Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Folio Weekly Profiles Clay Yarborough

Picture 4In this week’s Folio Weekly, Owen Holmes returns with a compelling profile of Jacksonville City Councilman Clay Yarborough.

The article—“How an unelectable Bible Boy became a Jacksonville City Council force majeure”—is a must read.

You can find it here.

The article includes a quote from an article first published here.

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Yarborough, Hyde: An unlikely, but good combination


That was the City Council vote passing the 20 and out, guaranteed 3% COLA, corrections officers pension bill in City Council Tuesday night – despite the fact that the correctional officers pension fund is facing a $55 million unfunded liability at last count.

The only two City Councilpersons unwilling to potentially bankrupt the City with additional unfunded pension liabilities:  Clay Yarborough and Kevin Hyde. 

While there was much talk of City Council’s “moral” obligation to pass the pension bill, most Council members, except for Yarborough and Hyde, appeared to have ignored a legal opinion issued by the City’s Office of General Counsel to Councilman John Crescimbeni.  According to the legal opinion

The City intended to implement a three-year agreement, but, with the parties, recognizing the difficulties in that, agreed instead to obligate the Administration to introduce each component of the MOU in the agreed-upon time frame, to the Council for passage. The earlier passage of the funding obligations demonstrates further the City’s need to fund before it finally obligates itself. Accordingly, the City has the greater weight of this disputed issued, and it is more likely than not that the Council would be held not to have legally obligated itself to make these final changes.

Thank you, Councilman Yarborough and Councilman Hyde – for taking a stand to protect Jacksonville’s future budgets.  Thank you for being more concerned with your fiscal responsibilities as City leaders than with threats from a “man who would be king”.

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City Ethics Commission to get a new member

At its meeting this coming Monday at 5pm, the Ethics Commission will be interviewing candidates for the vacant seat on the commission. The candidates are Scott Shine, Leslie Goller, and Cheryl Grymes.

Scott Shine runs a consulting business and previously made two unsuccessful City Council runs -against Jerry Holland and Richard Clark. As a result of those runs, Scott formed a non-profit – an election reform study group with local attorney Warren Anderson and Scott’s neighbor, Robert Gold. The group is seeking to make changes to local campaign financing laws. Scott most recently ran Jay McGovern’s campaign, who waged an unsuccessful race against Ander Crenshaw.

The next candidate is Leslie Goller. Leslie is an attorney with Terrell Hogan. Leslie has been very involved in local politics including being a Democratic Party attorney involved in the 2000 elections fiasco, running in an unsuccessful bid for City Coucil against Art Shad, and most recently in the news for filing ethics complaints against City officials for their Jaguars skybox and Veteran’s Arena adventures.

Cheryl Grymes, the final candidate, is the Executive Director of the Alliance for World Class Education. Most of us remember her as Cheryl Donelan Grymes, the former School Board member who most recently lost a City Council race to Clay Yarborough.  Cheryl has alot of heavy hitting Republicans behind her, while Scott and Leslie are Dems, so it will be interesting to see if this appointment will be politicized.

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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…

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Just Say No

The Times Union reported on the Waste Management no-bid contract this morning.

Where to begin?

Should I start with Art Shad who is the ONLY Council person to come out of the gate expressing his wholehearted support of the no-bid agreement – “a shining example of what’s good”?

Or should I start with Paul Harden who thinks the no-bid contract “sells itself”?

Or should I start with Waste Management representatives who will be meeting with each of the Council members individually to “ensure the council has all the information…”?

Or should I start with the positives – the Council members who appear to have spines?

IMO, this is a no-brainer decision – JUST SAY NO.  This contract should be put out to bid and I am calling my council representatives to encourage them to do just that.

Here’s a run-down of the various Council members’ current position on the no-bid contract according to the Times Union::



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