Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.11.18 - Florida Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.11.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Joe Henderson, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Watching the unfolding catastrophe Hurricane Michael brought to Panama City, it brings a familiar fear: What if this monster came up the mouth of Tampa Bay instead of veering west?

It’s a warning people need to take seriously.

A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach. (Image via AP)

If past is prologue, a storm the size and intensity of Michael washing ashore in downtown Tampa (or somewhere nearby), would bring unimaginable devastation to the densely populated Tampa Bay area, and it’s uncertain that this area can adequately prepare.

A year ago, The Washington Post reported what will happen when Tampa Bay’s century-long string of luck runs out. The World Bank says Tampa is among the 10 cities on the planet most at risk for utter devastation by a major hurricane.

It almost happened last year with Hurricane Irma, but the meteorological gods gave the area a last-minute reprieve when the storm unexpectedly wobbled ashore at Naples, knocking it down a bit.

And facing the unimaginable force generated by Michael, the only defense against a storm of that size is to evacuate. The problem in Panama City was the hurricane exploded in strength in a brief time, leaving residents and visitors little time to get out of the way.

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, with huge piles of debris and homes fully submerged under water. (Image via USA TODAY)

Imagine carnage like that hitting an area of more than 3 million people, an inadequate road system, major buildup along coastlines and waterways, nowhere to run and hide.

Experts say it’s going to happen one day. The Tampa Bay-area will be under water.

They may be wrong; the fear is they aren’t.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Weinsteinlaw: Tonight @realDonaldTrump is fundraising and holding a rally in Pennsylvania while Hurricane Michael victims across Florida are still decimated. Wrong!

@LearyReports: .@realDonaldTrump will visit Florida next week re: hurricane, WH says.

@JDiamond1: Trump in Oval tells reporters he plans to host missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi‘s fiancee at the White House soon. Says he has talked to the Saudis but offers no new information on Khashoggi’s status.

@jchristianminor: #Tallahassee dodged a major bullet. This could’ve been 10x what we experienced @AndrewGillum you did very well. Handled this event w/diligence, class & poise @FLGovScott per usual you made sure state had its affairs in order. I felt safe b/c of you #HurricaneMichael #FlaPol

@COTNews: As of 9 p.m., officials have not received any reports of significant injury. Thank you to everyone who has and is heeding the advice of local officials to ensure your safety and that of our responders.

@Rob_Bradley: Right now, brave men and women are on dangerous roads, stopping often to cut and clear, in places with no electricity, in order to reach people and save lives. Every minutes counts so they can’t wait. I’m thankful for them.

@Shawnfor63: Tonight our family in Panama City are sleeping in their cars because their roofs are gone. But they are safe. No one hurt. Thank you God. Some families tonight are not so lucky. All of Florida is praying for them. Tomorrow we start to rebuild. Because that’s who we are.

–@BethMatuga: The Forgotten Coast has meant so much to me for the last 20 years. Warm, happy memories filled with friends & food, sun & sand. A slice of paradise running along Hwy 98. It’s why I got a place in #Carrabelle – to make more of those memories. I’m so, so sad for @franklintdc

@TimTebow: Praying for all those being affected by #HurricaneMichael! #Floridastrong

@MarcACaputo: If FL’s US Senate race — currently tied w/an inside-the-error-margin edge for Sen Bill Nelson — comes down to a few thousand votes in Scott’s favor, there might be a Hurricane Michael Effect Scott won in 2010 w/1.2% & 61,550 vote margin & in 2014 w/1% & 64,145 margin

@NewsBySmiley: One commercial break. Three ads. Two on health care by Gillum and @DebbieforFL and one calling Gillum “corrupt” by RPOF

—@NewsBySmiley: Frmr Gov. @JebBush among those calling for campaign civility RN. “Campaigns should shut down the ads in the impacted areas. The exclusive focus needs to be on preparing, rescuing and recovering.”

@kkfla737: This is one of the most dangerous days in our state’s modern history. Those playing politics today regardless of where in Florida you reside, I have nothing but lasting contempt and disdain for all of you, irrespective of party or ideology.

@WCSOFL: “We have people who cannot exercise good sense. While it might be their constitutional right to be an idiot, it’s not their right to endanger everyone else! Their failure to be accountable becomes our problem! Get off roads & beaches!” — @SheriffAdkinson

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

— DAYS UNTIL —

CNN Florida midterm Senate debate — 5; CNN Florida midterm gubernatorial debate — 10; MLB World Series begins — 12; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 13; Early voting begins — 16; Halloween — 20; General Election Day — 26; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 37; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 40; Thanksgiving — 42; Black Friday — 43; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 47; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 61; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 124; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 145; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 148; 2020 General Election — 754.

— STORM NOTES —

‘Like an atomic bomb’” via Savannah Evanoff of the Northwest Florida Daily News – Hours after Hurricane Michael devastated Bay County and its neighbors to the east, authorities were still trying to grasp the magnitude of destruction. The storm came in squarely on Tyndall Air Force Base with winds of 155 mph, causing severe damage to the base as well as the communities on either side of it. In the immediate aftermath, citizens were reporting extensive damage to numerous structures, including some that were leveled by the storm. “It looks like an atomic bomb had hit our city,” said David Barnes, a DJ in Panama City. “Damage has been widespread.” Among the heavily damaged buildings was the Panama City News Herald building on 11th Street in the city.

Western (Panhandle) counties escape the brunt of Michael” via Wendy Victoria of the Northwest Floria Daily News – Michael largely spared Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties when it blew ashore mid-day Wednesday. The Category 4 storm toppled some trees, kicked up the surf and blew yard debris and litter onto roads, but saved its worst for North Florida communities to the east.

Was Tallahassee lucky in its meeting with Hurricane Michael? ‘A resounding yes’” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The city, a virtual ghost town because of shuttered state offices and businesses, girded for the possibility of widespread destruction, impassable roads and prolonged power outages. However, Tallahassee appeared to have escaped some of the more dire predictions of cataclysmic weather. “Do we feel a little lucky about where we are right now?” asked Leon County Administrator Vince Long. “I think given the magnitude of this storm, the answer is a resounding yes.”

I-10 closed for 80 miles in both directions for Michael cleanup” via the Tallahassee Democrat – The historic impact of Category 4 Hurricane Michael has forced the closure of a long stretch of Interstate 10 in Northern Florida as crews work to clear debris. The interstate has been shut down in at least 16 counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson. … It is not clear at this time how long I-10 will remain closed.

— “Tallahassee airport reopens for relief supplies” via the Tallahassee Democrat

Strike teams ready to aid Franklin County” via Heather Osbourne of the Panama City News Herald – Approximately 50 emergency strike teams are waiting for an “all clear” to swarm Franklin County Thursday to begin damage assessments and perform welfare checks on the residents who stayed behind. Pam Brownell, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said Duke Energy will be the first sent into Franklin County Thursday to deactivate live wires before sending in other emergency crews. The Franklin County Emergency Operation Center received reports throughout the day Wednesday, Brownell said, of downed trees and power lines. One report stated a tree had fallen on top of a home in Caravelle. “We’ve got people out here riding around and walking,” Brownell said Wednesday evening. “That’s highly dangerous. People need to stay inside. If they don’t listen there will be fatalities.” The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will enforce a dusk to dawn curfew until further notice, according to Sheriff A.J. Smith. Violators of the curfew will be arrested.

Donald Trump: Hurricane Michael grew ‘into a monster’” via Rebecca Morin with Matthew Choi of POLITICO Florida — “This started out very innocently a week ago. This was a small storm in an area; they never thought it was going to grow into a monster,” Trump said. FEMA Administrator Brock Long said Michael was identified Saturday and was flagged as a storm that could “go from the wave to the depression and potentially could rapidly intensify.” He added that states around the Gulf of Mexico coast usually have less time to prepare with hurricanes formed there. Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane overnight … Trump authorized a state of emergency in Florida for Michael, and Gov. Rick Scott said there are up to 3,500 members of the National Guard and more than 1,000 rescue workers to respond to the storm. “One of the things that must be said is that it is not so easy for some of the people to leave,” Trump said. “Some of the areas are very poor.”

>>>Trump acknowledged the hurricane at the top of his rally in Erie, offering his “thoughts and prayers” to those in the storm’s path and promising to “spare no effort” in the response. He promised to travel to Florida “very shortly.” He added: “We will always pull through. … We will always be successful at what we do.”

Fast, furious: How Michael grew into a 155-mph monster” via Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press — Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning, with winds of 90 mph. A little over a day later, it had transformed into a monster. When it made landfall, it was blowing at 155 mph. That’s a 72 percent increase in wind speed in less than 33 hours. “Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said. Hurricanes have something called a potential intensity. That’s how strong a storm can get if all other factors are aligned. Michael had nothing holding it back. Meteorologists first got a sense something big could be happening by watching how Michael’s eye changed shape. Early Tuesday, it was oddly shaped and ragged. Later in the morning it started to get better organized, and by Tuesday night real-time satellite imagery was showing the eye getting stronger and scarier by the minute. Another factor: Its pressure, the measurement meteorologists use to gauge a hurricane’s strength. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Before landfall, Michael’s pressure fell so low it looked like the winds were sure to pick up fast, said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for weathermodels.com.

Florida shifts to search and rescue after Michael” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — At least 388,000 utility customers lost power as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore — with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 mph — between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, before speeding north into Alabama and Georgia. The Category 4 storm created storm surges up to 14 feet in areas, inflicted damages across Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City and spawned at least two “devastating” tornadoes in Gadsden County. The monster hurricane was the most powerful ever recorded to hit the Panhandle and was on par with Hurricanes Irma, which swept across Florida in September 2017, and Andrew, which devastated Homestead in 1992. Addressing the media at the state Emergency Operations Center Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Scott said a “massive wave of response” was already underway from the state, utilities and the U.S. Coast Guard, for the storm that “came really fast.” “We’re sending them out now,” Scott said.

Jimmy Patronis: Insurance companies need to move quickly to help Floridians hit by Hurricane Michael” via the Florida Daily – Patronis and state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier held a call with representatives of insurance companies on Monday as residents of the Panhandle and Big Bend readied for the hurricane. After the call, Patronis weighed in on the topics he addressed. “I put Florida’s insurance industry on notice that I expect that they will be ready to serve Florida families after Hurricane Michael,” Patronis said. “We’ll do everything possible to protect residents throughout the entire post-storm process. Sen. Marco Rubio has already reached out to me to partner once again on emergency insurance villages to directly help with filing claims. Recovery must be easy and fast so that Floridians can get back to normal as quickly as possible.”

 NBC reporter Kerry Sanders nearly blown away by wind gust during Hurricane Michael” via WFLA — Sanders has been reporting from Panama City Beach, just a few miles from where Michael made landfall. It was a Category 4 when it hit, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. As Sanders struggled to stay on his feet, Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel stepped in to help. He and Sanders made their way to a large pole of some type; then Sanders was able to move to safety as the wind gusts died down.

To view the video, click on the image below:

As Michael approaches, Matt Gaetz heads to D.C. — POLITICO Playbook reported spotting Gaetz (on a Tuesday flight from Orlando to D.C.), even as Michael makes way toward his district. On Twitter, Gaetz boasted he flew coach: “[Deputy Attorney General RodRosenstein was supposed to come for an interview in Judiciary tomorrow about discussing wearing a wire to overthrow the President. It seemed like something that required my attention. I was advised this morning that now he won’t be coming. #LowEnergyOversight”

Unprecedented storm could mean rebuilding” — Gulf Power is looking at the possibility that its system may have to be rebuilt in the hardest hit areas. Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesperson, says: “In the hardest hit areas, the possibility exists that we will be rebuilding our system while we are restoring power. Customers in the high impact areas could be without power for weeks. We’re estimating that 225,000 customers could be without power after Michael passes through.” More than 2,600 outside resources have been secured from at least 15 different states, as far north as Michigan and as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. Including Gulf Power’s 1,187 employees and 330 on-site contractors, that’s more than 4,100 resources ready to restore power. “Every Gulf Power employee has a storm duty, and they’re ready for this,” Rogers said. “We drill every year and crews train year-round — we’ve become very skilled in power restoration.”

Complete destruction to the northeastern side of a bank in Panama City. (Image via Twitter/@StormVisuals)

Reporters in the dark — Local news reporters were working in the dark as Hurricane Michael made landfall. The News-Herald in Panama City tweeted that conditions were “getting very nasty here” as the hurricane’s eye closed in. The newsroom was running on generator power without internet access. The newspaper tweeted that reporters were feeling “crashing thunder shaking the building.” At the Panama City news station WJHG/WECP, reporter Tyler Allender tweeted that his colleagues were taking shelter in a hallway in the middle of the building because “this wind is SERIOUS.” Allender said they were sitting in the dark because their building had lost power.

Janet Cruz to hold hurricane relief supply drop-off — House Democratic Leader Cruz’s Legislative office will be accepting hurricane relief supplies to aid those in the Panhandle affected by Hurricane Michael. Residents are encouraged to drop-off relief supplies from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Suggested items include nonperishable packaged or canned foods and juices, snack foods, paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights, batteries, new blankets, first aid kits, toiletries, baby and adult diapers, toys, books and games for children and pet care items. Cruz’s office is at 2221 North Himes Avenue, Suite B, Tampa.

THE LATEST

Tropical Storm Michael continues to weaken as it over eastern Georgia as it makes its way toward the Carolinas. Early Thursday, the eye of Michael was about 90 miles (144 kilometers) northeast of Macon, Georgia and 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Augusta. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 mph (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).

The National Hurricane Center says the core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning. It will then move across portions of central and eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Breaking taboo, negative ads fly during Florida hurricane” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – As Hurricane Michael bore down, the Republican Party of Florida broke with that tradition and continued to air two ads bashing Ron DeSantis’ Democratic rival in the race for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, over his city’s response to a hurricane in 2016. And in the U.S. Senate race, the Democratic super PAC backing Sen. Bill Nelson began running a negative commercial in strike-zone markets calling his opponent Gov. Scott a dishonest “shady millionaire who doesn’t look out for you.” There is a major difference between the two negative ads: The Senate campaigns have no say over the super PAC ads, can’t coordinate with the group under federal law, and Nelson’s campaign said no one should be posting negative ads in the counties affected by Michael. DeSantis’ campaign, however, is governed by state law and worked side-by-side with the state GOP with its attack ad.

Craig Fugate rebukes political attacks after Ron DeSantis rips Andrew Gillum during monster storm” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — Fugate, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and Florida Emergency Management Director, on Twitter urged DeSantis and other candidates ought to knock it off during this crisis: “I would encourage all Florida Candidates running for office to use this time to help raise funds for the @RedCross @SalArmyEDS @TeamRubicon and others part of the @NationalVOAD #HurricaneMichael #Michael #FLwx.” DeSantis brushed off a question about the appropriateness of his attack ads at this point. “You run your campaign the way you run your campaign. It is what it is,” he said.

To view the latest ad, click on the image below:

Miami mayors Dan Gelber, Alex Penelas blast DeSantis for ‘hurricane politics’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Miami Beach Mayor Gelber expressed shock that DeSantis would run attack ads as Panhandle residents glue themselves to TV sets for live storm updates. “This was a knowing decision to exploit one of the most fearsome storms our state is ever going to encounter,” he said. Gelber and former Miami-Dade County Mayor Penelas lambasted the decision to run ads during a conference call with reporters. “There’s clearly a time for politics, and there’s time to govern,” Penelas said. “Right now, people’s lives are literally at risk.” Gelber noted the FBI ads come on top of ads criticizing Gillum for Tallahassee’s response to Hurricane Hermine.

Gillum wants to pay starting teachers $50,000. Could that ever happen in Florida?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Boosting pay to the level Gillum proposes would require a heavy financial lift — a half-billion dollars a year or more, according to Florida Education Association estimates. And that’s just not something the Republican-dominated state Legislature has been willing to consider. It has had the opportunity. As both a Senator and Representative, Democrat Kevin Rader has filed his “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act” annually since 2015. The measure, which would set a statewide minimum teacher salary at $50,000, never has received a committee hearing or a staff analysis. Incoming Senate president Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, indicated that the similar Gillum pay plan, and its attached corporate tax hike, likely would remain a nonstarter.

— SCOTT VS. NELSON —

As Senate race wears on, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott are getting more and more unpopular” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — According to Morning Consult surveys, both Nelson and Scott have seen their favorability numbers crater in recent months. In the last quarter of 2017, Nelson had a very healthy +25 net approval rating, according to the Morning Consult survey, which asked over 250,000 voters across the country about their senators. Fifty-one percent of voters approved of the Democrat in that survey, compared to just 26 percent who disapproved. The same survey taken during the third quarter of 2018 (July 1 through Sept. 25) found that Nelson had a negative overall favorability rating. Just 39 percent of voters approved of Nelson, compared to 41 percent who disapproved. Nelson’s popularity fell more between the second and third quarters of 2018 than any other U.S. senator. Scott also saw a precipitous drop in his popularity numbers between the second and third quarters … The Republican saw his net favorability numbers drop from plus-19 to plus-9 in that time — tied for the steepest drop of any governor.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Despite huge financial advantage, Amendment 3 supporters face challenge in securing needed 60-percent approval” via John Haughey of Watchdog.org — Amendment 3 proponents have raised nearly $40 million to promote a ballot measure that seeks to give voters “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in Florida. Despite the overwhelming financial advantage supplied by Disney Worldwide Services and the Seminole Tribe, however, polls indicate the proposal may not secure the 60 percent majority necessary to adopt a constitutional amendment. According to a recent Florida Chamber of Commerce survey, the measure is supported by 54 percent of voters with 28 percent saying they will vote “no,” essentially leaving the issue to be determined by the 18 percent who were undecided. The good news for Amendment 3 supporters — which include the Florida Chamber and League of Women Voters — is they have a month and millions of dollars to persuade one-third of the undecided to vote yes. 

Happening tonight:

Gus Bilirakis takes credit for law he did not craft in new ad touting fight on opioids” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The 30-second ad flashes text about a “Bilirakis INTERDICT ACT” as Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco says Bilirakis is “giving us the tools to do our job and get traffickers off the street.” The INTERDICT Act, signed by Trump in January, provides funding and equipment to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for detecting imported fentanyl. But Bilirakis was neither a sponsor nor one of 18 co-sponsors, making it unclear how it is the “Bilirakis INTERDICT Act.” Campaign spokesman Towson Fraser said in an email the ad was worded that way because Bilirakis “voted for the act, it went through his committee, he participated in hearings about the need for it, and worked to support its passage.”

Happening tonight — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, 7 p.m., Carlisle Inn, 3727 Bahia Vista South, Sarasota.

John Morgan endorses Anna Eskamani as ‘a fighter’ in HD 47 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “I am proud to endorse Anna Eskamani for Florida State House District 47,” Morgan stated in a news release. “Anna is a fighter, always has been — always will be. Anna is for the people and has earned the support and trust of voters from all political affiliations. I know she will be a strong advocate for issues that impact everyday Floridians and will redefine what it means to be a public servant.” Morgan, the founder of the Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm and the principal backer behind Florida’s medical marijuana laws, had for a long time been a prominent Democratic fundraiser, though he has occasionally backed a Republican candidate.

Happening tonight:

In last two months, Democrats gain voter registration advantage in Florida. Is that enough?” via Andrew Pantazi the of the Florida Times-Union — Statewide, as of Tuesday, counties had added about 213,000 new voters since the Aug. 28 primary, with Democrats making up 39 percent of those voters and Republicans making up 34 percent … it’s likely the Democratic margin will increase. Democrats generally gain a registration advantage in the last two months before an election, as Republicans are more likely to register year-round. In 2016, Democrats registered more voters than Republicans in the final two months before the election yet still lost the state by 113,000 votes. Still, a county’s change in party registration numbers for the last two months correlated with how that county voted in that presidential election.

— STATEWIDE —

Red tide worsens in St. Lucie, improves in Martin; is Indian River County next?” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The good news for Indian River County: An algae researcher doesn’t think red tide will make it there. Comparing results of water samples taken last week with those released late Tuesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows the northward trend: St. Lucie County beaches with very low levels of red tide Oct. 1 — Dollman Park, Waveland and County Line — had medium levels Monday. One beach, Diamond Sands, jumped from having no red tide to having a medium level Monday. Other beaches that had no red tide Oct. 1 — Walton Rocks, Ocean Bay, Herman’s Bay and Normandy — had low levels Monday. All those beaches are south of the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant; beaches to the north are still red tide-free.

Minnesota accuses Florida charity of misleading donors” via The Associated Press — The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Attorney General Lori Swanson alleges American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc., collected $425,000 in donations from thousands of Minnesotans from 2011 to 2017 for a fund to help officers’ families. Donors were told all the contributions would go to the fund. But Swanson says only 9 percent did. The Star Tribune reports the charity raised $4 million nationwide last year and spent most of that on marketing, contracts with for-profit fundraisers and salaries. The charity was also sued by Minnesota in 1996.

Florida panther struck and killed by vehicle” via The Associated Press — It’s the 20th fatal collision this year, out of 22 total panther deaths. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the remains of the 5-year-old male were collected Sunday on a county road north of Immokalee in Collier County.

Happening tonight — Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will speak during a 40th-anniversary event of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, 6 p.m., University of South Florida St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 200 Sixth Ave. South, St. Petersburg.

— TRULIEVE CELEBRATES 20TH FLORIDA LOCATION —

Medical cannabis provider Trulieve is opening a new Sarasota outlet, its twentieth Florida location.

“With every opening, we’ve made our top priority providing safe, reliable and natural relief to the growing number of patients in the state,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “With twenty locations statewide, and more on track to open in the coming months, we will be able to bring safe and effective care to the patients who need it most, including those who may have been unable to make it to a physical location before.”

Florida limits medical marijuana licensees to only 30 locations statewide, a number Trulieve expects to hit by February 2019.

Recently, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use announced the registry surpassed 172,000 registered medical marijuana patients, with Trulieve consistently selling more than two-thirds of the state’s overall volume. There are now more than 1,700 registered ordering physicians in Florida.

To celebrate the grand opening, Trulieve will hold a news event with Rivers and Victoria Walker, Director of Community Relations, Friday at 10 a.m., 935 North Beneva Road, Sarasota. There will be tours of the new dispensary immediately following.

— OPINIONS —

Vote no on Amendment 10: Bundling of issues detracts from a good idea” via Jennifer Carroll for the Orlando Sentinel — Basically, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is an unelected body of lobbyists, with no accountability and no checks or balances, attempting to amend our constitution with politically charged proposals that, for the most part, do not even belong in our constitution. Conducting their business under the heavy influence of special-interest groups, the CRC has put forth a multitude of confusing, intentionally misleading and suspiciously bundled amendments in an attempt to gain our support for the commission’s hidden agenda. Because of this mischief, we feel it is our obligation and duty to fairly warn Floridians about what is going on and encourage them to vote no on all CRC amendments, including Amendment 10 … a conglomerate of unrelated smoke-screen proposals designed to lull unsuspecting voters into supporting their real political objective buried deep in the same amendment.

Dick Batchelor: Health care — all Floridians deserve it” via Orlando Rising — The reasons vary why so many people do not have health insurance, but for many, it boils down to basic math: They simply cannot afford it. So how do we change this dynamic? Fortunately, we don’t need to start over with a Medicare-for-all solution to move forward. The model that’s in place is solid. We can — and should — build on what’s already working. There is always room for improvement, but the ACA works. It’s a good foundation on which to build. Through the ACA and Medicaid expansion, we can bring health insurance to more low-income individuals. There’s no reason why Florida can’t do this. If we don’t, we risk something far greater: leaving some of our most vulnerable citizens behind.

— MOVEMENTS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Andrew Kalel: Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel Region Three

Tara Reid, Strategos Public Affairs: Teachers of Tomorrow

— ALOE —

No claws for concern? Hurricane Michael could be good news for stone crab season.” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times – Many attribute last year’s strong start to Hurricane Irma, which hit about a month before the season opened, churning up the water and making it silty, just the way crabs prefer when they are ready to walk around in search of food. Crystal-clear water leaves them too vulnerable to predators and they stay buried and pine for the cover of dirt. “The storm will mean that there’s rough and dirty water out there that will hopefully make them crawl and look around for food,” said Kris Sahr, owner of Offshore Seafood. Sahr used to have 3,000 traps in the Tampa Bay area but now buys and sells from crabbers, crabs he mostly sells to Crabby Bill’s restaurants. Scientists don’t agree on what will happen after the storm. Some say it’s likely to break up the Red Tide. Others predict the hurricane will simply move it around. Sahr is counting on the former. “It’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “We need the water cooling down and the shorter days — Red Tide feeds off warm water and sunlight.”

City Works Eatery & Pour House coming to Disney Springs” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The City Works Eatery & Pour House will focus on “classic American food” along with three full-service bars, a 165-inch TV screen and a 1,767-square-foot patio space. “The Disney Springs space will offer 80 beers on tap including rare, limited supply, special tappings from local breweries and others from around the world,” Disney Springs marketing manager Darcy Clark wrote on the Disney Parks Blog. “If barley and hops aren’t for you, a curated selection of popular wines will be available as well, ready to pair with bar bites, shareables, burgers and more.” There are currently seven City Works restaurants around the country, including a Florida location in Doral. Chicago-based Bottleneck Management will run it. The new restaurant will be adjacent to the under-construction NBA Experience, which is taking over space once occupied by the demolished Disney Quest.

An artist’s rendering of the new Disney Springs City Works Eatery & Pour House, a take on “classic American food.”

Happy birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog 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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