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Jacksonville City Council wants answers about RNC safety

City Council president organizes workshop on Republican National Convention plan

Jacksonville Prepares for the RNC
Jacksonville Prepares for the RNC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many people are worried about the community’s safety with thousands of people expected to descend on the River City for the upcoming Republican National Convention at the end of August. 

Jacksonville has a short window of opportunity to prepare. And that has raised a lot of questions. Jacksonville’s City Council plans to hold a workshop tomorrow to try and get answers to those questions.

Sheriff Mike Williams said he doesn’t have the money, manpower or resources to ensure the city’s safety. In fact, he said quite bluntly he’s not comfortable with the security plan.

That prompted City Council President Tommy Hazouri to organize the workshop.

“From the standpoint of the  pass through for the $33 million that the federal government’s given us,  and there are a lot of open-ended questions in there -- there are no details in the bill, and, of course, the general counsel’s office and the RNC General Counsel .... can’t get into policy and legislation,” said Hazouri. “We have to make that call with the Oversight Committee (and ask) where is the money.

“(The) ball here is on us. And, with this convention and with everything else, it wouldn’t be prudent for this council to support something that puts the fear of God in our city -- and those who would be coming here,” Hazouri continued. 

Hazouri added, during an interview on The Morning Show,  Jacksonville needs to have the ability to deal with crowds and protests, as well as the coronavirus. And he worries about the financial burden and refuses to allow the city to be left holding the proverbial bag

“Well, that’s the other piece of the finances and, and that’s the other thing we don’t know. The administration, our administration says that it’s not going to cost us anything. Well, you know, the devils in the details. And it doesn’t speak to what we have to put out front.

“A big example is if we get this $33 million, and it comes to us, it’s not going to probably come in a lump sum,” Hazouri continued.” They’ll probably do it piecemeal and ask us to submit bills for monies that we put upfront for the issues that they want covered and now there’s no guarantee that if we don’t dot our I’s and cross our T’s and forget to say ‘May I’ that we’re going to get our money back. I know a number of cities have had that problem.”

Hazouri said there’s too much at stake to not get the plan right.

“I can assure you that if I had to guess most of our council members will probably, at all levels, will not vote for one dime to come out of our budget,” Hazouri said.

There is also a lawsuit on the table asking a judge to require the RNC and the Trump Campaign to “present a comprehensive plan to avoid or minimize the nuisance during the Republic National Convention and require accountability measures to assure it is implemented. And the sheriff’s comments and concerns have become a part of that lawsuit.

About the Author:

This Emmy Award-winning television, radio and newspaper journalist has anchored The Morning Show for 18 years.