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City Council: JEA sale not a done deal

City Council members say they want a say in how the sale plays out

When JEA staff opened 16 boxes of proposals of plans by various companies to buy the public utility, it also opened up a lot of criticism.

The bids won't be made public until next February, but on Tuesday, City Council members said they want to make sure they will have a say in how the sale plays out.

City Council member Michael Boylan called a special meeting Tuesday where the majority of council members voiced concerns about the process.

They agreed to introduce legislation that would allow council members to get their own attorneys to make sure they don't get left behind in a pending sale and to counter the fact that JEA has seven special attorneys doing the same thing for the utility, including former JEA Board chair Alan Howard.

During the meeting, some council members expressed concerns that most of the public believes a JEA sale is a done deal. Council member Brenda Priestly Jackson said many people say there a chill concerning the issue believing council can't talk about it.

"I think today we said there is not a chill. That we are able to articulate and uphold as obligations of elected council members," Priestly Jackson said. The council plans to advance their opinions about the sale process and will conduct several formal hearings, she added.

Several union representatives for JEA workers were also on hand.

Ronnie Burris of Labors International Union of North America local 630 said the council seems to be taking a fair approach.

"I think that what JEA has tried to do is make it a done deal, but I'm glad to see the City Council is not going to allow that," Burris said.

City Council president Scott Wilson says they will conduct a series of meeting looking into the issue and resurrecting what the council did last year in a report studying the pros and cons of a sale.

Before any sale of JEA can take place, the City Council must approve the measure and then it would go to voters for the final say.


About the Author:

Jim Piggott

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.