Jacksonville Consolidation
The Jacksonville Consolidation was the city-county consolidation
Consolidated city-county
In United States local government, a consolidated city–county is a city and county that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state...

 of the governments of the City of Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

 and Duval County
Duval County, Florida
Duval County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2010, the population was 864,263. Its county seat is Jacksonville, with which the Duval County government has been consolidated since 1968...

, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. It was effected on October 1, 1968.


Through the 1960s, Jacksonville, like most other large cities in the US, suffered from the effects of urban sprawl
Urban sprawl
Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a...

, including corruption scandals. A grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

 indicted 11 officials on 142 counts of bribery and larceny including:
  • 4 of 9 city councilmen
  • 2 of 5 city commissioners
  • the city auditor
  • executive secretary of city recreation department
  • 1 of 5 county commissioners
  • the county purchasing agent

The city tax assessor took the Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

, refused to testify, and resigned.

Yates Manifesto

Claude Yates
Claude Yates
Claude J. Yates , was a Jacksonville business executive in the 1960s who is known as the Father of Jacksonville’s consolidation.-Prelude to Consolidation:...

 had recently retired as Vice President and General Manager of Southern Bell in Jacksonville and been named president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of commerce
A chamber of commerce is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community...

 in 1964 when all 15 public high schools lost their accreditation. On January 19, 1965 Yates called a lunch meeting of the chamber at the Robert Meyer Hotel to decide on a course of action. Those individuals who attended included Glenn Marshall Jr., Roger L. Main, W.S. Johnson, Charles W. Campbell, Gert H.W. Schmidt, Edward Ball, C.G. Whittaker, Luke Sadler, B.D. Fincannon, George B. Hills, Jacob F. Bryan III, B.N. Nimnicht, James R. Stockton Sr., J.T. Lane, J.H. Coppedge, Gen. Maxwell Snyder, Harold Meyerheim, Joseph W. Davin, Thompson S. Baker, Richard Lewinson, Henry M. French and S. Kendrick Guernsey. The date was significant because it was the deadline for submitting requests for the upcoming legislative session. At the time, the legislature only met for sixty days every other year. The aforementioned prominent business and civic leaders signed a 45-word petition to the Duval legislative delegation of Senator John E. Mathews and Representative Fred Schultz, that would later be dubbed the "Yates Manifesto". It stated:

We, the undersigned, respectfully request the Duval County Delegation to the Florida Legislature to prepare an enabling act calling for the citizens of Duval County to vote on the consolidation of government within Duval to secure more efficient and effective government under one governmental body.

Commission established

In response, the 1965 Florida Legislature created the Local Government Study Commission (LGSC). The legislature chose J. J. Daniel as chairman to design a new government and write its charter. Daniel was known, according to The Florida Times, for his "powerful personality, unquestioned integrity, strong leadership and history of civic involvement." Lex Hester
Lex Hester
Lewis Alexander Hester, III was a public administrator in Jacksonville, Florida. He "was the consummate no-nonsense administrator, the very best in his field,” according to M. C...

 was hired as the executive director of the LGSC. He was the "key architect of Jacksonville's consolidated government", transition coordinator and chief administrative officer following consolidation.
Claude Yates was among the 50 business and civic leaders invited to participate; elected officials and government employees were intentionally excluded. On October 1, 1965 the commission was established and given until May 1, 1967 to complete their work. In January, 1967, after 15 months of effort and three months ahead of schedule, the LGSC submitted a consolidation proposal entitled, Blueprint for Improvement.
The legislative delegation altered the plan slightly to make it more appealing and ordered it to be placed on a referendum in 1967.

Plan promotion

Claude Yates also helped promote the government merger plan. Yates led the Citizens for Better Government committee, which successfully disseminated information about the advantages of consolidation to voters who had consistently defeated consolidation referendums since 1935. Lower taxes, increased economic development, unification of the community, better public spending and effective administration by a more central authority were all cited as reasons for a new consolidated government. Other significant individuals that supported consolidation included:
  • Earl M. Johnson, a lawyer, served as secretary of the LGSC. Johnson, the first black member of the Jacksonville Bar Association, was otherwise notable at the time for his involvement with Thurgood Marshall
    Thurgood Marshall
    Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

     and Constance Baker Motley
    Constance Baker Motley
    Constance Baker Motley was an African American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and President of Manhattan, New York City.-Early Life and Academics:...

     in suing the School Board on behalf of the NAACP in 1960.
  • Sallye B. Mathis, a retired teacher, dean and civic activist "became one of two black women elected to the old City Council in 1967", along with Mary Li. Singleton, "the first blacks to do so in 60 years." She supported the consolidation as more efficient.
  • W.E. "Ted" Grissett was vice chairman of the Local Government Study Commission. He went on to become the first City Council president under consolidation.
  • Mary L. Singleton was a teacher and restaurant owner who was elected to the old City Council in 1967 with Sallye B. Mathis. Singleton was initially opposed to consolidation, but changed her mind and was influential among the black community. She was elected without opposition to the new consolidated City Council, and "became the first black and the first woman to be elected to the Florida Legislature from North Florida since Reconstruction." She died at age 54 in 1980.
  • Gert H.W. Schmidt was a German-born immigrant and Jacksonville business executive on the executive committee of the Local Government Study Commission. He also served on the Florida Board of Regents
    Florida Board of Regents
    The Florida Board of Regents was from 1965 to 2001 the governing body for the State University System of Florida, which includes all public universities in the state of Florida, United States. It was created to replace a predecessor body called the Florida Board of Control, which had existed from...

     and was board chairman of the Jacksonville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
    Federal Reserve System
    The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...



Duval county voters approved the consolidation referendum 54,493 - 29,768 on August 8, 1967 but the old government did not go quietly. A lawsuit was filed by a few elected officials contesting consolidation because their term in office would be shortened and they would be required to face re-election after one year in office. Other elected officials attempted to pass zoning changes or sign long-term government contracts for their cronies.

After a year of transition, the consolidated government went into effect on October 1, 1968. Jacksonville celebrated with a parade and fireworks that attracted 200,000 spectators. Hans Tanzler
Hans Tanzler
Hans Gearhart Tanzler, Jr. is a former American politician and judge. He served as Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida from 1967 to 1979. During his administration, the City of Jacksonville consolidated with Duval County, making him the last mayor of the old city government and the first mayor of a...

, elected mayor of Jacksonville the year before, became the first mayor of the consolidated government. Jacksonville became the largest city (by population) in Florida and the 13th largest in the United States. According to the Jacksonville Historical Society
Jacksonville Historical Society
Jacksonville Historical Society is a 501 non-profit organization in Jacksonville, Florida, begun by 231 charter members on May 3, 1929 at the Carling Hotel.-History:...

, the city "became the largest city in land area in the entire world", a distinction it eventually yielded to Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska
The City and Borough of Juneau is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900...

. All land in Duval County is considered part of Jacksonville except the four independent municipalities of Jacksonville Beach
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Jacksonville Beach is a city on the Atlantic coast of Duval County, Florida, east of Jacksonville. It is part of the Jacksonville Beaches community, together with Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach...

, Atlantic Beach
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Atlantic Beach, a city in Duval County, Florida, is the northernmost of the Jacksonville Beaches communities. When the majority of communities in Duval County consolidated with Jacksonville, Florida in 1968, Atlantic Beach, along with Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Baldwin, Florida,...

, Neptune Beach
Neptune Beach, Florida
Neptune Beach is a beachfront city in Duval County, Florida, United States, located to the east of Jacksonville. When the majority of communities in Duval County consolidated with the city of Jacksonville in 1968, Neptune Beach, along with Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Baldwin, remained...

 and Baldwin
Baldwin, Florida
Baldwin is a town in Duval County, Florida, United States. When the majority of communities in Duval County consolidated with Jacksonville, Florida in 1968, Baldwin, along with Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune Beach, Florida, remained quasi-independent...

, although residents of these towns vote in city elections and are eligible for other services. Jacksonville became the second consolidated government in the state of Florida and one of ten in the nation.

External links

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