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.”