Garrett Dennis – Florida Politics

Duval Dems move to remove Terrance Freeman from Jacksonville City Council

On Monday morning, as District 10 Republican Jacksonville City Councilman Terrance Freeman settled in for his first committee meeting after being named last week to the board, a group of Duval County Democrats is asking for emergency relief from Gov. Rick Scott‘s appointment.

If granted, that relief would stop Freeman from taking action as a councilman until legal proceedings wrapped regarding his residency.

The presser at the Duval County Courthouse was in support of a petition (16-2018-CA-004630-XXXX-MA) by Brenda Priestly Jackson, a Democrat and former Duval County School Board chair who was passed up for the appointment to fill the unexpired term of suspended incumbent Democrat Reggie Brown.

Priestly Jackson and other Democrats charge that Freeman, who established residency in the district by renting two rooms in a private home the day he was appointed last week, was not a legitimate pick because he moved to Northwest Jacksonville solely to serve on the Council.

The Governor signaled his thoughts on this challenge even before Monday by opting to host a Senate campaign event in Freeman’s district on Monday afternoon. However, a united group of Democrats pushed back on what they believe was an illegitimate selection.

Duval Democratic Chairwoman Lisa King slammed Scott for having “chose to pick someone who lives 20 miles away” to represent 10. Vice Chair Daniel Henry blasted Freeman for “just show[ing] up, trying to rent two rooms” to establish residency. City Councilman Garrett Dennis bemoaned the “cronyism City Hall has been plagued with the last three years.” And State Sen. Audrey Gibson blasted a “tainted process” that led to a “blatantly wrong appointment,” noting that she could “write the script” on what Scott would say.

Priestly Jackson noted that of “over 50 applicants, approximately 15 to 20 lived in District 10.”

Both Priestly Jackson and her attorney, Leslie Jean Bart, noted that their preference would have been for a special election. However, Councilman Reggie Brown (the suspended indictee) maintains his innocence, and this put the fill-in slots in the Governor’s court.

The legal filing contends that at the time the Governor’s appointment became official, Freeman still homesteaded and was registered to vote in Mandarin. The city’s position is that Freeman was not a Councilman until his swearing-in ceremony, maintaining what could be called a Councilman-select status.

Democrats, while up in arms over what they see as the Lenny Curry administration stealing a seat from their party, nonetheless lack a credible, well-funded challenger to Curry on the 2019 ballot.

Help may not be on the way. When we asked about that lack of real challenge, we were told the presser was not the place for that question.

Meanwhile, Duval Republicans blasted the Democrats for objecting to Freeman, with Chair Karyn Morton suggesting that “We urge Democrat Party Chairman Lisa King to end her partisan attacks on Councilman Freeman and instead focus on keeping her own elected officials from becoming felons.”

King responded that the pushback isn’t about whether Freeman is Republican, but it’s about his “residency” — something attorney Jean-Bart isn’t prepared to say has been established even now, with Freeman leasing two rooms in the district.

Garrett Dennis plans Tuesday town hall to ‘stop the murders’

Jacksonville City Council may be on its traditional early-July “summer break,” but Councilman Garrett Dennis isn’t even taking a pause.

Dennis, along with political consultant Dwight Brisbane and others, will host a community discussion Tuesday evening with an eye to “stop the murders.”

The event kicks off at Edward Waters College’s Milne Auditorium at 6:00 p.m.

Dennis’ Council district, which encompasses areas ranging from Murray Hill to New Town, deals with violent crime on par with almost any area in the city in some parts.

However, there are some who believe Dennis’ ultimate goal is moving beyond Council toward a mayoral run as soon as 2019.

Dennis, a Democrat, has said repeatedly that Lenny Curry, a Republican, will be a one-term mayor.

If Dennis does run, he will face opprobrium from one already-filed candidate, activist Connell Crooms.

“Several people approached me … and had complaints about the media pushing Garrett Dennis to run for Mayor,” Crooms said.

“I would welcome a debate (in fact I relish it) with Garrett Dennis and Lenny Curry because I more than either one having been here before either one were in office and understand it’s about the People. The contradictions of Dennis and Curry will expose itself, and there are MANY,” Crooms added.

Dennis has yet, as of the time of this writing, to express an opinion on Crooms’ remarks.

What to watch for in July in Jacksonville politics

The Jacksonville City Council begins its summer break (July 2 — 13). This is advantageous: It allows them to order more plaques and picture frames for proclamations, and allows some time to plan more creative escapes from the dreaded Sunshine Law.

The schedule has a lull, but that doesn’t mean things are getting dull. What follows: some political phenomena to watch in Dirty Duval in that dread interregnum between July 4 and the beginning of Jaguars’ preseason.

New Budget July 23: Mayor Lenny Curry’s budget presentation to July 23, as City Council President Aaron Bowman will be traveling the week before, and the late reveal will require serious budget meetings by the Finance committee that may impact Council members’ Labor Day travel plans.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, if the capital improvement budget is any indication, there will be lots to run on and little to grouse about.

As the Florida Times-Union reported, a draft CIP has $189 million in projects and includes such big-ticket items as beginning to tear down the Hart Bridge ramps and $20 million for U.F. Health.

This is up from a CIP that was close to $100 million in the last budget, and $78 million before that.

Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa said a couple of years ago the city could use a $400 million capital budget. What is clear: this election year budget uses budget relief from pension reform and still-cheap-for-now borrowing to attempt to make a dent in Jacksonville’s capital needs.

More murders? More problems: A narrative persists in Jacksonville that the public safety rhetoric that Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams ran on has not led to a reduction in the murder rate.

Even though both first-term Republicans are candidates with a real cash advantage, this could be a problem in the quickly-approaching 2019 campaign.

The 4th of July through Labor Day is a time that historically is conducive to murders, including but not limited to the turf war variety by competing gangs. If there are headline-grabbing weekends, it will be exploitable by those challenging incumbents.

Mayor’s race moves: Will Anna Brosche file once she finishes her vacation? Will Garrett Dennis?

Brosche and Dennis seem to be testing the waters. Brosche has said as much to media numerous times. Dennis, meanwhile, has said repeatedly that Lenny Curry will be a one-term mayor.

I’ve said this on electronic media, and I’ll type it here: Dennis and Brosche, whether they run against Curry or run for re-election, will have oppo against them shopped.

Tim Baker does not play around.

Curry is well-positioned with Chamber Republicans for his re-election. It remains to be seen how he will bring the cultural conservatives, piqued over the non-veto of the Human Rights Ordinance expansion to protect LGBT people, back in the fold.

Curry did visit the Duval Republican Party recently, a sign that he’s going to try to shore up his right flank. But expect a lot of folks to stay home. Both from knocking on doors and voting.

What’s clear is that he has problems with a number of different groups. How many people who voted for Alvin Brown in 2015 are lined up for Lenny in 2019? It’s hard to see this one being a coronation like the re-elections of John Delaney and John Peyton.

However, there are strategies to muddle the field. One such strategy that forces friendly to Curry can use, especially to keep Dennis/Brosche in check: find a way to build up activist Connell Crooms.

Crooms likely won’t have the capital to market his campaign beyond the social media space, but he made it clear last week that he is ready to counter-message Dennis.

“Several people approached me … and had complaints about the media pushing Garrett Dennis to run for Mayor. Local Democrat leaders have long been upset that I won’t run under their party banner. I’ll say this, I don’t care and I would welcome a debate (in fact I relish it) with Garrett Dennis and Lenny Curry because I more than either one having been here before either one were in office and understand it’s about the People. The contradictions of Dennis and Curry will expose itself, and there are MANY.”

If you are Lenny Curry (and if you’re him, you’re probably watching Good Morning Football on NFL Network instead of reading this), you want Crooms to get some traction. Find a way to make him a vessel for all the oppo that undermines Dennis’ (or Brosche’s) bona fides. Find a way to get money to him, even through a dizzying maze of Eric Robinson political committees. Impose false purity tests via proxy on the left, and stay in the center-right lane.

And insist that, no matter how marginal an opponent is, said opponent is in the debates. You’re on TV as often as you want. Your opponents, like Eminem in “Lose Yourself,” get one shot, one opportunity to seize everything they ever wanted.

And they likely don’t have the campaign guidance to know how to exploit it, creating one of those “mom’s spaghetti” moments the fortysomething rapper lionized in that hit.

The goal: 50.01 percent in March. With the best polling and messaging operation in the area, and a bunch of late-starting campaigns in opposition, there is a way to create a demolition derby in the field even before the first debate.

Al against Al: City business may be in a lull, but the titanic battle for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 5th Congressional District continues.

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown scored arguably the biggest individual endorsement of the campaign season, via Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan last week.

Word from a Khan confidant: Congressman Al Lawson didn’t even try when it came to building a relationship with Khan over two years. Whether that’s true or not is less important than the fact that it’s Khan’s perception. He owns the town. And every politician is little more than a glorified keyholder.

Perception, including nationally, is that Lawson is vulnerable. Roll Call lists Lawson as a potential Democrat who could go down in the August primary, in the wake of Rep. Joe Crowley’s defeat in NYC.

The Roll Call analysis elides certain details, among them, being that Brown is, despite messaging on Lawson’s purported softness on gun control and non-revulsion by President Donald Trump, not some progressive reformer, but a fairly conservative Democrat.

Another elided detail: the Jacksonville Vs Tallahassee dynamic of this race. Locals aren’t especially excited about Alvin Brown, but the “this is a Jacksonville seat” belief was never shaken, even after Corrine Brown lost to Lawson in 2016.

New Councilors: We know that by the time the Jacksonville City Council reconvenes that there could/should be new Councilors. But who?

Weeks into the application process, three Republicans jumped in who have run, and lost, before.

Terrance Freeman, who finished second in a five-man primary in the Southside’s HD 12 is one. Rev. Mark Griffin, who lost a surprisingly competitive race in the HD 13 general election, a second. And Chris Whitfield, thumped in the general election in HD 14, is the third.

Scott very easily could pick two Republicans to replace indicted/suspended Democrats Katrina and Reggie Brown.

Subtext the story at Jacksonville City Council leadership installation

Mayor Lenny Curry‘s man — Councilman Aaron Bowman — will run the City Council for the next year, presumably with the same no-nonsense efficiency he demonstrated running Mayport.

Curry is on board with Bowman’s plans.

As well, one of the best-received lines in Bowman’s brief speech (the ceremony, mercifully, was an economical hour) was his remark about something needing to be done about the Jacksonville Landing — a remark that got an affirmation from Curry in the crowd.

That’s the good news for the Mayor, who has spent much of the last year irked by people resisting the administration’s reform agenda.

Language about “political opportunists” hurtling toward being forgotten in “local history” — that’s light years removed from the public rhetoric of Curry’s predecessors. And a measure of the pitched battles between Curry and former President Anna Brosche and now-former Finance Chair Garrett Dennis.

Brosche won’t lead even a committee this year. And Dennis is on just one committee.

In his remarks from the stage, Bowman lauded Brosche for enduring “attacks from the media and the public,” a curious construction given that the media didn’t attack Brosche nearly as much as the executive branch did. (The public was a different matter, with Brosche’s moves toward potentially removing Confederate monuments from some of the most prominent public places occasioning ire that never actually went away).

Brosche, meanwhile, had her own takes. Her remarks included shoutouts to Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown, two former members of her Finance Committee who are currently suspended from the City Council. Federal prosecutors assert they were involved in a scheme to defraud involving a Small Business Administration loan, a $2.62 million sum loaned to Katrina Brown and her family to start a BBQ sauce business that never got off the ground.

Brosche sounded like she was choking on her words when she thanked Curry and the administration for … well, who knows? Submarining her agenda on issues ranging from children’s programs to the JEA?

Chief of Staff Brian Hughes offered this response via Twitter.

A changing of the guard? You betcha.

But it’s pretty clear that Brosche, Dennis, or, perhaps, both are looking at a run for Curry’s seat in 2019.

Will real competition emerge to stop Lenny Curry’s re-election?

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has been in re-election mode for a few months, and after a year of political turbulence in City Hall, a smoother flight looks likely for the first-term Republican incumbent’s fourth year in office.

For one thing, ally Aaron Bowman, who shares Curry’s aggressive vision for downtown development, will be Council President.

Bowman took a leadership role on Council from the time he was elected, and seems intent to act as a partner with Curry, not as a constant check and balance.

For City Hall watchers, that will be a marked change from the last year, when Council President Anna Brosche (a Republican) and Finance Chair Garrett Dennis (a Democrat) questioned Curry’s approach on everything from the children’s program revamp of the “Kids Hope Alliance” to the recent push to commit $82 million in city incentives ($56 million in millage abatement and another $26 million in public infrastructure) to the District development.

Curry entered June having raised $2 million between his campaign account and that of his political committee, Jacksonville on the Rise. The town’s biggest movers and shakers, ranging from Peter Rummell to Tom Petway to Shad Khan, are behind him. As is the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Despite all this establishment energy behind Curry, not everyone is sold that he’s going to win.

A smattering of underfunded hopefuls are currently on the ballot. But the greatest hopes for the anti-Curry set rest, ultimately, with Dennis or Brosche taking the plunge.

Of the two, Dennis sounds most like a candidate.

“Under Lenny, crime in the city is at an all time high, he botched the sale of JEA, he’s picking fights and bullying everyone in town, and he is at the center of cronyism benefitting a chosen few. It’s no wonder his poll numbers are falling fast. I’m predicting that he will be a one-term Mayor: One City. One Jacksonville. One Term,” Dennis said in response to the Chamber endorsement.

Dennis, endorsed by the Chamber in his 2015 Council race, likely won’t get their nod again for any office.

But he’s undaunted.

Friday, he reiterated his claim Curry will be a one-term mayor. Dennis believes that there is an “anti-Curry machine” that won’t be placated, likening the momentum to that which made Tommy Hazouri a one-term mayor.

While Dennis sounds like a candidate, conversely, Anna Brosche does not, saying that she has yet to make a decision either way.

What is certain: These two won’t run against each other.

Neither Dennis nor Brosche have filed for re-election. Brosche recently closed her political committee, called “Prosperity for All.” Of the $1,520 it raised since 2015, $1,000 of that came from Curry’s committee.

Dennis, meanwhile, just opened a committee. “Together We Stand” has yet to raise money.

Advocates for Curry’s re-election point out reasons why Dennis and Brosche are not viable. Included: a lack of name identification, a lack of a financial base, and a lack of a political operation.

They point out that both councilors had easy paths in 2015, and have not been tested by a serious opponent.

There’s no rush, necessarily, for a credible opponent to emerge. However, the Curry machine is in overdrive, and all expectations are that the 2018-19 budget will be generous in terms of capital improvements.

An election year budget, for an election year.

Jacksonville City Council won’t tell JEA who its next CEO should be

The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday backed a committee vote and stopped a resolution drafted last week that would expressly discourage interim JEA CEO Aaron Zahn from applying for the permanent position.

The vote was 4-10 against the resolution, with sponsor Garrett Dennis, Council President Anna Brosche, and Councilmembers Joyce Morgan and Reggie Gaffney the sole no votes.

The bill went down 1-6  last week in a vote of the Rules Committee, a harbinger of this predictable fate.

But the show went on.

On Tuesday, Dennis contrasted Zahn with the “excellence” personified by COO Melissa Dykes, by way of selling his bill.

Councilman Al Ferraro said “everybody should have the right to run,” offering opposition to Dennis’ position.

Both men were rehearsing positions expressed in committee.

Zahn expressed interest in the permanent JEA CEO role in a previous interview with Florida Politics.

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Council President Anna Brosche, a Republican, wondered if JEA had acted “independently” when the board set up the joint meeting Feb. 14 between the City Council and the JEA Board, a meeting in which Brosche has charged the Mayor’s Office with attempting to push through an emergency bill exploring a sale of the utility.

Brosche vowed to ask that question again next Tuesday at the full Council meeting.

That question wasn’t asked in floor debate, however.

Jacksonville City Council works to move on from suspended, indicted members

On June 1, Gov. Rick Scott suspended two Democratic Jacksonville City Council members who face 38 federal counts in a scheme to defraud local and federal taxpayers.

While Scott has not yet picked replacements for the currently suspended Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown, the Councilors have live bills that currently lack a primary sponsor.

Katrina Brown sponsored a number of ambitious bills, including a measure making the budget committee a committee of the whole, as well as a measure promoting a “bill of rights” for the homeless.

And Reggie Brown likewise had legislation, including an appropriation to extend city sewer and water to eight houses in his district.

Council committees grappled with bills from both legislators last week but were unable to move forward on the measures given the absence of the bills’ primary advocates, and a general lack of clarity as to legislative intent.

With that in mind, Council President Anna Brosche convened with Councilmen Garrett Dennis, Reggie Gaffney and Sam Newby to try to hammer out a solution so that the bills, as one said, would not “fall by the wayside.”

Among the moves: Garrett Dennis agreed to sponsor 2018-76, a bill that would compel JEA to fulfill promises to extend water and sewer to pre-consolidation areas of Jacksonville.

But Dennis and Gaffney, both on Finance, balked at sponsoring the aforementioned bill that would put everyone on Council on the budget committee.

Dennis agreed to sponsor the “homeless bill of rights” legislation (2018-308), but wanted to impose “a number of changes” on the legislation, deferred in committee.

A number of other bills are up at Council on Tuesday night, and those bills won’t have to be sponsored by anyone through the committee process.

Beyond the bill discussion, future projects desired by the indicted Councilors were discussed, with Councilman Gaffney spotlighting a discussion of an amphitheater at the Legends Center.

Gaffney didn’t want the projects to be forgotten.

Council members were desirous of discussing goals with the suspended legislators, but worried about potential Sunshine violations.

Given that the Council members were not thrown off Council, their reinstatement could, theoretically, make the communication a violation of the Sunshine Law.

Council President Brosche noted the impracticability of a noticed meeting with the two; a city lawyer vowed to look into whether that would legally be possible, before saying that it would be better to talk to the indictees’ assistants — as long as the assistants don’t act as a liaison between non-suspended and suspended members.

After Council members hashed out the allocation of bills, community activists spoke during an abbreviated public comment period, lamenting a lack of representation given the suspensions.

“Me stepping in to help handle things in District 10 is a very temporary situation,” Brosche said to one of many impassioned speakers.

Even as Council works to hash out these bills, Gov. Scott mulls a long list of potential temporary replacements for the suspended duo.

The list as of the end of last weekJoseph WillisDarrin Williams, Terrance BrisbaneBrenda Priestly JacksonJu’coby PittmanTameka HollyCelestine Mills, Terry Fields, Angela NixonChristopher PendletonJean TranquilleRandolph HallCharles Barr, James GreinerKeshan Chambliss, Rahman JohnsonClarence JamesDwight BrisbaneNiki BrunsonRalph ChaversCornelius CoxTheresa GrahamKing HolzendorfKevin Monroe, Latangie WilliamsChandra Griffin, Charles Barr, Ralph Chavers and Pat Lockett-Felder.

New additions: former District 8 candidate James Breaker, former at-large candidate Mincy Pollock, along with political neophytes Leslie HarrisJames GreinerBarney Spann, and Nancy Walker.

Many of the candidates who filed last week, like Breaker and Pollock, have run for office before.

Priestly-Jackson was a former School Board chair. Pittman: a former 2015 Council candidate for an at-large seat. Holly: a current candidate in District 8. Mills: a past and present candidate in District 10.

Fields was a former state Representative and a 2015 City Council candidate. Nixon: a well-known political operative for Democratic candidates. Johnson: a former Soil and Water board member.

Brisbane: an operative/consultant. Brunson and Graham: former candidates for Council. Monroe: current candidate for Council in District 10.

Lockett-Felder, like Breaker, lost to Katrina Brown in District 8’s 2015 race.

Marcellus Holmes, Garrett Dennis’ likely Jacksonville City Council re-election opponent, raises nothing in May

Marcellus Holmes,  District 9 incumbent Garrett Dennis‘ likely Jacksonville City Council re-election opponent, raised no money in May, his third month as an active candidate.

Holmes hadn’t raised money in March or April either; however, a late May meeting with Mayor Lenny Curry, no fan of Dennis’ legislative style, was seen by some City Hall watchers as an audition for support from the Curry network.

Dennis, a first-term Councilman, is one of just five Democrats currently on what is, at least for now, a 17 person legislative body.

He has yet to file for re-election, but has told media he intends to run again.

With Curry ally Aaron Bowman set to take the Council Presidency in the next few weeks, reasonable expectations are that Dennis will be marginalized compared to the current year.

Dennis has maintained that Curry’s team is targeting him in his future re-election bid, and has also maintained that Curry won’t win his re-election bid.

Despite hiccups, Jacksonville ‘District’ development clears first City Council panel

On Monday, Jacksonville City Council’s Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety committee greenlit the ‘District‘ development plan.

That said, the bill did not pass without considerable discussion and consternation among myriad members of the panel before the 5-1 vote

The bill (2018-313) could transform the Southbank with its radical redevelopment of 30 acres at the former Southside Generating Station property next to the Duval County School Board building.

“The District will encompass approximately 200,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, 1,170 apartments/condominiums, and a 150-200 key hotel,” per a dedicated website to the project.

Politically connected developers Peter Rummell and Michael Munz have a deal via their Elements Development to buy the land for $18.6 million from the JEA Board. That deal closes July 18.

Concerns in committee included potential environmental risk if the city took possession of the property, in case of developer default. Councilwoman Lori Boyer, in whose district the District will be built, noted that remediation was already done by JEA and certified, with indemnity protections built into the agreement.

As well, a reduction of the amortization from 20 years was broached. Boyer was willing to lower the term to 18 years.

Borrowing was capped at $19 million, reduced from $23 million.

Dedicating parking — 135 metered spaces for Riverwalk access — and enforcing the parking regulations: also a sticking point, with Crescimbeni incredulous over the ability or legality of the future homeowners’ association to enforce parking.

“I can’t vote for this bill,” Crescimbeni told DIA head Aundra Wallace. “This is sloppy. This is not what I expected.”

Boyer, a lawyer by trade, vowed an amendment in Tuesday’s Finance Committee to address the issue.

Despite that qualm, Council President-designate Aaron Bowman said he supported this bill “100 percent” — a position shared by Mayor Lenny Curry.

Current Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, meanwhile, was not in attendance in committee.

Among the incentives for developers: a $30 million capital improvement plan and a Rev Grant (75 percent for up to 22 years capped at $56 million).

The Rev Grant extends to 2040 when the Southbank CRA sunsets.

The total post-construction-assessed value is expected to be just shy of $216 million.

Capital improvements would include $25 million of infrastructure work, including three riverfront parks and a marshfront park on the south of the property ($4.469 million total, and these parks would be city lands).

Other project costs would include $6.361 million for a riverfront bulkhead, a $3.488 million Riverwalk extension, $1.597 million for a boardwalk, $1.035 for an overland trail. As well, a $1.025 million extension of Prudential Drive, $405,600 for Broadcast Place, and $1,158 million for Riverside Drive are in the mix.

Design costs of $2.931 million and a contingency allowance of $3.371 million are also included.

Jacksonville City Council confident in post-indictment path

On Thursday, Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown were indicted on a 38-count conspiracy to defraud, after both allegedly misused city and federal funds intended for economic incentive purposes.

Friday saw Gov. Rick Scott suspend the two less than a year before elections, leaving the Jacksonville City Council to scramble in terms of figuring out how the constituents of the two Northwest Jacksonville Democrats would continue to have representation.

Monday morning saw the Council President-designate, an at-large Councilman, and the current Finance Chair outline the path forward.

President-designate Aaron Bowman is “hopeful we’ll have two replacements by the middle of July,” which is when Council gets back from its summer break.

Bowman will “lean on past presidents of the council” to help get those gubernatorial appointees up to speed.

“It’s easy for someone to step in and understand what’s important for their district, but understanding how the process works is a different story,” Bowman added.

“This is the governor’s decision,” Bowman said. “He’s had to do this before and he’s very confident in [the way he does it].”

Bowman expects the appointee to be a Democrat, but notes the appointee can move to that area if appointed.

At-large Councilman Sam Newby noted, meanwhile, that he will take over District 8 priorities, while current President Anna Brosche will handle district issues in 10.

Newby, a close friend of Reggie Brown, was surprised by his being swept up in the indictment.

“You’re innocent until proven guilty, but I was surprised,” Newby said.

Newby, a Republican, expressed confidence that Gov. Scott will pick the best person for the job.

Finance Chair Garrett Dennis, after seeing two of his fellow committee Democrats indicted, had no idea that this was going on.

“It was a surprise to me, surprise to all of us,” Dennis said, adding that the “resilient” Council would “continue the business of the city.”

Dennis rejected the premise that corruption was endemic among Duval Democrats, given the cases of Reggie Fullwood and Corrine Brown preceding them.

“Everyone has to be judged on their own merits,” Dennis said. “Individual lifestyle and things that they do. I wouldn’t paint with a broad brush the Democratic Party and black elected officials.”

“You have to look at each individual,” Dennis said, “and they have to stand on their own merits.”

Dennis also rejected the proposition that the two indictments reflect poorly on the Finance Committee, noting that the panel “scrutinized” the “Mayor’s budget.”

“It turned out to be a great budget,” Dennis said.

 

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