Where did SOC go wrong?
September 6, 2006
I promise not to beat up on Save Our City, but I do think there is value in analysing what happened:
SOC came out of the petition process with considerable momentum. For nearly two months, the Community Maritime Park supporters were silent and let SOC dominate the news. Their message was a series of sound bites – baseball park, $1-a-year, giveaway to a millionaire, no citizen input.
The SOC press conference held on the steps of City Hall on the emails re-enforced the message and added an new dimension of possible backroom deals.
Then I think SOC got overconfident and got distracted by side issues – like trying to abolish CRA, fighting the expansion of the DIB and the candidacies of Sam Hall, Jerry Howard, Bill and Tom Banjanin. They were making plans for beyond the referendum vote.
Charlie and Marty should never have spoken at the Rotary Clubs and other civic groups. The more details they tried to give the more people saw through their weak arguments. The more it motivated young professionals and others to vote “Yes.”
Their yard signs “We can build a better waterfront park” hurt them badly. It pointed out that they had no plan for the waterfront. SOC wanted the voters to focus on the “WE”, but it didn’t work.
Another mistake was claiming in their mail outs that there was no maritime museum. The public believed in Adm. Fetterman and knew his widow Nancy was working hard to build the museum. CMPA had a series of press conferences announcing big donations to the museum. This hurt SOC credibility.
Also Quint Studer became more visible the last two weeks. SOC’s personal attacks on him as greedy and out for himself didn’t match the man the public saw. Though SOC tried to back off of the attacks and claim they never happened, the public remembered.
Then Marty Donovan’s public name-calling hurt, too. Calling Jeff DeWeese a weasel on BLAB and attacking Duwayne Escobedo, the Independent News and me in the WSRE debate made him out as a bully and hurt his credibility, too.
And lastly, the charges made against the Pensacola City Council by Tom Garner hurt SOC – even though Garner says he has no relationship with SOC. Donovan was heavily quoted by Garner, but in the end, the State Attorney’s office believed the other council members, not Donovan. The public say it as desperate political attack by SOC – even though they weren’t involved.