Alan Mosley’s recent – and abrupt resignation – as Northeast Florida’s regional head of the Florida Department of Transportation, a position paying $136,586 a year, to seek work in the private sector signals the end of a once promising public career.
Under now-former Mayor Peyton, Alan Mosley served as Jacksonville’s public works director until 2006 when he became the city’s Chief Administrative Officer at an eventual salary of $178,508.18 (several thousand more than the mayor). Mosley was chief administrative officer until taking a pay cut of over $40,000 when he moved to FDOT in February 2010. As CAO Mosley was involved in all the major initiatives of Peyton’s office until his resignation, including annual budgets, Trail Ridge contract negotiations, and the ongoing projects of the Better Jacksonville Plan – particularly the long-delayed construction of the new county courthouse, a project which grew from $190 million to its present $350 million while Mosley was a key Peyton aide.
Mosley was a crucial player in the first round of the controversial Trail Ridge landfill deal. At then Mayor Peyton’s behest, Mosley spent much of 2008 quietly negotiating the proposed contract extension with agents of Waste Management, particularly attorney/lobbyist Paul Harden, without the assistance or input of the city’s Office of General Counsel because, as Mosley curiously put it, he “did not want any attorneys in the room.” Although Jacksonville City Council eventually succumbed to Waste Management’s pressure after Mosley’s departure, in 2009 the City Council initially refused Peyton’s request to grant Waste Management the Mosley-negotiated contract extension (worth an estimated $750 million over 35 years).
Part of that 2009 legislative reluctance to abandon the principle of bidding out large public contracts appeared to result from complaints by former Jacksonville public utilities director Allan Williams that Mosley pressed him into executing an affidavit (drafted by Paul Harden) that had Williams swear that he believed it was the intent of the original 1990 contract to give Waste Management the sole right to operate the entire 978-acre Trail Ridge site. The city’s position had always been that Waste Management only had the right to operate the 144-acre landfill until it was full, and officially remained such despite Mayor Peyton’s desire that city council grant Waste Management the contract extension to avoid both the costs and what he alleged were possible adverse consequences of a lawsuit with Waste Management.
Williams, who had moved on to become director of water resources in Greensboro, N.C., said that he denied that the allegations of the affidavit were correct, but signed it nonetheless under pressure from Mosley, whom Williams claimed presented the affidavit as helpful to the city, even though it backed Waste Management’s position.
Mosley later claimed before City Council that he wasn’t trying to undermine the city’s legal position and apologized for all of his actions, which Mayor Peyton had disavowed, stating that Mosley had been acting on his own regarding the affidavit and had approached Williams without any request to do so from Peyton.
Following the Mosley mea culpa the 2009 City Council, despite a (truthful) threat from Paul Harden that their rejection of the Trail Ridge extension would result in his client Waste Management litigating with the City “until the cows come home,” refused to approve the additional 35 year no-bid deal. Litigation promptly ensued, and by the spring of 2010, the Office of General Counsel, finally involved, successfully persuaded the City Council to abandon any pretense that any entity other than Waste Management should the right to bid on operating the city landfill. Following closed-door sessions City Council voted to accept a “settlement” guaranteeing Waste Management the profitable operation of the dump at taxpayer’s expense for decades to come. The Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County brought suit alleging in part that the Sunshine law was violated in that process and that the new contract is illegal and void.
For his part, when he took the state DOT job last year, Mosley said Trail Ridge had nothing to do with his decision to leave City Hall. According to a Times-Union article at the time, Mosley said, “I applied for this job because I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to serve the public,” he said. “The mayor has been supportive of me throughout my time working for him and he was supportive of me doing this.”
Recently, Mosley was criticized locally for joining with Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll in supporting the future designation of an existing state highway in Duval and Clay counties as a toll road. Speculation that the resulting furor contributed to Mosley’s decision to quit without notice is unconfirmed.
Mosley ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for City Council in 1999, losing to then-Democrat Suzanne Jenkins. Both Mosley and Jenkins subsequently became Republicans. – John Winkler