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City Commissioner Gail Johnson announces resignation

Gail Johnson

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Stating that she no longer sees “the path to continue serving the people of Gainesville,” Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson has announced her resignation, effective September 23, at a hastily-called Special Meeting held today.

The meeting’s agenda had no details, just one agenda item: “Governance: The City Commission discuss Governance and take action deemed necessary.” Mayor Lauren Poe was absent, which was presumably related to his search yesterday for a COVID test, so Johnson, as Mayor Pro Tem, chaired the meeting.

Johnson began by saying, “So this was not an easy decision for me to make. After a lot of thought, prayer, and conversations with trusted friends, family, and mentors, I have decided to resign from my position as Commissioner for the City of Gainesville. The collective good has always been the reason why I do this job. And I believe the reason I am here is to advocate for those most underserved by local government. However, for more than a year, it has become increasingly difficult to do the job I was twice elected to do. I can do any challenging job, as long as I see a light at the end of the tunnel, as long as I see a path. I no longer see the path that will allow me to continue serving the people of Gainesville in the way I know you deserve.

“It has never been my style to sugar coat, curry favor, or mince my words. This is not a game with 3-D chess for me. Governing is not an academic exercise for me. I show up for this job every day, knowing in my bones how the decisions we make are directly impacting people’s lives. So I always do my best to operate with integrity. To me, integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It is choosing to practice your values, rather than simply professing them.

“Repeatedly, the following examples have called the integrity of the Commission into question. I continue to remain concerned about the retention of the City Manager. I continue to remain concerned about the opaque relationship with Colliers, the CAPER department [Office of Capital Asset Planning & Economic Resilience], and the sudden focus on valuable publicly-owned land. I continue to remain concerned about unkept promises we made to focus on east side development with CRA funds.

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“I continue to remain concerned about the strained relationship with other important partners in this work, such as the County, School Board, UF, and our own employees. I continue to remain concerned about the once-in-a-decade incredible opportunity we have with the Comprehensive Plan update that will be overshadowed by the push for up-zoning, which will erroneously be used as a talking point for achieving racial equality.

“Considering many recent events, I remain concerned about the commitment to equity and inclusion in the City at the highest levels, including this board and members of our leadership team. There is a clear disconnect and misunderstanding about the priorities that will move us toward racial and gender equity. The fact is that this next fiscal year of work will be predicated on the Strategic Plan.

“I fundamentally do not agree with the process of how we arrived at the priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan or the execution of the priorities over the last year. The outsized focus on development is problematic.

“Which brings me to my first and central concern: the retention of the City Manager. Power has been abused and misused. We have quickly gone from working in a low-trust environment to a no-trust environment. The cost of this type of dysfunction is just too high. I am resigning because people often don’t remember the individual contributions a Commissioner makes to the body. They remember the decisions of the entire body.

“I no longer wish to be associated with the majority voice of this body. I no longer wish to be associated with the decisions of the City Manager. I refuse to be complicit in decisions just by my mere presence, even if I dissent.

“During the past 18 months, it has become increasingly delicate how life is and how precious our time on this earth is. I want to work with people and environments where actions speak louder than words. I want to spend my valuable time working in spaces where my contributions and my perspective are valued, where my core values are in alignment with the people I work with, and where I can successfully spend my time working towards desperately-needed systemic change.”

She announced that “for the sake of budget season,” her last meeting will be when they vote on the budget on September 23. Her last day in City Hall will be a week later. A discussion on a special election will be held at an upcoming City Commission meeting.

City Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker said, “I feel kind of like the wind has been knocked out of me a little bit. I certainly was not expecting this today.” She said she “underscored” Johnson’s concerns and made a motion to terminate the contract of City Manager Lee Feldman, but the motion died for lack of a second. The Commission voted 4-3 to retain Feldman on November 24, 2020, with Johnson, Commissioner David Arreola, and former Commissioner Gigi Simmons in dissent. Duncan-Walker was not yet on the Commission.

  • Of course and she leaves the people to foot the bill for a special election…. Let the seat go empty.

    • Can Desantis just appoint a replacement like with the ACSB
      And sheriffs?

      • I was just told it was a special election thing…I think
        Nathan Skop should be appointed to take her place…
        I received a phone call today from somebody saying the exact same thing that Nathan should be there…

  • Mayor Poe & his crony cabal incessantly talk about equity & inclusion
    But actions speak louder than words!
    I had a very brief chat with an East Gainesville Black community leader in which Poe was referred to with the sobriquet “Jack-Ass”

    • Actions speak louder than words? GNV Freedomfest 2021…I’ll donate the roast pig…step up to the plate!

  • It is yet another sad day for Gainesville, FL. How long must the insanity continue? Gail Johnson’s resignation is a tremendous loss.

    • Ha! Yeah!!—-their commie control is beginning to crumble…
      Protest downtown! Freedom! Freedom! No shots! No masks! No shots no masks! Autonomous zone downtown…time to bus in patriots from everywhere!
      GNV Freedomfest 2021…we will not comply with commie mandates and new world order totalitarianism…

    • First term was financial bankruptcy; second term is political bankruptcy.
      Bye Felicia!

  • A day of resignations. Ward Scott is leaving the Ward Scott Files Podcast advertised here. Sounds like a serious medical issue.. Get well soon Ward.

    Meanwhile every morning at nine AM it will be ‘splained to us why we should worship Brother John Birch and support the failed fringe fascist Republican Caliphate of “Springs County(sic)” by none other than Lil Ti**y, the future wannabe Self Appointed Dear Leader Dictator of “Springs County(sic)”. Lucky us.

    I can’t wait for Ward to get better and return.

    Meanwhile the Chronicle writes nothing about the scandal of the city mismanager of Alachua and his resignation and illegal payoff. Crickets. Nothing about the $140,000 and climbing the City of Alachua has spent in a futile legal challenge to Charter Review Committee Amendment 1., plus what High Springs, Newberry and Archer has spent. “Keeping the citizens unmasked and clueless.” Sad.

      • So Jeff, we put you down as “Another CONservative hypocrite who actually supports Cancel Culture”

    • I think the reporting of the dysfunctional and illicit behaviors of county and city, (Gainesville), leaderships don’t leave much in the room of space. Also very confident that those same behaviors in the rural communities are miniscule in comparison as to the aforementioned leaders.

      Since our very O.W.N Dumb@rse is so good with financial analysis, maybe he would feel so free to enlighten us with the numbers those same idiots have spent in their combined attempts at usurping the governor’s authority.

      Probably not, he’s ALWAYS going to believe…

    • OW, your prose is eloquent but the credible speculations, as usual, are not. Yours Truly, Lil’ Timmy.

  • WCJB (8/23/21): Johnson said she could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her main reason for resigning is because Lee Feldman is still the City Manager after numerous complaints.

    • Yeah…it’s always darkest just before the dawn…

      We need to organize the GNV Freedomfest to coincide
      With The city workers going on strike and Gail’s resignation…make an autonomous zone from city hall
      To the hippodrome…this strategic move will shut down
      Both city hall & county gov… put up barricades and have
      Speakers and music in bo Diddley plaza…I will donate
      Money for the pig roast! Get some speakers to show
      Up like Kat & Perry, maybe get Desantis or a Trump to
      Show…bus In patriots George Soros style…no shots! No masks! No shots! No masks! Let’s shut it down…we will not comply. We don’t stop until all the communists are
      Removed from city and county government….

  • Poor Gail, sittting between 2 White Supremes. (1) Gun friendly Harvey and (2) Lauren of Wuhan

    • I guess that’s why his parents named him Lauren, they always knew he would eventually turn out to have more feminine characteristics than masculine.

      As far as Harvey “Two Face,” he would rather just hide behind their skirts. No wonder he and Poe are so “close.”

      All you highly uneducated, keep on believing…

      • Maybe white minority “yuk,yuk” boy Hayes-“shltos” can put his bicycle at another house and qualify for two seats.

  • A special election for the at-large seat COULD be a chance for Gainesville voters to elect an anti-vaxx, anti-mask candidate.

    Harold Saive, could you run for office to help save Gainesville?

  • WUFT (8/23/21): Gail Johnson: I continue to remain concerned about the opaque relationship with Colliers, The Caper dept and the sudden focus on valuable publicly owned land.

    I continue to remain concerned about unkept promises we made to focus on east side development with CRA funds.

    I continue to remain concerned about the strained relationships with other important partners in this work such as the County, School Board, UF and our own employees.

    I’m resigning, because people often don’t remember the individual contributions a commissioner makes to the body, they remember the decisions of the entire body. I no longer wish to be associated with the decisions of the majority voice of this body. I no longer wish to be associated with the decisions of the city manager. I refuse to be complicit in decisions just by my mere presence, even if I dissent.

    • WUFT (8/23/21): Gail Johnson: The fact is that this next fiscal year of work will be predicated on the strategic plan. I fundamentally do not agree with the process of how we arrived at the priorities outlined in the strategic plan, or the execution of the priorities over the past year. The outsized focus on development is problematic. Which brings me back to my first and central concern: the retention of the city manager.

  • What she meant to say is that, “the current path Gainesville commissioners are leading their constituents is a Path of Destruction and Poverty. Although I helped chart this course, this train is coming off the rails and I hope that you support my next venture of ill-conceived leadership for the Alachua County School Board.”

    I can not in good faith follow Pied Piper Poe over the cliff that lies before us.

    Or to borrow a line from a movie, “I’m afraid the strain was more than she could bear.”

    In any case, time to believe in something else…

  • These politicians seem to be full of baloney. The City Commission along with the County Commission helped deprive the people of Gainesville of cheap, effective treatments for COVID. In India, the Indian Bar Association is formally charging a WHO official with mass murder for depriving Indians of the benefit of Ivermectin, which is an effective treatment making masks and vaccines unnecessary. The commissioners want our respect. They do not deserve it. Perhaps all of them should face charges of mass murder. Read about it here. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/08/23/indian-bar-association-charges-who-chief-scientist-for-mass-murder/

  • Strike & protest! —My body, my choice! My body, my
    Choice! Actions speak louder than words…haven’t you
    Had enough of their commie control woke BS yet?
    This needs to be a discussion. Are you a patriot or
    A commie. United we stand, divided we fall…this is
    A call to action…

  • “And the kids they dance and shake their bones, and the rich man in his summer home says “just leave well enough alone”, & the
    Politicians are throwing stones, and it’s all to clear we’re
    On our own…ashes ashes all fall down..”

    • Yeah, maybe the vortex for change begins right here
      In this comments section….now is the time for all good
      People to come to the aid of freedom & liberty.

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