Jacksonville Bold for 1.26.22: Housekeeping

Housemaid opening the door to the room for cleaning
Redistricting plays havoc (somewhat) and the Jaguar's long, cold winter is almost over.


As the House redistricting map appears to be coming into focus, we’re starting to get a sense of where some opportunities lie.

One seems to be in the new House District 15, covering Nassau and western Duval counties. The Duval County Republican Party chair, Dean Black, is looking to run there.

Republican donors could be betting on (Dean) Black. Image via AP.

Two Nassau County candidates filed against incumbent Cord Byrd in the soon-to-be-former HD 11, but neither has shown strong fundraising.

It is very likely donors will bet on Black.

Meanwhile, Byrd is slotted for a new Beach-centric district. HD 16 crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, taking a slice of the Southside.

Whispers are getting louder that Byrd may not run; he’s not saying.

For now, the new HD 17 looks suitable for Jessica Baker. The 7th Circuit Assistant State Attorney has banked a third of a million dollars for a possible campaign.

Rep. Angie Nixon will move from HD 13 to HD 14, but that won’t matter much since incumbent Rep. Tracie Davis is running for Senate.

However, other candidates will face some critical decisions.

To run in HD 13, Garrett Dennis and Mincy Pollock will have to move to run; they don’t live in the district yet. Rogers Towers lawyer Adam Brandon, who filed in HD 12 before switching to 16, would primary his law partner Rep. Wyman Duggan.

Brandon may lose in that round of musical chairs.

Former Rep. Lake Ray was running in HD 12. Per a consultant, we expect him to have a more straightforward path in the final maps. Ray served through 2016 in what the former HD 12 was, but in the new map, that district is gone.

As House maps slowly come into shape, there’s a bit of drama on the Congressional side.

More than a week after Gov. Ron DeSantis floated a map that obliterates the current Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee HD 12, the first salvo against the proposal came from Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson.

“Black voters matter is not just a saying, it’s a fact, and one has only to look at the grossly unconstitutional congressional district map recently put forth by the Governor. The ‘blackout’ map is a blatant attempt to silence the voices of Black voters at the ballot box, this while invoking the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought FOR civil rights. Reducing minority representation in a gerrymandered map is neither civil nor right,” Gibson said Tuesday.

The Senate passed its Congressional map, one that largely preserves the minority access districts that are long familiar to Florida voters, but a crucial change last decade turned Corrine Brown‘s seat from a Jacksonville-to-Orlando map to one along the I-10 corridor, creating an advantage for Tallahassee-based candidates like Lawson, who is seeing a fourth term.

The Governor has veto power over the Congressional map, and we are following the latest developments.

Luckey Day

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford ended Q4 2021 fundraising marginally better off than in the previous quarter, spending almost as much as he raised on his campaign to end the year.

Most of the donations were the usual: political committees and Jacksonville plutocrats cutting checks.

But he did have one donation that was especially interesting on that final report.

Ginger Luckey, the new wife of Congressman Matt Gaetz, maxed out to Rutherford on Dec. 22. Rutherford’s only other donation that day was from the National Seafarers Union.

Matt Gaetz and Ginger Luckey, who maxed out on John Rutherford. Image via London Independent.

Rutherford typically isn’t identified as a Gaetz-style Republican, but Luckey — and by proxy, Gaetz — like what they see from the former Sheriff.

Representing Florida’s 4th Congressional District, Rutherford raised $69,820 and spent $61,098 last quarter, ending the year with $213,442.

Pending redistricting, Rutherford does not face a serious re-election challenge.

Sheriff’s show

Expected endorsements came through for two statewide candidates for re-election Monday in Jacksonville, where the Florida Sheriffs Association held its winter meetings.

The vast majority of the chief law enforcement officers in the state want six more years for Marco Rubio in the Senate and another term for Gov. DeSantis.

Marco Rubio gets the sheriffs’ nod in Jacksonville.

Both Rubio and DeSantis welcomed the endorsement and vowed to continue earning it.

“When you inject the spirit of lawlessness in a culture and a society, you only embolden the lawless. And in the end, the men and women standing behind me, and the men and women that work for them, are the ones that have to respond to it in a very difficult job,” Rubio said.

“In Florida, we’ve got your back,” DeSantis said. “And we’ll continue to have your back.”

Some speakers were at both events, including Clay County’s Michelle Cook, a rising star among Florida sheriffs.

‘Just crazy’

During her long political career, Sen. Gibson has seen a lot. But from time to time, things still manage to surprise. Consider what happened after a committee meeting when confronted by South Florida Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia.

Audrey Gibson and Ileana Garcia have heated words, point fingers.

From CBS Miami: “At the conclusion of a recent legislative committee meeting in Tallahassee, Republican State Sen. Ileana Garcia angrily confronted State Sen. Audrey Gibson, standing over Gibson as she was seated and allegedly cursing at Gibson, saying she was tired of being disrespected, according to multiple people who witnessed the incident.”

“She just walked over to me and got in my face about being disrespected,” Gibson said. “I said, what are you talking about? And I said, `You should get out of my face.'”

Backing Gibson is the leader of the Senate Democrats, Lauren Book of Plantation.

“She came over and started attacking Audrey,” Book said. “There was nothing happening that should have led to this type of action.”

” This story has been fabricated with a political narrative and not a journalistic one,” Garcia says, even as other Senators take her side.

Read the story here.

September setup

Justice is an extremely long and winding road, evidenced by the case against former Rep. Corrine Brown, being tried for the second time regarding her One Door for Education charity.

Corrine Brown’s retrial will have to wait.

Brown was convicted of several fraud and tax charges in 2017, but an appellate court vacated the convictions, saying the court dismissed a juror from the case in error. That juror declared God told him Brown was innocent.

The feds want a second chance, but they will have to wait until Sept. 12, reported the Florida Times-Union.

“Given that these lawyers are starting from scratch, that seems to me like a reasonable time,” the judge said. “I cannot make getting it done quickly the be-all and end-all.”

Brown has an Aug. 12 deadline for a plea deal. She is not expected to make one.

The trial could take three weeks. Brown will have new defense counsel this go-round, and it will be worth watching to see how that defense proceeds. Most of the defense testimony consisted of Brown herself in the original trial. Brown has new counsel this time, and one would expect a new strategy, should the sequel trial come back to Jacksonville’s federal courthouse late summer.

Rent lament

Looking for an apartment? There’s some good news/bad news.

First, the bad news. Rents are up more than 30% year over year, WJCT reports.

The good news? Though the average Jacksonville rent is now $1,625, it’s not as bad as other major metros. Miami has the highest at $3,020, Orlando at $2,050, and Tampa at $2,076.

Jacksonville renters may be in for a (sticker) shock.

Mortgages are up 25% year over year, too, and there is no reason to expect price declines this year.

“The growth in mortgage payments has been driven by both climbing prices and climbing mortgage rates,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather in comments explaining the statistics. “And those rising mortgage costs push more potential homebuyers into renting instead, which pushes up demand and prices for rentals. Mortgage rate increases are accelerating, which will cause both mortgage payments and rent to grow throughout 2022.”

New tax?

Sales tax may be increasing in St. Johns County to fill what County Commission Chair Henry Dean calls a “laundry list” of infrastructure needs, such as roads, bridges, and other physical assets.

Dean doesn’t have legislation prepared for the proposed tax, nor has he discussed it with other Commissioners. That said, Dean floated a trial balloon with WJXT host Jennifer Waugh on Tuesday.

Henry Dean floats a tax increase. Will it fly?

He said the Commission wouldn’t decide but would just put the measure on the ballot for an “up or down, yes or no” vote from residents of the fast-growing county.

“We would have the same sales tax as Duval and Clay County, 7.5%,” Dean said.

St. Johns County’s population increased 44% between 2010 and 2020, and what’s clear is that the county will have to negotiate a way forward.

“Time will tell if the Commission approves” the proposal, Dean said, but the county’s “quality of life” is at stake.

Coffee city

Jacksonville was recognized this week for its bold coffee flavors, as the Bold New City of the South was included on a list of places one might go for a good cup of joe.

“Jacksonville’s coffee scene is historic. In fact, it’s home to the only remaining Maxwell House manufacturing plant in the U.S., perched right in the heart of downtown and daring back to the early 1900s!” raves Fodors. “But there are also dozens of newer, locally-owned and operated coffee shops to experience.”

Among those singled out were Social Grounds, started by a military veteran.

“This shop sources the best coffee from around the world to roast it in-house and works with the City of Jacksonville to employ and empower homeless Veterans.”

The write-up acknowledges Vagabond Coffee for creating an “atmosphere in each of its locations that allow visitors to come together as a community and enjoy a great cup of coffee no matter their background.”

Jacksonville Beach’s Sago Coffee gets a nod for donating a portion of profits to a local nonprofit.

Mayor Lenny Curry raved about the write-up.

Our take? We’re still wondering where Bold Bean was on the list. But that’s a sign of how robust the Jacksonville scene is when not every world-class coffee shop gets a mention.

New blood

Jacksonville-based logistics juggernaut Crowley announced Wednesday that it’s bringing Marcus Jadotte on board as senior vice president of government relations.

In his new role, he will helm Crowley’s legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts and boost awareness of its growing defense and civilian government services offerings among federal, state and local officials. He will be based in Washington, D.C.

“I am pleased to join Crowley and look forward to advancing the company’s best-in-class solutions for the U.S. maritime industry and beyond, including the company’s burgeoning energy, transportation and technology services,” Jadotte said.

Jadotte most recently worked as vice president of federal government relations at Raytheon Technologies, one of the largest aerospace and defense contractors in the U.S. He has also worked in the C-suite at aviation services provider AAR and NASCAR.

He also served as assistant secretary for industry and analysis for the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Barack Obama administration and at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Bill Clinton administration.

Jadotte’s Florida connections include stints as chief of staff to U.S. Reps. Peter Deutsch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz as well as an economics degree earned at Florida State University.

“Through his extensive experience bridging the public and private sectors, Marcus will further strengthen Crowley’s engagement with policymakers through leadership and outreach that builds trust, innovative policies and effective advocacy across our services for commercial and government customers,” said Parker Harrison, Crowley’s senior vice president and general counsel.

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Downtown Vision is touting the hire of Kady Yellow, spotlighting a new role for a trained “placemaker.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Kady to the Downtown Vision team and Downtown Jacksonville,” said Jake Gordon, CEO of Downtown Vision, in a statement. “Her wealth of experience as a placemaking expert will greatly help DVI and Downtown as we continue to produce events and great experiences in DTJax.”

Her task will be bringing those concepts here to “improve the public realm experience creating more reasons for people to linger, explore and return Downtown.” Yellow has raised over $2 million in her career for such projects.

Kady Yellow’s new challenge: Making Jacksonville a ‘place.’

Yellow hosted a national placemaking conference in Flint, Michigan, which has also faced identity crises over the years. Her most interesting professional experience comes from her hometown, Binghamton, New York.

“She was named the youngest commissioner for Downtown Development and co-founded the Department of Public Art while employed by the City of Binghamton Mayor’s Office in New York,” Downtown Vision touts. “During her tenure, she launched Binghamton’s riverfront revitalization and led a local art co-op focused on empowering artists to help revitalize main street.”

Urban speaks

Former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer is attempting to recover his reputation after a dismal stretch in Jacksonville, but a recent interview is being met with skepticism from Jags’ fans still livid at his performance and seeming lack of readiness for the NFL.

The not-so-long national nightmare is over, at least for Jaguars fans. Image via Fox News.

“It eats away at your soul. I tried to train myself to say, ‘OK, it happens in the NFL. At one point, the Jaguars lost 20 in a row. Think about that — 20 games where you’re leaving the field where you lost. And we lost five in a row at one point, and I remember I … just couldn’t function. I was trying to rally myself up, I was in charge of the team, obviously, and then we won two out of three, and I really felt like we flipped that thing,” Meyer told The Comeback.

Meyer’s command of basic facts? Well ….

“You know, our defense was playing excellent. At one point, our defense was No. 1 in the league. We held Josh Allen to six points. Two field goals. And playing high-level football. Offense, we were really coming and then quit scoring points. We just really struggled offensively, and that’s when we went on another losing streak … I really struggled with that,” Meyer said.

Meyer had the luxury of two first-round draft picks going into the year, and Trevor Lawrence would seem to be a trainable quarterback. But remember how Meyer wasn’t even confident that Lawrence could run a quarterback sneak?

Perhaps instead of self-pity, Meyer could have put that energy into coaching. He complained that he didn’t get to do enough of it.

“You know, the amount of reps you get before you go play a game, to me, was shockingly low. For example, we would practice, you maybe get one or two reps at something, next thing you know you’re calling it in the game. In college, you never do that. In college, you’re gonna get at least a dozen opportunities to practice that before you ask a player to do it in the game. So, there are a lot of differences.”

Happily, the Meyer era is over.

Staff Reports


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