Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

The New Media & North Florida Politicians

There was a fascinating article in today’s Miami Herald discussing how so many politicians are embracing social networking sites as a method of establishing communication with certain voter demographics that they might not otherwise interact with.  Much of this has been a result of the amazingly successful campaign of Barack Obama, which truly set the standard for interfacing social networking and political campaigns.  Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is cited for her embrace of YouTube, and Florida Senator Mel Martinez (R) is interviewed about his newfound love of Twittering.  (Of course, I must mention…if you really want to follow a humorous elected Twitterer, follow Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)—she’s a college basketball nut who Twitters about everything!)

So, where are North Florida politicians in this media revolution?  

Five of Jacksonville’s Nineteen City Council Members have a profile on Facebook.  Of those, only one appears to use it to engage in political discussion.  Two of the City’s Constitutional Officers have Facebook profiles, but neither appear to use it to promote their office or campaign.  The Mayor has no presence on Facebook—hardly surprising considering he doesn’t even have a published e-mail address on the City’s website.

Only one member of the Jacksonville City Council can be found on Twitter, which truly begs the question: “How is it that a Senator from Missouri can Twitter with her constituents, but a Jacksonville City Council member cannot?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Davis must want to be Mayor

It is becoming apparent that Daniel Davis must really want to get his name out there for his race for Mayor.  He’s evidently using the Nelson Cuba “style”, though – forcing legislation down people’s throats – to do so.   Davis has proposed legislation that would put  “local companies first” in the City’s competitive bidding process.  Numerous companies have raised objections to his proposed legislation, and even the regional Chamber of Commerce has questioned the wisdom of Davis’ bill. 

The Times Union is reporting that in response to Davis’ proposed legislation,

a group of engineers representing companies based in Jacksonville and those with headquarters elsewhere have worked on a compromise to a controversial bill intended to funnel city contracts to locally based firms. The compromise, if accepted by the City Council, would avoid a rewrite of the city’s procurement code as outlined in the original bill, filed by Councilman Daniel Davis. Instead, the current formula for scoring proposals would not change. If there are tie scores, the contracts would be awarded to companies with offices in Duval County.

However, Daniel Davis isn’t too happy wih the proposed compromise and apparently may force “local companies first” legislation down everyone’s throats.

Davis said Monday he was still reviewing the engineers’ compromise and was open to their suggestions. However, he said his intent remains to steer city dollars to companies headquartered in Jacksonville.  “If there is a more simple way to do it, I’m willing to look at it,” he said. “I think this is a good idea, but definitely there is going to be some changes that have to be made to it.”

The legislation and the compromise will be considered at Seaport and Airport Special Committee meeting at 4pm today.  With the two of the three members of that committee sponsoring “local companies first” legislation (and running for higher office), it will be no secret how that vote will turn out, will it?

But one not-so-strange twist – Davis has cancelled the public hearing on his bill.  I guess the only folks to be heard that matter to Daniel Davis are the folks who worked on the compromise (who are also the ones most likely to line his campaign coffers) – and he didn’t really listen to them either. So much for the rest of the public, too – he doesn’t even want to hear from them. 

And so it’s business as usual for Jacksonville’s City Council.

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

And the new Mayor is…

The 2011 Mayor’s race is starting to get a little crowded. We’ve already discussed Tax Collector Mike Hogan‘s interest in the job here. Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland has long had designs on the Mayor’s Office and that urge has certainly not dissipated. Mr. Holland seems to be operating on the assumption that no major Democrat will enter the race and has been courting the support of the Democratic Executive Committee. Word on the street is that he has approached a certain high profile Jacksonville Democrat to seek their backing. Three current members of the City Council—Daniel Davis, Glorious Johnson and Ronnie Fussell— have expressed interest. Of course, with Mr. Davis and Mr. Fussell being related, one assumes that they wouldn’t challenge each other…it would probably be Mr. Davis who enters the race. Of course, Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has shown some interest in the past, but that appears to have passed. The real wild card? Former Jaguar Tony Boselli. Mr. Boselli is said to be very interested in a potential bid, something that would place him on a direct collision course with Mr. Davis and Mr. Hogan. That could create a free-for-all that someone like Ms. Johnson could capitalize on…

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , ,

“Local Business” Proposal Put on Hold

City Councilman Daniel Davis’ proposal that would give “local” companies preference when bidding on City projects has been put on hold for the time being. The legislation, which has been widely criticized as protectionist and something that could be more expensive for the City, will be placed on hold while more research is conducted. According to the Daily Record:

The committee requested that the Procurement Division research who had received contracts in the past and how other cities were setting policy in trying to encourage local businesses to compete for contracts.

“We just can’t compare ourselves to ourselves,” said Stephen Joost, City Council member and committee member. “I’d like to see a comparison to similar cities. We are not alone in this, other cities are having problems like this.”

The proposed ordinance seeks to amend the Professional Services Evaluation Committee (PESC) procedure of the Procurement Code. The PESC reviews the qualifications of the companies that submit bids for City contracts. One of the criteria is “proximity to the project involved.”

As has been previously discussed, some of the more controversial recent contracts, including the no-bid IT contract involving former Peyton Chief of Staff Scott Teagle and the Auchter contract for the construction of the Duval County Courthouse, were with local companies.

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

The glass cone of silence

A door has reappeared on City Council’s now famous green room.  This time it’s glass.  It seems Council President Ronnie Fussell thought too much noise was being made by councilpersons talking to their “consituents” (read “lobbyists”) during meetings.  He also cited security concerns should there be an emergency.  Fussell says everyone can still see what’s going on in the green room still and so citizens shouldn’t be concerned.  Former Council President Daniel Davis, who had the door removed in response to a grand jury investigation into Sunshine violations by council members, readily agreed.

They are right.  We can all see what’s going on the green room – and unfortunately it’s not open government.

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

Chamber wants procurement bill delayed

We’ve previously expressed our concerns here and here over Daniel Davis’ proposed changes to the City’s procurement code that would give preference to “local companies first.”  It appears we are not alone in our concerns.

 Now here’s an unexpected development.

According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce via Mike Hightower has formally asked the City Council to defer Daniel Davis’ bill that would amend the city’s purchasing code to favor local businesses.  It seems that the proposed bill is causing confusion and growing apprehension among Jacksonville’s business leaders as to what the effects of the bill actually might be.  Hightower has asked the City Council to instead appoint a task force to study the issue.

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Local Favoritism Passes Hurdle

Jacksonville City Councilman Daniel Davis’ bill that would give local companies favoritism in attracting City business has cleared two committees. The bill, previously discussed here, is not without its opposition, however. Council Members Michael Corrigan and Stephen Joost objected to the legislation.

However, Joost called it a “myopic” view of the economy and one that contradicts the stance that City leaders are looking to put Jacksonville on the international economic map through the activity at the port and Cecil Commerce Center.

“If you want this to be an international city, you have to look beyond the borders,” said Joost. “We are in a global economy. This is myopic and protecting local jobs goes against that.”

According to the City’s procurement rules, firms bidding on City jobs are evaluated on a 100-point system using 10 different criteria. Currently, a company headquartered in Jacksonville automatically gets 3-6 out of a possible 10 “proximity” points. Davis’ bill will double that and award nothing to firms that haven’t had an office in Florida for at least the previous 12 months. [Daily Record]

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City contracts to “local” companies

Prior to the holidays, former City Council President Daniel Davis introduced a bill (2008-1055) that would favor local companies bidding on City contracts.  According to the bill summary, the bill intends to

add more specificity to the City’s current policy of giving some preference in the procurement process to local companies versus those that have no Jacksonville or Florida presence.  The changes do so by awarding more points in the professional services evaluation process under the “proximity” criterion to companies headquartered in Jacksonville or having a substantial office presence in the city on a formal graduated scale, and by adjusting the evaluation of the “volume of current and prior work” criterion to give greater points to companies with larger Jacksonville-based staffs. 

In addition, according to a recent TU article, Davis intends to introduce an amendment to his bill that allows companies with secondary offices in Jacksonville that have been doing business in the city for at least five years to receive additional consideration.


Davis’ proposal is scheduled for committee hearings next week.  But before City Council members make up their minds on this proposed ordinance code change, they should read and consider the thoughts of a former county chief of administrative services for a mental health program.  The following column was recently published in the St. Pete Times. 


No local preferences for contracts

By C.D. Chamberlain, Guest Columnist

Back in the days when I was the chief of administrative services for a county mental health program, my boss taught me these three basic axioms for evaluating any proposed public policy:

•What is the policy attempting to do?

•For whose benefit?

•At whose expense?

These three questions assume the basic utilitarian principle: The highest good is to do the most good for the most people. This utilitarian principle evolved in reaction to a hereditary oligarchy that rewarded the very few at the expense of the many.

A subordinate utilitarian principle is: All public expenses must be fairly and equitably borne by all persons. Revenue collection must be equitable and all benefits must likewise be equitable. The goal of our democratic system is assuring that the greatest number of persons receive the greatest benefit.

So, when our newly minted county commissioners opine that county contracts should give preference to local businesses, we have to ask: For whose benefit? At whose expense?

My response to such preference is either sucking in a deep breath or emitting a deeper sigh.

Bid specifications assure that the winner has the ability to perform the contract. The open-bidding process replaces cronyism with competition and assures prudent public purchases. There is no substitute for buying the specified service or product at the lowest possible price. In our imperfect world, this is the best way to make sure the most good is done for the most people.

Why should all taxpayers be saddled with additional cost to provide a benefit to a few preferred bidders? Once special status is granted to any party making a bid, how many other special considerations will be granted? After all, a local firm has the built-in advantage of lower transportation costs. If this home-court advantage cannot produce the winning bid, why should the general public absorb additional expenses for local favoritism? Of course, we know that our commissioners would never give special consideration to a local firm just because it made a campaign contribution.

We all recall that our great nation on occasion granted special privileges based on race, gender, religion, national origin and political affiliation. None of us look back on such favoritism with pride. Favoritism is corrosive to the very heart of our democracy and corrupts public morals.

Hernando County must embrace the best of our democratic ideals and maintain an open, honest, and equitable bidding process. We will all benefit.

C.D. Chamberlain lives in Spring Hill

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

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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