City’s ethics director calls for release of all JEA bids

‘These amounts are clearly a public record,’ ethics director Carla Miller says

File photo of JEA Tower
File photo of JEA Tower

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city’s ethics director raised concerns Monday about transparency into efforts to explore a sale of JEA.

In an email to City Council members, Carla Miller said she has been working on the release of the actual bid amounts submitted by each of the suitors that expressed interest in buying or running the city-owned utility.

The invitation to negotiate (ITN) was formally withdrawn by JEA’s board of directors Dec. 24 in response to public outcry.

“In my opinion, these amounts are clearly a public record, but some of the Respondents (bidders) are asserting that the final numbers are ‘confidential.' (The Office of General Counsel) has given them until 2/20/20 to legally substantiate their claims. I think the date should be much shorter as it is such a simple issue," Miller wrote.

Figures provided by Miller show that Argo Infrastructure Partners bid $8.4 billion, JEA Public Power Partners bid $8 billion and IFM bid $7.5 billion, while Emera bid $5.5 billion but only for the utility’s electric assets. The rest of the bidders — MacQuarie, Duke, NextEra — have not released theirs, saying the bids are confidential.

News4Jax reached out to City Council members for their responses to Miller’s email. In a statement, Councilman Garrett Dennis said the city might have to go to court to find out whether the bids should be public.

“At this point, we need to file a lawsuit to let a judge determine should it be public record or not," Dennis said. "Clearly there is a stalemate between our ethics department and the respondents with our general counsel being in the middle. They don’t know the answer.”

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