Pension reform task force looking at options, including tax hike

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Retirement Reform task force met again Wednesday morning to try and hammer out a new plan to pay down existing pension debt and reform the city's pension plan.

The city owes the pension fund some $1.7 billion in unfunded liability. One idea being discussed is the city paying $90 million extra to the pension fund each year to pay off the debt.

Chairman Bill Scheu was asked if  that means a possible tax hike is on the table. 

"Absolutely," said Scheu. "There is no revenue side of it that we have taken off the table. But that does not mean that is where we are going to end up. All matters are on the table but that means other revenue matters are on the table too."

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Velveeta shortage? Local chef says 'Who cares'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Chriss Brown owns 927 Events, a catering company and event venue in downtown Jacksonville. 

She's been a chef for 12 years, and clearly has a passion for using local products in her cooking.

For one, Bold City Brewery beer is the secret ingredient in some of her recipes.

When she can, she chooses local. When she can't, she said she always chooses natural. 

As you can imagine, she does not keep Velveeta in her kitchen.

"No I don't," she said bluntly, with a stern pause.

"I don't want to serve orange number whatever food coloring to people," she finally finished.

So when asked about her opinion of the Velveeta shortage:

"My first thought was, 'gee, people are going to have to make something instead of buying it," she said laughing.

FCN asks judge to undo motions in Dunn case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a motion filed in Circuit Court Tuesday, lawyers for First Coast News and The Florida Times-Union asked Judge Russell Healey to reverse several previous decisions restricting public records in the Michael Dunn case.

The motion could have far-reaching implications, since it asks the judge to "unseal all sealed documents in the record," which would include witness names. That may lead to the release of the many hours of recorded phone conversations that defendant Dunn has made while in jail, because witness names are part of the reason prosecutors have said they need to redact the tapes.

Cold motivation: 'Think warm thoughts'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With Jacksonville temperature records set to crumble overnight, it's clear the warm run we've had while the rest of the country suffers is over.

But, of course, every thing is relative. 

While we'll have morning temperatures in the teens in places, with wind chills around zero possible, other parts of the country have it much worse.

We spoke to Ken Ewert, a college student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the phone today. 

He was just finishing up running some errands outside when we touched base.

"It's -42 here right now," he said. "Well, it says it's -13 but with the wind chill it's -42."

He's pretty tough by many accounts. He plays football in short sleeves in this weather and says it's not a problem for him.

"I've been out in it all day. It's just something you get used to."

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Amelia Island residents: 'Bring back the peacocks'

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Peacocks have been a part of the Amelia Island landscape for the past fifty years.

"It is commonplace to walk out and see peacocks walking around the neighborhood," said Pam Bell.

Bell, a photographer, said yes the birds can be noisy at times and yes they may leave a mess in the area, but they are part of the community.

Several years ago, the county placed peacock crossing signs on Scott Road, an area where they gather.

"What has happened here is a whole population of birds," said Wade Bell, "have been wiped out."

No one has ever claimed ownership, not the county, not the community.

Recently, a couple of property owners, annoyed by the birds, hired a private trapper to catch and remove the peacocks.

Nick Hartley is trapper and owner of 'Krit R Done.'

"We were reluctant to take the job," he said.

Now he has become the target of complaints and criticism.

Resident not happy about JEA pole location

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For decades, Stockton Street residents have enjoyed sidewalks that are at least four feet wide and made of special cut stones.

Last month things changed, much to their chagrin.

"I don't like it," said Freddie Demmons.

Demmons said in December, he received a knock from a JEA representative.

"They said 'the lights will be off about an hour.' That was it," he said.

When they left the neighborhood, he was stunned by what he saw.

"They placed the new electric poles in the middle of the sidewalk," said Demmons, "I don't like it."

The affected area is in Councilman Warren Jones' district.

"I was surprised," said Jones.

The JEA, improving its infrastructure, moved the electric poles from the curb to what is almost the center of the sidewalk.

"It is disruptive to the neighborhood and it is certainly unattractive," said Jones.

Former officer in court on child porn charges

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Corrections Officer Leon Brooks Sr. was arraigned in Federal Court Thursday on charges of possession of child pornography.

Dressed in a striped polo, with his court-ordered ankle bracelet emitting a frequent low-battery beep, Brooks pleaded not guilty to all four counts against him.

Brooks, 39, waived a full reading of the indictment -- which contains graphic language describing the videos he is accused of possessing -- but Assistant U.S. Attorney Diidri Robinson detailed his potential punishment. If convicted of all four counts against him, Brooks faces 75 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.