The Florida Times-Union continues its excellent coverage of what went on behind closed doors as JEA executives and bidder utility consultants conspired to sell JEA last year.
Below is a very revealing article by Christopher Hong, and an in-depth column from Nate Monroe that both appeared in Sunday’s newspaper. Here are quotes from the article and the column. We encourage you to read them in their entirety.
Michael J. Ward
“…By late December, Zahn was on administrative leave and under investigation for misconduct, and the sale was dead. In a Dec. 27 email to Hyde, Foley & Lardner attorney David Cook provided a post-mortem analysis.
“They will try and take cover and claim consultants came up with it (bonus plan) but they had to know about the crazy payouts upon sale,” he wrote. “While on crazy fees, I hope they subpoena Sam Mousa’s arrangement with NextEra…The Tim Baker thing is outrageous. Taken as a whole, the Mayor only cared about getting JEA sold and didn’t care that his self-appointed team at JEA and his political consultants were all going to make outlandish sums at the expense of the citizens.”
Cook ended the email with the following conclusion: “Completely soiled this opportunity for a long time due to greed and arrogance.”
“By late November last year, attorneys at an outside law firm hired by JEA began to privately doubt whether utility executives could credibly defend a lucrative bonus plan that had ignited public outrage, with one lawyer speculating the board of directors would, in a private-sector context, lose a shareholder lawsuit alleging bad faith for approving the scheme.
JEA executives at the time were adamant that estimates released by the Jacksonville City Council Auditor showing the bonus plan could have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses were grossly exaggerated and based on bad information. Executives had shoehorned the bonus plan through a vote by the board of directors the previous July after providing documents at the time showing the plan would only cost $3.4 million. But JEA’s outside attorneys had figured out the plan could have resulted in an even greater payout: Nearly $1 billion.”