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THE FLOG

Gay marriage legal on southern tip of Florida as four counties all agree gay marriage ban violates U.S. Constitution. Marriages on hold awaiting appeals.

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The following day, on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis threw out the gay marriage ban there.  In the past 21 days, four South Florida judges have ruled the ban a violation of the rights of gay residents to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constituion — in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and now Palm Beach. The rulings in all four circuits are stayed pending  appeal by Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida voters amended the state constitutino in 2008 and made gay marriage illegal.  

On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguements in six gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Associated Press reports today. Each case relates to statewide marriage bans. The Herald reported Monday that the organization Freedom to Marry says LGBT advocates have won more than 30 times in federal, state and appeals courts since June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in ruling in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow from New York.

Judge Cohen cited Windsor in his Monday ruling, the Herald reports. 

The Florida Supreme Court delivered a ruling on gay marriage. If the circuit rulings hold, it woudn't legalize gay marriage throughout the state, just in the circuits that have legalized it. A Florida Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage is still sometime down the line.   More

THE FLOG

A survivor named Miley will lead Mutt March, Jacksonville Humane Society’s fundraiser walk at the Jacksonville Landing from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 2.

Miley collapsed and nearly died of respiratory distress from a walk at the JHS. JHS set a goal of raising $100,000 to care for shelter pets at the Mutt March.

“Miley is the perfect dog to represent JHS at Mutt March. She and so many others like her have overcome medical obstacles to bring great joy to their adoptive families. That wouldn’t be possible without the funds raised at Mutt March,” said Denise Deisler, JHS executive director, according to a press release from the JHS. “We are depending on Mutt March to raise enough money to care for the thousands of pets who rely on JHS for medical care and shelter each year.”

The 2-mile Mutt March fun walk and festival will have entertainment, activities for kids and pets, a silent auction and vendors with walking along St. Johns River.

Last year’s top fundraiser, JHS board member Lis’e Everly will walk Miley and lead hundreds of other dogs and their families in Mutt March.

“I am walking with Miley in the Mutt March to ensure JHS has the funds needed to care for all of the pets waiting for families with which to share their love,” Everly said. “Dogs like Miley stand by us offering us unconditional love, greeting us with enthusiasm and making us smile through the saddest of tears.”

To register for Mutt March, visit jaxhumane.org/muttmarch.   More

THE FLOG

 

The Jacksonville Suns and the contractors on the repair and repainting of the Mathews Bridge have reached an agreement to make it easier for fans to get to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for Suns games.

The bridge will remain open both ways until 10:30 p.m. on the first six Friday night games: April 5, April 26,  May 10, May 24, June 14 and June 21.

The Mathews will also remain open for opening night on April 4 and on Memorial Day weekend and the Southern Leaguer All-Star Game on July 17.

The $22.7 million repair and repainting program on the Mathews Bridge, which began in September 2011, is scheduled for completion later this summer or early fall, said Mike Goldman, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.

The Jacksonville Suns are the Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and are members of the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs.

 

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THE FLOG

If you see a gaggle of law enforcement officers along Wells Road in Orange Park on Wednesday afternoon it is not an actual emergency, it’s only a drill. Some 65 people from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the Orange Park Police and Fire Departments, Clay County Fire Rescue and Everest University staff and students are working together on a training exercise. The college students will be acting out scenarios such as an active shooter on campus to a hostage situation, and the officers and first responders will be honing their skills for an actual emergency. Remember, it is only a drill.

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FLOG

A new poll by the University of North Florida showed that about 70 percent of those questioned still approve or strongly approve of Mayor Alvin Brown’s performance. In a similar poll taken last year, 75 percent of those polled approved of the mayor’s performance. In the same poll, 48 percent of those polled approve of the job the Jacksonville City Council is doing.

Those polled showed 40 percent were taking a wait-and-see attitude on newly hired Duval County Superintendent of Schools Nikolai Vitti. About 40 percent had no opinion of the new superintendent. A majority of residents, 58 percent, supported the city adding sexual orientation to its human rights ordinance.

The poll was taken between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12 and included 917 Duval County residents. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.23 percent.   More

Jacksonville is receiving $450,000 from the 2012-2013 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday.

The grants are part of $2.6 million awarded to 10 project across the state “to protect military installations and grow jobs and opportunities across the state,” the governor said

In Jacksonville, the funds will go for the construction of an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research center at Mayport Naval Station.

A grant of $100,000 will to the Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small business across Florida.

“These investments are critical to supporting military jobs and further establishing Jacksonville as a major hub for aircraft basing,” the governor said.

Mayor Alvin Brown thanked the governor, saying, “This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part of national security, but promote jobs and economic development at the local and state levels.”

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FLOG

JaxPort’s Board of Directors have voted unanimously to inform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it wants to dredge the harbor to no less than 47 feet deep to keep the port competitive.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had recommended Monday that the St. Johns River shipping channel be dredged from its current 40-foot depth to 45 feet deep. Port members, however, said recommended depth is not deep enough for the port to service larger cargo ships from Asia.

The JaxPort board members said they think the 47-feet depth is needed to keep Jacksonville competitive to other East Cost ports.

The federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost to dredge up to 45 feet. Anything deeper than that depth could be paid for with state, federal, local or private funds.

There were no cost figures discussed at Monday’s meeting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release the draft results of its harbor deepening study in May.

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THE FLOG

A mixture of local talent and world-renowned experts are scheduled to give talks at the TEDx Jacksonville Connecting Currents event, to be held Oct. 26 on WJCT's sound stage.

Participants include Barbara Colaciello, Jacksonville Beach actor, playwright and storyteller; Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney; Nancy Soderberg, UNF professor and former UN ambassador and White House advisor; Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida; Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council.

Also, Matt Rutherford, the first person to complete nonstop single-handed voyages around North and South America; former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis, with the distinction of being uninvited to the Tea Party; TEDGlobal Fellow Aman Mojadidi, an American Southerner born to Afghan parents; Chevara Orrin, a black Jewish mother, activist and survivor who will discuss simple human interaction; Lawanda Ravoira, an expert on challenges girls in the juvenile justice system face; and Patricia Siemen, a Dominican sister and attorney who will discuss the long-term ecological health of the Earth.

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THE FLOG

As a reader, you might only think about Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax twice a year: once when you vote and again when you pick up the issue or go to the website to find out who won.

But here at Folio Weekly’s international headquarters, we’ve been working on Best of Jax for months.

It begins in May when we start compiling the list of categories for the ballot and decide which ones to keep, which ones to cut and which ones to add.

In June, we brainstorm several ideas for themes. This year, our passion for “Game of Thrones” pushed us to pick royalty. At that time, we create a logo for that year’s awards.

In July, we create the online ballot and launch it by the end of the month. While all of you are busy voting in August, we’re searching for models and props to bring our theme to life.

When voting ends, we start tabulating the votes. Because the ballot is open-ended and people can type in anything they want, it takes time to comb through each answer and add it to the appropriate place. It’s a laborious but somewhat humorous task sifting through the creative spellings of Northeast Florida’s favorites. But every vote counts!

Meanwhile, we shoot photos for the cover and topic headers that run inside. We shoot everything in at least two ways so we have different poses for the two Best of Jax issues — this year on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

Once we have a list of winners in early September, we assign writers to research and summarize their laurels in individual blurbs. Our staff photographer shoots more than 50 winners in four counties in about three weeks’ time.

Then, we compile and edit all the text and photos into the first and second Best of Jax issues. Once those are designed, proofed and printed, we still have to upload it all online.

We also produce laminated posters and door stickers for winners to hang with pride.

It all seems worth it when we get to celebrate with the winners at the Best of Jax party.

After a few …   More

The deputy director of the Port of Miami is the unanimous choice by the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board to become the next CEO of JaxPort.

At a meeting April 22, the board approved starting negotiations with Juan Kuryla to replace Paul Anderson, who left at the end of the year to take the position as the director of Tampa Port Authority, said Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.

The board conducted much of its search behind closed doors with one-on-one interviews with the eight candidates. It cut down the number of finalists to three before selecting Kuryla. Interim JaxPort CEO Roy Schleicher and Michael E. Moore, the former CEO of Global Container Terminals were the other finalists.

When he left the post he had held for only 23 months, Anderson complained about the instability at JaxPort, where competing appointments by the governor and mayor kept changing the port’s leadership.

Anderson was the state’s highest paid port executive in Jacksonville with an annual salary of $320,0000. He is paid $350,000 in Tampa.

The board will have to negotiate a salary and benefits with Kuryla.   More

 
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