Joey McKinnon: fighting Jax Planning Commission removal was matter of “principle”


In an extended written statement, former Jacksonville Planning Commissioner Joey McKinnon addressed the vote that saw him removed in favor of his next door neighbor, Abel Harding.

Over the past several months, I have been very proud to volunteer for the City on the Planning Commission and hope the short time that I got to serve made a difference. During my five months on the Commission, I was able to contribute by working to promote development in line with the COJ Comprehensive Plan, helped save an applicant and taxpayers money on an unnecessary application and contributed my expertise in matters such as helping bridge a gap in understanding between a developer and community members regarding hydrological processes related to their property all while completing my research and training to be on the Commission.
Now that City Council has made their decision on the Mayor’s recommendation, I respect it and wish the new commissioners all the best in their public service, but I am disappointed by the decision. It was an appointment that I earned and I believe I was justified to hang on, because all volunteer board members and commissioners on independent commissions serve the public, not the people that appointed them and should always do what they think is right.
What I think was right in this case was to view this as an opportunity to share two important points.
By placing volunteer board members and commissioners under this level of scrutiny, this new precedent will diminish the pool of quality applicants to boards and commissions in the future. I’m happy to do the considerable volunteer time it takes, but people have jobs, families, class, bills and so on and won’t be willing to commit their specific professional expertise so willingly with this kind of treatment and public scrutiny. This has become a toxic environment for good volunteers.
2. Ensure that we have qualified commissioners for the technical scope of work of the Planning Commission, so that the public gets the best deal. We need planning and land use expertise on the Planning Commission. The erosion of institutional knowledge and removing of good Commissioners willing to serve while leaving an at-large seat that empty is not getting the best deal for the public. I feel that I am very much in line with the vision for this city, which is why the previous City Council just approved me unanimously earlier this year. I tried to meet with the Mayor to see how I could best implement that vision. Since we didn’t get to meet, I then felt pushed into a situation where I had to work even harder and again prove my worth.
I want to thank Councilpersons Crescimbeni, Hazouri and Morgan for their support and for also doing what is right. I thank Councilman Carter for taking time to meet with me and for his kind words, even as we respectfully disagreed on this matter. Once again, I wish the new appointees a better go of it during their respective service. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to volunteer my service, hope it made a difference and look forward to continuing my volunteer service, which I enjoy doing, in other ways.
McKinnon also offered a “small rebuttal… [to] the yoking thing.” He said that was new to him, and he doesn’t agree with the theory that King’s chances might have been stronger if she had a singular opportunity to make her case.
 I wouldn’t begin to speculate on how people voted, but Lisa King deserved every vote she got and then some because she is a great asset to the Commission and this community and I applaud all of her service. This move, as the Mayor’s office made clear, is not about individuals or anything we did. Our choice was not to stand up for ourselves, but to stand for principle and principle comes before vote tallies in my book.
 I applaud Lisa King on her invaluable service to this city–she deserved every vote she got and 14 more. I was proud to stay on and do my work until I couldn’t anymore, which included voting to elect her Chairwoman. If there was a learning curve to being chair, like there is for being I know Commissioner since I just went through that, you wouldn’t know it. It should be noted that neither of us were standing up for ourselves, but for principle. I wouldn’t begin to speculate why people voted the way they did, but she and I made the right choice for what allows us to sleep well at night given our respective and specific set of circumstances, just as many other commissioners and board members were right to resign given their respective and specific circumstances.

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

One comment

  • sw

    October 28, 2015 at 9:26 am

    his other hobbies of reading, sports, and Marvel movies, don’t get as much attention as he would like, he always has time for his favorite hobby—hanging out with his dog, Oreo!

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