Pensacola, Florida
Sunday October 21st 2018


Outtakes—Face the Public

By Rick Outzen

Mayor Hayward, it’s time for you to hold a press conference. The written statements, YouTube videos and weekly segments on NewsRadio 1620 aren’t cutting it. The journalists in this town have too many questions about your most significant initiatives that have gone unanswered for far too long.

When you ran for office in 2010, you promised an open government. You and your administration would meet face-to-face with the citizens to hear and address their concerns. And to your credit, you did for three years, but then you stopped.

From that point, you became the social media and press release communicator. Only reporters and radio personalities that promise to treat you nicely get face-to-face interviews. Asked one complicated question, and you run from the interviewer.

But your selective exposure to the media hasn’t worked out for you lately.  Your Wednesday morning interviews on NewsRadio 1620 with Andrew McKay have not gone as planned.

Mayor, it was on McKay’s show that we learned you wanted the Confederate monument removed, only to have your staff later devise a way to prevent it from happening. Last week, you called Bruce Beach “toxic,” but then you had to admit to the PNJ that you had done no testing to back up your claim.

Though it may be difficult for you to accept, Mayor, press conferences aren’t about you. Their purpose is to inform citizens what is happening inside their government. To take the issues away from the sterile, safe environment of written statements and Facebook videos and have exchanges that get to real facts.

The citizens never got to voice their opinions about the final design of the Bayview Community Center that is already $2 million over its original budget. They deserve to have you explain why the final design is the best one and whether they will be allowed to discuss the plan with you before bidding the project.

The citizens need to know why you chose Bruce Beach over the Port of Pensacola for the site of the fish hatchery. If you’re not willing to move it to the port, what are your long-term plans for that city enterprise?

The citizens need a more detailed explanation of what is happening with the Corinne Jones Stormwater Pond. What are the issues that have delayed completion more than three years? Why does the eastern pond continue to washout after rainstorms?

Why haven’t you closed on the sale of the Blount School property? The Pensacola City Council approved the deal on June 8.

The public deserves answers.