JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The ongoing drama revolving around JEA and the strained relationship between city council and the Mayor’s Office only seems to have intensified. The Special Meeting called by Mayor Curry Wednesday night only highlighted the feuding relationship between the city’s top officials.
The tension kicked off between the Council President Anna Brosche and Mayor Lenny Curry at the beginning of the Special Meeting when Brosche wouldn’t allow Curry to take the podium.
“No, I will not be recognizing the Mayor. I will not be recognizing the Mayor,” said Brosche during Wednesday’s meeting.
Her announcement forced Curry to sit back down and the crowd let out a mix of laughing and clapping.
Shortly after, Curry left the room just as Brosche started to give her response to the JEA report. That’s when he asked the media to meet him outside for an interview.
We asked the Mayor if it was intentional, and he told us he “called this meeting” and that he didn’t get his chance to speak inside.
The two haven’t talked since. We caught up with both of them on Thursday.
“Respect is a two-way street, so I thought it was disrespectful to call the meeting when I indicated I didn’t think it was wise to do so,” Brosche said.
Brosche stands by her actions at the meeting and says the emotional response from city council and the packed crowd proved it was a premature move.
Curry didn’t think it was quite the “disaster” some council members described it as.
“These meetings get intense and people handle them in different ways,” Curry said.
As for the latest disciplinary action against the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes following a complaint for “aggressive behavior” on Monday, Curry said he’s letting the review process unfold and didn’t wish to comment.
On Wednesday evening, Brosche says she had Hughes’ security badge deactivated for city council to ensure a “safe work environment” following the incident between him and her secretary. On Thursday morning, Mayor Curry’s Office revoked that action, saying only his Chief Administrative officer Sam Mousa had that ability, so they re-activated Hughes’ badge.
“I delegated that power to him, he has access to buildings, he made that decision this morning and I stand by his decision,” Curry said.
After we spoke with the Mayor, the Office of the General Counsel released their findings on the incident Thursday afternoon and cleared Hughes from wrongdoing.
Hughe’s clearance is at the city level. The complaint is now being brought separately to the EEOC at the state level.
In response to his clearance, Hughes sent First Coast News the following statement:
“I'm grateful to the Office of General Counsel - the legal team for the entire COJ government - for conducting this review. With the distraction behind me, I'm proudly working with the mayor and city leaders to accomplish positive results for the people of this great city.”
Adding to the mounting tension within City Hall are now strange phone calls going out the public regarding JEA from anonymous callers. City Councilman John Crescimbeni says they’ve been inundated with phone calls this week because of it.
“They tell them the board is mismanaged, the staff is overpaid and your bills are too high, a long list of negatives about JEA,” Crescimbeni said. “I’m just concerned that somebody is obviously paying for that effort to occur to paint JEA in a bad light.”
Brosche made a point to mention it at the onset of the meeting.
“This is a disgrace to the community and an affront to all of our wonderful JEA employees,” Brosche said.
No one, including Mayor Curry, seems to know who’s behind it.
“I think it’s disgusting and whoever is doing that should come out,” Curry said.
On Thursday afternoon, another development came out of City Councilman Garrett Dennis office. He informed First Coast News he has instructed the Office of General Counsel to draft a resolution calling for the resignation of JEA Board Chair Alan Howard. Dennis says he wants to speak with Howard in person first to discuss his concerns before filing any official legislation next week.
The next step for JEA is a meeting next Thursday between Crescimbeni and Dennis to draft legislation that would require the public’s involvement if they ever did hold a vote regarding JEA.
NEW FINDINGS IN MAYOR CURRY’S CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS:
First Coast News examined hundreds of donations to the political committee “Build Something That Lasts”, a committee that supports Mayor Curry’s election efforts.
- FCN uncovered donations totaling more than $150,000 ($157,250) that are from energy companies or people associated with the current debate on the JEA sale. T
- here is no proof showing the energy companies listed are interested in buying JEA
- FCN reached out to the committee for comment
- Total donations $1,728,758.00
- Click here to read more.
Energy company donations:
- YG Energy Fund = $1,000
- Teco Energy = $10,000
- Miller Electric Company = $1,000
- First Coast Energy Company = $25,000
- Green Energy Fund = $1,000
Listed connections to JEA:
- Board Member Husein Cumber’s company (H.A. Cumber & Company Inc) = $5,000
- Board Member April Green = $250
- Former Board Member Tom Petway= $90,000