On Tuesday night the City Council approved Brad Thoburn for Planning Director. The only council members to vote against our Great Leader's appointment was Mia Jones, Glorious Johnson and Warren Alvarez.
Mind you, these are the few (especially Johnson and Alvarez) that repeatedly show themselves as independently-minded and the "least easy to manipulate". Unfortunately, their stand against the blatantly obvious wasn't enough. Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins had this to say about the vote: "It wasn't in a way that was done by political pressure or rubber stamp."
Actually, it absolutely was political pressure. It was a political appointment and it was political pressure that forced it through. There is no doubt that Peyton called on every weapon in his arsenal to get Thoburn through. That included Mike Saylor, who stepped down as Planning Director last year, and former mayor John Delaney - who both wrote in support of the candidate. Additionally, there are questions about what actually made those on the Council sway their opinions. Adam Hollingsworth from the mayor's office can be easily seen skittering about from councilperson to councilperson even during the public meetings. Who is to say what goes on when council is not in session? We do know there have been multiple confirmed instances of the Sunshine Laws being broken with this Council.
Rumor was just two weeks ago that the Council was almost evenly split in which way they were leaning to vote. We do know that Pat Lockett-Felder didn't show up for the final vote. Lockett-Felder was quite adamant and vocal about the appointment of Thoburn just two weeks ago saying then, "Why doesn't the Mayor just give him [Thoburn] some other high-paying job?" We can't be sure why he didn't Mrs. Lockett-Felder.
One thing is for certain. Mayor Peyton will definitely think twice before again lying to the public and appointing a political head to a real city leadership position. It would appear that this was a major blow to the established good ole boy system. The Berlin Wall did not come down without much hard work leading up to that day. Tearing down deep south politics here in Jacksonville will require the same kind of continued effort.
In any case, we do wish Thoburn the best. He is a good man and as Pat Lockett-Felder said, "What the Mayor is doing to this man ain't right." We hope he can continue learning the ropes of the planning world. On a positive note, we applaud him for heading in the right direction by focusing first on the low morale in the department.
We do have just one remaining question though. Will the taxpayers being paying full-price for their "uniquely qualified" (a description coined by Chief Wordsmith Susie Wiles) Planning Director? You can hear what Brad himself had to say about the salary he thought he deserved if he was confirmed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkOkWwjZhb4 Stay tuned for more on that matter.
And with that, we say congratulations to Brad and we look forward to working with you for the betterment of the city.