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Artis Gilmore

Artis Gilmore’s hours now in check, city narrows focus of basketball legend's role

By David Chapman and Marilyn Young, Staff Writers

Artis Gilmore has cut back on his stats.

Not the ones from his basketball days, but the hours he’s accumulated at City Hall as sports, entertainment and physical fitness ambassador.

The former basketball great at Jacksonville University and in the NBA was appointed in April 2012 by Mayor Alvin Brown for the city role to “cultivate key relationships” and attract new events to the city and serve as a public health advocate.

A Daily Record review of Gilmore’s hours, calendar and pay from April 9, 2012-Oct. 18 showed he exceeded his 25-hour per week cap 84 percent of the time and earned $112,000 for the part-time job that pays $57.69 an hour.

“It’s something that we have to work on more closely,” Alan Verlander, former city director of sports and entertainment, said at the time.

In the six months since the Oct. 28 story, those hours have significantly come down, according to public records. Time sheets once peppered with five- and six-hour days are more commonly filled with four-hour days.

In the 23 weeks from Oct. 21-March 28, Gilmore exceeded the 25-hour cap four times, but only twice in full weeks after the story was published.

During those 23 weeks, Gilmore was paid for 501 hours, which totals about $28,900. The period included three holiday weeks.

“We have closely been monitoring his hours … monitoring his workload and schedule,” said Joel Lamp, interim sports and entertainment director.

Lamp took over the position when Verlander left the city to join Gator Bowl Sports this year.

Lamp decided to change Gilmore’s priorities.

While the former hard-court great will still be used as an ambassador for sports and entertainment events, he’ll now be focusing on three basketball-related activities.

The first is bringing and promoting an NBA preseason game back to town, like the October matchup between the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans at Veterans Memorial Arena.

In addition, Lamp said the city and Gilmore are working with the school board and the district to determine what programs are available to keep children active over the summer.

And lastly, Gilmore will work to make the Masters Basketball Tournament, a men’s tournament for players 40 years and older, the “biggest in the country,” Lamp said.

According to Gilmore’s event schedule, the most recent event played Jan. 16-19 had 300 participants from up to a dozen different states and Puerto Rico. He served as host and ambassador for the tournament.

“These are people who travel around the country … fill hotels, eat in restaurants,” Lamp said.

The schedule indicated the event brought in 300 hotel room nights.

The tournament was one of 18 events on the schedule provided by the city that encompassed October through March. Many items had language similar to past schedules, with “served as an ambassador of the City for the event” showing up 10 times and “participated in a meet and greet” appearing five times.

During the six months, he traveled outside of Jacksonville while on city time, such as to an NBA Hall of Fame event in San Antonio in late January and the league’s All-Star Game in February in New Orleans.

Others were to the Nat Moore Golf Classic in Tampa and a trip to Boston to meet with Celtics management, both in March.

No taxpayer dollars were used to pay expenses for those trips, according to the city.

In October, City Council member Matt Schellenberg was one of several on council who said they were skeptical of Gilmore’s position and was critical of the amount of hours and hourly rate.

This week, Schellenberg said that while Gilmore is engaged in the community, he is “still perplexed about what he bringing to the table other than being a goodwill ambassador.”

“I think the salary is oversized for what we get out of it,” he said. “I do appreciate him living here, doing everything for the city, but many people do things for the city and aren’t on the payroll. They do it for greatness, they don’t get recognized.”

In October, Jim Love was one of several council members who said Gilmore’s role had the potential to be valuable. Love said this week he is still of that belief and that the city should give Gilmore the hours needed to accomplish its goals — but with proper oversight.

“Essentially, someone should monitor those hours,” Love said, “and thankfully someone has.”

dchapman@baileypub.com

myoung@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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