Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

City proposes to spend $3.5 million for 15 jobs

Stimulus Watch contains the listing of “shovel-ready” projects for which the mayors of cities from each of the 50 states have requested federal stimulus funding. You can click on a project to read (and add to) its description. You can also discuss the project and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not. For a more local view, you can drill down to projects in a particular city. Just choose a state and then a city from the list.

I found two proposed Jacksonville projects of particular interest. 

Jax Muncipal Stadium HVAC upgrade

$2,500,000.00 – 10 jobs – Energy Program

Sheriffs Office Gun Range Upgrade

$1,000,000.00 – 5 jobs – Public Safety Program

15 jobs at a cost of $3.5 million?  Seems a little pricey even in Jacksonville terms. 

For the rest of the Jacksonville list, click here.


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19-0 for tacky signs and billboards

City Council voted 19-0, yes that’s right – it was unanimous, for a bunch of  tacky signs and billboards in the stadium area for the Jaguars.  The Jaguars get 75% of the revenue from the signs and billboards, while the citizens get all of the blight.  Also in the deal was $148 million of taxpayer money in stadium renovations – which is more than it cost to build the stadium to begin with.

And the Jaguars got all of this for a paltry 10 free club seats for City officials and 25% of the sign and bllboard revenue.  What a deal (Not).

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Tacky billboards and signs will proliferate for Jaguars

We have previously posted (here and here) about the amendment to the Jaguars lease and the issues with the costs and the free club seats for City bigshots.  One issue we haven’t really looked at is the proliferation of billboards and signs the lease amendment will bring to the stadium area.  The Jaguars say the signs are necessary in order to bring in more money for them.  The City will get 25% of the revenue, but will have to take the signs down at their own expense for other events.  But I have to ask:  do we really want our stadium area to look like one giant billboard?

I was curious as to what other football stadiums do, so I went googling for photos on the web and happened to find a site that contains photos of all the NFL stadiums.  I also went on some other sites that have better close-ups of the stadiums and I didn’t see alot of exterior signs on the outside of their stadiums or on the back side of their stadium lights, or even in their parking lots.   So it appears Jacksonville will be fairly unique in this endeavor.    

Jacksonville has been unique in another area.  Our fair city has been in the forefront of billboard regulation and amortization – and it shows.  In 1987, a group of citizens in Jacksonville proposed to regulate billboards through a citizen initiative.  The initiative was approved by 60 percent of the voters despite an aggressive campaign and heavy spending against it by two large billboard companies. The measure banned new billboards as off-premise advertising signs and set up an amortization schedule that would remove 450 billboards by 1998 and an additional 550 billboards by 2015.  No thousands of tacky billboards here. In fact, Jacksonville’s program has been the model for numerous billboard programs throughout the nation.  So why let them proliferate in our stadium (and downtown) area where most out of town visitors will be bombarded with them?

With the Jaguars usually getting everything they ask for, I guess I was not surprised to see that the lease was approved unanimously by Council committees last week. and is up for hearing at the City Council meeting this Tuesday night.  I expect the bill will sail through.

But wouldn’t it be nice (for once) if we didn’t continue giving the Jaguars everything they ask for (and exempting them from City regulations) regardless of how much it costs or how tacky it will look?

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

$148 million and 10 free Jaguar club seats are up for vote

Taxpayers need to be looking for a Hail Mary pass tonight to save their team from a loss.  But it’s not likely a play anyone on City Council will be brave enough to call –  Council is expected to approve the amended Jaguars lease that is scheduled for a vote at their meeting tonight. 

$148 million.  

The money to be approved tonight (which is more than it cost to build the stadium to begin with) includes the following expenditures:

Audio-visual: $4.4 million
Building system upgrades, including air-handling equipment, plumbing and boiler system: $18.1 million
Seating repairs and replacement: $15.4 million
Exterior finish: $2.4 million
Various equipment, including storage, trash bins and forklifts: $4.6 million
Food service equipment: $6.2 million
Handheld communications: $560,000
Interior finishes: $24.3 million
Scoreboards: $867,000
Video boards: $37.6 million
Security: $200,000
Sound systems: $5 million
Telecommunications: $1.8 million
Waterproofing: $5.8 million
“Other,” which includes parking lot and elevator maintenance: $21 million

In return, the City will get revenue from the naming rights to the stadium (nothing x nothing = nothing) and the revenue from signs in the parking lots.

With the patina of the Jaguars playoff season last year worn off in a disappointing losing season this year, and in light of the current economic crises, the lease amendment doesn’t sound like quite as good a deal (that is, if it ever did) for local taxpayers does it?  But the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to hold the power over our City government despite our economic conditions.  

The free tickets. 

In the past, both the Mayor’s Office and City Council had their own free skyboxes to the game and just had to buy tickets – most of which were given to them for free, btw, until the skybox scandal hit the newspaper.  With the new lease amendment, the skyboxes are a thing of the past, but the City will continue to receive ten free club seats under the terms of the modified lease.   City officials want to be able to take companies that are considering relocating to  Jacksonville to a Jaguars game.  But if you were a company considering relocating here, wouldn’t you rather hear from a company that is actually located here about the benefits of doing business in Jacksonville than puffery coming from City officials?  I am sure there are plenty of businesses that would love the opportunity to show the benefits of our fair city to potential relocating companies by taking them to a Jaguars game.

If the City is advertising job openings  for good business negotiators who would run the City like a business, the Mayor need not apply.

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Shed a tear for good old days of skybox perks…

It looks like the City is putting the skyboxes in the “Can’t Find a Corporate Sponsor” Municipal Stadium on the chopping block. Imagine that? The city being forced to live within its means?

A nice perk for some of Jacksonville’s city leaders could soon be a thing of the past as budget concerns prompt officials to consider giving up luxury suites at some downtown venues.

The city spends thousands of dollars each year to buy tickets for skyboxes at Jaguars games, and in the past, money was also spent on food and drinks.

It’s a nice bonus for city leaders to have a luxury suite at the football stadium and at the arena. City leaders, some employees and special guests, such as nonprofit groups, get to see a game or a concert.

As part of the contract with the Jaguars, the city gets the use of two skyboxes at the stadium. One of the boxes is for the mayor, and the other is for the city council. The city just has to buy tickets for the game.

However, that perk is on the chopping block.

“This, as a number of other things, will certainly be on the top of our priority list to reexamine and determine if it is something we will continue to spend and invest in,” said Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Misty Skipper.[News4Jax]

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Mayor says money matters

Mayor Peyton has issued a call for the community to jump in to save themselves from being taxed.  That’s an interesting perspective. 

Since  Mayor Peyton took office in 2003, the City has enacted approximately 56 pieces of legislation that waived the City’s purchasing code.  These waivers included the following projects:  the Shipyards, the Jaguars lease, the Equestrian Center, and IKON.  And there is still one waiver of the purchasing code left for City Council consideration and approval:  the Waste Management no-bid contract to operate the Trail Ridge Landfill.  

If  the projects listed are any indication of the wisdom of waiving the City’s purchasing code, then the City would do well to not waive the purchasing code so often.  Perhaps then, the City could save itself and not have to raise taxes.

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

Party reminder

We previously posted this around Thanksgiving, but know that with the rush of so many parties, you may have forgotten this one.  We definitely don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to lobby your City Council members and others.  So here goes.

Don’t forget about the big tailgate party hosted by John Rood (Vestcor) and Michael Stewart (Jacksonville Aviation Authority)  this Thursday night at the Jaguars/Colts game.  Just in case you lost your invitation, here’s another one you can print.

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Friday Jacksonville Humor

I just ran across this on First Coast News Anchor Shannon Ogden’s blog.  I thought it was rather humorous.  (Even the disclaimer.)

It’s inevitable when any team hits the rotten and unforgiveable 4-9 mark that the jokes start flying.  And if you are in Jacksonville, I recommend you duck and cover because man, are they flying.  Here are some making the rounds today:

How do you keep Jaguars out of your yard?  Put up goal posts.

What do you call a Jaguar with a Super Bowl ring?  A thief.

What’s the difference between the Jaguards and a dollar?  You can get four quarters out of a dollar.

What do the Jaguars and oppossums have in common?  Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

 *The preceeding jokes do not reflect the attitude, feelings or whatevers of the blog author.  All complaints about them should be directed to Jack Del Rio, Stadium with No Sponsor Name, Jacksonville, FL

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Mayor Peyton Defends Jaguar Giveaway

The uproar over the announcement about the $148 million in “upgrades” to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium has apparently reached the St. James Building. Today, Mayor John Peyton is out with a full-fledged defense (previously discussed here) of his latest charitable contribution of taxpayer dollars. This is one of those defenses that could cause a Jacksonville resident to wonder—does Mayor Peyton have Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tendancies (the ability to live life separated from reality)? According to the Mayor, the taxpayers should be thrilled to support the millions in giveaways to the Jags because:

a) The Jaguars do so much for the City. Yes, they do. And we are touched by the generosity of Wayne and Delores Weaver. But, when you look at it the way the Mayor has presented it, are they truly giving to the City out of the kindness of their heart or are they giving expecting something in return?
b) The City will now get some dollars from the naming rights of the stadium. Yes we will. A measly 25%. Oh yeah, and good luck on getting a sponsor in the midst of a massive economic downturn. How did that work out for you this year, Mr. Mayor? And while I’m at it…the taxpayers own the stadium, right? And we are supposed to be thrilled with 25%?
c) The City will get 10 club seats. Seriously? This is a selling point for the Mayor? What alternative universe is he living in? The taxpayers are supposed to cough up $148 million and find comfort in the knowledge that the Mayor will have an additional 10 club seats at his disposal to award to political allies. I don’t know about you, but that makes it all better for me.
d) The City will have naming rights to the parking lots. Now this feature does make me re-think my opposition. This type of negotiating is top-notch. We, the taxpayers, retain the right to sell the naming rights to our parking lots. I can see it now—“Waste Management Parking.” It does have a ring to it. “ProLogic Consulting Memorial Parking Lot?” (Of course, “Avocado Golf Company Parking” could probably accomplish the same thing without conjuring up bad memories for the Mayor.) On second thought, instead of selling those naming rights, perhaps we could name them after local politicians who park themselves in elected office? “Stan Jordan Parking.” Now we’re talking.

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All I want for Christmas

Great Gamble cartoon in the TU today.



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

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