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Judge Clears Way For Jacksonville City Council Pension Vote Tuesday

Lindsey Kilbride

A judge has sided with the city of Jacksonville in a legal challenge to City Council’s pension negotiations. A local watchdog group had asked Duval Circuit Judge Thomas Beverly  to block an upcoming City Council vote on a new Police and Fire Pension reform bill, but the group’s motion was denied.

The watchdog group, Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, says the legislation would illegally hamstring new Mayor Lenny Curry and incoming City Council members for seven years, or longer than their terms. John Winkler represents the Concerned Taxpayers. He told Duval Circuit Judge Thomas Beverly a seven-year deal would be illegal because the law says it can only last for three.

“Duval County can’t go off on its own and simply because we’ve been doing it wrong for the last 24 years, say that there’s some kind of a stopple that says we can keep doing it wrong for seven more,” Winkler said.

But attorneys for the city and pension board say the watchdog group is attempting to stop government, and members of City Council should be allowed to do their job. Winkler disagrees.

“We’re not interested in preventing governmental processes from going forward,” Winkler said. “We just want to guarantee that what does take place is legal.”

Winkler says if City Council votes to pass, he will ask that the Council be held in contempt.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.