Jacksonville Bold for 1.13.17 — Close call

rutherford, john2

Close Call: On Wednesday evening, the reports trickled in from Washington, D.C.

Rep. John Rutherford had suffered a medical episode in the U.S. House of Representatives, one which led him to require hospitalization through Thursday.

The fear expressed by many: a massive heart attack.

That speculation went out on Twitter, and the hours between the incident and official response from Rutherford’s office fanned the flames underneath it.

By Wednesday evening, word was emerging from Rutherford World that it was not a heart attack.

By Thursday morning, it was revealed that the medical issue was an “acute digestive flare-up,” and that the Congressman was slated for a quick recovery.

In other words, the best possible outcome to what could have been a horrible situation for the Congressman, his family, his friends, and the City of Jacksonville.

Rutherford, who was Sheriff from 2003 to 2015, has several friends in the Jacksonville media.

It’s hard not to consider the Sheriff — and he will always be the Sheriff to old-timers here — a friend if you’ve gotten to know him.

And when he declared his candidacy last year, Rutherford was defined — for better or worse — by friendship.

Rutherford immediately amassed the kind and quality of support that seemed to ensure that his nomination would be all but a slam dunk.

Even though a number of candidates emerged to battle him in the GOP primary, Rutherford had the backing of people with whom he’d built relationships for decades.

And he is loyal to a fault, even risking the support of Peter Rummell by extolling the virtues of Angela Corey, an old friend and colleague in the midst of a doomed re-election campaign for state attorney that Rummell opposed.

Rutherford, after his election in November, pledged to work across the aisle; in that context, it’s notable that Rep. Al Lawson, who also represents Jacksonville, and he have been discussing ways to work together for local priorities.

Lawson and Rutherford built their reps long before they ran for Congress, and the odds are good that they will find meaningful collaborative opportunities.

While there certainly will be some people who want to politicize Rutherford’s health scare, for most Jacksonville stakeholders, there are hosannas that it wasn’t anything worse.

Prayers for the Congressman from this quarter.

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Crunchtime for Curry: The holiday break, such as it was, is over for city of Jacksonville policy makers.

And Mayor Lenny Curry — the 2016 “Politician of the Year” according to our sister publication INFLUENCE — will put that title on the line as two back burner issues threaten to boil over on his increasingly hot stove.

The first issue: the City Council’s latest consideration of the Human Rights Ordinance expansion.

The public hue and cry began anew on that issue Tuesday night.

Contrary to what some think, there isn’t going to be some moment of epiphany for any of these council members based on what’s said on the microphone. The sales pitch was made — is being made — behind the scenes. Advocates feel good about the conversations they have, but the worry is — as ever — do some of their yes votes flake out when the evangelicals start snarling at them during the comment period.

They need 13 votes to get the matter through without having to worry about what Mayor Lenny Curry might do. Our Jacksonville correspondent counts 11 votes as likely yes votes. And that is even with Shad Khan and Paul Harden making the calls.

Signing an HRO bill into law for a Republican Mayor of Jacksonville is, in itself, a heavy lift. But doubly so for a politician who may aspire for a statewide run. It would leave Curry open to attacks in primaries from his right.

His office isn’t giving much indication what the mayor wants to do on this bill, but here’s a word of friendly advice: every procedural stumble that comes from the council suite is noticed in the mayor’s office, where memories are not short. It’s up to Council President Lori Boyer to not let this process become a circus, as it did when the council mulled this bill two previous times. Can she do it? It will be the test of her presidency, just as it was for Greg Anderson in 2016.

The Christian right is already accusing Boyer, a close ally of the mayor, of stacking the deck in favor of the LGBT community.

Bill sponsor Aaron Bowman, meanwhile, contends that, of more than 600 emails he’d gotten so far on HRO, over 90 percent favor expansion.

Will the 21st century come to Jacksonville? We’ll find out Feb. 14, when the council votes on the measure.

If the board does vote yes on HRO, look for two subsequent news events: what Mayor Curry will do, and whether or not opponents push for an anti-HRO referendum on the 2018 ballot.

Mayor Curry’s got other issues to deal with in addition to this one.

Key among them: completing the pension reform that he started off last year negotiating.

While the mayor beat the odds in Tallahassee, getting the measure through both houses and a friendly governor’s office, and then beat the odds with a resounding referendum victory in August, the game has changed for 2017.

Lined up against Curry’s posse at the negotiating table: the “union bosses.”

The two most formidable of those: Randy Wyse of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, and Steve Zona of the local Fraternal Order of Police.

Both Wyse and Zona had negotiating sessions Wednesday with the city team. The police union was first, followed directly by the fire union.

And both unions are far apart from where the city sits, with the sticking points being raises and salary restorations for current employees, and whether even a generous defined contribution plan (with a 25 percent city match) is as good for recruitment and retention of new hires as the Florida Retirement System.

Curry sweetened the pot in offers to both public safety unions.

Curry reiterated his concerns about losing “local control” via FRS, before going into his administration’s offer: a 20 percent raise over three years, a full restoration of the 8.4 percent DROP rate of return, and a 3 percent COLA.

“It’s a stretch,” said Curry in the meeting with the fire union, “but it’s the right thing to do.”

There is a certain Kabuki theater to the relationship between the mayor and the union heads. While Zona and Wyse did help sell the pension deal last year, at least Zona hasn’t forgotten that Curry’s political team ended the elected career of a staunch ally of the police union and force — former State Attorney Angela Corey.

A highlight of the police union meeting: FOP Head Steve Zona produced excerpts of videos from the union’s interview with Curry before it endorsed him.

Curry extolled the benefits of pensions and vowed to go to the wall defending them, even to the “media” that “demonized” the unions.

Of course, that was two years ago and one referendum ago … and the distinction between “current employees” and “new hires” hadn’t occurred to anyone.

The Curry administration gave the unions 30 days to consider the current offer. They want the assurance of the sales tax money to be in play as they consider the 2018 budget. While that money can’t be accessed, the guaranteed revenue source (unlocked with the closure and renegotiation of at least one city pension plan) helps with budget projections, assuring the bond markets, and negotiating favorable terms for municipal borrowing

Logrolling begins for equal opportunity bill: Tuesday was a potentially key day for those in Jacksonville who seek equal employment opportunity in city agencies.

Councilman Garrett Dennis, who introduced an ordinance intended to counter employment discrimination in city employ by actually funding an oversight position, held a public notice meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall.

Jacksonville has a long history of issues with employment discrimination in the workplace, including governmental entities. And the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access program, set up in 2004, was established to remedy those injustices.

Dennis’ legislation offers some concrete steps toward rolling back discriminatory practices.

Dennis’ bill calls for the following: annual reporting to the Mayor and City Council on the progress and state of the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Program; budgetary line-item for the position of Equal Opportunity/Equal Access assistant director; and an “annual review” of “adherence and commitment” to the ordinance by the CEOs of the city’s independent authorities.

“How the Mayor will sell ShotSpotter to city council” via Florida Politics — Ordinance 2016-795 will, among other things, “appropriate $435,001 already allocated in a ShotSpotter reserve account to an equipment purchase account for installation of the test site … acoustic gunshot detection and surveillance technology in a 5-square mile area of Health Zone 1.” Health Zone 1 encompasses five Jacksonville Journey ZIP codes, including 32209, which was described by the Florida Times-Union as “Jacksonville’s killing fields.” Mayor Curry‘s chief of staff, Kerri Stewart, emailed stakeholders with her expectations as to how the bill might proceed through its three committees of reference: the Neighborhoods, Community Investments and Services committee on Tuesday, Jan. 17; the Public Health and Safety committee on the 18th; and Finance on the 19th. Stewart’s advice: expect questions relative to the Jacksonville Journey anti-crime initiative, rebooted by Mayor Curry early in his term.

“Jax council auditor, ethics director tangle over Kerri Stewart investigation” via Florida Politics — Kerri Stewart, the chief of staff for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, spent much of 2016 under the cloud of an ethics investigation. During a previous stint with the city, Stewart served as chief administrative officer for Mayor John Peyton. While serving in that role, a lobbying group — Infinity Global Solutions, known during the period in question as “Agency Approval and Development” — got a contract in 2007. The agreement with what would eventually become the current IGS started as a purchase order in March 2007 for $85,000, and over the years, expanded to a contract with amendments that grew to $953,000. The deal was for consulting. It was a no-bid contract. And Stewart ended up working for IGS after leaving city employment, before coming back to the mayor’s office. This raised questions for a private citizen, which spurred a report from the council auditor as part of what would become an ethics investigation … ethics director, Carla Miller, cast some doubt as to the integrity of the council auditor process.

“Councilwoman’s sauce plant slapped with sales tax warrant” via Florida Politics — KJB Specialties, a Jacksonville company that has Councilwoman Katrina Brown as a managing partner, has been slapped with sales tax warrants recently. One warrant, totaling $5,236, was issued on Sept. 10, 2016. Brown has asserted previously that said warrant was satisfied. The second warrant, totaling $5,219, was issued January 3, 2017 … CoWealth LLC, which has been in the news for failing to fulfill job creation goals for a Westside Jacksonville barbecue sauce plant for which the company secured $590,000 in loans and grants from the city, finally paid its 2015 property taxes December 30. The company is still technically in default of the agreement with the city’s Office of Economic Development … The company failed to provide the mandated financial audit statements for 2014 and 2015. CoWealth also is in trouble with the Small Business Association.

MLK Breakfast for Curry today: The city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast will be held Friday morning at the Prime Osborn Center.

Don’t expect hot quotes from the dais.

The event will be hosted by Action News Jax’s Tenikka Hughes and First Coast News personality Anthony Austin is also a featured speaker in some capacity.

The keynote speaker, sociologist Bertice Berry, will offer rousing and engaging remarks that will not offer anything like the real social critique that characterized King’s life.

However, if a recent MLK breakfast — from 2015 — is any indication, the real fireworks might pop off during any media avail after the event.

After Alvin Brown’s last MLK breakfast as mayor, he faced questions about a hot-button issue: Duval Clerk of Court Ronnie Fussell terminating courthouse wedding ceremonies to ensure his employees wouldn’t have to bless same-sex unions.

Stephen Dare of MetroJacksonville.com got the ball rolling, asking Mayor Brown his position on courthouse wedding ceremonies, at which point the mayor reiterated the non-answer he’d been giving local media since the Fussell decision, saying that it’s “very clear that the court has made a decision, and have to respect and follow the law” — an utterly ambiguous bowl of word salad with passive-voice dressing that said precisely nothing.

As the news conference was being concluded, this reporter posed a follow-up question to Dare’s, asking the mayor whether he supported or opposed the Fussell decision, in the hopes of finally getting a clear position stated.

Mayor Brown mentioned that “judges are now having weddings” in chambers and that the American Bar Association had stepped up and filled the void that Duval County left when it decided to deny the long-standing public accommodation of courthouse weddings. And all of that sounded fine. But it was clearly an attempt to mollify supporters on the right while giving nothing to those on the left.

Will history repeat in 2017? With an HRO expansion bill in front of council, will Curry be asked about analogies between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement of today? Will he be pressed to explain what he meant when he said that legislation expanding the HRO wouldn’t be “prudent”?

Jacksonville’s leaders — like those in many other places — employ a hagiographical depiction of Dr. King by way of punting on more contemporary concerns. It’s the coin of the realm in some ways.

Will the press press Curry on what he means when he says lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections citywide aren’t “prudent”? Find out Friday.

D.C. State of Mind: Two former Jacksonville City Council assistants have jobs on Capitol Hill now, we can report.

Jenny Busby moved to the D.C. office of Rep. Al Lawson as a legislative assistant. The well-connected Jacksonville native will serve as a bridge to the eastern part of Congressional District 5.

Busby was recommended to Lawson by a virtual who’s who of Jacksonville politics.

Katie Schoettler, who was sought by a few Republican offices, landed as an assistant to the Majority Staff of the Natural Resources Committee.

Busby and Schoettler, friends since childhood, moved to Washington late last year.

Notable: their offices are five doors apart … continuing their locational synergy.

Busby had the following to say, via a news release from Lawson’s D.C. office.

“As a Jacksonville native, I am thrilled, and honored, to be given the opportunity to support Congressman Lawson as he works on behalf of Duval County and fights for the interests of Northeast Florida.

“I look forward to drawing on my policy expertise working for City Council, and hope that the relationships I’ve built over the years will be an asset to Congressman Lawson as he strives to represent the interests of his constituents,” Busby said.

Busby and Schoettler, in addition to their city council work, also staged an event driving millennial support for the pension reform referendum last summer.

In doing that kind of work, they garnered meaningful recommendations from many Jacksonville stakeholders, which gave them their picks of D.C. jobs weeks after relocating to the nation’s capital.

“Ritz plans celebration of HOF African-American golfers” via Florida Politics — Sports and Entertainment head Dave Herrell noted in an internal email that his department is “working with the World Golf Hall of Fame, SMG and JAXSPORTS on a collaborative Black History Month event at the Ritz Theatre & Museum.” The tentative start time for the “program and light luncheon” is Feb. 1 at noon. The Ritz will host a display of African-American Hall of Fame golfers. 

“Judicial nominations expire; Jacksonville nominee likely out” via Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union — With the election of Donald Trump as the new president and Republican control of Congress, Jacksonville U.S. Magistrate Patricia Barksdale appears unlikely to be sworn in to the federal bench anytime soon. Nominated in April by President Barack Obama, that nomination expired in December when the previous Congress adjourned without voting on her. Barksdale would only get on the bench in the unlikely event Trump reappointed her. Barksdale was appointed to fill one of two vacancies in the Middle District of Florida that runs from Jacksonville to Naples. Tampa attorney William Jung got the other nomination and also didn’t get a vote before the previous Congress adjourned. The issue is occurring throughout the country.

“Tallahassee pol appeals to Al Lawson for help with mental health ‘emergency’” via Karl Etters of Tallahassee Democrat — Citing a mental health emergency in Leon County, Commissioner Bill Proctor is urging newly-elected Congressman Lawson to help promote efforts to provide intermediate care for mentally ill residents. Proctor, in a letter … pointed out in North Florida, mental health efforts focus on either long-term or temporary care. “There are no midlevel facilities that would serve the medical community for persons who need intermediate care,” Proctor wrote. “As you are aware, this has been a sore need for North Florida residents for a number of years.” Proctor’s letter comes on the heels of the arrest of his son, Jordan Proctor, last week in connection with a bank robbery. He is being held without bond. Over the past few years, the 21-year-old has faced armed robbery and drug possession charges but has avoided trial because of his mental state.

Lawson to target food deserts on Ag committee” via Florida Politics – Lawson announced his appointment to the Agriculture Committee, a key assignment for his largely rural North Florida district. For Lawson, whose biggest outreach issue during the 2016 campaign was to Jacksonville, the Ag appointment allows him to make inroads into solving issues seen in the Jacksonville part of his district — specifically, food deserts in the Urban Core and Northwest Jacksonville. Lawson, who already has been appointed regional whip by House whip Steny Hoyer, is establishing himself as a candidate for re-election who will have an easier path in 2018 than he did in 2016, when he dismantled the Corrine Brown machine in the Democratic primary.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn lobbies Rick Scott over vacant Flagler County commission post” via POLITICO Florida — The Texas Republican penned a handwritten letter to Scott in August recommending Greg Hansen, his brother-in-law, for the open commission seat. “Gov. Scott, you couldn’t do better than my brother-in-law, Greg Hansen, as Flagler County Commissioner, District 2. All the best,” read the note, which was sent on his Senate letterhead. Hansen, who got a total of five letters in support, is a U.S. Navy veteran and involved in local Republicans politics, according to local media reports.

Aaron Bean gears up for busy week” — Sen. Bean is gearing up for a busy few weeks, according to his office. Bean is scheduled to take part in the Duval County legislative delegation meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Jacksonville Council Chambers, 117 West Duval Street in Jacksonville. He’ll then be presented with a proclamation recognizing his support for state funding for Nassau County stormwater projects at 6 p.m. in Fernandina Beach City Commission Chambers, 204 Ash Street in Fernandina Beach. On Wednesday, he’s scheduled to attend the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Northeast Florida Regional Meeting at 8 a.m. at The River Club, 1 Independent Drive in Jacksonville. He is scheduled to hold an open house at his new district office, 13453 North Main Street, Suite 301 in Jacksonville at 4 p.m. on Thursday. He’ll cap off the week with a tour of the PACE Center for Girls, 2933 University Boulevard North in Jacksonville, at 10 a.m.; before heading over to the Metro Diner, 1534 3rd Street North in Jacksonville Beach, at 11:30 a.m. to host his annual luncheon with the mayors and city managers of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. Looking ahead to Jan. 30, Bean will receive the Boys & Girls Club’s Legislative Champion Award at 5 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, 555 West 25th Street in Jacksonville.

“Travis Hutson seeks help for hurricane-damaged homes” via Florida Politics — Florida bore the brunt of Hurricane Matthew … For homeowners who suffered damage, a particular burden was imposed, via property appraisals that fit the period before the storm wrecked their houses … Hutson filed a bill that would compel property appraisers to reduce the assessment of properties “damaged or destroyed” by natural disaster. Natural disasters are defined in Senate Bill 272 as including earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, sinkholes or tornadoes. Residential properties, in Hutson’s bill, are restricted to the actual living quarters; toolsheds, swimming pools, and such would not qualify for relief. The legislative threshold for relief: properties rendered “uninhabitable” by the damage. The deadline for filing for relief: March 1 in the year after the natural disaster.

“Cord Byrd takes on ‘breach of the peace’ statute” via Florida Politics — Florida Statute defines “breach of the peace” with language from a bygone era, describing it as “acts … of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” Rep. Cord Byrd … filed a bill to amend relevant statute to remove that dated term … and to offer recourse for gun owners who had weapons seized by law enforcement and have been frustrated in recovering their property because statutory language allows law enforcement to keep weapons seized in an investigation unless a court order is issued. House Bill 6013 excises the “breach of the peace” language in statute, reframing offenses like brawling and fighting as “disorderly conduct.” Byrd asserted that “breach of the peace is used as a mechanism to deny people their firearms.”

Save the date:

Ethics hammer for Charles and Katherine Van Zant” via Florida Politics –The ethics complaints against the former state representative and his wife involve failure to disclose ownership of a condo in Orange Park. The income and co-ownership of the condo with Mrs. Van Zant was disclosed in an amended form in 2012, but was excised in 2013 through 2015. Interestingly, one of the complainants in the Charles Van Zant case: former Republican Party of Florida chair Leslie Dougher. Dougher and Mrs. Van Zant ran an aggressive race to replace Mr. Van Zant in Tallahassee; both lost in the GOP primary to Rep. Bobby Payne. Dougher and another complainant, Chip Laibl, essentially filed the same complaint; the hearing will combine the two separately filed complaints into one. Mr. Van Zant contends that his attorney and he thought the property in question was “conveyed” to a property company in 2007.

First Coast sees busiest year for home construction in a decade” via Roger Bull of the Florida Times-Union — According to the Northeast Florida Builders Association, 7,906 permits for new homes were issued in the four-county area. That’s almost 1,200 more than in 2015 and more than twice the number issued in 2009, 2010 or 2011 when less than 3,300 were issued each year. But it’s still less than half the 17,753 that came in the peak of the building boom in 2005. St. Johns continues to lead the counties with 3,307 permits, followed by Duval at 2,709, Clay at 960 and Nassau at 930. Figures for December were exactly the same as November but slightly down from December 2015. The 188 permits issued in St. Johns County last month was the lowest there since May 2015.

Land swap proposal dead, St. Johns River district spokeswoman says” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The possibility of swapping land at the Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area with Kempfer Cattle Co. of St. Cloud had generated opposition among some environmentalists and some hunters who used the land … district spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie said the agency and Kempfer family were unable to reach agreement on a deal … the Jan. 31 meeting has been canceled because there is no agreement.

“City awaits riverfront development pitches” via Dave Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — A two-month countdown has started for developers to submit proposals for 70 acres of city-owned, riverfront land comprising both The Shipyards and Metropolitan Park in downtown … Jacksonville Jaguars and owner Shad Khan have already expressed interest in the property. Met Park is across the street from Daily’s Place, which is the amphitheater and indoor flex field the Jaguars and the city are building beside EverBank Field. Based on the notice issued this week for the property, the city will know by a March 8 deadline whether any other developers are interested in putting their mark on the parcel, which is the largest tract of riverfront land in downtown.

Jacksonville judge receives pro bono service award” via Larry Hannan of The Florida Times-Union —  Jacksonville Circuit Judge Virginia Baker Norton has been awarded the 2017 Distinguished Judicial Service Award that honors outstanding and sustained service to the public as it relates to support of pro bono legal services. Norton will be presented the award Jan. 19 in Tallahassee at a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court building. Norton is credited for her role with the Developing Adults with Necessary Skills, or DAWN, program at the Duval County jail. The program gives inmates vocational training and life skills and helps them earn a high school equivalency diploma.

UNF sees big jump in online program in U.S. News rankings” via Timothy Gibbons of the Jacksonville Business Journal — The University of North Florida has the 48th best online bachelor’s degree program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking. Two colleges down the road a bit south fared even better: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University topped the list with a perfect 100 and Daytona State College tied for 15th place with a score of 87. The University of Florida’s program came in at No. 20 with a score of 86 and Florida State at No. 36 with a score of 82. Both schools also ranked highly in online MBAs, with UF tying for fifth place with a score of 89 and Florida State coming in at 16th with a score of 78. … “It’s very rewarding to have U.S. News & World Report rank our bachelor’s and graduate education online programs among the best in the nation,” UNF President John Delaney said in a statement. “Faculty in our online programs are committed to this form of program delivery and have developed course materials and teaching methods that are second to none.”

Report: UNF to use border collier to ward off Canada geese” via Erik Avanier of News4Jax — The University of North Florida has found a solution to its Canada geese problem on campus. Complaints about the Canada geese and the birds’ noticeable amount of droppings everywhere prompted school officials to take action. UNF is now relying on border collies to keep the geese away. Border collies have long been used to herd animals. … The university decided to use a company called Goose Masters, a company that specializes in goose control by using dogs to chase off geese. School officials used the company over the winter break to minimize disruption to the campus community. The method of geese control makes geese think their habitat is threatened even though they aren’t really in any danger.

MBF Champions for Child Safety tournament raises $136,000” via the Ponte Vedra Recorder — More than $136,000 was raised at the recent Monique Burr Foundation for Children’s annual Pro Am Golf Tournament. The 19th annual event, now known as the MBF Champions for Child Safety Pro Am, was held at the Palencia Club. This year’s tournament produced a hole-in-one from amateur golfer Tom Young. In addition to honorary chairs Fred Funk, Jim Furyk and Mark McCumber, 18 more pros participated in the tournament, paired with amateur teams at the Heritage Capital Group Pairings Party the evening before the tournament. “We are very grateful to all the sponsors, participants and honorary chairs,” Executive Director Lynn Layton said. “Their support means that children across our state will have access to MBF Child Safety Matters, an educational program designed to prevent bullying and child abuse.”

“Symphony in 60 builds audience” via Fran Ruchalski of Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record — The symphony began the Thursday night events last season, shortly after music director Courtney Lewis arrived … The target audience isn’t necessarily youngsters … It’s Downtown workers and others who don’t typically attend a full performance of the symphony. Based on last season’s success, the symphony increased the hourlong Thursday night performances to four this season. The evening has a more casual air, starting off with a happy hour where the attendees enjoy beverages and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m. The hourlong performance follows at 6:30 p.m. The evening concludes with an after-party where members of the audience can meet and talk with the musicians. Tickets are $25. And audiences are responding. More than 600 were sold for Thursday’s event.

Tom Coughlin: Jags fans deserve a team they can be proud of” via Kristen Dressel of Action News Jax –Jaguars owner Shad Khan introduced the newest members of the team, Executive vice president of Football Operations Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone. “Any football organization that has Tom Coughlin is going to be a good one, and you don’t have to Google that,” Khan said. Coughlin said that he has a vested interest in the organization. “I intend to put my heart and soul into being a great support to Dave and for Doug,” Coughlin said. “I embrace this opportunity.”

Relationship between Tom Coughlin, Doug Marrone decades in the making” via Brian Jackson of WJXT – On Thursday, Marrone was introduced as the Jaguars head coach and Coughlin as the Executive VP of football operations. Nearly 25 years ago, Marrone called Coughlin, who was then the head coach at Boston College, to ask him if he could have a graduate assistant position. Throughout the years, the two stayed in touch and Marrone called getting a chance to work under Coughlin “the perfect situation.” “He’s been a mentor to me,” said Marrone. “At the end of the day that’s what he’s been. He’s been someone that if I had an issue in Buffalo in dealing with something. Or if I had an issue at Syracuse, he’s the gentleman that I would call.”

North American Soccer League taking over Armada” via Matt Soergel of the Florida Times-Union — The North American Soccer League will take over ownership and operation of the Jacksonville Armada FC, one of its teams, as the league tries to maintain a presence in the second tier of professional soccer. Armada FC owner Mark Frisch said the owners of the other teams in the league will buy the franchise from him, while looking for a new owner for Jacksonville. He did not reveal the price. His announcement came … a day after a crucial, long-awaited decision by the U.S. Soccer Federation that allowed the NASL to remain a second-division league for 2017, slotted under Major League Soccer. The current third-division league, the United Soccer League, had been pushing hard to move up to the higher-profile second division. The federation decided to give both leagues second-division status on a provisional basis, giving them each a year to meet standards set by U.S. Soccer such as stadium size (5,000 seats) and a minimum number of teams (12).

Peter Schorsch

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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