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First Coast Connect

9/26/2017: Local Reaction To Puerto Rico; Steve Zona; Banned Books Week; Mindfullness Conference

Tuesday on “First Coast Connect” we spoke with WJCT’s Corporate Secretary Carlos Semidei and local resident Elisha Sosa. Both have relatives and friends in Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria (01:02).

Local Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona joined us to talk about his call for the resignation of two city council members after they had an altercation with police (11:11).       

We heard about this being Banned Book Week in America with First Coast Connect Book Club leader Stacey Goldring and KeliLikins, who is the regional manager of the Jacksonville Public Library (30:33).

Kelly Mannel with Jacksonville’s Image Partners discussed a national conference coming to Jacksonville focusing on mindfulness (42:44).  

Local Reaction To Puerto Rico

Millions there are without power, food and safe drinking water after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump has come under firefor failing to focus more attention on the plight of Puerto Rico and the nearby Virgin Islands over the weekend, instead choosing to tweet over a dozen times about the National Football League. The crisis was also largely absent from the 24-hour news networks, where Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida received wall-to-wall coverage. Puerto Rico, which is poorer than all 50 states, has an unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent, and is still reeling from a financial crisis of historic proportions in which it declared a form of bankruptcy earlier this year. Florida along with New York has the highest percentage of Puerto Rican residents.

President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday to survey damage caused by Hurricane Maria. The president said Tuesday is the earliest he can visit without disrupting recovery and relief operations.

Steve Zona

Zona is in the headlines this week. He’s askedtwo City Council members to apologize or resignover altercations they’ve had with police. Zona has also tweeted that he thinks police should stop escorting NFL players to games. This, in the wake of many players “taking a knee” during the national anthem to protest the police killings of unarmed black men.  On Friday, our News4Jax partner obtained a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office body camera video showing the moment officers pulled over City Councilman Reggie Gaffney on suspicion of having a stolen license plate. Gaffney and Councilwoman Katrina Brown are now alleging the traffic stop was racial profiling, according to News4Jax. The video was not released by the JSO. It was recorded from a monitor and given to News4Jax by a source.

Banned Books Week

This week marksBanned Books Week in America.The annual event at the Jacksonville Public Library runs through Sept. 30. It points out the perils of censorship and emphasizes the freedom to read.

Among the groups sponsoring Banned Books Week is the American Library Association (ALA), which releases an annual list of the 10 most challenged books. They are works that have been targeted for removal from a library or school curriculum. The books on this year's ALA list were mostly written for children or young adults, such as “Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier, which includes transgender characters, and Mariko Tamaki's “This One Summer,” which some critics have said is offensive due to profane language and instances of drug use.

Mindfulness Conference

A national conference is coming to Jacksonville focused on the field of mindfulness.

This comes from theSociety of Emotional Intelligence. They present the impact of mindfulness and emotional intelligence on the healthcare industry, and your personal health.

It will be held Oct. 5th and 6th at the Epping Forest Yacht and Country Club.

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.