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Last week, I told you how Councilman Robin Lumb — whom we’ve since learned will likely abandon his bid for supervisor of elections in favor of becoming the next Duval GOP chairman, and may seek reelection to his City Council seat — had sent a stern letter to the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s board members chiding the organization for an email the group had sent out rallying support for MOCA and its Project Atrium exhibit and against Clay Yarborough, who deemed said exhibit pornographic. In short, Lumb found it distasteful that the Cultural Council was singling out and criticizing one council member. He was also upset that the Cultural Council’s email contained a link to a story I had written that, in his words, contained “disparaging remarks” about Yarborough. (True.) 

The email “is a rather ham-handed effort to exploit the controversy,” he wrote, “an effort that crossed several lines that should not have been crossed and that calls into question whether the Cultural Council understands its proper role and the limits inherent thereto.”

Per his request, I emailed Lumb Friday morning with a couple questions. He sent me his answers last night. As he expressed some concern about being quoted out of context, I told him I’d print our entire email exchange — my full question and his full answers — online, for all the world to see and assess. And here it is, passed along without comment. My questions are in bold. (My fuller thoughts will appear in print Wednesday.)

1) The CCGJ is in a sense repositioning itself less as a sort of pass-through agency — i.e., take money from Council, give money to the symphony and the Cummer and MOCA — than as a group of “advocates/activists” for the arts in Jacksonville. In your email, if I’m reading it right, you argue that the CCGJ should not be in the advocacy business, at least not with public …   More



WCTV in Tallahassee has a story up tonight that basically regurgitates what Derek Kinner posted last night: Longtime Florida State instructor Deborah O’Connor resigned over the weekend after Folio Weekly began asking questions about a string of racist, homophobic Facebook comments she left on a friend-of-a-friend’s post about police shootings. (No link to us or mention of our intrinsic role in this thing, as journalistic convention would dictate is proper, but whatever.) The TV station did get one thing out of the university that they didn’t give us yesterday when we were putting our story together: O’Connor’s resignation letter, and a note she sent the dean before that. The interesting part: 

In her resignation letter to the dean of the business school, O'Connor notes she has a Masters and Ph.D. from FSU and had taught there for 18 years.

She wrote her resignation was "...the path of least resistance", but "I do NOT believe the punishment fits the "crime"."

In her original note to the dean before her official resignation letter was submitted,O'Connor wrote in part, "Is there any chance the story can be suppressed to minimize further injury to my repuation? Thanks and Go Noles".

Nope.    More



On Saturday, longtime Florida State instructor Deborah O’Connor tendered her resignation after Folio Weekly began asking questions about a racist, homophobic Facebook rant she went on Thursday night. On Monday, FSU officials declined to give this magazine her resignation letter, even though it is a public record, though on Tuesday they gave it to Tallahassee media. Last night we put in another request, and finally, this morning we finally got it.

Here it is:

-----Original Message-----

From: O'Connor, Deborah

Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2014 1:17 PM

To: Beck-Dudley, Caryn

Subject: RE: [Manfac] [Cobfac] FW: Publishing Opportunity for Your Undergraduate Students


Just a quick note to tell you that I am sending my official letter of resignation effective at the close of this semester later today. I am away from computer.

I talked to Jack.

Is there any chance the story can be suppressed to minimize further injury to my reputation? I think I have paid the price for my ill chosen words.

Thanks and Go Noles



From: Beck-Dudley, Caryn

Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2014 5:35 PM

To: O'Connor, Deborah

Cc: Beck-Dudley, Caryn; Fiorito, Jack

Subject: Re: [Manfac] [Cobfac] FW: Publishing Opportunity for Your Undergraduate Students


I accept your voluntary resignation. In doing so, I am not agreeing with or admitting to any statements that you have made in your emails which contain several untrue statements and misrepresentations.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

"O'Connor, Deborah" <> wrote:

Dear Dean Beck-Dudley,

I am tendering my resignation effective at the end of the present semester. I do this with a heavy heart, having graduated with a Masters and a Ph.D. from Florida State and having taught in the College of Business for 18 years.

Please see my previous email which I want entered into an official record to defend myself …   More



Editor’s note: David Carr was something of a hero of mine, dating back to the late ’90s when he was editor of the Washington City Paper, before he became nationally known as The New York Times’ media critic. Carr died last week. I never got to meet him, but Carr was a mentor and friend to my predecessor here at Folio Weekly, Anne Schindler, who worked with him at a now-defunct Minnesota alt-weekly called the Twin Cities Reader. She was kind enough to pen this wonderful remembrance of a legend in our field. — Jeffrey C. Billman

David Carr loved a good story, and it was part of his natural generosity that he left everyone he came into contact with at least one good story to remember him by.

In the 25 years I’ve known Carr, I’ve had the good fortune to cross paths with him in a slew of odd places, and whether getting lost on the streets of Tijuana, waging noodle wars in the lakes of the Adirondacks, or watching Sonic Youth aurally annihilate the 9:30 Club, each left an indelible memory.

Carr’s whole life was a caper, and he was ruthlessly candid about not wanting not to miss out. He had to taste everything on the menu, jump into every darkened swimming pool, and yes, “grind himself to the center of the universe” journalistically.

Carr gave me my first job in journalism, at the now-defunct alt-weekly the Twin Cities Reader. He was just shed of his crack addiction and cancer, and new to the job of editor. And he very nearly didn’t take me. After receiving the package of poorly written, sloppily edited college papers that served as my “writing sample,” he asked if I could at least type.

I could not. “It’s going to be difficult to explain to anyone in this newsroom why I would hire you,” he confided, “if you can’t even type.”

I spent that summer learning to type using a textbook, practicing on a series of postcards that I would send Carr as proof …   More


It seems that Duval County Chief Judge Mark Mahon (DCCJMM to his fans) has rather narrow views of precisely when and where the Constitution applies. On July 1, DCCJMM handed down Administrative Order 2015-3, banning filming in certain areas of the courthouse and forbidding protests on courthouse grounds that “degrade or call into question the integrity of the court or any of its judges.” Nope, that’s not a joke. We checked.

Chief Judge Mahon’s administrative order created a free-speech-less bubble around the courthouse, the Office of the State Attorney, their parking garages, the lawn, the Courthouse sidewalks, heck, maybe even the skies above and the grounds below and everywhere else that freedom lives. Individuals who penetrated the free-speech-less bubble with their vile protests of the judiciary were subject to criminal contempt of court.

Well, why stop at restricting freedom of the press, freedom to peaceable assembly and freedom of speech? Here are some suggestions for DCCJMM for his future administrative orders.

1.     Free speech areas. Possible locations: The Jacksonville Landing (no one goes there, anyway), Cleveland Arms Apartments (they’re already protesting there, so it’s convenient), and I-95 during rush hour (we’re pretty sure there’s a precedent for this).

2.     Judicial chambers should be renamed ‘Star Chambers.’ You’re the star, baby. Let it shine.

3.     On the subject of names, DCCJMM doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi that denotes power and commands respect. So how about Supreme Transcendental Overlord ofLaws? or All Shall Serve the Honorable Overlord of Law and Ennui.

4.     In absentia criminal trials. The government spends buckets of dough shuttling inmates back …   More



Either Folio Weekly is experiencing “the change” or it’s getting hot, hot, hot in the Bold City! In less than two weeks, Jacksonville has been graced with the presence of not one, but two, Republican presidential candidates. On Saturday, Oct. 24, Donald J. Trump descended, Voldemort-like, on a moist crowd at The Landing; on Monday, Nov. 2, John Ellis “Jeb”/“don’t-call-me-Dubya’s-mini-me” Bush slithered in and out of the air-conditioned enclave of Kaman Aerospace on the Northside.

It’s often said that like begets like, but the Grand Ol’ Party could not have spawned two more outwardly different candidates. From skin tone – Trump’s tangerine-tinted mug is the envy of Oompa Loompas everywhere, while Jeb! rocks a lighter shade of pale that is all the rage among WASPs – to speaking style – Trump blathers on in semi-coherent gotcha phrases guaranteed to whip his mouth-breathing supporters into a lather while Jeb! speaks in complete sentences that neither escalate nor diminish in pitch regardless of what he’s talking about; their personality brands could not be more different.

Make no mistake, fair voters — for politicians, personality is a brand. And the more powerful the politician, the more manufactured the personality. Which means presidential candidates’ public personas are about as authentic as a Doritos marketing campaign. In spite of both campaigns’ efforts to show how unequivocally different Bushx3 and Trump-a-brain-dump are, they are actually as similar as anyone paying attention would expect. Before you recoil in horror, “But, FW, they seem so different on the news!” let’s peel this onion, shall we? Here is some pre-masticated food for thought:

1. Box Checking. Both Trump and Bush are white, male, Christian American Baby Boomers from exceptionally privileged families who have spawned multiple children and have an …   More


“Fund Our Kids, Not CHARTER Corporations,” Advocate Says

Florida lawmakers are notorious for attaching significant and expensive education policy bills to the final budget document at the “conference” stage in the legislative session, that is, when the state House and Senate begin negotiating on the budget. Critics call these add-on bills “trains,” and charge that they’re intended to circumvent public input, which is supposed to happen earlier at various committee public hearings.

Fund Education Now co-founder Kathleen Oropeza warned two weeks ago that House’s “Schools of Hope” bill, which created a $200 million pot of money for charter schools, would ultimately appear in a “train.” She was right.

The Miami Herald reported this morning that Florida’s Senate Appropriations Committee took just nine minutes yesterday to pass SB 796.  SB 796 was sponsored and amended by Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) as a companion to the House’s “Schools of Hope” bill (HB 5105). At least one senator, Bill Montford (D-Quincy) called for immediate public input on the measure so that it can be fully vetted before session ends May 5.  Once SB 796 hits the floor as part of a negotiated budget bill, the Herald reports, it won’t be amendable.

But there’s still a lot missing from Bean’s bill, Oropeza says. Echoing the criticism of at least three school superintendents of large Florida districts, Oropeza wants lawmakers to adopt the elements of Sen. David Simmons’ bill (SB 1552) that will provide additional help to students in struggling schools, instead of threatening “takeover” by charter schools. 

“Instead of focusing on unmitigated charter school growth, the Senate and the House have an opportunity to turn their sights directly onto poverty and its well-documented effects,” Oropeza said.  

Simmons’ proposal includes a longer school day, healthcare services, …   More


Lawsuit Challenges “Wealth-Based” Bail Procedures

Civil rights attorneys in Jacksonville filed a federal class action lawsuit Wednesday, Aug. 30 seeking new procedures for how bail is determined for misdemeanor arrestees. Currently, the lawsuit alleges, judges in the Fourth Judicial Circuit use a standard bond schedule for misdemeanor defendants and, when setting bail for pretrial release, don't inquire about individuals' ability to pay those predetermined amounts. The current system, plaintiffs contend, results in poor people having to remain in jail as they await trial because they can't pay to get out, while more affluent defendants are awarded pre-trial release almost immediately.

According to the lawsuit, using a pre-determined bond schedule without regard for an arrestee's ability to make bail violates due process and equal protection protections in both the United States and Florida Constitutions.

Civil rights attorney Bill Sheppard and his firm, Sheppard, White, Kachergus & DeMaggio, filed the lawsuit, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief regarding bail for misdemeanor arrestees in Jacksonville.

"The Duval County Jail is seriously overcrowded," Sheppard said in a written statement to Folio Weekly, "in part because the Sheriff is holding misdemeanants solely because of their inability to pay their way out of jail. Long ago, Charles Dickens wrote about debtors' prisons-and that's all this is."

Plaintiffs are asking the U.S. District Court to declare both the predetermined bond schedule and the failure to inquire about arrestees' financial status unconstitutional. They also want the court to enjoin judges in the Fourth Judicial Circuit and agents of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office from further use of the current "wealth-based detention" system, and to issue whatever orders the court deems necessary toward those ends.

The three named plaintiffs represent misdemeanor arrestees who are in jail now, the lawsuit says, only because they are indigent. The lawsuit names Sheriff Mike …   More

the flog

The Value of REAL News

The experiment has escaped the lab and is running amok across our great land. Thanks, Facebook. Many once thought that social media would save us--that it would break down borders, unite the globe, make us smarter, happier and more engaged in the world.

I'm not sure anyone believes that anymore. Turns out, it hasn't broken down borders, but rather helped create social bubbles where our beliefs harden. It hasn't united us, but revealed how polarized we've become. It often hasn't made us smarter, but instead tricked us with clickbait.

At this point, it's clear that even Facebook's founder didn't anticipate how the site would be used and abused, or how foreign agents looking to sow some good ol' chaos would game Facebook's algorithms to subvert American democracy. Further, it's apparent now that Facebook-and Google and Twitter, for that matter-didn't look too closely at the money being exchanged to see who was paying and who was profiting from all the fakery.

Yet, at the same time these platforms--Google and Facebook, especially--were spreading misinformation and fake news like wildfire, they were also draining digital advertising dollars from the very news outlets that could combat those forces with real journalism.

That's not exactly new: The news business has long been outwitted by these tech giants-lured by vast internet audiences, they've essentially provided free content to Facebook and Google, while the duopoly courted their advertisers-but I believe that the journalists who confronted that impossible choice ultimately wanted to deliver the news, even at their own expense.

And now Facebook is poised to change the rules of the game yet again. Struggling to repel fake news and the antagonism permeating the site, founder Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that it would deprioritize news in favor of posts from friends and family. It's sent a shockwave through the news industry, much of which has strategically aligned its priorities with …   More