A trip to the hardware store
This week, Jacksonville’s Sheriff, Mayor, and State Attorney came together to herald what they hope will reverse the city’s increasing murder rate.
The Crime Gun Intelligence Center (or CGIC, as Melissa Nelson put it) is a clearinghouse for data from ShotSpotter, which identifies where gunshots are coming from, and NIBIN, which is a national database of shell casings.
The idea is using technology to take the bad guys off the street. Identifying gunshots will show how they are connected, allowing for investigations, even where there are no witnesses willing to talk.
When do things start turning around? And what does success look like?
Answers were more elusive.
Vice President Mike Pence urged Congress to ratify the United States Canada Mexico Agreement from a Jacksonville stage this week.
Pence wants the deal done “this summer.” Congress isn’t close.
“The president has done his job. It’s time for the Congress to do its job and pass the USMCA this summer,” Pence said.
Whether events like the one in Jacksonville (there will be 25 more) ultimately mean much is an open question.
Per POLITICO, “The push comes as Democrats in Congress say they still have several concerns about the agreement’s labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions, as well as the pact’s overall enforceability.
Pence was also at NAS Jax, visiting military while he was in the area.
It’s easier here
President Donald Trump’s murky finances are murkier, reports The New York Times, despite local efforts to put brakes on shady dealings.
“Anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog,” the Times reports.
“But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government.”
Former money laundering specialist Tammy McFadden flagged the issues. But Deutsche apparently said such complaints evinced a “negative attitude.”
No beach for oil
Jacksonville saw a local version of the Hands Across the Sands protests this past weekend.
Among those on hand: U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, breaking with Trump on the question of offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic.
“The waters off the East Coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations, and a vibrant maritime economy,” Rutherford said. “Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem. The U.S. should not jeopardize our coastal economy by expanding seismic testing and offshore drilling, particularly when our energy needs continue to be met.”
Rutherford, the Florida Times-Union notes, co-introduced anti-seismic testing legislation this year, “in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations that would advance permit applications for seismic air-gun blasting off the Atlantic coast.”
Rutherford said of the authorizations: “They know that seismic testing is going to disrupt the fisheries in our ocean. They know that. Tests prove that.”
A former member of the New Black Panther Party will be out of politics for a while, as he is facing a 30-year prison stretch for threats against a current congressman and a Duval County judge.
The Florida Times-Union reports that “44-year-old Kojo Khayrallah was found guilty Friday of two counts of making written threats to kill or do bodily harm.”
He threatened “U.S. Rep. John Rutherford and 4th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon.”
His motivations were … unclear.
“When question by a detective last June, Khayrallah explained he felt wronged by the court after multiple domestic legal battles. He also said he felt targeted by Rutherford because he was a militant black-rights activist and leader of the local New Black Panther Party,” AP reported.
Now he will be the state’s problem.
Your money’s no good here
Jacksonville State Attorney Melissa Nelson will run for re-election in 2020.
Nelson told the Florida Times-Union. The campaign will launch soon.
Another big nugget: Employees will not be allowed to donate.
Nelson’s predecessor, Angela Corey, relied on staffer generosity. She amassed over $27,000 in contributions. Many of those donations came from taxpayer-funded bonuses.
Nelson used that pattern of de facto public financing of the incumbent’s re-election as a campaign talking point in 2016, as she upended Corey in a GOP primary bloodbath.
“This move is so disrespectful of the hard work of taxpayers. I know well-being a prosecutor is a tough job, but retaining talent is done by demonstrating to your team that you approach the job as a call to service and devotion to the ideals of our Constitution. It’s not about getting rich on taxpayer dollars,” Nelson said.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is in the real estate business.
The JTA, per a media release, is “open for business,” with opportunities for “transit-oriented development.”
The goal is to leverage the needs of private capital to accommodate public infrastructure; a rising tide to lift all boats.
Avenues Walk, Golfair, Johnson Street in LaVilla, Kings Avenue, and Rosa Parks Centers all have opportunities for mixed-use developments, which will drive infill and synergy for the public investment.
Many of these include placement in federally designated opportunity zones, meaning there are opportunities for tax breaks beyond the usual state and local incentives.
Personnel note: Matthew Corrigan to JU
The dean of local political polling is leaving his position to become, well, an actual Dean.
Former University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab director Matthew Corrigan is headed to Jacksonville University to become Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, per the Jax Daily Record.
“Dr. Corrigan is a proven academic leader, energetic faculty advocate, and tireless mentor who can help instill in all of our students the critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that are necessary for lifelong success no matter their field of study,” JU Provost Christine Sapienza said.
“His insights into politic processes and players is objective, nuanced and detailed. An academic through and through, he understands that faculty are the core of a university and that shared governance is essential. I consider him a friend and wish him well at JU,” said John Delaney, former president of the University of North Florida.
For a few hours, there was some worry in #jaxpol circles that there would be no more Twitter for Jacksonville City Councilman-elect Matt Carlucci, returning to the Council after an extended hiatus.
I have decided to deactivate my Twitter account. So many people tweet and have good things to share.
Yet many people use it as a weapon. So easy to do from behind a key pad. Not my way.
Best wishes to my friends, Matt
— Matt Carlucci (@matt_carlucci) May 22, 2019
“I have decided to deactivate my Twitter account. So many people tweet and have good things to share. Yet many people use it as a weapon. So easy to do from behind a keypad. Not my way,” Carlucci tweeted.
Carlucci enters the Council in July, and it remains to be seen what role he will play. He has struck a tone of independence, calling for reconsideration of demolishing the Jacksonville Landing.
There is also a perception among some in the Mayor’s orbit that Carlucci is too self-promotional for the administration’s liking.
While some may have celebrated Carlucci’s farewell to the platform, it would have been premature. By Wednesday morning, he had reconsidered.
Well Robin, good point. Since you put it that way I will stay connected. In addition. Maybe that’s the reason I could not deactivate my account after 3 tries last night…thanks for your point of view, Matt https://t.co/hujigDOPKe
— Matt Carlucci (@matt_carlucci) May 22, 2019
Not a ‘Curry-crat’
Democratic Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri endorsed Republican Lenny Curry for re-election. But that doesn’t make him a “Curry-crat,” he contended this week.
“It is interesting to continue reading your analysis of my support for Mayor Curry as courting his support for my recent election. If you do you know my history, you would note that I have agreed with some of his policies, including voting for the KHA, Pension reform, supporting family leave, disallowing businesses who discriminate of doing business with the city, among other issues,” Hazouri said.
“Know, too, that I have disagreed with the mayor on some of his actions of taking democrats off boards and commissions in mid-term. But, too, at the same time, that is a Mayor’s prerogative. If nothing else you learn about me, I believe that working together is the best way to accomplish your goals. I think the passing of the HRO is a great example, Curry-crat you say, hardly,” Hazouri scoffed.
“As a former Mayor, I certainly respect the office. Every Mayor has their particular style and every Mayor who exercises their position as a strong mayor in a strong mayor form of government as is our Consolidated government will have their critics. Strange enough or not so strange, even former mayors who are currently City Council members also continue to have their critics For me that is leadership!”
“In our city government,” Hazouri concluded, “we should not be about party, but by the courage we display, the principles we practice, and the accomplishments we achieve. You can only utilize those characteristics by being united, staying together, and walking side by side, leaving no one behind.”
Focus on the family
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels continued this week to make the news for reasons unrelated to his day job.
Per First Coast News: “Sheriff Darryl Daniels has resigned from one local school’s board of directors following an extramarital affair that blossomed into a larger scandal over payments to, and his agency’s arrest of, the woman he had the affair with.”
Daniels dipped on the St. Johns Classical Academy board to (per a statement): “focus on his family and his job as the Sheriff of Clay County.”
He is still on the Orange Park Medical Center board, however.
Daniels had an affair gone wrong with a Duval County correctional worker he once supervised. He arranged a series of payouts for her amounting to $30,000 in recent years, but the deal went sour, and Daniels reported her for stalking him.
Before this scandal, Daniels was known for catchphrases, such as telling criminals, “You got options.” He also made a habit of drinking coffee in houses his subordinates were raiding.
Rayonier on the move
A Northeast Florida cornerstone is now on the Fortune 1000, per the Jax Daily Record.
“Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. entered the Fortune 1000 list this year after more than doubling its size with its late 2017 acquisition of competitor Tembec Inc.,” the Record notes.
Landstar System is also on the list; CSX Corp., Fidelity National Information Services Inc. and Fidelity National Financial Inc. are in the 500.
Rayonier is especially prominent in Nassau County politics, and given the company’s robust revenue ($2.134 billion last year), there’s nothing that precludes a continued strong play regionally.
Ngakoue shows up at OTAs
The Jaguars began another phase of their offseason conditioning program this week with organized team activities (OTAs). Phases one and two involved workouts and some individual coaching, but this week began phase three that includes OTAs, leading up to the mandatory three-day minicamp from June 11-13.
While this week’s OTAs are optional, nearly all team members were in camp. There was one surprise in who did attend, but no surprise for the one who did not.
Emerging NFL star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is seeking a new contract based on his performances from the last two seasons, including a Pro Bowl selection in 2017. This led some team officials, and perhaps coach Doug Marrone, to believe Ngakoue would skip the OTA sessions.
In the end, Ngakoue, who had been away from the team over the past few weeks, arrived on the practice field with his teammates.
“We’ve had good communication,” Marrone said. “I have no issues with (him being away). He always has been a good communicator on where he’s at, what he’s doing.”
For his part, Ngakoue said: “I don’t’ have to be here, but I chose to be here.”
No one was surprised by the absence of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Marrone and team officials know the eccentric Ramsey is home in Nashville working out with his father and are comfortable that he will arrive at mini-camp ready to go.
A surprise absence on the first day was wide receiver Dede Westbrook. The good news is his absence was only for one day as he was in camp the following day.
Whether Ngakoue gets a new contract by the time training camp begins in July is another question. If not, his willingness then to report might be a bit less than it was this week.