The Jacksonville Brotherhood of Firefighters, a powerful and historic black professional association, has so far declined to endorse Jacksonville’s first black mayor, Alvin Brown, for reelection, as the group did in 2011. And after Brown was a no-show at a meeting he requested with the Brotherhood’s membership on Monday — a meeting where more than 100 black firefighters and police turned out to talk — the Brotherhood invited Brown’s white Republican rival, Lenny Curry, to come by and court their vote and endorsement instead.
While it seems almost absurd think the Brotherhood would actually endorse such a hyper-conservative candidate, the group says its members are looking for a candidate whose agenda aligns with theirs — and many question if that is really Alvin Brown.
“It was the first time [Brown’s] tried to talk to us since he was elected mayor,” says Brotherhood president James Edwards, and the membership was already wavering because of that. They thought that Monday’s event was a chance to talk about their concerns. Instead, however, Brown sent a top administrator, deputy chief of staff Cleveland Ferguson, in his place. “He stood us up,” Edwards says of Brown. “And it went sideways quick.”
Firefighters told Ferguson they wouldn’t vote for his boss. Some said they were going to campaign against him. Others asked Edwards to schedule a future meeting with Curry.
“There was a lot of anger in the room. It was the first time Mayor Brown reached out to us since he’s been in office, and then he didn’t show up,” Edwards says.
Now, he says, all candidates will have the chance to make their case.
For Curry (or long-shot Republican Bill Bishop) to win the endorsement of the black firefighters would be a major coup. Not only would he be stealing support from one of Brown’s key demos, but he would also be gaining an active cadre of …
Data Targeting is a name best known in Florida for its involvement in the recent redistricting scandal, in which it essentially served as an adjunct of the Republican Party’s gerrymandering scheme that a court ruled unconstitutional. But that’s not all they do. An arm of the company is involved in politics even closer to home.
On Sept. 24, Sam Courtney of Data Targeting Research Inc. sent a records request to Cheryl Brown, the Jacksonville City Council Secretary. The subject: “former Councilman Michael Hogan” — defeated mayoral candidate (2011), former Duval County tax collector (2003-2011), and former city councilman (1991-1999) who, coincidentally, if he announced, would be far and away the most significant obstacle to Lenny Curry making the runoff.
Courtney sought the following for the eight-year period of Hogan’s City Council service:
“State compensation records” for Hogan, including salary and benefits, and documentation of any increases thereof.
“State compensation records” for his staff members.
Hogan’s official office budget.
Any records related to Hogan’s use of “state-issued equipment,” including use of a cell phone, billing information, and any text messages or pictures stored on cell phones.
Any “expenses reimbursed personally” to Hogan during his tenure.
Hogan’s “official calendar/daily schedule” for his time in office.
“State Travel Records for Councilman Hogan to include: all records of travel (transportation/lodging/meals) funded by state dollars and receipts for the same; all records of use of state owned transportation to include use of all state aircraft or state vehicles and costs to taxpayers, including receipts, and any other documents in your possession that pertain to taxpayer funded travel by Hogan.”
Courtney’s request was exhaustive; it was also extraordinarily sloppy. In …
On Saturday, longtime Florida State instructor Deborah O’Connor tendered her resignation after Folio Weekly began asking questions about a racist, homophobic Facebook rant she went on Thursday night. On Monday, FSU officials declined to give this magazine her resignation letter, even though it is a public record, though on Tuesday they gave it to Tallahassee media. Last night we put in another request, and finally, this morning we finally got it.
Here it is:
From: O'Connor, Deborah
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2014 1:17 PM
To: Beck-Dudley, Caryn
Subject: RE: [Manfac] [Cobfac] FW: Publishing Opportunity for Your Undergraduate Students
Just a quick note to tell you that I am sending my official letter of resignation effective at the close of this semester later today. I am away from computer.
I talked to Jack.
Is there any chance the story can be suppressed to minimize further injury to my reputation? I think I have paid the price for my ill chosen words.
Thanks and Go Noles
From: Beck-Dudley, Caryn
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2014 5:35 PM
To: O'Connor, Deborah
Cc: Beck-Dudley, Caryn; Fiorito, Jack
Subject: Re: [Manfac] [Cobfac] FW: Publishing Opportunity for Your Undergraduate Students
I accept your voluntary resignation. In doing so, I am not agreeing with or admitting to any statements that you have made in your emails which contain several untrue statements and misrepresentations.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID
"O'Connor, Deborah" <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Dean Beck-Dudley,
I am tendering my resignation effective at the end of the present semester. I do this with a heavy heart, having graduated with a Masters and a Ph.D. from Florida State and having taught in the College of Business for 18 years.
Please see my previous email which I want entered into an official record to defend myself …
When Mayor Alvin Brown called me after the City Council approved the long-debated pension deal 16-3, he was in an expansive mood. And why wouldn’t he be? He’d just scored the biggest victory of his administration.
He did the requisites: He lauded his team for doing the hard work of “solving the retirement reform [problem].” He wanted to “thank City Council for all their hard work.” But at the end of the day, he took credit for getting the deal done. “My administration presented a sustainable plan,” he said.
Though he didn’t want to talk politics on the call, that statement could be seen as a direct riposte to Lenny Curry, his deepest-pocketed opponent in the upcoming mayoral race, who has repeatedly teed off on Brown for presenting what he calls an unsustainable plan.
The three nays — Republicans Robin Lumb and Kim Daniels, and Democrat/Force of Nature Denise Lee — opposed the agreement because they didn’t trust the financing. In the mayor’s eyes, their qualms were misguided.
“Matt Carlucci, former City Council president, and [business executive and former JEA board member] Charlie Appleby presented the plan to JEA,” Brown told me — referring to the complex funding proposal the duo proffered last month that called for the city and JEA to jointly borrow $240 million in the short term to help the city pay down its $1.7 pension liability — and “the board unanimously approved the working framework,” which he sees as a testament to the partnership between the utility and the city that the mayor’s office has been touting to the local media for a while now, a meme that heretofore has not gotten much traction.
Another notable partnership that facilitated the 16-3 mandate might be with the Jax Chamber, which opposed previous pension plan iterations. Brown framed the Chamber’s support in the language of consensus, saying it …
WCTV in Tallahassee has a story up tonight that basically regurgitates what Derek Kinner posted last night: Longtime Florida State instructor Deborah O’Connor resigned over the weekend after Folio Weekly began asking questions about a string of racist, homophobic Facebook comments she left on a friend-of-a-friend’s post about police shootings. (No link to us or mention of our intrinsic role in this thing, as journalistic convention would dictate is proper, but whatever.) The TV station did get one thing out of the university that they didn’t give us yesterday when we were putting our story together: O’Connor’s resignation letter, and a note she sent the dean before that. The interesting part:
In her resignation letter to the dean of the business school, O'Connor notes she has a Masters and Ph.D. from FSU and had taught there for 18 years.
She wrote her resignation was "...the path of least resistance", but "I do NOT believe the punishment fits the "crime"."
In her original note to the dean before her official resignation letter was submitted,O'Connor wrote in part, "Is there any chance the story can be suppressed to minimize further injury to my repuation? Thanks and Go Noles".
Clay Yarborough, Guardian of Our Civic Virtue, really wants to put this whole MOCA thing behind him. Last week — after Yarborough had lost his bid to defund the museum, and in the process cemented his rep as a local laughingstock — he met with MOCA director Marcelle Polednik and all parties “declared the matter closed.” And then today, he released a statement to the good folks at Metro Jacksonville about that meeting. It reads as follows:
I apologized to Director Polednik for not contacting her initially. I also learned the director and board are responsible for content and have the ability to safeguard children from mature material without stifling expression, so I asked whether anything would be done to protect children exposed to a large photograph of a naked woman without having to pay admission when they enter the taxpayer-owned, public building.
Ironically, after volunteering that her child has never seen a television and when they go into private homes where a television is on, she requests it be turned off, Director Polednik’s exact response was, “Regrettably, no.”
She and Board Chair Gellatly expressed it would reflect poorly on them if they were willing to compromise.
Though I unwaveringly believe this weakens Jacksonville’s moral climate and hope the board will, at-minimum, consider a disclaimer similar to what is used in other public forums, there are other important issues that we must move on to address.
Did you catch that passive-aggressive bit I highlighted there? Because David Kammerman, Polednik’s husband, sure did. In a comment on Metro Jax co-publisher Stephen Dare’s Facebook post about the statement (which Dare reposted on his website), Kammerman lit into the City Council president, as follows:
Beyond his inability to get the facts right, Clay Yarborough is a public official who has dragged private individuals — my family, …
If you spend any amount of time on Facebook — especially if your posts veer into the world of the political — this sort of thing isn’t unusual. There’s a post, and some comments, and they get heated. And then a friend of a friend jumps in, and things go off the rails.
This episode was no different.
Colin Lively, hair stylist to the rich and famous in New York City and Cleveland, had posted a thread last Thursday night on the police killings in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland. A woman named Deborah O’Connor, a Facebook friend of a friend, interjected.
“YOU elected POTUS, Holder et al. And they are supposed to represent all Americans, not just blacks … why don’t these ass clowns insert themselves into their stories?”
She was just getting started. As the thread went on, and as Lively and others engaged her, O’Connor’s comments took on an increasingly racist, homophobic and just-plain-mean bent:
“Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass.”
“I teach at a University, you asshole. What do you do?”
“You are an intellectual fraud, just like your Messiah. Obama has single-handedly turned our once great society into a Ghetto Culture, rivaling that of Europe. France is almost at war because of his filthy rodent Muslims who are attacking Native Frenchmen and women.”
“I just looked at your picture and what you do for a living. I’m signing off now. I don’t talk to you people.”
Nobody was safe — not the black president and his black attorney general, who she said want to hand over the country to their fellow blacks and Muslims, not Lively, the “fagoot” hair stylist who started the thread, not anyone else who posted on the thread — all of whom she deemed her intellectual inferiors.
As it turns out, she apparently wasn’t lying about working at a university, or about …
Last week, I told you how Councilman Robin Lumb — whom we’ve since learned will likely abandon his bid for supervisor of elections in favor of becoming the next Duval GOP chairman, and may seek reelection to his City Council seat — had sent a stern letter to the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s board members chiding the organization for an email the group had sent out rallying support for MOCA and its Project Atrium exhibit and against Clay Yarborough, who deemed said exhibit pornographic. In short, Lumb found it distasteful that the Cultural Council was singling out and criticizing one council member. He was also upset that the Cultural Council’s email contained a link to a story I had written that, in his words, contained “disparaging remarks” about Yarborough. (True.)
The email “is a rather ham-handed effort to exploit the controversy,” he wrote, “an effort that crossed several lines that should not have been crossed and that calls into question whether the Cultural Council understands its proper role and the limits inherent thereto.”
Per his request, I emailed Lumb Friday morning with a couple questions. He sent me his answers last night. As he expressed some concern about being quoted out of context, I told him I’d print our entire email exchange — my full question and his full answers — online, for all the world to see and assess. And here it is, passed along without comment. My questions are in bold. (My fuller thoughts will appear in print Wednesday.)
1) The CCGJ is in a sense repositioning itself less as a sort of pass-through agency — i.e., take money from Council, give money to the symphony and the Cummer and MOCA — than as a group of “advocates/activists” for the arts in Jacksonville. In your email, if I’m reading it right, you argue that the CCGJ should not be in the advocacy business, at least not with public …
For the last two weeks, I’ve filed columns and blog posts exploring the controversial tweets Duval County Republican Party Secretary Kim Crenier posted in the wake of the Darren Wilson “No True Bill” decision in Ferguson, Missouri, last Monday night. At 10:34 p.m., as tear gas flooded the streets of Ferguson, Crenier, on her own account as well as that of @JaxGOP, excitedly tweeted: “No true bill! May God bless and protect Officer Darren Wilson and his family. Facts are facts.”
I’ve called for the party to explain her comments and to take a position on them and her; I’ve also called for Crenier to resign. In the wake of my original blog post, the story went national, taking off with outfits as disparate as the Washington Times and Daily Kos.
And with good reason. Her comments on the Jax GOP feed were questionable; the ones on her private feed were unconscionable. Her call for law enforcement to “turn the fire hoses” on Ferguson protesters who “probly need a shower” was a throwback to the Bull Connor era. When I asked her about it, she replied that “the civil rights implication never even entered my head” and that “water seemed to be less severe than mace,” which apparently was the chosen crowd dispersal agent of some of her fellow tea partiers in her Twitterverse. (She also had some choice statements about “President Racebaiter” Barack Obama, “our race-baiting, America hating President.”)
Time passed, and the Ferguson riots ran their course. Hands Up Don’t Shoot, replaced by I Can’t Breathe. Another week; another black man executed with extreme prejudice by a white cop. And she was still in her spot.
That ends soon. Crenier recently went on a local right-wing radio show, according to the Times-Union, and said that critics had “been calling for my head and calling for me to step down,” she said. “[Local …
Update: I tweaked the headline, after Councilman Lumb objected that it was misleading: “I think it was pretty clear that I wasn't objecting that the Cultural Council defended MOCA, I objected to how they went about it.”
Just when you thought #MOCAgate (or were we calling it #boobygate?) was over, here’s this:
Robin Lumb is not a happy camper. This afternoon, he fired off an email to Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville board members, chiding the Cultural Council for not knowing its place. Their crime, it seems, was #standingwithmoca — or specifically, for criticizing Clay Yarborough, our Great Moral Compass, who declared that a picture of a naked pregnant lady reclining on a couch was pornography that would corrupt THE CHILDREN and demanded that the mayor defund the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. (The mayor refused, citing First Amendment issues.)
Yarborough, of course, has been the subject of much derision, both here and nationwide. In The New York Times, the photographer/pornographer(?) in question, Angela Strassheim, quipped that maybe he hadn’t seen enough porn to know what porn really was. At Art Walk last night, a good-sized crowd mocked him with signs like “Ban Boobs from City Hall” (see image above). And in this mag’s pages this week, we wondered what artistic masterpieces would look like if they had to abide by Yarborough’s standards of decency.
We all had a good laugh.
Councilman Lumb was not laughing.
When he learned that the Cultural Council had email-blasted a plea for support for MOCA, saying Yarborough’s campaign was “unfortunate and could be viewed as an effort to stifle artistic expression” and linking to a number of anti-Yarborough pieces that had appeared in the local media, ours included, he wrote to “express my profound disappointment with the conduct of the Cultural Council in this matter as evinced by the …