This week in City Hall, a time capsule containing artifacts from 1960 was opened.
Being it’s the 50-year anniversary of Consolidation, city leaders are (understandably) in a sentimental mode.
But 50 years from now? One wonders if such sentimental pulls will prevail.
What kind of letters would current City Council members write to those who will succeed them in the Jacksonville of the future?
Will there be a need to explain current political conditions? Or to advise people living through the future that we imagine?
In 1960, stuffing the time capsule for posterity, Jacksonville was not as it is now.
Consolidation was eight years away. Everyone in town was a Democrat. And Rep. Charles Bennett was still a (youngish) congressman.
Politicians don’t do a great job envisioning the future.
A thought exercise: How will politicians a half-century from now see the past?
Prediction: A local legislator will file a bill next session to enhance penalties for the killing of police dogs.
Last month, the killing of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer Fang shocked many locally.
“JSO says K-9 Officer Fang was shot and killed on the Westside, near I-10 and Cecil Commerce Parkway, while chasing 17-year-old Jhamel Paskel, a suspect in an armed carjacking. Investigators said another police dog helped catch Paskel, who was arrested near where a 9 mm handgun was found,” reports WJXT.
Per THE Local Station, a Change.org petition has been launched to increase penalties for killing police dogs. However, that can only happen in Tallahassee.
To reiterate: It’s only a matter of which member of the Duval Delegation will carry the bill. It will be a winner in the Legislature, and it’s the kind of thing that plays really well in direct mail — and with police unions, the support from which can be a boost in competitive elections.
Brown ‘still fighting’
Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown is locked up currently, serving a stretch for the One Door for Education fraud scheme.
However, per Brown’s house organ (the Florida Star) the Congresswoman is “still fighting,” and is looking for tangible expressions of support from her base.
“She wants you to know that she is still fighting, is doing well, and looking forward to coming home soon. Even though Congresswoman Brown was sentenced to five years at FCC Coleman Camp, she is very hopeful that her case will be reversed,” the Star reports.
“Congresswoman Brown also needs your financial assistance, and if you can contribute, please know that any amount will help tremendously! If you would like to contribute to her Commissary Account, you can send funds by Western Union,” the Star notes.
Just as was the case when she was in politics, there are multiple ways to help Corrine — including one familiar to those covering her legal travails: “If you would like to assist with her mounting legal fees, you can mail a check or money order to the … Corrine Brown Legal Expense Trust
In a changing world, it’s reassuring that some constants exist.
Fifty years ago Monday, Jacksonville (racked by corruption and governmental inefficiency at the time) embarked on an experiment with consolidated government.
Though many debate the efficacy of the model, the case for Consolidation was made (or reiterated) energetically Monday evening at the Jessie Ball DuPont Center.
The Jacksonville Historical Society’s Task Force for Consolidation hosted the 5:30 p.m. event, which saw with Rick Mullaney, the former Jacksonville General Counsel.
Mullaney, an enthusiast for Consolidation, referred to the move as “the most significant local government restructuring in Florida history.
“The Jacksonville of the 1960s,” Mullaney said, was perceived as “a slow-moving southern town with an inferiority complex.
Including here, he added.
“That was a perception we had of ourselves,” Mullaney noted.
Jacksonville had seen a “wave of public corruption” in the 1930s, which included “wasteful and duplicative” services.
Despite this, and a Jacksonville constitutional amendment that gave the city significant leeway, nothing was done until the 1960s.
The referendum that greenlighted Consolidation, Mullaney said, brought a “strong mayor” form of government with a “unique ability to build consensus [for] transformational change.”
‘Work in progress’
Per the director of the Jacksonville Historical Society in the Jacksonville Daily Record, after 50 years, Consolidation is still a “work in progress.”
“Some of the problems its authors sought to resolve have indeed given way, while others persist,” noted historical society director Alan Bliss.
“All by itself, [a] consolidated local government is accountable neither for its successes nor its unmet promises. Jacksonville’s elected officials — and the voters who choose them — are ultimately responsible,” Bliss added.
“By the 1960s, Jacksonville resembled other American cities that faced aging infrastructure and dysfunctional government,” Bliss noted, after adding that Tampa and Miami faced similar issues with booming suburbs and declining urban cores.
“Downtown Jacksonville suffered visibly, with a declining tax base no longer adequate to sustain municipal services,” Bliss added.
Left unanswered: how Tampa and Miami became great global cities, while Jacksonville attempts to find its footing on a somewhat lower tier.
What’s your hurry, Curry?
The titular question, posed by a columnist in the St. Augustine Record, addresses a proposal from the Jacksonville Chamber’s JAXUSA group that would give Northeast Florida an identity.
That identity: Greater Jacksonville. And the “Water Life Region.”
“I suffer marketing naiveté but thought ‘Florida’s Historic Coast’ had an honest ring to it. And that’s not the case for only St. Augustine. Ponte Vedra, the North Beaches, St. Augustine Beach and the South Beaches clear down to Summer Haven have compelling histories of their own. Jacksonville has Cowford,” writes the Record’s Jim Sutton.
Sutton also takes aim at state Sen. Travis Hutson for his “amendment to a totally unrelated bill on Community Development Districts. The amendment redrew the boundaries of St. Johns County, moving a massive swath of prime conservation land into Duval County. The land lies along the western side of Roscoe Boulevard, running north and south, essentially from Palm Valley down to Mickler’s Landing. The eastern boundary abutted the ICW the total length — all waterfront and largely undeveloped land.”
This deal got squashed when it was reported. But Sutton doesn’t think it’s over.
“We dodged an amazingly brazen bullet. But watch for the same “good neighbor” policy to show up next session, cloaked differently this time,” Sutton warns.
Sex claims roil JAXPORT
Per the Florida Times-Union, a newly-filed sexual harassment suit is ensuring JaxPort headlines are about more than dredging and cargo ships.
Glenda Prinzi filed a case alleging a pattern of pressure to perform sexually for hiring, then promotion.
Prinzi contends that on numerous occasions, she was pressured into having sex with both direct JAXPORT employees and subcontractors.
“Such conduct is entirely unacceptable in this day and age,” Matt Kachergus, an attorney with the firm Sheppard, White, Kachergus & DeMaggio, said to the T-U.
JAXPORT CEO Eric Green asserted this week during a board meeting that he has “zero tolerance for workplace harassment of any kind.”
Let ’em fly
Months back, a code enforcement issue became global news, when a city of Jacksonville employee cited a local business for flying military flags.
One city. One Jacksonville. Six flags.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry overruled his employee.
“Let them fly,” he tweeted.
And so, they did.
Now those flags will fly, permanently, at City Hall, after a ceremonial raising of the flags of all military branches (along with a POW/MIA flag) Tuesday.
Curry noted the city’s “gratitude for members of the armed forces” factoring into the decision to fly the flags as a “daily reminder of all that served and all that have served.”
No juice left
Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis, a first-term Democrat, was thwarted by the Finance Committee he once chaired Tuesday, regarding a resolution of opposition to selling local utility JEA.
The Committee had Dennis sit for an hour before not moving his bill.
The sale of JEA has been a discussion point in City Hall off and on for the last year, and Dennis is concerned that Council will greenlight the deal down the road.
Dennis’ resolution (2018-593) couldn’t even get moved to the floor Tuesday.
Dennis had pushed similar legislation to the same effect once this year already, and the distraught Democrat dropped science on the silent committee after the non-movement.
“It’s not going away,” Dennis said. “I truly believe that we will be in a better position if this Council votes this resolution up.”
Dennis cited the issues with the Plant Vogtle development, which JEA entered into in 2008 and has since come to see as a financial albatross. The utility was thwarted last month in efforts to get out of the deal.
Committee discussion afterward was brief, and seemed to center on getting Dennis to go away.
“Dennis has indicated that if we withdraw this bill, he will refile it,” said Councilwoman Lori Boyer, who advised that “these bills can be deferred by the chair and never end up on the agenda for discussion.”
For Dennis, a potential mayoral candidate in 2019, this represents another setback.
For the Jacksonville City Council, this is business as usual.
Supremes decline qualification dispute
On Tuesday, the Florida Supreme Court refused to take up a case filed by a Clay County judicial candidate who was kept off the ballot when she filed paperwork 12 minutes late.
As the News Service of Florida reports, justices handed down a one-page order turning down the appeal by Lucy Ann Hoover. As is customary, the court did not explain why.
Hoover, who had sought to run for county judge, went to the high court after the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected her request to be added to the ballot. Hoover, who planned to challenge Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley, rushed May 4 to meet a noon qualifying deadline, according to the appeals court ruling. But a required financial-disclosure document was not notarized at the county elections supervisor’s office until 12:12 p.m. — 12 minutes late. The supervisor of elections initially qualified Hoover, since she was in the supervisor’s office before the deadline. But Mobley challenged the qualification, and a circuit judge agreed, ruling Hoover should not be on the ballot. In an eight-page opinion, a panel of the appeals court upheld the decision.
Davis, others look to 2020
Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Tracie Davis, who ran unopposed this year, became one of about half-dozen House incumbents opening campaign accounts this week for 2020. Davis, who has been serving House District 16 since 2016, is joining six other colleagues: Republican state Reps. Brad Drake of Eucheeanna, Sam Killebrew of Winter Haven and Michael Grant of Port Charlotte as well as Democrats John Cortes of Kissimmee, Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg and Evan Jenne of Dania Beach.
The News Service of Florida notes some newcomers who already locked up House seats this year and opened accounts for 2020: Gulf Breeze Republican Alex Andrade in the Panhandle’s HD 2; Boca Raton Democrat Tina Polsky in Palm Beach County’s HD 81; and Boynton Beach Democrat Joe Casello in Palm Beach County’s House District 90. West Palm Beach Democrat Philippe Louis “Bob” Jeune also opened an account Friday to run in Palm Beach County’s HD 88. Democratic state Rep. Al Jacquet of Lantana ran unopposed for the seat this year.
Voters in Charge staffs up
Voters in Charge, the political committee supporting Yes on 3, the constitutional amendment giving voters the final say in any gambling expansion in Florida, has been busy staffing up local leadership committees.
Members include community, business, law enforcement and religious leaders throughout the state committed to ensuring that Florida voters are put in charge of casino gambling decisions in Florida.
Chairing the Northeast Florida delegation is state Rep. Clay Yarborough. Committee members include state Sen. Keith Perry; Sheriffs Sadie Darnell of Alachua and Darryl Daniels of Clay counties; Isaiah Rumlin, President of NAACP Jacksonville; Nicole Chapman, Regional Director of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association; Ben Goldsmith, Director of Cru Inter City Jacksonville; and Mary Lib Stevenson, President of the Clay Family Policy Forum.
“We are thrilled to have the support of so many pillars of the community for this important amendment,” said Voters in Charge Chair John Sowinski. “For most of our lifetimes, decisions about casino gambling were left up to the voters. It is past time to return that right to Floridians and take it away from politicians and special interest groups in Tallahassee.”
All month, the group has rolled out committees throughout the state. Information on the Yes on 3 campaign, including local contacts and regional offices, is at VotersInCharge.org.
Zoo staffer honored
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens animal wellness director Terry Maple has received the inaugural “Animal Welfare Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The award recognizes Maples’ four-decade career as a leader in the animal wellness field, reports the Jacksonville Business Journal. His work includes research, husbandry, mentorship and advocacy for animal protection.
According to the Journal, Maple spent 18 years at Zoo Atlanta, helping transform it from one of the worst-rated zoos in the country to one of the most successful institutions studying animal behavior and wellness. Maple has been with the Jacksonville Zoo since 2014, helping launch its wellness division and continued research to the field.
Jacksonville Zoo director Tony Vecchio, one of Maple’s former students at Zoo Atlanta, said he is “a brilliant man and a passionate advocate for zoo animal welfare.”
Vecchio added: “He made life better for animals in zoos and aquariums and laid the groundwork through his research, publications and students to keep that passion moving into the future … by bringing such expertise to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, we are fully committing to being a leader in animal wellness and setting the standard for zoos all over the world.”
Receiving the award “feels great,” Maple said, adding that he was grateful to the many students and employees who collaborated on his research over the decades.
Porous Chiefs’ defense gives Jags opening
Week 5 in the NFL has some interesting matchups, but the week’s best game will take place Sunday in Kansas City. That is where the 3-1 Jacksonville Jaguars will face the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
It goes far more than just records and individual matchups.
Sure, seeing the Chiefs’ speedy receiver Tyreek Hill trying to get some space between himself and Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be fun. However, it will be seeing if the NFL’s second-ranked defensive unit can slow down emerging star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his arsenal of offensive weapons.
In just four games, Mahomes has thrown for 14 touchdowns with zero interceptions. He was challenged last week in Denver but has yet to see the type of defensive pressure that will come at him from the Jaguars.
There is every opportunity for the Jags’ offense, and quarterback Blake Bortles in particular, to either match or exceed, whatever the Chiefs put on the scoreboard. Kansas City’s defense ranks 32nd, dead last, in total yards allowed.
In terms of passing yards, they are 31st with an average of 328 yards allowed per game. The defense allows nearly 29 points per game.
Former Indianapolis Colts’ all-pro wide receiver Reggie Wayne is not alone in thinking Bortles could wind up throwing more touchdown passes than Mahomes. Hopefully, the Bortles that showed up last week against the Jets will be the one on the field Sunday.
The Jags will have to do it again with running back Leonard Fournette, who has been ruled out. TJ Yeldon will again take the starting role. He is usually good for about 100 yards combined between rushing and receiving and has scored three touchdowns.
Just so the Jacksonville offense does not look as they did in their one loss, a disappointing 9-6 loss to the Tennessee Titans, they have a decent chance to knock the Chiefs from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Kansas City is a three-point favorite.