Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

A TRUE Commission Member Speaks Up

A member of the TRUE Commission shares his thoughts on the Trail Ridge controversy.



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

TRUE Commission Takes Stance Against the Mayor

From Tia Mitchell at The Florida Times-Union:

An advisory board tasked with improving Jacksonville’s fiscal policy is recommending the City Council to vote down the mayor’s Trail Ridge landfill deal.

The Taxation, Revenue and Utilization of Expenditures Commission, in an unanimous vote Monday, said the city should solve its legal issues with Waste Management instead of giving the company a contract extension worth an estimated $750 million over the next 35 years.

You can find the article in its entirety at Jacksonville.com.

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35 Years Ago In Jacksonville

As we move into a week in which the City Council will consider entering into a contract that is the largest in City history—a contract that could last 35 years—I thought it might be prudent to look back at the Jacksonville of 1974, 35 years ago.

  • Richard Nixon was President.  He didn’t make it thru the year.
  • The Charter Company was a conglomerate with more than 180 subsidiaries that was in the Fortune 500 for 11 years beginning in 1974.  Charter sought bankruptcy protection in late 1984 and spiraled into obscurity.
  • Auchter Co. built the 37-story Independent Life Building (renamed the Modis Building). Also in 1974, Auchter built the Sun Trust Bank Building, an 18-story structure, and the 21-story Cathedral Terrace.   Independent Life and Accident Insurance (for which the Modis Building was originally named) merged with another company in 1997 and became known as American General. Auchter closed its doors in 2007. 
  • Harry Shorstein became the City’s General Counsel.  That year, Harry began his fight against Offshore Power System’s plan to build offshore nuclear power systems.  A short year later, JEA canceled its contract with OPS (one of 9 contracts OPS had to build the systems).  In 1984 OPS shut down.
  • The Jacksonville Sharks competed for part of the 1974 season in the World Football League, a failed attempt to launch a major professional football league in the United States in competition with the National Football League.  Even though the City gave them money, the Sharks failed to move around much on the football field and drowned that same year amid claims of mostly giving away tickets in order to increase attendance numbers.
  • John McCain (of 2008 failed Presidential campaign fame) lived in Jacksonville.
  • The Underwood family sold Underwood Jewelers.
  • After more than a half century of Jacksonville operations, the Florida Chamber of Commerce moved its headquarters to Tallahassee.
  • “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand topped the charts.  

And, for some reason, Jacksonville seems unable to shake “the way we were.”

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The Landfill Hearings are upon us…

Tia Mitchell has an good piece up at the Times-Union outlining what to look for in today’s Committee of the Whole Hearing on the Trail Ridge Landfill.  I thought I’d share some of it:

1. A procedural vote that allows the council to assemble as a “committee as a whole.” This just means that they will discuss the bill as a unit and create a committee recommendation that will later be ratified by the full council at a regular Tuesday night meeting. Without becoming a “committee as a whole” the Trail Ridge bill will have to be voted out of three separate committees it is currently assigned to. Fussell also must appoint someone to chair the meeting. 

2. The mayor’s proposal will be presented by Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi, director of the city’s Environmental Compliance Department. Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth and other top mayoral aides will likely be at the meeting, but Gujjarlapudi is who the mayor wants to be the public face of the issue. 

3. Then comes public comment. Each person will have three minutes to speak, which is council policy. However, there are ways around this. Council members can ask the speakers questions, therefore extending their time indefinitely.  Also, a bunch of people who all have the same opinion can pool their time to allow one person a longer period to speak. (For example, 10 people can have three minutes each or one representative can have all their time.)

It’s important to remember that the meeting will not last indefinitely.  Those wishing to speak should arrive early and fill out a speaker’s card.  If you’d like to follow Tia’s coverage of the meeting, visit her blog for continual updates throughout the meeting.  JaxPoliticsOnline.com will do its best to keep up with the coverage Thursday, but unfortunately, journalism is not something any of us do for a living and it looks like we all have a few scheduling conflicts.   Look for our updates Friday morning…

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

Public Must Attend SJRWMD Meeting to Offer Input

The St. Johns River Water Management District has decided that the only way for the public to comment on their pending decision in regards to Seminole County’s efforts to drain millions of gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River will be to attend the meeting in person.  After becoming aware of an effort by the Riverkeeper to encourage citizens to e-mail the District’s Board Members to voice their opposition, the District installed new software that will seek to block all incoming e-mails that address the issue.  The District expressed concerns about Board Members having “ex parte” communications in regards to pending decisions and warned Riverkeeper to stop soliciting e-mails in regards to the Seminole County decision.

Because of their decision, the only way for the public to offer input in regards to Seminole County’s efforts to draw billions of gallons of water each year will be to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for April 13, 2009 at 1pm at the District’s Palatka headquarters.  Mayor Peyton, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and St. Johns County are scheduled to address the Board, as well as Seminole County.  At 2:15, members of the public who have not been involved in the hearing process will be allowed to speak.  The Board is scheduled to reach a final decision by 4pm.

The e-mails that outline the District’s decision to filter e-mails from the public are below:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Abel Harding: A Meeting With The Mayor & A Trail Ridge Analysis

A week or so ago, I was surprised to get a call from the Mayor’s Office stating that he wanted to meet with me.  According to his staff, he wanted the opportunity to present his side of the Trail Ridge story.  So, I spent nearly with an hour with the Mayor and his staff on a recent Monday discussing the Trail Ridge Landfill.

The first questions the Mayor asked are ones that I’m asked frequently: “Why do I blog?” and “Am I getting paid to do it?” I explained to the Mayor that I’m a believer in open government, in accountability, and in ethics. And no, I don’t get paid. There are no advertisers on this site and I receive no compensation for anything I write.  

The Mayor then began talking about the Waste Management no-bid contract. A little history: Trail Ridge is a 900-acre site off US 301.  There is currently one cell on the site which encompasses 144 acres.  That cell is managed by Waste Management, who had the winning bid in the early 90’s—the last time the City bid out the landfill contract.  The dispute between Waste Management and the City of Jacksonville boils down to a disagreement over the term “life of facility.”  The specific word “facility” appears to be the center of the dispute.  Waste Management alleges that they hold the rights to the entire 900-acre site, while the City contends that the term “facility” is strictly limited to the 144-acre cell currently in use.  As we have discussed before, the City’s general counsel at the time the original agreement was initiated, a Florida Coastal Law School professor, and the City’s current general counsel have all stated that the the contract is limited to the current operating cell.  And both the law school professor and the City’s current general counsel have stated that they believe the City is standing on firm legal ground.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Coming Soon…A Trail Ridge Analysis

Funny that a Waste Management-related ad would pop up…  It reminds me to mention…  A week or so ago, I was privileged to receive a call from the Mayor’s Office requesting a meeting.  I’ve been wanting to share the details of that meeting and my analysis of his approach to the Trail Ridge Landfill contract.  I still intend to share it, but life, research and more life has gotten in the way of me getting it out in a timely fashion.  However, keep your eyes peeled…I’m getting close to all of the information I have been researching in order to be able to offer a well-informed analysis.  It should be a go by the end of the week.  So, if you don’t visit the site every day, please make sure to check back this weekend and read my analysis of the Trail Ridge contract.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , ,

Young Democrats Out With Another Ad

Jacksonville Young Democrats are out with another ad on the Landfill contract.

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Mayor Says Jacksonville In Alcoholic Stupor

What the heck does this statement mean?

Mayor John Peyton said he is not enthusiastic about the stimulus package and doubts its ability to stimulate the economy.

“Our taking part of it is like giving an alcoholic whiskey,” said Peyton, speaking at the 2009 Jaxport Logistics & Intermodal Conference.

Peyton said Jacksonville would still try to take advantage of the money available despite his concerns about the spending increasing federal debt.

By that statement, I’m guessing the Mayor is calling Jacksonville an alcoholic?  I guess he’s also admitting that he is a willing enabler?  After all, hasn’t he already held a press conference touting the benefits of the stimulus and has another one scheduled with Rep. Brown?  Does that make the Mayor and Congresswoman Brown the irresponsible bartenders that continue to liquor us up? “Hold the fiscal responsibility and pass the Wild Turkey?”

Pardon me for being quite confused here.  It almost sounds like the Mayor is speaking out of both sides of his mouth in regards to the stimulus, but certainly he would never do something like that?

Where is Susie Wiles to spin a statement when you need her?

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , ,

Mayor Peyton Spams Again

It’s happened again with a slightly different angle this time.  The last time we wrote about the Mayor spamming Jacksonville’s citizens it was in regards to trying to sell the public on his plan to award a $750 million no-bid contract to a company represented by a political supporter.  He’s at it again.  It’s not about trash this time, but the Mayor seems to really have wanted to promote his upcoming news conference with Rep. Corrine Brown (she of the “Go Gator” and “Corch Meyer” fame).  According to First Coast News, the Mayor’s latest e-mail forced a local company to shut down their servers.

“We had to shut our servers off just so we could get the email thing solved and then we could get back on line again.”

The city says a communication glitch caused the problem. And that meant a few people received a couple of extra reminders. Thompson got several hundred.

In all, Bill Thompson says he received over 700 e-mails from the Mayor.

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

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