October marks the 50th anniversary of the consolidation of the City of Jacksonville with Duval County. A Jacksonville Historical Society task force is planning how to commemorate the occasion.
In addition to a City Hall exhibit, speakers series and other events, the task force is calling for an update and 2,000 printed copies of a book detailing Jacksonville’s history since consolidation called “A Quiet Revolution: Jacksonville-Duval County Consolidation and the Dynamics of Urban Political Reform.”
“A Quiet Revolution,” originally written by Jacksonville journalist and historian Richard Martin, has been update several times, mostly recently in 2008. The task force is asking for an additional 40 pages updating the book through current Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration.
The budget for the book is $28,976. Just over $10,000 in private donations would pay for the author’s contract for an update. The task force wants to hire Chris Hand, the former chief of staff for former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and co-author of “America, the Owner's Manual.”
About $8,000 would pay for fixing typos and publishing an online version. And if approved by City Council, another $10,000 would pay for the printing of 2,000 copies of the book.
Half of those copies will be sold by the historical society, and half will be distributed to local schools and colleges.
The consolidation commemoration task force is co-chaired by Matt Carlucci and Earl Johnson Jr., both of whose fathers served on City Council when the city and county were consolidated in 1968.
Carlucci described the book in part as detailing what each administration was most known for.
“It’s supposed to mark what happened — good, bad or indifferent,” he said.
The city was consolidated during a time in Jacksonville when schools had lost accreditation and the river was filled with sewage.
Carlucci said the book tackles former Mayor Hans Tanzler’s dealing with the river clean-up, former Mayor Jake Godbold’s downtown boom, Tommy Hazouri’s taking away tolls and so on. The new addition will start with former mayor John Peyton’s administration and go through today.
Carlucci, a former City Council president himself, said consolidation was extremely important to Jacksonville’s success.
“It literally gave us a new chance,” he said. “Is it perfect? No. But it’s probably the most superior governmental mechanism in the country today.”
He said he understands others are critical because they say projects in high-poverty areas of town have been forgotten.
“There are some areas that were underserved and promises made that weren’t quite kept,” Carlucci said, adding, “Your government is as good as the people elected to it.”
He said members of the historical society’s task force reflect those more critical views. Its members represent organizations ranging from the NAACP to Jacksonville Public Libraries and the Jax Chamber.
He said he hopes the 50th anniversary of consolidation will reinspire Jacksonville leaders.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.