On Tuesday, the City’s Architectural Review Board held a special meeting to decide whether or not to issue a demolition permit for a the historic Pensacola Vocational School building on West Garden Street.
Despite the fact that at least five citizens were waiting patiently to speak to the board, chairman Carter Quina quickly moved to get a motion and have the board vote without allowing the public to speak. That’s a big no-no under Florida’s Sunshine laws.
As Quina gaveled the meeting to a close, citizens tried to raise the issue with him, but he told them he didn’t have to allow public input and quickly left the meeting room.
Mayor Grover Robinson announced shortly after the meeting that he would ask the ARB to reconvene.
“It is the goal of my administration that no final decision such as this is made without public input,” Robinson said. “Therefore, I will ask the ARB to meet again and conduct the meeting properly with a period for public input.”
Unfortunately, Chairman Quina has advised Mayor Robinson that he refuses to call another meeting.
Ron Helms — one of the citizens who was denied his right to speak and a candidate for city council in 2020 — has called for Quina to be resign or be removed from the board.
“In light of such disregard, I believe that Chairman Quina should resign effectively immediately,” Helms said in a statement. “If such resignation is not offered, I am calling upon the City Council to seek his resignation or terminate his tenure on the board. I believe it is in the best interests of the new mayor and the new city council to take an ethical stand on behalf of all citizens of Pensacola.”
I am among those who had planned to speak at the meeting earlier this week but was blocked. I am so disappointed and taken aback by Chairman Quina’s actions, and I am sad to say that I am consulting with a Sunshine attorney and considering filing a formal complaint.