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First Coast Connect

12/22/2016: Year In Review Media Roundtable; Soda Tax

Thursday on “First Coast Connect,” it was our final episode of 2016 with the annual year in review Media Roundtable with guest host Ryan Benk. Our panel included A.G. Gancarski from Florida Politics, Dan Scanlan from the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Business Journal editor Timothy Gibbons, Folio Weekly editor Claire Goforth and WJCT business analyst John Burr. We also spoke with Harvard School of Public Health researcher Steve Gortmaker about the financial incentives Jacksonville could receive by passing a tax on sugary drinks. 

Year in Review Media Roundtable

The panel discussed the major political shift in Jacksonville with the defeat of Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Public Defender Matt Shirk and State Attorney Angela Corey, and how having less seniority in Congress and the State House could affect the First Coast. The panel also talked about the jump in economic growth in the area, the hike in the murder rate and the expected return of the Human Right Ordinance amendment to cover gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents in Jacksonville.        

Soda Tax

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 2/3 of American adults are either overweight or obese.

That’s led some cities to take measures to curb unhealthy consumption, including the banning or taxing of large sugary drinks.

Opponents have been in an uproar over such decisions saying the matter comes down to punishing people for personal choices.

But Gortmaker said Jacksonville, which struggles with its own weight problems, could save close to $40 million in health care costs in just 10 years by applying a sugary drink tax. It could also raise millions of dollars that could be used for city services. In 2016 Philadelphia; Boulder, Colorado; San Francisco; Oakland, California; Albany, California; and Chicago all adopted a soda tax.

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.


Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.