“There’s more forensic evidence that would indicate that the DNC was never hacked at all by anyone.”
Stone also touched upon the recent abuse allegations lobbied against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Stone framed the “dastardly accusations” as a “smear” against Kavanaugh, shredding the media for even reporting on them given the lack of a corroborating witness.
St. Petersburg ranks among the top in the nation on integration policies affecting newcomers, including immigrants, according to a new national assessment of policies and socioeconomic outcomes, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday.
Immigrants in the St. Pete areapay $549.5 millionin taxes every year, according to the inaugural New American Economy Cities Index. The index found local immigrants accounted for $1.8 billion in local direct and associated spending in 2014. There are 2,166 immigrant-owned businesses in the St. Pete area.
The NAE Cities Index looks at 31 different policies and 20 socioeconomic outcomes to assess cities on their ability to integrate new residents. Categories include government leadership, economic empowerment, inclusivity, community and legal support, job opportunities, economic prosperity, livability and civic participation.
“This ranking is a result of our hard work and commitment to ensuring that all residents of the City of St. Petersburg, regardless of where they are born or what language they speak, are afforded opportunity in America’s Sunshine City,” Kriseman said during a news conference in front of St. Pete City Hall.
The city ranked 13th overall. On a five-point scale, it scored 4.5 in socioeconomic status and five in the categories of economic prosperity, livability and civic participation.
There’s some room for improvement. The city scored 2.8 overall on its policies toward integration and three in inclusivity and economic empowerment.
The ranking comes after Kriseman’s 2016 remarks against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump“banning” him from St. Pete based on the President’s comments about immigration and plans to implement a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries.
Kriseman has also been an outspoken critic of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy that led to thousands of undocumented children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The city’s policies place St. Pete on Trump’s “sanctuary city” list blocking some federal financial aid, a practice Kriseman condemns.
Supreme Court nominee BrettKavanaugh is again denying a woman’s allegation he sexually assaulted her at a party three decades ago.
The White House released a new statement Monday from the nominee in which he calls the claim “completely false.” Kavanaugh says he never did what the accuser describes “to her or anyone.”
The woman, ChristineBlaseyFord, came forward Sunday in an interview with The Washington Post to say a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.
Kavanaugh says in the statement he “had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself.”
Kavanaugh had been on a smooth confirmation track, but the new allegations have roiled that process.
White House counselor KellyanneConway says a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school “should testify under oath and she should do it on Capitol Hill.”
She says that’s up to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Conway told reporters Monday accuser Ford should “not be ignored or insulted.” Conway says Kavanaugh also should testify to the allegations, noting he has already provided testimony and has undergone FBI background checks.
Ford tells The Washington Post a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has “categorically” denied the allegations.
The White House says “Kavanaugh and the White House both stand by that statement.”
A lawyer for a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school says her client is willing to tell her story publicly to the Senate panel considering his nomination. She says the woman considers Kavanaugh’s actions “attempted rape.”
DebraKatz represents Ford, who tells The Washington Post a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
Katz told NBC’s “Today” show she “clearly considers this an attempted rape.”
Kavanaugh has “categorically” denied those allegations, a denial repeated Monday by the White House.
Katz tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” the accuser is “willing to cooperate” with investigators and the Senate Judiciary Committee. She says Ford, a Democrat, isn’t politically motivated.
The Republican-controlled Senate panel appears committed to a vote on Kavanaugh this week.
This item has been corrected to show the spelling of the lawyer’s name is Debra, not Deborah.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the Supreme Court is taking an uncertain turn. Republican senators are expressing concern over a woman’s private-turned-public allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.
The White House and other Kavanaugh supporters had dismissed the allegation of sexual misconduct when it was initially conveyed in a private letter. With a name and disturbing details, the accusation raised the prospect of congressional Republicans defending President DonaldTrump’s nominee ahead of midterm elections featuring an unprecedented number of female candidates and informed in part by the #MeToo movement.
The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee appears nonetheless committed to a vote later this week despite calls by Democrats to postpone the vote.
State Senate President Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and Fort Myers Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto will be in Tampa next Friday to help four area Senate candidates boost their campaign accounts ahead of the November general election.
The Sept. 17 event will be held in the Snowy Egret Room on the second floor of the Grand Hyatt, 2900 Bayport Drive, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The invitation doesn’t list a suggested contribution for attendees, though it does ask that they send their RSVPs to Myost@FRSCC.orgor call (813) 965-1043.
The reception will benefit the re-election efforts of incumbent Sens. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, Tom Lee of Thonotosassa and Dana Young of Tampa, while also providing a boost to former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is the party’s nominee in the race for Pinellas- and Pasco-based Senate District 16.
Lee, Brandes, Young, and Hooper are all running in seats being targeted by Florida Democrats in the fall, though Brandes is likely safe because the candidate initially recruited by the party, trial lawyer Carrie Pilon, withdrewbecause of the unexpected health problems of a close family member.
He now faces Lindsay Cross, and recent polls show that he has a 39-19 percent lead with 42 percent of voters undecided. He also has more than $890,000 on hand between his campaign and political committee, Liberty Florida, while Cross has managed to build only a $44,250 war chest since tagging in for Pilonat the end of July.
Young and Hooper face much tougher battles, however.
Young is up against House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in Senate District 18, and though she holds a strong fundraising advantage, polling has shown the two Tampanians neck and neck with Cruz holding a slim advantage.
It’s the same situation in Senate District 16, where Hooper is up against former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy — despite a sixfold money advantage and hitting TV early on, Hooper trailed Murphy by two pointsin an early August poll of their general election showdown.
Lee’s Senate District 20 is the safest of the bunch. He won re-election without opposition two years ago, when the seat also voted plus-8 for President Donald Trump. Through the end of August, Lee had $122,500 in hard money while his opponent, Wesley Chapel Democrat Kathy Lewis, had virtually exhausted her $17,850 in campaign fundraising during her primary contest against Tampa Democrat Joy Gibson.
Election Day is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday that Democratic former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is “trying to pull a fast one” on voters by promising to be moderate if he’s elected to the Senate in a critical race.
The Florida senator made the comments to reporters Friday after attending a Tennessee campaign roundtable with Hispanic community members for Bredesen’s opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Rubio praised the congresswoman as having the right background to contribute to what Republicans are doing in the Senate.
Bredesen and Blackburn are locked in a tight contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker. Democrats’ hopes to overturn a 51-49 GOP Senate majority could hinge on the outcome in Tennessee, a red state where Bredesen is hoping to draw some support from moderate Republicans, and Blackburn is trying to curb his crossover appeal.
Rubio said Democrats like Bredesen promise that they’re middle of the road, but when they get to Washington, they vote 99.9 percent of the time with lawmakers whom Tennesseans would never vote for themselves. Rubio also touted the recent economic growth, tax cuts, GOP judicial appointments and other occurrences while Republicans have been in control.
“So you have a great candidate,” Rubio told reporters. “You have someone on the other side who’s trying to pull a fast one on you. And you have real progress in this country, despite all the rhetoric and the noise, that would all stop if too many of the wrong people get there, like the individual running as a Democrat here in this state.”
Bredesen campaign spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen responded Friday that, like Bredesen, Tennesseans are independent thinkers and don’t need out-of-state politicians telling them what to do.
“Congresswoman Blackburn should keep this in mind the next time she wants to bring one of her D.C. friends to town,” Hansen said in a statement.
The roundtable event delved into a discussion on immigration, a system that Rubio said needs to be modernized away from being “almost entirely built on, ‘How many relatives do you have living here now?’”
“Now, if you can dunk a basketball or throw 98 mile-an-hour fastballs, you’ll have no problem getting into the U.S.,” Rubio said. “But if you’re going to be a Ph.D. that’s going to cure cancer, you may or may not get to come depending on when you apply and how lucky you are. That’s got to be fixed.”
Blackburn has been a strong advocate of President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown plans, including his proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
She also has opposed a President Barack Obama-era program that shields from deportation young immigrants brought or kept here illegally as children. Blackburn said in September 2017 that the program offers “the false hope of amnesty that led to a surge of illegal immigration and stole jobs from American citizens by giving illegal aliens work permits,” while also calling for a larger fix to the immigration system.
Hansen, the Bredesen campaign spokeswoman, said Blackburn’s roundtable displayed “jaw-dropping hypocrisy” on immigration.
When a reporter asked Blackburn why Friday’s discussion didn’t touch on Trump’s wall, she refocused the conversation on support for economic growth, entrepreneurial activity and emphasis on “religious liberty” to help charities under Trump.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.
With the Republican nomination fight for Governor behind him and having officially resigned from his U.S. House seat, former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis will travel Florida in a series of campaign stops today.
He then heads to Orlando Brewing for a GOP Vets Military Appreciation barbeque from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
DeSantis will then high-tail it south to Vero Beach for a First Responders Fall Cook-Off from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Indian River Fairgrounds.
The heavy day of campaigning marks one of the most active for DeSantis the entire campaign cycle. In the Aug. 28 primary, DeSantis upset early favorite Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, not so much with hustle as with prestige, winning a coveted endorsement from President Donald Trump.
DeSantis also made himself known to much of the Republican base with numerous appearances on Fox News, sometimes showing prowess on national issues in major debates—and other times making gaffes on national television.
But today’s heavy schedule in certain ways shows an earnest shift to campaigning on the ground and pressing the flesh with voters. It’s part of why DeSantis resigned his House seat earlier this week to focus on the campaign full-time.
“As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress,” he wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
“Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary.”
Of course, the aggressive campaigning also comes as a number of polls, even notoriously right-leaning ones, show DeSantis trailing in polls behind Democrat Andrew Gillum.
This week, new polls from Rasmussen Reports and from the Florida Chamber of Commerce showed Gillum winning by six and four percentage points respectively.
Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new Spanish-language ad seeking to separate himself from President Donald Trump and promising commitment to voters over the president.
The ad, titled “Compromiso,” features Scott addressing viewers in Spanish about his promise to put voters ahead of partisan politics.
“When I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it,” Scott begins in Spanish.
“My only commitment is with you. For me, what’s important is that your family have the best opportunities. I ask for your vote so that together we can make Washington work for our families. I’m Rick Scott and I approve this message because I know that with your help, we’ll keep on working.”
The 30-second ad is set to be released both digitally and on television.
Trump claimed the updating of the death toll to 2,975 “was done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.” The Democratic Party was not involved in any way with the study that arrived at those numbers.
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…
…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!
Those comments from Trump resulted in a tweet from Scott, explaining his disagreement with the President.
I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR
The parties have unified. Ops for losing candidates have moved into other campaigns (or endeavors).
If you pay attention, there is — at times — a crispness in the morning air.
And while that coolness may be fleeting, it’s an augury of the inevitable march of time.
The days will shorten. By late October, we will have a sense of who is in the best position to win state races — including a state House and a local Congressional race, each of which could be an augury of the oft-discussed “blue wave.”
Campaign season feels endless during the primary slog. But as we get inside of eight weeks before the general election, the news cycles speed up, and what was hypothetical moves ever closer toward the inevitable.
DeSantis leaves Congress
Per Fox News, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has resigned from Congress, with the pressures of the gubernatorial campaign requiring a full-time commitment to the race.
DeSantis, whose district runs from St. Johns County south past Daytona, was a third-term Republican.
DeSantis sent a letter Monday to House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing his immediate resignation.
“As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has not indicated he would resign his post in kind.
Soderberg builds momentum
While it’s by no means certain that Ambassador Nancy Soderberg will be successful in her Congressional bid, the facts are that she is showing a lot of strength as the general election campaign kicks off.
Soderberg’s campaign crossed the $2 million threshold on the strength of over 7,500 contributions this election cycle, a campaign release trumpeted Monday.
“We continue to be blown away by the grassroots support driving our campaign,” Soderberg said.
Soderberg’s Republican opponent, Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret and aide to VP Dick Cheney, has raised over $1 million for the campaign, and doesn’t expect to have to raise that much to beat Soderberg in a district that has voted Republican in the last two election cycles, including +17 for President Donald Trump.
On Monday, Soderberg’s campaign produced a poll showing the race too close to call. Waltz’s campaign was skeptical, suggesting that Democrats may have been oversampled to get that result.
Bean cash haul
State Sen. Aaron Bean, whose district encompasses Nassau and part of Duval County, crossed the $200,000 cash on hand threshold as of his latest finance report.
Bean brought in $2,525 to his campaign account and $6,666 to that of his Florida Conservative Alliance political committee between Aug. 24 — 31. He has just over $100,000 in his campaign account and another $102,000+ in his committee kitty.
The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters donated the maximum $1,000 to his campaign account, offering the most locally notable name on his donor roll.
Regarding the $6,666 to his committee account, that came from Spring Hill Hospital and Brooksville Hospital, both sharing an address in Antioch, Tennessee.
Bean’s opponents face cash flow deficits compared to the incumbent.
Democrat Billee Bussard, a Jacksonville journalist of long standing, raised $1,660 in the week between Aug. 24 — 31. She has nearly $5,000 on hand.
Senate District 4 has a strong GOP plurality. Of its just over 360,000 voters, almost 175,000 are Republicans, with 94,000+ Democrats and the rest being NPAs.
Polson builds cash lead
Democrat Tracye Polson is confident in her ability to take what is now a Republican-held seat in House District 15, and that confidence will only be bolstered after the latest financial reports in the race.
During the period from Aug. 24 to 31, Polson stretched her lead over Wyman Duggan, a Republican lobbyist whose backing from the Jacksonville establishment has not translated into winning the money race.
Polson brought in $6,042 to her campaign account, giving her $145,000+ in hard money. She also raised $3,100 for her committee account, which now has $41,000 on hand.
Duggan, conversely, raised $187,000 ahead of a primary, which he won with just 40 percent of the vote despite being the only candidate on television, with over $100,000 committed to ads where Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry vouched for the candidate.
He has less than $7,000 on hand now, with no money raised in the week after the primary. Polson has, at least for the moment, a more than 25-to-1 cash on hand edge over the establishment candidate.
Despite the cash lead, expect Polson to keep pushing. She knows that the machine never runs out of gas.
Fischer draws $11K in one week
While Duggan may have some issues, another Curry ally is winning his own fundraising war.
State Rep. Jason Fischer, a first-term Republican from Jacksonville, faces a general election challenge — and judging from the first week of post-primary fundraising, he takes it seriously.
Fischer’s campaign account saw $10,000 of the action, buoyed by donors with organizational interests, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Rep. Travis Hutson‘s First Coast Business Foundation political committee, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fischer’s opponent, retired CSX lifer Ken Organes, is at a cash disadvantage, with just over $31,000 on hand as of Aug. 31.
HD 16 is decidedly GOP, with 55,612 Republicans compared to 35,750 Democrats and 27,788 NPA voters.
Curry’s campaign account took in $33,000 of that number; it now has $428,730 raised, with over $414,000 on hand. The committee raked in $188,000, boosting it to $2.138 million raised and $1.66 million on hand.
The committee donors reflect a statewide interest in Curry’s re-election, exemplified best by the First Amendment Fund (a committee primarily funded by the committees of Sens. Joe Negron and Bill Galvano and Rep. Gayle Harrell) going $25,000 deep.
Thus far, Curry faces nominal competition for the March election. Between them, his four opponents have raised less than $2,500.
Speculation swirled that Jacksonville City Councilwoman Anna Brosche (a Republican like Curry) was to file this week, and some of those speculators contend she has over a million dollars in commitments should she run.
Former Times-Union columnist (and seeming future campaign asset) Ron Littlepage poured petrol onto the fire Monday evening.
Parental leave props
The conservative Washington Examiner lauded Jacksonville’s soon-to-be-ratified policy ensuring six weeks of parental leave for new biological parents under city employ.
“Only three states require paid parental leave: Rhode Island, California, and New Jersey. This development in Florida is exceptional because the mayor has found a way to offer it to his employees, without being forced to, and in a way that doesn’t cost taxpayers additional funds,” the Examiner contends.
“Paid parental leave is a controversial topic, particularly among conservatives, who are usually against it, because politicians usually want a state to force employers to offer it or raise taxes to pay for it,” the editorial continues, noting that Curry’s friend Marco Rubio is one of the few conservatives to push for the policy on a federal level.
Firefighters make NYC trip
WJXT offered the best report in the local market on last weekend’s trip to New York for the Jaguars’ season opener. Curry and local firefighters were on hand.
Firefighters make the pilgrimage every year, commemorating the first responders whose lives were taken on 9/11/2001. This year, with the Jags playing in East Rutherford, things went a bit different, courtesy of Jaguar defender Malik Jackson.
“When he heard Jacksonville firefighters were going up to the 9/11 ceremony, he provided them with custom jerseys and tickets to the game between the Jaguars and Giants. He even met up with them on the sidelines for photos,” WJXT reports.
Morgan gets establishment nod
Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan faces a former two-term Councilman, Bill Bishop, in her re-election bid.
After one month of running an active campaign, Morgan, a Democrat representing the Arlington area, has taken the cash lead over the stalled-out operation of Bishop, who is just three years removed from drawing nearly 20 percent citywide in the Mayor’s race.
The Morgan/Bishop race is the latest piece of evidence that political prominence in Jacksonville can be an ephemeral thing.
Bishop abandoned his citywide run for an easier race earlier this year, but Morgan’s early momentum suggests that even a district race may prove daunting for his political comeback.
From the Jacksonville Jaguars and owner Shad Khan to the powerful bestbet empire and the Fraternal Order of Police, what’s clear is that the donor class backs Morgan over Bishop.
Morgan raised $15,697 and has nearly $14,500 in hand after her first month’s fundraising, which puts her over the peripatetic Bishop operation, which continues to combine slow fundraising and high recurring costs.
Bishop has just over $12,000 on hand after 11 months of fundraising, including a $700 haul in August that merely defrayed some of the costs of his campaign consulting.
Bishop and Morgan are the only two candidates in the District 1 race.
Fiorentino, Delaney named Florida’s ‘most influential’
In establishing the roster, Florida Trend began with categories used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Also, there were some rules of thumb: No elected officials, and no more than three people from any one firm.
Both Fiorentino and Delaney — a former Jacksonville Mayor and recently retired as president of the University of North Florida — made the cut in the category “professional services.”
“When I was chairman of the Jacksonville Port Authority, we created separate airport and seaport authorities,” Florida Trend quotes Fiorentino in his entry. “This was a big community issue and was greatly debated. It took a lot of outreach and advocacy to get this done.”
Delaney is noted as part of a “collaborative governmental relations effort between the Fiorentino Group, one of the city’s leading consulting and advocacy groups, and Rogers Towers, an old-line law firm that’s a fixture in Jacksonville.”
“The Jacksonville Port Authority elected four officers to its board of directors. Chair John Falconetti, chairman and CEO of Jacksonville-based Drummond Press Inc.; vice chair John Baker, executive chairman of FRP Holdings Inc.; treasurer Jamie Shelton, president of Bestbet Jacksonville; and secretary Wendy Hamilton, president, Eventide Investments of Florida Inc,” the JDR reports.
Additionally, “Kerri Stewart, JEA’s chief customer officer, joined Groundwork Jacksonville’s board of directors. Before joining JEA, Stewart served as chief of staff for Curry and chief administrative officer for Mayors John Peyton and Alvin Brown.
On the campaign side, Jenny Busby (the former aide to Tommy Hazouri and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson) will be on the ground this fall helping Polson in the HD 15 race. Busby is the second Hazouri aide to be enlisted in the Polson quest (Haleigh Hutchison being the first).
Groups unite for affordable senior housing
Aging True, a nonprofit organization that provides senior housing services, and Tampa workforce housing developer Blue Sky Communities are receiving $16.6 million in federal funding to renovate a third Aging True senior apartment building in downtown Jacksonville.
Cathedral Townhouse, a 50-year old 177-unit apartment building located at 501 North Ocean Street, will receive an update of its major building systems, life safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency. All units will receive new kitchens, lighting, flooring, and upgrades of plumbing and electrical systems and exterior painting. The work is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2019 and be completed by late next year.
Renovation of Cathedral Townhouse is the third Aging True senior affordable apartment building renovated by Blue Sky.
In 2016, Blue Sky completed a $10 million renovation of Cathedral Terrace, a 240-unit tower built in 1974 and located 701 North Ocean Street. Funding for the project came from Florida Housing Finance Corp. 4% tax credits, Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority and the City of Jacksonville State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP).
This year, Blue Sky will complete the $12 million in renovations for Cathedral Tower, a 203-unit apartment building located at 601 North Newnan Street that was built in 1968.
UNF named a ‘Best Regional University’
For the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has named the University of North Florida among its “best regional” universities in the South.
UNF was ranked No. 42 in the region this year, up six spots from last year. The university was also ranked No. 14 in the “Top Public Schools” list, No. 29 in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” list, No. 58 in the list of the “Best Value Schools,” and No. 82 in the list of “Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.”
“I take great pride in being able to lead a university that is of the caliber of the University of North Florida,” UNF President David Szymanski told WJCT. “The University is showing up in nearly every national college ranking, putting UNF at the top of some very impressive lists. These accolades are a true testament to our outstanding faculty and staff as well as the talents of our phenomenal students.”
In its rankings, U.S. News & World Report use a combination of a school’s academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni donations.
Jacksonville Zoo offers discounted admission for Hurricane Florence evacuees
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is offering $10 general admission to the Zoo to evacuees from Hurricane Florence. The discount applies at the gates to those with IDs from Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
As Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens recovered from damage sustained from Hurricane Irma one year ago, the Zoo understands that routines can be disrupted, particularly when people are away from home and worried.
A day at the Zoo can be just the thing to lift spirits.
To entertain those seeking shelter from Florence, the zoo is celebrating the opening of the great ape African Forest exhibit, and Dinosauria in its final weeks. Also, the Fiesta del Jaguar event is set for Saturday, Sept. 15.
The Zoo would also like to extend good luck to all the zoos and aquariums in the path of the storm and the dedicated keepers who are there to take care of their animals.
Jags’ much-anticipated rematch with Patriots almost here
Sunday will mark 237 days since that Sunday afternoon in Foxborough, Massachusetts when the Jacksonville Jaguars were five minutes away from going to the Super Bowl. Jacksonville was hanging onto a 20-17 lead over the New England Patriots, but could not hang on long enough, especially with Tom Brady on the other side of the ball.
The lead should have been bigger earlier in the period when Jags’ linebacker Myles Jack stripped Dion Lewis of the ball for a fumble and had clear sailing into the end zone and a 27-10 lead. The officials inexplicably said Jack was down, so no touchdown and eventually, no Super Bowl.
Jaguars’ fans have been waiting for Sunday’s appearance by Brady and the Patriots since the day the schedule was announced in the spring. So have the Jaguars’ players.
“Myles Jack wasn’t down” shirts, posters and maybe even a flyover, will be present in and around TIAA Bank Stadium. The noise level will be as great as it has ever been.
In other words, imagine tens of thousands of Jalen Ramseys out there.
This is as good of a time as any to play the Patriots, who are without their star wide receiver Julian Edelman as he serves a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Other Patriots are also dinged up, but all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski is ready to go and will be targeted early and often by Brady.
For the Jaguars, workhorse running back Leonard Fournette is nursing a sore hamstring, which could press T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant into leading roles if Fournette cannot play. Coach Doug Marrone said, “we’re going to give it some time and see where we are when it’s time to start testing it.”
That would be some time Friday, which means it could be a game-time decision on whether the second-year back can give it a try. If not, the backup running backs will be counted upon, or if that doesn’t work, call on quarterback Blake Bortles to pass the Jags to victory, or the league’s top defense may be able to add some points themselves.
While winning Sunday will not compensate the painful loss in January, it can put a good-sized Band-Aid over the wound.
President Donald Trump has responded Thursday morning to mounting reports of high death tolls in Puerto Rico in the wake of last year’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria, contending in tweets that 3,000 did not die as a result, and such reports are the result of Democrats trying to make him look bad.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
Democrats and Puerto Rican activists are expressing stunned disbelief of Trump’s tweets. U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Celebration whose district includes Florida’s largest concentration of Puerto Ricans and who is of Puerto Rican descent himself, accused Trump of “dancing on their graves to disguise your tragic incompetence.”
Republicans scrambled to accept the 3,000 figure as a believable estimate without sounding overtly critical of the president’s tweets.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum tweeted, “No death is partisan and our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserve better from @realDonaldTrump before, during and after the hurricane.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whom Scott is challenging, called Trump’s tweets “shameful.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando called the tweets “awful” and declare that Trump “has once again made it all about him.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park found Trump’s comments “very distrurbing,” according to her chief of staff.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott, running for the U.S. Senate this year, said he disagreed with Trump and declared “the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching.”
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor and a staunch Trump supporter, “doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated,” and is “committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community,” according to his campaign.
And Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio essentially defended the 3,000 estimate, and cautioned everyone to stop playing politics over it.
Said state Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat who also is of Puerto Rican descent, called Trump delusional. “This president cannot admit that he did not do all that he should have done to help those in the dire situation on the island. It’s a wonder he can still pound his chest and say he was outstanding in what he did, and not realize he failed, he failed the Puerto Ricans miserably.”
The 3,000 figure, actually 2,975, came from his own government’s estimatesof people who died from lack of water, electricity, medicine, and health care on the island in the aftermath of Maria, which left most of the island without power for months, and much of the island without potable water.
A separate study by Harvard University researchers, predicted the government estimate. Released in May, the Harvard study analyzed the probabilities of Puerto Rico deaths with and without the storms concluded the range of difference would be anywhere 793 to 8,498 additional deaths, and set its estimate on 4,645, as the statistically most-probable point. That study was conducted by a collaboration of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Carlos Albizu University in Puerto Rico, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s tweets come as the Carolinas prepare for the next monster hurricane, Hurricane Florence, bearing down for a strike tonight or tomorrow.
Soto’s full tweet, “Mr. President: we had nearly 3000 Americans die in Puerto Rico due to your slow, failed response to Hurricane Maria. And now you dance on their graves to disguise your tragic incompetence.”
Demings tweeted: It’s times like these when we need the President to lead. But once again he has made it all about him. The death count from #Maria is real. Thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico died as a direct result of the storm. When America faces a tragedy, we HAVE to come together.
Murphy put out a statement that read, “No objective observer believes the federal government’s preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria was adequate, given that nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico died. However, this is a symptom of a much deeper problem. For too long, under both Republicans and Democrats, the federal government has treated Puerto Rico in an unequal and sometimes indifferent way. American citizens in Puerto Rico should have the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow citizens in Florida or any state. Ensuring genuine equality for Puerto Rico is one of the best ways to avoid a repeat of what we saw with the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria.”
Scott’s full tweet: I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and [Puerto Rico] Gov. [Ricardo] Rosselló agreed. I’ve been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I’ll continue to help PR
“These days even tragedy becomes political. 3k more Americans died in #PuertoRico after Hurricane than during comparable periods before. Both Fed & local gov made mistakes. We all need to stop the blame game & focus on recovery, helping those still hurting & fixing the mistakes,” Rubio tweeted.
Nelson’s full tweet: The president’s comments on the nearly 3,000 American lives lost in Puerto Rico are shameful. We deserve and expect more from someone who holds the highest office in our country.
The full statement from DeSantis’s Campaign Communications Director Stephen Lawson is:
“Ron DeSantis has always worked to help the Puerto Rican community, both on the Island and here in Florida. As Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, he conducted an oversight hearing earlier this year to identify deficiencies in the federal response to Hurricane Maria. He has worked alongside Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon to secure support for rebuilding efforts. In August, he visited the island to meet with elected leaders and get the latest briefing from FEMA regarding recovery efforts. Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated. Ron is focused on continuing to help our Puerto Rican neighbors recover and create opportunities for those who have moved to Florida succeed.”
Politics in America has become quite the spectacle recently. Florida, of course, has never been known for boring elections. Consider our last gubernatorial election, where former Republican Governor Charlie Crist ran as a Democrat against Republican Rick Scott, a millionaire who oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the history of Florida (and is currently running for Senate).
Need I say more?
Yet Florida has not seen anything like the epic race pitting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum against Rep. Ron DeSantis, both aspiring to become Governor. Gillum made history by becoming the first black nominee for Governor in the history of the state after beating four other candidates, all millionaires, while running a bold and progressive campaign. DeSantis defeated Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam after receiving Donald Trump’s endorsement in what was considered an upset by political observers.
Since the onset of the general election, Gillum has faced a barrage of smears from the Florida Republican Party and its allies claiming that he is a candidate too radical for the people of Florida. Republicans say that Gillum is out of step with the average Floridian.
That’s funny coming from a party that has held political power in Florida for two decades, with disastrous consequences for working-class families. Currently 45 percent of households in the state qualifying as working poor and struggle to afford basic necessities like health care, transportation and housing despite being employed. Meanwhile, Republicans in the state have underfunded public education, refused to expand Medicaid for as many as 1 million Floridians, and set up corporate slush funds that divert millions in taxpayer dollars to the same wealthy corporations who help fund their campaigns
In the current race for Governor, it is DeSantis who is the clear extremist. His reactionary political agenda is plain for all Floridians to see.
— He has not taken a stand on raising the abysmal $8.25 minimum wage in the state.
I can keep going if I’d wanted to, but I think I’ve made my point.
Despite what political consultants and mainstream media outlets will tell you, people are hungry for change and support policies that will materially make their lives better. They are tired of having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and fearing that a health issue could potentially lead to financial ruin or even death due to lack of health care.
DeSantis is a radical who has tied his political fortunes to Donald Trump, one of the most corrupt and unpopular Presidents in modern American history.
I believe that come Nov. 6, Floridians will choose Gillum as the candidate that stands with them on a majority of the issues.
Thomas Kennedy is the Political Director for FLIC Votes and a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change Action. He tweets from @Tomaskenn.