Transparency, Integrity and Accountability

Letter of December 29 to President Hazouri and Councilmembers Regarding Lot J

Downtown Jacksonville

Dear Council President Hazouri and Members of the City Council:

Shortly after we begin 2021, you will be asked to make a decision on what may well be one of the biggest issues in the history of Consolidation: whether or not to approve the current Lot J deal negotiated by Mayor Lenny Curry.

OurJax is on record saying the Lot J deal should be scrapped because it has been rigged from the beginning.

The City should start over.

The Lot J deal is actually not a question of whether or not we support the Jaguars. The issue is truly a decision about whether our community is committed to clean and transparent government, or whether the integrity of some officials is negotiable.

OurJax believes a new culture of local government decision making must be established to embrace Integrity, Transparency, and Accountability and restore the public’s faith that actions taken are in the best interest of the citizens of Jacksonville.

Like the JEA deal before, the current Lot J deal was fundamentally broken before it made it to prime time. It was rigged from the beginning because it undermined standing public policy, bypassed normal negotiating procedures, evaded standard city development requirements, and circumvented accepted taxpayer safeguards.

It is obvious the current Lot J deal is not trusted by the public.

That is why we must allow the current deal to die and start over to create a long term partnership with the Jaguars that is truly equitable. Most important, we can negotiate a transparent deal that is forged with integrity and embraces accountability.

In retrospect, the JEA debacle was just a symptom of a larger breakdown in our culture of decision making in Jacksonville. Yes, JEA alerted us, but Lot J provided the confirmation that our collective values need to be focused on how we as a community make decisions, how we ensure transparency, and how we ultimately prioritize the needs of our community.

We all know that there is no pressing deadline for LOT J. The Jaguars are bound to a lease that extends through 2030. In addition, the environmental cleanup alone is expected to take three years with project completion scheduled for 2028. Again, we question City Council’s hasty approval schedule.

We urge you to scrap the Lot J deal, and in the coming months, follow established processes and taxpayer protections to engage in a thoughtful and mutually beneficial conversation with the Jaguars about what a long-term partnership should look like.

Then and only then will we be able to have a truly comprehensive deal we can trust. Then, we can all be proud.

Michael J. Ward
President
OurJax

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