• KHA board members question not being consulted in City of Jacksonville's decision on Joe Peppers

    By: Ryan Nelson , Action News Jax


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Stakeholders packed the room as interim CEO Donnie Horner was introduced in his new role at the Kids Hope Alliance. CEO Joe Peppers is on administrative leave as the inspector general investigates allegations of workplace misconduct.

    The investigation and removal were announced one day after a memo Peppers wrote in 2018 became public last week.

    In the memo, he claimed feeling pressured by city administrator Brian Hughes and former administrator Sam Mousa to direct KHA mini-grants to certain groups.

    Today, Terry Florio, of the Mal Washington Youth Foundation was the only to speak in public comment.

    “I just wanted to make sure that everyone kept their eyes on what was really the most important thing, which was the children,” said Florio.

    Acting chair of the board Dr. Barbara Darby pressed Deputy General Counsel Jon Phillips for answers on the investigation into Peppers.

    “Please remain at the podium,” she told Phillips.

    Darby wanted answers before the board considered the city’s request to ratify the decision to place Peppers on leave. She said the city didn’t consult the board before acting.

    The board amended the item before deciding to accept the measure for informational purposes only.

    “My thought process had been that what happened should have been and would have been the joint responsibility of the board and the City in terms of the decision for placing Mr. Peppers on administrative leave,” said Dr. Darby during the meeting.


    Groups benefiting from KHA funding are watching what happens closely.

    “You know, nobody really knows what’s going to happen, but we’re kind of just in, at least in our organization, we’re in a wait and see,” said Florio.

    Phillips stated during the meeting that there is no set timetable for the completion of the investigation.

    “There is no required time limit,” he said. “I assume that the inspector general’s office understands that this is something that should be concluded as soon as they could possibly conclude it.”

    The board also approved a measure to extend KHA mini-grants to March 2020. We told you Tuesday about a bill that would, if passed, increase mini-grants from $5,000 to $25,000.

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