Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
A Florida Party we can all get behind — On Friday, Jan. 11, as the Capital City again serves as a hub for hospitality and a centerpiece for history during inauguration week, the Junior League of Tallahassee will host its first-ever Sunshine State Ball.
A party for members of all parties, the black-tie Ball at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center will include dinner along with a live concert with country music star Rodney Atkins — the singer expressed his excitement for the event in this Facebook video yesterday.
Behind the Ball are some of the hardest working women you will meet in Florida Politics, including the League’s VP of Development, Samantha Sexton, and Ball co-chairs Erin Choy and Samantha Ferrin. Groups like the Junior League are the bright lights we all need in this world.
If you haven’t yet purchased tickets, scoop them up now at SunshineStateBall.com.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@EricLiptonNYT: As of Thursday, DOD will be run by a former senior Boeing executive. EPA is run by a former coal lobbyist. HHS is run by a former pharmaceutical lobbyist. And Interior will be run by a former oil-industry lobbyist. Welcome to 2019.
—@NikkiHaley: My first official act as a private citizen after 8 years in public service … downloaded @Uber!
—@LedgeKing: On House floor, @USRepKCastor calls mission of special panel on climate change that she will chair “challenge of our time … We intend to press for urgent action in defense of America & our way of life. We have a moral obligation to our children & future generations to do this.”
—@JimRosicaFL: Love her or hate her politically, Nancy Pelosi is the grandmother you wish you had. Inviting every kid in the House chamber up to the dais for her oath is ratings gold.
—@Fineout: Important to note that lawyers who represented [Rachel Perrin] Rogers will be paid out of the total amount. Settlement was not paid directly to Rogers, but to a trust account maintained by her attorneys
—@AGGancarski: Good to see @MeredithMBeat and @DaveVasquezFL moving to the @RonDeSantisFL admin officially. Two smart and effective comms people.
—@GusCorbella: President Jim King is once again smiling down upon Senator @JeffreyBrandes for his efforts to update the “Merlot to Go” law this Session. Good luck and cheers, Senator.
—@Rob_Bradley: Research and data on medical marijuana is woefully lacking in America. Florida will grow to be a leader in this emerging space. SB8A established the Coalition for Medical Marijuana Research and Education at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
—@ArekSarkissian: For @FLPressCorps who had no idea, there WILL be Press Skits. How about that.
—@WCraigFugate: Working as a Paramedic, the most terrifying event to me was the sound of screeching tires on I-75 as I was working on a patient involved in a vehicle crash. Looked up and saw a car just miss us. That’s why we use our vehicles as shields when we can. #MoveOverFL
— DAYS UNTIL —
College Football National Championship — 3; Florida’s gubernatorial inauguration — 4; Office of Insurance Regulation’s OIR Summit begins — 11; MLK Day — 17; Super Bowl LIII — 30; Scott Maddox trial begins — 38; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 39; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 39; Valentine’s Day — 41; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 60; Tampa mayoral election — 60; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 63; St. Patrick’s Day — 72; 2019 Major League Baseball season begins — 75; Easter — 107; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 119; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates begin — 154; Iowa Caucuses — 392; 2020 General Election — 669.
— TOP STORY —
“Florida Senate settled sexual harassment retaliation case for $900K in legal fees” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — The Florida Senate paid $900,000 in legal fees to settle a complaint filed by a high-ranking staffer who alleged she was retaliated against for accusing a former senator of sexual harassment. As part of the agreement, the aide, Rachel Perrin Rogers, is resigning. Perrin Rogers, a longtime staffer for Sen. Wilton Simpson, filed her resignation letter Dec. 19, the day the settlement was signed with the Senate. “In accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement, my resignation will be effective January 4th, 2019,” she wrote in a letter to Simpson dated Dec. 19. “Having the opportunity to assist as you’ve served your constituents has been an honor. I feel an immense sadness that at this time I am no longer able to do this work for you in the Senate.” The settlement dictates the $900,000 be paid in a one-time lump sum to a trust account for Freidman and Abrahamsen, a legal firm that helped represent Perrin Rogers. It is not known whether the entire amount is for legal fees or whether Rogers receives some of it. The money came from general Senate funds, Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said.
— TRANSITION —
“Ron DeSantis appoints Chad Poppell as DCF secretary” via Florida Politics — Governor-elect DeSantis announced that Poppell, formerly Secretary of the Department of Management Services (DMS) under outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, will be the state’s next children’s welfare chief. Poppell, who has no previous experience in child protection, will take over as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, replacing interim director Rebecca Kapusta, the transition team said. “Chad Poppell is a dedicated public servant with a proven track record of achievement within the public sector,” DeSantis said in a statement … Before becoming DMS Secretary, Poppell was DEO chief of staff.
“Mark Inch named Florida prisons chief” via Florida Politics — Inch, former director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, was named Secretary of the Department of Corrections, according to the transition team of DeSantis and Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez. Inch, a retired U.S. Army major general, served briefly as federal prisons head from September 2017-May 2018. There, he oversaw 122 detention facilities, 39,000 staffers and 186,000 inmates, according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, Inch was Provost Marshal General of the Army and Commanding General of the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and Army Corrections Command.
“DeSantis’ school safety panel urges culture changes” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The transition committee advising DeSantis on school safety raised concerns about clashing cultures of law enforcement, mental health professionals and educators, and argued that state officials must force changes in mindsets. Several members of DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on Public Safety and state staff members advising the panel made stark assessments of progress made and needed under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Those allegations ranged from concerns that schools were using apparent loopholes not to assign safety officers to all schools, to suspicions that school administrators were reluctant to identify problem students and to miscommunication between educators, police, and mental health professionals. Several members of the committee called on the state to push for accountability measures ranging from stripping pay from superintendents to criminal charges if they do not fully comply with the act.
“DeSantis panel wants more police authority in schools” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — A change in culture, with law enforcement handed more on-campus authority, is needed to improve school safety, members of a transition advisory panel for DeSantis said. Andy Pollack, a member of the Transition Advisory Committee on Public Safety whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was one of 17 people killed last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, said security issues should be taken away from school district officials. DeSantis advisory-committee member Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said Thursday law enforcement should have authority over arrests on school grounds. “We need to be unleashed into the schools, show consequences to the kids, so that when they grow and turn 18, we’re not actually creating a pipeline to the prison system,” Bell said. “We need to show there is accountability for your poor decisions and your poor actions. Curb behavior at the beginning, instead of when it’s too late, and we let someone like Nicholas Cruz to flourish within our school board system.”
ICYMI from last night’s ‘Last Call’ newsletter — Veteran state government spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice is joining the DeSantis-Nuñez administration as Deputy Communications Director, reporting to Communications Director Helen Aguirre Ferré. The transition announced the hire, along with that of Dave Vasquez, the transition’s Press Secretary who will continue in that role in the Governor’s Office. Their first day of work will be Jan. 9 after the Governor-elect and Lt. Governor-elect takes the oath of office. “Having worked with Meredith and Dave, I know firsthand the talent these seasoned communications professionals will bring to the EOG (Executive Office of the Governor),” DeSantis said in a statement.
Three more apply for top job at FDOT — Resumes are flowing in to take over for interim Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Erik R. Fenniman. Joining the scrum: FDOT District 3 Secretary Phillip Gainer, FDOT District 4 civil engineer Alexander Barr and retired engineer George Tedder. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Gainer’s resume was sent in alongside an endorsement from former state Rep. Clay Ingram. Panama City consultant Carter Johnson forwarded the application to Chris Clark, a headhunter for DeSantis after discussing Gainer’s candidacy with Ingram. Gainer has vied for the job in the past, making the shortlist the last time the post was empty.
— ROAD TO SESSION —
“Campus guns bill emerges in House” via the News Service of Florida — In a move that could refuel a long-running debate, a House Republican proposed a measure that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini filed the bill (HB 6007). Under current law, people are barred from carrying firearmson college and university campuses. Gun-rights supporters have lobbied the Legislature in the past to end the prohibition for people with concealed-weapons licenses. But the proposals have died amid heavy opposition from many higher-education officials and other opponents of the idea.
Assignment editors — State Sen. Darryl Rouson, chair of both the Hillsborough and Pinellas county legislative delegations, will speak at Café con Tampa, 8 a.m., upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
— STATEWIDE —
“Malcolm Beard, former Hillsborough sheriff and Florida legislator, dead at 99” via Dan Sullivan and Dennis Joyce of the Tampa Bay Times — Beard was born in 1919 in Moultrie, Ga., and moved to Florida with his family in 1924 and was educated at the University of Tampa. He was elected constable for Hillsborough County in 1957, where he served until 1964 when he first was elected Hillsborough sheriff. A Democrat, Beard assumed the office by defeating incumbent Sheriff Ed Blackburn in a tight, bitterly contested race — the last time Hillsborough County saw a truly competitive race for the office. Beard won re-election three times — without opposition in 1964 and against candidates he easily defeated in 1968 and 1974. Beard served in the Florida House from 1978 to 1980, and in 1979 was elected to the state Senate, where he served until 1996. “He came from an era when principles and integrity and courage of your convictions were an essential ingredient for public service,” said Republican Tom Lee, who succeeded Beard as state Senator from Eastern Hillsborough and is now serving another stint in the chamber.
“Florida officials delayed telling residents about tainted water, emails show” via Samantha Gross and Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Linda Lawson thought little of drinking the water from the decades-old well in her backyard, less than half a mile down the road from the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. That changed when her daughter-in-law answered to state workers knocking on her door one afternoon. They came to test the water, a worker said. In August, the Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that flame retardants containing perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) had been used at the Fire College in the past. Lawson’s home was one of three well sites — a Marion County fire station and Texas-based mining company Lhoist North America were the others — where preliminary tests indicated the water had elevated levels of the chemicals, which early studies have suggested can be carcinogens. Other impacts in humans include high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, adverse reproductive and developmental effects and some types of cancer. It took about four months for state health officials to notify Lawson and others in the community about potentially elevated levels of the chemicals, emails obtained by the Times/Herald show.
“Senate Judiciary Committee meeting canceled” via the News Service of Florida — The Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled Monday to take up two similar proposals (SJR 74 and SJR 86) that target what are known as “bundled” ballot measures. But the Senate posted a notice on its website that the Judiciary Committee meeting is canceled. The bundled-ballot measures issue drew attention this year after the Constitution Revision Commission bundled seemingly unrelated issues into single amendments.
“Brightline to start building rail from South Florida to Orlando in March while it rebrands as Virgin Trains” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — The company’s president, Patrick Goddard, told Central Florida transportation officials recently that his Miami-based company in March would issue a construction-start notice to contractors. Work would take 30 to 36 months and Brightline trains would begin to operate from the Orlando airport train station by late 2021 or early 2022, Goddard said. A large building, with a soaring, distinctive roof, the train station just south of the airport terminal has been substantially complete, though unused for more than a year and now houses Brightline staffers. But long before then and likely by the end of 2019, Brightline and its tropical hues will have been coated in red as Virgin Trains USA, a rebranding the company has acknowledged as leaving some South Florida riders disappointed. “That Virgin name is instantly recognizable” and will connect with international tourists in Florida, said Bob O’Malley, Brightline’s vice president of government affairs.
— LOCAL —
“Michael Bloomberg announces $2.5 million award for St. Pete climate change efforts” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — The $2.5 million worth of technical resources is supposed to help St. Petersburg significantly expand access to solar energy, particularly among lower-income residents, promote transportation alternatives and reduce energy use in public and privately owned buildings. Bloomberg said his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, picked cities with committed mayors and ambitious but realistic plans for cutting carbon emissions. While Washington leaders mainly talk about fighting climate change and President Donald Trump opposes committing the country to cut carbon emissions, Bloomberg said, mayors are stepping up. “Mayors really can’t ignore the risks that we face from climate change because their constituents are already feeling the effects,” Bloomberg said at a news conference with Mayor Rick Kriseman at the city’s waterfront.
Based on the infighting on #jaxpol twitter, it's going to get real interesting 'round these parts this election season
— Claire Goforth (@clairenjax) January 3, 2019
“Big name Republicans on board for Jason Shoaf funder” via Florida Politics — The special election hasn’t been called yet, but the arms race to replace Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears in House District 7 is ramping up. A day after five current and retired sheriffs announced they were backing his opponent, Port St. Joe Republican Jason Shoaf put out a fundraiser invite featuring a slew of influential Republicans. Among the many to attend: Former House Speaker Allan Bense, former Senate President Don Gaetz and Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison. … Shoaf is one of four candidates revving up for the impending special in HD 7, a district that sprawls across Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties. Mike Watkins and Ralph Thomas have put their names down for the Republican primary while Ryan Terrell is so far running unopposed for the Democratic nom. … HD 7 is a GOP stronghold and the winner of the three-way primary will be a shoo-in to enter the Florida House.
“Dan Daley raises more than $75K in bid for HD 97” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Coral Springs Commissioner Daley announced he has hauled in more than $75,000 in fundraising since announcing a run for state Rep. Jared Moskowitz‘s seat in House District 97. “The holiday season has never been an easy time for candidates to fundraise, but we are blown away by the outpouring of support that this campaign has already received,” Daley stated. Daley stepped into the race for the Democratic-leaning district after Moskowitz was chosen to lead the Division of Emergency Management by DeSantis. A date for the special election to replace Moskowitz has not yet been scheduled. So far, Daley is the only declared candidate to throw his hat into the ring.
“Pam Bondi offers strong endorsement of Lenny Curry’s re-election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Bondi endorsed Jacksonville Mayor Curry’s re-election bid, rooting her endorsement in “public safety,” a deliberate choice given Curry’s political opponents have been hammering him over recent increases in murders. … “Lenny Curry has been a leader in the fight against violent crime in Jacksonville and a steadfast ally of all who serve in law enforcement. … I’m proud to support Lenny Curry for Mayor,” she said. … With just over a week before the qualifying deadline, Curry has a war chest of more than $3 million on hand, allowing him to message positively on the campaign side while slamming potential opponent Anna Brosche.
“David Straz first rejected the transportation tax petition, now he vows to support it” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Tampa businessman and philanthropist running to succeed Bob Buckhorn as Mayor is standing behind Hillsborough County’s new transportation tax. But that’s a little different stance from when the initial petition came around. “I voted for the transit referendum, and if elected Mayor I will budget your money with honesty and integrity,” Straz wrote on Facebook. But Straz’s sudden vow to tackle transportation issues in the city don’t necessarily jibe with his record on the All For Transportation campaign. Tyler Hudson, the campaign chair, confirmed Straz did not sign the initial petition seeking to place the referendum on the November 6 ballot that more than 70,000 Hillsborough County residents signed.
“Seminole Tax Collector Joel Greenberg can’t carry gun on duty, Bondi’s office says” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg and his staff members aren’t officers and may not be allowed to carry guns as part of their jobs. That’s according to the office of Florida Attorney General Bondi, which recently issued an informal (and non-binding) legal opinion on the matter. Greenberg, widely known as a conservative provocateur, announced 18 months ago that he and select members of his tax collector’s office staff would openly carry firearms … Now, Bondi’s office is advising that while Florida law allows “revenue officers” to carry guns and act as law enforcement officers, it doesn’t appear that Greenberg and his staff qualify.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Stephanie Murphy gets a vote for Speaker” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Though Winter Park’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Murphy had pledged her support for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker in late November, Murphy herself got a vote for Speaker of the U.S. House. Pelosi was easily elected speaker for the 116th Congress, regaining the leadership she had held eight years earlier, the last time Democrats had control of the chamber, so the few protest votes that some Democrats tossed around were, in the end, nothing more than symbolic. Nonetheless, one of those votes, from new U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah, went to Murphy.
“Larry Keefe confirmed as North Florida’s top federal prosecutor” via Florida Politics — The U.S. Senate confirmed Trump’s pick to be the new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida: Veteran trial lawyer Keefe. Keefe now will become the top federal prosecutor in north Florida, in a district that covers 23 counties, from Escambia in the west to Alachua in the east. His experience did not include being a prosecutor, but Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been one of his biggest supporters. No surprise there: Gaetz worked at the nominee’s law firm for a decade.
“If Coast Guard’s not paid, then Michael waltz doesn’t want pay” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Waltz wrote to the chief administrative officer of Congress declaring that he did not think it would be appropriate to be paid “while federal employees critical to our national security are not.” “I am requesting that you withhold my salary until the partial government shutdown ends,” Waltz wrote to Congressional CAO Philip Kiko. Waltz stated that it is his goal to end the shutdown while providing adequate border security as soon as possible, though he did not elaborate or say anything specific about the big sticking point in budget negotiations, the southwest border wall sought by Trump and opposed by Democrats.
— OPINIONS —
“Hello 2019, Bye-Bye Insecurity” via Melissa Stone of Cavalry Strategies — I have a 17-month-old baby. He knows about three words and the newest one is “bye-bye.” Instead of a traditional New Year’s resolution, this year I’m inspired by his newest word to LOSE something in 2019 instead of adding anything. On the chopping block for me this year is the attribute that statistically plagues most women and prevents them from competing, achieving or just generally feeling like a winner: INSECURITY.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: George Andreassi retires from TCPalm — The veteran and multiple award-winning reporter posted on his LinkedIn page Thursday that he had “officially retired from Treasure Coast Newspapers, TCPalm and USA Today Network after 21 years on the beat.” His last job there was as “Government Watchdog reporter on the Treasure Coast of Florida,” which comprises Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. The Lehigh University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism graduate also worked at New York’s Bayside Times and The Wave newspapers before joining the then-Stuart News in December 1997.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: City of Pensacola, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart and Shipley P.A.
Rosanna Manuela Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: Vapor Technology Association
Marty Fiorentino, Davis Bean, John Delaney, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: City of Atlantic Beach
Mike Haridopolos, Dean Mead: Larkin Health Systems
Tim Meenan, Karl Rasmussen, Meenan: Florida PACE Centers, Miami Jewish Health Systems
Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Realtors
Wallace McGee, GMA: PCI Gaming
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim Defede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable University of South Florida Tampa Emeritus professor of Government and International Affairs Dr. Susan McManus; Florida Phoenix reporter Mitch Perry; former state Rep. Sean Shaw; and Bay News 9 and AM Radio 820 News host Chris Ingram.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week will discuss the implementation of Amendment 4 on restoring voting rights to felons. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sen. Rouson of St. Petersburg; Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards; and Reggie Garcia, clemency attorney.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: The show hits the streets this week to ask viewers about their take on local politics; Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will discuss the latest developments with Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission and arming teachers. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a claim on a Trump claim about military pay raises.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon will host a panel with Attorney Sean Pittman and newly appointed Tallahassee City Commissioner Elaine Bryant.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Rick Mullaney of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and Jake Gordon of Downtown Vision, Inc.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will lead a powerhouse roundtable on the news of the week.
“Idea Man” via John Dorschner of Biscayne Times — He has financed poems on biodegradable paper and vegetable ink dropped from a helicopter on a Miami concert crowd. He gave about $10,000 to convert a closed putt-putt course into a temporary sculpture park. He’s also thrown $30 million at the Detroit Institute of the Arts to save its impressive art collection from being sold off to pay city pensions … That’s the job of Alberto Ibargüen, 74, chief executive of the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with more than $2 billion in assets, giving away $120 million or so each year to support journalism and the 26 communities once served by newspapers owned by the Knight brothers.
“Disney World is having a major hotel sale — including summer dates” via Andrea Romano of Travel + Leisure — Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida announced a brand new offer for park goers who are looking to save a little money on their Disney vacation — even during the summer. The new “Sun & Fun Room Offer” will give guests up to 30 percent off rooms at certain hotels between the end of April and September. The deal extends 30 percent off stays at deluxe resorts and villas including Jambo House and Kidani Village at the Animal Kingdom Villas, Disney BoardWalk Villas, the Old Key West Resort and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Animal Kingdom Lodge, BoardWalk Inn, and the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Yacht Club Resort starting on May 28, as well as 25 percent off stays between April 28 and May 27. The park is also offering 25 percent off stays at Disney’s Beach Club Villas between the end of May and end of September, and then 15 percent off between April and May.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to my birthday twins Razi Amador Fink, Sandy Mortham, Mary Caroline Mica, Erin Moffet and Sydney Ridley of Southern Strategy Group.