Duval Dems and the Northside Coalition Demand Answers on Early Vote Site Closures

DUVAL DEMS & THE NORTHSIDE COALITION
DEMAND ANSWERS ON SOE'S CLOSURE OF EARLY VOTING SITES
Questions Have Gone Unanswered for Two-Weeks


JACKSONVILLE, FL, Feb. 3, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville released the following statement in response to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections decision to close Early Voting sites on college campuses:

“The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee calls for transparency from the Supervisor of Elections regarding his decision to close early voting sites at the University of North Florida and Edward Waters College during the Presidential Preference Primary. Supervisor Hogan's decision deviates from the seven other counties that chosen to keep college campus early voting site open across the state: Alachua, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach.

The Supervisor of Elections has cited past low performance as the reasoning for closing these sites. However, no additional information as been released on the multiple mitigating factors that should have been considered before the closures: Depressed turnout in underserved communities, voting access for college students, inconsistent access to voters, and on-site notification of closures.

We request that the Supervisor publicly release all pubic records and data that was used to close these early vote sites. We also ask that signage be placed at closed sites directing students and local residents to the nearest early voting location. Encouraging participation in democracy by voting is the foundation of our government. The Supervisor of Elections should work to make it easier, not harder, for citizens to vote.”

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"Violence is Never the Answer"

Duval Dems Condemn Attack on Duval GOP

JACKSONVILLE, FL, FEB. 08, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee released the following statement in response to the February 8th incident where a van plowed through a Duval GOP voter registration tent, narrowly missing volunteers:

"The Duval County Democratic Party condemns this cowardly act of violence. No one’s life should be placed in danger for exercising their first amendment rights. As Democrats, but more importantly, as residents of this great city of Jacksonville, we call on our fellow citizens to act with dignity, civility and respect for one another during this election cycle and beyond. We look forward to JSO’s arrest of the perpetrator."

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Duval Dems Welcome the Termination of Zahn

DUVAL DEMS WELCOME THE TERMINATION OF AARON ZAHN

Mayor Curry and the JEA Board are ultimately responsible for Zahn’s actions

JACKSONVILLE, FL, Jan. 29, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee released the following statement in response to the JEA Board’s termination of ex-CEO Aaron Zahn and the board’s collective resignation.

"The Duval County Democratic Party welcomes the decision of the JEA Board to terminate ex-CEO Aaron Zahn with cause. This action denies him a tax-payer funded golden parachute, valued at over $800k and concludes his continued mismanagement of the utility.

“Ultimately, the JEA Board and Mayor Leonard Curry are responsible for appointing, promoting and retaining an unqualified showman to run a multi-billion dollar utility. Both the Mayor and JEA Board have a duty to ensure good governance at the utility. The Office of General Counsel reported twenty-four (24) findings of misconduct, gross negligence, and breach of fiduciary obligations by Aaron Zahn. These shocking findings justify the concerns many community leaders expressed in hiring the unqualified personal friend of the Mayor for such a position.

“The JEA Board has taken responsibility for their error in judgment and have collectively resigned their positions. Their lack of credibility leaves them unable to effectively govern the utility. It is now time for the Mayor to stand to account and take responsibility for his actions in this continuing JEA debacle. It was Mayor Curry who appointed Zahn to the JEA Board, supported his elevation to CEO, defended his lack of experience to the city council, and vouched for Zahn’s judgment to the public. Now with reports that Zahn, an independent authority CEO, frequented City Hall over 90 times in the last year, Jacksonville taxpayers deserve to know the full extent of Mayor Curry’s involvement in questionable actions taken by Mr. Zahn during his tenure.  The people deserve to know if Zahn’s corrupt actions had the Mayor’s blessing or were made at the Mayor’s direction.

“This fiasco shows the risk of having the entire JEA board appointed solely by the Mayor without additional input by City Council. That is why we support efforts to change the current method, such as the bill proposed by Councilman Garrett Dennis to require three members of the seven-person JEA board to be appointed by the City Council. This would allow more input from the City Council, and cause independent agencies to truly be independent in more than name only.

“The Duval County Democratic Party has never wavered in our opposition to the sale of JEA, which was clearly against the best interests of rate-payers and the dedicated front-line JEA workers who are ably represented by the IBEW union. We hope all decision-makers in the City will not soon forget the circumstances around this sale debacle and we can forever put to rest any notion to sell our electric and water utility.”

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Duval Dems Support the Creation of Special Investigatory Committee

Duval Dems Support the Creation of Special Investigatory Committee

Committee will investigate the failed attempted sale of JEA

"Duval Dems stand in support Council President Scott Wilson’s decision to appoint a Special Investigatory Committee to look into the failed attempted sale of JEA. Ratepayers deserve to learn the truth about JEA’s secretive sales talks, its illegal performance incentive plan, and the outside players who pushed the sale.

For two years we’ve continued to state our unequivocal opposition to a proposed sale and now it is our hope this new special committee will uncover what lies beneath this debacle. 

Our very own Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson will be a member of the committee and will bring her long and consistent advocacy to protect one of our city’s greatest public assets. We look forward to an open and transparent committee process and the results of their investigation."

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Federal Investigation into JEA

"Duval Dems welcome the news that State Attorney Melissa Nelson has referred her JEA investigation to federal authorities. From the beginning, we’ve called for this action and we look forward to the results of the federal investigation into the proposed sale of JEA."

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State Attorney Melissa Nelson Should Recuse Herself

DUVAL DEMS CALL ON STATE ATTORNEY MELISSA NELSON TO RECUSE HERSELF FROM THE JEA INVESTIGATION

 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Democratic Party calls on State Attorney Melissa Nelson to recuse herself and requests Governor DeSantis appoint a state attorney of another judicial circuit to investigate matters regarding the sale of JEA. Recent news reports have revealed that Political Strategist Tim Baker attended and provided material support in multiple meetings involving the sale. The integrity of the ongoing investigation could be compromised if handled by Nelson's office because Baker played an integral role in her successful 2016 campaign and could consult for Nelson in her upcoming re-election bid. Earlier this year, Nelson requested that DeSantis recuse her in the Matt Shirk grand jury investigation, to avoid [in her words] the "appearance of impropriety". The public investigation of alleged corruption in the proposed sale of JEA requires no less than an equivalent ethical standard.

The pursuit of the privatization of JEA has been fraught from the beginning. City and JEA officials have not been straightforward with the citizens of Jacksonville regarding the intention to sell the utility nor the reasons for the sale. JEA officials warned the board of massive rate hikes and layoffs if the sale was not pursued, but these claims were later called into question by the Civic Council and remain unverified. There are already state ethics investigations into conflicts of interest with JEA negotiators and retention bonuses they could receive if JEA is sold. The Curry administration ignored the city’s Ethics Director who advised that sunshine laws were being violated and recommended that sales talks be canceled

These concerns, however, pale in comparison to the proposed Long-Term Performance Unit Plan, which led to the termination of JEA CEO Aaron Zahn, an ally of the mayor. Curry’s political consultant Tim Baker attended multiple closed-door meetings at JEA at Zahn’s request, ostensibly to offer political advice on the sales process. Multiple high-level officials at JEA have resigned or been terminated in the wake of the failed sales attempt and performance pay scheme plan. Any investigation into the sale and associated pay scheme must determine the full extent of Baker’s involvement and whether further ethical or legal violations occurred.

The entire JEA privatization process, from start to its inglorious finish, requires an objective and fair investigation. From allegations of violations of state sunshine laws to concerns of corruption in the performance pay scheme, the people of Jacksonville deserve an uncompromised accounting of what city leaders are doing with their tax dollars. The Duval County Democratic Party calls on State Attorney Melissa Nelson to recuse herself to avoid any conflict of interest in this critical investigation into the attempted sale of JEA, the associated allegations of sunshine law violations and self-dealing.

Click Here for the Full Press Release


👍 Support 2019-894 -- Help STOP the Sale of JEA!

Councilwoman Priestly Jackson
Introduces Bill Aimed At Stopping JEA Sale

Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson has filed a bill (2019-894) calling on JEA’s board to put a halt to the ITN and sale of the utility. Priestly Jackson said the JEA board blindsided City Council members and the public when the board voted July 23 to put the utility up for sale by seeking offers from outside entities.

If approved by the City Council, the resolution would request the JEA board to vote at its next meeting to end the “invitation to negotiate” process that began in August. Council Member(s) Dennis (D), Carlucci (R), and DeFoor (R) have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. 

Duval Dems commend Jackson for speaking truth to power and support her introduction on this bill. 👏👏👏 

Priestly Jackson bill will be voted on at the January 14th City Council meeting. We need 10-votes for the bill's passage - so we need your help to make that happen!


Before the January 14th City Council meeting, take a few minutes to call and email each of the city council members listed below and ask them to support 2019-894!

Joyce Morgan: District 1, (904) 255-5201
Al Ferraro: District 2, (904) 255-5202
Aaron Bowman: District 3, (904) 255-5203
Scott Wilson: District 4, (904) 255-5204
LeAnna Cumber: District 5, (904) 255-5205
Michael Boylan: District 6, (904) 255-5206
Reggie Gaffney: District 7, (904) 255-5207
Ju'Coby Pittman: District 8, (904) 255-5208
Garrett Dennis: District 9, (904) 255-5209
Brenda Priestly Jackson: District 10, (904) 255-5210
Danny Becton: District 11, (904) 255-5211
Randy White: District 12, (904) 255-5212
Rory Diamond: District 13, (904) 255-5213
Randy DeFoor: District 14, (904) 255-5214
Terrance Freeman: At-Large Group 1, (904) 255-5215
Ronald B. Salem: At-Large Group 2, (904) 255-5216
Tommy Hazouri: At Large Group 3, (904) 255-5217
Matt Carlucci: At-Large Group 4, (904) 255-5218
Sam Newby: At-Large Group 5, (904) 255-5219

👎 NO to J-1 BILL 🏫


 UPDATE: Senator Audrey Gibson and Representative Tracie Daivs are now on record as opposing J-1 bill!
But we still haven't heard anything from Representatives Byrd (R), Daniels (D), Yarborough (R) 

The J-Bill introduced by Representative Jason Fischer would call for a voter referendum to make the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools elected instead of being appointed by the elected Duval County School Board. Duval Dems oppose Fischer's J-1 bill. We view any elected Superintendent would be beholden to special interests and campaign donors, instead of the students of Duval County Public Schools.
 
Duval County Legislative Delegation Meeting
Date: Friday, November 1st | 1:00PM-5:00PM

Location: Jacksonville City Hall (117 W Duval St)
 
Click Here to RSVP

Before Friday's meeting, here's what we need you to do
  • Make calls or send emails/letters to key members of the Duval Legislative Delegation; 
  • For script, letter or email content click HERE;
  • Join Duval Dems and attend the delegation meeting on November 1st.
 
HOW TO CONTACT OUR LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION
 
Senator Aaron Bean (R)
(904) 757-5039
bean.aaron.web@flsenate.gov

Senator Audrey Gibson (D)
(904) 359-2553
gibson.audrey.web@flsenate.gov

Representative Cord Byrd (R)
Phone: (904) 242-3495
cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov
 
Representative Clay Yarborough (R)
Phone: (904) 723-5300
clay.yarborough@myfloridahouse.gov

Representative Tracie Davis (D)
Phone: (904) 353-2180
tracie.davis@myfloridahouse.gov

Representative Kim Daniels (D)
(904) 353-2134
Kimberly.Daniels@myfloridahouse.gov

Representative Jason Fischer (R)
District Office: (904) 359-2653
Jason.Fischer@myfloridahouse.gov

Duval Dems Chair Henry's Statement On Impeachment Inquiry

Daniel Henry, chair of the Duval County Democratic Party, released the following statement in response to the US House’s formal impeachment inquiry and the release of transcripts from Trump's call with Ukraine :

"Duval Dems stand by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Al Lawson, and Congressional Democrats in their efforts to safeguard our democracy. The clarity of President Donald Trump's actions to undermine his oath of office and the integrity of our elections cannot be ignored. Trump used taxpayer dollars to shakedown a leader of another country for his own political gain — while subsequently attempting to conceal his misdeeds. This exhibits a blatant disregard for our Constitution and rule of law. These actions demand a comprehensive investigation and power check from the Legislative Branch. Our government should be working in the interest of all Americans, not for the selfish gain of this President."


Call to Action on Half-Penny Sales Tax Referendum

 
Take a few minutes to call and email each of the city council members listed below. We need the City Council to approve the Sales Tax Referendum Today!

SCRIPTHi my name is [say your name], one of your constituents and I support the referendum for our schools. I urge you to vote NO on withdrawal and YES to place the referendum on the ballot for 2019!

Let’s do what’s right for our kids they need your support! Thank you!

Dueling recommendations will go today to Jacksonville City Council when it decides whether it will place a half-cent sales tax on the ballot or quash the Duval County School Board’s request.

Last week, the council’s Finance Committee voted 5-2 to recommend the full City Council withdraw the measure, which would prevent the referendum from going before Duval County voters. Hours later, the Rules Committee voted 4-3 against withdrawal and backed placing the referendum on the ballot for a special election.


Here are some facts on what Duval County Public Schools are facing:
  • DCPS has the oldest schools in the state
  • Costs $500,000 a month to patch maintenance issues
  • PRESENT: $243 million in unfunded repairs and maintenance backlog
  • FUTURE: $5 billion unfunded repairs and maintenance costs

Click Here to Learn more about the Half-Penny Sales Tax


📞Take a few minutes to call and email each of the city council members listed below.
 
Joyce Morgan: District 1, (904) 255-5201
Al Ferraro: District 2, (904) 255-5202
Aaron Bowman: District 3, (904) 255-5203
Scott Wilson: District 4, (904) 255-5204
LeAnna Cumber: District 5, (904) 255-5205
Michael Boylan: District 6, (904) 255-5206
Reggie Gaffney: District 7, (904) 255-5207
Ju'Coby Pittman: District 8, (904) 255-5208
Garrett Dennis: District 9, (904) 255-5209
Brenda Priestly Jackson: District 10, (904) 255-5210
Danny Becton: District 11, (904) 255-5211
Randy White: District 12, (904) 255-5212
Rory Diamond: District 13, (904) 255-5213
Randy DeFoor: District 14, (904) 255-5214
Terrance Freeman: At-Large Group 1, (904) 255-5215
Ronald B. Salem: At-Large Group 2, (904) 255-5216
Tommy Hazouri: At Large Group 3, (904) 255-5217
Matt Carlucci: At-Large Group 4, (904) 255-5218
Sam Newby: At-Large Group 5, (904) 255-5219

 


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