Sunburn - The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics - 11.14.17 - Florida Politics

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.14.17

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

The increasingly ugly Roy Moore train wreck in Alabama poses quite the sticky wicket for elected Republicans in Tallahassee, particularly those running for higher office, and most specifically for House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Moore’s situation is one horn of that dilemma. The other horn is the pickle in which Sen. Jack Latvala finds himself.

There are obvious similarities between the two dramas. And there are obvious differences as well. Perhaps the biggest: There is no process for an independent evaluation of the charges against Moore, but there is for the charges against Latvala.

Yet the Speaker did not wait for a reckoning. He called for Latvala’s resignation from the Senate before the ding of the incoming POLITICO story on his iPad stopped reverberating. Not so for Moore, because the gravitational pull of Trump primary votes appears to have overwhelmed Corcoran’s principled consistency.

And what about Ron DeSantis, Does he believe Leigh Corfman or Roy Moore, Madame X or Jack Latvala?

Where does Ashley Moody, the woman who aspires to be our chief law enforcement officer, stand? How about Matt Caldwell and Denise Grimsley? Joe Negron? Rick Scott?

Programming note to SUNBURN readers in The Process: As Thanksgiving approaches, let us know what you’re thankful for. We will publish a selection of responses next week before the holiday.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JuliaIoffe: SCOOP: Turns out Donald Trump, Jr. corresponded with Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

@AP: Jurors in New Jersey bribery trial of Democratic US Sen. Bob Menendez tell judge they ‘can’t reach a unanimous verdict.’

— @AP: Second woman accuses Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a minor.

@KristyMCampbell: .@JebBush on @NBC just now: @MooreSenate just get out of the race. It’s the right thing to do.

— @LedgeKing: .@SenBillNelson has several ideas for tax bill including: Increasing deductions for small businesses and small biz; increase penalties for identity thieves; reinstate personal exemptions; and raise taxes on corporate profits kept overseas.

@LobbyTools: There are currently 233 House Appropriations Projects filed: lobby.tools/2xww1Zh The biggest so far? HB 2437’s $34.4 million request for Valencia College, Lake Nona Campus Building 2, by Rep. @CoachP_CHS

@Daniel_Sweeney: Dem. candidate to replace term-limited @RepMoraitis. A long shot prior to last Tuesday, but after what happened in VA House, #HD93 suddenly looks a lot more pick-up-able for @FlaDems (re: Emma Collum)

@RadioRicko: Giant screw with Tallahassee City Hall and the Florida Capitol in the background. Yeah… that pretty much sums it up.

@JoeReedy#FSU#Florida on 11/25 will be a noon kickoff on ESPN.

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— L’AFFAIRE LATVALA —

Woman who filed sexual harassment claims against Jack Latvala is Florida Senate employee” via POLITICO Florida – Attorney Tiffany Cruz did not want to disclose her client’s identity or affirm whether she was one of the six women who work in Florida’s Capitol and anonymously alleged in a Nov. 3 POLITICO article that the Republican lawmaker had sexually harassed them. … “My client is a current Senate staffer. She is a professional woman in her own right — I’d like to point that out — and is not to be defined by who she’s married to or who she’s the mother to,” Cruz said. “She has made a very good career for herself. She has submitted both a Rules complaint and a complaint of sexual harassment under the Senate’s policies and procedures.”

Latvala’s attorney wants Lizbeth Benacquisto to recuse herself from probe” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – “Senator Benacquisto’s public comment regarding the alleged complaint is a material breach of the Senate Rules and mandates her disqualification from any further involvement in the investigation,” Steve Andrews said in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron … Andrews is citing a Capitol News Service video interview in which Benacquisto acknowledged a confidential complaint had been filed with the Rules Committee. A day later, Benacquisto said privacy rules would not allow her to comment on the complaint and would not say who was the subject of the complaint. “(Benacquisto’s) comments in themselves were a violation of the Senate’s Rules,” Latvala told Florida Politics. “She announced it in the media, but I have still not been notified that I am the subject of a complaint. Five days later.”

Tweet, tweet: @AnaCeballos_: @Joenegronfl does not believe Chair Benacquisto violated Senate Rules and will not be asking her to recuse herself from the investigation, per KGBetta.

Ethics attorney says identities of Latvala’s accusers will eventually be revealed if Senate pursues harassment charges” via John Lucas of the Capitolist – “At some point in time, those people will have to become public and would have to, I would believe, give testimony under oath in front of a Senate committee for the Senate committee to judge the credibility of those statements,” says Mark Herron, an attorney with Messer and Caparello. “At the end of the day … Sen. Latvala is not going to be convicted or exonerated on anonymous testimony. Eventually, it’s going to have to come out.”

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Gov. Scott rolls out final spending proposals” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – As usual, Scott will soon realize that he and lawmakers will differ on where the state should spend more money. The Republican governor has already called for a $220 million increase in spending on environmental programs, $180 million in tax cuts, $50 million to fight the opioid epidemic, $1 million for greater security at Jewish day schools and a $4,000 starting pay raise for Florida Highway Patrol troopers. Scott says the state will have more than enough money to pay for all of his spending priorities, but the Legislature’s chief economist, Amy Baker, has cautioned lawmakers that their spending has been outpacing revenue projections and that the revenue forecast for future years will be “much worse” because of Hurricane Irma’s impact on the state’s economy. The most notable difference between this budget preview and last year’s is that Scott is no longer battling with House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Senate Education Committee passes Community College Competitiveness Act” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – SB 540 would, if signed into law, “strengthen state leadership and accountability to Florida’s community colleges,” according to staff analysis. It would establish a State Board of Community Colleges, and would reinforce the primary mission of community colleges as awarding associate degrees and workforce credentials. It also establishes the Supporting Students for Academic Success program to fund the efforts of community colleges in assisting students enrolled in an associate in arts (AA) degree program to complete college-credit courses, graduate with an AA degree and transfer to a baccalaureate degree program. SB 540 has a companion bill in HB 423.

Senate postpones minimum sentencing reform for drug crimes — The Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday temporarily postponed SB 602, a bill that would allow judges more discretion in mandatory-minimum prison sentences in some drug crimes. Chair Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said he delayed the bill’s hearing because he was unsure the bill would have cleared the committee, given Pinellas County Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes’ absence. With former Sen. Jeff Clemens’ resignation, Bracy and Sen. Darryl Rouson, of St. Petersburg, are the only Democrats on the committee.

Dana Young to push for statewide fracking ban again” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – But it’s unclear whether it will have any better chance than last session, when it appeared ready to pass in the Senate but never got a committee hearing in the House … This year it’s Rep. Kathleen Peters who’s enthusiastic about the cause but has lost clout after conflicts with Speaker Richard Corcoran. Corcoran yanked Peters’ subcommittee chairmanship and some legislative perks … Young said she chose Peters because “she’s very passionate about this issue and I believe she will put her full energy into getting the bill to move. “This is very sweeping legislation and it often takes several years to pass something of this magnitude.” Peters said the bill’s prospects will be tough again this year: “I’m not going to sugarcoat it.” But, she said, “I’m not afraid to be aggressive, and I’m going to be aggressive.”

Happening tonight:

Other fundraisers tonightTuesday, state Rep. Brad Drake will be holding a 4:30 p.m. reception at Jacob’s on the Plaza Doubletree, 101 S Adams St. in Tallahassee. At 5 p.m., state Reps. Daniel Perez and Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski and Republican candidates Lawrence McClure and James Buchanan will hold a joint fundraiser, also at the Doubletree. Then, at 5:30 p.m., state Sen. Gary Farmer will be at the Governors Club Board Room, 202 S. Adams Street in Tallahassee. On Wednesday, state Reps. Randy Fine, Jason Fischer and Rick Roth will be at the Governors Club beginning 12:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is holding a reception at the Beer Industry of Florida headquarters, 110 S. Monroe St., Suite B, in Tallahassee. Also at 6 p.m., state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia will be holding an event at the Florida Realtors Association, 200 S. Monroe St. in Tallahassee.

— STATEWIDE —

Rick Scott wants millions for active-duty military, vets” via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott announced that he will propose $178 million to support active military, veterans and their families in Florida as part of his 2018-2019 recommended budget, according to a Monday press release. “He also announced his support for a proposal being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to provide free tuition to the families of fallen first responders, state law enforcement officers and military members who have lost their lives in the line of duty,” it said … Scott said, “We will never be able to repay our fallen officers or service members who have bravely given their lives, but it is our duty to ensure that their families are supported as if they were our own.”

Tweet, tweet: @Fineout: So earlier today @FLGovScott announced his support for a constitutional amendment for 2018 that would offer free tuition for families of law enforcement military& first responders killed in duty. Ok, but if Scott likes this – why wait until 2019? … The Scott administration could offer this benefit thru the budget or change in state law w/o going to voters. Asked governor’s office if they planned to do it now instead of waiting. Did not get a reply.

Email I had to open: “Hollywood elites are attacking Northwest Florida” via U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz

Florida man back at U.S. Supreme Court with First Amendment case” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a First Amendment case brought by a Florida man who previously won a landmark ruling from the justices on whether his floating home was a house, not a boat subject to easier government seizure under laws that govern ships and boats. This time, the justices agreed to hear a case in which Fane Lozman sued after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a public meeting. Lozman, 56, was never brought to trial on the charges — prosecutors dropped them after concluding there was no possibility of a conviction. Lozman then sued Riviera Beach, claiming his arrest at a 2006 city council meeting violated the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee because it was in retaliation for opposing a marina redevelopment plan and accusing council members of corruption.

Florida Supreme Court sets oral argument in FAMU hazing case – The justices on Monday ordered argument in the case to be held Feb. 7 in Tallahassee. They are considering an appeal from Dante Martin, convicted in the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Martin and Champion were both members of the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion, 26, succumbed to internal injuries after a brutal beating ritual with fists, mallets and drumsticks in a band bus that was parked outside a game in Orlando. Martin was sentenced in 2015 to 6 years and 5 months in prison on felony manslaughter and hazing charges, according to the Department of Corrections website.

FIU College Republican leader quits over ‘disgusting hate’ in group texts” via Joel Franco of the Miami New Times – After New Times first reported the chats — which show the young GOP students joking about deporting classmates and making light of the attack by a white supremacist in Charlottesville — the school announced it was investigating the group. Now hundreds of students have signed a petition urging FIU President Mark Rosenberg to “take immediate action” against the College Republicans, and the club’s vice president has resigned over the “disgusting hate.” In fact, the former vice president says he had earlier reported the offensive comments to school authorities, who did nothing to curb the problem. “I was elected VP and hoped I was able to cause real change and stop the radicalism that is happening,” writes Mauricio Pons, who says he’s the grandson of Cuban immigrants and was particularly disturbed by the College Republicans’ xenophobic tenor. “I’m sad to say that for nine months my efforts were futile, and I left the group chat because of its toxicity and hate speech.”

Police: Ex-cop who shot self-involved in gun incident at DeLand Starbucks” via Tony Holt of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – A former law enforcement officer who was reported to have shot himself multiple times during a police standoff a month ago had another episode involving a firearm this week … Theodore Melton, 52, of DeLand, was accused by his girlfriend of pulling a handgun on her and another person inside a Starbucks on South Woodland Boulevard, according to an incident report. Melton was not arrested, records show. The State Attorney’s Office will review the case. Patricia Reddick, 35, told police she has been in a relationship with Melton for two years. She was suspicious of him cheating on her and discovered him walking into the coffee shop with another woman, police said. She and another person, whose identity was redacted from the report, confronted Melton inside the business and at one point, he closed his laptop computer, pulled a handgun and laid it on top of the computer, the report stated.

With crude oil prices rising, Florida drivers paying more for gas” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – AAA released a study showing the average gallon of gas in Florida cost $2.53 Sunday. A week before, averages stood at $2.40 per gallon … While gas prices in Florida held steady over the weekend, some markets saw dramatic increases over the past week with prices going up 25 cents per gallon in the Tampa market, 20 cents in Orlando and 19 cents in Punta Gorda. Even with prices on the rise in Florida, they remain below the national averages which stood at $2.56 per gallon over the weekend. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton market had the most expensive gas in the Sunshine State with prices averaging $2.64 per gallon Sunday followed by Miami and Homosassa Springs where gas cost $2.59 per gallon. Pensacola had the least expensive gas in Florida Sunday with prices averaging $2.46 per gallon followed by Tallahassee at $2.48 and Jacksonville at $2.49 per gallon.

— RECOVERY —

Puerto Rico asks federal government for $94 billion in aid” via Erika Pandey of Axios – Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello is asking the federal government for $94.4 billion to fund the recovery process on the island, per AP. The ask includes $46 billion for housing, $30 billion for FEMA to provide critical infrastructure and an additional $17.9 billion under federal grant programs … Congress has thus far approved $5 billion for aid to Puerto Rico, but Rossello says the recovery will cost far more.

After hurricane, signs of a mental health crisis haunt Puerto Rico” via Caitlin Dickerson of The New York Times – The violent winds and screeching rains of Hurricane Maria were a 72-hour assault on the Puerto Rican psyche. There are warning signs of a full-fledged mental health crisis on the island, public health officials say, with much of the population showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Puerto Rico was already struggling with an increase in mental illness amid a 10-year recession that brought soaring unemployment, poverty and family separation caused by emigration. Public health officials and caregivers say that Maria has exacerbated the problem. Many Puerto Ricans are reporting intense feelings of anxiety and depression for the first time in their lives. Some are paranoid that a disaster will strike again. And people who had mental illnesses before the storm, and who have been cut off from therapy and medication, have seen their conditions deteriorate.

The lineman got $63 an hour. The utility was billed $319 an hour” via Frances Robles of The New York Times – The small energy outfit from Montana that won a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s tattered power grid had few employees of its own, so it did what the Puerto Rican authorities could have done: It turned to Florida for workers. For their trouble, the six electrical workers from Kissimmee are earning $42 an hour, plus overtime. The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working in Puerto Rico, the Florida utility said. Their 40 co-workers from Jacksonville, also linemen, are making up to $100 earning double time … But the Montana company that hired the workers, Whitefish Energy Holdings, had a contract that allowed it to bill the Puerto Rican public power company, known as Prepa, $319 an hour for linemen, a rate that industry experts said was far above the norm even for emergency work — and almost 17 times the average salary of their counterparts in Puerto Rico.

Central Florida officials ask Rick Scott for more coordination for Puerto Rico evacuees” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Officials, including Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez, Osceola County Schools Superintendent Debra Pace, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, told Scott during a roundtable meeting in Kissimmee that they want to do all they can to help Puerto Ricans displace by Hurricane Maria but they expect to reach their limits, as Central Florida appears to be the first-choice of most of the more than 143,000 who’ve come to Florida already. “We’re welcoming them and doing all we can to serve them. But capacity is becoming a true issue: teacher needs, staffing to help support them,” Pace said. “And as you notice the conditions down there are not good, so the children are stressed. The families are stressed. It is really taking an emotional toll as well to educate them as well as to love them.” … “The biggest thing is to figure out how we go forward,” Scott said. “We’re going to continue to have housing, education, jobs, we’ll have all these issues.”

Airbnb wants to play a role in hurricane relief – An Airbnb representative told the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness on Monday that it can help in future Florida disasters. The vacation rental website touted its Global Disaster Response and Relief Program, which works with hosts to open homes at no cost to disaster evacuees. Airbnb Policy Mobilization Director Kenny Montilla said that more than 400 homes were opened at no cost following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Montilla also said Airbnb cannot help evacuees in areas where zoning restrictions prohibit short-term rentals and asked the lawmakers to consider working towards lifting such prohibitions during future disasters.

Airbnb Policy Mobilization Director Kenny Montilla, speaking to a House panel Monday.

Everglades City comes back from Hurricane Irma” via Terry Spencer of the Orlando Sentinel – Two months after Hurricane Irma’s storm surge slammed through tiny Everglades City, the mountains of debris that lined the streets have been reduced to scattered piles and the occasional abandoned stove or refrigerator. The mayor says more than 90 percent of the town’s businesses should be open as tourist season picks up in the next two weeks. Everglades City clusters around its historic two-story City Hall, a converted Southern-style courthouse built in 1926. It remains closed because of water damage, but its surroundings are cleaner and quieter than they were a week after the storm. Jimmy Wheeler moved back to his hometown from nearby Naples just before Irma hit. He had spent five months refurbishing his new house, “so I get to gut it again.” He said the residents have come together, whether it’s to move junk or help elders navigate the internet insurance paperwork.

Tab mounts to clean up Irma water debris” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida continues to spend about $2.4 million a week to clean up debris strewn across state waters during Hurricane Irma two months ago. The state money could soon run dry, even as the weekly costs grow with the cleanup moving deeper into counties more heavily damaged by the storm. Deputy Secretary David Clark told members of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness on Monday that by early next year the state may use up the $36 million allocated to the agency for storm-debris cleanup. “At the current pace, we’re spending about $2.4 million a week… at that pace, we’re going to run out of money by the time we get into session at the beginning of January or sooner,” Clark said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates about $25 million will be needed to complete removal of the remaining 514 damaged vessels still in the water or thrown ashore.

Hurricane Irma takes out Jungle Gardens Holiday lights show via Samantha Putterman of the Bradenton Herald – The Sarasota park announced that its popular Holiday Lights exhibit, which runs each year, will not take place this holiday season for the first time since it began 15 years ago. Each year, the attraction transforms the park’s tropical jungle into a winter escape filled with various holiday-centric activities that routinely draws large crowds. But when Hurricane Irma ripped through the state … leaving heaps of damage in its wake, park officials said they were forced to close the Gardens for five weeks. “Our entire jungle area was completely impassable, we lost a considerable number of trees,” said Nancy Lavick, the park’s marketing director.

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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Open the primaries, former Bar president says” via Florida Politics – With Constitution Revision Commissioner William “Bill” Schifino Jr.’s recent proposal to open Florida’s primaries, a nationwide movement has some steam in the Sunshine State. Specifically, the change proposed by Schifino—a Tampa attorney and 2016-2017 president of The Florida Bar—would allow independent voters to cast ballots in primary elections. Florida’s constitution currently provides for closed primaries: Elections in which votes for primary candidates can only be cast by voters within their respective parties, which excludes the more than 3.4 million registered “no party affiliated” (NPA) voters in Florida. If placed on the ballot in 2018 and approved by 60 percent of voters, Schifino’s amendment would give NPA voters freedom to “vote a primary election ballot of a political party.”

Rick Scott spent more than $1.2M on advertising last month” via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, spent over $1.2 million last month on advertising, a blitz that foreshadows his likely 2018 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Bill Nelson. Of the committee’s $1,281,290 in expenditures last month, $1,229,813 went towards ads. The main beneficiary was Maryland-based OnMessage, which has been Scott’s favored firm for advertising for quite some time. The rest of the spending was for odds and ends, such as a database from Tallahassee-based Contribution Link, and a handful of political and financial consulting contracts.

Felons’ rights initiative brings in $700,000” via the News Service of Florida – Continuing to steadily submit petition signatures, backers of a proposed felons’ rights constitutional amendment raised nearly $701,000 in October, with much of the money coming from the American Civil Liberties Union … The political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy had submitted 341,172 valid petition signatures to the state Division of Elections as of Monday afternoon. It needs to submit 766,200 to get the measure on the November 2018 ballot. Floridians for a Fair Democracy had raised an overall total of $2.91 million as of Oct. 31, while spending $2.71 million, according to the new report. The ACLU has been the primary financial supporter of the initiative and contributed $600,000 in October.

Tweet, tweet:

Brash, Trump-loving Florida blogger ‘Javi’ Manjarres feels out run for Congress” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Manjarres, the conservative Shark Tank blogger from Fort Lauderdale, is an audacious guy, a self-styled anti-establishment renegade. But now he’s looking to join the club with a run for Congress. And he wants to be known as “Javi,” playing up Hispanic roots in a would-be challenging bid to take on incumbent Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton in a district that favors Democrats. Manjarres isn’t a declared candidate. He’s not the only Republican. And he has some scrapes in his past. “It’s all messaging,” he said. “A lot of them are purists who are upset how the Boehners and the Ryans of the worlds have governed up here. They are upset at the Republican apparatus.”

Ed Hooper ‘showing them the money’ in Senate race” via Florida Politics – Former Clearwater GOP Rep. Ed Hooper had a robust fundraising month in October for his 2018 bid for the Pinellas County-based state Senate District 16 seat. Hooper’s $82,575 haul far outpaced the $2,195 brought in by Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, so far Hooper’s only opponent in the race. Fensterwald, a retired business man from Virginia, has raised a total of $8,595, with another $6,000 in loans to his campaign. That’s anemic compared to the more than $227,000 that Hooper has raised since entering the contest last year to succeed Jack Latvala, who is term limited out of the Senate District 16 seat next year.

Republican files to run for Jeff Clemens seat” via the News Service of Florida – Lake Worth Republican Tami Donnally opened a campaign account to run in District 31 … The race is also expected to include Rep. Lori Berman and former Rep. Irv Slosberg, both Democrats. Gov. Scott has scheduled a special primary election Jan. 30 and a special general election April 10 – likely meaning the seat will remain vacant throughout the 2018 legislative session, which starts Jan. 9.

Slow going in race to succeed Janet Cruz in HD 62” via Florida Politics – Janet Cruz has held what is now the House District 62 seat in Hillsborough County since winning a special election back in early 2010. Who will replace her in the overwhelmingly Democratic district a year from now is unknown. Three Democrats have filed to run in the race, the best known probably being John Rodriguez. He served as a legislative aide to Cruz and to several other House Democrats, such as Bob Henriquez, Michael Scionti and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda. But despite the leg up in legislative experience, Rodriguez raised no money last month.

Will Weatherford endorses Nick DiCeglie in HD 66 race – Former Florida House Speaker Weatherford said: “He has a great story to tell – from his humble childhood, helping his parents grow their family business, to being a successful small-business owner himself. When it comes to creating jobs for Florida families, he truly understands pro-business policies work and overregulation and red tape do not. I look forward to seeing the great things he will continue to do for his community as a member of the Florida House.” Weatherford, the state’s 84th House Speaker, is managing partner of Weatherford Partners – a business he founded alongside his brothers Sam and Drew. DiCeglie, owner of Solar Sanitation Inc., serves as chair of the Pinellas County Republican Party, and as a member of the Pinellas County Economic Development Council.

— OPINIONS —

Legislature should ban sanctuary cities in Florida” via Richard Corcoran for the Tampa Bay Times – Last week, the Florida House introduced HB 9, a bill that prevents sanctuary cities from ever plaguing our state. Our bill is simple: State and local governments must comply with and support the enforcement of federal immigration laws — end of story. Any elected officials who think they can circumvent the Constitution and the laws of our nation will face significant penalties, along with suspension or removal from office. Some critics claim sanctuary cities make our communities safer because illegal aliens are more willing to engage with police and report crime. However, a study from the University of Riverside, California, across 55 cities found “no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rates, rape or property crime.” Moreover, after Phoenix dropped its sanctuary policies, crime plummeted. We have the opportunity to put our citizens and our laws first. The Florida Senate should be ready and willing to pass HB 9, because not another American should die at the hands of a criminal illegal alien.

— MOVEMENTS —

Look for Ballard Partners to announce today that it has hired the incredibly talented Kathy San Pedro, formerly with AT&T, to join the firm.

Personnel note: Chip Case, Foyt Ralston start Capitol Advocates” via Florida Politics – Veteran lobbyists Case and Ralston have formed a new firm, Capitol Advocates, to represent clients before the Legislature, executive branch agencies, and in Washington, according to a news release. “In today’s political climate, clients need advocates in the Capitol who have the expertise to work with policymakers in all branches of government, and who can help them achieve their legislative priorities,” Case said. “We are excited about the access and expertise our team of political veterans is going to bring together for our clients.” Ralston added, “Our combined experience in both the public and private sector not only gives clients unparalleled access to lawmakers but helps them successfully navigate various local, state and federal branches of government.”

Personnel note: Emily L. Mahoney hired by Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald — The Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau will have a new reporter come January. Mahoney, who recently did investigative work for the Miami Herald during a 10-week summer internship, has been hired to cover the Legislature for both publications. She starts the new gig early in January. Mahoney is currently finishing up the Cronkite Data Fellowship with the Houston Chronicle. “I’m thrilled to be heading back to Florida to write for two publications I greatly respect and to work on stories with impact and value,” Mahoney said. Mahoney received her master’s in mass communication this May from the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

FAF creates Lucy Morgan award to honor journalists who smartly use public record via the Tallahassee Democrat – The First Amendment Foundation will honor Morgan with the creation of the Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting. The award’s namesake is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) who broke countless stories using public records. The award honors a Florida journalist who smartly uses public records to report stories exposing corruption, revealing government conflicts of interest or otherwise serving the public interest. The creation of the award will be officially announced at a cocktail reception Nov. 15 at the Governors Club featuring keynote speaker Gilbert King.

More time for Prudential Productivity Awards nominations – Florida TaxWatch on Monday said the deadline to send in nominations for the Prudential Productivity Awards has been extended to Dec. 31. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the nonprofit watchdog said it “wanted to allow ample time for state employees to send in their nominations.” The awards program publicly recognizes and rewards state employees and work units whose work significantly and measurably increases productivity and promotes innovation to improve the delivery of state services and save money for Florida taxpayers and businesses. Submit your nominations here.

— ALOE —

Amazon sets ‘The Lord of the Rings’ TV series In mega deal with multi-season commitment” via Nellie Andreeva of Deadline Hollywood – Amazon has closed a massive deal — said to be close to $250 million — to acquire global TV rights to The Lord of the Rings, based on the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. The streaming service has given a multi-season commitment to a LOTR series in the pact, which also includes a potential spinoff series. The LOTR original series, a prequel to Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust; HarperCollins; and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which produced the hugely successful LOTR movie franchise.

Orchid found in Northern Florida declared endangered” via Bill Bortzfield of WJCT – The bright-orange Platanthera chapmanii, more commonly known as Chapman’s Fringed Orchid, has become limited to a few, sparse populations in North Florida, Southeast Georgia and one small population in Eastern Texas, according to a news release from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Jacksonville Zoo Horticulturist Houston Snead and Environmental Specialist Lisa Hassell from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) lobbied for the declaration of endangered in the Florida Regulated Plant Index. “Whereas the flower had no legal protection before, its new endangered status provides protection against poaching, and will help the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens conserve this species across its range,” said Snead.

Happy birthday to our dear friends, Will Weatherford (one of my five favorite House Speakers of the last decade) and the brilliant Karen Cyphers of Sachs Media Group. Also celebrating today are Brittney Metzger and Victoria Elliott York.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, Florida Politics, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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