Alvin Brown Archives - Page 7 of 42 - Florida Politics

Lenny Curry donor wants his money back

Does the old saying “money-back guarantee” apply to campaign contributions? One Lenny Curry donor thinks so, and said as much in an dirt-dishing, ad hominem-riddled email to General Counsel Jason Gabriel, in which he had unkind words for many members of the City Hall staff.

“Please inform the Mayor that I would like my $1000.00 campaign contribution refunded and despite trying to tell him that his appointments should be carefully vetted, he made the mistake of reappointing Kelli O’Leary (unqualified), a Brown supporter as a Director and the reappointment of others who were also appointed by Mayor Brown. Mayors should only appoint people to sensitive jobs (HR/personnel files) that they can trust,” noted Richard Greenwood, a former “Industrial Psychologist” with the City of Jacksonville (a position which presumably has little to do with Front 242 or Nine Inch Nails).

Greenwood wasn’t done there, and seemed to have a special ax to grind with the affable O’Leary.

“Mayor Brown trusted Bowling and O’Leary who were obvious supporters of Rick Scott,” Greenwood said, before posing the question: “Don’t politics make for strange bedfellows?”

Then, some back story:

“I just loved my time working for so many Mayors, Sheriffs and Admirals from 1991 until I had to pay more than $26,000 to apply for a ‘forced retirement.’ If only your office could have told you that I was a loyal City employee until I was humiliated in 2009 to look like I was incompetent. It appears incompetency is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Shakespeare said that, right?

“My next correspondence are ‘certified letters, return receipt required’ to both Judges Schlesinger and Corrigan. You, the Mayor and San Mousa can make the City’s Consultant, Richard Greenwood more credible than the current City Consultant, John Keane.  The COJ website still lists John as the consultant for the City.  I have never seen John in a suit … but boy he sure loves BBQ,” Greenwood observed, without going into detail as to what kind of sauce Keane likes on his brisket.

Greenwood then digs into the crates to insult politicians first elected in the previous millennium.

“John Delaney made all evidence of the previous Mayor disappear when he eked out his victory in the mid 90s.  Mr. Delaney didn’t think much of me either since he demoted me from Industrial Psychologist back to my Civil Service position,” Greenwood wrote.

Apparently, Delaney didn’t catch on to this gentleman’s amazing temperance and people skills.

“Still would like to be the City’s expert but it appears that you have plenty of experts already, in place. BTW, the Mary Singleton Center still has the TU newspaper article framed in its lobby declaring Alvin Brown as the NEW Mayor of Jacksonville,” Greenwood observed.

“Mayor Curry should do what Mr. Delaney did in the mid-90s by cleaning up from past Mayor’s shortcomings,” Greenwood, who had just lamented his own demotion by Delaney, insist, before closing with an oddly constructed sentence fragment/ad hominem attack.

“Thus the ‘blight czar’ … Denise Lee … LOL,” Greenwood wrote.

Jax Dems raise $200K for Hillary Clinton at private event

Most presidential campaign “bundlers” in Jacksonville tend to raise major ducats for the GOP.

But last night, the heavy lifting was being done for the Democratic frontrunner – Hillary Clinton.

North Florida philanthropist Sallyn Pajcic hosted about 200 attendees at her San Pablo area home at a private event for the former Secretary of State.

“It was very successful,” a source connected to the event tells Florida Politics. “More than $200,000 was raised.”

This marks Clinton’s first official 2016 campaign event in Jacksonville.

We’re told former Mayor Alvin Brown was on hand, along with recently ousted Planning Commission Chair Lisa King, and other boldfaced names in the Jax Democratic column.

Clinton’s appearance in Jacksonville was her fifth Florida campaign stop of the day, coming on the heels of a public event in Orlando where she touted a proposed five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan.

Attendees at the Pajcic event say her stump speech at the private affair was “fairly standard, but energetic.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s name recently turned up on Clinton’s “Florida Leadership Council” list. It’s the first political move the former mayor has made since being ousted from office by Republican Lenny Curry, although there have been recent rumblings Brown may be about to make a public announcement about his next step.




Jacksonville developer Peter Rummell debuts “The District”

For a couple of years now, Jacksonville megadeveloper Peter Rummell would cringe a bit when people would ask what was up “with that new development of yours, Healthy Town.”

“That’s not going to be the name!” he’d say.

Now, “Healthy Town” is out and “The District” is in.

Actually, the planned community on Jacksonville’s Southbank will be called “The District — Life Well Lived — Jacksonville,” but who will say all that?

Rummell says the name was selected after hundreds of people submitted ideas through an online naming contest for the estimated $400 million to $500 million retail and residential community.

“We had well over a thousand entries, including every version of ‘Cowford’ you can think of,” he said.

Partner Michael Munz adds, a focus group helped in the branding and logo design to help unveil the official concept for the 30-acre development on the south bank of the St. Johns River.

The District will emphasize healthy habits such “unintentional exercise,” a waterfront lifestyle, and multigeneration living. Those interested in renting or owning units can sign up on the waiting list at

Rummell estimates The District will open in about two years.

“When it’s done, it’s going to be a nexus,” he said. “A focal point that I think will be incomparable to any other place in town. It’ll be well done and on the riverfront. That combination doesn’t yet exist. When you’re going to meet somebody for a drink at 5, you’ll say, ‘Let’s just go to the District.’ It’s a new something for Jacksonville in terms of place-making.”

Rummell, of course, is known around town not only for his real estate exploits, but for funding the popular One Spark crowdfunding festival, and for putting his considerable money and muscle into Jacksonville mayoral campaigns, most recently, abandoning his support of former Mayor Alvin Brown (whom he helped decisively in 2011) in favor of new Mayor Lenny Curry. 

Jacksonville Journey “2.0” to officially debut Dec. 1

Everything old is new again, the saying goes.

In North Florida, that also holds true for crime prevention initiatives.

Sources tell Florida Politics that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is set to announce new details about a revamped Jacksonville Journey initiative on Dec. 1

The program, debuted under the mayoral administration of John Peyton, began as a response to Jacksonville’s notorious on-and-off status as Florida’s murder capital. The original, and robust budget for fixing root problems contributing to violence on the streets of Jax was set at $31 million.

During Mayor Alvin Brown‘s tenure, the Journey continued to exist – but funding and emphasis on its multipronged approach to bringing down violent crime numbers was scaled back dramatically in favor of other programs.

Now (perhaps with a Republican in charge once again) the Journey is officially back in favor. Project Director Deborah Verges, who hung onto her position through the Brown years, will continue to supervise the Journey, but in a reconstituted fashion.

Or more specifically, in the setup that used to exist, sources say, with many of the original committees and stakeholders brought back to the table to look at public safety in the 904 as they first were convened in 2008. The looming question: How will a back-in-business Journey be funded?

This is a developing story to be updated as more details emerge.

Lenny Curry, Jax establishment shine in latest British business deal

A narrative circulating before Lenny Curry‘s election contended that Jacksonville wasn’t getting all it could out of the annual economic development trips to London.

Some said, perhaps for political reasons, that former mayor Alvin Brown was ill-suited to make the sale to multinational companies that otherwise might be persuaded to relocate to or launch operations in Jacksonville.

That supposition, of course, will never be definitively proved or disproved. With Thursday’s latest corporate relocation announcement, though, the Curry Administration showed its ability to align its priorities neatly with the economic development wing (read: JAX Chamber) of the local establishment. Also, Council President Greg Anderson, a banker himself, is uniquely positioned to help make the sale.

The decision of international recruitment outsourcing firm Resource Solutions to bring its North American Global Service Center to Jacksonville, will bring at least 50 jobs by July 2016 and 25 more in the next three years. The deal was sealed on the London trip, and representatives of the company and the JAX Chamber pointed to the united messaging front as a reason.

Janine Chidlow, managing director of EMEA Americas at Resource Solutions, said her company was “impressed by the proactive approach taken by the mayor and the Jax Chamber to bring new businesses to Jacksonville.”

She said Jacksonville was “shortlisted” before the economic development trip, but that the “appetite of the mayor’s office and the Chamber” was a “major swing for us.”

The company with operations in 24 countries and Global Service Centers in Hyderabad, India; Manchester, England; and Johannesburg clearly could have gone anywhere in the United States. However, Jacksonville’s effort closed the deal. Jax Chamber Chairwoman-elect Audrey Moran, a 2011 mayoral candidate who still has a cadre of devoted admirers, made it clear this initiative would not have succeeded without the economic development trips to London.

“We have to get in front of people to make a connection,” Moran said. “It’s important who we bring with us.”

In addition to Curry, Anderson, and Moran, former mayors John Delaney and John Peyton made the trip.

“Trips are about building relationships,” Moran said, calling the convergence of influence “unprecedented,” emblematic of “continuity and vision,” and spotlighting “how engaged in these conversations” Curry is.

Curry, meanwhile, whose increasingly close political relationship with Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan has not been missed by #jaxpol observers, cited the trip as an example of “leverage[ing] the Jaguars brand” and emblematic of the “clearly strong business links between London and Jacksonville.”

Curry and Moran both expect further announcements to come via the London trip’s outreach, which could disarm critics of the economic development trips.

In that context, meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how the council president position evolves in the next few years.

Next year, Council Vice President Lori Boyer will take the trip with Curry and business community representatives. She’s known as one of the smartest people in Jacksonville politics, and also will help make the sale as Anderson did last month and will on trips to come during his tenure.

The open question, though, is who will succeed her as council VP, and then as council president two years hence.

A number of names have been floated as potential VP candidates, and questions for council members to consider as they choose their next VP include the following:

  • Would that person be effective in helping the business community close deals for projects like this?
  • Would that person be inclined to upstage the mayor or contradict the messaging?
  • Can that person keep his or her mouth shut when it comes to deals that must be kept confidential?

With that in mind, expect a Chamber-friendly candidate such as Aaron Bowman or Anna Brosche to emerge in the end.

Some long-timers, including one who reportedly has nine commitments already and another whose plainspoken ways aren’t exactly going to be catnip to the global business community, might squawk. But clearly, the key to these deals is the ability to put forth a unified coherent message, reflective of an aggressive  unified vision for economic development.

Who can deliver? Who can help push the ball over the goal line?

In the end, expect the mayor’s office to lobby for the right candidate … and against the wrong one.

Ahead of HRO meeting, Lenny Curry and Jax Council attacked from right

The campaign between Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry saw the current mayor routinely slandered and libeled by people on his putative left, with labels such as “party boss” and worse thrown his way.

A little more than three months after his inauguration, Curry is feeling slings and arrows from a different direction: the right … including active members of the Republican Party, as we report just hours before the first 6 p.m. HRO Community Conversation at the Advanced Technology Center at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Raymond Johnson, of Biblical Concept Ministries, has been among the most vocal of the speakers against expanding the Human Rights Ordinance to LGBT people. Last week, Johnson, a Confederate flag enthusiast who did campaign consultant work for Councilmen Doyle Carter and Matt Schellenberg, issued a communique calling for urgent prayer and action regarding the HRO “immediately.”

The document starts off with the predictable “Do you want men in women’s restrooms?” motif that worked to scuttle the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance referendum earlier this month.

“Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a professing Methodist Christian, has refused to take a public position against a Christian persecution law known as a ‘Human Rights Ordinance’ or ‘Anti-Discrimination Law’ also known as a ‘Bathroom Bill’,” Johnson writes, “Christian persecution” being an especially interesting phrasing given that Curry regularly meets with his pastor.

Johnson bills the “Community Conversations” as an “excuse to show community support for such laws that will hurt our families, churches and Christian businesses.”

Then, Johnson tells the faithful to “add this situation and mayor [SIC] Curry to your church prayer list.”

And then it gets good: “The end times our near [SIC], and now Jacksonville pastors and churches are literately [SIC] about to face real persecution and will lose religious freedoms. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe you need to get involved or attend and speak out at meetings? In the last year we have seen the first Christian American citizen JAILED for her Christian [SIC] convictions.”

Johnson turns his attention to “the most pro-Homosexual Council” in Jacksonville’s history, before winding up his pitch.

“Pastors, let me be blunt, You CANNOT ignore this plea, you MUST get involved NOW or you will have refused to protect your own religious freedom and willfully allowed your church to be persecuted. There’s enough votes in City Council to pass this law, and its defeat at this point will rely on a VETO from Mayor Curry.”

Will Curry succumb to this appeal? Seems doubtful.

Johnson leaves out, of course, the fact that a group he fronted for, United Christians of Florida, withheld endorsement of Curry in the mayoral race.

Curry won that one. So what does Curry need from Johnson at this point?

Curry, just the other day at the Sunshine Summit, gave a rousing speech about how “conservatives win elections.” He did so without pandering to this element in his own party.

What is clear: These three “community conversations” will be interesting. With the hard right attempting to put the mayor and City Council in check, including by casting aspersions on the administration for scheduling those meetings in “high crime” areas, the stage is set for the conservative mayor to have a moment not entirely different from William F. Buckley reading the Birchers out of the conservative movement decades ago.

Will Curry go that far? Or will he defer to the obvious ploys of his adversaries on the right?

A conversation with Johnson on Monday night revealed some of the claims familiar to those following the Houston debate, including references to the “evil agenda” of pro-equality advocates, and a seeming preoccupation with public restrooms.

One can expect a lot of the same rhetorical flourishes to surface in the community conversation on Tuesday night, the subsequent two in December, and, very likely, at City Council committees and public comment throughout the life of whatever bill is eventually introduced, whether it’s a “fully inclusive” measure or not, and whether it’s introduced by the Republican mayor or a member of City Council.

Lenny Curry, Richard Corcoran talk about cronyism, courage

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry gave a warning to Sunshine Summit attendees milling about in the hall.

“You might want to come back in,” he said. “I’m getting ready to tell you how conservatives win elections.”

The Republican Curry, former chair of the state GOP, beat incumbent Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown last year.

He castigated Brown as putting his “cronies in at the highest level of government,” and slammed the former mayor’s city spending plans as “smoke and mirrors.”

Twice mentioning the “liberal media” that stood in his way, he said he was told not to run because he was “too young, too brash, too conservative.”

“We have to stop blaming and start acting,” Curry told the crowd, before launching into a call-and-response of “Be bold or be defeated.”

Curry was followed by state Rep. Richard Corcoran, who was erroneously introduced as the “Speaker of the House of Representatives.” Corcoran isn’t slated to be lead the House until after current Speaker Steve Crisafulli completes his current term.

Corcoran, a Land O’Lakes Republican, also took a shot at the “liberal media” and focused on the importance of “principles.” He was chief of staff to Marco Rubio when Rubio himself was the state House’s speaker.

The lawmaker told a story of Ronald Reagan reading press clips of his then-Secretary of Education Bill Bennett being pilloried in news stories. The president then asked why others weren’t getting the same press since Bennett was obviously “sticking to his principles.”

The presidential contest is about “finding people true to their principles,” Corcoran said, adding that he was redefining “PC” to mean not “politically correct” but “politically courageous.”

“Republicans, our future is bright … and we will win the White House,” he said. “And we’ll leave our children a legacy of truth, justice and freedom.”

Confirmed: Clay Yarborough enters HD 12 fray

The 2015 elections led to a lot of changes in Jacksonville’s city government. Alvin Brown and his appointees were, except for certain high-performers, out. Lenny Curry, and his appointees, in. Among those imports to the mayor’s suite: a number of City Council members from the previous class (Policy Director Robin Lumb; Blight Director Denise Lee; and Boards and Commissions liaison Johnny Gaffney).

Left out in the cold: former Council President Clay Yarborough. His resume’ had been received by the mayor’s office, and the hot story of the summer was one in which he passed on a job with Mike Hogan in the Supervisor of Elections office, then was told, by Susie Wiles, that he should have taken it.

Yarborough, a young man by almost any definition save that of boy bands and NFL running backs, had served eight years in Council. Was his political career, which started with him routing School Board member Cheryl Grimes in an election eight years before, in which he was outspent, over?

Not so fast.

Yarborough’s name has been linked for a few months now to the HD 12 race, in which the previous two entrants were fellow former GOP Councilmen Richard Clark and Don Redman. They represented a quarter of HD 12, roughly, each, when they were on Council.

Yarborough? The other half.

And now, can report, his papers are en route to Tallahassee, and as of Monday, he will be the third candidate in the race.

In leaving Council, and handing the seat over to Joyce Morgan, Yarborough said in an exclusive interview that he’d left a light footprint, leaving her a list of projects that he had been working on, both of capital improvements and infrastructural repair in the long-suffering Arlington neighborhood.

He had positive things to say about the first few months of Morgan’s term, including her Renew Arlington push, which he described as a “new, fresh approach” that “makes sense.”

Of course, the seat is the charismatic Morgan’s now. But Yarborough still wants to serve the community, and is willing to run against two men he’s had collegiality with to do it.

Yarborough said that “even though we served together, all of us have unique take-aways and unique experiences.”

One thing that he believes sets him apart is his ability to “work with people,” especially essential given the large body of people in the House, and the shorter time they meet.

He also accepts that there is a “learning curve,” and welcomes the opportunity to conquer it, to “represent the district and the city well.”

Of course, each of these men will be running to succeed Lake Ray, which Yarborough did eight years prior.

“Lake and I have known each other for a long time,” Yarborough said, adding that they have talked about this.

Ray, the chair of the Duval County GOP, can’t endorse in a primary (apparently, that can be controversial). However, an indication of how another member of the Ray family feels: Hampton Ray, who is serving as a Duval County co-chair for the Marco Rubio campaign, and whose name was linked to this race, won’t run because Yarborough is.

Of course, in a three-way race with smart politicians, the temptation might be there to go negative. One can imagine a world in which a rival campaign sent out a mailer pointing out Richard Clark’s potential conflicts of interest as a JTA lobbyist.

That won’t be sent out from the Yarborough campaign.

“Anyone is free to work in the occupation they choose,” Yarborough said, citing the “rewarding” nature of his work in HR, which allowed him to “shake the hands of 1200 people” over the years and say “You’re hired.”

The conversation then pivoted to the City Hall process, which he described as having “slipped a resume under the door.”

He didn’t mention a specific role he’d wanted; given his choice, he would have liked to have been liaison between the mayor’s office and City Council.

Ultimately, the mayor didn’t go in the direction of hiring Yarborough, who endorsed him only a few weeks before the election. Yarborough harbors no bitterness, saying that it’s the “mayor’s prerogative” to hire who he chooses.

The conversation then pivoted again, to the MOCA flap, in which he had objected to a photograph of a naked woman in the Museum of Contemporary Art, desiring to have its funding of $223,000 excised from the Cultural Council grant process.

In November 2014, Yarborough emailed the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Chris Hand, complaining about an item in an exhibit of Angela Strassheim’s photographs in the atrium of Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The portrait he objected to — “Janine (Eight Month Pregnant)” – depicted a nude woman, reclining on her couch in front of an open window.

Council President Yarborough’s email described a “large picture” of a “woman with bare breasts exposed and laying in a questionable position” as an “inappropriate, pornographic display”. He demanded that the Mayor pull the funding from MOCA for the current fiscal year or “explain how this will be addressed within 24 hours”.

Calling the picture “pornography,” Yarborough opined that “to promote a positive moral climate in our city and though some will defend the pornography by labeling it ‘art,’ we need boundaries in order to be healthy, especially where it concerns our children.”

Yarborough eventually met with MOCA, and they came to an amicable resolution, and kept their funding.

Yarborough’s thoughts, almost a year later?

“The biggest room in the world is room for improvement,” Yarborough said.

“When I first saw the photograph as I walked into Café NOLA, I was thinking as a parent,” and thought of the painting being inappropriate for a “public building funded with public money.”

“Could I have handled it differently? Yes,” Yarborough said.

Another high-profile moment in which Yarborough’s faith became central to the public discourse was when he, along with Don Redman, raised objections to the confirmation of Parvez Ahmed to the Human Rights Commission in 2010 on religious grounds.

Yarborough stands by his position, even half a decade later.

The confirmation of Ahmed was “on the heels of a very big investigation” into the Committee on American Islamic Relations, and the “scrutiny from the federal government” on CAIR was “foremost on [his] mind” and so he wanted “details.”

Another issue that Yarborough focused on during his Council tenure, which took him on a fruitless trip to Tallahassee on Presidents Day of this year: the police and fire pension fund.

Yarborough appealed for state redress on the issue, including help with an audit, but was rebuffed.

With the forensic audit now an agenda setter in City Hall, Yarborough quipped that “the saga continues,” before echoing contentions that Bill Gulliford makes.

“When we’d ask questions of the fund, it was like pulling teeth,” Yarborough said, adding that the fund would send “letters that would respond to everything we didn’t ask for.”

Yarborough spoke with certainty on the fund, calling it a “total undermining of the consolidated structure” and a “rogue attitude that slaps the people of Jacksonville in the face.”

He also spoke positively of the two mayors he worked with regarding the pension issue.

“[John] Peyton tried,” he said, “knowing there was a problem.”

And “Alvin Brown was committed to advancing pension reform.”

In contrast to Clark, who called into a local radio show days before the election to say that the Brown administration had scuttled the Peyton pension plan for political reasons, Yarborough made no such claims.

“It’s been a long hard row to put the plow to,” Yarborough said, regarding the pension crisis.

And for now, at least, Yarborough is plowing in a new field. But first, the seed has to be planted, and the immediate goal is to “get resources put in, make a good showing, and get the campaign launched,” and to “talk to folks, show that we’re serious.”

As it stands now, Yarborough is $50,000 behind the front-runner. But Clark’s peripatetic fundraising, coupled with a sense of disquiet about him in Tallahassee among some Republican insiders, has clearly created an opening for Yarborough to make his next move.

Yarborough will be in Tallahassee Thursday, talking to politicos and opinion leaders, and he should be expected to be an immediate threat to the other two campaigns.

The case of the 507 missing debit cards from the Alvin Brown administration

Employee recognition programs are wonderful; but so is fiscal accountability.

An email from Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa to Mayor Lenny Curry indicated that over 500 debit cards have gone missing, from an Alvin Brown era employee recognition program.

$27,425 of debit cards are “unaccounted” for, wrote Mousa, cards “purchased in conjunction with an employee recognition program.”

Adding to the wackiness: “some cards were reconciled with an employee name when distributed.”

Unknown: whether the unaccounted cards were distributed and not recorded, or “simply went missing.”

The city also is on the hook for almost $1,400 more in “activation fees.”

Undoubtedly, Mousa and Curry will be focused like a laser on getting to the next level and figuring out what happened to almost $30,000 in city funds.

John Delaney questions “shrill” Jax PFPF audit

The hot story in Jacksonville politics this week has been the blockbuster forensic audit of the beleaguered Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Numerous irregularities, ranging from lavish travel budgets and lack of oversight to questionable investments, were spotlighted in the audit.

However, at least one former mayor familiar with the Police and Fire Pension (indeed, the 2001 deal was established under his administration) advises taking it with a “grain of salt.”

As John Delaney told during a Friday phone interview, certain aspects of the audit’s presentation raise questions.

“It seems a bit shrill in tone,” Delaney said.

So shrill, in fact, that to Delaney, “it doesn’t sound like [the tone of] an auditor.”

Beyond that issue, Delaney concedes that there are merits to some criticisms made by Jacksonville City Council members this week.

John Crescimbeni was right,” said Delaney, when the councilman said that when the Legislature made the PFPF independent it removed the oversight component.

Regarding the investment underperformance of the fund (“poor investment decision-making [which] has resulted in at least $370 million in underperformance losses”), Delaney was not surprised, saying that the city’s pension fund always was “managed better historically” than that of the PFPF.

As well, Delaney related, there has always been something of a double standard.

“If the fund hits well, [they] ask for additional pension benefits.”

And if the fund underperforms? “They need more money.”

Delaney points out that the PFPF historically has provided an audit to the city, so there has been a measure of transparency.

And regarding the trips to conferences, Delaney described it as “crazy travel,” adding that “it’s not like they hid it.”

Meanwhile, regarding the calls for investigation by state and federal authorities, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Delaney seemed to think it was a bit much.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

Delaney noted that the board is a “volunteer board” with one permanent employees, and that the “police and fire units were always happy” with the performance of the fund.

In recent years, Delaney has taken slings and arrows for being the architect of the 2001 deal, which he claims was mislabeled a “30-year agreement” because of clauses in the wording that were ignored since.

“There wasn’t a damned thing wrong with the deal,” Delaney said. “It was right for the times” and “fully funded when I left office.”

It was in “fine shape in 2003” when Delaney left office, until City Council, just before the Great Recession, added more benefits, ignoring the threat of a veto from Mayor John Peyton.

“He couldn’t get seven votes to sustain a veto,” Delaney said, which points to the unique political power of the public sector unions.

“The unions wanted to call it a 30-year deal,” Delaney said, “yet they ignored a [key] paragraph.”

That paragraph boiled down to the principle that benefits could be reduced in light of changed economic circumstances.

“The media has never understood the 2001 deal. It was never a 30-year deal,” he said, citing language in the accord that allowed for exemptions.

Delaney also adds that, contrary to popular belief and media assertion, it’s “not a rich plan” and “compared to other police and fire pension funds, it’s the cheapest in the state.”

The pension fund, said Delaney, was “underfunded over the last 12 years.”

“At it’s core, it needs money. It’s needed money for the last 12 years.”

Delaney also took issue with the Peyton pension deal being spiked by the Alvin Brown administration.

“I’m not faulting council for not doing the Peyton deal since Brown asked them not to,” Delaney said, “but the Brown proposal was so bad that it was opposed by the Chamber” which “shows you how bad the deal was” since that was an unprecedented action from that group.

Whether investigations happen or not, and the precise topography they take, the issue ultimately is funding, Delaney said.

The two-term mayor said, “$30 million a year does it” and that figure could be accomplished via a “modest property tax increase or a half-cent sales tax [hike.]”

That would, he added, “solve the problem overnight.”

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