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Emergency Legislation Filed To Rename Jax Council Chambers After Councilman Hazouri

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Bob Self
/
Florida Times-Union file photo
At-Large Group 3 City Councilman Tommy Hazouri

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci has introduced emergency legislation to name the City Council’s chambers after former Jacksonville mayor and current City Councilman Tommy Hazouri, who is in hospice care at home after a recent hospitalization for lung transplant complications.

Carlucci will introduce his legislation at the next council meeting in under two weeks.

“He’s at a very tender point in life. And this is why I wanted to introduce this ordinance, naming the chambers after Tommy,” Carlucci told WJCT News Wednesday.

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Credit Brendan Rivers / WJCT News
At Large Group 4 City Councilman Matt Carlucci

Carlucci said Hazouri has been one of Jacksonville’s greatest public servants. “I dare say we may not have an NFL team here had Tommy not eliminated the [city’s] odors,” Carlucci said, adding, “He made a big play for the Jaguars. A lot of people don’t know that.”

Hazouri served as Jacksonville’s mayor from 1987 to 1991, implementing an anti-odor ordinance, which Carlucci said was one of the changes that allowed Jacksonville to attract an NFL team.

The city was courting the then-Houston Oilers, Carlucci said. Although the Oilers eventually relocated to Nashville, becoming the Tennessee Titans, the groundwork laid by Hazouri and many others eventually led to Jacksonville’s getting a brand-new franchise team in 1993 that would go on to take the field as the Jaguars in 1995.

“Jacksonville has profited from this man’s public dedication to all our citizens,” Carlucci said. The At-Large Group 4 councilman said he keeps in touch with Hazouri, who is the city’s At-Large Group 3 councilman. “He has some good days and some days that may not be so good,” Carlucci said, which is why he is filing his proposal as emergency legislation. Carlucci wants Hazouri to be able to watch the vote.

The two politicians have been friends for 40 years. Carlucci is a Republican and Hazouri is a Democrat, but Carlucci said that never mattered. “We both pretty much believed in the same thing, and that was that partisan politics really had no place in local government,” Carlucci said.

Carlucci said Hazouri is being held up and strengthened by his wife, Carol, “who is indeed one of the strongest women that I know, and she’s overcome many obstacles along the way in her life as well.”

Hazouri is perhaps best known for his successful effort to eliminate tolls from Jacksonville’s roads and bridges while he was mayor.

Hazouri had a lung transplant in July 2020, which was successful and allowed him to return to City Council. However, last week he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic, suffering from transplant complications. After an evaluation, he returned home to receive hospice care.

“I love Tommy, and I believe that the Council will clearly support this and I hope we can it get passed out on an emergency basis,” Carlucci said.

City Council is expected to take up the emergency legislation at its Tuesday, Sept. 14, meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Jacksonville City Hall. 

Full text of the emergency legislation:

AN ORDINANCE HONORING AND COMMENDING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF CITY COUNCIL MEMBER AND FORMER MAYOR THOMAS L. “TOMMY” HAZOURI, SR.; NAMING THE CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER IN JACKSONVILLE CITY HALL THE THOMAS L. “TOMMY” HAZOURI, SR. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER; REQUESTING EMERGENCY APPROVAL ON INTRODUCTION; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS, Thomas L. “Tommy” Hazouri, Sr., a Jacksonville native, graduated from Andrew Jackson High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in history and government from Jacksonville University where he was elected Student Government President; and

               WHEREAS, Mr. Hazouri began his long career of public service in 1974 with his election to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served six terms during which he was appointed Chairman of the House Committee on Education, K-12, and the House Committee on Retirement, Personnel, and Collective Bargaining, and was elected Chair of the Duval Legislative Delegation; and

               WHEREAS, following his service in the Legislature, Tommy Hazouri was elected Mayor of Jacksonville in 1987 and made a tremendous impact on the city during his term. He is best known for successfully fighting to enact and enforce regulations that drastically reduced the odors emitted from industrial manufacturing and processing plants that had given Jacksonville a notorious reputation, for spearheading the campaign that convinced voters to approve a sales tax to replace the tolls on the city’s bridges in order to eliminate traffic bottlenecks and toll booths and thereby improve air quality, and for recruiting several major corporations to locate and expand offices in Jacksonville. During his tenure he also led the effort to replace the outdated and poorly maintained Blodgett Homes public housing complex with new, modernized housing and a state office campus, and worked in tandem with the City Council to enact a Minority Business Enterprise program to enhance minority business participation in City procurement opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Hazouri’s career of public service continued in the new century when he was elected to the School Board in 2004, serving two terms through 2012 and being elected as Vice Chair in 2007-08 and Chair of the board in 2008-09; and

WHEREAS, in 2015, Tommy Hazouri once again stepped up to serve his community by seeking and winning a seat on the City Council as an At-Large Council Member and was re-elected to a second term in 2019. His council colleagues elected him Vice President for 2019-20 and Council President for 2020-21. During his tenure his experience and leadership helped guide the Council through several tumultuous issues, including the proposed privatization of JEA, the sales tax for pension amortization plan, the expansion of the local option gas tax for meeting infrastructure needs, and several Jacksonville Jaguars stadium-area development proposals; and

WHEREAS, his life-long concern for the interests and well-being of Jacksonville’s citizen, is evidenced by his work in continuing to fulfill the intent of Consolidation, the adoption of a broadened Human Rights Ordinance, the appointment of a Special Committee on Social Justice and Community Investment, and laying the early foundation for the creation of the Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business (JSEB); and who, as a trusted and beloved civic leader, measured every decision against his hallmark sentiment that sets the standard for what should and must take place in the Council Chamber: “It has to be all about Jacksonville”; now therefore

BE IT ORDAINED by the Council of the City of Jacksonville:

Section 1.                          City Hall Council Chambers Renamed the “Thomas L. “Tommy” Hazouri, Sr. City Council Chamber.” 

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.