As I wrote in last week's op-ed column, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum suffered a long roll-call of ethical lapses in just the past few years. Today, I want to share with you an assortment of judgment lapses that Andrew has left himself open to, because of either actions or inactions on his part.
But, before we get to this new laundry list of serious missed opportunities to show that he has neither the strength of character nor the depth of leadership required to be governor of Florida, I must pose a most obvious question: Would Andrew Gillum even have been able to get re-elected as mayor of Tallahassee?
I say that as a 35-year resident in this city and someone who has been very active in business and political circles since I came to town in 1983.
Andrew could not be re-elected to office because he abrogated his responsibility a long time ago to resolving the serious issues facing the capital city.
That’s the feeling of a large part of the Tallahassee business community who have previously backed him for local office, and if the locals aren’t supporting him, why should the Democrats be trying to foist him on the rest of the state?
The most significant issue is crime.
And since Andrew has been on the City Commission as both a commissioner and as mayor for a total of 14 years, he can’t say it started on someone else’s watch.
According to the crime statistics the state and feds put out annually, Tallahassee has led the state in violent crime for the last three years. That’s three-quarters of his term as mayor.
During that time, Andrew has not offered up any serious proposal to combat the crime problem. In fact, the last time he asked the police chief to make a presentation to the City Commission about this ongoing issue, he simply asked operational questions.
And the questions were simple ones, such as, how did TPD interact with the Sheriff’s Office? They were questions perhaps a novice city commissioner might ask, but certainly not someone who’s been in office for 14 years.
- He didn’t suggest street lights so crime couldn’t continue to occur in the darkness.
- He didn’t suggest building a police substation on the Southside to better fight crime and respond more quickly.
- He didn’t suggest community policing teams so neighborhoods get to know their police officers from frequent interaction.
- He didn’t even suggest Neighborhood Watch programs for the Southside.
- He didn’t suggest anything.
But, Mayor Gillum supports automatic restoration of felons' rights as soon as they get out of prison -- before we even learn if they’re going back to a life a crime.
He supports radical bail bond reform, whereby no one has to put up any money to ensure they show up in court.
He supports legalization of marijuana as if that’s going to solve our incessant drug addiction and gang problem.
We all know that public safety is job No. 1 for local and state government.
So, what do we do when we have a gubernatorial candidate who doesn’t even have ideas on how to address crime in his own city, much less our state?
Judgment strike one.
Andrew’s best (former) friend is Adam Corey, lobbyist extraordinaire, who not only was the chief fundraiser for his mayoral election and his campaign treasurer, but also the chief corrupter once Andrew got elected.
In fact, Adam became the vice chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), now the focus of the FBI investigation into City Hall.
Andrew helped put Adam in as vice chair of the CRA. He also helped put Kim Rivers, also involved in the FBI investigation, in as chair and together they treated the CRA-taxpayer dollars as their own personal piggy bank to redevelop the Edison Restaurant for Adam and the Hotel Duval for Kim and her husband, J. T. Burnette.
Andrew also got Adam onto the board of the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority, where he has remained since the FBI investigation was revealed almost 18 months ago. Andrew has never asked Adam to step down from the DIA ,where he still sits today.
Judgment strike two.
When it comes to cutting expenses or raising property taxes, Andrew's judgment over the past four years clearly shows he believes in the tax-and-spend philosophy that has brought Connecticut, Illinois and New York to their fiscal knees.
Despite the best efforts of two grassroots groups in Tallahassee -- Budget Hawks and Citizens for Responsible Spending (Personal Note: I’m the founder of CRS) -- to show Andrew and city commissioners that cutting expenses before raising taxes is the most logical way to go forward, Andrew refused even to consider cutting expenses.
Three times over three years he had a choice, and every time he increased taxes.
Judgment strike three.
One would think that a City Commission comprised of five Democrats would be a sea of shining success.
Consistently, Andrew has taken actions like going on national television to embrace hundreds of displaced Syrians and inviting them to move to Tallahassee without even speaking with his other city commissioners in advance.
Grandstanding for sure to prove his “progressive” bona fides to Bernie Sanders, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.
Even worse was the admission at a monthly business lunch meeting that he had authorized the city manager to file the paperwork for a national grant to secure cameras for Tallahassee police officers without first securing the support of the other city commissioners.
This perpetual Lone Ranger behavior has earned the distrust of even his fellow Dems on the city commission. Though he is only a ceremonial mayor, his actions and inactions have portrayed Andrew to be untrustworthy of higher office.
Judgment strike four.
Oh, there are other transgressions that I could easily recount, such as his petulant, childish behavior with Gov. Rick Scott in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine, when local authorities were unable to take command during recovery operations because Andrew inappropriately inserted himself into the decision-making process.
It exhibited his total lack of willingness to work with others to meet the needs of our citizenry during an emergency. While the county has learned and adopted suggestions to improve, the city has faltered.
Judgment strike five.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Andrew doesn’t play well with others. He’s a lone ranger who helps his friends win contracts and gives them top-notch appointed jobs over public tax dollars, then watches as they pillar them for their own benefit and then refuses to call them out for their imprudence.
This isn’t what Florida needs.
He meets his minimum job responsibilities by attending commission meetings, but it’s all a façade, as he reaps the praises of the mainstream media but leaves Tallahassee with a rash of problems from his persistent lapses in judgment.
Andrew isn’t mature enough to be governor. He talks a great game, but so did Barack Obama, who, like Andrew, never worked a day in the private sector.
On the public dole his entire adult life, never seeing a property tax he didn’t love to death, speaking admittedly eloquently about just causes, but not being able to solve those problems even in his own home city.
Andrew is clearly not ready for prime time.
Barney Bishop III, a conservative, is a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and is the president & CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC, a strategic public affairs firm based in Tallahassee.
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