Tie goes to the runner
Nothing like a tied vote to show where an elected body stands.
On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council had the opportunity to cast a vote opposing Rep. Jason Fischer’s “local bill” that would start a pathway to an elected school superintendent.
Mayor Lenny Curry floated that concept, and Fischer is willing to carry it through the Legislature in 2020.
Councilman Matt Carlucci gave a four-minute speech before the vote; a long oration rendered anticlimactic when his bill opposing Fischer’s proposal went down in a 9-9 vote.
Carlucci was trolled throughout this process. And here, Fischer will score a win.
Cynics might say that a 9-9 vote is about as far away from the 19-0 votes of a few years back as one can get.
Also observed: Many Council members have gone their own way, rather than hewing to the Curry consensus.
Sam Newby, Al Ferraro, Ron Salem, Randy DeFoor … to name a few.
Curry’s draw is made tougher when he doesn’t have a strong Council President, and discussion Tuesday night went sideways because Scott Wilson couldn’t run the room.
He spoke sharply to colleagues on both agenda and regular meetings. And, incredibly, three votes were required when the Council chose to pay lawyers to help them understand JEA’s apparent decision to re-capitalize itself.
It was a 15-3 vote.
In his first two years, Curry benefited from Council Presidents, who ran the room effortlessly. Greg Anderson and Lori Boyer both had buy-in from colleagues, and for the most part, managed to keep from having to yell CLEAR THE CHAMBER in a fit of frothing panic if someone in the back of the room had scowled.
Anna Brosche and Aaron Bowman represented a sea change, and in both terms, dysfunction mounted.
Things aren’t especially smooth right now.
Unless something wacky happens, it will be up to Tommy Hazouri, well into his seventies, to corral a Council where a lot of members aren’t willing to sit back and hit the green button.
Tough draw for anyone.
All of that is forward-looking, however. For this week, Curry got what he wanted; no Council opposition to his proposal to turn the superintendent gig into an elected political position.
Sen. Marco Rubio had already recognized two Northeast Florida businesses as the “Senate Small Business of the Week.” Still, this week, he found renewed regional inspiration from an Amelia Island kayak company.
Amelia Island Kayak Excursions of Fernandina Beach received the honors.
“Showcasing Florida’s beauty, Amelia Island Kayak Excursions offers both kayak and boat expeditions throughout wildlife-rich Egan’s Creek, Lofton’s Creek, and more of Florida’s coastal environment,” Rubio said.
“To educate the next generation on Florida’s wildlife,” Rubio added, “they partnered with an after-school program by gifting students a free kayak trip if they meet their academic goals.”
“Amelia Island Kayak Excursions is an example of a community-oriented small business,” Rubio concluded, “and I look forward to watching their continued growth and success. Congratulations.”
TODAY: Chairman Marco Rubio honored @AI_Kayak of #FernandinaBeach #Florida as the Senate Small Business of the Week. Their mission is to give clients a memorable experience while being responsible stewards of Florida’s coastal environment. pic.twitter.com/k458veAztH
— Senate Small Biz (@SmallBizCmte) October 22, 2019
Sapp is back
It’s as if there were an endgame to the various high-profile fundraisers Judson Sapp’s family business has sponsored this year after all.
Clay County’s Sapp, as we reported this week, is making another run at the Congressional District 3 seat held by maybe-running-again-but-maybe-not-let’s-just-pray-on-it Rep. Ted Yoho.
Eight years ago, Yoho took a pledge only to serve eight years; however, he continues to fundraise, a move that has kept the field relatively clear.
Sapp, who lost the 2018 primary against Yoho, clearly isn’t worried about going again. He claims to have raised $100k already.
With his announcement, Sapp is the fourth Republican to file paperwork either at the federal or state level to get in the 2020 race. That includes Yoho, who voluntarily vowed to term-limit himself out of the 2020 election, though it is unclear whether he will run or not.
Sapp joins a Republican primary field that for now includes Yoho, Amy Pope Wells and Joseph Millado. Democrats who have filed are Philip Dodds, Tom Wells and Brandon Peters.
Others, including Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins and Yoho chief of staff Kat Cammack, apparently are mulling runs also. There are those who fret that Yoho is trying to keep the field clear for his aide.
Pope Wells hacked
While Rep. Yoho’s biggest issue is how to flip on his pledge, the aforementioned Amy Pope Wells has a different concern that occupied her this week.
“When we hear about cyberattacks, we often think of large companies like Yahoo, Target or the Marriott. Well, guess what … Seven days ago, we were hacked😫 Having no access to anything!!!”
“A very large ransom pd with only a hope,” Wells said on Facebook, “to have access to our system soon.}
“Folks the ransomware epidemic is growing. It’s hitting businesses of all sizes and exposing personal information 😡😡😡 This sort of attack affects everyone!”
“We can’t just focus on protection; we must PROTECT, IDENTIFY and PUNISH,” Pope Wells added. “Stop & Punish criminals who steal our stuff 😡”
Pope Wells has under $9,000 cash on hand, suggesting that she may need to make fundraising a priority also.
Homeowners in Jacksonville’s Ortega neighborhood have been plagued by derelict vessels on local rivers. That may end soon.
HB 417, filed by first-term Jacksonville Republican Rep. Wyman Duggan, would end a long-standing and frustrating practice: vessels lingering in the Ortega and Cedar Rivers.
At issue: “several vessels, maybe a dozen … creating problems for residents, boaters and the city,” Duggan told Florida Politics Monday.
These boats create a variety of issues. Boat owners often don’t take their vessels to the marina to pump out waste, creating sewage discharges. Generators on the boats where some live hum into the night. And of course, hazards to navigation abound.
Duggan stressed the importance of local law enforcement taking action while the vessel is still afloat. Costs can be a tenth of the $20,000 to 30,000 threshold for removing a sunk ship. Reimbursement is conditional on following state guidelines.
To that end, the Representative seeks to add this “mooring limitation area” to existing statute regarding “densely populated urban areas, which have narrow state waterways, residential docking facilities and significant recreational boating traffic.”
Spend spend spend
With Jacksonville public utility JEA soliciting bids, one might think that they would hold off on building a new headquarters.
Those who think that don’t know JEA, however!
The utility announced Tuesday its plans to move forward with building a new headquarters.
“The decision to move forward is the right thing to do for JEA employees and customers and supports downtown development,” said Aaron Zahn, JEA Managing Director and chief executive officer, “The new headquarters will be capable of serving JEA as it exists today or in any other possible future state as a result of the current strategic planning process.”
The Ryan Companies will provide the new headquarters; it won’t cost much; just $72.2 million by current estimates.
It’s a small price to pay to replace a building that is too old and outdated for the needs of JEA’s booming (and well-compensated) C-suite.
Seas on the rise
Northeast Florida continues to grapple with sea-level rise, and to that end, some area Mayors were in DC this week for a summit on the subject.
As Action News Jax reported, Neptune Beach and St. Augustine’s chief executives made the trip to the Nation’s Capital.
In fact, St. Augustine’s current and most recent past mayors made the trip.
“It really is an opportunity to rethink the design of our cities and to not only protect what is wonderful and precious but really build upon it and re-imagine it for the next generation,” current St. Augustine Mayor Tracy Upchurch said.
Local business owners, such as the owner of the St. Augustine Distillery, hope for a solution to sea-level rise that doesn’t involve them and others moving their businesses to less flood-prone areas.
Curry didn’t make the trip due to a scheduling conflict.
The gripping jurisdictional battle between the Duval County School Board and the city of Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel continued in a courtroom this week, per First Coast News.
At issue is whether DCPS, as one of the consolidated government’s independent authorities, has the right to counsel outside of the OGC.
DCPS has militated for a school sales tax referendum this year, but the Jacksonville City Council wouldn’t authorize it.
The courtroom discussion will not change that, per the board chair.
“Right now, it’s just looking at does the School Board have the authority to hire legal counsel,” School Board Chairwoman Lori Hershey said following the hearing. “There was a lot of focus on the city charter and where does the School Board fall within the city charter.”
The city’s position is that DCPS can’t sue the city, as that would be tantamount to the municipality suing itself.
These parties and their argumentation, will be back in court next month.
Regardless of the outcome, any referendum won’t take place until next November.
JAXPORT board hires
The Jacksonville Port Authority has a new board member, while a current member earned another four-year term.
The new blood: Daniel Bean, a Jacksonville lawyer, is a partner at Abel Bean Law.
Among that firm’s specialties: general counsel services for small and medium-sized businesses.
Before that, Bean was with Holland and Knight.
Bean had 25 years in the Navy, ending in 2012. His bachelor’s degree was from Vanderbilt; he got his law degree at the University of San Diego.
The reappointment: Ed Fleming.
Per the Governor’s Office: “Fleming, of Jacksonville, retired in 2010 as CEO and President of Atlantic Marine, after a 32-year career in the maritime industry. He was a founding board member of the Jacksonville Marine Transportation Exchange and served on the Jacksonville Waterways Commission for eight years, in addition to consulting in the industry. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Jacksonville University. He is reappointed to a four-year term.”
Clean Fuels Summit
Learn how clean fuels move people and goods to power our economy! Join the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization next month to learn more about clean fuels and buses in the VW Settlement Era; how clean fuels are powering the logistics industry; and the state of electric transportation in Florida!
Scheduled speakers include James Bennett of JAXPORT, Horatio Cervantes of TECO Peoples Gas, Mark Denton of Blossman Gas and Alexander Traversa of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, among others.
The 2019 North Florida Clean Fuels Summit is Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon Eastern time, at the UNF Adam W. Herbert University Center, 12000 Alumni Drive in Jacksonville. For more information, contact Wanda Forrest, North Florida TPO, (904) 306-7514, firstname.lastname@example.org or register here.
Marty Fiorentino, president of The Fiorentino Group, was featured in Piledriver Magazine, talking about the importance of political activism for business owners; they ignore government affairs “at their own risk.”
“It’s important not only to stay aware of and on top of regulations, but to also be part of the process and part of the policy discussions,” said Fiorentino.
Piledriver Magazine is the publication of the Pile Driving Contractors Association, the group that advocates the increased use of driven piles for deep foundations and earth retention systems.
“There’s a reason Amazon, GE and some of the largest companies in the world of Washington offices, and government relations department at the federal, state and local level,” Fiorentino added. “These companies recognize the importance of participating in the government process because of the negative impact it could have on their companies if they don’t.”
Fiorentino also warned about missed opportunities to influence policy, using the pharmaceutical industry as an example.
“I’m sure there are reasons certain drugs are very expensive,” he said. “You have to tell a story about why you feel your position is correct.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis is appointing Michelle Bedoya Barnett to a vacancy on the Jacksonville Aviation Authority board of directors, replacing Teresa Davlantes, whose second term on the board expired this month. Curry also reappointed Jay Demetree, who most recently served as board chairman, for a second four-year term on the JAA board.
Barnett is an attorney and a founding shareholder with Alexander, DeGance, Barnett, P.A. Previously, she spent six years with the law firm of Holland & Knight. She has served on the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Board of Governors since 2014 and currently serves as president-elect of the Jacksonville Bar Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Florida and her juris doctorate from Vanderbilt Law School. Barnett’s appointment is for a four-year term.
Demetree is president and CEO of Demetree Brothers, Inc., a leading full-service real estate developer and property manager based in Jacksonville, serving clients throughout Florida and the Southeast. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management.
Barnett’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate; Demetree’s reappointment is subject to approval by City Council.
Hall of Fame-bound
A Jacksonville Jaguars fixture is on the shortlist for the Mascot Hall of Fame.
Jaxson D’Ville, the do-it-all mascot for the Jags for a quarter-century (most of that run via Curtis Dvorak), is up for nomination.
Here’s the pitch:
“Jaxson de Ville is in his 24th season as the Jaguars mascot after originally being discovered as a stray during the construction of TIAA Bank Field in the mid-90s. He made his mascot debut Aug. 18, 1996, and now weighs in at a very slim and sleek 403 pounds and 8.5 paws tall. He has never seen action in an NFL-sanctioned game, despite multiple attempts to enter the field of play, but has dominated several talented 10-year-olds in halftime Pop Warner contests.
“Jaxson de Ville ranks No. 1 in NFL history in career bungee jumps and zip lines, records that will undoubtedly go untouched forever (until another team is a copycat). He has been invited to multiple Pro Bowls and has taken his fame international with annual appearances at Wembley Stadium in London as part of the NFL International Series. His career achievements include thousands of charity appearances, highlighted by global military tours to Greenland, Egypt, Kuwait and Bahrain. Since the Jaguars introduced spas to TIAA Bank Field in 2014, Jaxson has posted a league-leading 17 victory celebratory belly flops, including a career-high six belly flops in 2017, the most in a single season by any mascot since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.”
In addition to Jaguars football, the Athens Herald reports optimistic news regarding extending the term of Florida/Georgia football games in Jacksonville.
The deal currently runs through 2021, but a re-up could be announced as early as “next week,” per a spox for Curry.
Georgia makes $3.7 million more per year from the neutral site game with Florida.
However, on-campus games are said to be a showcase for the programs.
Coach Kirby Smart could take it or leave it when it comes to a Jacksonville game.
“I look at it from a perspective of 10,000 feet where I say: What is best for our program?” he said. “And it’s that simple. And we’ll make that decision as a group and go with it.”
The game is here Nov. 2, as it has been for all but two years since 1933.
Foles nearing return
Since bursting onto the scene in the first half of the first game, quarterback Gardner Minshew captured the imagination and the hopes of Jaguars fans. While Jalen Ramsey could not wait to get out of town, Minshew took full advantage of the chance provided by the injury to Nick Foles to create “Minshew mania.”
The Jaguars’ offense clicked as they split his first four games. After the defense let them down in a disappointing loss to the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints made nearly everyone on the offense look like rookies in a 13-6 defeat.
Minshew completed only 14 of 29 passes and a 16.2 quarterback rating against a stout Saints’ defense. Despite a 27-17 win Sunday in Cincinnati, the sixth-round pick from Washington State was limited to 15 of 32 passing and 33.6 quarterback rating.
Perhaps the mania is fading, but he did lead a fourth-quarter drive to put away the winless Bengals. With Foles returning to practice this week, his return to game action appears to be on schedule for a Week 11 return against Indianapolis.
At the same time, Head Coach Doug Marrone is not going to rush him back into action. He is also not going to let Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract this year, sit on the bench when he is ready.
“We will be smart this week, and we will see how it progresses,” Marrone was quoted by SI’s John Shipley. “But we have a pretty good plan. He will probably throw scout team, seven-on-seven, do a lot of work on the side getting himself ready and then kind of see where he is at and increasing it as we go.”
The Jaguars host the New York Jets Sunday at TIAA before heading to London for a rematch with the Houston Texans, who escaped with a 13-12 victory in the season’s second game. Some big numbers from Minshew could create talk of a quarterback controversy but expect Foles to return Nov. 17 after the bye week.