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Curry Announces Library, City Building Openings; Comments On JEA Findings

Mayor Lenny Curry held his first in-person press conference since March on Monday.
Mayor Lenny Curry held his first in-person press conference since March on Monday.

In his first in-person news conference in two months, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced the dates for the reopening of Duval County libraries and city buildings. 

Starting Monday, May 27, Duval County library branches will begin offering curbside pickup and return services, according to Curry. Some branches will begin reopening at 50% capacity beginning June 1. 

Curry said by June 1, he expects city government offices to be open with safety measures in place. 

“We're bringing some employees back as early as this week, and we'll continue that over the coming days,” Curry said.  

The news conference took place outside of Toscana Little Italy in San Marco, a restaurant Curry frequents. 

Mayor Curry praised Toscana Little Italy for practicing social distancing guidelines both indoors and for outdoor seating.
Credit Sky Lebron / WJCT News
Mayor Curry praised Toscana Little Italy for practicing social distancing guidelines both indoors and for outdoor seating.

He commended the business for taking social distancing measures seriously. 

“The practicing of social distancing, sanitation and other measures are in place,” Curry said.

Curry lauded the restaurant’s outdoor seating. It now has more outside seating available thanks to a relaxing of zoning enforcement outside retail businesses and restaurants during the pandemic. 

Related:  Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

The mayor also commented on a report published by WJCT News Partner The Florida Times-Union, which said two former Curry associates - Sam Mousa and Tim Baker - were hired by NextEra Energy as consultants during the entity’s attempt to buy JEA last year.  

Mousa served as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer under Curry, while Baker is his former political consultant. 

The report found that a consulting firm co-founded by Mousa and Baker paid for a playoff baseball game and trip to Atlanta that included them, Curry, current Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes, fired former CEO Aaron Zahn, and City City Council President Scott Wilson.

Curry said it isn’t uncommon for people with former ties to have worked as consultants for a JEA bidder, including people who worked for his campaign and other City Council members’  campaigns. 

“There's a former mayor, there's a former chief of staff from the previous administration,” Curry said. “But here's what I can tell you - none of those people in any scenario lobbied me or my office on that issue. And they’re private business people that were engaged by private entities.”

As for reopening more of the city’s entertainment venues, Curry said he is still constantly communicating with Gov. Ron DeSantis to move Duval County forward into Phase 2 of the reopening plan.

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.

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