New Donna Deegan hires can get around Jacksonville City Council lobbying ban
Jacksonville City Hall.

City_Hall_St_James_Building
Former Councilmen will have to be careful in how they frame interactions with former colleagues.

Three of Donna Deegan’s newest hires have recently been on the Jacksonville City Council, but that won’t stop them from doing their jobs.

Republican Al Ferraro will serve as Director of Neighborhoods, while Democrat Garrett Dennis will be Director of Boards and Commissions. Ferraro is just leaving the Council, while Dennis left last year.

Former Council President Scott Wilson will serve as Council liaison. Wilson left office in November 2020, and the lobbying ban would apply to him for the first few months of the administration.

An April 17, 2019, opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics, addressed to then-General Counsel Jason Gabriel and Deputy GC Lawsikia Hodges, noted there are parameters in play regarding how Dennis and Ferraro will function in their roles.

“Neither Section 112.313(7)(a), nor Section 112.313(10)(a), Florida Statutes, would prohibit Jacksonville City Council members from applying for an employment position in the City’s executive branch, with such employment beginning after the City Council member’s term has expired. Section 112.313(14), Florida Statutes, would prohibit former members from ‘representing’ executive branch departments before the City Council within two years of leaving the City Council,” the opinion reads in part.

While holding both positions at the same time is prohibited, moving from one position to the other is not. But the Ethics Commission opinion also allowed that problems could arise.

“We could easily foresee a former City Council member employed by the executive branch, within two years of leaving public office, seeking to capitalize upon their influence, expertise, and contacts in legislative matters gained through their public service thereby giving them a competitive advantage in the procurement of public resources on behalf of their respective department. We remain convinced that such opportunities for undue influence during the two-year period immediately following an elected official’s public service continue to exist within both the private and public sectors.”

In other words, they can’t lobby the departments. The leader of the City Council is confident the recent alums can abide by that proscription.

Council President Ron Salem noted Friday that when Lori Boyer moved from the City Council to the Downtown Investment Authority in 2019, precedent was set to be “careful” in terms of how she framed her responses to legislative inquiries.

Salem noted that Boyer stressed in her interactions with the Council that she was not “lobbying” but was there to “answer questions.” Presumably, that will be how it is handled by Dennis, Ferraro and Wilson.

Former GC Gabriel, who is helping the Deegan administration search for its new General Counsel, believes the precedent set works here too.

“They would handle any City Council interactions the same way Lori Boyer did as DIA CEO,” Gabriel said Friday.

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


7 comments

  • EARL PITTS AMERICAN

    June 30, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Good mornting America,
    With the Democratic take over of Jacksonville’s government my, Earl Pitts American’s, extensive research indicates this to be the last summer to take any sort of family visit to Jacksonville.
    Next year the Golden City of Florida will have detoriated to the San Francisco of the Eastern Seaboard. Poop in the streets, homeless drug addicts everywhere, all office buildings vacent and vandalized.
    So if you want to kiss Jacksonville goodbye this summer is your last chance. All Patriots are hereby ordered to avoid Jacksonville after summer is over.
    That is why I, Earl Pitts American, am leading the charge to relocate the Jacksonville Jaguars to a safe stadium far away from the doomed city of Jacksonville. At this time I, Earl Pitts American, am taking suggestions on what to re-name the NFL franchise formerally known as The Jacksonville Jaguars to. As we obivoually can no longer be associated with the doomed City of Jacksonville any longer.
    Please submit your suggestions below for the new name of the NFL franchise. The winning submission will receive an eight pack of Super Bowl tickits for you and your closest friends. Best of all all eight of you will have unlimited rights to my skybox with unlimited access to me, Earl Pitts American.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Diana Orendi

      June 30, 2023 at 4:56 pm

      What a nasty horde of allegations against an administration that hasn’t even been inaugurated! Why not give the new outfit a chance to show how and if they can turn things around in JAX,? Crime rates could hardly go higher than they are right now, trash pick-up couldn’t be slower, not to mention other services we all rely on. There’s no reason to be mean and cynical other than that you wanted GOP cohorts to keep running this city. We deserve a break!!!

      • Earl Pitts American

        June 30, 2023 at 9:14 pm

        Uhhhh….Diana welcome out from that rock you’ve been living under since Jimmy Carter was President. When I tell you the answer to your questions are all the same answer you initially wont believe me. But Diana I understand.
        The answer to all your concerns Diana is: Because They Are Democrats.
        Given time to acclimate yourself to 2023 you will 100% agree with me.
        Thank you my new besty Diana,
        Earl Pitts American

    • Dont Say FLA

      July 6, 2023 at 1:06 pm

      EarlPops, Democrats might not have helped the situation, but the issue with San Francisco is the tech places that skyrocketed all the rent out of reach and then the tech workers all split town to work remote and save that rent money. Elon Musk is doing what he can to help, taking the wrecking ball to Twitler, but it will take time for rent to get back down from its outer space orbit such that service economy workers can move out their tents and back into apartments Google Facebook Twitler etc displaced them from.

  • Lonnie

    June 30, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Move them down to Jupiter Florida and the name = The Jupiter Bandits in honor of Jupiter’s world loved citizen known by all as The Bandit Burt Reynolds.
    Thanks L.

  • Sebere Newsome III

    June 30, 2023 at 11:03 am

    I am happy for Al Ferraro and his family!!!

  • Same ol’ same ol’

    July 1, 2023 at 10:54 am

    Wait a minute! Does Al Ferraro hold a four year degree? I guess the charter requirement will be waived. Deegan is already starting off wrong!!!

Comments are closed.


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