At the July 17 Pensacola City Council meeting, Councilman Larry Johnson brought back up his effort to have the council investigate fellow Council member Sherri Myers. He had tried to get it on the agenda at the Agenda Review but failed to get a second. Myers had originally seconded the motion, but then withdrew it.
After an exchange of emails with Councilman Johnson, I agreed to publish on the web a transcript of their exchange. It’s not verbatim, but very close. I’ve also included Council President Jewel Cannada-Wynn’s comments after the exchange. The video of the meeting is available on the cityofpensacola.com. This happened at the end of the meeting during council communications.
Larry Johnson: Thank you very much Madame President. On Monday, I made a motion that this council investigate Councilwoman Myers’ conduct to determine whether or not it is consistent with our city charter.
I believe this issue is very important and I will be bringing the issue back up in the near future. The city charter requires council members to deal with employees through the mayor. I’m concerned that this council member has violated that requirement of the charter.
I’m deeply concerned that this council member has interfered with the administration by contacting city employees directly. I’m concerned that she may have engaged in harassment and intimidation of city employees. I’m concerned that she has used her office inappropriately to try to circumvent the city’s public records process and to help others circumvent the process.
The charter also requires council members to exhibit a cooperative spirit. I believe this council members behavior and constant negativity has been derisive and disruptive, both to our city government and to this council.
She has filed frivolous lawsuits that cost the taxpayers millions, excuse me, thousands of dollars. She’s threatened to file more lawsuits.
She has filed frivolous Sunshine law complaints against members of this council and had them go to the state attorney’s office and do interviews, which was very upsetting to them.
I believe this conduct is inappropriate, disruptive and may potentially have violated our city charter. The charter makes it very clear that council members who violate this charter must forfeit their office.
I believe this council has an obligation to investigate this matter.
I want to know how many times this council member has contacted city employees directly. I want to know how much this council member’s lawsuits and legal threats have cost the city and the taxpayers.
I want to know how many public records requests this council member has initiated, how many hours of staff time have been spent on these requests, and how much these requests cost taxpayers.
I’m currently preparing my first public records request in order to put together the documents I need to bring this forward. I would hope and encourage this council to take the next step and open investigation. I plan to bring this back probably in August.
The motion was seconded by her. This past Monday she withdrew the second.
If she has nothing to hide, if everything has been above board, then I would think she would support this investigation.
She mentioned a talk of a witch hunt. I believe that she remains on a consistent witch hunt and bullies our staff and I’ve had enough. So I will be bringing this information. If it’s removed from the agenda, it won’t be because of lack of information. Thank you.
Jewel Wynn: Thank you. Councilwoman Myers.
Sherri Myers: I absolutely hope that this council will investigate Mr. Johnson’s allegations. His outrageous allegations and senseless treatment of me on this council should not be tolerated and it should be investigated.
I welcome an investigation. I beg the council to use your investigative powers and investigate the allegations he’s made and subpoena witnesses. That’s what you need to do, absolutely.
I’ll tell you what, he has mistreated me. He has retaliated against me. His conduct toward me is outrageous and it should not be tolerated by this council. You should investigate it. I want it investigated.
I’m proud of my conduct. I am proud of how I have stood up for the citizens. I am proud that I have used my own resources to make sure that the citizens rights and transparency in government exists. I am not only a city council person, I have rights.
I do not lose my constitutional rights under the US constitution or the Florida constitution or any Florida statute to make open record requests. I have made open
record requests. I will continue to exercise my constitutional right, my statutory rights under Florida law to make open record requests.
His allegations against me are false and they were put into action by the assistant city attorney. I hold you ultimately responsible for what has happened to me tonight. I hold you responsible.
You never investigated the allegations you made against me and I am your client. I am your client. You had a legal and ethical obligation to talk to me before you caused something to be published about me that was false, unfounded, and even if it were true you put it out there. You put it out there. Rusty Wells, you did that.
These allegations are very serious and Mr. Johnson you have made them purely for political reasons.
You know what? I welcome. I second your motion and I hope the council will support his motion.
I also found it ironic when the police union was down here and complained about being mistreated by the mayor. I asked the council to investigate their allegations of mistreatment by the mayor. This council would not conduct an investigation.
You, Madame Chair, have an obligation and this council has an obligation. When you see this kind of conduct by a council person, you need to do something about it and you need to investigate it. That’s the right thing to do to me.
Jewel Wynn: I will take care of it. It’s unfortunate that this has come to this. We are supposed to be a group of individuals working towards, for the citizens of Pensacola and now we find ourselves accusing one another of inappropriate conduct.
My opinion here is that if there is some issue with how city council member conduct needs to stand onto the mayor’s office, then the mayor should have brought it.
The mayor should have had something to do with this in his office and not dividing us in reference to issues on this council.
If the mayor had an issue with the way Councilwoman Myers was handling things, then he can call her up and say, “I’m need to have an appointment with you so that we can talk about this.” Even with team say, “I need to have an appointment with you to talk about this particular issue.”
Yes, I’m real interested.
A council needs to move towards working together on issues. These type of issues, even those serious allegations, only set up to divide us and not keep us focused. I will handle this because I figure this is not the way in which this should have been handled. It should have been handled and in a better format where all we behave because that is where we are as a council and not fighting.
The first element of failure in a group or as a team is when we start eating our own, when we start destroying our own, and not building the confidence that we need to move forward. I am disappointed, but we will take care of it. I will talk to our legal staff here about where we go from here, but I want you to think about that. We do not need to eat our own. We do not need to break down our unity and our work towards a better Pensacola.