Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

A Reality Check Comes to the First Coast

IMG_0297Reality Check First Coast, a project that was months in the making, came to St. Johns County Convention Center at the World Golf Village on Thursday.  Reality Check First Coast is a visioning exercise that seeks to analyze and develop alternative growth scenarios for the seven county area—Nassau, Duval, Clay, Baker, St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam—through the year 2060.  According to research performed by the GeoPlan Center at the University of Florida and the Northeast Florida Regional Council, the First Coast area is expected to projected to add 1.6 million people and 650,000 new jobs by 2060.

The visioning exercise conducted at the May 21 event was designed raise awareness as to the projected levels of region-wide growth, and to lay the foundation fort the development of a concrete list of next steps to meet the region’s future job, housing, transportation, infrastructure and recreational needs.

To that end, over 275 of North Florida’s political, business and non-profit leaders gathered to share their vision of what the First Coast can become.  There were 30 tables of 10 people people who used red (jobs)  and yellow (residential) Lego’s to represent future development.  Among the participants were UNF President (and former Mayor) John Delaney, Mayor John Peyton, Councilman Kevin Hyde, Councilman Art Graham and Councilman Bill Bishop.  Governor Charlie Crist also spoke at the event.

My table had a diverse group, including a former Jacksonville City Councilwoman, the City Manager of a neighboring town, a School Board member from a neighboring county and business leaders from Jacksonville and surrounding areas.  Interestingly enough, perhaps a testament to what we would all like North Florida to become, we began by marking off greenspace areas that we wanted to preserve and enhance.  We then moved on to identifying where we would like alternative forms of transportation, such as high-speed rail, and moved on from there.  Perhaps the most difficult challenge was deciding where to place the scores of red (jobs) and yellow (residential) Lego’s.  We had said that we wanted to avoid the urban sprawl that plagues so much of North Florida, and that proved rather challenging to change.  In the end, our consensus was that North Florida must develop better forms of Transportation, mixed-use developments with high-quality schools and accessible greenspace that accentuates our River, Beaches and the natural beauty of our region.  

The project is by no means complete.  Visit Reality Check’s website for information on how you can become involved. 

Oh…and for the political junkies…interestingly enough, the prospect of hearing the incumbent Governor and current Senatorial candidate didn’t seem to inspire more of Jacksonville’s City Council members to attend, other than Hyde, Graham and Bishop who were already mentioned…  More pictures below… Read the rest of this entry »


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

Indy Media Takes on John Clark

John Clark’s “baggage”, as the Indianapolis Business Journal put it, “has arrived before him.”  Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop has a priceless quote in the article that can be found here.

The man nominated to be CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority has been a polarizing figure in Jacksonville, where he’s been CEO of the Florida city’s aviation authority since 2001. 

During that time, Clark amassed a long list of critics — ranging from the city council to airport police to neighborhood residents in the path of a proposed runway extension. 

Jacksonville’s alternative newspaper, Folioweekly, in November published a scathing article about Clark, painting him as a big spender with little regard for authority.

Recently named chairman of the North American division of Airports Council International, Clark has flown around the world for ACI conferences, at the airport authority’s expense. 

According to the newspaper, Clark has flown to Shanghai, Brussels, Frankfort, Paris, London and Buenos Aires in the past two years, racking up expensive hotel bills, including a $726-per-night room in Buenos Aires and $582 room in Paris. His trip to the London Air Show cost the authority $10,491 and his trip to Shanghai cost $11,304.

“I’ve said on several occasions I’d be happy to write him a letter of recommendation, if it got him a job somewhere else,” said Bill Bishop, a Jacksonville architect and city councilman who helped stop Clark and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority from extending a runway into a residential area.
Hours after the Indianapolis Airport Authority announced Clark’s selection on March 10, bloggers who had “Googled” his name starting having a field day questioning the authority’s CEO pick.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , ,

Cashin’ In at the JAA

Folio Weekly has a top-notch expose out this week on John Clark, the head of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.  Serving as the head of an independent agency is quite lucrative—at least in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Clark’s compensation ranks him as the highest paid airport executive in the state, even higher than Atlanta’s airport.  (And, in case you are wondering, Jacksonville comes nowhere close to competing with Atlanta, Miami or Orlando in terms of volume.)  According to Folio, Mr. Clark’s compensation includes:

  • Base salary of $241,000 (with an automatic 5% annual increase through 2012)
  • $850 monthly car allowance
  • $750 monthly cell phone/business expense allowance ($50 annual increase)
  • 100% coverage of health insurance premiums
  • Membership dues to the River Club or University Club
  • $15,000 annual retirement contribution
  • Business travel expenses, as needed, which included such things as $10,491 to attend this year’s London Air Show and $11,304 to attend an Airports Council International meeting in Shanghai

Folio pointed out that Mr. Clark recently ordered staff cuts at JIA, presumably to preserve the 30% operating margin that triggers an automatic 30% bonus payout to him ($72,300).  The City Council, particularly Clay Yarborough, Glorious Johnson and Bill Bishop, appear to have taken an interest in reigning in JAA by attempting to restrict his dictatorial powers to move around his budget.  With JAA operating at such impressive margins, perhaps its time for it to start contributing to the City’s general fund, much like another independent authority (the JEA) does…

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , , , , , , ,

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