“Lame Duck Lenny” Curry, soon to be ex-mayor of Jacksonville, perpetrated one last act of defiance en route to his exit at the end of this month.
Curry has had a bee in his bonnet for years about a statue that was in a downtown park for a century. In the dead of night, he had it whisked away.
But in his haste, he left the base of the statue. Recently that was removed surreptitiously along with all other traces of the statue.
Funds for the removal of the base came from a $1 million state grant that was appropriated in ordinance 2022-876-E related to the redesign of James Weldon Johnson Park in the heart of downtown.
However, Curry didn’t do it right, according to one community activist.
Blake Harper of the Unity Project told Eye on Jacksonville he does not think the City Council authorized the work.
Curry was told specifically by the council not to remove any more public monuments else until there had been a “community conversation,” which has not been held, Harper said.
City Hall sources said Section 11.12 of the Budget Ordinance had a provision related to community engagement, but it was related to a specific project for $500,000 the mayor put in the budget for Confederate Monument Removal that was retitled through the budget process by City Council to “Monument Removal, Relocation, Remaining or Renaming Determined by Council”
Nevertheless, Harper said he filed an ethics complaint with the city.
Harper’s Unity Project has been trying to prevent the city’s history from being rewritten and instead is advocating history being expanded to include more achievements by residents of the city who have had black skin, such as writer James Weldon Johnson, for whom the former Hemming Plaza now is named.
He has opposed the removal of a statue in Springfield Park that was erected in memory of the widows and children of the Civil War, which has been a target of liberal activists.
Democrats nationwide have been trying to alter the nation’s history but Harper is determined to block their efforts at the local level. He rejects efforts to pit people against each other on the basis of skin color.
Republican Curry’s reign has been one a Democrat might envy. It has been marked by high taxes, support for a law giving some people more rights than others, and erasing city history, all while carefully controlling the information emanating from City Hall.