John Baker just done his time period as JEA Chairman of the Board, but there are thoughts if his enterprise pursuits are overlapping with his civic passions.
Baker, who continue to sits on the board, agreed to sit down with Motion Information Jax Ben Becker and have been joined by a JEA spokesperson and JEA’s Chief Legal Counsel from Jacksonville’s Business office of Normal Counsel.
In an Motion News Jax investigation, Becker uncovered in the JEA 2021 yr close audit, the utility acknowledged “purchases (of) limestone” from a enterprise called “Vulcan Building Materials” as perfectly as “small amounts of granite and stone for fix of JEA access roadways.” The audit goes on to say “the largest non-public shareholder of Vulcan is the Baker family members, of which John D. Baker II, JEA Board Chairman, is a member.”
The whole sum paid out to Vulcan in fiscal a long time 2020 and 2021 with Baker as JEA chair, about $11.3 million — but Baker promises he did not know of the offer arrived at amongst Vulcan and JEA just before he joined the board.
“You weren’t informed wherever your revenue is?” Becker pressed Baker. “It’s just there?”
“Correct,” responded Baker.
The JEA spokesperson watching the job interview off-digicam spoke up.
“He (Baker) answered that he wasn’t conscious,” the spokesperson stated.
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But Becker experienced a lot more concerns, which include if Baker was mindful of Jacksonville’s Charter pursuant to JEA and if there’s a conflict of fascination “ … no member, officer or worker of JEA shall possibly directly or indirectly be a social gathering to, or be in any method intrigued in, any contract or settlement with JEA for any subject, result in or issue whatsoever in which this sort of member shall have a economic desire … ”
“I’ve under no circumstances read of that provision right until now,” Baker claimed. “The truth JEA buys rock from Vulcan doesn’t place any dollars in my pants.”
“Zero?” Becker questioned.
“Zero,” Baker shot again.
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Probably not Baker’s pants, but what about the pockets of FRP Holdings, where by Baker is the CEO and Government Chairman — it is a genuine estate company associated in mining.
Becker learned that Vulcan paid FRP approximately roughly $9 million in royalties on a variety of initiatives in 2020 and 2021.
“Is that a conflict?” Becker pressed Baker again and immediately after a extensive pause responded, “I’ll go away that to the legal professionals.”
Soon later on, JEA’s spokesperson interrupted the interview yet again and Becker persisted, “I’m just inquiring issues. Is it a conflict in your head?”
“It’s not a conflict in my intellect,” Baker reported.
Becker acquired a duplicate of Baker’s COJ ethics place of work conflict of interest form that he was demanded to fill out prior to signing up for JEA.
Issue 2 organization ownership states: “do you, your partner, or your youngster very own a small business that is performing business enterprise with, or receiving resources from, the city of Jacksonville (including impartial authorities)?” which involves JEA. Baker responded on the variety “No”
“It plainly seems to be like a opportunity conflict of desire,” claimed George Candler, who served on Jacksonville’s ethics commission for 7 yrs and is currently the Director of the Master’s method in general public administration at UNF.
“The language of the Constitution does not depart a great deal place for exceptions,” Candler claimed.
A several days after the interview, Becker referred to as JEA’s Chief Lawful Counsel Regina Ross and questioned if Baker’s organization interests were being reviewed by OGC and if a authorized viewpoint was issued connected to the Charter or the ethics disclosure. Becker was informed in a statement “There’s been no published opinions on these issues and it is unclear if there will be to day.”
“Do you believe that was the ideal solution centered on this info I brought to you today?” Becker requested Baker about his ethics conflict of interest kind exactly where he answered no. “I would have unquestionably answered it in another way if I would have recognised about it,” Baker said.
Baker has not been accused of any wrongdoing by any governmental agency. Baker was among seven latest JEA board appointees by Mayor Lenny Curry.
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