Beating victim cleared as Louisiana trooper awaits trial
Louisiana has dropped its case against a Black man whose severe beating before his arrest in 2019 led to criminal charges and lawsuits against a state trooper. A traffic violation and charges of resisting an officer had been hanging over Aaron Bowman for two years. Court documents show the Louisiana Attorney General’s office moved to dismiss the charges against Bowman on Monday, citing “insufficient evidence to support prosecution” and “credibility issues” with the officers who arrested him.news.yahoo.com
Ex-trooper pleads not guilty in motorist's severe beating
A former Louisiana State Police trooper pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a federal charge in the 2019 video recorded beating of a man whose injuries included a broken jaw and broken ribs. Jacob Brown is charged with “deprivation of rights under color of law” in the beating of Aaron Bowman following a north Louisiana traffic stop. Brown’s September indictment came amid federal scrutiny of other troopers who punched, stunned and dragged another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, before he died in custody.news.yahoo.com
Shipyards plan passes more hurdles as city council prepares for final vote
Jacksonville is one step closer to getting a $400 million riverfront development called the Shipyards. The bill to allow it, and subsidize it with more than $100 million in tax dollars, passed another city council committee Monday.
Jacksonville’s growing population could change who on City Council represents you
The latest census data shows the city’s population has grown by more than 100,000 over the last ten years. Now, Jacksonville City Council members are debating how the districts they represent could change as a result of the 2020 census.
Amazon to open warehouse at Cecil Commerce Center
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rumors that Amazon.com will open a distribution center at AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center are real. Hillwood said a “sortation center” of nearly 280,000-square-feet will open in the second half of 2021. Amazon says sortation centers are “midmile” delivery centers in which the company sorts customer orders by ZIP codes before handing off to delivery partners for final delivery. Amazon opened its first sortation center in the area, called JAX5, in 240,000 square feet at Westside Industrial Park. AdAmazon has opened or indicated plans to operate at least 12 locations in the area, including three large fulfillment centers, including one at Cecil Commerce Center; six delivery stations; a heavy bulk-freight center; and the two sortation centers.
Jacksonville City Councilman Aaron Bowman tests positive for COVID-19
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Another Jacksonville City Council member has tested positive for COVID-19. City Councilman Aaron Bowman told News4Jax on Monday that he’s self-quarantining at home since he learned on Sunday he had the virus. Bowman said he’s feeling fine but had a fever on Saturday. He will not miss any council meetings since the council is on break until next year. Bowman is the fourth Jacksonville City Council member to test positive for the coronavirus this year.
Jacksonville City Council will not discuss Lot J at Tuesday’s meeting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the wake of Thursday’s tense Jacksonville City Council meeting over a $445 million proposed entertainment complex on Lot J of TIAA Bank Field, City Council President Tommy Hazouri said the proposal will not be discussed at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday. We started interacting with City Council members then. In fact, the reason documents have changed is because there have been dozens of edits responsive to the requests of City Council members and their staff. The DIA voted Wednesday to recommend City Council approval, but with some modifications. As Council President, in honoring the legislative process, I will not be adding this bill to the addendum on December 8th.
Another tense Jacksonville City Council ends without Lot J vote
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The proposal to build a $445 million entertainment complex on Lot J of TIAA Bank Field -- the sole topic of another tense Jacksonville City Council meeting Thursday -- will not be voted on until Tuesday at the earliest. The deal calls for the city to invest $233 million in direct spending or loans by the city of Jacksonville to the developer for Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the Cordish Companies. That drew a sharp response from Council President Tommy Hazouri and questioning of the rules before the review of the plan resumed. The DIA, which was asked to review the plan last week, voted Wednesday to recommend City Council approval, but with some modifications. DOCUMENTS: DIA report on Lot J proposal | Council Auditor’s Office’s things to consider/concernsMark Lamping, the Jaguars president, has asked for a vote by the council by its last scheduled meeting of the year, which is next Tuesday.
Some in Jacksonville City Council express continued concern over COVID-19
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Council members are sparring over the positive test of a staff member and the quarantine that other staffers are in over the week of Thanksgiving. Former Council President Aaron Bowman is frustrated and says there aren’t enough safety measures in place. But he’s taking the time to take a shot at at the council president, council vice president and staff because he’s bitter about his council assignments,” Dennis said. “It’s unfortunate, and I wish that he would stop.”News4Jax asked Bowman if concerns over the virus might derail the big priority in City Council right now -- the discussion over the Lot J development. Bowman said he believes the city can continue to do business, but he feels they are at risk right now and don’t need to be.
Special meeting on Lot J project filled with finger-pointing, name-calling
Instead, nothing happened at a special meeting Thursday night except finger-pointing, name-calling and what some members say was a big embarrassment for government. Those on hand say they were at the meeting to get answers from the City Council auditor about Lot J. No vote was taken by the City Council about that, but apparently, the DIA has already started that process. Instead, he heard the bickering and he also heard that some council members wanted to start the whole process of Lot J negotiators over again. Other council members spoke up, saying they were surprised about what happened and how nothing came out of what was to be an important meeting.
City Council passes $1.3B budget after councilman drops plan to withhold half of JSO’s budget
Councilman Garrett Dennis moved to withdraw the amendment during a meeting of City Council. “And the only commitment that I ask, council president, is that we have a committee in the near future to address these issues.”City Council President Tommy Hazouri then withdrew the amendment. The amendment Dennis offered would have changed how the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received its $484 million in funding allocated by the city. It would have allocated $234 million to the Sheriff’s Office off the bat and then release the rest in increments as the agency reports back periodically. “We’re disappointed that the City Council chose to go with the status quo," Sampson said.
New Jacksonville dog park opens at Abess Park off Girvin Road
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Dog owners living near Atlantic Boulevard and Girvin Road wont have to travel far to get their pups some exercise. A new dog park has opened at Abess Park, just in time for Labor Day weekend. The park near the corner of Girvin Road and Abess Boulevard, just north of Atlantic Boulevard, will be open from dawn to dusk and features separate fenced areas for large and all dogs. The large dog section includes a loop trail through the woodland area and an open grassy field for free play. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt strongly that we needed to open this dog park as quickly as possible to allow our constituents a safe and healthy alternative for experiencing the outdoors.The dog park rules include:
Jacksonville to award $300 payments to seniors, those with disabilities
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Starting on Saturday, the city of Jacksonville will launch a program to provide stimulus payments to seniors who qualify and those with disabilities to help them make ends meet. Through the Senior and Disabled Financial Assistance Program, up to 3,300 residents will receive one-time payments of $300 that are intended to offset financial strain they’ve endured during the coronavirus pandemic. “The actions we’ve taken as a city to flatten the curve of COVID-19 were successful, but also placed a heavy burden on many throughout Jacksonville. The city said applications submitted through this program will be screened for accuracy and completeness before payments are sent out. “We recognize how difficult COVID-19 has been, especially for our residents on fixed incomes,” Councilman Aaron Bowman said.
City of Jacksonville might vote to secure $5 million revenue stream for underdeveloped areas
Jacksonvilles current gas tax is .06 cents on the dollar and by law can be raised to no more than .12 cents. However, even one of Jacksonvilles biggest civil rights advocates compared the gas tax idea to a drop in the bucket. Theres also the issue of the purpose of a gas tax, as defined by law. Florida state law requires gas tax money to be used for road construction, maintenance, and transportation facilities. That means 11 out of 19 members need to vote yes.
How proposed gas tax might help neglected Jacksonville communities
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Jacksonville city councilman is proposing a gas tax to help create an Urban Core Development Authority, addressing racial disparities in predominantly black neighborhoods. Duval Countys current gas tax is relatively low compared to other counties who collect more money every time someone fills up there tank. Mcnaire also wants to see the area cleaned up, saying she hopes the proposed gas tax would help resolve these issues. Duval County: $0.06St. Johns County: $0.06Baker County: $0.06Clay County: $0.12Nassau County: $0.12City Council says state law requires gas tax money to be used for road construction, maintenance, and transportation facilities. So to get around that, Bowman is proposing to put the gas tax money into the City of Jacksonvilles general fund.
Councilman: Gas tax could help tackle racial disparities in predominantly black Jacksonville communities
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Decades after Jacksonvilles consolidation, City Council members say they want to address the racial disparities is predominantly black neighborhoods. Bowman is proposing the creation of a Urban Core Development Authority and said the gas tax will be discussed at the City Councils next Finance Committee meeting. Bowman said the size of the increase is undetermined, but he said a $0.01 gas tax increase would generate $5 million annually for the city. Jacksonvilles current gas tax is 6% and by law can be raised to no more than 12%. The even distribution of taxpayer dollars to communities is one of the demands peaceful protesters have called for in Jacksonville.
Some Jacksonville seniors, residents with disabilities could receive $300
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Some Jacksonville seniors and residents with disabilities could receive a bit of extra money to help them through the economic strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Jacksonville City Council is working on a new stimulus program for those groups that would give 3,300 people an extra $300. If approved, the city will take applications by phone, not in person, and a $300 check card will be issued and mailed to the home. The program still must be approved by the full council next week, which is expected to happen. The city would then send out information on how people can apply for the $300.
Set back, victory for half-cent sales tax bill for schools
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The effort to put a half-cent sales tax that would benefit schools on a ballot for Duval County voters this year suffered a setback Tuesday but also claimed a victory. The City Council Finance Committee voted 5-2 to withdraw the bill. He said its up to the City Council to watch how tax dollars are being spent. We are doing exactly what we are supposed to do.Duval County School Board Vice Chairman Warren Jones disagreed. Both sides agree it's too late to put the issue on the ballot this November, but the School Board is still hoping December could be an option.
State lawmaker wants Duval County School Board to be appointed
Fischer's proposal is raising eyebrows with current School Board members. "If the city of Jacksonville will have an appointed School Board, appointed by the mayor, removed at the mayor, serving at the will of the mayor -- it just doesn't make any sense to me." In its 2009 report, the Jacksonville's Charter Review Commission supported changing to an appointed board, arguing it would increase accountability. City Councilman Aaron Bowman said he's aware of the discussion about changing to an appointed School Board, but questions the timing of such a move. Councilman Matt Carlucci on Wednesday said he would introduce legislation next week that would require a change to an appointed School Board to be approved by voters in a referendum.
City Council wants to form permanent crime task force
Last year, the city formed a temporary anti-crime task force aimed at coming up with solutions to the bloodshed. City Council member Aaron Bowman, who established the task force, believes it has an important role to play in the city's future. Establishing a new task force would require full council approval. "This task force isn't responding to crime," Bowman told News4Jax. 1 recommendation from the task force was to carry on its work.
Pastor says he was cut off during prayer at City Council meeting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local pastor is suing the city, saying his rights were violated when he was stopped from praying during a Jacksonville City Council meeting. He said that, when he was invited to do the invocation during the March 12 meeting, he was cut off by Council President Aaron Bowman during his prayer. Gundy talked about people being stewards of the earth, local pollution, slavery, neglect since consolidation and violence, among other topics. "People are being intimidated, threatened and bullied by the executive branch of our city government while cronyism and nepotism is being exercised," Gundy said in his prayer. A council member attempted to stop him from talking, asking him to make it a spiritual prayer.
Mayor Curry shares concerns, questions on school sales tax
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mayor Lenny Curry called into The Morning Show on Wednesday, speaking about his questions and concerns with the Duval County School Boards request for a half-cent sales tax referendum, and the school district is responding. The Duval County School District said several meetings have been held in past weeks between school district leaders and city leaders. Some were closed door meetings involving Curry, City Council President Aaron Bowman, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and School Board Chair Lori Hershey. SUMMARY: School district's response to CurryThe Master Facilities Plan, released weeks ago by the school district, breaks down the amount of money that would be spent on each individual school. LINK: Half-cent sales tax analysesSchool district leaders said at a recent meeting between the school district and City Council, members were encouraged to ask any financial questions to the financial firm, but no questions were asked.
No vote on school sales tax during Jacksonville City Council meeting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council did not put a referendum about a half-cent sales tax on the table for a vote during it's meeting Tuesday night, which was the last meeting before some members rotate off and newly elected members join. "The opportunity for us to work together - the Mayors office, the City Council, the School Board, teachers and parents - is available in the weeks ahead. Duval County Public Schools' Facilities Master Plan, detailing $1.1 billion in specific needs for schools throughout the county, is posted on its website. The City Council finance committee last week voted to delay a public vote about it until 2020. A second committee voted to defer taking up the measure until next month when newly elected City Council members would be seated.