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Questions raised about incoming Pensacola City Council executive

The 2014-2016 Pensacola City Council. (City of Pensacola/Special to the Pulse)

Earlier this month, Pensacola City Council staffer Rusty Wells received “two identical, unmarked envelopes” which contained personal information about incoming Council Executive Donald Kraher, who the council hired last month. “The person who prepared the information is unknown to me,” wrote Wells in an email to the City Council last week.

Donald Kraher
Donald Kraher

Much of the information in the envelope centers around Kraher’s three filings for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection — including a 2013 filing which is still being administered — as well as the fact that his Missouri law license is currently suspended.

In a memo attached to Wells’ email, Kraher acknowledged the bankruptcies, saying that he was currently in year three of a five-year financial reorganization plan. He also told council members that he purposely allowed his law license to lapse after accepting a position with a municipal government in 2013. “As the saying goes, ‘those who live glass houses…,” wrote Kraher. “I do not live in a glass house and I will freely respond to any inquiries from the Council President and Members of Council.”

In a separate memo to the council, consultant Al Coby defended the process by which Kraher was qualified and hired, saying that the “Council Executive recruitment essentially followed the City’s hiring process.” Coby contended that the City’s human resources office participated in the vetting process and that Kraher underwent the same screening process as other potential city employees.

Pensacola attorney Bob Kerrigan has written extensively about Kraher on his blog, arguing that Kraher’s failure to disclose information about his bankruptcy and suspended law license are grounds for the City Council to withdraw its offer of employment.

Reached on Tuesday night, Kraher said he would “not be deterred.”

“I have full faith in my abilities,” said Kraher. “I am ever enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the City Council in achieving what is best for the citizens of Pensacola.”

Kraher, 53, was hired by the council on September 9 to oversee the Office of the City Council, at an annual salary of $100,000 — the same salary paid to Mayor Ashton Hayward. Kraher’s employment is slated to begin on October 26.