In addition to the subpoena, they have conducted numerous interviews over the course of the past several months that have touched on multiple JEA issues.Zahn has denied any wrongdoing related to the bonus plan and maintains it was vetted at every step by city and outside lawyers. And Herschel Vinyard, JEA’s chief administrative officer, recommended hiring his previous employer, Foley & Lardner. I get it,” Zahn told his former right-hand official, Dykes, in a text message in February before she was terminated by the board. JEA officials were rarely able to find widely trusted community figures willing to write favorable op-eds in their defense. Some made Zahn apoplectic.

Zahn was particularly perplexed by JEA’s historical institutional pride in its status as a not-for-profit. And he befriended Deno Hicks, a former BCR executive and well-connected local lobbyist who represented the firm. Zahn’s attorney said he had no knowledge of the texts or that Baker or Curry officials were providing a JEA employee directives. Non-disclosure agreements have prevented several people the Times-Union has contacted since 2018 from talking about their experiences with Zahn during his time at BCR. “Being able to deliver our customers $400 million in rebates … while also providing rate stability …” In reality, according to documents obtained after the sale process had been canceled, JEA would have allowed a buyer to increase rates up to a specified maximum for each of the three years. He took three executives on a retreat to Charleston, S.C. with their spouses, a trip that cost JEA more than $4,000.Zahn also spent money on leadership coaching services, in one case paying $5,500 to a company called Leadership Surge for an executive retreat and workshop, according to JEA purchasing records. He lived in Jacksonville Beach, which is outside JEA’s service territory. Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.

Almost as a condition of employment. Zahn, JEA officials have said, wanted to hire Baker as a consultant. The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued JEA a grand jury subpoena in April that included a demand for numerous documents related to the bonus plan.

And the unions are just driving up fear,” one executive texted June 20, 2019.JEA’s workforce, however, is no monolith, and there were employees who wanted to give Zahn a chance. These changes at first rankled his colleagues, but over time they came to  —  at least outwardly  —  parrot Zahn’s language in conversations with one another and in remarks with lower-level managers and employees, and in public appearances.This created considerable internal cognitive dissonance: At the same time Zahn was refocusing JEA’s mission toward a for-profit vision, he was also highly sensitive to accusations he was a mayoral plant put in place to sell JEA.“This idea that somehow the mayor shows up and says, ‘we sold JEA,’ that is absolutely false, and that is not what I’m trying to do,” Zahn told a group of employees at a videotaped meeting in June 2019. At least publicly, the 2017 and 2018 sale effort amounted to little more than an evaluation of JEA’s potential sales price on the private market, detailed in a report by Public Financial Management Inc., a firm that worked for both City Hall and JEA. The industry's colorful characters and oil's key role in 20th century history are brought to life by participants and historians. “I mean, it was hysteric. The Times-Union also recently obtained hundreds of pages of previously unreleased text messages between JEA executives and managers.The JEA building in downtown Jacksonville, Florida Thursday, April 23, 2020. “He’s a hard charging guy from Yale, a competitive swimmer,” one said.

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