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THE FLOG

This morning the T-U informed us that The Shipyards is, for lack of other options, probably Shad Khan’s for the taking, provided his proposal comports with the Downtown Investment Authority’s masterplan and gains City Council approval, neither of which seems like a particularly difficult hurdle. This is exciting. There are few pockets deeper around here than Khan’s, and few areas more in need of a large, ambitious vision than The Shipyards; the city’s inability to do anything with that waterfront property is, for lack of a better word, embarrassing. If nothing else, Shad Khan gets shit done. (And yes, I can simultaneously hold that view and not be in thrall to spending $43 million on oversized EverBank scoreboards.) 

The devil, of course, will lie in the details: what Khan wants from the city (and how much the city is willing to give), and what exactly he wants to do with the property. We know very little on these fronts, except that if Khan is the master developer the project will likely take on a sports-entertainment theme. (Perhaps something akin to the $100 million development the Orlando Magic are working on in Central Florida, perhaps not.) 

Per the T-U story: 

The Downtown Investment Authority also would play a role. The authority’s recently completed master plan for downtown redevelopment says the 44-acre Shipyards site would be suited for “large-scale, mixed-use development centered around sports, entertainment and tourism.”

The master plan, which the authority board approved last week, says possible uses could be an aquarium, a U.S. Navy ship museum, a water park, a residential community, a marina, shops and restaurants.

The Jaguars have been in talks with the organization seeking to bring the USS Charles F. Adams to Jacksonville by docking it at a pier in The Shipyards for public tours. In May, the Jaguars floated the idea of building an indoor practice facility as part of a bigger …   More

THE FLOG

Gay marriage legal on southern tip of Florida as four counties all agree gay marriage ban violates U.S. Constitution. Marriages on hold awaiting appeals.

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The following day, on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis threw out the gay marriage ban there.  In the past 21 days, four South Florida judges have ruled the ban a violation of the rights of gay residents to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constituion — in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and now Palm Beach. The rulings in all four circuits are stayed pending  appeal by Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida voters amended the state constitutino in 2008 and made gay marriage illegal.  

On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguements in six gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports today. Each case relates to statewide marriage bans. The Herald reported Monday that the organization Freedom to Marry says LGBT advocates have won more than 30 times in federal, state and appeals courts since June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in ruling in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York.

Judge Cohen cited Windsor in his Monday ruling, the Herald reports. 

The Florida Supreme Court delivered a ruling on gay marriage. If the circuit rulings hold, it woudn't legalize gay marriage throughout the state, just in the circuits that have legalized it. A Florida Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is still sometime down the line.   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

After an initial test run, the Riverside Avondale Night Trolley launched earlier this year to great success, shuttling Riverside riders Friday and Saturday nights during the first weekend of every month. Now organizers want to bring the same service Downtown. This weekend, a fleet of buses will roll out to various Downtown hot spots, including The Elbow district of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, and connect to the Riverside Avondale Night Trolley in 5 Points. If enough of us ride, maybe JTA will think about making it permanent.   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

Johnnie Mae Chappell was shot and killed in March 1964 on the side of a Jacksonville road. The 35-year-old African-American mother of 10 was looking for her wallet as four white men drove past. One of them aimed a gun out the window and fired. Her family still seeks justice fifty years later. In a radio feature that debuted on the podcast Criminal yesterday, Lauren Spohrer told the story of the Civil Rights-era murder, and it’s worth a listen. Spohrer is a native of Jacksonville. She learned about Chappell's killing growing up here, as her eyes were opened to as some of the city's dark and painful history. Her father, Robert Spohrer, represents the Chappell family pro bono, and he spoke often about the case and the legal hurdles that make prosecution difficult.

In the story on Criminal, "Can't Rock This Boat," Spohrer interviewed her father, Chappell's youngest son Shelton, and the former JSO detective Lee Cody, 84, who cracked the case with his partner Donald Coleman. Cody and Chappell have tried for 20 years to convince the state of Florida to reopen the case. Robert Spohrer explained that the law limits the state's ability to do that.

"It doens't make a whole lot of sense. We know that 50 years ago there are men out there who 50 years ago were involved in a brutal murder. They confessed to their participation in that murder. and yet the state of Florida, for a number of reasons, cannot and will not bring them back to a courtroom. And that's the most frustrating thing for me, is to try and sit and talk to Shelton and his brothers and sisters and explain how that can be," Robert Spohrer said. 

Spohrer also interviewed me, as I wrote a cover story about this case in 2006. (It appeared in both Folio Weekly and Orlando Weekly.) Spohrer remembered the story, and so do I. I interviewed the man who fired the gun that killed Mrs. Chappell, and the only one of the four men in the car that night who was tried. Like all the men, J.W. Rich was …   More

THE FLOG

Here is Republican freshman Rep. Curt Clawson, who so graciously stepped in for the Republican rep who was busted with the cocaine a few months back, holding forth during a hearing at which he was clearly not paying attention. Comedy ensues. 

Here’s how Newsday described it:

A freshman congressman’s minute-long speech may be one of the most embarrassing in Capitol Hill history. 

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) spoke directly to two U.S. government officials during a congressional hearing on Thursday, explaining his familiarity with their country – which he mistakenly believed was India.

Clawson continued speaking about his hopes for the future of India while Nisha Biswal, State Department assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, and Arun Kumar, who holds multiple titles in the Department of Commerce, stared in disbelief. 

“I am familiar with your country. I love your country,” the congressman continued, addressing the Indian-Americans. “I’m hopeful with the new change in regime that the future and the land of promise and the land of opportunity of India can finally become so.”

 

View the whole thing, in all its glory, here.  

 

 

    More

The Flog

“This court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority. Whether it’s the NRA protecting our right to bear arms when the City of Chicago attempted to ban handguns within its city limits; or when Nazi supremacists won the right to march in Skokie, Illinois a predominantly Jewish neighborhood; or when a black woman wanted to marry a white man in Virginia; or when black children wanted to go to an all-white school, the Constitution guarantees and protects ALL of its citizens from government interference in those rights. All laws passed whether by the legislature or by popular support must pass the scrutiny of the United States Constitution, to do otherwise diminishes the Constitution to just a historical piece of paper.” 

And so marks the beginning of the end of Florida’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying. Right now, Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia’s (a Jeb Bush appointee, by the way) ruling applies only to Monroe County — that is, the Keys, and marriages there will begin July 22, barring a stay — but there are two other quite-similar lawsuits currently making their way through state and federal court, and were I a betting man I’d wager this question is dead and settled by year’s end.  

The only real question, in fact, is whether Attorney General Pam Bondi — last seen telling the world that allowing two individuals who love each other to marry will cause “significant public harm” — will bother to appeal.

Pam Bondi will appeal. (Of course she did. It’s an election year.)

I’ll have more to say on this later, but for now, you can peep the decision here. 

In the meantime, if you’re still wondering why this stuff …   More

THE FLOG

Every radio station’s greatest challenge is reaching listeners.

Since its inception more than two decades ago, that challenge has been more pronounced at the University of North Florida. Limited to online streaming radio and simulcasts on cable channels for most of its existence, the college radio station succeeded in training communications students but not in reaching the majority of UNF students.

After more than two decades, UNF is closer than ever to reaching those students as well as broadcasting over the air and potentially reaching thousands of Jacksonville residents who live near the Southside campus.

The Federal Communications Commission issued the university a permit to construct a low-power FM transmitter Feb. 6, and Spinnaker Radio will be able to broadcast on 95.5 FM via a 100-watt signal, extending the station’s reach to off-campus listeners at a distance of about 3.5 miles in every direction on a clear day.

“Before, people had to be logged in on their computers to listen,” Spinnaker Radio station manager Scott Young said. “Now, all people will have to do is turn on the radio and enjoy the show.”

UNF has 30 days, from Feb. 6, to pick call letters with Spinnaker Radio staff making recommendations that will ultimately go to UNF President John Delaney's desk. The station’s call letters that once had been used unofficially on campus — WOSP — belong to the Ohio State University.

The 3.5-mile radius that the station may now serve on a clear day would reach north to about Atlantic Boulevard, south to Baymeadows Road, east to San Pablo Boulevard and west to the edge of Tinseltown on Southside Boulevard.

Originally known as the University of North Florida Broadcasting Association — a UNF club — when station manager Todd Hardie started it in 1993, the station endured, despite a lack of over-the-air broadcast. Known as Osprey Radio for most of its existence, the …   More

THE FLOG

I don't know art, but I know what I like. And I think I like George Zimmerman's latest painting.

It is absolutely brilliant, on an artistic level. The yellow ink on a red backdrop -- evocative of the Chinese flag in its bold use of what in America are condiment colors. The primitivist rendering of the subject, the eyes frozen without soul, the Katherine Harris bangs,the gaudy necklace like a Kool Moe Dee gold chain; this painting lays it all bare like a chicken plucked and slaughtered. 

 

Forget who painted it. If it were Basquiat, you'd feel differently. The style, reminiscent of the brilliant painter and iconoclast, Lee Harvey. Bold strokes used in bold ways to make bold statements.

 

And the quote up top? Perfectly understated. Sort of, well, at odds with the Zimmerman public persona -- a Travis Bickel figure who fights with trolls on Twitter and creates bizarre publicity stunts and claims that Sean Hannity is the last honest man in national journalism.

He plays a buffoon on TV. But what if he is working us all?

Angela Corey is not a popular politician, though she is effective. She plays hardball, and she doesn't lose. Which is part of the reason she alone among local political figures would merit being the subject of a painting at all, never mind one of this quality and thematic resonance.

I have, of course, some unsourced theories on Zimmerman's paintings. One of them being that there might be no better way for him to launder money than by creating a dummy market for some awful paintings -- like that first one he did, allegedly plagiarized, that still netted $100k.

Brilliant! Never occurred to Aileen Wuornos, Casey Anthony, or Ted Bundy to bring it like that. George Zimmerman's first painting: a dummy shell, intended to establish a market price for anything with his imprimatur. A price for the celebrity that comes with shooting a teenage boy in cold blood because he was getting pummelled by that boy, whom he stalked in …   More

 
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