Buzz: Duval Schools Budget, Rick Scott’s Money, Dream Defenders and More

Mixed Bag Budget

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti realizes the new 2013-’14 budget doesn’t do everything he wanted to do. “When I started, I was reaching for the stars. And I think I landed on the moon,” he told The Florida Times-Union. The $1.7 billion budget includes $686 million for salaries, instructional material, salaries and transportation, and still socks away $62.7 million, or 7 percent, into a reserve fund. Vitti wanted to put a math coach in every school and provide tablets to every student, but there wasn’t enough money. He will place math coaches at only D and F schools and where math proficiency is less than 50 percent. Some schools will get iPads, but others will not.


Rick Scott’s Money

Rick Scott is the wealthiest governor in state history, but no one really knows how rich he actually is, according to an Associated Press report. The former hospital chain executive reported a net worth of $218 million when he first ran for office; he spent $70 million of his own money to get elected and then reported a net worth of $103 million. At the end of last year, he reported his net worth as $83.8 million. It isn’t clear if his assets lost some of value or if he transferred some assets to his wife, Ann. Though it’s not required, the governor said he will give the state ethics office a list of those assets placed in a blind trust.


Protesters Staying Put Outside Governor’s Office

Dream Defenders, the group wanting the governor to call a special session to repeal the state’s “stand your ground” law, were going into its third week, and neither side appears to be giving up. The group took up residence in the outer lobby of the governor’s office July 15, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement estimates it’s cost the state $77,697 so far in overtime pay, through July 30. Department spokesperson Gretl Plessinger said there have been no reports of any damage.


New Jaxport CEO on Job

Brian W. Taylor started his job as Jacksonville Port Authority chief executive officer July 29. The Florida Ethics Commission ruled there was no conflict with Taylor receiving severance pay from his former employer, Horizon Lines, where he was a longtime executive, because it’s not a direct customer of JPA. Most recently, Taylor was senior vice president of sales and operations for New Breed Logistics in High Point, N.C. He will make $320,000 a year in his new post, according to Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.


Publix Plays with the Big Cats

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Publix Super Markets Inc. have announced a five-year deal to make the Lakeland-based chain the “Official Supermarket of the Jaguars.” The move follows an announcement earlier in July that the Jaguars’ contract with Winn-Dixie, which goes back to the start of the franchise in 1995, would not be renewed. The Jaguars and Publix did not release the sponsorship financial details. Scott Massey, Jaguars senior vice present of corporate sponsorships, said football fans can expect to see significant Publix branding on the exterior and interior of EverBank Field.


And Then There Were Five

The population of the town of Marineland has dropped to five, according to the Associated Press, tying it with Weeki Wachee as the smallest town in Florida. Leslie Babonis, 32, who has a doctorate degree in biology from the University of Florida, is the town’s mayor. She replaces Jim Netheron, who’d been mayor for 17 years but resigned and moved to Little Rock, Ark. According to the U.S. Census, Marineland’s population was 16 in 2010.


Picasso Is Parting

An exhibit of the works of Pablo Picasso in St. Augustine is closing Aug. 11. August ticket prices are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors ages 60 and older, and $3 for kids 7-13. Admission is free to kids younger than 6, St. Johns County school students and military in uniform. The exhibit is displayed at St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center, 10 W. Castillo Drive. Tickets are available online at and at all Old Trolley Tour stops and Ripley’s entertainment kiosk at the Center.