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Three Big Things
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Mike Pence’s top aid Nick Ayers won’t replace John Kelly as Trump’s Chief of Staff

Mike Pence’s top aid Nick Ayers won’t replace John Kelly as Trump’s Chief of Staff

Chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Nick Ayers, is headed back to Atlanta soon after he declined Sunday to take the job as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. >> Read more trending news  Ayers, 36, was long rumored to be Trump’s top choice to replace outgoing chief of staff John Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who the president said will leave the job by year’s end, but the two couldn’t agree on a time frame for the job, with Ayers unwilling to commit to the role deep into next year, according to an Ayers’ associate familiar with the talks. Ayers did not return messages seeking comment, but said in a Sunday tweet that he will be departing his job with the administration at the end of the year but will work with the Trump campaign “to advance the cause.” He ended the tweet with a Georgia hashtag. It’s not clear now who will take Kelly’s job as the top West Wing adviser as Trump prepares for his 2020 re-election bid at a precarious time. >> Related: John Kelly expected to resign as White House chief of staff, reports say  Whoever takes the job will have to contend with an intensifying probe into Russian election interference and emboldened Democrats who will take control of the U.S. House in January. Kelly’s successor will also have to grapple with a mercurial president loath to take counsel from his advisers. “Nick has three little kids and that chief of staff job is a nightmare - no matter who the president is,” said Alec Poitevint, a longtime Ayers confidant and influential Georgia GOP donor. It’s not immediately certain what Ayers will do next in Georgia, but he will have plenty of options. >> Related: Who is in President Trump's cabinet? He and his former boss, Sonny Perdue, were the driving forces behind Trump’s surprise endorsement of Brian Kemp, and Ayers helped organize Pence and Trump’s recent visits to Georgia. And he’s built a reputation as a wealthy and well-connected strategist after getting his start in Perdue’s 2002 campaign. He was still a student at Kennesaw State University then, where he went to school with dreams of being a banker, but got swept up in Perdue’s underdog bid to become the first Republican governor in Georgia since Reconstruction. “I had no interest in joining the campaign. I had my career planned out. I truly did not believe Governor Roy Barnes could be beat at the time, ” Ayers said at the time. “After 10 minutes of talking to Sonny, I was one hundred percent confident he was the right person to run this state.” >> Related: Who is Gen. John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff? He soon became the Republican’s right-hand man – part assistant, part adviser, part protégé – and got hooked on politics. He also became a part of the family: He married Perdue’s second-cousin, Jamie, in May 2005 and the couple are now raising 6-year-old triplets in metro Atlanta. Four years after his upset victory, Perdue tapped Ayers to serve as his campaign manager for re-election against Democrat Mark Taylor. Ayers went on to become the youngest-ever head of the Republican Governors Association during a period of rapid state-level expansion for the GOP. In that role, he and then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour helped transform the organization from a bit player to an influential political network. He later built a consulting business that successfully boosted Republican candidates and made him fabulously wealthy: His federal financial disclosure pegged his worth between $12 million and $54 million. But they also raised questions about how he amassed his fortune in a short period of time, including recent complaints of running afoul of ethics laws. >> Related: Trump to nominate William Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general  Trump’s rapid rise in the Republican world opened up new opportunities for Ayers. He became a top Pence counselor during the presidential campaign and, last year, briefly flirted with a run for Georgia governor. But he abruptly ruled out that bid moments before news broke that Pence offered him the chance to be his top staffer. Since arriving in Washington, Ayers won Trump’s admiration for insulating Mike Pence from the chaos that’s frequently engulfed the West Wing and cultivated the support of key Trump family members, including Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump. He’ll surely lean on those connections with national figures, as well as his ties to a universe of wealthy GOP donors, as he builds his next venture. >> Related: Who is William Pelham Barr: 5 things to know Brandon Phillips, a Georgia GOP consultant who was Trump’s state campaign chair, called him a “role model for political operatives who think nice guys can’t finish first.” “His future in Georgia and national politics is only limited by his imagination,” said Phillips.

More blood pressure medication recalled due to possible cancer risk

More blood pressure medication recalled due to possible cancer risk

Yet another blood pressure medication has been added to the list of recalled hypertension drugs.  >> On AJC.com: Blood pressure medication recalls: Everything you should know, Atlanta doctors, experts say Mylan Pharmaceuticals has voluntarily expanded its recall for its valsartan-containing products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced. The affected pills include valsartan, amlodipine/valsartan and valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide tablets and were distributed in the United States between March 2017 and November 2018. The FDA has listed additional information about the specifics, including doses, lot numbers and expiration dates, on its site. >> Read more trending news  According to the press release, the drugs contain traces of N-nitroso-diethylamine (NDEA). The impurity, typically found in certain foods, drinking water and air pollution, has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Mylan is notifying its distributors and customers by letter and is arranging for the return of all recalled products. It is also coordinating returns with retailers, wholesalers and consumers.  Patients on the medications are advised to continue taking the tablets and to contact their doctor for advice. The company said, “the risk of harm to a patient’s health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any comparable alternative treatment.” The agency recently recalled several other blood pressure medications due to cancer concerns, and another was recalled for mislabeling.  >> On AJC.com: Yet another blood pressure medication recalled over cancer risk Read the full FDA announcement at FDA.gov.

The removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown Jacksonville is now fully funded, and the Bay Street Innovation Corridor has gotten a big boost. The City of Jacksonville and federal representatives confirm the Hart Bridge ramp project- formally known as Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization and Complete Streets- is among those that are getting money from the US Department of Transportation. The City was seeking just under $12.5 million from the federal government to cover one third of the needed funding, and we’re told that request was fulfilled. The City has already committed $12.5 million and the State has matched that amount as well, for a total project cost of just under $37.5 million. Design on the project is already underway. Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes tells WOKV they anticipate construction to start in about 10 months or so, with completion of the project roughly 18 months after that- or around mid-2021. The project has been a goal of this Administration, as part of their larger Downtown development plans in partnership with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Khan says the project is an essential step in their push to revitalize the area- Khan is the master developer for the Shipyards site, and has a larger plan to bring new life to the Sports Complex overall.  GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards GALLERY: Jags propose $2.5 billion Sports Complex redevelopment Removing the ramps is seen as important from a development perspective because the ramps currently divert traffic over Bay Street and past the Sports Complex, therefore bringing traffic and customers past that area as well. The ramps also obstruct the view and connectivity from the Complex through to the St. Johns River.  WOKV did an in depth review of the grant application, which gave a more clear picture what Downtown could look like, after the ramp removal. The project includes more signals, widening Bay Street, some pedestrian improvements, and more. While the ramps over Bay Street would be taken down and the road brought down to street grade, the ramps would pick back up around A Philip Randolph and drop off where they do currently. Closures would be needed as part of the construction, but there are no details for that at this point. The City has also received $12.5 million for the Bay Street Innovation Corridor  from the US DOT. The Bay Street Innovation Corridor is expected to cost nearly $63 million, and JTA was seeking $25 million from the US DOT. It’s a three mile project that serves as the first phase of the Ultimate Urban Circulator Program, which will use the existing Skyway infrastructure, but with upgrades to feature autonomous vehicles and extensions that allow those to move seamlessly throughout the Circulator- essentially upgrading and expanding the Skyway services and routes. “We can take the Skyway- which is now limited to 2 ½miles-and expand it in to a ten mile autonomous vehicle system that connects with the communities in and around Downtown, that the current Skyway does not reach,” says JTA CEO Nat Ford. The Corridor- which will be the first phase of the Circulator- incorporate floor sensors, pedestrian sensors to help avoid collisions, autonomous vehicles, and other elements to enhance mobility and safety. While JTA didn’t get all of the funding they had hoped for, Ford tells WOKV he is confident they will be able to line up what is needed, including through private funding. He says this project can serve as a national model, so they will be able to leverage that to secure private investments. “On the cutting edge, in terms of transportation technology,” he says. He believes the Corridor will be complete in around three years, with the overall Circulator project expected to take about seven years.
The removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown Jacksonville is now fully funded, and the Bay Street Innovation Corridor has gotten a big boost. The City of Jacksonville and federal representatives confirm the Hart Bridge ramp project- formally known as Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization and Complete Streets- is among those that are getting money from the US Department of Transportation. The City was seeking just under $12.5 million from the federal government to cover one third of the needed funding, and we’re told that request was fulfilled. The City has already committed $12.5 million and the State has matched that amount as well, for a total project cost of just under $37.5 million. Design on the project is already underway. Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes tells WOKV they anticipate construction to start in about 10 months or so, with completion of the project roughly 18 months after that- or around mid-2021. The project has been a goal of this Administration, as part of their larger Downtown development plans in partnership with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Khan says the project is an essential step in their push to revitalize the area- Khan is the master developer for the Shipyards site, and has a larger plan to bring new life to the Sports Complex overall.  GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards GALLERY: Jags propose $2.5 billion Sports Complex redevelopment Removing the ramps is seen as important from a development perspective because the ramps currently divert traffic over Bay Street and past the Sports Complex, therefore bringing traffic and customers past that area as well. The ramps also obstruct the view and connectivity from the Complex through to the St. Johns River.  WOKV did an in depth review of the grant application, which gave a more clear picture what Downtown could look like, after the ramp removal. The project includes more signals, widening Bay Street, some pedestrian improvements, and more. While the ramps over Bay Street would be taken down and the road brought down to street grade, the ramps would pick back up around A Philip Randolph and drop off where they do currently. Closures would be needed as part of the construction, but there are no details for that at this point. The City has also received $12.5 million for the Bay Street Innovation Corridor  from the US DOT. The Bay Street Innovation Corridor is expected to cost nearly $63 million, and JTA was seeking $25 million from the US DOT. It’s a three mile project that serves as the first phase of the Ultimate Urban Circulator Program, which will use the existing Skyway infrastructure, but with upgrades to feature autonomous vehicles and extensions that allow those to move seamlessly throughout the Circulator- essentially upgrading and expanding the Skyway services and routes. “We can take the Skyway- which is now limited to 2 ½miles-and expand it in to a ten mile autonomous vehicle system that connects with the communities in and around Downtown, that the current Skyway does not reach,” says JTA CEO Nat Ford. The Corridor- which will be the first phase of the Circulator- incorporate floor sensors, pedestrian sensors to help avoid collisions, autonomous vehicles, and other elements to enhance mobility and safety. While JTA didn’t get all of the funding they had hoped for, Ford tells WOKV he is confident they will be able to line up what is needed, including through private funding. He says this project can serve as a national model, so they will be able to leverage that to secure private investments. “On the cutting edge, in terms of transportation technology,” he says. He believes the Corridor will be complete in around three years, with the overall Circulator project expected to take about seven years.
The removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown Jacksonville is now fully funded, and the Bay Street Innovation Corridor has gotten a big boost. The City of Jacksonville and federal representatives confirm the Hart Bridge ramp project- formally known as Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization and Complete Streets- is among those that are getting money from the US Department of Transportation. The City was seeking just under $12.5 million from the federal government to cover one third of the needed funding, and we’re told that request was fulfilled. The City has already committed $12.5 million and the State has matched that amount as well, for a total project cost of just under $37.5 million. Design on the project is already underway. Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes tells WOKV they anticipate construction to start in about 10 months or so, with completion of the project roughly 18 months after that- or around mid-2021. The project has been a goal of this Administration, as part of their larger Downtown development plans in partnership with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Khan says the project is an essential step in their push to revitalize the area- Khan is the master developer for the Shipyards site, and has a larger plan to bring new life to the Sports Complex overall.  GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards GALLERY: Jags propose $2.5 billion Sports Complex redevelopment Removing the ramps is seen as important from a development perspective because the ramps currently divert traffic over Bay Street and past the Sports Complex, therefore bringing traffic and customers past that area as well. The ramps also obstruct the view and connectivity from the Complex through to the St. Johns River.  WOKV did an in depth review of the grant application, which gave a more clear picture what Downtown could look like, after the ramp removal. The project includes more signals, widening Bay Street, some pedestrian improvements, and more. While the ramps over Bay Street would be taken down and the road brought down to street grade, the ramps would pick back up around A Philip Randolph and drop off where they do currently. Closures would be needed as part of the construction, but there are no details for that at this point. The City has also received $12.5 million for the Bay Street Innovation Corridor  from the US DOT. The Bay Street Innovation Corridor is expected to cost nearly $63 million, and JTA was seeking $25 million from the US DOT. It’s a three mile project that serves as the first phase of the Ultimate Urban Circulator Program, which will use the existing Skyway infrastructure, but with upgrades to feature autonomous vehicles and extensions that allow those to move seamlessly throughout the Circulator- essentially upgrading and expanding the Skyway services and routes. “We can take the Skyway- which is now limited to 2 ½miles-and expand it in to a ten mile autonomous vehicle system that connects with the communities in and around Downtown, that the current Skyway does not reach,” says JTA CEO Nat Ford. The Corridor- which will be the first phase of the Circulator- incorporate floor sensors, pedestrian sensors to help avoid collisions, autonomous vehicles, and other elements to enhance mobility and safety. While JTA didn’t get all of the funding they had hoped for, Ford tells WOKV he is confident they will be able to line up what is needed, including through private funding. He says this project can serve as a national model, so they will be able to leverage that to secure private investments. “On the cutting edge, in terms of transportation technology,” he says. He believes the Corridor will be complete in around three years, with the overall Circulator project expected to take about seven years.
The removal of the Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown Jacksonville is now fully funded, and the Bay Street Innovation Corridor has gotten a big boost. The City of Jacksonville and federal representatives confirm the Hart Bridge ramp project- formally known as Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization and Complete Streets- is among those that are getting money from the US Department of Transportation. The City was seeking just under $12.5 million from the federal government to cover one third of the needed funding, and we’re told that request was fulfilled. The City has already committed $12.5 million and the State has matched that amount as well, for a total project cost of just under $37.5 million. Design on the project is already underway. Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes tells WOKV they anticipate construction to start in about 10 months or so, with completion of the project roughly 18 months after that- or around mid-2021. The project has been a goal of this Administration, as part of their larger Downtown development plans in partnership with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Khan says the project is an essential step in their push to revitalize the area- Khan is the master developer for the Shipyards site, and has a larger plan to bring new life to the Sports Complex overall.  GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards GALLERY: Jags propose $2.5 billion Sports Complex redevelopment Removing the ramps is seen as important from a development perspective because the ramps currently divert traffic over Bay Street and past the Sports Complex, therefore bringing traffic and customers past that area as well. The ramps also obstruct the view and connectivity from the Complex through to the St. Johns River.  WOKV did an in depth review of the grant application, which gave a more clear picture what Downtown could look like, after the ramp removal. The project includes more signals, widening Bay Street, some pedestrian improvements, and more. While the ramps over Bay Street would be taken down and the road brought down to street grade, the ramps would pick back up around A Philip Randolph and drop off where they do currently. Closures would be needed as part of the construction, but there are no details for that at this point. The City has also received $12.5 million for the Bay Street Innovation Corridor  from the US DOT. The Bay Street Innovation Corridor is expected to cost nearly $63 million, and JTA was seeking $25 million from the US DOT. It’s a three mile project that serves as the first phase of the Ultimate Urban Circulator Program, which will use the existing Skyway infrastructure, but with upgrades to feature autonomous vehicles and extensions that allow those to move seamlessly throughout the Circulator- essentially upgrading and expanding the Skyway services and routes. “We can take the Skyway- which is now limited to 2 ½miles-and expand it in to a ten mile autonomous vehicle system that connects with the communities in and around Downtown, that the current Skyway does not reach,” says JTA CEO Nat Ford. The Corridor- which will be the first phase of the Circulator- incorporate floor sensors, pedestrian sensors to help avoid collisions, autonomous vehicles, and other elements to enhance mobility and safety. While JTA didn’t get all of the funding they had hoped for, Ford tells WOKV he is confident they will be able to line up what is needed, including through private funding. He says this project can serve as a national model, so they will be able to leverage that to secure private investments. “On the cutting edge, in terms of transportation technology,” he says. He believes the Corridor will be complete in around three years, with the overall Circulator project expected to take about seven years.
Top Pence aide won’t fill post as Trump’s Chief of Staff

A day after announcing that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would be leaving his post, President Donald Trump’s plan to shift the Vice President’s Chief of Staff into the job collapsed on Sunday, as a White House official told reporters that the President had been unable to reach a deal with Pence aide Nick Ayers, leaving Mr. Trump to look for another choice.

Ayers had been talked about for weeks as Kelly’s replacement, as the President’s relationship with his Chief of Staff worsened in recent months; but White House official told reporters Sunday that Ayers only wanted to serve [More]