Council Debates: What’s in a Name? At their regular meeting on Nov. 12, the Pensacola City Council considered arguments in the case of “City of Five Flags” v. the “Upside of Florida,” and, at least for now, agreed to disagree on the adoption of an official city motto.
At-Large Council Member Charles Bare proposed a recommendation to amend the city code, which would designate “City of Five Flags” as the city’s official motto. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since we were introduced to the new slogan ‘Upside of Florida’ last year in a surprise press conference at the Saenger Theatre,” Bare, who is running for mayor in 2014, said, opening the discussion. “The last thing that I want is for every four years, if we have a new mayor every four years, to get a totally new motto for our city. I think we need something that reflects the history of our city.”
Questions about whether the mayor would be required to use a motto stipulated in the city code, and the possibility that one may face fines for not using a motto if it were placed in the proposed section of the code somewhat derailed an already fractious back and forth of opinions.
District 6’s Brian Spencer stated he was not in favor of the recommendation, speaking highly of the ‘Upside…” slogan. “I think the ‘Upside of Florida’ is an inclusive term that embraces our natural assets, our culture, and our history,” he said in defense of the marketing campaign that several council members stated may offend other regions of the state.
“That slogan…doesn’t say anything about the City of Pensacola,” Sherri Myers contended, supporting Bare’s recommendation to make the history-oriented motto official. “I think if we want to promote cultural tourism, ‘The City of Five Flags’ says what the city represents.”
Adding that the Zimmerman Agency-coined “Upside of Florida” slogan was “arbitrarily and capriciously” selected without public input, Myers urged, “If this doesn’t pass, I hope that council will consider holding a public hearing or a workshop and get some ideas from the citizens on how they would like to see their city branded.”
Shortly before the recommendation was voted down, Council Member Larry B. Johnson stated, “I think that is really unnecessary at this point,” reminding the council, “If there are people out there that don’t agree with the ‘Upside,’ they’ll have an opportunity at the ballot box in 2014 to express that opinion.”