The retirement of a longtime fixture at City “Haul” seems routine. But nothing ever is these days.
Cheryl Brown is leaving after more than 30 years as a city employee, the last 20 as City Council secretary. That’s the longest reign ever in that crucial job, which is a focal point of the council operations.
But, as she leaves, other people who have been working around her also are leaving. Kristi Sikes, Chief of Administrative Services and Katrina Fisher, Assistant to the Council Secretary, also are leaving Brown’s staff and reportedly two or three others closely associated with her.
That’s not quite the norm.
Insiders say some council members have made Brown’s job difficult and stressful for the past few years. Former council president Aaron Bowman, it is said, has not been a staunch supporter.
And, Brown once had a spat with Brian Hughes, the shadow mayor, whose hand is in everything.
There are a lot of undercurrents. Brown apparently was a stalwart in helping council members stay the course during the JEA sale brouhaha, and the administration did not like that. There is even concern among some council members that Brown will be replaced by someone more suitable to Mayor Lenny Curry’s team.
By its nature the job entails making some council members unhappy. I asked one council secretary years ago how he balanced it out and he said, “There are 19 members. I only have to keep 10 of them happy.”
Brown has started a management and consulting business.
All the speculation she leaves behind may be simply insider politics but it does reinforce the idea that city government is like Chinatown in the Jack Nicholson movie: nothing ever is what it seems.