Former Jacksonville City Council President Richard Clark and current Vice President Stephen Joost issued apologies today, saying they used bad judgment in leaving Tuesday night's council meeting early to meet up with Jaguars officials for a pricey steak dinner.
Joost's statements, released to media outlets: "I made an error in judgment. While I do not believe there was any impropriety, I created an appearance that reflects poorly on me, and on the government I serve. I apologize to my constituents, this community, and my colleagues. I learned a tough lesson."
Clark's letter, sent to council President Jack Webb:
"At our last council meeting I requested permission to leave early. I had a very busy day at both my business and at the Council and had not taken the time to eat. By 7:30 pm I had a 12+ hour day with no food and I was exhausted.
I stayed for the bulk of the action items on our agenda and then quietly took my leave. I had intended to get something to eat and go home but while leaving I ran into others who were going to get something to eat and I joined them.
I apologize for my poor judgment in accepting the offer to join them and for its appearance of impropriety. I assure you that it will not happen again."
Webb said he accepted both apologies on behalf of the council and considers the issue resolved. However, he said, he will remind the entire council that excused absences should be requested sparingly and only for illness or other pressing matters.
"Let's be mindful of our obligation to our colleagues and constituents to be present at council," Webb said.