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Jacksonville leaders observe sexual assault awareness month

The national observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is in April, yet Jacksonville kicked off the month days early on Tuesday, with city leaders convening in the atrium of the city hall.

Jacksonville’s Sexual Assault Advisory Council was created in 1998, intending to bring awareness to the issue and to let victims know they have recourse.

And in Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and State Attorney Melissa Nelson, those dealing with these issues have three powerful and committed allies and advocates.

“I stand her with the people behind me, who signed up every day to protect you,” Curry said. “I stand with them in my budgets [and in] my heart.”

Curry read a proclamation, denoting the widespread nature of sexual violence, which he said impacts every person — as a review of the statistics made clear.

One in five women, and one in 71 men will be raped. One in six boys and one in four girls: sexually-assaulted before they turn 18.

And college campuses are no safer, with one in five women and one in 16 men likely to suffer sexual assault.

Curry urged those in attendance to “use our voices to change the culture.”

“Prevention is possible when everyone gets involved,” Curry said.

Melissa Nelson, the region’s state attorney, noted that “these crimes are often some of the most underreported,” urging the community as a whole to “step up and speak out.”

Survivors and loved ones, as well as bystanders, were urged by Nelson to say something if they see something.

Sheriff Williams noted that the JSO participates every year in this awareness raising, and this year asked local students, including fraternities and sororities, to increase awareness.

Williams noted Jacksonville has worked very hard on this front, but there is still a ways to go.

Of 405 sexual battery cases in 2016 locally, there has been a 48 percent clearance rate.

That rate, low as it sounds, compares favorably to the 36 percent rate of clearance nationally.

After the event, Curry summed up the impact.

“Sexual assault is underreported. Victims often feel shame they should not feel. There are resources available to them,” Curry said.

“Today is about letting victims know that we see them, we hear them,” Curry added.

Lenny Curry talks ICARE, pension reform, Nikolai Vitti

It’s an interesting political week in Jacksonville. And on Tuesday, Mayor Lenny Curry discussed a potpourri of current topics.

At Monday evening’s ICARE event, a consortium of local pastors upbraided Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry for not showing up to commit to a homeless day resource center.

And on Tuesday evening, expectations from the city council were that Curry’s administration would introduce 11 pieces of legislation — necessary for the enactment of pension reform.

And on Wednesday, it’s possible that a political ally — Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti — may be hired to run the school district in Detroit.

The mayor offered insight on all of the above in a gaggle setting.

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ICARE: “I’m surprised that they were surprised that I wasn’t going to be there,” Curry said.

“We communicated with them, as we do with any number of organizations, that we had a conflict last night. I wasn’t publicly available last night. I was at a baseball game with my son, my family, that was previously scheduled,” Curry added.

“I’ve had numerous meetings with ICARE, as have many members of my administration, so I was surprised they were surprised,” Curry continued.

The big policy question: is the homeless day center off the table?

“There have been a number of discussions with them on their priorities and my priorities. Some we align on. Some we’re still working through,” the mayor said.

“For example,” Curry added, “ex-offender re-entry programs. I went to Tallahassee last year and brought a significant amount of money back for that issue.”

The state appropriation last year in that category for Duval: $900,000.

“Homelessness is an issue,” Curry said, “but as you probably saw in the Times-Union today, many experts on the issue have stated concerns: did the day resource center really work?”

“We’re evaluating in a thoughtful way the best way to move forward to take care of the least of those in our community,” Curry said.

Pension reform: The mayor also addressed legislation expected to be filed Tuesday, which would allow the city council to ratify the collective bargaining agreements negotiated with unions in recent months.

And he discussed meetings with councilors, five of which are being conducted Tuesday ahead of the council meeting.

“The first thing to recognize is my gratitude to the unions,” Curry said. “Employees, police and firemen haven’t been treated well over the years. That comes to an end now with these agreements.”

“Taxpayers have been disrespected,” Curry continued. “These agreements that we’ve reached respect taxpayers and will, once and for all, stabilize our budgets.”

“Meetings with council members — we’re talking conceptually, big-picture. It’s important that we lay the information out so they can make a responsible decision. They’re all getting that information together.”

“In the weeks ahead, in a big, public, transparent workshop,” Curry continued, “we’ll be laying all of this out.”

“I would remind you that all of the collective bargaining, all of the agreements that have been reached, were done in the sunshine — transparent for the public to see.”

That workshop, slated for Apr. 6, will “lay out the budget impact and the actuarial impact … everything that council needs to make a decision will be laid out for them publicly and you’ll all have that information available for you.”

Vitti: Curry noted that Vitti is “working through what he thinks is the best option for him and for his family.”

“He’s been a strong advocate for our schools. Has been a reformer. Whatever he decides to do,” Curry said, “I’ll stand in support.”

Missing mayor casts shadow over Jax ICARE event

The Jacksonville religious group ICARE has been pressuring Mayor Lenny Curry to bring back a homeless day center that was once in Jacksonville.

However, already-fractious discussions between Curry and the clerics broke down last month, and he wasn’t to be at the Monday ICARE “Nehemiah Assembly.”

Moreover, the city’s data suggests there are better ways to spend finite resources, as the homeless day center was not completely effective in terms of the city’s goals, and took away resources that would otherwise go for getting homeless people into homes.

And the original funding for the day center came from Obama-era community development block grants that Donald Trump looks to zero out of the budget.

With all that in mind, the ICARE show went on anyway.

So how did it play?

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The program for the event, distributed upon entry, referenced the ICARE version of the homeless day center narrative, ignoring the lack of a dedicated facility or of the federal funding that got the original facility online.

Also included: Curry’s contact information, with a stock message. “I am disappointed that you did not attend … and I want you to fund the homeless day resource center,” the message read.

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As the event kicked off, a speaker noted that when opposed to something, the crowd was to respond “not with boos, but deafening silence.”

That was true, he said, even when considering concepts like “homeless men and women in our city don’t even have a place to shower” — the first of numerous allusions to the homeless day center dispute.

The call: “to demand justice from our public officials.”

For minutes before the official program began, the crowd practiced responses in unison at the urging of the pastor, who let them know that ICARE pastors would be holding the microphone at all times, even when public officials were speaking.

And that there would be no questions from the floor, as ICARE had spent months researching the answers.

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The pastors had their say, of course.

Catholic Bishop Felipe Esteveznotable for recently comparing objectors to LGBT rights expansion to people objecting to serving in combat during the “darkest days of World War II,” invoked Pope Francis in his argument for a homeless day resource center.

Rev. Tony Hansberry likewise argued for a homeless day center, saying “we keep displacing the homeless to hide them,” and that the homeless day center would help address that cohort’s needs.

“I urge all of you to continue to hold his feet to the fire,” Hansberry said.

Myrtle Collins said that homelessness increased 33 percent in 2015 and 2016, constituting a “crisis.”

“A year ago at this assembly, we called on Mayor Curry to open a day resource center. He said the pension tax had to pass first. That tax passed last August,” Collins said.

“At our meeting with him in the summer, Mayor Curry cited a commitment to make sure the most vulnerable people in the city receive service,” Collins said.

Collins noted that Curry said that he would not attend the assembly if ICARE “went to the press.”

Press coverage followed, then Curry’s “prior commitment,” Collins said.

Radio DJ Kenny Leggett called on Curry to be a “man of [his] word.”

Pastor James Wiggins said Curry “clearly said [he] would” support a day center, showing video of last year’s event where he emphatically said “yes” when asked.

The hard sell continued, despite Curry’s absence, as members of the crowd began to filter to the exits from the balcony and floor levels.

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Curry’s absence wasn’t the only schedule disruption. In lieu of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who looks poised to move back to Detroit and run the district up there, the chief of schools (Iranetta Wright) “brought greetings on behalf” of Vitti.

Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson did show, during a segment of the program when the focus was civil citations for young people and other restorative justice mechanisms, an ongoing concern of the group that has been rolled out slowly in Jacksonville.

Williams committed to offer civil citations to 90 percent of eligible youth by March 2018, and to expand community accountability boards … though got pushback when he urged “officer discretion” in a statewide rollout of the program via SB 196.

Williams said his department moved from 10 percent to 83 percent issuance of citations, but that wasn’t enough for his questioner.

Nelson vowed, meanwhile, to divert non-violent youth to neighborhood accountability boards, and to use diversion program.

“You’ve already seen an increase in that,” Nelson offered, compared to the previous state attorney.

Nelson, in addressing ICARE, noted the cumulative effect of its collective concern.

Lauding the “energy in the room,” Nelson said she’s “paid attention and I’ve acted” and will continue to “work with ICARE and listen to ICARE.”

Ahead of legislation, Lenny Curry talks pension with Anna Brosche

Amidst a series of private appointments on the calendar of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was a meeting with Anna Brosche, the chair of the Jacksonville City Council’s Finance Committee.

The timing of the meeting was purposeful, Brosche said.

“I believe it’s going to be introduced tomorrow,” Brosche said, regarding a raft of legislation that may be introduced regarding ratifying the agreements by the unions and the mayor’s office

“He just explained the presentation that they’re going to be speaking to the entire council at one time,” Brosche said, saying this was “process, not really numbers. Just their overall plan for the process.”

When asked if the conversation gave her a sense of comfort. “I can’t say that. I can’t say that. I have to see the stuff and that’s going to come forth when we all get a chance to see it.”

Emergency hearing looms in Jax councilor’s family biz bankruptcy case

Earlier this month, “KJB Specialties D/B/A Jerome Brown BBQ” a business owned by the family of Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

With that filing comes a need to work out details: among them, salaries of the company’s officers.

Last week, the councilor’s parents, JoAnn Brown and Jerome Brown, filed motions for an emergency hearing to ensure they kept their salaries as they were in 2016: north of $74,000.

As the filing on each Brown’s motion asserted, “it would cost the company substantially more to find a replacement … if they were even willing to step in.”

“An emergency hearing is necessary to avoid immediate and irreparable harm to the estate,” the motions declare.

That salar hearing is slated for 2:30 PM on April 3 in Courtroom 4-D of the Duval County Courthouse

KJB Specialties is a guarantor of a loan taken out by another Brown family business, CoWealth LLC, which is being sued by the city for failing to come through on job creation tied to loans and grants via the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund.

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A cynic might say that “immediate and irreparable harm to the estate” is not the major issue here, as the Browns owe big-league money to a variety of creditors.

Below, a brief recap of some of the issues.

In February, KJB hired the aforementioned bankruptcy lawyer, in response to a foreclosure action on the Browns’ flagship restaurant, Jerome Brown BBQ.

The Browns owe roughly $100,000 on that note.

The Brown family businesses have had a rough decade, with CoWealth LLC, another in their group of nebulously named companies, being sued by the city of Jacksonville for failing to create jobs in a 2011 economic development agreement intended to help the Browns take their BBQ sauce business to the next level.

As is the case with KJB, CoWealth is subject to its own foreclosure action.

The latest property being foreclosed upon, according to the Lis Pendens notice, is bordered by Ellis, Broadway, and Commonwealth Avenue on the Westside.

This property corresponds with the Browns’ barbeque sauce plant (5638 Commonwealth Ave.), which is currently listed at $1.3 million — down from $1.5 million months ago, indicating a motivated seller. That asking price is less than half of Biz Capital’s claim: $2.772M is what they claim is owed.

CoWealth originally borrowed $2.65 million from Biz Capital, in addition to $380,000 from the city. The city’s interest is subordinate to that of Biz Capital.

However, Chapter 11 will frustrate the purposes of the Browns’ businesses’ creditors on these and more picayune fronts.

Ahead of ratifying pension reform, Jacksonville City Council looks backward

A Monday “lunch and learn” of the Jacksonville City Council involved members getting educated on the finer points of collective bargaining.

Not a moment too soon for that, as the council will have to vote later this spring on whether or not to ratify the latest pension reform package from the mayor’s office via 11 different ordinances: five on the city side, five from JEA side, and one from police and fire.

Introduction of legislation is imminent, with a slew of collective bargaining agreements being advanced to the council this week — potentially as soon as Tuesday.

The best deals are for police and fire, of course.

The deal offers long-delayed raises to current public safety  employees (a 3 percent lump sum payout immediately, and a 20 percent raise for police and fire over three years) and gives all classes of current employees the same benefits.

As well, all police and fire officers will have DROP eligibility with an 8.4 percent annual rate of return and a 3 percent COLA.

The deal, if approved without modification, will bring labor peace through 2027 — though it can be renegotiated by the city or the unions at 3, 6, 9, and 10 years marks in the agreement.

For new employees, however, the plan is historic — a defined contribution plan that vests three years after the new employee for police and fire is hired.

The public sector unions have agreed to this, but the council’s approval is necessary — and not to be taken for granted.

“As of Friday, all the bargaining units have ratified” the deals, General Counsel Jason Gabriel said, including the general employees — an important part of the puzzle, as all plans have to be closed before the funds are available, either to access or to provide certainty to actuaries that the money will be there.

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In March 2015, for example, the council deadlocked 9-9 on a reform vote. Though objections were magically mooted weeks after Alvin Brown lost his re-election, the fact remains that council needs to understand the process.

To that end, General Counsel Jason Gabriel — an integral part of the negotiating process — explained recent history on concepts to council, which saw 11 new members since the last pension reform package was approved.

Gabriel referenced the “unorthodox” way the city had of negotiating these terms in the past, but those days are long gone now.

“There’s been a conflation of roles … when it’s come to collective bargaining in general,” Gabriel said.

The council, said Gabriel, will have its “management hats” on when deciding to approve or deny the deal.

Gabriel described the 2015 “settlement agreement” as putting the “final kibosh” on negotiating with the Police and Fire Pension Fund, paving the way for the various pension reform deals negotiated since August 2016 with the unions.

The city has three funds: the general employees fund, the correctional officers fund, and the police and fire pension fund.

These funds were established in 1937; pending ratification of pension reform by the council, they will be closed to new members.

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Gabriel went back into history: starting a granular analysis in the early 1990s, after some changes in the 1980s led to a city charter amendment that made the police and fire pension fund an independent agency of the city.

The Ed Austin administration imposed an amendment allowing the local PFPF to negotiate pension benefits, and amendments over the years and across administrations changed and elongated the deal, leading to the 2001 “30-year agreement.”

Gabriel reviewed lawsuits related to that agreement, including actions related to violation of agreement terms, Sunshine Law violations, and so on.

Gabriel discussed pension reform deals worked out by the John Peyton administration in 2011, but not approved, as the Alvin Brown administration withdrew the bill related to the police and fire pension fund.

“The Peyton plan kind of comes off the table, and we start fresh with the Brown administration,” Gabriel summarized.

The Brown administration attempted legislation related to a mediated settlement of a sunshine law suit in 2013, a 2014 retirement reform agreement, and a counter-proposal from the PFPF in 2015, but finding common ground between the council, the mayor’s office, and the pension fund proved challenging.

Also attempted: making JEA a funding source. That didn’t float either.

The 2015 agreement that was ratified, said Gabriel, had “two huge provisions.”

One: “that collective bargaining is a constitutional right of the unions and management … and those rights are not waivable.”

“Everything we’re doing today fits into the terms of the 2015 agreement,” Gabriel said, referring to the pension reform package put forth by the Curry administration, one that sees dedicated funding coming from the extension of a current sales surtax.

“None of this is easy,” Gabriel said, referring to the stipulations of the plan, which include closing underfunded plans to new employees, agreeing to a 10 percent minimum employees contribution, an extant surtax with a date certain for termination, and keeping the trustees out of the bargaining.

“It’s almost like a sleeper provision in there,” Gabriel chortled about the latter. “It’s crystal-clear … we have to follow the dictates of the statute, and one of them is that the board of trustees has no role in pension benefits.”

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If legislation is completed and ready to be filed, the bills will be added to the addendum council agenda meeting Tuesday, setting up a more robust schedule of meetings.

“It’s all a moving target,” Council President Lori Boyer said, with the hope for a marathon meeting about the “financial side” between representatives of the mayor’s office and city council on Apr. 6.

“I’ll hand out a whole schedule tomorrow of potential dates,” Boyer said, floating the possibility of taking up these issues in a separate meeting dedicated to the purpose of pension reform, pending the distribution of actuarial studies.

“This meeting is about us receiving the information … we don’t even have it yet,” Boyer said.

Report: Jacksonville ‘jilts’ intelligent street lights

For those wondering what happened to the “intelligent” street lighting pilot project Jacksonville launched a couple of years back, wonder no longer.

Trade publication LEDs Magazine reports that Jacksonville “jilted” the pilot project from GE.

In April 2015, then-Mayor Alvin Brown, in campaign mode, exulted over the project which was supposed to put Jacksonville “at the forefront of innovation nationally.”

“Jacksonville is excited to be on the front lines with this pilot project, using new technology to increase efficiency and drive innovation, at no cost to taxpayers …. This technology has the potential to transform how our city solves problems by allowing us to use the power of data to drive outcomes that give us flexibility, efficiency and new, creative actions to enhance life in our city,” Brown said.

Brown lost his re-election a month later, and the project was passed on to the Lenny Curry administration, where the excitement apparently ebbed.

“Upon the pilot’s conclusion, the city did not move forward with the program,” a City of Jacksonville spokesperson told LEDs Magazine.

The city had “other priorities that took precedence,” the magazine continued.

(Note: For those who don’t speak Mayor’s Office, “other priorities” is one of those phrases like “the mayor has a schedule conflict” that semantically is intended to close inquiry. However, given the timing of the administration’s decision early last year, it likely was tied with the all-consuming push to get its pension reform scheme through Tallahassee.)

Ironically, the other location where the pilot launched — San Diego — has a mayor who is Republican, like Curry, but San Diego is pushing forward.

“The San Diego smart lighting trial ended in August, and last month Current announced that San Diego was now investing $30 million to deploy 3200 of GE’s CityIQ sensor nodes on street-light poles starting in July, with the possibility of another 3000 nodes later this year. San Diego is also upgrading 14,000 light fixtures — about a quarter of the city’s street lights — to Current’s Evolve LED luminaires,” LEDs reports.

In an interesting twist, San Diego’s system includes ShotSpotter technology.

The Curry administration started looking into ShotSpotter, a technology which allows aural identification of where gunshots come from, last year.

This year, the administration shepherded legislation through the city council to ensure local allocation for it, while having Duval County Legislative Delegation member Rep. Kim Daniels carry an ask for $325,000 of state funds.

Between that and the city’s participation in the NIBIN program (a federal clearinghouse for shell casings to identify firearms used in violent crime), it’s clear that Jacksonville is implementing technological solutions to the crime issue — at least two of which could be called “intelligent design.”

However, the GE project clearly wasn’t the way forward … for reasons the administration didn’t want to discuss with a national outlet.

Comeback kid? Corrine Brown begins defense in explosive TV interview

Former Rep. Corrine Brown has the best sense of theater of any politician in Northeast Florida. And she gave a Jacksonville TV station a one-woman show.

Brown, facing an April 5 status conference and an April trial for almost two dozen counts in federal court, stands alone now.

Her co-defendant and chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, pleaded out already.

However, Brown continues to maintain her innocence, telling WJXT‘s Lynnsey Gardner that she feels like she can beat the rap.

And that’s not just with one juror — Brown believes she can sway all of them.

In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Gardner, Brown spills on subjects that have been points of speculation for months in some cases, longer in others.

Among them: Her defense strategy: the conspiracy, Carla Wiley and Ronnie Simmons; the golf tournament, Monica Isom, etc. What she knew about the financial transactions. What made her cry. Her message to the jury. Her message to lead federal prosecutor A. Tyson Duva and why she thinks he’s singled her out.

Brown disclaims responsibility: “I mean it was just like any charity I’m involved with. I’m not on their corporation papers, I’m not on their board, I’m not going to any meetings. How you going to charge ME? “

Brown discusses latter-day betrayals.

When Gardner mentions that some people see her as crooked, Brown says that “during time periods like this you find out who is on your side. You find out who your friends are.”

Brown also says that people ask her about her political comeback, should she beat the rap.

“Well, we will have to discuss that with my constituents,” Brown says. “I really don’t think the lord is through with me yet.”

Brown also solicits financial assistance from supporters!

“No amount is too small,” Brown — a defendant in a case about a fraudulent charity — said.

Expect this blockbuster interview on WJXT newscasts Monday evening beginning at 5:00.

Why Jacksonville may not get its homeless day resource center after all

On Monday night, Jacksonville’s ICARE group has its yearly Nehemiah Assembly, at which local faith leaders will call for the reopening of a downtown homeless day resource center closed a couple of years back.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has received pressure to come through with money for this purpose, and as of last week, attending the Monday ICARE event isn’t on his agenda, after a fractious February meeting with the group.

Also very possibly absent from Curry’s agenda: bringing back the day resource center.

We talked to Dawn Gilman of Jacksonville’s Changing Homelessness group about the day resource center last week.

Gilman, whose group secured two years of federal funding for the center and who is consulting with the mayor’s office on next steps, threw up a number of caution flags during our conversation.

One major caution flag: the money came from Community Development Block Grants.

CDBGs are phased out of the first Donald Trump budget.

Another major caution flag: mixed results.

While people who used the center liked it, there was a paradoxical correlation between likelihood of misdemeanor arrests and having been a consumed of the center’s services.

The day center, said Gilman, “didn’t have good outcomes in connecting people with housing,” though it did connect people with services.

“The best possible outcome is for a person who is homeless to be connected with housing, and the day resource center didn’t do that,” Gilman added.

Especially in light of limited city resources, “tough decisions” have to be made.

“Is it the best use of resources? No,” Gilman said. “For every $8,000 spent, we could rehouse [someone].” And “permanent supportive housing” for someone could be secured for $12,000 a year.

As is the case with other social-service legislation, such as the Jacksonville Journey, the mayor’s office wants a data-driven approach. And the data shows that a day center serves a supplementary, not a primary purpose, Gilman contends.

It is “unlikely that a day resource center” would top the list of Curry administration solutions to the problem.

A day center, says Gilman, offers a “visible front door” but “no connected exit” from homelessness.

Gilman advocates shifting resources to “crisis response” — emergency services.

Further inquiry, via an outside group commissioned by Changing Homelessness, is underway; the “deep dive” might be completed by this summer, which could complicate recommendations becoming part of the next budget.

Gilman notes a point of success: homelessness is down 30 percent in the last five years.

In that case, the solution is federal: funding from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs has led to a “stunning decrease” in veterans who are homeless.

How Mike Pence wasted Jacksonville’s time

As VP Mike Pence prepared to come to Jacksonville last Saturday to sell the American Health Care Act to Florida, some of the best members of the media dreaded it.

A TV person’s reaction: “Oh, God, I hope I don’t get called in.”

A print guy’s take: “I hate watching these politician events.”

In the end, neither of them were there. Nor were any of the real agenda setters in the local press. The local press turnout was sparse. The national correspondents were no-names. It turned out, a week later, all that was a bad sign.

Also a bad sign: the facility where the event was held — an envelope manufacturing plant — had the virtues and drawbacks of a secure warehouse setting.

The principle virtue: fencing and police at the perimeter of the building and blocks away controlling ingress and egress managed to keep the protesters away — a determined band of Democratic/Progressive activists kept, for the most part, out of the media’s line of sight.

The drawbacks were myriad.

One such drawback: no restrooms for the public. While there were portalets, there was no hand washing station. Politicians and the kind of party volunteers who made the apparently contested invite list love to shake hands. With those grins and grips on Saturday, they shared more than bonhomie.

Another such drawback: security’s key interest was in keeping the media in the pen.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s 2017 and the media are the most dishonest people in the world, except for Infowars and Russia Today and Fox and Friends, of course. But the people tasked with publicizing the event spent the whole time being watched.

We were forbidden to leave the pen after about 12:30. For me, a local guy who knew half the room, that precluded me from the kind of conversations I would have had with certain people in any other milieu.

However, the audience could come in the pen. This led to people approaching more than one female TV reporter and striking up conversations that weren’t of mutual interest.

So, beyond not getting the publicity the VP would have wanted, and beyond the ham-handed logistics of the event, what else went wrong?

The waste of political capital of local and state pols who made the trek.

“President Trump supports the bill 100 percent, and we all do,” Pence said. “A new era for federal/state Medicaid partnership has begun.”

LOL.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry got a warm reception from the same folks who sent him hate mail over not vetoing the HRO, but his words now look pretty hollow given the inaction of the House, which couldn’t get repeal and replace done when given a free kick on goal during what passes for the president’s “honeymoon period.”

Rep. John Rutherford may have enjoyed watching March Madness with the VP on the plane to Jacksonville, but he ended up at the periphery of the debate otherwise.

And Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn’t help himself much either.

How much time did Scott spend conferring with the Trump administration on health care in recent months? How does this Trumpian botch affect his Senate run next year?

Scott, the most prominent Obamacare critic of any state governor, spent his entire administration rejecting the Affordable Care Act.

Pence rewarded the governor’s messaging the day before in a press release and letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price. The VP vowed  to allow “states like Florida” the ability to have a block grant to administer their plans, and a “work requirement” for coverage.

“State solutions,” Pence said, are the best way forward for Florida.

“President Trump supports the bill 100 percent, and we all do,” Pence said. “A new era for federal/state Medicaid partnership has begun.”

So, here’s what happened in Jacksonville. The VP decided to make his stand here, giving Rutherford a platform because neighboring Ted Yoho and Ron DeSantis weren’t feeling this bill. The governor came in and got his moment in the spotlight. And Mayor Curry made the stop before going on Spring Break.

All of them got a news cycle.

But what happens the next time they try to sell a Trump initiative?

Will they be as useful?

After his re-election, George W. Bush said “what good is political capital if you don’t use it.”

Then he wasted it and lost it for a solid decade, until he took up portraiture.

Can Donald Trump paint? And do we have to wait until 2027 to figure it out?

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