Just as spring brings new growth to Jacksonville lawns, so too does it bring new names and faces to the JEA Board.
With credibility of the powerful appointed panel hamstrung after a failed push to privatize, Mayor Lenny Curry rolled out a list of familiar names to replace the last slate he picked for the JEA Board.
Last week, all seven cleared the Rules Committee, the sole stop before the Council vote on Tuesday night.
The appointees include Dr. Leon L. Haley, Jr., CEO, UF Health Jacksonville; Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., president & CEO, Edward Waters College; John D. Baker, II, executive chairman & CEO, FRP Holdings; Marty Lanahan, executive vice president & regional president, Iberia Bank; Joseph P. DiSalvo, lieutenant general, U.S. Army (ret.); Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, president, The Regency Group; and Tom VanOsdol, senior vice president, Ascension Healthcare & ministry market executive, Ascension Florida.
The members cleared the full Council Tuesday.
The tranche of appointments was necessary as the previous board, which backed the play to sell JEA in 2019, resigned en masse this year after firing CEO Aaron Zahn, a primary architect of the push to “recapitalize the asset.”
Curry’s reconfiguration of the board over the years has been reminiscent of a baseball manager fond of using situational relief pitchers.
In 2015, Curry purged the board picked by former Mayor Alvin Brown, preferring to bring in new appointees that aligned with the administration’s agenda.
The hopes are, from the administration and the City Council, that the new picks stabilize a utility that has suffered in the estimation of bond ratings agencies.
Since October, JEA has been downgraded by multiple credit agencies.
The most recent haircut: S&P Global Ratings cut in early March JEA’s senior water and sewer bond rating to AA-plus from AAA and its subordinate debt to AA from AA-plus.