Duval County

City Councilman wants a grand jury investigation of JEA sale

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — City Councilman Matt Carlucci told Action News Jax that he wants a grand jury to investigate JEA for ethics violations and potential conflicts of interest.

Carlucci’s call for investigation comes after the council debated the idea of an emergency resolution to stop the sale of JEA Tuesday night.

Carlucci said he will file a resolution to move the investigation forward Monday.

He sent Action News Jax a draft of the resolution he plans to introduce:

"The troublesome behavior surrounding the exploratory sales process of the JEA must be investigated. To that end, on Monday, I will prepare a resolution calling for a grand jury investigation. I believe, like many other people, a thorough investigation is required before any attempt to sell the JEA moves forward.

Potential conflicts of interest include former board members and city employees with startling consulting contracts.

The proposed unit performance bonus plan introduced on July 23, 2019, and approved unhesitatingly by the board. Subsequently, City Council auditor Kyle Billy outlined the potential hundreds of millions of dollars that could go (to) JEA executives and non-JEA personnel.

Lack of sunshine on how law firms and consultants were selected and awarded multi-million dollar contracts on July 24, 2019 when the board had just approved the invitation to negotioate one day before, on July 23, 2019.

JEA, the city’s largest asset, was put up for sale depsite the following---

1. Approving the multi-million invitation to negotiate without giving the Jacksonville City Council and the City Council Auditor sufficient notice.

2. JEA CEO and Board placed the largest city asset up for sale without ample notice to the City COuncil, the City Council Auditor and without any form of public engagement.

3. An apparent attempt to confuse the City Council, City Council Auditor and the public by using conflicting language terms such as recapitalization in place of privatizing.

4. Potential conflicts of interest and ethics violations by approving on July 23, 209 invitation to negotiate resolution despite a May 2018 resolution ending the sale of the JEA.

5. Moving the Negotiations to Atlanta in an attempt to hide the proceedings.

6. Potentials conflicts of interest and ethics violations by the JEA CEO in not disclosing JEA’s ethics department or the State of Florida that he co-owned property with a JEA lobbying firm.

These concerns are at that base of my concern and teh reson for calling for a grand jusry investigation. I am also concerned about what other irregularities may be found once a grand jury once begins an investigation."

Related stories: Mayor ready to give City Council authority of JEA, won’t explain change of heart | Jacksonville City Council votes to hire special counsel to help with process of potential JEA sale | Jax City Council holds first Public Fact-Finding JEA Workshop | Two Jacksonville mayors at odds over future of JEA | Jacksonville city councilman calls on CEO of JEA to resign | ‘We have an obligation to protect the public’: JEA, City leaders debate JEA sale method

Kevin Beaugrand

Kevin Beaugrand is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.

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