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Jacksonville Consolidation Task Force Holds First Meeting

Kevin Meerschaert

What changes, if any, should be made if any to Jacksonville's consolidated government?

That is the question being asked of the 30-member Task Force on Consolidation. The group held it's first meeting Wednesday.

The task force was created by City Council President Bill Gulliford, who says that after over 40 years there has been little done to review consolidation, calling for an in-depth study of local government.

The first meeting consisted mostly of implementation procedures, including a review of the state's "sunshine laws" for government transparency.

The panel also heard from some members of the original commission that produced the 1966 report that proposed consolidation.

In the mid-60's the city was faced a crisis — 15 high schools were discredited and 11 public officials were indicted on 142 counts of bribery and larceny.

Attorney Jim Rinaman was a member of the original commission.

“You can’t image what it was like under the old government. You either were a person who was siphoning money out of the city or you were a person who didn’t get involved in anything in the city," he told the panel.

"These people who were on this commission were people who had not been involved in the city or the county prior to that time."

The task force will spend several months reviewing the entire consolidated government and produce a report to suggest changes. The report is due by April 30, 2014.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.