Putting off a vote on the controversial Lot J project was a smart move by City Council President Tommy Hazouri.
There are those who suspect Hazouri, a Democrat, favors the proposal being pushed by Republican Mayor Lenny Curry and that he simply did not have the votes needed to pass the measure.
In any case, it will give council members a chance to go over the complicated details of the project, which calls for taxpayers to put up $250 million.
Curry is calling it an “investment,” but auditors say it is one in which the investors would lose money.
Hardly anyone besides the Chamber of Commerce supports the measure. It is so unpopular that Curry had to put off a ceremony at Johnson Park downtown because unruly protesters of the project were shouting obscenities.
Curry lost a lot of political capital because of the JEA fiasco and if he does not handle the Lot J matter well, it will be hard to regain.
It does not appear that Curry’s negotiators have done a good job of looking out for the taxpayers. Shad Kahn, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, stands to make a large profit for little risk under the current terms of the agreement.
But Curry has longtime lobbyist Paul Harden pushing it through council and hopes to secure the 13 votes needed.
A number of council members, however, are wondering why Khan doesn’t finance his own schemes. He reportedly has his 312-foot superyacht up for sale for $199 million. That should almost cover what he is asking from the city.
Another thing nagging doubters is the knowledge that after shelling out $250 million, taxpayers probably will be asked to spend twice that much on renovations to the stadium. Millions already have been spent over the years, totally rebuilding the stadium and adding improvements.
Perhaps the city would be better off selling the stadium to the Jaguars. Unlike the JEA, it is not a major source of revenue.
These are just a few of the things council members should be pondering over the holidays.