Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, a first-term Democrat, was thwarted by the committee he once chaired Tuesday in a second straight meeting, regarding a resolution of opposition to sell local utility JEA.
The sale of JEA has been a discussion point in City Hall off and on for the last year, and Dennis is concerned that Council will greenlight the sale down the road.
However, Council doesn’t share Dennis’ concern. His resolution (2018-593) couldn’t even get moved to the floor Tuesday, a second straight meeting that saw the bill held in cold storage.
Patience is wearing thin from Council allies of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Dennis nemesis back when the Councilman was a committee chair months back.
Dennis had pushed similar legislation to the same effect once this year already, and the distraught Democrat dropped science on the silent committee after the non-movement.
“It’s not going away,” Dennis said two weeks prior. “I truly believe that we will be in a better position if this Council votes this resolution up.”
Dennis also cited the issues with the Plant Vogtle development, which JEA entered into in 2008 and has since come to see as a financial albatross. The utility was thwarted last month in efforts to get out of the deal, and since that discussion, the city’s credit has been downgraded by Moody’s Investor Services.
“Dennis has indicated that if we withdraw this bill, he will refile it,” said Councilwoman Lori Boyer, who advised that “these bills can be deferred by the chair and never end up on the agenda for discussion.”
Dennis was allowed a “very brief comment” by Chair Greg Anderson Tuesday, in which he said he was disappointed that Boyer advised him how to kill the bill.
Dennis vowed to bring the JEA sale discussion up in subsequent committee meetings, and warned first-term Council members that this would be an election issue for them in 2019.
For Dennis, a potential mayoral candidate in 2019, this represents another setback.
For the Jacksonville City Council, this is business as usual.
Lenny Curry calls the shots. And Garrett Dennis is not Lenny Curry.