For both businesses, Councilwoman Brown — a member of the Council’s Finance Committee — is listed in SunBiz as the title manager.
Back in 2011, the Browns, via “CoWealth” (one of the two shell companies subject to the current action), got city of Jacksonville grants and loans and a Small Business Administration loan to establish a barbeque sauce plant in Northwest Jacksonville.
The money was contingent on the Browns creating at least 56 permanent jobs.
They fell just 56 jobs short of that number.
CoWealth originally borrowed $2.65 million from Biz Capital, in addition to $380,000 from the city of Jacksonville and $220,000 of grants, for the sauce plant. The city’s interest is subordinate to that of Biz Capital.
That said, the city still has an interest in the matter — and last week, Jacksonville filed a motion for summary judgement for $210,549.99.
Jacksonville City Council members had an ethics training session Monday Morning. We showed up to ask Brown for comment.
Brown, who has a town hall Thursday, said her constituents were not concerned about these looming default judgments.
“That’s not going to be the focus,” Brown said of the town hall. “They won’t be able to bring it up.”
Brown attempted to ward off further questions along these lines, saying that she didn’t “feel good.”
When it was noted that Jacksonville taxpayers — not to mention the Office of General Counsel — didn’t “feel good” about a $210K default, Brown — who drives a new-model Porsche SUV — said she had “no comment.”
“As you walk into an ethics meeting, you have no comment on a $210,000 default,” we asked her. “Do you think $210,000 isn’t real money to taxpayers?”
“You havin’ a good day,” Brown asked, piling fruit from the continental breakfast onto a paper place. “This is a training class. I’m doing my job.”
We pressed the question again to no avail.
“I continue to tell you no comment. You can ask me a thousand times and I would still say no comment,” Brown said.
“Your eyes look real pretty,” Brown said to a staffer, still avoiding the question.
Happily for those concerned with Brown’s health, she seemed to have recovered almost immediately after our interview, as she was laughing and joking with her assistant.
Ethics Director Carla Miller, when asked for comment on Brown’s issues, said she was too “focused” on the ethics meeting to offer comment.
“I can’t think about anything except getting this organized,” Miller said.
Miller, during the meeting, waxed poetic about the unparalleled ethical standards of Jacksonville’s office of ethics.
However, for every assertion there is a price tag.
And in the case of Councilwoman Katrina Brown and her two shell companies, headed toward bankruptcy, that price: $210,000 and change.