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Right now, the Duval County School Board is frantically backpedaling and tap dancing away from the to-fire-or-not-to-fire Superintendent Nikolai Vitti mess.

See, last Saturday board member Scott Shine sent an email to the press that claimed board chairperson Ashley Smith Juarez intended to call a vote to fire Vitti at the meeting taking place right now. Subsequently, Smith Juarez sent her own open letter to media in which she admitted to ever-so-politely suggesting Vitti take his talents elsewhere.

Then, when civic leaders and the business community circled the wagons round their boy Vitti, Smith Juarez backed away slowly with her eyes lowered like a hiker who's just startled a very rich, very powerful group of bears.

So Folio Weekly thought we’d help them out by coming up with some new slogans guaranteed to distract and enthrall the electorate – though we’ll admit these probably won’t keep some members of the board from getting soiled in the shitstorm.

8 New Slogans for the Duval County School Board

1.  Puts the ‘dys’ in dysfunctional

2.  Solve complex national issues centuries in the making in 3 years OR ELSE

3.  You’re fired

4.  Proud graduates of the Scarlett O’Hara/Rhett Butler Charm School for Belles and Beaus – and you better be too

5.  If we wanted to know what you thought, we’d tell you

6.  Real Politicians in Training

7.  Cause Chartrand Says

8.  Just say 'no' to Sunshine   More


Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny Miller, who is running for election to the city commission, which he previously served on before becoming mayor, bounced a $120 check from his campaign account to cover an election fee, according to finance records released by the city. While Miller was expected to have the money in the bank by the Aug. 5 qualifying deadline, the check was declined Aug. 18. The city clerk said Sept. 13 that Miller is allowed to stay in the race under a state statute dealing with candidates in nonpartisan elections that have checks returned for “any reason.”

The situation came to light Sept. 13 after Miller’s August campaign treasurer’s report was posted on the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website with a $36 return check fee and a cashier’s check for $127.

According to Clerk Caroline Best, the state provides candidates another opportunity to pay the fee but there are conditions: the candidate must pay the fee with a cashier’s check within 48 hours of notification (excluding weekends and holidays). Best said she alerted Miller and his campaign treasurer – his wife Lori Miller – “immediately” to let them know the check had been declined and the clock was ticking. Best said that Miller’s wife banked the cashier’s check on Aug. 22 under the 48-hour deadline and that “all is well.”

Miller, a popular mayor who works as a bartender at the Palace Saloon in downtown Fernandina Beach, did not respond to a phone request for comment but his election opponent Eric Childers, a former city commissioner, did. In a series of phone interviews this week, Childers said he believes Miller acted in “good faith” but should be disqualified. Childers questioned the application of statute 105.031 (5)(a)(1) cited by the city and asked the Department of Elections on Thursday for a written decision. To Childers, the statute applies only to judicial candidates and …   More

Waller and McCloskey ROCK "MERRILY" at ABET

Shortly after the open, Katie Swider McCloskey — as the alcoholic Mary Flynn — deadpans, ”The plot thins.”

Huge laughs follow as her increasingly caustic jabs rip at the center of her orbit, Frank Shepard (Daniel Austin). But it’s the simplicity in staging, not plot, that truly allows Merrily We Roll Along to hit nearly all the right notes. 

This Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre production continues with six more performances through September 25 at the Adele Grage Cultural Center after two opening sellouts last week.

When director Lee Hamby saw a stripped-down version of Merrily that drew raves in London, he realized that the musical, best-known as a Broadway flop, could be a hit on a small stage.

The original Broadway edition in 1981 holds an infamous place in theatre history, losing its original leading man, being postponed twice and running for only 16 performances. It also marked the end of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince’s collaborations for more than two decades, until 2003.

Some of the challenges remain, with a story told in reverse, and a bittersweet tale of theatre sellouts unraveling themselves into optimistic go-getters of 1957. 

But the small-stage intimacy of ABET with an extreme focus on storytelling allows the musical to strike deeper, even with some rough edges.

Merrily We Roll Along does indeed open at the close. 

We quickly discover that Frank, Mary and Charley Kringas (Josh Waller) were once the three best friends that anyone could have, but now they’ve gone their separate ways. One mention of Charley, and a drunk Mary who has flown in from New York City for this 1976 Bel Air party chastises, “Don’t you know that in this joint you must never, ever mention the name Charley Kringas.” 

We learn quickly that Mary is still in love with Frank after all these years. But it’s the intrigue over what happened on a TV set back in ‘73 …   More

12 Times We Couldn't Tell if Lenny Curry was a Mayor, Coach or Gladiator on Twitter

If you follow the Northeast Florida Twits as closely as we do, you know that Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry is one active mofo on social media. An early adopter, to date the crown prince of pension taxes has Tweeted over 12,000 times since 2009. That's more than us. For realz.

Recently, we took a deep dive into Curry's Twitter feed, and we've gotta say, he's one cheesy fellow. We also noted the mayor's ongoing lovefest with sports radio personalities and a certain news channel that rhymes with 'traction shoes hacks.' We couldn't help but note that Curry, um, really likes grinding, almost as much as he digs the arena. But he loves nothing more than fist bumps. He loves them so much, he even fist bumps himself (but only when he's feeling froggy).

As we delved ever deeper into the fondue pot of the Curry Twitter feed, one burning question presented itself: Is Lenny Curry man, mayor, or some kind of gladiator/coach? 

You be the judge:



















































Ooh, sick burn from …   More

Ken Adkins May be More of a Scumbag Than We Thought

Earlier today, political consultant, pastor and anti-HRO crusader, Kenneth Adkins, was arrested on charges of child molestation and aggravated child molestation in Glynn County, Georgia.

For many, particularly those within the LGBTQ community and their allies, these charges are particularly galling because Adkins has been a complete and total prick concerning issues of equality for members of their community.

In June, Folio Weekly Magazine broke the news that Adkins had Tweeted out heinous statements about LGBTQ people in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Pulse Orlando, which claimed 49 victims.

But that wasn't the first time Adkins earned our ire; last December, he gave us plenty of reasons to hate him while serving as a panelist on one of Mayor Lenny Curry's community conversations about the HRO. As the HRO debate dominated local conversation in the months to follow, Adkins continued adding to his reputation for being widely reviled by circulating pornographic memes of City Councilman Tommy Hazouri.

Before the council could vote on expanding the city's human rights ordinance to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, Hazouri voluntarily withdrew the bill.

Since then Adkins has vowed to never again get involved with the HRO debate, complained about how he has been treated by the LGBTQ community and gotten in trouble for blatantly inventing an endorsement of one of the candidates who had previously hired him.

None of that was enough to keep political candidates in Duval County from hiring Adkins, however.

His arrest today has potentially (some would say finally) ended Adkins' career as a political consultant.

The charges allege that Adkins molested a boy under the age of 16 on several occasions in 2010.

Georgia Code Title 16, Section 16-6-4 (c) states, "A person commits the offense of aggravated child molestation when such person commits an offense …   More

Harvard Study Slams Duval for Overusing Death Penalty

Researchers at Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project have identified Duval County, Florida as part of the tiny minority of counties in the nation - one half of one percent - that have handed down five or more death penalty sentences between 2010 and 2015.  The report is titled “Too Broken to Fix: Part 1; An In-depth Look at America’s Outlier Penalty Counties."



“Between 2010-2015, in Duval there were 15 defendants sentenced to death,” Fair Punishment Project spokeswoman Stefanie Faucher wrote in a statement to Folio Weekly Magazine. She explains that in 2015, one individual was resentenced to death following an appeal, bringing the total to 16. Duval is responsible for roughly one-fourth of all Florida death-penalty sentences during this time period, despite comprising only 5 percent of the state’s population. And it’s not because we have the worst of the worst in terms of murderers, the study maintains.



The report released Tuesday examines eight of the 16 counties and the factors that make them different from the rest of the nation, which has largely abandoned the death penalty.

The FPP found three commonalities amongst the 16 “outlier” counties that outstrip the rest of the nation in death penalty sentencing.

“In the small number of counties where the death penalty still exists, we found of evidence of egregiously bad defense lawyering, rampant prosecutorial misconduct and overzealousness, and a pattern of racial bias that undermines the fairness of the death penalty,” noted Rob Smith, one of the report’s researchers. 


Racial bias 

For example, during the five-year period studied (2010-'15), in Duval, 87 percent of defendants sentenced to death were black, a number that is hugely disproportionate to African-American residency in Jacksonville. (Merely 30.1 percent of Duval County residents are …   More

Rumble on the Northside

This morning, Duval Democrats put on a lively press conference in an abandoned lot on the corner of Crestwood Street and Norwood Ave. on the city's Northside.

A crowd of about a dozen people gathered in the rising morning heat holding signs that read, "Just vote NO!" while Duval County Democratic Party Chair Neil Henrichsen, state Senator Audrey Gibson and former state Senator Tony Hill publicly urged people to vote against the pension tax, on the ballot as County Referendum #1 in the Aug. 30 primary. The plan, proposed by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, entails extending the half-penny sales tax voters approved in 2000 under the Better Jacksonville Plan, which is set to expire in 2030, an additional thirty years to pay for the city's staggering pension debt.

Last night, the Duval Democratic Party executive committee had voted to adopt a resolution urging a 'no' vote on the pension tax. The press conference was their public announcement of that resolution, which states that the tax extension "is flawed public policy that seeks to tax and impose billions in new pension costs on future generations without their vote or informed consent," asks the city to "immediately work to promptly resolve the unfunded pension liability," and to consult the Jacksonville Retirement Reform Task Force's findings and recommendations.


The task force it refers to was convened under former Mayor Alvin Brown and comprised of 18 community members and experts. The group ultimately recommended the city pay a larger portion of the pension debt than it was then - and is now - budgeting, reduce the benefits of future city employees and raise the contributions of current employees. In its final 51-page report, dated March 19, 2014, the task force wrote, "If the proposed changes are implemented, the JPFPF is expected to reach an 80% funded ratio in 2028..."

The task force noted that the changes would require an additional $50 million in payments in the short term, …   More

Truancy on the Planning Commission

Many feathers were ruffled when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry purged three members of the Planning Commission last year in what some viewed as a power grab, others as hindering the political careers of liberals who might be powerful adversaries, still others as revenge for their daring to support - and in the case of one commissioner, work for the campaign of - former Mayor Alvin Brown whom Curry bested in the May 2015 election.

Given that two members' terms expired last year, offing three others meant that Curry had appointed five of the nine members of the commission, arguably giving a majority vote to people who share his priorities concerning land use and zoning. (The Planning Commission reviews proposed land use and zoning code changes.)

Stacking the deck doesn't work so good if one of your appointees doesn't show up for meetings, though.

One of Curry's appointees was Nicole Padgett, whom he tapped to fill the at-large seat vacated by Nate Day, whose term had expired. At the time, some took notice of the fact that Summit Contracting Group, which Padgett's husband Marc owns, gave $78,000 to Curry's political action committee, Together for a Greater Jacksonville, when he was running for mayor, and that the Padgetts individually also contributed $1,000 apiece to Curry's campaign. Nicole Padgett is listed on as the company's chief administrative officer.

According to city records, since March, Padgett has missed five meetings. In fact, those records reflect that she's missed every other meeting since the commission's March 3 meeting. These are the meetings she has missed: March 17, April 21, May 19, June 23 and Aug. 4.

Sure, the meetings are probabaly a total snooze-a-thon (unless something is going down in Riverside/Avondale, cause folks there are passionate about zoning - to put it mildly). But agreeing to serve on a commission doesn't mean you only have to attend meetings when you feel like it. The bylaws are quite …   More


While the rest of you were still sleeping snug in your beds, dreams of #FinallyFriday dancing through your slumbering heads, Kelly Pope and Folio Weekly Magazine were up at the crack determined to give intolerance a smack in the face.


Long a controversial figure in local politics, Bishop/Pastor Kenneth Adkins took his tactics to new lows this year when he was contracted by opposition to the expansion of Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance, which, had it passed, would have protected people from housing, public accomodation and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. (Upon meeting with fervent and, some would say, unscrupulous and shameful opposition, the bill's co-sponsor, Councilman Tommy Hazouri, withdrew it in hopes of getting it passed at a later date.)

Then, as if he hadn't spread enough hate and intolerance against the LGBTQ community, days after the Pulse Orlando mass shooting, Adkins unleashed a barrage of appalling tweets that earned him public condemnation from all sides, even the Jacksonville Mayor's Office.

After FWM published screenshots of said Tweets, Adkins *sniffle* blocked us on Twitter.

Last weekend, a story caught our eye about Adkins getting caught lying about an endorsement for a candidate he'd previously represented.

The story also reported that, as penance for lying, Adkins had agreed that anyone who donated 20 backpacks or more to the Glynn County school system this morning, August 5, at Kaufman Parker Realty in downtown Brunswick, Georgia, would get the opportunity to put a pie in his face. "I’m finally using my controversy, my stupidity and my foolishness for some good,’’ Adkins told The Florida Times-Union.

We weren't the only ones tickled pink at the prospect of seeing whipped cream thrown in the face of intolerance.

Attorney John M. Phillips, whom Adkins recently tried to get kicked off the Human Rights Commission, …   More


Julian Robertson was running late to his audition, his feet frozen and

his pants snow-wet. Little could he have imagined how that winter day in Manhattan would shape his summer here in Jacksonville.  But then, he had no idea that The Juilliard School, the nation’s premiere performing arts school, would accept him into their acting program.

The 18-year-old Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate has found a way to parlay his hometown life into a summer play, aptly entitled “Broke,” as a fundraiser for his first year’s educational expenses at his dream school. Robertson will be one of only 18 acting students in the world admitted to Juilliard’s acting department this fall.

The young actor and playwright pulled a few of his friends from Douglas Anderson to direct and act in his original play. The cast has been rehearsing daily for weeks. “Broke” will premiere at The Performer’s Academy on Beach Blvd. on Friday, August 5.

Sitting across the kitchen table from Robertson, discussing his young characters and their pronounced moral conflicts, it’s easy to forget he’s only eighteen.

He explains that the play centers on a handful of young friends who grew up together in a hardscrabble neighborhood modeled on Robertson’s own North Jacksonville community.

“All of the characters are in survival mode,” Robertson says. “Markis has dug a hole for himself too big to get out of. He’s lost touch with who he is. He has a massive debt, and the clock is ticking.”

Robertson says that after “bouncing around in his head” for months, the story poured out of him “all at once,” when he returned from the Rutgers Summer Acting Conservatory in 2015.

“I sat down at the computer and I tried to write what they were saying,” he says of the play’s characters. “I was trying to catch it all.”

The characters are …   More