Lenny Curry – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Digital ad targets Lenny Curry over JEA sale exploration

“Tell Lenny JEA is not for sale”: the latest digital ad from Florida Committee for Infrastructure Investment.

The spot, which will have a $5,000+ ad buy, began airing Monday on digital channels and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, per the press release.

The spot weaves together a narrative from local media accounts, charging Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry with attempting to move forward with a sale of Jacksonville’s public utility in spite of a declared agnosticism to the topic beyond a “mature conversation” about the value of the “asset.”

“Everyone connected with the sale is also closely connected to the mayor,” asserts the copy. “According to a city auditor, Curry’s administration has been working behind your back preparing for a sale.”

A local union head expressed the rationale for the spot.

“While Lenny Curry continues to say that he is not a proponent of selling JEA, his actions are not matching his words. Our ad simply connects the dots based on evidence provided by local media.  We do hope that the Mayor will listen to the will of the people and stop this push to sell JEA,” asserts D. Jason Baber, Vice President of the Professional Employees Association.

“While we understand it takes a vote of council to actually sell JEA, we are asking that the Mayor as the leader of this city publicly end what we believe he started. We are asking that he publicly come out and say he is against the sale of JEA,” Baber adds.  “If he is unwilling to do this, we know he and any candidate he supports wishes to sell JEA against the will of the people.”

Local unions released a statement opposing the exploration of a sale of the utility last week; this week, they continue pushing the narrative.

It remains to be seen if this will ultimately affect Curry’s re-election bid, however. The Mayor has no credible opposition and raised $1.5 million in campaign funds in March, his first month as a filed candidate.

Anna Brosche discusses ‘unhealthy dynamic’ with Lenny Curry

The ongoing contretemps between Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Anna Brosche continued apace last week.

The two Republicans exchanged sharp words in letters, with Curry (who has lambasted Brosche in the past, including but not limited to descriptions of her actions as “disgraceful, irresponsible, ridiculous … slanderous”) asserting that Brosche’s communications with the Mayor’s Office are simply “public relations” efforts rather than attempts at good faith communication.

Curry continued this line of argument on WJXT’s “This Week in Jacksonville,” charging that Brosche lacked follow-through on issues (citing her lapsed advocacy for Confederate monument removal in the wake of Charlottesville) and saying that Brosche wanted to have lunch with him ostensibly so he and Brosche “could be seen together in public.”

Brosche addressed some of the interview’s claims on Sunday.

“At the repeated urging of mutual supporters and community leaders wanting to broker reconciliation,” said the Council President, “I took it upon myself to reach out to Mayor Curry and extend an invitation to meet for lunch to create a path for better communication.

“He accepted the invitation, although as is typical with Mayor Curry, he wanted to meet in private. I did not say, ‘We just need to be seen together.’ I expressed my desire to meet in public, with the interest in meeting on neutral ground and for those concerned about our strained relationship to have the opportunity to see our mutual efforts at forging a more positive path.” Brosche said.

From there, the Council President addressed the dynamic between the Mayor and herself, one in which the toxicity has become, as she put it, “unhealthy.”

“Mayor Curry can spin my request however he’d like; it was this simple: an effort to open up our communication and for the public to be part of that process,” Brosche said.

“As for his messaging against me, I am, quite frankly, surprised to be an object of his constant attention, one requiring a messaging campaign. While he is focused on the dynamic of our unhealthy relationship, I am going to continue my efforts to serve the people of Jacksonville, and keep asking questions to make sure everything adds up for the people,” Brosche added.

Of course, the main battleground for this conflict, at this point, is the special committee to explore the potential sale of Jacksonville’s utility, JEA.

After two consecutive Thursdays in which he took tough questions from that committee, JEA CEO Paul McElroy decided his time was up, and stepped down from the highest paying public position in the city.

For Brosche, this decision adds to the current “uncertainty” surrounding the utility.

“I was surprised by Paul McElroy’s decision to not renew his contract during a period that could be described as a possible transition. I sincerely appreciate Paul’s leadership and significant contributions to creating a strong culture of community at JEA,” Brosche said.

“Uncertainty has been a frequent term used in the process of evaluating a potential sale of JEA; Paul’s departure brings no exception,” she added.

What’s clear is that Brosche and Curry are on different tracks. While the issue of JEA sale exploration has most vividly shined a spotlight on the issue, the reality is that this dynamic’s toxicity dates back even to when Brosche was running for Council President a year before.

With the feud now a matter of public record, one wonders if even a working rapprochement is possible.

Jacksonville utility unions pan potential JEA sale as ‘harmful’

Even as well-connected lobbyists for major utility companies hover over Jacksonville’s JEA ahead of a potential sale, five utility unions combined in opposition to any moves Friday.

Per a statement from the five unions: “It is the official position of the JEA Union Leadership that a privatization of JEA would have severe, harmful, and long term detrimental economic impacts on all stakeholders.”

The group “believes privatization of JEA to be harmful to all stakeholders, our joint statement is that we hereby declare that a privatization of JEA is not in the best interest of the public, City, or JEA. Therefore, we jointly and respectfully call for an end to the initiative to privatize JEA and we call for our leaders to do the same by voicing their opposition to JEA privatization, publicly.”

Signatories include American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Jacksonville Supervisor Association, Labors International Union of North America, and the Professional Employees Association.

This statement comes on the heels of JEA linemen meeting earlier in the week with Mayor Lenny Curry, a meeting that was framed by the mayor’s office as productive.

Curry is already running for re-election on the March 2019 ballot, and raised $1.5 million in his first month as an active candidate.

He faces no meaningful opposition on the ballot, though there is some speculation that a politician opposed to the JEA sale may use this polarized issue to launch a bid.

Curry has given no indication that he intends to come out against a sale, a concept floated publicly for the first time in his administration last year by outgoing JEA Board chair Tom Petway, a staunch supporter of Curry politically.

Big momentum: Lenny Curry raises more than $1.5 million in just 25 days for re-election

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has no meaningful opposition for his re-election bid and his first 25 days of fundraising likely will ensure that remains the case for some time.

In less than a month on the re-election trail, Curry raised just more than $1.5 million.

Of that sum, $255,305 went into the campaign account, and $1,246,500 went to his political committee, Jacksonville on the Rise, which is already running television spots.

Curry often talks about the importance of relationships — and what’s clear from a list of donors is that his 2015 supporters are on board for four more years, along with one name who wasn’t a Curry backer in 2015 (Shad Khan).

Just a few of those names that went in for $25,000 or more to the political committee: Tom PetwayBetty Petway, and Ty Petway; current Jaguars owner Shad Khan and former Jags owner Wayne WeaverGary ChartrandJohn BakerJohn Rood, and Aubrey EdgePeter Rummell (divergence on an assault weapons ban notwithstanding).

In addition to Rummell clearing the $25,000 mark personally, RummellMunz Partners donated another $25,000, and family members donated as well.

JB CoxwellSuddath CompanySummit ConstructionPGA Tour, and bestbet likewise went $25,000 in.

Giving at lesser levels: Florida Blue ($15,000); Marty Fiorentino and the Fiorentino Group ($3,500); Tim and Jessica Baker (and his companies), adding up to $6,000; Southern Strategy Group lobbyists Deno Hicks and Matt Brockelman ($1,000 each).

The bottom line is that Lenny Curry can run an aggressive re-election bid for the next year with as much paid media as he needs. Adding to that: Curry has strong relationships with main anchors on both WJXT (Kent Justice) and Action News Jax (John Bachman), which could help him framing stories, like the current JEA discussion, that may prove difficult for messaging.

Curry’s principal committee for fundraising, we are told, will be Jacksonville on the Rise. He is not actively soliciting funds for his other established committee, Build Something That Lasts.

Jacksonville Bold for 4.6.18 — Shiv season

In this week’s Bold, a recurring motif … pitched political speech.

From a senator saying the president could kick off the next Great Depression, to a gubernatorial campaign telling an opponent is DOA, the knives were out.

Shivs went toward Jacksonville’s mayor for exploring the value of JEA. And toward a chair of a local party … for her committeeman husband using a phrase at a party dinner that many on hand saw as objectionable.

Don’t worry, there were shivs for him as well.

Almost five months before primaries, and nearly a year before the first city elections, Northeast Florida politics are like a Ginsu ad.

The knives are out. And Jacksonville Bold is the whetstone.

Nelson: Metal tariffs = Smoot-Hawley Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson met with Anheuser-Busch executives in Jacksonville Monday to address business concerns about the Trump administration’s plan for tariffs on foreign products.

Meanwhile, Spuds MacKenzie remains silent on the issue of tariffs.

Beer execs were concerned that an imposed 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum would cost them millions of dollars and slow down investment in growing their business.

For Nelson, the tariffs signal a more significant issue.

“What it portends,” said Nelson, “is the starting of a trade war.”

“We get into a trade war, and the prices of a lot of consumer goods we buy from overseas are going to rocket up,” Nelson said. “A trade war ultimately runs into a recession, which was part of the reason for going into the Depression back in the 1930s.”

Nelson noted the Smoot-Hawley Act, which raised 900 import duties all at once, ultimately was what “plunged us into a Depression.”

“This could be the beginning,” Nelson said, saying 9 million people have jobs that will be affected by this imposition of aluminum and steel tariffs.

WaPo wallops Wiles

The Washington Post delivered a hit on inexperienced political appointees in the Donald Trump White House. Caroline Wiles got fragged.

Brutal hit on Caroline Wiles from The Washington Post.

The Post reminded readers that Wiles “was one of six White House staffers dismissed for failing FBI background checks” then was “made a special assistant to the president, a post that typically pays $115,000.”

Susie Wiles, the mother of Caroline, ran Trump’s Florida campaign as it got momentum. That, asserts the Post, is why she was hired.

“The younger Wiles has an unusual background for a senior White House official. On a résumé she submitted to the state of Florida, she said she had completed coursework at Flagler College … On her LinkedIn page, she simply lists Flagler under education. A Flagler spokesman said she never finished her degree,” the report says.

Another shot of nepotism followed: “Wiles has had a string of political jobs, including work at her mother’s lobbying firm and as a campaign aide for candidates her mother advised, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott  and Trump.”

And then, the rap sheet: “Over the years, she has had multiple encounters with police. In 2005, she had her driver’s license suspended for driving while intoxicated … In 2007, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated and arrested for passing a ‘worthless check.’ She was found guilty of a misdemeanor for driving under the influence. The charge related to the bad check was dropped in a plea agreement.”

Go figure; she didn’t sit for an interview for this piece.

Defense lawyers: Brown jobbed out of fair trial

Per First Coast News“The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is asking for a new trial for Corrine Brown after she was convicted on multiple counts of fraud and corruption and sentenced to five years in federal prison.”

Corrine Brown’s latest appeal enjoyed a tail-wind this week via an amicus brief.

At issue: the dismissal of a juror who claimed to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Brown and her defense have consistently contended that juror was dismissed in error and this group agrees, saying that “seeking guidance from God does not amount to jury misconduct and is not a basis to remove a juror who is otherwise qualified to serve.”

Brown’s attorney filed a 64-page brief last week in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the Jacksonville Democrat’s conviction should be tossed out because the juror was improperly dismissed from the case due to his religious statements.

“The record in this case supports only one conclusion: that this juror was basing his verdict on his view of the sufficiency of the evidence, after prayerful consideration and as he saw it, in his mind, guidance from the Holy Spirit,” Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, wrote in the brief.

Big Mo for DeSantis

An internal memo from the Ron DeSantis campaign for governor made the rounds this week. And he may be winning the nomination.

The memo notes that DeSantis is winning with little effort against an “establishment candidate … who has spent more than $6 million … and has been running quietly for eight years.”

Ron DeSantis’ campaign says it is ‘winning’ the race with Adam Putnam.

DeSantis has the best name ID, per internal polling, along with strong favorables and the lead in a two-way race against Adam Putnam and a three-way race with a “potential third challenger.”

Also, Trump Twitter came up bigly: “The president’s job approval is strong, and so is his endorsement.”

DeSantis also has good oppo against Putnam’s pre-Tea Party voting record in Congress, and wins the “blind bio” test, per his polling, 55 to 29 percent.

Payne draws challenger in HD 19

A Starke Democrat entered the race for North Central Florida’s House District 19, where they will take on incumbent Republican Bobby Payne, as well as Libertarian Ryan Ramsey.

(Paul) Still waters run deep, but the Dem says Black Creek project is a boondoggle.

Paul Still, an elected Supervisor for the Bradford County Soil and Water Conservation Board, was motivated to run by a water issue Payne supported that he sees as a “boondoggle.”

The issue at hand is the $42 million Black Creek Water Resource Development Project.

While Still won’t face primary opposition, the struggle is real in deep red HD 19 for the former chair of the Bradford County Democrats, as the party is not well-organized throughout much of the district.

Duval DEC committeeman out over ‘colored people’ comment

Lisa King‘s tenure chairing the Democratic Party of Duval County has been marred by the aftermath of her husband, state committeeman John Parker, committing the gaffe of using the term “colored people” during a dinner in January.

John Parker resigns, but will Lisa King hold on to the Dems’ gavel?

In the last week, Parker and King have dealt with some adverse press, related to an ongoing outcry both within and outside the party about her husband, with the offensive comments framed as a cause for both Parker and King to step down.

In a statement Monday, King said she had advised Parker to resign, but he told Florida Politics he “absolutely would not” last week. (King got backup Tuesday from party secretary Daniel Henry).

King notes that she has “told John from the beginning that the most appropriate course of action for him was to resign. Although we disagree on this action, our members are committed to respecting the process to resolve this issue.”

Meanwhile, the chair of the Duval GOP finally, a week after this controversy blew up, issued a call for King and Parker to resign.

On Wednesday, Parker acquiesced, resigning both leadership positions.

“Today, I accepted the resignation of John Parker as state committeeman and DNC member,” King said in a statement. “I do this with the certainty that it is the right thing for our party. Although he has dedicated over 35 years of service, his statements and actions necessitated his departure.”

Newby, Holland want four more years

Monday saw two incumbent Jacksonville politicians file for re-election.

Sam Newby won a close race in 2015 on a shoestring budget. Expect him to have more help this time.

At-large Group 5 Republican Sam Newby filed for re-election, as did Republican Property Appraiser Jerry Holland.

Newby, who won a narrow race against Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman in 2015, thus far faces no ballot opposition.

Holland, who was a popular Supervisor of Elections for two terms, faced no ballot opposition in 2015 but will face a Democrat next March.

Kurt Kraft has just over $600 on hand. To put that number in context, Holland raised over $154,000 in his unopposed run in 2015.

Committee slams Curry on radio

A political committee (Florida Committee for Infrastructure Investment) designed to stop the exploration of selling Jacksonville’s utility in its tracks rolled out its first radio ad in a mass email to media.

The 30-second spot, which employs a child’s voice, includes a plaintive, heart-tugging script.

To hear the video, click the image below:

“Mommy and daddy, they’re saying that Lenny Curry is trying to sell JEA,” says the youth in the spot, a child who is remarkably hip to the mechanics of municipal utilities for his age.

“Don’t let him sell JEA,” the youngster continues. “Don’t let him sell our future.”

The call to action: to call 630-CITY and tell Curry not to sell JEA.

This particular political committee has ties to one of Curry’s chief political rivals. Its registered agent and treasurer, Heather Pullen, has connections to Lisa King, the chair of the Duval Democrats.

“Baseless attacks and lies from a political committee affiliated with and supportive of Democrat Lisa King are not how we will protect the value of taxpayer assets at JEA. The mayor remains committed to ensuring that facts inform all future plans for our utility, and that those plans respect taxpayers and the promises made to JEA employees,” said Brian Hughes, Curry’s chief of staff.

Meanwhile, Council President Anna Brosche wants more disclosure from the city finance department on JEA. CFO Mike Weinstein stonewalled the Jacksonville City Council requests for financial information, saying in an email last week: “They’re on their own.”

There is, however, one positive JEA augury for the Mayor’s Office. Curry met with linemen Tuesday; per WJXT, it went well.

Hughes noted that the mayor’s “meeting with JEA lineman this morning was part of his continued commitment to having conversations about the future of JEA with all stakeholders. The meeting went well offering him the opportunity to hear feedback and information from the people who put their lives on the line, not only in emergencies, but every day to provide service to the citizens of Jacksonville.”

Council bills teed up

Straw ballot for JEA sale: This bill had some controversy before unanimous passage in Finance Tuesday morning.

The vote would be in November.

2018-141 would set a straw ballot referendum on the November ballot to test the voters’ mood on a JEA sale.

The measure, sponsored by Garrett Dennis and John Crescimbeni (two skeptics of the need to sell), would, in theory, serve as a corrective to an impending sales pitch to sell from many directions.

Crescimbeni pitched the bill to Rules, noting that the straw ballot is nonbinding and merely gives direction on whether to “participate in that process … weigh in and tell us they’re interested, or they’re not interested.”

The bill cleared Rules without a single no vote.


Board reform2018-65, also sponsored by Dennis, would bar a member of a board from applying for a paid position with the organization said board controls while serving on that board.

This bill was drafted after Joe Peppers, a member of the Kids Hope Alliance board who has since stepped down, made a play for that organization’s CEO position.

Dennis, one of Council’s most strident opponents of the reforms that brought KHA into being as a replacement for the Children’s Commission and the Jacksonville Journey, sees Peppers as a) unqualified to be CEO and b) parlaying relationships with the board and Mayor Lenny Curry‘s team into a high-paying job.

Dennis said the bill would foster “transparency and fairness.”

Gaffney lawsuit rolls on

A whistleblower action involving Community Rehabilitation Center, the nonprofit of Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, continues to be hashed out in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court; it is now a discrimination suit.

Reggie Gaffney gaffe: Where are the documents, plaintiff lawyer wonders.

Former CRC employee Darlene Peoples contended in a late-May whistleblower lawsuit in Florida’s 4th Circuit that she was “unlawfully terminated” by the nonprofit … after she was allegedly exposed to risk from HIV-positive clients without proper training and licensure. [Complaint against CRC]

Peoples worked for CRC from 2013 to Sept. 2016. In June 2016, Peoples was reassigned to be a “mental health counselor” from her previous position, “substance abuse counselor,” in a move her original filing describes as “ill-advised.” She claimed training deficiencies were rampant in her preparation to deal with HIV positive clients, and when she attempted to get redress (including from CEO Gaffney), she was fired.

The latest motion from Peoples, a “motion to compel,” came Mar. 22. At issue: an alleged inability to comply promptly with plaintiff requests for discovery regarding interrogatories and documents (emails).

Read more here.

Mallot out

From the JAX Chamber: “Jerry Mallot announced today that he will retire from his roles as President of JAXUSA Partnership and Executive Vice President of JAX Chamber. Mallot’s retirement is effective Sept. 1.”

“This is truly the best city and region in the country to live and to do business — and that certainly helps when you’re bringing top companies to the region,” Mallot, who has been with the Chamber since 1994, said.

Jerry Mallot retiring from JAX Chamber Sept. 1.

Mallot helped to broker deals with Fidelity, Deutsche Bank and Amazon, per the Chamber. Those were three big gets.

“The investment he’s helped attract to our city is remarkable,” said JAX Chamber Chair John Peyton, who served as Jacksonville’s mayor from 2003-11 and worked with Mallot on several high-profile projects. “Jerry is so incredibly skilled at finding ways to get a deal done; it’s been a privilege to work with him over the years.”

“It’s amazing to look around at different projects and see how far we’ve come,” Mallot said. “We have so much momentum here, and I look forward to seeing it continue.”

Nassau’s Lincoln Day dinner sells out

Nassau County Republican Executive Committee (REC) announced its 2018 Lincoln Day Dinner has reached capacity with 116 tickets distributed, a first for the annual event.

The 2018 Lincoln Day Dinner is among the various Republican fundraising events to honor Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth U.S. president and first from the Republican Party. The Nassau County event was held Thursday at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island beginning with a cocktail hour and silent auction.

Keynoting the Lincoln Day dinner was Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; featured guests includedCongressman John Rutherford, state Sens. Aaron Bean and Denise Grimsley, state Reps. Cord Byrd and Matt Caldwell, as well as various local leaders and candidates.

“Although we are still days away from hosting the event, the revenue and enthusiasm for this banquet have exceeded all expectations,” Nassau REC Chair Justin Taylor said. “In fact, we had to add seats to accommodate demand. We are seeing about a 50 percent participation increase from last year’s Lincoln Day, and I think that is a direct reflection of our party’s enthusiasm leading into this year’s election cycle.”

Lenny Curry has yet to ‘see the light’ on assault weapons ban

This week, Jacksonville developer and political donor Peter Rummell called on Mayor Lenny Curry, a frequent recipient of Rummell dollars, to “see the light” and get behind a ban on assault weapons.

This continued a divergence between the two that first surfaced in the immediate wake of the Parkland massacre in February, when Rummell first spoke out against assault weapons.

Curry, endorsed early in his 2015 mayoral campaign by the NRA, noted soon thereafter that he wasn’t always “100 percent aligned” with donors and supporters.

However, for Curry to “see the light” on an assault weapons ban, he would be far less than “100 percent aligned” with the NRA.

On Thursday in Jacksonville, Curry noted that his position on an assault weapons ban hadn’t changed, but Rummell continues to back him nonetheless.

“We’ve had this discussion a number of times,” Curry said. “I’m a Constitutional Conservative. Peter Rummell is a friend. Peter Rummell is a supporter. Has been for years. Remains one. We speak frequently.”

“However,” Curry added, “we don’t agree on every issue. I don’t expect people who support me to agree with me on everything. They don’t expect me to agree with them on everything.”

We noted that Rummell turned on Alvin Brown, the Democrat the donor backed for mayor in 2011 before saying that Brown “wimped out” as a leader. And we asked if there was a chance Rummell could do the same to Curry.

“Peter Rummell is a friend and supporter,” Curry said. “Stay tuned.”

Curry filed for re-election early in March. His first fundraising reports are due April 10.

Lenny Curry, Aaron Bean, Marco Rubio claim Jacksonville Talleyrand Connector is no ‘turkey’

Per the Florida Times-Union reportage of Wednesday’s Florida Taxwatch media call, $12.5 million state money for the Talleyrand Connector was a “turkey” in the state budget.

The Talleyrand Connector will tear down Jacksonville’s current Hart Bridge offramps, routing traffic toward JAXPORT and the Sports Complex.

The “turkey” designation was because the money circumvented usual process, added in late in the Legislative Session. State Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, was pivotal to ensuring the money got through.

Curry is still seeking outside money: a federal infrastructure grant for $25 million, backed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio via the Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program.

In the context of the turkey designation, we asked Curry, Bean and Rubio to evaluate the project.

They both said it was in the best interest of constituents, especially in this region.

Curry noted that the Florida Department of Transportation “commissioned a study … that clearly recommended that reworking that will enhance traffic flow for trucks to the port.”

Curry noted that JAXPORT supports the proposal.

“I’m grateful to the Senator for his support for the project at the state level,” Curry said. “Sen. Rubio’s working with me and my team and I think Congressman [John] Rutherford at the federal level. The city’s going to do its part as well. I absolutely support this project and I’m going to fight for this project all the way.”

We asked Bean why the appropriation was slid into the budget rather than going through a more traditional appropriations process.

“It’s not the first time TaxWatch has called anything we’ve done a turkey,” Bean noted.

“It’s of vital importance to the city of Jacksonville,” Bean added. “During the Legislative Session, we’re going to use any and all means to address my constituents and North Florida. We’ve always done that.”

Curry added that he “asked the Senator to help in the middle of Session. We have a relationship. It works for the city of Jacksonville. And here we are.”

Rubio added that “just because something’s not in an agency budget doesn’t make it a non-worthy project. No one elected the agencies.

“And so a turkey or pork spending in my view is when someone comes up with something that no one wants but them, or a small group of people. But when something has a regional impact,” Rubio said, “people can debate about whether it can be spent better one way or another, but in Congress, we fund state projects that go through a state process.”

“Just because something is not requested by an agency doesn’t make it a bad project. At the end of the day,” Rubio added, “these agencies are run by very good people who work hard but they aren’t elected.”

The city is expected to spend $12.5 million of the $50 million price tag, assuming federal money comes through as requested.

Garrett Dennis warns Jacksonville Kids Hope board not to pick Joe Peppers as CEO

Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, a critic of Jacksonville’s Kids Hope Alliance board that administers the city’s children’s programs, made it known earlier in the week that he would attend Wednesday’s KHA Board meeting.

Dennis’ principal interest: the board’s selection of a new CEO.

In Council committees Tuesday, Dennis peppered employees of the Lenny Curry administration with questions about a “cloud over the process”: why Joe Peppers, a CEO hopeful who first pursued the job while on the board that would select said CEO, was one of four candidates still being considered.

“The one who has given me pause is Joseph Peppers. He turned in his application Feb. 22 and [emerged the next day from] 138 applications,” Dennis said Tuesday.

Dennis urged Peppers to withdraw his name from the search.

Dennis was in attendance at the Kids Hope Alliance meeting Wednesday — a conclave run by city CFO Mike Weinstein, who is also acting CEO of the KHA.

The board will mull the CEO selection process Thursday, and Dennis still worries that Peppers’ selection, should it happen, would put a “cloud” over the body, creating a “doubt in everybody’s mind” as to whether Peppers is a “legit CEO” or a figurehead.

Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, Dennis asserted, “said the Mayor was not going to relinquish picking the first CEO.”

With Peppers, Dennis believes Curry’s been “keeping true to his word.”

Dennis predicts that if Peppers is chosen, “he doesn’t stay there a year and a half,” because Peppers lacks a history of “longevity,” as if he’s “always looking for the next best thing.”

The KHA board reviews CEO candidates on Thursday.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Council President Anna Brosche trade nasty letters over JEA sale discussion

Monday and Tuesday saw yet more news in the ongoing contretemps between Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Anna Brosche over the sale of Jacksonville’s utility, JEA.

The charge developed on revelations from a meeting Thursday, in which Brosche offered evidence of the administration not cooperating with the City Council committee exploring a potential sale of JEA. Council requested information, and CFO Mike Weinstein said “they are on their own” to a subordinate in response to council staff wanting data from the Finance Department.

Brosche sent a letter to Curry, which was then released to media on Monday; Curry fired back Tuesday.

What is clear: the relationship between Jacksonville’s Republican Mayor and Council President is beyond repair. Ill will over a potential JEA sale that first surfaced publicly in February has metastasized into a full-blown cancer that cuts to the heart of Jacksonville’s city government.

And will, until Brosche’s term as president ends in June.


“As a follow up to my call this morning,” Brosche wrote Curry Monday, “I am contacting you for assistance regarding the potential sale of JEA given your comments ‘welcoming a community discussion, with a rigorous review of all the information we can get’.”

“On multiple occasions,” Brosche continued, “Mr. Kyle Billy, Council auditor, has requested information from CFO Mike Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein stated the City of Jacksonville is not working on any JEA sale analysis and has refused to provide the requested information. While we understand that Mr. Weinstein may not be working on any such analysis, the City Council, through its Special Committee on the Potential Sale of JEA, is.”

“In support of your comments noted above, and in honoring a years’ and administrations’ long relationship in which the executive and legislative branches of government have freely exchanged information in service to the citizens and taxpayers of the City of Jacksonville, I respectfully ask you to please invite CFO Mike Weinstein to provide the requested information, which is a matter of public record,” Brosche concluded.


After Thursday’s meeting, Brosche was voluble in laying out a timeline of what she saw as misrepresentations about the process, spanning months, from JEA and city leadership.

Brosche addressed the Finance Department sending emails that they were staying out of the JEA sale and Weinstein was telling subordinates, about the JEA sale, to “work on it at your own risk.”

“If we’re not going to get answers to our questions, it’s a signal that we’re not willing to work together on this particular question,” Brosche said Thursday. “If that’s the case, why are we here?”


Curry fired back in a letter Tuesday, saying that any “pretense of a desire for good faith communication” with him from Brosche was “completely exposed” in light of Brosche releasing the letter to the media immediately after sending it.

“I will treat all missives from you as a public relations effort,” Jacksonville’s Mayor wrote the Council President Tuesday, asserting a “disturbing trend” of messaging through the media.

Curry contended that the council auditor attempted to “inject politics” into the process with his “erroneous assumption that an RFP for strategic initiatives was related to JEA.”

The letter went on to contend that JEA Special Committee chairman John Crescimbeni requested a commitment from the Mayor’s Office that no work related to the RFP for JEA would be conducted while the committee was live. Any work, asserted Curry, would have “violated” the “commitment” to Crescimbeni.

The Finance Department, said Curry, wonders why the Council Auditor can’t do the work itself, given access to the data. And Curry invited Crescimbeni to request an analysis if he so chose; however, that would be a reversal of the body’s previous position.

Brosche, on Wednesday, noted that Curry’s letter doesn’t change the Curry administration’s position, which is that the Council is “on our own.”

JEA linemen, Lenny Curry discuss ‘future of JEA’

Media was not allowed in the meeting room where JEA linemen met with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry Tuesday.

Yet all reports from the meeting (at least, thus far) were that it was positive for both the utility workers and the Mayor.

Curry Chief of Staff Brian Hughes noted that the mayor’s “meeting with JEA linemen this morning was part of his continued commitment to having conversations about the future of JEA with all stakeholders. The meeting went well offering him the opportunity to hear feedback and information from the people who put their lives on the line, not only in emergencies, but every day to provide service to the citizens of Jacksonville.”

Meanwhile, both Curry and unidentified linemen said it went well when asked by WJXT.

It comes after a series of news items in recent days that presented challenges for the Mayor’s office and political operation vis a vis JEA.

A political committee (Florida Committee for Infrastructure Investment) designed to stop the exploration of selling Jacksonville’s utility in its tracks rolled out its first radio ad in a mass email to media.

The claim: A $6,000 weekly ad buy on ClearChannel outlets.

The 30-second spot, which employs a child’s voice, includes a plaintive, heart-tugging script.

“Mommy and daddy, they’re saying that Lenny Curry is trying to sell JEA,” says the youth in the spot.

“Don’t let him sell JEA,” the youngster continues. “Don’t let him sell our future.”

The call to action: to call 630-CITY and tell Curry not to sell JEA.

This particular political committee has ties to one of Curry’s chief political rivals. Its registered agent and treasurer, Heather Pullen, has connections to Lisa King, the chair of the Duval Democrats.

Brian Hughes noticed.

“Baseless attacks and lies from a political committee affiliated with and supportive of Democrat Lisa King are not how we will protect the value of taxpayer assets at JEA. The mayor remains committed to ensuring that facts inform all future plans for our utility and that those plans respect taxpayers and the promises made to JEA employees,” Hughes said Monday.

Meanwhile, Council President Anna Brosche wants more disclosure from the city finance department on JEA. CFO Mike Weinstein stonewalled the Jacksonville City Council requests for financial information, saying “they’re on their own in an email last week.”

In still more JEA news, the City Council is poised to approve a bill that would set up a Nov. 2018 straw ballot as to whether or not the voters want a say into whether the utility is sold; it cleared committees Tuesday.

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