The former Florida Department of Law Enforcement building at 711 N. Liberty St. | GoogleThe former Florida Department of Law Enforcement building at 711 N. Liberty St. | Google
The former Florida Department of Law Enforcement building at 711 N. Liberty St. | Google

City building renamed for late Sen. Joe Carlucci

Published on November 16, 2023 at 3:21 pm

Everything old is new again, at least when it comes to the name of the former Florida Department of Law Enforcement building downtown.

When the Jacksonville City Council voted this week to name the building in honor of late state Sen. Joe Carlucci, it was actually just allowing the identification to go back up after an absence.

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Current City Councilman Joe Carlucci, grandson of the late senator, sponsored the bill when it was introduced Sept. 12. The bill was co-sponsored by the rest of the City Council, including Matt Carlucci, the late state senator’s son. The Historic Preservation Commission recommended approval for the building at 711 N. Liberty St., and the proposal passed unanimously.

During the vote, the late senator’s grandson called this “a special one to me.”

“Obviously, this was for my grandfather who was my namesake, and it’s my first piece of legislation,” the younger Carlucci said. “So I’m happy to see it hopefully pass unanimously here tonight. But thank all of you for hearing this through committee. And I really appreciate it.”

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Matt Carlucci also thanked the council for its support on behalf of his family, adding that his son surprised him with this legislation.

“This is special to our family,” the senior Carlucci said. “And so you know, about the only thing I could say is thank you from the very bottom of my heart. And I know that if my mom was here, I’d be speaking for her and I speak for my brother Michael and for the entire family.” 

The late Joseph A. Carlucci was born in 1929 in New York, then moved to Jacksonville in 1949, ultimately opening a State Farm insurance agency. He was elected in 1968 to the first consolidated Jacksonville City Council, serving as an at-large member until he resigned in 1978 to win a seat in the Florida Senate, according to the Florida Senate 1978-1980 directory.

Sen. Joe Carlucci’s biography entry in the Florida Senate 1978-1980 directory. | Florida Senate

The directory also points out some of Carlucci’s other achievements, such directing the Fraternal Order of Police Associates, Citizens Against Pornography and the Consortium to Aid Neglected and Abused Children. He died Feb. 1, 1986, from a heart attack while on a hunting trip with Jacksonville City Councilman Joe Forshee. 

The FDLE building opened in 1926 as the Jacksonville Police Headquarters and was used as such until the current Police Memorial Building opened in 1970 on East Bay Street. The FLDE took over the building for a number of years and it was named as the “Joseph A. Carlucci Building” in the late senator’s honor.

The FDLE has since moved to a state office complex on North Davis Street, and the city has reoccupied the building, now housing Sheriff’s Office departments. But at some point, the Joseph Carlucci name and plaque was removed from the building, the bill states.

There was some protest over the building’s renaming. One person spoke out during Tuesday’s public comment period and said he opposed the late senator’s name “on any government building.” And resident Jane Wytzka said she wrote to every City Council member, saying that the late senator was one of 22 Florida senators who voted no on the Equal Rights Amendment in mid-1982.

Her bottom line: “He wasn’t a good guy and shouldn’t have a building named after him.”

“He was also very anti-choice. Florida never ratified the ERA,” Wytzka said in an email to Jacksonville Today. “I find it incredible that Jacksonville City Council, in 2023, would name a building after such a person. He already has a boat ramp named after him on Heckscher Drive. I’ve been appalled about that for years. He was anti-women’s rights 100%.”

Matt Carlucci said he never saw anything from Wytzka. He added that his father’s record over 18 years as a city and state lawmaker stand for all the good that he did.

“She obviously doesn’t know how much effort and what a difference he made for law enforcement, shutting down establishments spreading pornography by working with the State Attorney’s Office,” Matt Carlucci wrote in response to the complaint “She obviously doesn’t know the work my father did to fight the spread of drugs with young people, while serving on the council.”

He also spoke about the work his father did in the Florida Senate to protect children from abuse and give them protective rights, as well as efforts he made to transition the University of North Florida to a four-year institution among other efforts.

City Council also approved another naming request to honor a past politician. This bill, filed by Matt Carlucci, asked that a new city marina at 330 E. Bay St. be named as the “Hans G. Tanzle, Jr. Marina.” Tanzler pushed to consolidate the city of Jacksonville and Duval County into one entity in 1968.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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