Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
Breaking overnight — “Margaret Good defeats Ruta Jouniari for Democratic nomination in House District 72” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Siesta Key attorney Margaret Good has defeated businesswoman/activist Ruta Jouniari in the Democratic primary race in northern Sarasota’s House District 72 seat. With 97 percent of the votes in, Good led Jouniari by a massive 44 points, 72 -28 percent. Good had 6,144 votes to Jouniari’s 2,342. Good now advances to the special general election for the seat scheduled for Feb. 13. The battle was depicted as a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Good is a mainstream Democrat who party officials think has the potential to flip the seat from red to blue next year.
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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“HD 39 candidate Josie Tomkow raises $50K in first three weeks on campaign trail” via Florida Politics — Though Tomkow has not yet filed her November campaign finance report, her campaign announced the first-time politician brought in more than $50,000 last month. “We have a remarkable team. The outpouring of support from my friends and family humbles me. No one will work harder than I will to earn the trust and support of the people who live and work in District 39,” Tomkow said in a news release. Tomkow is running to replace former Rep. Neil Combee, who left the seat Nov. 24 to start a new job as Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Combee endorsed Tomkow before exiting the House, even over another potential Republican candidate, Polk County Commissioner John Hall, who expressed interest in running.
Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White endorses Joe Wicker for HD 59 — “We have the chance to elect a common sense, conservative leader with real-world experience growing a business and protecting our country. Joe is passionate about serving our community and finding solutions to the challenges facing our county, region, and state. I wholeheartedly support him to be our next State Representative and I know without a doubt he will make an excellent Representative,” White said. Wicker served as a committee chairman in the Harbor Bay Development District and as a member of the Hillsborough County Citizens Advisory Committee-appointed by Commissioner Al Higginbotham. He is a supporter of Kiwanis Club of Brandon and LifeCare of Brandon in the Tampa Bay area. As a conservative Republican, Wicker also serves as a member of the Republican Party executive committee.
“Jose Mallea becomes fifth Republican to file for HD 119” via Florida Politics — Mallea filed paperwork Tuesday to run in House District 119, currently held by termed-out Republican Rep. Jeanette Nuñez. Mallea has an extensive background in politics, including running Sen. Marco Rubio’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2010. He also served as chief of staff to former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and served stints in the federal government, working at the U.S. Department of State and the White House. His political pedigree helped him score endorsements from former Gov. Jeb Bush, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, state Sen. Rene Garcia, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce when he ran in the special election earlier this year.
— LATEST ON FLA. DEMS. CHAIR RACE —
“As election nears, Terrie Rizzo announces more endorsements” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Ahead of the Florida Democratic Party Chair election this Saturday, when 182 electors will cast their vote, Palm Beach County Chair Terrie Rizzo on Monday said she has secured the endorsements of 51 of them. Under the weighted system, there are a total of 1,237 possible votes to be distributed among the three eligible candidates: Rizzo, Alma Gonzalez and Stacey Patel. While Monica Russo has announced her bid to be the next state party leader, she is not eligible to run, under current party rules. Juan Cuba, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Democrats, said he has asked members to vote early on Friday to get a sense of what the majority of the membership wants.
“Alma Gonzalez gets key support for Florida Democratic Party chair, but not from all progressives” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — The race for the next Florida Democratic Party chair is not quite a done deal. Hillsborough County’s Gonzalez is touting new endorsements from the state’s Democratic black, Hispanic and Caribbean caucuses. And Brevard County’s Stacey Patel is getting some love from progressives in Gonzalez’ home territory … several members of the Tampa Bay Progressive Coalition told Florida Politics that they’re backing Patel, the Bernie Sanders-supporting Brevard chair who is the insurgent candidate in the campaign. Gonzalez serves as a Committeewoman for the Hillsborough DEC, but one member of the local Progressive Coalition expressed frustration with her role there, saying she didn’t represent the entire DEC’s stance on some issues, such as the “one party, one vote issue.”
>>>Florida is the only state in the nation whose votes are weighted in state party elections for the chair, meaning not a one man/woman one vote. Advocates say that is in direct violation of Democratic National Committee rules. When asked about this, Gonzalez admits that it was an issue between her and many Hillsborough DEC members.
— SIZING UP CHRIS KING —
The Tampa Bay Times’ interviewed Winter Park businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King to see how he’s approaching the race against his daunting Democratic primary opponents, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine.
The Times notes Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as “once the buzziest candidate,” but “now has an FBI corruption looming over his City Hall and the aura of a dead man walking.”
The interview provides insights into the relatively unknown King and the progressive businessman niche he’s trying to carve out for himself. His top two priorities if elected? Ending sweeps of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and introducing tuition-free community college and trade school.
Oh, and he played against NBA legend Vince Carter in high school.
— On potentially dropping out of the race or shifting to another office: “I am an unconventional candidate. And I embrace that … I’m running for Governor because that’s the office that can lead and execute a big new vision for our state.”
— On his uniqueness: “I’ve built a career around being a progressive entrepreneur — combining a business skill set to advance progressive goals.”
— On his strengths: “My candidacy represents a fresh vision for Florida, one that requires the sort of imagination that has been lacking in our party in recent decades.”
— On wild-card John Morgan: “I’d never underestimate John Morgan.”
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— L’AFFAIRE LATVALA —
“Lauren Book files complaint against Jack Latvala for interfering in investigation” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Book, a freshman legislator and member of the Senate Rules Committee, filed the complaint with Senate Rules Committee Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto … The four-page complaint alleges that Latvala violated the Senate rules by using “undue influence” to interfere with the investigation against him and for violating the confidentiality agreement he signed with the Senate. “It appears the Senator may have engaged in behavior that violates the trust we sought to establish, and which every alleged victim of misconduct deserves, by potentially victimizing, or re-victimizing, the complainant,” Book wrote. “It appears by many accounts that Sen. Latvala and his legal team are engaging in the very same type of courtroom tactics practiced by criminal defense lawyers in sexual assault cases, both childhood and adult.”
“Florida Democratic Party: Jack Latvala ‘must resign’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The party now says Latvala “must resign” in light of “the numerous allegations of sexual harassment against” him. The party released a statement Tuesday through its spokeswoman, Johanna Cervone. It follows calls from fellow GOP senators also calling for him to, or suggesting that he, step down from office. “Latvala’s behavior is unacceptable and there is no place for it in our government or our state,” Cervone said. “Using a position of power to harass, touch, demean and pressure women — or anyone else — is wrong, plain and simple … “Now, Latvala’s smear campaign against (Senate aide) Rachel Perrin Rogers has resulted in her needing armed security. He must resign.” Latvala responded to those calls on social media, reasserting his innocence and saying he will “keep fighting.”
Of course, @JackLatvala should resign. It’s insulting that he hasn’t yet. It’s equally infuriating that he has been allowed to abuse his political power to cowardly intimidate his victims.
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) December 5, 2017
Latvala responds to all of the criticism on Facebook: “I woke up this morning to quotes by several of my colleagues, who could end up being my judges and have not yet heard one word of sworn testimony, calling for my resignation. Then, I saw a column in my hometown paper saying I have been wrong to fight so hard to prove my innocence. At a pretty low ebb, I pulled into the Capitol. The first two people I ran into are both longtime Capitol staffers, one a public safety professional. One said, ‘we all know this is bullshit.’ The other said ‘we believe in you.’ I guess I will keep fighting!”
A long read, but worth the click – “The coming nuclear war in the Florida Senate”
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“Senate committee shoots down church carry, open carry bills” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — A series of bills designed to expand gun owners’ rights in Florida is headed toward the legislative boneyard after the Senate Judiciary Committee sent them packing, shooting them down with a bipartisan vote. One of the bills, SB 274, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring their firearms to church for protection. One of the other bills, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube would have allowed gun owners to bring and check their firearms to courthouses in Florida. Steube’s second bill would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to openly carry their guns statewide. Republican lawmakers have been pushing courthouse carry and open carry for years, but haven’t made much progress passing either measure on account of Miami-Dade Republicans, who for years have blocked the bills from going anywhere.
“Stop prosecuting kids as adults, advocates say” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Miguel Rodriguez is only 24, but he already lost nearly a decade of his life to the criminal justice system. He attended a Tuesday news conference at the Capitol to argue for changes to the way Florida prosecutes juvenile offenders, including what’s known as the direct-file process, in which some minors are charged and handled in adult court. Rodriguez was prosecuted as an adult when he was 15, he says, for breaking into and vandalizing a vacant house in his Tampa neighborhood with a group of high school friends. His odyssey through the system includes being sent to prison at 20 for three years for violating his curfew — because he ran late leaving his job at a restaurant. “We didn’t think we were hurting anybody,” Rodriguez told Florida Politics of his original arrest. “And we didn’t understand the consequences.”
“Support for new texting-while-driving law grows. So do concerns it will lead to more racial profiling” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — As distracted driving crashes continue to rise steadily year after year, advocates say it’s time to give police more enforcement power to reduce traffic injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving. At least 25 local governments, including Miami-Dade County, also support making texting a primary offense. But African-American lawmakers, citing racial disparities in studies of traffic stops and acts of police violence against blacks, are very wary of the idea. “There’s a concern that it could be a pretext to stop certain individuals,” said Sen. Perry Thurston chairman of a 28-member legislative black caucus and an opponent of a tougher texting law. Thurston cited a 2014 study by the American Civil Liberties Union that found that African-Americans were nearly twice as likely as whites to be stopped for violating a state law that requires motorists to wear seat belts. “There is good reason to be concerned about more officer discretion,” said Howard Simon, director of the ACLU of Florida. “Racial disparities in traffic law enforcement are well-documented. Black and Hispanic drivers are far more likely to be pulled over than white drivers for the same behaviors and offenses, and once stopped, people of color are more likely to be subjected to a police search.”
“House aims to roll out slimmer version of budget than Rick Scott” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – As Florida House members work to roll out their budget, the chairman of that chamber’s budget committee said Tuesday they are aiming for a simpler version of the massive $87 billion budget Gov. Scott has proposed. “Our goal is to pass a balanced budget — I don’t want to say one that is more conservative than the governor’s, but one that is more simplified,” state Rep. Carlos Trujillo said. When Trujillo was asked by reporters what he meant by a simpler budget, he implied that it would cover the state’s basic functions, but his chamber would likely not pack their budget with as many member projects sought by specific members.
“House Republicans target ‘certificates of need’” via the News Service of Florida — A key House committee approved a bill that would repeal the controversial “certificate of need” regulatory process for hospitals, as Republican leaders again take aim at the issue. The House Health & Human Services Committee voted 13-6 along straight party lines to approve a repeal bill (HB 27), sponsored by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen. The measure is ready to go to the House floor after the 2018 legislative session starts in January. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and other GOP leaders have long sought to repeal the so-called CON process, but the Senate has not gone along. Long-standing state law requires hospitals to get certificates of need before they can undertake projects such as adding new buildings. Fitzenhagen said ending the regulation would remove “barriers to entry” and increase competition in the hospital industry. “I think competition is healthy in almost all settings,” she said.
“Public union dues-or-recertification bill passes House panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A House committee voted along party lines to approve a measure to require most public employees’ unions to meet a dues-paying threshold or face recertification. The House Government Accountability Committee passed the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Scott Plakon, by a 14-9 vote, and now heads to the floor of the House of Representatives. HB 25 would require public employees’ unions [exempting police and firefighters’ unions] to annually report to the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission how many workers are in each bargaining unit, and how many of them actually pay dues. Any union that reports dues-paying members as less than 50 percent of the bargaining unit must be recertified as a union in order to continue to exist. That would require new petitions with at least 30 percent of all workers signatures, followed by an election, or else the commission would revoke the union’s standing.
“Senate health panel passes surgical center bill” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools — The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously passed a bill allowing ambulatory surgical centers to keep patients up to 24 hours. SB 250 does not include a House bill provision to create “recovery care centers” that could keep patients up to three days. Sen. Greg Steube the sponsor, told members “ … I made a commitment that I would only do the 24-hour piece and not add the recovery care piece, which is why chair Young agreed to hear it in this committee, and I have that commitment moving forward.” The committee added an amendment that requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to create rules for keeping children overnight at those facilities.
Senate advances Ronald Reagan license plate — The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved a bill to create a specialty license plate honoring the late President Reagan, with proceeds from sales of the plate going to Alzheimer’s disease research and the Florida National Guard Foundation. SB 468, filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, would lead to motorists paying a $25 fee for the specialty “President Ronald Reagan” plate. “I think probably the philosophical question that I run into is, `Do you really want to start doing presidents?’ And I say I’m fine with honoring anybody, but you (the honorees) have to be dead to do it,” Baxley said.
“Dane Eagle announces bills to change concealed carry rules, TANF benefits” via Florida Politics – HB 39 would make a brief sighting of a firearm held by a person with a CCW permit a noncriminal violation with a $25 fine for a first offense and a $500 fine for a second offense. A third offense would go down as a second-degree misdemeanor. Current law sticks CCW permit holders whose weapons are seen by others with a misdemeanor on the first offense. Eagle also filed HB 751, which would make several changes to TANF, including boosting the penalties for recipients who don’t comply with work requirements and barring them from spending the benefits money in certain locations, including a medical marijuana treatment center or dispensary. Under the bill, the first noncompliance would result in benefits being stripped from families for 30 days rather than 10 days; a second violation would see recipients stripped of benefits for three months instead of one; a third violation boosts the penalty period from three months to six months; and a fourth violation bumps it from six months to a year.
— STATEWIDE —
Jimmy Patronis: ‘Increase cancer, PTSD benefits for firefighters’ — Patronis announced he will fight to increase benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancers and post-traumatic stress connected with their job. “We have a responsibility to take care of our firefighter community the way they selflessly take care of us. Increasing benefits for firefighters with certain cancer diagnoses and PTSD is a top priority for my office,” he said in a statement. This legislative session, Patronis will push to change Florida law so firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer and PTSD can receive benefits and treatment. “Over the next several weeks, Patronis will tour the state, meeting with firefighters and their families to learn firsthand how these issues have impacted them, and learn their top concerns,” according to a news release. This week, he will be heading to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
“Supreme Court rejects football workers’ comp case” via the News Service of Florida — A divided Florida Supreme Court refused to take up a dispute about whether a former Arena Football League player should receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits because of injuries suffered while trying to regain a roster spot with the Orlando Predators. Justices, in a 4-3 decision, turned down an appeal by Bryon Bishop, a former lineman for the Predators who was injured in July 2013 as he worked out with the team. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal this year overturned a judge’s ruling that had supported workers’ compensation benefits for Bishop. The appeals court concluded that Bishop was not an employee of the Arena Football League. Bishop and a Predators coach had signed a contract, but the document had not been signed by a league official.
“City won’t pull Corrine Brown’s name from RTS facility — yet” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — Gainesville city commissioners won’t say if former U.S. Rep. Brown’s name should be removed from the city’s $35 million transit facility, in light of her 5-year prison sentence. Some city commissioners are still unsure if the name belongs on the Regional Transit System’s facility. Instead, they said they would like to hear from the community before deciding. Brown, 71, was convicted on 18 of 22 fraud-related charges in May after prosecutors said she used $800,000 from her charity, One Door for Education, which was aimed at sending poor children to college, for personal use. She was convicted on charges of fraud, lying on her taxes and lying on her congressional financial disclosure form. She was sentenced to five years in federal prison and to three years of supervised release. “I am hesitant to do much at this point,” Commissioner Harvey Budd said. “It’s a decision that the community as a whole needs to make. I’m looking for some insight from others to see what their moral compass is.”
“Venture capitalist champions private-school scholarships” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel — The number of children using a state scholarship to attend religious or other private schools in Florida soared by 21 percent last year to about 140,000 — the largest increase since the voucher programs started more than 15 years ago. No one has been more central to that growth than Tampa venture capitalist John Kirtley. He influences an interconnected network of school-choice advocates, corporate donors and an aggressive effort to elect school board members and legislators who support his vision to remake public education in Florida. Even Kirtley’s critics say he has masterfully executed a plan that combines nonprofit work with big campaign checks — at the expense, some say, of traditional public schools. Kirtley says he is driven by a mission to give every parent the chance to choose where their children go to school. “My dream is that someday every low-income parent will be empowered to find the right learning environment for their children,” Kirtley wrote in an email. “Parents of adequate means already have choices.”
“Ed Turanchik looks again at Tampa mayor’s race” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — “Six months ago, the answer was no. I’ve moved a bit on that topic and I’m actively taking a look at it and thinking about it,” he said. He’s been urged to do so, he said, by “people from a broad range of our community, largely unsolicited. People are saying I’ve always had a big vision for our future and you need to run to get it done.” Turanchik, 62, a Democrat, is a lawyer who practices in government relations, zoning and urban redevelopment. “I don’t need a job and I really enjoy what I do,” he said. “It’s not about the title or the trappings, but the ability to work and get things done.”
“Rick Baker vs. Rick Kriseman coda: No concession call, just a text” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – “When Rick Baker lost a tight mayoral race to incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman last month, he didn’t call to concede that night. Nor did Baker, a former St. Petersburg mayor himself, mention Kriseman in his concession speech. It wasn’t until three days later — at 7:06 a.m. on Nov. 10, to be precise, the Friday after the election — that Baker finally conceded. He did so via text message. “Congratulations on four more years. I care a great amount for the people of our city so I hope for you to succeed in making the lives better for those who live here—especially those in the most need,” Baker wrote to Kriseman. That was 28 days ago. Baker still hasn’t called his opponent.
“Duke Energy vendor’s hack may mean stolen customer bank info” via The Associated Press — Nearly 375,000 Duke Energy Corp. customers may have had personal and banking information stolen in a data breach. The country’s largest electric company said customers paid a bill by check or cash at 550 walk-in payment processing centers in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky since 2008 … Those payments were processed by TIO Networks, which was hacked in an attack disclosed after the company was purchased in July by PayPal Holdings Inc. Duke Energy customers make up nearly a quarter of the 1.6 million TIO Network customers potentially compromised. The personally identifiable information that may have been stolen from Duke Energy customers includes names, addresses, electricity account numbers and banking information if a customer paid power bills by check.
“Grand jury examining FSU pledge’s death” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – A Leon County grand jury will consider whether to bring charges in connection with the death of Florida State fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey. The grand jury will meet in secret Dec. 18 and 19 to examine the Nov. 3 death of Coffey after an off-campus party. Tallahassee Police said early indications showed alcohol was involved in the 20-year-old’s death; however, the state Medical Examiner’s report has been completed but not yet released.
Patricia Mazzei’s final story for the Miami Herald — “She ended her abusive relationship but needs help for her autistic son” — The Elliott who recently greeted visitors with a big grin and a T-shirt declaring him a “Perfect Gentleman,” and proudly showed off a paper airplane that came close to flying, is far different from the Elliott who would have come to the door less than a year ago. That Elliott — the one still reeling from the years of abuse against himself, his siblings and his mother, the one who had yet to get behavioral therapy for his autism — would have violently rejected new people, said his mother, Hasina Brinson. Two years ago, Brinson, 37, kicked out her boyfriend of eight years, the father of her three children, after she accused him of grabbing her around the neck, pinning her to the bed and trying to strangle her until she lost consciousness — with her daughter watching it all. After obtaining the temporary restraining order, Brinson said she got help from Chrysalis Health center … after obtaining the permanent order, Brinson sought help for Elliott. Brinson has a home health aide, and support from her mother and sister, who live nearby. But the family still needs help from the Miami Herald’s Wish Book holiday program. Hurricane Irma did a number on the roof of Brinson’s gated pink house. Water leaks into her bedroom. A contractor estimated fixing the damage would cost about $7,000. “I was like, ‘Isn’t that a new roof?’ He said, ‘No,’” she said. “I don’t have that.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“With five openings to fill, Donald Trump has opportunity to reshape federal bench in South Florida” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — A panel of influential power brokers appointed by both U.S. senators in Florida recently pared down the list of 45 initial applicants to just 10. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, will interview them and recommend all 10 or just five to the president. The list of finalists, chosen from 24 applicants who qualified for interviews last week with the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, includes nine men and one woman. Seven of the finalists are currently serving on the state circuit court, mostly in Miami-Dade County, and three are current or former federal prosecutors in Miami — including the acting U.S. attorney. Only two finalists are from Broward County and none is from Palm Beach County. Not everyone is pleased with the lineup of finalists, noting the counties north of Miami-Dade are not well represented.
“Trump appoints former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll to post” – via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Carroll was appointed by President Trump on Tuesday to the American Battle Monuments Commission. Also appointed was Luis Quinonez, a Vietnam veteran and businessman who lives in South Florida. Carroll was a surrogate for Trump during the campaign and appeared at his rallies as well as serving on his National Diversity Council. She served 20 years in the Navy.
Thank you Congressman @RepDeSantis for your tireless efforts in working to ensure @POTUS followed through with his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem and declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Tomorrow will be a historic day cc: @RJC @mbrooksrjc
— Scott Ross (@SLRoss528) December 6, 2017
Assignment editors — Florida congressmen Matt Gaetz, Ron DeSantis and Ted Yoho, alongside U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mark Meadows (North Carolina), Trent Franks (Arizona), Scott Perry (Pennsylvania), Jody Hice (Georgia), Andy Biggs (Arizona) and Louie Gohmert (Texas) will hold a news conference, demanding answers to questions they have raised about FBI’s treatment of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Trump during the 2016 election cycle. Event begins 9 a.m. at the House Triangle (East Front) of the U.S. Capitol.
“Longtime Ros-Lehtinen foreign affairs staffer is leaving Capitol Hill” via Franco Ordonez of the Miami Herald – Ros-Lehtinen‘s longtime staff director Eddy Acevedo is leaving. Ros-Lehtinen, and several members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where Acevedo is subcommittee staff director and senior foreign policy advisor for Ros-Lehtinen, took to the House Floor Tuesday to deliver tributes to Acevedo who is leaving to join the United States Agency for International Development. Acevedo, who worked for Ros-Lehtinen for nearly a decade, will be the new Deputy Assistant Administrator and Chief Legislative Strategist in USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs.
— OPINIONS —
“Emmett Reed: Constitution is no place for special favors for clients or friends” via Florida Politics – In today’s charged political environment, the public has a right to expect the highest ethical standards from its public officials. Unfortunately, one appointed member of the Constitution Revision Commission seems to still be serving the master who pays him to be a lobbyist. Brecht Heuchan is a member of the Constitution Revision Commission, but for many years he has been a paid lobbyist for Wilkes & McHugh, a law firm that makes its living suing nursing homes … now Heuchan is trying to use (some would say abuse) his appointed public position to slip those same changes into the Constitution. Not only does Heuchan’s proposal not belong in the Constitution, but it’s entirely unnecessary. It would add zero new protections to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and would only bypass decisions of the Legislature and expand ways that trial attorneys can sue. Heuchan says it’s a response to the terrible tragedy in which more than a dozen residents lost their lives in a South Florida nursing home during Hurricane Irma, but it wouldn’t do anything to fix or prevent what happened there. It would only give attorneys – his clients – more opportunity to sue. That’s just wrong. Wrong for the people of Florida, and wrong for the Florida Constitution.
— MOVEMENTS —
” ‘Alligator Ron’ says he’ll still be involved after not being reappointed to wildlife panel” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Former state Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron said Tuesday he was disappointed at not being reappointed to the panel last week but he respects Gov. Scott’s decision. … Scott late Friday appointed Sonya Rood of St. Augustine and Gary Nicklaus of Jupiter to the seats held by Bergeron and Liesa Priddy for six years. Nicklaus is a former professional golfer and son of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus while Rood is the wife of John Rood, a former FWC chairman who now is chairman of The Vestcor Companies, Inc. The new appointments come amid other turnover at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and likely more new appointees in the coming months.
>>>Money quote from Bergeron in Ritchie’s story: “I’m 74 — but I’m in very good shape. I work out six days a week. I’ve done 1,000 sit-ups this morning and elliptical for an hour and lifted weights for an hour. So when you bite into me, you better hang on.”
Personnel note: Anders Croy to leave House Democratic Office communications post — House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa announced on Tuesday that Croy will be leaving the communications director position to work for an unnamed Democrat in a statewide race. Croy said he could not yet disclose who he will be working for, but said he will be leaving the House Caucus job at the end of the year. “I appreciate everything you have done for us, and I appreciate everything you have done for me, so thank you,” Cruz said during a House Democratic Caucus meeting.
“Pasco County school district picks former Gov. Rick Scott chief of staff as temporary lobbyist” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Superintendent Kurt Browning selected a group with Kim McDougal, Gov. Scott’s former chief of staff and legislative director, to advocate the district’s positions through June. McDougal is senior government affairs director for GrayRobinson, a Tallahassee-based law firm that was one of three to interview for the part-time job. Before joining Scott’s staff, she worked in the Department of Education, and previously advised Jeb Bush. “Because of the urgency to have representation for the upcoming committee week and session, this matter will not be brought to the Board for action,” Browning told board members in a recent email. “It is well within the cap allowing the superintendent to act.”
“Lobby up: TIKD hires Ballard Partners for traffic ticket ‘food fight’” via Florida Politics — The disrupter is TIKD Holdings, which will — get this — fight your speeding tickets for you in court. “Users … pay a one-time fee that’s always less than the original ticket,” CNN explains. TIKD then “goes to court in your place … If you get points on your license, you’ll get a refund and TIKD will also pay for the original ticket,” the CNN story adds. “The company says it has saved customers more than $100,000 in fines and nearly $4 million in avoided insurance costs.” Here’s the problem: “TIKD is not a law firm, but instead uses independent lawyers to resolve the tickets at a cost that is 15 to 20 percent less than the ticket fee,” a Miami Herald story says. With success comes notoriety: The Florida Bar soon opened an “unlicensed practice of law” investigation into the company after it was featured in the Miami Herald story.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
George Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: The College Board
Chris Dorworth, William Turbeville, Ballard Partners: American Land Investments of Orange County, Atlantic Sapphire USA, Banksville of Florida, Nivesa of Florida
Diana Ferguson, Rutledge Ecenia: America Votes, Florida Public Advocacy
David Griffin: Florida Association of Broadcasters, St. John and Partners
Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Stop the Beach Renourishment
Delman Lebel: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Jessica Love, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: College of Central Florida Foundation
Eva Regueira: Miami-Dade County Public Schools
James Spratt, CAS Governmental Services: Florida Aquaculture Assoc.
Austin Stowers: Department of State
Jessica Throckmorton: College of Central Florida
— ALOE —
“Olaf is being let go: Olaf short is being dropped from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’” via Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times — Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the 21-minute animated “short” preceding Disney-Pixar’s Coco in theaters won’t be part of the show starting Friday. Disney claims that was always the plan. If so, a limited run ending Dec. 7 wasn’t made clear in Coco’s advertising. Neither was the featurette’s running time. For some parents, Olaf’s departure isn’t a moment too soon. It isn’t just that the Tolkien-length ’toon starring Josh Gad’s voice plays like an infomercial for Frozen 2, due in 2019, or an ABC-TV special that wouldn’t cost anything to see. It’s that making children sit through 15-20 minutes of trailers then 21 minutes of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure before getting to Coco leads to restlessness. Coco then runs nearly two hours. Try keeping 3-D glasses on a preschooler that long.
“Skydiving Santa crashes on Florida beach with Elf on a Shelf” via The Associated Press — A skydiving Santa looking to make a grand entrance while taking an Elf on the Shelf to a 9-year-old girl crashed into a tree and light pole before hitting a Florida beach and breaking his leg … George Krokus was dressed as Santa Claus during a Saturday sky-dive to deliver toys to the Tampa Bay Beach Bums Operation Santa Charity Volleyball Tournament. Madison Spiers saw the crash and later found a note from the “elf” named Kristoff who visits her house during the holidays. It said, “As we were about to land this big tree jumped right out in front of us!”
— Rep. Bob Cortes (@CortesBob) December 6, 2017