Matt Carlucci, representative for Jacksonville City Council at-large group 4, issued a call for the JEA board of directors to withdraw the ongoing invitation to negotiate (ITN) process to sell the public utility to a private owner. Carlucci said that, according to the city’s General Counsel, the city could be subjected to lawsuits by bidders if the City Council attempts to end the ITN, as some have called for. However, the wording specifically allows the JEA board to alter or end the ITN. “If JEA boarod ends this process to privatization and/or recapitalization, they are immune to lawsuits from the bidders per the ITN contractural agreement,” said Carlucci.
Should JEA continue the ITN and pass it on to City Council, Carlucci said they would be “making one of the biggest and most embarrassing mistakes in our consolidated government.” He says he will bring the issue up in the public comments section of the next JEA board meeting, scheduled Jan. 28.
Carlucci’s fellow City Council member Brenda Priestly Jackson filed a resolution in which the Council would formally call upon the board to withdraw the ITN. The council will consider that resolution in early January.
Carlucci’s full statement, lightly edited, appears below:
It is hugely important that the JEA board end the ITN process at their next meeting or at a special called meeting. If JEA board ends this process to privatization and/or recapitalization, they are immune to lawsuits from the bidders per the ITN contractural agreement! This was confirmed by General Counsel Jason Gabriel.
However, if the JEA board of directors passes this ITN on to the Jacksonville City Council, and if we the Council stop the process, we are opening our city to serious lawsuits as the ITN contract does not exempt the council.
The JEA board at their next meeting is at a serious crossroads. They can take the road of making one of the biggest and most embarrassing mistakes in our consolidated government if they pass this to the council.
Or, if they take the road to pulling the plug, stopping the process, this will be an important step in protecting our city and citizens, and a breath of fresh air towards good government will sweep across our hometown.
I will attend the next JEA meeting and speak during public comment on this.