Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics


Yep, that’s right.  It was party time earlier tonight.  And we all know how much Matt Shirk and Angela Corey enjoy a good party.  Wonder if Nelson Cuba was there to guard the door?  Oh, I guess he didn’t have to guard the door – this party was by invitation only.  Ohhhhh, rats!  And I missed it!

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. This evening, from 5-7 p.m. at the Ivy Ultra Bar in downtown Jacksonville, The Law Office of Duke Fagan is sponsoring a meet and greet for the lawyers on staff at both the State Attorney’s and the Public Defender’s office. And it’s OPEN BAR! WOOOOOO!

A press release reads:

“The new year has brought many changes. The Nation has a new President and the Fourth Judicial Circuit has a new State Attorney and a new Public Defender. Along with the executive changes in both offices there has been a consequent change in legal staff. There are new faces in old position and “old” faces in new positions. Thus, it is a good time to bring together both sides of the government funded criminal justice bar to meet the new faces and to renew relationships with the “old” faces.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida has always been known for professionalism and collegiality among the members of its bar. In furtherance of that spirit, The Law Office of Duke Fagan is sponsoring a social hour for the Public Defenders and the State Attorneys of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. An open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and live music will be provided.

This event is by invitation only … All lawyers employed in the Office of the State Attorney and in the Office of the Public  Defender for the Fourth Judicial Circuit have been invited. ”

I love how they put “old” in quotes in the first paragraph, like people might get confused and think they were talking about the elderly. And, really, considering what good friends Angela Corey and Matt Shirk are, we’re relatively sure the two offices will get along just fine sans cocktail hour. [FLOG]

Filed under: Florida, Jacksonville, , , ,

Sansom turns speaker duties over to Cretul

The good news:   Ray Sansom, beseiged by stinging criticism (not from Florida’s Republican legislators, though) and criminal and ethics investigations stepped down temporarily from his post as Speaker of the House for the Florida Legislature today – at least until the investigations are concluded.  The Speaker Pro Tem, Larry Cretul, will be assuming Sansom’s duties as Speaker of the House.

The bad news:  Sansom can resume his position as Speaker of the House at any time.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , ,

Ray “I’m clean” Sansom now hires criminal attorney

Despite his protestations about being clean, Ray Sansom has hired one of the best known criminal defense lawyers in Tallahassee and elsewhere – Peter Antonacci.  Antonacci will be defending Mr. Clean in possible state and federal investigations into the dealings of the Sansom, Bob Richburg and the trustees of NW Florida State College. 

Antonacci once worked for Meggs [the local State Attorney conducting the state investigation into Sansom], handling public corruption prosecutions. In recent years, he has become the go-to guy for Republicans in trouble.

In 2002, then-Gov. Jeb Bush called on Antonacci to represent his daughter, Noelle, on charges that she had forged a prescription for Xanax.

Antonacci is currently a senior lawyer in the Tallahassee office of Gray-Robinson, one of Florida’s best-known law firms. Antonacci, like Coates, was a lobbyist before the Florida Legislature in 2008. [St. Pete Times]

If you recall, Sansom has already hired Richard Coates (mentioned in the quote above) to represent him on the ethics complaint that has been lodged against him.  Btw, the Ethics Commission found the ethics complaint against Sansom legally sufficient on Friday.  Now a preliminary investigation into the ethics charges will occur.

Sansom has repeatedly issued blanket denials of any wrongdoing, but the St. Pete Times has called him out again in an editorial today saying the only thing convincing about Sansom’s denials is the underscoring of the need for criminal investigations into the matter. 

So if Sansom is Mr. Clean, I can’t help but wonder this:  Why does he need to hire two big gun attorneys to represent him?

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Community forum: police involved shootings

Tonight Sheriff Rutherford participated in WJCT’s community forum with other community leaders discussing the subject of police-involved shootings.  The sheriff cited the statistics behind police involved shootings and proffered a solution:  restrict criminals access to guns.  Prior to the forum, the sheriff had interviewed with CBS 47 and had these suggestions:

“Some of the points include making it tougher for crooks to get their hands on guns.
He says people should not leave guns in their cars and should properly store them at home. 
He also wants people to report stolen guns right away to cut down on traffickers
He also suggests doing background checks at gun shows and making sure gun buyers have purchasing permits.

Here’s a link to the report issued by Rutherford on JSO’s response to resistance and the rise in gun violence in Jacksonville.

Harry Shorstein, who also participated on the panel, was busy pointing out that the sheriff often ignored his criticisms and suggestion on handling officers involved in shootings.  And the sheriff responded by telling Harry he didn’t know what he was talking about.  Now that’s a productive conversation, isn’t it?

In the meantime panelist Nelson Cuba was busy winning friends and influencing Jacksonville’s citizens by sharply criticizing fellow panelist Isaiah Rumlin, the leader of the local NAACP.  Geez….hadn’t Nelson already offended enough of Jacksonville’s citizenry yesterday with his threats to sue the City, i.e., us taxpayers,  if we don’t fork over early retirement benefits and guaranteed cost of living raises to corrections officers and then calling City Council members dishonest today? 

Before the kettle goes to calling the pot black, Nelson might want to recall the Ethics Office and IG Office investigation  last spring (2008-4) into the Mayor’s Hispanic American Advisory Board during his term of leadership which found improper procedures pertaining to purchases (17 of them in total – of which 6 had memos from the Mayor’s Office warning them to follow the correct procedures, with an E-mail informing the Board of the correct procedures issued prior to the last 3) and a lack of board meeting minutes – sunshine law/open government violations.

If you missed the debate tonight, the broadcast will re-air 6:30 p.m. Sunday on TV-7. It will also be shown 8 p.m. Feb. 1 and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , ,

The SA and PD Road Tour

Oh, what a warm, fuzzy feeling I got this morning (not!) when I read in the TU that Angela Corey and her family had traveled by bus to the other circuits to be sworn in at each one of them by her good buddy, and former State Attorney, Judge Lance Day.  The word “smarmy” immediately came to my mind.

“It says this is all one community” said Judge Day.  

I’m sorry to break the bad news to his Honor, but no….that’s not what it says.  It takes more than a swearing in ceremony to make a community.  What it really says is the “queen” has started her reign over some grim-faced SAO employees, who have now had her swearing in ceremony crammed down their throats.   

But even over the waves of nausea emerged a worse feeling when I read in that same news article that the new Public Defender, Matt Shirk, had accompanied the new State Attorney on her road tour.  Shirk was sworn in later in the afternoon and then went to his FOP-sponsored soiree. 

What’s wrong with that picture?

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , ,

Are lawsuits forthcoming for Shirk and Corey?

We missed this National Law Journal article when it was originally published on December 5th, but thought it was worth re-posting here.  We note that according to the article some of the public defenders and state attorneys are seeking legal counsel to look into their termination by Matt Shirk and Angela Corey, respectively.   I am sure they can always talk to their union representatives at the State Employees Attorneys Guild (SEAG).  You know, after thinking on it, I guess it’s a good thing that Shirk’s new office manager person has all that human resources experience with the City of Jacksonville – it appears it may be needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Objectivity of the new State Attorney and Public Defender in question

In today’s TU, Ron Littlepage makes the argument for a civilian review board for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.  The argument basically goes police may be biased in reviewing their own, and the backup to that review is the State Attorney.  The next sentence in Littlepage’s column really popped out at me:

Next month, the state attorney will be Angela Corey, who owes her political life to the police union, raising questions about her objectivity.

Question:  Since Matt Shirk also owes his political life to the same police union, doesn’t that raise the same questions about his objectivity?

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , , , ,

FOP and “pretty boy Matt”

Proving once again that politics makes strange bedfellows –


And police officers would celebrate the election of a Public Defender why???

For those of you who haven’t picked up this week’s issue of Folio, you can read their piece on “pretty boy Matt” here.


*Hat tip to Tia Mitchell at the TU for posting the invite on her political blog.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , ,

Local freshman representative gets a Vice-Chair appointment in the House

Rep. Ray Sansom took a break from fending off bad press for his sweetheart deals on behalf of his new employer long enough to make his House committee appointments today.

Interesting, a freshman Representative has been named Vice-Chair of a committee.  That’s unusual.  What’s even more interesting is who the freshman representative and the committee of which he was made Vice-Chair.

The freshman Representative?  Mike Weinstein

The committee he was made Vice Chair of?  The Civil Justice and Courts Policy committee.   He’s also been named a member of the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy committee.  I find that interesting given that he will be working for the State Attorney’s Office here. 

Weinstein has been named to three other committees as well.  And I doubt all five committees meet on the same day during committee meeting weeks. 

So much for only needing to take off for two months without pay for the legislative session.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Grand jury investigation continues

The grand jury investigation continues into the City’s expenditure of $65 million dollars on the proposed Courthouse – with nothing to show for it.  Next on deck to testify: John Delaney, Adam Hollingsworth, and Alan Mosley.

I noticed that in today’s TU article, the City’s General Counsel, Rick Mullaney, couldn’t resist taking a back-handed dig at outgoing State Attorney Harry Shorstein.   I guess he couldn’t think of anything constructive to say since his office is being scrutinized in the ongoing investigation for their role in the City’s defective  courthouse contracts.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , ,

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