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Lenny Curry demands JEA board member Lisa Weatherby’s resignation

Tensions between Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and JEA board member Lisa Strange Weatherby appear to be mounting.

In an email obtained by Florida Politics, Curry’s office has demanded Weatherby’s resignation.

The email was sent September 29th to Weatherby, a First Vice President-Investments with Wells Fargo Advisors, by Jordan Elsbury, Director of Appointments and Special Projects for Curry, after Weatherby did not show up for a scheduled Tuesday meeting with Curry. Weatherby, via her attorney Bill Sheppard, declined the meeting request after the mayor’s office would not agree to a one-on-one sitdown or an open-door forum.

“Ms. Weatherby, over the past few days, Mayor Curry has dedicated a significant amount of his time to hosting meetings with JEA board members.  These meetings have been very productive with appointees expressing gratitude for the opportunity to meet and discuss their roles, governance and contributions to the success of JEA.

It is regretful that you were unwilling to also participate and share meaningful dialogue with us.  In light of this, we have concluded that you do not share the same values and commitment we hold for strengthening mayor and board appointee relationships.

As a result, we request your immediate resignation as a member of the JEA Board of Directors.”

In the email chain, Elsbury asks for Weatherby’s resignation from the JEA board after she declines a meeting with the mayor and his staff at City Hall. Weatherby:

“I have not been ‘encouraged’ to decline. I have offered to meet one on one with the mayor, or alternatively, an open meeting in the spirit of the Sunshine Laws. The mayor has chosen to insist on government in the darkness. Given the previously unfounded and deliberately inflammatory rhetoric that has come from this administration, indeed falsely (as opined by the mayor’s own hand-picked and highly qualified General Counsel) attacking not only my fellow JEA board members but JEA executive leadership that the all-important bond credit rating agencies described at our meeting last December in New York as ‘The Gold Standard.’

“They were referring specifically to JEA CEO Paul McElroy, his senior leadership team and the highly qualified, actively engaged board of directors.”

“The mayor set the precedent with his indefensible attempted cleansing of the other formerly ‘Independent’ authorities of anyone who has exercised their right to freely support the candidates of their choice, without bullying and intimidation.

The mayor was further quoted in the Times-Union (to paraphrase) that JEA would be next and no board would escape scrutiny.

This was prior to the lightweight front page article in the TU, once again falsely accusing JEA board members of Sunshine violations. This is routine business as usual for the TU, making potentially defaming accusations, all of which have been disproven, but the citizens of Jacksonville deserve better from any mayor but especially one whose e-mail banner reads ‘One Jacksonville.’  One Jacksonville, indeed.

Now and going forward, my esteemed attorney, William J. Sheppard, speaks for me.”

Curry had asked for the meetings with JEA board members after a Florida Times-Union report revealed the utility had given them scripted talking points prior to meetings.

Weatherby supported former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown in the city’s municipal elections.

JEA board member Peter Bower has already resigned from the board following the recent flap. If Weatherby does not resign, this sets up what appears to be another somewhat partisan showdown like that involving Jacksonville Planning Commission Chair-Elect Lisa King (also asked by Curry to resign) and the City Council may be the ultimate arbiter in this matter.

Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

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