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THE FLOG

Folio Weekly didn’t have to look far to find its next editor. Jeffrey Billman was senior writer and news editor at Orlando Weekly.

Billman has a history of working for alternative newsweeklies. He was news editor at Philadelphia City Paper and has worked as a freelancer. He was also senior editor and writer at-large at Philadelphia Magazine, and has won awards for investigative reporting, feature writing and religion writing.

Billman and his wife, Adri — along with their two dogs, Belle and Sebastian (yes, after the band) — will move to Northeast Florida as soon as they can find a place to live and get their Orlando house on the market. 

Billman, who plans to start work sometime in December, invites Folio Weekly readers to get in touch with him on Twitter (@jeffreybillman) and Facebook (facebook.com/jeffreycbillman), or email him (jeffreycbillman@gmail.com), especially if they have tips on where he should live and what he should do when he arrives.

Folio Weekly asked Billman a few questions to help readers get to know him. 

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, moved to Orlando for college, and ended up staying for a decade, then ended up in Philly, came back to Orlando for year and now Jacksonville.

Where did you go to school?

I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida, in journalism and political science/public policy analysis, respectively.     

Have you been to Northeast Florida before accepting this job? What do you know about the area?

Truth be told, I have a lot to learn — which is always, to my mind, one of the best parts of moving somewhere new. I’ve driven through Jax on several occasions, and spent a little bit of time here reporting on stories, but there is much to discover. 

What interested you about Folio Weekly?

For starters, I’ve been looking for an …   More

Our Picks

Continuing the conversation, TedXJacksonville presents Community Health Salon, a Ted Talk focusing on community health. Speakers will examine larger ideas about health and discuss their local impact.

“We will show pre-recorded Ted Talks about health initiatives and follow with a discussion,” says Daniel Austin, Jacksonville Community Council Inc.'s communications manager.

Discussion topics include health disparities in Jacksonville, teen sexual health, and how Jacksonville plans to combat food deserts. the talks will be moderated by local community health leaders, such as Dr. Christine Sapienza, Jacksonville University's Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Dr. Kelli T. Wells, Duval County director of Florida Department of Health, and others.   More

THE FLOG

Folio Weekly is a finalist in two categories of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) awards announced May 22.

In column writing for publlications with less than 50,000 circulation, Editor Denise M. Reagan was selected as one of three finalists for three Editor's Notes submissions:

Between a Nugget and a Hard Place: Chick-fil-A president’s right to voice same-sex marriage stance is just as sacrosanct as equal rights

In the Mouths of Babes: Smoking continues its hold on youth and young adults

Adopting a New Idea: The holidays are a good time to take in a stranger

In cover design for the less than 50,000 circulation category, Chad Smith, Walter Coker and Reagan were selected as finalists for three pages (see photos above):

Fall Arts Preview, Sept. 11, 2012

Jim Draper, Dec. 11, 2012

Antique Animals, Dec. 18, 2012

Every year, AAN honors reporters, artists, columnists, photographers, web producers, editorial assistants, creative directors, designers and editors of the alternative news industry. The finalists were selected by judges at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio Universit as the most outstanding from a field of more than 900 entries submitted by alternative publications across the U.S. and Canada. 

The winners will be announced during a July 13 reception at the AAN Annual Convention in Miami.   More

THE FLOG

Last month, you may recall, a Florida judge declared unconstitutional the comically gerrymandered congressional districts created by Republicans in the Legislature, ruling that they blatantly violated an amendment the state's voters had overwhelmingly approved in 2010. 

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering — that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.

Gerrymandering "has been criticized as allowing, in effect, the representatives to choose their voters instead of vice versa," he wrote.

Specifically, Lewis found that congressional districts 5 and 10 had been drawn to favor the GOP, and that neighboring districts had been affected as well. Those two districts, and any others affected, will need to be redrawn, he said.

District 5, of course, is the sprawling slice of weirdness that stretches from Jacksonville all the way down to Orlando, snagging black communities along the way (and thus making the adjoining Republican districts safer, which is the whole point). It belongs to Corrine Brown, GOP foot soldier. And she was none too thrilled about Lewis’ ruling: "Minority communities do not live in compact, cookie-cutter-like neighborhoods, and excessive adherence to district ‘compactness,' while ignoring the maintenance of minority access districts, fragments minority communities across the state," she raged. 

The Legislature decided not to appeal, for that would only be more embarrasing. Instead it asked Lewis to let the districts stand until after the November election. 

Today, he said …   More

THE FLOG

Courtesy of friend-of-Folio Weekly Marvin Edwards, here’s an op-ed the Times-Union published on July 11, 1993, from Thomas Petway III, a partner of Touchdown Jacksonville!, the ultimately successful group that was, two decades ago, trying to land this city a professional football team. 

If we win, we get our NFL team and the excitement of 10 great home games each year [ed. note: 10?], plus a major economic boost that includes 2,000 new jobs and an impact of $1 billion by the year 2000. 

We will have seized the most important moment in our history, ensuring a Jacksonville of the 21st century that will be full of hope and promise and a community in which our children and grandchildren will want to live and work. Jacksonville, too, will be a first-class city! 

Petway goes on to tout Jacksonville’s advantages over competing cities. The first one: 

Having an NFL quality stadium, which Jacksonville is assured with the Gator Bowl renovation agreement reached between Touchdown Jacksonville! and the Mayor’s Office which calls for all NFL renovation costs to be paid by our new NFL team. [Emphasis mine.]

Guess that agreement had a shelf life. 

 

    More

THE FLOG

Editor's note: Last night two FW contributors, unbeknownest to each other, sent me their unsolicited thoughts on The Great Jaxson DeVille Imbroglio of 2014. Since they staked out decidedly different terrain — in this corner, Richard David Smith III, best known as the Juror Who Blew Up the Dunn Trial, arguing that it's pretty much the kind of lowball antics you’d expect from the Jags operation; in the other corner, AG Gancarski rising to Jaxson’s defense and saying we all need to chill the eff out a little — I mashed up their essays into one Flog post. You decide: Is this something we should get worked up about?  

First up, RDSIII: Is it really that much of a surprise that this sort of thing comes from the Jacksonville Jaguars? 

Our beloved Jacksonville Jaguars have once again made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time around it had nothing to do with on-the-field ineptitude or the trailer park treasure-style stadium amenities. No, sir, this time it was the goofiness on the sidelines that caught the attention of a flabbergasted worldwide sports media. The controversy started when an in-stadium photo was taken and sent to social media featuring Jaguars mascot Jaxson DeVille apparently attempting to take a stab at current-events humor by holding up a sign that read “Towels Spread Ebola,” a dig aimed at Pittsburgh Steelers fans — who show up in droves at Jags games — and the yellow and black Terrible Towels that they ferociously wave. The joke was ill-received and ill-timed considering the countless number of lives lost to Ebola in Africa and the current fear of the nasty virus spreading into a possibly uncontrollable outbreak in America, however unlikely and/or trumped-up that scenario actually is. The topic is certainly par for the course when it comes to edgy comedy platforms (see: recent Saturday Night Live), but for a mascot in a league that is perpetually trying to drive home …   More

THE FLOG

All the single ladies! All the single ladies!

If you’re in Jacksonville and you like it, then you better put a ring on it; there may not be many more options for you. A recent Pew Research Center study shows that Jacksonville is the second-worst city in the nation when it comes to the ratio of employed single men to single women, at 70 to 100. And while it’s sexist to assume that men should always be the household breadwinner, this may help explain a little why your hardworking sister  tolerates her lethargic, alcoholic, video-game-junkie loser of a boyfriend.

Coming in last just below J-ville? Memphis, with a 59-to-100 ratio of employed men to single women. Of course, this is not really a fair comparison, because while the unemployed men in Memphis are (presumably) cool blues players, here they’re George Zimmermans.

These statistics have to be frustrating for local ladies looking for a stable partner, but I have to be honest, they frustrate me as well. There’s nothing I love more (and by “love” I mean hate) than working a full-time job, writing for several area publications, and trying to start a business to make ends meet while supporting a wife and two kids and then taking stroll through 5 Points only to see the same people I've seen since high school trying their best to inconspicuously light up a J outside of Birdie's, having filled out nary a W-2 for over a decade. And how can they always afford $12 craft microbrews … and huge tattoos? Were my parents the only ones who didn’t purchase a trust fund for their children in the ’80s? But I digress.

OK, ladies, so you may be shit out of luck when it comes to finding the “perfect” (aka gainfully employed) man in Jacksonville, but love and marriage is not always about the financials, right? In light of this recent study, perhaps I can interest you in some of these colorful underemployed bachelors of our fair city, …   More

THE FLOG

Law enforcement agents and prosecutors have announced multiple conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering charges against 57 people who were involved with Internet café operator Allied Veterans of the World. Law enforcement officials said the operation masqueraded as a charity with less than 2 percent of the profits going to veterans.

They said this is just the first wave of arrests, and more charges are possible. The roles of Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba and FOP Vice President Robbie Freitas, were not revealed at a multi-agency news conference in Orlando.

Officials also would not discuss what involvement former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll had in the case. She resigned March 12, a day after being questioned by investigators.

Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis, who represented Allied Veterans, was called one of the masterminds of the $300 million racketeering scheme. Investigators claimed he received about $7 million.   More

THE FLOG

Until the Mathews Bridge was built 60 years ago, Arlington residents had to take a ferry or the Main Street Bridge to get to the other side of the river.

On April 13, Old Arlington Inc. is celebrating of opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953, which had been dubbed the bridge to “nowhere.” Within seven years of its opening, there was a major shift in Jacksonville’s population to the east.

Events include a bridge rededication 10:30-11:30 a.m., a classic car show, art show, pottery demonstration and tours of Norman Studios at 6337 Arlington Road. There will also be a dancing exhibition and activities for children. The celebration runs noon-4 p.m.

When the interior of the Wardrobe Cottage at Norman Studios is completed, Old Arlington Inc. will be moving its offices into that building.

For more information, contact myarlington.org.   More

THE FLOG

A 13-year-old Jacksonville boy had the coolest birthday ever when his father rented a movie theater, and Jonah and his friends got to play video games for five hours on the big screen. Now the video of his party has gone viral, with hundreds of hits on Gawker and Reddit.

Jonah’s father, Travis, rented out Sun-Ray Cinema in Five Points for five hours for $300 and supplied unlimited beverages and pizza to his guests.

But the coolest part was the ability to play all the top video games including “Dead Space 2,” “Minecraft,” “Halo” and “Portal” on the theater’s giant screen.

His father said Jonah is an awesome kid and deserved an awesome party. He said Jonah has Type 1 diabetes and regularly does fundraising events for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and The Walk To Cure Diabetes.   More

 
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