Council President Addresses Strained Relationship With Mayor’s Office At Tiger Bay Luncheon

Mar 16, 2018

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche Friday discussed her recently frosty relationship with Mayor Lenny Curry at the First Coast Tiger Bay Club.

She said the city’s residents deserve a government that is both transparent and amicable.

Brosche and Curry’s tense relationship was front and center at a recent public meeting, when she refused to recognize the mayor and let him speak.

“We’re both very passionate about the city of Jacksonville and our responsibilities — what we believe is best for Jacksonville. At the end of the day there’s no reason why we can’t work together. We’ve had meetings,” she said. “We’ve met since the forced meeting on February 14th and we may see things differently.”

JEA CEO Paul McElroy approached Brosche about calling that special meeting of the full city council, but she refused. So instead, the mayor used his charter power to call the meeting himself in order to release the full report regarding JEA’s value.

Since then, she said the two have met privately, and knows one thing for sure — they are both focused on serving constituents and sometimes things can get contentious.

And they have been lately. Just Thursday, the mayor’s Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa and JEA CEO Paul McElroy refused to take oaths before addressing a special committee tasked with investigating a possible JEA sale.

Brosche said the oath is meant to ensure truth, while Mousa called it an unprecedented power play. Curry spokeswoman Marsha Oliver told reporters that Mousa hasn’t lied in 31 years and certainly doesn’t intend to start now. But Brosche said the oath was not meant as an insult.

“I think we were aware of our options going forward and I do have a hard time connecting with people being afraid to tell the truth. That’s what we were after,” she said. “We were after consistently administering the oath to everyone that came forward so no one was singled out.”

Next week the Rules Committee will take up Brosche’s proposal to create another special task force. That one will focus on open government. It was yet another point of contention between her and the mayor’s office when she wanted to fast track the legislation to make sure it could make its deadline of June 30. Curry said that in itself lacked transparency, so it’s now going through regular order.

“It’s really just about making sure that the people have access to government, whether that’s themselves individually or through the media and making sure that we’re doing the best job we can to help people connect to their government,” she said.

Brosche said she would be at next Tuesday’s Rules Committee meeting to explain her bill further. Her council presidency also ends June 30.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.