Politics

Your Money: New Bill Would Change How Council Approves Large Projects

Your Money: New Bill Would Change How Council Approves Large Projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There may soon be more oversight when Jacksonville City Council spends your money on larger projects. The possible change comes after a First Coast News investigation.

In May, we told you about a new synthetic soccer field at Losco Regional Park in Mandarin that cost $660,000. Councilman Art Shad pioneered the project without the thought of saving money and without full council approval.

If Councilman Bill Bishop had a chance to vote on Shad's state-of-the-art soccer field, he said the outcome could have been much different.

"Probably would have voted no, considering that the cost of that project far exceeded anybody's understanding of any sort of rational payback.  So I probably would have voted no on that. You could buy a whole lot of sod for what that AstroTurf costs," Bishop said.

First Coast Republicans, Tea Partiers Weigh in on GOP Debate

First Coast Republicans, Tea Partiers Weigh in on GOP Debate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  As seven of the Republican candidates for President of the United States squared off in the New Hampshire debate, dozens of First Coast Republicans and Tea Partiers looked on.

"I haven't quite made my mind up yet. I want to see what else is out there. I wanna hear what's going on," said Chuck Berlinghoff, a member of the First Coast Tea Party.

He has been looking forward to the Republican presidental debates and waiting for a candidate to earn his vote.

"I know what we've got now is wrong, and I just don't trust a lot of the ones running," he said.

Berlinghoff said he's been disappointed in his party's candidates lately, both nationally and here in Jacksonville.

"I don't think we had really good choices for the mayoral run we had here," he said.

So who would he be happy with?

Lawsuit Filed Over Police & Fire Pension Fund

Lawsuit Filed Over Police & Fire Pension Fund

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A lawsuit claims the City of Jacksonville is in violation of Florida's Sunshine laws.

The suit, filed by the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County claims that both the city and the Police and Fire Pension Fund held collective bargaining talks in secret, negotiating retirement benefits on behalf of the Fund illegally for ten years.

City Attorney Steve Rohan responded, "It's a remarkable lawsuit.
We respect the concerned taxpayers and appreciate their interest in local government. As soon as we get a copy of the lawsuit we'll address it. We're sorry that we have to be in litigation with them."

TO VIEW THE LAWSUIT CLICK HERE

Transportation Cuts for 5,000 DCPS Students in the Works

Transportation Cuts for 5,000 DCPS Students in the Works

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Within four years, Duval County Public Schools are considering cutting transportation to all secondary Magnet schools.

Parents of the first 5,000 students affected say it's not fair to working parents.

One of those parents is single mom, Charlene West.

"He's a good student because I made sure he went to good schools that were going to teach him," West says of her son, A.J. Mitchell. "I, as a parent, did my part by making sure he did his homework and learned what he was supposed to learn."

Every day after school, Mitchell rides the bus home from Stanton.

While he waits for his single mother Charlene West to get home from work, he does the dishes and his homework.

Stanton is one of the seven Magnet schools potentially losing transportation.

According to a letter sent home with students, James Weldon Johnson, Landon, Darnell-Cookman, Kirby Smith, Lavilla, and Paxon are also on the list.

JPEF Releases Report on Reading Proficiency in Duval County

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund released a study on the reading proficiency of a cohort of more than 10,000 students over the past ten years Sunday, seeking to investigate the academic trajectories of students based on their third grade reading level.

Duval County Public Schools Launches “Read it Forward Jax”

Duval County Public Schools Launches “Read it Forward Jax”

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) is proud to announce a comprehensive reading initiative aimed at raising the literacy rate of every student inside Duval County public schools. The “Read it Forward Jax” campaign will partner city, business, faith based and non-profit leaders throughout the community to share in helping teach Jacksonville’s children about the importance of reading.

Residents, Lawmakers Sound Off About Bill Requiring Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

Residents, Lawmakers Sound Off About Bill Requiring Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Governor Rick Scott signed a bill Tuesday that will require people who receive government assistance to take a drug test in order to receive benefits.

"The goal of this is to make sure the taxpayers aren't paying for someone to take illegal drugs," Scott said.

The law requires every person who applies for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to pay for the drug test. If the test comes back negative, then the state will pick up the cost. If it's positive, the person loses benefits for one year.

"In some ways I think it's a good thing," agreed 36-year-old Jacksonville resident Casandra Greene.

Greene depends on public assistance to feed her eight children. She said she understands some people abuse the system and she hopes the law will make them think twice.

But Greene thinks it's too bad those people have to hurt parents like her who are trying to do right by their kids.