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Another Jacksonville Inspector General resigns, continued challenge for watchdog role

Jacksonville’s latest Inspector General, James Hoffman, used six sentences in a terse resignation letter submitted late Friday to end his twelve-month tenure.

Hoffman is the second permanent inspector general to leave the role in recent years – and the second one to last a year or less.

“I would like to thank you for the trust placed in me to lead the Office of Inspector General. The last 12 months have been personally and professionally rewarding. I have enjoyed learning and working in the consolidated government. I have been inspired by the professionals within the Office working tirelessly every day to make our government more effective and efficient. However, for personal and professional reasons, I resign as the Inspector General for the City of Jacksonville,” Hoffman wrote.

The resignation will be effective Jun. 8, Hoffman added.

Legislation in October 2014 created the Jacksonville Inspector General position; it was affirmed by referendum the next year.

Finding a steady, long-term presence for the position, however, has been a challenge.

Back in 2016, Thomas Cline left the position, after less than a year. Steve Rohan, a former city lawyer, also served on an interim basis in between the two permanent hires.

It took the Inspector General Selection and Retention Committee roughly that long to secure Hoffman as a permanent replacement.

City Council President Anna Brosche noted: “Mr. Hoffman’s resignation was news to me. I can’t speak to the pattern of individuals serving in the position for a limited duration. The Office of Inspector General is an important function supported by the people of Jacksonville, and I look forward us finding someone to champion efforts to ferret out fraud, waste and abuse in our local government.”

Brosche has a bill currently in Council committees that would allow for a rotating chair position for the again-relevant Inspector General Selection and Retention Committee.

However, she was unaware that he planned to resign, noting that the June 1 meeting of the committee was to review Hoffman’s performance.

Councilman John Crescimbeni, an advocate for the office, likewise was surprised by the resignation.

“I did not know he had resigned and had no indication he was contemplating the same. I am completely surprised and more than perplexed over why we have difficulty hiring and retaining an IG. My last correspondence with Mr. Hoffman was about the proposed legislation to clean up the Ordinance Code as it relates to the Office of the IG. Again, totally surprised,” Crescimbeni said Monday morning.

Per the Jacksonville Daily Record, the OIG budget has ballooned since the office’s most recent inception, approaching a million dollars in the most recent fiscal year (almost a fivefold increase from FY 14/15 levels).

The Record notes that the office received 103 complaints in FY 16/17, closing “69 cases created from those and previous complaints and filed 12 reports comprising two audits, five contract oversight observations and five reports of findings following investigations.”

Among the savings cited by the Daily Record: scrutiny of cellphone contracts for overages, terminated employees, and the like. OIG identified $90,000 in waste; city officials agreed with $41,000 of those findings.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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