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Three Big Things
 you need to know
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2
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Mayor Curry's pension reform plan unanimously approved by City Council

Mayor Curry's pension reform plan unanimously approved by City Council

It's been a long road, but the Jacksonville City Council has unanimously voted to pass Mayor Lenny Curry's pension reform plan.   The bills include using a half-cent sales tax approved by voters back in the 2016 election to help pay down the $2.8 billion dollar pension debt.   But just moments after the plan was passed, some on the council were already talking about tweaks.   Councilman Danny Becton announced he's working on a bill that would make extra payments toward paying down the debt, comparing it to a 30-year mortgage.   'After a number of years, as your income grows, maybe you've gotten some promotions, that mortgage you took out many years ago, isn't as bad as it seemed that first day. Your like, 'Oh, I can pay more', and your accountant tells you that you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting a little bit more and making this a 15-year mortgage,' explains Becton.   Mayor Curry is set to sign the pension reform bills Tuesday, April 25, outside City Hall. He'll be joined by members of City Council, Sheriff Williams, union leaders, and business representatives.

Case publicity is early focus in jury selection for Corrine Brown fraud case 

Case publicity is early focus in jury selection for Corrine Brown fraud case 

When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done when everything wraps up Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, but not providing much additional detail initially. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually because Klindt specifically said he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror has to say will not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”. The remaining 24, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning today will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from today. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.

Man arrested for allegedly fatally stabbing pregnant girlfriend, more charges pending

Man arrested for allegedly fatally stabbing pregnant girlfriend, more charges pending

A Jacksonville man is charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend, which also resulted in the loss of the unborn child.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested 38-year-old Armanuel Cummings after they said he stabbed 29-year-old D’Anna Thorn to death.  Police responded to the home on W. 21st Street Saturday evening.  According to JSO, Cummings kicked Thorn out of the house after an argument.  JSO said Thorn was attempting to climb back into the home through a window when Cummings stabbed her repeatedly.  Thorn was transported to the hospital where she and the unborn child passed away.  Cummings was charged with murder. Police said they continue to investigate and more charges could follow pending the completion of an autopsy.

Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
It's been a long road, but the Jacksonville City Council has unanimously voted to pass Mayor Lenny Curry's pension reform plan.   The bills include using a half-cent sales tax approved by voters back in the 2016 election to help pay down the $2.8 billion dollar pension debt.   But just moments after the plan was passed, some on the council were already talking about tweaks.   Councilman Danny Becton announced he's working on a bill that would make extra payments toward paying down the debt, comparing it to a 30-year mortgage.   'After a number of years, as your income grows, maybe you've gotten some promotions, that mortgage you took out many years ago, isn't as bad as it seemed that first day. Your like, 'Oh, I can pay more', and your accountant tells you that you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting a little bit more and making this a 15-year mortgage,' explains Becton.   Mayor Curry is set to sign the pension reform bills Tuesday, April 25, outside City Hall. He'll be joined by members of City Council, Sheriff Williams, union leaders, and business representatives.
When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done when everything wraps up Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, but not providing much additional detail initially. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually because Klindt specifically said he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror has to say will not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”. The remaining 24, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning today will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from today. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
A Jacksonville man is charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend, which also resulted in the loss of the unborn child.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested 38-year-old Armanuel Cummings after they said he stabbed 29-year-old D’Anna Thorn to death.  Police responded to the home on W. 21st Street Saturday evening.  According to JSO, Cummings kicked Thorn out of the house after an argument.  JSO said Thorn was attempting to climb back into the home through a window when Cummings stabbed her repeatedly.  Thorn was transported to the hospital where she and the unborn child passed away.  Cummings was charged with murder. Police said they continue to investigate and more charges could follow pending the completion of an autopsy.
Five people, including several juveniles, were arrested after a fight in the Orange Park Mall, the Clay County Sheriff's Office said. The fight was captured on video that has circulated on social media since Saturday. Clay County officials said about 30 juveniles were involved in the fight. A 20-year-old was arrested for resisting an officer without violence and trespassing after warning. A juvenile female was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and trespassing without warning, the sheriff's office reported. Three other juveniles were arrested and released to parents. They were charged with trespassing after warning and resisting an officer without violence, the sheriff's office said. The Orange Park Mall said it is working closely with law enforcement officials after the video surfaced on social media. The video, which has been shared on Facebook over 5,000 times, shows a group of girls striking a person who was lying on a couch. The fight happened in front a rue21 clothing store. A representative from the mall said the safety of shoppers, retailers and employees is its top priority. The mall is working with the Clay County Sheriff's Office while the department investigates the incident.
Firefighters have contained a large wildfire at 80 percent Saturday in a Southside Jacksonville neighborhood, the Florida Forest Service said. The wildfire burned 14 acres in the area of Atlantic Boulevard and Leon Road, said area fire supervisor for Duval County Victor Taylor. No homes have been damaged but up to fifteen homes were threatened by the fire. Five bulldozers were dispatched, the Florida Forest Service said. A Florida Forest Service helicopter poured 11 buckets of water on top of the fire. All lanes of Anniston Road between Atlantic Boulevard and Fraser Road were closed due to the wildfire, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. The lanes are now reopened. Jacksonville fire rescue said eight engines, five tankers, three brush tanks, three chiefs and one rescue chief were at the scene
Twelve jurors will decide the future of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown- and they’ll be selected from a group of 65 in a two-day process starting Monday.  Last July, Brown and her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons were indicted in a federal fraud case centered on the group “One Door For Education”- which prosecutors say Brown and others represented as a non-profit to solicit donations, but used the more than $800,000 they collected for personal expenses instead. Prosecutors say the trio used Brown’s position as a Congresswoman to promote the group and solicit donations, without One Door having ever been registered as a charity.  Simmons and third alleged co-conspirator, Carla Wiley, have previously pleaded guilty. Brown faces a total of 22 charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and more. The jury must reach a unanimous decision in order to convict.  WOKV will be in the federal courthouse through the proceedings, which start Monday for two days of jury selection. The trial is slated to start Wednesday and expected to last two weeks.  Court records show the 65 people who have been summoned as prospective jurors have already been initially screened by the court for hardship. They have been randomly numbered, and that randomized list of names- and the corresponding juror number- has already been distributed to the attorneys for both sides.  Jury selection will begin with the judge outlining the nature of the case and questioning the prospective jurors. That process can include questions which have been submitted by the attorneys, at the judge’s discretion.  Federal court records show the US Attorney’s Office has submitted proposed instructions and questions for jury selection. The instructions include reinforcing that their decision should be based on evidence alone and not sympathy or prejudice for the defendant, explaining the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and not all possible doubt, how to consider the credibility of a witness, and the meaning of the various charges. The questions include whether the prospective jurors know anyone involved, have any issue with the nature of the charges, have ever been involved in legal proceedings in any capacity, have any impression of the federal government, have any bias against plea agreements, have any political views that could influence the verdict, and more.  After questioning, the panel will be excused while attorneys first raise any challenges “for cause”, and then issue “peremptory” strikes, which don’t have to have a cause. The defense has ten peremptory strikes, while the US Attorney’s Office has six, according to the court records.  Ultimately, twelve jurors will be seated through this process, which works down the list based on the randomly assigned juror numbers. The next two jurors on the list who weren’t seated on the panel will be slated as the alternates- with each side getting one peremptory challenge to exercise on the alternates.  WOKV will have comprehensive coverage through jury selection and the trial proceedings. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
State Department promotion of Mar-a-Lago questioned by Senator

The State Department is using official web pages and social media to publicize the history of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida, prompting one Democratic Senator to publicly ask why taxpayer money is being used to promote a private club run by Mr. Trump.

“Here’s the full post in its kleptocratic glory,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote on Twitter, as he said he would like to know more about why Mar-a-Lago is getting publicity from the U.S. Government on Facebook, the website of the U.S. Embassy in London, and more.

“Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House,” is the title of the article, [More]

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