Alvin Brown Archives - Page 6 of 42 - Florida Politics

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.

Jax Dems raise $200K for Hillary Clinton at private event

Most presidential campaign “bundlers” in Jacksonville tend to raise major ducats for the GOP.

But last night, the heavy lifting was being done for the Democratic frontrunner – Hillary Clinton.

North Florida philanthropist Sallyn Pajcic hosted about 200 attendees at her San Pablo area home at a private event for the former Secretary of State.

“It was very successful,” a source connected to the event tells Florida Politics. “More than $200,000 was raised.”

This marks Clinton’s first official 2016 campaign event in Jacksonville.

We’re told former Mayor Alvin Brown was on hand, along with recently ousted Planning Commission Chair Lisa King, and other boldfaced names in the Jax Democratic column.

Clinton’s appearance in Jacksonville was her fifth Florida campaign stop of the day, coming on the heels of a public event in Orlando where she touted a proposed five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan.

Attendees at the Pajcic event say her stump speech at the private affair was “fairly standard, but energetic.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s name recently turned up on Clinton’s “Florida Leadership Council” list. It’s the first political move the former mayor has made since being ousted from office by Republican Lenny Curry, although there have been recent rumblings Brown may be about to make a public announcement about his next step.

 

 

 

Jacksonville developer Peter Rummell debuts “The District”

For a couple of years now, Jacksonville megadeveloper Peter Rummell would cringe a bit when people would ask what was up “with that new development of yours, Healthy Town.”

“That’s not going to be the name!” he’d say.

Now, “Healthy Town” is out and “The District” is in.

Actually, the planned community on Jacksonville’s Southbank will be called “The District — Life Well Lived — Jacksonville,” but who will say all that?

Rummell says the name was selected after hundreds of people submitted ideas through an online naming contest for the estimated $400 million to $500 million retail and residential community.

“We had well over a thousand entries, including every version of ‘Cowford’ you can think of,” he said.

Partner Michael Munz adds, a focus group helped in the branding and logo design to help unveil the official concept for the 30-acre development on the south bank of the St. Johns River.

The District will emphasize healthy habits such “unintentional exercise,” a waterfront lifestyle, and multigeneration living. Those interested in renting or owning units can sign up on the waiting list at www.thedistrictjax.com.

Rummell estimates The District will open in about two years.

“When it’s done, it’s going to be a nexus,” he said. “A focal point that I think will be incomparable to any other place in town. It’ll be well done and on the riverfront. That combination doesn’t yet exist. When you’re going to meet somebody for a drink at 5, you’ll say, ‘Let’s just go to the District.’ It’s a new something for Jacksonville in terms of place-making.”

Rummell, of course, is known around town not only for his real estate exploits, but for funding the popular One Spark crowdfunding festival, and for putting his considerable money and muscle into Jacksonville mayoral campaigns, most recently, abandoning his support of former Mayor Alvin Brown (whom he helped decisively in 2011) in favor of new Mayor Lenny Curry. 

Jacksonville Journey “2.0” to officially debut Dec. 1

Everything old is new again, the saying goes.

In North Florida, that also holds true for crime prevention initiatives.

Sources tell Florida Politics that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is set to announce new details about a revamped Jacksonville Journey initiative on Dec. 1

The program, debuted under the mayoral administration of John Peyton, began as a response to Jacksonville’s notorious on-and-off status as Florida’s murder capital. The original, and robust budget for fixing root problems contributing to violence on the streets of Jax was set at $31 million.

During Mayor Alvin Brown‘s tenure, the Journey continued to exist – but funding and emphasis on its multipronged approach to bringing down violent crime numbers was scaled back dramatically in favor of other programs.

Now (perhaps with a Republican in charge once again) the Journey is officially back in favor. Project Director Deborah Verges, who hung onto her position through the Brown years, will continue to supervise the Journey, but in a reconstituted fashion.

Or more specifically, in the setup that used to exist, sources say, with many of the original committees and stakeholders brought back to the table to look at public safety in the 904 as they first were convened in 2008. The looming question: How will a back-in-business Journey be funded?

This is a developing story to be updated as more details emerge.

Lenny Curry, Jax establishment shine in latest British business deal

A narrative circulating before Lenny Curry‘s election contended that Jacksonville wasn’t getting all it could out of the annual economic development trips to London.

Some said, perhaps for political reasons, that former mayor Alvin Brown was ill-suited to make the sale to multinational companies that otherwise might be persuaded to relocate to or launch operations in Jacksonville.

That supposition, of course, will never be definitively proved or disproved. With Thursday’s latest corporate relocation announcement, though, the Curry Administration showed its ability to align its priorities neatly with the economic development wing (read: JAX Chamber) of the local establishment. Also, Council President Greg Anderson, a banker himself, is uniquely positioned to help make the sale.

The decision of international recruitment outsourcing firm Resource Solutions to bring its North American Global Service Center to Jacksonville, will bring at least 50 jobs by July 2016 and 25 more in the next three years. The deal was sealed on the London trip, and representatives of the company and the JAX Chamber pointed to the united messaging front as a reason.

Janine Chidlow, managing director of EMEA Americas at Resource Solutions, said her company was “impressed by the proactive approach taken by the mayor and the Jax Chamber to bring new businesses to Jacksonville.”

She said Jacksonville was “shortlisted” before the economic development trip, but that the “appetite of the mayor’s office and the Chamber” was a “major swing for us.”

The company with operations in 24 countries and Global Service Centers in Hyderabad, India; Manchester, England; and Johannesburg clearly could have gone anywhere in the United States. However, Jacksonville’s effort closed the deal. Jax Chamber Chairwoman-elect Audrey Moran, a 2011 mayoral candidate who still has a cadre of devoted admirers, made it clear this initiative would not have succeeded without the economic development trips to London.

“We have to get in front of people to make a connection,” Moran said. “It’s important who we bring with us.”

In addition to Curry, Anderson, and Moran, former mayors John Delaney and John Peyton made the trip.

“Trips are about building relationships,” Moran said, calling the convergence of influence “unprecedented,” emblematic of “continuity and vision,” and spotlighting “how engaged in these conversations” Curry is.

Curry, meanwhile, whose increasingly close political relationship with Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan has not been missed by #jaxpol observers, cited the trip as an example of “leverage[ing] the Jaguars brand” and emblematic of the “clearly strong business links between London and Jacksonville.”

Curry and Moran both expect further announcements to come via the London trip’s outreach, which could disarm critics of the economic development trips.

In that context, meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how the council president position evolves in the next few years.

Next year, Council Vice President Lori Boyer will take the trip with Curry and business community representatives. She’s known as one of the smartest people in Jacksonville politics, and also will help make the sale as Anderson did last month and will on trips to come during his tenure.

The open question, though, is who will succeed her as council VP, and then as council president two years hence.

A number of names have been floated as potential VP candidates, and questions for council members to consider as they choose their next VP include the following:

  • Would that person be effective in helping the business community close deals for projects like this?
  • Would that person be inclined to upstage the mayor or contradict the messaging?
  • Can that person keep his or her mouth shut when it comes to deals that must be kept confidential?

With that in mind, expect a Chamber-friendly candidate such as Aaron Bowman or Anna Brosche to emerge in the end.

Some long-timers, including one who reportedly has nine commitments already and another whose plainspoken ways aren’t exactly going to be catnip to the global business community, might squawk. But clearly, the key to these deals is the ability to put forth a unified coherent message, reflective of an aggressive  unified vision for economic development.

Who can deliver? Who can help push the ball over the goal line?

In the end, expect the mayor’s office to lobby for the right candidate … and against the wrong one.

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