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The headlines in the local newspapers created head-shaking. But I wasn’t surprised.

All the fingers are pointing and those who made poor decisions are looking for others to blame. It’s pretty typical of weak leadership.

And at this point in time, the JEA Board is weak and here’s why from the stories of yesterday:

Former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn’s attorney noted his client was being used as a scape-goat for the unpopular privatization effort.

JEA Board Chairman April Green requested the utility’s senior leadership team voluntarily give up their severance and other fringe benefits by this Friday.

Reminders to the Board:

You approved the hiring of an unqualified applicant – Aaron Zahn. Responsibility for this bad hire: The Board

You approved the employment and separation agreements at the utility’s July 23 board meeting. Responsibility for this bad decision: The Board

Here’s a suggestion to the Board:

First – Admit you and you alone are responsible for these bad decisions.

Second – Apologize to all involved which would include the employees at JEA, the City Council, the companies who spent time, money and energy putting proposals together, and last but the most important of all – the ratepayers!

Third – Act upon the apology. Stop throwing stuff against the wall and be strategic in every move you make – strategic on behalf of the best thing for the city. Get in a room and humbly look at the mess you have made and decide the best way forward to regain trust. Put your pointing fingers in your pockets. Pull out the Governance Policy Handbook for the Board and read it line by line. Get back into a place of governance and hire the best of the best to run our utility. Fire those who are not the best. And look around the table and if you are not qualified to be there – step aside. Finally: Put all agendas aside and stare with fortitude at the agenda of what is best for Jacksonville.

It’s time to show leadership – servant leadership – because that is what the JEA board is there to do.

Think about it: Admit – Apologize – Act

Useful words to restore relationships.

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

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