Less than a week after taking office, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson hosted the first “Mondays with the Mayor" gathering for the media.
The 30-minute session covered a wide range of topics, including some that the administration had no real answers yet — having been in office only six days.
“We’ve had a good week on some things that we’re working to go in,” said the Mayor. “I’m going to answer any questions you want answered, but I’m going to talk about things we’re working on.”
One of those things is a $300 million grant to the city by Triumph Gulf Coast — which oversees money from the BP oil spill settlement. That is contingent upon local officials raising the same amount in matching funds. At this point, Robinson says they’re roughly $40 million short.
“We did get $25 million from [the Florida Department of Transportation],” said Robinson. “There was an additional $25 million that we’ve not been as successful on; it was about $5 million we’re short on what we thought was going to come from the federal government and the [Economic Development Administration]. And there was about $10 million short with the Governor’s Fund that we’re still working on.”
One of the major obstacles in securing the funding is the overall transition after the elections, beginning at the state level.
“[We’re] certainly working with Florida West, and trying to put those things together,” Robinson said. “We don’t even know who the Secretary of Transpiration’s going to be. I know that [Gov.] Scott was down in Orlando; he met with some people last week — I’ve yet to catch up with him. We have a meeting on Wednesday of this week to brief where we are and then go forward. But I think we’ll get there.”
As Grover Robinson begins his new duties on the seventh floor, he’s stepping down as chairman of the Florida Gulf Consortium, which was formed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster when his term expires next month.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them because I wasn’t sure, obviously, what the election was going to turn out,” said Robinson. “But I think one thing that showed this past week is: if I’m serious about doing this job [Mayor], I can’t be doing that job too.”
Another subject brought up is access to City Hall. During its eight-year run, the Ashton Hayward administration was criticized over what many perceived as a lack of transparency and cooperation with the media.
“I’m talking with the staff and I’ve told them that my expectation is that they get back to [the media] right away and get you answers of what we can do,” Robinson said. “If we don’t totally know the answer we’ll have to tell you at this particular time we don’t exactly have a full that we can give because we’re still working on it.”
Although he’s been in office just six days, Robinson was asked if there’s anything he knows now, compared to last week.
“How challenging our legal department is right now,” Robinson responded with a laugh. “Trying to tie one settlement up at a time and keep us moving through.”
Meanwhile, the next meeting of Robinson’s transition team is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.