JaxPoliticsOnline.com

Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

We’ve Moved!

In case you’ve forgotten, we’ve moved to our own domain:  http://jaxpoliticsonline.com.  Please make sure you visit us there for thoughtful analysis of the issues facing Jacksonville and the State of Florida.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Crist Too Busy Fundraising To Govern?

Last November 5, the FBI swooped into sleepy Levy County and stunned everyone by arresting two Levy County Commissioners, Sammy Yearty and Tony Parker.  Both men were charged with accepting bribes.  Yearty’s arrest, in particular was shocking.  He had served on the Levy County Commission since 1978—just five years after my family moved from neighboring Alachua County.  His father and grandfather had both served on the Commission.  Everyone in Levy County knows the Yearty family.

Visit our new site located at http://jaxpoliticsonline.com for the full article.

Filed under: Uncategorized

City Pushed Through Union Contracts Month Before Budget Crisis

Despite declarations by elected officials in the City of Jacksonville that the city is in the midst of a budget crisis, the City Council rushed through legislation in June which the Mayor requested be heard as an emergency that approved new collective bargaining agreements with City employees represented by two different unions.  The legislation, 2009-477 and 2009-478, was backdated as the city was operating under an expired contract with one of the unions.

Visit our new site at http://jaxpoliticsonline.com for the full story.

Filed under: Jacksonville

New Website: Visit JaxPoliticsOnline.com

For our traditional Sunday Night Detour, visit our new website:  http://jaxpoliticsonline.com

Filed under: Sunday Night Detour

Weekend Respite…

JaxPoliticsOnline.com will not be available this weekend as we undergo several upgrades.  Please be patient during this time and re-visit us next week as we delve deeper into the city’s ongoing budget battle.

-Abel

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Hometown Democracy Debate Heats Up

Amendment 4, also known as Hometown Democracy, will be the ballot initiative to watch in 2010.  The highly-controversial amendment cleared another hurdle yesterday when the Florida Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion to Attorney General Bill McCollum stating that a revised financial impact statement now complied with state law.  

“Local governments will incur additional costs due to the requirement to conduct referenda,” the court opined.  The impact on state government; however, “will be insignificant.”

Amendment 4 would require that any comprehensive land use plan changes approved by city councils or county commissions go before the public in the form of a ballot referendum.  Critics say that requiring the public to vote on all comprehensive changes would clog up local ballots and could necessitate dozens of referenda throughout the year.  On the other hand, proponents contend that local politicians are too dependent on large developers for campaign funds and have been quick to approve amendments in the past.

The recent legislative session only served to further heighten the stakes as the Legislature moved to strip much of the existing growth management policies currently in place in an effort to jump-start the state’s flagging real estate industry.  To the dismay of many, Charlie Crist—a self-proclaimed environmentalist—went along with the Legislature’s efforts. As a result, many previous opponents of Amendment 4 are beginning to change their tune, including Florida Times-Union Columnist Ron Littlepage.  Littlepage cited the Legislature’s near-stripping of concurrency requirements and the on-going Craig Airfield controversy in announcing his shifting position on the initiative.  (Interestingly enough, several local governments, including Weston, Key Biscayne and Miami Beach, have filed suit to block the rewrite of growth management laws.  They argue that eliminating concurrency created “unfunded mandates” for local governments.)

Despite their opposition to the recent moves by the Legislature in regards to growth management, the St. Pete Times Editorial Board is not convinced that Amendment 4 is the answer.  They cite the “St. Pete Beach experiment” in detailing their distaste for the initiative.  St. Pete Beach, the Times said, demonstrates that “land planning via referendum is a messy, unpredictable business that leads to higher government costs due to litigation and a stalemate when it comes to development.”

On its face, some argue that the amendment demonstrates an abdication of voter responsibility.  If the voting public is unhappy with politicians rubber stamping the requests of developers, they argue, then voters have an obligation to show up at the polls in support of individuals who pledge their commitment to uphold the comprehensive plan.  

One thing is for certain—it will be a high-stakes, expensive war as the Florida Chamber, developers and real estate interests make an all-out effort to prevent the amendment from reaching that magical 60%.  

The ad wars on YouTube have already begun.  A sampling, including a satirical reprise of the 1970’s era “Crying Indian” PSA, can be viewed below. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 2010, Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , , ,

Godbold Meets With Fire Union, Scolds Police Union Chief

According to News4Jax.com, former Mayor Jake Godbold met with members of the Duval County Fireman’s Union on Wednesday to express his disappointment in the Police Union Chief’s call for a Gate boycott.  Godbold also encouraged the fire union to refrain from resorting to the similar tactics as the Mayor prepares to address pension reform with the city’s unions.

Goldbold told News4Jax that he had never seen personal threats of this kind in all of his years in Jacksonville politics.

Nelson Cuba, the police union chief, has since backed down from his earlier calls for a union-wide boycott.

The full article can be read here.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , ,

School Board Hikes Taxes, Public Silent

The Duval County School Board voted to raise the millage rate a quarter Tuesday night with nary a complaint from Jacksonville residents.  In contrast to the outpouring of e-mails flooding into City Hall mailboxes and the online and organized protests over the Mayor’s proposed increase—only a handful of residents turned up to voice concerns over an increase in the portion of the millage rate used to fund education.  To be sure, the increase levied by the School Board was smaller than the City’s proposal, but nevertheless, in a town known for its anti-tax sentiments, it is surprising that the increase received such little notice from taxpayers.

While public support for education is certainly strong, many have expressed concerns in the past over the expenditure of taxpayer dollars by the school board.  In fact, one of the most widely-read JaxPoliticsOnline.com columns over the past year was written by one of our former contributors who had expressed reservations over the size and expense of the administration housed on Prudential Drive.

Board members W. C. Gentry and Stan Jordan expressed their opposition to a tax hike without specifically designating the increased revenue raised be directed towards reserves.  The Times-Union article on the meeting can be read here.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , ,

Folio Weekly Profiles Clay Yarborough

Picture 4In this week’s Folio Weekly, Owen Holmes returns with a compelling profile of Jacksonville City Councilman Clay Yarborough.

The article—“How an unelectable Bible Boy became a Jacksonville City Council force majeure”—is a must read.

You can find it here.

The article includes a quote from an article first published here.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , ,

Police Union Threatens Gate Boycott

Picture 2The news broke just before lunch—Police Union President Nelson Cuba was announcing his intentions to call for a boycott of Gate Petroleum, the family business owned by Mayor John Peyton’s father, in retaliation of the Mayor’s plan to call for pension reforms and salary freezes.  Nelson accused the mayor of threatening to take away the “basic necessities” police officers have become accustomed to.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30 is one of the most powerful unions in the city and home to over 2,500 officers.  The union has long wielded considerable influence in city elections, including endorsing John Peyton and many of the current members of the city council.  Nelson’s call to members of the union to “send [their] own message and hit the Mayor in his pocket” is therefore not only a monetary threat—it is something designed to discourage any council member from supporting reforms that the union does not agree to.

UNF Political Science Professor Matthew Corrigan told David Hunt of The Florida Times-Union that the move by Nelson could backfire.  Corrigan said that, while the union is well-respected in the city, they risk losing that respect by refusing to share in budget cuts.

The full Times-Union article can be found here.  For breaking news on the Jacksonville political scene, follow us on Twitter.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , ,

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