Jacksonville Bold for 12.8.21: Saving Christmas?

Big ship and santa claus
Is it time to start calling him "DeSanta?"

Saving Christmas?

Should we start calling him “DeSanta?”

Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis came to JAXPORT to spotlight the contrast between the local capacity to receive cargo and jammed ports on the West Coast.

“We are going to make sure Americans get their Christmas gifts this season,” DeSantis promised.

Is “DeSanta” making Christmas dreams come true? Sort of. Image via EOG.

Some may have mocked the call for transnational companies to take a side trip through the Panama Canal and bring their cargo here, but the evidence is mounting that JAXPORT and others will benefit from supply chain issues elsewhere.

AGX Freight COO Ike Sherlock told First Coast News that companies are starting to diversify destinations for cargo, perhaps as hedges against supply chain problems.

“What we are seeing is large shippers especially start to hedge their bets,” Sherlock explained. “If they shipped 80% of their cargo to the West Coast and 20% of their cargo to the East Coast in the past, now they’re going to be shipping 60/40.”

But will that save Christmas?

Sherlock says that consumers will “get everything they need for Christmas but will probably not be able to get everything they want.”

So, sort of.

The Governor’s 2024 prospects are a matter of constant speculation. But for his 2022 re-election — something that few are doubting statewide — there could be challenges, especially in urban markets.

Duval County went for Andrew Gillum in 2018. Could JAXPORT help avoid a repeat in 2022?

To placate base voters, DeSantis is hitting several hot-button culture war issues; he must also balance that with effective governing.

Suppose the Governor can make these temporary arrangements permanent. In that case, DeSantis will have a real economic issue to run on — something more traditional than the constant COVID-19 battles with the Joe Biden administration.

Parents’ rights

The Parents’ Bill of Rights signed into law this year continues to evolve, as evidenced by new legislation filed by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley.

Jennifer Bradley to bolster the Parents’ Bill of Rights. Image via Colin Hackley.

SB 1114 addresses emergency care for minors, removing statutory language that only allowed for treatment of minors without parental consent to happen in a hospital or “pre-hospital setting.”

“This bill is a clarification of the recently enacted parents’ Bill of Rights,” Bradley explained last week, “and specifically addresses when physicians may provide health care services to a minor without parental consent.”

There is genuine doubt among Florida physicians whether current law preserves common law and statutory immunities concerning emergency medical aid outside the hospital setting.

“Our physicians shouldn’t fear breaking the law when stepping in to treat a child whose health is endangered,” Bradley added.

Rep. Ralph Massullo is carrying the House companion.

Checking out

The 2023 race for Jacksonville Mayor is losing another declared candidate.

Jacksonville Urban League President Richard Danford withdrew, he confirmed Monday.

Richard Danforth hangs it up. Image via Richard Danford.

In October, Danford launched a message-driven campaign as an independent, intending to improve neighborhood access to City Hall.

However, that effort won’t pan out.

Danford promised that he’d tell Florida Politics more about what led to his decision at some point soon.

Danford is the second declared candidate to drop his mayoral bid this month. After months of sluggish fundraising, Republican City Council member Matt Carlucci abandoned his campaign last week.

There are four active candidates: Democrat Donna Deegan, Republican Al Ferraro, NPA candidates Omega Allen and Darcy Richardson.

But the money seems to be with pre-candidates.

Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Cumber’s JAX First Committee raised $1.2 million through October, while Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis‘ Building a Better Economy political committee had nearly $3 million on hand through October.

New filings are due from each committee this week.

Money for nothing?

Democrat Tracye Polson finished just ahead of Republican Nick Howland in Tuesday’s First Election to fill the rest of Tommy Hazouri’s City Council term.

ROI: Big-spending, small returns for Trayce Polson?

With all precincts in, Polson took first place with 28,692 votes, followed by Howland with 28,366 in a close second place. Polson had 36.5% of the vote, while Howland had 36.08%.

Polson spent at least $300,000, with $176,000 of it her own money, in what seemed to be an effort to close it out Tuesday. But the main effect appears to have been to neutralize complaints from Polson partisans that Howland got too many checks from political committees.

Meanwhile, the other Democrat in the race isn’t thrilled. In a sarcastic Facebook post, James Jacobs posted a “congratulations” to various Democratic elected officials who endorsed Polson, such as Sen. Audrey Gibson, Reps. Tracie Davis, Angie Nixon, and City Council member Garrett Dennis.

“I would have rather (gone) against Polson on her own merit rather than her receiving elected officials’ help to defeat a local coach,” Jacobs asserted.

Jacobs finished fourth, but it’s where he got his votes that presents a problem for Polson. On a shoestring budget, he carried 11 precincts in heavily Black Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10. These districts are Democratic hotbeds, and after spending $300,000, Polson hasn’t figured out how to compete in them.

There’s a lot of time before the Feb. 22 General Election, but momentum is with Howland. He will benefit from a unified Republican Party, a Mayor who wants to prove he’s still politically relevant, and (likely) a Governor who will endorse the Republican winner in a Jacksonville race.

Polson frontloaded her campaign’s narrative, hoping to end it in December. It didn’t pay off.

Council clash?

Carlucci has made it official. He filed for re-election to his at-large Jacksonville City Council seat.

And with that, he creates a political problem for another candidate: Republican Morgan Roberts, who filed for the seat after Carlucci launched his brief campaign for Mayor.

Morgan Roberts faces a sudden political hurdle. Image via Morgan Roberts.

Carlucci won his race in 2019 with 71.5% of the vote and raised nearly a million dollars for the mayoral race.

So, what does Roberts do?

We reached out Monday to Roberts and her political consultant, Tim Baker, to see the plan. Roberts raised just over $100,000 during her campaign, significant money against many opponents, but seemingly not as much against the well-known and well-liked Carlucci.

According to Baker, Roberts is not ruling out a run.

“Morgan is committed to serving the people of Jacksonville on the City Council. Her plans will be defined by what is best for the city and her family, not the whims of career politicians looking to stay relevant. Morgan will be a candidate for city council in 2023.”

In play is one potential scenario: Roberts could run for the open District 5 seat, currently held by Republican LeAnna Cumber.

No one has yet filed for that seat, which Cumber won unopposed on the strength of solid fundraising early in her candidacy. Cumber is running for Mayor and not re-election.

Klosterman to TFG

The Fiorentino Group  is adding Margo Klosterman to the team, focusing on health care issues.

Congrats! Margo Klosterman joins TFG.

Klosterman, a principal in the governmental relations and business development firm, will leverage her diverse experience at both the local and federal levels of government.

She joins Fiorentino after an extended stint in the nation’s capital.

Klosterman served as the assistant vice president of Legislative and Political Affairs at Delta Dental Plans Association, the culmination of nearly five years with the company, including promotion from the Director of Legislative and Political Relations role.

Before that, she lobbied for the American Dental Association and served as an outside consultant for hospitals and patient advocacy groups.

In addition to lobbying in D.C., Klosterman also worked on the Hill, with stints for former House Speaker John Boehner and Steve Womack.

Among Klosterman’s state and local work is tenure as the head of Regional Outreach for Rick Scott and a long stint as a City Council liaison for former Mayor Alvin Brown.

That diverse portfolio of experience will guide her role going forward, says TFG Founder and President Marty Fiorentino.

“We are excited that Margo has joined our team. Her unique experience with and knowledge of health care policy will be invaluable to companies and businesses working to navigate this increasingly complex area of government,” he said.

Klosterman is excited to return to Jacksonville.

“I believe it is important to understand how a government policy can have a positive or negative impact on any aspect of a company — not just their primary business focus,” she said in a statement. “I am thrilled to return home to Jacksonville and get to work with the TFG team!”

Price is right?

The Duval County School District building and adjoining land are available now … for the right price.

Mike Mendenhall of the Jacksonville Daily Record has all the details.

“Real estate firm CBRE Inc. released an invitation to negotiate Nov. 30 on behalf of DCPS,” Mendenhall wrote. “It solicits bids for the new headquarters and offers the sale of the office building at 1701 Prudential Drive along the St. Johns River as well as up to three surplus school properties, including the Schultz Center event venue.”

For sale — at the right price.

Mendenhall notes that some of these parcels could be rented back to the district. One scenario envisions a buyer acquiring “the Schultz Center and other DCPS assets in the Midtown Centre Office Park and (leasing) them back to the district for a consolidated administrative campus.”

The appraised value of the current DCPS building is north of $11 million, but much of that is due to its Southbank location, which has definite redevelopment possibilities for a new owner.

On the move

The Jacksonville City Council Redistricting Committee is moving closer to its goal, approving legislation Monday that would determine the contours of its 19 districts for the next decade.

Next, the bill must pass the full City Council. However, expectations are zero that any of them will find a reason to complain about this map, a work product that protects the status quo with few material changes.

Mapping out the status quo?

Largely modeled after the maps adopted after the 2010 census, the new 14-district layout preserves four majority Black districts where Democratic registration is heavily concentrated and creates a map likely to remain predominantly Republican, despite Duval County’s Democratic registration advantage.

Members of the public will weigh in on the maps at three meetings to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

The maps ensure that two incumbents are not running against each other, a priority of the City Council. Of course, it’s doubtful much of the public will agree.

Leapfrog award

Flagler Hospital is receiving national recognition as a premier hospital by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization that examines and ranks hospital performance.

The Leapfrog Top Hospital Award is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive awards in American health care. The Leapfrog Group is known to have the most stringent standards for health care safety and quality.

Flagler Hospital nabs top honors in a new nationwide ranking.

“Our team members have been working tirelessly on the front lines and behind the scenes throughout the pandemic to make this top-tier care possible while overcoming the unique challenges of COVID-19,” said Flagler Health+ President and CEO Jason Barrett. “This level of dedication to quality and safety distinguishes the kind of care that patients can and should expect from Flagler Health+. Our standards are high because that is what our patients deserve, and that’s what we would expect for our own loved ones.”

Leapfrog considered 2,200 hospitals for the award, selecting 149. Flagler Hospital received a Top General Hospital distinction, one of only 46 nationwide.

Flagler’s Top Hospital rankings included:

No. 8 — Top Children’s

No. 46 — Top General

No. 23 — Top Rural

No. 72 — Top Teaching

To qualify for a Top Hospitals distinction, health care facilities must rank top among peers on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, which gauges hospital performance on quality and patient safety.

For the complete list of institutions honored as 2021 Top Hospitals, visit leapfroggroup.org.

Sensory gold

Fleming Island High School junior Lorelei Love is being praised for her innovation as a Girl Scout in designing a sensory room for special needs children at R.C. Bannerman Learning Center in Green Cove Springs.

The room, created to help children relax and cope with emotions in a healthy manner, earned Love the 2021 Gold Award, the highest achievement from the Scouts. Only 12 of the awards are presented every year.

Love first got the idea for the sensory room after spending time with her friend, Chloe.

Lorelei Love and her sensory room grab the gold. Image via Clay Today.

“She’s a family friend, and I’ve known her for years,” Love told Clay Today. “Her mother is friends with a teacher at R.C. Bannerman Learning Center who needed help. Her kids were struggling a lot because they needed to relax because they were feeling overwhelmed, which brought up the idea for the sensory room.”

The room comprises specific items geared toward helping children with special needs such as autism. It helps them verbalize emotions, be more communicative and maintain a sense of calm.

“When a kid with autism is feeling overwhelmed, they have a hard time expressing that they’re feeling overwhelmed,” Love said. “It’s hard for them to tell an adult or their teacher that they’re feeling stressed. So, they’ll then act out with actions and not use their words. So, when they go into the sensory room, it acts as a calming environment, reduces the stress on the child and helps them to feel calm afterward.”

Long road home

Last Sunday, the Jaguars took a long trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams, but it was probably a longer trip back to Jacksonville following their 37-7 blowout loss.

“I wish I had all the answers, and I’d give them to you,” Jags coach Urban Meyer said. “I don’t know the answers other than I know this, that you’re going to keep swinging and keep working together. Is there a confidence issue? Any time you’re not successful, that’s something we’ve got to fight through. Confidence is a result of success, and right now, we’re struggling with that.”

That’s not the only area where the Jags, now 2-10, are struggling.

It was a long road home for the Jaguars. Image via AP.

Their offense has essentially ground to a halt. Jacksonville is averaging only 10 points per game in their last six contests. They scored single digits in three of those games.

The Pacific time zone also doesn’t seem to agree with the Jaguars. They have been outscored 68-14 in two trips out west, including a 31-7 loss at Seattle on Oct. 31.

“I told the players just after the game when you lose, it plays with your mind. You start searching for what’s the answers, what can you do better, what can we do better, and I think that’s where my mindset is right now,” Meyer said.

“What can we do better? We’ve got five more opportunities, and some opportunities, I think, to win some games. There’s no simple answer, or everybody would do it.”

This year was always a significant building project for the Jags, coming off a 1-15 season in 2020. That dubious honor earned them the right to select quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the overall No. 1 selection in the NFL draft.

However, as rookie quarterbacks often do in the NFL, Lawrence has struggled with consistency. Sunday was no exception.

“We have a lot more to offer,” Lawrence said. “If we knew the answer … we would do that.”

Staff Reports


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