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State House hopeful Tracye Polson clears $51K in September

Lots of under-capitalized Democrats run for office in Northeast Florida. And then there’s House District 15 Democrat Tracye Polson.

The first-time Jacksonville candidate stormed out to a huge first month in the race, raising $51,099 in September, with over $47,000 of that cash on hand, according to a press release from her campaign Monday.

There are caveats: Polson loaned her campaign $25,000, gave herself another $1,000, and much of the money contributed is from outside District 15.

“I am excited and humbled by the response my candidacy has received throughout the district. The hard-working families of Jacksonville deserve better than what they have been getting out of Tallahassee,” Polson asserted.

“For too long, the deck has been stacked against middle class families in Tallahassee because you have a state legislature dominated by politicians who cater to the special interest. I am not a politician, I’ve never run for office and I am going to change the status quo in Tallahassee. It is why I am running and my message is clearly resonating with voters here in Jacksonville.”

House District 15 will see a competitive race to replace Jay Fant, who is running for Attorney General. Republican hopeful Wyman Duggan raised $10,650 in September while spending $4,770; he has roughly $60,000 on hand after two months in the race.

Except for HD 15, slow September House fundraising in NE Florida

September’s Hurricane Irma soaked Northeast Florida — and put a damper on state House race fundraising as well.

Though the usual caveats apply here (mostly incumbents in safely-drawn seats), there wasn’t a lot of action in September fundraising.

The exception: a big-money race in House District 15, where Republican Wyman Duggan brought in $10,650, and Democrat Tracye Polson cleared $51,000.

Expect things to pick up outside of HD 15. this month, but below is the current lay of the land (spoiler: it looks much like last month).

House District 11 Republican Rep. Cord Byrd raised $400 in September, against $2,549 spent, bringing his total cash on hand to just under $16,000. Byrd faces neither primary nor general election opposition.

Jacksonville Republican state Rep. Clay Yarborough continued his consistent fundraising in his HD 12 re-election bid in September. The $7,500 he brought in last month pushed Yarborough up to $63,675 raised — with almost $53,000 of that on hand. His political committee has another $6,000 in the bank. 

Tim Yost, a Democrat running against Yarborough in the heavily Republican district, has $1,700 on hand.

HD 13 Democratic incumbent Tracie Davis had yet to file her campaign finance reports for September as of Tuesday morning.

Davis’ fellow Democrat, Kim Daniels, raised $1,000 for her HD 14 re-election bid — giving her $2,100 on hand.

House District 15 sees a competitive race to replace Jay Fant, who is running for Attorney General. Republican hopeful Wyman Duggan raised $10,650 in September while spending $4,770; he has roughly $60,000 on hand after two months in the race.

Meanwhile … lots of under-capitalized Democrats run for office in Northeast Florida. And then there’s House District 15 Democrat Tracye Polson.

The first-time Jacksonville candidate stormed out to a huge first month in the race, raising $51,099 in September, with over $47,000 of that cash on hand, according to a press release from her campaign Monday.

In HD 16, $4,000 of new September money brought Rep. Jason Fischer over $55,000 cash on hand in his campaign account. Fischer’s campaign committee has an additional $27,000. Fischer faces no ballot opposition.

In House District 17, St. Johns County Republican Cyndi Stevenson is running unopposed; in September, she raised $3,603 and spent $1,052; all told, she has just over $44,000 on hand.

House District 18’s incumbent Republican, Travis Cummings, added $2,500 to his coffers in September; the Clay County Republican has roughly $52,000 on hand.

HD 19’s incumbent Republican, Palatka’s Bobby Payne, raised $2,500 in September, pushing him over $28,000 on hand. Primary opponent Boyce Royal had $500 on hand as of the end of August — September tallies were not filed at press time. The same held true for Libertarian hopeful Ryan Ramsey.

$50K+ September spend for Paul Renner PAC; Richard Corcoran benefits

House Speaker-in-waiting Paul Renner‘s PAC, “Florida Foundation for Liberty,” exited September with less cash on hand than it had at the beginning.

Renner’s committee raised $7,748, while spending $52,032; all told, the committee has roughly $232,000 on hand.

The most interesting — and sizable — spend out of that $52,032 from the Palm Coast Republican’s PAC: $20,000 to the “Watchdog PAC,” which is associated with current House Speaker and all-but-declared GOP Gubernatorial candidate Richard Corcoran.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough‘s political committee, “Floridians for Conservative Values,” also came out ahead, with $5,000 of new September money from the Renner PAC.

“Conservatives for a Better Florida,” a new and thus far mysterious political committee based in Coral Gables, received $5,000 more.

Renner’s committee was also refunded $1,000 from the campaign account of Rep. Cord Byrd in September.

At this writing on Monday morning, Renner had yet to file September numbers for his campaign account.

Fundraising there has been modest: at the end of August, Renner had just under $32,000 on hand. But in a safe seat, safely ensconced on the House Leadership track, that’s not a pressing concern.

Rory Diamond puts Beaches first in 2019 Jax City Council bid

To the surprise of no one plugged into Jacksonville politics, Neptune Beach City Councilor Rory Diamond is making a play for the Jacksonville City Council.

Diamond launched his campaign this week to replace termed-out Bill Gulliford in District 13, after setting up a political committee (“For the Beaches”) that will offer help as needed.

Diamond, an alumnus of the George W. Bush White House, the California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger administration, and head of the charitable non-profit “K9s for Warriors,” is highly regarded among local Republicans. Florida Politics talked with him about the campaign, the future, and more Friday afternoon.

Diamond stressed, early on in the conversation, how much he loves his current role in Neptune Beach, describing serving on the local city council as a “spectacular experience.”

“This is the most fun time to be a Neptune Beach City Councilman,” Diamond says, as “we’re getting all this stuff done.”

Yet with Gulliford termed out, Diamond recognizes that there are “very big shoes to fill” — and he intends to fill them.

“Everyone across the Beaches is looking at this as the most important elected official we have,” Diamond said, as the Beaches only have one Councilor on the 19-person Jacksonville legislative body.

“The Beaches themselves are vulnerable,” Diamond said, to everything from hurricanes and flooding to “crime coming over our bridges.”

“We need someone to represent the Beaches, and that’s why I stood up — to stand for and fight for our community,” Diamond said.

Gulliford, a “longtime servant of the beaches,” has consistently “delivered” for the Beaches, Diamond notes.

That’s especially true on issues where the Beaches have needed the city to deliver on infrastructural needs, such as dune rebuilding, the Mayport Ferry, and the recurrent capital needs associated with the Jacksonville Beach Pier.

“Those were huge things that the Beaches needed, and Bill was able to get it for us,” Diamond notes.

In addition to giving Gulliford high marks, Diamond also holds Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in high esteem, saying that Curry’s program is “well-aligned with the Beaches,” and indicating support on citywide policy initiatives, including the Kids Hope Alliance — a children’s services reform measure the City Council is currently mulling, which Diamond (a member of the Jax Journey board) believes is a long overdue step to create “one entity” for youth services.

Despite a general alignment with the Mayor, Diamond — as is currently the case with Gulliford — recognizes that being the Beach Councilman requires a willingness to strike the sometimes lonely path of fighting for the Beaches to get its cut of the pie.

Beaches residents, said Diamond, send 80 percent of their tax revenue to Jacksonville.

Hurricane preparedness, drainage money, and infrastructure protection, said Diamond, are key priorities for the Beaches, a “vulnerable barrier island” for the rest of Duval.

Public safety, via a “great and strong JSO,” is another priority of Diamond’s.

Diamond stressed, throughout the interview, his love for Neptune Beach, saying he “jumped into” this race “reluctantly.”

However, a common theme emerged from local leaders who called him; they urged him to run, saying that the Beaches “need a strong person” in Jacksonville.

“A lot of them called me,” Diamond related, saying “would you stand up for the Beaches?”

And many of the heavy hitters at the Beaches back Diamond. From state Sen. Aaron Bean and state Rep. Cord Byrd to majorities of the City Councils in Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach, Diamond’s support is strong.

Diamond officially kicks off his campaign Wed. Oct. 18 at 6PM at Jacksonville Beach’s Casa Marina hotel.

Among roughly sixty “initial supporters” of note: Gary ChartrandMarty FiorentinoPaul HardenPreston HaskellAudrey MoranJohn Peyton, and Wayne Weaver.

Expect robust fundraising out of the gate, followed by efficient resource deployment from strategy gurus Tim Baker and Brian Hughes, local masters of microtargeting who will have a unique opportunity to calibrate Diamond’s messaging to individual sectors of a council district where politics is as localized as anywhere in Duval County.

Lenny Curry’s Jax Kids Hope Alliance bill gets 13 Council cosponsors

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has invested a lot of political capital into the Kids Hope Alliance, a proposed reform of Jacksonville children’s services.

The reform bill, which now has 13 of 19 people on City Council as co-sponsors, would replace the Jacksonville Journey and Jacksonville Children’s Commission with the KHA.

While the bill cleared two of three Council committees this week, it was not voted out of Finance, where questions remained.

Those questions will be answered, presumably, at a Committee of the Whole meeting 1 p.m. Monday, one followed by a special finance meeting–one that will allow the committee to clear the bill for the full Council meeting the next day, if the committee votes the bill out.

Odds look favorable: the bill now has thirteen co-sponsors in its current form … a clear suggestion that there would be majority support on a simple up or down vote.

Curry met with many Council members on Thursday and Friday … except for the chair, who is on a collision course with Curry over the Kids Hope Alliance proposal. Those meetings paid off.

Councilman Reggie Gaffney jumped on board Friday afternoon, joining fellow Finance Committee members Lori BoyerAaron BowmanMatt Schellenberg — meaning that even a majority of the Finance Committee was on board.

In Tuesday’s Finance meeting, that wasn’t a given.

Chair Garrett Dennis took the unusual step of allowing unlimited speaking time to public commenters, while Council President Anna Brosche introduced 17 questions she had about the bill right before the committee had to make a hard stop.

On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, we asked Curry, Brosche and Dennis their thoughts on where the KHA process is, and the path forward. Curry, appearing at a media event at JAXPORT on Wednesday afternoon, was first up — and in a philosophical mode regarding the “process.”

“This is the process,” Curry said. “I think the bill’s on its fifth iteration now. If you add in my first bill, the substitute bill, the amendments that were made in the committees in the last couple of days.”

“So, it’s just the process of making it the best possible bill that it can be,” Curry said, adding that the amendments “absolutely” make the bill a better one.

“We welcome the revisions to the bill. We’re on the fifth iteration, I believe. I expect it will end up in a place with a bill that is exactly where it should be, to serve our kids — the kids of Jacksonville in the best way that they can be served, and to improve the way they’re served today,” Curry added.

“Whatever it takes to get this bill to where it needs to be to get on with the business of serving kids,” Curry said, “in a more focused way and a more outcome-driven way than we’re doing today, I’m on board with.”

Council President Brosche told us Thursday morning that she was “concerned that the public has not had the opportunity to become involved.”

Brosche expanded on these comments Thursday afternoon in a public forum at the Urban League.

Brosche noted that she was trying to understand “what needs fixing” with children’s services, trying to “reconcile why we’re creating a new entity when the work today … is defined as excellent.”

“For me, this is about serving the kids. We’re already not serving enough kids in Jacksonville … I’m trying to understand what is broken,” Brosche said about the Curry plan, which is predicated on a contention that the Jacksonville Children’s Commission is outmoded and ineffective.

FloridaPolitics.com obtained a copy of Council questions and administration-provided answers [KHA Memo to Councilmembers], and Council President Brosche — who is reviewing the current crop of answers — may yet have additional questions for the Curry administration.

A number of the questions and answers bear closer scrutiny in light of committee discussion.

Among the revelations: according to the Curry administration, there is — as of yet — no candidate for the CEO position identified; however, “we anticipate Mayor Curry making the appointment shortly after the enactment of this legislation.”

The Curry administration also addressed criticism from some quarters that there wasn’t sufficient input from subject matter experts: “A multitude of stakeholders were consulted including but not limited to providers, philanthropic partners, elected officials, current and former JCC Board Members, community leaders and citizens. The collective experiences, input and recommendations were considered and to the extent appropriate incorporated in the legislation as proposed. As a result of the actions this week, the current legislation is in its fifth version. All of the changes came from the stakeholders listed above.”

Perhaps the most interesting descriptive language of this week’s committee meetings was when a member of the Curry administration used the word “rubber stamp” to describe board members, as well as a feeling of “entitlement” from providers.

“Certain service providers expect these taxpayers dollars regardless of their performance, and this will no longer be the tolerated. These words simply emphasize the mayor’s expectations of a results-driven board. Under the Kids’ Hope Alliance, performance will be mandated and measured ensuring better [outcomes] for our children and the taxpayers of Jacksonville,” the response read.

Meanwhile, when asked about the “biggest weakness” of the current JCC/Jax Journey structure, the response was deliberately forward-looking: “Citing specific weaknesses and attempting to assign blame for the past, seems counterproductive.”

While it appears that Brosche’s questions are at least in the process of being answered, a new wrinkle emerged this week, with Finance Chair Dennis filing legislation that he believes merits parallel consideration.

This would necessitate a six-week deferral of the Kids Hope Alliance bill; Dennis believes that Mayor Curry “should welcome a frank public discussion” comparing and contrasting the two proposals.

The Dennis bill would repeal the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and replace it with the Ed Austin Children’s Services Council.

This body, per the bill, would “exist as an autonomous body within the Executive Branch of the consolidated government but shall not be a part of the organizational structure of any executive department.”

Some of this looks the same as the KHA bill — including the seven-person board comprised of Duval County residents, and a requirement of a 2/3 vote of Council for removal of board members.

“Bill 2017-697 is about kids. After listening to my fellow council members and hearing from the community and feeling the need to get this right for the kids of Jacksonville, I am proposing an alternative solution that builds upon the recent improvements to JCC,” Dennis asserted.

“The recent audit shows that JCC is improving outcomes for kids. I also wanted to honor the legacy of the founder of JCC by renaming it the Ed Austin Children’s Services Council and make improvements to existing JCC ordinance that has lasted 25 years and can continue to improve the lives of our kids and ultimately Jacksonville. It’s about our kids,” Dennis asserted.

Meanwhile, Sen. Audrey Gibson expressed her own concerns with the Curry bill this week in the Florida Times-Union.

Gibson, who last battled the Curry Administration ahead of 2016’s pension reform referendum, called the Kids Hope Alliance bill a “proposed fast track of city legislation to offer ‘hope’ to our children in need of opportunity to become the best they can be through after-school programming.”

With thirteen co-sponsors, KHA may already be a done deal. But at the very least, Monday and Tuesday will have drama before the votes.

When told of KHA having 13 cosponsors, Finance Chair Garrett Dennis — who has just filed competing legislation — was unmoved.

“Wait until Monday,” he said.

Jay Fant lends campaign $750K toward AG bid

State Rep. Jay Fant, a Jacksonville Republican vying to become Florida’s next attorney general, Friday said he had personally put in $750,000 toward his election.

The loan to his campaign, made last month, brings his total campaign funds raised to just over $958,000, his campaign told Florida Politics.

Without it, Fant’s campaign account shows just over $179,000 in contributions, according to campaign finance records as of Friday morning. That doesn’t include other September fundraising.

“I am investing my own funds because Floridians deserve an alternative to the establishment candidates in the field,” Fant said in a statement.

“As the only conservative and the only candidate who has signed the front of a paycheck, I will protect individual liberties and free enterprise,” he added. “We have over a year until the election and we are just getting started.

“Our donor and grassroots support are strong and we are looking forward to the next 13 months on the campaign trail.”

Fant, whose legislative record “includes advocacy of 1st and 2nd Amendment issues and limited government,” also said he has “pledged to commit additional personal campaign funds from time to time.”

For now, Fant faces only former Hillsborough County circuit judge Ashley Moody in the GOP primary for the seat. The winner will face Ryan Torrens, the lone declared Democrat, in the general election.

Moody, who’s gotten a series of high-profile endorsements, has raised nearly $756,000, not including September numbers—with none of that from loans, records show. She has roughly $733,500 in cash-on-hand.

Fant, however, bucked House Speaker Richard Corcoran and backed Republican Gov. Rick Scott—a deep-pocketed, likely candidate against Democrat Bill Nelson next year for the U.S. Senate—in Scott’s effort to save Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA from virtual gutting last session.

Incumbent Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is term-limited next year.

Jax firefighter committee plays in Miami, Orlando city races

The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters political committee generally flies below the radar, but — as in September — sometimes makes some interesting moves outside Duval.

The committee contributed $1,000 each to four city commission hopefuls — two in Miami, two in Orlando.

And of those four, there are stories that are worth telling to audiences outside those local markets.

The Miami contributions were to Joe Carollo and Manolo Reyes.

Carollo’s story is especially interesting.

The former Miami Mayor was serving as city manager in Doral, a position from which he was initially fired in 2014, then — after court action and a settlement agreement — he was reinstated to in 2017 to set up a resignation hours later, per the Miami Herald.

In another Herald piece, Carollo’s tempestuous personality is described more fully, though it apparently is no problem for those polled thus far; Carollo says he’s “way up” in “any legitimate poll.”

In Orlando, the firefighters are ponying up for former Miss America Ericka Dunlap in one city commission race, and Muslim lawyer Asima Azam in another.

Both of these candidates are running against entrenched incumbents.

These donations don’t reflect the interest of Jacksonville union members directly, but speak to a holistic effort made by locals of public safety unions — one that preserves and even increases their political cachet.

Clay Yarborough clears $50K COH in HD 12 re-election bid

Jacksonville Republican state Rep. Clay Yarborough continued his consistent fundraising in his HD 12 re-election bid in September.

The $7,500 he brought in last month was right in line with July and August contributions of $7,500 and $7,250 respectively, and pushed Yarborough up to $63,675 raised — with almost $53,000 of that on hand.

Of Yarborough’s haul, $6,500 of that was from corporate/institutional donors, including AT&T, Charter, and PhRMA — the trade association of the pharmaceutical industry.

Yarborough, a former Jacksonville City Councilman, was first elected to this Southside Jacksonville seat in 2016 after a contentious primary that saw a lot of outside money brought in.

While Yarborough faces no primary competition, and won’t — given the Jacksonville donor class made its peace with him shortly after he got the nomination last August — he does face a likely general election opponent in Democrat Tim Yost.

Yost reported no fundraising for September, and has just over $1,700 on hand.

Jacksonville Bold for 10.6.17 — After the storm

Jacksonville politics are returning to normal after a wild summer that included a newly assertive City Council flexing its muscles over Mayor Lenny Curry’s budget, followed by impacts from Hurricane Irma that are only now receding.

Politicians, as you will read below, are still working to pick up the pieces, as photo ops are now replaced by the more quotidian work of relief and securing federal reimbursements for debris removal.

Local budgets have been approved for a new fiscal year, meaning that the pyrotechnic posturing will — especially as the holiday season approaches — dial down.

That said, we can now turn our attention to approaching storms: those being the 2018 Legislative Session (for which bills are being filed), 2018 campaigns for state office (which will see a lot of pre-primary action on the Republican side), and the 2019 Jacksonville municipal campaigns (for which candidates are filing).

Expect moves (in some cases) to be as quiet as possible — and expect us to listen at the keyholes for the whispers … and tell you the important stuff.

John Rutherford talks Irma recovery

U.S. Rep. Rutherford took to the House floor this week to discuss the response to Hurricane Irma, lauding the first responders and National Guardsmen who are so pivotal in the reaction.

But Rutherford’s comments looked forward as well; namely, to ensure Florida — specifically Northeast Florida — gets what is necessary for recovery.

Rep. John Rutherford was vital in bringing House leadership through Jacksonville last month.

“Mr. Speaker,” Rutherford said, “the Florida delegation in this House is now unified to ensure that Floridians receive the Federal support they need to recover from this horrible natural disaster, Hurricane Irma.”

Rutherford added that “the Port of Jacksonville is ground zero for getting shipments of needed goods to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In fact, the American Maritime Partnership and the entire U.S. maritime industry are, first responders in times of emergency like Irma and Maria when they strike Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”

Indeed, just this week Gov. Rick Scott visited JAXPORT to see shipments of goods headed to Puerto Rico.

Speaker Paul Ryan should be acutely aware of Jacksonville’s strategic importance in relief efforts; he came through Jacksonville last month as part of his post-Irma tour of the devastation Irma wrought.

Gov. Rick Scott visits JAXPORT to see shipments of goods headed to Puerto Rico.

Al Lawson: ‘Let’s Feed America’

U.S. Rep. Lawson has focused on food scarcity issues in his first term in DC — and with good reason, as his Congressional District 5 has many so-called “food deserts.”

To that end, Lawson is using several creative approaches. The latest, reports WUSF: the launch of the “Let’s Feed America” campaign.

Rep. Al Lawson again is turning attention to regional food security issues.

The goal: “To reduce hunger by expanding eligibility and making it easier for those in need to receive access to food.”

Lawson’s constituents rely heavily on the SNAP program; one in four have used it this year.

President Donald Trump wants to cut this program, an outcome Lawson called “totally unacceptable.”

$100 million for Florida Forever?

The Florida Forever program hasn’t been funded in the way people expected when they voted to appropriate Amendment 1 funds for it in 2014. The biggest amount earmarked for land acquisition thus far: $15.2M.

A new Senate bill from Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley seeks to change that, requiring an at least $100M allocation per year, for protection of Florida’s increasingly fragile wilderness.

Sen. Rob Bradley continues to fight for environmental spending.

“I am filing this bill because the Constitution demands, and the overwhelming majority of Floridians who voted for Amendment One in 2014 demand, that we protect the natural resources of our state,” Bradley said.

Bradley’s bill comes on the heels of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection seeking $50 million for Florida Forever.

Bradley had already filed a measure for 2018 (SB 204) that would lead to the state spending at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on projects related to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region.

Last Session, Bradley pushed a project consistent with the aims of Florida Forever, securing recurring funds of $13.3 million earmarked for water replenishment in the St. Johns River and Keystone Heights Lake Region.

Tracie Davis moves to protect workers’ rights

As Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, many residents faced evacuation orders — and some felt pressure from employers not to leave … or else they’d lose their jobs.

A new bill from Rep. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, would rectify that, banning such “employment discrimination.”

Tracie Davis calls this bill “common sense legislation. We agree.

HB 225 would protect employees from “retaliatory personnel action” if they evacuated in compliance with an executive branch evacuation order applicable to their residence.

The employee would have 14 days to return to work — unless there is a lesser timespan mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

If fired, the employee could take civil action and remedies could include reinstatement of the employee to his or her previous position, compensation for lost wages, and attorney and court costs.

It does not apply to first responders, people working in nursing homes and those involved in the “restoration of vital services.”

If I do say so myself …

Councilman Garrett Dennis was featured in the Florida Times-Union last weekend, via a letter to the editor that extolled the budget delivery/performance of the City Council Finance Committee he chairs.

Finance Committee did great, per Finance Chair.

Dennis asserted that the committee allowed the budget to be “reviewed and vetted from a different perspective … ensuring that all communities are served,”

Worth noting: The Mayor advanced a massive (by Jacksonville standards) $131M capital improvement budget well before Finance even took a look at the paper. The philosophy was that the short-term budget relief created by immediate pension reform savings would help with priority projects.

Kids Hope Alliance on the rocks?

Jacksonville City Council committees this week were dominated by a dissection of Curry’s Kids Hope Alliance proposal, which seeks to replace Jacksonville’s children’s services organizations — the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and the Jax Journey — with a seven-person board housed in the executive branch.

Will Council scuttle Mayor Lenny Curry’s kids’ program reforms?

Two of three Council committees passed the bill; deferring the measure, however, the Finance Committee … which looks poised to have a meeting Monday to answer questions from Chairman Garrett Dennis and Council President Anna Brosche.

Curry made a relatively rare trip to Council Chambers to sell the plan to one committee, and given that he’s messaged heavily on this one, he’s invested in the outcome.

Will that outcome be Tuesday … or again deferred?

JEA to PR

Some props for Jacksonville’s utility: they are sending crews to Puerto Rico to help the U.S. territory rebuild a power grid devastated by Hurricane Maria.

JEA CEO Paul McElroy is finally past messaging on Irma.

The 40 worker crews will, reports WJCT, work 30-day tours before rotating out. JEA has committed to three months of restoration work.

For JEA, which took a lot of criticism for messaging in the wake of Irma, news like this should help change the narrative … at least until the discussion of McElroy’s bonus comes up later this year.

Bill Bishop, Rory Diamond launch Council bids

The 2019 campaign season is starting in Jacksonville, as two candidates with name identification launched Council runs this week.

Former district Councilman and Mayoral candidate Bill Bishop filed Tuesday in at-large District 2, where he will oppose an ally of Mayor Curry: Ron Salem.

After months of deliberation (and some Jenga), Bill Bishop is back.

Salem has over $100,000 banked, and the Mayor’s political machine on his side. Meanwhile, Bishop built up a lot of goodwill among the Jacksonville smart set in 2015, as he ran an insurgent campaign before endorsing Alvin Brown for Mayor in the runoff.

The open question: will people support or remember Bishop in 2019, after a couple of years out of the relative spotlight of the Council dais? And will Bishop find donors outside of the Curry machine axis?

Out at the Beaches, Neptune Beach Councilor Rory Diamond — another candidate the Mayor’s political machine is excited about — launched his race to succeed fellow Republican Bill Gulliford, who is termed out and ready to move to Montana.

Diamond, an alumnus of the George W. Bush White House, will be the establishment favorite in that race. That said, Beach politics are essentially cannibalism at the ballot box, and almost certainly one or more of Diamond’s opponents will lay into him for using Neptune as a steppingstone to the big show.

Duval School Board OKs budget

The Duval County School Board approved its budget by a 5-1 vote this week … and three guesses as to who the “1” was.

Board member Scott Shine has been a lonely voice on the board, and budget night was no exception. He voted against the budget and called attention to a priority of former board member and current State Rep. Jason Fischer: an audit of $21M that ended up being spent last fiscal year from reserves.

Scott Shine: in the wilderness.

The audit, said Board Chairwoman Paula Wright, was conducted and will be discussed at an upcoming workshop.

A question left unanswered by the Florida Times-Union article: why the audit wasn’t merely distributed via email to board members, allowing for a more contemporaneous discussion — especially before the budget vote.

Meanwhile, for those who appreciate Shine’s willingness to go against consensus, they can take heart: Shine already has almost $30K banked for his 2018 re-election bid, against two opponents who — as of August numbers — had yet to report fundraising.

Armada falls to Miami, two points out of playoffs

The Jacksonville Armada FC fell 1-0 to the NASL-leading Miami FC on Sunday night in south Florida. Despite the loss, Jacksonville is two points out of a playoff spot. The Armada collected just one point from three games this past week — a busy schedule thanks to making up matches from Hurricane Irma.

“I thought the players played very well today. I honestly think in all three games this week we have been the better team,” head coach Mark Lowry said.

While losing to the NASL-leading Miami FC Sunday night, the Jacksonville Armada is still two points out of a playoff spot.

“We are obviously very disappointed not to collect more points, but the performances lately show that this club is moving in the right direction and has a very bright future ahead.”

The loss to Miami at Riccardo Silva Stadium on the campus of Florida International University with Jacksonville getting their first look at the goal. Tony Taylor found an early opportunity in the second minute of play and fired a shot, but it was a little too high.

Miami then found their first opportunity in the 11th minute with a free kick by former Armada player, Richie Ryan. It found its way through the defenders to bounce off the woodwork straight into the hands of goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell.

It did not take long for Miami to try again, though, and put itself on the scoreboard. Jaime Chávez tapped a ball toward Stéfano Pinho, who was able to head it on the frame and into the back of the net.

Patterson-Sewell had great saves later in the first half to keep Miami from extending their lead. Kwadwo Poku sent a laser from outside the box, and Patterson-Sewell knocked it away. He was there again to save the rebound shot by Dylan Mares, but the play by Mares was called offsides.

Taylor found another opportunity in the 44th minute for the Armada. He connected with a ball from Ciarán Kilduff and blasted a shot from outside the 18-yard box, but Daniel Vega saved it in the middle of the goal.

Taylor’s effort could not get Jacksonville on the board, and the teams left the field for halftime with Miami leading 1-0.

Mares was first with an effort for Miami in the second half. He broke away from the pack in the midfield in the 53rd minute and took a shot on goal, but Patterson-Sewell was again there to knock it away.

Jacksonville had a sequence in the 64th minute to almost record a goal. Taylor and Jack Blake connected on the right wing before finding Aaron Pitchkolan and Kalen Ryden in front of the goal. Ryden played the ball to Jemal Johnson who powered it toward the net. Kilduff had the last tap to try to tuck it away, but Vega made a diving save to knock it out of play.

Zach Steinberger then tried his chance at the goal in the 81st minute. After receiving the ball from Ryden, he fired his shot toward the net, but Vega saved it.

Miami had a few late chances to double the lead. Chavez found some space to run down the field ahead of Ryden to force Patterson-Sewell to get ready for a one-on-one, but his subsequent chip at the goal went wide.

The match ended 1-0 and Miami took the three points.

“The three games in seven days has stretched the roster to its limits,” said Lowry. “At this stage of the season, with a very small roster, it has been a physically challenging week. But rest assured, we will be ready for Edmonton on Friday.”

Jacksonville continues its season with a matchup against FC Edmonton in Alberta. Kickoff is Friday at 9 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast locally on CW17.

Jax could spend $700K+ on EOC elevators

The Duval County Emergency Operations Center is best known to Jacksonville locals from briefings during and after tropical storms.

The facility, in a former Federal Reserve building, has a retro feel — and outdated elevators that need nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to refurbish, per internal emails obtained by FloridaPolitics.com.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corporation offered a quote for this “elevator modernization,” which includes everything a modern elevator system could want: new controllers, machines, governors,  car side and hoistway side door equipment, and so on.

For this “total rebuild,” per the city’s chief of public buildings, the total cost of the two passenger lifts and one freight elevator comes out to $632,453 — exclusive of flooring, wall panels and lights.

If the city should want these amenities, the cost inches up: a rough estimate of $737,000 and change.

As an added bonus, ThyssenKrupp offers help with the city’s permitting and inspection process.

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