There is a minor revolution brewing in City Council. At least one member is refusing to vote for any bills that originate in a special committee of social justice warriors appointed by Council President Tommy Hazouri.
Council Member Rory Diamond told Eye on Jacksonville that the Special Committee on Social Justice and Community Investment is a “divisive and illegal” committee.
There is no provision in the charter for an ad hoc committee to decide how money is spent, Diamond said.
“They are trying to spend millions they siphoned off the regular budget,” he said. He called the spending proposals coming from the committee “Personal pet projects of individual council members.”
While some of the bills may have merit, the concept is faulty, Diamond said, and he refuses to vote for any of the bills.
The actions of the social justice committee are “tearing the council apart,” he said.
The revolt came to light in a meeting of the Neighborhoods committee last week when several bills from the social justice committee failed to pass. Diamond appeared to have support from Danny Becton and Aaron Bowman.
The social justice committee has been churning out bills that look like a scaled down version of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. They are calling for job training programs, “crime reduction” programs, affordable housing and spending of every kind, primarily in four council districts in the northwest section of the city.
For months before the budget was adopted the committee made various attempts to switch capital outlay spending from other areas to the northwest districts, with some success.
Diamond alleged that committee members are using poverty as an excuse for the spending as if poverty only existed in those districts, when there is poverty throughout the city. Not a single member of the committee is from south of the St. Johns River, according to Diamond, who represents the Beaches area.
Council Member Brenda Priestly Jackson, chair of the social justice committee frequently has made comments about “systemic racism” and racial injustice she says exists in Jacksonville, which she uses as justification for the spending. She did not respond to a request from Eye for examples of racism and has not provided any evidence of it.