By: Mariel Carbone
July 12, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)—The Community Redevelopment Agency has postponed its board meeting, scheduled for Thursday. It was to be the first meeting since news broke of an FBI investigation into the agency, and the City of Tallahassee.
Instead, the meeting will be held a week later.
The postponement has prompted confusion and conflicting explanations from city and county leaders.
In a news release Wednesday morning, the CRA said the meeting “is being postponed due to "scheduling conflicts.” The statement says staff is working to find a new date where the full board can participate.
However, members of the board indicated it was canceled due to “lack of quorum,” meaning too many commissioners were out of town.
In an email to the board sent at 10:57 p.m. Tuesday, CRA Executive Director Roxanne Manning said, “Due to the importance of the items on the July agenda and potential lack of a quorum, Board Chairman Maddox is rescheduling the July 13th Board meeting. CRA staff will be contacting you to identify a new meeting time.”
In an email written an hour before and sent to Commissioner Nick Maddox, Manning said, “At this time it does not appear that we will have a quorum of City Commissioners for this Thursday's CRA Board
However, three out of the five city commissioners confirmed they planned to attend the meeting.
Commissioner Nancy Miller said she was “not happy” about the rescheduling. She said she didn’t find out until this morning. She had been out of town and made the trip back specifically for the meeting.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson also planned to attend and said he found out about the change last night. He called the meeting a “huge meeting” that included a lot of CRA business that needed to move forward.
And an aide for Commissioner Scott Maddox said Maddox intended to be at the meeting, and had a briefing for it scheduled for today.
Commissioner Gil Ziffer confirmed he was not attending the meeting, because he is currently on vacation, which has been scheduled since September.
On the county side, both Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley and Commissioner Kristin Dozier were planning to attend.
Dozier said it was “surprising” to see the email.
“We approve those schedules in the fall. So it’s been on the calendar for a while. We do have a number of important issues,” she said.
Dozier also noted it can be difficult to reschedule during the summer.
"I'm not going to speculate about why we don't have quorum. But, there is a perception. And I think it is very important that we meet very soon, if we can't do it tomorrow because the public has a lot of questions. We need an update from staff. The County has not been part of the investigation at all so we have not gotten direct staff updates and I was really looking forward to that from CRA staff," she said.
Lindley, echoed a similar sentiment, noting that there were some big business decisions set to happen at the meeting.
"I thought it was very irresponsible and very abrupt because we know what these schedules are a year ahead... We have some obligations to people whose projects are on the agenda," she said, referring specifically to the North American Properties project.
"This would've been a lively meeting. You don't always embrace going to a meeting is going to be controversial and possibly unpleasant and for some people accusatory. But, it's our obligation to carry on. That's what our job is. I think it's been confusing, and deliberately confusing, to be honest," said Lindley.
Commissioner Bill Proctor noted that all four County Commissioners on the board were planning to attend.
"The question is if two County Commissioners could not be there, would that be enough to negate a whole meeting? Do you cancel a meeting because two members could not be there? And what does that say about the County because 100 percent of our members were going to be there. I mean, we're only three-fifths citizens there. We have to realize this is a table that the County is not equal at," said Proctor.
In an email to Manning, Chairman of the board and County Commissioner Nick Maddox said, "I find myself frustrated with the timing of which a lack of city quorum is being relayed to me. In the future I expect to be alerted to a lack of quorum on either city or county side far more in advance of the CRA meeting taking place."
On the agenda for Thursday was a plan to authorize and negotiate a funding agreement with North American Properties for selling the Firestone and Bloxham Buildings.
The board was also set to discuss the dissolution of the Downtown CRA, which the County Commission voted to move forward with at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.
It is unclear if the Mayor was able to attend, but a spokesperson for his office said the reason the meeting is being rescheduled is, “not an issue of quorum, but of full participation.” This, because of some of the big items to be discussed.
The meeting will be held July 19 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.