Critical race theory is the political hot potato of the moment.
Teach the teachers
A major initiative of the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration looks likely to become state policy this week.
On June 10, the State Board of Education will convene in Jacksonville to vote on a proposal that attacks critical race theory and other deconstructions of traditional civics curricula. The meeting will be held at Florida State College Jacksonville’s downtown campus.
The proposal will ban defining American history as “something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Teachers will also be forbidden to “share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
Ron DeSantis goes all-in against ‘critical race theory.’ Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, said DeSantis in an interview this weekend, is the point man to get this done.
“Next week, I have my Commissioner of Education going to the Board of Education banning it … banning any departure from accurate history and following our standards. This is something we’ve got to stay on the forefront of,” DeSantis told a Fox News host Saturday.
The DeSantis administration, over the years, has chosen Jacksonville and Duval County, which actually went to Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018, as a place to showcase positions that seemed to be intended to tick people off in other markets or the national media.
After Duval County opened beaches for limited purposes last spring, a move decried as a “superspreader” at the time, the #FloridaMorons hashtag trended on Twitter, with the so-called “ACELA Media” blasting the decision, DeSantis noted.
DeSantis had Duval’s back, he said at a pandemic news conference.
“For those who would say you’re morons,” DeSantis said, “I’d take you any day of the week and twice on Sunday.”
The Governor won’t be in town Thursday when the Board votes to make sure CRT doesn’t take root in schools. But make no mistake, it’s his policy, and one intended to elevate the issue here for his 2022 reelection bid.
Speaking of critical race theory ….
U.S. Rep. John Rutherford likely gained nothing from unsolicited Twitter comments about President Joe Biden’s thoughts on the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, but that didn’t stop him from making them anyway.
John Rutherford courts controversy on CRT. Image via AP. “President Biden, quoting the Intelligence Community, said, ‘Terrorism from White supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today — not ISIS, not Al-Qaeda, White supremacists.’ Then he draws a strained thread of “hate” over a hundred years and ties it to 6 January 2021, intimating that all Trump supporters are also White supremacists. This is the most egregious application of Critical Race Theory and downright counterfactual,” Rutherford tweeted Monday.
Rutherford, a former three-term Jacksonville Sheriff now in his third term representing Florida’s 4th Congressional District, drew criticism from the left and at least one local columnist.
“Feeling a little sensitive, John,” tweeted the Times-Union’s Nate Monroe.
Rutherford, barring unexpected changes in maps during redistricting, likely will waltz to reelection again in 2022. But that won’t stop him from rattling the cage of liberals in his district along the way.
The race for Duval County Property Appraiser is on, and a second-term Jacksonville City Councilman has a head start on fundraising.
Southside Republican Danny Becton reports having raised nearly $69,000 in May, his first month in the race.
Incumbent Jerry Holland, who is term-limited, backs Becton, having “expressed publicly with great excitement of my desire to carrying on the many initiatives for which he has started,” the Councilman told us last month when he filed.
Danny Becton gets a solid head start in the Property Appraiser’s race. Image via WJCT. Becton, citing decades of experience owning and running businesses, sees himself as the “perfect fit” for the path ahead of the office, including a software system upgrade. He vows to be “prepared, analytical and objective” in handling issues.
Becton is alone in the race currently. Will a Democrat file? In 2019, Holland faced nominal competition.
Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci is still the leading fundraiser among the official candidates in the Jacksonville Mayor’s race, but struggles continue.
Matt Carlucci leads the money race, but still struggles. Image via Resident News. Carlucci, who lost his campaign consultants after a controversial decision to fire his Council assistant, had his worst month of fundraising in May for his campaign account since he entered the race. He raised under $12,000 and netted roughly $6,000 in hard money after refunds and processing fees. He has roughly $223,000 in hard money.
Carlucci’s Next Generation Jax political committee, registered on the state level, was a family affair in May. Family checks comprised $8,000 of just over $52,000 raised.
Republican Ron Salem narrowly won his election to an at-large City Council seat in 2019, and he’s taking no chances regarding his reelection.
Ron Salem is taking no chances in his reelection bid. Image via A.G. Gancarski. According to filings with the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, Salem, a pharmacist by trade who generally gels with the Mayor’s Office in policy, took in over $28,000 to his campaign account in its first month.
$25,000 of that is in the form of a personal loan, with Salem staking the account.
There were also a few donors. Among them: Bold City Strategic Partners (the Sam Mousa/Tim Baker consortium).
Salem’s “Moving Jacksonville Forward” committee, registered on the county level, raised over $107,000 between April and May, including $25,000 from the Jacksonville Jaguars. That account exceeds $128,000 on hand.
In Salem’s 2019 race, he dominated fundraising in a field that included a former two-term Councilman and a former aide to a sitting Councilwoman. Expect him to do well this time also.
In the wake of a mob attack on a police officer responding to a call in Brooklyn last weekend, the President of Jacksonville’s Fraternal Order of Police thinks the White House needs to weigh in.
Steve Zona demands a White House response to the mob attack of an officer in Brooklyn. Image via FOP 530. “President Biden, you need to do something,” said Steve Zona on Monday’s Fox and Friends.
Zona blasted Biden as “one of the worst culprits” in a cadre of politicians who are silent as crowds attack police officers around the country.
“Elected leaders have remained silent because they’re pandering to their base,” Zona said, though he also extolled local elected leaders for being “great.”
Zona’s Fraternal Order of Police has been politically active throughout the years, generally but not always backing Republican candidates. But what’s clear is that Biden-ism won’t make the powerful police union more bipartisan soon.
Those who look for something more than just commercial pop music have few options in Jacksonville airwaves, but the public radio stalwart, WJCT, provides one prime one.
Known for jazz and classical playlists in the early days, the focus is now on the Jacksonville Music Experience: a multi-format platform dedicated to local music.
David Luckin helps WJCT emphasize local music. Image via WJCT. Expect continued expansions of the platform, including “long-form profiles of local musicians “from emerging hip-hop artists like L.O.V.E. Culture and Aalana, to established local favorites like producer Ryan Turk and Jonathan Grant Berlin of Sunbears! Fame.”
The station’s signature morning talk show, meanwhile, will get some new sounds.
“Once a month on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, JME Contributors introduce listeners to the beautiful noise emanating from Northeast Florida with a selection of new releases from local artists.”
“The Jacksonville Music Experience is specifically designed for fans of all genres to discover and enjoy the most in-depth, diverse and local selection possible,” says David Luckin, WJCT Public Media’s Music Director. “With these new features that are easy to access online, Northeast Florida listeners will be able to customize every aspect of their music experience, learn more about music history and broaden their everyday playlists.”
Under 40 and looking to get involved seriously in Jacksonville’s public life? Until Friday, you have to apply to the Hightower Emerging Leaders Fellowship program, held yearly by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce that nurtures the next generation of civic leaders.
To hear testimonials from graduates, click on the image below:
The program meets monthly, starting in August and running through April 2022.
The program is “committed to championing diversity and the highest quality program. Each class is composed of leaders leading in their chosen profession and across many issues facing our city. Leading candidates are changing the current fabric of our community for the better.”
Applicants can be between the ages of 26 and 40, and must be members of the Chamber. That can include working for a company that belongs.
The process is moving quickly: “A selection committee will review all applications and will invite selected candidates for an in-person interview. Interviews will be held on June 22, 23 and 24. From that group, Fellowship participants will be chosen.”
Bigger and better
Jacksonville-based Atlantic Logistics is about to get bigger.
The freight company moved more than 24,900 loads in what was a record-setting 2020. According to a news release, as they hauled in loads, they hauled in cash — the company posted $24.5 million in total revenue last year.
Business is still trucking along, and the 20-year-old company headed by Rob Hooper has outgrown the current HQ. They plan to expand the current 4,100-square-foot space by building out a 2,790-square-foot addition next to the current property.
Atlantic Logistics is getting ready for a major expansion. Image via Atlantic Logistics. If construction timelines hold up, the new digs will be online in December.
Atlantic Logistics marketing and comms director James Crichlow said the decision to expand includes the development of additional service lines and adding team members in sales, administration, and communications.
“To be able to increase our space truly speaks to the team’s effort during the pandemic. Every day during a taxing year, everyone went above and beyond, leading to our record growth. As a result, our brand is stronger than ever, and we are tracking to beat last year’s numbers. It’s incredible,” said Crichlow.
The company is working with McCullar & Boatright Architects principal architect Stephen McCullar, the Osterer Construction Company President Morrie Osterer, and Fixel-Osterer Construction.
In addition to the Jax expansion, Atlantic Logistics is growing its footprint in Keystone Heights with offices near its current facility on S. Lawrence Blvd.
Class of 2021
Take Stock in Children celebrated seniors in St. John’s County with a graduation bash last week.
St. John’s Class of 2021 is the largest-ever for Take Stock and its parent organization, Investing in Kids (INK!). The graduation ceremony featured students from Allen D. Nease High School, Bartram Trail High School, Creekside High School, Pedro Menendez High School, St. Augustine High School, and St. Johns Technical High School.
Outstanding seniors were called to the stage with family members and friends to be recognized with their scholarships, gifts, and medals, while the audience was told about each student’s high GPAs, school and sports performance, and all received custom photo sessions.
Take Stock in Children is making the Class of 2021 special. St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Tim Forson, school board members, dignitaries, area high school principals, INK! staff, teachers, mentors, sponsors, and others filled out the crowd.
“The graduation event served as an extremely exciting time, as we get to recognize an outstanding group of graduates from the Class of 2021. It has been our tradition to honor our students and bring in the new class of 8th graders at the same event each year. With all of the happenings due to the pandemic since March 2020, this year holds a special celebration for a respected group of graduates,” said Jim Wheeler, the program director at Take Stock in Children.
Take Stock is a statewide nonprofit organization that offers low-income, at-risk students with a unique opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty through education, college tuition, scholarships, mentors, and goals for a better life.
Students are pulled into the program in middle school. They all signed a contract to maintain a 2.5 GPA, stay in school, and remain drug and crime-free.
In St. Johns, the program features 15 active mentors, many of whom have been involved in the program for years — one of the local mentors has been in the volunteer program for more than 14 years.
“We are extremely grateful for the years of dedication and devotion from local volunteer mentors for our senior class,” Wheeler said. “If you look up the definition of mentor, it reads, ‘A trusted counselor or guide.’ I have adopted a new description of what a mentor means to our students and families, and it’s less dictionary and more real world. A mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”
Former U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw and John Delaney joined the Flagler Health+ Board of Trustees, the institution announced Monday.
“As Flagler Health+ expands our reach across Northeast Florida and beyond, it is important that the composition of our board reflects that growth,” Flagler Health+ President and CEO Jason Barrett said. “We are extremely fortunate that these two such accomplished and respected individuals share our vision for advancing physical, social, and economic health for area communities and have agreed to help lead Flagler Health+ into the next phase of our enterprise development.”
Crenshaw represented Florida’s 4th Congressional District for 16 years, during which time he served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. He is also a former Deputy Majority Whip, former Florida Senate President, and an accomplished attorney.
John Delaney and Ander Crenshaw bring high-profile names to the Flagler Health+ Board of Trustees. “In addition to his extraordinary years of service to our state and our nation, Congressman Crenshaw has a long-standing history with Flagler Health+ and the St. Augustine community,” added Barrett. “His commitment to supporting projects and services that benefit all people and improve communities is unwavering.”
Delaney is a shareholder at Rogers Towers Law firm, a principal at The Fiorentino Group lobbying firm, a former Jacksonville Mayor, and is on tap to serve as interim president of Flagler College, beginning in July.
Delaney also served as University of North Florida’s president for 15 years. While at UNF, he also spent a year as the Interim Chancellor of the State University System of Florida and is the only named President Emeritus in UNF’s 52-year
“John Delaney’s leadership in education, government, and in the business sector has had a tremendous impact across our region and our state,” commented Barrett. “He will undoubtedly bring tremendous insight, new ideas, and direction to our organization as we continue to advance our strategy and fulfill our community mission.”
Flagler Health+ is also appointing Todd Neville as its new chair of the Board of Trustees.
Neville has been on the Flagler Health+ Board for more than a decade, most recently serving as vice-chair.
“Todd Neville brings tremendous expertise, community perspective and a proven track record of leadership to this role,” Barrett said. “His vigor for achievement combined with a commitment to service in private, public and nonprofit sectors will be instrumental to our success, as we continue to advance the physical, social and economic health of area communities.”
Congratulations to Todd Neville, newly named chair of the Flagler Health+ board. Neville currently serves as the Managing Partner of Neville Wainio CPAs and is a former Vice Mayor of the City of St. Augustine, as well as past president of the St. Augustine Rotary Club and Ancient City Road Runners, and past Vice-Chair and Treasurer of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Maritime security is on the agenda at a meeting of the Jacksonville Council Navy League of the U.S., which welcomes Christopher Smith from the Florida Maritime Partnership.
Smith will discuss the Jones Act, which protects the nation’s maritime shipping industry from foreign domination. The Act requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships built, owned, and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents.
Christopher Smith gives a deep dive into maritime security. The Jax Council Luncheon is Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Eastern time at the Holiday Inn and Suites Orange Park, 620 Wells Rd, Orange Park.
Tickets are $20; register online here.
Durbin Park groundbreaking
Flagler Health+ is holding a groundbreaking for the new Durbin Park during a ceremony on Thursday. Slated to open in early 2023, the 45-acre campus will feature a state-of-the-art hospital and outpatient surgery center as well as the signature Flagler Health+ Village concept. The health village will incorporate family medicine, specialty care, urgent care, imaging, laboratory services, healthy lifestyle programming, and community engagement space with an emphasis on integrating nature and technology to enhance experiences.
Durbin Park will also include a cutting-edge wellness facility, walking trails, and retail spaces.
The ceremony begins at 3 p.m., State Road 9B and Peyton Parkway, St. Johns.
Not a crime
In Jacksonville, skateboarding is not a crime — but a championship sport.
World championship level athletic competition is coming to Jacksonville in the form of the Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship Jacksonville on November 13-14, 2021, on the banks of the St. Johns River.
Mayor Lenny Curry was on hand to hail skateboard championships coming to the city in November.
No crime here: Elite skaters are headed to Duval later this year. Curry, a hobbyist skateboarder himself, likely won’t be an active participant. But as is so often the case, he is the city’s lead cheerleader for a sporting event.
“This is a major event for our city,” Curry said, of the event that will transform the riverfront into the “world’s largest skate park.”
Longtime Jaxsons likely spent many of their formative years at the Kona Skate Park, the Arlington destination where many bumps, bruises and breaks were part of the price of learning a sport uniquely suited to Jacksonville’s topography and transient population.
See, you can skateboard anywhere. But to win a title, you’re going to have to be in Jacksonville in November.
Jags, FIT STEM
Florida Institute of Technology is partnering with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a new STEM Lab at Andrew Jackson High School of Advanced Technology in Jacksonville.
Since 2019, Florida Tech has been the official STEM education sponsor of the Jaguars.
FIT has fully funded 24 new laptops and furniture to provide a virtual reality-based learning environment for the 930-student high school located just north of downtown Jacksonville.
“As Florida’s STEM university, Florida Tech understands the power and potential of a technology-rich, student-driven education,” said Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay. “We are pleased to join the Jaguars in strengthening the opportunities for students at Andrew Jackson and look forward to the success and innovation this new facility will foster.”
In addition to providing an outlet for science, technology, engineering and math, the new lab will supercharge student efforts to apply to college, a priority of AJHS Principal Truitte Moreland.
Don’t believe in ‘no’: Ben Bartch is proof positive of the value of hard work. “I don’t believe in no,” Moreland said at a recent grand opening ceremony. “There are no excuses. If a kid does not have the money and they can’t do the basics, then it’s our job to do that for them. This partnership with Florida Tech and the Jaguars helps us do that.”
The Jaguars’ offensive lineman Ben Bartch visited the students virtually to discuss what can happen with some hard work.
“Bottom line is you just have to work your butt off,” Bartch said. “It’s on you and yourself; it’s you and the man in the mirror. If it’s a goal that is worth pursuing, people will doubt you. That’s how you know it’s a good goal.”
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