October 23, 2019
In The Public Interest

Lack of transparency: whose interest is being served?

Jacksonville FL, December 3, 20018 – City council defeated a transparency bill 16-3 at its November 27th Tuesday night meeting.  Introduced by At-large member Anna Brosche, the bill called for: posting email and text messages between lobbyists and council members, reporting of campaign contributions by those seeking city contracts valued at $1 million or more, and disclosure of city officials’ travel paid for by lobbyists.  http://cityclts.coj.net/coj/COJBillList.asp?Bill=2018-0570

An outgrowth of a report produced by the Task Force on Open Government, the transparency bill was defeated on the same day the Florida Times-Union reported that its public records request for background reports on JEA CEO finalists had not been met. It also was defeated a few days after Council member Matt Schellenberg, appearing on the Melissa Ross show, argued that the JEA search process lacked transparency and appeared as if the “fix is in,” referring to Schellenberg’s impression that the JEA board had predetermined the selection of Aaron Zahn as JEA’s next leader.  Schellenberg serves as liaison from city council to JEA.

During a rules committee meeting held the week before the transparency bill defeat (Nov. 20), Brosche asked that the bill be deferred in an effort to incorporate changes in response to criticism voiced by some city council members.  That request was denied by the rules committee, which meant the bill would come before the full city council where it was defeated.  https://player.theplatform.com/p/IfSiAC/aaCVv5f3zmCj/select/media/5v5K84pn1vRQ

Members voting in favor of greater transparency were Brosche, Garrett Dennis, and Joyce Morgan.  

Learn more at the Florida First Amendment Foundation

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Full disclosure:  Magill co-chaired the Task Force on Open Government

Written by
Sherry Magill

Sherry Magill is a community leader and retired private foundation executive. She is a co-founder of Jaxlookout.

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Written by Sherry Magill

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