During a televised debate on May 12, 2015, Lenny Curry pounded Alvin Brown, blaming him for the city’s soaring murder rate.
“Mayor Brown, you have had four years to fix the problem,” Curry said.
Turnabout is fair play.
Mayor Curry you have had four years to fix the problem, and the city’s murder rate during your watch has stayed the same.
During his inaugural speech, Curry continued the theme that “our city has faced over the last few years a spike in violent crime and murders.”
“Many of the problems that are before us were not of our making,” he said. “But they are absolutely ours to own.”
And Curry made this pledge:
“I met a 10-year-old kid months ago that after a story he told me about baseball told me he saw his friend get shot in the chest. That should not happen to our kids in this city.
“But this is going to take a new way of thinking. We are going to resurrect the Jacksonville Journey. We are going to invest in programs that work and make sure they are accountable.
“But the new way of thinking is really about these kids knowing that we love them. If they think they are simply a problem the Mayor’s Office and the council or the business community is trying to solve so we can get them out of the way and go about our business, it won’t work.
“Here’s my commitment. I will work for the resources and the accountability in the programs, but I’m going to get in the trenches. I’m going to get with these children and I am going to let them know that we love them and care about them individually and I’m going to challenge every one of you in this room to engage in this effort in the years ahead. These are our children. These are Jacksonville’s children.”
You can be the judge as to whether Curry has fulfilled that pledge during his four years as mayor. The facts are the murders have continued unabated and too many of the victims and the perpetrators have been Jacksonville’s children.
It was in that same speech that Curry chanted, “One City, One Jacksonville.”
Four years later, how’s that working out?
It’s time for a change. Vote for Anna Brosche.
Lenny Curry’s Twitter time has been mostly sugar and spice of late instead of his usual macho tone.
Perhaps he’s trying to erase his reputation for bullying by tweeting daily prayers, praise of exercise routines with his wife and kind remarks instead of talk about crushing opponents.
Sorry, stripes aren’t changed so easily.
Now that he has an opponent for re-election, Anna Lopez Brosche, his tweet at 9:07 Monday morning was more like the real Lenny:
“Fundamentals. Focus. Sicko mode.”
This is not a football game where hyped-up players taunt and strut.
We need a mayor who governs with reason not adrenaline rushes.
Hurricane Michael did a number on the trees at our Gadsden County farm.
When they toppled to the ground, they did not come alone. Intertwined with the broken limbs and the downed trunks were vicious vines that grow well in an area that averages about 70 inches of rain a year.
Wisteria. Poison ivy. Grape. Cat’s claw creeper. Smilax. It’s a long list.
The task ahead is to clean up the debris left by the 150 mph winds. I’ve spent days doing that.
Chainsaw work is challenging enough, but it’s even more difficult with vines wrapped around you legs that are determined to trip you. Then there are the ones with thorns the size of Lucifer’s horns that scratch and leave you bleeding.
Tangled up in vines.
It’s a lot like Jacksonville politics where certain candidates rely on a nasty tangle of innuendoes, distorted claims and outright falsehoods to try to bring down their opponents.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A new day is coming.
Well, well, look who I ran into on New Year’s Day.
Sitting by a big pot of boiling peanuts was none other than Jimmy Ray Bob, and it was abundantly clear that the guru of all things political had come out of retirement.
My first question was the same one many people are asking at the beginning of 2019: Will Lenny Curry face a serious challenger in the spring elections?
“Yes,” Jimmy Ray said without hesitating.
But what about the political commentators who are saying it’s too late to mount a campaign against Curry and his brimming-with-money political machine?
“That’s a myth,” Jimmy Ray said,”especially when a candidate has been doing the necessary ground work for months. I can tell you that’s been happening.
“Think about it,” Jimmy Ray continued. “A three-month campaign doesn’t take as much money as one that drags on for a year. There will be a challenger who has sufficient funding.
“Besides it would have been silly to launch a local campaign when state and federal races were sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. People needed a break from all the nastiness, which will be the hallmark of a Curry campaign once a challenger gets in.”
OK. Who is it going to be?
Jimmy Ray took a big swallow of his RC Cola and smiled.
“Don’t be surprised if you don’t find out until the last day of qualifying on Jan.11,” Jimmy Ray said.”But I can tell you this. I’ve never seen wife Sissy Lu so fired up about city elections. Hold on. It’s going to be a heckuva ride.”
I’m not sure Mayor Lenny Curry can help himself.
It wasn’t that long ago in another life, when Curry was the leader of the Florida Republican Party, that he wrote an opinion piece that was published in The Florida Times-Union in which he called for an end to the nastiness that permeated political debate.
Within a few days, he was back hurling verbal bombs at Democrats.
That streak of meanness reemerged Thursday evening during former Mayor Jake Godbold’s annual holiday quail dinner, an event that attracts hundreds of politically connected people spanning decades of Jacksonville’s history.
In his pre-dinner remarks, Godbold set a high tone, describing how everyone there — Christians, Jews, blacks, whites — were connected, and he gave thanks for such enduring friendships.
Given a chance to speak, Curry used part of his remarks to call out his critics, especially those in the media. So much for the holiday spirit.
Curry has a tendency to mimic locker-room style exhortations from a football coach.
You half expect to hear slogans such as “look sharp, be sharp” or “second place is for the first loser.”
At Thursday’s gathering, he talked excitedly about his philosophy of crashing “through walls” to fulfill his agenda.
Not everyone agrees with that agenda. That’s why we have elections.
In a term Curry will understand, in a couple of weeks “game on.”
With a master of deflection in the White House, Americans aren’t paying enough attention to the damage being done to the country.
We can’t continue to be blinded by tweets while the future is being destroyed in the name of profits.
What’s going to get the most attention: Donald Trump inventing the word “smocking” or what his administration did at the United Nations conference in Poland this week.
Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, Wells Griffith, led a panel discussion there that heaped praise on fossil fuels.
The New York Times quoted Griffith as saying, “The United States has an abundance of natural resources and is not going to keep them in the ground. We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or entergy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.”
Take a moment and let that twisted logic sink in.
“Environmental sustainability” is the sustainability of life on this planet. Trump and his acolytes are willing to condemn the future for dollars today.
That’s also behind his gutting of wetland protections and the weakening of clean air and clean water standards.
In Florida, we are all too familiar with this stupidity.
For eight years, Gov. Rick Scott helped to pad the pockets of developers and polluters, and we’ve been left with mammoth outbreaks of red tide, poisonous algae blooms, a stressed aquifer and declining springs.
And like Trump, Scott refuses to acknowledge climate change and the very real impacts that it is having not just in the future but today.
Now Scott goes to Washington as a senator who will more than likely support Trump’s unholy crusade to make his friends and himself richer.
I don’t know how many letters I’ve seen from readers that are published in the Times-Union that end with “Wake up, America!”
Well: Wake up, America and Florida and Jacksonville!
It’s the responsibility of those of us living today to ensure a livable planet for future generations.
We are failing.
I was going to write this last week after the latest crime figures from the state told us what we already knew — murders and violent crimes in Jacksonville are off the chart.
But I was angry, and I thought it best not to write while in that state.
Then Monday’s Florida Times-Union reported that two more murders had occurred Sunday afternoon — a day that has routinely become anything but a day of peace in Jacksonville.
So here it is:
Mayor Lenny Curry doesn’t deserve a free ride to re-election.
The reason is obvious: He has failed to fulfill his most important campaign promise — to make Jacksonville a safe city.
He blamed former Mayor Alvin Brown for the city’s unacceptable murder rate and rode that issue to victory in 2015.
He has not stemmed the tide, and he owes Brown and the city an apology.
Maybe if Curry had spent less time attending Jaguar practices.
Maybe if Curry hadn’t been so intent on stacking every public position in Jacksonville with “yes” people.
Maybe if Curry hadn’t been so intolerant of dissent.
Maybe if Curry had quit acting like the party boss he was.
Then maybe, just maybe, the current approach to combating violent crime now making the rounds at City Hall, the JAX Chamber and JSO wouldn’t simply be a rehash of what we did before.
That was called the Jacksonville Journey, and it was working until we forgot about it.
So now we are going to spend more time studying what we already spent months studying.
And Curry as well as City Council members seeking re-election and their backers at the Chamber will have a message for the spring campaigns — See, we are doing something.
Don’t buy it.
A strong contender against Curry needs to emerge so the debate about violence in Jacksonville will move beyond window dressing to real action. We know what to do. The Journey told us.
In the meantime, the Curry political machine is working to elect new City Council members who will join the current council chorus of “whatever you want, mayor.”
Jacksonville doesn’t need more of the same. We need a new direction.