Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

House Republican: Sansom’s Actions “Not Legal”

Not all House Republicans are on board with Speaker Sansom’s bid to “temporarily” step aside in his role as Speaker. Rep. J. C. Planas (R-Miami) is saying that Sansom’s actions are not legal.

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Mayor Peyton Desperate

Mayor Peyton is desperately trying to ensure his buddy, Paul Harden, gets the proposed no-bid contract for Waste Management to run the Trail Ridge Landfill through City Council.  The proposed contract expands the current landfill considerably and would provide for Waste Management to run the entire site.  Now the Mayor is saying, and more importantly agreeing with Paul Harden and Waste Management, that the contract is just an extension of the existing contract to run the Trail Ridge Landfill – and therefore, it can’t be put out to bid.

HA!  What a joke.

At least as recently as October 18, 2008 (and for many years before that), it was and has been the City’s position that the current landfill agreement only covers 144 acres and expires in 5-7 years when the 144 acres is filled.  [Times-Union]

I guess Peyton will do anything for his good buddy Paul Harden.  Even to the point of flipping his position to avoid having to put the contract out to bid and sending out letters in his own defense to anyone who has ever written him.

What does the Mayor take us citizens and City Council members for?  A bunch of dummies?

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Sansom turns speaker duties over to Cretul

The good news:   Ray Sansom, beseiged by stinging criticism (not from Florida’s Republican legislators, though) and criminal and ethics investigations stepped down temporarily from his post as Speaker of the House for the Florida Legislature today – at least until the investigations are concluded.  The Speaker Pro Tem, Larry Cretul, will be assuming Sansom’s duties as Speaker of the House.

The bad news:  Sansom can resume his position as Speaker of the House at any time.

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

Sansom’s jet hangar

Well, a few rocks have been turned over on Sansom’s jet hangar and look what’s been found. 

Although Destin Jet is about to open and Jay Odom has known for more than a year that a college building will go up instead of his maintenance facility, he has yet to tell county officials how he’ll meet their FAA-recommended mandate to offer repair service. [St. Pete Times]

Hmmm….maybe Odom and Sansom did intend for him to use that facility for his jets after all.

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Jaxport appears to have flubbed again

We posted on Jaxport previously with a mention of how it seems to do things backwards.  Well, here’s another case where it appears the Port didn’t do all of its homework first.  Jaxport and its new terminals for Hanjin and Mitsui are expected to be a huge boon in the form of millions, maybe billions, of dollars and thousands of jobs for Jacksonville.   There’s just one problem.  The companies plan to bring all these containers in on post-Panamax ships

Panamax ships (the ships of the size that will pass through the current Panama canal) need 39.5 feet of draft in fresh water (buoyancy is affected by salt water).  Post-Panamax ships need much deeper water (These behemoths allow for more containers to be carried at a cheaper price ).  And so, the Panama Canal is being deepened from its current 41 feet to 60 feet  in order to accomodate these post-Panamax behemoths.  Work should be completed by 2014. 

Jaxport in all of its infinite wisdom is currently seeking to deepen the St. Johns River to a depth of 45 feet from its current depth of 40 feet to handle larger ships.  However, a study recently released by the St. Johns River Water Management District says that dredging the river that deep would damage the St. Johns River by increasing the saltiness of the water – by at least 1/5 according to their report.

 Jaxport once again puts the cart before the horse – it appears they’ll be unable to accomodate post-Panamax ships that will need even deeper water than Jaxport is currently requesting to dredge.  Well, at least they have verbally agreed to go slower on the Mayport Cruise Terminal, but wouldn’t Jaxport need that same depth dredged in the river to accomodate those larger cruise ships, too?

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FL Supreme Ct: Redistricting constitutional amendments can go on 2010 ballot

On Thursday, the Florida Legislature suffered a loss at the hands of Florida’s citizens.  The Florida Supreme Court issued 2 advisory opinions upholding Fair Districts Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments regarding legislative and congressional redistricting.  

The legislative redistricting constitutional amendment as proposed by Fair Districts Florida provides that redistricting measures cannot be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts also must be “compact,” and can’t be drawn to block racial or language minorities from having “equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice.  So, I guess you can see why the Florida Legislature might not necessarily be thrilled to see these amendments on the 2010 ballot.

The ruling is a victory for Florida Democrats, who have had no way to win Republican-held seats without changes to the redistricting process.  The Fair Districts Florida group now has to gather 677,000 valid signatures by February 1, 2010 to make it on the ballot.  Then 60% of Florida’s voters have to vote to approve the constitutional amendments before they will become law in Florida.

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

Boyd, McCollum Not Running for Senate

Alan Boyd has now said he’s out, meaning there will be no resident of North Florida in the US Senate race. Additionally, Bill McCollum has now declared he will not make his 18th attempt to secure a seat. Looks like it’s a crop of new names (and maybe Daddy’s name).

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Weighing in on Waste Management no bid contract – again

The bill for the no-bid contract to run Trail Ridge Landfill that the Mayor wants to give to his buddy Paul Harden and Waste Management will be up for consideration in Council Committees next week.  Jacksonville Politics has posted on this issue numerous times and why it is such a bad deal for the citizens of Jacksonville (just search Waste Management in the upper right hand side our page) as has the Times Union and Ron Littlepage.  Littlepage takes on the City Council, the Mayor, and Paul Harden again today in his column.

According to Littlepage

A poll conducted earlier this week asked respondents if they approved of Mayor John Peyton’s plan to award the lucrative, 35-year contract to Waste Management without allowing other companies to submit bids that some argue could save taxpayers at least $100 million.

The answer wasn’t just no. It was heck no.

Eighty-seven percent said the bid process should be open to other companies.

In the polling business, that’s a huge number.

The poll also contained a message for City Council members who might be considering future political careers.

Asked if they would vote for a council member in a future election if that council member supported the no-bid contract, 60 percent of the respondents said they would be less likely to vote for that candidate.

Read the rest of the column here.

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

Quick….name 2 City Council members

According to the JCCI report released yesterday, only 27% of Jacksonville’s citizens can name 2 City Council members.  And only 26% of them feel like they can influence local government.  Just another testament to the average citizen’s view that many of our Council members live in ivory towers and the citizens’ feelings of powerlessness to change Jacksonville for the better. 

Of course, what else would one expect when citizens continually see special deals given for special friends over the past year or so – like Scott Teagle (ProLogics) and Sheila Green (GreenBean Corporate Solutions) – and the grand jury investigations into both the Mayor’s administration and Council members. 

The sad part is that even after all of that, people like the Mayor’s good buddy, Paul Harden, continue to get special deals – i.e., the Waste Management no-bid contract to run Trail Ridge Landfill that is up for City Council consideration next week.  Couple that with the Jacksonville Journey requirements that eliminate most small non-profits from participating and the City’s high crime rate and you have one big depressing mess.

But our government was not the only low point in the report.

According to the Times Union,

– Only 31 percent of Duval County residents said they were satisfied with public education, a drop from 34 percent in 2007.

– Building permits throughout Northeast Florida dropped by about 3,000 in 2007 – even before the housing market tanked.

– The number of food stamp recipients in Northeast Florida grew by about 13,000 in 2008.

– Only 50 percent of Duval County residents feel safe walking alone at night in their neighborhoods, down from 58 percent in 2007.

– Sixty percent of Duval County residents reported racism is a problem.

– In Duval County, there were 334 newly reported HIV cases, 240 of them in the black population, and a more than 10 percent jump in documented sexually transmitted diseases throughout Northeast Florida.

There were some bright spots in the report, however.

– More third- and 10th-graders are reading at grade level, according to FCAT scores released by the state in May.

– Northeast Florida’s graduation rate increased by about 3 percent as the Duval County dropout rate decreased by about 2 percent.

– Cargo tonnage showed slight growth at Jaxport.

– Cigarette sales figures, compared to the population, show a drop of 10 packs per person throughout Northeast Florida.

– There was a slight decline in lung cancer deaths.

Here’s the complete report.

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

Boyd and McCollum out

US Representative Allen Boyd and Attorney General Jim McCollum announced today that they are not going to pursue Mel Martinez’ US Senate seat.  All the big names are dropping out.  First Jeb, then Alex.  Is there a pox on that seat or something?

On another note, Representative Boyd was one of 11 Dems voting against the federal stimulus package today.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , ,

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