Cops vs. Councilors: Will Jacksonville budget night vote get wild?
Jacksonville City Hall.

Jax City Hall

Jacksonville television viewers spent Friday evening watching footage of Jacksonville City Councilmenbers accusing local cops of racial profiling.

On Tuesday evening, those Councilors — Reggie Gaffney, who was pulled over for driving with a tag he’d reported stolen; and Katrina Brown, driving behind Gaffney, who accused the officers of racially-profiling her Council colleague — will be two of 19 votes on the new $1.27B budget, one with $131M in capital improvements proposed.

The budget’s highlight: a vote on authorizing 100 new police positions, one which led to a fractious discussion in the Finance Committee budget hearing — with Councilwoman Brown saying that she felt “targeted” by a poll commissioned by the Sheriff’s political committee, a poll that contended people wanted more cops on the street.

The head of the local Fraternal Order of Police wants the Councilors to apologize to the police they had maligned, or resign.

So far, it is unknown what they will do. But this pitched drama will inform an exciting Jacksonville City Council meeting Tuesday night, one in which a budget will be voted up … if drama doesn’t preclude the “push the green button” moment.

Budget night will be enlivened by floor amendments as well, such as pension debt hawk Danny Becton calling to move almost $23 million:  $8,638,343 from Pension Reserve for an extra pension payment for 2017-2018, and an additional $14,078,555 from Pension Reserve to contribute the greater of % or $ method.

Becton has sought to increase the city’s pension contribution, saying that pension reform has done little more than pass a bigger bill to Jacksonville residents of the 2030s and beyond, who will be responsible for the deferred obligation that now amounts to $3.2T in unfunded liability.

Becton described pension reform as “kind of almost like going through a Chapter 11” that “got the creditors off our back” – an “extra contribution” like paying beyond the minimum payment on a credit card to bring down the balance.

As it stands, Becton said that paying the minimum alone would make future borrowing more expensive, akin to the predicament faced by someone with a credit rating of “500 or 600.”

The Mayor’s Office had not supported Becton’s attempts to augment payments in the past. If Becton. the Vice Chair of the Finance Committee, is able to overcome resistance from the Mayor’s Office and push these amendments through, it certainly will be a big win for him, raising questions as to what his next political move might be.

“Any amendments that pass tonight, I’ll evaluate when they land on my desk,” Curry said Tuesday morning.

The budget vote clearly will be the highlight of the evening, especially in light of intra-Council drama in recent months.

However, one can expect commentary in the ever-delightful public comment portion of the evening to include meditations on Confederate statues and, perhaps, even the decision of some Jacksonville Jaguars to kneel for the anthem.

While Mayor Lenny Curry called such protests “stupid,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan has done nothing but support his players … and in doing so, went against Curry and President Donald Trump, whose descriptions of protesters struck a nerve with players throughout the NFL.

A.G. Gancarski

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


One comment

  • seber newsome III

    September 26, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Your right, will be a very interesting evening. I will be there commenting on a number of subjects to everyones delight.

Comments are closed.


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