First Read: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014

WJCT, the Jacksonville gas tax, and MERS are in the headlines today.

Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida, and across the country. We'll also preview some of WJCT's upcoming news programming.

WJCT dedicates new Network Operations Center: WJCT CEO Michael Boylan was joined by partners from PBS stations across the country on Monday to officially open a new Network Operations Center in Jacksonville that will serve 30 million television households. (WJCT)

Speaker Weatherford expected to testify in redistricting trial: Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is expected to testify today during the second day of a trial looking at whether legislators broke the law when drawing up new political maps. (AP via WJCT)

Jax council committee to debate gas tax: The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss whether to extend the city's six cent gas tax for another 20 years at their regular meeting this morning at City Hall. (News4Jax)

Study on One Spark shows gap in money raised: A study released by a former FSCJ economics professor says the amount of money distributed at the 2014 One Spark Festival is only about a third of one percent of the total funding goals as posed by creators. (Jacksonville Business Journal)

Court filing blames feds for Mathews Bridge ship strike: A claim filed in naval court last month by the Florida Department of Transportation says the federal government made errors that led to a towed Navy cargo ship striking the Mathews Bridge last year and should pay for repairs. (Florida Times-Union)

Neptune Beach cursing ordinance dropped: Following controversy over it's proposal, Neptune Beach Mayor Harriet Pruette removed an ordinance that would have made it an offense for a person to use profanity or offensive language that could provoke violence from the Neptune Beach City Council meeting agenda Monday night. (First Coast News)

Florida MERS patient goes home: A man in Orlando who was the second in the nation diagnosed with MERS has recovered and has been discharged from the hospital as officials across the country test hundreds for the virus. (NBC News)

Gainesville VA staff suspended as second care list is discovered: The members of the supervisory staff at Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville have been placed on paid leave after an audit team found a list of patients needing follow-up appointments that was kept on paper instead of in the VA's electronic computer system. (CNN)

Married couple sues for tuition rights: Two Florida men, one a French ex-pat, who married in Massachusetts are suing Florida Atlantic University for denying in-state tuition rates based on the legal status of their marriage in Florida. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Jacksonville among most dangerous cities for pedestrians: A new report says Florida is the deadliest state for pedestrians, and Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater and Jacksonville are the most dangerous places in the country to walk. (Al Jazeera America)

State lawmaker says new state tests promote homosexuality: A video has been published online of Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant telling a crowd that the American Institutes for Research, which has been tapped to design the state's new standardized tests, are promoting an "LGBT agenda" and trying to make kids "as homosexual as the possibly can." (Bradenton Herald)

You can get all the latest headlines online at, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter @WJCTJax. You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter at @patrickhdonges.