Jacksonville Bold for 11.10.21 — Freedom!

Businessman embracing life standing under cloudy sky
'The federal government really pushed us. Some state has to stand up.'

‘Freedom Session’

Sens. Aaron Bean and Travis Hutson will play critical roles in the upcoming Special Session on federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Each lawmaker will be sponsoring one of the four bills in play starting next week in Tallahassee.

The most provocative of the proposals is Hutson’s SB 6B, a direct challenge to federal rule-making authority. It proposes “developing a proposal to withdraw from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues.”

Travis Hutson gets provocative. Image via Colin Hackley.

Legislative leaders see leaving OSHA as a workaround for what they describe as an unconstitutional expansion of the agency’s rule-making.

Rep. Ardian Zika, a Republican from Land O’Lakes, will carry the House companion.

Bean’s SB 8B won’t require any clash with the federal government. It would remove statutory power from any given Surgeon General of Florida to compel vaccinations during any future pandemic. That power has never been exercised.

Bean says he was already drafting the “straight repealer” bill for the Regular Legislative Session, but the timing made it perfect for what he called the “Freedom Session.”

“The federal government really pushed us,” Bean said. “Some state has to stand up.”

Rep. Alex Andrade, a Republican from Pensacola, will carry the House version.

Special Session starts Monday and could last five days.

‘Poor bedside manner’

After spending some time with him recently, Bean has decided on Florida’s current Surgeon General, Dr. Joe Ladapo.

Dr. Joe Ladapo gets support, with reservations. Image via Colin Hackley.

Though he didn’t want to comment a while back when asked if Ladapo should be confirmed by the Senate in the wake of a dispute with a Democratic Senator over wearing a mask in her office, Bean’s on record now as supporting DeSantis’ new SG.

“Maybe he had a poor bedside manner, but I’m still with him,” said Bean, a Republican from Fernandina Beach who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

“It’s unfair to judge him on one episode and say, ‘he’s lost it,’” Bean added, denoting the difficulty of “making the rounds in the Senate.”

DeSantis has stood by Ladapo, contending that concerns over Ladapo not masking up were motivated by politics rather than science.


U.S. Rep. Al Lawson will kick off his reelection campaign next week with a fundraiser in Tallahassee.

The event will be held at the home of Scott and Kay Dick on Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The host committee lists several North Florida elected officials, including state Sen. Loranne Ausley, Reps. Ramon Alexander and Allison Tant, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, former Sen. Bill Montford and John Thrasher, the former House Speaker and FSU President.

Several notable lobbyists and community leaders are also listed, including Ballard Partners founder Brian Ballard, Meenan PA founder Tim Meenan, Rubin Turnbull & Associates managing partner Heather Turnbull and civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

Lawson represents Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which runs from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and includes all of Baker, Gadsden, Hamilton and Madison counties as well as parts of Columbia, Duval, Jefferson and Leon.

Through the end of the third quarter, the third-term Democrat had about $235,000 in the bank.

Republican Jon Chuba and Democrat Jonathan Marc have also filed for the seat, but neither has shown any fundraising traction — Chuba has just $2,550 banked and Marc has $0.

Lawson currently faces little challenge, which could change if new maps make the district more competitive.

If CD 5 remains mostly intact, it will likely remain in Democratic control. Registered Democrats make up 58% of the district’s electorate, compared to a 24% share for Republicans.

The partisan split translated to a 65%-35% win for Lawson in his 2020 reelection bid.

Rising star

U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack represents Florida’s 3rd Congressional District in Clay County and areas south and west. She continues to emerge as a pivot person for Republican messaging during the Joe Biden administration.

Cammack, the youngest Republican woman in Congress, showed veteran presence in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner blasting what she describes as “cradle to grave” socialism from the Biden administration.

Kat Cammack’s stock keeps rising. Image via Facebook.

“For almost two months, there has not been a day without reference to the Biden administration’s unilateral action to put the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on track to cost taxpayers in excess of $1 trillion,” Cammack writes. “The press and its inside-the-Beltway, pro-poverty advocates curated a delicate and coordinated effort to ensure that people applaud this administration rather than question it. That appears to be the Biden way across myriad issues, including the crumbling supply chain, vaccine mandates, and our fledgling foreign policy.”

Food benefits, suggests Cammack, are just a way of expanding the state.

“Big government thrives on expansion, which ultimately requires the people to become dependent on it. What better way than with three meals a day?” she writes.

Cammack’s op-ed received kudos from at least one corner of the Republican caucus.

Welcome to the club

Former Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Rafael Borrás is coming to the Flagler Tiger Bay Club next week.

Borrás was appointed to his former position during the Obama administration and served from 2010 through 2014. He was also appointed by the President to serve as Acting Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of DHS in September 2013.

As Undersecretary, he oversaw DHS’s $60 billion budget and administered the $19 billion in procurement as the DHS Chief Acquisition Officer.

He now works as the president and CEO of the Homeland Security and Defense Business Council, leading an association of industry-leading firms supporting the homeland security sector of the federal government.

Rafael Borrás jumps into the Tiger’s Den. Image via AP.

“Former Undersecretary Rafael Borrás is the highest-ranking former federal official to ever speak at Flagler Tiger Bay Club,” said club president Greg Davis.

“Currently as CEO of the Homeland Security and Defense Business Council, he remains highly engaged in homeland security challenges, issues, policy, industry and government insight, best practices, and industry and government thought leadership. Mr. Borrás will be sharing his thoughts on domestic and international homeland security terrorism challenges and possible nexuses. This is going to be a highly informative program from a government and industry perspective.”

Borrás will be at the Flagler Tiger Bay November meeting on Nov. 17 from noon to 1 p.m. The event will be at Channel Side, 1 Yacht Club Drive in Palm Coast. Tickets are $40, or $35 for club members.

Renner speaks

Speaker-designate Paul Renner did a long-form interview to kick off the House Majority podcast series, in which he gave some thoughts in a friendly forum.

This half-hour chat offers insights galore for those seeking a window into the Palm Coast Republican’s mindset as Legislative Session approaches.

On the 2020 election results, Renner noted that $13 million in out-of-state Democratic money coursed in to attack the Republican majority, yet five seats went Democrat-to-Republican. Four of those new legislators were women, Renner noted.

Renner expressed concerns about the more significant fiscal trajectory.

“Every dollar is borrowed,” Renner said, bemoaning “newly-printed money, indebting and bankrupting our country as we go.”

Renner also described the Republican surge in the state in context of people “fleeing” states like California “almost like political refugees,” saying he was confident Florida could stay conservative even as the state grows.

To watch the interview, click on the image below:

Duggan challenged

A rematch of a 2020 race that wasn’t particularly competitive could happen in House District 15.

Last month, Democrat Tammyette Thomas launched her second campaign to unseat incumbent Rep. Wyman Duggan.

Tammyette Thomas takes another shot at unseating Wyman Duggan. Image via Thomas campaign.

Democrats have a plurality in the Westside Jacksonville district, with more than 46,000 registered voters as of the final registration ahead of the 2020 election. Despite holding an advantage in registered voters of more than 3,000, Duggan won in 2020 by roughly 7 percentage points.

The district is getting more purple though, at least as it is currently mapped. But those dynamics didn’t translate for Thomas in 2020. She lacked the resources to get her message out. 2022 will see her start off with yet another resource disparity.

Duggan had not reported his fundraising efforts for October, but through September, he had roughly $32,000 in his campaign account. His political committee, Citizens for Building Florida’s Future, had roughly $75,000 on hand.

Expect fundraising to ramp up. Duggan is a rising star in the Republican caucus. Redistricting is also underway, but with Duggan ally Rep. Cord Byrd helming the legislative map process, it would seem Thomas has more to worry about than the incumbent.

Stay tuned

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry gave Gov. Ron DeSantis a vote of confidence Monday night.

DeSantis appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, vowing action against “contractors” who are flying undocumented immigrants to Jacksonville and other places in Florida and leaving them. One of them has been accused of a machete murder of a person who gave him a place to stay.

Lenny Curry pivots from football to watch Tucker Carlson. That’s saying something.

“If Biden had not been doing that, if he had been doing his job, that individual would be alive today,” DeSantis said Monday.

Soon after the segment, Curry gave DeSantis props, though without suggesting he’d turned off the Monday Night Football game to watch Fox News: “Planes dropping off those that have crossed our borders illegally in the dead of night violates the rule of law. I have been working with @GovRonDeSantis to stop this recklessness. Spoke with Gov on this again today.”

DeSantis may want to stop the “recklessness,” but his options appear limited. On the Fox News hit, he suggested increasing taxes on the contractors and barring them from doing business with the state of Florida. He previously said he’d consider an executive order, while urging legislative action.

Meanwhile, Curry found himself critiqued heavily on Twitter for his trouble.

“Figure out recycling first and then move onto the fake emergency world,” advised one critic.

Moving up

The Curry administration is promoting from within yet again, choosing Rachel Zimmer as the new Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. She had been the deputy director in that role, and before that, she served as an intergovernmental affairs liaison.

This move continues the staffing shuffle in Curry’s office of late, with Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury leaving on Friday, and with current Intergovernmental Affairs Director Leeann Krieg replacing him.

Krieg endorses Zimmer’s promotion.

“Rachel’s dedication to the citizens of Jacksonville is second to none,” Krieg said. “Rachel has risen through the ranks of local government and it’s with great pleasure that we announce her expanded role. I’m extremely confident in her continued success and there is no one better to fill this position.”

With Curry’s time in office ending in less than 20 months, expect a few more such moves. The biggest name to watch is still Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes, who may run for City Council in 2023, a move that would necessitate him resigning ahead of any such campaign.

Deegan launches

Democrat Donna Deegan launched her campaign for Mayor this week, joining a Republican-heavy field as the first Democratic candidate since former Mayor Alvin Brown lost his reelection bid in 2015.

Donna Deegan makes it official. Image via campaign.

The candidate kicked off with a media tour Tuesday, with favorable coverage on public radio and broadcast outlets. She gave a kickoff speech at the iconic Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Springfield, and the soaring oratory was new to Jacksonville politics.

“There is nothing ailing Jacksonville that political will can’t fix. We have every natural advantage we need to be a top tier city. One where our children and grandchildren will want to live. We suffer not so much from a poverty of wealth but from a poverty of will and imagination. That’s why we need a change in leadership. Change for good. Change that is lasting. Change that works for everyone in Jacksonville,” Deegan contended.

Fundraising has not been robust. Through September, Deegan’s political committee had raised $177,000 in three months. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly what Republican City Councilman Al Ferraro has on hand, and is roughly a fifth of what LeAnna Cumber and Matt Carlucci have raised. And it matches a typical month for the political committee of Daniel Davis, quickly closing in on a $3 million nest egg.

Deegan dismisses worries about fundraising, saying on WJCT it would “look a little different” than Republican candidates, and that her appeal would be to the “grassroots.”

This will be a long campaign, and 2019 mayoral candidate Anna Brosche offered an illustrative example of what can happen to a campaign losing the fundraising battle. No matter how friendly the earned media, the narrative inevitably goes sour when fundraising is as lopsided as it appears right now.

Money moves

With less than 30 days until the Dec. 7 First Election in the race to fill what’s left of the late Tommy Hazouri‘s term on the Jacksonville City Council, fundraising is the big story in the four-candidate field.

Democrat Tracye Polson has raised $146,290 through the first reporting period ending Oct. 31, 2021. That sum came from 325 contributions, per Polson’s campaign.

Republican Nick Howland looks to be a strong second in the first fundraising reports of this race, raising $85,531 between his campaign and his Florida Freedom PAC political committee, according to a source with his campaign.

The top two money movers in the Jacksonville City Council Special Election.

Polson and Howland have gotten the bulk of endorsements in the race.

Polson ran for state House in 2018, and her endorsements reflect a track record as a viable candidate. The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, the National Organization for Women, Sen. Audrey Gibson, Reps. Tracie Davis and Angie Nixon, City Council member Garrett Dennis, and School Board member Warren Jones have all endorsed her.

The Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS and the Northeast Florida Builders Association endorsed Howland, the executive director of the Fire Watch group.

Law enforcement backs him too, including Jacksonville’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, Sheriff Mike Williams and former Sheriff and current U.S. Rep. John Rutherford. A half dozen Republicans currently on the City Council have also endorsed.

Two other candidates are running also: Republican “Howdy” Russell has been endorsed by former Jacksonville City Council members Don Redman and Matt Schellenberg. He has yet to report fundraising.

Democrat James “Coach” Jacobs has run before and continues to be lean on endorsements and cash. Jacobs, at last count, had raised $740, a number that includes money he’d raised in the preceding months for what was expected, before Hazouri’s death, to be a 2023 campaign.

The top two finishers will advance from the Dec. 7 First Election to the General Election on Feb. 22, assuming no one gets a simple majority next month.

Holland haul

Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland continues to get donations from the kinds of establishment names, suggesting he has real support in 2023 when he runs again for Duval County Supervisor of Elections.

In his second month as the only candidate in the SOE race, Holland crossed $125,000 raised, bringing in a little more than $11,000. Among the donors are former Jaguars’ owner Wayne Weaver, the Rummell Company, and Peter Sleiman Development Group.

Holland put in $100,000 of his own money upon launch, boosting his figure.

Is Jerry Holland getting real support? Fundraising suggests it.

Yet politicians of a certain age are donating to him also. Veteran Republicans like Jacksonville City Council member Matt Carlucci and former Rep. Lake Ray gave him money last month.

This month, Council member Danny Becton, who is running for Holland’s current position as Property Appraiser, donated to Holland’s campaign for Elections Supervisor.

Holland hasn’t faced a serious challenge in years at the polls. He won in 2019 with 66% of the vote against one Democratic opponent.

It will be interesting to see if he draws an opponent this time around, given he is playing an active role in backing 2023 candidates, many of whom don’t align with Mayor Lenny Curry’s political philosophy or preferences.

Say cheese!

Those looking to help the First Coast Cultural Center have a merry Christmas should book a photo session.

The center next month will offer family and individual portrait packages via Orange Park-based photographer Osmeri Mancebo to donors — packages range from $299 to $449, with an additional $25 fee for each person to get in front of the lens. Proceeds will benefit the First Coast Cultural Center educational programs for children.

Don’t do it yourself; turn to a pro.

“We are pleased to bring the renowned photographic work with Osmeri to the First Coast Cultural Center. The holiday fundraiser is a favorite for locals and visitors,” First Coast Cultural Center Executive Director Donna Guzzo said.

She said Mancebo is best known for her work in natural and relaxed environments, and her goal is to let the family’s or individual’s story unfold in front of the camera. Examples of her work, as well as background and set options, are available online.

“I am super excited to be part of this amazing project. As a local photographer and artist, I take special interest to support the First Coast Cultural Center, as I strongly believe it is making a huge difference in our community, especially with children,” Mancebo said. “This fundraiser brings me personal happiness and gratitude.

Photo sessions may be booked for Dec. 5 from 12- 5 p.m. and Dec. 13 from 1-8 p.m. at Care Connect+, located inside the Flagler Health+ Village at Nocatee, 351 Town Center Plaza, Suite 205 in Nocatee, Ponte Vedra. Photo sessions may also be booked for Dec. 16 from 3-8 p.m., Dec. 17 from 2-6 p.m. and Dec. 18 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at First Coast Cultural Center’s Jacksonville Beach location, 3972 3rd Street South.

For more information, contact Callie Johnson via [email protected] or (904) 280-0614, extension 1202.

Holiday cheer

If you need a Christmas spirit boost, head to Fernandina Beach.

Dating reviews website MyDatingAdviser.com ranked the 152 best Christmas towns in the USA and Nassau’s County Seat is the most Christmassy place in the Sunshine State.

The ranking considered metrics such as festive activities, weather, dining, hotels, transport and other key ingredients for a merry Christmas. With a little Christmas magic, MyDatingAdviser.com condensed reams of data into a ‘Christmas Town Index Score.’

The Christmas game is strong in Fernandina Beach.

Fernandina Beach earned a 61 by excelling in traditional fare, such as readily available hot cocoa, plenty of shopping, and of course, Christmas lights.

The ranking described Fernandina Beach as a fit for those who don’t need snow to have the perfect Christmas.

“While the holidays have been a bit different because of the pandemic, the town is still promising ‘plenty of holiday cheer and merriment with re-imagined events,’” MyDatingAdviser.com said. “The Christmas activities include an annual holiday home tour Dec. 4-5 during which historic downtown homes are decorated for the season and opened to the public, a St. Nick Meet & Greet, and horse and carriage rides.”

St. Augustine wasn’t far behind, earning the No. 40 spot for being “downright festive” during the holiday season.

“Lights, candles, and Christmas décor are sprinkled throughout the town throughout the entire holiday season — and best of all, you don’t have to wear a coat to get out and enjoy it all,” the ranking said.

Assignment editors

Patriot Place will be honored with a flag-raising ceremony next week, a tribute to the forthcoming six-unit housing and support facility for homeless veterans in Northeast Florida.

Scheduled to open in early 2022, Patriot Place is a partnership between Flagler Health+ and the St. Johns Housing Partnership, offering housing solutions for local veterans in need, along with wrap-around services, peer support and life skill development.

The flag-raising is 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 79 Masters Drive, St. Augustine.

After the ceremony is a brief program of speakers from Flagler Health+, the St. Johns Housing Partnership and the armed forces.

Scouts give back

October was a special month for Girl Scouts in Northeast Florida.

Last week, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council celebrated Founder’s Day — the birthday of Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low — with a day of service.

The inaugural Great Give Back Founder’s Day Celebration called on thousands of Girl Scouts across the region to take part in a service project for their local communities.

Throughout the celebration, the Council worked with Hart Felt Ministries, Jacksonville Humane Society, Children’s Home Society, Food for Thought, Birthday Party Inc., and the Salvation Army to provide in-person and virtual opportunities for Girl Scouts to give back to the community.

“’Putting yourself in another’s place requires real imagination, but by doing so each Girl Scout will be able to love among others happily,’ is a favorite quote of mine by our founder, Juliette Gordon Low,” said Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs. “Giving back to the community is a long-standing tradition here at Girl Scouts. As girls look for meaningful ways to contribute to their community, the Girl Scout program can help sharpen their problem-solving skills and expand their definition of philanthropy by discussing community service and Take Action projects.”

For November, Jacobs encourages everyone to support Girl Scouts this year. On Nov. 30, the Council will participate in Giving Tuesday, a Global Day of Unity and giving. You can start investing in girls’ success by clicking on the image below:

Contributions will provide opportunities for girls to discover unique leadership skills, connect with communities and take action to make the world a better place.

Building Girl Peers

This month, the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council focuses on youth mental health and education about issues such as addiction, depression, eating disorders and more.

On Nov. 29, the Council is hosting Building Girl Peer Advocates, a free program that uses youth mental health as a first-aid tool to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and others on ways to help an adolescent (aged 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge or is in crisis.

Girl Scouts put a priority on good mental health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, girls ages 12 to 17 have been identified to be the highest at risk of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Advocates program introduces common mental health challenges for youth, looks at typical adolescent development and offers a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Topics include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council’s Building Girl Peer Advocates Program is Thursday, Nov. 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Historic Springfield Community Learning Center, 1601 N Main St. (Second Floor) in Jacksonville.

Support for the program comes from The Partnership: For Mental Health.

Registration is available now by clicking here.

Future of logistics

Atlantic Logistics CEO Rob Hooper Jr. and his mother Evie Hooper, founder of the company, announced a $20,000 gift to the non-endowed scholarship fund at Florida State College at Jacksonville Foundation.

A formal check presentation was held on Nov. 8 at FSCJ’s downtown Jacksonville campus with the Hoopers and FSCJ College President Dr. John Avendano to establish the Atlantic Logistics’ Scholarship Fund.

The fund will focus on providing financial aid to current or future FSCJ students who are enrolled in the Logistics and Transportation Specialist Technical Certificate Program or the Supply Chain Management Associate in Science Degree program.

Atlantic Logistics gives to support students in the field.

In the absence of a sufficient number of eligible candidates, students can be enrolled in the Logistics Bachelor of Applied Science Degree Program.

Candidates awarded scholarship funding must meet grade-point average requirements and follow FSCJ regulations, rules, and codes of conduct, among other requirements. The funds may be used for tuition, books, class and lab fees, and supplies. Atlantic Logistics and the college will choose finalists and with preference given to FSCJ students who are enrolled in internships or co-op programs with Atlantic Logistics.

“A major priority for us as a business is helping grow our local industry’s workforce and assist individuals who want to learn about starting a career in the dynamic field of logistics,” said Rob Hooper, Jr. “Partnering with the FSCJ Foundation to fund opportunities for logistics and supply chain students, felt like the perfect fit for us as a company. We’re looking forward to meeting these students, who could become future employees.”

Atlantic Logistics, headquartered in Mandarin, has grown into a logistics powerhouse in the 20 years since it was founded. In 2020, it moved 24,900 loads and generated $24.5 million in total revenue — both company bests.

The company is directing questions about its charitable giving program and the new FSCJ scholarship to Marketing and Communications Director James Crichlow, who can be reached by phone at 904-886-3532 or email [email protected].


The Jaguars sent shock waves through the National Football League by knocking off Buffalo 9-6 at TIAA Bank Field with a defensive effort that throttled one of the top offensive teams in pro football.

But while the league and most fans might have been stunned by the result, Jags Coach Urban Meyer was not.

“That’s a great locker room,” he said. “I’ve been saying that all year long. We’ve had some close games. We stuck together and we just beat one of the best teams in the NFL. I’ll fight for that locker room. I believe in that locker room.

The Jaguars pull off a shocker. Image via AP.

“If someone has something negative to say about the locker room, they’re incorrect.”

The Jags have won two of their last three games since breaking a 20-game losing streak.

The Bills entered the game as the NFL’s highest-scoring offense but were held to two field goals and 301 total yards. The Jags intercepted high-flying Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen two times and recorded four sacks.

“The great defense piece is what saves the day,” Meyer said. “When you have injuries on offense, you have a young quarterback, you have this, you have that, great defense is how you win games and how you complement each other, and I thought today was a perfect example of that.”

They don’t get much time to enjoy the win, however.

The Jags travel to Indianapolis Sunday and will face another potent offense. The Colts are led by running back Jonathan Taylor, who has 825 rushing yards already this season, including 172 against the Jets in his last game.

In two games against the Jaguars, Taylor has averaged 137 yards per game.

Staff Reports


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