It started with the mayor and city council inexplicably fighting against a special tax referendum that was to be used to upgrade and repair our schools, the one thing at least publicly everyone agrees needs to happen. They did so on behalf of a cadre of super donors known as the civic council many of who have close ties and financial entanglements with charter schools.
The city council was able to get involved because we have a city attorney who has way to much power and is either corrupt or incompetent and it doesn’t help that he is beholden to the mayor who hates public schools so much he would rather see them fail than lift a finger to help them.
The major sticking point is the members of the civic council want hundreds of millions of dollars for charter schools and they are bound and determined to have their bought and paid for politicians jam up the works until the school board gives in.
Then just for added intrigue throw in two of the Mayors top lieutenants, Sam Mousa and Tim Baker tried to extort nearly a half million dollars from the district in order to get the referendum on the ballot, something which up till now has been nothing more than a formality.
If this was the only story that dominated the summer it would have been enough but it’s just chapter one.
Chapter two would be the privatization of the Jacksonville Electric Authority, something while campaigning the mayor said he was against.
This is moving at warp speed as well. The JEA went from buying a new multi million dollar headquarters to its about to implode in a matter of weeks. The only solution offered, privatization.
Literally just last week the JEA board, after raising the salary of its CEO to over a half million dollars, must be nice during the middle of an economic crisis, said they were going to explore privatizing what had been considered the city’s crown jewel. Then this week they announced they are taking bids until September thirtieth. Nine weeks, that’s how long this process could take. We will have gone from buying a new headquarters to selling the entire thing.
You might be wondering about the mayor’s campaign promise not to privatize JEA? Well like his decency did, when he sided with a handful of donors over the city’s children with the tax referendum, that went out the window and he is now all for it. Though if we are being honest we all know he has been for it this entire time.
Then as far as controversies go, we are just getting started. The city just announced they had made a 450 million dollar for lot J to create an entertainment district near the stadium. It was a few days later that we learned that 233 million of that would be paid for by the public.
This is the same city that balked at the price of a special election for the tax referendum, that would have saved five million dollars and that they didn’t have to pay in the first place. That’s right friends, the city has 233 million dollars to give out in incentives but can’t raise a finger to help our schools. I would say I don’t know how the mayor and city council sleep at night but I imagine it is pretty easy since barely a quarter of the city bothered to show up and vote in this past springs elections. The mayor that is spearheading these and other dubious moves was elected by 15 percent of the city.
Here is the thing about this too, the city unless the city attorney changes the meaning of a statute there and a word here, like it did with the sales tax referendum may be able to weigh in on the sell of the JEA but not this lot J fiasco. It will most likely be passed with barely a conversation and in a few weeks as well.
With all this going on the ballooning murder rate and what we are going to do with the Landing after spending 20 million dollars and blowing it up without a plan, come in at page 19. These things which should be front page news don’t even make the fold.
This is us, this is the city of Jacksonville, and I have a feeling things will get a lot worse for the every day citizen. they will be frozen out more and have whats important to them ignored or taken away, before things get better.