JEA meeting held in public facility, but media not allowed in

Utility leaders meet with employees days after vote to explore privatization

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA’s leadership team met with employees behind closed doors Friday morning, just days after its board of directors voted to explore going private with the utility.

The private meeting was held in a public facility, the Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library downtown, but the local media was not allowed in -- not even into a lobby area outside the conference center.

The area off of Main Street outside the meeting rooms and a library entrance used to be public. But the library made changes in May and staff said it's now no longer public.

“This is not funded by taxpayers' dollars,” said Chris Boivin of the Jacksonville Public Library. "None of this building part of this conference center is funded by taxpayers' dollars."

He said the reason for the change was because the library board did not want to ask those using the space to pay for extra security. Boivin added it's expensive to keep it open as a public entrance.

News4Jax waited outside the library until the JEA meeting ended. Most employees did not want to talk about what went on inside.

"It was a private meeting with JEA employees," said JEA spokeswoman Gina Kyle, who was at that meeting. "We don't have a facility that could house all of that with the entire leadership team." 

One person did talk. Jordan Pope, who is part of JEA management, said there were many questions, but did not elaborate on what those questions were about.

"There were all kinds of questions from various people, employees. I can’t remember all of them," Pope said. "We appreciate the leadership team standing up there and answering our concern."

News4Jax requested, for the fourth time, an interview with CEO Aaron Zahn. As of Friday, he had not responded to the requests.

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