Tale of the tape: What and when did Andrew Gillum know about outside help with power restoration

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Social media continues to swirl about what Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum knew and when he knew it regarding offers of help from outside utilities to get Tallahassee’s juice flowing again.

City and outside electric repair crews were still working throughout the capital after Hurricane Hermine. The state reported that 17,099 customers in Leon County, including those served by other than the City of Tallahassee utilities, were still without power.

Gillum says he was “never aware” of a formal offer by Florida Power & Light, for instance, to aid in restoring power. He referred to a roundtable briefing with Gov. Rick Scott that included him and FPL president Eric Silagy, among many others.

“I heard them list what assets they had available, as did the several other utilities present in the room,” Gillum told FloridaPolitics.com.

In an earlier Facebook post, he added: “We are happy to accept any help from any person or organization that is going to accelerate the speed at which we can safely restore power to our residents.”

But a review of a video of that Friday meeting shows Silagy did extend a helping hand, whether formally or informally.

During that briefing, Silagy said his utility had “redeployed a fair number of people in the north, (around) Lake City … we have 575 personnel there now.

“I’m going to send those out unless anybody needs them,” he says in the video.

Gillum is sitting directly across the table from Silagy. And city utilities chief Rob McGarrah can be seen two seats down, nodding his head as Silagy speaks.

“Is there anything you know that you can be helpful with?” Scott finally asked.

“We’ve been talking, we made the offer, whatever is necessary we’re happy to help,” Silagy said.

No one from the city, including Gillum, responded.

The City Commission met at 8 a.m. Tuesday in a special meeting to “discuss the impacts of Hurricane Hermine and the restoration progress. This meeting will be open to the public.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.