First Coast Connect

Weekdays 9:00 a.m.

Hosted by Melissa Ross, this one-hour call-in program features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, arts, activities and more, along with spot news features and a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

First Coast Connect will not be broadcast Friday, July 3, in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. Please tune in to 89.9 FM for an extra hour NPR's Morning Edition in its place.

Coming up on Monday's show:

  • Cultural Fusion's "Voices of the River”
  • Women’s Center of Jax “Women, Words and Wisdom” Speaker Series
  • Former NASA Astronaut and Jacksonville resident Dr. Norm Thagard
  • Sports with Cole Pepper

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First Coast Connect is sponsored in part by Baptist Health and North Florida TPO.

Education coverage is sponsored in part by the Chartrand Foundation.

Legal and political coverage is sponsored in part by Farah & Farah Law Firm.

  We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist; and WJCT business analyst John Burr.

Topics this week include new Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams, the results of the Jacksonville Office of General Counsel's study on LGBT discrimination in the city and more.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday blocked Obama administration rules aimed at limiting the hazardous air pollutants like mercury that emanate from the nation’s power plants, though the ruling’s effect on Jacksonville’s electric utility, JEA, appears to be limited.  At the same time, there are updates to efforts on a solar ballot initiative here in Florida, with four utilities and Florida’s attorney general working to block what they say is a potentially misleading measure. The group behind the initiative, Floridians for Solar Choice, filed legal briefs this week supporting the ballot measure, which it argues will remove barriers limiting ownership models of solar generation. We discuss this latest news affects energy here in Florida with Jay Worley, director of environmental programs at JEA, and Stephen Smith, Executive Director of Souther Alliance for Clean Energy and founding member of Floridians for Solar Choice coalition.


Teaction continues to pour in after the Supreme Court on Friday declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right. However, religious conservatives decried the decisionm, calling it an example of judicial overreach. Jacksonville activists supporting the cause of marriage equality say their work on this issue is not yet done, as this remains one of only a few major cities in the United States that lacks discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. We discuss the ruling with Jacksonville attorney and activist Jimmy Midyette.


We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union columnist;  Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist; and David Chapman, Daily Record reporter.

Topics include local items in the state's budget vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the Confederate Flag and more.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal. Before the decision was handed down, we spoke with Florida Coastal School of Law professor Rod Sullivan about the possible impacts of the high court's ruling.


We speak with outgoing Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown about his term at City Hall. New mayor Lenny Curry takes office in July.


Amid growing criticism, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Monday called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol. This follows the massacre of nine African American members of an historic congregation in Charleston last week. The confessed gunman, Dylann Roof, used the Confederate symbol to represent his white supremacist philosophy.


As a new Jacksonville City Council prepares to convene for the first time this month, there is renewed controversy over the issue of sectarian prayer at Council meetings. Over the years, meetings have often, but not always, began with an invocation of Christian prayer. Activists have long held this violates the Constitution and have called for either a moment of silence or a more inclusive prayer tradition to recognize those of other faiths or no faith living in Duval County.

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; and Andrew Pantazi, Florida Times-Union reporter.

Topics include the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, pension reform and more.

We also preview several events taking place on the First Coast to welcome new citizens into the city in honor of World Refugee Day this week.

Police and federal law enforcement agencies were in the midst a manhunt this morning for the gunman they say is responsible for killing nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church Wednesday night in what police described as a hate crime. The suspect opened fire on a bible study group at the historic black Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun street, the oldest AME Church in the South, killing eight people. Two other people were rushed to the hospital where one died. This tragedy once again puts race issues in the national spotlight. We speak with Dr.

Opposition is growing around the state after the Jacksonville City Council last week passed a moratorium designed to block any operation connected to the low potency strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. Florida families who have children with cancer and epilepsy are advocating the legalization of low-THC marijuana to treat their kids. The Florida Department of Health began accepting applications for low-THC cultivation businesses last week. There will be only five licenses approved, one for each of five different geographic locations in the state.

At a rally on the Miami Dade College campus Monday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush formally declared his 2016 presidential bid. We discuss his campaign, political record and his position in the Republican party with Matt Corrigan, UNF professor of political science and author of "Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida."

The Downtown Investment Authority is asking for community input at a public meeting this week on what should be done to redevelop the Jacksonville Landing in downtown. We discuss what could be in store for the Landing, and issues facing downtown in general, with Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor, and Doris Goldstein, Downtown Investment Authority board member.

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Larry Hannan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist; and WJCT analyst John Burr.

Topics include the pension reform deal passed by the Jacksonville City Council this week, Jaguars owner Shad Khan's Stache Investments group starting foreclosure proceedings against the developers of the historic Laura Street Trio, and more.

Decisions are expected later this month from the U.S. Supreme Court on two of the highest-profile cases the court has had in years: Obergefell v. Hodges, on requiring all states to permit same-sex marriages; and King v. Burwell, on whether to uphold or invalidate a provision of the Affordable Care Act. We discuss the cases and their possible impacts with Greg Pingree, professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, and Nicholas Seabrook, professor of political science at UNF.

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