Jacksonville Bold for 8.19.16 — Why voters won’t say no to ‘Yes for Jacksonville’

yes for jacksonville

Right now, the big guessing game in #JaxPol comes down to whether the pension tax — formally known as County Referendum 1 — will pass or not.

Regarding narrative, it’s been a tough week.

On Monday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took tough questions at a northwest Jacksonville town hall, where he was lit up by a succession of African-American activists.

Then, Rep. Mia Jones and Sen. Audrey Gibson refuted claims made in a “Yes for Jacksonville” mailer that they supported the tax. They called it a “sham flyer.” The Duval Dems, despite some doubting a quorum approved it, issued a resolution pushing a “No” vote on CR 1.

A bad week? Maybe.

But the team behind “Yes for Jacksonville” doesn’t seem especially worried.

One of the accomplishments of Curry in office — his ill-advised conducting of the local Trump Train notwithstanding — has been the building of bipartisan consensus.

In this case, he’s enlisted prominent Dems (Denise Lee and Councilman Tommy Hazouri) to help sell the measure. And the public sector unions are on board, too. As is virtually every civic organization in Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, a mailer from “Yes for Jacksonville” targets Democrats, calling the tax extension a “progressive solution” for Jacksonville’s woes.

The bet “Yes for Jacksonville” makes is that, despite resistance from certain quarters, the overall body politic can be swayed.

We hear internal polls are in a good place. The trend is favorable: with the public as a whole, with Democrats, with African-Americans.

Of course, people will squawk. Oh, it’s just internals, they respond. They will bolster their argument with anecdotal evidence: “Everybody I know is voting against it.”

Once there was a time in recent history when “everybody” thought they knew how an election would go; case in point, the first election between Curry, Alvin Brown, and two other candidates in March 2015.

The frothing among the cognoscenti was that Brown might get 50 percent on the ballot, making the May election a moot point. Curry had tacked too far right, they said (just as they did after he was the opening act at Trumpstock).

Then vthe otes came in, and Brown barely reached 43 percent, with Curry just six points back. Brown’s ceiling was only a few points higher.

As Donald Rumsfeld famously said, there are known knowns and known unknowns. We are aware the interest groups are wanting this referendum to go over, and why they do: that’s an example of a known known.

The known unknowns in this case: that there are individuals who oppose the referendum. But they are not a cohesive force, rather a band of guerrilla resistance members.

Jacksonville had seen that before: there was resistance to the Better Jacksonville Plan, and some of that resistance overlapped with the opposition to County Referendum 1. But, as in the current case, the opponents lacked a marketing budget; lacked the ability to poll and micro-target segmented audiences.

Rest assured, the team behind Yes for Jacksonville — the same team that put Curry where he is today (assuming he’s not reading this from a Jags’ training camp practice) — gets all of that.

And where they see weaknesses, they will shore them up, flanking and marginalizing the counternarrative at every turn.

Finally off the fence on pension tax plan” via Ron Littlepage of the Florida Times-Union – It’s decision time. There are many reasons I will be voting no. Curry keeps describing his plan as “tough medicine” when in fact it’s simply kicking the can down the road, so that future generations will pay off the pension debt that we’ve allowed to accumulate. The new sales tax wouldn’t even be collected until 2031 when the current half cent sales tax being used to finance the Better Jacksonville Plan must end by law. If you have an 8-year-old child or grandchild, about the time they graduate from college, they will be handed a tax bill along with their diplomas if they choose to live in Jacksonville. In the meantime, you will have skated for 14 years. More like a spoon full of sugar than tough medicine. Curry also insists that his plan is the only workable option. He ignores another one. A one mill increase in the property tax rate would raise about $50 million next year. That money, plus continuing to collect the extra mill in future years, would begin paying down the debt now instead of waiting 14 years. Additional savings from benefit changes negotiated with the city’s unions, such as those the police and firefighters agreed to earlier under Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration, could help solve the problem more quickly than the 2060 final deadline included in Curry’s plan. Curry would counter that there is no way to guarantee future mayors or city councils would continue to collect an extra mill to pay down the pension debt. Who knows what the economy is going to be five years from now, much less 14 years? That’s another reason it’s wise to begin paying down the debt now.

Rumble on the Northside – Duval Democrats: Just say ‘no’ to the pension tax” via Claire Goforth of Folio Weekly – Duval Democrats put on a lively news conference in an abandoned lot on the corner of Crestwood Street and Norwood Avenue on the city’s Northside. A crowd of about a dozen people gathered in the rising morning heat holding signs that read, “Just vote NO!” while Duval County Democratic Party Chair Neil Henrichsen, state Senator Audrey Gibson and former state Senator Tony Hill publicly urged people to vote against the pension tax. The news conference was their public announcement of that resolution, which states that the tax extension “is flawed public policy that seeks to tax and impose billions in new pension costs on future generations without their vote or informed consent,” asks the city to “immediately work to promptly resolve the unfunded pension liability,” and to consult the Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force’s findings and recommendations. Some voters may be surprised to learn that Gibson doesn’t support the tax. Henrichsen said that Aug. 15, someone sent him a picture of a flier they’d received at an early voting site on the Northside which claimed Gibson, as well as Florida Rep. Mia Jones, and a host of other local politicians from the area had endorsed the tax. Later, when he went to vote, someone handed him one of the fliers.

“Curry sells the pension tax to Southside Business Men’s Club” via Florida Politics – After the March 2015 first election, when the endorsement of third-place Bill Bishop was still in play, Curry spoke to the SBMC, after sharing a lunch table with Bishop, a member of the club … the SBMC is a Bishop crowd (even though he didn’t show on this day) — and they were, before the program commenced, raising questions about the referendum during lunch conversations, saying it would be unwise to tax their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to pay off the current $2.8 billion unfunded liability. “There’s been a handful of partisans who have opposed this,” Curry said toward the end of the event, but his team has assembled an “unprecedented coalition” of people with “vested interests” in this.

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Jacksonville City Council finance committee OKs $58,000 for Hemming Park operations” via Florida Politics – The vote was 4-1. That translates to two months of a monthly operating budget of $29,000, and would be a one-time dispersal. The bill requires the following conditions: a requirement of FOHP to establish a bank account strictly for city contributions; a required revision of the chart of accounts; and requiring FOHP to work with city departments to cut costs. There would be $74,816 held in a special council contingency account; money donated by Southwest Airlines in exchange for promotional consideration on a stage that was to be built. Refunding the money is also an option. Local business owners including Liz Earnest, owner of the Candy Apple Cafe, pointed out the “symbiotic relationship” between programming at Hemming Park and her business. The scaling back of programming, she said, impacted the bottom line of her business, and also impacts other businesses considering moving operations downtown.

Meanwhile … “Lori Boyer lays out 12-month plan for tourism” via Max Marbut of the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record – City Council President Boyer, in her role as chair of the Duval County Tourist Development Council, laid out a tourism development plan for the next year … The proposal includes updating the tourist development plan, issuing a request for proposals for a convention and tourism marketing agency and identifying new tourism opportunities and possible attractions. Boyer will introduce legislation to establish a framework for how TDC will appropriate its share of the local option tourist development tax — often referred to as the “bed tax.” Of the 6 percent tax collected on hotel rooms, 2 percent is allocated for the Sports Complex Upkeep Fund, 2 percent to EverBank Field and 2 percent to the tourism council. Seventy percent of the TDC’s share goes to Visit Jacksonville, which markets the city to convention planners and tourists. Visit Jacksonville’s five-year contract expires Sept. 30, 2017. Boyer said an RFP will be issued early next year. The bill to be introduced to council would authorize the TDC to spend 71 percent of its bed tax revenue for marketing and public relations efforts in Florida, nationally and internationally to attract tourism business. The plan proposes 24 percent would be used to fund events that attract tourists. The remaining 5 percent would pay for tourist information centers and a convention and tourism bureau, either as a county agency or through contract, as is currently the case.

Executive Director of Police & Fire Pension Fund named” via the City of Jacksonville – Timothy H. Johnson has been named executive director of the City of Jacksonville Police & Fire Pension Fund. Johnson brings more than 30 years of professional experience to the retirement system management role. Since 2012, Johnson served as executive director for Allegheny County Employees’ Retirement System. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Allegheny County Employees’ Retirement System serves nearly 12,000 members with retirement, disability and death benefit services, with assets totaling more than $850 million. Before this position, Johnson was administrative services director for the county of Allegheny, a position he held for eight years. He has been active in industry associations including the board of the PA Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems. He began his new role Aug. 1.

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Jacksonville’s Memorial wall serves as backdrop for anti-Donald Trump military assembly” via Cyd Hoskinson and Kayla Davis of WJCT – Several military veterans with ties to labor unions stood in front of Jacksonville’s Memorial Wall … to publicly decry Trump. The vets said his economic policies would spell disaster for service members and their families. They’re also upset over Trump’s seeming lack of respect for veterans. Former Marine and Purple Heart recipient Will Fischer said Trump’s acceptance of a supporter’s Purple Heart because, the candidate said, he always wanted on made Fischer remember an August day 12 years ago. “That’s the day I was awarded a Purple Heart,” Fischer said. “It’s also the same day that my brother who had his arm blown off was awarded a Purple Heart. And my brother who lost an eye, that was the day he was awarded a Purple Heart. And, my brother who was killed that same day, he was awarded a Purple Heart,” he said. “What Donald Trump struggles to understand is that a Purple Heart is a reminder of a very bad day. And it’s not something anyone who has one ever wanted.” Fischer is executive director of the AFL-CIO Union Veteran’s Council.

Trump TV ads to debut in Jacksonville” via Neal Bennett of WTLV – The Trump campaign has made its first local television buys in the Jacksonville market, joining Tampa, Orlando, and West Palm Beach as places in Florida they have bought television ads. The Trump campaign ads will begin airing on NBC 12 and ABC 25 SaturdayHillary Clinton has been running campaign ads in Florida for more than two months. A current ad running in the Jacksonville market attacks Trump for producing a line of clothing bearing his name in foreign countries including China. Trump is also buying ads in Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, according to POLITICO.

Times-Union endorsement: Lake Ray has the broadest background to succeed Ander Crenshaw in Congress” via the Florida Times-Union – When it came down to it … there were two candidates who stand head and shoulders above the rest: State Rep. Lake Ray and former Sheriff John Rutherford. Ray has the broadest and deepest resume for a position as a legislator. An engineer, he has owned and operated engineering companies for 30 years. And as the current head of the First Coast Manufacturers trade group, Ray is the voice for about 30,000 workers in Northeast Florida. Ray built a reputation in the Florida House as an expert on ports. That would be invaluable for Jacksonville, which is on the cusp of a deepening project. He also earned a record of success in getting legislation through the Legislature. There is a game that must be played in politics. And Ray has shown the ability to play it well. Also in Ray’s favor is that he has refused to take the no new tax pledge by Grover Norquist. The Times-Union has favorably reviewed Norquist’s latest book and agrees with many of his principles. However, we agree with Ray that he should not give away his independence to any group, even one that he undoubtedly would agree with in most cases. Rutherford took the pledge.

— “CD 4 candidates evaluate Wednesday night’s debate” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

John Rutherford reports $136K left in bank for CD 4 primary” via Florida Politics –The pre-primary financial report from Rutherford shows the former Jacksonville Sheriff had $136,739 on hand through Aug. 10. Since July 1, Rutherford raised $132,810 and spent $301,927. Among Rutherford’s interesting contributors: the Geo Group, the private prison company, which gave $2,500. Other notable donors: Shannon Miller (the Olympic gymnast of years gone by who married former Duval GOP Chair John Falconetti). St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar donated as well.

Anti-Rutherford PAC has poured $204K into CD 4 race” via Florida Politics – A notable Super PAC in the Republican race in Florida’s 4th Congressional District supports Hans Tanzler, and its interest in the race is to drive up Rutherford‘s negatives. As the election approaches, it’s instructive to note how much interest in the race the “Conservative Outsider” committee has. $204,509 has been spent thus far, after another eye popping allocation of $73,525 into the race, as of Aug. 16. The committee has been employed to advance a series of poison memes about “Liberal John Rutherford,” currently painted as a “liberal” by Tanzler for, among other things, not deploying his resource-starved sheriff’s office to round up otherwise law abiding illegal immigrants for deportation. Among the donors to the committee as of the end of June, the last filing: charter school baron Gary ChartrandDavid Hutson and the Ring Power Corporation. Why has Tanzler’s operation been compelled to go so negative? Because that’s the only path forward.

Citing ‘irreconcilable differences,’ Corrine Brown’s lawyers ask judge to let them leave case” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – Brown‘s attorneys asked a judge Thursday to let them quit representing her, just two days after they filed paperwork committing to handle her federal fraud trial. “Irreconcilable differences exist and the relationship is strained where effective representation is compromised,” attorneys Mark NeJame and David Haas wrote in a filing to U.S. Magistrate James R. Klindt. The request didn’t spell out the problem, but the pair said “it has created an atmosphere of hostility and distrust not conducive to further representation.”

Lawyer for Brown’s embattled chief of staff joins case at last minute” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The new lawyer for Brown‘s chief of staff, Elias Simmons, made a last-minute appearance on Simmons’ behalf this afternoon – about 15 minutes before a federal judge may have issued a warrant for Simmons’ arrest – according to a tweet from a First Coast News reporter covering the case. … His new attorney was identified as Anthony Suarez. Brown and Simmons each face charges of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction and filing of false tax return. They allegedly solicited money for a sham education charity. They were both scheduled to appear in court to identify their attorneys. Simmons didn’t show up at the 3 p.m. hearing, and the judge said he was considering issuing an arrest warrant if Simmons didn’t show by 4:30, according a tweet from the same reporter.

“Brown, challengers clash at congressional debate” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – Brown and the Democrats trying to replace her in Congress traded barbs during a debate …  at Jacksonville University where Brown’s indictment cast a long shadow. Brown, former state Sen. Al Lawson and health care advocate LaShonda “L.J.” Holloway competed to tout support for popular Democratic goals like improving, not repealing, the Affordable Care Act. They also jabbed one another, claiming rivals either weren’t qualified or had served their own interest ahead of taxpayers. Voters deserve “someone who will work for you and not for themselves,” Lawson said after telling Brown she had been distracted by being “wined and dined” at extravagant events in Washington. Brown said elsewhere that Lawson “was not a real supporter” of state employees during his 28 years in the Florida Legislature, and said she had heard that critique from a leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Lawson answered that AFSCME routinely supported him throughout his political career, and said that Brown “hasn’t really had her mind on what’s going on in Tallahassee.” The response was an apparent reference to Brown’s ongoing efforts to answer a 22-count indictment last month that accused her of mail and wire fraud, lying on tax returns and other crimes. Holloway, who reminded the audience that Lawson is also a lobbyist, said she was the choice if voters wanted someone in Congress who was “un-bought.” Brown said she had plenty to be proud of, telling listeners: “Let my work speak for me.”

Al Lawson outlines his path to victory over Brown” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – It’s been assumed Brown, no matter the strengths of her primary opponent Lawson, would carry Duval County, compelling Lawson to stack votes out west. However, an internal poll from Lawson’s camp shows that, since Brown’s indictment, Lawson is up by 8 points in Duval County. If that poll is correct, then it’s a game changer. Lawson has a serious cash-on-hand advantage — $120,000 will show in his next filing, versus the $25,000 Brown has — and she is having serious trouble, Lawson said, reaching the rest of the district. Brown, said Lawson, is concentrating on Gadsden and Leon counties, and to that end, she is headed out west with regular surrogate Martin Luther King III in tow. “I don’t know how much she pays him. I don’t know how much he offers my district,” Lawson said. “What can Martin Luther King III tell the constituents I’ve had for 28 years?” Lawson handles his business differently than a lot of Jacksonville Democrats. He doesn’t make a habit of campaigning in churches. And he doesn’t need a “third party” to help him work a room. Of course, there are caveats to that: a friend who helped set up the interview was Susie Wiles, the Jacksonville powerbroker most closely identified with GOP administrations, who most recently has been Florida co-chair for the Donald Trump campaign. Lawson has a good relationship with the Ballard Partners lobbying firm in Tallahassee, Wiles said. And, while on the subject, Lawson has done really well interacting and advancing priorities for his constituents with Republicans over the years. He was instrumental in working with Gov. Jeb Bush to get a law school at FAMU, to name one example.

— Lawson outraised Brown ahead of primary: Brown raised less than $14,000 between July 1 and Aug. 10. She spent $89,000 and had less than $25,000 in cash on hand. Lawson raised $50,000 and spent $102,000, with $120,000 left in cash on hand.

New Lawson ad speaks to the American Dream via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – “Al Lawson escaped with his mother as their house exploded into flames,” goes the first line in the ad, perhaps completely unique in the genre of political messaging. Lawson “lost everything” and “had to work the fields at 8,” the ad’s gentle female voice-over contends. From there, he had to catch-up in school. “Then, high school class president,” and marriage to his college sweetheart. And, of course, college and pro basketball to boot. A “successful small-business man,” who has created jobs, “now Al Lawson is running for Congress.” In a campaign season where the incumbent in CD 5 faces 22 federal counts, the ad projects stability and security. And looks like that of a winner.

Great read –Melissa Nelson continues quest to oust former boss, veteran State Attorney Angela Corey” via Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union – When Nelson, then Melissa Williamson, showed up for a job interview with the 4th Circuit State Attorney’s Office in 1996 as a soon-to-be law school graduate from the University of Florida, she impressed Assistant State Attorney Jim Hardee so much he wrote “best applicant interviewed in a long time — would be great in front of a jury. Very energetic and outgoing,” on his attorney applicant evaluation form. Former Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin, who also was involved hiring Nelson, said she impressed everyone. “She was a superstar, there’s just no other way to describe it,” he said. Nelson had a passion for her job and always tried to get better, he said. Nelson is now trying to impress voters in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. If they like her as much as Hardee and Plotkin did 20 years ago, she will become the elected state attorney in January, arguably the most powerful elected official position in Northeast Florida. Nelson was a virtual unknown only months ago when she announced her candidacy. While highly respected as a prosecutor and a private lawyer, she lacked the name recognition of Ed AustinHarry Shorstein and the woman she is seeking to replace, Angela Corey, when all three became the top prosecutor. Corey supporters say she lacks the experience for the top job. But Nelson’s supporters, many of whom spent years encouraging her to run, say she is a candidate of uncommon depth and intelligence and will bring a fresh perspective to an office that often is mired in controversy

— “Highlights from the press gaggle after the 4th Circuit State Attorney debate” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

Tweet, tweet: @Jason_Garcia: A new group called “Stop Benefits to Illegals NOW!” is sending mail in HD 11 in Jacksonville attacking Sheri Treadwell in the GOP primary … The biggest contributor ($10,000) to Stop Benefits to Illegals NOW, at least through Aug. 5th, is Lewis O’Hara LLC of Gainesville … And Division of Corporations records show Lewis O’Hara is managed by Wenda Lewis — one of the GOP candidates in HD 21 in Gainesville … Lewis says she wasn’t aware of the company making any contributions to Stop Benefits to Illegals NOW … Treadwell is one of 3 main GOP candidates in HD 11, along with Cord Byrd and Donnie Horner.

Times-Union endorsement – “Clay Yarborough brings the best qualities to Florida House seat” via the Florida Times-Union – During his two terms, Yarborough displayed a willingness to tackle Jacksonville’s tough issues. Yarborough served as City Council president when that body passed the historic pension reform bill in 2015. Yarborough has proven that he can be a hard-working and effective lawmaker. Yarborough would make expanding economic development for Jacksonville a major focus of his work as a state legislator with an eye toward increasing opportunities in distressed areas of District 12. He would be a fiscal conservative in the statehouse but open to supporting worthy initiatives like efforts to strengthen Florida’s mental health programs. And Yarborough has a strong record as an elected official who supports transparency in government, which ensures that citizens always remain fully informed about how the public’s work is being done. Yarborough deserves to be the District 12 Republican nominee.

Dick Kravitz doubles down on NRA rating deception” via Florida Politics –When it comes to House District 16 Republican Kravitz and the NRA, Kravitz must feel he’s being graded on a curve. Kravitz posted a flyer to his Facebook page touting an A-plus rating …  The trouble is, the National Rifle Association didn’t give him an A-plus this year. And double trouble: Kravitz has already been called out on this deception, and persists in misrepresenting the NRA position. “Dick Kravitz DOES NOT have an A+ rating from NRA,” wrote Marion Hammer, past NRA president and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida. Candidate ratings are posted on NRA’s website; and Kravitz was provided with a link to his A rating. Kravitz’s mendacity is especially ironic given his grandstanding Facebook post on probity earlier this week. “IMPORTANT FACT. LIES HAVE TO BE ANSWERED AND I AM IN THE PROCESS OF DOING JUST THAT!” Kravitz uncharitably refers to the political consultants of his opponent, Jason Fischer, as “political assassins,” before attempting to cloud the issue about the fraudulent flyer. “I ALSO HAVE BEEN A or A+ rated and ENDORSED BY THE NRA 3 TIMES! ALL NRA MEMBERS CAN LOOK THIS UP THEMSELVES … 2002, 2004, 2006, 2016,” Kravitz wrote, apparently believing that there is no difference between an A and an A Plus. Fischer is endorsed by the NRA, not Kravitz, which raises questions as to why he continues to tout an NRA rating that, at the very least, Kravitz no longer has.

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Gov. Scott: Jacksonville area added 22,200 new jobs over the year” – The area’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in July, a decline of 0.8 percentage point in the last year. Florida businesses created 26,500 private-sector jobs across the state during July 2016, bringing the total number of jobs created since December 2010 to 1,160,700 jobs. “It’s great news that Jacksonville businesses are continuing to grow, with more than 22,000 new jobs over the year,” Scott said in a statement. “Every job created makes a difference in someone’s life and that’s why we will continue to cut taxes and encourage businesses to grow in Jacksonville.” Industries with the largest job growth over the year in the Jacksonville area were trade, transportation and utilities with 4,600 new jobs; education and health services with 4,300 new jobs; leisure and hospitality with 4,300 new jobs; and construction with 4,000 new jobs. In July, the Jacksonville area rounded out the top five metro areas in job demand, with 19,172 openings, including 5,558 job openings in high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations. The state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent in July, the lowest rate since November 2007.

Delays in plans for Google fiber high-speed internet in Jacksonville” via Ben Becker of Action News Jax – Last October, Mayor Lenny Curry and Google announced the possibility of high-speed internet and TV for Jacksonville via a fiber network infrastructure that would deliver speeds about 1,000 times faster than average internet speeds. Those plans appear to be on hold … Google Fiber believes its rollouts have proved more expensive and time consuming than anticipated. “We all wish we could hit a button and — boom — have immediate speed,” Craig Agranoff, a tech expert, said. He said Google’s plan had issues from the beginning. In Jacksonville, that would include schools, parks, historical areas and flood zones. Google Fiber delivers 1,000 megabits per second compared to 12 megabits per second for the average broadband connection. Google charges $70 per month whereas 2,000 megabits from Comcast cost approximately $300 per month. The City of Jacksonville said Google Fiber is still in assessment mode. Agranoff said fiber might be years away, but it will happen.

>>> “Are we low on Fiber?” – After a Wall Street Journal article earlier this week revealed Google’s intention to slow down its expansion into the super high speed broadband arena — known as Fiber — local media outlets began asking what it would mean for Jacksonville — one of six cities listed in Google Fiber’s expansion plan. Surprisingly, no one is asking if Google Fiber is essential for tech industry growth in Jacksonville. A quick internet search (using Google) for fiber networks in Jacksonville shows both AT&T and Comcast already offer internet service, with similar speeds proposed by Google Fiber, over existing fiber networks. It also appears their networks are expanding rapidly. So, while competition is never a bad thing, Jacksonville is certainly not lagging – it’s actually ahead – in the race for faster internet.

Jacksonville’s Crowley starts new shipping service to Costa Rica” via Drew Dixon of the Florida Times-Union – Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corp. is expanding its transportation service to Costa Rica … the company said its launching the new weekly container shipping service to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The ships will take cargo containers from JaxPort’s Talleyrand terminal every Thursday and will sail on to Port Everglades in South Florida before cruising to Costa Rica. “We are confident this service enhancement will add a new dimension to our portfolio of Latin America services and bring increased efficiency and savings to our customers,” said Steve Collar, Crowley’s senior vice president and general manager of international liner services.

JAXPORT and WWL handle first Infiniti QX30 models bound for Southeast U.S. –Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has moved the first shipment of all-new 2017 Infiniti QX30 premium active crossovers for distribution in the Southeast United States through JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. Approximately 1,000 QX30 vehicles arrived at JAXPORT via the MOL vehicle carrier Serenity Ace from Infiniti’s manufacturing facility in Sunderland, England. The vehicles are being processed at WWL’s on-terminal vehicle processing facility at Blount Island before being distributed to dealerships throughout the region. According to Infiniti, the 208-horsepower QX30 line is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and features advanced safety equipment such as Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Peers name Tad Delegal 2017 Jacksonville employment lawyer of the year” – According to “The Best Lawyers of America(c),” veteran local attorney, Tad Delegal, III is At the top in his field, Individual Employment Law. Delegal was selected for recognition by his peers in Northeast Florida for the distinction. “As much as the legal community represents a diversity of clients and positions, it is an honor to be selected and recognized,” he said. Labor and employment specialists frequently handle contracts, noncompete agreements, severance agreements and professional licensure issues on behalf of their clients. Looking back on past achievements, Delegal reflected on his own career path, “Our first clients were police officers and public servants who working under strict codes of conduct and high standards.” It was a good start toward helping others in regulated professions, health care workers and federal employees. “Protecting careers is almost a sacred calling for me,” he added. “Our kids, families and businesses rely on professionals whether they’re a wage earner or a person providing health, financial, legal or personal services.” The Best Lawyers methodology is annual, national/regional, and practice area based. Delegal has been a lawyer for 25 years, and his firm has served the community since 1996. In 2017, Delegal will serve as president of the Jacksonville Bar Association.

More sand on the way for Duval County beaches” via Lorena Inclan of Action News Jax – Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Jason Harrah is gearing up to start the process of placing more sand on the beach. “Essentially what we will be doing is placing about 700,000 cubic yards of sand on critically eroded beaches on Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches,” said Harrah. The project will cover a 7-mile stretch. “It’s a man-made beach, so as for coastal resiliency, essentially the storms eat away at the beach over time,” said Harrah. The project price is about $13.5 million, funded both locally and federally. The Army Corps of Engineers said the sand that will be used on the beach is being brought in from federal waters about 6-7 miles off the coast. According to Harrah, the actual work to pump the sand in will start after Labor Day and will finish around early November.

Natural gas fueling Station opens in St. Augustine” via Ryan Benk of WJCT – A Miami-based natural gas company is hoping it’s just the first step in its expansion into Northeast Florida, despite environmentalists’ concerns. On State Road 16 in St. Augustine, a crowd got its first look at NoPetro’s $2 million compressed natural gas station … The county is leasing the land near Interstate 95 to the company and will begin collecting $40,000 a year after fulfilling its promise to buy at least 300,000 gallons of compressed natural gas. Public Works Director Neal Shinkre said that won’t take long because the county is bound to buy a certain amount of gas from the station annually. “We had to dedicate our revenue. So, we have to make sure that we buy about 175,000 gallons of fuel from them. That gives them that baseline and jump-start,” he said.

State investigating allegations of Clay superintendent plagiarism” via Scott Johnson of News 4 Jax – The Clay County School District was notified that the Florida Department of Education’s inspector general and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents are investigating allegations against Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr. made by a district employee. Van Zant Jr. said … he “flatly denies” the accusations of fraud and plagiarism made against him by a former high school principal. Van Zant, who is running for re-election, has fought back following what he calls a pack of lies and gutter politics at its worst. “These liars, again, are trying to take me to task for my principles and values that they can’t stand,” Van Zant said. School board members fought last week over how to handle the claims, with the board chair deciding the school board would not be allowed to hold an open hearing about the matter. School board members Janice Kerekes and Carol Studdard expressed concerns after the special meeting to discuss the accusations was canceled. Van Zant said that’s absolutely proper because employees in the district have a right to confidentiality.

Yulee Middle temporarily pulls controversial books out of library” via Jenna Bourne of Action News Jax – … after parents complained to Action News Jax that they were outraged over the books’ explicit content. The covers of the books in Lauren Myracle’s “Internet Girls” books look harmless, with neon colors and playful emojis. But the books contain details about sex, stripping and drinking. Nassau County School District Executive Director of Administrative Services Mark Durham said students here at all the middle schools in the district won’t be able to check out those books until a committee takes a closer look at the content. Billie Thrift said her 12-year-old daughter brought home two of the books, “TTYL” and “TTFN” her first week of middle school. “It’s telling them to argue with your parents. It’s telling them, no, don’t go to church. It’s telling them it’s wrong. It’s talking about doing things to boys. Cussing,” said Thrift to the school principal, who called her Tuesday afternoon. In a statement, Durham said the “Internet Girls” series is popular among middle school and young adult readers. “A lot of things are popular, but that doesn’t make them right,” said Thrift. The school requires parents to sign permission slips before their child is allowed to check out an “Internet Girls” book or a Stephen King novel. “I don’t remember signing it myself, but if it was signed, my ex-husband more likely signed it,” said Thrift.

Bucs, Jags to show which had better offseason, neither very good” via Gary Shelton – The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Bucs don’t really operate with the other team in mind.

But when neither squad is very good, it can look that way.

For instance, the Bucs ran for 183 yards in last year’s 38-31 victory over the Jags. Months later, the team brought in Malik Jackson as part of $178 million free agent spending spree. With Dante Fowler also in the fold, the Jags should be much better against the run.

Then there are the Bucs, who surrendered 303 yards passing a year ago. Between them, wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson caught 14 passes for 188 yards. The Bucs’ response was to sign free agent Brent Grimes and draft Vernon Hargreaves to try to offset it.

The Jags, meanwhile, did little to keep the pressure off Blake Bortles, who was sacked four times. The Jags never could get a running game going, rushing for only 55 yards (21 by Bortles). The Jags imported Chris Ivory to help balance out their attack.

As for the Bucs’ four sacks, two of those were by linebackers. That man’s trying to upgrade Howard Jones, who had two sacks. The Bucs outbid the Jags for Robert Ayers and drafted Noah Spence to have more of an impact on the edge.

The Bucs’ Jameis Winston had a nice afternoon, hitting 13 of 19 passes against Jacksonville’s secondary. Enter Jalen Ramsey.

So who had the better offseason? We’ll see Saturday night when the two face each other in a preseason game. Both teams think they are better.

Because of that, the joint practices of the week went well. But Bortles said he couldn’t care less.

“If we do joint practices every other week, I’d be fine with that,” said Bortles. “If we never did it again, I’d be fine with that. I think we have the kind of people and guys in the locker room that Gus (Bradley) talks about competing anywhere, anytime, and we have the kind of people that do that whether it’s against each other or against somebody else, whether it’s here, it’s at their place. We’re going to go and give everything we got and have a lot of fun doing it.”

Bortles hasn’t had both Robinson and Hurns together at once.

“If you let it eat at you, nothing good comes out of getting frustrated over it,” Bortles said. “ARob’s [Allen Robinson] a guy that as much as you would love to have him out here practicing today, you want him on Sundays and that’s what everybody understands and is the goal. Gus does a good job of returning how an important a practice is, and we get that, but there’s also times where it’s good to take care of their bodies.”

Jaguars owner Shad Khan has sights set on NFL draft in Jacksonville” via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union – Khan met with reporters following the groundbreaking of Daily’s Place, the amphitheater and covered flex field adjacent to EverBank Field. “It could be a great venue for the draft with all the amenities,” Khan said. “We’re going do our utmost [to get it].” On the Shipyards project: “What this means for the Shipyards is very good, because you have to have some inertia to get something going.” On the team: “My expectations are we get better,” Khan said. “It’s very simple. It’s no different than any player that’s on the team. We want to win and we have a lot of pieces in place compared to what was here.” On general manager Dave Caldwell’s comment that coach Gus Bradley shouldn’t be blamed for his first two years. He’s 12-36 entering his fourth season. “This turned out to be a rebuild rather than a remodel,” Khan said. “Obviously it takes a little bit longer. I’m delighted where we are and we’ve got to move forward now.”

Jaguars, city break ground on Daily’s Place, new amphitheater and flex field” via the Florida Times-Union – At a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning, Jaguars owner Shad Khan – with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Daily’s President and CEO Aubrey Edge – announced the name of the new facilities, the second phase of $90 million in improvements detailed earlier this year. Daily’s Place comprises a 5,500-seat amphitheater and 94,000-square-foot covered practice field first announced last fall. Both are expected to open next May … The first phase of the improvements was completed this month, with the debut of the renovated US Assure Club and new south end zone tunnel.

Armada frustrated in 1-1 draw with Fort Lauderdale” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of Florida Politics – Coming off the first road win in club history in Ottawa Saturday, the Jacksonville Armada FC were looking to claim all three points at home in a nationally televised CBS Sports Network match against in-state rival Fort Lauderdale at Community First Park. Instead, despite numerous opportunities particularly in the second half, the Armada ended up slitting the points with the Strikers in a 1-1 draw.

The Armada started the stronger side and had a few dangerous looks on goal in the first 20 minutes of the match. However, Fort Lauderdale scored a smash-and-grab type goal in the 20th minute when a bad giveaway by Jacksonville’s Matt Bahner fell directly to Jose Angulo. The forward capitalized on the opportunity, racing past a defender and slotting the ball past Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo from outside the box. This gave the Strikers an early 1-0 lead despite being on the back foot for the entire match to that point.

Both sides traded chances for the remainder of the first half with Jacksonville equalizing shortly before the interval thanks to a goal from Zach SteinbergerPascal Millien laid off a ball in the area for Steinberger who finished cleanly past Strikers goalkeeper Bruno. The game opened up with the Strikers creating multiple counter-attacking opportunities and Jacksonville using some good midfield play to open up space for attacking players.

In the second half, the openness of the match continued with the Armada creating more chances that the Strikers, but by no means the only chances. Both sides had plenty of opportunities to break the deadlock in a rare end-to-end eye-popping NASL clash. Jacksonville appeared to have taken all three points when Charles Eloundou put the ball past Bruno in the 79th minute, but substitute Pekka Lagerblom was whistled for a foul off the ball on Fort Lauderdale’s Dalton.

At the death, Amauri a former Italian National Team player who just signed last week, had an opportunity to steal all three points for the Strikers, but he put his shot just over the crossbar following a long punt forward from Bruno.

The Armada next face Minnesota United FC Saturday at Community First Park. Minnesota defeated Tampa Bay 2-0 Wednesday night and will be confirmed as the 23rd MLS franchise beginning Fridayaccording to published reports. Minnesota will begin MLS play in 2017.

Jacksonville Zoo celebrate grandparents” via the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens – the Zoo will be celebrating grandparents “owl” weekend long Sept. 10 and 11. With a downloadable coupon at Jacksonvillezoo.org, visitors can get a free adult or senior general admission ticket with the purchase of one regularly priced children’s admission ticket. Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens is at 370 Zoo Pkwy. in Jacksonville.

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected].


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