Buzz: Duval County Courthouse, Alvin Brown’s Passport and More

Where’s the Duval County Courthouse?

It’s been about 18 months since the new Duval County Courthouse opened, but a sign on the Main Street Bridge directs motorists getting off the bridge toward the old courthouse. Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, said the department was not aware of the problem until it was pointed out by Jacksonville television station WJXT. He said the department will work to correct it.

What’s in a Name?

It is the nightmare of every reporter — that the information being given is incorrect, or in the case of former Folio Weekly editor Anne Schindler, a fake name with a sexual connotation. During the media frenzy following the July 13 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Schindler ‑ now an executive producer at First Coast News ‑ interviewed a man outside the courthouse who gave his name as “Howie Felterbush.” The name was used by more than a dozen Gannett-owned media properties. “Maybe I need a seventh grader to approve my copy – to pick up the boner jokes. I missed it,” Schindler told iMediaEthics. Gannett has been unable to locate the man.


Honey, Did You See My Passport?

When Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown couldn’t find his passport, it put a kink in his plans to travel to England on Oct. 21 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. As a result, he flew to Miami to get a replacement passport on Oct. 22 and then flew on to London from there. The Jaguars played the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27, and team owner Shad Khan arranged for a trade mission for Brown, City Council President Bill Gulliford and Jax Chamber officials to meet with officials in London. According to The Florida Times-Union, the city is footing the bill for Brown’s $1,473 flight to London and paying the Jaguars another $1,416 for the flight home. Brown paid for his own trip from Jacksonville to Miami.


Trying to Get Into Deep Water

Congresswoman Corrine Brown said she is deeply disappointed that an amendment that would have allowed the dredging of the St. Johns River was not accepted. On Oct. 22, the House Rules Committee voted against allowing the full House to consider an amendment that would have authorized the 47-feet-deep channel in the St. Johns River. Jacksonville wants to increase the depth of the river so larger ships can use the port.


Mathis Seeking New Trial

Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis said he will seek a new trial after being convicted of gambling charges in the Allied Veterans of the World scandal. Mathis’ attorney filed the appeal on Oct. 16, the Associated Press reported. Mathis was convicted of 103 out of 104 charges, including possessing slot machines, helping operate a lottery and racketeering. He could face dozens of years in prison when he is sentenced next February. Mathis’ motion for a new trial said he was prevented from presenting evidence that his legal advice was sound.


Bye-bye to 300,000 Florida Blue Policies

Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, plans to cancel 300,000 policies in response to requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Those impacted will be notified by mail. Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Jacksonville-based insurance company, said the customers will be provided new plan options. Florida Blue told The Florida Times-Union the move is to offset new health-care requirements for things like maternity and newborn care, mental health, substance abuse services and emergency services.


Uber Car Service Approved

The Jacksonville City Council approved an ordinance clearing the way for Uber car service to begin operating in Jacksonville. The measure, which allows customers to use a smartphone app to request car service, was approved by a 15-2 vote. Jacksonville cab companies opposed the measure, saying it would cut into their business. Most Council members said they thought the service, which is available in many other cities across the country, would be good for the city.



1.6 Million Eligible for Medical Marijuana

If supporters get medical marijuana on the ballot and voters approve it, officials estimate that more than 1.6 million Floridians could be eligible for the treatment, according to the New Service of Florida. State health department officials estimated it will cost about $900,000 to regulate the drug in the first year, but costs would go down after the start-up year and would be offset by fees and taxes. If approved, doctors could certify patients meet the criteria for medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of several diseases including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C.


Blue Angels Returning to Sky

The roar of the Navy’s aerobatic flying team, the Blue Angels, will be returning to the skies at air shows nationwide in 2014. The team, based in Pensacola, suspended their schedule last spring because of federal spending cuts. Several air shows, including one in April at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, were canceled because the Blue Angels were not available. Adm. John Kirby told the Associated Press that the Blue Angeles and other Navy outreach groups would return in 2014.