Jacksonville Bold for 2.15.23: Too damn high
A move toward rent control in Orange County is having a tough time.

For rent sign posted in front of a blurry front porch
Jacksonville's rents are squeezing both low-income and high wage residents.

A new study from the University of North Florida’s JAX Rental Housing Project shows that rent has gone up around the city, and that trend has left lower-income people in the lurch, as well as professionals in essential jobs.

“The percentage increase in rent over this period varies by community. Of the 21 ZIP codes for which Zillow reports the Observed Rent Index, 11 exceed a 40% increase and one reaches a 50% increase (32257). For a large portion of the Jacksonville workforce, the rising cost and current levels of rent are unsustainable given no comparable increase in wages and the other rising costs of living,” asserts Dr. David Jaffee.

“As a greater percentage of income is absorbed by rent payments, there is less income remaining to cover the cost of other basic necessities of life. There is also less discretionary income for spending locally on goods and services, which has broader negative macroeconomic effects.”

Rising rents are spreading the pain all-around.

Indeed, 42 “cost-burdened occupations (ranging) from server/bartenders to medical assistants to mental health social workers” are locked out of the housing market without extra financial help.

Jaffee contends it is “virtually impossible for workers in these occupations, representing 33% of the Jacksonville workforce, to find rental apartment housing that would avoid being cost-burdened.”

Among the recommendations in the report: reining in the power of institutional capital or “corporate landlords” to deleverage renters.

“In the main, the affordable housing crisis in Jacksonville and beyond is not a personal problem for renters, it is a social problem. As such, the ability to find, secure and retain safe and affordable housing is tightly intertwined with larger structural dynamics of American society that include the unequal distribution of income and wealth, the growing prevalence of low-wage precarious work, long-standing systems of racial and class segregation and monopoly corporate power,” Jaffee writes.

Will the 2023 campaign cycle address these power imbalances? Time is running short for that, and it’s also running short for a large subset of locals who are one paycheck away from homelessness, and others still for whom no paychecks are enough to rent the kinds of places similar work could just a few years ago.

Cash is king

2023’s campaign for Jacksonville Mayor is seeing some of the most sustained negative advertising in history, and that’s coming at a heavy price.

The vitriolic spots are coming from the two leading Republican fundraisers, Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis, and the two candidates burned through more than $2 million between them last month, with millions left to spend on each side ahead of the March 21 “First Election” that likely will eliminate one of these candidates from the field.

An already contentious mayoral race gets even more antagonistic.

The bulk of Cumber’s spending went through her JAX First political committee, which spent $842,889 in January, with nearly $800,000 of that spend going to FP1 Strategies.

The committee defrayed some spending, the biggest monthly expenditure in this campaign by far, with $158,560 in receipts in January. The Ann D. Gibbs Living Trust was the single biggest donor, with $40,000 contributed, but the money came in from far beyond Jacksonville.

The 2022 Lieutenant Governor campaign of California’s Jeff Denham donated $2,000, in what is the latest unusual cameo player in the Cumber campaign, which has seen support ranging from former Donald Trump Cabinet member and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as well as Indiana Rep. Jim Banks.

The Cumber committee has more than $1.8 million on hand and more than $2 million all-inclusive. Cumber had roughly $304,000 in her campaign account at the month’s end, with over $97,000 spent and nearly $49,000 raised through Jan. 31. Over $70,000 of the January hard money total spend likewise went to FP1 Strategies.

Despite the robust financial activity, Cumber is still lagging behind Davis, who spent more than $96,000 in hard money in January, with an additional $1 million spent by his Building a Better Economy political committee. All told, the Davis committee exited January with more than $2.6 million on hand, as well as nearly $400,000 in his campaign account, despite spending more than he raised in hard money last month also, with more than $96,000 in outflow versus more than $41,000 raised.

With vote by mail already beginning for the March 21 election, spending likely will outpace fundraising for all filed candidates. But the battle between establishment Republicans Cumber and Davis was especially pitched. Davis has filed a defamation action against television stations running a Cumber committee ad deeming him “dirty … sleazy and dangerous.” Cumber has also spent time this month complaining Davis’ committee attacks are out of bounds.

What’s clear though is despite the words of protest, both campaigns are playing the same game in the campaign’s stretch run, with each trying to claim the “conservative” vote, even as City Council member Al Ferraro continues to run his own grassroots campaign. As of the end of January, he had roughly $250,000 on hand between his campaign account and his political committee.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, Donna Deegan and Audrey Gibson are also running. Gibson closed January with roughly $180,000 left between her campaign account and her A Rising Tide political committee. Deegan closed January with roughly $300,000 in hard money, while her Donna for Duval political committee had about $335,000 on hand as of the end of last month.

Immigration fight, with DeSantis cameo

How long is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ coattails in Duval County?

City Council member and Jacksonville mayoral candidate LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber fired another salvo in her ongoing battle with fellow mayoral candidate and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis as to which one of them is Jacksonville conservatives’ best chance to keep City Hall.

The 30-second ad titled “Extreme,” running now in the Jacksonville media market, opens with dramatic music over WJXT video showing people exiting an airplane.

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

Joe Biden created the worst border crisis in American history, and his administration flew illegal immigrants into Jacksonville 78 different times,” the voice-over says, accompanied by a clip of DeSantis saying, “It’s reckless and it’s wrong.”

The video then pivots to what appears to be workers jumping out of the back of a pickup truck.

“Liberal Daniel Davis would make the border crisis worse,” the voice-over says. “Davis supported taxpayer funded benefits for illegal immigrants. So extreme, Davis even voted to give Florida driver’s licenses and in-state tuition breaks to illegals.”

The ad, from Cumber’s committee JAX First, closes with an image of what appears to be a section of wall along the Mexican border.

“Daniel Davis,” the voice-over says, “liberal on illegal immigration, wrong for Jacksonville families.”

Cumber has hit out at Davis on immigration policy before. She released a radio ad in November comparing Davis and Democratic candidate Donna Deegan as two sides of the same coin.

Police story

Norman Brewer touts his 15 years as a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for visitors to his campaign homepage. But the Jacksonville City Council District 11 candidate makes no mention of the public scandal that unfolded as he left the force.

A misconduct investigation of the then-lieutenant in the Sheriff’s Office made headlines in The Florida Times-Union weeks ahead of his resignation in late 2003. Brewer during his tenure with the JSO attracted 21 complaints about misconduct. Eight were considered “sustained” by Internal Affairs investigations. He endured suspensions for sexual harassment and was sent to formal counseling for conduct unbecoming of a police officer. Investigators found validity to citizen complaints about rudeness multiple times. While Brewer beat most allegations made against him, including multiple accusations of unnecessary force dating back to 1990, he had written reprimands for actions that same year.

Norman Brewer omits some unflattering details in his campaign.

Details were not immediately available about any of those accusations. Brewer told Florida Politics he had little recollection, and that the case files are no longer even public records.

The most salacious disciplinary issue, though, was being investigated at the time Brewer quit the force. Then a Sheriff’s Lieutenant, Brewer was being investigated for disobeying direct orders to stay away from a female officer seven years younger than him with whom he’d been accused of having an affair ….

Read the rest here.

Brewer, for what it’s worth, is attempting to weaponize charges against opponent Raul Arias. Among the issues spotlighted? Traffic tickets.

Will voters side with a cop with a checkered past over a local small-business owner? March’s election will tell the tale.

MLK mistake

Democrat Jimmy Peluso made the biggest mistake a politician has made regarding a local MLK Parade since Mitt Romney’s rendition of “Who let the dogs out” over a decade ago.

Peluso, a Democrat running in District 7, is under fire from local preachers for his ill-fated decision to use a rap song divorced from the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a culturally inept play that is being seen by some, such as Rev. RL Gundy, as mockery.

Jimmy Peluso made a serious MLK faux pas.

As WJCT reports, “Peluso’s short TikTok video is set to the Tai Verdes song “Stuck In The Middle,” which includes the lyrics, “You’re a player, aren’t you? And I bet you got hos.”

The decision is being framed as “demeaning, degrading, derogatory, disparaging, insulting” and a “disgrace to the community.”

“It’s bad enough for the hip-hop music, and we are fighting against that,” said Gundy. “But for him to be a political candidate and put something out like that advertising who he is, it is just degrading. It is slighting. And what has happened is that he is talking about my wife, my granddaughter, my mother, my grandmother. I don’t think he realized what he did.”

Peluso blames an “algorithm,” meanwhile.

“This video absolutely does not represent the campaign I run or how I intend to legislate as a council member,” he told WJCT.

District 7 historically has been a minority access seat that Black Democrats have held for decades. While the seat still sees a Democratic plurality advantage, the map is more favorable to White Democrats. However, it’s unclear to whom Peluso’s pratfall would ultimately appeal.

Nope to FOP

Despite Peluso’s pratfall, he’s still got the inside track for the police union endorsement, especially given that another candidate in the race won’t meet with the police union.

Democrat John Phillips has been a frequent critic of policing in Jacksonville, and the lawyer said this week he refused an endorsement interview with the Fraternal Order of Police. Whereas many candidates of both parties have sidestepped the police union if not being backed by them, the trial lawyer is leaning into expected opposition.

“I probably have as many questions for the Fraternal Order of Police as it has for me. As a candidate who is seeking an elected position with the City, I will be tasked with reviewing JSO’s budget, the City’s shortfalls, holding police accountable, discussing improvements within the department and balancing officer safety, and making sure we have the best community policing possible. There is much to learn about the unique issues of JSO,” Phillips contends.

“On the other hand, our office has discovered countless mistakes and failures related to public records and recent investigations related to Kent Stermon which are still in no way public. Therefore, any appearance of influence, conflict or impropriety of an endorsement or correlated donations would erode public trust.”

Stermon, who was a close friend of Gov. Ron DeSantis, apparently died by suicide in December. Little has come out about his death in the more than two months since it happened.

Phillips has begun television advertising ahead of the March election, with a series of ads forthcoming. The first, which you can see below, is an autobiographical treatment where he talks about some of the cases he has dealt with over the years, including the slaying of Jordan Davis.

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

Endorsement rollout

Joshua Hicks announced 14 endorsements this week in his effort to win the Jacksonville City Council At-Large, Group 2 seat from Ron Salem.

“Our neighbors deserve a City Council that wakes up every day and works for them. I am proud to endorse Joshua Hicks for Jacksonville City Council because he knows what it takes to work for every person, no matter their background,” said state Sen. Tracie Davis, one of the endorsers. “We need leaders who are committed to solving problems, and Joshua will do just that.”

Joshua Hicks has been active for months, but the crucial weeks are here.

Also backing Hicks are Rep. Angie Nixon, Duval Soil and Water Group 5 Supervisor R.J. Deacon, former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, former Duval County School Board member Elizabeth Andersen, former Atlantic Beach Mayor Pro Tem Brittany Norris, former Neptune Beach Vice Mayor John Weldon, the North Florida Central Labor Council, Equality Florida PAC, the Victory Fund, Run for Something, the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, the Jacksonville NOW PAC and Jacksonville Young Democrats.

“I’m honored to be supported by so many distinguished leaders and organizations who know we are on the precipice of long overdue change in Jacksonville, and who believe in my community-first, people-first vision for our city,” Hicks said. “I look forward to working with them to create a fresh start for Jacksonville.”

Judges needed

The process of becoming a judge is a tough one, whether it’s navigating the stormy waters of Florida’s politicized selection process, or the even more visible and politicized process at the federal level.

For those who wish to endure the slings and arrows of applying, the federal Middle District of Florida needs to fill two district judge vacancies. The Judicial Nominating Commission intends to select six finalists for submission.

Where the magic happens.

“The Rules of Procedure for the JNC and application forms with incorporated instructions are available at https://wassermanschultz.house.gov/jnc,” according to the Florida Bar. “Completed applications must be received by regional JNC Chair Ryan Barack at [email protected] no later than Feb. 28.”

Selected applicants will be notified via email of the time and date of their interview.

Applicants are cautioned that after sending their application to the JNC, the applicant cannot contact any JNC members about aspects of their candidacy, except for responding to questions from the JNC chair.


The Carnival Elation cruise ship arrived at JAXPORT recently, with a new paint job and overhauled amenities.

The red, white and blue livery design debuted with the vessel Mardi Gras in 2021 and continued throughout the Carnival fleet as ships go through dry dock work. One of the upgrades with the fresh look went into the Cloud 9 Spa.

Your ship has arrived.

“The spa area has been fully refreshed, including new steam and sauna rooms, in addition to other maintenance work, and work on venues and staterooms,” according to Carnival. “The ship’s first cruise, upon its return to Jacksonville, departed Saturday and is taking guests on a five-day sailing to The Bahamas, with stops at both Nassau and Princess cays.”

The ship holds 2,200 guests and sails year-round to The Bahamas.

Rising tides

The issue of climate change isn’t going away, as recent storm seasons have taught us.

And if global warming continues to drive rising water levels, local experts will discuss, and likely lament, decisions not to mitigate its effects.

If that kind of discussion interests you, you’re in luck, as Thursday will see two people acutely familiar with the impact of rising water levels on locals who are dealing with new challenges that weren’t imagined by many property owners near the water just a few years ago.

Lisa Rinaman will be the feature guest at a climate change networking event.

Council EDGE (World Affairs Council of Jacksonville), NextUp JAX (JAX Chamber) and Rising Tides (St. Johns RIVERKEEPER) present an evening of “networking and a fireside chat with your St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa Rinaman.”

“Lisa will discuss how climate change, sea level rise and pollution threaten the health of the St. Johns River and our communities and share ways each of us can help make a difference,” promises the event invite.

The event will be held at the Tabula Rasa brewery in Riverside. The $10 cover gets you a free beer.


Low-fare airline Breeze Airways is adding two new destinations from Jacksonville, starting in May.

The new destinations are Los Angeles with year-round nonstop flights, Summer season service to Pittsburgh through September 5. The airline will also offer one-stop/no plane change BreezeThru service to New York-Islip; Cincinnati and Louisville.

New nonstops are now on sale at introductory fares, from just $39* one way to Pittsburgh, or $99* to Los Angeles. Breeze now offers 143 nonstop routes between 35 cities in 21 states nationally.

Now Jacksonville can Breeze to more cities.

“Here we grow again,” said Tom Doxey, Breeze Airways’ president. “We always look for routes that people are traveling today but can’t get there nonstop. Jacksonville residents can now get to Los Angeles and Pittsburgh twice as fast, for about half the price!”

Breeze travelers can choose from three fare bundles that are offered as ‘Nice,’ ‘Nicer,’ and ‘Nicest.’ The nicest bundles are only available on flights run by Airbus A220 planes.

In addition, Breeze has four existing routes on sale for travel through March, starting at $29* one way from JAX: Hartford, Connecticut; Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Westchester County-New York.

Flights are now on sale at flybreeze.com and via the Breeze app.

Staff Reports

One comment

  • Norman Brewer

    February 17, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Seriously just traffic tickets? Try over 20 Tax Liens and Warrants for failure to pay his taxes, Evictions for non-payment, Lawsuits from failure to pay his HOA, etc. Weaponization? IT’s PUBLIC RECORD! This site is a pay to play joke!

Comments are closed.


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