Spread the word: Tell the City Council to #Let the People Vote

The website ourduvalschools.org will answer a lot of people’s questions.

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  • Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  • Enhanced safety and security based on a per-square-foot formula.
  • Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition.  (ref 1) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I applaud Council Member Carlucci  for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. (ref 3) I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. (Ref 2)

Here is the link to a radio interview with Chartrand and Miller. I post this interview because Chartrand and Miller are part of a group called Civic Council. They say on this interview that they know the neighborhood schools need money for repairs. However, Chartrand is complaining that the school board hasn’t given more money to a charter school that he has money invested in. A caller asks around minute 28: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land, that house the charter school, that you’ve invested in should be sold?” Notice that both Chartrand and Miller dodge the question. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when Melissa Ross questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education. The point is:  be careful if you hear them criticizing the school board’s plan.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Quote from an article stating that when the budget was finalized the neighborhood schools got zero PECO funding:

The final budget deal for PECO projects includes the $158 million lawmakers earmarked for charter school building maintenance and repairs, $76 million for higher-education construction projects, and $1.5 million in recurring funds to the Department of Education to develop a two-year workforce program that would assist individuals aged 22 or older to get a high school diploma and career technical skills.

ref 1 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

ref 2   83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 3 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions. You can read the Superintendent’s answers  within the article at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Urge City Council President Scott Wilson to Call a Special Meeting to Ask the City Council to Let the People Vote

Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Elections, was quoted in a news article (ref 6) as saying he could get the school board’s referendum on a 2019 ballot if the Jacksonville City Council would let him know by August. Time is running out for 2019. Please urge the city council to let the people vote in 2019.

The state legislature has steadily been reducing their capital outlay funding to the school districts. Most counties have, therefore, passed referendums giving their school districts a dedicated revenue source for capital outlay. Duval County needs to do it in 2019 so the repairs and security enhancements can begin in 2020. The repairs are needed now. Ref 7

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  1. Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  2. Enhanced safety and security based on a per-student and per-square-foot formula.
  3. Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition. Charter schools are getting a great deal of money from our local, state and federal policy makers, but there are barely any safeguards to protect the taxpayers’ interest. But that’s an issue for another article. (ref 19) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I feel passionate about the school board’s referendum because I am grateful for my public education. I want kids to have the same or better opportunities than I had. Don’t we all want the best for the kids in our community? My dad was in the Navy so I went to a number of public schools throughout the country. The local neighborhood school is part of my utopian vision of liberty and justice for all.

When I was listening to City Council Member Matt Carlucci on the July 22 episode of First Coast Connect (ref 1), I was thinking of the The Andy Griffith Show. One of the public schools I attended was on a navy base. The kids in the school were a variety of colors even in 1965. So when I think of The Andy Griffith Show, I don’t think of a community of all white people. I think of a community of people all trying to get along, all trying to be polite, all wanting the best for all the children of the community. Matt Carlucci was polite and cordial as he spoke of the need to make all our schools great for all the children of our community.

I applaud Council Member Carlucci, a Republican, for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. Ref 5

I find it sad that some on the city council are putting up roadblocks to getting the school buildings repaired. For example, some city council members asked questions, at the city council meetings, they could have asked months ago when the community meetings were announced by the school board. To his credit, City Council President Scott Wilson finally asked all the city council members to send their questions to OGC who would compile them and forward the questions to the Superintendent and the School Board. The Times Union put the list in the cloud for all, who cared, to read.  Ref 3

Some of the questions on the list don’t appear to be in good faith. For example, one of the council members asks about all the lawsuits that have been brought due to desegregation. If the council member’s goal is to alert the public to the past and present misdeeds of elected government officials, then wouldn’t it be better for her to write an op-ed piece? I don’t see how her question is relevant to the school board’s referendum. Couldn’t her staff do the research about those lawsuits? Why ask the school board to do the research?

Some of the questions on the list indicate many city council members want charter schools to take a more prominent role in the education of our children. The charter school movement was begun as a way to allow teachers to experiment with various teaching methods that, if proven successful, could be later used in the neighborhood schools. But the charter school movement has changed since its humble beginnings. Can’t we make all the neighborhood schools great? Can’t various choices (vocational, college-prep, teaching styles, etc) be incorporated into the neighborhood schools? Duplicate education systems, charter school and the neighborhood schools, are more expensive. Ref 10 I know some parents love the charter school where their children attend, but we need to increase the safeguards against abuse (financial and lack of educational standards) before we let charter schools increase in number. Also, what will happen to the neighborhood schools if the taxpayers are unwilling to fund a duplicate parallel system? Isn’t it better to increase the choices within the neighborhood school?

Please google “profits in the charter school industry.” Ref 17 I hope that will make you outraged and cause you to question the desire of some city leaders who are holding the school board’s referendum hostage, demanding the school board change their referendum to “promise charter schools an upfront $150 million payment.” Ref 11

A concerned citizen, David, at a July 16th city council committee meeting, spoke during the audience comment period of his experience as a young boy in Alabama. Tears come to my eyes as I recall him repeating his mother’s words: “That is not equal.”  My vision (and apparently David’s) is for all the schools to be superb, with the goal being for all the kids to have a chance at great opportunities in life. Why won’t some on the city council allow the voters to give the school board the revenue stream to do what I believe they want to do, i.e. make all our schools great?

One of City Council Member Cumber’s questions (on the list) is relevant only if she doesn’t plan to let the people vote in November 2019. ref 4 A November 2019 date would be preferable, but if the city council won’t vote in time, then the December date would be the next best alternative. For the repairs to begin in 2020, the referendum needs to be approved by the voters in 2019.

Another one of Council Member Cumber’s questions was about the city’s credit rating, which is pertinent to a bond issue not a dedicated revenue source. Can the city council control the school board’s bond requests? If yes, then that is when she should be asking her questions about the effect on the city’s credit rating. ref 8

 The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions (on the list) including Council Member Cumber’s questions about the city’s credit rating. You can read the Superintendent’s answers at this link.  Ref 9

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:  https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

Anyone can ask questions of our elected officials, but many of the questions on the city council’s list weren’t relevant to the desire to get a dedicated revenue stream for the repair and increased safety of our neighborhood schools. Some of the questions on the list make the city council member look like they want to be part of the elected school board. The voters elected the school board members and it is frustrating the city council is trying to stop the school board from doing what they were elected to do.

The city council should let the voters vote on the school board’s referendum on the November 2019 ballot as requested. The city council needs to act NOW for Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Election, to do his part.

 

 

Ref 1 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

Ref 2 Matt Carlucci speaking at July 16th City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Ref 3 The list of city council members’ questions that they sent to the school board

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6219594-2019-380-Council-Member-Questions.html

Ref 4  Florida Statute Title 14, Chap. 212.054 (7)(a)

The governing body of any county levying a discretionary sales surtax or the school board of any county levying the school capital outlay surtax authorized by s. 212.055(6) shall notify the department within 10 days after final adoption by ordinance or referendum of an imposition, termination, or rate change of the surtax, but no later than November 16 prior to the effective date. …

Ref 5  83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 6 https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/all-sides-met-on-duval-county-school-sales-tax-issue

ref 7 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190531/nate-monroe-text-messages-detail-daily-breakdowns-needed-repairs-in-duval-schools

ref 8 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190719/nate-monroe-schools-dont-hurt-city-credit-ratings-city-leaders-do

ref 9  https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6228491-City-Council-Response-073119.html

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A8d9325bc-73cf-49bd-9d01-b7351e5408bf

ref 10 You can google this and get other articles that back up my statement

https://gadflyonthewallblog.com/2019/06/15/charter-schools-will-always-waste-money-because-they-duplicate-services/

ref 11 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190730/is-150-million-payment-to-charters-needed-to-pass-duval-schools-tax-referendum

ref 12 This is what will be on our OFFICIAL BALLOT if the city council will let us vote:

To upgrade aging schools through repairs and modernization, to keep schools safe and to continue to promote a conducive learning environment, to improve technology, and to replace existing or build new schools, shall the Duval County School Board be authorized to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax, with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee?

​____  For the Half-Cent Tax

____  Against the Half-Cent Tax

ref 13 Quote from below link:

Around the state, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are opening their wallets to lend extra support to their schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 ballot, every single one passed.  …  For some, the widening effort suggests the public may be warming to the argument that Florida schools need better funding. … “The citizens recognize that the Florida public schools are the backbone of our future,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, “They want to invest in quality schools. If we let our educational system and our facilities decay, that will have a negative impact on Florida’s economy and on the citizens of Florida.”

https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/More-Florida-counties-are-voting-to-raise-local-taxes-for-schools-Is-it-a-message-to-lawmakers-_171522390

ref 14 If you read the article at ref 11, don’t get tripped up like I did. Florida Coalition of School Board Members is a pro-charter and pro-voucher and organization that does NOT represent the majority of school board members. Here is more about them:  https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/11/26/whither-the-florida-school-board-members-coalition/

ref 15 Go to this link: https://www.ourduvalschools.org/see-the-plans for details about the school board’s referendum. Scroll down to the end of that page and click on “View the original master plans.” Then scroll down and click on “Download the District 3 PDF” [or whatever school district you’re looking for] The pdf that will appear on your screen will tell you when the Community Meeting took place, and the utilization of various neighborhood schools

Ref 16 I wonder if the lawsuit mentioned in this article (http://folioweekly.com/stories/enough-is-enough,21674 ) can go fast enough to get the referendum on a 2019 ballot.

Ref 17 Google “profits, real estate, charter schools” and you’ll get many suggestions, here is one:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/08/13/how-to-profit-from-your-non-profit-charter-school/#304656b83354

Quoted from this article:
Two South Florida real estate investment companies, ESJ Capital Partners and MG3 Developer Group, have sold two charter school properties in Florida to their operator for a combined $45M. “[ESJ Capital Partners] has become a nationwide leader on investing in alternative assets within the educational arena, providing a bridge for charter school management organizations to eventually own the properties they operate in,” an ESJ spokesperson wrote in an email.
https://www.bisnow.com/south-florida/news/economy/florida-charter-school-real-estate-98192

Charter Schools Used Shady Real Estate Deals to Shamelessly Enrich Themselves.
Quote from an article with that title:
Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole said the biggest way to grab seven-figure sums in the privatized education sphere was through shady real estate transactions.
Here is the link to the paper by Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2924886

ref 18 Article at this link talks about a great speech by Republican Thomas Lee where he says the charter industry said they could teach kids for less, but they keep asking for more and more money.  He said “enough is enough.”
http://accountabaloney.com/index.php/2019/05/06/hb7123-is-a-bridge-too-far-and-president-lee

ref 19 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

Folio lets people submit articles on their website and provides a link to the submission:

http://folioweekly.com/detail.html?sub_id=21695

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Note that the below excerpt from the statute says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase?  Are any charter schools housed in a district school board building?

Florida Statute about charter schools:
http://leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1002/Sections/1002.33.html

Quotes from Florida Statute 1002.33:

In the event a charter school is dissolved or is otherwise terminated, all district school board property and improvements, furnishings, and equipment purchased with public funds shall automatically revert to full ownership by the district school board, subject to complete satisfaction of any lawful liens or encumbrances.

(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:

Let the school board do their job

I was sickened by Mr. Diamond’s speech. Did people that voted for him understand his views? A.G. Gancarski quotes in FlaPolitics:

Diamond said “The only place I see kids getting a chance is a charter school, not a public school.”

Paraphrased from that same article:

The School Board reached out in April to begin the OPPAGA audit process. Can anyone get an answer as to why the state has delayed the process? Chairwoman Lori Hershey is wondering if the city council or mayor’s office interfered. OPPAGA has not responded to requests for comment from the journalist.

Quote from a TU article:

… it’s also impossible for the mayor’s office to provide a concrete timeline for the mayor’s entire debt-financed capital construction budget. Just as it would be impossible for the School Board to provide concrete timelines for its renovation and rebuilding plans.

Quote from TU editorial:

If City Council and the School Board need to meet for an entire day to thrash out the issues — and to answer the seemingly inexhaustible list of questions that some City Council members apparently have — then they should do it. And they should do so in time for a sales tax vote to take place this year.

Quote from TU article:

Jones said during public comments in the Rules Committee meeting that as someone who previously served 28 years on the City Council, he has seen council members engage in maneuvers to disguise the real reason for opposition. He said charter school advocates want a dedicated funding source for charter schools from the sales tax. “Over 100,000 students are by choice attending traditional public schools, but yet we are being held hostage because we won’t share $250 million off the top to charter schools for the 16,000 [charter] students when many of our students are in schools that desperately are in need of safety [improvements] and repair,”

Quote from this June article:

According to the research lab, approximately 75 percent of Duval County registered voters support the proposed sales tax. That support is reportedly the strongest among registered Democrats (86 percent) but still garnered 60 percent of the support of registered Republicans.

Link to video where CM Carlucci asks that the questions be answered quickly so that the referendum can be put on a 2019 ballot:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16cHpLLOTk8WJvwqw2MnwP0EKrbpzY1cD/view

Scott Shine

I have received no response to my email.  What should I do now?
Listening to Aaron Bowman discuss the school board’s referendum at city council meetings on July 16, I am more worried than ever about his appointments to the Charter Revision Commission.

The city council designee needs to call out how the council members are voting when the vote is taken via a hand raise. They didn’t do that with the motion to defer the vote on Scott Shine. IF a vote was in violation of the sunshine law then it is deemed void.  That means the motion to defer the vote on Scott Shine is still open.  With that motion still open, then I assume the actual vote on Scott Shines’ appointment is also void.  Yes?

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan 
Subject: Sunshine Law Violation
To: <JGabriel@coj.net>

Office of the General Counsel Jason Gabriel,

The vote to defer the vote on 2019-353 was in violation of the sunshine law or so it appears to me.  The cure is to retake the vote.
According to an article I read about the Sunshine Law:
The manual says that because the Sunshine Law requires meetings to be open to the public at all times, the person who tallies the votes should announce the names of the board members who voted and their votes. … if a public meeting becomes “covert, secret or not wholly exposed to the view and hearing of the public,” then that part of the meeting is not “open to the public at all times” as required by the Sunshine Law.
Via a public records request, I asked for the names of the 8 of the 15 council members present who voted NOT to defer the vote on 2019-353. Cheryl Brown and Scott Wilson told me they didn’t know.  I was offered a video link but you can’t see who did or didn’t raise their hands in the video.  In other words, the raised or not raised hands were not visible in the video.

I watched the video at this link: http://jaxcityc.granicus.com/player/clip/724?view_id=1 . You can see the votes being counted by hand at around the 54 minute mark. You can hear CM Wilson say one of the council members changed their mind. But you can’t tell who raised their hands and who didn’t. The person who tallied the votes should have announced the names of the board members who voted and their votes. The cure is to take the vote again. 

On Jul 1, 2019, at 5:12 PM, Susan wrote:

Carla Miller,
I contacted Scott Wilson who was conducting the meeting that night.  He told me he didn’t know who voted to defer the vote on Scott Shine.  No one has told me who voted to defer.  You can’t tell from the video who voted to defer.  Someone on the staff counted the hands up BUT did not call out the names of the people that had their hands raised.  That seems in violation to the Sunshine Law.  In other words, you can’t tell from the video and no one called out the names of the people that were voting to defer. I think you need to correct the error by taking the vote again.  And if 8 out of the 15 people that were present want to defer the vote on Scott Shine, then you need to invalidate the confirmation of his appointment.  Yes (in case you’re wondering), I do find it troubling that people that wanted to defer the vote, then voted yes on his confirmation.  BUT how many people would have voted NO to the confirmation IF there was more time to investigate Scott Shine’s collection of his school board pay check while he missed so many school board meetings?

According to an article I read about the Sunshine Law:  Petersen said if a court ruled the Sunshine Law was violated by using anonymous ballots, the action taken as a result of that vote would be voided “as if it never happened.”  The cure is to have another vote.  The manual says that because the Sunshine Law requires meetings to be open to the public at all times, the person who tallies the votes should announce the names of the board members who voted and their votes. The Sunshine Law manual’s section on written ballots cites an attorney general’s opinion that if a public meeting becomes “covert, secret or not wholly exposed to the view and hearing of the public,” then that part of the meeting is not “open to the public at all times” as required by the Sunshine Law.

Richard Sutphen-Public Schools

It appears that the powers that be do not want to put the sales tax on the menu for this fall.  They come up with lame excuses that generally contradict their own behavior.  For example, the sales tax for pensions that was not really explained nor examined by the council – it’s a “kick the can” down the road approach that will cost the next generation a ton of money.  Also, the costly demolition of the Landing with no plans in the works to replace it.  We have the mulit-million dollar demolition of the exit ramps for the bridge near the downtown stadium that is being done for the benefit of Zillionaire Kahn who has some ambiguous plans to develop the area. Then there was the unvetted approval of multi-millions for a Ferris wheel project downtown from a company that the TU discovered was a shoddy operation.  These same people want some kind of detailed spending plan for the gigantic repair work on the Duval school buildings much of which has already been provided to the mayor and council.  I understand they did the same thing to the previous Democratic mayor when he submitted plans for development – they wanted a detailed plan and assurances that are never required from the Republican swindlers occupying the government as exemplified in the above examples.

The attack on public schools is a statewide project that is intended to promote charter and private schools at public expense.  We all know this.  These schools do not have to meet the same standards as public schools.  The WSJ article addresses the role of real estate developers in the promotion of charter schools.  Here in Florida, it is common for the developers and charter management companies to be essentially one in the same people who purchase the land and building with their real estate arm and then lease it to themselves as the charter school management company and have the school district pay the rent which pays off their mortgage at taxpayer expense.  This is a wholesale exploitation of taxpayers and public education in the state.

Unfortunately, we have a mayor and city council who have just been elected or re-elected to office, so they have little incentive at this time to answer to what the people want – to have a tax increase to pay for the building repairs.  Curry is already eyeing his next political office conquest and the council hasn’t even been sworn into office yet.  For them, what’s the hurry on the sales tax referendum?  There is a strong racial undertone to their views of public education; it is for black kids.  They have been trying for decades to use public funds to pay for their white private education and have used various devious methods to do so and  they have been largely successful with this in Florida.  Charter schools were sort of the first attempt to break into the treasury funds by promoting them as quasi public schools that fall under board of education administration and sharing of funds, but are private and many are for profit institutions.  Then, they figured out how to direct taxes into funding private schools through mainly designated corporate tax credits that can be diverted from the treasury to pay for private schools (many religious) prior to tax collection.  Thus, the funds never make it into the treasury so technically it doesn’t violate the constitution that bars the use of state funds for private schools.

This is how things are when the Republicans have been in power for the past 20+ years.  We need to find good candidates to run for office and also realize that it may take awhile, perhaps years, to change the dynamic here in Duval and in the state.  Just keep plugging away.

Richard sent the above email

to Susan

when she sent the below email to Indivisble-Mandarin and cc’d Richard.

From: Susan
Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2019
To: Indivisible Mandarin

These council members will still be there July 1st so people can write them now asking them to make this a priority to put the school board’s referendum on a 2019 ballot.

Freeman at large 1
Morgan same 1
Ferraro same 2
Bowman same 3
Wilson same 4
Gaffney same 7
Pittman same 8
Dennis same 9
Becton same 11
White same 12
Hazouri same at large 3
Newby same at large 5

http://www.coj.net/city-council.aspx

On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 2:41 PM Susan  wrote:

I wrote the city council members and the Mayor again.  Below is my email.  I’m still hoping the referendum will get on a ballot in 2019.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan
Date: Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 2:05 PM
Subject: If we’re not allowed to vote in 2019, what repairs of our neighborhood schools won’t be done next year?
To: Danford, Joyce <JOYCEMORGAN@coj.net>, Ferraro, Albert <FERRARO@coj.net>, Bowman, Aaron <ABOWMAN@coj.net>, Wilson, Scott <SWILSON@coj.net>, Gaffney, Reginald <rgaffney@coj.net>, Pittman, JuCoby <JPittman@coj.net>, Dennis, Garrett <GARRETTD@coj.net>, Freeman, Terrance <TFreeman@coj.net>, Becton, Daniel <DBECTON@coj.net>, White, Randy <RandyWhite@coj.net>, Gulliford, Hazouri, Thomas <THAZOURI@coj.net>, Newby, Samuel <SNEWBY@coj.net>, Mayor Lenny Curry <MayorLennyCurry@coj.net>, <david.bauerlein@jacksonville.com>, <nmonroe@jacksonville.com>, <steve.patterson@jacksonville.com>, <ebloch@jacksonville.com>, <mail@folioweekly.com>, <news@wjct.org>

How many on the city council are preventing the voters from voting on the referendum in 2019 because they want our sales tax money to EXPAND the presence of charter schools in our city?  Isn’t that what Mayor Curry said? You can read the full quote at this link.  Isn’t “choice” code for charter schools?  The way I interpreted Mayor Curry’s statement: 

I [Curry] am preventing the voters from voting on the referendum in 2019 because I want the taxpayers’  sales tax money to EXPAND the presence of charter schools in our city.  

Did I get it wrong? Did I misunderstand his statement?  Is that NOT how you interpreted his statement?

I am troubled by the desire of anyone that wants to use my sales tax money to expand charter schools.  Quote from this WSJ article:

 But the growing role of for-profit real-estate developers has added a new dimension to the debate over charters, which are taxpayer funded and independently operated schools that are largely free of union rules. Critics say charter schools are in danger of cutting costly deals with developers who are more concerned with investment return than educating children. The result can lead to failed schools.

 

Article by Richard Sutphen–Taxes

Since you are so active with Florida politics and have a blog, I thought I would send along an email that I sent to Nate Monroe of the Times Union regarding one of his columns that was published recently.  Maybe some of your readers would like to hear the point that I am making about how we essentially give away our state revenues disguised as tax cuts when in fact they constitute tax spending, or that the Republican unactionable approach to governance is fully intended as part of their small government ideology.

From: Sutphen, Richard
To: Nate Monroe

Nate,

I am a fan of your columns for the TU.  I am a member of Indivisible Mandarin but unfortunately I missed your presentation to the group in late March.

There are many topics that you have addressed in your columns that I would like to respond, however your column today about the Republican obsession with taxes is a good place to start.

I was an advisor to Ken Organes who ran for the State House seat for District 16 (against Jason Fischer) and I wrote a progressive platform for him.  One part of it addressed the state budget and how to implement a real business model for state governance.  The point is that this is directly analogous to Jacksonville’s budget that you write about frequently.

The way that Mayor Curry approaches the city budget is similar to how Republicans have dealt with state governance which reflects their view of the functioning of a “small government” ideology.  As much as they talk about bringing business acumen to governance, the fact is that they promote a business model that is best suited to result in bankruptcy than it is to promote a government that can adequately respond to the needs of a quickly growing state population in a context of a highly competitive global economy.  This model is reflected in a basic observation: In 2008/09 in the midst of the “Great Recession,” the state budget was “tight” lacking any extra funds for government services; in 2018/19 in the midst of a “booming economy,” the state budget is “tight” lacking any extra funds for public education, healthcare, the environment, and other government services.  To the Republicans, this is considered a success – a desired intentional outcome of the business model used for governance; that is the model of the “endless recession.”  Since the late 90’s, it has been the expressed intention of the legislature to reduce revenues.  That is right, this is a business model that seeks to reduce revenues.  It is also one that anticipates limited and rather static investments in human capital (the equivalent of business capital investments) such as education, healthcare, etc.  Bankruptcy anyone?

The governing philosophy of small government limited spending and an anti-tax obsession is frequently expressed in the form of the “all purpose” tax cut that undergirds Republican economic policies.  We all know that tax cuts that favor the wealthy do not stimulate economic growth, they instead lead to budget shortfalls, cuts and deficits.  Ironically, tax cuts are really tax spending (tax expenditures) that fundamentally rebate or spend assessed taxes before they are collected.  There is a document called “silent spending” that is generated annually by the state budget office that shows how this tax revenue is exempted or discounted for certain favored entities and adds up to about 25% of the state budget that goes uncollected.  For example, corporations in Florida pay about 57% of their assessed tax rate. In this sense, we really don’t need tax increases to generate more revenue at the state or city level, we just need to collect the taxes that we already have on the books but that we have given away with cuts.

So, I think you were right in one of your recent column’s that suggested the ideological congruency of selling assets like JEA to generate funds rather than extending the sales tax a half cent or more to pay for needed infrastructure and the proverbial downtown development.

As you pointed out in your article today, solutions to problems such as downtown development are available (as they are for many social problems as well), but when leaders are intentionally stuck in traditional or rigid ideological thinking, they prevent themselves from considering them and instead ride the problem solving merry-go-round rationalizing their impotence while trapped in an “endless cycle.”

Richard Sutphen

I am a retired social work professor and I wrote the article on Medicare For All that appeared in the TU last November.

How Do We Prevent Hate Crimes?

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it doesn’t want private schools to discriminate against minority groups but it has no legal basis to deny those schools voucher money. ref 1

 These two Florida Statutes (1000.05 and 1003.42) apply to public schools. F.S. 1000.05 prohibits discrimination against certain minority groups and 1003.42(g) aims to teach people to voluntarily not discriminate against those groups. So in my mind, those two Florida statutes are inextricably linked. Based on the above Step Up For Students’ quote, these statutes do not apply to private schools receiving voucher money. I hope to convince you that those two statutes should apply to private schools that receive public money.  In addition, I will suggest some ways that I think both of the statutes need to be tweaked.

Florida Senator Darryl Rouson plans to introduce a bill in the next legislative session (which is in 2020) that will prohibit private schools that accept state money from discriminating against certain minority groups. I hope this strong statement in Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran’s letter  ​(​ ref ​2)​  means he will be supportive of Senator Rouson’s bill:

For my part, I intend to exercise all avenues afforded to me through Florida statutes and rules to investigate and act. I will swiftly, and to the limits of my office and resources, investigate and prosecute any individuals who threaten the equity and cultural sensitivity of the educational experience of our public schools.

The term “public schools” as was used in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter has become blurred with the proliferation of taxpayer money funding charter schools and private schools. Going forward, we need to make clear which regulations only our neighborhood schools need to follow and which regulations apply to all schools receiving public money either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.

Please urge your legislator and the Education Commissioner to pass legislation requiring that Florida Statutes 1000.05 and 1003.42 (g) apply to any school receiving public funds. Florida Statute 1000.05 says that discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. Florida Statute 1003.42(g) requires the teaching of a course that will lead to an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society

In my view, this is crucial. The citizens of Florida should want every child to understand the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and examine what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society.

During an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) made the claim that President Trump emboldens racism and anti-Semitism with his rhetoric. Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes according to a recent news article. Ref 4 Correlation doesn’t mean causation. However, it seems common sense to believe that the speech of teachers and other authority figures can have an effect on the vulnerable.

The Florida Education Commissioner’s letter (which I quoted above) was in response to a principal that said he tried to stay neutral regarding the holocaust and slavery. A recent discussion within our Florida legislature regarding HB 741 (a bill called anti-Semitism) offered the hypothesis that denial of the holocaust was linked to hate crimes. People have been outraged that the principal (who was the antagonist in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter) wanted to stay neutral about historical facts. Which parents were forcing this principal to feel he had to stay neutral about the holocaust and slavery?  ADL has seen this problem across the country and is developing a course to help teachers and administrators deal with this pressure from students and parents. Ref 3 If you were the principal and a parent came to you and said “I do not want my kid to attend a class that says the Holocaust is a historical fact”, how would you handle it? The principal (that made the news) could have used some of the ADL training when he was dealing with parents that didn’t want to expose their children to factual historical data.

How do you feel about hate crimes? What minority groups should be included in the hate crimes laws? Do you think certain minority groups need more protections than others? Religion was added to the list in Florida Statute 1000.05 in 2019 but in 2018 the statute read:

Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee … is prohibited.

Do you think gender identity and sexual orientation should be added to the list?  If not, do you realize that sexual orientation and gender identity is no more a choice than race, ethnicity, or national origin? Do you realize these minority groups are the subject of hate crimes?  Do you think we can prevent these hate crimes?  If you think they can be prevented, then how? Is the teaching of tolerance a key element of prevention?

I hope sexual orientation and gender identity will be added to Florida Statute 1000.05 which is the Florida statute that prohibits discrimination against certain minority groups in Florida’s public schools. F.S. 1000.05 needs to apply to all schools receiving public funds. Of course since religion was added to Florida Statute 1000.05 in 2019, the statute should also say that this freedom of religion law shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that it can be used to harm another. For example, if your religion says that slavery is ok, it doesn’t mean you can enslave someone. Perhaps you find the slavery example silly but I don’t know all the ways people might be tempted to use religious freedom laws to harm others. Adding the language is a safeguard against future unintended consequences. Even the Bible offers us examples. Here is one:

Leviticus 24:13-14

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.

As the recent news about the principal in Palm Beach County reveals, we need clearer guidelines on how f.s. 1003.42 (g) should be implemented. The Florida Commissioner of Education reveals there are no clear guidelines to implement 1003.42 (g) when he asks in his letter ref  2  ” Please provide a detailed report of all that the schools in Palm Beach County are doing to fulfill this obligation”

The course requirements of 1003.42(g) should be taught in civics or history class every year. Each age group can learn something new. Once the student knows WW2 and the Holocaust and other atrocities happened, people may question how many times it needs to be taught again. BUT the broader part of 1003.42(g) is the teaching of what led to the Holocaust and how people were complacent. The course work should target a certain age group (Primary, Intermediate, Middle School, etc.) and the teacher should take into consideration the ages, reading level, and emotional maturity of the students. ref 5

Based on the next to the last paragraph of Corocran’s letter ref 2  , I would expect him to support Senator Rouson’s bill prohibiting private schools that accept state money from discriminating against people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. But would I be disappointed? Please contact the commissioner and all your representatives and ask them to

  1. Support legislation that will add sexual orientation and gender identity to f.s. 1000.05
  2. Support legislation that will make it clear that Florida Statutes 1003.42(g) and 1000.05 applies to all schools receiving public funds either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.
  3. Add additional requirements that say elements of the course described at 1003.42(g) should be taught ever year.
  4. Add to Florida Statute 1000.05 wording that says that this freedom of religion law shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that it can be used to harm another.

Ref 1 https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

Ref  2 http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 3 https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

Ref 4 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/22/trumps-rhetoric-does-inspire-more-hate-crimes/

Ref 5 http://www.flholocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

HB 741 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741

f.s. 1003.42 (g) http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=1003.42&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.42.html

f.s.1000.05 http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=1000.05&URL=1000-1099/1000/Sections/1000.05.html

Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:  https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Where I found the stoning quote: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Stoning

Topic Questions for July Humanist Book Group Discussion

Topic Questions for July book group discussion.

1. What do you think of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act? This brings up a bigger question, how do you want YOUR tax dollars spent?
2 .Is locking people up better than finding a way for them to live on their own? Also could we discuss what should be done about the homeless?
3. At what point are you willing to take away a person’s right to make decisions about their own body and limit their freedoms? If you disagree with a policy, how does one fight back?
4. Mental Institutions and other detention centers might have a place BUT we need strict rules to prevent abuses? Could we discuss the detention centers where immigrants are being held?
5. Brain vs. Mind—Let’s discuss competitiveness and cooperation.
6. Is efficiency or honesty more important? Let’s discuss the placebo effect also.
7. Were you impressed, perplexed, surprised or outraged about how discoveries were made? One of my big take a ways was how important accurate data is. And how fudging the data causes people to distrust future scientific theories.
8. Did some of these stories make you trust doctors less? Also could we discuss how you feel about being a guinea pig? And when should you sue or organize to lobby and protest?
9. Let’s discuss Prozac, Xanax, Opiods, Pot, Alcohol, etc
10. Who should be allowed to prescribe drugs? What do you think of direct marketing of drugs to the public?
11. How can we be sure our food and water isn’t hurting us? Let’s discuss the regulations of drugs and truth in advertising

Topic Questions Above.

Quotes below.

1. ***Page 250 Individual scientists and universities could strike lucrative deals with industries interested in developing the commercial potential of valuable products developed with tax dollars

2. ***Location: 5,314—page 274 to 275 deinstitutionalization in the 1960s and ’70s led to homelessness, incarceration, and premature death for many. … many people with serious mental disorders often benefit far more from being given their own apartment and/or access to supportive communities, than from being given a script for a new or stronger antipsychotic.
***Location: 266—page 7 of 366 some people were biologically unsuited to handle the pressures of modern life.

3. ***Location: 1,115—page 51 involuntary sterilization of the insane, it was not until the mid-1930s that he finally denounced it publicly. ***Location: 1,160 to 1164—pages 53- 54 In 1933 Germany’s Nazi government would cite the 1927 Buck v. Bell decision in defending its own “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.” ….Germany’s sterilization program, in turn, paved the way in 1939—after Germany went to war—for an originally secret decision not to sterilize but to murder thousands of mentally ill and disabled institutionalized persons. ***Location: 1,907—-page 93 Women had become too dominant, people complained; they were resisting their traditional roles, while men were having difficulty asserting their traditional authority. ***Location: 2,370—page 119 Foucault’s argument was that the history of psychiatry was not a story about a medical encounter with the suffering of the mentally ill, but a story of morality and politics pretending to be medical but actually working to discipline and silence the authentic truths of people labeled mad. ***Location: 2,401—page 121 What psychiatry did instead, Szasz said, was to identify persons who behaved in strange, distraught, or unacceptable ways and decide they were sick and therefore in need of its special treatment. ***Location: 2,438—page 122 All agreed, though, that psychiatry regularly labeled innocent people “crazy” in order to deprive them of their liberties; that its treatments often caused more harm than good; and that the so-called mentally ill were generally an oppressed group who had finally begun to assert their right to live unfettered lives. ***Location: 2,590—page 130 The Stonewall Inn riot is generally seen as a key catalyst for the gay liberation movement. ***Location: 3,677-page 187 Patients’ growing fear of side effects associated with this treatment led David Impastato, one of the pioneers of ECT, to recommend in 1957 that hospitalized patients should not be told in advance that they would be getting it.

4. ***Location: 1,545—page 74 former asylum patient and wealthy citizen activist Clifford Beers had originally envisioned a movement focused on reforming the often abusive and underfunded state hospital system and had reached out to Meyer for help. Meyer persuaded Beers to focus instead on reducing the number of people who ended up in such institutions in the first place. ***Location: 1,863—page 91 Only when the staff created small family-style units consisting of children and dedicated caretakers did the situation improve. ***Location: 2,191—page 110 The Shame of the States documented on a state-by-state basis the appalling conditions of the mental hospitals and called for deep reform. ***Location: 2,286—page 113 to 115 In 1963, Congress passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act. …. Fewer than half of the envisioned 1,500 community mental health centers were ever built …Litigation in the 1970s accelerated the process of deinstitutionalization … In 1970 a court declared that patients had a right to adequate treatment ….. Unfortunately, virtually all hospitals lacked sufficient funds to comply, ***Location: 3,445—page 175 In 1986 the psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey was blunt: “There is now a universal realization that the running down and closing of mental hospitals was a disaster.

5. ***Location: 426—page 14 of 366 the brain anatomists had failed so miserably because they focused on the brain at the expense of the mind. ***Location: 1,017—page 46 of 366 Bleuler finally decided that he could no longer associate himself with a movement that did not tolerate dissent…. Saying “…I find it harmful for science”

6. ***Location: 596—page 23 of 366 [1892] Pierre Janet at this point found a new use for hypnosis: to transform his patients’ “fixed ideas” into sanitized (and fictionalized) “memories” they could live with. ***Location: 622—page 24 of 366 Freud explained, the unconscious mind could not distinguish between fantasy and true events. ***Location: 767—page 33 of 366 Beard suggested to his colleagues, why not integrate “expectation”—a kind of talking cure—into their repertoire of therapies?
***Location: 785—page 34 of 366 The second half of the nineteenth century had seen the rise of a number of Christian “mind cure” movements… ***Location: 796—page 35 of 366 suggestion therapy, hypnosis, affirmation therapy, and more—that were increasingly being shown to influence the body.

7. ***Location: 732—page 30 of 366 The conclusion seemed clear: GPI was a form of syphilis in which the bacteria colonized the brain. ***Location: 940—page 42 of 366 both mind and body—for data from brain tissue and heredity studies, and for the developmental, social and mental facts that could only be gathered from a patient’s life story. ***Location: 1,057—page 48 suppressed evidence that Cotton’s surgeries, far from curing patients, were making virtually all of them worse than before—
***Location: 2,600—page 130 They reminded the psychiatric community of studies conducted by Alfred Kinsey
***Location: 2,686—page 134 one had to start somewhere. In due course, research would reveal the biological correlates of mental illness ***Location: 2,847-page 145 Instead, the drug that first began to shift thinking about the causes of schizophrenia was one that we associate with a very different kind of social history: lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
***Location: 2,939—page 150 1953 he and Hoffer experimented with using LSD as a treatment for alcoholism and claimed remarkable results. ***Location: 3,002 to 3008 Pellagra … He became convinced that the disease in humans was caused by a poor starchy diet lacking meat, milk, and vegetables. Few listened, and many, especially in the southern states, were offended by the claim. … Pellagra (and its animal equivalents) resulted from a deficiency of nicotinic acid (niacin, or vitamin B3) …
If one gave large doses of the nutrient (either directly or through an improved diet) to affected animals, they recovered.
***Location: 3,074—page 157 All this work persuaded most physiologists that some chemicals could act to reset or alter physiological functions. ****Page 247 In the 1970’s, psychiatrists had rallied around biology and the medical model as a way of exorcising the specters of psychoanalysis, antipsychiatry and radical social science.

8. ***Location: 1,049-page 48 of 366 By the 1920s, at least two therapeutic efforts thus emerged that involved surgically removing allegedly infected organs from the bodies of schizophrenic patients: teeth, appendixes, ovaries, testes, colons, and more. … ***Location: 1,734—page 85 Huston himself felt the film was confiscated because it challenged (in his words) “the ‘warrior myth’ which said that our American soldiers went to war and came back all the stronger for the experience,
***Location: 2,037—page 100 Thorazin was marketed it initially as a pediatric antiemetic, mixing it with a sweet-tasting syrup to make it more palatable to children. ***Location: 2,536—page 127 when American psychiatrists were asked to independently diagnose the same patient, they tended to agree on the diagnosis only about 30 percent of the time.
***Location: 3,435—page 175 the families of schizophrenic patients finally got mad, got organized, and fought back.
***Page 249 By the late 1980s, a critical mass of clinicians and researchers had aligned their professional interests with the commercial interests of the pharmaceutical industry

9. ***Location: 3,128—page 159 Gandhi was said to have been fond of drinking it. ***Location: 2,100—page 104 to 105 By the end of the 1950s, one in every three prescriptions written in the United States was for meprobamate. In 1957 Scientific American marveled that “more than a billion tablets have been sold, and the monthly total of 50 tons falls far short of the demand.” Why did this happen? There are several likely reasons. For one, meprobamate seemed like the perfect Cold War drug. The 1950s was widely viewed (and even ambivalently celebrated) as an “age of anxiety.” It was also a time of wonder drugs in medicine. Meprobamate was an apparent wonder drug that combated anxiety. What more could one want? …. Was it likely to “make millions of people significantly indifferent to politics— ***Location: 2,984—page 152 Eventually the countercultural embrace of LSD helped put an end to psychiatric research on LSD. ***Location: 4,157—page 213 pressure to prescribe pharmaceuticals not to cure diseases but to enhance lifestyles— ***Location: 4,206—page 215 The drugs remained widely used, but with greater awareness that they did not always work, that they did not work forever, and that taking them was not without risks. ***Location: 4,047—page 207 Teach people resilience and coping strategies, and they will be able to navigate life’s stressors (and society’s inequities) with greater strength and equanimity. ***Location: 4,067—page 207-208 ….The outcome was a stunner: cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) outperformed the standard medication for depression. ….If depression could be so effectively treated simply by changing people’s negative beliefs about themselves, did it still make sense to think of it as resulting from a “chemical imbalance”? For a brief time, a space for uncertainty opened up. Then Prozac arrived

10. ***Page 247 Not surprisingly, the psychiatrists pushed back hard. Prescribing drugs, they said sharply, must remain a privilege granted exclusively to medically trained clinicians as themselves
***page 251 In 1997 the FDA agreed to dramatically relax the rules regulating direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, which thereafter exploded, increasing from less than $800 million in 1996 to $4.9 billion in in 2007.

11. ***Location: 3,983—page 204 In 1962 the Kefauver-Harris Amendment to the 1938 Pure Food and Drug Act required that all drugs sold to the public demonstrate “substantial evidence” of safety and efficacy. ***Location: 4,355—page 224
lithium remained an ingredient of 7 Up until 1950, when it was removed.

 

What do you want the local, state and federal government to spend your money on?

taxpayer moneyI saw that photo on a friend’s page and thought it was thought provoking. How do you feel about your taxpayer money being used to buy and maintain religious symbols and buildings?

It is a similar question to “how do you feel about your taxpayer money being used to maintain confederate soldier monuments in the town square”?

If you don’t like it, then you need to VOTE.

I have been pondering Alito’s SCOTUS opinion about the 100 year old Christian Cross on public land. Do you agree with the 7-2 ruling? Is it constitutional to use taxpayer money to buy and maintain a church that is 100 years old for historical reasons while leaving in tact the religious symbols especially during a time when the Dominionist Christians are exercising so much power in the executive and legislative branches of our government?” Or asked another way “How much do you fear a theocracy?”

The ruling would make more sense to me if it said that the government entity needed to allow the religious symbols of ALL the religions that want to donate a monument to be placed on government property in order to avoid the appearance of the dominate religion receiving preferential treatment. In my view the religious clauses of our First Amendment say that one religion can NOT receive priority over the others.

I hear people screaming about taxes being too high.  The Republicans cut taxes for the rich.  Some of the rich have lots of money to fund things they like but many things are funded by the taxpayers.  Theoretically voters decide what those government funded things will be by casting their votes for various candidates. Does your vote reflect how you want the collective monies spent?

In Jacksonville, many of us want a half penny sales tax to repair and renovate the neighborhood school buildings. My guess is that is why we elected the current school board.  The buildings (in our view) should be a source of pride for our community.  BUT for some reason that I can’t figure out, the Mayor of Jacksonville wants part of that money to go to charter schools.  Why doesn’t he want to make every neighborhood school GREAT?   Charter schools already get some of the local and state tax dollars.  Since Trump and DeVos love charter schools, the charter schools are also getting federal tax dollars.  And since some rich philanthropists love charters, the charter schools are also getting philanthropic dollars.  Why does Mayor Curry think the charter schools also need part of the half penny sales tax that we want to spend on making the neighborhood schools beautiful?  If my memory is serving me,  90% of the kids go to neighborhood schools.  Later I will see if I can find the exact percentage for Jacksonville, Florida and the nation.

Our Mayor advocated for a half penny sales tax for the future to solve a current pension debacle. Quote from this article:

The pension-reform plan Curry shoehorned into law in his first term was the largest financial transaction in the city’s history, shifting billions of dollars in retirement debt decades into the future for a new generation to bear.

Previously Jacksonville passed a half penny sales tax to make the government buildings beautiful or at least that’s how I interpret this quote from the same article:

The Better Jacksonville Plan — the last time a half-cent sales tax was used for a major public building campaign

Curry advocated and got the city council to spend $15 million dollars of taxpayer money on The Landing rather than putting the thing up for a bid by private buyers.  And there is Lot J.  How much of our taxpayer dollars are going to be given as “incentives” or as some say “corporate welfare”?  Quote from article:

Khan and Iguana Investments will seek city incentives ..

I don’t have the answer to the question:  Do we really want our tax money spent on corporate welfare?   Does anyone still believe in the trickle down theory of economics?

I’m not sure how much of my tax money I want spent on historical and art museums much less corporate welfare.   I’m NOT a libertarian because I think pooling our money to do good work is what the government should do.   What worries me is WHO gets to decide?  How much are elected officials swayed by the will of the majority versus a minority of rich and powerful people?

Now after the Bladensburg Supreme Court ruling, I am worried about taxpayer money being used to buy and maintain religious institutions that the congregations no longer want to support.  Quote from this WP article about the cathedrals in France:

According to a Ministry of Culture survey from the 1980s, there are about 32,000 churches, 6,000 chapels and 87 cathedrals in France. All those built before 1905 are publicly owned.  There’s also the question of how enthusiastic the public is for the government to spend massive amounts of money on a cathedral.

If the NONES and others don’t want the government to spend money on religious institutions, then they better start voting. No one has a problem with crosses on private (including religious institutions) property. We just don’t want our taxpayer money used to buy them and keep them restored. Correct? Or do you think the religious symbols should be lumped together with other historical relics?

The reason I mentioned the WaPo article and Notre Dame is because Alito mentioned it in his opinion where he endorsed taxpayer money being used to maintain and restore a Christian Cross on government land. Quote from Alito’s opinion:

With sufficient time, religiously expressive monuments,community’s landscape and identity. The community may come to value them without necessarily embracing their religious roots. The recent tragic fire at Notre Dame in Paris provides a striking example. Although the French Republic rigorously enforces a secular public square,cathedral remains a symbol of national importance to the religious and nonreligious alike. Notre Dame is fundamentally a place of worship and retains great religious importance, but its meaning has broadened. For many, it is inextricably linked with the very idea of Paris and France. Speaking to the nation shortly after the fire,President Macron said that Notre Dame “‘is our history, our literature, our imagination. The place where we survived epidemics, wars, liberation. It has been the epicenter of our lives.’

The FFRF doesn’t explain why they think they’ll prevail in the case in Pensacola, Florida in this article. Is it because the cross in Florida is only 50 years old whereas the Bladensburg Cross in Maryland is 100 years old?  Quote from FFRF article: “The Bladensburg cross decision does not impact the decades of Supreme Court precedent holding government action motivated by a religious purpose unconstitutional.”  Or is their position that a cross for historical purposes is different than a cross for religious purposes?  I look forward to hearing how the FFRF and AHA are going to argue their case after the Bladensburg Cross ruling.

Does something built in 1969 have historical significance to such an extent that it can override long standing precedent? We’re only asking that the religious symbols not be on government land, i.e. they should be on private land. And private NOT government money should be used to keep them restored. It feels that Dominionists Christians are going after taxpayer money because people are no longer funding the churches. Why can’t a church take the cross? Why did they put the cross on government property? Why didn’t they put it on a church’s property? This is an odd quote from Alito’s opinion:
Fourth, when time’s passage imbues a religiously expressive monument, symbol, or practice with this kind of familiarity and historical significance, removing it may no longer appear neutral, especially to the local community for which it has taken on particular meaning. A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion. Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past, ….

Part of me wonders if it will be to our detriment to scare the Christians by asking that 50 year old crosses be taken down. It’s quite the dilemma.

The slippery slope isn’t always a logical fallacy. IF we don’t complain about the cross on public land, then people will want to build more because we didn’t complain? The Supreme Court actually used the argument that since it took us 50 years to complain, they are going to rule that we need to just leave it there. Is there any chance that the minority felt too intimated to complain up until now?

Here is another example of the slippery slope. Once we moved away from neighborhood schools with magnet schools, it seemed to open the door for charters and vouchers. And once we started giving taxpayer money to charters and vouchers, how could we exclude the churches? Now Florida taxpayers are funding religious schools directly with their tax dollars. Is that really want they want to be doing?

This is a great podcast. From the show notes:
This is a story that Robert Jones, the head of the Public Religion Research Institute, tells in his book The End of White Christian America. Much of Donald Trump’s support is driven by a sense of religious loss, not just racial or national loss. Many of the debates playing out on the American right — particularly the Sohrab Ahmari-David French fight — reflect the belief that these are end times for a certain strain of American Christians, unless emergency measures are undertaken.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/vox/the-ezra-klein-show/e/62281274