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.

Coming up on Monday's show:

  • OneJax "Civil Discourse" Forum on Gun Control
  • JASMYN Coming Out Breakfast
  • "To The Sea"
  • 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 speak with Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nat Ford about the future of the Skyway, updates for the First Coast Flyer rapid bus transit system, and other transportation issues affecting the First Coast.

Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti joins us to discuss the state's standardized tests. proposed changes to the school district's boundaries and more.

In 2012, the Jacksonville City Council failed to update the city’s human rights ordinance to include the First Coast's LGBT community. One of the sticking points was language referring to transgender residents. Some Council members reportedly didn’t want the ordinance to mention the words “gender identity or expression.”

In this week's issue of Folio Weekly, writer Clare Goforth follows the lives of several members of Jacksonville's transgender community. We speak with Goforth and two of the residents featured in the story: Jake Moore, UNF program coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center; and tattoo artist Synthia Roy.

The fatal shooting of at least seven people at an Oregon community college is now yet another example of a school shooting that both supporters and opponents of proposed campus carry legislation in Florida will point to when making their case. The Florida Legislature is currently considering measures that would allow people with concealed weapon permits to bring their firearms on public college and university campuses. We speak with supporters and opponents of the legislation: Eric Friday, lead attorney for the gun rights group Florida Carry; John White, president of the UNF chapter of United Faculty of Florida; and university student and former marine Adam Whitmer.

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; Larry Hannan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Matt Shaw, Folio Weekly editor; and WJCT analyst John Burr.

Topics this week include proposed legislation that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to bring their firearms on college campuses, how Duval County Schools fared in the first round of the Florida Standards Assessment tests, and more.

Big changes are planned for the 2016 One Spark crowdfunding festival. Organizers say the event will return to its roots by scaling back the number of days, adopting a tighter physical footprint in the city's urban core, and featuring less creators than previous years. We look at the future of One Spark with founder Elton Rivas and board chair Peter Rummell.

This week, Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI) will release the results of its "ReThink Aging" study into finding ways to maximize the quality of life for senior citizens on the First Coast. We discuss making this area an age-friendly region with Jeff Johnson, state director for AARP Florida. Johnson will be the keynote speaker at JCCI's annual meeting this week.

The results of a recent survey conducted by PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion point to a contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans. We discuss the state of race relations in America with Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, UNF associate professor of sociology and race expert.

According to a recent Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute poll of registered Republican likely voters in Florida, Donald Trump remains the frontrunner among the 2016 GOP presidential candidates while others, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, gain traction. We discuss the factors behind these results with Rick Mullaney, director of JU's Public Policy Institute.

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics writer; and Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly reporter.

Topics include the controversial remarks made by State Rep. Janet Adkins concerning Congresswoman Corrine Brown's district, tensions between Mayor Lenny Curry and the JEA Board of Directors, and more.

At-large City Councilman and former Jacksonville mayor Tommy Hazouri joins us for a wide ranging discussion on everything from the city budget, the debate over Jacksonville's human rights ordinance and more.

Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump are drawing criticism for recent comments they have made about Muslims. This comes after an incident in Texas when a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohammed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that teachers mistakenly thought might be a bomb. We discuss what some are calling anti-Muslim sentiment in this country with Dr. Parvez Ahmed, UNF professor and frequent commentator on the Muslim experience in America.

The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization presented plans for updating the Arlington Expressway Corridor to meet the community's changing demands. The group proposed turning the expressway into a bike and pedestrian friendly urban boulevard that could also one day feature a light rail system. We discuss this plan and other transportation issues with Jeff Sheffield, executive director of the North Florida TPO.

The  homicide case of Jacksonville's Shelby Farah has sparked a conversation about Florida's death penalty. We discuss the many issues surrounding capital punishment with Julie Delegal, who has been covering Farah's case for Folio Weekly, and Marc Hyden, National Coordinator with Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

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

Topics include the showdown between Mayor Lenny Curry and Planning Commission Chair-Elect Lisa King, the second Republican presidential debate, and the uncertain future of the Jacksonville Skyway people mover.