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.

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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.

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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.


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Happy Father’s Day!

To all of our readers who are fathers, Happy Father’s Day.

There has been a delay in the 2nd part of the series, The Ghost of Shipyards Past, due to family commitments.  The series will continue this week.

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Jax Officials Dispute “Cash for Relocation” Charge

Yesterday’s story that uncovered charges from the Town Manager of Valdese, North Carolina that Jacksonville officials promised $7 million in cash incentives to Saft America in return for the construction of a new battery production plant at Cecil Field did not sit well with Jacksonville officials.

According to Misty Skipper, Mayor Peyton’s Director of Communications, the charges are simply not true.

“The city is not in a position now, nor has it been our economic development policy, to provide large, up-front, cash incentives to business prospects.” said Ms. Skipper.

While stressing that the negotiations with Saft are still underway, and confidentiality is understandably of the essence, Ms. Skipper sketched a brief overview of what any economic incentives would entail—Qualified Targeted Industry and Brownfield Bonus grants, which carry an 80/20% split with the state (the city portion being the 20%), Recaptured Enhanced Value (REV) grants and Countywide Economic Development Fund dollars (tied to job creation).

Efforts were made to reach Jeff Morse, the Valdese Town Manager who leveled the accusation that Jacksonville was paying cash up-front to secure the deal, but those efforts were unsuccessful.  However, according to another news sources, Mr. Morse backed away from his previous comments.  In a conversation with WOKV’s Jared Halpern, Mr. Morse said that Saft was a “great partner” and wished Jacksonville the best.

According to the Mayor’s Office, any incentives offered to Saft will be fully vetted when the final proposal is presented to the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and the City Council for final approval.  Perhaps the JEDC would consider adding their meeting agenda, and the supporting materials, to their website.

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Hanging up the Jersey

It was some 7 months ago that I was invited to be a contributor here on Jaxpolitics. It’s been a fun ride.  Covering City Hall and Tallahassee provides for some interesting, and sometimes, yes sometimes, entertaining moments.  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but as we all know life often takes us in a different direction than the one we had planned.   

To Abel, gatorblue, and jaxvoice, you have my deepest respect and friendship.  Good luck as you continue your travels down the road of life.

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Happy Memorial Day

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City Special Appointees Still Raking In the Money

Some 4 years ago, the Times Union did a report on city special appointees – called Assistant Management Improvement Offcers – as Councilwoman Glorious Johnson made a push to get rid of these special positions that were typically hired through a process that involved no formal job qualifications, established responsibilities or pay ranges for the positions.  At the time, the Mayor’s Office promised to reform the use of these positions, and Councilwoman Johnson relented on her legislative proposal if the City would indeed push reform on the issue.

With First Coast News handy-dandy, new “What’s That Costing You?” feature on City raises, I thought I’d take a look at these special appointees and compare then and now.

In 2005, 125 AMIOs made $7.5 million; in 2009, 166 AMIOs are making nearly $11.2 million – an increase of $3.7 million.

In 2005, the average AMIO salary was $59,845; in 2009, the average AMIO salary is $67,226.44 – an increase of $7,381.44 on average.

In 2005, the highest paid AMIO was Cal Ray at $119,503 as Finance and Department director administration; in 2009, the highest paid AMIO is Pam Markham at $140,074.92 as Inspector General.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Coming on Sunday…

Visit JaxPoliticsOnline.com on Sunday for these stories:

  • g8rluvr takes a look at AMIO’s, who are special appointees to “assistant management improvement officer” positions and whether or not the City has cleaned up its act as it promised to do four years ago.
  • Abel Harding takes a look at the Florida Legislature’s attempts to abandon petroleum clean up in the state and the potential effects to Florida’s economy and drinking water.

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Seminole County Wants More Than Our Water

Seminole County wants more than Jacksonville’s water.  They’ve now decided they desperately need our tourism dollars as well.  Fresh off their victory over Duval, Putnam and St. Johns County in their bid to draw up to 5 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River, Seminole County has begun advertising in North Florida’s largest media outlet—The Florida Times-Union—seeking visitors to “Florida’s Natural Choice.”  Of course, the ads don’t mention that they manage to bring “Nature Nearer” by sucking it straight out of North Florida’s most treasured natural resource—the St. Johns River.  I don’t know about you, but until Seminole County has embraced conservation and solved their water shortage issues without causing irreprable harm to Florida’s ecosystem, I think I’ll choose to spend my tourism dollars elsewhere.  The ads are below… Read the rest of this entry »

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