Buzz: Veterans Memorial Arena Name, Michael Dunn Records, Clay School Board Discord and More
No Plan to Rename Veterans Memorial Arena
Mayor Alvin Brown has no plans to change the name of Veterans Memorial Arena. “At no time have we proposed removing the Veterans Memorial designation at the Arena, a title that we appreciate, support and cherish,” said David DeCamp, Brown’s spokesman. The issue came up when Council members asked about possible revenue streams from the ballpark and arena areas to offset some of the $43 million being spent on the new scoreboards at EverBank Field, DeCamp said. There's never been any plan by Brown or his administration to rename the arena, he added.
Judge Revises Michael Dunn Public Records Order
A judge has revised his order on releasing material from the upcoming murder trial of Michael Dunn for the shooting death of Jordan Davis, but several media organizations are not pleased with his decision. Judge Russell Healey had earlier banned releasing material until he'd had a chance to review it. The new decision allows the public release of the material after 30 days if neither the defense or prosecution objects. Attorney George Gabel, representing The Florida Times-Union and First Coast News, said he thinks 30 days is too long. Times-Union Editor Frank Denton said the procedure allows prosecutors and defense attorneys to unreasonably delay the public records release.
More Discord on Clay School Board
The Clay County School Board has broken with tradition and re-elected Carol Studdard to a third consecutive term as chairman. Lisa Graham, who'd been serving as vice chairman, was passed over by the divided board — Janice Kerekes was chosen for that post. In the past, the vice chairman moved to the top spot when the new chairman was elected. Studdard and Kerekes have been opposed to many of the actions of Superintendent Charles Van Zant Jr., including seeking an investigation into his support for a history and American Exceptionalism conference in early November. Graham has generally supported Van Zant.
Veteran Educators Honored
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet presented Shine Awards to two Clay County teachers and one Duval County educator on Nov. 19. They are Kenneth McAllister, retired from the Air Force after 15 years, who teaches special education students and social studies at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs; David Silverman, retired after 24 years in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard, who teaches at the Clay County Center for Adult and Community Education; and Jacqueline Williams, a U.S. Navy retiree after 21 years of service, who teaches American government, economics and AP psychology at A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology in Jacksonville. Shine Awards are presented to those Floridians who have positively influenced students through education.
No Local Lieutenant Governor
A Tampa newspaper reported that St. Johns County School Superintendent Joe Joyner was on the short list of those being considered by Gov. Rick Scott to be lieutenant governor, but Joyner removed his name from consideration on Nov. 21. The No. 2 spot has been vacant since March, when Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned after it was revealed she’d done some work for the Allied Veterans of the World. The Tampa Bay Times and St. Augustine Record reported Nov. 18 that Scott was considering Joyner, as well as Seminole County Sheriff Don Esling, state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Mumford. “I believe very strongly that I made a promise to the St. Johns County School District several years ago,” Joyner wrote in an email to district staff. He has a contract through 2017.
Jacksonville Hits 100 Homicides
Jacksonville’s homicide rate has topped 100 for the second year in a row. As of Nov. 19, following a period of increased shootings, including the fatal shooting of four people in one home, it's climbed to 103, compared with 89 for the same period last year, according to figures the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released. The number of murders is also up, with 83 murders this year, compared with 75 for last year, which racked up 108 homicides, 93 of which were ruled a murder. “All murders are homicides. Not all homicides are murders. Homicide is the killing of another human being. Murder is the criminal intent of the killing of another human being,” said Melissa Bujeda, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.
Soderberg Joins JaxPort Board
Nancy Soderberg, foreign policy expert and college professor, joined the JaxPort Board of Directors at its Nov. 19 meeting. Soderburg was appointed by Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown; past chairman James Citrano was appointed for a second four-year term. JaxPort has a seven-member unpaid Board of Directors which offers port policy guidance.
Bostwick Building’s Future
The historic Bostwick Building — you know, that place with the Jaguar mural at the foot of the Main Street Bridge — has been saved from demolition. On Nov. 19, the Jacksonville City Council’s Land Use & Zoning Committee denied a request from the structure's owners, Val and Karl Bostwick, to demolish it. The committee also approved the Historic Preservation Committee’s recommendation to give the Bostwick landmark status. Those actions must be approved by the entire City Council. The building's future is still uncertain, though Jacques Klempf has spent $60,000 on fees for structural engineers and a design team to see if the Bostwick can be redeveloped into a restaurant, the Jacksonville Business Journal reported.