Carlucci Talks Jax City Council Leadership, RNC Costs, Social Justice

Jul 28, 2020

At-Large Group 4 City Councilman Matt Carlucci said Tuesday that City Council President Tommy Hazouri is “recovering very well” from a lung transplant over the weekend at the Mayo Clinic.

On WJCT News' First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, Carlucci said Hazouri came out of anesthesia ahead of the time, joking about his longtime friend: “There is no anesthesia in the world that can keep Tommy from wanting to talk and smile,” adding, “He just loves people.”

Carlucci said the council has a deep bench of capable leaders and remains in good hands while Hazouri recovers.

“Councilman [Sam] Newby is very capable of leading the council from the seat of the council presidency, and Brenda Priestly Jackson is plenty capable of handling interim VP, vice president, and still being Rules Committee chairperson,” Carlucci said.

Addressing the cancellation of Jacksonville's portion of the Republican National Convention, Carlucci said city auditors are looking into what had already been spent but he doesn’t think Jacksonville will be on the hook for “much at all” financially.

Carlucci said his bigger concern was what might have happened had the convention actually gone foward at the sports complex.

“You know, all these people coming into Jacksonville, it seems like wherever you have these big rallies there’s a spike in COVID cases that come along with it," he said.

The councilman also provided an update on the Social Justice and Community Investment Committee, which was formed last month following protests in Jacksonville and across the country surrounding social injustices and police brutality.

He started by praising his co-chair.  

“Brenda Priestly Jackson is a very strong voice for what she thinks is right and justice.”

Carlucci said the committee will be focusing on funding equality, saying more resources need to be allocated to programs focused on “prevention and intervention, white and Black kids alike. But we've got to somehow catch these precious children as they grow older and provide them with opportunities before they start making bad decisions.”

He said Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams “can’t do it all on his budget,” adding he is not in favor of defunding the police.

Carlucci said he’s working on a bill that would set aside money for neighborhoods that are in need of sidewalks or other infrastructure improvements. Carlucci said he’s still working on the details of the bill, which he culled from an earlier effort that former Councilwoman Lori Boyer had been working on.

“I’m trying to establish what that benchmark percentage would be," he said, that would go to those neighborhoods during the annual the Council Improvement Plan budgeting process.

The councilman also addressed budget concerns the city is facing during the pandemic.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

For more on that, and to hear the entire interview with Carlucci, listen to Tuesday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. The show also encores at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.