Mayor Hayward In Hot Water Again
Mayor Hayward In Hot Water Again Over Using Tax Dollars For TV Show
By: Kelly Woodard
Controversy swirls around Pensacola’s Mayor Ashton Hayward once again this week as it was announced that he will be spending more than $23,000 of taxpayer money on a television show starring himself.
The weekly show, which is scheduled to air on Sundays for nine weeks on BLAB TV this summer, is said to promise viewers a look inside city operations with Hayward as their host. The show is scheduled to end just two weeks before the Aug. 14 primary election, a coincidence that Hayward’s opponents find a little too convenient.
Mayoral candidate Donna Clark said of Hayward’s decision to produce the show, “Hayward hasn’t chosen to institute such a program in his prior three years in office. Why now? He is using taxpayer money to benefit himself, and it's just wrong.” Tamara Fountain, the mayor's press secretary, fired back saying, “The timing of the show was intentional, but innocent.”
Pensacola City Councilman and fellow Mayoral candidate Charles Bare voiced his concerns on Monday saying, “The show will come from Mayor Hayward’s point of view. I highly doubt that the show will be unbiased in the presentation of the city’s needs. I'm not even considering this a campaign issue. It’s an agenda issue.” Bare went on to say that he intends to revisit the matter at Thursday's regular city council meeting.
Although Hayward’s opponents have been vocal about their opinions, local residents are still divided on the issue.
Jackie Sweetley of Pensacola said, “I think it will be interesting to see inside our local government. I personally have no idea what the Mayor of our city does, and it will be nice to know what is going on in our town beyond festivals and events.”
But Pensacola resident Pam Berindeaux disapproves, saying, “I think it’s sad that anyone would support this show. If people want to know what is going on in their city, they need to do their homework. Don’t be so dumb as to trust one person’s view on our issues.” She went on to say, “If he wants to produce a show, that’s fine. Just don’t do it with our tax dollars. What a waste!”
City Councilman Bare noted that for just $7,000 more than Hayward is spending in tax dollars on his television show, a new police officer could be hired and put to work on the street, a fact that Bare says is important due to, “Pensacola’s recent bad publicity regarding small town crime statistics”.
No official word has been given on the time slot in which Mayor Hayward’s show will air, but Bare and Clark suggest that “residents educate themselves” on the issues before watching and making any decisions regarding their city.