Politics

Teacher Merit Pay Fails in NYC Before Florida Schools Start Program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Local education advocates are calling on Governor Rick Scott to look to New York City after their teacher merit pay program was abandoned Monday.

"I applaud New York for doing what's fiscally responsible and realizing that political ideology shouldn't set the tone for what we put into practice," said Colleen Wood, Save Duval Schools Executive Director.

The program in New York City rewarded the entire school based on performance.

Here in Florida individual teachers would be rewarded.

Wood has rallied against teacher merit pay since it was first introduced in Florida, and she thinks the state should follow in New York's footsteps.

Redistricting Meeting in Jacksonville Gets Heated

Redistricting Meeting in Jacksonville Gets Heated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tempers flared at Monday's redistricting meetings in Jacksonville.

"People are trying to take politics out of it, and you can't," said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL).

The purpose of these meetings, 26 of them statewide, is for lawmakers to gather public input on the prickly issue of redrawing legislative and congressional districts.

"Everytime we do redistricting there is always lawsuits and litigation, but the important thing is that we have the opportunity to get it right," said Republican Rep. Will Weatherly.

By law, legislators can't draw the lines until January 2012, but as time marches on some are worried that there's not yet a plan for the new districts.

"On Election Day, people are going to stay home from the polls because they won't know what district they're in," said Duval County Democratic Party spokeswoman Billee Bussard.

How Redistricting May Affect You

How Redistricting May Affect You

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida lawmakers are required to redraw new boundaries every ten years to ensure that their is 'equal' representation for every voter.

This time the state is adding two congressional districts and that will translate into two additional electoral votes.

"This is the end game," said Stephen Baker. Baker is a political scientist at Jacksonville University.

"When it comes to districts, you can cut them up in all sort of ways," said Baker.

A Florida legislative committee began the process to solicit the public's input.

"The only criticism is they don't have a plan," said Baker.

The plan is to use the public's input from hearings around the state to develop a redistricting plan.

Max George, who describes himself as a blue collar worker, has often questioned why some of Florida's congressional districts have an unusual shape. But George said he was unaware of the hearings.

Governor Rick Scott's Robocalls Anger Constituents

Governor Rick Scott's Robocalls Anger Constituents

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We started hearing about the robocalls by Governor Rick Scott right after the budget passed in May.

Then a week later another call about wasteful spending, and the week after that the phone rang again.

 

 

 

 

 

"Hi, I'm Governor Rick Scott," the call begins.

For the past month, the calls have been coming to households all over the state, with Governor Scott touting his pre-recorded accomplishments.

"I'm calling to personally tell you about the state budget I signed," the call continues.

The Republican Party of Florida is funding the calls, which on average cost about two cents a piece. And while it won't disclose who the calls are targeting, a statement released says: "The party is committed to helping the Governor communicate his accomplishments directly to the voters of the state."

Over Resident Protests, New Landfill Approved for the Westside

Over Resident Protests, New Landfill Approved for the Westside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The traffic, the noise, the smell.

A lot of different reasons why Westside neighbors don't want a new landfill in their neighborhood. 

"I've lived there for 15 years. I don't want it. I don't know who in their right mind, just like I said in there, would want a landfill near their house," said Otis Road resident James Diamatta.

He was one of dozens of people in the neighborhood to speak out against the landfill, which he said will decrease his property value, and hurt the environment.

"Who wants to hear 60 dump trucks a day? On top of the traffic, on top of the fact I gotta work at night, it just don't add up," said Diamatta. 

The Council listened to more than an hour of public comment on the bill, which got heated a number of times.

Your Money: New Bill Would Change How Council Approves Large Projects

Your Money: New Bill Would Change How Council Approves Large Projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There may soon be more oversight when Jacksonville City Council spends your money on larger projects. The possible change comes after a First Coast News investigation.

In May, we told you about a new synthetic soccer field at Losco Regional Park in Mandarin that cost $660,000. Councilman Art Shad pioneered the project without the thought of saving money and without full council approval.

If Councilman Bill Bishop had a chance to vote on Shad's state-of-the-art soccer field, he said the outcome could have been much different.

"Probably would have voted no, considering that the cost of that project far exceeded anybody's understanding of any sort of rational payback.  So I probably would have voted no on that. You could buy a whole lot of sod for what that AstroTurf costs," Bishop said.

First Coast Republicans, Tea Partiers Weigh in on GOP Debate

First Coast Republicans, Tea Partiers Weigh in on GOP Debate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  As seven of the Republican candidates for President of the United States squared off in the New Hampshire debate, dozens of First Coast Republicans and Tea Partiers looked on.

"I haven't quite made my mind up yet. I want to see what else is out there. I wanna hear what's going on," said Chuck Berlinghoff, a member of the First Coast Tea Party.

He has been looking forward to the Republican presidental debates and waiting for a candidate to earn his vote.

"I know what we've got now is wrong, and I just don't trust a lot of the ones running," he said.

Berlinghoff said he's been disappointed in his party's candidates lately, both nationally and here in Jacksonville.

"I don't think we had really good choices for the mayoral run we had here," he said.

So who would he be happy with?