Ryan Benk

REPORTER / HOST "Indie Endeavour"

Ryan Benk comes to WJCT from Tallahassee, where he worked as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU. Originally from Miami, he graduated with a bachelor's in English literature from Florida State University. During his time in Tallahassee, Ryan also worked as a policy and research analyst for legislative-research firm LobbyTools before returning to public radio at WJCT.

Ryan also edited fiction and poetry for Miami-Dade College's Miambiance magazine, and he produced a short film titled "The Writer."

When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida's natural beauty.

Ryan is also the host of "Indie Endeavor."

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

The health of Duval County’s residents has continued to decline over the past three years, while St. Johns County residents remain the healthiest in Florida — that’s according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.

Premature deaths resulting from opioid overdoses were one factor in Duval’s slide, researchers said. But changes to the survey’s methodology could also be to blame for the county’s poor showing.

Researchers combine data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the census to create the annual County Health Rankings and Roadmaps survey.


Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Legislature’s health budget chiefs are proposing deep cuts to the state’s largest spending priority: health care, including large decreases to hospital funding.

Jacksonville’s University of Florida Health could be one of the hardest hit because it treats a large number of low-income patients.

But the Senate’s budget leader is confident the cuts will be offset with the renewal of a federal program covering the costs of indigent health care.


Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons

A First Coast state senator wants to open the door for more theme park events sponsored by alcohol makers.


Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

At least six competing plans ranging from the most restrictive to the most permissive expansions of medical marijuana in Florida are working their way through the state Legislature. And the division is wearing down the patience of state residents, who overwhelmingly supported the measure.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Jacksonville is one step closer to temporarily halting certain kinds of block parties across the city.

City leaders from law enforcement, the parks department and City Council hashed out ways to reform the permitting process Wednesday.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, is under an ethics investigation for potentially profiting off a budget item he requested for a friend.

The $1 million request for a mental health project was tucked into the budget for Florida State University’s medical school — which is not subject to Governor Rick Scott’s veto pen.

Scott told reporters he’d like to have more oversight on similar spending requests going forward.


Department of Economic Opportunity

The head of Florida’s economic and workforce agency is pushing back against claims business subsidies don’t spur economic development.


JEA power plant
JEA

Jacksonville’s community-owned utility company is shutting down a large coal-fired power plant that’s served the area for 30 years.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A new commission convened Thursday to begin measuring how well the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is implementing task force recommendations from last year.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams asked the four taskforces to write a strategic plan.

Now, the Commission on Progress will study how well police are doing at increasing transparency, community engagement, training and resources.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

The nonprofit that manages downtown Jacksonville’s Hemming Park is getting another chance to prove it can handle the responsibility.

Mayor Lenny Curry originally planned for the city to take back control of the park after the Friends of Hemming Park misspent public funds. But Curry last week announced he’d extend Friends’ lease another six months.

Business owners around Hemming want city government to know the park’s condition directly affects their livelihoods.


torange.biz / Creative Commons

After battling for years over how to make healthcare more accessible and affordable, Florida lawmakers landed on a compromise. Instead of expanding Medicaid to cover more people, they decided during last year’s session to attack the cost of care directly, creating a database to make procedure pricing transparent.

Awake the State

Shortly after Governor Rick Scott finished his state of the state address to lawmakers in Tallahassee Tuesday, demonstrations were held in cities across Florida, including one in downtown Jacksonville’s Hemming Park.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A new University of North Florida poll could spell trouble for one potential Republican candidate next year.

But UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory Director Mike Binder is cautioning against reading too much into the data more than a year away from the 2018 midterm elections


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Everything from mandatory recess to testing schedules is up for debate during the state legislative session that begins next week.

Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, laid out their education agendas to members of Duval County’s Parent Teacher Association Tuesday.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Updated 2/28 3:06 p.m.

Jacksonville City Council members heard concerns Monday from Springfield residents about a proposed legal settlement between the city and two disability-rights nonprofits.

The settlement, in part, mandates the city approve a permit for an apartment complex for the disabled and chronically homeless,  at 139 Cottage Ave., or face a battle in court.


Pages