Lame Ducks Bite The most dangerous elected official is the one who no longer seeks public office but still has time to create havoc. It’s particularly dangerous when the politician is a county commissioner or city council member.
In 2008, the Pensacola City Council lost four members—Mayor John Fogg, Jack Nobles, Marty Donovan and Mike DeSorbo. In the two-month period before the new council took office, city staff scramble to ram through an airport commercial development agreement and two amendments to leases at the Port of Pensacola. The incoming members sat helplessly in the wings while the lame ducks exerted their power for the last time.
The votes didn’t miss the attention of the Pensacola Charter Review Commission that changed the swearing in date for the new council. Charles Bare and Andy Terhaar won’t have to wait until the second Monday of January to take office. The pair will be sworn in on the fourth Tuesday of November.
In the past, the Escambia County Board of Commissioners has avoided long lame duck periods by having the newly elected commissioners sworn in at the first meeting after the general election. Outgoing commissioners have had little chance to push things through the board…until now.
District 5 Commissioner Kevin White is in the last days of serving on the board. He decided this past summer to not seek re-election to a third term. White is now leading the effort to terminate County Administrator Randy Oliver’s contract.
At White’s last commission meeting on Oct. 18, the commission will review Oliver’s performance. White, with the support of fellow commissioners Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson, has reserved the right to take a termination vote following the administrator’s evaluation.
The census around town is Oliver’s done. Valentino and Robertson have let their displeasure with the administrator, whose contract has one year remaining, be known.
So the current commissioner with nothing to lose—the lame duck Kevin White—does something he rarely has done in his eight years on the commission. He has taken charge. He has made the necessary motion to set stage for Oliver to be fired at his last commission meeting and he could be the swing vote to make it happen.
Valentino and Robertson can claim innocence. Grover Robinson and Marie Young can’t stop it. With the general election 19 days away, whoever is elected to replace White and Young can only sit on the sidelines with no voice in the matter.
Beware of the lame ducks. They still can bite.