High-level officials in city and county government have told Tallahassee Reports that unilateral actions by Mayor Andrew Gillum is sending a less than collegial message: “I do not need nor do I want your support for my agenda.”
Sources say these unilateral actions started with his less than transparent travels to Pittsburgh and other locations late last year with two city vendors and a registered city lobbyists and continued with his handling of the ”Ban the Box” issue.
He never sought guidance or informed the City Commission of his travel plans and he failed to build a consensus around the “Ban the Box” issue.
This go-it-alone approach has never been more evident than with the recent “Mayor’s Summit on Children” just completed on March 27.
Mayor Gillum, during the City’s annual retreat, said he wanted to “convene a Children’s Summit to focus on the issues and opportunities in our community that impact children and families including child care access and quality, and the promotion of family friendly workplace practices.”
This was the first and last time the City Commission heard of the issue. There was no input from fellow Commissioners on funding for the summit. No votes on policy direction. No votes on people who should be involved.
And then there is this.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that “Gillum’s office” not the City of Tallahassee, ”will place names with committees, designate a chairman and expect them to come back with suggestions in the next six to seven months.”
The Summit was funded by corporate sponsors and included invitation only participates.
Dr. Ed Holifield, a local activist, showed up at the City Commission meeting on the Wednesday before the Summit and confronted Gillum.
“Invitation only is what I was told when I called the Mayor’s office about a Mayor’s Summit on Children. Is that even legal? The City is not the Golden Eagle Country Club. Why are people excluded?,” said Dr. Holifield.
Gillum admitted invitations were sent to a list of select individuals but that Dr. Holifield was indeed invited.
For comparison purposes, TR researched the creation of the Mayor Summit on Race Relations by Mayor Scott Maddox back in 1999, which has become an annual event.
TR found that on December 15, 1999 the City Commission voted 4-0 (Commissioner Bailey absent) to approve up to $15,000 to send City employees to the Race Relations Summit, beginning on January 17, 2000, and to authorize the City Manager the discretion of funding up to $3,000 to support an effort by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to bring in a national speaker on Martin Luther King Day in conjunction with this initiative.
Also on February 23, 2000, the City Commission voted to approve a supplemental appropriation in the amount of $26,000 to the Equal Opportunity departmental budget, from collected corporate sponsorships and registration fees for the Summit on Race Relations Conference held January 19-20, 2000 at the Civic Center.
There is no such record for Mayor Gillum’s Summit on Children. So now the questions begin!
Who were the corporate sponsors? Were any sponsors City vendors? Did the sponsors contribute to the Mayors campaign? Did the Mayor vote on any issues involving the sponsors? What City funds were used? Did City staff participate in the Summit?