Jacksonville Bold for 12.15.21: Movers and shakers

Movers and Shakers symbol. Businessman hand turns cubes and changes the word 'shakers' to 'movers'. Beautiful white background. Business and Movers and Shakers concept. Copy space.
Will a Four Seasons help Jacksonville regain its mojo?

Movers and shakers

We weren’t on the Kismet guest list when Jaguars owner Shad Khan complained about Jacksonville to local media this week.

But we are familiar with his complaint.

At one time, Khan said a “homeless guy in Detroit has more mojo than a millionaire in Jacksonville.”

After a decade of on-field failures, the Jaguars’ owner is now suggesting a Four Seasons hotel may offer the catalyst Duval needs with “movers and shakers.”

Shad Khan offers a familiar complaint about Jacksonville.

“Those residences are going to be more exclusive than the NFL. We already have a bunch of people who want them. We want the movers and shakers to buy those who can make a difference in Jacksonville,” Khan promises, the Jacksonville Business Journal reports.

The implication is that the current crop of movers and shakers have not moved the needle thus far, a familiar line of argument from Khan.

“Downtown has, in the 10 years I have been here, absolutely hasn’t progressed,” Khan said. “It’s gone downhill.”

“There is a vacuum here,” Khan added. And to fill that vacuum, he suggests the Four Seasons hotel will be the move to imbue “self-confidence” into the city.

Does he have a point?

Recall when the 2020 Republican National Convention was heading to Jacksonville, much of the action would have been in Fernandina Beach, where top donors would be staying.

Jacksonville’s downtown hotels are throwbacks to a bygone era, so a Four Seasons definitely offers a contrast. But Khan’s view is not as a resident, but as a global citizen. He’s proven capable of cutting deals with the last two mayors, but he clearly hasn’t seen the importance of being part of the community in the way the Weavers have been.

And that’s his prerogative. It’s different from the Weavers’ era. The NFL is different. There is one constant, though: Jacksonville’s unceasing desire for what Khan calls “self-confidence” and the perpetual feeling that the city never quite has it.

Will the Four Seasons finally be a turning point?

Bradley bounce

Sen. Jennifer Bradley continues her strong fundraising efforts for her November re-election campaign.

Last month, the Fleming Island Republican ended with nearly half a million dollars on hand, raising $70,000 in October between her political committee and campaign account.

Jennifer Bradley keeps rolling along. Image via Colin Hackley.

The $24,500 Bradley raised to her re-election account was the most substantial haul since it opened in December 2020. Health care industry interests dominated the fundraising report, with the Florida Medical Association PAC among those that gave $1,000, the maximum allowed by law.

Bradley has nearly $97,000 in hard money. She also has almost $400,000 in her political committee, Women Building the Future, after raising $46,500 in November. Donors of note included Duke Energy, the Seminole Tribe and the GEO Group.

Organ opprobrium

A House Memorial bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer that would urge the President and Congress to condemn the People’s Republic of China for “forcibly removing human organs for transplant” is moving through the Florida House.

This week, the legislation was referred to its first of two committees. The Health and Human Services Committee will be the first to take it up. Should it clear that stop, Judiciary will be its final hearing before the House floor.

Jason Fischer urges Florida to take China to task for organ harvesting.

Republican David Borrero and Democrat Michael Gottlieb are co-introducers of the legislation.

The memorial contends the Chinese government has made a practice of harvesting organs from a spectrum of subjugated “prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan Buddhists, House Church Christians and the Uyghurs.”

These organs are then sold commercially, with people traveling to the country for transplants.

Slow start

In 2020, state Rep. Angie Nixon was able to amass strong fundraising as she unseated former Rep. Kim Daniels in the Democratic Primary in HD 14. But thus far in the 2022 cycle, Nixon has kept fundraising in low gear.

November’s fundraising report was her second for this election, and a second that showed the candidate raising a little more than $6,000. The $6,115 haul brought Nixon to $12,310 raised, with less than $11,000 of that on hand.

Angie Nixon’s fundraising is in low gear, so far.

November Nixon donors were not from her district, by and large. Two $1,000 checks came from beer distribution interests. Former Jacksonville City Council candidate Jimmy Peluso also gave Nixon a $1,000 check.

Depending on which of the two draft maps under consideration is adopted, Nixon may be in HD 14 again or in HD 13. She will want a strong month of fundraising before the Legislative Session begins in January, as she won’t be able to fundraise again until after Sine Die in March. By then, we will have clarity on what map applies and who might be willing to challenge an incumbent who didn’t fundraise when it was possible.

Brandon bump

While new maps in 2022 will almost certainly scramble the landscape in what is now HD 16, one of two filed candidates continues to fundraise while the other does not.

Rogers Towers lawyer Adam Brandon raised $7,100 in November between his campaign account and his Genuine Conservatives political committee. The Florida Bankers Association and Next Era PAC were among the contributors to the campaign account. He has roughly $130,000 on hand.

Adam Brandon continues to raise money, even as he faces redistricting, and perhaps a new race.

Brandon has one opponent, whose campaign seems to be in stasis. Duval County School Board member Lori Hershey reported no financial activity to her campaign account in November, which has raised roughly $4,000 in the last three months. Her political committee hasn’t raised money since June.

Brandon intends to run somewhere this cycle. He had already moved to the HD 16 race from the HD 12 primary.

But if he is drawn into HD 12 again, he could oppose Wyman Duggan, the incumbent from what is now HD 15, who looks likely to be in 12. Duggan, like Brandon, is with Rogers Towers, so we are not betting that they run against each other.

Sheriff scramble

Momentum continues to move toward two candidates in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s race.

Democrat Lakesha Burton continues to hold the overall cash on hand lead with nearly $730,000 on hand, and she added more than $28,000 to her total in November. Her political committee (Make Every Voice Count) collected $20,000 of that sum, while her campaign account raised a little more than $8,000. Her donors ranged from Jacksonville historian James Crooks to bestbet magnate Howard Korman, suggesting the unique coalition she is amassing.

Lakesha Burton maintains the lead in the money race for Jacksonville Sheriff.

T.K. Waters, the current chief of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, raised nearly $27,000 last month between his A Safer Jacksonville for All political committee and his campaign account. Multiple members of the Thomas Petway family gave the maximum of $1,000 to the campaign in November.

Waters has a little more than $640,000 on hand between the two accounts, good for second in the race.

Other candidates seem to be struggling for momentum. Republican Mat Nemeth raised $4,500 in November and has nearly $65,000 on hand. Democrat Wayne Clark has less than $10,000 on hand after raising $2,826 in November. Democrat Tony Cummings has reported raising $175 thus far; $50 of that is on-hand.

Solid foundation

After a year on the job, JEA CEO Jay Stowe says he envisions a bright future for the public utility.

In a recent column published in The Florida Times-Union, Stowe reflects on his upbringing in the public utility sector — he is a third-generation utility executive, with his father and grandfather having run public utility systems in North Carolina.

Jay Stowe envisions a sunny future for JEA.

“I learned to ride my bike at the Fayetteville, North Carolina water plant and spent many Saturdays at water plants. Growing up in this environment taught me the value of utilities in a community and the critical services they provide. When the community owns the utility, customers come first, and customers are who we answer to,” he said.

Utilities being the “family business” was a key feature of Stowe’s resume when the JEA board was searching for a new CEO last year. Since landing the job a year ago, he’s worked toward making it a business that works for the JEA family, too, by building “a culture centered around safety, respect and integrity. That meant we put the physical and emotional well-being of people first — both at and away from the workplace.”

Stowe has spent the past year preaching those values to the 2,000-person workforce at JEA and searching out an executive leadership team that shares them. That team, he says, is now assembled.

“With this foundation in place, we are focused now more than ever on how to best serve the growing needs of Northeast Florida and help drive economic growth in the region,” he writes.

Positive presence

Care Connect+, a Flagler Health+ social wellness initiative, is partnering with the nation’s most extensive virtual life coaching and mental health service for young people of the ‘Next Generation.’

Working with the organization Positive Presence Global,’ Care Connect+ will become an exclusive nonprofit collaborator to offer online mentoring, health and life coaching to preteens, teens and young adults nationwide.

“This partnership marks a significant advancement in how mental health issues in youth are being addressed,” said Flagler Health+ President and CEO Jason Barrett. “I am impressed by the proactive approach that PPG makes in identifying potential issues in advance and taking the preventive steps that will have a positive impact on the lives of many young people.”

Both PPG and Care Connect + will share resources to ensure at-risk youth have access to vital resources, referring those in need to each other based on available services.

Struggling with mental health? Flagler Health+ has the resources for you.

PPG founder Michelle Marie King said the Care Connect+ partnership “opens up doors for the next generation and their families to get access to the tools and support they need to lead healthy, confident and radiant lives.

“In today’s society, for so many, it feels like darkness prevails. But when we practice positive thinking, we as individuals become a beacon of light, a conduit of hope that cuts through the unrelenting smog that overwhelms our humanity.”

The goal is to provide teenagers and young adults support by eliminating barriers and constraints of traditional, face-to-face coaching services. PPG allows them to pair individually with just the right mentor-coaches worldwide through a virtual presence. Services will include weekly or biweekly one-on-one sessions, a personal Positive Presence online coaching board, 24-hour access, and specialized tools and resources.

Since 2016, PPG has been the global leader in helping the next generation and their families develop positive, proactive practices for mental health.

By offering a central access point, Care Connect+ becomes a vital link to the community, making resources easily accessible for those in crisis.

Hey Arnold

The St. Johns County Commission is back at full strength after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed St. Augustine’s Sarah Arnold to fill the vacancy in District 2.

Arnold currently serves as Director of Resource Development for the United Way of St. Johns County.

The resume the Governor’s Office provided suggests Arnold has varied experience, including on the boards of the Dream Big! Foundation and the Child Guidance Center of Jacksonville. She belongs to the Rotary Club of St. Johns and volunteers with Armstrong Meal Distribution and Read for the Record.

Sarah Arnold gets a gig on the St. Johns Commission.

District 2 includes much of the western portion of the county. Arnold will take over a vacancy created last month.

Former Commissioner Jeb Smith of Hastings announced he was resigning immediately to take over the presidency of the Florida Farm Bureau for a two-year term, as reported by the St. Augustine Record.

Two candidates filed for the 2022 election for the seat. However, neither seem to have much in the way of fundraising so far, suggesting that Arnold could run for a full term if she wanted.

Both candidates are Republicans.

LaShawnda Laurice Pinkney has raised $4,950 in seven months as an active candidate. Johnny Coe Counts of Hastings has raised $1,100 through one month in the race.

Recycling returns

If you live in St. Augustine Beach and you want to recycle again, well, you’re in luck. Starting Jan. 3, curbside recycling returns to the oceanside hamlet.

There are some ground rules, notes the city.

“Important information: Your recycling pickup day will be the SAME as your trash pickup day. The city is only collecting the city-issued blue 18-gallon bins. Recyclables put in any type of closed container, large or small, will not be picked up. Recycled items should be LOOSE in the bins, not in a plastic bag or any other type of bag. Bagged items will not be picked up.”

Residents can have two of those blue bins from the city.

Recycling is back!

Not everything can be recycled.

“Type 1 and 2 plastics, Steel and Aluminum cans, Paper and cardboard” are all acceptable.

“Other items placed in bins will result in the bins not being emptied. Bins not emptied will be tagged with an explanation of cause,” the city warns.

Don’t think of recycling your fast-food containers, either. They are banned, along with pizza boxes and pill bottles.

Come undone

The Jaguars’ season, unraveling for weeks, may have finally fallen apart.

They fell to 2-11 after losing 20-0 at Tennessee, their fifth consecutive loss. That’s bad. What’s worse is that the game came amid reports that some players and assistant coaches are fed up with rookie head coach Urban Meyer.

The frustration bubbled over following a report by Tom Pellssero on NFL.com that Meyer berated his assistants in a meeting. Pellssero wrote, “Meyer delivered a biting message that he’s a winner and his assistant coaches are losers, according to several people informed of the contents of the meeting.”

Meyer denied the report.

Many fans are fed up with Urban Meyer. Image via AP.

“What’s the answer? Start leaking some information or nonsense? That’s garbage,” Meyer told Albert Breer of MMQB. “If there is a source, then that source is unemployed. I mean, within seconds.”

Pellssero also reported that wide receiver Marvin Jones, generally mild-mannered and classy, “became so angry with Meyer’s criticism of the receivers that he left the facility until other staff members convinced him to return. He then had a heated argument with Meyer at practice.”

While there is no immediate indication that owner Shad Kahn is considering firing Meyer, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that Jags General Manager Trent Baalke has become a “strong proponent” of assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong.

Strong coached with Meyer at the University of Florida, then later became the head coach at Louisville, Texas, and South Florida.

There was some good news. The Meyer circus overshadowed the fact that rookie quarterback and top draft choice Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions against the Titans.

The Jaguars are home Sunday to face the Houston Texans.

Staff Reports


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