Today, the Florida Times-Union editorial board penned a scathing op-ed, entitled “Brosche Was Out of Line With the Mayor,” in which it took City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche to task for refusing to allow Mayor Lenny Curry to speak at the Valentine’s Day presentation at City Hall on the potential sale of JEA. This follows up yesterday’s editorial, “Selling JEA the Right Way Could Benefit the City,” in which the board also slammed Brosche, writing that her refusal to let the mayor speak at the meeting Curry called over her objection, using what it referred to as an “arcane” rule, was “inexcusable.”
The Saturday editorial began with praise for both parties, then took direct aim at the council president, saying she showed a “blatant lack of respect” for Curry, and that her “conduct went over the line last week—way over.” It also slipped in another round of support for selling JEA, the city’s largest asset, writing that the predicted proceeds of $3-$6.4 billion “could be used to improve the quality of life for all the citizens of Jacksonville,” then closed somewhat ominously, writing, “With only a few months left in her presidency, Brosche and Curry need to get along professionally if not personally for the good of the city."
This afternoon, Brosche responded to the editorial board's criticisms in an email sent to Folio Weekly and the T-U:
"I respect the Times-Union editorial board’s opinion of the events last week regarding the challenging relationship between myself and Mayor Curry. I agree it is not good for the City of Jacksonville when top elected officials’ feud in public. The truth: it isn’t good for our relationship to be challenged, period.
I opened my year as Council President in search of a mutually respectful relationship with Mayor Curry and sought regular meetings to stay on the same page. In the leadership positions I have held throughout the community, my reputation is stellar as a person who seeks to understand and be informed. It is who I am. I ask questions. I investigate. I research I am an auditor and accountant by profession and I bring these skills to my role as a member of City Council.
Regarding the forced City Council meeting last week called by Mayor Curry, lots of questions entered my mind. Why did the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Brian Hughes, originally request from me a joint meeting to hear the results of a JEA evaluation? Why was it necessary when JEA had a previously noticed board meeting to hear the results of its requested evaluation? Why did JEA end up not even having a quorum of board members present? Why would Mr. Hughes suggest to me the City Council could decide to pursue next steps in the JEA sale process in an “emergency” fashion?
This kind of pressure is not acceptable on a decision of this magnitude and, as Council President, my letter to Mr. McElroy respectfully declined the joint meeting request was a statement: I am not going to put my colleagues in a position to immediately vote, without public input, without answers from the general counsel’s office on process, and without our independent council auditor’s office weighing in. We haven’t even discussed the merits of whether we agree a sale is wise to consider.
Why did the Mayor choose to force the meeting? What was the rush and why did he dictate an agenda for the meeting? As City Council President, my role is to set the agenda and preside. I opened the meeting welcoming my colleagues, Mayor Curry and his staff, as well as the JEA board and administration. The JEA board chairman chose to invite Mayor Curry to speak, and it was not his place to do so, nor was it appropriate under the rules governing city council meetings. Let’s be clear, I did recognize Mayor Curry at the beginning of the meeting; I did not grant him the opportunity to speak out of turn, there is difference.
Why didn’t Mayor Curry stay for the entire meeting that he called? Did he know what was going to be said? Was he privy to a personal presentation? Was he not interested in the concerns of the City Council members or the public?
Friday’s First Coast Connect radio show was right on point that if my name was Allen Brosche, I would not be receiving the kind of feedback some are offering me: Take the high road, understand he is a competitive person, learn to bite your tongue, and (repeatedly) don’t take things so personally.
As a powerful woman who has led and served in many capacities, I have learned to master my emotions and reactions. I’ve never been accused of being a competitor. I have been accused of being bold, courageous, inquisitive, and for the people. All true; it is who I am. The questions to the community, the media and leaders who want me to be quiet, to be nice, are: Is competition amongst community leaders the best thing for Jacksonville? As a man, is Mayor Curry getting the same advice I am?"