Media Clips June 2012
Headline: Celebrate Downtown’s waterfront Date: June 1-7, 2012 Re: Mention of JCCI Link to online story: http://bit.ly/LdP2ht Value: $160 Copy:
The great Chicago architect Daniel Burnham once said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” For whatever the reasons may have been — too good of an
economy in the 1990s or too bad of an economy in the 2000s and 2010s — we are where we are with the old courthouse. I agree that the old courthouse and city hall complex should be demolished and made into a civic space that the community could use and enjoy. There will come a day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, when our circumstances will have improved and we, as a community, would seek to improve upon what makes this a great city. At the top of that list for many would be our wonderful river. Consider the great cities that celebrate their waterfront: Paris, Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, San Antonio and Venice to name a few. You need only go as close as Charleston or as far as St. Petersburg, Russia, to see examples of this kind of celebration. Great cities have great spaces. What would Atlanta or Orlando do if they had a river running through their city? I would think more than building condos and parking lots to get on the tax rolls. The JCCI River Study done several years ago identified scarce remaining riverfront land owned by the city. The old courthouse site should receive strong consideration. Can’t we have a grand space really celebrating the river? It is the hub of Jacksonville on the North Bank. Perhaps this might help Downtown Jacksonville with its never-ending journey toward revitalization. Sincerely, Ted Pappas, FAIA President The concept of the River Celebration Plaza is to capture a civic space in Downtown Jacksonville on the river. This proposed open space would be a tourist attraction and an attraction for the citizens of Jacksonville and North Florida. The complex focuses on an observation tower that enables the spectator to view wide stretches of the river and the Downtown area, both Southbank and Northbank. The building structure on the plaza would house a River Museum, a Florida History museum and also a Navy Museum focusing on the U.S. Navy history in Jacksonville since the late 1930s. The structure would also house art galleries, shops and boutiques sponsored and supported by the city of Jacksonville. Having Jacksonville’s largest hotel located adjacent to this space is an asset. Also included would be a Naval Aviation Exhibit located on the site of the former City Hall site. Pensacola has one; why shouldn’t Jacksonville? The Navy’s presence in Jacksonville has had a lasting influence. Finally, the Plaza would be a site for celebrations, civic events, outdoor art exhibits and a place for citizens and visitors to enjoy the river.
Headline: J.F. Bryan, Pam Reynolds, J.B. Birdsall elected to Thomas Jefferson Foundation Board Date: June 1, 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Link to online story: http://bit.ly/LlnFBP Value: $100 Copy:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—J.F. Bryan of Jacksonville, Fl., Pamela Reynolds of Richmond, Va., and John “J.B.” Birdsall of Charlottesville, Va., have been elected members of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private, nonprofit organization that has owned and operated Monticello since 1923. J.F. Bryan, IV, a Jacksonville, Florida native, was involved in the insurance industry for thirty years; he spent the last 13 years as President of Independent Insurance Group before the Company was sold to American General in 1996. Bryan currently serves as Chairman of the Board of LISC (a local initiative to redevelop challenged neighborhoods). He serves as Chairman of the Reinhold Foundation, and is a member of the Board and Past Chairman of Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL, the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership, the James Madison Institute, Episcopal Children Services Foundation, Jacksonville Symphony Assn., Ronald McDonald House Advisory Board, Body & Soul, Bethune-Cookman College, the Jacksonville Zoo, and Evergreen Cemetery. He is a member of Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. board. Bryan also served many years on the board of Jacksonville University (he recently received an Honorary Degree for his 21 years of service), the Non-Profit Center, Episcopal Relief and Development, as well as a six year term as Regent of the University of the South, his alma mater. He has been a life-long active member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Jacksonville. He and his wife Peggy are the parents of three sons and five grandchildren. J.B. Birdsall is the former President of a Florida based family-owned containerized shipping business which operated owned and chartered vessels throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean regions. He retired from that position in 1987, and with his wife, Mary Scott, (a Charlottesville native) moved to her childhood home in western Albemarle County. Birdsall remained active on the Boards of both Tropical Shipping and its parent, Nicor Inc., until the latter was merged with AGL Resources in December, 2011. Since moving to Charlottesville, Birdsall has served on the Board of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Land preservation through the use of conservation easements has remained one of his constant pursuits. He was a founding member of the College Foundation at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, and has also served the University as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.
Pam Reynolds has been a stalwart supporter of cultural heritage in Richmond and the midAtlantic region. She is the past chair of the Board of Trustees of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), and served on the VMFA board from 1999 through 2010. Reynolds has served on the boards of the Arts Council of Richmond, the Richmond Symphony, Theatre Virginia, Theatre IV, the Carpenter Center, Friends of the Kennedy Center, CenterStage Foundation, the Virginia Opera, the Richmond Board of Stratford Hall, and the American Council for the Arts. She has also previously served as chair or co-chair of the Richmond Children’s Festival, Richmond Ballet’s Gala in New York, A Richmond Celebration and VMFA’s Faberge´ Ball. Reynolds is married to Richard S. (Major) Reynolds, III, grandson of Richard S. Reynolds, Sr. the founder of Reynolds Metals Company and President of the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation. “The Foundation is truly fortunate to welcome these exceptional individuals and friends,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “Mr. Bryan, Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Birdsall have committed their time to serving important initiatives in the past and we look forward to the opportunities their leadership will bring to Monticello in the future.”
Headline: Construction in St. John’s County: Getting the message on impact fees Date: June 4, 2012 Re: Mention of JCCI Inquiry Link to online story: http://bit.ly/LJqpy5 Value: $100 Copy:
I found the Times-Union article on the upward surge in increased building and home sales in St. Johns County disingenuous. It was unfair in its comparison to Duval County in that this "surge" took place when St. Johns County has only recently turned around an almost complete lockdown of building permits due to their inordinate impact fees. During the building bubble years, Duval was one of the only counties in the state not to take advantage of impact fee revenue. I was on the JCCI Recession and Economic Recovery Study that traveled the seven Northeast Florida counties in the fall of 2010. The day we arrived at the St. Augustine Airport for the outreach forum to collect local input on St. Johns County, there was a large meeting room filled to capacity, primarily with business owners, builders, developers and real estate people. We heard a tirade of frustration from these people attesting to the challenge of trying to pull permits and comply with St. Johns County building requirements.
I am associated with a St. Johns County builder who has operated there for more than 35 years. He said the county was nearly shut down on permitting. To build commercially was a three ring circus. Going into an existing location with a new business could easily start at $30,000 before plan review. The final clincher is that unconsolidated St. Johns County has municipalities invoking their own restrictions. Some were severe and unreasonable environmental hurdles. The city of St. Augustine was especially egregious at charging for several added permitting layers, then creating an endless array of departments that had to overlap inspections. For businesses, this culminated with the fire marshal who could take forever to even inspect a working restaurant kitchen range hood system. These processes were in such disarray and disorganization that many businesses finally folded prior to ever getting to the point of opening, crushed by the unreasonable timetable of overlapping layered inspections. St. Johns County should not be so smug now that they have finally given the building industry a modicum of relief.. It was either that or bankruptcy by edict of a tyrannical bureaucratic morass in the building sector. Conrad Markle, Jacksonville
Headline: Volunteers on the prowl for visual blight in Springfield Date: June 2, 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inquiry Link to online story: http://bit.ly/NcjAPk Value: $100 Copy:
About 100 people gathered Saturday morning at the Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center in what looked like a deployment of troops readying to battle blight in the neighborhood. "There are still infrastructure, roads that need work, sidewalks that need work," said Steve Mannis, one of the volunteers who joined the war against visual pollution in Springfield.
Organized by the Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association and Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, the event drew in the volunteers to canvass a 10-blockby-5-block area of the neighborhood that straddles Main Street. The volunteers were taking an inventory of visual blight in public places such as postal boxes, utility boxes, sidewalks and public rights of way. "We've got plenty of potential for new people to come in and work on projects," said Mannis, who owns a home on Liberty Street. The effort is being coordinated by City Beautiful Jax, which will collate the canvassing data and look for either private funding or possibly public funding to repair issues such as cracked sidewalks or graffiti on utility boxes. Bill Brinton, president of City Beautiful Jax, said the concept isn't new and it was first suggested after a study by the Jacksonville Community Council Inc., in 1985. "This particular effort is directed to the public areas," said Brinton, who provided the guidelines for volunteers in Springfield on Saturday. "If things appear to be in decay or appear to be out of order, then it has sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will," Brinton said. He added the Springfield effort Saturday is the first in what looks to be a string of fights against visual pollution that will likely include Mandarin, Riverside, Avondale and Murray Hill neighborhoods in the coming months. All the information in the surveys will help lobbying efforts to improve the visual blight in those neighborhoods, Brinton said. "We can have a very organized, well thought out approach to working with our local government or state government partners to find solutions to get these problems solved," Brinton said. Incoming Jacksonville City Council President Bill Bishop took part in Saturday's inventory in Springfield and said the enthusiasm in that area of town for ending blight could easily spread to other areas. "It shows people that there are a lot of people like themselves who care about their neighborhood and there is strength in numbers," Bishop said. "They're taking ownership of their neighborhood and when you do that, that's when things will turn around and they'll change." The Springfield area has been under an urban reclamation and revitalization for about three decades. But Bishop said there's still more room for improvement and he was impressed with the volunteers who helped take the visual pollution inventory Saturday.
"I think it's fantastic," Bishop said. "It tells me there's a lot of interest in the people in their neighborhood and there's a lot of interest in seeing it improve." email@example.com, (904) 359-4098
Headline: Young professionals meet with Mayor Brown Date: June 2012 Re: Mention of JCCI Forward Link to online story: Not Available Value: $30
Headline: Bishop to lead City Council Date: June 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Link to online story: http://bit.ly/NKWhxh Value: $30 Copy:
District 2 Councilman Bill Bishop, a longtime local architect and resident of the Clifton area near St. Nicholas, will be the next president of the Jacksonville City Council. Bishop formerly was the council’s vice president. In his new role, he succeeds Group 3 At-Large Councilman Stephen Joost. Next year’s vice president will be District 13 City Councilman Bill Gulliford of Atlantic Beach. Bishop’s official duties as council president begin this summer in early July. Bishop is vice president and principal of Akel, Logan and Shafer Architects and Planners and is married to Melody Bishop, an active local architect behind many elements of the Northbank Riverwalk in Riverside. Bishop is a past board member of Riverside Avondale Preservation Inc. and St. Nicholas-based Jacksonville Community Council Inc. The Bishops are members of Assumption Catholic Church.
Headline: JCCI proposes tax district for funding Jacksonville libraries Date: June 13, 2012 Re: Community Works Library Inquiry Release Luncheon Link to online story: http://bit.ly/MDAbfz Value: $100 Copy:
In search of more stable funding to keep books on the shelves, the Jacksonville Public Library system would be well served by an independent tax district, according to a recent study requested by library supporters.
The Jacksonville Community Council Inc. report, released Tuesday, said if Jacksonville’s public library system is to survive, it must have the ability and authority to govern its financial future and that a tax district with an elected board would be the best method to ensure that survival. The Friends of Jacksonville Public Library and the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation requested the study. It included an analysis of other library systems. It also incorporates input from Jacksonville residents during a dozen public meetings from March 2 through June 1. “It is absolutely not a proposal for a new tax for libraries,” said Harry Reagan, president of Friends of Jacksonville Library. “It’s a way of handling the taxes that are now going into the library system differently. It would give them some stability through a special tax district.” The JCCI report is available online at http://www.jcci.org/images/stories/librarydocs/fullreport.pdf Jacksonville’s public library system operates like any other city department. The mayor and the City Council set its budget, which is about $38 million for fiscal year 2012. The library’s board and library administrators oversee about $23.4 million of that budget. The city administers the remaining money and charges the library for the costs of information technology, maintenance, payroll and facilities. Since 2005, the city’s costs to the library have jumped from $5.2 million to $14.7 million this year. The library has seen a 42 percent decrease in its budget for books, digital and compact disks and other materials since 2005. It’s also experienced a 21 percent decrease in full-time equivalent staff since 2005. In addition, the charges for overhead that the library receives amounts to 39 percent of its budget and can’t be predicted, said Ben Warner, JCCI chief executive. “An independent special district retains accountability to taxpayers. It’s governed by elected officials and is the best means for establishing independent funding and authority for the library,” he said. Warner said it would not have to be a new tax. ‘‘It could be a revenue neutral solution. A way of looking differently at the way we allocate funding in our community. We thought that was incredibly important in these tight economic times,” he said. Such an independent tax district must have community support. The Florida Legislature would have to grant the district’s governing board authority to levy taxes. Voters would have to approve the district’s creation. The next step, the report states, is development of an implementation task force convened by representatives of groups and representatives already supporting the library. The task force would launch a community-wide campaign to raise public awareness of the community’s need for the library, the important services it provides and the opportunity to stabilize its funding through an independent tax district. firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 359-4075
Headline: City Notes Date: June 14, 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Summer Series Link to online story: http://bit.ly/NXOQ9A Value: $112 Copy:
• Jacksonville Community Council Inc. will launch its sixweek “Summer Series” from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. today at JCCI offices at 2434 Atlantic Blvd. The theme of the series is “Am I My Parents’ Keeper?” and today’s meeting is entitled “It’s Time for ‘The Talk.’” Speakers today are Jamie Glavich of Almost Home Senior Services, Diantha Grant, a community volunteer and family caregiver, and Wendy Khan of ElderSource. Information: www.jcci.org. • Burdette Ketchum has added three employees. Kim Perry is the firm’s new director of accounting and human resources. She previously worked for KPMG and Landcom. Ginny Walthour is the new senior account executive in public relations. She previously was with the City for more than seven years in the public affairs and international office, managing the City’s communications and international efforts. Jason Combs joins as the new traffic manager. Combs previously worked for Fidelity Information Services as a marketing project manager, serving as the communications liaison between companywide clients and the company’s functional departments. • Correction: Kathleen Hampton was misidentified in a story Tuesday. She is the executive director of the Prudential-Davis Productivity Awards. t
Headline: Jacksonville's Public Library has a new idea to solve financial frustrations Date: June 14, 2012 Re: Community Works Library Inquiry Link to online story: http://fcnews.tv/LE7cLS Value: $100 Copy:
The Jacksonville Community Council Inc. did a study in 2011 and one of the big ideas that came out of it was that the library needed to become an independent tax district. The chairman of the board of trustees for the library, Jim Selzer, says this is not a new tax, but rather a way of being able to control and plan with the money that comes into the library. Right now the Jacksonville Public Library operates like any other city department. It gets its money from the city's general fund and is overseen by the mayor and city council. The budget for the library for 2012 is $38 million. The library's board of trustees and library administration oversees $23.4 million. The City of Jacksonville administers the rest of the money for costs for information technology, maintenance, facilities, payroll and human resources. The study from JCCI says since 2005 "there has been an increase in these City of Jacksonville costs of 193 percent, from $5.2 million in 2005 to $14.7 million in 2012." Selzer says the library has had to scale back its personnel and services to accommodate the rising costs and budget cuts. He added the library currently cannot plan more than six months out because they are unsure of the future budget, which is why he and JCCI are recommending it become an independent tax district. "We can in fact make real improvements in our services to the customers if we are given longer plan horizons and stabilizing funding allows you to do precisely that," tells Selzer. It was stated several times during JCCI's presentation of this idea that without becoming an independent tax district the library would begin "a graceful degradation of library services." If the library was to become an independent tax district it would no longer be overseen by the city. Bill Brinton with JCCI says the leaders would be elected officials. It will take several years for this idea to come to fruition. It will have to go to the Florida legislature first before it is put on a Jacksonville ballot.
Headline: Libraries: Soul of city or just old hat? Date: June 16, 2012 Re: Discussion of CW Library Inquiry Link to online story: http://bit.ly/LFTM2o Value: $100 Copy:
There is no question that the Jacksonville Public Library system is suffering. A series of annual cuts is leaving buildings needing maintenance while budgets for buying materials are cut every year. Something needs to be done. This page will address those issues tomorrow. Meanwhile, we asked members of the our book club, the T-U Book Blog, to comment on the recommendations made by a Community Works study, a subsidiary of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. The proposal is to lead a community campaign that probably would result in an independent library board and a stable funding source, probably carved out of existing funds — no new taxes. PART OF A CITY’S SOUL The library system is a vital part of our city’s heart and soul. As author Norman Cousins said, “A library is the delivery room for the birth place of ideas, a place where history comes to life.” The recommendation of establishing an independent tax district, governed by elected officials, seems a good one and should be further explored. Such a system, working with the Library Foundation, would allow our professional librarians to continue, in the words of author Thomas Hennen Jr., “to share knowledge, seek wisdom and keep that promise by delivering print, non-print and electronic materials at bargain prices.” Peter McCranie, Jacksonville NEEDED FOR LITERACY The library needs the ability to outsource services such as IT and maintenance and facilities instead of being shackled by the whimsical pricing set by the city for these services. If the library continues to lose funding through the city budget and continues to be charged increasing fees for the usage of city services, it will be forced to either close or become one more player asking for charitable money. That would be one more shameful statement about Jacksonville. Greg Frazier, Jacksonville HAS ITS TIME PASSED? I speak as a member of Friends of the Library for many years. My 10-year-old son thinks that every time we go to the local or downtown library it’s a treat.
Nevertheless, my response to the JCCI study is — are you kidding me? More government! Oh, boy! More elected officials! A separate and special tax district! A new bureaucracy! Give me a break! The sad fact is that if the library is getting too expensive, then maybe we can’t afford it. Honestly, just like newspapers, perhaps its time is passing. I’ll certainly miss the library, but I’ll get over it, and life will undoubtedly go on. Someday, if and when the economy gets back on track and more people are working and paying taxes, maybe we can revive the library. In the meantime, let’s not create any more boards, elected officials or bureaucrats. Please. Jon Dehner, Jacksonville AN ANACHRONISM Do we really need a large-scale library with the Kindle? The Main Library is used as a babysitting tool by parents and the homeless. Dotti Cahill, Jacksonville LIBRARIES, YES; CITY COUNCIL, NO While increasing the budget would be nice, it should also be affordable in relation to other necessities funded by tax dollars. However, an independent board including elected officials is a very bad idea. It was elected officials who thrust the whole courthouse fiasco upon Duval County. Nobody has been reprimanded or jailed for that yet. I would seriously hate seeing the same kind of thought process foisted on our libraries. In my opinion, that is a giant step backward. Either bring back tax dollars to a point where libraries can function as they were intended to do or perhaps begin selling memberships at a reasonably low charge. I’m not a fan of raising taxes or fees, but I am a bigger fan of libraries. Left to their own devices, elected officials will always make the worst of two choices. We need libraries far more than we need City Council members. Rich Klinzman, Middleburg ACCOUNTABILITY MAKES SENSE I believe establishing a tax district with an elected board for the Jacksonville Public Library is a great idea and one that is long overdue. Sadly, it is the library budget that is often the first place elected officials look to when budget cuts are needed, and the idea of the library being in charge of its own budget just makes sense. I live in Nassau County but work in Jacksonville, and I have library cards from both library systems. I use the Jacksonville Public Library more often because they simply have more books. In order for us to be an educated society, our public libraries must be available to everyone. To put the budgeting decisions into the hands of those who know the library so well and without a tax increase is something I support and believe the whole community will support. Angie Hall, Bryceville PROMOTE GOOD MANAGEMENT I love the library. I love books. I love the feel, the smell, even the little smudges left by people eating and reading. At this tough economic juncture, I personally don’t think the library should provide electronic books for people with Nooks and Kindles. If you can afford, them you can afford the download.
When things improve and city revenues go up, then yes. I don’t understand what is meant by a “special tax district,” but I do know about spending tax dollars from working for the city for 10 years. It was a free-for-all at the end of the fiscal year because you knew if you didn’t spend all the money allocated to your department, you would not get the same amount next budget. Maybe not punishing government departments for saving money would be a start. Cilla Whitcher, Jacksonville
Headline: Library's needs can't wait for four years Date: June 17, 2012 Re: Community Works Library Inquiry Link to online story: http://bit.ly/L8oGCo Value: $100 Copy:
A new report on the future of the public library by a Jacksonville Community Council Inc. group deserves serious attention. Community Works, a JCCI subsidiary, proposed a four-year project that probably would lead to an independent library board made up of elected officials and a stable funding source carved out of current city revenues — no new taxes. But between the lines, the report is an indictment of a currently dysfunctional system and also a criticism of one of the basic elements of consolidated government. The study was funded mainly by Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation. Frankly, it is an outrage that this study is even needed. The library should not be degrading gracefully into disrepair and irrelevance — not one of the most popular city government services. This is not so much a question of structure. Jacksonville citizens shouldn’t have to wait four years for the library system to be effectively managed. If the library system budget for 2013 is slashed by 15 percent, most libraries will lose at least one day per week of service beginning Oct. 1. That would just continue the annual degradation of library service in recent years. Yet public demand for library services has surged From 2005 to 2011, the number of circulated materials increased from 6.1 million to 9.1 million items. Yet staffing has been cut, maintenance is being put off, capital needs are being ignored and a reserve fund is not being built. That is no way to run any organization let alone one of the most popular city services. Every year, more cuts are being made to the point that what once was a proud part of Jacksonville is becoming a source of apology. IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
These questions deserve answers: ■ Can Jacksonville support 21 branches? There are several branches located about a mile from each other. Orange County (Orlando) has 15 facilities. That library system receives its funding through a special library taxing district formed in 1980. ■ Can the system afford to repair some older branches rather than close them? Every one of the 21 branches needs repairs, including the glamorous Main Library. The estimated cost of needed repairs in the system is $8.3 million. ■ Why can’t the library system use its revenue from fines rather than turn it into the general fund? ■ Why can’t the library system be entrepreneurial by finding new revenue sources? For instance, the Alachua County system has leased rooftops for solar energy, gaining revenue and roof repairs at the same time. The library needs automatic sorting machines to relieve staff, but there is no budget for the machinery. ■ Why can’t the library system seek bids for IT? Consultants contend that the city’s own IT charges are far greater than those in comparable libraries. ■ Why can’t the library system have predictable funding so that effective planning can be made? ■ Why have the city’s central services charges exploded in recent years? Since 2005, while library staffing has been cut, the city has increased its service charges by an astounding 193 percent! That’s right: from $5.2 million in 2005 to $14.7 million in 2012 for such services as human resources, payroll and facilities. CONSOLIDATION NOT WORKING? About 40 percent of the library system’s expenses are going to city government’s various services. If those services are not competitive, then that strikes at the heart of consolidated government. That means this is not just a library issue. Chances are these excessive charges are widespread. Leaders of the study group look at the libraries in Alachua and Orange counties as models. In both cases, those counties have independent boards and stable funding sources. In both cases, elected officials make up the board members, which provides some accountability. The tentative plan involves creating an Implementation Task Force to lead a citizen campaign. There would a referendum or straw poll in a local election. Presuming that poll is positive, there would be support for a J-bill introduced in the Florida Legislature to create the independent library board. But this shouldn’t be needed. New City Council leadership should take up the library system and central services. A special committee should investigate and make the current system work. For those in office to continue to allow the library system to slowly degrade is unforgivable.
Headline: Melissa Ross: Our nation still has a fixation with race Date: June 19, 2012 Re: Mention of JCCI Inquiry Link to online story: http://bit.ly/Ps4jxW Value: $100 Copy:
Rodney King, who battled addiction most of his life, died Sunday. King, who was found by his fiancee at the bottom of his pool, will sadly be forever remembered as the face of the nation's racial divide. On the third day of massive urban riots in L.A. that were sparked by his videotaped police beating, he pleaded on national TV, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?" That was 20 years ago. And just as King couldn't shake his demons, neither can we as a nation ever seem to get past our endless dysfunction, our stubborn fixation on race. Witness the latest polling data on the death of Trayvon Martin. State Attorney Angela Corey will try to put Sanford neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman away on second-degree murder charges after Zimmerman shot Martin in a now-infamous confrontation that involved a gun, some Skittles and a jar of iced tea. Back in March, a Rasmussen poll found 33 percent of Americans believed Zimmerman to be guilty of murder. Now, that same pollster finds just 24 percent of those surveyed think Zimmerman's a killer. Now, 40 percent believe he acted in self-defense. Perceptions have changed as more information about the case has been reported in the media. But what's fascinating — and not surprising — to note is that African-Americans consider the Zimmerman-Martin story far more important than do whites. Pew found back in April that 58 percent of blacks identified the shooting as the biggest news story of the time; only 24 percent of whites did. This is a familiar theme. A 2009 JCCI study found far more black residents of Jacksonville than whites named racism as a problem in the city — 77 to 57 percent. And here's another poll for you — Gallup reports that whites are far less likely to believe in Zimmerman's guilt than blacks. And when O.J. walked free in 1995, the split screens on television newscasts showing the stunning difference in the way blacks and whites reacted to the verdict — African-Americans jumping for joy, whites' jaws dropping in horror — literally painted the picture of where we stood then. Where we still stand today. Divided on race. Can we ever get along? The election of President Barack Obama was naively heralded as the start of a post-racial era. No way. Human beings are literally hard-wired to suspect those who seem different, with the most primal section of our brains — the basil ganglia or so-called "lizard brain" — operating from fear of the other to ensure survival. King's death saddened me, not just for the difficulties he faced, but because it reminds us of how much further we still have to go. Can we get along? Twenty years on, the question lingers.
Melissa Ross is the host of "First Coast Connect" on WJCT-FM 89.9.
Headline: City Notes Date: June 22, 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. and Children:1-2-3 Link to online story: Value: $112 Copy:
• Jill Dame, interim executive director of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, will help present Jacksonville Community Council Inc.’s “Children: 1-2-3” report today. The event will be from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Schultz Center for Teaching & Leadership at 4019 Boulevard Center Drive. Joining Dame in presenting the report will be Dr. Peter Gorski of The Children’s Trust in Miami and Christine Lester, senior consultant with Baptist Health.
Headline: One of Us: UNF original faculty member retires after 40 years Date: June 26, 2012 Re: Mention of Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Link to online story: http://bit.ly/MY9VvI Value: $100 Copy:
Last Friday afternoon, Dale Clifford went through the books lining the shelves of her office at the University of North Florida. Some of the books, like Paul Fussell’s “The Great War and Modern Memory” and E.B. Sledge’s “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” were too precious to give away. They went into a box she’ll take home. The rest she plans to give to her graduate students or donate to UNF’s Carpenter Library. “I just hate for books not to be read,” Clifford said. After 40 years at UNF, Clifford, 66, will retire this week, becoming an associate professor emerita. With her retirement, only one member of the original faculty, Lou Woods, who teaches economics and geography, is still at UNF. Clifford has filled various administrative roles at UNF, including chair of the history department, founding director of the Honors Program, associate dean of arts and sciences and, for one year, interim dean of arts and sciences. That was the only year of her UNF career Clifford didn’t do what she loves best, teach history. “I’m a shameless lover of history,” she said. Yet oddly, she almost became a biology major as a Vanderbilt undergraduate. What tipped the scale toward history was the chance to go to France and spend six months studying the French language, its history and its modern art in Aix-en-Provence. After Vanderbilt, she went to graduate school at the University of Tennessee, earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in French history. In 1972, as she was finishing her dissertation, she sent a letter and resume to Jim Crooks, a history professor at Hollins University in Virginia. As it happened, Crooks was leaving Hollins to be chairman of the history department at UNF, which would open its doors to students in the fall of 1972. He invited Clifford join him and Dan Schafer as the UNF history faculty. She expected to stay five or six years, then move on. “But once I’d been here long enough I was really invested in the university,” she said.
She said somebody recently asked her why she was still saying “us” when she talks about UNF. Her response: “It’ll be us ’til the day I die.” Clifford, who isn’t married and doesn’t have children, has several projects to keep her busy. She loves to sail and is planning a trip with friends in which they’ll fly to Tahiti or Tonga and lease a boat to sail around the South Pacific. She’s also deep into a research project about American soldiers serving in France in 1919 who were sent to French universities, including the University of Toulouse. She’s even found one participant, Edward Hall, whose address was listed as Lancaster Terrace in Jacksonville. But she’s been unable to learn much about him or his descendants. If the research appears to merit a book, she’ll write her first book, she said. She also plans to stay busy with various civic organizations like the Women’s Center of Jacksonville, the Women’s Giving Alliance and JCCI. Her duties as a UNF administrator prepared her to be an effective leader in such organizations, she said. “I know how to run committees full of weird people,” she said. “We professors are all weird, just weird in a good way.” email@example.com, (904) 359-4413