Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Improved, but No Sterling Achievement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Improved, but No Sterling Achievement

Article excerpt

The third time was not the charm for Mayor John Delaney's ongoing effort to win a prestigious state award for good management.

City Hall learned this month that it did not receive the Florida Sterling Award, given by the Governor's Office to businesses and governments that efficiently serve their customers.

A memo from mayoral spokeswoman Sharon Ashton said the judges noted "tremendous strides" in the last few years, but still found overall service insufficient to win the award.

"The bottom line was that our deployment was just not as advanced as it could be," Ashton wrote.

And recent reports of problems at City Hall probably didn't help. City Council Auditor Bob Johnson has been critical of the city's employee pay and leave practices, and officials last month discovered two batches of uncashed checks worth more than $400,000.

Despite those problems, City Hall came close to winning the Sterling Award this year, Ashton said.

A delegation from the state's Sterling committee finished a weeklong visit to Jacksonville in early March. City Hall staffers at that time said they received a positive "verbal overview."

Specifically, City Hall rated high in "customer focus and leadership," staff said.

The Sterling award was created in 1992 by Gov. Lawton Chiles to recognize good management in government and business. Delaney has tried to get the award since 1997, stressing that the city's efforts are intended to improve operations, as much as win the honor.

That sentiment was echoed in Ashton's memo, which told city employees their efforts to improve had increased customer satisfaction and renewed citizens' faith in city government.

NAME THAT PLAN: Before rolling out a $2.2 billion plan for a host of new projects, Delaney got the results of a poll that tested, among other things, what people thought about some possible names for his initiative.

Nothing really excited the 500 likely voters surveyed by Arlington, Va. …

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