District Deal: Asking tough questions as only a Banker can. Councilman Anderson gets a Wink!

I popped into a meeting today at City Hall.  I wanted to hear the questions City Councilman Greg Anderson had regarding The Big District Deal.

I was intrigued because Mr. Anderson is a banker with a very good reputation for digging into numbers and this deal is filled with numbers…lots of numbers.  Specifically big taxpayer dollar numbers which bankers love to crunch.

He was directing his questions mostly at Ms. Boyer — which I find odd.  Ms. Boyer is a City Councilwoman yet it appears from the last few meetings regarding The District Deal — she has been leading the charge for this project on behalf of the developer.  She knows the project inside and out and seems to have a good take on what’s in this new deal.

Mr. Anderson had great banking questions and some of them were certainly over my head – which is why I’m not a banker.  He’s got an EYE for the numbers and he asked for clarification on many points inside the deal.

At the end of the one hour meeting, he said, “I have a hard question to ask.”

And then he did.

“How do we balance this level of public assistance with The District deal when we have key core issues facing us across the river?  Berkman Plaza is an eyesore.  Shipyards are too.  And the Landing bulkhead is a public hazard and an eyesore.  How do we reconcile that?”

Ms. Boyer replied:  “The funding source for this transaction doesn’t take anything away from money to be used there.”  (I’m thinking:  Funding source?  Isn’t that us…the taxpayers? Is there another funding source we are not aware of?)

She went on to state, “The attention given to this deal doesn’t keep us from doing other business.  As far as prioritization, I agree those other properties are important (Berkman, Shipyards, The Landing).

She even cracked a joke about The Shipyards being on hold due to the need to take down the Hart Bridge.  (That’s another story you’ll find on our site.)

Then a discussion took off about the City not maintaining the docks at The Landing and how dangerous they had become.  Same at Metropolitan Park.  Ms. Boyer said she had been all over that issue to get the docks fixed.  Lots of excuses about FEMA, etc. and Ms. Boyer doesn’t know what’s taking so long to get them repaired but…they aren’t.

(My thought:  And we can’t dock boats at city owned docks now — that can’t get fixed — but we have enough money to hand out to a new development across the river to build more docks?)

Then Ms. Boyer noted that never again would the City get into any 99 year leases with individuals on waterfront property and have no way to demand they keep it up.  Not sure why she went there but certainly it had nothing to do with our City’s responsibility to the eyesores and crumbling public docks.  The City is responsible for maintaining the outside areas and the docks – so 99 years or not – it’s the City’s job and the City will be responsible if anyone is hurt.  We’ve already had too many issues locally with maintenance issues in our parks with people being hurt and even killed.

It was a good meeting.  I learned a lot.  I saw some people at the table pleased with the meeting and some not happy with a few of the questions being asked.  But most of all, I saw Mr. Anderson do his job well — very well.

He acted the part of a Banker looking out for the taxpayers money.  He said he would be diving more into this deal because it’s big. He’s taking his job as a City Councilman very serious and we appreciate that.

This District Deal is too big and too expensive to be rushed.  It will take every City Councilman and those in the community who are willing to check out this deal and decide if it’s fair and good for us – the taxpayers.  There’s no rush to get this done.  The deal has been sitting for 3 years and now that it’s close to funding, we need EYES glued to the documents to ensure it’s a good deal for all.

You got a Wink, City Councilman Anderson.  Keep it up — we like handing out Winks!

Check out more about Mr. Anderson here:  Councilman Greg Anderson bio



Billie Tucker Volpe

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives.


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