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THE FLOG

Heading into the mayoral election in May, the big hullabaloo currently shaking up Jacksonville’s political blogosphere is the recent TV attack ad by Republican Lenny Curry’s PAC peeps that aims to directly link the budget cuts and subsequent elimination of 147 police positions under incumbent Democrat Alvin Brown to an increase in the city’s crime rate, namely murder and rape. You’ve no doubt seen these omnipresent ads. They’re the ones that come on in between your Family Guy reruns, featuring spooky music and darkened imagery — basically likening 2015 J-ville to the alternate reality timeline in Back to the Future II wherein Marty McFly’s bully, Biff Tannen, is at the head of a morally corrupt, criminal-laden Hill Valley. The ad was blatant fear-mongering and, according to an investigation by First Coast News, riddled with factual inaccuracies and false interpretations (that’s media speak for “lies”). Murders and rapes did increase during Mayor Brown’s first term (though not at quite the astonishing rates indicated in the ad), but the overall crime rate went down. Mayor Brown did have something to do with the budget cuts (as did the cratering economy, but details), but he did not cut 147 officers; the final determination of the allocation of police force resources belonging to Dudley Do-Right (aka Sheriff John Rutherford), who also attributes the budget cuts to the rise in crime rates and is, conveniently, a supporter of Curry.

Of course, revealing the true figures and political motivations behind the manipulated statistics presented to us in the ad is all well and good but, from what I gather, every organization analyzing this ad seems to focus so much on the correlation that they are entirely ignoring the causation. Like conditions created by the hopelessness of unemployment and poverty. Like inadequately funded and staffed community youth outreach programs in high-risk neighborhoods. …   More

THE FLOG

A survivor named Miley will lead Mutt March, Jacksonville Humane Society’s fundraiser walk at the Jacksonville Landing from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 2.

Miley collapsed and nearly died of respiratory distress from a walk at the JHS. JHS set a goal of raising $100,000 to care for shelter pets at the Mutt March.

“Miley is the perfect dog to represent JHS at Mutt March. She and so many others like her have overcome medical obstacles to bring great joy to their adoptive families. That wouldn’t be possible without the funds raised at Mutt March,” said Denise Deisler, JHS executive director, according to a press release from the JHS. “We are depending on Mutt March to raise enough money to care for the thousands of pets who rely on JHS for medical care and shelter each year.”

The 2-mile Mutt March fun walk and festival will have entertainment, activities for kids and pets, a silent auction and vendors with walking along St. Johns River.

Last year’s top fundraiser, JHS board member Lis’e Everly will walk Miley and lead hundreds of other dogs and their families in Mutt March.

“I am walking with Miley in the Mutt March to ensure JHS has the funds needed to care for all of the pets waiting for families with which to share their love,” Everly said. “Dogs like Miley stand by us offering us unconditional love, greeting us with enthusiasm and making us smile through the saddest of tears.”

To register for Mutt March, visit jaxhumane.org/muttmarch.   More

THE FLOG

 

The Jacksonville Suns and the contractors on the repair and repainting of the Mathews Bridge have reached an agreement to make it easier for fans to get to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for Suns games.

The bridge will remain open both ways until 10:30 p.m. on the first six Friday night games: April 5, April 26,  May 10, May 24, June 14 and June 21.

The Mathews will also remain open for opening night on April 4 and on Memorial Day weekend and the Southern Leaguer All-Star Game on July 17.

The $22.7 million repair and repainting program on the Mathews Bridge, which began in September 2011, is scheduled for completion later this summer or early fall, said Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The Jacksonville Suns are the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and are members of the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs.

 

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DIG THIS GIG

Credited with building his own “Millertary” (good grief), the 22-year-old pop singer Jake Miller is on tour promoting his latest release, Rumors. After releasing two EPs independently, he has been signed to Warner Bros. Records. Miller’s music is surprisingly well received, a mixture of Pop and Hip-Hop that is admittedly difficult to master. However, Miller’s sound is more of a combination of Disney Pop star and passable rap. Fortunately for Miller, this type of music appeals to the wide fan base of young teens. If nothing else, his current tour/teeny bopper recruitment drive will most certainly be successful in a probable expansion of his “army.”

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THE FLOG

If you see a gaggle of law enforcement officers along Wells Road in Orange Park on Wednesday afternoon it is not an actual emergency, it’s only a drill. Some 65 people from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the Orange Park Police and Fire Departments, Clay County Fire Rescue and Everest University staff and students are working together on a training exercise. The college students will be acting out scenarios such as an active shooter on campus to a hostage situation, and the officers and first responders will be honing their skills for an actual emergency. Remember, it is only a drill.

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FLOG

A new poll by the University of North Florida showed that about 70 percent of those questioned still approve or strongly approve of Mayor Alvin Brown’s performance. In a similar poll taken last year, 75 percent of those polled approved of the mayor’s performance. In the same poll, 48 percent of those polled approve of the job the Jacksonville City Council is doing.

Those polled showed 40 percent were taking a wait-and-see attitude on newly hired Duval County Superintendent of Schools Nikolai Vitti. About 40 percent had no opinion of the new superintendent. A majority of residents, 58 percent, supported the city adding sexual orientation to its human rights ordinance.

The poll was taken between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12 and included 917 Duval County residents. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.23 percent.   More

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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THE FLOG

Last Friday, a federal court judge dismissed the complaint that Jeremy Banks, the St. Johns County Sheriffs deputy best known as the boyfriend of Michelle O’Connell — who may or may not have committed suicide back in September 2010 — filed last year against Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Rusty Rodgers, Folio Weekly has learned. That complaint alleged that Rodgers lied to and manipulated O’Connell’s family members into believing that Banks had killed her, and made false and derragotory statements about Sheriff David Shoar, including that he was helping cover up a homicide by one of his deputies. 

"Over a year ago,” Shoar said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed, “I personally made a complaint to FDLE regarding the egregious behavior of Rusty Rodgers and [fellow FDLE Agent] Dominic Pape during the investigation of the death of Michelle O'Connell. While Rodgers is currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation for 'official misconduct,' I am grateful the civil cases are moving forward to ultimately bring justice and closure to all involved."

On Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis dismissed Banks’ complaint without prejudice, which means Banks will have the opportunity to refile by March 5. In essence, Davis ruled in his seven-page order that Banks did not come close to establishing the probable cause the court needed to move the case forward. 

“The Court is mindful that proof is not required at this juncture of the case,” Davis wrote. “Nevertheless, Rule 8 requires a short plain statement sufficient to put Defendant on notice of facts or inferences from them which makes the absence of probable cause plausible. The allegations of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint simply fail to accomplish that requirement.” 

We will update as we learn more. 

*This post and headline were updated to reflect the fact that the …   More

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