A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 of 364

A.G. Gancarski

Kim Daniels files for re-election to Florida House

State Rep. Kim Daniels, an iconoclastic Jacksonville Democrat representing House District 14 in Northwest Jacksonville, filed for re-election last week.

Daniels’ filing means that every member of the Duval Delegation has filed for some 2018 office, as Rep. Jay Fant filed to replace termed-out Pam Bondi as Attorney General last week also.

Daniels’ major legislative accomplishment this term was close to her heart, as a Charismatic evangelistic preacher with a global following.

She filed the House version of the “Religious Expression in Public Schools” bill, which cleared the Florida Legislature this session.

Though groups such as the Human Rights Campaign object to the legislation as blurring the lines between church and state, that’s not a position Daniels or the Florida Legislature shares.

Jax Police Union pushes back against body cameras

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is gearing up for a body camera pilot program, even as the local Fraternal Order of Police urges caution to the rank and file.

The issue? Body cameras have not been collectively bargained — in fact, attempts to make them part of collective bargaining by the union earlier this year were squashed.

That led, perhaps inexorably, to a PERC complaint from the FOP.

“The FOP filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the COJ regarding them refusing to collectively bargain the policies and procedures of body worn cameras. We have been in the PERC hearing since 0900 this morning with both sides presenting testimony. Surprised to hear 60 officers have “volunteered” to wear the cameras during a pilot program,” observed FOP head Steve Zona Tuesday on Facebook.

“Even JSO admitted during this hearing you could face discipline up to and including termination for incidents and violations of policy arising out of the use of the BWC. DO NOT volunteer until we are able to negotiate these terms. Consider this my friendly advice as I would take no pleasure in telling you ‘I told you so’,” Zona added.

Back in January, the union wanted “body worn cameras” to be subject to collective bargaining — a position that accords with that of the national Fraternal Order of Police.

“You need to understand, that’s for both — police and corrections,” local FOP Head Steve Zona said, reiterating a position taken in a previous bargaining session, in which the union said there was something else that needed to be put on the table.

Elsewhere, police unions have asked for compensation for wearing body cameras, which the sheriff’s office wants to begin rolling out in pilot form later this year.

Unions have been known to sue to secure their rights regarding body cameras.

The city was not ready to move forward on this discussion point in January, leading to the current unfair labor practice claim now

Jon Heymann retires from Jacksonville Children’s Commission

Jacksonville Children’s Commission CEO Jon Heymann submitted a letter of retirement to the JCC Board last week.

The letter, also sent to members of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry‘s senior staff, says that Heymann retires with “mixed emotions” but that the JCC is ready for “new leadership.”

“The decision to step away is among the most difficult decisions I have made in my 35+year career of serving children,” Heymann noted.

Heymann’s retirement will be effective at the end of August, the letter said.

“I am confident that I leave JCC healthy in every respect – programs, staff and finances,” Heymann writes.

“However, I believe that JCC is ready for new leadership, new vision, new energy and new ideas. I know the future of the organization will be bright, and this great work will carry on into the future to fulfill our collective vision — that all Jacksonville’s children will be educated, safe and healthy,” Heymann adds.

JP Morgan Chase commits $400K to NW Jax eco dev

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that JP Morgan Chase will commit $400,000 to projects in Northwest Jacksonville.

“This grant will make a significant impact in our city and we look forward to working with community leaders to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” said Chamber Chair Darnell Smith.

“Grants will provide entrepreneurship education, access to capital, and façade improvements for New Town small businesses,” reads a Chamber press release.

Of the $400,000, the Jax Chamber Foundation gets the lion’s share: $325,000.

That money will expand entrepreneurship education for NW Jacksonville small businesses.

The other $75,000 will go to Accion, which will offer microloans to area businesses.

“Florida is one of the most entrepreneurial states in the country but faces one of the biggest challenges to accessing credit. Accion’s expansion in neighborhoods in Central and Northern Florida is critical to meeting the capital needs of small business owners statewide,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion in Florida.

Lenny Curry PAC spent $122K in April

April was a big month for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, as he was making the final sale of his pension reform to the Jacksonville City Council.

To that end, his political committee [“Build Something That Lasts”] spent big: $122,000.

Of that money, $100,000 went on ad buys — which facilitated an effective television ad that drove people to call the Jacksonville City Council and show support.

The ad worked: pension reform passed without a no vote.

Curry secured $55,000 of donations in April, with Tom PetwayMichael Munz and John Rood giving.

The committee has roughly $230,000 cash on hand, and with Curry staying put in Jacksonville after withdrawing from the CFO search, he will have time to replenish the coffers.

Controversial Jax Ethics commission nominee pulled from consideration

In the wake of a springtime clash between anti-Trump protesters and Jacksonville police officers, a very public clash soon ensued on Facebook between Jacksonville Ethics Commission nominee Leslie Jean-Bart and Fraternal Order of Police head Steve Zona.

That clash — which involved, among other things, Jean-Bart defending protesters using the inflammatory phrase “f— the police” by posting that “Also, F*** the Police is protected free speech. I’m not going to condemn it because there is no reason to do so” — has now reached denouement.

And it appears Jean-Bart will not be moving toward the Ethics Commission anytime soon.

On Tuesday, the Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee moved 6-0 to withdraw Jean-Bart’s nomination. And Tuesday evening in Jacksonville City Council, the full legislative body likely will do the same.

The nomination was withdrawn at the request of its sponsor: Public Defender Charles Cofer, who was endorsed by the police union and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams in his primary pillowfight against the scandal-damaged former incumbent.

Rules Chair Garrett Dennis also noted Sunday evening that FOP Head Zona indicated some discomfort about Jean-Bart’s nomination.

If protesters had quoted almost any other late-1980s hip hop song, Jean-Bart likely would be on Ethics as of Tuesday evening.

Jay Fant set to run for Attorney General, with Raymond Johnson helping with event

In Jacksonville Tuesday, state Rep. Jay Fant will officially declare he will be running for Florida Attorney General.

The Jacksonville Republican opened a campaign account Friday, precluding a run to replace term-limited Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Fant plans a special announcement for the Omni. He’s scrubbed his website of “Jay Fant for State Representative” ephemera (that type of thing was so “last year”). And he has about $70,000 in the account for his political committee, Pledge This Day, which beats nothing.

However, his launch may be less notable for the announcement — made to the donor class months ago — than it is for a controversial consultant he hired as the hypeman: Raymond Johnson.

Johnson, as we’ve reported for years, has a history of making provocative statements — generally against LGBT rights. In the context of Johnson’s intemperate rhetoric, serious questions are raised as to why Fant would hire Johnson to make his first impression on local and state political media.

Perhaps the nadir of Johnson’s comments was when he victim blamed on World AIDS Day, accusing the government of “coddling” those who suffer from the disease.

“By their admission their [sic] is a problem in Jacksonville with Aides [sic?] and STD’s from in their own words ‘Men who have sex with men.’ Yet we hate because we want to love these people enough to help them and save them from these deadly diseases? Why is [sic] our city leaders hating these people enough to coddle sick people in their illness [sic?] by giving them the special rights [sic?]?”

Johnson also compared the leadership of the local Republican party to Nazis not too long ago.

Referring to the “Republican establishment Nazis after” him for “not sitting down shutting up and going along with politically correctness [SIC SIC SIC and SIC], gaining to much power and media [SIC],” Johnson framed the Duval GOP establishment as wanting to remove his “membership from their corrupt body.”

His strong feelings were occasioned by his passion for the Confederate flag.

Johnson attacked former Duval GOP Chair Cindy Graves for calling a presentation he was going to do on the seditionist symbol stupid, with the following overheated rhetoric.

“So sorry you feel this about this issue of simply educating people about the civil war and the confederate flag when those that seek to be history revisionist are reporting lies and mistruths,” wrote Johnson. “Their ultimate goal is the remove history to indoctrinate in their own propaganda to lead ‘sheepable’ to the slaughter of a socialist/communist state.”

Brett Doster, on behalf of the Fant campaign, notes that “we have not hired any consultants for the campaign, and Raymond Johnson does not speak for the campaign.”

“NO to CFO,” says Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry

Ending weeks of speculation, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has taken himself out of consideration for Florida CFO..

As he Tweeted Saturday night, “Clarity of mind is a beautiful thing.” After an understandable period of deliberation, of private ruminations and conversations with those in his inner circle, his decision is made. And his decision involves finishing what he started in City Hall

“I have stated many times in recent weeks that it is flattering to hear speculation about a statewide position that would allow me to do more for the state,” Curry said in a statement released to press Saturday evening.

“But to stem the gossip and get the focus back on the city I love, I informed the Governor today that I am not seeking an appointment to CFO,” Curry added.

Curry discussed progress made since 2015 in his statement.

“In just under two years, we’ve accomplished big things; investments in public safety, progress in downtown and long-term financial stability through pension reform. But there is much more to do,” Curry asserted.

“Too many kids wake up in areas of our city where violence stands in the way of hope. We can do more to create jobs and get all our neighborhoods growing again. And we need to continue strong financial stewardship to protect the hard earned money we get from taxpayers.”

Curry’s approach thus far has paid political dividends, as measured by the Aug. 2016 pension referendum that carried by almost a 2/3 margin, and by recent polling indicating that Curry’s approval rating is a healthy 70 percent.

What’s clear: Curry, in making this decision, seeks to cement his legacy as a historic mayor of Jacksonville. This also silences critics who wanted to paint him as a political opportunist who saw City Hall as a stepping stone to a bigger platform.

Curry, seen on the town Saturday night, seemed genuinely at peace with the decision.

Political tailwinds have been behind him for two years thus far, even with at least a bit of drama swirling among Curry’s inner circle that surfaced — again — over the weekend, as this decision was announced.

___

That drama: the circumstances of Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart moving on to JEA.

It surfaced just minutes after media was told Curry was staying put, via an interesting Tweet from Brian Hughes, Curry’s political strategist, that seemed to allude to the departure of Curry’s chief of staff.

“FYI if anyone said they knew and made job decisions because of [the uncertainty regarding the CFO position], they weren’t telling the truth,” Hughes Tweeted Saturday afternoon, as most folks drank before the Kentucky Derby.

“Opportunity is great and so is timing,” Stewart told me, without elaborating on why the “timing” was so great. Stewart also hasn’t responded to Hughes’ Tweet.

That intra-office drama, no doubt, will develop in the days ahead. Meanwhile, expect Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa to take a more central role (if that’s even possible) going forward in running the city.

Curry’s full statement is below:

Adam Putnam slates ‘meet and greet’ for Jax Beach

It’s an illustration of the old saying: if you’re hunting, you go where the ducks are.

When scooping up GOP votes in Duval County, there’s almost no better place to go than the Jacksonville Beaches, as one prominent Gubernatorial candidate shows.

On May 17, Adam Putnam will have a “meet and greet” event in Jacksonville Beach, at Angie’s Subs (1436 Beach Blvd.) — a restaurant owned by 2016 Congressional candidate Ed Malin, who ran a scrappy, spirited, populist campaign.

Putnam will “discuss his vision for Florida’s future and how he’ll always put Florida first” at the event, which has a 6:00 p.m. start time.

Putnam, the frontrunner by most reckonings for the GOP nomination in the 2018 Gubernatorial race, has a massive advantage over other potential candidates, in that he’s a known statewide quantity and appeals to a broad cross-section of the base.

As well, Putnam has formidable financial backingas his political committee already has well over $7M on hand.

‘Unconvincing’ Jacksonville pension referendum lawsuit thrown out of court

A lawsuit challenging the city of Jacksonville’s 2016 pension referendum is a thing of the past, as the city was granted a motion for summary judgement on all seven counts Friday, while plaintiffs’ arguments were called “unconvincing.”

In his twelve-page ruling, it was clear that 4th Circuit Judge Donald Moran saw the filing as amateur hour.

Dismissing one count, Moran noted that “plaintiffs have conflated the city’s ability to call a referendum with its ability to levy a tax.”

The plaintiffs’ claim that one would need a graduate-level education to understand the ballot language — hilarious given that it got 65 percent of the vote — also was rejected, as the plaintiffs preferred to discuss the Fleisch-Kincaid reading test rather than relevant case law.

“There is no logical basis,” Moran wrote, for using that test to assess the readability of a ballot measure.

The claim that the referendum was invalid because the ballot measure was 78 words? Also laughed out of court for being absurd. As was the idea that city officials misrepresented the referendum.

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