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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Yarborough, Hyde: An unlikely, but good combination

16-2. 

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 Council Swearing In

There will be a swearing in ceremony tomorrow for the City’s newest Council members.  John Crescimbeni and Reggie Brown will be sworn in at 4pm.

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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.

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More “No” votes

Looks like the Mayor may have a tougher road ahead of him with City Council than he imagined on that $750 million dollar, 35-year no-bid contract with Waste Management to run Trail Ridge Landfill.

Times Union:  Mayor John Peyton has proposed entering into a no-bid contract with Waste Management for the operation of Trail Ridge landfill. Is this the way to go?

Brown: At present, no-bid contracting is not a common practice; therefore, it appears that this action has generated some concerns. … Because it is equally important to create a level of comfort for taxpayers that will generate a win-win outcome for both the city and its citizens, we should give every potential client the opportunity to bid.

Crescimbeni: I have no idea why the administration believes Waste Management is entitled to a no-bid contract. If I were having a home repair done for $750, I’d get a couple of estimates. The proposed landfill contract is a million times more than that, $750 million. I think the citizenry expects the city to get competitive bids.

Read the rest of the story here.

Council President Fussell will be holding a meeting on Thursday, December 4th to discuss the no-bid contract.  Invitees are Fussell, Adam Hollingsworth, Kirk Sherman, Kyle Billy, Robert Campbell, Sherry Hall, Rick Mullaney, John Germany, Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi, and Chris Pearson.  That’s quite a roster.

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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::

     

CONTACT THE COUNCIL

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