But our City Council members looked like political giants during their work to save the city from the service-slashing, out-of-balance budget that was handed to them by Mayor Alvin Brown.
Not everyone is happy about getting a property tax rate increase in the 2013-14 budget.
But everybody has good reason to salute this council for the way it had the wisdom and courage to move Jacksonville forward rather than backward as would have happened under Brown's budget.
The council, by a vote of 16-2, made important investments in our city's future. Council members refused to shut fire stations, lay off police officers and close libraries. They showed the strong leadership desperately needed while making difficult decisions.
It wasn't intended to be this way with consolidation's strong mayor form of government, but right now, it appears the council is in charge.
As David Bauerlein reported in The Florida Times-Union last week, political science professors said Brown needs to "mend his relationship" with the council and that he still "can recover and reassert his influence over City Hall's agenda."
Brown had better find a way to get his legs back under him, show real leadership and develop some kind of positive relationship with council members or he will spend the remaining 21 months in office as a caretaker.
The council's impressive work began with the strong leadership of President Bill Gulliford, who set the tone when he unexpectedly pulled the mayor's pension reform proposal out of committee in his very first meeting and then had it stomped dead on the council floor.
In that same meeting, conservative Republican Richard Clark shocked a lot of people when he took the lead in proposing that the council set a millage increase target that would restore the funds that had been eliminated in the mayor's budget.
Rather than face what would have been certain death in the past, Clark's motion sparked great debate among council members who didn't argue if the tax rate should be increased, but instead by how much.
When Gulliford named nine members to the Finance Committee, a group that normally functions with seven, he increased participation and he made sure the committee represented the community's diversity.
It also meant that if all nine members of the committee agreed on the budget, it would only require Gulliford's additional vote for that budget to pass the council.
At the beginning of Tuesday's council meeting, Finance Committee Chairman Greg Anderson said, "When we began, we had a budget that was unworkable and unbalanced."
The committee spent 67 grueling hours in August and September basically building the city budget from scratch.
Anderson thanked the many people involved, including the committee members, the council auditor and the general counsel.
He went on to say "the hopes and dreams of our citizens" will be met. "We will not go backwards," Anderson said.
When the budget finally came before the full council, there were more than 40 amendments to consider. That process spilled out over two days, including Tuesday's session ending at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Council members returned for another eight hours later that day.
I can remember thinking on several occasions about the amount of time council members were spending away from their jobs and their families.
It's easy to complain about what we think our elected officials are doing or not doing, but these folks deserve our appreciation for their dedication and hard work.
Now that the budget is behind them, council members can turn their attention to the critical matter of real pension reform.
The way I see it, given the tenor and tempo of the past three months of Gulliford's leadership, if the Bill Scheu-led Retirement Reform Task Force can give the council a good product, there should be optimism this council will lead the way to a pension solution just like it did with the budget.
The failing performance of the U.S. Congress is under constant condemnation and criticism is often heaped on members of the Florida Legislature.