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Harvard Study Slams Duval for Overusing Death Penalty

Researchers at Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project have identified Duval County, Florida as part of the tiny minority of counties in the nation - one half of one percent - that have handed down five or more death penalty sentences between 2010 and 2015.  The report is titled “Too Broken to Fix: Part 1; An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Penalty Counties."

 

 

“Between 2010-2015, in Duval there were 15 defendants sentenced to death,” Fair Punishment Project spokeswoman Stefanie Faucher wrote in a statement to Folio Weekly Magazine. She explains that in 2015, one individual was resentenced to death following an appeal, bringing the total to 16. Duval is responsible for roughly one-fourth of all Florida death-penalty sentences during this time period, despite comprising only 5 percent of the state’s population. And it’s not because we have the worst of the worst in terms of murderers, the study maintains.

 

 

The report released Tuesday examines eight of the 16 counties and the factors that make them different from the rest of the nation, which has largely abandoned the death penalty.

The FPP found three commonalities amongst the 16 “outlier” counties that outstrip the rest of the nation in death penalty sentencing.

“In the small number of counties where the death penalty still exists, we found of evidence of egregiously bad defense lawyering, rampant prosecutorial misconduct and overzealousness, and a pattern of racial bias that undermines the fairness of the death penalty,” noted Rob Smith, one of the report’s researchers. 

 

Racial bias 

For example, during the five-year period studied (2010-'15), in Duval, 87 percent of defendants sentenced to death were black, a number that is hugely disproportionate to African-American residency in Jacksonville. (Merely 30.1 percent of Duval County residents are …   More

THE FLOG

St. Augustine Company Makes Musicians Social

St. Augustine-based social media agency Make Me Social recently added some fins to its clientele.

The 12-employee operation, founded in 2009 by Chief Strategic Officer Josh Jordan, now represents artists with Jimmy Buffett’s record label, Mailboat Records, including reggae artist Mishka and Hawaiian ukulele musician Jake Shimabukuro.

The company uses data analytics software to figure out how and when to best target social media audiences for optimal interaction.

“We were able to help get Mishka to number one on iTunes for reggae charts, figure out how to get audiences engaged and excited about the album, then do branding on social media channels,” Jordan said.

And they’re utilizing a lot of social media channels. Jordan, 37, said the company uses Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit and more to promote its clients, which also include media giant Hearst Publishing and financial services firm Morgan Stanley.

“Everybody’s sitting … with a vending machine in their hands. They’ve got these cell phones, they’re tweeting, they’re Facebooking, they’re taking pictures, they’re recording video – and it’s a huge opportunity for brands to engage,” said Jordan.

Make Me Social has satellite offices in Baltimore, Los Angeles and New York, and Jordan said he hopes the company will continue to bridge the gap between offline and online engagement for a range of clients.   More

GOING FOR 'BROKE'

Julian Robertson was running late to his audition, his feet frozen and

his pants snow-wet. Little could he have imagined how that winter day in Manhattan would shape his summer here in Jacksonville.  But then, he had no idea that The Juilliard School, the nation’s premiere performing arts school, would accept him into their acting program.

The 18-year-old Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate has found a way to parlay his hometown life into a summer play, aptly entitled “Broke,” as a fundraiser for his first year’s educational expenses at his dream school. Robertson will be one of only 18 acting students in the world admitted to Juilliard’s acting department this fall.

The young actor and playwright pulled a few of his friends from Douglas Anderson to direct and act in his original play. The cast has been rehearsing daily for weeks. “Broke” will premiere at The Performer’s Academy on Beach Blvd. on Friday, August 5.

Sitting across the kitchen table from Robertson, discussing his young characters and their pronounced moral conflicts, it’s easy to forget he’s only eighteen.

He explains that the play centers on a handful of young friends who grew up together in a hardscrabble neighborhood modeled on Robertson’s own North Jacksonville community.

“All of the characters are in survival mode,” Robertson says. “Markis has dug a hole for himself too big to get out of. He’s lost touch with who he is. He has a massive debt, and the clock is ticking.”

Robertson says that after “bouncing around in his head” for months, the story poured out of him “all at once,” when he returned from the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory in 2015.

“I sat down at the computer and I tried to write what they were saying,” he says of the play’s characters. “I was trying to catch it all.”

The characters are …   More

FOLIO THEATRE

A Woman on the Verge of a Nervous BREAKDOWN

An entire play taking place in the comfort of one room might sound strikingly boring to some, yet Henrik Ibsen, the creator of the 1890s play Hedda Gabler, succeeded in making it exhilarating.

Ibsen wrote a letter to one of his colleagues in December 1890 stating, “My intention in giving this name was to indicate that Hedda, as a personality, is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife.” This kind of familial dysfunction, disconnection and discord drives the gripping drama.

St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre is currently staging this one-setting play which shows how Hedda faces the battles of the domestic sphere in 19th-century Norway.

Theater lovers interested in modern dramas, rebellion and violent demonstrations of power and manipulation are sure to enjoy the final stagings of this production, mounted through Feb. 19 at this intimate theater.

Sharon Resnikoff is brilliant as Hedda Gabler, a newly married aristocrat who is unwilling to accept the rôle of a passive wife, the usual fate to which women were relegated in that era. Born the daughter of a famous general, Hedda is accustomed to the finer things in life and refuses anything that is not up to her standards. Throughout the play, we see Hedda use her intelligence to manipulate her husband and friends with recurring acts that make her seem dishonest and unpredictable. Resnikoff is skilled at capturing both the complexity and tragedy of the title character.

In the opening scene, we discover that Hedda and her well-heeled husband Jorge Tesman (Thomas Muniz) have returned from a six-month-long honeymoon to a lavish home that Tesman bought to impress his new bride. Yet this stately manor looks like a prison to Hedda’s eyes. The fact that the new home was purchased by Jorge’s Aunt Julle (played by Francesca Bellavista) only adds to Hedda’s resentment that her groom is not the deep-pocketed husband on whose fortune …   More

THE FLOG

DUVAL REPUBS EJECT FOLIO WEEKLY WRITER (WHO IS NOT REALLY A FOLIO WEEKLY WRITER) FROM REC MEETING

So at last night’s meeting of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee — a group that has not been immune to scandal lately — the party did what everyone expected and rallied around establishment candidate Lenny Curry … except, not exactly, maybe. According to Jesse Wilson — who was until last month a Republican candidate for City Council and is now the social media consultant for the mayoral campaign of Bill Bishop, also a Republican — on the first round of balloting, Bishop got just enough support to deny Curry the party’s endorsement, which meant the party wouldn’t endorse at all, which … wouldn’t look so great. 

So newly installed REC chairman Robin Lumb decided to have something of a do-over, this time allowing three new members, who previously were disallowed from voting, to vote. And they all voted for Lenny Curry. Imagine that. (Skip ahead to the bottom of this post for Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland’s play-by-play, as well as comments from Duval GOP secretary Bill Spann.)

(In a statement, Curry called this support “grassroots”: “We appreciate the grassroots supporters for asking Chairman Lumb to hold a vote, and for inviting Lenny to present his vision for Jacksonville's future. Duval Republicans voted to send a message to Alvin Brown; our candidate is Lenny Curry and he is bringing a brighter future to our city.” We do not think that word means what he thinks it means.)

Of course, Wilson — voted Best Local Righteous Crusader in our Best of Jax 2014 readers poll — wasn’t there to see it. A bit before the vote, while Curry and Bishop were on stage, the emcee announced that there was a writer from Folio Weekly in the house, and since the meeting was closed to the press, that person had to leave. 

Wilson, who writes for Void on occasion, and who has never written for this magazine so far we can tell, looked …   More

BALLOTS AND BREWS: A TOTAL SUCCESS

Having just returned from the first Ballots and Brews event held by the Young Voters Coalition, I have a few insights.

One of which is that, if you wanted to hear first-rate political gossip, you should have been there. It was a three hour game of inside baseball. Just keep your pen sheathed and your notepad in your back pocket.

Those who weren't there might wonder who was there. Those who were there know the answer.

Everyone.

If you were there around 6:00, you could have talked to Lenny Curry. Around 8:00, and you would have seen Alvin Brown, who worked the room like Bill Clinton himself (who apparently is going to be in town tomorrow for a big ticket fundraiser and a meeting with 250 "influencers", if the gossip tonight was on point). And staying the entire evening, Bill Bishop, who was in his element, talking to some of the most engaged voters in the entire city of Jacksonville.

If you wanted to talk to staff members, you would have seen them in force. From Curry campaign ops to key City Hall personnel, they were there -- and they were telling hilarious stories.

Sorry if you missed it. I can understand. You were busy. It was cold out. Riverside might have been far away.

But it was an epic party. 

Sheriff and Council candidates were there in abundance. Michelle Tappouni, Tommy Hazouri, Anna Brosche, Mincy Pollock, Tony Cummings, Jay Farhat, and a few more were working the crowd, pressing flesh and influencing voters.

Not just any voters either. But the ones who really give a damn. The most independent thinkers in the city were are Intuition Ale.

You weren't there? You missed Jesse Wilson and Wayne Wood. Kerry Speckman and Meredith O'Malley Johnson. And one of my favorite people in the city, James Richardson, who was dressed impeccably as always. 

You were drinking somewhere else? Hmm. Hard to beat Intuition Ale. I hope you liked your PBR.

If you needed proof that Jacksonville is really a small town, you would have …   More

THE FLOG

UNF to Stage Mock Rape Trial

The University of North Florida’s Women’s Center and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice are staging a mock rape trial at 7 p.m. April 10.

Assistant State Attorney Terence Martin said the goal is to educate students on the process of going to trial and to show them how the system works in Jacksonville.

The mock trial is designed to teach students what to expect from the first responding officer, inform students on victim advocates that are available to them and show the victim that the process can work, Martin said.

UNF students will act out fictional roles about one woman’s story of her alleged sexual violation, according to a press release from the university. The mock trial will be staged at the Andrew A. Robinson Jr. Theater, Building 14A, and the event is free and open to the public.

The trial will look at a date rape scenario, something the students can relate to, said Martin, who is also division chief of the Special Assault Division for the 4th Judicial Court.

Last semester at UNF, a student falsified a police report by reporting that she was sexually assaulted on Aug. 21 in the UNF Wellness Complex. After it became clear that the report was false, the student was prosecuted, Martin said.

Martin will lead the defense team with Aaron Feuer, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit assigned to the domestic violence unit.

Coreylyn Crawford, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit assigned to the domestic violence unit, and Anna Hixon, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit, will lead the prosecution team, according to the press release.

The students will play the roles of the victim, accused perpetrator, prosecution, defense, jury and crime lab teams, Martin said.

Adding to the realistic depiction of the trial, the jury will be randomly selected from the audience, according to the press release. The trial also will include forensic scientist, Marcella …   More

THE FLOG

JACKSONVILLE BLACK FIREFIGHTERS WAVER ON ENDORSING MAYOR BROWN

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this blog post has been updated to include new information. 

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 it did in 2011. And after Brown was a no-show at a meeting last Monday that he had requested with the Brotherhood’s membership — 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 court their endorsement instead.

While it seems absurd to think the Brotherhood would endorse such a hyper-conservative, the group says its members are looking for a candidate whose agenda aligns with theirs — and many question if that candidate 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. His members were already wavering because of that silence, he says. They thought that last Monday’s meeting was a chance to talk about their concerns. Instead, however, Brown sent two top administrators, deputy chief of staff Cleveland Ferguson and Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department Chief Ivan Mote, in his place.

“He stood us up,” Edwards says of Brown. “And it went sideways quick.”

The 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 meeting with Curry. (The mayor’s office later pointed out that this meeting was not a campaign event, and referred election-related questions to Brown’s campaign team.)

“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 …   More

THE FLOG

Emotional Gooeyness and A Little SNARK

When I opened my email this morning I got notification that the current show, Mommy, featuring the works of Polina Barskaya, Larissa Bates, Louis Fratino, Sarah Alice Moran, Louise Sheldon, Cynthia Talmadge, and Caleb Yono; at Monya Rowe Gallery in St. Augustine is only up for one more week.

Damnit.

This show is, simply put, very compelling. Like the best poetry or story-telling, the various iterations that stem from the springboard word “Mommy,” range from the deeply personal (with a little snark), to caustically nightmarish and outsized. Of the seven artists in the show, there are two whose works exist in a kind of emotional high relief: Caleb Yono and Cynthia Talmadge.

Caleb Yono’s photograph Untitled Illusion (2017) is like a dark-mirror snap of a barely remembered Joan Crawford portrait. In its unsettling “head-shot” style presentation, Yono’s face has been painted a yellow-tinted white, eyes outlined in yellow-haloed murple, with outsized lips painted a glossy black. It reads as Fauve, but also as ’90s-era Limelight club-kid where gendered presentation is fluid and therefor capable of destabilizing an overarching heteronormative societal narrative.

In many ways, if Yono’s work is the promise of club kids realized—brilliance and fearlessness and wit—as filtered through a sophisticated engagement with ancient myth and fashion tropes, it is too a way of being in the world that champions the power (creative and destructive) of WASP-y ideas of beauty. This is especially present in an installation of his drawings. These 22 small images project the dreaminess of Chagall, the fashionable emotional gooeyness of Elizabeth Peyton married to Schiele drawings, all bound to horror/delight at the act of transformation.

Cynthia Talmadge has two pieces in Mommy, a painting and a small installation. The painting, Mild Nausea (2015) rendered in a pointillist style and depicting decorative sections of …   More

THE FLOG

THREE to GET READY

 

The days are long gone when jazz music was the dominant cultural influence in America, and this city was a hub for legendary touring bands that came through regularly during the early 20th century. Jazz has been officially a niche market for the last 40 or 50 years, dating back to the birth of rock ’n' roll and the death of John Coltrane. But that niche market boasts high incomes, education and, above all else, loyalty to the product. The continual big crowds for our jazz festival for 35 years is a case in point.

In the summer of 2017, a renaissance of sorts in the city’s long-dormant jazz scene emerged, with a number of high-profile public events, bookended by Chick Corea’s headlining performance at the festival in May, the instant-classic set by Kumasi Washington that preceded it that weekend, and Marcus Printup’s gig at The Parlour in August, which occasioned a mini-reunion of UNF Jazz program alumni. So, with the numbers ticking steadily upward among the musicians and their fans, it makes perfect sense that the summer would also include the appearance of a couple new jazz venues in town—but three?

Yeah, four. Now, the concept of a functioning full-time jazz club might seem anachronistic these days, especially in Jacksonville, where such a thing is considerably more unusual than usual. But that has not always been the case, and in 2017, it seems to be the case no longer.

 

Breezy Jazz Club opened its doors Downtown the weekend of June 30. It’s at 119 W. Adams St., between Hogan and Laura, situated on a block historic for its centrality to the city’s live music scene, across the street from De Real Ting Café, which used to be the Milk Bar, and less than a block down from what once was the mythical Moto Lounge. (Right next door stands The Volstead, which nearly shuttered before a last-minute intervention by investors, ensuring its continued primacy within the scene.) Owner Thea …   More