A deposition in an employment lawsuit against the city of Tallahassee has revealed that Tallahassee officials were concerned that if Florida Power & Light (FPL) were allowed to work in Tallahassee in emergency situations “they may come in and take over for the city?” (See bottom of page 90 of deposition below.)
Also, city officials were concerned that accepting assistance could somehow aid FP&L if they ever decided to try and purchase the electric utility. (See top of page 91 of deposition below.)
This new revelation comes amid a pair of Republican backed campaign advertisements that indicates Mayor Andrew Gillum turned away help during the aftermath of hurricane Hermine which hit Tallahassee on September 1, 2016.
The advertisements began running today.
These recently revealed comments by Rob McGarrah, the General Manager of the electric utility, are not consistent with comments posted by Gillum on his Facebook page days after the hurricane made landfall.
“Let me be clear. We are happy to accept any help from any person or organization that is going to accelerate the speed at which we can safely restore power to our residents,” Gillum said.” He added that “Too much help at one time may make us feel better, but it can actually slow down progress.”
Also, the comments by Rob McGarrah provides context to the initial decision by city officials to tell FP&L their help was not needed.
Reports indicated FP&L had 575 personnel ready to help. However, McGarrah – at the time – said the city had engaged enough assistance from eight other utilities and told the governor that coordination with the visiting crews was important to “make sure what we’re doing is safe.”
After reviewing the recently released campaign advertisements, Marc Caputo, a reporter for Politico Florida, watched the video of a 2016 meeting when the subject of FP&L assistance came up. Caputo tweeted on October 4th, 2018:
“I just reviewed the video. Gillum did not refuse an offer of help. The power-restoration offer via FPL was informally made; Gillum neither accepted nor rejected. At the time, Gillum said he didn’t hear an “official offer” & there was not one.”
Did city officials share their concerns about FP&L coming into Tallahassee after the hurricane with Mayor Gillum before this meeting?
McGarrah also said in the deposition that after FP&L was initially turned away, “as time went on we brought others in.” The others did not include FP&L.
Deposition of Rob McGarrah, Page 85-92