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Majority of JEA's senior leadership team placed on administrative leave

Eight of the 14 people overseeing Jacksonville's utility were put on leave Tuesday morning on the heels of a major federal investigation.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — As a federal investigation into Jacksonville's utility pushes forward, the majority of JEA's senior leadership team are off the job following a failed bid for privatization and a controversial bonus plan scheme.

The announcement of the shakeup at the community-owned utility came Tuesday morning in the form of an email from Gerri McKenzie, assistant to Interim CEO Paul McElroy. 

Of the 14 members of the senior leadership team, the following are no longer in their positions:

  • Caren Anders, VP/GM Energy Systems
  • Deryle Calhoun, VP/GM Water/Wastewater Systems
  • Shawn Eads, Chief Information Officer
  • Jon Kendrick, VP/Chief Human Resource Officer
  • John McCarthy, VP/Chief Supply Chain Officer
  • Steve McInall, VP/Chief Energy & Water/Wastewater Planning Officer
  • Paul Steinbrecher, VP/Chief Environmental Officer
  • Kerri Stewart, VP/Chief Customer Officer

In addition, the position of Chief Financial Officer at the utility will have a new face, as former Interim CFO Joe Orfano will move to JEA's Treasury team. Brian Roche will step into the role.

The following replacements were named:

  • Stephen Datz, Interim Chief Information Officer
  • Bruce Dugan, Interim Chief Communication Officer
  • Ricky Erixton, Interim General Manager, Electric Systems
  • Angie Hiers, Interim Chief Human Resource Officer
  • Alan McElroy, Interim Chief Supply Chain Officer
  • Hai Vu, Interim General Manager, Water/Wastewater Systems
  • Wayne Young, Chief Environmental Officer

When speaking to the departing members of the leadership team, McElroy is quoted as saying: 

“Individually or collectively, real or perceived, you have been complicit or implicitly involved with or simply a direct beneficiary of the ITN or Performance Unit Plan.

Over the last number of weeks I have reviewed testimony and spoke with many people about the ITN and the Performance Unit Plan, nothing I’ve read or heard clarifies your role, real or perceived, in a positive light.

I have concluded you as individuals and as a group have lost the confidence of management, employees, City Council, the media and the community.”

The news comes as the utility sues ousted CEO Aaron Zahn for damages and injunctive relief, while a federal grand jury investigation heats up behind the scenes and a Jacksonville City Council investigation prepares to wrap up.

Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond, who heads the city's special committee investigating JEA, said the move means a clean slate for the utility.

"There's literally no one left from the ITN (invitation-to-negotiate)/PUP (Performance Unit Plan) Era, if you want to call it that," he said. "I think we need start looking at JEA as a really good group of folks now, and not seeing it as the bad word of Jacksonville." 

Diamond said that while he expected McElroy to make a similar move, the extent of the decision was surprising.

"I don't think anybody saw that coming today," Diamond said. "I will say this though, there are some really good people on that list with long histories at JEA, so I was really surprised that he did it with such a clean sweep like that." 

RELATED: Suspended JEA executive, now under investigation, refuses to resign

Meanwhile, Councilman Garrett Dennis said everyone losing their positions should have stepped up to voice opposition to the failed privatization bid when it was happening.

"Each and every single one of those members of the senior leadership team, they all played a role in trying to sell JEA, whether they were under duress to do it or they were a part of it," he said. "They had an opportunity to walk away."

RELATED: Mayor's top 3 advisors lobbied on behalf of company that tried to buy JEA

Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, another member of city council's special investigative committee, provided the following statement to First Coast News:

"I'm very grateful for Paul McElroy's leadership and his commitment to this community in ensuring transparency and ethical leadership in the JEA."

RELATED: Document shows top JEA executives had most to gain from incentive plan

RELATED: JEA sues ousted CEO, accuses him of perpetrating 'perhaps the largest fraud in Jacksonville history'

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