Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Delaney Backs Aide in Dispute

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Delaney Backs Aide in Dispute

Article excerpt

Mayor John Delaney backed a senior aide yesterday and criticized

a city employee who wrote a letter accusing City Hall of

political favoritism in how it regulates the building and zoning

division.

Donald Hodges, executive director of the city Construction and

Trades Qualifying Board, wrote the letter to state officials

Jan. 14.

Delaney's aide, Ronnie Fussell, obtained a copy of the letter

and faxed it to Hodges' bosses. Fussell also called board

Chairman Bob Mathews and discussed a way to fire Hodges from his

job.

"By reputation, Hodges was known to me as a reckless, careless

administrator," Delaney said yesterday. "That's why the board

was discussing removing him."

Hodges' personnel file does not reflect the record of a man who

has had disciplinary problems with the city.

Hodges couldn't be reached after Delaney made his comments

yesterday. He has worked as the executive director for the city

board since 1989. He has no record of any disciplinary action

against him and has several complimentary letters in his file,

including one from former Mayor Ed Austin.

Hodges makes $38,760. The pay grade for his job was increased

when he reached the upper limit.

Much of the letter Hodges wrote was read aloud at a trades

board meeting Wednesday night. Mathews said if the board did not

take action against Hodges, the city would.

"I was sent directions . . . from the mayor of the city of

Jacksonville, if this board did not take action for this

situation, the mayor would send legislation to City Council and

take the responsibility away from this board as far as the

employment of the executive director . . ."

Mathews would not identify with whom he spoke, nor would he say

where he got the letter, even though the fax has "Mayor's

Office" written across the top, with a Feb. …

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