Richard Sutphen-Public Schools

It appears that the powers that be do not want to put the sales tax on the menu for this fall.  They come up with lame excuses that generally contradict their own behavior.  For example, the sales tax for pensions that was not really explained nor examined by the council – it’s a “kick the can” down the road approach that will cost the next generation a ton of money.  Also, the costly demolition of the Landing with no plans in the works to replace it.  We have the mulit-million dollar demolition of the exit ramps for the bridge near the downtown stadium that is being done for the benefit of Zillionaire Kahn who has some ambiguous plans to develop the area. Then there was the unvetted approval of multi-millions for a Ferris wheel project downtown from a company that the TU discovered was a shoddy operation.  These same people want some kind of detailed spending plan for the gigantic repair work on the Duval school buildings much of which has already been provided to the mayor and council.  I understand they did the same thing to the previous Democratic mayor when he submitted plans for development – they wanted a detailed plan and assurances that are never required from the Republican swindlers occupying the government as exemplified in the above examples.

The attack on public schools is a statewide project that is intended to promote charter and private schools at public expense.  We all know this.  These schools do not have to meet the same standards as public schools.  The WSJ article addresses the role of real estate developers in the promotion of charter schools.  Here in Florida, it is common for the developers and charter management companies to be essentially one in the same people who purchase the land and building with their real estate arm and then lease it to themselves as the charter school management company and have the school district pay the rent which pays off their mortgage at taxpayer expense.  This is a wholesale exploitation of taxpayers and public education in the state.

Unfortunately, we have a mayor and city council who have just been elected or re-elected to office, so they have little incentive at this time to answer to what the people want – to have a tax increase to pay for the building repairs.  Curry is already eyeing his next political office conquest and the council hasn’t even been sworn into office yet.  For them, what’s the hurry on the sales tax referendum?  There is a strong racial undertone to their views of public education; it is for black kids.  They have been trying for decades to use public funds to pay for their white private education and have used various devious methods to do so and  they have been largely successful with this in Florida.  Charter schools were sort of the first attempt to break into the treasury funds by promoting them as quasi public schools that fall under board of education administration and sharing of funds, but are private and many are for profit institutions.  Then, they figured out how to direct taxes into funding private schools through mainly designated corporate tax credits that can be diverted from the treasury to pay for private schools (many religious) prior to tax collection.  Thus, the funds never make it into the treasury so technically it doesn’t violate the constitution that bars the use of state funds for private schools.

This is how things are when the Republicans have been in power for the past 20+ years.  We need to find good candidates to run for office and also realize that it may take awhile, perhaps years, to change the dynamic here in Duval and in the state.  Just keep plugging away.

Richard sent the above email

to Susan

when she sent the below email to Indivisble-Mandarin and cc’d Richard.

From: Susan
Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2019
To: Indivisible Mandarin

These council members will still be there July 1st so people can write them now asking them to make this a priority to put the school board’s referendum on a 2019 ballot.

Freeman at large 1
Morgan same 1
Ferraro same 2
Bowman same 3
Wilson same 4
Gaffney same 7
Pittman same 8
Dennis same 9
Becton same 11
White same 12
Hazouri same at large 3
Newby same at large 5

On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 2:41 PM Susan  wrote:

I wrote the city council members and the Mayor again.  Below is my email.  I’m still hoping the referendum will get on a ballot in 2019.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan
Date: Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 2:05 PM
Subject: If we’re not allowed to vote in 2019, what repairs of our neighborhood schools won’t be done next year?
To: Danford, Joyce <>, Ferraro, Albert <>, Bowman, Aaron <>, Wilson, Scott <>, Gaffney, Reginald <>, Pittman, JuCoby <>, Dennis, Garrett <>, Freeman, Terrance <>, Becton, Daniel <>, White, Randy <>, Gulliford, Hazouri, Thomas <>, Newby, Samuel <>, Mayor Lenny Curry <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>

How many on the city council are preventing the voters from voting on the referendum in 2019 because they want our sales tax money to EXPAND the presence of charter schools in our city?  Isn’t that what Mayor Curry said? You can read the full quote at this link.  Isn’t “choice” code for charter schools?  The way I interpreted Mayor Curry’s statement: 

I [Curry] am preventing the voters from voting on the referendum in 2019 because I want the taxpayers’  sales tax money to EXPAND the presence of charter schools in our city.  

Did I get it wrong? Did I misunderstand his statement?  Is that NOT how you interpreted his statement?

I am troubled by the desire of anyone that wants to use my sales tax money to expand charter schools.  Quote from this WSJ article:

 But the growing role of for-profit real-estate developers has added a new dimension to the debate over charters, which are taxpayer funded and independently operated schools that are largely free of union rules. Critics say charter schools are in danger of cutting costly deals with developers who are more concerned with investment return than educating children. The result can lead to failed schools.


Article by Richard Sutphen–Taxes

Since you are so active with Florida politics and have a blog, I thought I would send along an email that I sent to Nate Monroe of the Times Union regarding one of his columns that was published recently.  Maybe some of your readers would like to hear the point that I am making about how we essentially give away our state revenues disguised as tax cuts when in fact they constitute tax spending, or that the Republican unactionable approach to governance is fully intended as part of their small government ideology.

From: Sutphen, Richard
To: Nate Monroe


I am a fan of your columns for the TU.  I am a member of Indivisible Mandarin but unfortunately I missed your presentation to the group in late March.

There are many topics that you have addressed in your columns that I would like to respond, however your column today about the Republican obsession with taxes is a good place to start.

I was an advisor to Ken Organes who ran for the State House seat for District 16 (against Jason Fischer) and I wrote a progressive platform for him.  One part of it addressed the state budget and how to implement a real business model for state governance.  The point is that this is directly analogous to Jacksonville’s budget that you write about frequently.

The way that Mayor Curry approaches the city budget is similar to how Republicans have dealt with state governance which reflects their view of the functioning of a “small government” ideology.  As much as they talk about bringing business acumen to governance, the fact is that they promote a business model that is best suited to result in bankruptcy than it is to promote a government that can adequately respond to the needs of a quickly growing state population in a context of a highly competitive global economy.  This model is reflected in a basic observation: In 2008/09 in the midst of the “Great Recession,” the state budget was “tight” lacking any extra funds for government services; in 2018/19 in the midst of a “booming economy,” the state budget is “tight” lacking any extra funds for public education, healthcare, the environment, and other government services.  To the Republicans, this is considered a success – a desired intentional outcome of the business model used for governance; that is the model of the “endless recession.”  Since the late 90’s, it has been the expressed intention of the legislature to reduce revenues.  That is right, this is a business model that seeks to reduce revenues.  It is also one that anticipates limited and rather static investments in human capital (the equivalent of business capital investments) such as education, healthcare, etc.  Bankruptcy anyone?

The governing philosophy of small government limited spending and an anti-tax obsession is frequently expressed in the form of the “all purpose” tax cut that undergirds Republican economic policies.  We all know that tax cuts that favor the wealthy do not stimulate economic growth, they instead lead to budget shortfalls, cuts and deficits.  Ironically, tax cuts are really tax spending (tax expenditures) that fundamentally rebate or spend assessed taxes before they are collected.  There is a document called “silent spending” that is generated annually by the state budget office that shows how this tax revenue is exempted or discounted for certain favored entities and adds up to about 25% of the state budget that goes uncollected.  For example, corporations in Florida pay about 57% of their assessed tax rate. In this sense, we really don’t need tax increases to generate more revenue at the state or city level, we just need to collect the taxes that we already have on the books but that we have given away with cuts.

So, I think you were right in one of your recent column’s that suggested the ideological congruency of selling assets like JEA to generate funds rather than extending the sales tax a half cent or more to pay for needed infrastructure and the proverbial downtown development.

As you pointed out in your article today, solutions to problems such as downtown development are available (as they are for many social problems as well), but when leaders are intentionally stuck in traditional or rigid ideological thinking, they prevent themselves from considering them and instead ride the problem solving merry-go-round rationalizing their impotence while trapped in an “endless cycle.”

Richard Sutphen

I am a retired social work professor and I wrote the article on Medicare For All that appeared in the TU last November.