How a cycle of distrust is changing city council's approach to JEA

After weeks of controversy and transparency issues of the potential sale of JEA, Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche decided to create a special committee that would solely focus on the issue.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After weeks of controversy and transparency issues of the potential sale of JEA, Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche decided to create a special committee that would solely focus on the issue.

That special committee met for the first time Thursday evening. Yet again, the council chambers were packed with JEA employees and community members.

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A recurring theme throughout the meeting was that of trust, or the lack thereof. City Councilman John Crescimbeni made is clear that trust has been such an issue regarding JEA, that he wanted to make sure they started with a clean slate.

Among the many suggestions Crescimbeni proposed, the most significant ones deal with that theme of trust. He wants to bring in an outside consultant or advocate who would act as an additional "checks and balances" system for the meetings over JEA. He says he's already been approached by one local foundation who would help foot the cost.

He also suggested putting everyone under oath, starting with the JEA leadership board next week. Acting in a court-like fashion, they also plan on issuing subpoenas if someone doesn't show up to a meeting when asked.

Councilman Garrett Dennis made the suggestion of putting a stricter limitation on the Mayor's spending transfers.

When Mayor Alvin Brown took office his limit on spending transfers was set at $850,000, but the council voted to bring it down to $100,000. When Mayor Lenny Curry took officer, the council voted to bring it up to $500,000. Now Dennis wants to restrict that limit more until their work with JEA wraps up.

City Council President Anna Brosche said she was holding her questions until the JEA leadership board showed up at their next meeting.

Instead of meeting every two weeks as planned, they now plan on meeting as frequently as possible to get their work done.

Brosche says her public disagreements with the Mayor isn't a bad thing.

"I think there’s been a lot of focus on that difference, and I think it’s healthy to express something you think should be different," said Brosche. "If you can’t make it through my questions then it’s probably the right thing to do."

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Some questioned her authority at last month’s JEA meeting, as she denied the mayor the floor in front of a packed room, but she stands by her authority to do so.

The Florida Time-Union Editorial Board accused Brosche of "stepping out of line." She sent a lengthy response defending her position. She says she doesn't believe it was a sexist judgment, but others seem to think so.

"I picked up on that from a local radio program that if my name was “Allen Brosche” I wouldn’t be receiving the coaching I’m getting to just bite my tongue.

When it comes to getting answers about JEA, she doesn't plan on backing down.

"This is a big, big deal," she said. "It would be the biggest transaction this city has ever faced, it's that big, and for this nation."