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Jacksonville Bold for 4.22.16 – Yes for Jax and ‘No’ is not an option

With four months and a week until the August 30 primary, stakes are high in Jacksonville politics for electeds and candidates from the local to the federal level.

For John Rutherford, who filed Wednesday to run in Congressional District 4, stakes are definitely high. As a poll commissioned by suggested, it’s Rutherford’s race to lose. Even before he declared, he was the choice of 49 percent of CD 4 Republican likely voters.

Sixty-six percent of GOP primary voters have a favorable opinion of the former Jacksonville Sheriff, while just 14 percent have an unfavorable opinion; the almost 5 to 1 spread suggests that any opponent will have his work cut out for him to undercut that. Lake Ray, in the poll at 13 percent, has a favorability/unfavorability spread of 27 to 18 percent.

Sure, some people wonder if Rutherford can follow in the tradition of Ander Crenshaw, Tillie Fowler, and Charles Bennett. But with Lenny Curry’s money men and political operation, in the form of Tim Baker, on Rutherford’s side, he will be damned hard to beat. No member of the establishment will dare go against him… if they want to stay part of the establishment, that is.

Meanwhile, Corrine Brown says she’s running in CD 5. She does have a 3:1 cash on hand advantage against Al Lawson. Will that be enough?

Voters west of, say, Baldwin don’t know that she delivers. And once you get an hour west of Jacksonville, there are new media markets, which don’t know Corrine, blunting her historic advantage against the Bum of the Month club she faced in less than competitive elections every two years since 1992.

Meanwhile, in local politics, there is a pension referendum to sell.

The Yes for Jacksonville political committee (which also will be run by Hughes) was minted this week for just that purpose, filed with the Duval County SOE. Along with Lenny Curry’s Build Something That Lasts PAC, it will be the first finance report that smart local political watchers start checking early each month through September.

To that end, perhaps, political watchers on Thursday were treated to a bowl of schadenfreude, pension style, as Mayor Curry took the heroic step of exercising his executive branch authority and lopping off some of the excess in the pension of former Police and Fire Pension Fund Executive Director John Keane.

What we are seeing in Jacksonville, is the culmination of a vision that started way before Curry ran for mayor. The pragmatic wing of the local Republican Party has taken over.


And with it has come a commitment to getting the city’s books in order, attempting to resolve resource shortfalls decades in the making that have paralleled the deterioration of infrastructure and the erosion of public safety resources.

This brings us back to Rutherford, a great, arguably indispensable surrogate for Curry when he was building his name ID and destroying Alvin Brown’s favorables. There are those who believe that John Rutherford won’t be able to bring home the bacon in DC as a new Congressman.

In saying that, they are betting against Curry.

Recent history tells us that’s not a smart move.

— “John Rutherford’s congressional bid endorsed by sheriffs in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union

— “Jay Fant not running in CD 4, clears field for John Rutherford” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

— “Republicans didn’t wait long to start jockeying for Ander Crenshaw’s congressional seat” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

Tweet, tweet – @NateMonroeTU: Conservatives United, a newly filed fed PAC, will be involved in the CD 4 race and will support a “good conservative like John Rutherford.” … Also, expect to see a local PAC, Yes for Jacksonville, support Mayor @lennycurry’s pension-tax referendum. … Political consultant Brian Hughes (@GoMeteoric), a @lennycurry adviser, will be running both Conservatives United and Yes for Jacksonville.

Ander Crenshaw continued raising funds until retirement announcement” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO – The Jacksonville Republican raised $179,850 during the first three months of 2016, the sixth most of Florida’s 27-member delegation. Some of the members who raised more are in heated re-election fights, not something Crenshaw expected to face. His campaign spent nearly $60,000 with the Kyle House Group, a Washington-based firm, for fundraising and other consulting services. Overall, the campaign spent $110,686. The continued fundraising and political activity gave no real indication headed into 2016 that Crenshaw would not seek another term.

Corrine Brown declares candidacy in CD 5, even as she explores options in redistricting suit” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – “Although I am extremely disappointed in the Federal court’s decision earlier this week, I am declaring my candidacy for the newly drawn Congressional District Five of Florida.  And with respect to the redistricting lawsuit, I will continue to explore my options regarding a possible appeal, and am still reviewing the ruling with lead Attorney William Sheppard and his legal team in Jacksonville,” Brown said in a statement that reiterated her previous position … “I have a lot of unfinished business to address in Washington, and I look forward to providing a strong voice in Congress for the citizens in the new 5th Congressional District.” Brown, as of now, has $71,000 cash on hand for the race. Expect the next filing to be more robust though.

— “Al Lawson qualifies by petition for CD 5 bid” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

“Lenny Curry cuts John Keane pension” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – “Per discussions w/Jason [Gabriel, the General Counsel] and his most recent legal opinion/summary on Keane, City of Jax, PFPF, please coordinate efforts to handle this matter immediately. STOP the unauthorized SSVRP plan pay-outs and it its place issue GEPP equivalent equitable retirement benefit,” writes Curry. “Doing so will alleviate the need for us to pursue litigation. Jason, by copy of this email, I am asking you to dismiss the case,” Curry adds, saying the administration would “brief City Council on this matter ASAP.”

“Jax pension tax referendum filed for City Council OK” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The extension of the Better Jacksonville Plan sales tax to address the city’s $2.7B pension debt is one step closer, as legislation was filed Wednesday. The administration will request City Council’s approval of a referendum to be presented to Jacksonville voters in the August primary election, extending the half-cent Better Jacksonville Plan sales tax to provide relief from the unfunded liability… The legislation includes referendum language reading as follows: ‘Permanently closing up to three of the City’s underfunded defined benefit retirement plans, increasing the employee contribution for those plans to a minimum of 10 percent, and ending the Better Jacksonville half-cent sales tax are all required to adopt a half-cent sales tax solely dedicated to reducing the City’s unfunded pension liability. Shall such pension liability sales tax, which ends upon elimination of the unfunded pension liability or in 30 years maximum, be adopted’?

“Yes for Jacksonville formed to support pension tax push” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Yes for Jacksonville, a political committee designed to make the case for the extension of the Better Jacksonville Plan sales tax, has been formed in Duval County. The treasurer, Eric Robinson, is a familiar name to those who read fundraising reports on the GOP side. This committee’s expenditures and contributions will be of great interest headed into the Aug. 30 referendum, which is critical to Jacksonville’s financial future.

Jax Council to consider extending sales tax, closing pensions for new hires” via Jessica Palombo of WJCT –At the request of Mayor Curry, City Council President Greg Anderson has filed a bill that would put the question on the August 30 primary ballot. The question to appear on the ballot is just one paragraph long, but its intended effect is huge: 1. Freeing the city from debt to be able to spend on other things and 2. Stopping at least one of three public pension plans from accepting new employees … If a majority of voters agree, the current 7 percent sales tax rate would be extended until the year 2060 or as soon as the pension funds are actuarially sound. The tax extension will go into effect only when at least one collective bargaining union agrees to close its pension fund to new employees, and employees remaining in the plans agree to pay in at least 10 percent of their salaries.

“Jax City Council Rules Committee approves controversial property donation bill” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Tuesday’s Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee mulled one controversial item on the agenda: 2015-519, the property donation bill. And passed it – with amendments. 2015-519 would raise to $50,000 the value of properties the city can donate to Community Housing Development Organizations (CHODOs) or to for-profits looking to create affordable housing on these vacant lots. The bill, which was introduced last summer, got deferred in two previous committee stops, Finance and Recreation, Community Development, Public Health and Safety, earlier this week. But Rules Chair Matt Schellenberg resolved to push the bill through for an up or down vote … Another point of contention was how many properties could be dispensed at any given time. The consensus seemed to be ‘increments of five’ buildable lots. An amendment was passed establishing that condition. As was the one requiring owner-occupied, not rental, housing.”

“Jax to amend sex pred legislation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – A bill has been filed to increase regulation of sexual predators and to clarify prohibited activities for that criminal subset. 2016-233, filed by Council President Greg Anderson at the request of the General Counsel, would change ordinance code to clarify the types of events and decorations from which sexual predators and offenders are barred. The measure is designed to clean up and add additional context to 2015-214, a bill introduced last year by Councilman Warren Jones.

Does Reggie Brown have a Global Ministries Foundation problem?” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Jacksonville City Councilman Brown made a public relations mistake … He got quoted playing “blame the media” with the top news station in town, regarding the scandal-plagued slumlords of Global Ministries Foundation. “My position, if I can get things done without bringing the media and the cameras to the residents that are economically challenged, I will do that. I am not going to exploit the residents. We do not need (to bring) the cameras on into their living quarters.” The quote was from last week. The subject: Eureka Garden and Washington Heights, two GMF properties. The problem? The media, in Jacksonville as in Memphis, has been instrumental in calling attention to the blight at Eureka and at Washington Heights … attention which led to an 18-0 Council resolution to urge HUD to pull funding from Eureka in June. Has the media changed in the last two months? Or has Reggie Brown’s dispensation toward it?

Former Jacksonville shipping executive convicted of mail and wire fraud, faces jail time” – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sentenced 59-year-old Andrew Rooks to 48 months in federal prison. Rooks worked as assistant VP of operations for Tote Maritime Puerto Rico (formerly Sea Star Line). The feds say Rooks authorized the payment of phony invoices submitted on behalf of a couple of co-conspirators, raking in more than $1 million in payments, with kickbacks and front companies as part of the scheme. The judgment says after Rooks was fired by Sea Star, he continued the fraud scheme at another Jacksonville company, TrailerBridge, Inc. TrailerBridge paid approximately $107,000 as a result of phony invoices.

HUD hijinks – “Lenny Curry, Tommy Hazouri talk Washington Heights” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – We’ve come a long way,’ said Curry, who said that solutions to these problems can’t be ‘knee jerk,’ as the problems with Washington Heights and other such buildings were “created over decades.’ Beyond structural problems, Curry said, there is a culture clash at Washington Heights between two distinct population subsets. Many of the tenants, Curry said, are ‘good, hardworking people,’ often working multiple jobs to support their families. However, people are allowed to ‘visit’ the complex for up to two weeks at a time, and these visitors, Curry said, create issues. He quoted one tenant as saying that ‘people that don’t live here come in, create problems and leave a mess’ … yet with a ‘light shining brightly’ on the problems of this and other complexes in a way that hadn’t happened previously, “things are getting done.”

JEA throws legal block against inspector general’s investigation of potentially criminal complaint” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union – Some city officials are growing frustrated with JEA’s refusal to provide documents and information requested by the city’s inspector general, saying the agency is undermining a decision voters made to give the watchdog office investigative power over the city-owned utility and other independent branches of Jacksonville’s government. The disagreement began last month after the Inspector General’s Office requested documents, personnel records and access to JEA facilities related to a potentially criminal complaint forwarded to them by a City Council member. The details of that inquiry aren’t publicly available. Instead of providing the requested information, JEA officials sent a letter from a city attorney stating that the Inspector General’s Office lacks oversight of JEA until they form an official agreement, as is required by the law that controls the Inspector General’s Office.

“JEA punts on deciding new solar policy” via Max Marbut of the Jax Daily Record – Paul McElroy, JEA CEO, recommended delaying action until voters decide in November whether to adopt the ‘Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices Exemption from Certain Taxation and Assessment’ amendment to the state constitution. If enacted, the amendment would authorize the Legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices and prohibit consideration of residential solar panels when assessing the value of real property for tax purposes.

JACKSONville: As President Obama would say, ‘It’s complicated …’” via John Burr – Oh Jacksonville, the silence is deafening. Not one local leader, political, economic or spiritual, willing to utter a word of defense for the city’s namesake, Andrew Jackson, in the wake of his demotion from the front of the $20 bill to the back.

I get it, Andrew’s legacy has taken some hits of late, as evidenced by a recent headline on the Huffington Post referring to our seventh President as a “Genocidal Slave Trader.” If Jackson were traded on the stock market, he’d be Peabody Coal, down 99.9 percent in the last five years.

But yet, the guy must have had something going for him, right?

Indeed, he did: Hero of the Battle of New Orleans in War of 1812, first Governor of Florida, first U.S. President not born into family wealth, champion of the common man (at a time when the only common men who mattered were white men with property.) And that hair! Without question the most presidential of all manes, a distinction that will still stand whether The Donald or Hillary win in November.

And finally, returning to the main point, the man who our fair city was named after, IMHO the best city in Florida, warts and all.

If Andrew really turns out to be the dirtbag which recent historical judgment renders him, then it must be asked – Is this the schmuck we want our fair city named after?

So let’s open this up: Should we stick with JACKSONville or bite the bullet and jettison our honoring of a genocidal slave trader?

In a town that’s having trouble deciding whether to grant gay folks freedom from discrimination, that may be a question with a clear answer, but hey, let’s get off our complacent butts and consider if we want to continue to be JACKSONville.

Some alternative names to fire the discussion: St. John (my choice), Riverton, Gatorville, Khantown, Bubbaburg, The Plantation…

Please discuss!

[Note: This item was written to elicit a laugh, and get readers to think. The author is not a bigot, does not condone slavery or genocide, and on the JACKSONville political continuum, would be considered to the left of Karl Marx.]

“Gateway Town Center for sale: $12M asking price: via Roger Bull of the Florida Times-Union – The struggling Gateway Town Center on Norwood Avenue is for sale again. Commercial real estate firm Marcus & Millichap has listed it for $12 million. The 578,452-square-foot shopping center on Jacksonville’s Northside is only 40 percent occupied, said Drew A. Kristol, a vice president of investments in Marcus & Millichap’s Miami office. The interior of the mall part of the center has been closed completely recently… Craig Thomas of Marcus & Millchap’s Jacksonville office said he doesn’t know if there’s much hope for retail in the mall, but that the open-air center still has potential.

Florida dentists to provide free care this weekend in Jacksonville” via Ryan Benk of WJCT – The Florida Dental Association’s Mission for Mercy event is meant to help people who can’t afford dental care. More than 2,000 dentists, dental hygienists and assistants will clean and repair teeth, and give dental hygiene tips from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St. A handful of patients might even get dentures.

Westside Center ends popular after-school program” via Lindsey Kilbride of WJCT – Donieka White was knocking on the front door of Metro Kids Konnection Tuesday afternoon, but it was locked-up. “Almost every kid goes there, like, from the teenagers down to the babies that’s in pre-K and VPK and stuff like that,” she said. “So this is like a big part of us just getting out of the apartments.” White, who lives next door in the federally subsidized Cleveland Arms Apartments, said she went to the center as a kid and plans to let her 2-year-old daughter go when she’s a little older. But the Westside community center closed its after-school kids’ program this month because the state said Metro Kids Konnection’s operator and founder, Terry Lane, doesn’t have a proper child care license … according to state law, if more than five kids are attending the center and it receives payment, it has to be licensed. Metro receives grant money. But Lane considers his facility a community center, not a child care center. For now, Metro is open to adults only on weekday afternoons.

“Mayport could be new home to Navy’s drones and 400 more sailors” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union – The U.S. Navy announced Naval Station Mayport is one of three possible bases for a squadron of unmanned surveillance drones. In addition to Mayport, Naval Air Station Key West and the NASA Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, are being considered. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wrote to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, arguing in favor of the Florida bases. The MQ-4C Triton drones can fly more than 24 hours at a time and survey 2.7 million square miles in a single mission. They can be used for surveillance and search-and-rescue missions … The eight drones in the squadron would also bring 400 sailors and their families, a potential economic boon to whichever base is selected.

“NEFBA backs Sheri Treadwell, Mark MacLean, Leslie Dougher” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The Northeast Florida Builders Association, as it does every election cycle, is making endorsements in House races … and the names might surprise some. NEFBA backs Sheri Treadwell in HD 11, elder care lawyer Mark MacLean in HD 12, and former RPOF Chair Leslie Dougher in HD 19. While Treadwell is the leading fundraiser in her race, MacLean and Dougher have struggled to get traction among the donor class. The NEFBA nod could change that.

Cabinet to consider buying timber land in St. Johns County” via the News Service of Florida – Scott and the Cabinet will be asked to buy 5,236 acres of timber land in St. Johns County, to be used as a Northeast Florida conservation easement, for $5.795 million. David Clark, the director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands, said the deal allows the Meldrim family, which has owned the land since the early 1900s, to continue to harvest timber and maintain jobs in the area, while permanently limiting development. The land, part of the 26,272-acre St. Johns River Blueway Florida Forever track, runs along the eastern shore of the St. Johns River, between Green Cove Springs and Palatka. The land is adjacent to the Watson Island State Forest, which is on the west bank of the river. The sales price is 89 percent of the property’s appraised value, according to a Cabinet report which recommends approval of the purchase.

Authentic replica of 500-year-old Spanish galleon departs St. Augustine” – El Galeón, the 170-foot, 495-ton authentic wooden replica of a Spanish galleon, set out from its North American home port early Wednesday morning. The ship first arrived in St. Augustine in June 2013 and has been back on multiple trips. The first vessel like El Galéon to arrive in St. Augustine was the flagship of founder Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. Named the San Pelayo, the 650-ton ship, one of the most powerful ships of its day, carried 800 colonists and supplies to St. Augustine, establishing the first permanent European settlement in the United States in 1565.

Lace up your shoes for a run to taste of St. Augustine” via Lorraine Thompson of the St. Augustine Record – The seventh annual Coastal Foot & Ankle Wellness Center’s “Race to the Taste,” a 5K run or walk, will take place Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m. The event … starts and ends at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The 3.1-mile course will go through Anastasia State Park and surrounding neighborhoods. The course is certified and chip timed … Runners are encouraged to dress up in their best rock ’n’ roll outfit. The “taste” part of the event comes at the end of the race, where the Taste of St. Augustine will be underway. Runners will receive two free admissions to The Taste and access to the exclusive Runner’s Village as well as discounts to local attractions. The Taste of St. Augustine, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include samples of signature dishes from more than 25 restaurants and a music festival. Registration for “The Race” is $25 in advance for adults, $15 for ages 6-15. Children under 6 race for free. The cost of all registrations on the day of the race is $30 per person.

What Julie Delegal is reading

Teachers Talk Back: Educators on the Impact of Teacher Evaluation” via the Network for Public Education – Duval County Social Studies teacher and education writer John Meeks researched and compiled data for a report released by the Network for Public Education this month. NPE is a national public education advocacy organization founded by former deputy secretary of education and author, Diane Ravitch.

Teachers talk back: The effect of being evaluated by student test scores” via Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post – Strauss summarizes findings of the study in her “Answer Sheet” newsletter: A majority of teachers who responded said, among other things, that test-based evaluation systems hurt teachers who educate the most vulnerable students and that the relationships that teachers have with their students — and other educators — have been harmed. At issue is the controversial practice of using “value added methods” (VAM) to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores. The report contends that VAM is not a valid or reliable measure, and makes several recommendations for transforming teacher evaluations practices. Meanwhile, Colleen Doherty Wood, the St. Johns County parent-activist who co-founded the public education advocacy group, 50th No More, chaired NPE’s third annual national convention, held in Raleigh, N.C. last weekend. Keynote speakers for the conference included former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and North Carolina NAACP President, Rev. Dr. Lillian Barber, II. Stay tuned to Context Florida for more on this national movement and its Florida roots.

Valuation public education: a 50 state report card” via The Network for Public Education – Florida earned a grade of “F” in NPE’s 50-state report card, which was released in February.

Florida lawsuit challenging school funding, quality gets underway” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel – The lawsuit brought in 2009 by Citizens for Strong Schools and Fund Education Now, and other grassroots public education advocates in Florida, is slated to wrap up by the end of next week. The plaintiff advocates contend that years of legislation authorizing privatization, high-stakes testing, and a punitive teacher and school evaluations scheme violate state constitutional mandates. The trial is being televised on the Florida Channel.

Food Network star Sandra Lee visits Jacksonville” – Lee was in Jacksonville Thursday on behalf of BBVA Compass Bank and their Bright Futures Initiative. Bright Futures is founded on the belief that EVERYONE DESERVES A BETTER FUTURE … no matter how small their budget or seed money for a business dream. Lee shared her own hardscrabble journey from subsisting as a child on food stamps to building her own mega-business in her fascinating autobiography Made From Scratch. She started by selling her used car for seed money to bring her curtain rod creations to trade shows. From there, she went on to star in the Food Network show “Semi-Homemade,” and build a lifestyle empire to rival Martha Stewart‘s. Oh, and for political junkies, Lee is in a relationship with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

It’s a hit! Right?” via John Burr – Ah, it’s mid–April and the weather in North Florida is perfect for baseball. And the initial press on Ken Babby, the new owner of the Jacksonville Suns who paid $25 million for the Double-A team, has been glowing.

And for good reason. The Suns drew 24,500 fans over their first weekend homestand, more than any other Double-A franchise, the Florida Times-Union reported. It was a different story Tuesday evening (April 19) when 1,450 fans showed up.

And so goes it with a minor league baseball franchise. You make your money on the weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And you pray you don’t have to give any back due to sparse attendance Monday through Thursday.

Babby has settled on a value-oriented strategy to attract fans. He’s invested $1.8 million in stadium upgrades, mostly in enhance food and drink options, while cutting the price of a general admission ticket from $7.50 to $5.

“I want to really be able to lock in so that fans know they can always get in for $5, a family of four gets into the ballpark for $20,” Babby said. “There’s not too many things left out there that have that kind of value.”

The new owner has brought a high level of energy to the stadium staff, according to one longtime observer of the team. Used to be that under the former owner, staff cleared out of the ballpark lickety-split after the final out, but now, the staff sticks around, talking, planning, getting ready for the next game.

Jacksonville city officials, who have made an economic development priority out of promoting sporting events in the city, have a clear stake in Babby’s success.

“It brings a lot to Jacksonville, because if we have one of the best minor league baseball teams in the Southeast, or the best, and we have one of the best minor league basketball teams, and one of the best soccer clubs in the Southeast, in addition to our NFL franchise, it brings a lot more credibility to Jacksonville as a sports town,” said Don Capener, the dean of Jacksonville University’s business school, who teaches sports marketing.

Just keep fingers crossed on the Monday to Thursday homestands. In July. When every air conditioner in the city is cranking.

Jaguars offseason program begins Monday with several new faces” via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union – Jaguars coach Gus Bradley’s fourth year doesn’t officially begin until Monday when he is allowed to address the full squad. The Jaguars’ two-month offseason program will include 10 organized team activity workouts in late May/early June and finish with a mandatory minicamp June 14-16(everything else is voluntary). Since the Jaguars were last together Jan. 4, Bradley has signed a one-year extension, Todd Wash has been promoted to defensive coordinator and seven free agents have been added … The Jaguars are looking at a fourth center in as many years — Brad Meester retired after 2013, Luke Bowanko was put on the bench after 2014 and Stefen Wisniewski wasn’t re-signed after 2015 … the Jaguars have been in a holding pattern at a position they call the second-most important on the offensive line after left tackle. The in-house candidates are Bowanko (no snaps last year), right guard Brandon Linder (coming off shoulder surgery) and Tyler Shatley (no NFL center snaps). The Jaguars used the second overall pick in 2013 on left tackle Luke Joeckel, the hope being he would anchor the offensive line for the next decade. He’ll enter his fourth training camp as the decided underdog in his competition against newcomer Kelvin Beachum (who will be out until August because of a knee injury). The Jaguars used the 36th pick last year on tailback T.J. Yeldon, the anticipation being he would kick-start a dormant run game. He’ll enter his second training camp seeing his workload decreased because of newcomer Chris Ivory, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2015 for the Jets.

Jacksonville Armada FC Travels to Fort Lauderdale for Intrastate Clash via Kartik Krishnayer – The Jacksonville Armada FC travel south on I-95 for a clash with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium Saturday at 7pm. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN3, on WSFL TV 39 in South Florida and on CW-17 in the Jacksonville area.  The Armada FC are coming off a 2-1 win against Miami at home last week. Fort Lauderdale is hoping to claim its first win of the campaign following a 3-0 loss in Minnesota last week which featured a controversial red card to Strikers midfielder Geison Moura in the early stages of thew match.

Last season, Fort Lauderdale won all three meetings between the clubs including a season ending 1-0 victory in Jacksonville on November 1 that sent the Strikers into the NASL postseason at the expense of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Former Strikers players Jemal Johnson and Patrick Otte will face off against their former side while Jim Rooney who currently assists Tony Meola with the Armada FC returns to face the club which he helped lead to the 2011 NASL Championship Series as an Assistant Coach. As a player, Rooney captained the 2001 MLS Supporters Shield winning Fusion F.C. who played at Lockhart Stadium.

The central midfield combination of Richie Ryan and Kevan George has been particularly impressive for Armada FC through two games this season. The Strikers are led by Jean Alexandre a Haitian International who similarly to both Ryan and George serves as a box-to-box midfield presence. Fort Lauderdale this week signed 2010 World Cup veteran Ramón Núñezwho played several seasons in Major League Soccer and the English Championship. Núñez may not start but could possibly feature for the Strikers.

Jacksonville will have to make decision whether to continue with Matt Fondy as the starter in the striker role or return to Alhassane Keita. Both are outstanding options for Meola who will look for his Armada FC to take advantage of the Strikers lengthy injury list in defense to secure all three points.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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