Truancy on the Planning Commission

Mayor Curry appointee Nicole Padgett takes liberal view of attendance requirement


Many feathers were ruffled when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry purged three members of the Planning Commission last year in what some viewed as a power grab, others as hindering the political careers of liberals who might be powerful adversaries, still others as revenge for their daring to support - and in the case of one commissioner, work for the campaign of - former Mayor Alvin Brown whom Curry bested in the May 2015 election.

Given that two members' terms expired last year, offing three others meant that Curry had appointed five of the nine members of the commission, arguably giving a majority vote to people who share his priorities concerning land use and zoning. (The Planning Commission reviews proposed land use and zoning code changes.)

Stacking the deck doesn't work so good if one of your appointees doesn't show up for meetings, though.

One of Curry's appointees was Nicole Padgett, whom he tapped to fill the at-large seat vacated by Nate Day, whose term had expired. At the time, some took notice of the fact that Summit Contracting Group, which Padgett's husband Marc owns, gave $78,000 to Curry's political action committee, Together for a Greater Jacksonville, when he was running for mayor, and that the Padgetts individually also contributed $1,000 apiece to Curry's campaign. Nicole Padgett is listed on as the company's chief administrative officer.

According to city records, since March, Padgett has missed five meetings. In fact, those records reflect that she's missed every other meeting since the commission's March 3 meeting. These are the meetings she has missed: March 17, April 21, May 19, June 23 and Aug. 4.

Sure, the meetings are probabaly a total snooze-a-thon (unless something is going down in Riverside/Avondale, cause folks there are passionate about zoning - to put it mildly). But agreeing to serve on a commission doesn't mean you only have to attend meetings when you feel like it. The bylaws are quite specific about that.

According to Planning Commission bylaws, after Padgett missed her fifth meeting on Aug. 4, commission chair Chris Hagan was required to notify the mayor and ask that she be removed. Bylaw 6.5 states: "If any member fails, within a one year period, to attend three consecutive meetings or five meetings total of the Commission, excluding standing and subcommittee meetings, the Chairman shall notify the Mayor and request that the member be relieved of his or her duties."

Commissioner Tony Robbins, who nominated Lisa King as chair of the commission prior to her being ousted by City Council at Currys behest, was removed by the mayor under the same bylaw last December.

Time will tell if Padgett will get the same treatment. It is not yet known whether her absence has been reported and removal requested in the nine days since that meeting.

Calls to Mayor Curry's spokesperson and Summit Contracting Group were not immediately returned on Saturday afternoon.

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Nicole Padgett as a co-owner of Summit Contracting Group.

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