Ron Littlepage parses semantics of “One City, One Jacksonville”

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In Jacksonville, Ron Littlepage is generally held up as the dean of local opinion columnists. When he writes something, people pay attention. That was the case with his Tuesday column, in which he wrote:

Mayor Lenny Curry has famously declared: “One City, One Jacksonville.”

Now two months into his administration, a disturbing trend has developed as to what that could mean.

That trend: It’s One City, One Jacksonville as long as you’re not a Democrat and have never had a kind word to say about Alvin Brown.

Littlepage takes issue with the Curry administration having made the move to remove a few people from various boards.

One Jacksonville Aviation Authority board member who had his term truncated: Ernest Isaac, who (Littlepage himself observes) was a fixture in Brown television ads during the campaign.

Isaac was hoping for his “last hurrah” in this board stint, reported the Times-Union.

Littlepage had an issue also with the removal of Melody Bishop from the Downtown Investment Authority board, citing that she was an original member of the board and one of its hardest-working members.

Bishop, as we observed, wrote a flowery letter of resignation, in which she said she “understand[s] that he believes that it is in the best interest of his administration for immediate resignation.”

She went on to stress her “commitment” to Jacksonville and downtown, and “of course therefore the success of Mayor Curry, who I fully support.”

She then asserted “that a conversation with Mayor Curry would help bring to light that I stand ready to help move his vision along,” and that she still “welcome[s] the chance to meet with him” as she was “convinced that there are many avenues to which [she] can bring value to him and his administration,” even though the avenue that the Curry administration put her on was the exit ramp.

But the Big Enchilada for Littlepage: the removal of Nancy Soderberg from the JaxPort board.

Soderberg is, according to friends, poised to campaign for Hillary Clinton down the stretch. Littlepage himself asserts that she is a “big-time Democrat who had served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.”

No mention is made of Soderberg’s role on the board. Of her unique value add.

Perhaps Ron should have talked with Lake Ray.

Ray, a state legislator (and chairman of the Duval County Republican Party) has been key to not just regional, but also state port policy.

His comments on Soderberg were revealing.

“If Soderberg’s relationships in D.C. were so strong” there would be more “prioritization from the federal government,” Ray said.

“I extended the opportunity to talk to Soderberg about where we were at with the state. I haven’t heard back from her.

“I have not seen any particular background in ports from Nancy,” Ray said, adding that “the mayor has made appointments of prominent Democrats” to administration and board posts both.

Given that the port game right now is exceedingly competitive, with Jacksonville competing for finite resources on the state and federal level, it’s telling also what Ray says about the port task force that Curry disbanded.

“The former mayor set up a commission [for] an assessment of dredging. The commission was set up to where you couldn’t get a solution. It’s reasonable to look at what happened.” Ray said, but “the commission was set up not to succeed.”

“I spoke to that commission. Half were for dredging, half were against. Why would you set it up that way unless you intended not to get an answer?”

There are those who disagree with his read, of course, but they’re not going on the record about it.

From there, the column moves into the realm of unfounded assertions.

Curry is described as having “learned from the master of scorched earth politics,” Gov. Rick Scott.

And Johnny Gaffney and Denise Lee, two former Democratic City Council members who are in the Curry administration, are described as “political opportunists” who got their big payback for supporting Curry in the form of $90,000 administration jobs.

Littlepage asserts that board members “should be left alone to do their jobs.” Can Gaffney and Lee do their jobs in the light of this character assassination attempt?

Lee, who never actually endorsed Curry but who did take issue with “race baiting” ads from the Brown campaign,  was getting smeared (“off the record,” of course, because that’s how those guys rolled) by the out of state hacks trucked in to handle the Brown campaign’s messaging.

They said, without proof, that Lee got paid $20,000 by the Curry side to talk about Brown’s “turn back the clock” ads that were exclusively tailored to African American radio outlets.

Did we hear them on the classic rock station? The oldies station? The pop station?

No. We heard them on The Beat and V 101.5.

Littlepage also takes issue with City Council’s “continued snide remarks” about the Brown administration.

Most of those remarks have been issued in the Finance Committee’s budget hearings, where they seem to be having an easier time this year than last.

Regarding changes in boards at Independent Authorities, which apparently are uniquely sacrosanct, it’s telling to extend analogies to the private sector.

When a new general manager or coach takes over a struggling NFL team, the first question that sports media has is one of who will survive the housecleaning.

We don’t assume that since players are under contract, they aren’t going to get cut.

Likewise, after a corporate restructuring, many employees start sending out résumés, updating their LinkedIn profiles, et al.

When the Curry team posited One City, One Jacksonville, they were saying that there would be more attention paid to the needs of areas of the city, and the people who live there, that have been neglected for decades.

They never said that they are going to hold over every political appointee from the previous mayor.

They never said that they were going to do business like the previous mayor did.

If people had wanted that, they would have voted for the previous mayor.

But his highly paid campaign staff, complete with not one but two out-of-state communications experts, couldn’t close the deal.

They thought they’d get more than 50 percent in March; they couldn’t even do it in May.

So now some board members have to find some new things to do.

So what?

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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