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vicupstate

Peyton at 18 months

How do you rate Mayor John Peyton's administration thus far?  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you rate Mayor John Peyton's administration thus far?

    • Excellent
      0
    • Good
      1
    • Fair
      8
    • Poor
      2
    • Undecided
      1


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Here's the BJJ's opinion, what's yours?

OPINION

From the December 24, 2004 print edition

EDITORIAL

Peyton passes 2004's tests

The past year was not easy for Mayor John Peyton.

He spent much of 2004 addressing problems he inherited from the administration of previous Mayor John Delaney. The Shipyards redevelopment, the county courthouse project and an overhaul of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission were fraught with controversy.

But Peyton came through fine.

The city found a new developer for The Shipyards, at least for the moment; and is starting the courthouse project anew with knowledge gained from previous mistakes.

Peyton also is remaking the JEDC into a more business-like organization that is held accountable for its actions. He has pushed for a leaner, more efficient JEDC and has led efforts to create a more rigorous evaluation process for incentives. He went so far as to impose a 60-day moratorium on incentives earlier this year so that the city could create a better system.

Now he has a chance to pick a strong successor to outgoing executive director Kirk Wendland.

Wendland has been a focal point in the controversy surrounding the redevelopment of The Shipyards site on the Downtown riverfront because he was one of the chief negotiators for the city when it struck a deal with developer TriLegacy Group in 2001. Wendland later became executive director of the JEDC and was in charge when the city released $36.5 million in incentives to TriLegacy.

The city accused TriLegacy of misspending that money earlier this year and the two sides reached a settlement in August in which TriLegacy agreed to surrender its role of developer in the project. Now a grand jury is investigating the matter.

The Shipyards mess exemplified the need for improving the manner in which the JEDC awards and handles city incentives. Peyton's new JEDC executive director will enforce those changes when Wendland resigns in February.

Peyton has shown an ability to work through difficult situations. The fact that he did not create these problems, at least by himself, has made it easier. But we applaud his perseverance nonetheless.

Peyton had pledged to run City Hall like a business and he is doing so in a manner befitting his experience as an executive at his father's Gate Petroleum Co.

Now the JEDC is running like a business as well.

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^^

The editorial was pretty generous IMO. I voted "Fair", but my real choice would be "the jury is still out".

The editorial says Peyton "came through fine" on the courthouse and JEDC overhaul. Gee, don't they think we should find out what happens to the courthouse and the JEDC before passing judgement?

Peyton was right to halt the courthouse project, but others were advocating the same thing, only earlier. If the courthouse ends up on budget and is at least reasonably attractive and functional, then he can count it as a "win". It will be 2007 at the earliest before that can actually happen.

As for the JEDC, that process is nowhere near complete. From the last that I heard, only one position (out of about 30) is currently settled in the new structure. Peyton thinks the JEDC was over-staffed. Maybe it was, but until all the positions are filled and the re-org has been in effect for awhile, will we know if that was true. Regardless, all of the current staff (except for the one) is in limbo, and has been for a couple of months now. Are potential deals getting the attention they need while all of this is going on? Is the staff doing their jobs as well with this hanging over their heads? Are good people getting discouraged and leaving?

Heck, in my workplace, we would have gone through two or three re-orgs in that amount of time. :lol:

Plus, any savings from the cutbacks at JEDC have surely been eaten up by the growing size and paychecks of his own staff. Personally, if you're join to over-staff somewhere, economic development is probably the best place to do it.

Peyton also has made a big deal of past incentive deals being too generous. While I question that, we have yet to see one of his deals. I keep waiting and hoping that a deal for the Barnett building will emerge, or the Landing, or the Marble trio, or the Ambassodor Hotel or (you get the idea). I THINK the San Marco Place incentives approval were under his watch, but the project initially started out under Delaney.

Peyton does want to tighten-up on the details of future deals, and given the recent past, he is absolutely right on that point. I give him points for that. I also was glad that he axed the new library pedestrian bridge, but I get the feeling he did it more to save money than any other reason, like creating a pedestrian environment.

He made a campaign promise to earn the city more money on it's investments with the "matched book" concept. So far, that is going according to plan, and he certainly deserves the credit. I would like to know were that extra $15mm went though. I also credit him with coughing up the money to complete the Springfield Main St. project.

Overall, his instincts on saving or making money for the city are his bright spot, but he is the mayor, not the chief auditor. Let's see more vision, and communicate that vision. Let's see more projects like the bridge lighting. Great credit ratings are a good thing, but a great quality of life is the most important thing.

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I said that he is doing a fair job as mayor. He handled all of the hurricanes and working on other changes. However, he has struggled with the courthouse decision although he has made the right decision to cut it back. He has not done an excellent job or a terrible job, just fair.

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Undecided

As far as i'm concerned,it will be some time before I can render a verdict on this.While I agree with Vic on all the points he stated (esp Main St),I just don't see the JBJ article as anything other than BS.Don't get me wrong,Peyton is a likable guy in my eyes,but I think he has and is,making a lot of people mad(po'ed) at him.I'm not sure it's for the right reasons or not.From the beginning of his term a lot of established people have left key positions in the city to go elsewhere.I'm not the brightest star in the sky,but I see when you have the turnover they have had in THIS town,there is a problem somewhere.Maybe the good ol boy network got a kink in one of their cogs,I don't know exactly.These fiascos inherited from Delany surely has taken too much of his time,but they have to be dealt with and he seems to understand that.Hopefully after Feb 6th,he'll let us ALL in on what his plans are for the next 16 months. :thumbsup:

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So far the verdict is up in the air, imo.

Personally, I'm not impressed by what Peyton has done so far. I'm still waiting to see what his vision is for the city. Downtown revitalization seems to be suffering a bit, since Peyton took office. For example, a year has already passed since several important projects were announced (ex. The Barnett, The Landing Renovation & Laura Place Trio) and to this date, none of these projects have made any progress in dealing with the Mayor's office. Yes, he pulled the plug on the courthouse, but that only came after a massive outcry from the public and several city councilmen. At this point, it seems like he can't handle more than one project at a time, which is a big negative, imo. However, I'm willing to wait a little longer before my mind is made up permanently.

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I gave him "Fair". I'm not too impressed with the downtown work going on (or lack thereof). Not to say that Peyton created these fiascos. Some were inherited problems from previous administrations, and bad business deals. I think there's still plenty of time to polish his image. I just think that it would be nice to complete a major project. Think about it, he could have been the ribbon cutter for the new courthouse, but that project went up in flames. I wish I knew what he was doing with the courthouse project. After he fired Cannon, things got pretty quiet on that project.

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This poll was a great idea to have. I agree that the jury is still out on this, but I voted fair for a few reasons, many of which I've posted before, but the biggest issue is with his vision, or lack therof. Seriously, I don't think his vision extends past the next problem that he runs into. The Govenator out in California hasn't run into nearly the problems that Peyton has, and surely, Jacksonville is a little more stable than California.

You can make the argument that not all of these problems are Peyton's fault (Courthouse, Shipyards, etc.). However, I attribute these media fiascos to the fact that until he hired Dan Kleiman (and the jury is still out on him as well), he has no government experience whatsoever. He tried to hire Sam Mousa, but he stayed with Peyton about as long as Britney Spears stayed with that guy she married in Vegas. This really should have been a red flag for everyone (more so than it was, anyway). Mousa had been working for the city since the Reagan Era, and this guy quits 14 days into a new term? Trust me, there's no way this was over anything small.

Here's another thing: Mousa resigned on July 10th, 2003 (Remember, Peyton took office July 1st). Kleman was hired February 10th, 2004. I realize that you want to be careful when you make these type of decisions, but eight months? Either hiring a Mousa replacement was not a priority, or no one wanted to work for him. And why does Kleman get to make $192K a year. I don't have a problem with a public official making that kind of money, but this is 1,000 more than Mousa, a proven Jacksonville government official. This tells me that he was having a problem getting someone to take the position, and he lured someone in with financial incentive. In my opinion, you don't give someone the bake until they have proven their worth.

When Nick Saban left LSU as their head football coach (for those of you who aren't college football fans, he was arguably the best coach in college football), his replacement's salary was nowhere near Saban's. The university said basically that you need to get Saban-like results before you get Saban-like money. Does this make sense to anyone else.

I really feel with a politically savvy staff, a lot of Peyton's hiccups would not be nearly as bad. As Tommy Lee Jones said to Will Smith in the first Men in Black movie (paraphrasing), "There's always this or that in the galaxy, but the way people go about their lives is that the do not know about it". When the issue is not smeared all over the press (and misquoted 18 ways to Sunday), it is a lot easy to handle, and this way you don't have to worry about a perceived "change of mind".

Back to the Peyton Vision (or lack thereof): If his reason for not outlining future plans has to do with preparing for the Super Bowl, that fine. But if that's the case, then (1) Jacksonville better look great in about a month (which I truly believe it will, through what I've seen in my work with the Host committee), and (2) we better see a plan in the next couple of months. If we don't, get ready for a feisty election in 2007.

By the way, sorry about the length of this....

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I voted "fair" like most of you.

Peyton hasn't done too many things "wrong" per se. It's more about what he hasn't done. I don't think anyone can deny that downtown Jax has dropped on the priority list since Peyton took office. All the major projects going on right now are left-over from the Delany administration's vision. There has been a disturbing lack of new proposals, projects, and vision for downtown once all the Delany projects are completed. Hopefully all these private sector southbank tower proposals will overshadow all that, but I certainly hope that the city government doesn't again become apathetic towards downtown development, like it was for so many years.

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I agree that the jury is still out- but I voted "poor" for performance to date.

18 months into his first term, he seems to make decisions based on hopes for a second term, not with any vision for the City. To date I am disappointed- I voted for Peyton and had expected more.

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