Winners & Losers: Rubio, Times-Union Layoffs
WINNERS: The well-paid brass up at Florida State College. I missed this one last week, but apparently the Board of Trustees has voted some hefty raises – totaling $300,000 – for FSCJ's already well-compensated folks at the top. Robert Rennie, VP of IT, currently makes $130k, but his bottom line will rise to $165k as of 2011 – 2012. Don Greene, EVP of Instruction and Student services, currently makes $145k but will soon be clearing $189k – just a few thousand shy of a whole new hundred-thousandths place. Supposedly the increases have been made to keep the positions “competitive” - and that's probably true, but the main focus of education is supposed to be on students, who are not well-served by inflated administrative salaries. More flow charts is just what Jacksonville needs.
LOSER: Marco Rubio, who deftly dodged questions over his use of a Republican Party of Florida American Express card when questioned by the Times-Union. According to a former staffer, Rubio, who was recently reported to be deeply in debt to the tune of a little over $100k, used the card to pay for flooring in his home. When interviewed, Rubio declined to say whether he'd actually spent RPOF money, but insisted that he had repaid any personal expenses. He also declined to release any credit card statements, saying that they were RPOF documents. In other words, we have to take Rubio at his word – even if he hadn't repaid the expenses, the RPOF certainly isn't going to contradict him and rock the boat for their U.S. Senate candidate in Florida.
WINNER: Although you might have considered him a loser if you were a student at the time, Leonard Skinner died on Monday morning at the age of 77. Skinner was the notoriously strict Lee High School basketball coach who was the inspiration for the name of local band Lynyrd Skynyrd. A stickler for dress codes, Skinner frequently sent members of the band up to the office for violations, including having slightly long hair. Artimus Pyle showed up at the funeral and said that Skinner actually welcomed the connection and even helped to promote “Freebird: The Movie.” Other members of the band extended their condolences to the family, and considering their legacy, Skinner's name is almost guaranteed to be immortalized in history for centuries to come.
LOSER: The Florida Times-Unionasaurus, which laid off 6% of its workforce, or a little over 20 employees, in response to sagging ad sales. Advertisers are cutting back – but more than anything, the paper has been hurt by readers more often going for online news sources rather than print. Hey folks in the black marble (or granite or whatever) building, I'll spell it out for you: mainline print is dying quickly. All the giveaways, advertising and desperate people hawking papers in the median won't change that. Online news is already where it's at, and every new iteration of phone or iPad clone that comes out makes that more the case. Save yourselves – convert to a new business model, quickly, before actual flexible e-paper becomes a household consumer item. That's probably only a few Steve Jobs presentations into the future.
WINNERS: Soft drink companies, which are witnessing the possible ban of chocolate milk in Florida schools, and therefore an increase in their own profits. The change is allegedly being made because chocolate milk contains more sugar than its non-chocolate counterpart, and therefore contributes to obesity. That may be, but the syrupy caffeinated drinks – generally, soft drinks – are still widely available in public schools. Nothing has been done to significantly curtail the sale of these, as most schools in today's cash-strapped budget environment will take every dime in revenue-sharing they can get from soft drink sales.
LOSER, BUT AT LEAST SHE TRIED TO WIN: Jamie Griffins, a 28-year old Hastings woman who was walking through her neighborhood on Monday night. Apparently an alert and concerned citizen, Griffins spotted what she believed to be meth chemicals in a trash can. Acting without considering the ramifications of an organic chemistry experiment exposed to an ignition source, Griffins pulled out a lighter to see the contents more clearly. Predictably, she caused the contents of the trash can to explode, receiving mild burns in the process. St. Johns County deputies searched the nearby residence and arrested one individual. Griffins was not cited for being stupid. Read the original story on FloriDUH.
In addition to offering up his weekly winners and losers in The Jacksonville Observer, Graham Wellington enjoys bacon, fancy hats and prank calling apartment complexes on Park Street.