Jax Archives - Page 7 of 322 - Florida Politics

Jacksonville police union head, beat reporter clash on Twitter

Pension negotiations resume for Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police on Monday. And an interesting preliminary battle is being fought between the FOP head and a reporter for the Florida Times-Union on Twitter.

While such pushback is an occupational hazard for reporters from political figures, the public nature of this dispute is unusual for the Jacksonville market.

The groundwork for Sunday’s sharp exchanges was laid Saturday night, when FOP head Steve Zona posted to Facebook the long form version of an interview that the T-U’s Ben Conarck conducted with him.

Conarck, the T-U’s criminal justice reporter brought onto the paper last year, asked Zona a series of questions about police union negotiating positions on matters like body cameras and collective bargaining, and his union’s approach to police shootings.

Also discussed: Conarck’s reporting on such issues for the T-U, which Zona took some issue with.

Conarck, who took longhand notes throughout the extended interview, indicated his support for the members of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and generally signaling an interest in building a good working relationship — necessary as he expects to cover the criminal justice beat for the T-U for the next year.

There is room for improvement in the dynamic still.

The FOP objected to an article Conarck posted on Saturday, saying that Conarck didn’t tell the whole story.

Zona, meanwhile, included the following message on his post.

“I debated if I would post these videos, it brings me no pleasure. It is my interview with Ben Conarck about officer involved shootings and body cameras,” Zona posted.

“Ben swore he would do better after one of his articles lacked facts, but his most recent article is a sad example so I’m posting these videos. They got split because of a phone call. They are long but well worth it to see what he says compared to what he writes,” Zona added.

Comments were made, and many of them were robust. And one of them, which Zona “liked” on Facebook, went too far for Conarck.

On Sunday, a Tweetstorm commenced from Conarck.

“So I guess we now know that thinks it is funny to encourage violence against reporters on social media. everyone feel safe? … Just a bunch of dudes with badges and guns joking about how they want to rough up a reporter who accurately reported the results of a poll … One last thing, . To answer your q: I’m not intimidated. Nor will I be. My reporting will continue whether you like it or not.”

Things may be settling down between the union head and the beat reporter. Conarck, again on Twitter, invited Zona to call or email him if he wanted to discuss the discrepancy between his reporting and the FOP position.

We will update if anything else interesting happens here.

Reggie Fullwood faces light sentence, wants to avoid prison altogether

On April 15, 2016, Jacksonville state Rep. Reggie Fullwood was arrested and charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of failure to file federal tax returns on the money in question.

Fullwood, who had diverted $60,000 of campaign funds into personal expenses, managed to work down the eventual plea deal to one count of wire fraud and one count of failure to file.

Guidelines, asset Fullwood’s lawyer in a sentencing memorandum, call for a 15- to 21-month stretch.

However, Team Fullwood is positioning new sentencing Judge Henry Lee Adams for a much lighter “non-custodial sentence” ahead of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

Quite a reduction in terms for someone who once faced 204 years in prison, no matter how it shakes out.

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The memo describes Fullwood as someone who made some major mistakes — and has suffered for them.

For one thing, claims his attorney — his wife is divorcing him, and a lot of that has to do with this case and the circumstances around it.

“The Defendant’s current circumstance before this Court certainly played a part [in] the pending dissolution of that long-term marriage,” Fullwood’s lawyer writes.

Currently, the former state representative is reduced to living with his sister “until he is able to find a steady job and live independently.”

Happily, Fullwood — a columnist for the Jacksonville Free Press — will be made associate editor if he beats the federal rap.

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Fullwood has been a good father, his lawyer claims, and his commitment to that “may be because his own father (and step-father) were largely absent in his life.”

“Both his father and his step-father struggled with addiction to drugs and that greatly impacted his family life. Indeed, one of them was eventually murdered by a fellow drug addict in 1991, when Mr. Fullwood was 16 years of age,” Fullwood’s lawyer asserts.

Despite the family history of affinity for narcotics, Fullwood is more of a drinker, his lawyer asserts.

“The Defendant has never had any history involvement with illicit substances. However, as he describes, he is ‘from a family of drinkers’ and not surprisingly developed a habit of using alcohol to excess,” Fullwood’s lawyer asserts.

It is “likely that” his drinking “[contributed] significantly to the circumstances now before this Court.”

Fullwood has been in AA since 2014, which is another argument for leniency, the lawyer asserts.

Ultimately, the lawyer claims, the evidence suggests that Fullwood should walk without prison time.

“With the exception of the guideline yield based upon the current calculation, there is literally nothing that suggests Mr. Fullwood should be incarcerated.”

Shad Khan: No to Muslim Ban, Yes to HRO

In Houston for the Superbowl, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan broke with the city’s right wing on two hot-button issues.

Khan, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, came out against the controversial Donald Trump immigration/travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries.

And, for good measure, he expressed — to a national publication — his support for the expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include protection on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression at work, in housing, and in public accommodations in businesses that aren’t churches or small businesses.

That HRO support was known around Jacksonville; however, discussing it nationally should be seen as a signal.

This bill has its first committee stop on Monday morning. And Khan expects the politicians he’s been working to deliver in committee and when the full council votes on the measure on Feb. 14.

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On the Muslim ban, Khan broke with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in a significant way.

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

Curry had said, meanwhile, that “when the federal government moves to protect [American citizens], that’s the right move. The Trump administration is trying to protect [Americans] from terrorism.”

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On the HRO, meanwhile, Khan said he had “no remorse over supporting it.”

Indeed, Khan and his lobbyist, Paul Harden, have been making calls on behalf of the legislation — and Khan has been known to say that he can’t believe this issue is unresolved in Jacksonville.

Curry has said previously that expanding the Human Rights Ordinance would not be “prudent,” but has pledged to review legislation if presented to him by the city council.

The mayor, who values his relationship with the Jaguars owner, has not pledged a position on the current bill beyond that.

HRO onslaught hits Jacksonville City Council committees starting Monday

A sign of the times in Jacksonville’s City Council as discussion of expanding the Human Rights Ordinance begins next week: requests for press passes to the February 14 meeting when the full vote is expected to occur are already being taken.

The public hearing in January drew an overflow crowd to the council chambers, leading the fire department to bar entry.

Two more rooms, then the conference room in the public library, were opened up for the discussion of expanding Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include employment, housing, and public accommodations protections for the city’s LGBT community.

What will the evening of the vote be like? No one really knows.

With each attempt to pass the bill, passions grow more intense on both sides of the issue among the public, while most members of the council demur from offering a position with any conviction — never mind intensity.

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Meanwhile, Council President Lori Boyer wants a clean process.

“I am hopeful that this bill moves through committees without deferral and that committee reports (votes) up or down are taken in accordance with the original schedule allowing final action at Council in mid-February. Any delay will cause the procedures outlined herein to be extended,” Boyer wrote in a memo last month.

“The bill has been assigned to NCIS (because it addresses housing issues), Rules (because it addresses consumer issues and unclassified matters) and Finance (because it purports to have economic development impact),” Boyer added.

Of course, that time table may be altered by the expectation that Councilman Bill Gulliford will offer an amendment with a referendum option of some type.

Gulliford is in the first committee (Neighborhoods), and the last committee (Finance), to consider the bill. And he delights in exploiting parliamentary procedure to frustrate adversaries.

As is known, and as vexes many expansion opponents, there will be no public comment on the bill in committees or the council meeting Feb. 14.

If Gulliford were to offer that amendment in Finance on Wednesday rather than on Monday in Neighborhoods, that may create enough confusion to throw off the whole process.

Advocates are confident in their vote count being enough to pass the bill, though there are real worries about getting the 13 votes required to make the mayor’s position irrelevant (and a general belief that the mayor would prefer the bill pass with 13).

Some quasi-informed speculation about the vote count follows:

A total of six council members seem like hard no votes at this point: Councilman Gulliford, along with Danny Becton, Al FerraroDoyle Carter, Matt Schellenberg, and Sam Newby.

People who seem like maybes: Scott Wilson, Council President Lori Boyer, Garrett Dennis, Anna BroscheGreg AndersonReggie Brown, and Katrina Brown.

The remaining members of council — Aaron BowmanJim LoveTommy Hazouri, Council VP John CrescimbeniJoyce Morgan, and Reggie Gaffney — seem like yes votes headed into the committee process.

Many of those in the maybe column are more voluble on the HRO in private conversations than in public. But the game is played in front of a crowd.

If all those in the maybe column vote yes, then there is no problem for Mayor Lenny Curry, who can simply say “look, the city council is the policy making body,” and move on.

If the bill passes with 10, 11, or 12 votes, will the mayor sign it or put it in his pocket?

A veto, though it would delight the GOP base, undoubtedly would inflame many others — diluting his political capital and eviscerating his ability to build city-wide consensus.

We are hearing that the referendum option Gulliford supports leaves the mayor cold.

If the HRO were to be litigated by the city’s activists on both sides of the issue for over a year in the media, one needn’t have a vivid imagination to surmise that the spectacle would be devastating for corporate recruitment, leading to the kind of national reporting spotlight that shined on North Carolina in the wake of HB 2.

All of this discussion and speculation purposely elides what may be happening in Tallahassee and Washington on the matter of LGBT protections in law.

Lenny Curry, Nikolai Vitti may collaborate against youth gun violence

February started off with a worrying story for parents and guardians of children in Duval County Public Schools.

As News 4 Jax reports, students with guns were found at three Jacksonville schools on Wednesday.

One of those schools: an elementary school.

DCPS Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told “THE Local Station” that parents need to be more involved, and that “it will take a team effort from administration, staff, police and parents to keep guns out of schools” (quote from reporter, not Vitti).

It looks like the “team” may be bigger than that, however.

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FloridaPolitics.com learned on Thursday night and Friday morning that the offices of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti are in the early stages of collaboration against youth violence.

Curry’s spokeswoman, Marsha Oliver, came to the mayor’s office from Vitti’s office. And Oliver has been central in the preliminary stages of this effort.

“I have been meeting with my successor [at DCPS] and the district’s Chief of Staff to discuss how we can collaborate on a citywide campaign to minimize youth violence. We are in the development stages and have not determined any plans. The superintendent has expressed enthusiasm about partnering with the mayor, sheriff and state attorney to address the reported incidents of gang violence. The two are meeting next week,” Oliver told us Friday.

Vitti likewise confirmed that staff members are meeting, and that he is getting together with the mayor to discuss strategies to engage youth.

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The New Year has started off with a number of high-profile public safety challenges for the mayor in Downtown Jacksonville involving juveniles and guns.

The shooting at January’s ArtWalk — which saw two minors shot — was followed up by two more teens shot near the Jacksonville Landing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

One of those teens shot at the Jacksonville Landing died.

As these incidents indicate, a public safety crisis in the making is driven by teens with guns, and the mayor has an interest in quelling that.

A potential strategy for the mayor could involve going to public schools, as well as churches and community events, and telling young people that they should help by identifying who has guns and other potentially lethal weapons, especially in schools but also churches and community events.

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Time would seem to be of the essence in this rollout for both Vitti and Curry, as soon enough the inevitable violence of spring and summer will wreak its havoc on Jacksonville streets.

For Vitti, who came close to being voted out by the school board last year amidst a mysterious acrimony with the then-current chair of the school board, every incident involving weapons erodes his credibility as superintendent.

For Curry, who ran on a platform of public safety and crime abatement, there is likewise no time like the present to address these issues — the convergence of shaky neighborhoods, shaky home lives, and undirected kids having easier access to guns and munitions than to meaningful supervision and direction.

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Rumbles around city hall — the kind that no one will commit to the record — hold that Curry reached out to Vitti wanting to speak to kids last month, in the wake of the violence.

However, goes the narrative, Curry was waved off, with Vitti saying DCPS didn’t want to “alarm parents.”

Oliver and Vitti robustly deny that accounting of events.

“I’d never deny the mayor a chance to talk to kids in our schools,” Vitti told FloridaPolitics.com

Jacksonville LGBT rights opponents speak; Bill Gulliford talks HRO referendum

On Thursday, opponents of Jacksonville’s proposed expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance had their say in the Council Chambers.

Councilman Bill Gulliford, launching the meeting, noted the passion surrounding this issue, which is now in its fifth year of being debated citywide.

“I decided to have this meeting for several reasons,” Gulliford said, including “objective discussion” of these issues, and the “disappointing” lack of public comment being allowed during committee discussions next week.

Gulliford then discussed the issues being discussed, including legal issues, economic impacts, religious conscience, and the potential for a referendum.

Gulliford filed a bill in favor of the referendum late in 2015, and withdrew it after Tommy Hazouri withdrew his own bill that is much like the current bill up for discussion

“I will at the appropriate time introduce that option of a referendum in the process,” the councilman vowed.

That option, he said, “could be” introduced during committees, if he believes it’s “prudent” at the time.

Notable: a referendum can only amend the charter, not the ordinance code.

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Council members on hand had their own takes on a referendum.

Councilman Reggie Brown, an opponent of the referendum option, noted that civil rights expansions such as in 1865 and 1965 would not have passed by referendum, but were still necessary and historically validated nonetheless.

Councilman Sam Newby, meanwhile, issued support for a referendum. Councilman Al Ferraro likewise supported a referendum, as a way of instituting finality.

“I would support a referendum if this went forward,” Ferraro said.

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Beyond that, there was robust discussion, much of it against the HRO expansion.

Gulliford then called up the perennial legal expert on his side of this issue: Roger Gannam of the Liberty Counsel, making his umpteenth trip to city hall to speak to the issue of “legal problems” with the proposed legislation.

On the issue of “gender identity,” Gannam postulated that the bill’s definition of such was “broad.”

It was impossible for a business owner or the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, which would enforce this, to determine the applicability of people who identify as “gender fluid,” “non-binary,” or other such terms, Gannam said.

Councilman Danny Becton spoke to his problem with the bill.

The shortening of the bill to five pages, Becton said, creates an impression of false transparency, as the bill doesn’t itemize every change to code that was made, but just lists the relevant changes to statute.

“Words have just been condensed down to a couple of numbers,” Becton said. “This bill is the exact same bill [as 2016]. It’s been marketed as something that it’s not.”

Rev. Charlene Cothran from Palm Coast spoke up next, a former member of the Human Rights Commission and a longtime lesbian activist, who has been “transformed” after 29 years of activism.

Cothran’s line of reasoning: the LGBT rights movement is not analogous to the civil rights movement.

“They now demand special rights, after they stay in the closet at their convenience,” Cothran said.

“Homosexuals can and do change,” said Cothran.

Former Jacksonville City Council candidate Geoff Youngblood had his say also.

“I would not be able to keep everyone safe if a male who [acted] female went into the women’s bathroom and accosted one of my employees,” Youngblood said.

Youngblood runs a seasonal business, with staffing that occasionally exceeds 15 people; the bill’s definition of a small business would penalize his business by forcing him to abide by the ordinance.

Youngblood called for a referendum, saying “let the people decide,” especially if the council is “fearful” of a decision.

Rev. Heath Lambert of First Baptist Church voiced his objections to the proposed ordinance also.

“This is a debate about convictions, not about discrimination. The conviction of LGBT men and women,” Lambert said, is they should be “affirmed.”

“The Christian conviction,” said Lambert, is that the LGBT lifestyle is one of many sexual sins, including pornography and adultery.

“The passage of this ordinance would be to pick a favorite,” Lambert said, between the LGBT community and the Christian community.

“If the council decides to discriminate against people of religious conviction,” Lambert added, this would “bring true harm.”

Lambert then pivoted to a discussion of sexual abuse survivors of his acquaintance, and their fear of a “man who looks like a man, but feels himself to be a woman” being in a room with them.

“They’re too scared,” Lambert said, to speak out in public.

“They’re not afraid of that moment in the bathroom alone. They’re afraid of what the city council will do to them,” in terms of this ordinance potentially passing.

Council VP John Crescimbeni pressed Lambert on his discussion of “convictions, sins, et cetera,” pointing out that religion is protected in the Constitution.

Crescimbeni also objected to the “baker, the butcher, and the candlestick maker” discussions of small businesses from elsewhere that have gotten national exposure to religiously-driven objection to anti-discrimination ordinances.

Crescimbeni wondered if these parties objected to “heterosexual couples living together outside of marriage.”

“Gender is an ontological objective reality,” Lambert said in response.

Jacksonville’s HRO expansion is in sight, but questions loom

With less than a week to go before 2017-15, the latest attempt to expand the Human Rights Ordinance, hits three Jacksonville City Council committees, advocates are rightly optimistic and proud of the progress they’ve made in educating the council.

The HRO expansion bill would include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as categories in the current HRO, protecting people on those grounds from discrimination in the housing market, the workplace, and in terms of public accommodations, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.

The carefully-worded bill includes carve out protections for businesses with under 15 employees, and for religious organizations.

Even as some outside groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, say that the religious exceptions go too far, advocates of expansion know that they are the price to pay to get a HRO passed that protects people on the grounds of gender identity.

There is some rough consensus on the vote count that will emerge February 14.

Most say there are at least 11 votes in favor; the goal is 13, a number that would remove Mayor Lenny Curry from having to take a position on it either way.

Despite that, there are reasons for caution, on the local, state, and national levels.

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On the local level, a familiar face returns to City Hall to warn against HRO expansion on Thursday afternoon.

Roger Gannam of the Liberty Council will address members of the panel at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, at the request of Councilman Bill Gulliford (an opponent of expansion of the ordinance).

Gannam asserts that “Jacksonville does not have an LGBT discrimination problem that needs to be solved.”

2017-15, says Gannam, would force “businesses and citizens” to “open their women’s facilities to men.”

The bill would also compel those same parties to “celebrate” same-sex relationships.

Gannam has had plenty of exposure in Jacksonville during the HRO debate. He’s not expected to say anything new regarding the impacts of the HRO expansion.

However, in an attempt to get 13 votes on this measure, it is entirely possible that Gannam could sway a council member toward his moral case.

The margin for error is nil for expansion advocates. And Gannam’s role is to impart reasonable doubt.

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In addition to local resistance to expanding the HRO, a bill filed in the Florida House this week could impact local ordinances such as this one.

House Bill 17, filed by Republican Randy Fine, would preempt and supersede local regulations governing businesses.

Exceptions include laws adopted before Jan. 1, 2017, though the Fine bill would have those local regulations sunset at the end of 2019.

Another exception: regulations “expressly authorized” by the state.

While Jacksonville’s current HRO, which does not include so-called SOGI protections, would qualify as a pre-existent law, any expansion of the HRO may be argued as being in conflict with the Fine bill.

Our sources in Tallahassee confirm that there will be a Senate sponsor.

While it is theoretically possible that someone in the Duval Delegation might move to have the expanded HRO “expressly authorized” by the state, in practical terms there are only two people, both Democrats, who would push for that: Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Tracie Davis.

The Fine bill may be less than fine for LGBT equality advocates, in its amorphously-worded current form.

One more note of caution: the low number on the bill filed on Jan. 31 suggests a tacit endorsement from House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

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On the federal level, mixed signals have been sent from the Donald Trump administration regarding LGBT rights.

While he was lauded, albeit cautiously, for continuing the Obama policy of barring workplace discrimination against federal contractors and employees, there is fear that the other shoe will drop in the form of a new executive order.

The Nation, a left-of-center publication, produced language from a so-called “leaked draft” of Trump’s  “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom” executive order.

Trump, once seen as an unlikely exponent of the policy goals of the religious right, embraced its agenda during the GOP primaries.

This draft language, according to The Nation, “covers ‘any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,’ and protects ‘religious freedom’ in every walk of life: ‘when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments’.”

 “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience,” the order reads.

While there are serious questions as to what the order would ultimately mean, or even if it would pass legal scrutiny to be released in anything close to its current form, it adds another layer of uncertainty to a potential long-awaited expansion of Jacksonville’s HRO.

Lenny Curry touts ArtWalk, defends right to City Hall protest

Tuesday night as Jacksonville’s ArtWalk event began, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry called a press conference on the steps of City Hall, where just a day before, a different scene had transpired.

Curry’s press conference on Tuesday night had to do with reassuring Jacksonville that ArtWalk is a safe event to attend.

Such assurance was needed after January’s ArtWalk, at which two people were shot just blocks away from City Hall.

In Tuesday’s press event, Mayor Curry also addressed the peaceful protests that happened in front of city hall Monday night, just as much as he did the events of a month prior at ArtWalk.

Curry irked local progressives when he endorsed Donald Trump‘s refugee moratorium from seven terror-linked countries as a necessary security measure, in line with what Curry himself recommended in later 2015.

Throughout the event Tuesday evening, speakers and signs had messages for Mayor Curry, who even though he’s not in a position to impact federal policy, nonetheless endorsed it.

And indeed, a cool, calm, and collected Curry addressed on Tuesday night both the ArtWalk violence a month before, and the protests aimed at Trump and him a night before.

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Safety First: The mayor noted, regarding Artwalk, that the event had been happening “for many years without a serious incident.”

Despite issues in certain neighborhoods regarding crime and public safety, the mayor had a message.

“We’re on it. The sheriff’s on it. We’re going to focus on every neighborhood, including downtown. An event like this that has happened for years without incident — I encourage people to come out … it’s going to be a good time, and they should not be fearful,” Curry said.

The mayor and the sheriff have been talking about public safety since “before both were sworn in,” Curry said, and “major cuts to public safety” have been a recurrent topic.

“You don’t dig yourself out of that hole overnight,” Curry said. “I’m going to continue to invest. He’s going to continue to work … we’re going to get the city back where it needs to be.”

Curry also sounded bearish on the idea of youth curfews or being barred from the Jacksonville Landing, citing a classically American freedom: “freedom to move around, freedom to associate, freedom to speak.”

“We’re not going to allow a handful of individuals to scare us,” Curry said. “Those rights run from pure joy and entertainment to expressing ourselves on the issues of the day.”

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Freedom of Speech: That commitment to freedom of expression extended to the hundreds of protesters who visited City Hall the night before.

This was notable, in the context of many on the right, ranging from Sen. Marco Rubio to Sean Hannity, painting protesters as “left-wing radicals” and the like.

“Free speech, man. That’s the beauty of our country — exercised right here in our city. People have the right to express themselves and their views. That’s how we operate in civilized democratic society,” Curry said.

“I don’t know how they organized. I don’t know how they got here. Regardless,” Curry said, “it’s free speech. I always encourage people to exercise their right to express themselves in a peaceful manner.”

John Peyton chosen Jax Chamber chair-elect

Former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton is poised to soon have a new public visibility, as the JAX Chamber announced Wednesday his election as chair-elect.

Peyton served as mayor of Jacksonville from 2003 to 2011; since his mayoralty, he has not been politically prominent, except for a strong endorsement of Lenny Curry in 2015.

Darnell Smith, the current chair of the Chamber, has taken a high-profile role in marshaling support for Jacksonville’s proposed expansion of its Human Rights Ordinance.

Also announced: the 2017 JAX Chamber Board of Directors, which includes a number of community luminaries, including several of the most relevant political figures in Jacksonville.

On the board: Jacksonville City Council President Lori Boyer; Curry’s Chief of Staff, Kerri Stewart; former Mayor John Delaney; Duval County School Board Chair Paula Wright.

A complete list of members and professional affiliations is below:

·       Ken Babby, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

·       Kathy Barco Jossim, Barco-Duval Engineering

·       Rosa Beckett, Jacksonville Aviation Authority

·       Sarah Bermudez, Workscapes

·       Cynthia Bioteau, Florida State College at Jacksonville

·       John Bottaro, RS&H

·       Hon. Lori Boyer, Jacksonville City Council

·       Michael Brannigan, Suddath Relocation Systems

·       Michelle Braun, United Way of Northeast Florida

·       Lathun Brigman, Beaver Street Fisheries Inc.

·       Henry Brown, Miller Electric Company

·       Debbie Buckland, BB&T

·       Ed Burr, GreenPointe Holdings LLC

·       Mike Butler, JPMorgan Chase

·       Rose Conry, StaffTime

·       Tim Cost, Jacksonville University

·       Sandy Coston, GuideWell Source

·       Ben Davis, Intuition Ale Works

·       Daniel Davis, JAX Chamber

·       John Delaney, University of North Florida

·       Wally Devlin, Rimrock Companies

·       Ray Driver, Driver, McAfee, Peek & Hawthorne, P.L.

·       Paula Drum, Interline Brands

·       Roseann Duran, Web.com

·       Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic

·       Nathaniel Ford, Jacksonville Transportation Authority

·       Nat Glover, Edward Waters College

·       April Green, Bethel Baptist Institutional Church

·       Eric Green, JAXPORT

·       Dane Grey, Elite Parking Services of America

·       Abel Harding, IBERIABANK

·       Micah Heavener, Citi

·       RDML Mary Jackson, Navy Region Southeast

·       Barbara Johnston, Regency Centers Corporation

·       Quintin Kendall, CSX Corporation

·       Mark Lamping, Jacksonville Jaguars Ltd.

·       Thomas Lee, Lee & Cates Glass Inc.

·       Eric Mann, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast

·       Paul McElroy, JEA

·       David Miller, Brightway Insurance

·       Audrey Moran, Baptist Health

·       Dan Murphy, Fidelity National Financial Inc.

·       Donna Orender, Orender Unlimited / Generation W

·       Brian Parks, SunTrust Bank North Florida

·       John Peyton, GATE Petroleum Company

·       Jared Rice, THE PLAYERS Championship

·       Jamie Shelton, bestbet Jacksonville

·       Peter Shen, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care

·       Misty Skipper, GATE Petroleum Company

·       Leslie Slover, Deutsche Bank

·       Greg Smith, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

·       Darnell Smith, Florida Blue

·       Kelly Smith, Wells Fargo

·       Scott Snyder, Compass Consulting Group

·       Kerri Stewart, City of Jacksonville, Mayor’s Office

·       Cindy Stover, TD Bank

·       Ellen Sullivan, The BairFind Foundation

·       Tyra Tutor, Adecco Group North America

·       Tom Van Berkel, The Main Street America Group

·       Tom VanOsdol, St. Vincent’s HealthCare

·       Tim Volpe, Adams and Reese LLP

·       Denise Wallace, BCM Services

·       Nina Waters, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

·       Terry West, VyStar Credit Union

·       Jeff Whitson, TECO Peoples Gas

·       Hon. Paula Wright, Duval County School Board

Foreclosure action filed on Jacksonville councilor’s troubled family business

How much longer can a Jacksonville city councilwoman, whose family businesses have bombshell news reports every couple of days for failure to pay debts, stay on the council’s Finance Committee?

That’s the question in Jacksonville right now, as the saga of the family businesses of Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown continues to move from sauce to loss.

On Tuesday, a foreclosure action was filed in Duval County by Florida Capital Bank on a property associated with “KJB Specialties.”

Councilwoman Brown is a managing partner of KJB.

The property, located at 1551 W. Edgewood Avenue, corresponds to the location of “Jerome Brown BBQ.”

KJB owes $100,902 on its note.

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This latest six-figure legal action continues a train of financial woes for Councilwoman Brown’s family businesses.

Last month, Ameris Bank moved for a Summary Judgment against KJB Specialties.

Back in 2007, KJB Specialties borrowed $50,000 from Ameris Bank. Payments were made as agreed until March 2015, during the time when Councilwoman Brown was running for office.

However, as the councilwoman’s electoral and political fortunes rose, KJB went AWOL on its loan and other financial obligations.

Principals were informed of the default in August 2015, and the impending legal action a month thereafter.

Now the bank demands what is due: a $37,490 principal; $1,399 of interest; $253.40 in late charges; and $7,681 in legal fees.

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KJB Specialties was also in the news in January for warrants incurred for failure to pay sales tax.

Another Brown business, “Basic Products, LLC,” likewise was in the news for failure to pay sales tax.

These are, alas, the tip of the iceberg.

The base of that iceberg: a $640,000 economic development agreement to build a barbeque sauce plant.

The deal was initially struck between the city and KJB Specialties. However, for reasons unknown to anyone beyond the Browns, KJB handed the deal off to another Brown business with a nebulous name (“CoWealth, LLC”) and no apparent purpose beyond providing a financing mechanism devoid of tangible product or economic utility.

The city has been taking progressively more direct action in attempting to clawback some of its squandered seed money.

On January 5, a Certified Letter was sent from Jacksonville’s Office of Economic Development to CoWealth, LLC, related to the company failing to create the jobs it was supposed to.

The letter that the city received the “required annual surveys” for 2012 to 2015, in which the company was supposed to create jobs at the Northwest Jacksonville barbecue sauce plant location on Commonwealth Avenue.

These surveys were due long before Jan. 5. And there seemed to be a good reason to delay sending them in.

OED said CoWealth created no jobs; zero falls somewhat short of the 56 jobs agreed to.

“Therefore, the full balance of the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund grant, $210,549.99, must be repaid.”

OED wanted payment in full within 60 days of the letter.

It seems the city’s Office of Economic Development may have to get in line behind other creditors.

We checked with the city of Jacksonville this week, and no movement has been made from the KJB/CoWealth side.

January came and went with almost daily stories about the problems with KJB and CoWealth.

It doesn’t look like February will be much different, as it is clear that the loans and grants from private and public stakeholders have been squandered, with no tangible outcome for any investor.

 

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