Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics


We just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post and comment on Ed Gamble’s cartoon in the TU today.  But basically, Gamble’s cartoon says it all on our City officials and the Courthouse debacle.



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

Courthouse debacle embarrassing, but not criminal

The sealed grand jury report on the courthouse debacle – $64.6 million in taxpayer money spent with nothing to show for it – was obtained by the TU.   The thirteen page report lays out recommendations for the City as they continue to pursue building the Courthouse and recommends that if ground isn’t broken by this spring, or if there are continued financial problems, that future grand juries should be reopen the matter and investigate.

“Although this grand jury has found no evidence of criminal activity, it cannot express in strong enough terms the disappointment and frustration it shares with the taxpayers of this community,” the 13-page report concludes. “… The failure of the city to complete or even substantially begin the construction of a courthouse for eight years is an embarrassment.”

Taxpayer disappointment? Frustration? 

I’d call it utter disgust.

 The TU article has all the details.

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

Jacksonville’s Ponzi History

It should come as no surprise to Jacksonville taxpayers that, lo and behold, Charles Ponzi—the father of the infamous Ponzi scheme—was a former resident of our fair city. After all, isn’t our local government run like a massive Ponzi scheme? Mayor Peyton’s latest proposed tax increase (at the rate he’s proposed new taxes over his two terms in office, he’s gunning for a new nickname—Taxin’ John of Taxonville, but that’s commentary for another day) strips the funds that were set aside in the Better Jacksonville Plan for rapid transit and moves them to other road projects. (Of course, let’s not forget, this was a voter-approved initiative and they are moving the funds without voter approval.) They have already moved around monies to pay for the ever-ballooning courthouse. And, of course, let’s not forget the tens of millions promised to the Jacksonville Jaguars. We have yet to identify where that money will be coming from, but rest assured it will be found somewhere.

Perhaps Bernie Madoff, and Charles Ponzi before him, should have avoided the private sector. They could have had a long and fruitful career in Jacksonville politics—no prison time involved.

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

You think Illinois is bad?

With House Speaker Ray Sansom’s sweetheart deal, House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands’ donations for legislative committee appointments, an ongoing FBI investigation into Jaxport, a grand jury investigation into the Duval County Courthouse, Mayor John Peyton’s no-bid contracts to friends Scott Teagle (Prologic), Shelia Green (GreenBean Corporate Solutions), and Paul Harden (Waste Management), and certain City Council members inability to comply with the Sunshine Laws, this seemed like a timely and appropriate article from the St. Pete Times:

Florida wears U.S. corruption crown

By Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

Tired of seeing Florida constantly at the bottom of national rankings? Take heart. The Department of Justice says we’re No. 1 in one category: corruption.

Compiling federal corruption convictions over the past decade, Florida topped every other state with 824 convictions of local, state and federal officials — even Rod Blagojevich’s Illinois and even Louisiana, where politicians are said to be so crooked they are screwed into the ground at burial.

Of course, Florida is more populous than all but three other states, so perhaps a fairer way to look at it would be per capita corruption cases. In that case, North Dakota can take a bow as numero uno, and Florida ranks a mere 11th. Rest assured we have strong potential to move up the list.

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

Mayor’s Office doing advance spin

We guess there is going to be a TU story on the courthouse.  The Mayor’s Office is already spinning the story to City Council members before it appears in print.

Council Members,


Today, per their request, we provided the Florida Times Union with an update on the Duval County Courthouse project.  I wanted to take a minute to convey to you the same information we shared with the newspaper. 

·      We continue to work with the design/build firm on the design of the courthouse, identifying opportunities for cost savings wherever possible. To date, the construction documents (the designs by which the structure is built) are approximately 70 percent complete. We expect the construction documents to be approximately 75 percent complete by the end of January 2009. 

·      As they approach a point where the design is approximately 75 percent complete, the design/build team will begin soliciting bids on the various elements of construction.  We expect that there will be 25 to 30 separate Requests for Proposals (RFPs) issued related to the construction phase of this project.  This will encompass every element of the structure; from foundation and exterior structure to electrical and mechanical elements. 

·      After all of the bids are received and evaluated and the costs outlined in the various bids are compiled, the design/build team will provide the city documents outlining their Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the project and a proposed schedule for completion.  If the cost estimates come in below the amount previously authorized by the City Council, the city can at that point move forward with the notice to proceed on construction of the building. We expect to receive a GMP and the proposed construction schedule sometime in mid-April. 

·      While there had been some discussion of expediting the construction by moving forward with work on the foundation of the structure before the GMP had been issued (a practice that commonly occurs in public works projects) a joint decision was made between the administration and the Council President to wait until the GMP had been issued before construction work begins.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 


Thank you,


Sherry L. Hall
Policy Director
Office of the Mayor

And Councilman Hyde’s assistant replies to him:



Miller, Alison


Thu 12/18/2008 9:02 AM


Hyde, Kevin




FW: Courthouse Update




I’m sure you heard about this on the radio.  Sherry sent us this e-mail at 10:46 p.m. last night.  Thanks?

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

All I want for Christmas

Great Gamble cartoon in the TU today.



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

Grand jury investigation continues

The grand jury investigation continues into the City’s expenditure of $65 million dollars on the proposed Courthouse – with nothing to show for it.  Next on deck to testify: John Delaney, Adam Hollingsworth, and Alan Mosley.

I noticed that in today’s TU article, the City’s General Counsel, Rick Mullaney, couldn’t resist taking a back-handed dig at outgoing State Attorney Harry Shorstein.   I guess he couldn’t think of anything constructive to say since his office is being scrutinized in the ongoing investigation for their role in the City’s defective  courthouse contracts.

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Newly elected City Council members’ views on the Courthouse

Speaking of the Courthouse mess, both Reggie Brown and John Crescimbeni have evidently spent time thinking through the Courthouse debacle and how they would address it

Times Union: With a price tag of more than $350 million and a special counsel looking into where the first $65 million went, how would you like to see the courthouse project move forward?

Brown: We must establish an oversight committee, as well as an independent accounting system to monitor the spending with the courthouse project. … Additionally, I would like to see a stronger focus to increase employment [and] contract opportunities for local citizens that will assist in easing the current tension with our economy.

Crescimbeni: While the construction of the courthouse could provide much needed jobs, hopefully to local workers, it could easily end up costing more than twice what was originally approved by the electorate. For that reason alone, the voters should be allowed to weigh in again on whether this project should move forward.

Glad to see they are already at work on one of the more pressing issues facing City Council, even before they get sworn in to City Council this coming Tuesday night.

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

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