A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 400

A.G. Gancarski

Jacksonville City Council reboots schedule in wake of Irma

Tuesday’s Jacksonville City Council meeting was postponed in the wake of Irma; it has been rescheduled for Monday afternoon.

That’s the big takeaway from a memo from Council President Anna Brosche, who also had to reshuffle committee meetings to later in the week to accommodate the change.

Here are the rescheduled dates, per the memo from Brosche.

The City Council meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 12th at 5:00 pm will now take place on Monday, September 18th at 5:00 PM, Brosche writes.

No changes will apply to Land Use and Zoning; other committees, though, will be pushed back 48 hours each.

The Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety and Transportation, Energy and Utilities  Committee meetings originally scheduled for Monday are pushed back to Wednesday.

Finance and Rules, originally slated for Tuesday, will move to Thursday.

All four of those committees will meet at their normal times on the new days.

“The above changes will get us back on track for the City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 26th, at which we will pass the 2017/2018 budget in time for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017,” Brosche writes.

The budget presented a particular challenge in rescheduling, with its own specific notice requirements.

Brosche had “to evaluate all implications of cancelling/rescheduling yesterday’s City Council meeting, including the legal and practical considerations of a legislative process having so many stakeholders, impacts on other meetings, and public hearings for advertisement.”

With a Council meeting Monday night leading into committee work before the budget vote next Tuesday, expect a unique set of pressures for the Council for the rest of the month.

Northeast Florida candidates’ fundraising in August: Some sizzled, some fizzled

August historically isn’t a hot month for political fundraising, and the Irma aftermath may make some readers forget about politics.

However, politics goes on — and in that context, a look at Northeast Florida fundraising, broken down by candidate category.

Attorney General

Rep. Jay Fant continued to struggle raising funds in August, bringing in just over $15,000 (off the strength of a late-August fundraiser with no host committee) while spending just over $18,000 — a potentially concerning place to be a year out from the primary. Fant has $155,000 in hard money available. His primary opponent, former Hillsborough Judge Ashley Moody, has $730,000 on hand.

Fant will need to make up ground.

Fant’s political committee (“Pledge This Day”) likewise is floundering: a second straight month of no money raised whatsoever, as part of five months in which just $10,000 was brought in. Fant’s committee has $72,000 on hand, which compares unfavorably to the $103,000 “Friends of Ashley Moody” has.

State Senate

Both Democrat Audrey Gibson and Republican Aaron Bean are without serious competition thus far in their re-election bids. Bean is unopposed; Gibson faces a longshot write-in.

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, from $4 for parking and $5.35 for a biscuit at Maple Street to $2,500 to Bascom Communications.

Gibson raked in $13,200 against $1,750 spent in August, giving her just over $69,000 on hand. Her most interesting donations: $4,000 in $1,000 from property companies located at the same Miami address.

State House

Except for one competitive race in House District 15 to replace Rep. Jay Fant, most of these incumbents were originally elected in 2016, and have safely gerrymandered seats and very little drama until their runs for future political offices.

Rep. Cord Byrd brought in $6,000 of new August money in his House District 11 re-election bid, pushing the Jacksonville Beach Republican to just over $18,000 on hand.

Notable: $2,000 of that came from future House Speaker Paul Renner‘s “Florida Foundation for Liberty” political committee. This suggests that whether Byrd supported Renner for Speaker in the past, everything is good with them now.

HD 12’s incumbent Republican, Clay Yarborough, brought in $7,250, giving him over $46,000 on hand. Of that $7,250, the $250 donation from Yarborough’s former Jacksonville City Council colleague Stephen Joost is of most local interest.

Yarborough’s Democratic opponent, Timothy Yost, has yet to report August numbers; at the end of July, he had $2,215 on hand.

Rep. Tracie Davis, the incumbent Democrat in House District 13, took a W in August; she has just over $16,000 on hand.

HD 14’s incumbent Democrat, Rep. Kim Daniels, raised her first $1,000 of her re-election campaign in August, via Nextera Energy. Daniels, who believes Hurricane Irma was anticipated by “prophets,” certainly is an interesting choice for the Florida Power and Light subsidiary to offer a maximum contribution to.

HD 15 Republican Wyman Duggan brought in $53,000 to kick off his campaign to replace Jay Fant, as we reported previously. Duggan will face Democrat Tracye Polson, who filed to run this month and has yet to report fundraising.

HD 16 incumbent Republican Jason Fischer brought in $13,000 from 15 August contributions and spent over $8,000 of it, giving him roughly $58,000 on hand.

HD 17 Republican Cyndi Stevenson raised $1,500 in August and spent $1,000 for consulting with Data Targeting; Stevenson, an incumbent representing St. Johns County, has roughly $42,000 on hand.

Clay County’s Travis Cummings, the Republican incumbent in HD 18, likewise had a quiet month: $3,000 of new money, with $2,452 spent. Cummings, who beat a Libertarian candidate handily in last year’s general election, has just over $51,000 on hand.

Palatka’s Bobby Payne, a Republican representing HD 19, brought in $6,500 from seven contributions — all of which came from the usual suspects in the Jacksonville donor class. This brings him near $23,000 on hand.

Payne has opposition on the ballot, including a primary challenger (Green Cove’s Boyce Royal) who has $500 banked. If Payne clears that challenge, he gets a Libertarian opponent in the general election.

Palm Coast’s Paul Renner, who will hold the Speaker’s gavel soon enough, brought in $4,000 in hard money, giving him over $31,000 on hand.

The action for Renner, however, was in his “Florida Foundation for Liberty” political committee, which brought in $56,500 and spent $28,215 in August.

Florida Blue donated $15,000 to Renner, making it the top donor.

Many of the expenditures from Renner’s committee were to House colleagues’ campaigns: Amber MarianoJayer WilliamsonChuck Clemons, and Joe Gruters are just a few of the names that got $1,000 checks in August.

The committee now has nearly $300,000 on hand.

One of the other major legislative committee in northeast Florida is “Working for Florida’s Families”, the committee of Sen. Rob Bradley.

Bradley, who isn’t up for re-election in 2018, brought in $44,000 — $25,000 of it from tobacco company RAI.

Bradley’s committee poured $60,000 into the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee in August also, and has roughly $425,000 on hand.

Jax GOP consultant defends Kim Daniels, says Irma was message from God

As Jacksonville recovers from Hurricane Irma, certain local Republicans and Democrats wonder if the storm’s destruction was God’s will.

Hours after State Rep. Kim Daniels repeated assertions — at a launch of an Irma relief fund, no less — that “prophets” saw the dreaded storm coming as a way of God sending the Sunshine State a message, a local Jacksonville Republican political consultant saw her theo-sophistry and doubled down.

That consultant: Raymond Johnson, a Jacksonville social conservative who has assisted a number of local candidates, and worked vigorously against LGBT rights in the city.

Johnson’s post has more grammatical and usage errors than a Twinkie has ingredients; to preserve the authenticity of his cadence and integrity of his ideas, we will quote him in the absolute vernacular.

“I do not always agree with rep Daniels but she is with us on moral issues. That said its about time someone call out AG, and Florida politicis, they are an extremely liberal poltical blog and get way to much credit. They do a good job of reporting inside poltical happenings but are extremely liberal and bias and they so intentionally target conseratives that they deam as making to much of a difference and they inetionally target good people to tarnish their reputation to further isolate them with the poltical establiment. Establishment republicans work with AG and Florida polticis to collude with people they want to target to attack,” Johnson muses.

Leaving aside the contradictions between an “extremely liberal political blog” and the aims of “establishment Republicans,” one wonders which “good people” Johnson could be referring to. Should we start linking to old posts about some of the fine folks who raised Hell against HRO expansion in 2016?

Having attempted character assassination, Johnson moves on to attempted assassination of God’s word.

“Now the fact is the bible is clear about God judging sin and sending signs of warning to draw people back to him. This hurricane will do two things, Bring a few people to repentance to God and the majority of others will continue to be blind to spiritual things,” Johnson said.

An example of blindness for Johnson: the passage of the HRO.

“On February 14th after the city council passed the HRO I read Proverbs chapter 1 to the city council and warned them and asked God to have mercy on our city,” Johnson said.

Did God heed Johnson’s call? He says no.

“We had a major spike in violent crime this past summer, and had been spared from major devastation from hurricanes all 36 years of my life, but Not this year. Yes hurricane season happens at the same time annually yes its a part of nature and also natural for flooding along the water. But no one was expecting the flooding that accurd even the mayor mentioned the surprise at unexpected flooding with cat 3 stage flooding in a tropical storm or at most cat 1 hurricane,”

Johnson was not at many Emergency Operations Center briefings, nor was he at the myriad press events where the Mayor warned about the potential for flooding, nor was he in remedial English apparently.

Johnson then goes in, making his fundamental argument: that Hurricane Irma’s storm surge was God’s attempt to flush out a fairly toothless HRO that has yet to see any cases brought using it, beyond two housing disc

“While it is natural to expect the flooding along the river notice also the flooding was downtown jacksonville, San Marco and riverside. The area representing the LGBT HRO agenda. The Downtown establishment/ chamber group pushing the HRO. You have probably seen the picture of the chamber of commerce sign flooded. So 7 months after passing the HRO, (7 is Gods number of completirion) and on 9-11 our city floods with historic flooding? Our city had given God no reason to spare us with the wicked disobedience it committed. Gods love and mercy comes with these types of judgement signs as they are calls to repentance before the final judement.”

Johnson closes by asking readers to repent.

Lenny Curry ‘frustrated’ with lack of clarity on power restoration timetable

FloridaPolitics.com patched into a call Tuesday involving the Jacksonville City Council and a representative of the Mayor’s Office; the hot topic was JEA power restoration.

A representative of the Mayor’s Office noted that Curry had been “stern” with JEA CEO Paul McElroy, whose storm restoration efforts seemed to be moving slowly Tuesday. More than 163,000 customers remain in the dark.

Numbers have been trending down since: 108,000 were without power as of Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.. But the question remained: why was Curry “stern” with McElroy and was he satisfied with forward movement in the restoration process?

Curry noted that “power restoration and water” were pressing priorities for sweltering Jacksonville residents, before addressing the substance of a call only FloridaPolitics.com had access to on Tuesday.

“Anytime you are in a situation where you need results, those internal conversations happen. That’s just what teams do. You push each other. I’m going to continue to push,” Curry said.

The mayor described himself as “frustrated” even as he acknowledged the “men and women out working very hard to restore power … cutting trees and removing them. These folks are putting their own lives at risk to get our power up and running.”

“They’ve made great progress, there’s no doubt about that. But if you are without power,” Curry said, “you want to understand with great clarity what the expectations are.”

“So I’m frustrated that there’s not been as much clarity as I would like,” Curry said, letting customers know “what to expect” from power restoration timetables.

“If it’s going to be today, tell them it’s going to be today. If it’s not, they may not be happy about it, but tell them it’s not going to be today.”

Curry has wrestled with JEA issues since he became mayor in 2015, including making then-controversial moves to replace JEA Board members appointed by his predecessor.

Among the problems at the time: talking points prepared ahead of a board meeting, which would greenlight a pay hike for JEA CEO Paul McElroy, whose performance has been under scrutiny in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma each knocking more than half the city out of power.

Kim Daniels asserts again that Irma striking Florida was God’s will

Rep. Kim Daniels was among the myriad Jacksonville politicians at a Wednesday presser promoting an Irma relief fund.

However, she was the only one who had claimed that “prophets” knew that Irma would hit Florida.

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

We asked Daniels about these comments, and her responses were worthy of quotation in full. To sum, she stands by the claim.

“I wouldn’t post it on Facebook if I didn’t believe it,” Daniels said, feet away from where a massive relief fund was being rolled out for the storm she said prophets knew would happen.

“That’s for spiritually-minded people,” Daniels said, “and you can’t explain spiritual things to carnally-minded people. And so if I was in a church, I would talk about the prophetic, but out here it’s not in order.”

“And I’m sure you won’t understand it,” Daniels added.

“Because right now, I believe that this is not the proper place, because you often talk about separation of church and state. Right here, we’re out here as a community now, and I’m out here in my official capacity as an elected official.”

We noted that Daniels had posted the comments to her “State Representative Kimberly Daniels” Facebook page.

“That’s fine,” Daniels said. “Right now — go to my Facebook if you would like to see exactly what I believe.”

We asked Daniels why God would want Irma to hit Florida.

Her response: “You pray and ask God that.”

“Put this on note: you do nothing but negative. You’re a very negative reporter, and that’s why I knew that anything you ask has no good meaning or root,” Daniels said.

“Listen, come to church. If you want to ask me questions about God, come to church,” Daniels added.

We asked Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a man of faith himself, about Daniels’ theory.

“If you’re asking me if I think this was God’s will,” Curry said, “we have freedom of choice. God’s will would be that we always make good choices, and when we deal with a natural disaster we come together as a community and take care of each other.”

Lenny Curry rolls out Irma relief fund

Hurricane Irma left its mark on Jacksonville: massive floods in low-lying areas, wind damage, and other impacts.

And Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry — now fully in what he calls “recovery mode” — seeks to ensure that impacted Northeast Floridians have what they need to defray immediate impacts and recover their lives.

On Wednesday at the Legends Center in Northwest Jacksonville, flanked by politicians and leaders of local non-profits, Curry rolled out the First Coast Relief Fund.

The Jacksonville Jaguars already donated $1,000,000 and 5,000 gameday tickets for Sunday’s home opener to the effort, which is a continuation of the 2016 inception of the fund, launched in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

That Jaguars commitment is part of a larger nest egg: $2M pledged since Irma exited, including $500,000 from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, and another $700,000 from Florida Blue, the United Way and others.

The fund will make grants to nonprofits helping those impacted by the hurricane in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns counties, filling in the gaps left by governmental programs.

“While we dodged loss of life,” Curry said, “a lot of people are in pain … without power,” and with property damage they may not have budget to remedy.

100 percent of fund proceeds go to “immediate and long-term” needs: housing, food, and supplies.

“A lot of people are in need right now,” Curry said.

After Irma, state politicians descend on Jacksonville

Hurricane Irma’s impact stopped being felt in Jacksonville Monday afternoon, and it was soon thereafter that Gov. Rick Scott was in town.

Scott, who added Duval County to his ask for a major disaster declaration post-Irma on Monday evening, visited a local hurricane shelter with New York Mets’ minor league prospect Tim Tebow, a legend in these parts for his tenure as Florida Gators’ quarterback a decade ago.

Duval will join St. Johns, Flagler, Clay, and Putnam as Counties benefiting from federal help, which includes reimbursement for debris removal and individual assistance for those whose properties were impacted by the storm.

Tuesday saw Scott surveying damage from the sky, with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. The two reprised a role last seen in the wake of Hurricane Matthew 11 months prior, with Scott coming to town to assess damage after that storm.

After Gov. Scott’s visit, Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio made trips to the Duval Emergency Operations Center early in the afternoon.

Each arrived separately, and each had their own takes on the storm and the path forward afterward.

Nelson noted that, in addition to the 365 water rescues that were made in Duval County when the storm surge came in, there were 120 rescues in Clay and St. Johns.

Nelson described the hurricane as a “very unusual one, that covered the entire state,” one with “real surprises” for everyone.

Water was the big surprise for Jacksonville, of course, as the storm surge flooded the city for hours on end Monday.

“Water … surprised places like North Florida,” Nelson said.

The storm drew strength from turbocharged waters on each side of the peninsula, of course. Nelson noted that “measurements show that sea level has risen eight inches over the last40 years” off the Miami Beach coast, a rise that was accompanied by the heating of the ocean itself.

“That is expected to increase,” Nelson said.

Miami Beach, said Nelson. has had to spend “tens of millions of dollars on expensive pumps” to deal with a mean high tide — and floods are still part of life down there.

“If that’s happening when there’s not a storm, what happens when there is a storm? We’d better get ready for it, because it’s happening before our very eyes.”

Nelson also addressed post-Andrew building codes, noting that the Florida Legislature passed a law to relax those codes.

He’s not a fan of that move.

“Let’s keep these strong building codes,” Nelson said, noting that there was a vast difference in how new construction and older buildings fared during Irma on Florida’s Southwest coast when he toured it earlier this week.


Rubio actually agreed with Nelson regarding the building codes.

“People may not like it, but you know when you’re in a house rated post-Andrew, you have a lot more security about what that means for you and your family, and I hope we don’t walk away from that,” Rubio said.

And he had a lot more to say besides.

Regarding the individual assistance authorized by President Donald Trump for individuals impacted by the storm, Rubio noted that time was of the essence regarding disbursement.

“How many people will not be able to go home for a long time … if you lost your home, you can’t go home tonight, we’ve got to get you that money quickly,” Rubio said, noting that local governments — such as Jacksonville, still owed $26M from the federal government for the last storm — are not able to shoulder that burden.

“There are communities waiting three or four years,” Rubio said in reference to Jacksonville’s cash crunch, citing a “backlog” that needs improvement.

“Small businesses” likewise need SBA help.

A “week or two without revenue,” Rubio said, may be the end for them.

Rubio also addressed Nelson’s contention that sea level rise contributed to this storm.

“Irrespective of the broader debate about its causes, you can measure sea level. And when you start to see flooding at high tide at many communities across Florida, when you start to see military installations critical to our economy and our state threatened by it, there are some things you need to do, and some things you can do.”

“There are some things you can do to mitigate,” Rubio said, though he called it a “whole other debate” when this reporter suggested that strategies are elusive to cool the water down that energizes these storms in the first place.

Flooding at high tide, Rubio said, is an “accelerating process.”

We asked Rubio if the Trump Administration was particularly equipped to handle the challenges created by what some call global warming.

“Again, we’re talking about mitigation. And when it comes to mitigation, it’s an infrastructure need,” Rubio said, a “critical” one.

Lenny Curry, Jax City Council frustrated with slow pace of power restoration

Tuesday afternoon saw what likely will be one of the last briefings on Jacksonville City Council members on Hurricane Irma. And it was a doozy — complete with recriminations and frustrations over another round of slow power restoration from JEA.

Recovery is underway, with JEA crews having resolved roughly 20,000 outages during daylight hours Tuesday, which puts them on pace potentially to complete power restoration sometime this month.

Theoretically, at least. The pace is slow.

Even Mayor Lenny Curry is without power.

Council members have had questions and concerns, and power restoration is a major one.

Ali Korman Shelton of the Mayor’s Office kicked off the call, and JEA concerns were a hot topic.

“We are assessing,” she said. “I know a lot of you are without power … Paul McElroy was just in here. They’re working as fast as they can … I don’t have any more positive information.”

The Mayor has had “very stern” conversations with JEA CEO McElroy, Korman Shelton said, vowing that JEA will “message” about the thus far glacial pace of power restoration and progress going forward.

Councilman Garrett Dennis wanted a district breakdown on the number of outages.

Reporters are seeking it, Dennis said, noting that as time elapses, questions will mount.

Korman Shelton has tried to get the list, but has been frustrated.

Dennis noted that “we’re going to start getting calls,” and Korman Shelton likewise is “very frustrated … speechless.”

Councilman Aaron Bowman noted that his district has 16,000 power outages right now, per the JEA outage map, which can be toggled “closely aligned” to different districts.

Councilman Bill Gulliford likewise noted that JEA “puts the independent in independent authority.”

Gulliford has elderly constituents in Mayport who are without power and don’t have anything to eat, he said.

Beaches utilities were substantially restored hours after the storm, a marked contrast from the problematic Jacksonville performance.

Earlier Tuesday, JEA CEO McElroy said that the city’s power “distribution system was … exceptional,” ahead of the storm, and that “good progress” is being made in restoration.

Council members apparently have a different take.

In happier news, Jacksonville did qualify for the major disaster declaration — which wasn’t the case after Matthew.

People may have to fill out applications in the dark though.

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville City Council’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday looks likely to be slated for early next week, per Council President Anna Brosche, requiring rescheduling of committee meetings.

With 163K still in the dark, Jax slogs out of Irma

Daring rescues from floodwaters and a general co-branding of the media and the government characterized Monday, as Irma churned away from Jacksonville at long last.

But attention turned to more quotidian details Wednesday — namely the large swathes of town still out of power.

Southside neighborhoods, from Brierwood to Mandarin, along with large swathes of the Westside, from Avondale to Lackawanna, were among the 163,000 customers in the dark Tuesday morning.

That restoration pace struck a stark contrast to Duval customers served by Beaches Energy; despite being on the coast, and subject to evacuation orders, a full 99 percent of Beaches Energy customers were online as of Monday night.

JEA, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, was given high marks for its performance by the board — even as there were questions about JEA’s slower pace of restoration of the over 250,000 affected, and an unwillingness to invest in underground power delivery systems — the kind that work so well at Jacksonville’s beaches, whose utilities were substantially restored after Matthew and now this storm even as JEA was performing assessments.

JEA is considering a capital investment: a new tower, to replace the retro-styled one downtown. However, as Jacksonville customers sit in the dark for an extended period for a second straight year, should JEA consider more substantive revisions to its power delivery system, which failed in some areas during this storm even before tropical storm winds began in Jacksonville?

“I would challenge that the distribution system was anything other than exceptional,” said JEA CEO Paul McElroy, about the system’s pre-storm situation.

Duval, at this writing, has 32 percent outages. St. Johns’ customers: 48 percent out. Nassau: 73 percent.

“Many areas are 90 percent out,” McElroy said of the state. “We’re making good progress.”

And McElroy is confident the progress is continuing, abetted by all-night work made possible by construction lighting provided by the Governor at the request of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

The tale of the tape will be how quickly the progress continues, as Jacksonville residents who don’t work for the School District inevitably will have to work shifts Wednesday and going forward.

Beyond the JEA restoration pace, Curry noted that 356 people were rescued from floodwaters Monday.

“Yesterday was rescue day. First responders just did their job,” Curry said.

“Lives were saved yesterday,” Curry said, predicting that those ordered to evacuate but required saving this time “will take it seriously” next go around.

A final note: Tuesday’s meeting of the Jacksonville City Council is not happening, and as of yet there is no reschedule date.

That process will start soon, City Council President Anna Brosche noted.

“Because we would have been laying the budget on the table, we will have to work within state requirements to readvertise and re-notice,” Brosche said.

That process will start Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rick Scott adds Duval, other east coast counties to disaster declaration ask

On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited Jacksonville, just after announcing that Duval was among the counties added to his major disaster declaration ask from the White House in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The complete list of counties: Broward, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Palm Beach, Putnam and St. John’s Counties.

This ask comes a day after President Donald Trump approved the first wave of counties. These include Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough; Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties.

The major disaster declaration entitles people in these counties who suffered storm damage to file for federal financial assistance.

In terms of the county governments, they would get 100 percent federal reimbursement for thirty days in all counties for emergency protective measures, then 75 percent reimbursement.

Scott, a political ally and friend of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, made a last minute schedule change to come to a Jacksonville hurricane shelter, talk to those housed there, then talk to local media.

Scott won’t be the only Curry ally in Jacksonville this week; expectations are that Sen. Marco Rubio will survey damage Wednesday in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

Jacksonville has suffered grievously from Irma, described by Curry as a “tropical storm with a Cat 3 surge.”

The storm’s punishing winds wreaked havoc on the city’s electrical infrastructure, but the issue that received national coverage was the storm surge, which reached heights unseen since the 19th century.

Downtown was flooded by the river, while Riverside required rescue teams to save marooned residents, trapped by the unstoppable surge.



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