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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 7, 201904:46 PM EST

DIA says it did not violate Sunshine Law in choosing new CEO, but may take roll call vote

Brian Hughes says decision to hire Lori Boyer was done by voice vote and not by secret ballot.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority says its board did not violate the Florida Sunshine Law when it named City Council member Lori Boyer as its next CEO.

In a statement emailed Friday, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff, Brian Hughes, said the DIA board’s May 15 hire of Boyer was done by voice vote and not by secret ballot.

Hughes, who also is the interim DIA CEO, was responding to attorneys from the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation of Tallahassee and the Jacksonville Ethics Commission who said Thursday the anonymous scorecard ballots used to rank the three CEO finalists violated the Sunshine Law.

Eight of the nine board members did take a voice vote May 15 to enter into contract negotiations with Boyer after DIA board Vice Chair Craig Gibbs announced that she had the highest collective score and “will become our next CEO.”

Board Chair Jim Bailey was not present for the May 15 interviews.

Hughes argues the vote to enter negotiations affirmed the results of the scoring process, although a vote specifically pertaining to the scorecard results was not conducted.

“While it is our position that no Sunshine violation took place, I will consult individually with the DIA Board members and the Office of General Counsel as to any potential additional action the Board may wish to take with regard to this matter,” Hughes wrote.

In an interview Friday, Hughes said the board may decide to conduct a roll call vote to reaffirm its selection at its next meeting June 19.

“We have the capacity to reaffirm the vote in a variety of ways. Even if not legally required, we may do that to reaffirm the vote,” he said.

In his statement, Hughes said the board could have raised any of the three candidates for nomination at the time of the contract vote. That detail was not openly stated by staff or the Office of General Counsel representative at the May 15 meeting.

“While the board at that juncture could have voted for any of the candidates, it chose to vote based on its objective review of those rankings,” Hughes wrote.

“Accordingly, the board then voted to enter into negotiations with the highest ranking candidate, Council Member Boyer, to be its next CEO.”

Names of the board members were not written on the individual scorecards — another point in the legal opinion.

The documents provided by the Office of General Counsel show Boyer did receive the highest score of the three finalists with 356 out 400 points.

Gregory Flisram, vice president of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, received the second highest score at 346. Former New Orleans Redevelopment Authority official Kevin Hanna scored 311.

Boyer and Flisram each were a top pick for three board members. They also tied on one scorecard. Hanna was the top pick of one board member.  

Boyer said Friday that she would not issue a statement on the board’s procedure because it would be a conflict of interest.

Boyer will leave council at the end of June because of to term limits.

The DIA board will meet at 2 p.m. June 19 on the first floor in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

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