Photo: City of Jacksonville (left) and Florida Times-Union
Northeast Florida roundup
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown facing political backlash
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's former supporters are now on his opponent's side.
During Jacksonville’s last mayoral race in 2011, businessman Peter Rummell and a group of influential friends decided not to back Republican Mike Hogan and threw their support, and about $500,000 in campaign contributions, to Democrat Alvin Brown, who won by a slim margin.
But now, Rummell and several of his friends, including former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver and businessman Tom Petway, are disenchanted with Brown’s handling of his office and are backing former state Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry in the May 19 election.
Rummell, in an interview with the Florida Times-Union, did not mince words when speaking about his disappointment with the mayor. “He does not know how to manage. That is clear. He has no courage. He’s wimped out. He’s deferred to city council. It’s embarrassing the way he has handled himself.”
Still backing Brown is current Jaguars owner and billionaire Shad Khan, who has given Brown’s campaign committee $50,000 and hosted a fundraiser for Brown at one of the stadium clubs. Brown has been supportive of Khan’s plans for city-owned stadium EverBank Field, including more than $40 million for a scoreboard. Khan also has expressed an interest in developing the city-owned shipyard’s property.
Curry and Brown have amassed sizable war chests. By early August, Brown and his campaign committee had collected $2.44 million, while Curry had brought in $570,955.
Democrats have 233,099 registered voters, while Republicans have 202,231, with 100,194 registered as No Party Affiliation.
A poll by Daigle Creative, an advertising and public relations agency in Jacksonville, showed “Brown’s support is still relatively widespread but increasingly shallow.” Curry’s name recognition was essentially “non-existent.”
So far, Brown has not drawn any Democratic Party opponents. Republicans include Curry, City Councilman Bill Bishop and Omega Allen, who will meet in the March 24 primary. Martin Kramer, who has no party affiliation, and Tiffany Wingo, an Independent, also are seeking the job.
Profile APR Energy
Two former rock band roadies, John Campion and Laurence Anderson, have translated what they learned providing electric power for acts like Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones to providing temporary power in areas recovering from disasters or experiencing electric shortfalls.
Headquartered in Jacksonville, APR Energy sells electricity and generation capacity to utilities, countries and industries. The firm, which says it is often able to deliver portable power stations in one to three months, does much of its work in such countries as Libya, Cyprus, Mali, Myanmar, Oman, Peru and Costa Rica. APR has about 150 employees in Jacksonville and more than 1,000 worldwide. In 2013, the company had revenue of $308 million.
In 1987, Campion and Anderson formed Showpower to provide temporary power for rock shows. They sold that company to GE Energy Rentals. In 2013, APR bought GE’s turbine power rental business.
Sandy L. Robinson has been named interim executive director at the Betty P. Cook Nassau Center of Florida State College at Jacksonville. Robinson will replace retiring north campus President Barbara Darby next year. Robinson previously served as vice president of learning and engagement at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.
Valerie Beaudrun has been named manager of St. Johns Center mall. She succeeds Angela Crowder, who left in March after 14 months. Beaudrun most recently served as manager of Coral Square Mall and Royal Eagle Plaza in Coral Springs.
Mark Flannery, a fnance professor at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration since 1989, has been named chief economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission and director of its Division of Economic and Risk Analysis.
BUNNELL — The Tourist Development Council has approved a $150,000 grant to help cover the costs of a facelift at the Flagler Auditorium, including improvements to the lobby, outdoor signage and lighting and the main stage.
CLAY COUNTY — A Nov. 4 vote is scheduled to determine whether Clay County should have an elected or appointed superintendent of schools. Currently, the county elects its superintendent. Superintendent Charlie Van Zant and the school board are constantly squabbling.
GAINESVILLE — Some 4,000 graduate assistants at the University of Florida have won a 3.25% pay increase, but issues of higher health insurance premiums and fees have not been resolved. The new contract raises the starting pay for about 1,000 graduate assistants from $11,000 to $13,000, says John Hames, co-president of UF Graduate Assistants United. The raise doesn’t cover the fees that graduate students have to pay back each year to the university. Hames says fees have increased 110% over the past several years and average about $1,400 to $1,700 a year. The contract also didn’t address an increase in premiums for dependents and spouses. The university covers the cost of insurance for graduate students.
JACKSONVILLE — A Fortune 500 company is planning to build a manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, creating 500 jobs, but city offcials signed a confdentiality agreement. The company plans to invest $91 million in exchange for $15.4 million in taxpayer incentives, which the city council must approve. Next year’s One Spark crowd-funding festival will offer more than $350,000 in crowd funds and cash rewards. The third annual event will run downtown April 7-12. One Spark CEO and founder Elton Rivas and Joe Sampson, executive director, say next year’s event also will be a day longer than the frst two events. Last year, One Spark brought about 260,000 people downtown. CSX is adding 400 positions to its work force of 3,000. The new workers will be involved in operating trains and will mostly be based in the northern tier of the CSX network. > Earth Fare, an Asheville, N.C.-based natural and organic food chain, has hired 85 people to staff its frst Jacksonville store. Earth Fare has 32 stores in nine states, including one in Tallahassee. Jacksonville city offcials have told the city council that $897,800 budgeted for art outside the new Duval County Courthouse is not available. The 1997 Art in Public Places ordinance sets aside a small portion of the cost of new construction projects for public art, but funding has been on hold since 2010 after the city learned that the half-cent sales tax that funded the Better Jacksonville plan raised less money than expected.