Jacksonville City Council, District 9
When Councilman Garrett Dennis resigned to run for a seat in the Florida Legislature, three candidates signed up to run in a special August election for District 9, Jacksonville City Council. Democrat Tyrona Clark-Murray received 53% of the vote and was elected to fill the seat through next June. She must run for re-election next spring to win a full four-year term.
I-TEAM: Adult game rooms operating underground in Jacksonville
It’s been nearly two years since Jacksonville shut down adult game rooms, also known as internet cafes. But the News4Jax I-TEAM has learned some are operating underground, and now one Jacksonville City Council member is looking to try to make them legal.
City Council passes amended version of bill addressing automatic pay raises
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a debate that turned heated and slightly personal at times, Jacksonville city leaders approved an amended version of a bill to adjust how city council raises are handled. The original plan would have done away with automatic pay raises for council members and forced them to vote each year on whether to take salary increases. The NOPE bill stands for “No Obligatory Pay Enlargement,” but after a debate centered around a cost of living increase, the city council passed an amended version of the bill that removed the original language. City council salaries make up only a small part of the city’s $1.3 billion budget. Last fall, council members approved a 4.6% increase, bringing salaries for most council members to over $52,000 a year.
Vice President Harris stops by vaccination site during Jacksonville visit
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Vice President Kamala Harris visited Jacksonville on Monday as part of the Biden administration’s “Help is Here” tour of the nation promoting the $1.9 trillion relief package. She visited the federally-run Gateway Mall vaccination site before stopping by a Northwest Jacksonville food distribution warehouse. “I’m glad to be in Jacksonville,” Harris said. “Tap away!”Jennifer Chase was getting her second shot as Harris came to the Gateway site and talked to the people getting shots. Harris visited last visited Jacksonville in October for a socially-distanced rally at the University of North Florida in advance of the November election.
Political infighting: Councilmembers call for head of Duval Democrats to resign
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County went blue in the most recent elections for president and governor but local Democrats are seeing red as infighting in the party had led to calls for the resignation of the chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party. Dennis, along with five other Democratic members of city council, called for Henry to resign during a Friday news conference. AdCouncilman Garrett Dennis calls for the resignation of Duval Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Henry. As chair of the Duval County Democratic Party, I am united with all Democrats in demanding non-gerrymandered seats on the City Council, and together we will make this happen. Duval County Democratic Chairman Daniel HenryDiamond also did not want to talk on camera but issued a statement.
Mayor Curry: ‘Vendetta over vision’ led to failure of Lot J deal
Council members Danny Becton, Matt Carlucci, Al Ferraro and Council President Tommy Hazouri also voted against the deal, which fell 12-7. He and other council members have also drawn comparisons between Lot J and the scuttled attempted sale of JEA. “The executive branch negotiates deals and they bring deals to the City Council to debate. One field, one particular development is their deciding factor to leave the city?” Dennis said. Lamping started talking about the Shipyards when, you know, the big elephant in the room is the stadium,” Dennis said.
Controversial Lot J deal defeated in City Council vote
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After months of debate, City Council voted 12-7 against a deal to bring a major entertainment complex to Downtown Jacksonville. “We pulled the plug on Lot J. It’s dead,” Lamping said. When asked if the Jaguars might consider another proposal for Lot J, Lamping said he thinks “it’s time to turn the page.”“We’ll leave that behind,” Lamping said. The legislative body spoke and unfortunately Lot J will not move forward. Under the deal, the entertainment district, which was planned for Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field, would have been one of the biggest investments in the city’s history.
Lot J developers set up multi-million dollar trust fund to help Eastside businesses
Elaborate plans for the Lot J entertainment district show what it is expected to be: A live music complex, bars, restaurants and offices for the Jacksonville Jaguars and others along with new housing. News4Jax learned a special trust fund is being set up by the Jaguars and the developer‚ the Cordish Companies, to help business owners on the Eastside like Jackson. It could be used in a variety of ways, like business development, business incubation or housing. It’s not only these neighborhoods that are surrounding Lot J that are going to benefit from the fund. Right now 25% of the contractors and others involved with building the Lot J project are going to be small and emerging businesses.
Councilman says money saved by forgoing JEA sale offsets investigation cost
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some current and former Jacksonville City Council members say the lengthy report released Monday on the failed JEA sale reads like a novel. “Aaron Zahn (former CEO of JEA) could not have pulled off the biggest heist in U.S. history by himself. News4Jax checked reports in 2017 regarding JEA and the possibility of a sale and talking with those involved at the time. Two people close to the investigation who raised questions then told News4Jax this report is right on the money. The report suggests Curry was pushing for the sale from the start.
Jacksonville city leaders exchange embarrassing insults on Twitter
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Twitter exchange between Mayor of Jacksonville Lenny Curry, Jacksonville Councilman Garrett Dennis, and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30 President Steve Zona featured insults on the relationships Garrett Dennis and Lenny Curry have with their wives. It started when an unverified account left a comment on Mayor Curry’s post. The user’s reply to the mayor’s post contained profanity and has since been deleted. Dennis continued the thread by suggesting the mayor has extramarital affairs. Collectively, the posts received well over a thousand reactions from Twitter users who saw them.
Decriminalizing marijuana; Duval County Republican Party chairman; Sen. Jennifer Bradley
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This edition of “This Week in Jacksonville” features City Councilman Garrett Dennis on decriminalizing marijuana and the Lot J proposal, Duval County Republican Party Chairman Dean Black on the election results and 2022, and state Sen. Jennifer Bradley on her new role.
Is City Council ready to make Lot J project a reality?
City Council president Tommy Hazouri deferred the vote on the Lot J bill last week and said he’d like to see a final vote Jan. 12. At Friday’s meeting, City Council members got answers to questions and concerns that the council auditor has regarding the deal. The majority of them have been addressed and those in attendance said they feel confident that the Lot J project will move forward. Those in favor of the Lot J project say it’ll bring jobs, boost Jacksonville’s economy, and lead to a thriving downtown. Councilman Garrett Dennis said this week he supports the Lot J project, but also said no decision should be rushed without making sure all questions have been answered.
City Council is expected to vote on Lot J in January. That could change Tuesday
Some City Council members have said the reason they are concerned about passing the Lot J legislation right now is because of the JEA debacle. News4Jax contacted several council members about Lot J. Councilman Reggie Gaffney has scheduled a meeting to discuss Lot J at 1 p.m. Tuesday, ahead of Tuesday’s night’s City Council meeting. News4Jax asked Dennis what he thinks will happen if the Lot J project is brought up at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. So the drama over Lot J could play out Tuesday night if a majority of council members vote to bring it up for discussion.
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.
Jacksonville councilman proposing independent citizen review board
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville City Council member is proposing an independent citizen review board. City Councilman Garrett Dennis said he feels the board would help create a better relationship between the community and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Dennis said the board would consist of 15 members, 14 of whom would be selected by council members. The board would also include a JSO officer. Dennis said the board would participate in ridealongs with JSO and review cases that have been closed, including officer-involved shootings and excessive force.
Jacksonville councilman again floats idea of civil citation for marijuana possession
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During an upcoming Jacksonville City Council Meeting, Councilman Garrett Dennis plans to introduce new legislation aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. If passed, it would give police the discretion to issue a civil citation in lieu of arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession for anyone age 18 or older carrying 20 grams of pot or less. Someone could also opt to complete 10 hours of community service instead of a civil citation if it’s their first offense. A first violation counts as a Class A offense, a second counts as a Class B offense, and a third would be Class C.It’s unclear how much a citation might cost. Dennis filed a bill to decriminalize pot in the city last year, but it didn’t pass.
Councilman calls for another $41 million for city improvements on top of Lot J money
This story has been updated to reflect when Lot J legislation will be filed. Councilman Garrett Dennis introduced legislation Wednesday to borrow an additional $41.5 million on top of the money needed for Lot J to fund capital improvement projects in all 14 council districts. The total direct public investment from the city will be over $152 million which includes $77.7 million for city-owned infrastructure. Northside residents say they feel pushed to the side again following Monday’s unveiling of plans for the Lot J development. The Downtown Investment Authority and the City Council must still vote to approve the Lot J development before it moves forward.
Early voting sites were moved. A civil rights group calls it a ‘dirty trick’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the election about a month away, and thousands already voting by mail and early voting due to start in weeks, there is a new concern now about moving early voting sites. A group made up of the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ministers and students is worried about changes concerning two early voting sites. This election, early voting locations have been moved away from Edwards Waters College to the Prime Osborn Convention Center. “We demand that voting sites on our campus and other campuses be restored,” Seabrook said. Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said there is one reason why he moved the sites.
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.
Councilman proposes withholding half of JSO’s budget
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day before the City Council approves more than $1 billion in spending, a City Councilman is calling for changes to the way the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is funded. The councilman is offering an amendment that would allocate $234 million to the Sheriff’s Office off the bat and then release the rest in increments as the agency reports back periodically. Dennis is set to introduce that amendment shortly before the City Council takes its budget vote on Tuesday evening. Councilman Matt Carlucci, who chairs the council’s finance committee that approved the budget, as among those present for Monday’s meeting. “Make no mistake, this is an attempt to defund men and women in uniform,” Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury said.
Grassroots groups want City Council to reject JSO budget, re-allocate funds
“The major problems involve racial issues, the city budget and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.”The activists want more oversight from the City Council of JSO’s budget spending. “The city council should establish new methods to evaluate how effectively JSO is spending the lion’s share of our city funds,” said Ben Frazier, founder of the Northside Coalition. The city has broken promises and ignored the needs of Black neighborhoods for more than 50 years.”In addition to that demand, the groups say the City Council should:Create a police accountability council to review police investigations. “The People’s Budget calls on the city to reallocate and reinvest money from the proposed half-billion dollar budget for JSO,” said Christina Kittle with the JCAC. That budget will be voted on by City Council before the end of the month.
Plan would funnel portion of money for infrastructure projects to Jacksonville’s core
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville could be spending hundreds of millions of dollars this upcoming year on various construction projects. Two City Council committees — rules and finance — have approved a plan that addresses that issue. “You have got to start somewhere, and a good place to start was the old Jacksonville city limits,” Carlucci said. He says he talked with both Black and white community leaders, and they agree it’s a good place to begin. The City Council will take up the issue Tuesday as they mull over the city budget.
Retired Jacksonville UPS worker: Abusive culture forced me out
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Monday, UPS drivers, union representatives and Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis took to the steps of City Hall to demand UPS make changes. UPS drivers say they are at their breaking point and they’re calling for an end to what they call “abuse” by management. RELATED: Teamsters in Jacksonville call for end to workplace ‘abuse’ at local UPS centerNews4Jax has since heard from a person who recently retired because they say the environment at UPS Jacksonville was hostile at times. “It’s not OK.”A current employee, a UPS driver and a shop steward told News4Jax local UPS drivers are being subjected to workplace abuse. Workers also want an investigation by UPS’ corporate management into what they call abusive practices happening in Jacksonville.
After Hemming Park name change, Council considers revising renaming process
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The uproar over renaming Hemming Park to James Weldon Johnson Park is prompting the Jacksonville City Council to consider making some changes in its procedure on renaming buildings and parks. When Councilman Garrett Dennis first proposed the name change for the park, he followed council rules. While the majority of council members voted for the name change, many believe the process of renaming parks and public buildings needs to be improved. Salems main concern is the lack of input from the public with only one public hearing required. With one public hearing we negotiate multi-million dollar deals with the same six week process, Dennis said.
Councilman proposes early retirement option for city workers amid pandemic
Many people are still working from home, office layouts have changed, and many other workers have been furloughed. Now there is a move by one Jacksonville City Council member to make changes for city employees by offering early retirement for some who do not want to come back to the office. Councilman Garrett Dennis is proposing legislation to allow for early retirement from city employment. Under the proposed legislation, workers who are at least 55 years old and have worked with the city for 10 years could retire with some benefits. Dennis said right now, city offices are still in limbo and this is one way to get back to service.
Councilman wants to pump the brakes on renaming Jacksonvilles buildings, parks
City Councilman Rory Diamond introduced legislation that would institute a two-year moratorium on future renaming, and now that bill is facing opposition and questions about the legislations motive. Even though that bill was withdrawn, Diamond wants to slow down the renaming process. Diamond is proposing a two-year moratorium on renaming Jacksonville parks, schools and public facilities, arguing the city should focus on the pandemic and rebuilding the local economy. Dennis said he wants to fully understand Diamonds motive before the city agrees to pump the brakes on renaming projects for the next two years. The issue is expected to be discussed during the next City Council meeting.
City Council to discuss renaming Hemming Park & 5 others in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Members of the Jacksonville City Council are scheduled Tuesday evening to discuss renaming five public parks amid the debate over giving a new name to Hemming Park. A Confederate memorial once stood in the park, which is named after Civil War veteran Charles Hemming, who donated the memorial to the state of Florida in 1898. Recently, Councilman Danny Becton proposed an alternative name -- Veterans Memorial Park. It was definitely a sneak attack by a fellow council member, Dennis told News4Jax after it was filed. Now, Dennis has filed additional legislation, suggesting renaming five other Jacksonville parks to honor veterans.
Councilman proposes renaming 5 Jacksonville parks to honor veterans
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Jacksonville City Council member has filed legislation, proposing the renaming of five city parks in honor of veterans. Councilman Garrett Dennis filed the proposal amid an ongoing feud over renaming Hemming Park. Dennis is upset after a move by fellow Councilman Danny Becton, who -- with the backing of some veterans groups -- proposed renaming the park Veterans Memorial Park. The suggestion to rename it Veterans Memorial Park threw a wrench into the whole renaming plan, and some council members are reluctant to vote against the two ideas. Dennis latest proposal would change the names of five parks, including Ed Austin Regional Park, Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park, William F. Sheffield Regional Park and a portion of the former Jacksonville Landing property.
Hemming Park name change splits council members
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A plan to change the name of a downtown park is causing a rift within the Jacksonville City Council, but a compromise is in the works. It centers around Hemming Park, which is currently named after Civil War veteran Charles Hemming, who donated a Confederate memorial to the state in 1898. “It was definitely a sneak attack by a fellow council member,” Dennis said, noting that legislation to rename Hemming Park after Johnson has been in the works for several weeks. Still those two alone won’t decide the future of the park as it would take 10 votes from City Council to rename it. In my opinion, there should be no agreement, settlement or compromise regarding the proposed name change to James Weldon Johnson park.
Survey: 88% of residents say not enough being done to make Duval County more resilient to storm impacts
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The citys resiliency committee on Thursday heard the results of a survey done among Duval County residents as to Jacksonvilles readiness to deal with the threat from storms and hurricanes. More than 700 people were asked if their community was doing enough to address the issues of sea levels rising and make the city more resilient to storm impacts, and the survey shows 88% said no. The problem is getting enough of the community to buy in, in order to get the funding to do it. The resiliency committee was formed after back-to-back years brought Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017. The survey also found 90% of people said a regional compact is needed to deal with the challenges of future storm impacts.
Proposals to rename 2 Jacksonville parks take spotlight at City Council meeting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The process for the Jacksonville City Council to consider changing the names of two city parks continued Tuesday. One would change the name of Confederate Park to Springfield Park. The other bill would change the name of Hemming Park, which is in front of City Hall, to James Weldon Johnson Park. The proposal came a week after a Confederate monument was removed from Hemming Park, the downtown city plaza framed on two sides by City Hall and the federal courthouse. The park is currently named after Civil War veteran Charles Hemming, who donated the Confederate memorial to the state of Florida in 1898.
Family member: Decision to rename Hemming Park shouldnt be up to City Council
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A member of the Hemming family is speaking out after Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis filed legislation to change the name of Hemming Park. On Tuesday night, the legislation was introduced to the Jacksonville City Council. The Jacksonville City Council changed the name of the park from St. James Park to Hemming Park in 1899 after his donation. We have gone down there for the past 90 years with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, said Elwood Hemming, the great-great-great-nephew of Charles Hemming. We have all of the original paperwork, Elwood Hemming said.
Councilman introduces legislation to rename Hemming Park
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville City Council member has introduced legislation that aims to change the name of Hemming Park. “If you think about it, James Weldon Johnson is the most famous person that was ever born and raised here in Jacksonville. No matter where you go, everyone knows James Weldon Johnson,” Dennis said. City Council changed the name of the park from St. James Park to Hemming Park after his donation in 1899. Days after the removal of Confederate statute in Jacksonville’s Hemming Park, a woman came forward and shared that her great-great-grandfather was a slave owned by Charles Hemming’s family.
Mayor Curry, Sheriff Williams walk with community, promise change
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Mayor Lenny Curry told hundreds gathered Tuesday morning to march with Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette from Jacksonville City Hall to the Duval County Courthouse that he was listening to their voices. "Were not going to agree on everything -- thats just not human history, human nature. Weve got to find common ground.Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and many of his officers joined the short walk to the Courthouse. Curry said he felt he would be a distraction for law enforcement and could put others in danger if he marched this weekend. There are times where I put law enforcement resources at risk because they have to focus on me if Im there which isnt responsible, Curry said.
Elected officials spread message of unity, change
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Jacksonville elected officials took part in a demonstration Sunday outside City Hall and then a walk. Despite the heavy rain, about 100 people gathered beneath the awning at City Hall to unite as one. After the demonstration, the group took to the streets to spread its message of unity and change. We are going to change the culture (of) Jacksonville, said Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci. Elected officials saying, Listen, we are one. Its going to take all of us together to move the needle and make a change," Dennis said.
Mayor Curry to walk with community, announce new policy initiatives next week
“I will participate in a walk next week with our community,” Curry tweeted. Curry also said he plans to announce policy initiatives he will take to “address racial inequality.”I will participate in a walk next week with our community. I will also announce policy initiatives and actions I will take to bring our city together and address racial inequality. It was not immediately clear when Curry planned to walk with the community or the policy issues he planned to announce. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette announced Friday that he plans to hold a peaceful protest walk in Jacksonville on Tuesday.
Jacksonville leaders, minus mayor and sheriff, plan march on Sunday
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City Councilman Garrett Dennis will lead elected officials in a march through Downtown Jacksonville on Sunday to show solidarity with those who have been speaking out against social injustice and police brutality. He invited Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams to join the group -- as leaders in other cities have done -- but both declined, saying they will participate “in the near future” but Sunday isn’t the time. Dennis said several City Council members will join him, including outgoing president Scott Wilson and incoming president Tommy Hazouri. Williams, who was invited to join in, said he will “engage in a walk,” but it won’t be Sunday. He said he would like to participate in a march, along with Sheriff Williams, just not right now.
Jacksonville activists call for the release of body camera footage for all police-involved shootings
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The recent protests in Jacksonville have sparked new discussions about Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office bodycam footage. Activists want footage from all Jacksonville police-involved shootings released immediately calling it an agreement that has been broken. Dennis plans to write a bill that could make it law to release JSO body camera footage if he doesn’t run into any legal roadblocks. If it does, it would be the first body camera in a police shooting that could be cleared for release. News4Jax asked Sheriff Mike Williams earlier this year about body camera footage, and Williams said the video is treated as evidence, and will eventually be released.
Councilman says some Jacksonville residents feel they arent being heard
I know change is happening.News4Jax reached out to locals, community activists and Jacksonville City Council members compiling a list of immediate concerns that they are hearing about from their constituents locally. Some Jacksonville residents were promised access to city sewer services in the late 1960s. Dennis says locals also want more opportunities to be heard in City Council, pointing to a vote last year that eliminated comment at the beginning of meetings. Dennis says some Jacksonville residents feel they arent being heard. City Council President Tommy Hazouri told News4Jax that allowing two sections of public comments in council meetings right now isnt something they are not discussing, but council wants to make sure everyone is heard.
'We hear you’: City leaders call for peace, change after protests rock Jacksonville
“Jacksonville, we hear you,” Councilman Sam Newby said. “We hear your concerns, and we hear your voices. We are all going to work together to make Jacksonville a better place, a place that you deserve. Our city streets cannot become places of anarchy.”Councilman Garrett Dennis laid at least some of the blame at the feet of City Council. We have to work together on this thing.”As city leaders were meeting, protests continued across Northeast Florida.
City Council approves $5M more in stimulus money for Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Theres more stimulus money headed for people in Jacksonville following a vote by City Council on Tuesday night. City leaders said it will be applied to residents on a waiting list. Five million dollars is definitely an emergency.The $5 million will be added to the original $40 million stimulus that Jacksonville residents could apply to receive. Theres also more money available for small businesses. The City Council approved $2,000 grants to 4,500 local small businesses.
Debate possible during local stimulus vote as one council member says it’s not enough
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A special meeting to grant some Jacksonville residents $1,000 for local stimulus relief may hit a couple of snags as a council member wants to see some revisions to the plan. Councilman Garrett Dennis said the requirements need to be loosened so more people qualify for the payment. Dennis is referring to the more than $160 million the city of Jacksonville received from the federal government’s CARES Act. An additional qualification requires the applicant to have lost at least 25% of their income due to the COVID-19 crisis. Information on how to apply for the stimulus is not available yet, but News4Jax learned applications will be available both online and by phone.
I-TEAM: Gas restored to 1st of 37 buildings at Valencia Way
Gas was restored Friday to the first of 37 buildings on the property, but the work at Valencia Way, formerly Eureka Gardens, will continue for weeks, possibly into the holidays. A gas leak three weeks ago uncovered a massive problem in the gas lines. PREVIOUS STORIES: Congressman demands HUD take action at Valencia Way |New gas pipes to be installed at Valencia Way |Valencia Way residents still without natural gas serviceBob Starfast, who has been a resident for 25 years, is one of those people still waiting. Mayor Lenny Curry helped lead the charge with City Council to improve the former Eureka Gardens, now Valencia Way. The statement said the gas company contractor continues to install main gas line and the general contractors plumbing subcontractor installed gas lines on Buildings 3, 4 and 6.
Jacksonville city leaders scrap bill to decriminalize marijuana
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After several public meetings, debate, and hearing from people on both sides of the issue, Jacksonville city council has rejected the plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The bill would have decriminalized 20 grams or less of marijuana for a person 18 and older. Councilman Garrett Dennis introduced the bill in May and held several meetings to rally support for his bill. It's costing our city millions of dollars every year to prosecute, to arrest individuals with small amounts of marijuana. He believes handing out a citation and $100 fine for small amounts of pot is a better alternative to arresting people.
Supporters ask Jacksonville City Council to save adult arcades
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council voted Tuesday night on the budget for fiscal year 2020, and JEA employee benefits and the possible sale of the utility generated a lengthy discussion, but the largest show of support in the chamber came from people asking to save adult arcades. The council voted in May to eliminate adult arcades in the city. Save our arcades!" "Most of all, we feel safe," said Mary Robinson, a supporter of adult arcades. You can't sleep and you get up and you just go and there are people there and you're OK."There was no vote during Tuesday night's public hearing, so the adult arcades will still close by Feb. 1.
Abrupt end to Charter Review meeting draws complaints
Charter Review Commission Chairman Lindsey Brock said Friday's meeting had a "hard stop" and adjourned the meeting at noon. JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Angry words were exchanged when the chairman of Jacksonville's Charter Review Commission tried to adjourn a meeting Friday afternoon before receiving public comment. The commission meets every 10 years to consider changes in the city's charter -- the legal structure of the consolidated city/county government. City Councilman Garrett Dennis and Matt Carlucci were among those due to speak when time ran out and commission Chairman Lindsey Brock tried to adjourn the meeting. Dennis has introduced a resolution to City Council asking that the chairman of the charter commission be removed.
Councilman wants feds to investigate mayor's office influence on grants
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City Councilman Garrett Dennis on Monday asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate allegations that staffers in Mayor Lenny Curry's office pressured city department running children's programs to give preferential treatment to groups seeking grants. "It is believed that these are the organizations which were hand-picked by the mayor's office to receive grant money to quiet criticism of Mayor Curry." One exchange on Oct. 16, 2018, seems to show the mayor's office wanted a grant for one church group. Hughes: "They should"Another exchange seems to show Peppers suggesting to Hughes that they move grant funds in response to a critical news report. The mayor's office released this statement Monday about Dennis' request for a federal investigation:As usual, this Councilmember is putting his quest for headlines before the facts.
Councilman wants feds to investigate mayor's office influence on grants
City Councilman Garrett Dennis on Monday asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate allegations that staffers in Mayor Lenny Curry's office pressured city department running children's programs to give... Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.
Letter requests 'cone of silence' in JEA privatization talks
It's the heart of a question raised by City Councilman Garrett Dennis following the discovery of a letter calling for a "cone of silence" in communicating about JEA's possible privatization. The letter is from the Jacksonville firm Foley and Lardner and is addressed to the board chair and CEO of JEA. "We have JEA that's going on, the privatization, and we're saying that the City Council cannot interject themselves, cannot ask any questions. "Ultimately, if that requires City Council or your vote as a voter, then that'll be your choice." The letter said limiting communication between potential bidders and JEA can "ensure that JEA runs a fair and proper procurement process."
Decriminalizing marijuana, Operation New Hope and Ability Housing
City Councilman Garrett Dennis on his efforts to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, Operation New Hope Founder Kevin Gay on the success of reentry, and Ability Housing President Shannon Nazworth on where Jacksonville stands for affordable housing.
Councilman's push to decriminalize pot takes spotlight at meeting
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville City Council member is continuing his push to decriminalize marijuana, and on Monday night, Garrett Dennis held his second public meeting to hear from potential voters. During the meeting, some wanted to know how to contact other City Council members about the issue, while others just wanted to learn about Dennis' proposal. Just about all of the people who attended the meeting were in favor of Dennis' push. Whether it's through smell or appearance, some say old methods of identifying marijuana don't show the difference between pot and hemp. "You might be able to smell and tell there's alcohol, but you couldn't look or smell and say what the proof of it is."
Meeting on decriminalizing small amounts of pot attracts passionate debate
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Passionate opinions were heard from those who support and oppose a bill to legalize small amounts of marijuana in Jacksonville. Dennis said 86% of people in Duval County support decriminalizing small amounts of pot. Its costing our city millions of dollars every year to prosecute, to arrest individuals with small amounts of marijuana. Its not addictive, its not a gateway drug, and we will not be the only county and city in the state of Florida," Dennis said. He said his agency closely monitors the state's shifting medical marijuana laws but doesn't support decriminalizing pot.
4 Your Info: Questions answered about decriminalizing pot
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many of you had questions about the divisive topic of decriminalizing marijuana, something a Jacksonville City Council member has proposed doing here. The legislation proposed by City Council member Garrett Dennis would make the penalty for carrying less than 20 grams of pot a $100 fine or 10 hours of customer service. Currently, it's a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of up to a year behind bars and a fine up to $1,000. Here are some of the questions you asked us:Q: How will these changes impact those who sell the drug (marijuana)? People caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana would receive a fine if they are age 18 or over.
Councilman seeks input on decriminalizing pot in Jacksonville
Then a month later, a University of North Florida poll found broad public support for it. At the time, UNF polling director Dr. Michael Binder suggested it might be wise for city leaders to hear voters out on this one. "This bill is a step in the right direction to move Jacksonville forward, Dennis said. According to state law, having 20 grams or less of it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor offense. Fines for first-time offenders range from $75 to $100, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
HUD gives owner 60 days to repair Eureka Gardens
Global Ministries Preservation of Affordability Corp. spokeswoman Audrey Young sent a statement saying it planned to appeal the REAC's Notice of Default. After decades of neglect by previous owners, GMF has invested over $3 million in restoration of Eureka Gardens, including restoration of its critical infrastructure. City Councilman Garrett Dennis, whose district includes Eureka Gardens, was the first city official to react to the latest inspection report. Rubio and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, both said that 18 months with no improvements to the conditions at Eureka Gardens is unacceptable. Lawson said that the people living at Eureka Gardens are just like other Americans: They just want a clean, affordable, safe place to call home.