Tallahassee Official Provides Explanation of Why FP&L Was Not Welcome in Tallahassee During Hurricane Hermine

Tallahassee Official Provides Explanation of Why FP&L Was Not Welcome in Tallahassee During Hurricane Hermine

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



27 Responses to "Tallahassee Official Provides Explanation of Why FP&L Was Not Welcome in Tallahassee During Hurricane Hermine"

  1. I did a literature search and I found that the cost to bury power lines runs between $1.8 million a mile to $4.5 million a mile. So if you identified the major arterials and assumed a length in Leon Co of about 15 miles per roadway, you could guestimate a rough cost: Appalachee Pkwy, Monroe St, Mahan Drive, Tennessee St, Thomasville Rd, Centerville Rd, Miccosukee Rd, Meridan Rd, Woodville Highway, Crawfordville Highway . Ten roadway corridors, 15 x 10 = 150 miles X $5 million per mile = $750 million> Obviously these are the major trunk lines and the connection from the trunk line to the subdivision or home would be another expense. Many subdivisions have buried utilities, and I believe all new construct of subdivisions requires buried utilities.

    But for $750M, or $75M per corridor the city would do one corridor every few years. Prioritize and take them one by one> it may take 30 years to get there but it will be well worth it. If Hurricane Michael destroys much of the infrastructure, and tree cover, a nice federal or state grant to rebuild and bury would be sensible.

  2. The two women in the “Gillum let us down” commercials apparently don’t know what Florida is like after a hurricane. A week without power is not unusual — it is expected! Even in the worst conditions, three weeks might not be out of line. In hurricane Andrew, I’m pretty sure some folks went for months.

  3. I came to a local source and found it’s doing a good job reporting the facts. I wish as always that I hadn’t read the comments. I went to high school in the Panhandle. Sorry to see the ignorance & racism that I knew then appears to still exist, at least by the tone & even the outright words in some of these comments. The same people who scream about how bad “socialism” is (which, in America, just means taxes), will also scream about potholes in the road, how unfair it is that if you get cancer you have to go bankrupt, and how horrible it is that FL has sunk to near the bottom in almost every ranking of public schools. The people who made the ugly comments about FAMU students should be ashamed of themselves, but I know they’re not. I pray that we balance our government out – one party rule is not good for anyone – and begin to work together. That is the only way that we will save ALL of the freedoms we say we love so dearly.

  4. Show me a new study with current dollars and then let’s prioritize. We can’t do all corridors, but we can do them one by one. We need a legitimate study and to develop a plan. It may take 20 years, just like other big public works projects. Coordinate with road projects. Hurricanes aren’t going away, and the population will only keep growing. So putting our head in the sand isn’t the solution.

  5. @ Preston Scott,

    I openly challenge your assertions regarding the City of Tallahassee, community owned, A+ bond rated utility. It absolutely *IS* a TAXING *REPLACEMENT* mechanism for the City. It keeps City property tax payer rates low, THANK GOD!

    “It hides wasteful programs, hires, and practices…” What are they? Who are they? And exactly how are they hidden when every dollar, every hiring and every policy & practice is open to be found, scrutinized and criticized FOR THE ASKING?! I adamently suggest it is a direct result of our failed free press who no longer thinks ferreting out truth or corruption is profitable. (Thank a former elected sheriff and a car dealership owner or two for that one)

    “… funneling twenty five million (give or take) to the general fund each year.” YES! THANK GOD FOR IT! LET’S HAVE MORE OF IT! AND THIS IS A REPUBLICAN SAYING THIS!

    I want to challenge the notion that all government is bad and / or corrupt. It’s not. It’s is the people who suggest a successful government means there is an entitlement to funds commiserate to *corporate* or *private sector* success.

    The two greatest challenges to Leon County / City of Tallahassee tax base are history and geography. Bill Montford is responsible for enlightening me to this. Consider this. Approximately 30% of ALL the land in Leon County supports 100% of the County’s need. Leon County and Florida’s Capital City, Tallahassee is unique from every other County or City in the State. We are one of a kind! Being one of a kind means unique, “non-conventional” solution are required. (necessity is the mother of invention, and mama is taking good care of it’s own!) What do I mean? Here goes…

    Of all the land in Leon County, so much of it is untaxable by customary millage. Try seeing this visually as I describe it. Right off the top, remove about a 1/3rd of the land mass to Federal National forest and State forest land. Now, subtract all Federal, State and local government properties, office complexes, schools, colleges & universities, etc., etc. Ready to remove about another 20%? So…some quick math… 33% + 20% = 53% right there.

    Now… There is another element to Leon County that makes us even more unique. That’s our Plantations (Phipps, Welaunee, Chemonie, Red Hills, Moore, Turner, etc.) and agricultural preservation districts (Tall Timbers, Southwood, St. Joe, etc.). These massive parcels of acreage are not, and cannot be taxed the same way other residential properties are assessed. All of this accounts for 20+%. Some supportive taxes are collected, but not at the scale most residents pay.

    Why is this important and how does this relate to Tallahassee’s municipality owned utility? The answer is simple. It’s actually conservative and dare I say, Republican?! The founding fathers understood, in order to take care of your people / family and not tax them to death, you leverage the resources you have and you sell something. In Tallahassee’s case, that’s electricity. And the City of Tallahassee does it very, VERY well.

    Why is this important to those who live outside the City? Those who live outside the City limits depend on the urban core and infrastructure for *survival*. Case in point. Sewage contamination in Killearn Lakes. Blown industrial sewer lines across Capital Circle in 3 different places. Care to guess what would happen to commerce if Cap. Circle had to be shut down?

    Why is it important to City and County residents? Because our population shifts so significantly. Football games, college terms, legislative sessions, hurricanes, etc. Literally millions of people depend on infrastructure and services and don’t pay taxes for it (except maybe gasoline tax and possibly some bed tax). Everybody who lives here, works here, plays here, goes to school here, visits here, commutes, or passes through pretty much flips a light switch. That means all the schools, all the students, all the government offices, all the hotels via their guests, AL of the lobbyist’s and legislators… Pay their light bill.

    Preston, you talk like the Tallahassee City Utility is this demon bastard spawn. I rebut by saying utility service is the swan laying nothing but 24kt eggs. The hunter in the woods is Florida Power and Light. They have paid Rick Scott millions to bring them into the woods.

  6. OMG a few posters here claim to believe that allowing crooks in charge of your utilities and your property taxes means that we must be paying lower property tax.
    Come on guys think about the logic you are using and what you are really trying to say.

  7. I agree with Preston about electric utility being a taxing mechanism and used to pay for wasteful programs and some overpaid staff. But it does relieve property owners for subsidizing everything because so many non-taxed state buildings as well as questionable churches.

  8. I would love for Florida Power to take over the City utilities. It would be the best thing and our rates would go down.

    1. WRONG…..another non thinking comment without any research. Ther is no longer any corporation in America that is ethical when it comes to their bottom line. FPL rapes its customers does $300/ month sound cheap to you? single family home A/C set at 85 degrees on hottest days otherwise off. all lights off and three people living in house.

      1. I need more information to back your claims.

        I have a 2000+ sq. ft. home, all under air, all electric appliances including well pump. My A/C is set at 79 during the day, 78 at night. Someone is always home and all meals are home cooked (not microwaved)
        My FPL budget plan bill is ~$85/ month year round.

  9. The events that I have seen going on this week are an indication that the Gillum campaign is spiraling downward at the speed of light.

    It started 38 days ago when Gillum lied on national TV that there was no crime problem in Tallahassee. I hope Gillum has a plan B regarding a career path because it sure isn’t going to be in leadership as an elected official.

      1. Hate to have to agree with you on that sad topic but you’re right, News Maven. When FAMU is having a homecoming, I try to stay far away from that part of town and avoid the malls or food joints where “spirited debates” might open up between various collegiate factions. Again, hate to have to say that, but past experience has forced that upon us. It would be so much better if “gangsta” culture would be substituted with decent behavior.

  10. Always remember..the utility is a taxing mechanism for the City. It keeps its property tax rate artificially low and hides its wasteful programs, hires, and practices by funneling twenty five million (give or take) to the general fund each year.

    This hits the poorest in the community the hardest because power is a necessity. It taxes roughly fifteen thousand county residents (give or take) who cannot vote in city elections (which is taxation w/o representation and ripe for a lawsuit). Take away this money and the City suddenly cannot afford a lot of things without hammering people with property tax increases.

    It is a scam which is why a City Utility “Authority” has always been meaningless and without teeth. Commissioners have never given it true power.

    This lawsuit is huge and because it shines light on City operations the Democrat will likely ignore it or do its best to spin it.

    1. So true Preston. Leftist elites like Gillum have no problem with the continued financial oppression of the poorest in the community – who by the way are mostly black – then they have the audacity to attempt to placate and cover it up with expensive programs like The Longest Table which is paid for from funds confiscated from all including the poorest the community. Traditional color and party affiliation political tricks are not gonna work for Gillum this time.
      Thank you Preston and Steve for keeping us informed and by doing so playing a vital role in closing the tangled web of deceit Gillum’s campaign is built on.
      Looking forward to a severe spanking at the mid-terms of leftists in Florida and across the USA!!!
      Everybody VOTE!!!!

      1. Snidely, you could not be more correct. There is almost nothing you can do on election day that is more important than VOTING! You’ve seen what Dem-Socialists will do to gain power – the lynching of Kavanaugh and his family, the Deep-State attempt to frame Trump, Soros-Antifa staged riots, etc. But that is nothing compared to what Dem-Socialists will do to keep power once they get it. Stop them (Gillum and all the rest in America) in their tracks by voting!

        I hope this new lawsuit and related TV ads touting Gillum’s miserable record here in Tallahassee sink his campaign.

        1. You guys are the best to read. You are all so crazy and filled with conspiracies from deep state, soros, antifa. Can’t wait for the republicans to lose to Gillum and other progressive democratic.

      2. Your sooo kind to care for black people. We jus love y’all folks for your protectin us from ourselves. You poor undererpresented holders of power in in every faction of government and corporations around the world. Bless your heart. By the way a true black elite in this country doesnt exist. They are usually white men with black skin

    2. Preston you are right right, but don’t give the full picture. The utilities most definitely serve as a tax supplement and they do keep the tax rate artificially low. What you don’t acknowledge though is the reason the City has the utilities……. a large percentage of the (and the most valuable) land in the City off the tax roles because its owned by the State, Universities, County, or the City itself. The utilities make up the difference (and then some) in taxes and allow the City to do many things that people do like, such as a really nice parks and rec system, build sidewalks, sponsor special events (Springtime, Winter Festival,and so on).

      I’m not saying the City does things efficiently, ethically, or in a manner that screams anything other than “we’re the grow-up, we know better than you, so shut up and let us do what we know is best”.

  11. Now follow-up on the fuel spill from Hopkins Electric Plant (City property) that went off site (Talquin Forest) and was never addressed by the City; and also the major fuel spill by Hawks Rise Elementary School on Meridian at the MUNICIPAL WELL (City Property) that none of the neighbors were informed about the spill; that still has Petroleum under the building and is AT A MUNICIPAL WELL HEAD and only looked at by the City and their private contractor? So many issues! MAYOR DAILEY HELP! Gillum’s Chief of Staff should know all about this!

  12. Any idea where we are in hardening the city utilities in order to survive the next hurricane? I have not heard nor read anything. We really need to do a current day analysis of the cost of burying power lines and prioritize those corridors that are serve the ,most people. Burying power lines under the median of roads like Thomasville Rd, Mahan Dr, or Monroe St or Tennessee St will not impact the roots of trees. Let’s start moving forward on this important issue.

  13. Always got to love the fact that the City pays (with taxpayer dollars) outside attorneys to represent when they have several on staff attorneys and paralegals (paid with taxpayer dollars). Never understood this.

  14. Go get ’em, Marie!
    You know you’re on a mission from God (inside joke).
    Any discussion in the depo about union vs. non-union electrical workers? Are FP&L linemen non-union?

    1. FP&L is union. My brother worked for them for something like 35 years and is now living on a nice pension thanks to the union.

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