Jacksonville Bold for 9.21.22: One good turn

... deserves another.

Returning the favor

A state legislative candidate whose surprise Primary victory — powered by a Ron DeSantis endorsement — is showing her appreciation.

In a new ad aired by the Republican Party of Florida, Duval County’s Kiyan Michael takes center stage in the minute-long “Protecting Florida,” which the RPOF says “features appreciation for Gov. DeSantis’ immigration policies and his work to protect Floridians.”

Michael’s son was killed in 2007 by an undocumented immigrant; in the spot, she recounts that harrowing experience.

“When our middle son, Brandon, left to go to work, he was only 21 years old and the last words I said to him is, ‘I love you.’ And a twice-deported illegal ran into him and hit him so hard that he caused Brandon’s car to flip, and he killed him. My child was killed by someone who should not have been here,” Michael contended. “This is what happens when we have open borders.”

Michael met with DeSantis and saw “compassion” and “concern” in his eyes.

“He not only talks a good talk, but he walks it,” she added. “There’s no greater leader than Gov. DeSantis because he didn’t just listen. He put action behind it.”

The RPOF ad is a three-pack buy with Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. They don’t feature in the ad beyond the disclaimer.

The Michael spot comes nearly two months after DeSantis tweeted an endorsement that shook up the race in House District 16, where Michael languished behind two establishment Republicans in terms of fundraising and major backing.

Although she won the Primary, two write-in opponents are still active.

Interestingly, the ad makes no reference to the Governor’s endorsement. Rather, it is more in the format of a citizen testimonial than a political speech. Despite this informality, one can expect Michael to be key in carrying legislation addressing the border crisis and illegal immigration once in the House.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Overton window

Republican Tax Collector Jim Overton still does not have any filed opposition for his 2023 re-election bid, and August fundraising suggests strong GOP buy-in for four more years.

Overton raised over $11,000 last month, with donors including Council member Matt Carlucci, former city administrator Sam Mousa, and Citizens for Building Florida’s Future, a political committee linked to state Rep. Wyman Duggan, a Jacksonville attorney elected in a new House district with no opposition this year.

Despite a lack of opposition, GOP money is finding Jim Overton.

The five-figure month was Overton’s fourth of what has been a seven-month re-election campaign so far.

In recent years, Democrats John Crescimbeni and Mia Jones have each run against Overton — to no avail. It remains to be seen if Overton will get a break from campaigning this time around.

Consolidation conundrum

The debate about whether Jacksonville’s Consolidation was a good thing goes back as far as the decision to bring together city and council governments itself.

And it is in no danger of being resolved soon.

The Jessie Ball DuPont Fund will offer the latest revisitation of what was then a radical decision for the Bold New City of the South, with a lunchtime symposium set for Thursday on the topic “Two Centuries of Jacksonville: Impacts of Consolidation.”

Was Consolidation worth it? The jury is still out.

Join this event from anywhere: it will be livestreamed on Zoom.

Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney and The Jaxson co-founder Ennis Davis will “explore the original vision for consolidation; promises made, kept and broken; and how Jacksonville continues to feel the impacts of consolidation today.”

Children’s story

October brings two of the Fox News Channel’s most recognizable faces to the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.

Prime time mainstay Sean Hannity and Fox and Friends veteran Ainsley Earhardt will be on hand Oct. 2 for a 2 p.m. “celebration” of her newest children’s book, “I’m So Glad You Were Born” an affirmation of parents’ hopes for their children’s dreams for the future and God’s plan for all of them.”

Ainsley Earhardt swings by St. Johns County to promote her children’s book.

“With a sweet, playful message inspired by Scripture, I’m So Glad You Were Born leaves no room for doubt that all children were created to be extraordinary,” the event page contends.

Hannity and Earhardt are reportedly romantically linked, but are not publicizing it.

A co-branded speaking tour will do little to squash that narrative.

Family matters

Two sons of prominent Jacksonville politicians are facing voters and pursuing City Council seats.

Will they both win?

In the November Special Election in Jacksonville City Council District 7, Democrat Reggie Gaffney, Jr. is the best positioned to replace outgoing Democrat Reggie Gaffney, Sr., whose resignation is effective after someone wins the race to replace him. August’s crowded field led to this runoff election, meaning Gaffney the Elder is still legislating.

Current Council member Gaffney worked during redistricting to keep D7 as Democratic as possible, giving his son the advantage in the runoff against Republican Charles Barr. Both men have around $5,000, having spent most of what they raised to get through the August First Election.

The Gaffneys keep politics all in the family.

But this feels like Gaffney’s race to lose.

Meanwhile, in Jacksonville City Council District 5, Republican Joe Carlucci looks to join father Matt Carlucci on the Council after the 2023 election. Another Republican, San Marco’s Morgan Roberts, is also running.

Momentum seems to be with Joe Carlucci in the district race, who has raised more than $20,000 over the last three months, having north of $146,000 on hand. Roberts has roughly $129,000 on hand, raising $9,000 through the same period.

They are the only two candidates in the field, meaning this could be decided in March unless a third candidate appears to split the vote.

No slow

There are so few right whales, and they reproduce so rarely, each human-caused death is another step toward extinction.

Into this ecological crisis comes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with new proposed vessel speed restrictions for boats 35-65 feet in length. The Southeast speed zone, which covers the calving grounds off Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida, would be in effect for the annual calving season, from Nov. 15 to April 15.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) took up the topic at its quarterly meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The Council’s intention is to send a letter to NOAA in the coming weeks with ways to better tailor the rule.

The last recreational vessel strike occurred in February 2021, when the About Time, a 54-foot recreational vessel, slammed into a right whale calf at 20 knots, half a mile off St. Augustine Inlet.

The result of when a recreational vessel and a right whale calf cross paths. Image via NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

Vessels covered under the proposed rule would have to transit at 10 knots or less. Indications are that’s a tough sell to the charter fishing community.

Robert Johnson, co-owner of Jodie Lynn Sport Fishing Charters in St. Augustine, said fishers love whales too, but can’t live with extending the vessel speed restriction to boats 35-65 feet, for 25-30 miles out into the water.

“Why not more of a compromise, where we have, during poor visibility, sunrise to sunset, whatever,” Johnson said. “Maybe out to 10 miles, where we know those right whales are not going to be beyond. There’s a lot of things we could do to help the whales without putting something forth that will put people out of business.”

The advocacy group Oceana released a report in July 2021, noting research showing that speed restriction zones only work when people observe them. That didn’t happen more often than not, with zones off Southern states having the worst records for noncompliance, at more than 70% for Georgia and Florida calving grounds and more than 90% noncompliance between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Brunswick, Georgia.

“There certainly would be enforceability issues in terms of assets available and how you actually do it,” outgoing SAFMC Chair Mel Bell said.

NOAA extended the comment period, so people now have until Oct. 31 to get in their views to the agency as it goes through the rule-making process.

Turning red over snapper

Considering news there most likely won’t be a recreational red snapper season in the South Atlantic for 2023, charter boat captains, recreational fishers, industry representatives and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford implored the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) to allow harvesting of the red snapper.

They say the snapper population is so overpopulated it’s crowding out other fish and allowing harvesting will save what’s left of the fishing industry in this sector.

It’s a bit of a regulatory Catch-22 because a sizable number of scientists and fishers say red snapper discards account for overfishing, according to federal regulatory definitions.

It’s unusual for elected officials to speak at SAFMC public comment sessions during their quarterly meetings — typically, this is the opportunity for fishers to explain what they see on the water and how that squares, or doesn’t, with what the Council has planned. Rutherford referred to his own recreational angling when he called into the meeting.

He thanked the Council and everyone involved in the past decade for helping rebuild the South Atlantic red snapper stock.

Now that it has been rebuilt to the point of being a problem, it’s time to open up the fishery.

The red snapper, paradoxically a symbol of management success and failure. Image via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“The six-day red snapper season that we had in 2018 added $13 million to our GDP alone — $13 million,” Rutherford said. “So, it is not an insignificant effort here. Area closures would have a significant impact on all sectors of the industry, and quite frankly would destroy the livelihoods of many, and would be decimating our small businesses that support the fishing industry across the South Atlantic.”

Rutherford reiterated the work he and others in Congress did to appropriate $5.1 million over the last three years for the Great Red Snapper Count, a 30-month project of NOAA Fisheries, the University of Florida, North Carolina State University and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to estimate the red snapper population using a vast area, including areas not traditionally observed in fish surveys.

The hope is data will be available from this effort by 2025, he said, though he’s been informed the study is running ahead of time and under budget.

“You don’t hear that very often — on time and under budget. I love that,” Rutherford said.

Big money, small town

Darron Ayscue wasn’t the first candidate in the race for the Fernandina Beach City Commission seat vacated by Vice Mayor Len Kreger, but he does lead the money race, if only slightly.

Ayscue has raised $10,000 so far for the Seat 5 campaign, narrowly outpacing Genece Minshew, who started her campaign last year and raised around $9,950 as of the end of August. Staci McMonagle, the third candidate in the race, is at a decided disadvantage financially, at least so far, with a little more than $1,800 raised at the end of August and around $1,220 spent.

Darron Ayscue shows the fundraising power of firefighters in local races. Image via Darron Ayscue.

Ayscue, as President of Nassau County Professional Firefighters Union Local 3101, already leads a politically active and connected organization, providing an advantage most other people running for the City Commission don’t have. His fundraising shows a reliance on a network of firefighters — the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters also chipped in $1,000 on July 11.

Meanwhile, First Coast Conservatives, a political committee associated with former Clay County Rep. Travis Cummings, contributed $500 before the end of July. Newly elected Port of Fernandina Commissioner Justin Taylor gave $100 in May, along with Nassau County School Board member Jamie Deonas, who contributed $250. Deonas is also a firefighter.

Ayscue spent nearly $6,000 going into September, with most of those dollars, $4,280, going to Pro Sky Studios in Jacksonville for print and web design, and print and web media.

Minshew launched her campaign in October 2021, bringing in $2,400 that first month. She continued to pull in a few hundred dollars here and there as the months went on, spending mainly on traditional local campaign expenses like card printing and signs. Her contributions include $100 in August from 2023 Jacksonville City Council candidate Joshua Hicks.

McMonagle’s notable contributions include $1,000 from Bryn Byron of Fernandina Beach and $250 from former Nassau County Commissioner George Spicer.

New head conductor at CSX

Part of a planned succession process as it may be, it’s not every day a major transportation corporation puts a new person in charge. At CSX Corp., its new leader is Joseph Hinrichs, who will take over officially as president and chief executive officer on Sept. 26.

Hinrichs replaces James Foote, who will retire from the positions and the Board the same day but will stay on with the company through March to help in the transition.

The new man at the front of the train. Image via CSX.

“This appointment is the result of a long and deliberate process, in which we identified the strongest candidate to lead CSX through its next phase of growth and transformation,” CSX Board Chair John Zillmer said. “Jim has been at the helm throughout most of the company’s transformation, producing record operating and financial results, focusing on sustainability, and emphasizing the importance of safety.

“We cannot thank him enough for his contributions to CSX, and his commitment to ensuring a smooth transition. The Board believes that Joe is a seasoned leader with the relevant experience to lead CSX forward with our full support.”

Hinrichs brings to the job more than three decades in global automotive, energy and manufacturing sectors. Before joining CSX, he led Ford Motor Company’s automotive business, overseeing $160 billion in operations.

Clean water on tap

The second of Cuppa Jax’s inaugural season of community discussions is set for next week, with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman to talk about her organization’s work ahead of a question-and-answer forum.

The series is Jacksonville’s answer to the successful Café con Tampa events. Speakers are scheduled for 10-15 minutes, with the rest of the time reserved for discussion of relevant issues raised. Attendees are also encouraged to make community announcements at the beginning of each program.

The first event took place last week, with Cindy Funkhouser of the Sulzbacher Center.

Not a bad way to spend a morning. Image via Wes Wolfe.

People interested in going should be at the Skyline Room in Riverplace Tower on the Southbank by 8 a.m. on Sept. 28, though if the last event was any sign, attendees will want to get there earlier for breakfast and socializing.

It’s $15 to attend, which includes breakfast.

Creepin’ it real

St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick is setting up a horrifying Halloween scene at his jail next month.

Specifically, a “haunted jail.”

Tickets (priced fatefully at $13, but which will go up to $20 soon) are already available via Eventbrite for the dates, which include Oct. 21 and 22 and Oct. 28 and 29.

“We’re just creepin’ it real. Once the door slams shut behind you, the fear will only stop when your heart does. Pray those cell doors are all locked and don’t worry about those screams. Just don’t get too close to the bars and watch your back,” the SJSO promises on the ticket page.

The Haunted Jail is a 501.3c fundraiser for the SJSO Special Teams Association Inc., and there are still ways for locals to help make this happen.

“Individual and corporate sponsorships and donations are still being accepted. Please contact PIO Peret Pass or CPL Greg Suchy at 904-824-8304 to become a sponsor or to make a donation.”

Say bye to baseball

Your Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (76-65) battled well with the International League-best Nashville Sounds (86-56) on the road last week, but coming in on the wrong side of a 4-2 series split as you’re in a pennant race is going to make the task of getting to the playoffs harder.

The Shrimp were 3.5 games out of first place, stuck in third, with this week’s homestand against the Charlotte Knights (55-87) and a three-game series next week away at the Norfolk Tides (71-71) to end the regular season. The two division-leading teams in the International League will advance to the playoffs.

Before the season’s out, you’ll want to get acquainted with Jumbo Shrimp pitcher Tommy Eveld, whose knee injury playing football for South Florida led to a transition to baseball and a potential future in the Majors. The Shrimp’s Scott Kornberg recently profiled Eveld and the former Bulls quarterback’s adjustment to putting his efforts toward baseball, which involved a roundabout way of getting a glove similar to his USF teammates’.

Pitching with the power of the mullet. Image via Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

“I asked the coach, ‘Hey, why can’t I get one of these with the cool colored lace in it?’ And he said, ‘Oh, well that glove will take a while for them to make. You won’t get it until the season’s halfway over. Just order green lace and get someone to put it in there for you.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I don’t know how to do that,’” Eveld said.

“So, I started asking guys on the team, and Casey Mulholland was one of our pitchers, and he would re-lace gloves for people when their gloves would break. I watched him pull all the black lace out and put all the green lace in. I saw how it was pretty simple to do and I was like, ‘I think I can do that.’”

It’s Eveld’s lacework that got him some special notice while on the Miami Marlins’ taxi squad. He “was called down to the dugout by shortstop Miguel Rojas in order to re-lace a teammate’s glove that had snapped midgame,” Kornberg wrote. “Eveld got it done by the time Miami went back out on the field defensively for the next half-inning.”

Known unknowns

How good is this Jacksonville Jaguars team? Impossible to figure after two weeks and two vastly different performances, a last-minute loss against a typically mediocre Washington Commanders (1-1) squad and complete dominance over Indianapolis. If you want hope, you got it in the Colts (0-1-1) rolling over again, albeit without their star wide receiver, and the Jags (1-1) defense making aging quarterback Matt Ryan look every bit of his years.

Happy Jaguars? Is it time for … optimism? Image via Jacksonville Jaguars.

“The message is always going to be the same thing,” Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. “It’s all about us and going 1-0 this week and it doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. It’s a short-term memory each week. It’s a new set of challenges. It’s my job to make sure the guys stay focused that way and never lose sight of that.

“That’s when you get beat, when you start feeling full of yourself just a little bit after something like this on Sunday or you have success a couple of weeks in a row. You want to build on the momentum, but you have to stay humble and grounded and continue to improve at what you’re doing.”

The Jags are on the road at the L.A. Chargers (1-1) this week, and the line opened with the hometown team a 7.5-point underdog. Like the injury to the Colts’ wide receiver Michael Pittman, the Jaguars may benefit from an injury to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who suffered a fracturing of his rib cartilage in Thursday’s hard-fought loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0).

Herbert, as we all are, is considered day-to-day.

Staff Reports


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