It appears that Mayor Lenny “In a Hurry” Curry will get his deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and will not be bothered with having to make a case to support the proposal.
It takes 13 votes to pass. Only four members of the 19-member City Council voted against the measure in a preliminary vote Thursday. Final consideration could come Tuesday.
Significantly, it was the council president and chairman of the Finance Committee who voted against the plan, joined by two other members.
It will cost taxpayers $365 million, including interest on loans, to be “partners” in the development of a parking lot near the football stadium. But auditors have said the taxpayer partners would lose money on the deal.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan will make a profit, his agents said – but they wouldn’t let the council members see the documents that would show how much he will make.
Reporting by the local media has been sketchy for the most part, but it appears that Khan’s team has made some concessions to the city. Whether the concessions make an appreciable difference is unclear.
Council member Matt Carlucci said, “What concessions that were made were very minor and did not change the return on investment of $.44 on the dollar. I don’t believe that’s a fair and balanced deal for the tax payer.”
Curry has made no speeches and presented no position papers, to our knowledge, that would explain why he is unswerving in his support for the plan. It is reminiscent of his push to sell the JEA in a hurry.
Instead, Curry issued the non-sequitur: “If you pull the plug on Lot J, it’s gone.” That may be the weakest argument ever presented by a mayor seeking millions of dollars from the public.
Wide segments of the community have said they don’t like the proposal and gladly would accept the alternative Curry presented.
Council President Tommy Hazouri’s position was crystal clear: “I think it’s a waste of money,” he told the Daily Record.
Khan would build an entertainment center, hotel, residences and parking garages in a plan that would cost somewhere north of $445 million.
Once taxpayers are hooked with this plan, they can look forward to the prospect of coughing up another half-billion dollars to dress up the football stadium.
No one ever has bothered to total up the sunk costs of the Jaguars to Jacksonville, or present figures that show it has been a bonanza.
Although the Jaguars are setting records – at losing games – they seem to have a huge fan base in City Haul, willing to spend as much of your money as it takes to make the team owners happy.