Mayor Lenny Curry doesn’t seem to like the fact that there is widespread opposition to his Lot J proposal.
Why doesn’t he do something about it?
Fresh on the heels of his disastrous attempt to sell the JEA, Curry brokered a deal with the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars to develop a parking lot near the football stadium into an entertainment, residential and commercial megaplex.
There was one small detail. Jacksonville taxpayers would have to pony up half the cost.
Clearly, billionaire Shad Khan and his millionaire football players would benefit. How about the “partners” in the deal?
Every appraisal so far shows it would be a losing proposition for the taxpayers. They would carry the heavy load of the financing and shoulder much of the risk. Khan would reap profits.
It wasn’t just the usual cast of naysayers who oppose every public venture. Liberal black organizations and conservative white residents join in the skepticism.
Whatever you think of polls, one by the University of North Florida found a majority in opposition. Only the Chamber of Commerce supports the proposal, it seems.
Backs stiffened with the additional news that after a $250 million “investment,” taxpayers probably would be asked for another $500 million to rebuild – again – the football stadium. By now, Jacksonville must have put a billion dollars into Khan’s business ventures.
“Here’s the deal”, as the person the media calls the “president-elect” often says:
If it is such a great bargain, why isn’t Curry out front explaining to the public WHY?
That’s what a leader would do.
During the JEA fiasco, Curry was cagey, staying out of the spotlight and issuing statements that he just wanted to know what the utility was worth. Meanwhile, his hand-picked appointees were feathering their nests.
What Eye on Jacksonville would expect to see is a detailed statement from Curry, preferably delivered personally to the City Council, or even on local TV, explaining why it would be wise for taxpayers to shell out three-quarters of a billion dollars on a losing football team that would take its football and run in a New York minute if another city made a better offer.
Perhaps there are some unseen benefits. If so, why hide them?
Rather than relying on Khan’s slick lobbyist to sell the deal in private to council members, Curry should clue the public in on his vision for Lot J and the reasons he is willing to bet their money on the venture.