Jacksonville Bold for 9.13.23: Insurance reassurance

JACKSONVILLE RIVERWALK, FL
'More companies will mean more competition. More competition means a stronger, more stable market.'

Yet again, Jacksonville has a front-row seat to Florida’s insurance crisis, but one of its state legislators believes that the worst may be behind us.

Rep. Wyman Duggan will chair the Insurance and Banking Committee again in 2024, and he tells Jacksonville Bold that he’s confident that reforms implemented in recent years will stabilize the market.

Wyman Duggan has a front-row seat for the state’s insurance crisis.

“We are seeing positive signs that our reforms are working between new companies entering the market and private companies taking hundreds of thousands of policies out of state-run Citizens,” Duggan said, referring to the company offloading policies onto new entrants into the market.

“By addressing the litigation practice in our state and increasing insurer accountability, consumers will benefit from a more competitive and stable insurance market. If a storm comes, we also have the right policies and funds in place to weather the impacts. Five new companies in the market are a strong signal that our reforms are working, especially when you consider they came before the end of this current hurricane season,” Duggan added.

“We have a foundation in place to build on to attract more companies to the state. More companies will mean more competition. More competition means a stronger, more stable market.”

Ahead of Idalia, DeSantis blamed the Legislature for not implementing the insurance reforms he wanted, then refused to say what those reforms were when asked directly as the storm got closer.

We asked Duggan what he could have meant. However, the Banking and Insurance Committee head has no more clue than we do.

“You’d have to ask the Governor what he meant,” Duggan said.

Meanwhile, locals continue to struggle with insurance not meeting the total cost of storm damage, as happened to local rapper and DJ Willie Evans Jr.

Evans’ ceiling collapsed recently, and he has a unique way of trying to make up the difference between estimator payouts and the actual repair cost.

“Sooo, part of my ceiling caved in. Hey, bad things happen. But I’m also a homeowner in Florida, which means bad insurance also happens. So, here’s what I’m doing: I’m releasing a Willie Evans Jr. A/V mini-show to offset repair costs (and a supersecret idea). It’s called ‘The Beat Tape from Mars.’”

“If you’ve seen me live, then this is that with more crazy. If you haven’t seen me live, then this is me being crazy but with music,” Evans adds.

“Donate at least $20, and I’ll send you a download and some prayer emoji. Donate at least $50, and you’ll get this super sweet USB cassette with some bonus treats on it! There are only 50, though. The rest have ceiling juice all over ‘em.”

Jacksonville’s long-running hip-hop scene, what’s certain is that Evans, a pioneer in Jacksonville’s long-running hip-hop scene, needs thousands of dollars to fix his house.

We will keep you posted on this fundraising effort.

Auction apathy?

Gov. Ron DeSantis represented St. Johns County for six years in Congress, but the local GOP’s Fundraising Founder’s Dinner suggests locals have lost their appetite for him.

The proof? Via Newsweek, a story about purported auction items getting no bids.

When is an auction not an auction? Image via X.

“The items included a baseball cap reading ‘DeSantisland: Land of Liberty’ and a visor that said ‘DeSantis: Keep Florida Great.’ Both items were emblazoned with the state flag.”

The plot thickens — this wasn’t an auction after all.

“For legal clarification, we did not hold an auction; it was a giveaway,” Blake Paterson, chair of the St. Johns County GOP, told Newsweek. “No attendees bid for the DeSantis items.”

Items that didn’t get bids were given away, reportedly.

Ethics opening

Are you interested in judging local officials? Jacksonville residents have that opportunity for a limited time, as the city Ethics Commission is seeking applications.

“The Ethics Commission has a long, distinguished history in the City of Jacksonville of ensuring transparent and open government for the citizens. Per Chapter 602, Part 9 of the Jacksonville Ordinance Code, the Ethics Commission performs numerous functions, including assisting the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Oversight, and consideration of any potential violation of the Jacksonville Ethics Code,” asserts the city of Jacksonville in its solicitation for prospective candidates.

Anyone interested in keeping Jacksonville on the straight and narrow?

Applications are available on the Ethics Commission webpage. Interested parties have a limited time to fill them out but can reach out if they want to know more about the process.

“Completed applications are due on Friday, Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. and must be submitted via email to [email protected]. Please contact the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Oversight at [email protected] or 904-255-5508 for more information.”

Former members include several local judges and at least one former School Board member, so it is helpful (but not required) to have a public responsibility position.

Schooling

Next week, U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean will lead a hearing titled “Academic Freedom Under Attack: Loosening the CCP’s Grip on America’s Classrooms.”

Bean chairs the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, which will hold the meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 10:15 a.m. in Room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Aaron Bean will workshop ways to keep China out of American education.

“From pushing propaganda and conducting espionage to undermining American education and indoctrinating students, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is waging a new era of war in our classrooms. A shocking report from Parents Defending Education revealed that 143 K-12 schools across the country — in 34 states — have been compromised by the CCP,” Bean said in a statement. “This hearing will assist in informing the Committee’s efforts to keep our adversaries at bay and protect our students, schools, and curriculum.”

The hearing is open to the press and will be livestreamed on the Committee’s YouTube page.

Legacy play

Sen. Tracie Davis is one of the hosts of an HBCU college fair on Saturday.

Along with The Center One Foundation and the 100 Black Men of Jacksonville, Davis will host the fifth annual event at the Jessie Ball DuPont Center downtown.

It’s back-to-school time!

The fair kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m.

“We will have several engaging workshops covering topics from financial aid to athletics and college life (and) a series of Career panel discussions touching on careers in media, sports and business. Along with the workshops, several community organizations focused on creating opportunities for youth will be in attendance disseminating information about their programs and scholarships,” organizers assert.

School start

There’s no instruction manual for starting a law school from scratch — at least as far as we know. (Note: We aren’t lawyers).

However, Dean Nicholas W. Allard of Jacksonville University offers his insights in Attorney at Law Magazine for those looking for insight on performing that function.

Allard relates the city’s legal community has been a boon to the startup school.

Nicholas W. Allard offers a step-by-step account of how to build a law school.

“Jacksonville lawyers in the public and private sector, as well as our judges, local civic institutions and companies, and esteemed faculty members, have all been incredibly engaged in and committed to ensuring that our law students get the very best quality education, both inside and outside the classroom,” Allard said.

“Jacksonville’s legal community sets a fine example. They are extremely knowledgeable about today’s cutting-edge legal issues, and they demonstrate outstanding qualities of leadership, adaptability and teamwork while serving clients who face uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, though tradition matters, Allard is aware that the world — and thus the legal realm — is transforming rapidly.

“This past term, the Supreme Court of the United States heard four cases involving AI. It is the obligation of every lawyer to be competent with new technologies,” Dean Allard said.

“Other areas include the shifting norms relating to cannabis across the country, the latest financial instruments such as cryptocurrency, blockchain and bitcoin, and biomedical breakthroughs and advances in medicine and health care. These are just a few emerging legal fields, and we must not ignore the continuous need to deliver access to justice and provide affordable, quality legal services to underserved members of the community.”

Audrey aboard

The hurt feelings of the First Election for Jacksonville Mayor are things of the past for former state Sen. Audrey Gibson, who looks poised to be part of the Donna Deegan administration as Chief of the Grants and Compliance Division based on a resolution introduced Tuesday.

As a candidate, Deegan talked about the need to bring grants home from Washington, D.C., and what’s clear is that Gibson will have a crucial role in securing those appropriations.

No hard feelings?

Gibson did not endorse Deegan before the May election, which caused angst among some Democrats then. But in the wake of the vote, Deegan brought Gibson aboard as an adviser during the budget process this summer.

Gibson isn’t the only former mayoral candidate brought aboard. Republican Al Ferraro had a brief stint as Acting Neighborhoods Director but withdrew his name from consideration for that role. It’s possible he could take over Blight Initiatives instead.

Lee commemoration

One of the longest-serving members of the Jacksonville City Council died this summer, and her colleagues will honor her this fall.

Members Rahman Johnson, Randy White, Matt Carlucci, Terrance Freeman and Council President Ron Salem filed a resolution Tuesday honoring Evelyn Denise Lee.

RIP to Denise Lee, a ‘tireless and tenacious advocate’ for Jacksonville.

Lee was in office from 1982 to 2015, with all but eight years of that time on the Council. She also served in the state House from 1999 to 2007. Her 25 years on Council is second only to Warren Jones’ 28 years.

“Lee carried a well-earned reputation as a tireless and tenacious advocate for her constituents and her District, especially for those in most need of assistance and attention to their issues. She consistently sought and won the resources needed to improve conditions in her District, seeking capital project funding and programmatic attention from City and state departments to ensure that equal resources were provided to all communities,” the resolution proclaims.

House party

Good news for those seeking to buy a home in Northeast Florida: inventory is increasing, and there are now more than 5,000 available for sale. To put that in perspective, which represents a 10.9% jump in August. More than 3,000 of them, meanwhile, are new listings.

“The real estate market is fluctuating. Interest rates, inflation, and changing labor markets are factors,” said Diana Galavis, 2023 president of the Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS®.

Interest rates have cooled the market, she adds.

Homebuying is getting a little better out there.

“Home affordability took a slight upward tick, but overall housing is significantly more expensive than this time last year,” added Galavis. “Pending sales were down, which is heavily due to interest rates. Buyers now have an opportunity to preview more active inventory, and there are more new listings entering the market.”

The median sales price has been down 3% since July, falling to $383,000. The second most significant drop in the region was in the county with the farthest to fall — St. Johns saw a 6.8% decline month over month, leading to a median price of $550,000.

The biggest drop, meanwhile, was in Putnam County: an 18.1% month-over-month decline to $208,000.

Whoot, there it is

Miami bass and Ted Talks aren’t usually associated, but they will be later this year in Dirty Duval.

“Jacksonville’s own multiplatinum recording duo, 95 South, will take the stage at TEDxJacksonville as hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary,” notes TEDxJacksonville, offering more details on the group for the uninitiated.

“95 South first hit the scene in 1993 with the monster hit “Whoot There It Is” from their debut album Quad City Knock, with the song reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. They followed their debut album with more hits, including “Rodeo” and “Tight Work,” and have remixed songs for artists including Jordan Knight, Dru Hill and LFO. Today, 95 South’s Carlos (Daddy Black) Spencer and Michael (Mike Mike) Phillips continue to light up crowds with their energetic music,” TEDx asserts.

Local heroes 95 South will take the stage at TEDxJacksonville as hip-hop celebrates its 50th.

95 South will be just one of the attractions for the conference on Oct. 14 at WJCT Studios.

Also on hand: former Duval County School Superintendent Diana Greene, whose comments will address the need “to empower more women of color to hold leadership roles that impact and influence public policy centered on education.”

Additionally, Jacksonville’s resilience director Anne Coglianese “will talk about how our city’s data-informed, science-based resilience planning will advance the notion of what it means to be a resilient city.”

However, there is no word on whether the persistent thud of an 808 beat will backdrop either speaker.

Ice ice baby

However, Bold isn’t entirely done for this week with nostalgic hip-hop acts.

In case you missed it, 90s icon Vanilla Ice is taking it “To the Extreme” with a purchase of not one but two homes in St. Johns County.

“He bought two of them on Rattlesnake Island, right off A1A,” ‘Good Morning Jacksonville’ co-anchor Keitha Nelson said, as reported by the Florida Times-Union. “We’re told that Vanilla Ice will keep one home and flip the other.”

Another blast from the past.

Since his hip-hop career faded from prominence, Ice has established a second career as a construction contractor, including a reality show where he fixed up and resold distressed properties. It remains to be seen if his new First Coast property will end up flipped.

How big is Sunday’s game?

Sunday’s Jaguars-Chiefs game at EverBank Stadium is one of the most anticipated regular season home games in Jaguars’ history.

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions, and the Jaguars played them close in the playoffs in January in KC. The Jags are coming off a season-opening win on the road, while the Chiefs lost their opener.

Week two games rarely prove to be the difference maker in a season.

But this could be different.

Saturday’s Jaguars game is the most anticipated in the team’s history.

Consider what the Jaguars did compared to the rest of the AFC favorites. The teams predicted to win their divisions, the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals, all lost in Week 1. That makes this game a huge opportunity for Jacksonville.

“This is a Super Bowl-winning team. They’re obviously well coached, it’s a disciplined group, so the challenges are real,” Jaguars’ head coach Doug Pederson said. “We haven’t fared so well against them, especially last year with two losses. It’s a great opportunity for our team; it’s a home game; it’s here, looking forward to the challenge of the game plan this week and getting ourselves and our team ready to go.”

Seventeen games are a long season. There will be ebbs and flows in the standings. However, if the Jaguars beat the Chiefs on Sunday, it would tell the rest of the league that Pederson’s team is a real contender. After last year‘s tremendous turnaround, the expectation has been that the Jaguars will win the division and go to the playoffs again. Beating the Chiefs would show what they can do. Not what they will do.

You don’t have to go too far back in Jaguars’ history for an example of what that means.

After the 2017 season, when the Jaguars lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game, New England traveled to Jacksonville in week two of the 2018 season. Sound familiar? The Jaguars fans and players built the game up to be enormous. They played like the season was riding on the outcome.

Jacksonville beat the Patriots 31-20, and it appeared they would continue as Super Bowl contenders. Two weeks later, ironically, in a game in Kansas City, the Chiefs thrashed the Jaguars, and they were never the same again.

This is all to say that if the Jaguars beat the Chiefs, there is reason for celebration, but a loss doesn’t really set the Jaguars back. Each game is important for any contending NFL team, but the trend over time is more critical. Are there recurring issues that could cause the season to go sideways? Is the team healthy? As we saw in 2018, is there infighting and dissension in the ranks? These are all issues that could derail a potentially special season.

That’s why, on Sunday, the trend is just as important to gauge as the final score.

Staff Reports



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