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THE FLOG

PROSECUTING A Pillar

Ten-foot high windows afford expansive views of downtown Jacksonville in the tenth-floor federal courtroom where the former congresswoman will learn her fate. From this vantage none would call the cityscape majestic; the hulking JEA building figures prominently in the frame, a great rectangular thing of institutional brick flanked by shorter structures, some regal, most as ugly and utilitarian as the power company headquarters.

But Corrine Brown and her court are not permitted even the small pleasure of this unimpressive view; grey shades block out all but glimpses of the downtown skyline between the slats.

For days, the audience of media, a smattering of courthouse staffers and Brown’s supporters—mostly female, all black—have endured government pews, artificially chilled, dry air, and lights flicked on and off, as the feds make their case. Witness after witness, exhibit after exhibit, details read into the record from emails, checks and recollections. Save for the odd amusing or surprising factoid—a drink called the Queen Corrine served at a soirée (strawberry Bellini with a sugar rim, no word whether it was made with bourbon or brandy), an eyepatch on a prominent, well-coiffed citizen called to the stand—the chum has been bland, dry, pedestrian. “Do you have exhibit 35F, ma’am?” “No objections.” “The United States calls—“ “Nothing further, your honor.” “All rise for the jury.” Click. Submit. Excuse. Click. Testify. Excuse.

In the background, fingers on keyboards eagerly record word after word, hoping the next is better than the last, that the following phrase will burn brighter on the screen than all those before it, a palpable collective ache for something spicy and salacious for the evening broadcast or tomorrow’s copy. No luck yet. Witness after witness, detail after detail, all add up to the same: money solicited, communications …   More

THE FLOG

“Fund Our Kids, Not CHARTER Corporations,” Advocate Says

Florida lawmakers are notorious for attaching significant and expensive education policy bills to the final budget document at the “conference” stage in the legislative session, that is, when the state House and Senate begin negotiating on the budget. Critics call these add-on bills “trains,” and charge that they’re intended to circumvent public input, which is supposed to happen earlier at various committee public hearings.

Fund Education Now co-founder Kathleen Oropeza warned two weeks ago that House’s “Schools of Hope” bill, which created a $200 million pot of money for charter schools, would ultimately appear in a “train.” She was right.

The Miami Herald reported this morning that Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee took just nine minutes yesterday to pass SB 796.  SB 796 was sponsored and amended by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) as a companion to the House’s “Schools of Hope” bill (HB 5105). At least one senator, Bill Montford (D-Quincy) called for immediate public input on the measure so that it can be fully vetted before session ends May 5.  Once SB 796 hits the floor as part of a negotiated budget bill, the Herald reports, it won’t be amendable.

But there’s still a lot missing from Bean’s bill, Oropeza says. Echoing the criticism of at least three school superintendents of large Florida districts, Oropeza wants lawmakers to adopt the elements of Sen. David Simmons’ bill (SB 1552) that will provide additional help to students in struggling schools, instead of threatening “takeover” by charter schools. 

“Instead of focusing on unmitigated charter school growth, the Senate and the House have an opportunity to turn their sights directly onto poverty and its well-documented effects,” Oropeza said.  

Simmons’ proposal includes a longer school day, healthcare services, …   More

THE FLOG

The Non-agenda-fied MOMENT

Trading in the nostalgic without descending into schmaltz or getting sidetracked into on-the-nose-literalness is not easy. Artist Joshua Short is able to do this by transmuting things understood to somehow be quintessentially American into objects and experiences that evoke a kind of patched-together’d authenticity married to the specific liminal weirdness of being on the road.

Currently centering his practice around Bomb Shelter Radio which is housed in Lucille Valentine, a mobile, pirate radio station he built into the bed of a 1978 Chevy LUV truck, Short works across multiple modes‑as if he is knitting together, with haste and wit, elaborate tales culled from his travels. During his first residency in Jacksonville, with Long Road Projects in November 2016, Short broadcast live from Lucille Valentine on BSR multiple times over the course of a week.

Parked in the back yard of Nighthawks in Riverside, Short played a range of music‑Richie Valens to the Dead Boys‑as locals and artists drifted in and out, drinking beer, eating chicken and snuggling the resident cat. It was relaxed, in lieu of the often socially fraught art opening. It was as if instead of relentless social jockeying, “witty” observations, or posing for a perfectly thoughtful selfie in front of a piece of art, those gathered could enjoy the luxury of time. As if, by simply creating a non-linear space Short was able to create a non-agenda-fied moment…people moved through the performance and were able to be tangentially affected and time stretched out. Which is to say that it seeped into the consciousness and unconsciousness of the attendees and the vibrations of the night(s) were deeply good.

For his current show Josh Short - Wild One 66 USA Exhibition, at CoRK West Gallery, the artist uses sounds, fabrics, drawings, found objects and small built structures that span 2012 to 2017. Short has also released a limited edition mix-tape and silk-screen print in …   More

THE FLOG

Spice Level ONE

I take full responsibility for the fact that I anticipated Anthony Kiedis to sound like he did 20 years ago. I also take full responsibility for thinking Intuition Ale Works wouldn’t be a complete shit show before the concert. These two things made last night’s Red Hot Chili Peppers concert experience at the Veterans Memorial Arena sub par.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve been a fan of RHCP since the mid-1990s when I discovered the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik and even sang “Under the Bridge” with a bunch of my girlfriends at the eighth grade talent show. Clearly, we -- nor the administration -- realized that the song was about heroin. I stayed with the Chili Peppers through One Hot Minute (1995) and Californication (1999), but then went off to college and kind of forgot they existed.

That is until lately.

I heard the band were coming to Jacksonville and have been hearing their new stuff on Flagler College’s WFCF station, so I thought, “Let me go relive my youth!”

Whether it’s a band, boyfriend or pair of skinny jeans, it’s very difficult -- if not impossible -- to relive your youth.

I realized this first at Intuition as it took 30 minutes to get a beer while some golf-shirt wearing Jabroni next to me kept leaning over the bar, shouting to the bartender, “Hey, a little love over here.” Dude, that’s not going to help you get a frosty IPA. After waiting a while for some food, which was insanely tasty, my friends and I headed to the show.

Two of us had media passes and two had VIP tickets left at Will Call by Anthony Kiedis himself. She had waited on him the night before at The Floridian in downtown St. Augustine and he called the restaurant the day of show to see if anyone who worked there wanted to go. What a super solid, famous-rock star move.

I went to my non-VIP seat and anxiously waited for the show to begin. Kiedis, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith …   More

THE FLOG

HONESTY Matters

These are contentious times. 

While the deafening events of April 7 in Hemming Park are now fading into quiet meetings in lawyers’ offices, this mother is still heartsick. I saw scared kids—same age as my own—shell shocked and horrified by Officer Friendly’s alter-ego. 

The numerous videos that were posted online immediately after the anti-military-action rally weren’t fun to watch. Police officers using force—punching, pulling, tackling, and throwing down other human beings—is always a horrifying sight. 

Now that the dust has settled, we know that a progressive protester, wearing a mask, ran behind invading Trump supporter Gary Snow.  Whether the action was accidental or intentional may be a question of fact for a jury, but we know the masked man snagged the speaker cord to Snow’s bullhorn, tangling the gigantic Trump flag and angering Snow.  Then all hell broke loose.

And our young, mostly suburban, white protesters saw with their own eyes what happened when their “nation,” for a brief moment, turned into “a colony.”

Author Chris Hayes, in his new book, A Colony in a Nation, describes it this way:

“Depending on who you are, the sight of an officer can produce either a warm sense of safety and contentment or a plummeting feeling of terror.”

Our daughter felt the latter as her college town, Cleveland, prepared to welcome then-nominee Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Troops moved into the campus’s empty summer dorms, and the students were told to go home. Classes were suspended. 

The “big, burly men with guns” unsettled her, she said.  She told me she felt like her college campus had been transformed into an occupied military zone. I was glad she’d be coming home.

 And then I was heartsick—for her, for her brothers, and for all of our young people. Our …   More

THE FLOG

The Things We VALUE Dearly

Malcolm Jackson’s show It Is What It Is, currently on view at Brew Five Points, is a succinct reminder of the immediacy, satisfaction and power that can be found in documentary photographs. Revealing and preserving the immediacy of Jackson’s experiences, the works recall Gordon Parks, Walker Evans and, in terms of access, Ryan McGinley.

Gordon Parks bravely used his camera as a weapon against what he hated most about the universe: “racism, intolerance and poverty.” Like Parks, Jackson uses his lens to tell the story he is most interested in; right now, that story is about spaces that might otherwise go unnoticed and unseen.

“We know more about the NYC story than our own area,” says Jackson as he reflects on the ways in which the Springfield area of Jacksonville has changed, and some of the lingering ideas that continue to shade the neighborhood. “…[Growing up in the aughts] I had Springfield and the Springfield I had was ‘you didn’t come down after dark,’ but that was just a stereotype—though there was truth there,” he says, then pauses, “I don’t get down with exploitation.” As an artist who parses his language carefully, there’s quite a bit Jackson has left unsaid in the space between an idea of truth and the idea of exploitation. In salacious assumptions of danger and vice in neighborhoods like Springfield, there is a continuation of a narrative that allows racist and classist ideas to take root and flourish … and those ideas can be transformed into images that reinforce those preexisting ideas.

Looking at Jackson’s images spanning five years, from 2012 to 2017, it is clear that he does not seek to varnish or sensationalize the truth. “I’m always trying to stay as close to anonymous as possible,” he says. Jackson shot with a Leica M6 on film, and his images, like McGinley’s, offer access to a world that’s …   More

THE FLOG

Grab Him by the TAXES

Roughly 300 protesters gathered in downtown Jacksonville yesterday, joining thousands across the country demanding President Donald Trump release his tax returns.

Before yesterday's Trump Tax March, a diverse crowd representing a broad cross-section of ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexualities assembled in Hemming Park for live music and speeches.

As the crowd marched from the park to the IRS building downtown, they chanted, “Lock him up,” and “What do we want? Trump’s taxes. When do we want it? Now. If we don’t get it, shut him down!”

John Aloszka, one of the protest organizers, said, “We really just want to make sure that we hold Donald Trump accountable and that we let him know that he might be president but we’re not letting him get off easy.”

The peaceful protest was watched by a large contingent from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Protest organizers and JSO worked together prior to this event to avoid a repeat of the April 7 protest in Hemming Park that turned into a violent clash between police and protesters.

At Saturday's march, many also advocated for dropping the charges against the Hemming Park Five, the five protesters who were arrested on April 7, 

Reports circulated that another protester from that incident, who had a warrant for his arrest based on his actions on April 7, was taken into custody by JSO at the Trump Tax March; via Facebook messenger this morning Aloszka confirmed that an arrest was made and said it was the man wearing a mask whom videos show taking Gary Snow’s megaphone. JSO did not immediately respond to Folio Weekly’s request for confirmation.

(Snow is the counter-protester whom many blame for instigating the events that led to the violence in Hemming Park on April 7. Snow denies that he is at fault.)

When asked about counter-protesters at the tax march, Aloszka said, “I think expressing your opinions …   More

THE FLOG

5 Reasons for the Drought and the WILDFIRES

Today Gov. Rick Scott, he who bears an uncanny resemblance to a hairless cat, officially declared a state of emergency based on the increase of wildfires around Florida. As of April 4, 42 percent of the state was in a drought, according to The Weather Channel, which also reports that 68,000 acres have burnt since February and that there are currently more than 100 active wildfires across the state.

Y’all may recall a few local scorchers, including a pernicious blaze spanning nearly 700 acres in Bryceville last month that started when some throwback to the McCarthy Era (not really) was burning books in his yard (yes, really).

Since the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the length and intensity of droughts has increased worldwide, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. (Seems the Trump Administration hasn’t dumpstered all their work yet. We were surprised too.)

Life moves pretty fast these days, but your friend Folio Weekly remembers way back in 2015 when Gov. Scott decreed that no employee of his shall evah dare utter, write, type, think, whisper or dream these vile terms: global warming and climate change. (Y’know, sometimes it’s like he wants us to mock him.)

Today’s news presents an interesting pickle for ol’ Voldemort: How to acknowledge the drought without blaming um, er, the weather? Well, we’re here for you, Mr. Governor Man.

5 Reasons for the Drought and Wildfires that are 100 percent, absolutely, definitely not climate change or global warming

Kenny Loggins is coming to Florida. Not ‘til October, and just for one show, but the crooner who brought us the theme song for one of Scott’s fave movies, Top Gun, is sure to heat things up on the assisted living circuit!

DJ Govvy Gov is opening up for the Bob Roberts Society Band. In 2011, our peeps at the Miami New Times unearthed classic footage of Scott as his alter ego, DJ Govvy Gov, perfectly executing an …   More

THE FLOG

Activists Demand JSO Drop Charges Against Protesters

Last night, what was intended to be a non-violent protest against the bombings on Syria the U.S. carried out the previous night became a violent skirmish involving officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and several protesters, one of whom was treated at a local hospital for his injuries.

Video footage showing officers punching, restraining and arresting protesters last night was widely circulated on social media, including by Folio Weekly, which shared footage of the incident captured by a local activist on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's protest, "Free the Hemming Park Five," saw a group of approximately 50 gather at the Duval County Courthouse to call upon police to drop all charges against the six people arrested last night. (Initial reports were of five arrests; it was later learned that six were arrested, though activists later said that one arrestee was unaffiliated with the protest.) Several observers indicated that a handful of counterprotesters were among the crowd today, but those believed to be counterprotesters remained mostly silent, taking pictures and video.

Speakers at the event organized by the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition resoundingly criticized JSO's handling of the incident. (The coalition and Jacksonville Against the War on Syria-JAWS co-organized last night's protest, "No War with Syria.") Many questioned why the counterprotester who they believe responsible for causing last night's protest to turn violent was himself not charged by police. Videos of the incident show that man, a counterprotester who goes by the name Gary Snow and is a familiar face at local protests, pushing 27-year-old deaf African American man, Connell Crooms, immediately before officers intervene. Crooms is subsequently pinned to the ground by officers, one of whom punches him several times in the ribs while he is restrained. Crooms was transported to UF Health Jacksonville for treatment for his injuries before being charged and booked.

Along …   More

THE FLOG

The Twelfth MAN

Less than a month after the Jaguars acquired offensive left tackle Branden Albert, he’s already started making headlines, though not on the field. On March 30, Albert donated $7,500 to a couple accused of leaving their three children unattended in a mall while they went to work. The 8, 6, and 1-month-old were found in an employee access hallway at Eastview Mall in Rochester, New York on March 25. The parents, Jean Seide, 39, and Bilaine Seint-Just, 36, were subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of child endangerment.

After making the donation, Albert told Rochester television station WHAM, "I’ve been through this. I've seen this story by my family, friends, and people I've grown up with. It's a rough world.”

The 32-year-old NFL player hails from Rochester.

“At least they were out doing something in trying to provide for the family. Was it the best thing to do? No. People are looking for hope and if I can provide hope the best way I can, I don't have any hesitation in helping people out,” WHAM also quoted Albert as saying.

Many have blamed the parents for being irresponsible and negligent. However, according to the New York State Department of Labor, there is no law requiring employers in that state to pay employees for sick days. 

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employees may request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child. There is no federal law that mandates paid maternity leave, and few states have laws on the books requiring employers to provide it. (Florida does not require paid maternity leave.)

Maternity leave is intended to allow the mother to fully recover from birth and to allow sufficient time for mother-child bonding. In recent years, activists around the country have spoken out about the absence of paid maternity leave, saying that it makes families choose between what’s best for the health of mother and baby and their financial well-being. For …   More