podcast

As politicians and pastors speak out about violent crime in Jacksonville, mourners laid to rest the 13th homicide victim of the year Saturday.

22-month-old Aiden Michael McClendon was shot by a stray bullet January 29 as he sat inside a parked car. Police are investigating the possibly gang-related shooting.

Jacksonville has been Florida’s murder capital on and off for more than a decade now. As Mayor Lenny Curry works to reinvigorate the Jacksonville Journey anti-crime initiative, we examine the city's murder rate and root causes of crime in Jacksonville. Dr. Michael Hallet, professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of North Florida, joins us.


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.


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.


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.


Fourth Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk is seeking a third term.

Shirk has confirmed that he will run for re-election, and says he's trying to move past controversy that has dogged his time in office.

That includes a scathing grand jury report that recommended he resign after allegations he sent sexually suggestive text messages to employees, deleted public records and spent campaign funds on behalf of a family member.

He join us to discuss these and other issues.

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