Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Breaking Tuesday afternoon, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has resigned, clearing the way for Governor-elect Ron DeSantis to appoint his own person, expected to be former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a school choice champion.
Will the Capitol rotunda go empty this holiday season?
Nina Ashley, spokeswoman for the Department of Management Services, the state’s real estate manager, said no one had yet applied to place a holiday display for the 2018 season.
Well, it’s still early, we guess.
A little history: Every year, groups usually seek to install various displays in the plaza-level rotunda of the Capitol, including the usual Hanukkah menorahs and Christian Nativity scenes.
A controversy arose in 2013 when The Satanic Temple sought to place a cardboard diorama of an angel falling into hell. The state rejected the diorama, saying it was “grossly offensive,” which nearly sparked a First Amendment lawsuit.
After being placed in the rotunda the following year, a Tallahassee woman who described herself as a “devout Catholic” later was arrested by Capitol Police after she tried to remove the diorama. She was charged with criminal mischief, though prosecutors later dropped the case.
Two variations of a six-foot Festivus pole also have graced the rotunda, both by South Florida activist Chaz Stevens.
One was made of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans; another was a rainbow-colored “Gay Pride” version topped with a disco ball. The poles honor Festivus, the fictional holiday from a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.”
Stevens also proposed an all-black “Shot by Cops” pole containing “the names of all unarmed black men killed by police in 2016,” but family health issues prevented him from bringing the pole to Tallahassee.
Other past displays have included:
— A placard with a tongue-in-cheek message to “celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” with “friends,” “fun” and “Chinese food” by American Atheists.
— A “Happy Holidays from the Tallahassee Atheists” banner.
— A “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display put up by Secular Student Alliance and Pastafarian Peter Wood.
Postscript: Last night’s ‘First Shot’ was about state gambling regulators rewriting a rule governing the drug testing of racing greyhounds. The text of the proposed rule was not available Monday but was posted Tuesday morning, and now can be read here.
“Rick Scott won’t leave office early” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald
“Write-in candidate challenging Ron DeSantis‘ election as Governor” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics
“Inside the early days of the DeSantis transition” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics
“Florida education Commissioner Pam Stewart resigns” via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
“Seminole County elections chief in running to be next Secretary of State” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
“Susan MacManus explains Florida ‘pitiful’ polling problem” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“The Democrats’ Hispanic problem” via Michael Grunwald and Marc Caputo of POLITICO
“Elections officials: Tweaks needed, but no major overhaul” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press
“Confusion clouds restoration of felons’ voting rights” via Steve Bousquet, Steve Contorno, and David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald
“Ross Spano should be disqualified from Congress after illegal campaign loans, top Florida Democrat says” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times
Quote of the Day
“When Gov. (Rick) Scott was elected, he promised to fight for Florida families every single day … (He) will remain Governor until Jan. 8, 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to hold the ceremony for (his) swearing-in as U.S. Senator from Florida that afternoon.” — Scott spokesman John Tupps.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a hearing a proposed rules changes based on recommendations from the Bone Marrow Transplant Advisory Council. That’s at 9 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Building 3, Tallahassee.
Rep. Holly Raschein, a Key Largo Republican, and staff members from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will hold “office hours” in Monroe County to help Citizens policyholders with Hurricane Irma claims or other insurance issues. That’s at 10 a.m., Salvation Army building, 30300 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key.
The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold one in a series of “Be Scam Smart” workshops to help seniors avoid financial scams at 10 a.m., Jefferson Senior Citizens Center, 1155 North Jefferson St., Monticello.
Medical marijuana provider Surterra Wellness will hold a grand opening of its newest “wellness center” —— the company’s first in Palm Beach County. Supporters and local officials will be in attendance for a ribbon cutting, as the company opens its 14th center in the state. That’s at 10:30 a.m., 11575 U.S. Highway 1, North Palm Beach.
The Sumter County legislative delegation will meet as it prepares for the 2019 Session. That’s at 1 p.m., The Villages Sumter County Service Center, 7375 Powell Road, Wildwood.
The state Department of Environmental Protection will hold a meeting focused on beach access. That’s at 5:30 p.m. Central time, Northwest Florida State College, South Walton Campus, 109 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach.