Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, Florida Politics, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.
Richard Corcoran promises to make a big announcement this week, but, at this point in the election cycle, what it will be is anyone’s guess.
By now, the Pasco Republican was supposed to have made the GOP primary for Florida governor a three horse race, but, for a variety of reasons, Corcoran is still on the outside looking in.
Florida’s political media, including, most notably, the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith has feasted on Corcoran’s failure to launch.
“What became of Richard Corcoran’s allegedly brilliant political mind?” Smith asked in a recently column. “Maybe it never actually extended beyond the Capitol.”
Corcoran’s relationship with the media has always been a double-edged sword. He’s probably given more access to more reporters than any other House Speaker of the modern Republican era. He seems to genuinely enjoy talking with and, on some occasions, sparring with individual reporters.
Of course, too much of the legislative process is now conducted behind closed doors, but Corcoran has certainly been the most accessible state leader within the triumvirate of the Governor, Senate President and House Speaker. Yet, as Joe Negron prepares to exit early from the Legislature, it’s the Stuart Republican who is being lauded by the press.
“Can’t wait to see what’s next for @joenegronfl,” tweeted Lawrence Reismanof the TC Palm. “He’s grown a lot as a legislator in the dozen or so years I’ve covered him. I’ve admired his conservative pragmatism.”
Can't wait to see what's next for @joenegronfl . He's grown a lot as a legislator in the dozen or so years I've covered him. I've admired his conservative pragmatism. https://t.co/rbJj97XSjm
It would be quite surprising if any member of the Capitol Press Corps gushes about ‘what’s next’ for Corcoran, despite him and his chamber being significantly more transparent than Negron and most of the rest of the Senate.
No matter how accessible Corcoran was, his politics were never going to endear him with the reporters, columnists, and editorial writers who follow the legislative process. Corcoran probably should have known better — or at least remembered the axiom that if you live by the press, you will die by the press.
And that’s the question facing Corcoran this week: Does his political career live on, or is it over? And if it’s really over, who will have the come to Jesus talk with him?
Even if that ad had resonated and Corcoran had broken through the noise, it probably still would not have mattered. Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis have not left enough room for Corcoran to operate. It’s just impossible to get to the right of DeSantis and Putnam has a lock on the establishment support. There just isn’t a third lane in the Republican primary. Not for a candidate who can’t self-fund.
I write this as if Corcoran doesn’t know this already. He does. His pollster, Tony Fabrizio does. But he still may run, just to deny DeSantis the nomination.
Or Corcoran may run for Attorney General. That’s what former Rick Scott spokesman Brian Burgess has been saying all along. That’s what I tweeted a week ago. There seems to be momentum for Corcoran in that direction. One rumor is that he’s talked with his brother, powerful lobbyist Michael Corcoran, about him stepping down as the finance chair of Ashley Moody‘s campaign so as to avoid any awkward moments if Corcoran enters the race.
It’s not a given that Corcoran wins the A.G. race, by the way. Maybe Frank White drops out if Corcoran enters the race, maybe he doesn’t. Jay Fant certainly won’t step aside for Corcoran. But its Moody, a telegenic former circuit judge backed by Pam Bondi, who would be Corcoran’s toughest opponent. Meanwhile, Democrat Sean Shaw will be waiting for him in the general election.
So what’s Corcoran going to do … not run for Governor or Attorney General? Could his pride handle such stillness?
What if there was a third way for Richard Corcoran?
No it does not involve redecorating the Governor’s Mansion (although it would be fun to see Corcoran’s wife, Anne, bring their brood to Tallahassee). In fact, it doesn’t involve taking over any office space on the plaza level of the Capitol.
What Corcoran could do — should do if he truly wishes to secure his legacy — is call a press conference this week and announce …
… that he’s running a campaign this November, not for his own election, but to persuade voters to pass the constitutional amendments he most cares about. These include Amendment 1, an expansionof the homestead property-tax exemption, and Amendment 3, a requirementfor two-thirds votes by future legislatures when raising taxes or fees. He could also campaign for Amendment 8, which would allow an alternative process for approving public schools, including charter schools, rather than by local school boards, and Amendment 12, which would impose a six-year lobbying ban on former state elected officials, state agencies heads and local elected officials.
(While he’s at it Corcoran could also push for Amendment 3, which would allow voters to decide on future expansions of casino gambling — something the Speaker did not allow to happen on his watch.)
Each of these are issues Corcoran has fought for and wants to see permanently enshrined. If they are approved by 60 percent of voters, they would do almost as much to change the course of state government as whatever any individual politician attempts to accomplish.
Corcoran could take the money he raised thinking it would get him at least four years as Florida governor and, instead, spend it on an effort that would secure his legacy for decades.
Instead of campaigning to be Florida’s Governor or Attorney General, he could fight for ‘Corcoran’s Constitution.’
Richard Corcoran once said, “If you are just going to capitulate to the special interests and the mainstream media and all the powers that be because you are afraid that somehow it is not worth the fight on something that you know fits that definition, there is nothing honorable about that.”
There is no dishonor, Mr. Speaker, in recognizing the futility of proceeding down one path when there is a fight worth taking on down another.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
I wrote 1,100 words late Sunday afternoon on a possible “third way” for Richard Corcoran and his political career. It’s too long to aggregate into a Sunburn blurb, so please visit Florida Politics for the entire column.
—@JebBush: Thanks for all of your prayers. Dad is doing well and headed home.
—@AGGancarski: .@FrankLuntz clearly isn’t aware of how nasty and oppo driven primary is between @RonDeSantisFL @adamputnam. Also doesn’t seem to know much/anything about Florida issues.
—@KevinSDonohoe: .@RonDeSantisFL is seen as more right-wing, but tonight @adamputnam was singing the far right’s tune: -Promised to sign a heartbeat bill -Went all in on transphobic rhetoric-Promised to “remove” pro-choice judges
—@MDixon55: Unity message from @FrankLuntz inside @FloridaPolicy forum. But leave room and someone from anti-@RonDeSantisFL National Liberty Federation handing out oppo. DeSantis supporter asks security to boot him. Oppo rodent scurries. This is a primary. Let’s call it what it is
—@MaryEllenKlas: Smart ad placement by @adamputnam to run farm ad during Kentucky Derby. But why does the message have to be so divisive? Sad if division is our #sharedvalue
—@Amy_Hollyfied: I’ve seen this @adamputnam commercial so many times my daughters can recite it
—@CarlosGSmith: I just want to make clear, for the record, that I DO NOT want @realDonaldTrump at my funeral either. Please DO NOT let him in but if you can make @IAMJHUD sing that would be great.
—@GNewburn: It takes an astonishing lack of commitment to evidence to review the relevant literature on drug treatment and mandatory minimums and then come to the conclusion that the latter is the one you really need to fund.
—@RepJimBoyd: So wonderful to see owner of Justify, Kenny Trout and jockey Mike Smith @KentuckyDerby first give credit to God for their tremendous blessings! Well done gentlemen, well done.
—@MikeSisak: I dreamed I had this great idea for a story. Now I can’t remember it. Send help.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Mother’s Day — 6; Deadpool 2 release — 11; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 18; Memorial Day — 21; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 33; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 35; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 36; Father’s Day — 41; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 46; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 52; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 62; MLB All-Star Game — 71; Deadline for filing claim bills — 86; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 86; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 87; Start of the U.S. Open — 112; Primary Election Day — 113; College Football opening weekend — 115; NFL season starts — 122; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 169; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 170; General Election Day — 183; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 283; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 302.
— TOP STORY —
“Guns, bathroom bills and abortion: Adam Putnam, Ron DeSantis take on social issues in first GOP guv forum” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Though he may have the money of an establishment candidate, Putnam sought to make clear in Orlando that he’s not ceding the “conservative” label to Rep. DeSantis in the race for Florida’s next governor. At the first Republican candidate forum, Putnam drew hard-line stances on some of the most contentious social issues, backing one of the country’s most restrictive abortion policies and staking a position on so-called bathroom bills that a state Democratic Party spokesman immediately denounced as “transphobic rhetoric.” He spoke early and often of his Christian faith and talked about growing up with guns in Bartow. Meanwhile, DeSantis demonstrated his conservative bona fides by insisting people on government assistance work and promising to nominate strict constructionist judges in the mold of the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“First Florida GOP gubernatorial forum ends in scuffle with anti-DeSantis activists” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The event hosted by the conservative Florida Family Policy Council and moderated by GOP pollster Frank Luntz could not mask what is turning into a nasty Republican primary. … The coarseness of the campaign was on display outside the doors of the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, where a young man in a red “Make America Great” hat handed out packets packed with opposition research on DeSantis. The packet, titled “Who is the Real Ron DeSantis?” carried the disclaimer “paid for by the National Liberty Federation.” It’s a group with ties to U.S. Sugar that has spent roughly $1.5 million in ads so far hammering DeSantis … the individual handing out the anti-DeSantis literature was Tyler Whyte, who describes himself as a leader of the Florida Chapter of Proudboys, a “western chauvinist organization” that refuses to “apologize for creating the modern world.” “I don’t know, I’m not sure where it came from,” he said about the documents link to the National Liberty Foundation. “I don’t know where that came from … I just printed them off the internet on my own.”
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Rick Scott faces primary for U.S. Senate race” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Senate filings top a qualifying week that ended with Democrats filing candidates for each of the state’s 27 congressional seats, including U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Kathy Castor who were elected unopposed to new two-year terms. The U.S. Senate race is expected to be one of the nation’s costliest, with Scott looking to unseat Nelson, who is seeking a fourth-term. But before that Nov. 6 contest takes place, Scott will have to get by businessman Rocky De La Fuente … a Republican who also has filed in the California Republican primary to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ran two years ago in Florida for the Democratic Senate nomination. De La Fuente drew just over 5 percent of the vote, well back of nominee Patrick Murphy … Five write-in candidates also have filed in the U.S. Senate race.
“Bill Nelson, Scott battle for Orlando’s Puerto Rican vote” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — While Nelson holds a slim lead in recent polls, Scott has been relentless in reaching out to an important group — the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida, which has been dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the influx of evacuees. Before Maria, there were already more than 1 million people of Puerto Rican descent in Florida, including more than 400,000 in Central Florida alone. They’ve mostly registered as independent and vote Democratic, but the inroads Scott has made with the community means Nelson cannot take their vote for granted, even in a year in which many experts are predicting to be a “blue wave” of Democratic victories nationwide. “What we’re hearing is mixed,” said Betsy Franceschini, a senior state director for the Hispanic Federation. “Some are liking what Sen. Bill Nelson has been doing for Puerto Rico. He’s supported a lot of initiatives in the Senate to help the island.” On the other hand, Franceschini said, “Rick Scott has been on the front end here in the state, working to put together programs, putting together emergency centers and helping folks get their kids into schools.”
“Scott attack mischaracterizes vote Nelson took in 2015” via Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida — In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a joint resolution known as the Hire More Heroes Act of 2015. This measure aimed to encourage small businesses to hire veterans. Scott said that Nelson “voted against requiring Iran to recognize Israel and release American hostages.” The attack is a misleading stretch. What really happened in 2015 was that Nelson voted no on a cloture motion. By voting no, Nelson voted to continued debate on an amendment that experts said would have defeated the Iran deal. The amendment would have prohibited the president from waiving sanctions unless Iran released detained Americans and formally recognized Israel. But the deal was focused on the nuclear issue, not an attempt to solve major issues with Iran. Also, Nelson has worked to urge the White House to continue pressing for the release of a U.S. hostage in Iran. We rate this claim False.
Adam Smith’s “Loser of the week” in Florida Politics is Nelson: “Anybody seen any sign of pulse on the Democratic Senator’s re-election campaign against Scott? Anybody seen any sign of a campaign at all, other than fundraising emails? Scott is already spending millions on TV to unseat Nelson, rolling out policy proposals to limit tax increases, and putting boots on the ground to mobilize voters.”
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Is Richard Corcoran running for Governor or not?” via Steve Bousquet and Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Corcoran has twice postponed planned announcements … His poll numbers are dismal, and his fundraising has slowed to a trickle. The consensus among Republican strategists and experts is that Corcoran still has time, but that by waiting this long, he has made his job a lot more difficult. Amid prolonged indecision, Corcoran sought to attract attention Thursday night with a tweet promising a “big announcement.” Corcoran was invited to participate in a debate with his two rivals in Orlando Saturday if he was definitely going to run, but he is not scheduled to appear. “He needs to stop this Hamlet business and make a decision,” said longtime Republican strategist Mac Stipanovich. “Richard has a steeper hill to climb and the sooner he begins to climb it, the better.”
“Women Democrats get fired up at national rally in DeLand” via Seth Robbins of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Gwen Graham opened her campaign speech by dancing the electric slide to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” All her sisters were with her, too, as she was joined by some two dozen women who were eager to boogie alongside her. Graham’s moves, however, weren’t what they came to see at a rally in Earl Brown Park, put on by the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida. Cheers went up as Graham, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, described how she would improve public schools, spend more money on teachers, provide higher paying jobs, protect the environment, and advocate for stricter gun control after the mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Graham is the only woman in a crowded field of candidates for Florida governor — a fact that she impressed upon her audience. “This election is about women,” she told the crowd. “Everywhere I go, women are turning out in mass.”
“A bipartisan Patrick Murphy-David Jolly ticket: Is that legal?” via Steve Bousquet and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Ron Meyer, a Tallahassee attorney with decades of experience in election laws, usually advises Democrats. He has not researched it but said he knew of no legal barrier to Murphy and Jolly running as a two-party ticket for governor and lieutenant governor. “I’m just not sure that there’s anything statutorily that prohibits it,” Meyer said. Meyer said it’s possible the Republican Party of Florida could block Jolly from forming a ticket headed by a Democrat but said party rules decide that. “It’s a party control issue,” Meyer said.
Happening today — Republican Mike McCalister, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner, will speak to the Palm Beach County Tea Party 5:30 p.m., Abacoa Golf Club, 105 Barbados Dr., Jupiter.
Ross Spano landing key Polk County endorsements —Polk County houses more than a third of the voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, andHillsborough Republican Rep. Spano knows he needs to make some inroads into the Central Florida county if he’s to make headway in his congressional bid. Over the weekend he continued doing just that. Former Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey followed up Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew in endorsing Spano, who switched from the Attorney General race to the CD 15 contest shortly after U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross announced he would retire. “I am sincerely appreciative of the growing support I am receiving from Polk County,” Spano said. “As I share my message of conservative values and commitment to Polk County, I could not ask for a better response and I look forward to serving each and every resident in District 15.”
Save the date:
“Another Democrat lines up for CD 15 race” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson has entered the Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Carlson, 64, is a former General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus and still counsel of record for the Florida Citrus Processors Association and District 1 of the Florida Department of Transportation.
“She’s back: Amanda Murphy to square off against Ed Hooper for north Pinellas state Senate seat” via Florida Politics — The former state Representative said she was “sick and tired” of what’s happening in Tallahassee and that she wants to be back there to “fight the good fight.” The move comes one week after sources close to Murphy, a Democrat, said she wouldn’t challenge former Republican Hooper in Senate District 16, the seat vacated by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala earlier this year. Murphy held Pasco-based House District 36 from 2013 through 2016, when she lost her seat to Republican Rep. Amber Mariano by 691 votes. Murphy joins Hooper, Democrat Bernie Fensterwald and Republican Leo Karruli in the race. So far, only Hooper has made significant headway in fundraising.
First in Sunburn — Jeff Brandes releases first ad for SD 24 re-election — Brandes released his first ad of the 2018 election cycle Monday, touting his military service and accomplishments during the eight years he’s been a member of the Florida Legislature. … “He took an oath to protect us at home and defend us overseas. Jeff Brandes — U.S. Army veteran, caring family man, successful businessman,” the ad narrator states. … “A leader who brings people together, Jeff Brandes cut taxes, reduced job-killing regulations and worked to create schools of excellence. Jeff Brandes, serving country and community.” … the ad was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Happening tomorrow — Kissimmee Democrat Barbara Cady, who is running for House District 42 against Republican Rep. Mike La Rosa, will speak to the Lake Wales Democratic Club at 7 p.m., Oullette Law Firm, 151 East Central Ave., Lake Wales.
Joe Abruzzo endorses Tina Polsky as his successor — Abruzzo has spoken up about the race to replace him in the House District 81. On Sunday the longtime lawmaker endorsed fellow Democrat Tina Polsky, citing her “tireless advocacy” and “dedication to the people of Western Palm Beach County.” … “Tina is a loyal Democrat, a passionate advocate for women’s rights, education and senior advocacy … Tina will be an incredibly strong champion for West Boca Raton, Delray Beach and the Glades communities in our state capital.” Polsky is running against Mindy Koch in the primary for HD 81, a Democratic stronghold. Abruzzo’s announcement follows nods from Sens. Kevin Rader and Lori Berman, Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner and Boynton Beach City Commissioner Justin Katz.
“HD 98 candidate Andrew Dolberg brings in bevy of endorsements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Among those giving the nod to Democrat Dolberg are Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, and LGBT activist Michael Albetta. The young Dolberg got an early start in the world of business, founding an education resources company at the age of 19. That company, Champion Briefs, helped students with their public speaking skills. He went on to study Marketing at Florida Atlantic University and now, at age 24, holds a leadership position with the Broward Young Democrats. Dolberg also pulled in endorsements from Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, community activist Alan Ehrlich, and Broward County School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood.
“What better way for a Florida politician to celebrate ending probation than a campaign?” via David Smiley and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — Michael Grieco’s probation ended this week. What better way to celebrate than a run for public office? Three days after Grieco was cut free from the punishment levied last year for a series of self-inflicted campaign finance and ethics gaffes during his failed mayoral bid, the disgraced former Miami Beach commissioner announced his campaign for a coastal state House seat. He told the Miami Herald that he contacted the two Democrats already in the race to let them know he’s mounting his own bid after filing paperwork in Tallahassee. “With the encouragement of my family and supporters, today I humbly filed to run and fill the District 113 state House seat being vacated by David Richardson,” Grieco said. “We will be putting out a more formal statement in the next day or two.”
“Javier Enriquez announces HD 114 candidacy” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Enriquez, a Miami native and attorney, is a lifelong resident of the district. He graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law and now is a partner at Jeffrey and Enriquez, PLLC. His legal specialty is marital and family law, but Enriquez also has experience in election law, commercial litigation and employment litigation. “District 114 has always been my home,” said Enriquez. “It would be an honor and a privilege to serve my friends and neighbors in Tallahassee. I am committed to supporting policies that foster economic growth, empower the middle class, and help families and small businesses get ahead.” After Democrat Daisy Baez resigned last year, the HD 114 seat had sat vacant until a special election resulted in Democrat Javier Fernandez filling the seat. A new election will be held in November.
“Appellate judges qualify for November ballot” via Florida Politics — As of the close of qualifying on Friday, 18 appellate judges had formally qualified for merit-retention elections in November. They include Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson, formerly a 5th Circuit Court of Appeal judge; Eric Eisnaugle, a former GOP state representative picked last year by Gov. Scottto replace Lawson; and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal’s AllenWinsor. While Winsor qualified for the ballot, he also has been tapped by President Donald Trump to become a federal district judge; that selection remains subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
“Most circuit judge races uncontested” via the News Service of Florida — 177 circuit-judge races drew only one candidate, while 33 races will be contested, according to a list posted on the state Division of Elections website. Many of the 177 candidates who do not face opponents are incumbents. Only seven incumbent circuit judges statewide face challengers. As an example, all 13 circuit-judge races in the 1st Judicial Circuit are uncontested, with incumbents running in 11 of those races, according to the Division of Elections … Among the candidates in contested races, former state Rep. Charles McBurney is running for a judgeship in the 4th Judicial Circuit. McBurney is running against Maureen Horkan for the post.
First in Sunburn —Tampa Mayor hopeful Jane Castor amasses $250K war chest in two weeks — since announcing her campaign April 19, the former Tampa Police Chief took nearly a quarter-million-dollars from more than 300 donors. “The numbers are humbling,” Castor said. “When I kicked off my campaign in April — only two weeks ago — I said that our citizens are our city’s strongest asset. This show of support only reaffirms that conviction for me … I am running for mayor … because our city needs a proven leader, who will maintain our progress while building a new foundation for shared prosperity.”
— NEW RULES —
Following Facebook’s lead, Google recently became the latest tech giant to take steps toward preventing foreign interference in U.S. elections.
The company, reportsDavid McCabe of Axios, on Friday announced election advertisers looking to use Google’s ad systems would have to prove U.S. residency or citizenship first, effective July 10.
Verification processes will begin this month, and the new rules will apply to federal officeholders and candidates. To be verified, advertisers will need to produce a government-issued ID, along with other information.
Issue advocacy: The new rules only apply to candidate-related ads. But, per Axios, Russian meddling in the 2018 election often focused on “politically contentious issues” rather than candidates. Expect Google to tighten restrictions on those ads later on.
Full disclosure: The new changes stipulate advertisers must clearly disclose who paid for the ads.
Data nerds rejoice: Google expects to release a “Transparency Report” on election ads this summer. The company also is building a searchable library “where anyone can find election ads purchased on Google and who paid for them,” according to Google General Counsel KentWalker.
— STATEWIDE —
First on #FlaPol — “NTSB confirms local, federal criminal investigation into FIU bridge collapse” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A lawyer for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has told a Tallahassee judge that “at least two federal agencies” and Miami-Dade police are pursuing criminal investigations into March’s collapse of a pedestrian bridge at the Florida International University campus. The disclosure came in a letter sent last week to Circuit Judge JohnCooper, who’s presiding over a public-records lawsuit filed Wednesday against the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) by The Miami Herald newspaper, Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas and capital reporter Elizabeth Koh. The March 15 collapse of the recently-erected bridge, spanning Tamiami Trail and meant to connect the campus to student housing in Sweetwater, killed six midday motorists or passengers and injured nine others.
“Amendment 1 lawsuit still moving toward trial” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — As a May 25 deadline to complete discovery approaches, depositions continue in a lawsuit over how the state funds environmental conservation. Court dockets viewed Friday show a flurry of notices filed late last month for what are called “depositions duces tecum,” which compel witnesses to produce documents and be interviewed before a trial. Environmental advocacy groups filed suit in Leon County in 2015 over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The constitutional change mandates state spending for land and water conservation … But advocates — including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club — sued the state, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate.
“Report targets AHCA over nursing home verifications” via the News Service of Florida — The state Agency for Health Care Administration failed to verify that nursing homes properly corrected deficiencies cited by agency staff in 2015, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office. Federal officials are recommending that the state improve practices for verifying that deficiencies have been corrected. The Agency for Health Care Administration did not agree with the Office of Inspector General’s findings and asked that federal officials change the name of the audit titled, “Florida Did Not Always Verify Correction of Deficiencies Identified During Surveys of Nursing Homes Participating in Medicare and Medicaid.” The inspector general reviewed 100 deficiencies at nursing homes across Florida that were flagged by regulators in 2015 and found that the agency verified the correction of 82 deficiencies. According to the report, the state agency did not obtain evidence of correction — or sufficient evidence of correction — for the remaining 18 deficiencies.
“State settles lawsuit by worker fired after ‘all caps’ email” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A former employee of state Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James has settled her wrongful termination lawsuit after a mediation conference, court dockets show. Camille Rawls had said she was fired for, among other things, “sending James an email in all capital letters.” A spokeswoman for state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, to whom James reports, released the terms of the settlement. It shows Rawls was paid $11,000 in compensatory damages and $11,500 in back pay. Former CFO Jeff Atwater appointed James as the state’s Insurance Consumer Advocate in August 2015, after which Rawls said her troubles began.
“Florida’s medical marijuana program is attracting troubled doctors: ‘It’s like the Wild Wild West’” via Corey Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times — A Tampa Bay Times examination of the 1,432 doctors in the program reveals Florida’s new marijuana initiative has turned into a magnet for physicians with troubled pasts … In total, 262 of the doctors had some sort of blemish on their record — nearly 1 in 5 of the doctors allowed to prescribe marijuana. Marijuana doctors were 2.8 times as likely as other doctors to have been disciplined by the Board of Medicine, and 2.4 times as likely to have been charged with a crime. Altogether, 108 of them were responsible for $69.4 million in malpractice judgments and settlements, some for maiming or killing patients. Experts and marijuana advocates said they were surprised by the findings. Several faulted Florida’s system for being too discouraging to good physicians.
“Florida’s municipal utilities go solar in big way” via Florida Politics — What’s called “the largest municipal-backed solar project in the nation” was announced Friday by the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA). In conjunction with 12 Florida municipal electric utilities and NextEra Florida Renewables, the large-scale solar energy project will “provide renewable energy for customers in the most cost-effective way,” a news release said. The project was announced at an event held Friday at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa. Representatives from FMPA, NextEra Florida Renewables, and 12 municipal electric utilities took part in a ceremonial signing of the project agreement.
“Hurricane Irma powers sharp increase in lawsuits against insurers” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The top 20 property insurers in Florida, as ranked by policy count, were served with 10,933 suits between Jan. 1 and March 31. In the same quarter last year, those same insurers were sued 6,768 times. This year’s total was a 61.5 percent increase, according to an analysis of pending suits entered by attorneys into the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Legal Service of Process database. Increased costs to insurers from the suits won’t affect rates for hurricane insurance this year but could impact them next year, when insurers negotiate reinsurance contracts based in part on total losses from the September 2017 storm, the president of a large Florida-based insurer said. Fort Lauderdale-based Universal Property & Casualty Co., the state’s largest insurer, saw the largest increase both by overall numbers and percentage — from 1,095 suits in January through March 2017 to 2,829 during the same period this year — a 158.4 percent jump.
“After Maria: Puerto Ricans find new home in Marion County” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner — For 136,000 Puerto Ricans, Maria was the final straw. A decade-long recession already had crushed the Puerto Rican economy. Then came Maria’s damage, which will take years to repair. It was time to start over on the U.S. mainland. Of those 136,000 people who fled Maria’s aftermath, 56,477 are in Florida, according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. That migration number is nearly seven times higher than before the storm hit. Currently, more Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland (5 million) than on the island itself (3.1 million). In Marion County, the school district has received 221 hurricane refugee students since last fall. Most are from Puerto Rico after Maria, though several dozen came from Texas after Hurricane Harvey and from South Florida after Hurricane Irma. Laura Byrnes, spokeswoman for CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, said her agency has been using state grants to help prepare Puerto Ricans for the job market. Byrnes said many of the Puerto Rico residents being served by CareerSource Citrus, Levy, Marion are professionals and “the biggest barrier they face is obtaining their professional license or certification in Florida so that they can work.”
Happening today — The South Florida Water Management District gives an update on the C-43 Reservoir, a major reservoir project in Hendry County part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Meeting begins 2 p.m., Palm Beach County Planning and Zoning Auditorium, 2300 North Jog Road, West Palm Beach.
— GUNSHINE STATE —
“Tired of gang violence, students walked out of class. Even that was dangerous.” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — The first time that students at Miami Northwestern Senior High School walked out of classes to protest the shooting death of a sophomore named Kimson Lee Green, administrators urged them to stay on campus. The administrators did not disagree with the student’s cause or want more class time. It was just that going off school grounds was too dangerous. While the students wanted the freedom to protest gun violence, like other high schoolers in the fledgling national youth movement, the realities of their gang-plagued neighborhood kept getting in the way. But they were insistent. “We were just fed up,” said Destiny Robinson, 18, a senior and the student body vice president at the school of about 1,600. In the end, the Northwestern High walkout happened, it boldly proceeded off campus, and it was met mostly with support.
“Grieving parents of teen killed in Parkland school shooting use ‘graphic activism’ to confront the NRA” via Molly Hennessy-Fiske of The Los Angeles Times — Manuel Oliver was grieving in front of a crowd, spreading red paint on what would become the latest portrait of his son, killed in the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland … Usually, when he paints, Oliver, 50, an artist with abundant salt and pepper hair, listens to music he shared with his son — the Ramones or Guns N’ Roses. But Saturday he listened to the crowd across from the National Rifle Association Convention in downtown Dallas. The demonstrators protesting the NRA’s presence were hushed at first. Occasionally, someone shouted encouragement. Then Oliver struck the mural with a hammer. Then again, and again, tearing 17 holes, one for each of the Parkland victims, including his son, Joaquin. He affixed the 17-year-old’s image to the center of the mural, inside a target. Oliver’s face was twisted, tortured, as he struck the mural. Each strike echoed like a shot. The crowd gasped. At least one girl sobbed.
“Across the country, measures to arm teachers in schools stall” via Joe Heim of The Washington Post — In the two months after the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, Republican legislators across the country introduced 25 measures to arm teachers and staff members in schools … just one of those efforts has succeeded, and there are few indications the others will be enacted. Trump and the NRA called on states to arm teachers as a front-line defense against school shooters days after the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Since then, Republicans have led the campaign for the measures in 14 states that would give teachers and staff members access to guns in schools or expand their ability to do so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan nongovernmental organization. Nineteen of those bills were sponsored by Republican legislators, while the remainder were nonpartisan or sponsored by legislative committees. The only measure that has succeeded is in Florida. A school safety bill there stipulated that public-school staff members, including counselors and coaches, could become “marshals” — but full-time teachers would not be eligible to be trained and armed.
“Orange County weighs closing gun-show loophole, reimposing three-day waiting period” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Nearly three months after the Parkland mass shooting … Wes Hodge of Orlando is pleased that Orange County leaders will consider reinstating a three-day waiting period on firearm purchases. “This is a no-brainer,” said Hodge, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee. “We had the opportunity to do something about it after the Pulse shooting [in June 2016], but we didn’t. And it is disappointing that it took another tragedy to do something. … So I’m glad that the County Commission is looking at putting this back on the books.” The proposed ordinance effectively would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring nearly all buyers of firearms — whether it’s an AR-15 rifle, which was used in the Parkland shooting, or a Smith and Wesson handgun — in Orange County to wait three days before receiving their weapon. The ordinance also would institute universal background checks on buyers of firearms and challenges a 2011 state law pre-empting local governments from passing ordinances regulating guns.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Mar-a-Lago events raise money for politicos, revenues for Trump” via Christine Stapleton and George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — In March, the Republican National Committee paid $224,857 to Mar-a-Lago — Trump’s private club in Palm Beach — to host fundraisers for his prospective 2020 re-election bid as well as the 2018 campaigns of other Republicans. The fundraisers are believed to have raked in about $5 million — a big chunk of the record $13. 9 million the national Republican Party raised during that month. While the oceanfront club has long been a venue for society fundraisers and destination weddings, political groups and candidates are increasingly booking events at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties. The result … Mar-a-Lago has emerged as a magnet for GOP political candidates while political fundraising appears to be a lucrative revenue stream for its owner, who happens to be the President of the United States.
“Marco Rubio to ‘target China’s tools’ of aggression” via Bill Bishop for Axios — Rubio will introduce the Fair Trade With China Enforcement Act “to guard the American people against China’s nefarious influence on national and economic security, directly targeting China’s tools of economic aggression.” According to an op-ed by Rubio in The Washington Post, the legislation would: Ban the sale of all sensitive technology or intellectual property to Chinese entities and impose a shareholding cap on Chinese investors in American corporations … impose a withholding tax on Chinese entities earning investment and dividend income in the United States … Impose duties on Chinese capital goods in the sectors targeted by the “Made in China 2025” plan … Raise taxes on the foreign income of multinational corporations if they enter into vulnerable “joint ventures” with Chinese firms. Bipartisan forces are aligning across D.C. to take a much tougher approach to China. Beijing may find a way to blunt some of the Trump administration trade threats, but Congress is even more hawkish toward the PRC.
“Florida lawmakers in Washington: Newsprint tariffs would be a ‘grave mistake’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Saying they are “extremely concerned” about the effect on Florida’s economy and public discourse, a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to take action to prevent steep newsprint tariffs. “At a time when credible and responsible reporting is needed most, a devastating new tax on the newspaper industry would be a grave mistake,” the Florida lawmakers wrote in a letter to Ross … “Not only would the tariffs cause severe economic turmoil in Florida and across the country but they would also make it harder for the public to get the information needed to sustain a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Fifteen Florida lawmakers signed the letter: Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Stephanie Murphy, Dennis Ross, Darren Soto, Charlie Crist, Frederica Wilson, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Al Lawson, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Val Demings and Carlos Curbelo.
“Betsy DeVos gets standing ovation from Ave Maria University grads after speech” via Annika Hammerschlag of the Naples Daily News — In her roughly 20-minute speech, DeVos focused on the teachings of religious figures, including Jesus Christ, former Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, and emphasized the importance of service to God, country and neighbor. The speech earned DeVos a standing ovation from the roughly 230 undergraduate students and their relatives and friends. The warm welcome was in stark contrast to the disapproving crowds DeVos encountered last year while speaking at the commencement ceremonies of Daytona Beach’s Bethune-Cookman University, where she was booed, and the University of Baltimore, where students turned their backs. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, DeVos urged the room of graduates to harness their faith and push past life’s roadblocks.
— OPINIONS —
“Three newspapers confront one challenge: Sea-level rise is real, South Florida needs all hands on deck — now” via Miami Herald editorial board — No graver threat faces the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. In the past century, the sea has risen 9 inches in Key West. In the past 23 years, it’s risen 3 inches. By 2060, it’s predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down … It’s not just a matter of how much land we’re going to lose, though the barrier islands and low-lying communities will be largely uninhabitable once the ocean rises by 3 feet. It’s a matter of what can be saved (and) how we’re going to manage the retreat. To that end, the editorial boards of the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post — with reporting help from WLRN Public Media — are joining hands in an unprecedented collaboration this election year to raise awareness about the threat facing South Florida from sea-level rise. In drumbeat fashion, we plan to inform, engage, provoke and build momentum to address the slow-motion tidal wave coming our way.
“Don’t risk Florida coast by changing offshore drilling rules” via the Palm Beach Post editorial board — The U.S. Interior Department seems to be confused when it comes to the question of allowing more oil drilling anywhere near Florida’s coast. The latest comes via a bipartisan tirade over plans by Interior officials to ease regulations and oversight of the 2016 Well Control Rule put in place by the Obama administration in the wake of the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Interior officials want to alter 44 provisions and delete 15 others in a “common-sense approach,” which “could reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.” This is not “common-sense.” Not when the Florida Panhandle is still recovering both economically and environmentally from the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The first BP settlement money — $18 million — was released only last week for regional economic development projects in that region.
“Florida shoots itself in the foot on prison policy” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — To cover a $50 million deficit in its health care and pharmaceutical budgets, the state’s prison agency is slashing substance abuse, transitional housing and other re-entry programs … Of course, the programs on the chopping block are all intended to help inmates who are released reintegrate successfully into their communities and steer clear of crime and return trips to prison. “You can’t just let people out of prison without some type of transition back into society,” state Sen. Jeff Brandes, the Legislature’s leading advocate for criminal-justice reform … So the short-term savings will likely lead to higher expenses over the long term from increased crime and a larger inmate population. That makes the cuts a double-whammy to public safety and taxpayers’ wallets. Brandes and other criminal-justice reform advocates have been pushing these measures for years. They’ve run into resistance from legislators who are too timid to embrace smarter approaches to sentencing for fear of appearing soft on crime. As budget problems persist in Florida’s prison system, and the list of states succeeding with reform grows, this is an increasingly irresponsible and indefensible position.
— LOBBYING REGS. —
Jason Allison, Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: Google
Christopher Carmody, Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, Mary Kim McDougal, Robert Stuart Jr., GrayRobinson: ALETS
Megan Fay, Capital City Consulting: RELX, The School Board of Sarasota County
“Elderflower soda and lavender lattes: Flowers are suddenly everywhere in food” via Maura Judkis of The Washington Post — Here’s an area in which florals are actually novel. The trend is also sprouting up in food and, especially, beverages. It’s a natural evolution of several previous trends, including our love for rainbow colors and all things pink. “Food, like fashion, is driven by trends, seasonality and the occasional gust of hype,” said food writer Lee Tran Lam in Australian Vogue. Floral flavors were one of the biggest trend predictions for 2018, and one that has borne out right on time: just as those April showers bring May flowers. Like spring crocuses, floral foods are starting to pop up in mainstream consumer products. The flavors you’re most likely to see are lavender, hibiscus and elderflower — each with its own distinct botanical flavor.
“One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.” via Avi Selk of The Washington Post — Three psychology researchers from Skidmore College … decided it’s time for modern science to sort this out once and for all. “Professionals and amateurs in a variety of fields have passionately argued for either one or two spaces following this punctuation mark,” they wrote in a paper published last week in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. The researchers … rounded up 60 students and some eye-tracking equipment, and set out to heal the divide … Turns out, 21 of the 60 were “two-spacers,” and the rest typed with close-spaced sentences … And the verdict was: two spaces after the period is better. It makes reading slightly easier. Reading speed only improved marginally, the paper found, and only for the 21 “two-spacers,” who naturally typed with two spaces between sentences. The majority of one-spacers, on the other hand, read at pretty much the same speed either way. And reading comprehension was unaffected for everyone, regardless of how many spaces followed a period.
Happy birthday from the weekend to Laura Jolly,McKinley Lewis, state Rep. Tracie Davis and congressional candidate Scott Sturgill. Celebrating today are U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Jennifer Edwards and former state Rep. Ken Littlefield.
The Republican challenging freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in Florida’s 1st Congressional District should put a little more thought into his messaging strategy.
Cris Dosev this week chided President Donald Trump for his infidelities and lack of military service, which would be considered tone deaf for a candidate in nearly any Republican primary, none more so than CD 1 — a Trump plus-40 district.
In response to a Facebook comment saying he was “NOT Donald Trump,” Dosev flipped the script — instead of harried remarks proclaiming his allegiance to the president, he wore it like a badge of honor.
“Thank you for the gracious compliment. I’ve been faithfully married to my wife, my one wife, for the past 32 years and we have raised eight wonderful children. I am also a United States Marine. He is not,” Dosev wrote.
The jab at Trump shows a stark contrast between Dosev and Gaetz, who has been a staunch defender of President Trump during his tenure in Washington – the Panhandle Republican got an invite to ride back to his district aboard Air Force One and speak at a Pensacola rally with the president last year, and just this week he signed onto a letter nominating Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump’s approval rating may not be setting the world on fire, but his star is as bright as ever in Northwest Florida. Gaetz support of Trump plays will with the home crowd, and that’s kind of the point of his job – representing the views of his constituency in Washington.
Even if Trump wasn’t doing so hot in CD 1, Dosev’s comments are off the mark.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, probably the most vulnerable member of Florida’s congressional delegation, knows how to tastefully put some daylight between himself and the president. Hint: It doesn’t involve personal attacks, it involves taking the lead in policy his district wants.
Love Trump or hate him, if Dosev gets to Congress — and he won’t — he’ll still have to work with the guy to get something done. And that takes at least a modicum of respect.
A new study looks at the emotional impact of movie trailers for each film in the 40-year-old blockbuster series, starting with the 1977 original through the upcoming “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
The report, sponsored by Hill+Knowlton Strategies, featured a group of 250 Star Wars fans, who viewed the trailers for all nine previously released Star Wars movies — as well as Solo, set for a May 25 release — to gauge each on its storytelling strengths (and weaknesses), ranking them on how they delivered three key elements: Wonder, Wisdom and Delight.
These attributes are what make up a “strategic storytelling index,” defined by social scientists as a benchmark of “emotional and intellectual magnetism” that points out what features of the trailer resonate most with audiences. Researchers combine the attributes for a 100-point scale of emotional resonance.
Rating highest with audiences was the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” trailer with an index of 81, scoring best on Wonder and the second highest on Wisdom. Solo was also one of the six films to have more than half of Star Wars fans agreeing strongly they were “delighted” by the trailer.
Faring worst with fans was the trailer for Attack of the Clones, released in 2002. It scored only 63.
The study also looked at age of the fans — there’s more than four decades of Star Wars devotees, after all.
A generational divide exists between two Star Wars films: “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” Older generations (aged 36+) ranked 1983’s Jedi higher than did Millennials (a bit of nostalgia, perhaps). In contrast, Awakens ranked higher with Millennials than with Baby Boomers.
For the younger crowd, Awakens, released in 2015, was the first Star Wars movie created to appeal to them.
A longtime concept in audience research, the strategic storytelling index — using the basic structures of movies to tell the story of an idea — takes in account the emotional response in decision-making to give marketers insight into the success of a brand. Movie companies combine wonder, wisdom and delight for more effective trailers (and films they promote), ramping up anticipation for a new film.
Of course, with Star Wars, there is always a built-in level of excitement among fans — and higher expectations.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Star Wars Day is here, as fans worldwide will say in the now-famous pun: “May the Fourth be with you.”
To celebrate, Hill+Knowlton looked at the emotional impact of movie trailers for each film in the 40-year-old blockbuster series, starting with the 1977 original through the upcoming “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Spoiler alert: Solo came out best for bringing the feels.
— 250 Star Wars fans viewed the trailers for all nine previously released Star Wars movies — as well as Solo, set for a May 25 release — ranking each on its storytelling strengths (and weaknesses).
— Ratings were based on three key elements: Wonder, Wisdom and Delight. These attributes make up a “strategic storytelling index,” defined by social scientists as a benchmark of “emotional and intellectual magnetism” that points out what features of the trailer resonate most with audiences.
— The results were distilled to a 100-point scale of emotional resonance.
— The “Solo: A Star Wars Story” trailer ranked highest with an index of 81, scoring best on Wonder and the second highest on Wisdom. Solo was also one of the six films to have more than half of Star Wars fans agreeing strongly they were “delighted” by the trailer.
— Faring worst with fans was the trailer for “Attack of the Clones,” released in 2002. It scored only 63.
— The survey also found a generational divide exists between two Star Wars films: “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” Older generations (aged 36+) ranked 1983’s Jedi higher than did Millennials (a bit of nostalgia, perhaps).
— In contrast, Awakens, released in 2015, ranked higher with Millennials than with Baby Boomers.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @abbydphillip: In a gaggle of reporters at the WH just now, Sarah Sanders refused to answer multiple questions about why she and the president made statements about the Daniels case that we now know to be untrue. Sanders insisted she couldn’t comment because of ongoing litigation.
— @MattZCooper: Thinking Trump might have been better off with LegalZoom.
— @SenBillNelson: Big News today! — FEMA has just agreed to extend its TSA housing assistance program for all displaced Puerto Rican families through June 30 to allow them to, at least, finish out the current school year.
— @MonicaLewinsky: blaming the intern is so 1990’s.
— @RichardCorcoran: I’ll have a big announcement to make next week — stay tuned!
— @TwitterSupport: We recently found a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log. We fixed the bug and have no indication of a breach or misuse by anyone. As a precaution, consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Mother’s Day — 9; Deadpool 2 release — 14; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 21; Memorial Day — 24; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 39; Father’s Day — 44; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 49; Deadline for filing claim bills — 89; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debates — 89; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debates — 90; Start of the U.S. Open — 115; Primary Election Day — 116; College Football opening weekend — 118; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 172; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 173; General Election Day — 186; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 286; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 305.
— TOP STORY —
Florida marks 150th anniversary of disenfranchisement law – Second Chances Florida put out a press release Thursday: “Florida enshrined disenfranchisement in its constitution 150 years ago today. This law was put in place in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Today, Florida is one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting and permanently excludes 1.4 million Floridians, who have served their time and paid their debts to society, from voting. Now is the time to retire this antiquated law by voting YES on Amendment 4 in November … To learn more about the Second Chances Campaign, please visit www.SecondChancesFL.org.”
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Poll: Patrick Murphy leads Democratic gubernatorial primary with GOP running mate David Jolly” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Murphy would be tied for second if he jumped into Florida’s Democratic primary for governor, according to a new poll that shows he could nudge into first with one unorthodox move: Picking a Republican running mate. The survey, conducted by Murphy’s former pollster and paid for by an unnamed Murphy supporter, bucks the commonly held notion that centrism — including a Murphy unity ticket with former Republican Rep. David Jolly — has no place in a partisan Democratic primary in Florida. “There’s a lot of conventional wisdom that’s wrong,” said pollster Keith Frederick, whose firm surveyed 750 Florida Democrats from April 23-28. “What this poll shows is this idea — of a new approach to politics with a bipartisan team that works together to solve problems — has currency in the Democratic primary.” But this and other polls show the Democratic primary is wide open, and no one has a commanding lead. Frederick’s poll shows that more than 40 percent of Democrats were undecided in a five-candidate race that included Murphy. The high number of undecided voters, as seen in other polls, and a lackluster debate of the Democratic candidates last month left some of Murphy’s old supporters who backed his 2016 U.S. Senate campaign to charter the poll in the hopes of persuading him to run.
“Adam Putnam has ‘another’ $2M month” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam‘s campaign announced late Thursday that it again crossed the $2-million threshold … The newest numbers mean Putnam has raised $28.88 million to date. Putnam’s April haul saw $566,701 go to his campaign account, along with more than $1.5 million added to his affiliated political committee … Contribution and expenditure details are not yet available; the campaign has until May 10 to file state fundraising reports. Current on-hand cash amounts also are not available, though Putnam’s PAC and personal account had about $19.26 million cash on hand at the beginning of April.
“Ron DeSantis’ campaign dismisses VA talk” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ campaign this week dismissed a Washington Post report that the Republican gubernatorial candidate was on a short list to become the next Veterans Affairs secretary. “As much as @adamputnam would like this to be true, @RonDesantisFL is going to be next Governor of Florida,” tweeted DeSantis campaign manager BradHerold. “He will however continue to work with the next VA Secretary to make sure Florida veterans are given the care they deserve.” According to the Post, topping the list of potential nominees is JeffMiller, who spent 16 years in Congress representing Northwest Florida.
Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will kick off a two-day campaign visit through the Florida Panhandle, stopping in Leon, Escambia, Okaloosa and Bay counties. Tour begins with a meet-and-greet at 5:30 p.m., 525 Boobin Brooke Lake, Tallahassee. Tour continues Saturday with a living room conversation with military veterans and families at 10:30 a.m., 3390 Bayou Blvd., Pensacola. At 12:30 p.m., Levine will be at Harbor Docks, 538 Harbor Blvd., Destin. The final stop is a 2:30 p.m. visit with the Bay County Women’s Democratic Club, 135 Harrison Ave., Panama City.
Former Congressman Ron Paul endorses Bob White for Governor — “I never back down from a liberty fight. I stood up to others when liberty’s cause was being challenged. And now it’s time to pass liberty’s fight to a new generation of leaders and fighters. Bob White is one of those fighters,” Paul said in his endorsement. “Bob has proved his resolve to fight for and defend the Constitutions of the United States and Florida. With anti-liberty forces fighting harder than ever in every corner of government, we need leaders unafraid to stand up for our freedom. I believe Bob is someone who will. I am very pleased to give him my full support and endorsement to lead as Florida’s next governor. I call on all like-minded patriots who love the Constitution to get behind Bob and help him win this important race.”
“Darren Soto calls for election battle about ‘respect and dignity’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The call appeared as a response to news that Soto now faces his predecessor Democratic former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson in a primary battle for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Grayson already has shown his fighting form, attacking Soto’s record and commitment to progressive causes. “People are sick of nasty politics and I plan to rise above it once again,” Soto said, without mentioning Grayson by name. “As First Lady Michelle Obama once famously said, ‘when they go low, we go high.’” And he pledged a positive campaign and called for a united Democratic Party.
“Tom Lee announces he’s not running for Congress” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — State Sen. Lee won’t enter the race for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Dennis Ross … Lee’s Twitter announcement, however, didn’t answer the question of whether he intends to run for re-election to his state Senate seat or pursue some other option: “After much thought & discussion with family, I’ve decided not to run for Congress this year. It would have been an honor to follow in the footsteps of my friend @RepDennisRoss, but right now I feel the need to be closer to home & my family.” Depending on Lee’s future plans, his decision could clear the air for Republicans concerning two state House seats, those of Reps. Shawn Harrison and Danny Burgess. Both had said they would likely run for Lee’s Senate seat if he vacated it.
Leading pro-life organization endorses Greg Steube in CD 17 — The Family Research Action PAC is endorsing Steube in his bid for Florida 17th Congressional District. FRC Action PAC Vice President Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jerry Boykin said: “During Greg Steube’s time in the Florida House and Senate, he has been a champion for faith, family, and freedom. He has been an especially strong defender of life, supporting several measures in the Florida House and Senate that expand protections for unborn children. Additionally, his support from other pro-life groups in Florida confirms his pro-life credentials.” Steube a faces state Rep. Julio Gonzalez of Venice in the Republican primary for the open seat of retiring Congressman Tom Rooney.
Assignment editors — Grassroots organization Floridians for a Fair Shake will join voters in Florida’s 18th Congressional District to rally against Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast on the anniversary of his vote to repeal health care. Rally begins 12:30 p.m. in front of Mast’s district office, 121 SW Port St. Lucie Boulevard, Port St. Lucie.
“Miami Democrats do the Nancy Pelosi squirm as House minority leader visits South Florida” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The top Democrat in the U.S. House had just spent an hour gushing about Debbie Mucarsel-Powell‘s “courage,” highlighting her congressional campaign to knock off one of the most vulnerable Republicans in America and bashing Rep. Carlos Curbelo over his voting record on health care. But when it came time to reciprocate, Mucarsel-Powell wasn’t quite ready to fully endorse the return of Speaker Nancy Pelosi should Democrats take back the House this November. “If you look at Washington D.C., who’s leading this country, I think we need more bold women leading the way,” Mucarsel-Powell told reporters even as Pelosi urged her not to answer a reporter’s question about an endorsement. “I’m doing this event with leader Pelosi because she shares this community’s values and I’m voting for speaker for whomever shares the values of this community.” Mucarsel-Powell’s not-so-full-throated response — spoken with Pelosi standing next to her — highlights the conundrum Democrats face as the nation’s minority party pushes to take back Congress during the midterm elections.
Joe Negron endorses Gayle Harrell as his Senate replacement — “She understands and appreciates the issues important to our community, particularly protecting our environment and championing K-12 and higher education,” Senate President Negron said in a statement. Negron announced this week he would retire from the Republican-leaning Senate District 25 in November. Harrell’s current House District 83 in St. Lucie County makes up the largest portion of Negron’s district. “I am delighted to be endorsed by the president of the Senate,” Harrell said in a statement Friday. “He has left very ‘big shoes to fill’ and I will work hard to fill them. He has been an amazing advocate for the Treasure Coast, our values and our quality of life.”
— GRAHAM PROSE —
It takes a few minutes to get through it, but this balanced deep dive into Democratic gubernatorial candidate GwenGraham is worth the read.
Written by POLITICO Magazine’s Michael Grunwald, a veteran of Sunshine State journalism, the story gives readers an insight to the virtues of the former North Florida congresswoman and daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. BobGraham.
The themes of the piece? She’s the polar opposite of President DonaldTrump and is overwhelmingly normal. And the latter isn’t just Grunwald’s take. Graham pollster JohnAnzelone said focus groups say Graham is “like your favorite aunt, or your college buddy.”
Here are some more highlights, but set aside some time to read the whole piece later:
A quote that will live in infamy: “In the first Democratic debate, [Andrew] Gillum and a long-shot candidate, entrepreneur ChrisKing, repeatedly targeted Graham as a mealy-mouthed moderate, but she turned their gang-tackling to her advantage. ‘It’s OK,’ she quipped. ‘Gwen and the men.’”
From Dem strategist SteveSchale: “It’s easy to be skeptical about second-generation political kids, but she isn’t a prodigy who was groomed for this from birth. She’s a real person who went off and led a real life.”
Foreshadow?: In Parkland, following moving words from Graham, Grunwald writes, “two elderly women asked me who was speaking, and I explained that it was Gwen Graham, a candidate for governor. ‘Huh. She’s great,’ one of the women said. ‘But I’m voting for the black guy.’”
— STATEWIDE —
“Jimmy Patronis: ‘No confidence’ in state’s chief financial regulator” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis is telling the state’s top financial regulator he “no longer ha(s) confidence” in DrewBreakspear‘s ability to lead the Office of Financial Regulation. Patronis, a Panama City Republican running for re-election this year, sent a letter to Breakspear on Thursday … Breakspear has served as Commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation since November 2012. The agency polices the banking, finance and securities industries. He answers to the state’s Financial Services Commission, made up of Patronis, Gov. Scott, Attorney General PamBondi and Agriculture Commissioner Putnam. Under state law, the Commission can fire Breakspear “by a majority vote consisting of at least three affirmative votes, with both the Governor and the Chief Financial Officer on the prevailing side.” Scott and Patronis are friends and political allies.
“Lack of Medicaid expansion hurts Florida in national health care rankings” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana are the only states that fared worse than Florida on a national health care survey … Florida ranked No. 48 overall among the 50 states and District of Columbia on The Commonwealth Fund’s 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance. Among categories, the state ranked No. 49 for access and affordability; prevention and treatment; avoidable hospital use and cost; and providing equal access to health care. The state improved in more areas than not. The number of uninsured adults and children declined. Fewer adults went without care because of cost. More home health care patients were up and walking. More mentally ill adults found treatment. Fewer breast cancer patients died. But many areas saw no improvement. Or are getting worse. For example, the hospital 30-day mortality rate. More adults smoked, were obese, lost six or more teeth or reported only fair or poor health. In other areas, the state held steady.
“Death sentence upheld in 1988 murder, sexual battery” via the News Service of Florida — Attorneys for inmate Perry Alexander Taylor challenged his death sentence based on a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision and because of disputed evidence about whether Taylor had sexually battered victim Geraldine Birch. The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision found that Florida’s death-penalty system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries, in determining whether death sentences should be imposed. A Hillsborough County jury in Taylor’s case voted 8-4 to recommend a death sentence, which was imposed by a judge. But while the Florida Supreme Court has retroactively applied the unanimity requirement to cases going back to 2002, it has said that earlier cases — such as Taylor’s — are not required to have unanimous recommendations. Justices rejected arguments stemming from the unanimity issue and the evidence issue, which was related to testimony by a medical examiner. Perry, now 51, confessed to killing Birch but said it was not premeditated and that sexual contact was consensual, according to the Supreme Court ruling.
“Police use saliva to arrest Casselberry man on voter-fraud charges” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — State and local investigators said they used fingerprints and DNA from saliva found on five mail-in ballots to track down a Casselberry man and charge him with voter fraud. Bret Warren, 36, was arrested and booked into the Seminole County Jail on several other charges, including possession of oxycodone. In October 2016, days before the general election, several residents of the Spring Valley neighborhood in Altamonte Springs reported to the Seminole County Supervisor of Election’s Office that they had not received their absentee ballots. The Supervisor of Elections Office called law enforcement officials after discovering that the five residents’ ballots were apparently stolen and turned in with fake signatures and with votes cast. Investigators lifted DNA evidence from the portion of the envelopes that are sealed with saliva, according to a police report. Investigators also were able to match the fingerprints on the envelopes with Warren’s fingerprints in a federal registry, police said.
“Judge lets Zachary Cruz go free but warns ‘they are watching you’” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cruz, the brother of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, was allowed to go free from a Broward jail cell after he admitted to driving without a license in Palm Beach County. Broward prosecutors, in turn, admitted that there was not enough evidence to prove that Cruz, 18, violated the terms of his probation in a local trespassing case by getting a little too close to a school over the weekend. But Broward County Judge Melinda Brown warned: “They are watching you.” Attorneys for Cruz say law enforcement is watching him too closely, singling him out for harassment because of his infamous brother, who killed 17 people and injured 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. Brown added one condition to Zachary Cruz’s probation — in the future, driving without a license will be a violation that officials can use to jail him for nearly two months.
“Miami’s charismatic new mayor wants more power. But is that a good thing?” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — It’s easy to like Francis Suarez and what he represents: A new generation is in charge of the city of Miami. It was time. “Miami, long known as a gateway city, is now a global city,” he declared at his inauguration in February. He repeated this at a meeting with the Miami Herald’s Editorial Board, where Suarez pushed hard to sell a major change in city government. He wants to be a strong mayor. He wants more power than the city’s executive-style system affords him now in allowing him to select the city manager. He has rolled up his sleeves and set out to work but feels shackled by having to funnel everything to be solved through the city manager’s office. A strong mayor would be accountable to residents, who can hold a recall for an ineffective one. Most of the major cities in the United States have one, Suarez argues. It’s Miami’s turn. If you’re thinking that he’s only been on the job three months and already wants more power, he tells you that he’s tried to do this twice when he was a commissioner, but fellow commissioners turned him down. He wants to take the issue to the voters.
“Slammed by a storm and tormented by wildfire. How these Keys people got through it” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — For a straight week, the fire consumed the lives of the people who live on Big Pine, with many still trying to put their homes back together after Hurricane Irma. Just last September, their rural enclave about a half-hour from the Southernmost City, was whipped by Irma, along with Little Torch, Summerland, Cudjoe and Sugarloaf Keys. Across unincorporated Monroe County, including Big Pine, more than 700 homes, not including mobile homes, were damaged by the storm. Then came the fire. It burned from April 22-29. And it toyed with people still in recovery mode. “It was almost a flashback from the storm,” said DiAne Rullen, who lost her home and car to Hurricane Irma eight months ago … “Everybody helps everybody,” said Ellen Guilford. “People down here they don’t look at material things. People are just happy to be living.”
— APOCALYPSE NO MORE —
According to ScottShalley, president of the Florida Retail Federation, the industry isn’t coming to a shuddering halt. Instead, it’s transforming and evolving rapidly — and that’s what makes it so exciting.
In a Q&A published by Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times, Shalley offers a detailed glimpse of the current landscape of the retail industry.
In short, Shalley, who just wrapped his first year heading the Federation, is optimistic. “For those retailers who are willing to listen to the consumer, and are willing to adapt to the needs of the consumer, the future is very bright,” he told the Times.
Perspective: “We’re in a very dynamic fast-paced industry. It’s gone through evolution after evolution … In 1888 Sears, came out with their first catalogue and that was probably, by some accounts, billed as the end of mom-and-pop stores as we know it. And, of course, that wasn’t the case.”
What the Federation is doing: Shalley said, “left alone, the retail industry will fare.” But FRF has “found great support within the Legislature and the governor that allows us to move forward.”
Looking ahead: Expect FRF to target the business rent tax. Per Shalley, “We commend the Legislature for the .1 percent reduction that was adopted, but we would really like to see them work aggressively toward an elimination of that tax.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Nancy Pelosi: ‘I love Alan Grayson’ but he shouldn’t challenge Darren Soto” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “I love Alan Grayson. He was a very progressive member of Congress,” Pelosi said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. “I wish he would run in a different seat. I would love to have him back … But [Soto] is there now and is very important to us in terms of generationally and also in terms of issues that relate to Puerto Rico, which are a priority for us to address. I have supported Darren Soto. I’m sad that Alan chose to come back in that race … We’ll see what happens.”
“DREAMers should earn citizenship, Dennis Ross tells Polk Tiger Bay” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Undocumented aliens brought to the United States when they were children should not be deported, but given education and employment opportunities and a way to earn their citizenship, according to U.S. Rep. Ross, a Lakeland Republican often criticized by opponents for his deep conservative stances. It was Ross’ first public speaking engagement since he announced he would not run again for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, starting a Republican primary gold rush to get on the ballot … “It’s good to be back, but when you find yourself a stranger in your hometown, it’s time to reassess our priorities,” Ross told the heavily attended luncheon.
— FROM THE PROSPERITY SUMMIT —
“Chamber Summit: Early education is key for a prosperous Florida” via Florida Politics — Education, particularly early education, is a key avenue in the fight against intergenerational poverty, says Children’s Movement of Florida founder Dave Lawrence. Lawrence gave the elevator speech version of his organization’s mission during the Florida Chamber of Commerce Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity. “We are, believe it or not, the most unequal of all the western industrialized countries,” he said, citing stats on incomes, job prospects, obesity and literacy for youths and their parents. “I don’t want anybody to be fooled. We are not close to the promised land,” he said. Among the “pertinent realities” Lawrence said Florida — and the United States — faces are that most children entering school today will be working in jobs and industries that don’t yet exist when they enter adulthood; nearly 70 percent of inmates in Florida prisons can’t read above a fourth-grade level, and those in the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate; nearly three-quarters of young adults can’t enter the military whether due to substance abuse problems, criminal behavior or a disqualifying condition; and too many Florida children enter school already behind the curve.
“Childcare, health insurance and housing are ‘fiscal cliffs’ for Florida families” via Florida Politics — State and federal programs aimed at helping low-income Florida families aren’t working, according to a new report from the Florida Children’s Council. “Positive child and youth outcomes, financial stability for families, and economic vitality for businesses are interrelated goals. There is clear need to rethink social service policy and align work-based solutions with child and family supports,” said Dr. Brittany Birken, CEO of the Florida Children’s Council. “These two-generational strategies provide a framework for developing systems that support strong child and youth outcomes within the context of family.” The combination of social programs was found to be lacking in the report, which concluded that if “children from low-income homes are to reach their full potential, there is a significant need to eliminate the current silos addressing adult-oriented and child-oriented programs separately.”
— MOVEMENTS —
“Kim Kingsley checks into Airbnb” via Mike Allen of Axios — Kingsley joins Airbnb in San Francisco as director of global communications June 5, reporting to Chris Lehane, global head of policy and communications. Co-founder/CEO Brian Chesky says: “[N]o one knows how to navigate and shape [the] new landscape better than Kim.” Kingsley writes her friends: “Be it Scranton or South Africa, my destiny, my heart were shaped by places and people — and now I get to help bring that beauty and bounty to a global community. Looking forward to filling you in on my adventure and hoping you’ll travel along with me on this amazing Airbnb journey. #belonganywhere.”
“Julie Wraithmell tapped to lead Audubon Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Wraithmell’s appointment follows her five-month stint as interim executive director while Audubon undertook a nationwide search for the post. She succeeds Eric Draper, who was tapped in November 2017 to lead the Florida State Parks system. “Julie is what’s best about Audubon. She uses science to guide decisions; she is highly collaborative and is driven every day to make a conservation difference. This also is why she is widely recognized all over the Sunshine State as a top conservation expert. We are excited to have her lead Audubon’s important work in Florida and to take that work to the next level,” David O’Neill, National Audubon Society’s chief conservation officer, stated in a news release.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Jason Allison, Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: Childers Construction Co.
Erica Chanti, The Rubin Group: WeWork
“LNG developer hires lobbyist [guess who?] with ties to Trump” via Greenwire – Developers of liquefied natural gas export projects in Florida have enlisted the help of BrianBallard, a powerful lobbyist with close ties to President Trump. Texas-based Eagle LNG Partners LLC has hired Ballard and two of his colleagues from Ballard Partners in Washington, D.C., to focus on “regulation” broadly, according to lobbying disclosure records. Eagle LNG is moving forward with two LNG projects in Florida, including a liquefaction facility in Maxville and a second facility in Jacksonville.
Spotted: Will Weatherford in “Six Floridians to Watch” via Jason Garcia of Florida Trend — It’s not easy to run the Florida House of Representatives and be both well-liked and effective. Weatherford, House Speaker from 2012-14, is one of the few who pulled it off … (The 39-year-old) Wesley Chapel Republican is a good bet to run for governor soon — in 2022 if a Democrat wins this year, or 2026 if a Republican wins.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei host a roundtable with guests Pinellas County Democratic Party Chair Susan McGrath; political consultant Mark Proctor; reporter Joe Henderson; and radio commentator Barry Edwards.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion with House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz and state Rep. Robert Olszewski. Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic Calabro will break down the budget and tax cuts, and take an in-depth look at sales tax holidays, the Omnibus Education Bill, and the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Democrats Alan Grayson and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto discuss their upcoming primary for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Orlando Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy talks about her latest legislation in Washington. PolitiFact rates a claim made about funding sources.
The Usual Suspectson WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with attorney Sean Pittman and Constitution Revision Commissioner Nicole Washington.
Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
The state is challenging the “standing,” or right to sue, of plaintiffs now seeking to overturn the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.
In a filing earlier this week, attorneys for Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, say plaintiffs DianaDodson, CathyJordan and Florida for Care haven’t shown a “direct stake” in the outcome of the case.
For example, Dodson and Jordan haven’t shown that smokable marijuana is “medically necessary” for them, and Florida for Care “is not an association (that) has members on whose behalf” it can sue, the filing says.
John Morgan, of Morgan & Morgan law firm fame, bankrolled the 2016 medicinal cannabis constitutional amendment that was OK’d by 71 percent of voters. He’s also behind the current lawsuit, which seeks a declaratory judgment that the smoking ban runs counter to the amendment’s language.
Implementing legislation for the amendment does not allow medicinal marijuana to be smoked. But plaintiffs’ attorney JonMills has said the amendment’s definition of marijuana implicitly includes the smokable kind.
A one-day trial remains set for May 16, as does a hearing on the state’s motion for summary judgment, which allows parties to win a case without a trial. If Circuit Judge KarenGievers decides not to grant summary judgment, she’ll hear the case without a jury.
“As much as @adamputnam would like this to be true, @RonDesantisFL is going to be next Governor of Florida.” — Ron DeSantis campaign manager BradHerold in a tweet, dismissing rumors that the congressman was being considered to head the VA.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Board of Physical Therapy meets in Seminole County. That’s at 8 a.m., Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, 1501 International Parkway, Lake Mary.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors will meet in Hillsborough County at 8:30 a.m., Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Dr., Tampa.
Congressional candidates GregSteube and JulioGonzalez are slated to take part in a forum hosted by the Republican Women’s Club of Sarasota. Steube, a state senator from Sarasota, and Gonzalez, a state House member from Venice, are seeking to replace retiring U.S. Rep. TomRooney in Florida’s 17th Congressional District. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Michael’s on East, 1212 East Ave., Sarasota.
A qualifying period will end at noon Friday for candidates in this year’s races for U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, judicial seats and state-attorney and public-defender posts.
The Democratic Women’s Club of Florida will hold the second-annual PerSisters Rally. Speakers are expected to include Orlando Democrat AnnaEskamani, who is seeking to replace Republican Rep. MikeMiller of Winter Park in state House District 47. Miller plans to run for Congress this year. That’s Saturday at 9 a.m., Earl Brown Park, 750 South Alabama Ave., DeLand.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate GwenGraham will hold a grand-opening event for her statewide campaign headquarters. That’s Saturday at 3 p.m., 1516 East Colonial Dr., Orlando.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Putnam and DeSantis are slated to take part in a forum held by the Florida Family Policy Council. Political consultant FrankLuntz will moderate the forum. That’s Saturday at 6 p.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.
Putnam joined Chamber leaders Thursday morning at a press conference at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, billed as a “special announcement.” The news came amidst a Chamber conference on poverty and prosperity.
“I am proud to have the support of the Florida Chamber of Commerce,” Putnam said. “The Florida Chamber has a long and proven history of supporting businesses across the state, and I look forward to working alongside the Florida Chamber to ensure Florida continues to build on its legacy as the most business-friendly state in the nation.
Putnam promised “as governor” to focus on vocational, career and technical education in middle and high schools to better prepare students for the workforce.
“Together, we will continue to strengthen our workforce and provide opportunities for our young people to ensure Florida remains as the best place to do businesses,” Putnam said.
Among those with Putnam were former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, chair of the Florida Chamber Political Council; Tracy Duda Chapman, chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors; and Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
From Wilson: “Adam Putnam is the leader Florida needs to keep Florida’s momentum going. Adam Putnam knows Florida best, and I know without a doubt he believes in free enterprise and economic opportunity for every single Floridian.”
Putnam faces U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary fight, with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran waiting in the wings to possibly enter the fray.
The leading Democrats are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Winter Park businessman Chris King.
Last week, the Florida Chamber endorsed Gov. Rick Scott in his Republican bid for the U.S. Senate.
State and federal programs aimed at helping low-income Florida families aren’t working, according to a new report from the Florida Children’s Council.
“Positive child and youth outcomes, financial stability for families, and economic vitality for businesses are interrelated goals. There is clear need to rethink social service policy and align work-based solutions with child and family supports,” said Dr. Brittany Birken, CEO of the Florida Children’s Council. “These two-generational strategies provide a framework for developing systems that support strong child and youth outcomes within the context of family.”
The report, released Monday, studied the impact of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, block grants for school readiness, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid/Florida CHIP, and Section 8 housing vouchers on household budgets.
The combination of social programs were found to be lacking in the report, which concluded that if “children from low-income homes are to reach their full potential, there is a significant need to eliminate the current silos addressing adult-oriented and child-oriented programs separately.”
The Council report demonstrated the financial “break even” points for single adults without children and compared them to a household with a single working parent who has two children. Both models assumed the households were in Miami-Dade County.
The report found a household where a single parent earns $11,000 a year could “break even” through the use of social program, and the same was true as the parent’s income increased to about $40,000 a year.
Once past that mark however, net resources plummet – a single parent earning between $40,000 a year and $53,000 is likely to see negative income between $3,200 and $8,000 each year.
Single adults start to break even at about $15,000 a year in earnings, with incomes over $25,000 a year generally allowing them to have cash left over once their expenses are paid.
Such losses as a parent’s income rises were attributed to three “fiscal cliffs” – children’s health insurance, child care, and housing. Each of those cost categories contributes to what the report calls “parking,” where a working parent is disincentivized from earning more money due tin order to maintain eligibility for social programs.
“Florida is a vibrant and growing state that has its share of opportunities and challenges. To ensure that we secure paths to prosperity for all Floridians, especially the nearly one million kids living in poverty, we must focus on bold and broad strategies that consider two-generation approaches,” said Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Targeting policies that trap families in fiscal cliffs or create hurdles to self-sufficiency should be job one.”
Of the three cliffs, quality child care stood out as “perhaps the singularly most important social service in recognition of its impact on the entire family while providing clear economic benefit to employers and communities.”
“There are systemic barriers that hinder a family’s ability to become economically self-sufficient,” said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, chair of the Florida Children’s Council and Executive Director of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. “By strategically aligning systems of care, we can ensure that all children live in stable and nurturing environments.”
Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce again asks: Is Florida ready to take on poverty to ensure a more prosperous future?
“There are thousands of business leaders across Florida who get accused of not stepping up to the call on issues like prosperity,” said Mark Wilson, president & CEO of the Chamber.
“It’s been my experience that 100 hundred percent of the time, when business leaders are exposed to the data … 100 percent of the time they step forward and say ‘I didn’t know that, now that I do, what can we do about it?’ ”
On Thursday at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, members of the business, political, and academic community will meet for the second year in a row to discuss ways to boost prosperity for all Floridians.
The dozens of scheduled speakers include former House Speaker Will Weatherford, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and Mel Martinez, Chairman, Southeast U.S. and Latin America, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a former U.S. Senator and HUD Secretary.
“Nearly one in four Florida children live in poverty,” the Chamber reports. “Five million Floridians are on food stamps, and more than half of all Florida students are eligible for free and reduced lunches and more than 3.3 million Floridians don’t know where their next meal will come from.
“The Florida Chamber believes social safety nets are needed and necessary to help bridge the crises, (and) the goal of these programs should be to get Americans who have fallen on hard times back on their feet.
“Florida’s business community can help break this cycle and create greater opportunities for the next generation. By incorporating greater educational opportunities and allowing free enterprise to create more private-sector jobs, we can make generational poverty a thing of the past and the American Dream of economic freedom a reality.”
Click here to visit the site for a list of events and scheduled speakers, and for registration information. Click here to view a highlights reel from last year’s summit.
Will Weatherford continues quest to reduce generational poverty” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Everybody needs a real chance at having a secure future,the former Speaker will tell those attending the Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity. The way to do that is to attack the issue of generational poverty. That won’t be easy. “When people hear about 4 percent unemployment rates, or the stock market performing well, or real estate doing well, they forget there is a large section of the population that doesn’t have a large portfolio. They might not have real estate,” Weatherford said. It’s a serious problem in Florida. “Poverty is a problem that has plagued society as far back as history goes,” he said. “I don’t know that there is a way to completely eradicate it, but we should be creating a society where someone born into poverty doesn’t have to stay that way. It won’t happen overnight.” Weatherford said that education doesn’t necessarily have to come from college to create opportunity. “It all starts with choice. It’s about empowering kids and parents to see there are multiple pathways to success,” he said. “Your child does not have to go to college to be successful in life. There are other avenues that are available to them.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@AP: BREAKING: Contradicting president, Giuliani says Trump repaid Michael Cohen for $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
—@MarcoRubio: Although written by intern at Politico, this article is a reminder of how difficult it can be to discuss public policy in political press. Not only did I not back down on tax cut, I doubled down & added detail for rationale
—@LearyReports: .@NancyPelosi tells @TB_Times editorial board that she wishes Alan Grayson chose to run in a different district instead of challenging @DarrenSoto. Hopeful of taking seat held by “my girlfriend” @RosLehtinen, Curbelo, Mast, DeSantis. Says “Florida is key” to taking back House.
–@KirbyWTweets: .@AndrewGillum on @kanyewest: “He thinks he’s free. And his comments yesterday make it very very clear that he’s not free. At all. And not woke, not awoken, not even sleep walking.”
—@LaurenceReisman: Can’t wait to see what’s next for @joenegronfl. He’s grown a lot as a legislator in the dozen or so years I’ve covered him. I’ve admired his conservative pragmatism.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 1; Mother’s Day — 10; Deadpool 2 release — 15; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 22; Memorial Day — 25; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 40; Father’s Day — 45; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 50; Deadline for filing claim bills — 90; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debates — 90; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debates — 91; Start of the U.S. Open — 116; Primary Election Day — 117; College Football opening weekend — 119; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 173; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 174; General Election Day — 187; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 287; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 306.
— TOP STORY —
“Joe Negron to leave Senate early” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Senate President Negron tendered his resignation from elected office to Gov. RickScott on Wednesday, to be effective Nov. 6, “the same day his term as Senate President ends.” Despite his current and final term not ending till 2020, Negron had telegraphed his decision his recent months in ‘exit interviews’ he gave to state news media, including Florida Politics. He was last elected in 2016. “I have always been a big believer in term limits,” the Stuart Republican said in a statement. “…The way I see it, I actually received an extra year because I came to the Senate in a Special Election in 2009. The additional two years of my final term were added only through the vagaries of reapportionment litigation.”
“Negron retirement opens new swing Senate seat on Treasure Coast” via Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Roughly 60 percent of the Treasure Coast district lies in Democratic-leaning St. Lucie County, but 30 percent is in a ruby-red slice of Martin County, with the remainder in a tiny portion of Palm Beach County. Like any open state Senate seat in a swing region, a crowded list of potential candidates is already being discussed on both sides. For Republicans, potential candidates include state Reps. Gayle Harrell and MaryLynn Magar; Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron, who is Negron’s wife; and Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard. On the Democratic side, state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. and St. Lucie County Tax Collector Chris Craft is on the proverbial short list. Democratic state Senate campaigns thus far have been at a perpetual money disadvantage to the state Senate Republicans, which could play a big factor.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“New television ads target Bill Nelson” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – A super PAC that was once aligned with Florida Gov. Rick Scott is launching a new television ad that goes after U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The New Republican super PAC is spending $2.4 million to air an ad that contends Nelson has not accomplished anything during his lengthy time in office. The ad is scheduled to start airing next Monday. The ad echoes criticism that Scott has already leveled at the incumbent Democratic senator by noting how much Nelson has been paid during his political career.
“Rick Scott pushing ‘supermajority’ proposal for Congress tax hikes” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott, who pushed for such a measure with the Constitution Revision Commission, now contained in Amendment 5 going before voters this fall, touted the tax proposal as the first component of his “Make Washington Work” plan, announced in a campaign stop in Medley. Scott said he would push for a proposal to require two-thirds approvals for any federal tax or fee increase … he characterized himself as a governor championing tax cuts while charging that his opponent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has voted in favor of higher taxes and fees more than 300 times: “I know that many people will say this cannot be done, or that this has been proposed and failed before. That way of old thinking by career politicians is what has allowed Washington to become so dysfunctional.”
“Scott inks agreement with NRSC“ via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Scott has inked a fundraising agreement with the National Republican Senate Committee, the Washington-based group that will play a big role in his race. The deal is not with Scott’s official Senate campaign, but through a separate joint fundraising committee called the “Rick Scott Victory Fund,” which was created April 10, the day after Scott announced he was running, according documents filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 19.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Voters overwhelmingly support felon voting rights amendment” via Florida Politics — Nearly three-quarters of Florida voters say they would support a ballot amendment to restore voting rights to ex-cons, a new poll found. The survey, conducted jointly by North Star Opinion Research and EMC Research, found that supermajority support for the measure regardless of the political party. “This amendment has the strong bipartisan support needed to pass with Florida’s 60 percent threshold,” North Star’s Dan Judy. “Regardless of party, gender, race, or region of the Sunshine State, Floridians strongly support Amendment 4.” Democrats were the most supportive, with 88 percent in favor, followed by independent voters at 78 percent and Republican voters at 61 percent. That puts all three categories above the 60 percent mark needed to make the state constitution.
Assignment editors — The Florida Chamber of Commerce will make a special announcement with Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, joined by former House Speaker Will Weatherford, Chamber Board of Directors member Tracy Duda Chapman and Chamber President Mark Wilson.News conference begins 10 a.m. at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, Ballroom B, 9700 International Dr. in Orlando.
“Ron DeSantis trashes Adam Putnam on immigration” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “We are very different on our approach to illegal immigration,” DeSantis said in an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks. The issue has been seen as a Republican primary weakness for Putnam who, as a member of Congress, took some votes seen by some in the party as supporting “amnesty.” In the interview, DeSantis specifically pointed out Putnam’s support of legislation spearheaded by Sen. John McCain that included a guest worker program for undocumented immigrants across all industries, and a separate 2013 bill by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that offered a pathway to citizenship. At that time, Putnam was the state’s agriculture commissioner, not a member of Congress. But he publicly supported the plan. DeSantis said he disagrees with Putnam on the mandatory use of E-Verify, a program used to verify the legal status of those seeking work through a federal database. The issue in Florida does not fall along traditional party lines. The business community and sugar industry, both of whom support Putnam, oppose mandatory E-Verify because they fear it will crimp the flow of cheap labor.
Assignment editors — DeSantis will meet with members of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami beginning noon, 1821 SW. 9th St. in Miami.
Philip Levine taps Bob Sciranko as Broward Regional Area Director — “Bob’s deep experience in Broward County will enhance the strength of our robust South Florida engagement plan as we work to bring Mayor Levine’s message directly to the people of Florida,” said Levine campaign manager Matthew Van Name. “We’re excited to have him join Team Levine as we continue to expand and develop a dynamic campaign infrastructure built to engage with voters in communities throughout every region of our state.” Most recently, Sciranko served as field director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Previously, he worked as Eastern Broward County organizing director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and on Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign for Northern Broward County. He also served as a deputy field organizer on President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Assignment editors — Levine will speak at a town hall in Orlando, part of the Central Florida Grassroots Progressives’ Meet the Candidate Series. Town hall begins 7 p.m., First United Unitarian Church, 1901 E. Robinson St. in Orlando.
“Jeremy Ring earns police union endorsement in CFO race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ring picked up the support of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. In a statement, PBA President John Rivera said, “Senator Jeremy Ring is a passionate advocate for Florida’s law enforcement and correctional officers. He was our champion in the Florida Legislature.” Ring, a former Parkland resident, represented northern Broward County in the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2016. Rivera went on to say that Ring’s “innovative mind and tenacity helped usher in major positive changes for the officers and their families. We are proud to endorse Jeremy Ring for Chief Financial Officer.”
“CD 27 hopeful David Richardson launches Puerto Rico listening tour” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The two-day visit will deal in part with the island’s recovery following Hurricane Maria. Richardson is set to meet with Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and other officials to discuss the impact of relief efforts eight months after the island was struck. Richardson blamed the White House for the assistance gap, saying South Floridians are in part “responsible for calling out the Trump administration’s mistreatment of Puerto Rico” due to a large number of Puerto Ricans who call South Florida home.
“All that campaign cash and no campaign. What’s a Miami politician to do?” via David Smiley and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — For weeks, state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and Miami Commissioner Ken Russell dealt with the same question: would they continue to campaign for Congress even though it would cost them their current elected positions? Now that they’re out, they’ve got a new problem: What are they going to do with all that campaign money? Rodríguez and Russell both dropped out of the race to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a decision predicated by a new Florida law that requires local and state politicians to resign if they want to campaign for a federal office with an overlapping term. Between the two of them, they walked away from the campaign with as much as $700,000 combined. Neither Rodríguez nor Russell could say exactly what would happen with every dime. But both men plan to refund contributions to anyone that wants their money returned — while leaving open the possibility that they’ll keep some of it on hand for a future run.
“With his background, Alex Penelas should consider a hard pass on SD 36” via Florida Politics — As mayor of Miami-Dade from 1996 to 2004, Penelas’ earned a dubious reputation, which in today’s political environment should be a disqualifier for elective office. During his time in office, Penelas became a significant part of the corrupt political landscape, featured prominently in 1998 by The New York Times. One most notable example was Penelas’ failed effort in 1999 to increase taxes to relieve traffic congestion — while facing accusations of corruption. As a result, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle called for a special prosecutor to review allegations of campaign finance law violations. Former State Rep. Annie Betancourt described the situation a little blunter — the campaign was “money laundering.” And according to The Floridian, while Penelas may offer Democratic name recognition and fundraising prowess in the SD 36 race against Manny Diaz, he also seems more than willing to “sacrifice the little guy for personal gain.” With a questionable record stretching back decades, it may be good for Penelas to consider a hard pass in SD 36.
“As Anna Brosche mulls challenge, Lenny Curry hauls in $250K more for re-election bid” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville Mayor Curry raised over $250,000 in April, his second straight strong month after a $1.5 million March. The breakdown: $46,000 for the campaign (bringing its total raised to just over $300,000) and $206,000 for the “Jacksonville on the Rise” political committee (pushing it over $1.45 million raised or transferred from other committees). All told, Curry is positioned by the end of May to clear $2 million raised. Big donors in April include John Campion ($50,000), and Black Knight Financial Services, Fidelity Information Services and Borland-Groover Clinic ($25,000 each).
“Democrats: Sunshine Summit speaker Dan Bongino is bad, too” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party criticized Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and Republican pol who has tried — and failed — to capture high-profile elected seats in Maryland and Florida and is scheduled to speak at the Orlando GOP conference this summer. The party claims Bongino “like the [Dinesh] D’Souza, has a record of publicly disparaging Marjory Stoneman Douglas students.” A news release from the Democrats cites a Daily Beast article recounting a Bongino appearance on Fox News. Writer Matt Wilstein titled the piece, “Fox News Mainstreams Conspiracy Theory About Parkland Students. The Democrats also are using it as a means to call out Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who appeared alongside Bongino Tuesday on Fox’s “Hannity” with host Sean Hannity. The discourse focused on the Robert Mueller investigation.
— STATEWIDE —
“Cuts to prison drug programs draw criticism” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — As Florida continues to deal with an opioid crisis, state corrections officials are moving ahead on a plan to cut substance-abuse services to make up a shortfall in health care funding for the prison system. The state Department of Corrections announced the plan Tuesday evening, saying services had to be cut to shift money to the health care program, where there is a $55 million shortfall. The agency projects it will need an additional $28 million in 2018-2019 to fund the new contract and will have to offset $26.8 million in rising costs for pharmaceuticals. Reductions will be felt across the state, impacting some 33 community providers that offer substance-abuse services and other programs, ranging from life-skills development to job placement, designed to help prisoners successfully return to society once they have served sentences. The cuts include a 40 percent reduction in funding for substance abuse and mental-health treatment for prisoners returning to their communities … In the prisons, another $7.6 million in substance-abuse services will be eliminated.
“State officials won’t release crucial FIU bridge records. Now the Miami Herald is suing” via Nicholas Nehmas of the Miami Herald — On Wednesday, the Herald filed suit against FDOT in Tallahassee’s Leon County Circuit Court to compel the release of emails, meeting minutes and other records relating to the bridge’s design and construction. “These records are critical to helping us understand how this tragedy occurred and what can be done to prevent a similar incident in the future,” Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, the Herald’s executive editor, said in a statement. The Florida International University bridge came crashing down at 1:47 p.m.March 15. Days earlier, cracks had been observed in the $14.3 million structure. On the morning of the collapse, FIU held a two-hour meeting with its engineers and FDOT to discuss whether the cracks presented a safety risk. The Miami Herald requested records from that meeting, as well as other relevant documents.
“Jimmy Patronis calls for more transparency in lobbying Citizens Insurance” via Florida Politics – Chief Financial Officer Patronis has told the state’s insurer of last resort that those who lobby Citizens Property Insurance Corp. should be required to disclose their efforts. Patronis sent a letter to Citizens president and CEO BarryGilway on Wednesday, with a copy to board chair Christopher Gardner. “Transparency should be a key component to any organization,” Patronis wrote. “Currently, lobbyists are not statutorily required to disclose their efforts on behalf of clients and private interests they represent before Citizens … Florida’s state-backed insurer should be subject to the same rules as state agencies and organizations such as water management districts.”
“Jeff Brandes a headliner at self-driving car demo” via Florida Politics — Brandes will be on hand for a three-day event in Tampa next week where the public can take a spin in a self-driving car. The Society of Automotive Engineers’ inaugural SAE Demo Day, May 9-11, will allow attendees to ride down Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in a self-driving car outfitted by Virginia-based robotics software company Perrone Robotics. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is also a partner in the event. “I am incredibly grateful that SAE International is bringing this self-driving ‘hands off’ demo to Tampa Bay. Our residents will be able to experience the future of transportation and provide feedback that will be invaluable to industry leaders and policymakers as we chart a course toward the shared, electric and autonomous future,” Brandes said.
“Sun-Sentinel apologizes after running front-page gun ad below Parkland story” via Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times — Two sides of the paper collided in a spectacularly ill-thought-out front page that included stories about a Stoneman Douglas fundraiser and the guilty plea of a mass shooter who killed five at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport — both printed just above a glaring, neon-orange ad for a gun show. After an outcry from Stoneman Douglas families, the paper quickly apologized and announced it would stop printing gun ads for the moment. “It’s a mess. It’s horrible,” says Julie Anderson, the Sun Sentinel’s editor-in-chief. “We’re taking every step possible to make sure our editorial staff always see ads before publication, so something like this doesn’t slip through.” In her statement, publisher Nancy Meyer said: “We deeply regret placement of a gun advertisement on our front page Wednesday morning. It has been against our policy to run gun and other types of controversial advertising on our front page.”
John Stemberger predicts ‘death’ of Boy Scouts – In a Wednesday email, Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, informed his membership of an AP report that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was removing “boy” from its name. The decision to “drop the male designation” in its name “signals the final death of an American institution,” he wrote. “It’s simply stunning that a leading youth organization, (to) which parents have entrusted the protection of their children for over a century, has now opted to again appease LGBT activists rather than follow clear, common-sense best practices for child protection and do what’s truly in the best interest of the boys … Having fully joined the sexual revolution, the BSA has become merely a youth group with neckerchiefs further promoting moral and gender confusion in society.” In 2013, after the BSA voted to admit boys who identify as gay, the Council was “instrumental in leading the launch of Trail Life USA, a national Christian scouting movement,” it said.
What Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen is reading: “Rumor: Signs Point to Cosmopolitan Sale to Hard Rock International” via Vital Vegas – “It’s the juiciest rumor we’ve heard in weeks: The Cosmopolitan [a Las Vegas Strip hotel and casino] is strengthening its bottom line for a potential sale to Hard Rock International … Cosmopolitan ownership reportedly brought in a company specializing in business efficiency and steps have been taken to make the resort more appealing to a surprise suitor … Details are few about the potential sale to Hard Rock, but who has time to wait for a news release? Don’t be surprised if there’s official news of a sale in the near future.” The company is now fully controlled by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
— STRAPPED —
The effects of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act already are showing in school districts across the state — for better or for worse.
One narrative: school districts are short on cash and cops. Superintendents foreshadowed these concerns almost immediately after the bill was signed into law. Last week, the Tampa Bay Times’ Emily Mahoney reported results of a survey dispersed to districts by the Miami Herald/Times bureau, confirming issues in just short of half of the counties in the Sunshine State.
“Nearly every county that responded has a shortfall of funding compared to what it will cost to properly secure the schools with how much the state provide,” wrote Mahoney. In the days since, more local coverage illustrates how the Parkland school safety reforms are unfolding in each district.
In Brevard: Caroline Glenn of Florida Today reports residents are battling fiercely in town halls over whether to arm teachers.
In Hernando: School Board members are considering a half-cent sales tax or an increase in the property tax rate to make up more than $22 million mandated by the state to harden schools, reports Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times.
In Duval: The school district approved a plan to staff every elementary school with “an armed school safety assistant,” reports Kent Justice of WJXT.
Deadlines: Districts have until July 1 to designate a ‘school safety specialist’ and determine how many people will participate in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. By August, each district should have conducted a security risk assessment for each public campus. And schools have until September to establish a threat assessment team with expertise in mental health counseling.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Marco Rubio walks back criticism of GOP tax law” via Quint Forgey of POLITICO Florida — “On the whole, the tax cut bill helps workers. It’s just not massive tax cuts to multinational corporations that do it,” Rubio wrote in an op-ed for National Review … “Overall, the Republican tax-cut bill has been good for Americans. That is why I voted for it,” he added. “But it could have been even better for American workers and their families.” That assessment marks a stark departure from Rubio’s awkward rebuke of the law in an interview with The Economist, in which the Florida Republican questioned how much the legislation is really helping the working class. “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” Rubio told The Economist. “In fact, they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
“Former congressman Jeff Miller emerges as a leading contender for Trump’s VA” via Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and John Wegner of The Washington Post — Miller, who chaired the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs before retiring from Congress last year, is considered a leading candidate to become President Trump’s next nominee for VA secretary, according to people familiar with the matter. The Florida Republican, who spent 16 years in Congress and now works in Washington as a lobbyist, met with officials in the White House vetting office … he expects to meet with Trump in coming days. A senior administration official who confirmed Trump’s interest in Miller said a decision is not expected before next week.
“Matt Gaetz signs letter nominating Donald Trump for Nobel Prize” via Florida Politics — “We, the undersigned members of the United States Congress, respectfully nominate Donald J. Trump to receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work to end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and bring peace to the region,” the letter reads. The one-pager goes onto chronicle Trump’s dealings with the two Koreas, saying his administration “successfully united the international community, including China, to impose one of the most successful international sanctions regimes in history” and highlighting South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent statement that Trump should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The letter concludes: “We can think of no one more deserving of the [Norwegian Nobel] Committee’s recognition in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world.” Indiana U.S. Rep. Luke Messer penned the letter with Gaetz and another 16 representatives signing on in support.
Spotted — Gaetz on Fox News with Shannon Bream to discuss the call to impeach deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. To watch the video, click here.
— OPINIONS —
“Many GOP politicians dislike Trump. They’re terrified to admit it” via David Jolly for The Washington Post — In speaking with my former Republican colleagues still in Congress, the one consistent refrain I hear is, “I’m just keeping my head down, trying not to get noticed.” Some have privately told me that serving in Congress during the Trump administration is “miserable.” Moreover, a colleague who has decided to call it quits confessed that he is doing so to try to salvage his political career by not being forever branded a “Trump Republican.” … these politicians are engaging in what can only be considered a sort of personal catharsis, not an act of political courage. It’s obvious why GOP lawmakers remain silent. This is Trump’s Republican Party, and his approval numbers among Republican voters sit close to 90 percent. Cross him, and you risk the wrath not only of the president but also of the electoral base that he has cultivated to wrest control of the party.
Capitol shoeshine guy gets ‘rousing ovation’ at FAPL interview – The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, which is doing its first candidate interviews, had TonyKnox on Wednesday, an insider tells us. Knox, now running a longshot independent bid for governor, has long shined shoes in the Capitol during the annual Legislative Session. “He received a rousing ovation at the end, after talking about his life as an observer of things in the Capitol for several decades,” our source tells us. “He spoke eloquently about raising his eight children and his love for Florida.” The Tallahassee Democrat published a profile of Knox last June. His slogan? “Let’s Make Florida Shine Again!”
“Outback Bowl chooses Bay area IP lawyer as new chairman” via Frances McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — … giving the nod to Todd Timmerman, a partner in the intellectual property practice of Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP. Timmerman has been a longtime volunteer with the New Year’s Day college bowl game located in Tampa. He has also served on the board of directors since 2010, including as a former chair of the bowl’s team selection committee. “Todd has been an instrumental leader in our organization for many years,” said Jim McVay, president and CEO of the Outback Bowl, in a statement. Timmerman co-chairs Shumaker’s intellectual property law practice group with Charlotte partner Thad Adams.
— SURVIVOR —
RonnyAhmed, the paraplegic victim of the 2014 Strozier Library shooting at Florida State University, continues to struggle through each day.
Ahmed’s life, as described in Tampa Bay Times writer Claire McNeill’srecent feature story, is plagued with distress — whether it be the knots in his stomach that require kneading or the challenges of continuing his education.
McNeill’s story shows that Ahmed’s also been forgotten, at least to some extent. He’s stopped much less on campus, and his heroic clout has waned.
Expectations: The story opens with McNeill describing Ahmed’s mindset as he prepares to speak at a post-Parkland rally. “He only agrees to these speeches because he doesn’t want to let people down. The world wants a certain kind of survivor.”
Conflict: Ahmed expects to graduate FSU in 2021, which McNeill notes is a full decade since he set foot on campus as a freshman. He’s also in the middle of suing the school.
Context: Wrote McNeill, “Before, he crocheted. He whittled wood and played piano. He taught himself to breathe fire and take apart circuit boards. He climbed Kilimanjaro and became an Eagle Scout. He knew all the secret places the deer gathered at Wekiwa Springs. He cared for run-over turtles.”
— ALOE —
“Facebook commits to civil rights audit, political bias review” via Sara Fischer of Axios — To address allegations of bias, Facebook is bringing in two outside advisers — one to conduct a legal audit of its impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color, and another to advise the company on potential bias against conservative voices … The efforts are happening in response to allegations that the tech giant censors conservative voices and discriminates against minority groups. Facebook hopes the independent audit and formal advising partnership will show it takes these issues very seriously. Guiding the civil rights audit is Laura Murphy, a national civil liberties and civil rights leader. Murphy will take feedback from civil rights groups, like The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and advise Facebook on the best path forward.
“Oculus Go is the first VR gadget you might actually buy” via Geoffrey Fowler of The Washington Post — Now VR’s getting another shot called the Oculus Go. This new headset is the product Facebook’s Oculus division should have sold the first time around. After testing one for a week, the Oculus Go is the first VR gadget I actually want to buy. It costs just $200. It has no cables. It’s easy to use. And it’s for more than just playing games. The Oculus Go doesn’t solve all the problems facing VR. You can teleport to new places, but you won’t forget you’re actually wearing goggles. And aficionados will be disappointed that the Oculus Go, in an effort to trim its price and bulk, offers less-sophisticated VR experiences than its predecessors. Yet the Oculus Go addresses what I think is a bigger issue: It’s accessible to people who aren’t super rich or super into video games and computers. And VR will become better when more than just geeks get involved.
“Theme park wars: Disney, Universal and SeaWorld duke it out with new attractions” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Here’s what’s in store: Fast cars. Vin Diesel driving fast cars. Universal’s newest ride based off the popular “Fast & Furious” franchise is officially open to the public at Universal Studios. Disney wants to capitalize on the beloved “Toy Story” franchise when it opens an 11-acre land at Hollywood Studios. A Slinky Dog roller coaster — with a thrill level similar to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom — and an alien saucer attraction where guests spiral around on rockets are the two new rides when the latest expansion opens June 30. SeaWorld is in spending mode as it builds new rides across its parks to attract more visitors through the turnstiles … to open sometime this year are Infinity Falls, a river raft ride with a 40-foot drop at SeaWorld Orlando, and Ray Rush, a raft ride at the Aquatica water park.
Happy birthday to such a good guy, Donovan Brown. Also celebrating today are Bill Lewis, Tom Scherberger, and Rita Solnet.
The event kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, 9700 International Drive.
From conversations on the importance of skills and workforce training, looking at Florida’s housing to how current business-led efforts can be replicated throughout Florida, business, community, and philanthropy leaders will join with elected officials to set the stage for action.
Speakers throughout the day will include:
— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who also plans a “special announcement” there, in Ballroom B, at 10 a.m. The news is widely expected to be the Chamber’s endorsement of his bid for governor this year. A livestream will be available on the chamber’s Twitter feed, @FLChamber.
— Stan Connally, Chairman, President & CEO, Gulf Power; Vice Chair, Enterprise Florida; Vice Chair, Achieve Escambia.
— Forough Hosseini, Senior Vice President of Information Systems, ICI Homes.
— David Lawrence, Chair, The Children’s Movement of Florida; former Publisher of The Miami Herald.
— Sen. Mel Martinez, Chairman, Southeast U.S. and Latin America for JPMorgan Chase & Co.; former U.S. Senator & HUD Secretary.
— Will Weatherford, Weatherford Capital; Former Speaker of Florida House.
“In order to secure a health services contractor, fund the increased pharmaceutical budget, and adjust for reductions, we’ve unfortunately had to make some very difficult decisions.” — Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones, in a statement announcing cuts at the agency.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Revenue Estimating Conference will hold what is known as a post-session “impact” conference at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.
The Florida Public Service Commission will continue a workshop to review hurricane preparation and response plans for electric utilities. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will address a groundbreaking for a new Heart and Vascular Pavilion at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside. That’s at 10 a.m., St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, 1 Shircliff Way, Jacksonville.
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.
U.S. Rep. DennisRoss, a Lakeland Republican who recently announced he would not run for re-election this year, will speak during a meeting of the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Bartow Civic Center, 2250 South Floral Ave., Bartow.
A National Day of Prayer event will be held in Tallahassee. Worship begins 11:30 a.m., with a prayer service at noon, both on the 22nd floor, the Capitol.
Former Gov. JebBush is slated to speak during a commencement ceremony for the University of Central Florida’s College of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine, College of Undergraduate Studies, and Rosen College of Hospitality Management. That’s at 2:30 p.m., University of Central Florida, CFE Arena, Orlando.
Rep. BarringtonRussell, a Lauderhill Democrat, will host a roundtable discussion focused on addressing the issues of gun violence and school safety. That’s at 6 p.m., The Faith Center, 5555 NW 95th Ave., Sunrise.
Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, in the running for Governor this year, will speak during the Polk State College commencement ceremony. That’s at 6:30 p.m., RP Funding Center, 701 West Lime St., Lakeland.