Congratulations are in order for Lenny Curry, lame duck mayor of Jacksonville, for putting our little old city on the map.
People are coming from thousands of miles away to study what to avoid doing in their own cities.
A delegation from Africa was in town to study ethics and transparency in government, according to News4Jax.
What they were here to study was the city’s attempt to sell its electric, water and sewer utility — an idea that apparently formed in Curry’s head.
Curry said he only wanted to know how much the utility company was worth to potential buyers. That would have been fine, if true.
But it got a long way before members of the City Council and their auditor started asking important questions and getting unsatisfactory answers.
Now, a grand jury has indicted Aaron Zahn, Curry’s pal who was put in the charge of the utility and who began the sale process. Also indicted was Ryan Wannemacher, the former chief financial officer. Both have entered pleas of not guilty.
Under their deft hands, the JEA cooked up a bonus plan that would have enriched members of senior management after a sale. The substantial cost ultimately would have been paid by JEA customers.
One of the visitors from Angola was impressed by the transparency that was demanded by the council members. He said it was lacking in his country.
The transparency in this case didn’t come from Curry’s office. His administration has been opaque as far as information is concerned. All of it flows outward from a single gatekeeper, who was quite capable when allowed to be. Curry simply doesn’t talk to anyone who questions his policies unless they fit his definition of “media.”
Eye on Jacksonville would have asked Curry for comment but, alas, we don’t fit his definition.