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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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 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.



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Peyton: We don’t have money, but let’s spend $148 million on the Jags

They can’t manage to put together a winning season, but they seem to hold sway over the Mayor’s Office.

The Jaguars want the city to spend $148 million renovating Jacksonville Municipal Stadium — more than it cost to build 15 years ago.

Mayor John Peyton said Wednesday it’s time to start thinking about a slew of recommendations in a 2-year-old Jaguars-commissioned architectural review, which range from repaving the parking lot to replacing seating and upgrading video equipment.

Two days ago he said a slowing economy will prevent the city from finishing the Better Jacksonville growth management plan on time. The stadium came up as the Times-Union asked him questions about the city’s other infrastructure needs.

“These are 30-year-life-type deals,” Peyton said of the stadium. “It’s an ongoing city obligation we expect to honor.”

Still, he said at this point he’s unsure where the money would come from.

This does make perfectly logical sense, doesn’t it? Didn’t the Mayor just beg Congress for somewhere north of $700 million? (I’m assuming he doesn’t plan on informing DC that he intends to simply endorse the back of the check and hand it over to the Jaguars.) We don’t have the money to finish the Better Jacksonville roads. We haven’t figured out how we are going to pay for the courthouse, but let’s funnel money to the Jags.

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Come one, come all

In order to avoid any possible Sunshine Law violations, Vestcor would like to invite you, the citizens of Jacksonville, to their “Who’s Who” bash.  Come lobby your City Council members with everyone else.  (Oh, and can anyone tell us why Michael Stewart, the spokesman for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, is listed as the host for a private party put on by Vestcor?)

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