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Charter review begins in Jacksonville

The panel was appointed by the City Council.

Jacksonville’s Charter Review Commission is holding an organizational meeting Wednesday morning.

The once-a-decade panel will consider Jacksonville’s governmental structure, meeting in City Council Chambers starting at 9:30 a.m.

Chair of the panel is connected Republican lawyer Lindsey Brock, and includes a cross-section of local insider types.

One featured member is Jessica Baker, formerly part of Mayor Lenny Curry‘s policy team. She is the wife of Curry political guru Tim Baker.

Former Florida Times-Union editor Frank Denton is also empaneled, as well as former School Board and Jacksonville Journey chair W.C. Gentry.

The most controversial pick may be former School Board member Scott Shine, who was often on the losing end of arguments in that body. He cleared the Council by a 12-3 margin, amid questions about his attendance record on the School Board.

Former Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg makes his return to City Hall in this role. A former candidate for Council, Celestine Mills (who couldn’t get elected) was also appointed.

Other members include Betzy Santiago, Mayo Clinic administrator Anne-Marie Knight, and Heidi Jameson, the director of business development for the Chamber’s JAXUSA wing, along with Charles Griggs, Chris Hagan, Nick Howland, Emily Lisska, and Nelson McCoy.

Details of the organizational meeting are sparse: There is no formal agenda, and Florida Politics is still waiting to hear from City Council President Scott Wilson about what to expect.

Nevertheless, a review of the 2009 final report suggests that some issues are holdovers that the current crop will address.

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Among them: a “crisis” in the K-12 educational system, The solution advanced a decade ago: to increase accountability by having the Mayor appoint the School Board, as he does members of the boards of independent authorities such as utility JEA.

In 2009, the panel punted on several issues that had consequences as well.

For example, pension costs, mounting at the time, were sidestepped. Mayors (John PeytonAlvin Brown, and the incumbent) all struggled with reform measures finally implemented — after close to a decade of executive branch work.

Likewise, the panel couldn’t figure out how to extract more money from JEA, a question that could be moot in light of the latest decision by the utility to explore privatization.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. 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 a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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