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- 2012 - June - 12th -

Joost insists Council votes on key issues before term ends

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

City Council President Stephen Joost wants to close out some issues before his leadership term ends June 30, he told a JAX Chamber group Monday.

While incoming President Bill Bishop doesn’t expect them to be discharged at today’s Council meeting, Joost outlined the measures he wanted to see completed.

They are:

• The high-profile anti-discrimination legislation that is under review in two Council committees. In its current form, it would add language to the City’s ordinance code banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for housing, employment and public accommodations. Joost didn’t take a stand for or against the measure, but said it needed to be voted on at Council.

• Mayor Alvin Brown’s economic development reform that would transition the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission into a City Office of Economic Development and Downtown Investment Authority and also speed up the economic incentive approval process. The three proposed ordinances are being reviewed by a joint Council committee. Joost spoke in favor of the economic-development bills.

• The legislation he sponsored pertaining to the makeup of the Police and Fire Pension board of trustees, which would allow Council to make three appointments to the five-member board instead of two. The alteration would eliminate a trustee-appointed member, but the other two members, a police officer and firefighter elected by their peers, would remain.

“We need to get these things in order (so we are able) to give incoming President Bill Bishop as clean a plate as possible,” Joost told more than 250 people attending the chamber’s annual Council appreciation program.

He referred to the anti-discrimination and economic development reform in his speech and talked about the pension board after the meeting.

He said he wanted to see each done by the end of the month, and possibly as early as today’s 5 p.m. Council meeting.

Joost said he would address the issues during the 4 p.m. agenda meeting with the 19-member Council to gauge interest in discharging the measures from the committee level.

He acknowledged that the exception could be the pension makeup, which he said could be deferred. Legal opinions differ from the City and pension fund and a ruling from Tallahassee could determine its fate.

“If not tomorrow, then by the last Tuesday when I am Council president,” Joost said Monday about his timeframe for voting on the issues.

The Council meets today and June 26, which will be the last meeting of the Council year.

However, Bishop, who succeeds Joost on July 1, said he would argue against the items being discharged. He is chairman of the Rules Committee, which is still reviewing all three.

“I think they are close, but they are not ready today,” Bishop said after the JAX Chamber event.

“There’s always going to be discussions on all of this stuff if someone makes a motion to do it, but I will argue why they are not ready and why it shouldn’t take all that much longer to get through. We’ll get it done right,” he said.

If not today, each could be slated for a vote June 26.

“It could very well be a good meeting, because all of this stuff should be out of here,” he said.

Joost, Bishop and the Council members and their staffs were honored during the program for their year of work and the challenges of the year ahead.

Joost, Bishop, Mayor Alvin Brown and chamber Chair-elect Greg Smith also spoke during the program.

Joost said he appreciated the work of Bishop, who chaired the Rules Committee, and Council member Richard Clark, the Finance Committee chairman. Those committees generally review the more controversial pieces of legislation that come before Council.

He said he looked forward to Bishop’s year as president.

“You’ll make a great president and Jacksonville is better off for your service,” Joost told Bishop.

Bishop spoke about the economic challenges and compared the coming year to a theme-park ride policy.

“Keep your hands and feet inside at all times, hold on to your hat and hang on for a wild ride because that’s what it’s going to be,” he said.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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