4. Curry’s confidants were closely involved in the sale

Tim Baker (top) providing his services to a client. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

One of Curry’s closest and most controversial advisors is strategist Tim Baker. Baker, together with Brian Hughes, who now serves as Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer, led Curry’s campaigns in 2015 and 2019 as well as his push for a new sales tax to deal with the city’s pension burden. CEO Aaron Zahn wished to hire Baker as a consultant in the sales push, but was unable to without approval by both JEA and the Office of the General Counsel. Nonetheless, at Zahn’s insistence, Baker attended a series of private JEA meetings to discuss “the political issues they were facing.” Baker and his business partner Sam Mousa, Curry’s former Chief Administrative Officer, are further suspected of having worked with Florida Power and Light, one of the companies bidding on JEA.

Additionally, Curry’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Burch was selected as the leader of the sales process. While Curry claimed he and Burch never discussed the details of her secret meetings with JEA, both he and Burch promoted the same rushed timeline for bids.

It has since been revealed that Curry’s CAO Brian Hughes was seen schmoozing along with Baker and the CEO of Florida Power and Light at a private party during a Jaguars game, and that Baker and Mousa took Curry, Hughes, Zahn, and City Council President Scott Wilson on a trip to a baseball game in Atlanta where they discussed JEA.

Curry might be the mastermind because:

Having your closest advisors and administrators be involved in the process is something you’d want if you were masterminding said process.

He might be a sea cucumber because:

Some sea cucumbers are known to have symbiotic relationships with other sea life. Emperor shrimp are known to hop onto sea cucumbers’ backs to avoid predators and travel to different feeding grounds. This relationship is commensal, meaning that it doesn’t benefit the sea cucumber in any way, but the shrimp gets a free ride and a chance to fatten itself up while expending minimal effort. If Curry were a sea cucumber, he may have just been reenacting the relationships of his native sea floor, not comprehending what the creatures who had latched on to him were up to.

5. Curry reproached City Council for questioning the JEA sale

On November 25, 2019, Curry addressed a City Council fact finding workshop on the JEA sale. Taking a fairly aggressive tone, he called out those who were less than gung ho about the sale, criticizing council members for “infighting, theatrics and political stunts” and lambasting journalists for spreading “baseless conspiracy theories” about the process. He reiterated what he’d been telegraphing for years: that he supported the privatization push. “I philosophically believe that less government is better for the people and the limitations of a government-run utility monopoly does not serve the best interests of our community in the long term,” said Curry, later adding, “I will oppose any effort to stop the planning process.” The five minute speech was widely seen as a last ditch effort to get his increasingly skeptical allies on City Council back in line.

Curry might be the mastermind because:

This is straight mastermind talk. This is how villains in 90s action movies command their minions. Curry may as well have put on an Austrian accent and shouted “I don’t care what it takes, kill that plucky hero and GET ME THE AMULET!”

He might be a sea cucumber because:

Sea cucumbers don’t have brains, but they do have a ring of neurons around their mouth. The fact that Curry would publicly accuse other people of “infighting, theatrics, and poltical stunts” with a straight face strongly suggests there’s no connection between his mouth and anything we would understand as a brain. Perhaps what we took as the mayor excoriating the City Council was simply the reflexive movement of a ravenous mouth, driven by cold instinct, searching ceaselessly for satiation. For the sea cucumber knows not anger or desire. The sea cucumber knows not passion or fear. The sea cucumber knows only hunger.

6. When Curry finally called for an end to sales talks, the board immediately did it

Aaron Zahn addresses the JEA board as to how high to go when Mayor Curry says “jump”. In a 6-0 vote, the board decided “very.”

JEA faced increasing controversy into December 2019, particularly after the exposure of Zahn’s Performance Unit Plan that could have netted top executives hundreds of millions of dollars if the utility sold. City Council members, citizens, and local leaders, including former Mayor Jake Godbold, made calls to end the privatization push, but the JEA board held fast until Curry issued a statement on December 23 telling the board to call it off. The board immediately called an emergency meeting for 9 a.m. the next day, in which they officially ended the privatization talks.

Curry might be the mastermind because:

For five tumultuous months, the JEA board pressed forward on privatization with the tenacity of Lane Pittman in a hurricane. No amount of scandal and public uproar could convince them to drop the push, but one statement from Curry stopped it dead in its tracks. This further implies that Curry had the ability to call off the sale at any time, and chose not to.

He might be a sea cucumber because:

To be honest, this one is pretty hard to explain as the action of a sea cucumber.

So there you have it, Jaxsons. Instigator of the JEA scandal or brainless marine critter: which do you prefer?

Editorial by J.D. McGregor. Contact J.D. at jdmcgregorjax@gmail.com.