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Lenny Curry speaks after Finance presentation, 1.4.2016 [photo: A.G. Gancarski]

Jax

Lenny Curry PAC draws parallel between Jax mayor, MLK

Where do we go from here? And when we get there, can we Build Something That Lasts?

The 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. speech referenced above was given at the 10th annual session of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It epitomized King’s late period in terms of calling for social justice for African-Americans.

Among other calls King made in the 66-minute speech: a guaranteed annual income (a proposal briefly entertained by the Nixon administration); and “restructuring the whole of American society” so that the poor, then numbered at 40 million, would benefit from a robust redistribution of wealth.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has alluded to that address in recent days, quoting it on social media, and predicating his remarks at Friday’s MLK Breakfast.

Now? His PAC, via Michael Munz, has amplified those themes in an email linking King’s clarion call to black clergymen with Curry’s attempts to remedy the Unfunded Liability crisis in Jacksonville’s public pensions.

“Last Friday Mayor Lenny Curry spoke to a large crowd gathered to celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Munz wrote. “He shared the kind of Jacksonville he is working to achieve, and building on the legacy of heroes like Dr. King. The mayor’s vision is a Jacksonville with the kind of hope, optimism and excitement that comes with the beginning of a new year and a new sense of focus that benefits all our city’s people.”

Munz then described the King speech as “a riveting account of the conditions of that period – high rates of unemployment, climbing infant mortality rates and health disparities, poor education outcomes, and widespread violence. Some of the issues Dr. King identified in 1967 sound painfully similar to the issues facing our community in 2016. So, the mayor asked the same question of Jacksonville that Dr. King asked back then: ‘Where Do We Go from Here?’

“Mayor Curry’s vision is a future which requires discipline, determination, and passion as the elements for success. Central to this is his plan to fix a serious challenge facing our city: economic failure due to massive pension debt. Mayor Curry has laid out his plan this week and noted that this is the first part of the answer to the question,” Munz wrote.

Munz then bundled the Curry administration’s talking points about the gravity of the city’s pension crisis, before a soft call to action.

“Build Something That Lasts is committed to supporting the mayor on his journey to make Jacksonville a great city and the first step is helping him get our city on the path to eliminating this pension liability by repurposing a dedicated source to do so,” Munz wrote, before directing readers to links to articles showing the Curry administration’s push for the pension surtax in a favorable light.

For now, the Curry administration is still educating stakeholders on its plan, as its detailed presentation to the Police and Fire Pension Fund on Friday made clear.

Left out of the Munz email: The reality, as explained by Curry’s senior staff, that if this deal doesn’t go through Jacksonville could be in for a quarter century of austerity.

The Council backs the concept of the Curry pension plan, having all co-sponsored a resolution to that effect. Munz’s email indicates that Team Curry sees the necessity of maintaining that buy-in.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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