One of the more interesting things that has gone unmentioned during the San Marco zoning controversy is the close relationship between the District Council Member [Art Shad] and the lobbyist fighting for the zoning change [Paul Harden]. Mr. Shad, whose tenure on the Council has been marked with personal controversy, utilized the services of Mr. Harden in attempting to “soothe over” a lawsuit brought by a constituent. In March 2008, Mr. Shad was accused of punching Jacksonville attorney Tim Kelly after Mr. Kelly’s labrador showed excessive affection towards Mr. Shad. Mr. Kelly sued for $15,000 in damages, at which point Paul Harden intervened to try to make the situation go away. Mr. Harden was ultimately unsuccessful and the lawsuit moved forward, and ultimately a stipulated dismissal was filed in the case this past December.
Now, Art Shad has led the charge to assist Mr. Harden in pushing through a zoning change on property that his brother [Harden] owns without making any steps to recuse himself from a debate in which he appears to have an obvious conflict of interest. As he gushed through an endorsement of this particular zoning change on Tuesday night (which passed 11-6), Art Shad proved that it’s business as usual in “The Corrupt New City of the South.” (Or, to ditch Godbold’s slogan in favor of Peyton’s…”Jacksonville: Where Corruption Begins.”)