If you read our story about an effort by one Pensacola councilman to oust the council president, you’re probably mad.
Charles Bare is a bad city council president. It’s hard to argue that he’s not. And on Thursday night, city council members should vote to remove him as president.
They should vote to remove him because he is not good at running meetings efficiently; because his council meetings are too long and too unproductive; because he is angry, and petty, and mean, and spiteful, and divisive; because, quite simply, he is bad at the job.
They should vote to remove him because under his leadership, the city council hasn’t accomplished anything. Despite the six and seven hour long meetings, the city council has done literally nothing in the past five months that has had or will have any positive impact — or any impact at all, for that matter — on the lives of Pensacolians. Hell, this council hasn’t even been able to manage low-hanging fruit like a food truck ordinance.
What sickens us is that in a community that desperately needs our public servants to function together to achieve the civic transformation for which the people who live here deserve, the city council has gotten absolutely nothing done.
So yes, if the council doesn’t vote to remove Bare on Thursday, they are embracing and endorsing mediocrity. They are celebrating dysfunction. They are giving up.
As unsuited as Bare may be for the role of president, though, he is not solely to blame for the council’s staggering inaction and dysfunction. The reality is that this city council is a failure, and that failure is a collective one. Do we honestly think that anyone on the current council would do much better? Maybe “less worse,” but not “better.”
And that’s not to say that the people on the council now aren’t good people. They all are. P.C. Wu is a wonderful statesman. Sherri Myers may come off as angry on the dais, but she’s a kind person with a history of advocating for the disadvantaged. Each of our eight council members is, in one way or another, accomplished, well-meaning, and theoretically capable. But when we put them all together around a room, we get nothing.
Well, it’s not entirely fair to say we get nothing. We get debates that go around in circles and off on tangents. We get debates that no one asked for. We get a seemingly-endless stream of drama at city council meetings. Great fodder for columnists and cartoonists, maybe, but nothing for those of us who value good government. The circus atmosphere was fun for a little while, but now it’s sad, and embarrassing, and offensive.
Citizens need and deserve a strong, productive city council that takes care of business and serves as a check and balance to the mayor’s powers. Unfortunately, we don’t have that with this council, and perhaps it’s time for us all to realize that maybe we never will.
It’s not like this everywhere, folks. There are plenty of great cities where public servants unite to produce results that promote the public good.
It’s well past time for Pensacola’s political class to shape up. Enough with the gamesmanship. Enough with rooting for political rivals to fail.
Four city council members are up for re-election this year: P.C. Wu, Andy Terhaar, Gerald Wingate, and Jewel Cannada-Wynn. The other four are up in two years.
The public is onto you — so either get your act together, or leave the stage to better actors.