RNC Night 1; Local Mail Carrier; Former Jail Nurse Ellen Murray, Pastry Chef Rebecca Reed

Aug 25, 2020

Monday night, the Republican National Convention kicked off in Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C. The convention, previously scheduled to take place in Jacksonville, is set to feature several speakers from the Sunshine State.



We spoke to Jacksonville University Dean of Liberal Arts Matt Corrigan, who noted that Florida would be a big focus of the convention. President Donald Trump has not led in a Florida poll since March, when COVID-19 was first recorded in Florida.


Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who co-chairs Women for Trump!, is slated to speak on the second night of the convention. Notably missing from the lineup: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. No sitting Republican U.S. senators are set to speak either, except for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who might talk on Thursday.


Corrigan is skeptical about the virtual format.


“I’m not sure how impactful they will be…Fox News did not cover gavel to gavel, they broke in and out,” he said of the Monday night coverage. 


Corrigan told us that mail-in voting is one of the most significant considerations of this election. Trump initially criticized mail-in voting as unsafe. He is now encouraging it. Typically, more Republicans vote by mail, but this year, Democrats are mailing in their ballots in larger numbers.


“The messaging on that is a mess. Republicans need mail-in voting,” said Corrigan.


RELATED: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage


Local Mail Carrier Speaks Out


We spoke with a Jacksonville mail customer carrier associate about the state of the United States Postal Service. The carrier asked to remain anonymous because she’s not authorized to speak to the media.  


She said, despite her classification as a part-time employee, she typically works 40-50 hours a week.

“The week they cut overtime, I worked 70 hours,” she says.


Sorting machines have been removed or destroyed, which places a further strain on postal workers. 


Some excerpts from her interview: 


“It doesn’t change the amount of labor needed to complete a job, just because you want to cut costs…We have 15 minutes to organize mail and get it to the truck when we used to have an hour, an hour and a half.”


“A lot of people know when their important mail comes…I get questions about when Social Security checks will arrive.” 


“They underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete the job…We don’t have anybody to cover. We need more people.”


Former Jail Nurse Ellen Murray


COVID numbers are on the rise in Florida prisons, where social distancing is difficult and hard to enforce. Ellen Murray spent about 17 years working in jails as a nurse and oversaw tuberculosis programs for all correctional facilities in Florida. Murray said that not all prisons and jails are following social distancing guidelines and providing inmates with masks.


“It’s going to spread because [prisons are] congregant settings,” she said noting that many people do not consider prisoners at risk.


“If you haven’t seen it, you don’t always remember that it’s there,” said Murray.


Some groups call for compassionate release for at-risk inmates, including the elderly, immunocompromised and nonviolent offenders.


“I’m actually right on the fence with that. Because I see so many of these same people out in the community having the same issues, with people not wearing masks…You’re probably safer in the facility if the facility is doing all the right things,” Murray said.


Pastry Chef Rebecca Reed


Pastry Chef Rebecca Reed will appear on the Food Network’s Chopped Sweets Tuesday night. Reed is the pastry chef at Jacksonville’s Restaurant Orsay, Black Sheep Restaurant and Bellwether.


Reed joined us to talk about the audition process and what we can expect from the Food Network show.


“I filled out a general application. Then they give you a call for a phone interview, then another, then a video interview, then photos, then video application, then they cast me. We filmed in New York,”  Reed said.


She couldn’t tell us what the mystery ingredient in the food competition was but said, “They do not hold anything back.”


Katherine Hobbs can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.