Article Courtesy of The
By Timothy Fanning
Published March 26, 2021
SARASOTA – Sarasota city Planning Board member
Patrick Gannon said he is resigning from the voluntary advisory board.
The catalyst for his resignation appears to be a dispute with Vice Mayor
Erik Arroyo, who reportedly eavesdropped on Gannon’s private
In one conversation, Gannon discussed potentially running an
advertisement to oppose the City Commission’s decision to allow its
mandatory mask ordinance to expire. In another, the longtime Planning
Board member spoke to an attorney representing residents who live in his
condominium. Gannon, who lives in the condo, would be subsequently
voting on a matter going before the Planning Board.
In a February email to city officials, Arroyo said he planned to
confront Gannon publicly by having him testify before the Sarasota City
Arroyo instead met privately with Gannon, City Attorney Bob Fournier and
former City Commissioner Eileen Normile on Monday. Arroyo asked for
Gannon’s resignation but Gannon refused. He changed his mind the
In his resignation letter to Mayor Hagen Brody on Tuesday, Gannon said:
“It is with great sadness that I have come to realize that under your
administration I will be unable to fulfill the last two months of my
commitment to this city that I love. My concerns for public health made
me unable to support the commissioner’s decision last month to lift the
mask ordinance. I expressed my concerns privately, never publicly.”
Gannon added: “In my nearly six years of service to the city of Sarasota
as a Planning Board member, I have rigorously followed the city’s public
hearing rules and avoided improper communications on matters foreseeably
coming before the Planning Board.”
Gannon has served on the Planning Board since May 2015 and is the vice
president of the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association, a consortium
of leaders from dozens of condo associations downtown that advocates on
behalf of downtown residents. He ran unsuccessfully for the City
Commission in 2017. He is term limited from the planning panel in June.
Gannon elaborated briefly on the rationale behind his departure in an
interview with the Herald-Tribune.
“It’s the manner in which my criticism expressed privately reached the
ears of a commissioner who felt that it was improper for a city advisory
board member,” Gannon said in an interview. “I think the commission
needs to have a discussion about the appropriate speech from city
advisory board members. That is the real crux of the issue there, I
In February, Arroyo sent an email to the city manager, commissioners,
the city attorney and Gannon. Arroyo raising concerns about perceived
conflicts of interest. Arroyo said he wanted to “subpoena” Gannon. He
also said he wanted to discuss an element of the city charter that
enables elected leaders to investigate city staff members.
This was in apparent reference to a conversation Gannon had with Robert
Lincoln, the attorney who represents Condo on the Bay. People living in
the condo have expressed concern over several aspects of downtown
Sarasota bayfront redevelopment project known as The Bay. Gannon had
said publicly that he is a resident of Condo by the Bay and neither the
city’s legal counsel nor The Bay Park Conservancy took issue.
Lincoln told the Herald-Tribune that he had only one conversation with
Gannon about a zoning rule changes related to The Bay in October.
Multiple people were present and he had similar conversations with other
Planning Board members, he said.
During a March 10 Planning Board meeting, Gannon threatened legal action
against the city should the issue come before the City Commission.
“I was dismayed and significantly angered as I would expect any Planning
Board member would have been to see their name falsely alleging conflict
of interest,” Gannon said at the March 10 Planning Board meeting. Gannon
said he sought clarity from the city’s legal counsel on multiple
“I cannot understand how something like this can move forward,” Gannon
said. “That a commissioner has such discretion to make such false
allegations with no facts behind it.”
Planning Board members stood behind Gannon.
“The only thing shady about Patrick is his love of trees,” said Planning
Board member David Morris. “I find the tone of (Arroyo’s) memo to be
menacing and I find it absolutely inappropriate in this venue of no
During the same Planning Board meeting, several members complained about
the behavior of Commissioner Kyle Battie and Arroyo at a Planning Board
meeting in early March.
Battie apparently gave a thumbs-up to The Bay Park Conservancy’s
attorney, several Planning Board Members said.
Battie reportedly also made a gesture that Planning Board member Terrill
Salem interpreted as “You have nothing to worry about, you have my
Planning Board members also accused Arroyo of exhibiting some of the
same behavior. They have addressed those concerns with City Manager
“I just felt like he interfered with our process,” Salem said on March
10. “He was undermining us and there is no place for that in the city.”
Arroyo, Gannon and Fournier met on Monday to discuss Gannon’s alleged
conflict of interest. Former commissioner Normile was also present.
Gannon declined to elaborate on details discussed at the meeting when
reached by phone.
Normile, in an interview with the Herald-Tribune, said: “It was one of
the most disturbing meetings I have ever sat through.”
According to Normile’s account of the meeting, Arroyo admitted to
eavesdropping on a private Zoom call with several downtown residents.
He also said he reviewed a private email from Gannon that discussed the
possibility of running an advertisement opposing Sarasota’s decision to
allow its mandatory mask ordinance to expire.
Brody accepted Gannon’s resignation on Tuesday. In a text message with
the Herald-Tribune, Brody declined to comment.
“I’m busy preparing our mass vaccination events this weekend at the Van
Wezel and have zero time for advisory board drama or nonsense,” Brody
Arroyo, in a text message to the Herald-Tribune, did not address the
specific concerns raised by Gannon.
“Mr. Gannon has served this city for years and we thank him and anyone
who makes that strong commitment to public service,” Arroyo said in a
text message. “I’ve directed the city manager to honor his service and
dedication with a plaque that we will present at a future meeting.”
Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said she will not accept Gannon’s
resignation. Ahearn-Koch said she plans to object to his resignation at
the next commission meeting. Ahead of that discussion about whether to
accept the resignation, there is a separate agenda item to potentially
fill Gannon’s vacant planning board seat. The city typically fills those
positions in January and June.
Of Gannon, Ahearn-Koch said he served honorably and was an “incredible
asset to the Planning Board and I don’t understand why he’s even putting
his resignation, especially since he has two months to go.”