City Council delays vote on pension

Member called some of his colleagues 'spineless'

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville city council member is calling some of his colleagues "spineless" and says they backed down from an important vote related to pension reform because the room was filled with cops.

The council decided to delay a vote Tuesday night so they could gather more information before a critical vote, but one member says the body made a mistake not voting and just showed they can't make a decision under pressure.

"My colleagues voted for this unanimously in January and caved in tonight when the room was filled with police officers and firefighters," said council member John Crescimbeni.

The vote involved how the city's pension reform task force is appointed. The council is considering changing it and giving more control to taxpayers, but this was a critical point in the already agreed on tentative pension deal, which the council still has to approve. Some say to change things now could unravel any chance at meaningful pension reform.

Councilman Don Redman, who voted against the measure, said he wasn't intimidated by all the police officers in the room.

"By the audience itself, no. I've been here seven years. Used to audiences, I don't make my decision based on people in the audience, for or against something," said Redman.

The referendum was designed to go on the ballot in November but with the delay now that can't happen.  While it's a little confusing, some said the city council made a bad and spineless decision, while others like the head of the fire union said the council shouldn't make any moves that could hurt the pension deal.

"It still leaves a lot of unanswered questions and so police officers and firefighters still wonder where's my future and this thing in there I think it will hinder it," said Randy Wyse, fire union president.

"I think the voters are going to be more disappointed. I think this was question that the council wasn't going to decide tonight. It was going to be put toward electorate and my experience is voters don't like to be denied chance to decide on issues," said Crescimbeni.

The issue will be brought up at the next council meeting on August 27.

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