Pensacola, Florida
Thursday August 28th 2014

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Just a Tourist Here – Johnson Resigns from TDC


Larry B. Johnson’s days on the Tourist Development Council are numbered. He’s planning to walk away halfway through his term.
“I’ve just decided my energies would be better spent somewhere else,” Johnson said Tuesday.
Johnson — a Pensacola City Council member — serves on the tourism board as one of two City Council appointees, the other being Councilman P.C. Wu. His term was suppose to run until 2012.
“I’d rather step away from it,” the City Councilman said.
Johnson threatened to quit the TDC recently when the council’s chairman, Denis McKinnon, refused to step down amid accusations he had conducted tourism-related business improperly; the state is currently investigating the matter.
“I think it was, to use an old cliche, the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Johnson said of the recent episode.
The current controversy aside, Johnson said there was some past “frustration” that led him to his decision to resign. He declined to elaborate.
“I’d rather not go there,” the Councilman said. “I’d rather not relive those disappointments.”
Johnson told his fellow city council members of his intentions during a Sept. 22 meeting. He then made it official with a Sept. 29 letter.
Johnson said he had suggested the board consider Councilman Brian Spencer to replace him. That decision won’t be made until later this year, until which point Johnson will continue to serve.
“They’ll be no lapse,” he said.
Following his decision, Johnson said he has heard from some in the community that he should reconsider.
“What’s happening now is I’m having a lot of community support — people I believe in,” he said. “They think, and this is coming from them, I have a voice that needs to be heard.”
Though he won’t be in the conversation as part of the TDC, Johnson did say he supported exploring how best the area’s tourism marketing might be handled, via the current Pensacola Chamber of Commerce-model or a new private entity favored by the hotelier community.
The state’s investigation into possible Sunshine Law violations is looking into whether that conversation was started behind closed doors.