BY JENNIFER CABRERA/ MAY 31, 2019
On May 21, Alachua Conservatives reported that Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson had defaulted on a credit card. Later that evening, she made a video announcing that she was also declaring bankruptcy. In that video, she said, “I had a business at one point, and it became really evident that this job is more than a full-time job, even though it’s classified as part-time. One thing I want to leave you with is that I am open to you all calling me, texting me, setting up a meeting with me to talk about any of this. I want to be open and transparent about as much as I can, both in this job and, when it’s necessary, my personal life.”
Johnson’s Form 1, filed during her candidacy for City Commission, showed that her income at that time (January 31, 2018) was entirely from her catering business. The Ward Scott Files show obtained her 2017 tax return (it was attached to an email from her city account and thus became a public record) and provided it to us. The tax return showed that Johnson’s total catering profit in 2017 was $11080, and that was her sole source of income in 2017, other than Earned Income Tax credits.
This raises several questions about Johnson and her business, including the implication in Johnson’s statement that her annual income as a commissioner of $32,730.01 is a hardship. If she was previously earning $11k/year, how does an increase to $32.7k/year necessitate defaulting on her debts? If she was making more than $11k/year, why doesn’t that income appear on her tax return?
Johnson’s business, Delicious Delivered LLC, held a catering license from April 9, 2014 to June 1, 2019; the current status is listed as “Closed.” An inspection of the business on December 18, 2018 (apparently still operating, since a violation for raw food storage is listed) shows that Johnson’s Certified Food Manager license was expired. Florida’s Sunbiz site shows that the business was dissolved on 9/28/2018.
Although “Florida law prohibits conducting food establishment operations in a private home, a room used as living or sleeping quarters, or an area directly opening into a room used as living or sleeping quarters,” Johnson lists her home address as the address of her business. However, multiple inspections of her business are listed, with no violations regarding the food preparation space itself.
Given Johnson’s statement that she wants to be transparent, we sent her the following questions on May 28:
1) Please describe the business. Where did you prepare the food? Where was the food generally served?
2) Do or did you have a catering license? (A search of the state’s licensing portal yielded the information above.)
3) How much income did the business make in 2018? Was all of the income throughout the life of the business reported?
4) If your income in 2017 was approximately $10k, how is it the case that your salary as city commissioner caused you to declare bankruptcy?
5) Why was the business dissolved in 9/28/2018?
Not only did we not receive a response to this email, it doesn’t show up in Johnson’s email archive at Gainesville’s site. We think Johnson should answer these questions in the interest of public transparency.