New information blockage arouses suspicions

Another one of those little City Hall mysteries that have occurred periodically during the reign of Lenny Curry cropped up recently.

It’s a little techie and perhaps of little consequence but it is so Curry-esque we couldn’t resist taking notice.

It concerns the city’s annual audit. For years it was called the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

This was often shortened to its initials, CAFR.

But some woke soul decided that was unsuitable.

If you refer to it aloud by the sound of the initials, it sounds like “kafir.”

According to the Center for the Study of Political Islam, Kafir is what the Koran and Islam call unbelievers. “Kafir is the worst word in the human language,” they say.

Ergo, the audit now is official the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.

We kid you not.

By any name, Eye on Jacksonville finds the report very useful and looks forward to its publication each year.

In the past couple of years, it has been woefully late in being released.

According to the auditors, that is because the city’s financial computing system has been a mess. They used more refined terms, but that’s what they meant.

Here’s the main point. City officials post the report in Portable Document Format on the city web site. In past years, it was possible to use Excel software to query the report’s many tables and extract the often-large sets of numbers for analysis.

This year you can’t. The report is “secured.”

So, you can still copy and use the information if you are persistent and want to spend the time, but it certainly looks like someone deliberately is making it difficult to examine the city’s financial numbers.

This is very much in keeping with the Curry administration’s ironclad grip on information. Reporters and other people in the public get information only through Curry’s gatekeeper. No one is allowed to talk to any bureaucrat who actually has the information and knows it well.

One can obtain public records. That is required by law. But producing them can be delayed and officials also have discovered it can be a revenue enhancer. They charge huge amounts for some information that reporters used to get for nothing.

In years past it was common to call a bureaucrat and get information, even if it had to be calculated or compiled. Openness and transparency were a hallmark of the government immediately after consolidation, but it faded over time.

Most officials could and would not only provide information but explain its meaning.

No mayor has been as reluctant to information flow as Curry. Apparently, it has to be massaged to ensure that it makes Curry look good.

Curry does not allow any information (other than public records) to be made available to Eye on Jacksonville, and perhaps other media outlets that have failed to shower him with sufficient adulation.

In short, the change in the format of the city’s financial report appears to be yet another example of Curry making it difficult for the public to get unfiltered information from City Haul.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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