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Some Jacksonville City Council members are unhappy with committee appointments

9:50 AM, Jun 28, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some African-American City Council members have either resigned from their committees or are threatening to do so. They say it's because something the incoming council president did last night.

In a city that's around 30 percent African-American, some council members have questions about why committee leadership doesn't reflect the city's population.

"They're not pleased with the committee assignments,"Councilman Johnny Gaffney said.

Some members are concerned that incoming Council President Bill Bishop did not appoint any of the five African American council members to lead his newly formed committees. Four of those five members have either resigned their spots on those committees, or threatened to do so. 

Councilman Johnny Gaffney said he plans to stay with his committees, but he understands the others concerns.

"They just believe that it has not been equitable," he said. "It has a cultural history of African Americans not having the opportunities as others."

Councilman Bill Bishop answered said there are reasons for his appointments.

"I've selected committee members the same way Council Presidents have selected committee members since consolidation.  It's the President's prerogative to choose who he or she feels is the most appropriate for the particular committees at the time, and I've done that. And I've done it the way everyone's done it since the beginning of the system. I evaluate who is on the council, who I believe is the most appropriate for a particular committee at a particular time."

He said none of his decisions were based on race.

We wanted to interview the four members who voiced concerns at the council meeting. For various reasons, they all declined. The local chapter of the NAACP also declined an interview.

Bishop said he plans on creating additional opportunities or other types of leadership roles on city council. He plans to announce those sometime soon.

First Coast News

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