On WJCT’s “First Coast Connect“, Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis sat for his first interview Wednesday since the Council made the decision to strip the JEA Special Committee of subpoena power and include everyone on council in the committee.
As expected, Dennis (a member of what was a five-person committee and a staunch critic of selling JEA) described a City Hall that pivots on intimidation tactics, and a mayor’s office that will get its way by any means necessary.
“Ray Charles can see who’s behind selling JEA,” Dennis quipped near the program’s end, after describing a “climate” where Mayor Lenny Curry‘s team rules by fear, with “the stick and the stick.”
Dennis’ summation of the administration’s strategy: “If you don’t do this, we’ll do this.”
He reiterated claims of “threats” levied on him “in offices,” “comments from the Mayor” in which Curry purportedly said that he would “make sure the money spigot is turned off in [Dennis’] district.”
“Now you see the full staff at council meetings,” Dennis said, with “all the [Mayor’s] top lieutenants on the first and second row” with an “intimidating” look and “subliminal tactics.”
Councilman Dennis has described a climate of fear before, of course, including after a January press conference the Mayor had with Dennis’ colleagues — and without inviting Dennis — in the councilman’s own district.
“Let me be honest and clear … standing up is not easy. I’ve been threatened by this administration. I’ve been told that I’m a ‘walking dead man’,” the councilman said.
“It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to go get a concealed weapon permit and carry a gun on me because I’ve been told by this administration that I’m a walking dead man,” Dennis said.
The Curry administration has consistently denied Dennis’ accounting of events.
Dennis currently is the Finance Chair; however, with Curry ally Aaron Bowman (who introduced the motion to expand the JEA panel to all 19 councilmembers) poised to take the presidency in July, it remains to be seen how much power Dennis will have after his ally Anna Lopez Brosche gives up the gavel.