Alvin Brown Archives - Page 6 of 42 - Florida Politics

John Delaney on Jax pension sales tax: “I support it 100%”

For those who might wonder whether former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney supports the Lenny Curry administration bid to devote the half-cent sales tax to defray the unfunded pension liability, wonder no more.

“I support it 100 percent,” Delaney told FloridaPolitics.com on Wednesday evening.

Delaney has talked with members of the Duval Legislative Delegation, and will do whatever Curry wants to help it along.

This “replacement tax,” Delaney said, “solves a lot of problems.”

While Delaney said it’s an extension of the current Better Jacksonville Plan “infrastructure tax,” “in the sense that there’s no increased tax burden” it is nonetheless a “completely new tax.”

“No later than 2030,” Delaney said, “the Better Jacksonville Plan tax will be dead as a door nail.”

The sales tax is essential, “paying for accumulated debt,” and is one of two viable options … the other being property tax.

Although City Council can push that up to 20 mills, that would be a funding source subject to the year to year whims of Council.

In other words, not a dedicated source.

“Right now, there’s no ability to pass a sales tax for pension,” said Delaney.

The bills being introduced in Tallahassee by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings would obviously change that.

The choice the Curry administration has made to pass this via a supermajority (13 of 19 Council votes) is one that Delaney supports also.

The former mayor sees it as a benefit of “good communications and lobbying with Council,” which is the “opposite of what they experienced with the Alvin Brown administration … getting consensus very quickly.”

Hamilton Campaigns merges with EMC Research

David Beattie, known in Northeast Florida for his work as a senior adviser for the campaigns of former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, said Monday his Hamilton Campaigns firm will merge with EMC Research.

“Both firms have a history of conducting quality opinion research and providing a level of service to clients that is truly an added value,” said Beattie, president of Hamilton Campaigns since 2000 and now a senior principal at EMC Research. “Our firm now has diverse national experience combined with local knowledge in some of the largest states in the country which is a benefit to all our clients.”

Hamilton Campaigns, founded in 1964 in Orlando, has concentrated on political and corporate research in Florida, with a panoply of clients ranging from Reubin Askew to the Orlando Magic.

Beattie told the Tampa Bay Times that the merger allows him “to focus more on Florida, since there is already so much going on in other states.”

In addition to electoral polling, EMC delves into “game theory” and “casino and game-show analysis,” the latter of which undoubtedly has some application to the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

A.G. Gancarski’s Top 10 stories of 2015 in Jacksonville politics

In Jacksonville politics in 2015, the game changed … perhaps for good.

Big money went into campaigns: over $10 million, including soft money, in the mayoral race. Close to $2 million in the sheriff’s race. And even some City Council candidates who raised close to a quarter of a million dollars did so in vain.

The consultants had to get sharper, as did the microtargeting used by them.

And unlike in 2011, when the general complaint during the General Election was that coverage was desultory, especially in terms of the mayoral race, every news cycle had its own narrative arc for months before the final elections in May.

It would be easy to come up with a Top 25 stories in Jacksonville’s political scene for 2015. But mercifully for most readers, we’re leaving it at 10.

No. 1: Lenny Curry defeats Alvin Brown

It’s the top story of the year, in a year full of compelling stories.

When Curry launched his campaign in spring 2014, the smart set told him that he couldn’t win. He lacked the gravitas of Property Appraiser Jim Overton. The knowledge and procedural deftness of Councilman Bill Gulliford. The retail politics skills of Mike Hogan. Not to mention that Mayor Brown’s poll numbers were, according to the University of North Florida polling, near 60 percent (but falling from 70 percent) as late as spring 2014.

However, a number of factors converged to take Curry from a footnote to the fourth floor of City Hall. The first-rate work of Tim Baker, Brian Hughes, and Brian Swensen, combining a use of data unprecedented in this market with the willingness to do what it took to win any given news cycle, helped Curry erode the advantage enjoyed by the Brown campaign.

Curry was not a natural campaigner. He developed his voice and his style as his operatives undermined the ultimately soft support enjoyed by the incumbent. And once Bill Bishop was out of the race after the March 1 election, Curry was able to bring a lot of moderate Republicans back into the fold. Those Republicans had supported Brown, in reaction to a general feeling that Hogan was too far right on social issues, but Brown couldn’t hold them.

That, in spite of holding the moderate Republicans clearly being part of the nonpartisan mayor’s strategy. Brown wouldn’t appear with Barack Obama when the president came to town, but found time for a Leadership Luncheon with local Tea Party founder Billie Tucker. Brown played to the center up until a few weeks before the election, when issues like a state-mandated minimum wage and Medicaid expansion became concerns of his.

All the while, Brown couldn’t move left on one issue: expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance. Though LGBT activists ended up endorsing Brown anyway, as the mayor staked his re-election efforts on stacking votes in the low-turnout Riverside neighborhood, the mayor’s leftward pivot did more for the Curry camp’s messaging than it did for Brown’s.

No. 2: Corrine delivers?

At this writing, the big question in Northeast Florida politics involves Corrine Brown and her next move.

There is still a theoretical chance that her legal challenge to the new map is successful, but the more interesting scenario revolves around the question of what happens if it isn’t.

Does Brown move on to run in Congressional District 10, down Orlando way? Or does she stay in North Florida and run against former State Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee, to represent a district after she said that “Jacksonville, Florida, has nothing in common with North Florida.”

Local Republicans are split on this one. The mouth-breathing rank and file would like to get rid of her; however, those more attuned with Brown’s effectiveness in lobbying for local causes know that Congresswoman Brown brings a unique value add.

Thus, even if Brown loses her lawsuit early next year, she may get pressure and tangible support from local GOP heavyweights to stay in North Florida. Will it be enough? Former Duval GOP Chairman Tom Slade said, many years ago, that Brown was a “good fit for her district.” Will local Republicans seek to ensure that even as that district map changed radically, Brown still fits into what could be called the Northeast Florida Way?

If not, worthy candidates, such as Audrey Gibson, Mia Jones, and Tony Hill wait in the wings. However, none of them have Brown’s national network of support. The concern among the local political class is that redistricting could leave Jacksonville a big loser, with just one congressman (Ander Crenshaw) with ties to the area.

With strong indications that she’s all but filed to run again in District 5 (even with the lawsuit challenging the new map), Brown should make Jacksonville locals happy.

No. 3: Sam Mousa is back!

Unless you see Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa in action, you might not have a sense of what he has brought to the table for Lenny Curry since days after Curry’s election. From the transition period in June to this writing, Mousa has taken close looks at every aspect of the city’s operation, keeping the kind of hours that most journalists (and most in City Hall) would recoil at.

Mousa’s credibility and ability to broker win/win compromises between the administration, City Council, and community stakeholders has quieted down restive Council members, some of whom took advantage of the perceived weakness of Mayor Brown’s position to exert quasi-executive prerogatives.

The real greatness of Mousa is appreciated in the smaller meetings. From public notice meetings where the public apparently didn’t get the notice to agenda meetings before a committee deliberates a major bill, Mousa is able to explain the administration’s position in an avuncular way, removing even token resistance from most of the eager-to-please rookies on the legislative side.

Curry’s hires, with one notable exception, have been smooth as fresh silk. Mousa is the capstone of that recruitment effort, and the only comment overheard from some is that Mousa’s power came at the expense of Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart, whose presence isn’t quite as pronounced as that of her predecessor, Chris Hand.

 No. 4: Jacksonville the new Detroit?

One of the running themes of Lenny Curry’s public statements: If Jacksonville doesn’t get the public pension crisis under control, the Bold New City of the South will be transformed into Where Default Begins.

The question of who messed up the public pension system depends on who you ask. The police and firefighter unions claim that the city misappropriated funds earmarked for the pension. Politicians, meanwhile, claim that the Police and Fire Pension Fund was mismanaged by former executive director John Keane, and that interpretation is buttressed by a “forensic investigation” authorized by City Council earlier this year.

A pension agreement was reached in the spring, as Alvin Brown was headed out of office, yet the Unfunded Liability issues, both in the Police and Fire and the General Employees pension funds, are of great concern to Curry, who says that without a way to turn around the cash flow, Jacksonville will  be the next Detroit, and ambitious plans for public safety and infrastructural renewal will be consumed by legacy costs.

No. 5: HRO expansion

Which way will Lenny Curry go? His odyssey, in terms of evolution on the Human Rights Ordinance expansion to the LGBT community, mirrors that of his generation, which has become increasingly understanding that, as with heterosexuals, those who operate under different paradigms of gender construction or expression and sexual identity deserve to have their rights protected.

However, in a city like Jacksonville, there are myriad concerns to address. Ministers, both black and white, worry about the effect HRO expansion will have on religious freedoms and potential impacts, both costs and legal, to public accommodations. Advocates have worked to craft a bill that mitigates the concerns of opponents.

However, opponents would prefer the referendum measure introduced by Councilman Bill Gulliford, as expectations are that a referendum full of low to no information voters would swing, as it did in Houston, against the bill.

Tommy Hazouri introduced a traditional piece of legislation, and Gulliford, the Finance Committee chairman, has already said he wants the bill considered in Finance because of its financial implications.

Meanwhile, strong expectations are that there could be a third HRO expansion bill, one that leaves the protections for transgender people to be negotiated at a later date.

Curry is taking his time to figure out the next move. Meanwhile, both the right and the left wings of council are threatening to fly without him, which is the first challenge to the primacy of the executive branch since July.

 No. 6: 11 New council members

The big story coming out of the 2015 election: 11 of the 19 councilmembers would be new to the body.

Has there been real change? So far, the jury is out, and probably will be for some time. However, if you listen closely, you can hear grousing among City Hall veterans about subjects ranging from the ethical gray area of taking perks from the Jacksonville Jaguars to a fundamental lack of preparation to be active councilmembers in some cases.

Currently, Council is a two-tiered enterprise, with a few Council members demonstrating the stamina and acuity to drive the process, and more than a few who simply follow the leader. The new class, in that context: a work in progress.

No. 7: New sheriff in town

After a bruising campaign full of more oppo dumps than any other campaign locally this year, Mike Williams overcame Ken Jefferson in the May election. Williams was identified very closely with Sheriff John Rutherford, which was arguably a hindrance in the seven-candidate First Election in March. Leading up to the May election, he seemed to signal a perestroika in the office; more transparency.

Thus far, his reforms have been quiet ones. Williams has been strong at community outreach, even as his administration has weathered the occasional bit of bad press, such as The Florida Times-Union reporting on the sheriff’s office only keeping emails for 90 days after receipt, which the paper correctly said could hinder active investigations.

Williams, as was the case with Rutherford, likely will be in office for as long as he wants to be. He benefits from a strong working relationship with Lenny Curry, one that presents meaningful contrast to the clashes between Alvin Brown and Williams’ predecessor. The questions going forward: Will Williams stake out a reform path while he’s in office? And how will his office deal with the ongoing larger debate about police and fire pensions?

No. 8: Shad Khan

In 2015 Khan played an increasingly meaningful role in Jacksonville’s political life. He went six figures deep in backing Alvin Brown for mayor, in addition to contributing to PACs that sent mailers for candidates such as Kim Daniels. Then, after Brown’s defeat, the big question was one of when and how (never whether) Khan would pivot to supporting Curry.

The bromance started slowly, with Curry and Khan appearing together at an Enterprise Florida Board Meeting in Ponte Vedra late in the summer. From there, the London trip for the Jaguars, in which Curry tweeted out a picture of him fist-bumping the billionaire Jags owner after the team beat the Buffalo Bills.

The real moment for celebration, however, was the $90 million EverBank Field improvement package, one that was walked through council by Sam Mousa and senior leadership of the Jaguars, the latter of which seemed like honorary members of the executive branch for a couple of weeks.

With Khan giving money to Build Something That Lasts, and placing an executive on the JEA Board, what is clear is that no matter who the mayor is, Jacksonville is Shad’s town, and we’re just living in it.

No. 9: No budget fuss

Whether the criticisms were entirely fair or not, the budget process of former Mayor Alvin Brown became a political piñata in recent years. Councilmembers griped about inconsistent budget practices, and having to do triage to fix the budget.

The Curry team had no such issues. The money they found in various subfunds helped facilitate capital improvements and a budget process that proved to be as clean as could be hoped for.

Though a necessary caveat that the next few budget processes might be more interesting should be issued, Team Curry scored a big, legitimizing political win in its first budget.

No. 10: Jax Journey 2.0: Let’s ride

One of the interesting threads of the Lenny Curry campaign, and the early part of his administration: a commitment to revitalize the Jacksonville Journey.

With $5 million in the current budget for that end, there are moves to do just that, and Curry’s commitment to this underscores many of his other initiatives, including his administration’s focus on the issues at Eureka Garden (even as those at Cleveland Arms and other similar complexes are not as yet on the radar).

Curry, very aware of the political power of African-American pastors, worked with Bishop John Guns on the branding of this process, to the point of using Guns’ catchphrase. An interesting theme to watch for 2016 and beyond: Will the ministers fall in behind Curry throughout his term, as they seem to have thus far?

A.G. Gancarski’s 5 people to watch in Jacksonville politics in 2016

The theory of recurrence is something not unique to Jacksonville politics. In this list of five people who likely will be in the headlines, there are some familiar names.

Alvin Brown: The one-term Jacksonville mayor took some time off after his narrow defeat in the May election. He surfaced on very rare occasions, through media statements. Slowly but surely, though, Brown is emerging from his period of incubation.

This spring finds the former mayor with a Teaching Fellowship at Georgetown University’s school of Politics and Public Policy. Currently, say those close to him, he is hard at work putting a syllabus together and preparing for a role at one of America’s top schools.

However, there is a school of thought that says Brown may be willing to run in Congressional District 5 as the Jacksonville candidate against Al Lawson. That, though, is if the opportunity arises and Corrine Brown moves downstate to continue her political career, still an open question even with the federal lawsuit reopened on Tuesday. Alvin Brown, with tenures in the Bush 43 and Clinton administrations, has what it takes to get support, both among rank-and-file Democrats who still haven’t fully recovered from the mayoral race and from Jacksonville’s money contingent, who see Brown as the surest path for local retention of the seat.

Lots would have to happen to get to that point, but we’re told Brown expects to come back to Jacksonville frequently while stationed in Georgetown. In that capacity, he will be able to test the waters, and if Corrine Brown is out, Alvin Brown is more of a sure thing than other names that have been floated (Tony HillMia Jones, and Audrey Gibson).

And, if as is currently expected, Corrine Brown stands her ground and runs in CD 5? Alvin Brown won’t be going away. Expect him to be a presence during the General Election for Hillary Clinton. Brown, a political survivor, will have a second act.

Kim Daniels: A print ad she ran before the March First Election read, “I’m not missing: here I am!” Though Daniels lost her At Large City Council seat in May, she hasn’t disappeared from the scene completely. Some claim she’s looking at the state House District 14 race to succeed Mia Jones, in which she would would run against Leslie Jean-Bart and Terry Fields.

Daniels, whom no one would mistake for a titan of the legislative process during her four years on City Council, and who was pilloried for her opposition to Human Rights Ordinance expansion (a “bad bill” supported by “some of the meanest people I have ever met,” she said in the spring), may be uniquely positioned in a three-way primary to draw on support from the evangelical community. Many of them are opposed to HRO expansion and will see her stance not as a negative but a positive.

Sam Mousa: No, he’s not running for anything. But the work Mousa has put into running the offense for Mayor Lenny Curry has made Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer one of the most compelling people to cover in City Hall. From an ambitious capital improvement program to attempting to streamline processes in the mayor’s suite, while cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with the power players on Council, Mousa has been the MVP of 2015 locally.

Corrine Brown: Will she stay? Will she go? To Orlando or not? Corrine Brown has stuck doggedly to her contentions that her redrawn district is not winnable, though all indications now are that she’s going to fight for it anyway, Al Lawson notwithstanding. Locals, including Republicans, want her to stick around. Even though the media reduces her to a caricature, covering her with a viciousness most politicians in this corner of the world will never encounter, Brown is still the most valuable Washington legislator for Northeast Florida.

John Crescimbeni: While there are other names being floated for the next City Council vice presidency, Crescimbeni’s is the most interesting. Some say he already has nine committed supporters; all he’ll need is 10. A Crescimbeni vice presidency would put him in line to be council president in 2017, right around the time one might expect council pushback against the Curry administration (if, indeed, that ever manifests). The conservative Democrat would make for the most interesting foil to Curry, and would (especially as president) be in a position to create policy and stylistic contrasts with the mayor. Crescimbeni is media savvy, and he certainly understands The Process as well as anyone this side of Bill Gulliford.

Crescimbeni, as council president, likely wouldn’t be in the Greg Anderson “above the fray” mold. For those tasked with covering politics in Jacksonville, that would be the most interesting scenario.

Jacksonville adds 16,000 jobs over last year

The Florida job numbers have been a primary talking point of Gov. Rick Scott, whose office announced adding a million jobs since 2010.

Jacksonville has been no exception to the rule, with jobs being added throughout the period, and 16,000 of them over the year in November.

Scott said, “I am proud to announce that the Jacksonville area added over 16,000 new jobs over the year in November. The creation of more than one million jobs in five years, as well as this tremendous economic growth in Northeast Florida, is putting Florida on track to becoming first for jobs.”

The release from the Governor’s office points to the success in adding jobs in recession-proof sectors.

The industries with the largest job gains over the year, according to the Governor’s press shop: “education and health services with 5,000 new jobs; leisure and hospitality with 4,700 jobs; and trade, transportation, and utilities with 4,300 new jobs. In November, the Jacksonville MSA had 21,847 job openings and had 5,155 openings for high-wage, high-skill science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs.”

STEM jobs were a priority of Lenny Curry on the campaign trail and in policy statements, and his office lauded the numbers as good news.

“We are very pleased to see these numbers and what they mean for our city,” said Curry in a prepared statement. “This kind of data demonstrates that Jacksonville is headed in the right direction in our efforts to create conditions that attract businesses, employ citizens, and improve economic development.”

Job growth was a major talking point for former Mayor Alvin Brown, and thus far, Curry can point to strong numbers on that front.

Peter Schorsch: The 5 most disappointing Florida politicians of 2015

As much as we would like to think otherwise, in politics, not everyone can be a winner.

To put it another way, as Judge Smails did in the eminently quotable “Caddyshack”: “The world needs ditch-diggers, too.”

Few will disagree that 2015 was a particularly fertile political year, one that produced a bumper crop of political disappointments. That’s what we get when the Legislature meets almost unceasingly in Special Session because it cannot agree on much of anything.

Of course, the key word in this analysis is “disappointing.” One cannot disappoint if they were not held in some regard beforehand.

So you won’t see U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson on this list, despite his year of bizarre statements and reports, such as the recent one that showed he profited from investing in a firm doing Iran oil deals while hitting Iran oil profiteers, revealing the “Senator with Guts” to be no more than a gaping hypocrite.

Nor will you see state Rep. Frank Artilles, who by punching a college student, sponsoring discriminatory legislation targeting transgender Floridians, and boasting about wanting to kill bears, assembled a year of buffoonery seemingly designed to generate negative publicity.

Several other Florida pols could have made the list, especially two A-listers, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster; Atwater for his Hamletesque flirtation with running for the U.S. Senate and Webster for his quixotic pursuit of becoming Speaker of the U.S. House. But there was some nobility in both men’s ambitions, and both enjoyed otherwise strong years, so we’ll avoid, as Teddy Roosevelt warned against, pointing out where strong men stumbled.

So here is my list of the year’s most disappointing Florida politicians, in ascending order of disappointment:

Alvin Brown – Republican Lenny Curry is now so firmly in control of Jacksonville’s City Hall that it’s easy to forget that Brown, a Democrat with national cred and connections, entered 2015 with a double-digit lead in his re-election campaign. But Brown ran for a second term as he governed in the first, letting down too many of the moderate supporters who propelled him into office in 2011.

Don Gaetz – A case could be made for including the entire Florida Senate on this list. For so many reasons, Andy Gardiner‘s Senate has been so dysfunctional and inefficient, it’s made former Senate President Mike Haridopolos look like a modern-day Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. A case could also be made for specifically including Bill Galvano on this list as he has, step after step, bungled or stymied the court-ordered effort to redraw the state Senate districts. But it is Gaetz, a former Senate President, who best symbolizes the worst tendencies of the upper chamber. It’s because of Gaetz that the Legislature finds itself in court over those Senate districts. And when Gaetz took to the floor of the Senate, invoking a point of personal privilege, to personally attack another colleague, he plunged the Senate into one of its lowest points. In the past, we’ve held Senator Gaetz in high regard, but his actions this year remind us that legislative leaders are better off heading off into the sunset than sticking around after they’ve held the rostrum.

The Florida Cabinet – There may have been no sadder moment this year in Florida government than when the Florida Cabinet met at the state fair and did nothing to rebuke Gov. Rick Scott for his illegal dismissal of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. A lawsuit alleging Scott and Cabinet members sidestepped the state’s Sunshine Law in the way they handled Bailey’s dismissal was settled, which led to one of the year’s best moments: Pat Gleason, the special counsel for open government in Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office, giving Scott and Co. a 90-minute lecture on Florida’s broad public records and open meeting requirements.

Bob Buckhorn – The day after the 2014 elections, Hizzoner held an impromptu press conference and all but declared that he would run for governor in 2018. In fact, the Tampa mayor entered 2015 as the de facto front-runner for the Democratic nomination. That was then; this is now. After a series of troubling scandals, including revelations that his police department disproportionately targeted black residents and that one of his chief political advisers, Beth Leytham, is nothing less than the Rasputin of Riverwalk, many Democrats now wonder whether Buckhorn will even run in 2018. Meanwhile, his lackluster fundraising for his political committee, expected to be a vehicle for a 2018 run, isn’t inspiring much confidence.

Jeb Bush – Not since Willie Mays stumbled through the outfield during his last season of baseball as a New York Met have we witnessed a modern figure once so mighty laid low by the effects of time. Faced with higher expectations than the Uber IPO but with the financial resources of a small country, Bush went from presidential front-runner to cautionary tale in six months. His downward trajectory is not all his fault, since the GOP electorate appears more interested in electing a carnival barker than a president, but Bush is still mostly responsible for his single-digit standing. At times, the man who once bestrode Florida’s state government like a colossus, has struggled to assemble the most basic of responses, all while getting muscled out of the race by political neophytes (Donald Trump and Ben Carson) and his protege (Marco Rubio). Had Jeb Bush lived during the Elizabethan era, he certainly would have starred in one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Peter Schorsch is a new media publisher and political consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.    

The 5 most disappointing Florida politicians of 2015

As much as we would like to think otherwise, in politics, not everyone can be a winner.

To put it another way, as Judge Smails did in the eminently quotable Caddyshack: “The world needs ditch-diggers, too.”

Few will disagree that 2015 was a particularly fertile political year, one that produced a bumper crop of political disappointments – that’s what we get when the Legislature meets almost unceasingly in special session because it cannot agree on much of anything.

Of course, the key word in this analysis is “disappointing.” One cannot disappoint if they were not held in some regard beforehand.

So you won’t see U.S. Alan Grayson on this list, despite his year of bizarre statements and reports, such as the recent one that showed he profited from investing in a firm doing Iran oil deals while hitting Iran oil profiteers, revealing the “Senator with Guts” to be no more a gaping hypocrite.

Nor will you see state Rep. Frank Artiles, who by punching a college student, sponsoring discriminatory legislation targeting transgender Floridians, and boasting about wanting to kill bears, assembled a year of buffoonery seemingly designed to generate negative publicity.

Several other Florida pols could have made the list, especially two A-listers, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster; Atwater for his Hamletesque flirtation with running for the U.S. Senate and Webster for his quixotic pursuit of becoming Speaker of the U.S. House. But there was some nobility in both men’s ambitions, and both enjoyed otherwise strong years, so we’ll avoid, as Teddy Roosevelt warned against, pointing out where strong men stumbled.

So here is my list of the year’s most disappointing Florida politicians, in ascending order of disappointment.

Alvin Brown – Republican Lenny Curry is now so firmly in control of Jacksonville’s City Hall that it’s easy to forget that Brown, a Democrat with national cred and connections, entered 2015 with a double-digit lead in his re-election campaign. But Brown ran for a second term as he governed in the first, letting down too many of the moderate supporters who propelled him into office in 2011.

Don Gaetz – A case could be made for including the entire Florida Senate on this list. For so many reasons, Andy Gardiner‘s Senate has been so dysfunctional and inefficient, it’s made former Senate Mike Haridopolos‘ look like a modern-day Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. A case could also be made for specifically including Bill Galvano on this list as he has, step after step, bungled or stymied the court-ordered effort to redraw the state Senate districts. But it is Gaetz, a former Senate President, who best symbolizes the worst tendencies of the upper chamber. It’s because of Gaetz that the Legislature finds itself in court over those Senate districts. And when Gaetz took to the floor of the Senate, invoking a point of personal privilege, to personally attack another colleague, he plunged the Senate into one of its lowest points. In the past, we’ve held Senator Gaetz in high regard, but his actions this year remind us that legislative leaders are better off heading off into the sunset than sticking around after they’ve held the rostrum.

The Florida Cabinet – There may have been no sadder moment this year in Florida government than when the Florida Cabinet met at the state fair and did nothing to rebuke Governor Rick Scott for his illegal dismissal of FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. A lawsuit alleging Scott and Cabinet members sidestepped the state’s Sunshine Law in the way they handled Bailey’s dismissal was settled, which led to one of the year’s best moments: Pat Gleason, the special counsel for open government in Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office, giving Scott and Co. a 90-minute lecture on Florida’s broad public records and open meeting requirements.

Bob Buckhorn – The day after the 2014 elections, Hizzoner held an impromptu press conference and all but declared that he would run for governor in 2018. In fact, the Tampa mayor entered 2015 as the de facto frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. That was then; this is now. After a series of troubling scandals, including revelations that his police department disproportionately targeted black residents and that one of his chief political advisers, Beth Leytham, is nothing less than the Rasputin of Riverwalk, many Democrats now wonder if Buckhorn will even run in 2018. Meanwhile, his lackluster fundraising for his political committee, expected to be a vehicle for a 2018 run, isn’t inspiring much confidence.

Jeb Bush – Not since Willie Mays stumbled through the outfield during his last season of baseball as a New York Met have we witnessed a modern figure once so mighty laid low by the effects of time. Faced with higher expectations than the Uber IPO but with the financial resources of a small country, Bush went from presidential front-runner to cautionary tale in six months. His downward trajectory is not all his fault, as the GOP electorate appears more interested in electing a carnival barker than a president, but Bush is still mostly responsible for his single-digit standing. At times, the man who once bestrode Florida’s state government like a colossus, has struggled to assemble the most basic of responses, all while getting muscled out of the race by political neophytes (Donald Trump and Ben Carson) and his protege (Marco Rubio). Had Jeb Bush lived during the Elizabethan era, he certainly would have starred in one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Corrine Brown’s federal lawsuit “has very little chance of succeeding”

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown is pursuing a federal lawsuit, Brown v. Detzner, in the wake of the Florida Supreme Court’s approval of a redrawn congressional map for the state. Brown, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, argue that the change means “substantial retrogression” for African-American communities, along with significant dilution of the black vote in her district.

The ruling changes Brown’s district considerably, reshaping it from one that snakes southward from Jacksonville down to Orlando, to an east-west configuration, going from Jax to Tallahassee.

But according to relevant precedent, the lawsuit “has very little chance of succeeding,” said Nicholas Seabrook, professor of political science at the University of North Florida.

“Her case will ultimately turn on whether replacing her old District 5 (which was drawn to link African-American populations in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Orlando), with the new District 5 approved by the Florida Supreme Court (which instead links Jacksonville and Tallahassee), can be considered ‘retrogressive’ to minority voting rights and representation under Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” he said.

In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s District 23 for precisely this reason: It had previously been a 58 percent majority-minority Latino district, but was redrawn so that the Latino voting-age population was just 46 percent.

“Brown’s situation is a little different. Her old district was what’s called a ‘minority-influence’ district rather than a ‘majority-minority’ district. This means that the minority voting-age population (VAP) is less than 50 percent, but large enough to allow minority voters a ‘substantial, if not decisive, role in the electoral process’ (quoting Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a 2003 case). Brown’s old district had an African-American VAP of 49 percent. Her new district has an African-American VAP of 45 percent. To me this seems like much too small a change for her to successfully argue that it constitutes retrogression under the Voting Rights Act.”

For her part, Brown argues that not only is the official VAP lessened because of the lines being redrawn, the newly drawn district has one of the highest prison populations in the state. It consists of a large percentage of African-American inmates not eligible to vote. She argues that further complicates her standing.

Her claim that an African-American cannot win the district under the new configuration will be put to the test. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a rising Democratic star, is considering challenging her for the seat. Meanwhile, North Florida supporters such former Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand are coming strongly to Brown’s defense, saying she’s “worked miracles” for the 5th District.

 

Alvin Brown slated as Spring Georgetown University fellow

The “biggest names in politics are going back to school,” and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is among them.

Brown will serve as a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service this spring, along with Jackie Kucinich, former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, and several others.

“The Fellows Program connects students with political leaders to learn from one another and tackle some of the biggest political challenges of the day. Each semester, some of the top names in politics, government, and media will go back to school, leading a weekly non-credit discussion group on a hot topic, holding office hours for students, and speaking to a variety of campus groups,” claims the Institute.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Mayor Brown expressed his excitement about the four month program.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to share what I’ve learned about leadership and governing, and also to learn more about the issues driving some of our nation’s brightest young minds on a career path toward public service. During my time as mayor, I felt blessed with the responsibility to touch people’s lives and create meaningful partnerships to do public good. If there is one point I hope students come away with, it’s that public service is a highly noble endeavor built upon vision, teamwork, perseverance and gratitude.”

Lenny Curry donor wants his money back

Does the old saying “money-back guarantee” apply to campaign contributions? One Lenny Curry donor thinks so, and said as much in an dirt-dishing, ad hominem-riddled email to General Counsel Jason Gabriel, in which he had unkind words for many members of the City Hall staff.

“Please inform the Mayor that I would like my $1000.00 campaign contribution refunded and despite trying to tell him that his appointments should be carefully vetted, he made the mistake of reappointing Kelli O’Leary (unqualified), a Brown supporter as a Director and the reappointment of others who were also appointed by Mayor Brown. Mayors should only appoint people to sensitive jobs (HR/personnel files) that they can trust,” noted Richard Greenwood, a former “Industrial Psychologist” with the City of Jacksonville (a position which presumably has little to do with Front 242 or Nine Inch Nails).

Greenwood wasn’t done there, and seemed to have a special ax to grind with the affable O’Leary.

“Mayor Brown trusted Bowling and O’Leary who were obvious supporters of Rick Scott,” Greenwood said, before posing the question: “Don’t politics make for strange bedfellows?”

Then, some back story:

“I just loved my time working for so many Mayors, Sheriffs and Admirals from 1991 until I had to pay more than $26,000 to apply for a ‘forced retirement.’ If only your office could have told you that I was a loyal City employee until I was humiliated in 2009 to look like I was incompetent. It appears incompetency is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Shakespeare said that, right?

“My next correspondence are ‘certified letters, return receipt required’ to both Judges Schlesinger and Corrigan. You, the Mayor and San Mousa can make the City’s Consultant, Richard Greenwood more credible than the current City Consultant, John Keane.  The COJ website still lists John as the consultant for the City.  I have never seen John in a suit … but boy he sure loves BBQ,” Greenwood observed, without going into detail as to what kind of sauce Keane likes on his brisket.

Greenwood then digs into the crates to insult politicians first elected in the previous millennium.

“John Delaney made all evidence of the previous Mayor disappear when he eked out his victory in the mid 90s.  Mr. Delaney didn’t think much of me either since he demoted me from Industrial Psychologist back to my Civil Service position,” Greenwood wrote.

Apparently, Delaney didn’t catch on to this gentleman’s amazing temperance and people skills.

“Still would like to be the City’s expert but it appears that you have plenty of experts already, in place. BTW, the Mary Singleton Center still has the TU newspaper article framed in its lobby declaring Alvin Brown as the NEW Mayor of Jacksonville,” Greenwood observed.

“Mayor Curry should do what Mr. Delaney did in the mid-90s by cleaning up from past Mayor’s shortcomings,” Greenwood, who had just lamented his own demotion by Delaney, insist, before closing with an oddly constructed sentence fragment/ad hominem attack.

“Thus the ‘blight czar’ … Denise Lee … LOL,” Greenwood wrote.

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