JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s the back-and-forth that’s had much of Jacksonville talking for more than a week.
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade’s criticism of the city of Jacksonville while city leaders defend the River City.
Over the weekend, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry appeared on Kilmeade’s show, to respond to his comments calling Jacksonville a mess and saying local politicians should be embarrassed.
Is Jacksonville really a mess? Not at all, according to News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney, who said yes downtown Jacksonville needs revitalization, but to categorize the city as a mess doesn’t take into account the billions of dollars the city is spending to address downtown, public safety and the quality of local education.
Mayor Curry told Kilmeade he wasn’t upset about the cable news host calling Jacksonville a mess, but a lot of the people who live in Jacksonville were left feeling angry.
Last week, Kilmeade had said this about Jacksonville city leadership: “The city officials should be embarrassed by what they left the people, the people of Florida and Jacksonville deserve better, the Jaguars deserve better.”
Mayor Curry defended his record and blamed issues on past administrations.
″When I got into office in 2015, I inherited $2 billion in pension debt that had been ignored and was crippling our budget,” Curry said.
Curry told Kilmeade the city is preparing for major development along the St. Johns River, adding that the city has partnered with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan to build a sports performance complex and luxury hotel downtown.
Kilmeade appears to have heard an earful about his off-the-cuff statements on national news.
“Tell everyone to calm down. I just cited that it has all this potential. I’d like to see it fulfill its potential,” said Kilmeade, who owns a multi-million dollar home in Ponte Vedra Beach.
“You can’t insult somebody and you can’t use inflammatory language and then say, calm down. It was insulting. It was inflammatory. And it wasn’t true. It was inaccurate.
News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney says Kilmeade’s criticism doesn’t take into account the multibillion-dollar investment the city is making in its future. He said if Jacksonville was really a mess, the city wouldn’t be one of the fastest-growing metropolitan cities in the United States.
“Right now in Jacksonville today, there is a historic multibillion-dollar investment in Jacksonville’s future. If you want to say we’re behind downtown, that’s accurate,” Mullaney said. “It misses the point, however, that the people of Jacksonville passed a six-cent gas tax for a billion-dollar investment in infrastructure, much of that downtown, including the Emerald Trail. If you want to say we’re behind on education, that’s an accurate statement. But it misses the fact that the people of Jacksonville voted for the half-cent sales tax for $1.9 billion investment right now, to improve public education.”
Mullaney also pointed out the same thing as Curry, that Jacksonville recently passed a quarter a billion-dollar deal with the Jaguars on a development that includes a football performance complex and a luxury hotel.