motion was a surprise because the city commission had previously voted to conduct a nation-wide search to fill the position after two new city commissioners and a new mayor were seated after this election cycle.
Also, Miller’s proposal was not listed on the agenda of items to be addressed at the meeting.
Miller’s proposal failed when City Commissioner Gil Ziffer recommended the discussion about hiring a city manager be addressed in October.
Since the meeting, TR has received a number of phone calls with information addressing possible explanations for the “Miller Surprise.”
After a few phone calls of our own, the “Miller Suprise” might have been unexpected by some, but the proposal to hire Reese Goad appears to have been a coordinated effort by a group of insiders concerned about the upcoming elections.
Here is what we know.
For the first time in over 15 years there is a guarantee of three new votes on the city commission. In addition, the traditional political power brokers do not have the same relationships with the potential candidates during this cycle as in the past.
There are candidates in each city race that could win and who do not have allegiance to the status quo. In fact, even some candidates that are well connected are speaking out against the status quo.
Drew Jones, a principle with Vancore-Jones, the local political consultant and city vendor, was in the audience at the city commission meeting when Miller made the proposal to hire Reese Goad.
Why is this important?
Vancore-Jones has been the most influential local political consultant in Tallahassee over the last ten years. They have been consultants for current city commissioners Nancy Miller and Gill Ziffer. Also, they have worked with Leon County Commissioners John Daily, Mary Ann Lindley, Kristen Dozier and Bryan Desloge.
Vancore-Jones has also been paid by the City of Tallahassee as a consultant for years. So far this year the City of Tallahassee’s online checkbook shows that Vancore-Jones has been paid approximately $50,000.
Also, records show that interim city manager Reese Goad has been instrumental in awarding the city work to Vancore-Jones.
One source told TR that “Drew Jones does not frequent city commission meetings unless something is at stake. He knew Miller’s motion was coming.”
Another source said that while Reese Goad as city manager would be a financial help to Vancore-Jones, the move to hire Goad is bigger than that.
The source said “the leadership at the Chamber of Commerce and traditional power brokers are not used to the uncertainty involved with these elections and what could happen with a new commission. They are distressed about the direction a job search for the most powerful position in local government could take if Matlow, Williams-Cox, and Daniels ended up winning. ”
The source said that Miller’s proposal “buys the status quo group some time.”
The issue will be back before the city commission in October. By that time, the primary results will be known and a clearer picture will emerge about who will be on the city commission. This will no doubt have an impact on the debate over City Commissioner Nancy Miller’s proposal.