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Jacksonville is receiving $450,000 from the 2012-2013 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday.

The grants are part of $2.6 million awarded to 10 project across the state “to protect military installations and grow jobs and opportunities across the state,” the governor said

In Jacksonville, the funds will go for the construction of an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research center at Mayport Naval Station.

A grant of $100,000 will to the Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small business across Florida.

“These investments are critical to supporting military jobs and further establishing Jacksonville as a major hub for aircraft basing,” the governor said.

Mayor Alvin Brown thanked the governor, saying, “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part of national security, but promote jobs and economic development at the local and state levels.”

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FLOG

JaxPort’s Board of Directors have voted unanimously to inform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it wants to dredge the harbor to no less than 47 feet deep to keep the port competitive.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recommended Monday that the St. Johns River shipping channel be dredged from its current 40-foot depth to 45 feet deep. Port members, however, said recommended depth is not deep enough for the port to service larger cargo ships from Asia.

The JaxPort board members said they think the 47-feet depth is needed to keep Jacksonville competitive to other East Cost ports.

The federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost to dredge up to 45 feet. Anything deeper than that depth could be paid for with state, federal, local or private funds.

There were no cost figures discussed at Monday’s meeting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release the draft results of its harbor deepening study in May.

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THE FLOG

Grab your guns, crank up the truck and blast the Skynyrd, Duval, cause the South is gon’ rise again! Well, sort of … and, OK, this time, we’re technically going to be the North … oh, and it’s not a secession, really … and it’s not really our idea, but … but … Free Bird!

The real issue at hand is that a group of politicians in South Miami are essentially sick and tired of the northern part of Florida leaving them out to dry (or actually the opposite of that) when it comes to climate change issues in the southern part of the state. In response, they’ve proposed a bold but completely Florida-esque solution: Split the state in half and create their own state of “South Florida,” which would thus become the 51st state … if you count both Dakotas, but really, what’s the point of that? 

To answer your first question: no, this isn’t a story from The Onion. (This is, though.) This call for the legal separation of Florida into two separate states was actually cooked up — with delicious Cuban spices, I presume — by the mayor and city commission of South Miami. The threat of rising sea levels as a result of global warming, and the rest of the state’s blase attitude toward said crisis, was cited as the reason behind the proposal, which would slice Florida in half like a ripe grapefruit from approximately Orlando down.

Wait, Orlando? Oh no, you didn’t! You can take our beautiful Everglades National State Park away from us, but DO NOT FUCK with Mickey Mouse or our chintzy discount brand outlet stores!

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Orange County is particularly important because that's where the South Florida Water Management District begins, [Vice Mayor Walter] Harris said. It was even suggested that a Central Florida city could possibly be the state of South Florida's capitol.

Given the large number of Baptist churches here in North Florida, …   More

SPORTSTALK: THE JAG-OFF

Another home game for the Jacksonville Jaguars, another chance for Blake Bortles to make the leap. This game was the biggest start in his young career.

Why? Because the Dolphins are arguably the Jaguars’ biggest rivals, if for no other reason than proximity. And Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, in many ways, is an analog for Bortles: a young, up-and-down quarterback who can run if he needs to (both were top-five QB rushers coming in). Tannehill has looked increasingly sharp this year, but the jury was out on both of them coming into Sunday’s clash.

And it still is afterward. Tannehill was yet another quarterback who floundered in the face of an initially opportunistic Jags D (just 56 yards allowed in the first half). And Bortles? A dumpster fire. Yes, he threw two long touchdown passes. Both, however, went to Dolphins defenders.

Some missed opportunities for Jags’ offense were not on Bortles, such as the bomb Allen Robinson dropped on the first drive that should have been caught. For every one of those, though, there were things like the two pick-sixes — Bortles’ 11th and 12th of the year, even though he didn’t start until Week 4 — and the fumble in the second quarter. At times, especially on third down, he looked Gabbertesque. Except Gabbert never had a running back like Denard (apologies to MJD apologists).

The Jags opened up the route tree in the third quarter, going deep, which only exposed Bortles as the Dolphins stopped respecting the run and blitzed.

As the game progressed, Gus Bradley looked less and less like an NFL coach. More Tom Arnold than Tom Landry, Gus’ team once again looked outmatched in the second half. What was a winnable game at intermission was over long before the third quarter ended. Tannehill sharpened up as the fourth quarter commenced, one-liners and fart wafts filled the press box, and a “Let’s Go Dolphins” chant pervaded the cleaner air outside it.

On a day …   More

THE FLOG

A mixture of local talent and world-renowned experts are scheduled to give talks at the TEDx Jacksonville Connecting Currents event, to be held Oct. 26 on WJCT's sound stage.

Participants include Barbara Colaciello, Jacksonville Beach actor, playwright and storyteller; Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney; Nancy Soderberg, UNF professor and former UN ambassador and White House advisor; Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida; Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council.

Also, Matt Rutherford, the first person to complete nonstop single-handed voyages around North and South America; former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis, with the distinction of being uninvited to the Tea Party; TEDGlobal Fellow Aman Mojadidi, an American Southerner born to Afghan parents; Chevara Orrin, a black Jewish mother, activist and survivor who will discuss simple human interaction; Lawanda Ravoira, an expert on challenges girls in the juvenile justice system face; and Patricia Siemen, a Dominican sister and attorney who will discuss the long-term ecological health of the Earth.

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THE FLOG

As a reader, you might only think about Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax twice a year: once when you vote and again when you pick up the issue or go to the website to find out who won.

But here at Folio Weekly’s international headquarters, we’ve been working on Best of Jax for months.

It begins in May when we start compiling the list of categories for the ballot and decide which ones to keep, which ones to cut and which ones to add.

In June, we brainstorm several ideas for themes. This year, our passion for “Game of Thrones” pushed us to pick royalty. At that time, we create a logo for that year’s awards.

In July, we create the online ballot and launch it by the end of the month. While all of you are busy voting in August, we’re searching for models and props to bring our theme to life.

When voting ends, we start tabulating the votes. Because the ballot is open-ended and people can type in anything they want, it takes time to comb through each answer and add it to the appropriate place. It’s a laborious but somewhat humorous task sifting through the creative spellings of Northeast Florida’s favorites. But every vote counts!

Meanwhile, we shoot photos for the cover and topic headers that run inside. We shoot everything in at least two ways so we have different poses for the two Best of Jax issues — this year on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

Once we have a list of winners in early September, we assign writers to research and summarize their laurels in individual blurbs. Our staff photographer shoots more than 50 winners in four counties in about three weeks’ time.

Then, we compile and edit all the text and photos into the first and second Best of Jax issues. Once those are designed, proofed and printed, we still have to upload it all online.

We also produce laminated posters and door stickers for winners to hang with pride.

It all seems worth it when we get to celebrate with the winners at the Best of Jax party.

After a few …   More

THE FLOG

Around the time that a suburb half a country away was exploding last Monday night, a Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer named J.C. Garcia tried to pull over a car driven by a man named Brian Dennison, whose 6-year-old daughter was in his car, after he cut through a parking lot trying to avoid a traffic light.

The police say that Dennison didn’t stop when Garcia pulled up behind him, and continued driving all the way to his apartment complex. According to Dennison’s family, the 31-year-old was in a rush to get home because his daughter was having an asthma attack. Dennison got out of his car; one family member told News4Jax that he stuck his hands out of the car window and said, “Don’t shoot, please don’t shoot. I got my daughter in the car.”

Garcia claimed he saw a gun. He pulled his service weapon and fired a shot. 

Dennison — who, fortunately, was not harmed — did not have a weapon. He was, however, arrested on misdemeanor charges. The family is demanding answers.

If history is any indicator, they won’t get them.

Between 1999 and 2013, Florida cops in 110 different law enforcement agencies were involved in 574 homicides that were deemed justified, according to an investigation by NBC 6 South Florida. Of those, 42 cases involved the JSO, the second-highest total of any police agency in the state, behind only the Miami-Dade Police Department. That number is spiking, too — up from just 14 incidents in ’99 to 67 in 2012 and 58 last year — along with a pronounced, concomitant spike in civilian justified homicides that began around 2006 (thank you, Stand Your Ground), even as violent crime rates here and nationwide have plummeted since 1993.

If you’ve reported on cops for any amount of time, as I have, you know how rare it is for police agencies to decide that one of their own did anything wrong, ever, no matter the evidence — like Sasquatch-spotting rare. A few …   More

THE FLOG

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 …   More

The deputy director of the Port of Miami is the unanimous choice by the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board to become the next CEO of JaxPort.

At a meeting April 22, the board approved starting negotiations with Juan Kuryla to replace Paul Anderson, who left at the end of the year to take the position as the director of Tampa Port Authority, said Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.

The board conducted much of its search behind closed doors with one-on-one interviews with the eight candidates. It cut down the number of finalists to three before selecting Kuryla. Interim JaxPort CEO Roy Schleicher and Michael E. Moore, the former CEO of Global Container Terminals were the other finalists.

When he left the post he had held for only 23 months, Anderson complained about the instability at JaxPort, where competing appointments by the governor and mayor kept changing the port’s leadership.

Anderson was the state’s highest paid port executive in Jacksonville with an annual salary of $320,0000. He is paid $350,000 in Tampa.

The board will have to negotiate a salary and benefits with Kuryla.   More

WE'RE HERE, WE'RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT

They wore denim and white. Emblazoned proudly on their lapels, the word “Bride” sparkled in the morning sun, glittering rhinestones for all to see. Onlookers gathered behind them, bearing witness to a historic moment for Jacksonville, and a momentous occasion 13 years in the making for this happy couple.

This was the scene outside the Duval County Courthouse this morning, where life partners and now wives Vicki Karst and Susan Smith proclaimed their love in the first legally binding same-sex marriage to take place in Duval County.

The crowd cheered as attorney Belkis Plata spoke the words heard thousands of times every day at courthouses and in churches all over the country, declaring that by the power vested in her by the state of Florida, Karst and Smith were united in matrimony. On this bright, sunny morning in Downtown Jacksonville, those words held particular significance for those who have fought so long and so hard for marriage equality.

Today they have it.

It was with an excited air of disbelief mixed with a sense of finally, finally, finally that Karst took her bride in her arms. After the nuptials, she told Folio Weekly, “I really didn’t know it would happen in this amount of time. I really thought it would be our children, not us, that would see this kind of thing happen in Florida.”

There was just one thing left to do.

At 10:14 a.m., Karst and Smith’s marriage was legally recorded by the clerk of court at Window 4. Theirs was the first same-sex marriage recorded on this day, which will certainly see many more, as will the days and weeks to come. Three clerks hovered against the wall behind the clerk who was entering their completed marriage license, snickering and gossiping. No one paid them much mind.

“You’re stuck with me now,” Smith joked.

Strangers stopped to congratulate them on their way out of the courthouse. Outside one well-wisher said, “If it’s your cup …   More