Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Colonial Manor/Harden Land Use and Zoning Case Resolved

Two bills are being introduced into City Council this coming week that will finally resolve (hopefully) the Colonial Manor firestorm that started when Paul Harden applied for a land use and zoning change for his brother’s property – changing it from Low Density Residential to PUD.

2009-469 entails the approval of a settlement agreement to the litigation. The agreement calls for the City to adopt a remedial amendment changing the land use category back to Low Density Residential, refund the FLUM amendment adoption application fee back to Steve Harden, and reimburse Colonial Manor residents the costs incurred in hiring experts to testify in the case. The land use change back to Low Residential Density is accomplished in 2009-470.

I’m sure the Colonial Manor residents will be happy to have this issue finally resolved.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , ,

Hung Out to Dry

 Let’s see if I have this straight.

According to a recent TU article, Alan Williams and Doug Wood, former City employees involved with the original Waste Management deal, were approached a couple of months ago by Alan Mosley, the mayor’s chief administrative officer. According to Williams, Mosley told him the original Waste Management contract was for the entire site and suggested that Williams sign an affidavit supporting that assertion. A few days later, Williams says he received an affidavit in the mail from Paul Harden.

At the same time that was going on (and as posted on Jaxpolitics before), the Mayor’s staff, including Adam Hollingworth and Alan Mosley (among others), were involved in regular meetings with Paul Harden, Waste Management’s representative.

So given that, does the following explanation in the TU make sense?

During an open forum at the First Coast Tiger Bay Club on Friday, Peyton was asked whether Mosley was acting on his own or under the mayor’s direction.

“He didn’t do it at my request or my direction,” Peyton said.

Peyton said he didn’t know Mosley had called Wood and Williams but did not see anything wrong with his aide trying to better understand the city’s legal risks.

Harden said that no one from the city directed him to follow up on Mosley’s conversations.

“I’m not acting on behalf of the city,” Harden said on April 11.

Of course, Harden’s original letter that accompanied the affidavit stated that the men’s signing of the affidavit would really “help Mayor Peyton.”  So, why do I feel like we aren’t exactly getting the whole story here?

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Dates Set for Controversial Landfill Hearings

According to  Flog, the Jacksonville City Council has now set the dates for the Trail Ridge Landfill hearings.  The hearings will be before the Committee of the Whole, which will include all 19 of the Council members, at which the Committee will discuss and hear public comment on April 9 (Thursday) at 2pm and on April 23 (Thursday) at 4pm.  Pending their decision, the legislation would then go before the full Council.

The Council had been waiting to hear the recommendation of their Auditor, Kirk Sherman.  As we reported, Mr. Sherman released his report which called for the contract to be bid out.  The moment of truth, as they say, is now fast approaching as the Council will be forced to choose between following the advice of their own Auditor or allowing themselves to be steamrolled by the Mayor who negotiated a contract without bothering to seek their input.

For those unable to make a 2pm or 4pm meeting, their input is no less crucial than those who will be there in person to speak.  Vist our “Government Contacts” page to find the contact information for your Council Members.  (Remember that, in addition to your District Council Member, you are represented by all five At-Large Members.)

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

Auditor Calls for Open Bids on Landfill Project

From the Times-Union:

Add the Jacksonville City Council’s auditor to the growing list of people recommending that the Trail Ridge landfill contract be put out for bids.

Council auditor Kirk Sherman said in a report released Tuesday that the city has several options, each more lucrative than the next.

The proposed contract extension with Waste Management would save the city $266 million over the next 33 years compared to the current operating agreement, Sherman said.

The city could save even more money if it decided to run the landfill itself, the report said – about $91 million more over 33 years. City leaders haven’t discussed that option, but Sherman said the information should be considered.

The one thing he couldn’t estimate is how much other companies would charge the city to operate its landfill, he said. That could not only result in additional savings, but the city also would have more control over the landfill contract.

“Bidding the contract would allow the city to draft the contract terms that it actually wants,” Sherman wrote, “rather than accepting a contract with the terms it was able to negotiate.”

Sherman said that city lawyers have given several reasons why the City Council should waive its procurement rules and allow the contract extension. But so far he is not convinced those reasons are enough to keep from soliciting bids.

The Mayor’s response?  His office claims that “the report bolsters his claims.”  Every single piece of information that has come to light has pointed towards the fact that this contract needs to be bid, yet the Mayor continues to stubbornly insist that he is right to refuse an open bidding process.  The Auditor’s report can be found here.

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

Art Shad and the appearance of impropriety

One of the more interesting things that has gone unmentioned during the San Marco zoning controversy is the close relationship between the District Council Member [Art Shad] and the lobbyist fighting for the zoning change [Paul Harden].  Mr. Shad, whose tenure on the Council has been marked with personal controversy, utilized the services of Mr. Harden in attempting to “soothe over” a lawsuit brought by a constituent.  In March 2008, Mr. Shad was accused of punching Jacksonville attorney Tim Kelly after Mr. Kelly’s labrador showed excessive affection towards Mr. Shad.  Mr. Kelly sued for $15,000 in damages, at which point Paul Harden intervened to try to make the situation go away.  Mr. Harden was ultimately unsuccessful and the lawsuit moved forward, and ultimately a stipulated dismissal was filed in the case this past December.

Now, Art Shad has led the charge to assist Mr. Harden in pushing through a zoning change on property that his brother [Harden] owns without making any steps to recuse himself from a debate in which he appears to have an obvious conflict of interest.  As he gushed through an endorsement of this particular zoning change on Tuesday night (which passed 11-6), Art Shad proved that it’s business as usual in “The Corrupt New City of the South.”  (Or, to ditch Godbold’s slogan in favor of Peyton’s…”Jacksonville:  Where Corruption Begins.”)

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

San Marco Zoning Oddities

This innocent little post by one of my fellow authors last week stirred up quite a ruckus. Who knew a zoning change on Hendricks Avenue could generate so much interest? But, stir people up it did. This post bears evidence to a very small sampling of the reaction by neighbors. What has been left unanswered; however, is why this rezoning request wasn’t addressed when the Council first considered a land use map amendment for this property last year.  

In November 2008, Paul Harden requested that the City Council approve a land use map amendment on the same property (3634 Hendricks Ave) from Low Density Residential (LDR) to Residential-Professional-Institutional (RPI). The Council more than willingly complied, but the question arises, why didn’t Mr. Harden request a zoning change to a PUD at that time? According to the land use map amendment submittal, the rezoning request was supposed to accompany it.  And why is Mr. Harden requesting the same land use map amendment for the property again?  What changed between November 2008 and today? Perhaps something went wrong… One wonders if the Florida Department of Community Affairs took issue with the original land use map amendment… Of course, if our legislators have their way, there won’t be a Department of Community Affairs to regulate future growth. Check this story out.

The full legislation from 2008 is posted below… Read the rest of this entry »

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

San Marco Residents Voice Opposition to Zoning Change

The controversial zoning change at 3634 Hendricks Avenue, which was apparently requested by a prominent Jacksonville lobbyist for property that his family owns, is meeting staunch resistance from San Marco residents. City Council members have been flooded e-mails in opposition to the change and residents have scheduled a press conference for Monday at 11:30 on the site of the property in question. Here are a sampling of the e-mails that have arrived in Council Members e-mail boxes from prominent San Marco residents:

Dear Councilman(woman):
My name is Michael Fox and am a physician living in San Marco proper. I am opposed to the plan to rezone the west side of Hendricks avenue to any type of commercial Property or PUD. I live very near the proposed property in question at 2311 Laurel Road. I do not support this move for any reason and ask that you vote against this measuere. There is absolutely no good reason to take this action. I will give you several reasons:

1. Commercial property backing right up to residential always lowers values for the nearby homes. With lower values come rentals, and decreased pride in maintainence. San Marco is one of this cities’ jewels and needs preservation. Just look at Inwood Terrace with Metro Diner and the commercial strip there with Beard’s jewelry. That thru street is the worst street West of Hendricks. Don’t do that to Lakewood / Pinetree, etc. This wasn’t as big an issue on the East side due to much lower home values. At the height of the market, houses two to three in from the street were selling for $400 – 600K. Who’s going to spend that money next to a business? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , ,

Paul Harden stirring up more San Marco residents

Fresh from his controversial Jackson Square project and weekly strategy meetings with the Mayor on the Waste Management no-bid contract to run Trail Ridge Landfill, Paul Harden is busy stirring up more San Marco neighbors.   This time, Paul is seeking to rezone his brothers’ property on Hendricks Avenue to a PUD, stirring neighbors’ fears that he will move commercial activities into a residential zone.  Already, nearly 200 neighbors, led by Joanelle Mulrain, have signed a petition to fight the proposed rezoning.

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Mayor digging in his heels on Waste Management no-bid contract

I just finished reading the latest developments in the Waste Management no-bid contract to operate the City’s Trail Ridge Landfill on the TU tonight.  Three – count them, three – companies have now come forward and want to bid on the Trail Ridge Landfill contract in a fair contest with Waste Management (and their negotiated no-bid contract) using the City’s bid process as required by the City’s ordinance code. 

And what does the Administration do?  They spout off garbage rates supposedly from other areas with absolutely no back up facts mentioned in the article, so you can’t even tell if they are making a fair comparison. 

And then, they have the chutzpah to say that anybody who wants to bid on the landfill needs to demontrate that they will be cheaper if they assume all the same liabilities and responsibilites that Waste Management has agreed to, even though the companies have already committed to doing  just that.  Ummmm, Mr. Mayor and Mr. Hollingsworth, isn’t that exactly what the City Ordinance requires be done in the bid process? 

To add insult to injury, Mr. Hollingsworth boldly states that  the companies who want to bid “must be willing to back the city if Waste Management files and wins a lawsuit.  “The real question is, are these opponents to this deal willing to pay those lawsuit damages in the event the city loses in court?” he said. ”

Funny,  I don’t see him making that same demand of Waste Management. 

Wouldn’t  the Mayor’s Office demands be more plausible and fairer if they also required that Waste Management meet those same conditions?  Shouldn’t Waste Management also be willing to back the City and pay the lawsuit damages, if the companies that want to bid file lawsuits and the City loses in Court?

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

So this is how the City works…the Mayor’s lobbying team

Updated: Trail Ridge
From: Ivy, Lynette on behalf of Hollingsworth, Adam
Required: Skipper, Misty; Mosley, Alan; Hall, Sherry; Davis, Rachel; Gujjarlapudi, Ebenezer; Pearson, Chris; paul_harden@bellsouth.net; Mike Tolbert (m1tolbert@aol.com); Barcelo, Bruce (bruce@logicalmagic.com); Michael Munz
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8:00 AM-9:00 AM
Location: AH Office

Just a reminder that we are meeting tomorrow morning (Wednesday the 11th) at 8:00am on Trail Ridge, in Adam’s office.

We are going to schedule ‘mostly’ recurring meetings every week through the end of February, for this group to meet regarding Trail Ridge.

The group will be:
Adam Hollingsworth
Alan Mosley
Misty Skipper
Sherry Hall
Rachel Davis
Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi
Chris Pearson
Mike Tolbert and
Paul Harden
Bruce Barcelo
Michael Munz

Here is the schedule:
Jan. 15 (Thurs) at 8am
Jan. 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11 (all Wednesday’s) at 8am
Feb. 17 (Tuesday) at Noon
Feb. 23 (Monday) at 4pm

Please attend all that you can. They will all take place in Adam’s office.

Editor’s Update: Michael Munz has informed Jax Politics that he did not attend any meetings in regards to the Waste Management contract. He has assured us that he has not and is not working on behalf of Waste Management and is not involved with the contract negotiations. We apologize for any assumptions that were made based on this Memo. -AH

G8rluvr’s Update: I’m sure Mr. Munz will be able to get an apology from the Mayor’s Office for any errors in the E-mail I posted above which was copied directly and verbatim from Mr. Mosley’s City E-mail inbox.

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

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