Author Topic: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....  (Read 131759 times)

jcjohnpaint

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #345 on: July 11, 2023, 07:16:24 PM »
TIAA Stadium was built on hallowed ground. We are cursed.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #346 on: July 12, 2023, 11:21:08 AM »
To me it all points towards new leadership is needed at JTA

If I remember right, Mayor Deegan won't get to appoint a new board member until ~2025, unless they resign prior.

But I don't see why the city has to tolerate this kind of behavior. JTA has the ability to build and operate transportation systems, that doesn't mean they have the exclusive right to or that we are obligated to pay them. There's no reason the city can't decide for itself what transportation it wants to spend its money on, especially if it's obvious that JTA has gotten completely out of control.

City Council can decide next Tuesday to go on the warpath and amend the gas tax to not spend $250 million on turning the Skyway into a road for autonomous vehicles that don't exist in usable form yet after 7 years of "testing and learning". Two years ago I suggested the language for doing just that. They can try (although I wouldn't necessarily expect it to succeed) to pay off the federal obligations for the existing Skyway or return the Bay Street grant funding (although if the funding went directly to JTA that might not work, but failing that strip JTA of any city share of that funding to demand they return it). They can direct, via their position on the TPO Board, to pull the U2C from the regional transportation plans and reposition other transit projects in its place. Maybe Nat Ford will threaten to resign over being stripped of his baby but I can't say I still see that as a problem.

A decade ago multiple states, famously including Florida, went ahead and blew up far more practical mass transit projects for purely political reasons, including outright handing back federal grant funds and canceling contracts and even disassembling construction equipment. New Jersey's ARC tunnel, Maryland's Red Line light rail, intercity rail projects in Ohio and Wisconsin and Florida, almost SunRail. The only thing preventing this city from doing similarly to the U2C is the lack of interest in doing so, especially with such little political cost to doing so. Can anyone really say that we'd suffer from political fallout for admitting that autonomous vehicles are not actually prepared to roll in less than two years? More importantly, are we obligated to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to protect the careers of Nat Ford and Bernard Schmidt and Angie Williams just because they convinced themselves that they'd figure it out?
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Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #347 on: July 12, 2023, 11:48:30 AM »
To me it all points towards new leadership is needed at JTA

If I remember right, Mayor Deegan won't get to appoint a new board member until ~2025, unless they resign prior.

They can direct, via their position on the TPO Board, to pull the U2C from the regional transportation plans and reposition other transit projects in its place. Maybe Nat Ford will threaten to resign over being stripped of his baby but I can't say I still see that as a problem.


Interestingly, I didn't see on the JTA website the appointment dates of, or who appointed, all of the members. This information is there for 2 or 3, but not all 6 (excluding the FDOT District Secretary, who is there by virtue of their position).

Regarding the TPO and the regional transportation plan, the TPO is just getting underway with the 2050 update of the Long Range Transportation Plan. As part of the public involvement process, they will have a citizens Steering Committee. Send a note to the TPO, either Marci Larson, the public involvement person (mlarson@northfloridatpo.com) or Mark Letter, planning director (mletter@northfloridatpo.com) expressing your interest in serving.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #348 on: July 12, 2023, 12:02:37 PM »
Interestingly, I didn't see on the JTA website the appointment dates of, or who appointed, all of the members. This information is there for 2 or 3, but not all 6 (excluding the FDOT District Secretary, who is there by virtue of their position).

Harding (2021), Wallace (2022), and Burch (2022) are the mayoral appointees. They get four year terms so Harding would be up first in March 2025, followed by Wallace in February 2026 and Burch in October 2026.

Debbie Buckland and Ray Driver should be up for reappointment or replacement by the Governor this September. Ari Jolly would also be up for replacement by the Governor this September, as she has served two terms on the board. Unfortunately I'm not particularly convinced anything special will happen as far as those appointments.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Charles Hunter

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #349 on: July 12, 2023, 12:12:23 PM »
Watching the WJXT noon news and a promo for JTA's periodic "Making Moves" program came on - they will be highlighting their recent "AV Day" - WJXT at 12:30 PM today (Wednesday, 7/12).

BridgeTroll

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #350 on: July 12, 2023, 05:23:32 PM »
Good video. Great points made. Jax's leaders should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch.

While I may agree with many points in this video the snark and heavy use of air quotes detract from the presentation. It comes across as juvenile. There must be better presentations that expose the same information in a more professional manner...
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Captain Zissou

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #351 on: July 12, 2023, 05:24:41 PM »
Quote
Bernard Schmidt resigns as JTA automation and innovation vice president
Schmidt’s responsibilities at JTA included supervising the authority’s Armsdale Test & Learn Facility, where the authority operates and tests prototype automated vehicles expected to replace the aging Downtown elevated Skyway monorail system.

He also was one of JTA’s lead executives to procure and coordinate design/build services for the U2C, which could be a $400 million project.

Schmidt’s $278,491 annual salary was the second-highest-paid employee at JTA next to Ford.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/news/2023/jul/12/bernard-schmidt-resigns-as-jta-automation-and-innovation-vice-president/
« Last Edit: July 12, 2023, 05:26:41 PM by Captain Zissou »

thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #352 on: July 12, 2023, 05:54:31 PM »
Interesting. I wish him well on his future endeavors.
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Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #353 on: July 12, 2023, 06:10:19 PM »
Just saying.. he was never qualified for the position. Has almost 0 real technical background, and was put into a position to be the technical voice for a technology that doesn't entirely exist.. like they think it does. People that are *actually* qualified are paid too much to hire at JTA.. and most of them have PHD's with a technical background. Now we have a civil engineer, leading technology she knows absolutely nothing about. Fabulous.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #354 on: July 12, 2023, 06:12:50 PM »
Quote
Bernard Schmidt resigns as JTA automation and innovation vice president
Schmidt’s responsibilities at JTA included supervising the authority’s Armsdale Test & Learn Facility, where the authority operates and tests prototype automated vehicles expected to replace the aging Downtown elevated Skyway monorail system.

He also was one of JTA’s lead executives to procure and coordinate design/build services for the U2C, which could be a $400 million project.

Schmidt’s $278,491 annual salary was the second-highest-paid employee at JTA next to Ford.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/news/2023/jul/12/bernard-schmidt-resigns-as-jta-automation-and-innovation-vice-president/

Some possibilities:

Protecting his professional reputation by getting off a sinking ship?  Really, how is this project ever going to be successful?  It will give a black eye to anyone associated with it before it is over. 

Maybe he saw how the scandal at JEA brought down its senior management employees and knows this might be a scandal of another sort in due course  ;D.

Alternatively, maybe the Deegan administration has wised up to this boondoggle and is sending a vibe to JTA that it is up for a major review as to its future.  He could then be reading the tea leaves.

Based on his alleged role, I wonder how JTA continues this project, at least for now.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #355 on: July 12, 2023, 06:58:57 PM »
That's… certainly interesting.

While Greer Johnson Gillis is mentioned as taking over the Automation Division, it's my understanding that Angie Williams as project manager is directly responsible for the U2C itself. So I would anticipate this is basically just sliding over who Williams and everyone else reports to.

Personally it somewhat rubs me the wrong way to jump ship from a project you oversaw for four years before it even starts construction, but that's just me. I suppose sometimes opportunities arise that just can't wait.

Some possibilities:

Protecting his professional reputation by getting off a sinking ship?  Really, how is this project ever going to be successful?  It will give a black eye to anyone associated with it before it is over. 

Maybe he saw how the scandal at JEA brought down its senior management employees and knows this might be a scandal of another sort in due course  ;D.

Alternatively, maybe the Deegan administration has wised up to this boondoggle and is sending a vibe to JTA that it is up for a major review as to its future.  He could then be reading the tea leaves.

Based on his alleged role, I wonder how JTA continues this project, at least for now.

My guess is none of the above. I suppose the first is most likely, but I suspect he just got a really good offer with more money in it somewhere else after getting to bolster his resume with this position.

I just don't think the fire is there for there to be a JEA-esque scandal here. This has certainly been poor management in my opinion, but I wouldn't say it rises to the level of fraud that happened at JEA.

And I think it's too early for Deegan to already be sharpening knives. I don't think I've heard any comments from her or her admin about the U2C or really JTA in general, but it's been less than two weeks and I imagine much of her focus right now is on just getting the budget done. I certainly hope she's open to more practical options, especially with the price tag being what it is. $400 million can buy you a lot more transit basically anywhere else. Losing our $57 million shirts on Bay Street but holding overall Skyway/U2C costs under $100m (assuming either demolition or a simpler rehab project) would save everyone a lot of trouble, and still leave plenty of money for some really generational projects for the region.
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

Jax_Developer

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #356 on: July 13, 2023, 12:10:40 AM »

I just don't think the fire is there for there to be a JEA-esque scandal here. This has certainly been poor management in my opinion, but I wouldn't say it rises to the level of fraud that happened at JEA.


I would argue, in a more loose interpretation of fraud, that there has been fraud and shady dealings behind the scenes. I don't mean to come across in such a harsh manner, but I grew up with the high hopes that AV's bring so I get it. There are very public figures, like Elon Musk, that have gone into immense details on his struggles, literally inviting someone to figure it out for "humanity." Yet, here we are several years later with really not a ton progress since 2018 ish with AV technology... a trillion dollar company having issues achieving that last hurdle.. hmmmmmmm. The technologies being used for AV have been on the market for decades.. it's making it all come together at nearly 100% efficiency which has proven to be super complex.

How I'll connect this to a loose interpretation of fraud is how they have wasted time, energy and a ton of money pursuing something they have zero knowledge in. I know we have transportation planners here, and I honestly could look any of you in the eye and strongly argue that your background gives you almost 0 relevant knowledge to tackle AV's other than the transit elements involved. Why has JTA not put a single ounce of effort towards bringing in an actual expert? It just doesn't make any sense.. no AV experts, no image sensing experts.. nah just lawyers, bankers, and transit planners.

JTA knows that their solution, is actually not a solution deep down. They know.. Nat Ford's entire career is riding on this. Maybe not a JEA-level scandal, but I'd argue that there are messages hidden out there that incriminate the executive leadership poorly. Again, how can you be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a project without a single person that has a technical background? That's like spending hundreds of millions on new park space without a civil or landscape architect consulting on it.. I've NEVER seen that in my world, and to me that amounts to fraud, to a lesser degree.

Fraud: "a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities"

That last part sure does remind me of JTA's leadership.

marcuscnelson

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #357 on: July 13, 2023, 10:12:41 AM »
There's a transportation subcommittee meeting the Mayor's office is holding this morning. I've sent in a short statement about the U2C program's ongoing concerns and the need for more practical regional mass transit options.

https://www.coj.net/mayor/office-of-mayor-elect-donna-deegan/transition-committees
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thelakelander

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Re: Is U2C serious? Help me make it make sense....
« Reply #358 on: July 13, 2023, 10:31:05 AM »
From my understanding, JTA is well represented on the infrastructure committees. I'm sure they are lobbying for more power and support for their initiatives.
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