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 Friday's show:

  • Media Roundtable Week in Review
  • 2016 Environmental Protection Board Water Education Festival
  • Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Production of "Radio Golf" at the Ritz Theatre
  • Jacksonville Dance Theatre's "Duets for Valentine's Day"

 

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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.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced in a memo last week that he is changing city employment policy to prohibit discrimination of any kind.

Curry also said that he does not support any further anti-discrimination legislation, including the two competing human rights ordinance bills currently before the Jacksonville City Council. 

One of them, sponsored by Councilman Tommy Hazouri, would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment or public areas based sexual orientation, gender identity or expression by amending the city’s existing HRO.

The other bill before the Council, introduced by Councilman Bill Gulliford would let voters decide on those protections instead of the Council.

In Florida more than a dozen cities have adopted a human rights ordinance that includes non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. However, Jacksonville remains the largest American city that has yet to do so.

We discuss the latest the two bills before City Council with Florida Politics writer A.G. Gancarski, who has been following the story.


Ted Cruz upset Donald Trump in last night’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses in a surprise victory.

On the Democrats’ side, Hillary Clinton wins a narrow victory over Bernie Sanders. Now the 2016 nomination fight is on to New Hampshire.

Political junkies here in the US are following the election closely, of course, but what you may not know is that the 2016 presidential election will be the biggest betting event of all-time.

Paul Krishnamurty, chief analyst for the world’s leading betting exchange, Betfair.com, and blogger at PoliticalGambler.com, has been successfully predicting elections since the turn of the century. In 2008, he backed both Barack Obama to become President and John McCain for the Republican nomination.

Krishnamurty early on called Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination, and has placed bets on Hillary Clinton as the slight favorite to win the presidency.

Paul Krishnamurty joins us to discuss how he thinks the 2016 election will play out following the Iowa caucus.


The local activist group Families of Slain Children held a conference Monday about the ongoing issue of gun violence in Jacksonville following the shooting death of a 22-month-old boy on the city's Eastside.

There’s a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest in the murder of Aiden Michael McClendon.

We speak with Families of Slain Children founder and CEO Beverly McClain.


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

Topics include the CBS News investigation into the Wounded Warrior Project's spending, a new proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in the state, and more.


A new book by a local author and professor looks at the understudied issue of colorism and its impact on young black women.

Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder's "Color Stories: Black Women and Colorism in the 21st Century" examines discrimination within the African-American community based on skin tone. Wilder is an associate professor of sociology and director of the new Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations at the University of North Florida.

We speak with Wilder about the history of colorism and its contemporary significance.


The Jacksonville City Council heard three hours of public comment Tuesday night on whether to update the city's human rights ordinance to cover LGBT citizens from discrimination.

City Councilmen Bill Gulliford and Tommy Hazouri are both sponsoring bills that could expand the city’s human rights ordinance to protect people in the areas of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The Council is expected to start deliberation on the bills soon.

We discuss the latest on Jacksonville's HRO with WJCT reporter Lindsey Kilbride.


This week, NPR is partnering with WJCT and other member stations to take a close look at the state of mind of American voters heading into the 2016 election.

From growing economic uncertainty, to fears of terrorism, to worries about our identity as a nation, the mood of the voters this year is anxious, frightened and angry.

We discuss the electorate's state of mind with John Delaney, University of North Florida president and former Jacksonville mayor; Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union columnist; Matt Corrigan, UNF professor of political science; and A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics reporter.


Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign a water policy bill Thursday, despite veto pleas from some environmentalists and former governor Bob Graham.

SB 552 is a priority of Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and was one of the first bills the Legislature passed this session. It changes water policy across Florida, from springs to water supply.

In addition to Graham, a coalition of 106 environmental and civic groups delivered a letter to the Legislature asking for significant changes to the bill. One of the groups opposing the measure is the Jacksonville-based St. Johns Riverkeeper.

We speak with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman about the bill and her group's efforts to raise awareness about the river.


The results of a new poll released this week by the Florida Times-Union show Donald Trump and Ted Cruz leading the field of Republican presidential candidates among likely voters in Florida.

Trump is the choice of 31 percent of GOP primary voters in the state, a 12-point lead over Ted Cruz’s 19 percent support.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio are essentially tied for third place, with 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

We discuss the state of the presidential race with Matt Towery, founder of InsiderAdvantage, which conducted the poll.

Also joining us are Mike Binder, assistant professor of political science and public affairs at UNF, and Stephen Baker, professor of political science at Jacksonville University.


A raft of death penalty cases across the state of Florida are in limbo after a ruling last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court struck down Florida’s death penalty sentencing system, declaring that it violates defendants’ Sixth Amendment Rights to trial by jury. This means delays for the outcome of many cases, including several here in our area.

About 400 people currently sit on Florida’s Death Row, including the man charged with murdering Jacksonville resident Shelby Farah. Two years ago, defendant James Xavier Rhodes offered to plead guilty to the murder in exchange for life in prison without possibility of parole. Shelby’s mother, Darlene Farah, has urged the State Attorney’s Office to take the plea. However, State Attorney Angela Corey still intends to pursue the death penalty for Rhodes.

We discuss the latest in the case with Darlene Farah, and attorney and former prosecutor Dale Carson, co-counsel on the civil suit for the Farah family.

We also look at how the Supreme Court ruling affects the Florida death penalty as a whole with Ben Jones, campaign strategist for the criminal justice reform organization Equal Justice USA.


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

Topics include the latest on Jacksonville's human rights ordinance, the start of the state legislative session, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Florida's death penalty.


One of the premier facilities in America treating veterans and NFL players for traumatic brain injury and PTSD has chosen Jacksonville as its location for expansion into the Southeast.

One of the premier facilities in America treating veterans and NFL players for traumatic brain injury and other issues has chosen Jacksonville as its location for expansion into the Southeast.

The renowned Eisenhower Center, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, settled on North Florida because of this area’s international recognition as a destination for medical excellence with unparalleled resources to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans, athletes, first responders, and any citizen with brain injury to PTSD.

And Eisenhower has chosen a beloved former NFL player to serve as the public face of this expansion, former Jaguars quarterback and current Episcopal School of Jacksonville football coach Mark Brunell. He'll provide national, regional and local outreach for the initiative, and represent the NFL Players' Association.

Brunell and John Cornack, CEO of the Eisenhower Center, join us with more.


Lane closures on I-95 northbound through downtown caused major backups earlier this week as work continued on the massive Overland Bridge project.

We discuss the state of that project, as well as the future of toll roads in Northeast Florida, with two of the lead engineers: Kim Holland of RS&H, lead designer on the Overland Bridge project; and Carrie Stanbridge, construction engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation.


It’s a form of modern-day slavery and one of the fastest growing crimes worldwide.

Federal and state authorities are stepping up their efforts to fight human trafficking of all types, whether it's minors forced into the sex trade or workers coerced into unpaid labor.

Florida is an epicenter for trafficking.

As the nation marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we speak with Amanda Rolfe, President, and Prudence Williams, Executive Director, of the Exchange Club Family Center of Northeast Florida about what’s being done here on the First Coast to raise awareness and bring traffickers to justice. 


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