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During testimony with the City Council committee investigating who was behind the JEA scheme, Brian Hughes, Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer, invoked Executive Privilege regarding some of the questions asked of him.

It was an interesting play on the Saga of JEA and caused many to ask if using this ploy was good or bad. It seemed out of place in a city issue and it seemed understandable at a national level where national security might be at risk. Eye reached out to a few attorneys to get their opinion. They all agreed that Executive Privilege COULD be used at the local level. It doesn’t happen often and should be used rarely — in their opinion.

In this instance it seemed strange, dark, and sinister. Knowing full well a Federal investigation is underway at the same time this special committee is looking for answers — what does Mr. Hughes think he is accomplishing by invoking this privilege? Why not just answer the questions? What are they – the Mayor and Mr. Hughes — hiding? How long can they hide the facts? At some point, the entire truth will be known. It’s how life works.

But should we be surprised by this ploy? Probably not because this tactic seems to go along with the personality of Mr. Hughes.

Mr. Hughes is known for his love of Darth Vadar and even has a replica of him in his office and a Darth Vadar sticker on his car. For those who are not Star Wars fans, Darth Vadar was the right-hand man of Emperor Palpatine, was a towering black-clad menacing villain and was tasked with crushing the Rebel Alliance. The Rebel Alliance were the good guys by the way.

He had good qualities too but they were overshadowed by his decision to succumb to the dark side.

So has Mr. Hughes taken on the persona of his hero and tasked himself with crushing truth as the right-hand man of our Mayor?

One can only wonder.

The world in 2020 has been a strange one indeed. Many believe we are living in a reality show and we just don’t know it. In Jacksonville, however, that show may actually be the next episode of Star Wars where we find out about all the players at JEA — who were the bad guys and who were the good guys. When we do — Eye believes we will be surprised by what is uncovered. We hope the ending will be good and the bad guys will go down.

May the force be with all investigating this scheme.

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

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