In this week’s Bold, a recurring motif … pitched political speech.
From a senator saying the president could kick off the next Great Depression, to a gubernatorial campaign telling an opponent is DOA, the knives were out.
Shivs went toward Jacksonville’s mayor for exploring the value of JEA. And toward a chair of a local party … for her committeeman husband using a phrase at a party dinner that many on hand saw as objectionable.
Don’t worry, there were shivs for him as well.
Almost five months before primaries, and nearly a year before the first city elections, Northeast Florida politics are like a Ginsu ad.
The knives are out. And Jacksonville Bold is the whetstone.
Nelson: Metal tariffs = Smoot-Hawley Act
Beer execs were concerned that an imposed 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum would cost them millions of dollars and slow down investment in growing their business.
For Nelson, the tariffs signal a more significant issue.
“What it portends,” said Nelson, “is the starting of a trade war.”
“We get into a trade war, and the prices of a lot of consumer goods we buy from overseas are going to rocket up,” Nelson said. “A trade war ultimately runs into a recession, which was part of the reason for going into the Depression back in the 1930s.”
Nelson noted the Smoot-Hawley Act, which raised 900 import duties all at once, ultimately was what “plunged us into a Depression.”
“This could be the beginning,” Nelson said, saying 9 million people have jobs that will be affected by this imposition of aluminum and steel tariffs.
WaPo wallops Wiles
The Washington Post delivered a hit on inexperienced political appointees in the Donald Trump White House. Caroline Wiles got fragged.
The Post reminded readers that Wiles “was one of six White House staffers dismissed for failing FBI background checks” then was “made a special assistant to the president, a post that typically pays $115,000.”
Susie Wiles, the mother of Caroline, ran Trump’s Florida campaign as it got momentum. That, asserts the Post, is why she was hired.
“The younger Wiles has an unusual background for a senior White House official. On a résumé she submitted to the state of Florida, she said she had completed coursework at Flagler College … On her LinkedIn page, she simply lists Flagler under education. A Flagler spokesman said she never finished her degree,” the report says.
Another shot of nepotism followed: “Wiles has had a string of political jobs, including work at her mother’s lobbying firm and as a campaign aide for candidates her mother advised, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Trump.”
And then, the rap sheet: “Over the years, she has had multiple encounters with police. In 2005, she had her driver’s license suspended for driving while intoxicated … In 2007, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated and arrested for passing a ‘worthless check.’ She was found guilty of a misdemeanor for driving under the influence. The charge related to the bad check was dropped in a plea agreement.”
Go figure; she didn’t sit for an interview for this piece.
Defense lawyers: Brown jobbed out of fair trial
Per First Coast News: “The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is asking for a new trial for Corrine Brown after she was convicted on multiple counts of fraud and corruption and sentenced to five years in federal prison.”
At issue: the dismissal of a juror who claimed to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Brown and her defense have consistently contended that juror was dismissed in error and this group agrees, saying that “seeking guidance from God does not amount to jury misconduct and is not a basis to remove a juror who is otherwise qualified to serve.”
Brown’s attorney filed a 64-page brief last week in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the Jacksonville Democrat’s conviction should be tossed out because the juror was improperly dismissed from the case due to his religious statements.
“The record in this case supports only one conclusion: that this juror was basing his verdict on his view of the sufficiency of the evidence, after prayerful consideration and as he saw it, in his mind, guidance from the Holy Spirit,” Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, wrote in the brief.
Big Mo for DeSantis
An internal memo from the Ron DeSantis campaign for governor made the rounds this week. And he may be winning the nomination.
The memo notes that DeSantis is winning with little effort against an “establishment candidate … who has spent more than $6 million … and has been running quietly for eight years.”
DeSantis has the best name ID, per internal polling, along with strong favorables and the lead in a two-way race against Adam Putnam and a three-way race with a “potential third challenger.”
Also, Trump Twitter came up bigly: “The president’s job approval is strong, and so is his endorsement.”
DeSantis also has good oppo against Putnam’s pre-Tea Party voting record in Congress, and wins the “blind bio” test, per his polling, 55 to 29 percent.
Payne draws challenger in HD 19
A Starke Democrat entered the race for North Central Florida’s House District 19, where they will take on incumbent Republican Bobby Payne, as well as Libertarian Ryan Ramsey.
Paul Still, an elected Supervisor for the Bradford County Soil and Water Conservation Board, was motivated to run by a water issue Payne supported that he sees as a “boondoggle.”
The issue at hand is the $42 million Black Creek Water Resource Development Project.
While Still won’t face primary opposition, the struggle is real in deep red HD 19 for the former chair of the Bradford County Democrats, as the party is not well-organized throughout much of the district.
Duval DEC committeeman out over ‘colored people’ comment
Lisa King‘s tenure chairing the Democratic Party of Duval County has been marred by the aftermath of her husband, state committeeman John Parker, committing the gaffe of using the term “colored people” during a dinner in January.
In the last week, Parker and King have dealt with some adverse press, related to an ongoing outcry both within and outside the party about her husband, with the offensive comments framed as a cause for both Parker and King to step down.
King notes that she has “told John from the beginning that the most appropriate course of action for him was to resign. Although we disagree on this action, our members are committed to respecting the process to resolve this issue.”
Meanwhile, the chair of the Duval GOP finally, a week after this controversy blew up, issued a call for King and Parker to resign.
On Wednesday, Parker acquiesced, resigning both leadership positions.
“Today, I accepted the resignation of John Parker as state committeeman and DNC member,” King said in a statement. “I do this with the certainty that it is the right thing for our party. Although he has dedicated over 35 years of service, his statements and actions necessitated his departure.”
Newby, Holland want four more years
Monday saw two incumbent Jacksonville politicians file for re-election.
At-large Group 5 Republican Sam Newby filed for re-election, as did Republican Property Appraiser Jerry Holland.
Newby, who won a narrow race against Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman in 2015, thus far faces no ballot opposition.
Holland, who was a popular Supervisor of Elections for two terms, faced no ballot opposition in 2015 but will face a Democrat next March.
Kurt Kraft has just over $600 on hand. To put that number in context, Holland raised over $154,000 in his unopposed run in 2015.
Committee slams Curry on radio
A political committee (Florida Committee for Infrastructure Investment) designed to stop the exploration of selling Jacksonville’s utility in its tracks rolled out its first radio ad in a mass email to media.
The 30-second spot, which employs a child’s voice, includes a plaintive, heart-tugging script.
To hear the video, click the image below:
“Mommy and daddy, they’re saying that Lenny Curry is trying to sell JEA,” says the youth in the spot, a child who is remarkably hip to the mechanics of municipal utilities for his age.
“Don’t let him sell JEA,” the youngster continues. “Don’t let him sell our future.”
The call to action: to call 630-CITY and tell Curry not to sell JEA.
This particular political committee has ties to one of Curry’s chief political rivals. Its registered agent and treasurer, Heather Pullen, has connections to Lisa King, the chair of the Duval Democrats.
“Baseless attacks and lies from a political committee affiliated with and supportive of Democrat Lisa King are not how we will protect the value of taxpayer assets at JEA. The mayor remains committed to ensuring that facts inform all future plans for our utility, and that those plans respect taxpayers and the promises made to JEA employees,” said Brian Hughes, Curry’s chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Council President Anna Brosche wants more disclosure from the city finance department on JEA. CFO Mike Weinstein stonewalled the Jacksonville City Council requests for financial information, saying in an email last week: “They’re on their own.”
Hughes noted that the mayor’s “meeting with JEA lineman this morning was part of his continued commitment to having conversations about the future of JEA with all stakeholders. The meeting went well offering him the opportunity to hear feedback and information from the people who put their lives on the line, not only in emergencies, but every day to provide service to the citizens of Jacksonville.”
Council bills teed up
Straw ballot for JEA sale: This bill had some controversy before unanimous passage in Finance Tuesday morning.
2018-141 would set a straw ballot referendum on the November ballot to test the voters’ mood on a JEA sale.
The measure, sponsored by Garrett Dennis and John Crescimbeni (two skeptics of the need to sell), would, in theory, serve as a corrective to an impending sales pitch to sell from many directions.
Crescimbeni pitched the bill to Rules, noting that the straw ballot is nonbinding and merely gives direction on whether to “participate in that process … weigh in and tell us they’re interested, or they’re not interested.”
The bill cleared Rules without a single no vote.
Board reform: 2018-65, also sponsored by Dennis, would bar a member of a board from applying for a paid position with the organization said board controls while serving on that board.
This bill was drafted after Joe Peppers, a member of the Kids Hope Alliance board who has since stepped down, made a play for that organization’s CEO position.
Dennis, one of Council’s most strident opponents of the reforms that brought KHA into being as a replacement for the Children’s Commission and the Jacksonville Journey, sees Peppers as a) unqualified to be CEO and b) parlaying relationships with the board and Mayor Lenny Curry‘s team into a high-paying job.
Dennis said the bill would foster “transparency and fairness.”
Gaffney lawsuit rolls on
A whistleblower action involving Community Rehabilitation Center, the nonprofit of Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, continues to be hashed out in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court; it is now a discrimination suit.
Former CRC employee Darlene Peoples contended in a late-May whistleblower lawsuit in Florida’s 4th Circuit that she was “unlawfully terminated” by the nonprofit … after she was allegedly exposed to risk from HIV-positive clients without proper training and licensure. [Complaint against CRC]
Peoples worked for CRC from 2013 to Sept. 2016. In June 2016, Peoples was reassigned to be a “mental health counselor” from her previous position, “substance abuse counselor,” in a move her original filing describes as “ill-advised.” She claimed training deficiencies were rampant in her preparation to deal with HIV positive clients, and when she attempted to get redress (including from CEO Gaffney), she was fired.
The latest motion from Peoples, a “motion to compel,” came Mar. 22. At issue: an alleged inability to comply promptly with plaintiff requests for discovery regarding interrogatories and documents (emails).
From the JAX Chamber: “Jerry Mallot announced today that he will retire from his roles as President of JAXUSA Partnership and Executive Vice President of JAX Chamber. Mallot’s retirement is effective Sept. 1.”
“This is truly the best city and region in the country to live and to do business — and that certainly helps when you’re bringing top companies to the region,” Mallot, who has been with the Chamber since 1994, said.
Mallot helped to broker deals with Fidelity, Deutsche Bank and Amazon, per the Chamber. Those were three big gets.
“The investment he’s helped attract to our city is remarkable,” said JAX Chamber Chair John Peyton, who served as Jacksonville’s mayor from 2003-11 and worked with Mallot on several high-profile projects. “Jerry is so incredibly skilled at finding ways to get a deal done; it’s been a privilege to work with him over the years.”
“It’s amazing to look around at different projects and see how far we’ve come,” Mallot said. “We have so much momentum here, and I look forward to seeing it continue.”
Nassau’s Lincoln Day dinner sells out
Nassau County Republican Executive Committee (REC) announced its 2018 Lincoln Day Dinner has reached capacity with 116 tickets distributed, a first for the annual event.
The 2018 Lincoln Day Dinner is among the various Republican fundraising events to honor Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth U.S. president and first from the Republican Party. The Nassau County event was held Thursday at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island beginning with a cocktail hour and silent auction.
Keynoting the Lincoln Day dinner was Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; featured guests includedCongressman John Rutherford, state Sens. Aaron Bean and Denise Grimsley, state Reps. Cord Byrd and Matt Caldwell, as well as various local leaders and candidates.
“Although we are still days away from hosting the event, the revenue and enthusiasm for this banquet have exceeded all expectations,” Nassau REC Chair Justin Taylor said. “In fact, we had to add seats to accommodate demand. We are seeing about a 50 percent participation increase from last year’s Lincoln Day, and I think that is a direct reflection of our party’s enthusiasm leading into this year’s election cycle.”