Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Need to Rush Kids Hope Alliance Bill

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Need to Rush Kids Hope Alliance Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: Ron Littlepage

There are disputes about who first said this: "Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."

What's not in dispute is that sentiment was never as true as when the City Council Finance Committee met this week and took up Mayor Lenny Curry's signature legislation to provide services to children.

The bill, which was introduced in early August, would do away with the Jacksonville Children's Commission and the Jacksonville Journey.

The Kids Hope Alliance would take their place. It would be a part of the executive branch and governed by a new seven-member board.

From the get-go, it was a bad bill, but that didn't stop 14 council members from raising their hands in support when Curry announced the shake-up at a news conference.

Silly me, I thought that predicted another City Council rubber stamp of a Curry proposal.

But the blowback started soon after, with much of it coming from the major philanthropic funders in Jacksonville.

The Children's Commission had been set up as an autonomous entity in an effort to depoliticize the process of providing services to at-risk children.

Curry's original proposal would have amounted to a coup. He would have complete control over who served on the board and who the chief executive officer would be.

Consideration of the bill by the council was delayed, and in the process, positive changes were made.

The mayor would only be able to remove board members if two-thirds of the council agreed, and the board would select the CEO.

Fast forward to late last week when a revised version of the bill, now 30 pages long, was given to City Council members, allowing them only the weekend to digest it.

The council's Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee had first crack at it Monday morning.

I wasn't there, but it has been described as a long and contentious meeting. Councilman Garrett Dennis tried to have any action deferred, but he was rebuffed. …

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