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 (email@example.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 …
Folio Weekly Editor Denise M. Reagan is going Downtown.
After 18 months of advocating for Downtown Jacksonville and the arts through her columns, Reagan has taken a job as communications manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.
Reagan joined Folio Weekly in July 2012. She focused on increasing the publication’s credibility through tight editing, story choice and distinguishing between news and opinion. She launched the popular Specktator blog by Kerry Speckman (winner of Best of Jax Best Blog), the Bite-sized column by Caron Streibich and the controversial but entertaining Crime City column by Wes Denham.
She helped design and launch a completely revamped folioweekly.com in January 2013, increasing the publication’s reach and readership. The new site includes all of the content from weekly printed issues plus stories, blogs, photo galleries and videos available only online.
Reagan gained a following for her weekly Editor’s Notes, covering timely community issues, politics and the arts; she won an award from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for column writing during her first year.
Her use of social media greatly increased Folio Weekly’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers, engaging them in conversations that often ended up in the printed issues.
Her last day at Folio Weekly is Dec. 6. Her first day at MOCA is Dec. 9. Her last Editor’s Note will appear Dec. 11.
Folio Weekly cover story, “Problems at the Core,” follows proponents and critics in depth as they debate the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Florida’s schools. Yesterday, Florida’s Board of Education voted to allow districts to choose their own teaching methods and materials in line with Gov. Rick Scott’s stated policy of local control for public school curricula. It does not change the standards upon which those curricula are to be based, i.e., CCSS.
The Florida Department of Education adopted CCSS in 2010, began implementing them in 2011, and on Oct. 15 addressed the appendices to the Common Core Compact.
Florida’s Board of Education voted 5-1 to allow local districts to voluntarily decide whether or not they will adopt the Common Core appendices, Florida Times-Union reporter Matt Dixon said. He said an editing error removed the word “appendices” from his story in the Oct. 16 Times-Union. There is no indication at this time that Florida will ditch CCSS, i.e., the goals upon which local curricula will be based.
The appendices would have extended the 45-state Common Core Compact, or memorandum of understanding, to matters going beyond just the standards, or learning benchmarks, into the realm of curriculum. “Standards” are “what” students should learn, while “curricula” are “how” they learn those standards, i.e., by which teaching strategies and course materials. Curriculum matters, proponents have said all along, are to be determined by local districts.
Scott suggested the move toward local district control of curricula in a letter to board chairman Gary Chartrand dated Sept. 23. That same day, Scott declared in an executive order that Florida would withdraw from the 18-state test-development consortium, Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC), and abdicate its position as fiscal agent for …
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 …
Two Folio Weekly readers alerted us to this amusing sign taped to a barricade over a pothole on Oak Street in Riverside Aug. 21.
The sign reads," This pothole has been here almost one year! But we are putting a swimming pool in the stadium?"
“I thought it was pretty funny, so I thought I would share,” wrote Kelly White, a senior account executive at The McCormick Agency. Her office is near the pothole.
John Winkler, president of Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, also emailed photos of sign he happened to see. He said it was coincidental that First Coast News’ Ken Amaro showed up with a photojournalist at the same time.
“It is the beginning of the great revolt to restore core services and end the circus subsidies — pitchforks and torches cannot be far behind,” he wrote.
Read Folio Weekly’s cover story about the taxpayers' investment in EverBank Field here.
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.
Voting has started for an online competition in which the Jacksonville Humane Society is trying to win a $25,000 award.
To vote, go to jaxhumane.org and click on the “Bark the Vote” icon. Voters can vote only once day until Aug. 31 and must have a Facebook account to vote.
The Community Engagement Award is part of the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge in which 49 shelters across the country are competing, according to a news release.
To be considered for a $25,000 Community Engagement Award, a shelter must finish in the top three of the online voting competition.
When the land Jennifer and Robert Sanders had been leasing for Heritage Farms went up for sale, they scrambled to scrape together resources to buy the property on Hood Road. Unable to raise or borrow enough money, in May they were dismantling the farm and “counting the days or weeks to move” when a surprising turn of events brought about by the application for capital investment Jennifer filed in association with her One Spark entry, Growing Power with Will Allen, changed everything.
After One Spark, Stache Investments Corp., an investment company owned by Shad Khan, contacted the couple to schedule a meeting to discuss a possible funding arrangement. They soon met with Jim Zsebok, Stache Investments’ chief investment officer, and were offered a tentative loan agreement.
Following a minor delay to conduct an environmental assessment of the property, it became official this week when The Daily Record reported that Stache Investments provided the Sanders with a $280,000 mortgage, $270,000 of which went to pay for the 2.58 acre property.
“I just mailed off my first payment a few days ago, and every night when I close the gates, I go, ‘Well, it’s mine, lock, stock and barrel.’ It’s a lot to be responsible for, but it’s a lot of opportunity,” Jennifer Sanders said.
She said Heritage Farms is more of a market garden than a commercial farm. Market gardens grow a high variety of product on relatively small acreage, typically 20 acres or less, and usually do not rely on mechanized farming equipment. The couple, who have been busily selling tomatoes, peppers and herbs, intend to initiate another round of crowdfunding in coming months to expand into aquaponics so they can start selling fresh fish in addition to vegetables, ornamentals and plants at the roadside stand they plan to soon add to the farm. They also intend to hire up to five additional employees to work the family farm alongside the couple and …
Hans Tanzler served as mayor of Jacksonville for 12 years and is known for his efforts to clean up the St. Johns River, revitalize downtown and complete major skyscrapers. Tanzler is also known for his government consolidation efforts.
Tanzler died July 25 after suffering a heart attack at his family farm near Gainesville.
Former mayors and other political leaders remembered the 86-year-old Tanzler as the champion of consolidating the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments in 1967. He served as mayor from 1967 to Jan 2, 1979, when he resigned to run for governor, which he lost to Bob Graham in a seven-man Democratic primary.
As news of his death spread, city leaders shared some recollections about Tanzler and most of them mentioned consolidation:
“Mayor Tanzler led a life dedicated to public service and his legacy will be forever remembered by our citizens and all who had the opportunity to know him. He guided our city through consolidation, paving the way for much of the success we enjoy today,” said Mayor Alvin Brown.
Former Mayor John Delaney agreed, saying,] “It would be hard for any Mayor to have a greater legacy.”
Former Mayor Tommy Hazouri said Tanzler set the standard for the mayors who followed him.
“I am honored to have known him, and grateful for his leadership and friendship,” Hazouri said.
Former Mayor John Peyton also cited the consolidation issue.
“He was the right man at the right time. He was critical to our consolidation in the 1960s.”
Mayor Alvin Brown has unveiled a proposed 2014 city budget that contains $60 million in cuts and layoffs.
The $952.9 million budget includes $181.3 million in pension and retirement obligations and the mayor urged the City Council to approve the pension reform plan he negotiated with city police and fire unions.
The City Council has until Oct. 1, but it wants to see what a committee appointed by the mayor to explain the pension situation recommends.
The mayor also said he would veto any budget that contains a tax increase.
The 400-page budget is available online at www.myjaxbudget.com under the resources link. You can also read or watch the mayor’s budget address at the same website.