Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

It’s time to reform the Charter Commission

The Times-Union has an excellent editorial this morning about the Duval County Charter Commission. It’s high time for real reform in regards to the Commission. Among the suggestions:

Too infrequent. Meeting every decade is not often enough. One major issue can use up most of the time of the process. Meeting every five years is more reasonable.

More independence. The charter group simply makes recommendations to City Council. This is essential when City Council itself is a target for changes. In Clay County, for instance, the citizens commission can present recommendations directly to the voters.

End conflicts of interest. A charter amendment is needed to end the lollipop system, which is Jacksonville’s version of earmarks (the federal term) or turkeys (the state government term). Lollipops violate the most basic tenet of American government, checks and balances.

Under that system, district council members are given pots of money from bond issues, typically $1 million each, in return for their support of the bond issues.

This is a throwback to the old city commissioner form of government that consolidation was supposed to reform. It needs to be stopped, permanently.

More oversight. Independent agencies, by their nature, are supposed to be protected from political influence. But that separation can go too far, as typified by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, pushing forward on the Craig Field runway extension, despite widespread public opposition.

In fact, independent agencies have been in conflict with one of the original themes of consolidation – central services provided by city government for all of the agencies. Authorities have been spinning off their own services. A review of city government by Florida TaxWatch indicated that there are substantial savings to be made by joining forces amid all of the city agencies.

A charter amendment could solidify the oversight process.

The list is quite extensive and worthy. More can be found here.


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