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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 13, 202004:53 PM EST

City Council schedules special meeting for JEA appointments

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The new coronavirus prompts suspension of committee and full meetings until at least April 5.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

City Council will suspend board, committee and commission meetings through April 5 in response to the new coronavirus, except for a special meeting.

Council President Scott Wilson called a special meeting for 11:30 a.m. March 16 to vote on JEA board appointments.

Wilson announced the postponements in a news release March 13, the same day he released an official notice for the special meeting.

The agenda includes the JEA appointments and a Council briefing on COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

Wilson said in a telephone interview March 13 that he will discharge the resolution to confirm the seven JEA board appointees from the Council Rules Committee, which intended to vote on the candidates March 17. 

Council members could then confirm the appointments March 16 with a simple majority.

JEA has been without a permanent governing board since Jan. 28, when members collectively told Mayor Lenny Curry their intent to leave the board. Of the six seated members, one’s term was ending and the others resigned.

The utility also is without a permanent chief executive office because the board voted Dec. 17 to put former CEO Aaron Zahn on paid administrative leave. He was fired by the board for cause Jan. 28.

A failed attempt to privatize the utility shook public confidence in the board, which voted Dec. 24 to end its Invitation to Negotiate with nine private companies.

Curry announced seven new appointments Feb. 11.

Council committees don’t expect to meet again until April 6, so Wilson wanted to vote on the confirmations.

“My concern is I don’t want JEA to go without board leadership for another month,” Wilson said. “But I don’t want people to think I’m trying to rush these through.” 

Curry’s appointees are:

• John Baker II, executive chairman and CEO, FRP Holdings Inc.

• Retired Lt. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo, U.S. Army.

• A. Zachary Faison Jr., president and CEO, Edward Waters College.

• Dr. Leon Haley Jr., CEO, UF Health Jacksonville.

• Marty Lanahan, executive vice president and regional president, Iberia Bank.

• Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, president, The Regency Group.

• Tom VanOsdol, senior vice president, Ascension Healthcare and ministry market executive, Ascension Florida.

DiSalvo, Stein and VanOsdol have testified in front of the Rules Committee, but Wilson said the other four will now be asked to attend the March 16 meeting in person or by conference call. 

Wilson said he wants to limit the number of people in attendance to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. 

The meeting will be live-streamed on the city’s website, Wilson said. 

School closures 

Duval County School District Superintendent Diana Greene announced March 13 she is extending spring break for students through March 22.

According to Jacksonville Daily Record news partner News4Jax.com, all sports events and field trips will be canceled when classes resume.

SAT testing remains scheduled for March 14.

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