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Buzz: Pensions, Civil Rights, Ethics Fines and More

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Pension Solution: Borrow Money

The Jacksonville Civic Council says Jacksonville can solve its rising pension costs by borrowing $1 billion and putting the money into the Police & Fire Pension Fund, The Florida Times-Union reported. The Civic Council, a group of prominent business leaders, said it would probably require a tax hike to repay the debt, but believes it would put the pension plan on firm financial footing. Mayor Alvin Brown, who's concerned about borrowing $1 billion, believes his Retirement Reform Task Force is the proper vehicle to solve the pension issue, said David DeCamp, the mayor’s spokesperson. City Council President Bill Gulliford said he thinks the mayor’s task force should debate the proposal.

 

Flagler Unveils Civil Rights Museum

Half-a-century after a group of 100 black students staged a sit-in in the dining hall of Hotel Ponce de Leon in downtown St. Augustine, students at Flagler College are unveiling an Internet-based archive documenting the area’s role in the Civil Rights movement. The Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine will be in the same room where the sit-in occurred. When Flagler College was founded in 1968, it took over the Ponce hotel. Included in the archive, which opened Sept. 18, are the FBI files detailing Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in St. Augustine, audio of Jackie Robinson’s visit to the city, and the archives of civil rights leader Andrew Young. For details, contact Holly Hill, assistant director of college relations, at 819-6282 or hhill@flagler.edu.

 

St. Augustine Aquarium Proposed

A group that wants to develop Riberia Pointe in St. Augustine has unveiled plans for a children’s museum, botanical garden, shops and a 250,000-gallon aquarium. Marc Newman, principal of PLACE Alliance, said the development would mean 30 new jobs, bring 75,000 visitors a year and pump $3 million into the local economy, the St. Augustine Record reported. Developers are in talks to buy a 1.4-acre city-owned site on a reclaimed landfill. City Commissioners seemed interested in the proposal, but said they'd like to see more concrete plans and financial details, since other proposals for the site have come and gone.

 

And Then There Were Six

Florida State College at Jacksonville has narrowed its list of presidential candidates to six after receiving 26 applications. A special committee of professors, students and staff will interview the six candidates and recommend the top three to the FSCJ board by the end of September. The board will choose one of the three or select someone from the original pool. The board will likely name a new president Oct. 8 after final interviews Oct. 1-3.

 

UNF Nursing Program Recognized

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has recognized the University of North Florida’s School of Nursing as a national academic leader. UNF’s Community Nursing undergraduate program in the Brooks College of Health, celebrating its 25th anniversary, was designated as a best practices program by the AACN, which represents more than 725 member schools of nursing at public and private universities. UNF nursing students are assigned to a community home base in the community during their first semester of nursing school, working in the same community during the entire nursing program so they learn to collaborate, establish relationships and grow with the community as a team.

 

Public Officials Face Fines

Jacksonville City Councilman Reginald Brown and Steve Diebenow, a member of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority Board of Directors, have been fined for missing the Sept. 3 deadline for filing financial disclosure forms with the Florida Commission on Ethics. Brown, who filed his disclosure form Sept. 9, faces a $150 fine, while Diebenow, who filed a day later on Sept. 10, incurs a $175 fine, according to records on the Florida Commission on Ethics website (public.ethics.state.fl.us). Public officials must file full disclosure forms, which include net worth, assets, liabilities and other sources of income. For years, officials ignored the fines, and they often went unpaid. Last year, the state had to write off $800,000 in unpaid fines. As part of the new ethics rules, the wages of public officials who do not pay can be garnished.

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