As we saw in Bell, California, there is no end to the shenanigans that will go on, if city officials think no one is watching.
Unfortunately for Councilman Richard Clark - a member of First Baptist Jacksonville - and Councilman Stephen Joost, Tia Mitchell of the Times Union was watching them Tuesday night.
And her story about them was on the front page of the paper this morning.
Tuesday night our Jacksonville City Council voted 13-4 to allow our NFL franchise, the Jacksonville Jaquars, to keep ALL of the $16 million from the new stadium naming-rights agreement recently signed with EverBank. You see, the Jaguars had agreed to give the city 25% of any revenue from such an agreement....but for a variety of reasons, our city leaders decided it was best to not hold them to that agreement, and let them keep our $4 million portion.
Here's the problem: right after Joost and Clark voted to fork over our portion of the $16 million to the Jags, both men showed the incredibly poor judgment of leaving their posts IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COUNCIL MEETING to wine and dine at Ruth's Chris steakhouse with the very same Jaquars executives who lobbied them in favor of the deal.
At least Joost got permission to leave early in compliance with city rules, but as Mitchell reported Clark did not. He just simply didn't show up after the 10-minute break following the vote on the naming-rights deal.
Both men missed two hours of council meeting, 10 votes, and a public comment period. They both are paid $45,000 annually for their part-time position that includes two monthly council meetings.
Good news is that the council president Jack Webb didn't seem too happy about it. "The council was in session," he said. "Social calendars do not trump council business. Period."
Amen, Jack Webb. Several other council persons critical of Joost and Clark were quoted in the paper.
Not surprisingly, Clark didn't admit he showed poor judgement. "I'm not going to constantly look over my shoulder and second-guess everything I do," he said.
Sorry, pal, but you're an elected official, and the Times Union IS looking over your shoulder, and I hope they do second guess every action you take...especially when you vote to give $4 million away and then immediately are found over at Ruth's Chris with the recipients. Kudos to Tia Mitchell and the Times Union for running the story.
Did I just say that? You better believe I did.