Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jacksonville police investigate possible abduction near Baptist Hospital - Florida Times-Union

Witnesses to a possible abduction said a man and woman were arguing as he shuffled her to a car after she arrived at the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute near Baptist Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.

The man was waiting inside the Institute when the woman walked in shortly before 5 p.m. He grabbed her arm from behind and directed her outside and into a car parked in a lot off Hendricks Avenue, said Sgt. Michael Paul of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Paul said the woman was not dragged and did not call for help but that the two were arguing. He said employees of the medical facility have been accounted for and it was not clear if the woman was a patient.

He said police have reviewed surveillance video provided by the medical center and believe the case could be an abduction. No missing person reports have been linked to the case.

The woman is described as in her 30s or 40s with long blonde hair and wearing a white dress with flowers and black trim. The man is described as heavyset and wearing a red polo shirt, tan cargo pants and flip flops.

They got into an older, small, red car with fading paint.

Anyone with information about the case can call the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office at (904) 630-0500.

Health notes: Shands Jacksonville named 'Rising Star' - Florida Times-Union

Shands Jacksonville has been named a “Rising Star” by the University Healthsystem Consortium, a national alliance of academic medical centers and affiliated hospitals. The honor recognizes significant improvements and exemplary performance in patient safety, mortality, clinical effectiveness, and equity of care as defined in UHC’s Quality and Accountability Study.

To receive a “Rising Star” designation, an organization has to move up 20 spots in UHC’s annual hospital rankings. UHC has awarded Shands Jacksonville 4 stars, rating the hospital 19th out of 116 academic medical centers, up from 44th the previous year.

UF doctor to lead emergency physicians

Kelly Gray-Eurom, medical director for clinical and business operations, Department of Emergency, University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, was named 41st president during the 2012 Florida College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting in Amelia Island.

She has been active with the Florida chapter of American College of Emergency Physicians since her residency in emergency medicine at UF-Jacksonville. Following her residency, she joined the UF-Jacksonville faculty in 1996.

26th Bike MS ride set for Sept. 29-30

Nearly 2,000 cyclists will ride 150 miles from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach and back on Sept. 29-30 in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, North Florida Chapter’s largest annual fundraiser â€" Bike MS: PGA Tour Cycle to the Shore. Cyclists will raise more than $1 million locally for multiple sclerosis research and programs and services for those living with the disease.

This 26th annual Bike MS will be the largest nonprofit organized bike ride in the United States. In 2011, the North Florida Chapter raised $1.3 million from Bike MS.

Beginning at 6 a.m. at St. Augustine’s Northeast Florida Regional Airport, cyclists will ride to the Daytona Beach Hilton, where they will cross the finish line (and halfway point) on the Daytona Beach boardwalk. There will be dinner and an awards program at the Daytona Beach Hilton on the night of Saturday, Sept. 29. The next morning, cyclists will ride back to the Northeast Florida Regional Airport.

Rider and volunteer registration is open through Monday. For more information, or to participate or volunteer, go to bikefln.nationalmssociety.org, call (904) 332-6810 or email floridaevents@nmss.org.

Patrons of the Hearts gala is Oct. 19

Patrons of the Hearts, the Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization that offers lifesaving heart care to children from underdeveloped countries around the world, will host its seventh annual Artscapade fundraising gala event at a new location this year.

This year’s event takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 at The Museum, the old home of the Museum of Modern Art at 4160 Boulevard Center Drive. It will have a swing-big band theme.

Since 2005, Patrons of the Hearts, founded by University of Florida Pediatric Cardiovascular Center Medical Director Jose Ettedgui, and his wife, Hilda Ettedgui, has coordinated travel and heart care for 59 children from 19 countries on four continents and the Caribbean islands. For more information, visit www.patronsofthehearts.com or call (904) 202-2881.

Parvez Ahmed & Mark Schlakman: Uprisings in the Middle East are more complex - Florida Times-Union

Brace yourselves.

You may know that protests erupted outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and that mobs subsequently attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi this past Tuesday on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Apparently this was at least in part in reaction to an anti-Islam film produced in the United States that objectifies the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, depicting him as a child molester, womanizer and ruthless killer.

You also may know the attack in Benghazi resulted in the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans as well as several Libyans who attempted to repel the attackers.

You also may be aware that some experts initially believed that a pro-al Qaida group targeted the U.S. Consulate. You may be wondering if the attack may have been an attempt to sabotage Libya’s improving relationship with the West under the guise of spontaneous outrage over the film.

For perspective, the Libyan people chose moderation over extremism in their recent elections.

You may be aware that protests erupted outside other U.S. embassies in Muslim countries. Although the situation remains volatile, you may have noted that the size of the protests dwindled.

Producer's identity
You even may be aware of the initial questions surrounding the true identity of the producer of the film, first reported to be funded by a self-identified Israeli Jew, later reported to be a Coptic Christian.

You also may have heard that Terry Jones, the infamous pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, a small fundamentalist church in Gainesville whose orchestrated Quran burnings in early 2011 incited violence in Afghanistan, had been promoting this anti-Islam film.

You may be aware that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Jones to ask that he withdraw his support for the video because of concern that violence incited by the film would pose risks to U.S. service members around the world.

You may know that President Barack Obama immediately condemned the attack and declared, “Make no mistake. We will work with the Libyan government to bring justice to killers who attack our people,” and that he deployed two warships and other military capability to the area and increased security at other diplomatic posts.

You even may know that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney departed from longstanding protocols when confronting a foreign threat by immediately and sharply criticizing Obama’s response to the events that unfolded in Libya and Egypt based upon an unvetted preliminary statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and that Romney was subsequently rebuked by Democrats and some Republicans for injecting politics into the crisis.

Complex issues
But there is much that we still don’t know.

The underlying issues are exceedingly complex. Why does anti-Americanism seem to persist across the Muslim world even as the threat from al-Qaida seems to be diminishing and more countries are transitioning toward democracy?

Why do more Americans harbor anti-Islam views today than in the immediate aftermath of 9-11? Such issues test the limits of free speech against the backdrop of compelling national security imperatives. An array of competing agendas only exacerbates the challenge.

If there is one guiding principle to embrace, it’s to resist the simple narrative. The corollary would be to exercise restraint until certain key facts are known and can be placed in context.

Jacksonville Historical Society takes a look LaVilla's past as the city's red ... - Florida Times-Union

Jacksonville Historical Society takes a look LaVilla's past as the city's red-light district

By 1913, Cora Crane, Jacksonville’s most famous madam, had been dead three years and her lavish bordello, The Court, was no more.

But the red-light district along Ward Street (now Houston Street) in LaVilla was flourishing, with more than 60 sporting houses clustered in a four-block stretch west of Broad Street.

That era will be the subject of “Bawdy Behavior: The Naughty History of Houston Street,” a Jacksonville Historical Society “pop-up history book” event at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Dos Gatos House, 123 E. Forsyth St.

The red-light district was an issue in the mayoral elections of 1913 and 1915. In 1913, reformer Van Swearingen was elected mayor on a promise to close down the Ward Street bordellos. But Swearingen may have done too good of a job discouraging an industry that was popular with the tourists and sailors who regularly came to downtown Jacksonville. In 1915, J.E.T. (Just Easy Times) Bowden defeated Swearingen while running on what was essentially a pro-prostitution platform. While prostitutes dressed in red tights holding red lanterns circled Hemming Park on horseback, Bowden delivered a crucial campaign speech on the eve of the election in which he promised his audience that he would confine prostitution to LaVilla but allow it to go on unmolested there.

“I am a firm believer in the segregation of what is known as a social evil, but for my part of thinking this evil is not such a terrible evil after all,” Bowden told the audience. “My honest conviction is that these poor unfortunates are the greatest safety valves to society. As a rule, they are beat and banged around by every new mayor coming into office, but I for one propose to give them all the protection that is possible.”

The colorful Cora Crane had first come to Jacksonville in 1895 at the age of 29. Known at the time as Cora Taylor, she bought a LaVilla boarding house named Hotel de Dreme and opened it as a nightclub and bordello.

In 1896, Stephen Crane, already famous at 24 as the author of “The Red Badge of Courage,” came to Jacksonville looking for a boat to take him to Cuba. He and Cora, who had a taste for both fine literature and younger men, became a couple. Crane’s attempt to get to Cuba failed when his boat sank, a grueling experience that he wrote about in the short story “The Open Boat.” Cora nursed him back to health.

Eventually, Cora closed the Hotel de Dreme and she and Crane left Jacksonville, first for the New York area and then for Europe. They moved on to England, where Cora took the last name Crane, though they never married. Their circle of friends in England included the writers Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells and Henry James.

Crane died of tuberculosis at 28 in the spring of 1900, naming Cora as his heir. She eventually returned to Jacksonville and, in 1903, built the Court, Jacksonville’s most palatial sporting house, at the southwest corner of Ward and Davis streets.

In 1905, one month short of her 40th birthday, Cora married for a third time, to 25-year-old Hammond McNeill. Two years later, McNeill fatally shot a man he suspected of being Cora’s lover.

She died of a stroke in 1910, at the age of 45. She was buried as Cora E. Crane in Evergreen Cemetery on Main Street.

J.E.T. Bowden ran for mayor again in 1917. But he had supported the movie industry, which was booming in Jacksonville. A lot of people weren’t happy about how disruptive movie companies could be (such as turning in a false fire alarm so cameras could film fire trucks in action). Running on an anti-movie platform, John Martin defeated Bowden in 1917. Within a couple of years, almost all the movie companies had left town.

Wednesday’s event will feature historic photos, period decor and a narrative of the era by re-enactors with Cowford Improv.

charlie.patton@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4413

Mike Gillislee, Gators' ground game is keeping defenses on the run - Florida Times-Union

GAINESVILLE - Florida’s running game has developed a surplus of options.

The Gators have established the physical running style second-year coach Will Muschamp wanted when he arrived in Gainesville. Running back Mike Gillislee leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing with 346 yards.

The Florida running game has been further enhanced in two ways.

Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel has scrambling ability that defenses must account for when playing UF. The 14th-ranked Gators also have a suddenly-successful wildcat package with Trey Burton.

A season ago, the Gators finished 73rd in the nation with 143 rushing yards a game. UF (3-0, 2-0) is well ahead of that pace as it prepares to host Kentucky (1-2) at 12:21 p.m. on Saturday. Florida is averaging 232.7 yards on the ground.

The impact of Driskel and Burton is profound. Take out Gillislee, the SEC’s top runner, and UF is still averaging 117.4 rushing yards a game.

Driskel, a 6-foot-4, 237-pound sophomore, has run for 113 yards. He has only been the full-time starting quarterback for two games after rotating with Jacoby Brissett in the season-opening 27-14 win over Bowling Green. Despite being sacked nine times, Driskel is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

“A one-back set is a two-back set now,” Muschamp said. “A two-back set is a three-back set. You create a lot of issues for a defense when a guy has legs at the quarterback position. All of the zone-read opportunities and the different things that you’re doing in the misdirection off the run game are very difficult.”

Driskel’s running has also opened up opportunities in the passing game. Defenses must keep track of Driskel, which limits their options in coverage.

In Saturday’s 37-20 win at Tennessee, Driskel ran for 81 yards on eight carries. He also threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns, completing 14-of-20 throws.

“That’s a big part of my game being able to run the ball,” Driskel said. “When we’re in spread, it really spreads out the defense and there are minimal people in the box. So, if they’re willing to spread them out like that and they’re all covered and they’re man to man, they can’t hang one for me, so I can make a big play.”

On the season, Driskel has completed 37-of-52 passes for 495 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He’s the SEC’s third-highest rated passer (170.2) behind Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

“You simplify things in the passing game,” Muschamp said. “Because from that standpoint, as a defensive coordinator, you’ve got to make sure all areas are covered as far as the edges are concerned. Mostly you’re going to get a lot of middle-field coverage, but now you single things outside for our receivers. Again, all of that simplifies things defensively.”

UF linebacker Jon Bostic learned that lesson well when facing Driskel back in spring practice.

“We saw that all throughout spring,” Bostic said. “That’s one thing we said about him, we hated two-minute [drills] because we turn our backs, and he takes off running. Then, we’ve got to turn around and run and try to catch him. So, we always knew he could run and we knew he could throw.”

Burton’s presence in the run game was a revelation against the Volunteers. Running the wildcat formation, he broke an 80-yard touchdown run that allowed UF to tie the game late in the third quarter. The junior finished with 91 yards on three carries and certainly gave future UF foes something to spend practice time on trying to stop.

“Having Trey, especially when he hit an 80-yarder like that, it forces the defense to play a different hand, make different calls,” UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.

hays.carlyon@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4377

FSCJ, not students, to pay $4.7 million for Pell Grants and financial aid problems - Florida Times-Union

Florida State College at Jacksonville owes the federal government a $515,000 penalty on top of millions more in errantly awarded Pell Grants.

The college expects to pay $4.7 million for students who received Pell Grants or federal loans they shouldn’t have during a two-year period, according to data provided by an FSCJ spokesman Tuesday.

The numbers came at the end of an outside review conducted by ProEducation Solutions, a Sarasota-based consulting firm, which was hired after the U.S. Department of Education suggested the college contract out the work.

The college awarded those students a combined $4.2 million in federal grants during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years and now must repay that to the Department of Education.

An email from Steve Bowers, FSCJ vice president of administrative services, shows financial aid workers awarded grants or loans to about one-third of applicants who initially had been rejected but gained approval following an appeal. That comes out to 1,648 appeals.

Tracy Pierce, vice president of student development and community education, said individual students could have had appeals during both years that were reviewed. Students also could have received both grants and loans for which they did not qualify.

Students who are rejected for financial aid often have taken too long to complete a degree or their grades have dropped. Federal rules allow for special circumstances â€" including family death, major health problems and military leave â€" but only after filing an appeal and supporting documentation.

Improperly issued loans are a separate issue from grants. Since students are responsible for repaying all loans, FSCJ doesn’t have to foot the bill for another $4 million it wrongly issued. However, the education department still assesses a penalty for the mistake, in this case $515,000. For that the federal government uses a formula based on a recent number of FSCJ students who defaulted on their loan repayments, Bowers said.

FSCJ has turned in a report to the feds documenting the review of financial aid appeals. The Times-Union requested a copy of the document under Florida open records law, but it was not immediately provided. It would have to be reviewed to redact confidential student information, Pierce said.

The next step in the process is for the Department of Education to read that report, Bowers said. It then may double check appeals the college deemed acceptable after students provided more documentation.

Bowers could not address how many appeals the college approved after students provided proof.

Within the next two to three months, Bowers said, the federal government will send the college a letter asking for payment. Internal and external reviews have been thorough, he said, and their numbers will prove accurate.

“I don’t expect them to change much,” Bowers said. “We’ve had two groups of people go over every case.”

The college’s financial aid problems started when workers didn’t require students to back up their reasons for appealing with paperwork proving they had a legitimate problem.

Since then students who received grants were asked to provide better documentation or repay the college. Otherwise, they face collection notices and lose the chance to request official transcripts or sign up for more classes.

Financial aid workers were overworked as enrollment rose, FSCJ administrators have said, and made well-intentioned mistakes while rushing through the student appeals process. A review by Jacksonville lawyer Bill Scheu this summer also found that the lax culture of the department was a major cause for the mistakes.

adam.causey@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4025

kate.perry@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4697

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Police investigate possible abduction at Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute - Florida Times-Union

Witnesses to a possible abduction said a man and woman were arguing as he shuffled her to a car after she arrived at the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute near Baptist Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.

The man was waiting inside the Institute when the woman walked in shortly before 5 p.m. He grabbed her arm from behind and directed her outside and into a car parked in a lot off Hendricks Avenue, said Sgt. Michael Paul of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Paul said the woman was not dragged and did not call for help but that the two were arguing. He said employees of the medical facility have been accounted for and it was not clear if the woman was a patient.

He said police have reviewed surveillance video provided by the medical center and believe the case could be an abduction. No missing person reports have been linked to the case.

The woman is described as in her 30s or 40s with long blonde hair and wearing a white dress with flowers and black trim. The man is described as heavyset and wearing a red polo shirt, tan cargo pants and flip flops.

They got into an older, small, red car with fading paint.

Anyone with information about the case can call the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office at (904) 630-0500.