Blueprint meeting sudden adjournment prompts social media callouts

tally city hall
"I really want to make a motion to adjourn because we’ve exhausted the agenda that was presented and prepared for us."

A split decision by board members to end Thursday’s Blueprint meeting has prompted some Tallahassee City Commissioners to take to social media to criticize the action.

The board, consisting of Tallahassee and Leon County Commissioners, was meeting to discuss a single item to review the structure and governance of the agency, which oversees millions in infrastructure and economic development projects funded through the county’s additional 1% sales tax. The item was put on the agenda through a vote at the end of last month’s contentious Blueprint meeting where the final bonding of a $27 million funding to Doak Campbell stadium renovations was approved.

During the meeting, City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter questioned whether the Intergovernmental Management Committee, consisting of City Manager Reese Goad and County Administrator Vince Long, should fall under the jurisdiction of Sunshine laws. Currently, the committee does not publish meeting minutes, nor announce when they meet publicly.

Blueprint Attorney Susan Dawson argued during the meeting that the committee doesn’t hold formal meetings and does not do anything that is policy driven and is therefore currently in compliance with the law.

However, Citizens for Ethics Reform disagreed with that interpretation in a letter sent to Blueprint board members before the meeting. They argued that the committee can award contracts up to $250,000 and make recommendations, and therefore should fall under Sunshine.

After discussion during the meeting, Matlow said he was interested in making a motion to ask the Florida Attorney General’s office to offer their opinion on the issue, but waited to open it to the floor for further discussion.

“If there isn’t any more discussion on that, I would make a motion to ask the Attorney General,” Matlow said.

When he finished speaking, City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox made a motion of her own.

“I really want to make a motion to adjourn because we’ve exhausted the agenda that was presented and prepared for us,” she said.

Her motion passed 5-5, due to 3-2 support from City Commissioners who have a weighted vote on the board. No further discussion occurred on the issue, and Matlow was unable to make his motion. 

Mayor John Dailey, City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Williams-Cox and County Commissioners Nick Maddox and Jimbo Jackson backed ending the meeting. County Commissioners Bill Proctor and Carolyn Cummings were not in the room when the vote took place.

In the closing second of the recorded live stream of the meeting, Porter can be heard saying, “Wow”.

During the meeting, it also was revealed that Blueprint official Ben Pingree was the only person interviewed for his position. Pingree confirmed that his interview took place at the Tallahassee bar the Brass Tap. Pingree also had text communication with former city commissioner Scott Maddox months before he was hired discussing the position, as uncovered in evidence in Maddox’s Public Corruption trial and discovered by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Long, who played a role in hiring Pingree, denied any city or county commissioner played a role in Pingree’s hiring, and confirmed Pingree was the only applicant for the position.

During the meeting, several commissioners expressed frustration about the proceedings and hostility on the Blueprint board. Richardson packed up his things and left the meeting, but later returned. Cummings left the meeting early.

Proctor brought up hostility between board members citing text messages from them and supporters during last month’s stadium vote uncovered by the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I’m just hoping we can rise above that. There’s no respect and there’s a willful disregard for the equal regard for each other,” Proctor said. “Everybody at this table ought to re-up, let’s start anew.”

Board Chair Nick Maddox released an op-ed the morning of Thursday’s meeting criticizing the text messages, characterizing one of the messages about him as racist.

On the day after the meeting, Porter and Matlow took to social media to criticize how the meeting ended and how Pingree was hired.

Porter posted to Facebook, saying she was never more disappointed in local leadership than she was during the meeting.

“I had hoped that we could have a constructive discussion about how to bring public accountability and Sunshine to our penny sales tax agency,” Porter wrote. “Instead, commissioners were silenced after a motion to adjourn ended the meeting.”

On Friday, Matlow made a thread of Tweets, and then took some more directed shots at Dailey in later posts.

In the thread, he criticized how the interview was conducted at the bar, and said Sunshine is needed for transparency around Blueprint hiring decisions.

“Not conducting business in the Sunshine is problematic because the only public record we have of how we got to where we are today are texts messages sent by Scott Maddox and Ben Pingree that suggest he played a critical role in the job selection,” Matlow wrote.

He also made a tweet @’ing Dailey’s Mayor Twitter account, calling out the vote to end the meeting.

Dailey did not speak during the meeting and did not make or second the motion to end it, but he did vote to support it.

In another Tweet Friday evening, he @’ed Dailey’s personal Twitter account, accused him and other commissioners of “shhh”ing the conversation.

In a statement to Florida Politics, Dailey said Matlow is “playing the politics of fear and division”.

“Commissioner Matlow’s brand of politics requires an enemy and he’s apparently decided to make me that enemy,” Dailey said. “But while he and others are playing the politics of fear and division, I remain focused on moving Tallahassee forward by bringing our community together, creating good-paying jobs, and improving our quality of life.”

The next Blueprint Board meeting is on May 19.

Last updated on April 4, 2022

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


3 comments

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    April 3, 2022 at 8:33 am

    If the vote was 5 to 5 then the motion to adjourn failed on a tie vote.WTH

    • Ian

      April 3, 2022 at 3:05 pm

      Very good question. However, according to the article:

      The motion to adjourn “passed 5-5, due to 3-2 support from City Commissioners who have a weighted vote on the board.”

      How very convenient.

      • Charlotte Greenbarg

        April 5, 2022 at 8:24 am

        I don’t think that’s legal. But what do I know?

Comments are closed.


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