A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics

A.G. Gancarski

Breaking with Lenny Curry, Shad Khan ‘appalled’ by Donald Trump

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry may assert that National Anthem protests are “stupid,” but Jaguars owner Shad Khan — a key political ally of Curry’s — feels differently.

Curry, who the Florida Times-Union reports flew to London with the Jacksonville Jaguars, had a bird’s eye view of that team protesting the National Anthem … and Shad Khan’s role in that protest.

Sports Illustrated offered the most comprehensive read yet into Khan’s thoughts Sunday, as numerous Jaguars kneeled during the anthem … with Khan supporting them all the way.

Khan offered support before the protest, said defender Telvin Smith: “It was [a] sigh of relief when the owner comes in and says: ‘We’re with you. Whatever you want to do, let’s do it.”

After the protest, Khan told Smith that he was “going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

Khan, who dropped $1 million on President Donald Trump‘s Inauguration, has clearly become more comfortable with the concept of buyer’s remorse of late.

“I supported him in the campaign because I loved his economic policies and I thought, you know, politicians do a lot of stuff to get elected,” Khan said.

Khan — like many reporters — expected a pivot “to the middle.” No dice.

“But I was appalled, right after his inauguration, how things started out,” Khan said, “being more divisive and really being more polarizing on religion and immigration.”

Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani origin, chose not to kneel — but rejects attempts to censure that behavior, he told SI.

“There shouldn’t be any way to punish, ostracize, or in any way make them feel bad,” Khan said.

“We all need to send a thank you card to President Trump,” he added. “He’s united us all in a very powerful way.”

In recent years, Jacksonville taxpayers have authorized $88 million of city-funded capital improvements to the Jaguars’ stadium: $43 million for the world’s biggest scoreboard, and half of a $90 million buy in that secured a new amphitheater, a covered practice field, and club seat improvements.

Khan has been a frequent supporter of Curry, beginning months after the Mayor’s election.

In July, Curry flew with Khan on a three-city tour, investigating economic development ideas in three cities’ stadium districts. Curry’s political committee, Build Something That Lasts, paid for that trip.

It remains to be seen whether this anthem schism will affect that dynamic in any meaningful way.

Lenny Curry: Pledge protests are ‘stupid,’ yet constitutionally protected

On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry weighed in on the decision of numerous Jacksonville Jaguars to kneel during the National Anthem Sunday.

A brief statement from his office contended that, while not honoring the pledge is “stupid,” it’s also protected by the United States Constitution.

“I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem. I think it’s stupid to do otherwise. The US Constitution protects the right for a lot of people to do a lot of stupid things,” Curry said.

“I am a Constitutional Conservative, so I respect the wisdom of our Founders. However,” Curry added, “I am focused on storm recovery, public safety and making Jacksonville a great city.”

Curry — who has co-branded with the Jaguars and owner Shad Khan since his election — is at odds with the team and the owner on an issue for the first time in over two years.

Even before the game, Jaguars and Florida Gators legend Fred Taylor said that everyone in the NFL should take a knee before Sunday’s games.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who kneeled, took issue with the President’s description of kneeling players as “sons of b******.”

“It holds close to home with me because what you say about us, you’re disrespecting our mums. I lost my mum to cancer. My step-mum came in, I know she’s not what he’s calling her. She’s got her doctorate from Ohio State.

“When you’re five years old and you’re seeing your dad have a gun pointed at his head because he looks suspicious in the neighbourhood at 6am because he’s dropping his son off at a babysitter, it’s not about race. It’s not about black and white, it’s about right and wrong,” Bouye told the London Independent.

Another defender, Malik Jackson, lauded Jaguars owner Shad Khan for standing with his players, calling Khan’s endorsement “a blessing because you don’t have to worry about that backlash.”

Khan had lamented the “divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump,” which “make it harder” to heal demographic divisions.

Council President Anna Brosche addressed the controversy on Sunday also, standing in support of the National Anthem, while avoiding discussions of whether or not kneeling was “stupid.”

“As a Navy brat and a Navy wife, whose father and husband have defended our country,” Brosche said from London Sunday afternoon, “my pride for the American flag and all it represents runs deep.

“I appreciate those who stood for the flag and chose to show unity through locking arms, and  while I personally would never sit or kneel during the playing of our anthem,” Brosche added, “I also believe in the right of free speech protected by our Constitution, for which our American flag also stands.”

Four more years: Reggie Gaffney files for re-election to Jacksonville City Council

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney wants four more years, and to that end he became the first incumbent to file for re-election last week.

Gaffney, a Democrat representing District 7, has had one of the more interesting tenures of anyone on City Council — a two year period fraught with less-than-favorable coverage.

Perhaps the most interesting less-than-favorable coverage was the most recent: Gaffney was pulled over by cops Monday night after a Jacksonville City Council meeting.

The offense: driving on a tag that he reported stolen in 2016, after the tag was identified with running red light cameras.

Gaffney denied that he reported the tag stolen. While he was beefing with police, Council colleague Katrina Brown rolled up behind the scene and accused the cops of racially profiling Gaffney.

“I can see why lots of blacks are afraid of police,” Gaffney told News4Jax. “When we get stopped, the first thing that comes to mind, no matter what we did, is why are they so aggressive?”

Gaffney and Brown were urged to apologize to arresting officers or resign by the head of the local police union, who went on to file a complaint with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Integrity Unit regarding inconsistencies in Gaffney’s narrative.

For Gaffney, Monday night’s incident was just another data point in an interesting narrative.

Gaffney has had other legal issues of recent vintage, including what the Florida Times-Union called a “double dip” homestead exemption in 2015, and Medicaid overbilling in 2013.

The Medicaid overbilling issue became a talking point in a 2015 debate, in which opponent George Spencer pilloried Gaffney with zingers about the overbilling, to the point where a flustered Gaffney exited the room with a line rare even in political debate in Jacksonville: “Father, I ask you to remove Satan from this room.”

With that said, Gaffney and consultant Ken Adkins — the former preacher currently imprisoned for life in Georgia  — exited the building.

Gaffney’s reputation for probity was such that the prosecution didn’t want to use him on the stand in the trial of Corrine Brown.

This, despite him being on the witness list, as his “Community Rehabilitation Center” and “CRC Transportation” were used to funnel “gift” funds to Brown, and inflate donations, as was the fashion among her inner circle.

Additionally, Gaffney’s CRC faces a whistleblower lawsuit from a former employee who alleges that she was not given state-mandated Ryan White training before working with HIV-positive patients.

Gaffney, pulling down $90,000 a year as executive director, said he was “too busy” with his job as a Jacksonville City Councilman to pay any attention to training.

Gaffney currently sits on the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee.

His 2019 opponents thus far have no fundraising traction: Chaussee Gibson has raised no money, and Marc McCullough has $1,800 banked.

From Coach to Jax City Council? James Jacobs launches run

Last week, the first candidate entered the race to succeed Lori Boyer in Jacksonville City Council District 5.

Democrat James Jacobs has had little to do with the party structure, but he believes his experience in the community makes up for a lack of political experience.

Jacobs, who coaches two sports at Southside Middle School and works with elderly people as well, is steeped in community work and volunteerism.

And he believes that incumbent Council members could stand to be more “hands on” in their approach to their districts, rather than “someone in a shirt and tie who wants a vote.”

This includes the incumbent — though she typically eschews neckties.

“I would have loved to have seen her get out more during Hurricane Irma,” Jacobs said. “I didn’t see her.”

“Certain areas [of the district] were overlooked,” Jacobs added, suggesting that the overlooking was done to make “certain people happy.”

Jacobs asserts also that there has been a shortfall in after school programs, programs for the elderly, and community services — and sees his run for Council as a way of redressing those problems.

His “hands on” work in the community separates him from better-funded candidates who would be “just getting the seat because they have money in their pocket.”

“You just can’t show up and say ‘I’ve got money, vote me in’,” Jacobs added. “We have to stop giving seats away to people who just sit there and say things.”

It is all but certain at least one candidate with money will be in the race; one possibility discussed has been Leanna Cumber, one half of a Jacksonville power couple with deep roots in the donor class.

“Anybody who debates me,” Jacobs said, will get asked “what have you done” in the community.

“At the end of the day, that’s what I’m about. I’ve been in the trenches.”

Aaron Bean gears up for Tuesday night Jacksonville fundraiser

State Senator Aaron Bean faces no opposition thus far, but a Tuesday night fundraiser at EverBank Field suggests the Fernandina Beach Republican is leaving nothing to chance.

Virtually every important northeast Florida Republican is listed on the invite to the event.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping is the most unusual name on a list of co-chairs, which also includes Marty FiorentinoPaul Harden and Gary Chartrand.

Former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli and local mega-donor Ed Burr are among the featured names in the list of vice-chairs.

Meanwhile, the host committee includes 29 names, and most of them are impressive.

From state Sens. Rob Bradley and Travis Hutson to state Reps. Jason Fischer, Cord ByrdClay YarboroughJay FantPaul Renner, and Travis Cummings, Bean has his Tallahassee colleagues on lock.

Likewise on the committee: 4th Circuit Public Defender Charles Cofer, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and former sheriff and current U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.

Though it is exceedingly unlikely that Jacksonville City Councilmen will skip the budget vote Tuesday evening for a fundraiser, Councilmen Doyle Carter and Bill Gulliford likewise are on that same host committee.

Despite a stacked roster, one name is missing — that of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

To that end, Bean sent a letter to Curry’s office with a handwritten note: “Mayor Curry, Please come! Aaron.”

Notable: Bean and Curry were both in the mix for consideration for an appointment to replace Jeff Atwater as state CFO. Curry withdrew his name from consideration, and the job ultimately went to Jimmy Patronis.

Whether the mayor makes it or not, one has to give Bean credit for persistence.

Bean has been fundraising — and spending — thus far in the 2018 cycle.

Bean raised $10,000 and spent just over $5,000 in August, bringing him over $36,000 on hand. Of that $10,000, $4,000 came from committees associated with insurance agents, and $4,000 more from Florida East Coast Industries and affiliates.

Spending ran the gamut in August, from $4 for parking and $5.35 for a biscuit at Maple Street to $2,500 to Bascom Communications.

All-star roster for Jax Council candidate Randy DeFoor’s first fundraiser

Jacksonville City Council District 14 candidate Randy DeFoor had her first fundraiser last week.

While final numbers for the fundraiser were not made available at the time of writing, 125 people were there, for an event with a suggested contribution of $250 per person or entity.

DeFoor — a client of Tim Baker and Brian Hughes — had a stacked host committee.

Among the names one might know: current At-Large Councilman Greg AndersonKaren Bowling; legendary barrister Hank CoxeMarty FiorentinoPreston HaskellMike Hightower; and Susie Wiles.

DeFoor, a Republican, thus far is alone in the race to replace termed-out Councilman Jim Love on the 2019 ballot.

 

Jags kneel for anthem, and Shad Khan slams President Trump

The Jacksonville Jaguars had one of the most impressive wins in team history Sunday, but the real headlines were before the game.

As expected, a number of Jacksonville Jaguars kneeled for the American National Anthem; a protest against President Donald Trump‘s provocative comments about protesting players.

Trump said at a rally: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now… he is fired’.”

Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan spent a million dollars supporting Trump’s inaugural, but Trump’s tempest was too much for him to support during the NFL season.

” I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem,” Khan, who stood with players and locked arms with them during the anthem, told Adam Schefter.

“Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder,” Khan added.

Khan has broken with Trump before, most notably on his proposal early in his administration to ban travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“The bedrock of this country are immigration and really a great separation between church and state,” Khan told the New York Times, describing the ban as “not good” and “sobering” for him personally.

Meanwhile, Steve Zona — head of the local police union — took to Twitter Sunday to suggest cessation of police escorts of teams to NFL games:

“Is the NFL special? Fans make it there fine without escorts. Let’s stop this dangerous practice.”

We reached out to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Anna Brosche, who are both in London, for comment regarding whether they support the players and the Jags’ owner or the President on this matter.

“As a Navy brat and a Navy wife, whose father and husband have defended our country,” Brosche said from London Sunday afternoon, “my pride for the American flag and all it represents runs deep.

“I appreciate those who stood for the flag and chose to show unity through locking arms, and  while I personally would never sit or kneel during the playing of our anthem,” Brosche added, “I also believe in the right of free speech protected by our Constitution, for which our American flag also stands.”

On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry broke his silence on the decision of numerous Jacksonville Jaguars to kneel during the National Anthem Sunday.

A brief statement from his office contended that, while not honoring the pledge is “stupid,” it’s also protected by the United States Constitution.

“I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem. I think it’s stupid to do otherwise. The US Constitution protects the right for a lot of people to do a lot of stupid things,” Curry said.

“I am a Constitutional Conservative, so I respect the wisdom of our Founders. However,” Curry added, “I am focused on storm recovery, public safety and making Jacksonville a great city.”

Jacksonville police union chief to City Councilors: Apologize or resign

Just days before the Jacksonville City Council is set to approve a budget giving the city 100 new police officers, two Councilors are in the news for an altercation with current cops.

As WJXT first reported, Councilman Reggie Gaffney was pulled over Monday night for driving with a tag that he’d reported stolen a year before.

Gaffney said he couldn’t recall reporting the tag stolen, after attempting to play the “Do you know who I am?” card with police.

Then Councilwoman Katrina Brown, who more often than not is by Gaffney’s side (and who said she felt “targeted” by a poll saying people wanted more cops), providentially pulled up and accused officers of racially profiling by running tags.

“I think she said she noticed they were following me, because we all live on the north side of town,” Gaffney told WJXT Friday.

Tempers were pitched in the video, and with Gaffney and Brown both levying accusations of racial profiling, the head of the local police union has a binary choice for the confrontational Councilors.

Apologize to the officers. Or vote yes on the budget, then resign.

“Personally I think they should vote to approve the budget then publicly apologize to those police officers. If not, they should resign immediately following the meeting,” affirmed Steve Zona, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.

Zona summed up the situation this way: “According to Councilwoman Katrina Brown, the 100 new police officers are going to be used to target a certain segment of the community, the biggest concern in the community is the prosecution of police officers and now she has witnessed racial profiling after Councilman Reggie Gaffney was stopped because the tag attached to his vehicle was reported stolen.”

Zona also vowed to “file an official complaint with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Integrity Unit” if no one else does.

The complaint would be “to investigate Councilman Gaffney reporting his tag stolen after it was captured by red light cameras running red lights. Then somehow that kind thief returned the tag to Councilman Gaffney’s car.”

Gaffney has had other legal issues of recent vintage, including what the Florida Times-Union called a “double dip” homestead exemption in 2015, and Medicaid overbilling in 2013.

The Medicaid overbilling issue became a talking point in a 2015 debate, in which opponent George Spencer pilloried Gaffney with zingers about the overbilling, to the point where a flustered Gaffney exited the room with a line rare even in political debate in Jacksonville: “Father, I ask you to remove Satan from this room.”

With that said, Gaffney and consultant Ken Adkins — the former preacher currently imprisoned for life in Georgia  — exited the building.

Gaffney’s reputation for probity was such that the prosecution didn’t want to use him on the stand in the trial of Corrine Brown.

This, despite him being on the witness list, as his “Community Rehabilitation Center” and “CRC Transportation” were used to funnel “gift” funds to Brown, and inflate donations, as was the fashion among her inner circle.

“Staff saw her bring stuff,” Gaffney contended.

Additionally, Gaffney’s CRC faces a whistleblower lawsuit from a former employee who alleges that she was not given state-mandated Ryan White training before working with HIV-positive patients.

Gaffney, pulling down $90,000 a year as executive director, said he was “too busy” with his job as a Jacksonville City Councilman to pay any attention to training.

When we asked Gaffney how it was that he was able to spend his “time being a City Councilman,” while pulling down $90,000 a year for a 50 hour work week, Gaffney offered a “no comment” before asserting that he works “80 hours a week, 7 days a week.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s family business has been embroiled in a legal action with the City of Jacksonville, which, in 2011, loaned and granted $640,000 to the LLCs to start a BBQ sauce plant that would create at least 56 jobs.

The plant created no jobs. And Brown, despite questions over the course of months, offered no meaningful comment.

The city managed to win a default judgement of $222,000 against the Brown companies, but the city has a secondary position to a $2.65M SBA loan — and liquidation of property and other assets won’t satisfy that obligation.

The city’s latest recourse: forensic accounting of the company’s financial records, meeting minutes, and so on.

Thus far, the Council has been unwilling to address the legal imbroglios of Brown or Gaffney. And this doesn’t sit well with the head of the police union.

“Embarrassing,” Zona said. “They cry and scream about accountability of police officers from the dais yet turn a blind eye when one of their own become a routine embarrassment to their great body. I would hope some of them have had enough of her behavior.”

With a budget vote looming, it will be interesting to see if all this drama factors in.

Gaffney and Brown failed to respond to texts sent Friday evening, requesting comment.

Bill Nelson: Graham/Cassidy would ‘eviscerate’ Medicaid

During a low-key Jacksonville media availability with our site and a couple of local TV stations, he was handed a magenta post-it note during questions about the Graham/Cassidy health care bill.

That note’s content, per Nelson: “John McCain has just announced that he’s going to vote against this latest version — which is very similar to that last version he voted against.”

“The indication is that the Senator from Kentucky [Rand Paul] is voting no. If Sen. Susan Collins of Maine votes as she indicated she’s going to vote,” Nelson continued, “then the vote will end up being the same vote that we had last time, which was the last week of July.”

Some good news for the Senator, who obviously opposes the bill, on a Friday afternoon.

___

Before being passed the note, Nelson had noted that “this latest version of the health care bill was something that had been voted on many times. It basically would throw 30 million people off of health insurance, and it would completely end Medicaid as we know it, by cutting out $700 million over ten years.”

“For the state of Florida,” Nelson added, “it would cut out $20 billion out of Medicaid over a decade. This is not something that should be done, and again it’s going to be a razor thin vote that we’ll have next week.”

Razor-thin, indeed.

“The debate and the vote this coming week is whether you’re going to end Medicaid as we know it for poor people, disabled, and veterans,” Nelson said, and “whether or not some 30 million people will lose health insurance that they have under the current law.”

“That’s the debate,” Nelson continued, “that’s what we’re going to be voting on this week.”

____

After being passed the note, his answer was essentially the same.

“When [repeal] cuts out some 30 million people from their health insurance,” Nelson said, “no, I don’t think that’s good for the country. It’s certainly not good for those people who have health insurance now, for the first time.”

“And to cut Medicaid for poor people and disabled and senior citizens in nursing homes as well as veterans, to cut away their health care by eviscerating Medicaid, no — I don’t think that’s good. And that’s why I’ve voted as I have.

Kim Daniels wants state scrutiny of local school board financial management

State Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, filed a bill Friday that would tighten state oversight of local school board financial management.

HB 175 would require an annual “self-assessment” from school districts beginning in FY 18-19, as well as recommendations from superintendents and a noticed meeting in which school boards discuss results and recommendations.

Daniels’ concern about school board financing seems to have begun this summer, when she seconded Rep. Jason Fischer in his “deep concern” about the Duval County School Board not taking “formal action” to schedule an audit to account for $21 million of what Fischer deems to be overspending in the current budget year. [Letter].

Daniels wrote Joint Legislative Auditing Committee Chair Debbie Mayfield, noting “misstatements” by Duval School Board Chairwoman Paula Wright in the wake of Fischer’s call for an state forensic audit.

Wright claimed that there had been a vote to conduct a forensic audit at her recommendation, but Daniels and Fischer contended that did not occur.

Mayfield opted not to pursue an audit; Daniels’ bill is the logical outgrowth of that.

Expect numerous Republican co-sponsors for this legislation, in a similar vein to Daniels’ “Religious Freedom in Public Schools” bill, a priority of more Republicans than Democrats in the last Legislative Session.

Daniels, meanwhile, is an interesting choice for sponsorship of this bill.

This year, the Florida Ethics Commission found probable cause that Daniels made material misrepresentations on financial disclosure forms from 2012 to 2014, when she was on the Jacksonville City Council.

Daniels had not listed certain properties owned by her churches.

Daniels has faced similar scrutiny related to campaign finance before: the Florida Elections Commission found probable cause that Daniels spent campaign funds advertising one of her religious books, the Demon Dictionary, in a vanity-press publication called Shofar.

Daniels, a traveling evangelist, went through a rocky divorce earlier this decade, one which led to sensational allegations regarding her management of household and church finances.

Beyond those issues, she recently made news by suggesting that “prophets” with a certain gnostic knowledge saw Hurricane Irma‘s “storm surge” coming.

“Nothing happens except God reveal it to prophets first,” Daniels observed as the death-dealing superstorm enveloped the peninsula.

 

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