Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
The state’s medical marijuana regulators are holding rule-making hearings Thursday — seemingly without addressing two major concerns from lawmakers.
The hearings, which begin at 9 a.m., cover changes to the application process to become a medical marijuana provider, and to some legal definitions.
A new proposed rule, however, still includes a $60,000 “nonrefundable application fee” to become a marijuana provider, and doesn’t remove provisions for “contingent” licenses.
The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC) has objected to both, saying they weren’t mentioned in state law passed to ‘implement’ Florida’s constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis.
The committee, which ensures that agencies write rules that line up with statutes passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, has long had problems with medical marijuana rule-making.
Its coordinator, Kenneth Plante, sent a letter earlier this month to the Department of Health’s top lawyer, asking whether the Department was simply “refusing to modify the rules.” It regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Health Department spokesman DevinGaletta has said the agency is “committed to pushing forward … and look(s) forward to working with JAPC to finalize these rules as quickly as possible in order to meet our goals.”
The hearings take place at the Betty Easley Conference Center, Room 148, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand … may stay in the locker room … Today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.” — NFL Commissioner RogerGoodell, in a statement released by the league.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Florida Power & Light will host a breakfast and tour of the FPL Coral Farms Solar Energy Center in Putnam County. The breakfast is at 9 a.m., followed by a media tour at 10:30 a.m., starting at the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, 1100 Reid St., Palatka.
The Florida Development Finance Corporation Board of Directors will hold a workshop, followed by a board meeting. The workshop is at 9 a.m., with the board meeting at 2 p.m., both at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 East Coastline Dr., Jacksonville.
The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use will hold two hearings about proposed rules related to medical-marijuana treatment centers. They begin at 9 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
The Florida Transportation Commission will hold a conference call and discuss issues such as construction delays created by utility companies. That’s at 10 a.m. Call-in number: 850-414-4973. PIN: 223188.
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is slated to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Sulzbacher Village, which will provide housing for low-income women and families. That’s at 10 a.m., Sulzbacher Village, 5455 Springfield Blvd., Jacksonville.
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.
Orlando-area entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for Governor ChrisKing will continue his statewide “Turning the Tide” tour on criminal justice reform. He meets with North Florida faith leaders at 3:15 p.m., Mount Sinai Baptist Church, 2036 Silver St., Jacksonville. He later will address Jacksonville Democrats on his reform plan, 6:30 p.m., Florida Coastal School of Law Atrium, 8787 Baypine Road, Jacksonville.
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold an open house on plans to add two new lanes to eight miles of State Road 60, between County Road 630 in Polk County and the Kissimmee River Bridge in Osceola County. That’s at 5 p.m. Westgate River Ranch, Main Hall, 3200 River Ranch Blvd., River Ranch.
House Democratic Leader JanetCruz ofTampa, who is running in Senate District 18, will hold a campaign event. She’s expected to be joined by attorney BobBuesing, who had planned to try to unseat GOP Sen. DanaYoung in the district. He dropped out of the race after Cruz announced her candidacy. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Pane Rustica, 3225 South MacDill Ave., Tampa.
A campaign event will be held for Democrat DarrylBlock, running in Seminole County’s House District 29. Block is trying to unseat Republican Rep. ScottPlakon. That’s at 7:30 p.m., CJ’s Italian Kitchen, 165 Wekiva Springs Road, #119, Longwood.
As I continue to extol how shopping truly is a pleasure at Publix – and why its campaign contributions to Adam Putnam do not warrant a full-scale boycott of the grocery store – the Tampa Bay Times, which first reported about the scope of Publix’s support of Putnam, has published another campaign finance story which, when contrasted with the Publix-Putnam report, demonstrates how the newspaper can put its thumb on the (deli?) scale when it wants to.
Emily Mahoney, of the combined Times/Herald (Herald/Times?) Tallahassee bureau,reports that South Florida toy executive Jay Foreman contacted former U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and David Jolly this week with a pledge to back their potential bipartisan bid for Florida governor and lieutenant governor.
“I think it’s a great idea and a great opportunity for Florida, which is a swing state in so many ways, to show the country that this model works,” Foreman said.
Foreman is the CEO of Basic Fun!, a Boca Raton “toy and novelty company.” Foreman, a Democrat, told Mahoney he’s a longtime supporter of Murphy’s and even held a fundraiser for him during one of his runs for Congress.
There’s a picture of Rainbow Dash (one of my daughter’s favorite ponies) accompanying the blog post. A Times editor tweeted about “Bronies” when referencing the article (although I’d suggest he be careful with that description – read more about the bizarre world of bronies here.)
The piece makes campaign finance sound as if it could be fun if only the “spirit of friendship” (that’s a My Little Pony reference) were involved.
That’s because the Times and its reporters, for the most part, love the fantasy of a bipartisan ticket. The reality is a Murphy-Jolly ticket has as much chance as winning as spotting a purple unicorn.
Because the Times wants to see something like Murphy-Jolly 2018 happen, it frames the story of Foreman pledging to donate to them in a flattering light.
Yet, because Publix has donated several hundred thousand dollars to its hometown ally Adam Putnam, something nefarious must be afoot.
Do your own comparison: Here’s Foreman saying he’s ready to donate up to $40,000 to Murphy-Jolly and he gets to give pie-in-the-sky quotes like, “I see two guys with fresh ideas and fresh faces.”
Why isn’t the story framed as ‘South Florida business executive wants to bankroll long-shot campaign’?
Why doesn’t the Times do the math and point out the fact that if Foreman were to give $40,000 to Murphy, that would be one individual giving almost a tenth of what Publix – a multi-billion dollar company that employs thousands of individuals – gave to Putnam?
The Times is making a big deal out of Publix’s support for Putnam (which is comparable to the average household annually giving three cents to a cause or candidate) while applying a soft-focus sense to a donor wanting to give money to two candidates the Times would like to see enter the 2018 race for governor.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
And so the well-timed attacks against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continue.
A complaint, filed Tuesday by Alan L. Swartz, a Pinellas accountant, takes umbrage with an April 6 Nelson townhall held at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, or PSTA, in St. Petersburg.
Swartz charges that the event was carried out in Nelson’s capacity as a U.S. Senator, but instead served only to aid Nelson’s re-election campaign. That, Swartz claims, is a violation of federal laws limiting the scope of taxpayer-backed Senate resources.
Ryan Brown, Nelson’s Senate-side communications director, disagreed.
“This was an official event organized by official staff,” Brown told Florida Politics. He suggested that other members of the media have dismissed a similar complaint as “bogus” and that covering the story follows the mantra of being “all about the clickbait.”
At the crux of Swartz’ complaint is correspondence (subjected to public records requests) sent between PSTA and Nelson’s Senate office.
Nelson is quoted in the Times’ story saying, “Whoever my opponent is, I always take them very seriously and I run like there’s no tomorrow.” Swartz relies on this, in part, to allege the townhall was a campaign event. It is not clear whether Nelson was prompted by a reporter to speak about campaign-specific details or whether he did so with volition.
It’s just another timely attack as the incumbent fights against Scott for his seat in 2018, following a different complaint filed last week alleging Nelson leveraged his power to get a lower valuation on a property he owns, so he could pay less yearly in property taxes. Nelson himself dismissedthat charge as a perennial issue.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @Dshesgreen: @SpeakerRyan on possible push to oust him from Speaker’s post: “Obviously I serve at the pleasure of the members … but I think we all agree the best thing for us is to completely our agenda” and not have a divisive leadership election distract from that.
— @FrancesRobles: The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reports that 99% of its customers have gotten their power back. (So that’s about 14,700 customers to go!) Sylvia Martínez, the lady in San Lorenzo we featured in our recent report, got her power back this weekend after nearly 9 months
— @AndrewGillum: Tomorrow, all across America, little girls who look like mine will wake up to a country where they can be anything, including a Governor. Congratulations to my dear friend @staceyabrams! What a victory. Onto November!
— @RepTomGraves: We all know someone who was taken too soon by cancer, Alzheimer’s or some other deadly disease. As @POTUS said in his #SOTU, every terminally-ill patient should have the #RightToTry lifesaving innovative drugs. #S204 provides options & hope for those who exhaust other treatments
— @JohnMorganEsq: Always follow the money. The implementation of #MedicalMarijuana in Florida is so incompetent that it must be intentional. I believe that failure rests squarely w/ @FLGovScott. The buck stops here. This will be a HUGE election issue in the FL Senate race.
— @Fneout: Overheard: Reporter asks @LaurenSchenone about being at an official news conference being held soon w @FLGovScott — “Thought you were on the campaign side,” reporter asks. “I am,” she responds. “It’s a public event.” Schenone worked in comms office, switched to Scott’s campaign
— @JKennedyReport: As a former @Mets fan, I know how @FLHouseDems feel: Mathematically eliminated in bid for gaining enuf sigs to force a special session. With two days still to go in balloting.
— @Laforgia_: I’ve said this before. But I miss living and being a reporter in South Florida every single day.
— @TonyDungy: I guess you know that you’ve made it when you become the answer to a Jeopardy question
Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 2; Memorial Day — 5; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 17; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 19; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 20; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 22; Father’s Day — 25; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 30; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 36; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 46; MLB All-Star Game — 55; Deadline for filing claim bills — 70; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 70; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 71; Start of the U.S. Open — 96; Primary Election Day — 97; College Football opening weekend — 99; NFL season starts — 106; Future of Florida Forum — 126; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 153; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 154; General Election Day — 167; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 267; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 286.
— TOP STORY —
“Once at odds, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell plot path to hold Congress” via Julie Bykowicz and Mike Bender of The Wall Street Journal — Now, the two men are talking nearly daily about saving the Republican majority this fall, with the White House engaging more directly in fundraising and strategic efforts led by [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell, people close to both men said. Democrats need a net gain of just three seats to retake control of the chamber in November’s midterms. “They’ve been on [a] good footing,” a senior administration official said. … The improved relationship with Mr. McConnell was born out of the fight for tax legislation last year, aides said. Both realized they needed to work together to pass a bill, and they established trust in the process.
First on #FlaPol — “Bill Nelson’s Brevard County property valuation challenged” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A Brevard County taxpayer is challenging Nelson‘s appraisal of land he owns there, alleging it has been undervalued for years, costing the county “hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions” in under-taxation. It’s not a new issue, and Nelson dismissed the complaint as something that comes up from political opponents in every election, while he insisted the property’s appraisal is appropriate as the land’s use is for grazing cattle. The complaint was filed last week by James Peter Fusscas of Malabar … It charges that Nelson’s property has been far undervalued, with the office listing the land’s market value at $3,038,750, while assessing its value for tax purposes at only $210,630, when Nelson had once listed the property, and a smaller adjacent parcel, for sale for at nearly $10 million.
“With Rick Scott on defense, reports show Florida woes for not expanding Medicaid” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Two new reports that highlight Florida’s decision to not expand Medicaid found it left the state with more women at risk for mental health problems and significantly increased the number of uninsured overall across the state. The pair of separate reports lands in the middle of campaign season as Gov. Scott, a former hospital executive, is running for U.S. Senate and has been defensive over his long health care record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Florida has the third-highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country: 20.1 percent in 2017. That’s up from 19.8 percent in 2016. The average percentage of uninsured adults in non-expansion states was 19 percent in 2017, more than double the average uninsured percentage in expansion states: 9.1 percent. And while non-expansion states’ uninsured percentages are ticking up, expansion states’ uninsured percentages are continuing to decline.
“As warnings of election hacking escalate, Florida looks to be inviting target” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — Russian hackers targeted Florida’s election in 2016 and there’s new worry a similar attempt could happen again this year. Trump administration officials warned congressional lawmakers in a classified, closed-door briefing Tuesday about another wave of potential threats targeted at state and local elections this year around the country. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the meeting’s primary aim was to spell out the resources the federal government can provide to prevent such attacks, such as technical assistance, and to urge lawmakers to “raise awareness” with state and local elections officials about ways to protect the integrity of the voting system. There was no specific mention of Florida, where a Tallahassee-based company that provided election-related software to most of the state’s 67 supervisors of elections offices was reportedly targeted by the Russian military during the 2016 election cycle.
“Florida Democrats want Ron DeSantis to disclose Elliott Broidy connections” via Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party is pointing to a report from The Associated Press about Broidy lobbying in favor of anti-Qatar policies in Washington in order to ingratiate himself with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and possibly nail down up to $1 billion in business deals. “New reports have raised the chilling prospect that Ron DeSantis’ outspoken opposition to Qatar was part of a quid-pro-quo with one of his leading donors, Elliott Broidy. DeSantis should immediately disclose whether he had any conversations with Broidy about U.S. policy toward Qatar. Floridians deserve a governor who will stand up for them — not someone who is controlled by DC lobbyists and foreign governments,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. FDP then openly questions whether DeSantis’ hardline stance on Qatar may have been due to direct lobbying from Broidy, who is also a member of DeSantis’ national finance team.
Mentioned by @FlaDems — “Trump gushes about DeSantis: “He’s always helping me on television. He’s so great” — At a White House ceremony, Trump once again gushed about DeSantis saying “Where’s Ron DeSantis? He’s always helping me on television. He’s so great. Thank you, Ron.” Rumors swirl about a possible Trump visit to Florida to campaign for DeSantis. Trump has loomed large in Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary — and both DeSantis and AdamPutnam have been jockeying for the president’s support. Last week, The New York Times reported that the Putnam campaign was backchanneling to Vice President MikePence to stop Trump from further supporting Ron DeSantis. DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times that he had the President’s full support. A few days later, Trump mysteriously said (via telephone) that he was planning to come to Florida for a “special event” — immediately leading to speculation that he would soon hit the campaign trail for DeSantis. That speculation only increased when Congressman MattGaetz — one of the President’s most vocal supporters — took to the alt-right Breitbart News to formally endorse DeSantis and slam Putnam as a “Trump shade-thrower.”
Spotted on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Republican DavidJolly and Democrat PatrickMurphy, trying to build momentum for their possible ‘Purple Ticket’ run for governor and lieutenant governor. As the Miami Herald explained the plan, “Murphy, a Democrat, would run for governor and would nominate Jolly, a Republican, as his running mate after making it through the primary.”
“Florida A&M alumni group plans governor’s race candidate forum in Orlando” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The FAMU NAA’s Gubernatorial Candidates Forum is scheduled to be held Saturday at the Rosen Centre on International Drive. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has confirmed he will attend. No other candidates were yet listed as attending or accepting the invitation. Other events at the convention include the FAMU President’s Luncheon, Distinguished Alumni Awards Black-Tie Gala, and Fundraising Luncheon and Parade of Giving. State Rep. Ramon Alexander, a FAMU alumnus, will deliver the keynote during the luncheon.
More Florida Sheriffs endorse Ashley Moody for AG — Moody announced the endorsement of three more Sheriffs, bringing the total than 39 — more than 80 percent of Republican sheriffs statewide — in her bid for Attorney General. New additions to list are Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister; Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter and Jefferson County Sheriff Alfred Kenneth “Mac” McNeill Jr.
“Congressional candidate under fire for saying Puerto Rican evacuees shouldn’t vote in Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Amid the blowback at his remarks, political newcomer John Ward clarified his comments to stress that he believes Puerto Rican voters are U.S. citizens and that they should be allowed to register to vote in Florida if they decide to become permanent residents of the state. Now Ward is in damage-control mode as he tries to blunt the effects on his campaign of his remarks last month. The controversy erupted almost immediately after a voter asked: “A lot of Puerto Ricans have moved either temporarily or permanently to Florida. How do you respond to them when they say that they need more help and that the aid to Puerto Rico is not enough?” Said Ward at the April event: “First of all, I don’t think they should be allowed to register to vote. And it’s not lost on me that, I think, the Democrat Party’s really hoping that they can change the voting [registration] in a lot of counties and districts. And I don’t think they should be allowed to do that.”
Bob Cortes backs colleague Fred Costello in CD 6 — “As a colleague, as a friend, and as a Puerto Rican American, I strongly support Fred Costello’s candidacy for Congress. Sadly, his primary opponent has made it clear he does not believe Puerto Ricans should be allowed to exercise their rights as American citizens,” state Rep. Cortes said in a statement. Costello, a former Republican state representative, faces Ward in the GOP primary, and Democrats Nancy Soderberg and John Upchurch in the general election to replace DeSantis.
Darren Soto gets highest rating from Polk progressives — U.S. Rep. Soto received the highest rating offered by the Polk County Progressive Democratic Caucus of “Strongly Progressive,” according to his campaign for re-election in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Soto is in a primary with former Congressman Alan Grayson of Orlando, who left the district seat in 2016 for an unsuccessful run for the Senate. The winner of the primary will likely win in November since CD 9 is heavily Democratic in registration.
Lauren Baer gets Palm Beach, Treasure Coast endorsements for CD 18 — New endorsements for Democrat Baer include State Attorney for Palm Beach County Dave Aronberg, state Sen. Lori Berman; state Rep. David Silvers; St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky; Palm Beach Gardens Councilmember Rachelle Litt; former Mayor of Palm Beach Gardens Eric Jablin; Treasure Coast Black Chamber Founder and President Chauncelor Howell; Puerto Rican Association for Hispanic Affairs President Robert Roldan and Vice President of Puerto Rican Association Jacquelene Burke.
“David Richardson again hammers CD 27 opponent Donna Shalala in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Richardson is out with another campaign ad slamming Democratic primary opponent Shalala, this time over her ties to the Lennar Corporation and donations to Republican politicians. It’s the third ad targeting Shalala launched by the Richardson campaign this week. The Lennar Corporation, based in Miami, is one of America’s biggest homebuilders. Shalala served on the board of Lennar from 2001 to 2012. The ad says Shalala “sold out progressive values for personal profits. Shalala gave thousands to pro-gun, pro-life, anti-gay Republicans, profited off the housing crisis, made millions from health insurers and opposed Medicare-for-all.” The new ad also attacks Shalala for her past political donations to Republican campaigns.
“Democrats reserve $1.9 million in Miami TV airtime ahead of 2018 election” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that it reserved $1.9 million in the Miami market ahead of Election Day 2018. The Miami reservation, part of a $12.6 million nationwide ad buy … It’s not clear yet which Democrats stand to benefit from the outside television presence. The GOP equivalent of the DCCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, previously announced a $3.2 million ad reservation in the Miami media market in March as part of a $46.3 million ad buy nationwide.
“Lone Democrat drops out of HD 64 race” via Florida Politics — Democrat Heather Kenyon Stahl is ending her campaign for House District 64, the Tampa-based seat held by Republican Rep. James Grant. In her announcement, posted on Facebook, Stahl thanked her supporters before citing a new job and her husband’s ongoing health problems as reasons for her exit. “Over the past month, I have obtained a new job which provides great health benefits and allows me to work from home. I have not spoken about this a great deal but my husband had a health scare last year that has left him with cognitive issues (he is on full disability). Being able to work from home allows me the ability to be there if he needs me,” she wrote. She closed by pledging to remain involved in Democratic causes and to help other 2018 Democratic candidates in their races this election cycle.
“Controversial comments from HD 98 candidate Michael Gottlieb could cause problems with Democratic voters” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Like many defense attorneys, Gottlieb has handled his share of unsavory cases … But it’s Gottlieb’s comments outside the courtroom that could raise more serious questions for voters. In 2016, Gottlieb defended a cop accused of raping a woman during a traffic stop. In a separate civil suit, to which Gottlieb was not a party, that officer was forced to pay $4.5 million in damages by a federal judge. Gottlieb responded to the judge’s ruling, saying, “There was only one side of the story. There was nobody there discrediting them,” referring to the victims. “There’s always another side to the story.” In 2013, Gottlieb represented Doug Eaton, a photographer accused of possessing child pornography and having sex with a 15-year-old prostitute. Gottlieb admitted his client hired the young girl through an escort service but said it wasn’t Eaton’s fault the girl was underage. Then there is the case of Augustine Bollo, a Weston podiatrist who was convicted of molesting a 15-year-old girl in 2016. Bollo was a longtime friend of the victim’s family and accused of paying the girl to get her to stay silent. “I know his wife and family fully support him and stand by him,” Gottlieb said.
Correction: Michael J. Chitwood is sheriff of Volusia County. He was misidentified in Tuesday’s SUNBURN. We regret the error.
— WHITE FLIGHT —
To move the needle in 2018 and 2020, Democrats want to capture more white voters.
That’s easier said than done, writes political researcher Joshua N. Zinghe for The Washington Post, as whites have been fleeing the Democratic Party for quite some time.
“The decrease in white support for the Democratic Party is one of the most important trends in U.S. politics,” Zinghe writes. “This shift in white voting behavior is the result of changes of the parties’ positions and the country’s demographics.”
One reason why: Polarization. Masses pick a side, rather than hang around in the middle. “Republicans are conservatives and Democrats are liberals.” And that explains some of what’s caused white voters to leave the Democratic Party.
Catch-22: As the percentage of white voters decreases in total, more have “shifted rightward” on economic issues in response. “Overall, the Democratic Party has made inroads among socially liberal whites while losing social and economic conservatives.”
Times change: “The demographics of the white voters who are likely to support Democrats are different from the white voters who supported the Democratic Party in previous decades.” Democrats now are a party of “professional-class whites and members of ethnic and racial minority groups” who live in states unhelpful for winning the presidential electoral college.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will hold a job creation event, 8:15 a.m., Pratt & Whitney, 17900 Beeline Hwy. in Jupiter. Later, the Governor will honor Florida veterans with a Governor’s Veteran Service Award ceremony, 2 p.m., CW Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, 2801 Grand Ave., Pinellas Park.
“Florida’s early voting ban on campus challenged in court” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The complaint filed by the League of Women Voters seeks to strike down a controversial interpretation of Florida’s early voting laws by Scott’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Detzner’s office issued an opinion in 2014 that the Legislature’s expansion of early voting sites to include “government-owned community centers” does not include the student union building on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The city of Gainesville asked if the Reitz Student Union building on the UF campus could serve as an early voting site in 2014. The state said no. As a result, the lawsuit claims, many young people will find it “difficult, and in some cases, impossible” to vote in 2018.
Assignment editors — Conservatives on the Right Side of Quality, a coalition of center-right conservatives committed to championing the potential of every individual — including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) — will hold a reception in Tampa; doors open 5:30 p.m., program begins at 6 p.m., Centre Club, 123 S. Westshore Blvd., Eighth Floor, Tampa. Scheduled to appear are state Sen. Dana Young and state Reps. Chris Latvala, Amber Mariano, and Jackie Toledo as well as Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist.
“‘Framers’ of schools amendment seek role in court battle” via the News Service of Florida — Some members of the 1998 Constitution Revision Commission are seeking to file a brief in the Florida Supreme Court as part of a legal battle about whether the state is meeting its constitutional duty to provide a high-quality system of public schools. … the former commissioners filed a motion Tuesday asking for approval to file a friend-of-the-court brief. A footnote in the motion indicates 10 former commissioners want to join in the brief, including former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, former Supreme Court Justice Gerald Kogan and former House Speaker Jon Mills. The motion came in a long-running legal battle led by the group Citizens for Strong Schools, which argues that the state has failed to comply with the 1998 voter-approved amendment. The 1998 constitutional amendment says it is a “paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”
“Horse breeders, track battle over slots license” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Thoroughbred breeders and trainers are accusing gambling regulators of erring when they allowed Calder Race Course to keep its lucrative slot-machine license after demolishing the grandstand where bettors once watched horses compete. But during an administrative hearing, lawyers for Calder accused the horsemen of trying to force the track to build a glitzy new stadium despite the dramatic decline in horse betting that prompted the destruction of the aged facility two years ago. The challenge highlights the growing tension between the greyhound and horse industries and racetrack operators, who have sought to do away with live racing while keeping more-profitable gambling activities such as slots and poker, a process known as “decoupling.” Under Florida law, slot-machine gaming areas must be “contiguous and connected to the live gaming facility.” The complaint alleges that the renewal of Calder’s slot-machine license after the grandstand was torn down amounts to an “unadopted rule.”
“Tribe continues challenge to state utility taxes” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The Seminole Tribe of Florida has gone to a federal appeals court as part of a long-running legal dispute about whether the tribe should be shielded from state utility taxes on electricity used on reservation land. Lawyers for the tribe last week filed a notice of appeal after a federal judge refused to reconsider his decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Seminoles against the Florida Department of Revenue. The notice of appeal does not detail the arguments that the tribe will make to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But U.S. District Judge Robert Scola dismissed the lawsuit because he said it essentially involved the same issues as an earlier case in which the appeals court rejected the tribe’s challenge to state utility taxes.
“Florida marks milestone in Everglades python control program” via Jennifer Kay and Josh Replogle of The Associated Press — The state has been paying a select group of 25 hunters to catch and kill the invasive snakes on state lands in South Florida since March 2017. On Tuesday, the 1,000th python collected in that program was measured and weighed at the South Florida Water Management District’s field office in Homestead. Half the 1,010 pythons harvested by hand as of Tuesday have been females, which can produce up to 70 eggs each year.
“Miami Beach considers taking over scandal-plagued North Bay Village” via Brittany Shammas of the Miami New Times — Since revelations surfaced last year of a blackmail plot against a commissioner with an undisclosed arrest for cocaine in his past, scandal after scandal has rocked tiny North Bay Village, a two-island town on the 79th Street Causeway. Now Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola is proposing a dramatic fix: He wants his city to take over the troubled village. “Frankly, North Bay Village residents that I’ve spoken to, they’re so exasperated with their government, they are so frustrated with their government, that they’re looking for a solution,” he says. “And I think some of them love the idea of the cachet of Miami Beach’s moniker.” At least one person does not love the idea: North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps, who, not coincidentally, has been at the heart of most of the local turmoil. Among other things, the mayor fired a cop who was investigating a blackmail plot in which she was labeled a “person of interest” and threatened to sue a local blogger covering the case.
“Void the warrant and destroy the records. So says lawyer of Hernando County commissioner up on prostitution-related charges” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing jurisdictional and procedural mistakes, the attorney for suspended Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is seeking to void the warrant for his arrest on prostitution-related charges and to erase all records of his arrest. In a motion filed last week, attorney Peyton Hyslop argued that Nicholson’s arrest warrant, handled by the Circuit Court, was incorrectly filed because “a circuit judge has no authority to hear or try a case that only accuses misdemeanors.’’ The warrant also does not list the county where it was issued, as required by law, Hyslop said. According to arrest records, the warrant was issued in Marion County rather than Hernando County. Hyslop asserted that the court erred in issuing a warrant instead of a simple summons, because “the judge had no reason to believe that the person against whom the complaint was made will not appear upon a summons.”
“All Children’s CEO: Not telling parents about needle left behind was ‘complete failure’” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — The only operations currently being performed in the Heart Institute are “low complexity ones,” Dr. Jonathan Ellen told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. They are all being led by a surgeon who is flying in from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “We’ve shut our program down as low as we can go,” he said. Ellen also addressed a state review that found the hospital failed to properly report two cases in which surgical needles were left behind in patients. In one case, the report said, the hospital did not tell the child’s parents. The fact that the family was not told, he said, was “a complete failure … I can’t sit here and defend it in any way, shape or form. … That broke my heart. That’s the reality.”
“Orlando Police Department is one of the first in the nation to test real-time facial recognition” via Larissa Hamblin of Orlando Weekly — By using Amazon Rekognition, OPD can spot people in real time, in contrast to the former method of comparing still photos to a person’s mug shot. Orlando Police Department said in a statement that the system is still in the “pilot program” phase and is not being used as an investigative tool quite yet. The technology also has not been set up in public spaces and there is still no word on when it will be implemented. To use Amazon Rekognition, a photo must be uploaded as a comparative device for the system to base its search on. According to Amazon, it can “detect, analyze, and compare faces for a wide variety of user verification, cataloging, people counting, and public safety use cases.” Currently, there are no laws in place regarding the practice of real-time facial recognition and it has not been tested in high court.
— CRIME RATE REMAINS LOW —
“Gov. Scott announced 6-percent drop in crime in 2017 for the Sunshine State” via Tyler White of First Coast News – Gov. Scott announced Tuesday in Jacksonville that the state’s crime rate dropped 6 percent in 2017, a 47-year low for the Sunshine State. On top of that, Scott said violent crimes were down 3 percent in the same time period. He also lamented on the loss of law enforcement across the state this year, holding a moment of silence for those who died in the line of duty. “Every time this happens, a family is tragically impacted,” Scott said. “These tragedies have been horrible for our state.” The Tallahassee Democrat reports the state prison system has cut programs aimed at dramatically reducing substance abuse, assisting in mental health issues and providing re-entry programs to fill a $28 million hole in the budget. When asked if he feels the cuts would impact the gains he’s helped facilitate in crime reduction across the state, Scott said he feels it could be a concern, but cited that recidivism is down and crime rates have continued to drop.
“Gun violence’s distant echo” via Eli Saslow of The Washington Post — “And here’s something you don’t hear every day,” the radio host said. “We apparently have a liberal gun protest happening right here in Gillette [Wyoming].” If America had in fact begun to reconsider its relationship with guns after two decades of escalating mass shootings, then a crucial test was now arriving in the rural West, where that relationship has long been inseparable. Wyoming has more guns per capita than any other state, with sales rising in each of the past five years, and more than 80 percent of adults in Campbell County have firearms in their homes. In the days since the march, the “Campbell County Ten” had become the object of profane graffiti, the inspiration for a rival Freedom March and the favorite target of a new Instagram account, “Campbell County Students for America” … For his part, Alan Engdahl had considered grounding [his 16-year-old daughter] Moriah for skipping school [to take part in the march] but decided against it. “I’m pretty sure the rest of Wyoming is going to punish her for me,” he said, so instead he had chosen to needle Moriah at every opportunity … “Win any popularity contests at school today?” he asked her. She rolled her eyes and ignored him, so he tried again. “Did you manage to get everyone’s guns yet?” he said. “How many times do I have to tell you it’s not about that?” she said. “We’re just pushing for more safety, a little more control.” “That’s a bad word,” Alan said. “First, it’s gun control, then it’s confiscation. I don’t know where you learned any different.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Inside the Trump tweet machine: Staff-written posts, bad grammar (on purpose), and delight in the chaos” via Annie Linskey of The Boston Globe — They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears. Some staff members even relish the scoldings Trump gets from elites shocked by the Trumpian language they strive to imitate, believing that debates over presidential typos fortify the belief within his base that he has the common touch. His staff has become so adept at replicating Trump’s tone that people who follow his feed closely say it is getting harder to discern which tweets were actually crafted by Trump sitting in his bathrobe and watching “Fox & Friends” and which were concocted by his communications team. Staff-written tweets do go through a West Wing process of sorts. When a White House employee wants the president to tweet about a topic, the official writes a memo to the president that includes three or four sample tweets, according to those familiar with the process.
“Gaetz, DeSantis join call for 2nd special counsel” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Gaetz and DeSantis joined a group of Republicans in demanding a second special counsel to investigate what they say are widespread abuses of power at the Justice Department and FBI in probing the Trump campaign and Russia. The move comes as Trump escalated his complaints about Robert Mueller‘s probe into the 2016 election and Russian interference. Trump and his team have begun to assert that a spy was inserted into the campaign. “If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I hope they weren’t.” In fact, as The New York Times reported, “FBI agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.”
“Marco Rubio on Donald Trump’s China approach: ‘not winning’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Republican has all but directly challenged Trump on the issue (we’ve asked his office about any communication) and he said: “We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action” to uphold tough penalties against telecommunications company ZTE. Rubio tweeted: “Sadly #China is out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now. They have avoided tariffs & got a #ZTE deal without giving up anything meaningful in return by using N. Korea talks & agriculture issues as leverage. This is #NotWinning.”
“Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart want Trump to charge Cuba’s Raúl Castro for ‘96 shootdown of planes” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida — … that killed four Cuban-Americans. “We urge you to direct the Department of Justice to review whether Raúl Castro should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act of shooting down in international waters two American civilian aircraft flown by Brothers to the Rescue on February 24, 1996,” Rubio and Rep. Diaz-Balart wrote Tuesday. “The Cuban operative ultimately responsible, then-Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Raúl Castro, was never indicted.” At the time, former President Bill Clinton was considering a rapprochement with Cuba. But after the shooting, which happened during an election year, Clinton reversed course to appeal to Florida’s influential Cuban-American community and signed into law the codification of the embargo in the Helms-Burton Act, which was drafted by Diaz-Balart’s brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who was then a congressman. The law remains in effect today.
Assignment editors — Faith and community leaders meet to denounce Rep. Brian Mast‘s vote on the House Farm Bill and call on Sens. Rubio and Nelson to vote “no” on any legislation that makes cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), included in the Farm Bill. News conference begins 11:30 a.m., St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, 921 Orange Ave., Fort Pierce.
— OPINIONS —
“Lauren Book: Controversial ‘show dogs’ sends disturbing message to kids — skip this at the box office” via Florida Politics — Recent controversy surrounding the soon-to-be-released movie “Show Dogs” makes it clear that sexualized content — made worse under the guise of humor — has no place in children’s movies. I am extremely alarmed by reports that a character in the movie was instructed to essentially tolerate having their private parts touched, sending a disturbing message to young moviegoers. Show Dogs is about a police dog who goes undercover in a dog show to find a missing panda … the hero prepares to compete in a dog show by learning how to prance, show, and even stay completely still while his private parts are being inspected and touched — something he is alarmed about and does not wish to do. The trainer explains this a natural part of showing dogs (and it is) and to go against his instincts by finding a “Zen place” as a distraction from the groping. This has no place in a movie for children and parents should avoid taking their child to see it unless the scene is removed before its Friday release. In this case, it’s OK if someone touches your private parts because it’s part of the “show” and it’s just silly fun. But it’s actually called grooming and is a frequent tactic used by predators to keep victims quiet, questioning their fear.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note – AT&T has appointed Troy McNichols as its new Vice President External Affairs for Florida. Nichols will lead a team responsible for representing AT&T with local governments across Florida, along with state officials in Tallahassee. “Troy brings a distinctive expertise to the Florida team along with his fundamental understanding of the communications challenges we face in Florida,” said Joe York, president of AT&T Florida, Puerto Rico & USVI. “Troy’s desire to serve the state of Florida is invaluable and his experience in Government and knowledge of our local communities is an excellent combination that will enable him to collaborate with community leaders and lawmakers statewide to ensure Florida is positioned to be a leader in connectivity and technology growth.”
Paul Bradshaw, Matt Brockelman, Christopher Dudley, Mercer Fearington, James McFaddin, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Full Potential Management dba Acorn Health, Justin Williamson, Public Trust Advisors, Kumballistic
Dan McCrea: Florida Voters Coalition, VerifiedVoting.org
Douglas Russell, D. Russell & Associates: Seaside Town Council, Spark Therapeutics, U.S. Ecogen
Nancy Valley: KPMG
— ALOE —
“Disney World pictures from 1972: What the Magic Kingdom looked like after 6 months” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — My grandparents, Sibyl and Maurice Brown, retired to Lake County from Miami in the late 1960s. After her death in 2004, I ended up with more than 50 of her Kodak Carousel slide trays (each holding 80 slides) plus a dozen or so old cigar boxes full of slides … What was their trip to Disney World like 46 years ago? As soon as they were in the park, my grandfather — wearing a cowboy hat that I’ve never seen before — quickly lights up a cigar. It was the early ’70s after all. Besides seeing someone smoking on Main Street, the other thing that surprised me is the lack of visitors in the park. But while going through the pictures and focusing on all the things that have changed at the Magic Kingdom since my grandparents’ visit, my 21-year-old son — who’s been to Disney more times than I can remember — offered a different perspective. As I was showing him the pictures, he was amazed at how many things look exactly the same today — Main Street USA, Cinderella Castle and the Jungle Cruise ride, for example.
“Despite Walt Disney’s wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Has there been a backlash to the slow integration of alcohol at the Magic Kingdom? “None whatsoever, zero,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based consulting firm. “Today, alcohol is perceived differently than it was 60 years ago, that’s for sure. At one time nobody served alcohol. But it does have a higher profit margin than anything, including food.” For some longtime Disney fans, it was sad to see Walt Disney’s wishes for an alcohol-free park disappear, said Robert Niles, found and editor of Theme Park Insider. “Anytime Disney makes a change it gets a social media backlash,” Niles said. But once the reality showed no spike in drunken incidents, he said, Disney fans accepted the change.
What Chris Carmody and Mike Griffin are reading — “Gators to face USF in football in 2022, 2023, 2025” via Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Gators and USF Bulls agreed to a three-game series in football, beginning in 2022 in The Swamp. UF announced the two schools also will play 2023 in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and again in Gainesville in 2025 … UF athletic director Scott Stricklin called the series “a unique scheduling opportunity” between schools separated by just 125 miles along I-75. Gators’ coach Dan Mullen noted the potential impact on recruiting. “The Tampa/St. Petersburg area is an important recruiting footprint for us and our players will love playing another game in an NFL stadium,” he said.
Happy birthday belatedly to Sam Ard, our ol’ friend Jordan Raynor, and the incredible Eileen Stuart of Mosaic. Celebrating today is Kevin Reilly.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
The League of Women Voters of Florida says the state’s decision to not allow early voting on college campuses is unconstitutional, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Tallahassee.
The League and six students — one from FSU and five at the University of Florida — sued Secretary of State KenDetzner in his role as Florida’s chief elections officer.
The 49-page complaint (available to read here) seeks a court order barring Detzner from “enforcing his interpretation of the Early Vote Statute” that doesn’t allow early voting in buildings on campus.
In 2014, the city of Gainesville sought guidance from Detzner over whether UF’s student union building could be used as an early voting site.
He said no, “opin(ing) not only that the student union was not a permissible early voting site, but that no ‘college- or university-related facilities’ could be used as early voting sites,” the complaint says.
It adds that in doing so, Detzner — who reports directly to Republican Gov. RickScott — “acted with the intent, at least in part, to suppress the vote of young voters in Florida.”
Nope, said Scott spokesman JohnTupps: “In fact, students at the University of Florida can vote at multiple locations on campus …” (True, they just can’t vote early on campus.)
“The political organization and the partisan D.C. lawyers that filed this frivolous lawsuit know that under Gov. Scott’s leadership, he’s made it easier for Floridians to vote,” Tupps added. “This political group waited four years to challenge this interpretation. This is obviously an election year gimmick to distort the facts.”
“It is agriculture, (a) cow pasture for 60 years. This comes up every election.” — U.S. Sen. BillNelson, after the lodging of a complaint that undeveloped property he owns in Brevard County is being undervalued for tax purposes.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Commission on Offender Review will meet in Charlotte County and consider numerous parole cases. That’s at 9 a.m., Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, 7474 Utilities Road, Punta Gorda.
The Florida Public Service Commission will hold events in Hillsborough County to provide information to senior citizens about issues such as energy conservation, applying for the Lifeline program and avoiding utility scams. That’s at 10 a.m., Brandon Senior Center, 612 North Parsons Ave., Brandon. Also, 1 p.m., Ruskin Center, 905 Sixth St. S.E., Ruskin.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will hold a post-session “impact” conference related to lottery operations. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.
A “Governor’s Veterans Service Awards” ceremony will be held in Pinellas County. That’s at 2 p.m., C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, 2081 Grand Ave., Pinellas Park.
The Florida Department of Financial Services will hold one in a series of “Be Scam Smart” workshops to help seniors avoid financial scams. That’s at 6:45 p.m. Central time, St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 1 St. Francis Dr., Gulf Breeze.
According to the Census ACS 1-year survey, the median household income for Florida was $50,860 in 2016. Multiply that by three years (assuming the MHI hasn’t varied greatly) and you have $152,580 in aggregate median household income in the Sunshine State over the last three years.
If the median household were to donate to a candidate or a cause at the same rate Publix has donated to Putnam over the last three years, it would amount to three cents in annual giving.
Now, imagine if some of the people you regularly do business with told you they were boycotting your shop, firm, or small business over how you spent three cents a year.
That’s how ridiculous the idea of #BoycottPublix is … not that folks don’t have the right to vote with their wallets by protesting against a company’s social behavior … just that it’s stilly to judge an incredibly well-respected, Florida-based company based on actions which do not even equate to a rounding error.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@SenBillNelson: The president has been bluff and bluster on trade — now it appears China has gotten the best of him. No advance on trying to stop unfair trade with China.
—@LedgeKing: @RepMattGaetz, fierce critic of Russia probe, says having @POTUS sit down for an interview with the Special Counsel would be a”terrible miscalculation” that would extend the Russia investigation — not shorten it — and open up the probe in new directions.
—@RichardCorcoran: Reading @politicofl article by @Mdixon55 exposing @RepDeSantis largest donor as an ATM to liberal Democrats (including Bill Nelson). As a conservative, it’s a very disturbing article
—@MattGaetz: Yeah…..it would be totally wrong for a great conservative Republican like Richard to accept money from a dem mega-donor … #ForThePeople
—@TroyKinsey: FL Alcohol & Drug Abuse Assoc. today is calling on @FLGovScott to forestall @FL_Corrections cuts by week’s end: “Governor, you have the ability to exercise your executive authority to address this problem through a one-time appropriation from the state’s reserve funds.”
—@Netflix: President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multiyear agreement to produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features.
Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 3; Memorial Day — 6; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 18; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 20; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 21; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 23; Father’s Day — 26; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 31; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 37; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 47; MLB All-Star Game — 56; Deadline for filing claim bills — 71; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 71; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 72; Start of the U.S. Open — 97; Primary Election Day — 98; College Football opening weekend — 100; NFL season starts — 107; Future of Florida Forum — 127; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 154; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 155; General Election Day — 168; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 268; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 287.
— TOP STORY —
“FPL parent to buy Gulf Power in multibillion-dollar deal” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The parent company of Florida Power & Light will buy Northwest Florida’s Gulf Power as part of a $6.475 billion deal. NextEra Energy Inc. plans to buy Gulf Power, the Florida City Gas natural-gas company and ownership interests in two power plants from The Southern Company. The purchase of Gulf Power and the stakes in the power plants, which are subject to federal approval, are expected to close during the first half of 2019, while the Florida City Gas purchase is slated for the third quarter of 2018, according to a NextEra Energy announcement. The deal would expand NextEra Energy’s already-massive footprint in the state. Its Florida Power & Light subsidiary is by far the largest electric utility in Florida, serving nearly 5 million customers. Gulf Power, with about 450,000 customers in eight counties, is the largest utility in the Panhandle.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Scott blitzes Florida with TV ads. Nelson holds off. That’s how Scott won last time.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — BillNelson is an incumbent without the advantages of incumbency. Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat is in a career-defining U.S. Senate race against Gov. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire with unlimited campaign cash and nearly universal name recognition in the state, for better or worse. And so far, Scott is attempting to define Nelson through $8 million in television ads across the state, including Spanish-language ads in Miami. The early TV blitz raises the question: When is Nelson going to respond? “The question is not how much money you have or how much money you spend but what is effective,” Nelson said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office while Scott was crisscrossing Florida switching between his official office and campaign mode. “And so, to be determined. But I’m choosing not to use my hard-earned dollars now.” Nelson declined to say when he will spend his money and what type of message he plans to communicate to voters. But timing a television pitch too late could be Nelson’s undoing.
“Dems join Senate TV war with $2.2 million pro-Nelson ad” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — The biographical spot, called “Served,” highlights Nelson’s Army service and flight on the Space Shuttle and his opposition to privatizing Social Security and Medicare. Nelson’s support for Obamacare is described as “stopp(ing) insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.” Scott and Republicans have been attacking Nelson as a pro-Nancy Pelosi “party-line politician.” In a sign those attacks might be hitting home, the new pro-Nelson ad calls the incumbent “one of America’s most independent senators” and says he “serves all of us.” The ad also says Nelson “puts Florida first,” echoing a frequent Democratic refrain that Scott is self-serving. To view the ad, click the image below:
“Nelson keeps siding with Republicans on awful stuff” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — As truly, utterly and monstrously terrible as Gov. Scott is, you’ll never see the Times or Herald refer to him as a canvas sack full of sea lampreys with a Navy hat glued on top … So if those same reporters are writing that, despite your 30-plus-year career in politics, “nothing particularly major stands out despite the long tenure,” you probably have a big problem on your hands. That’s exactly the case for the bowl of lukewarm cornmeal that is Nelson, who has somehow become the state’s top-ranking Democrat despite being an utterly boring pile of nothing the entire time … Nelson has repeatedly pissed off his Democratic base in the middle of what many people expect to be a Democratic wave election spurred by anti-Trump sentiment. In 2018 alone, Nelson has voted to deregulate big banks and confirm Gina Haspel, the new CIA director who previously tortured people.
If you add up all the money Scott and allies have spent on TV in Florida during his career so far, it adds up to about $144 million.
To put that in perspective, with $144 million you could purchase the entire first half of Super Bowl commercials in 2018.
“Why deep blue Broward looms large in Florida’s U.S. Senate race” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — In the last midterm in 2014, the statewide voter turnout was 50.5 percent, but it was 6 points lower in Broward, 44.5 percent, and Scott beat Charlie Crist statewide by 64,145 votes. Scott won statewide by 1 point. The fact that Scott got 30 percent of the Broward vote might be enough for him to ignore the state’s second-largest county. But he gave a well-received speech at the Broward Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner with a crowd of 400 GOP activists … The last time Nelson was on the ballot in Broward, in 2012, he got a mother lode of 511,000 votes (about 3,000 more than PresidentObama got on the same ballot). But that was not a midterm, obviously, and voter turnout was dramatically higher.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Spotted: Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum in POLITICO, “‘Can the black candidate win?’ Democrats out to prove it in 2018” — A network of Democratic donors and operatives are organizing an ambitious effort to elect African-American candidates for governor and Congress in 2018 — politicians who have often been overlooked by the party’s predominantly white leadership in past years … Tallahassee Mayor Gillum (is) among several promising black candidates running for governor this year, and they have attracted the most interest from the donors and organizations … Gillum has caught the attention of progressives during his campaign, winning endorsements from the likes of the Bernie Sanders-inspired Our Revolution group. And though Gillum hasn’t come close to matching his opponents’ fundraising, one of the biggest donors in the Democratic Party has taken notice: Financier GeorgeSoros contributed $450,000 to causes supporting Gillum so far this year.
“Ron DeSantis committee gets $200K from large Democratic donor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Andy Khawaja gave DeSantis’ political committee $100,000, his first Florida contribution, and a company he’s affiliated with, E-Payment Solutions, Inc. gave another $100,000 to the committee in February. His first name appears as Ahmad in campaign finance records. Khawaja, CEO and founder of Allied Wallet, has almost exclusively been a Democratic donor in the past. He and his company gave nearly $6.5 million during the 2016 election cycle to Democratic interests, including more than $1 million to a committee supporting Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid. This election cycle, he and his company have already given $1 million to Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, including Sen. Nelson. The super PAC is funding $2 million in ads supporting Nelson, calling him “one of America’s most independent Senators.” Brad Herold, a DeSantis adviser, said it’s a sign that some Democrats are “disaffected.”
“Gwen Graham brings passionate authenticity to her run for governor” via the Reggie Connell of the Apopka Voice — In a word, Graham is real. That may seem like a strange way to begin a feature on a candidate running for the Governor of Florida, but it describes her well. And in a time in politics when candidates take polls to decide which color tie to wear, real is unusual. Real is unreal … Despite her casual approach, Graham is a competitor. In 2014, during what could be described as a wave election for Republicans, and in a section of Florida that can also be described as a reliably Republican region, Graham was one of only two Democrats in the nation to defeat a Republican incumbent. How did she do it? Graham says it was people skills, interpersonal relationships and honesty. There is no candidate in history that does not include honesty, and ‘doing what they say they are going to do’ as part of their core beliefs. But with Graham, there is an authenticity to those words that makes her believable.
“Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — A handful of state advocacy groups have gone to social media — Twitter in particular — urging shoppers to “#BoycottPublix” this Memorial Day weekend. Some people have decided to boycott the store indefinitely, or until it withdraws $670,000 it has given to Putnam, a longtime Republican politician who drew ire after he called himself “a proud NRA sellout” and opposed Florida’s new, stricter gun purchasing laws in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. “Prior to social media, it was much harder to aggregate a bunch of people to take action,” said Thomas O’Guinn, a professor of marketing with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Consumers are starting to realize the new source of power they have.” Last week Publix responded to the Twitter backlash, posting it considers a number of factors when supporting a candidate and has never given money to the National Rifle Association. In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, it called Putnam the hometown candidate who is “pro-business.”
Philip Levine campaign adds staff for North, South Florida — New hires for the Levine for Governor campaign include Megan Sirjane-Samples as North Florida Area Director and Chris Hudtwalcker as Miami-Dade Area Director. Sirjane-Samples previously served as a Legislative Advocate for the Florida League of Cities; Hudtwalcker worked as a legislative assistant to state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, managing the legislative and political affairs. Hudtwalcker also was Rodriguez’s campaign manager during the 2016 election.
Denise Grimsley picks up more Sheriff endorsements — Grimsleyannounced four more Florida Sheriffs are endorsing her bid for Agriculture Commissioner: Darryl Daniels of Clay County; Mike Harrison of Gulf County; Bobby McCallum of Levy County; and Mike Chitwood of the Volusia County. They join 10 other Sheriffs already backing Grimsley.
Assignment editors — Grimsley will speak at the Miami Young Republicans meeting, 6:30 p.m. Eastern, Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, 1465 SW. 8th St., Suite 106, Miami.
“Attorney General hopefuls disagree on opioid lawsuit timing” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Attorney General Pam Bondi is drawing praise from Republicans seeking to replace her after the term-limited state Cabinet member last week took on opioid manufacturers in court. However, Democratic candidate Sean Shaw … questioned a delay in launching a lawsuit to try to crack down on drug companies in the opioid epidemic causing an average of 15 deaths a day in Florida. And fellow Democratic attorney-general candidate Ryan Torrens, a Hillsborough County lawyer, said he’d immediately launch a criminal investigation into the actions of pharmaceutical executives if he is elected in November. Republican candidate Jay Fant said Bondi is right to take legal action “if malfeasance has occurred” and that he’d use every tool available to go after companies that mislead the public, fuel the opioid crisis and contribute to deaths. And Republican candidate Ashley Moody said people responsible must be held accountable regardless if it is “an individual doctor knowingly and wrongfully prescribing drugs or some of the largest companies in the world engaged in the conduct described” in Bondi’s lawsuit.
“’Political hitman’ gunning for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen seat shows lighter side in campaign commercial” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Stephen Marks, a veteran campaign operative who 10 years ago published a book on his exploits as a “political hitman” for the Republican Party, is showing a lighter side of himself in a new commercial as he runs for the party’s nomination to replace Ros-Lehtinen in Congress. Marks, the first to go on air in the Republican primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, explains in a 60-second ad that he decided to run after his parents recently died. His father died as a result of “malicious” medical malpractice, he says, and his mother soon after following a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The ad, which began airing a week ago in English and Spanish and will continue running this week, is the first on TV in the primary. It’s a crowded field, also featuring Elizabeth Adadi, Bruno Barreiro, Angie Chirino, Michael Ohevzion, Maria Peiro, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, Maria Elvira Salazar and Gina Sosa.
Happening today — Delray Beach Republican Mike Caruso holds a kickoff event in his bid for House District 89. Term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager currently hold the Palm Beach County seat. The event begins at 6 p.m., Museum 66, 2051 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will honor Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award. The ceremony begins 2:45 p.m., National Guard Armory, 401 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand.
“Drug and alcohol advocates to Scott: ‘We have yet to hear’ from you” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA) sent a second letter to Scott, urging him to take action to forestall reductions and eliminations of dozens of local substance abuse and re-entry programs to help close a $28 million operating deficit in the prison system. “We have yet to hear from your office … we are all running out of time to prevent cuts to vital programs,” wrote the group’s executive director, Mark Fontaine. “Now is not the time to take a step back … Without treatment, inmates and probationers are at higher risk to commit crimes and use drugs, undoing the progress Florida has made over the last 15 years in reducing recidivism rates and lowering the prison population … While these cuts may look like a quick fix to a budget shortfall, in reality, they will only exacerbate the problem.” The Legislature has until Friday to object to the program cuts. Both houses have to lodge objections, otherwise, the cuts will take effect.
“Price tag for restricting felons’ rights after prison put at $385 million a year” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Florida lost an estimated $385 million a year in economic impact, spent millions on court and prison costs, had 3,500 more offenders return to prison, and lost the opportunity to create about 3,800 new jobs. Those are just some of the conclusions of a new economic research report prepared by the Republican-leaning Washington Economics Group of Coral Gables for proponents of Amendment 4, the proposal on the November ballot that asks voters to allow the automatic restoration of civil rights for eligible felons who have served their sentences. The Washington Economics Group estimates that the passing of Amendment 4 would result in $385 million in annual economic benefits to Florida taxpayers from two sources: reduced court and prison costs through a decline in recidivism, and increased earning power through improved employment opportunities.
“School boards continue battle over controversial law” via the News Service of Florida — School boards from across the state have gone to the 1st District Court of Appeal as they continue to challenge a controversial 2017 law that includes steps to boost charter schools. Eleven districts signed on to notices indicating they will appeal an April 17 ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper that upheld the law. The legal battle centers on a measure, commonly known as HB 7069, that was a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran … The wide-ranging law included changes such as requiring county school boards to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools for building-related expenses. It also set the stage for adding new charter schools — dubbed “schools of hope” — that will serve students whose traditional public schools have been considered low-performing. School boards filed the lawsuit last year arguing, at least in part, that HB 7069 infringed on their constitutional authority to operate public schools within their districts. But Cooper rejected the school boards’ arguments.
DOE releases draft rules for ‘Hope Scholarship’ — The state Department of Education on Monday released draft rules on “Hope Scholarships,” which would grant K-12 students who are bullied in public schools tuition assistance to help them attend private schools. The proposed rules lay out requirements for organizations to administer the scholarships and for private schools to accept the funds. Forms for public school principals to use in catalog incidents were also included in the release. The department will discuss the draft rules in a June 6 rule development workshop. The Hope Scholarship program was included in HB 7055, the omnibus education bill passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Scott earlier this year. The program was a top priority for Speaker Corcoran.
“Tally shows GOP opposition to Special Session” via the News Service of Florida — The Department of State released results from lawmakers who had responded to a poll on a Special-Session request by Rep. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Nicholas Duran. As of 4:30 p.m.Monday, 27 House members had voted in favor of a Special Session, while 36 had voted against the idea. Three-fifths of the members of each Republican-dominated chamber must support the request for a Special Session to be held. For the House, that means support from at least 70 of the current 117 members. The Senate needs 23 yes votes from the current 39 members. Republican Reps. Julio Gonzalez and Kathleen Peters have joined House Democrats in supporting the proposal. With just 13 members of the Senate responding as of Monday afternoon, the tally was seven Democrats for the special session and six Republicans opposed, with the opponents including Senate President Joe Negron and incoming President Bill Galvano.
Spotted at Senate President-designate Galvano’s “Phil Galvano Annual Golf Classic” this past weekend: Outgoing House Speaker Corcoran, Speaker-designate Jose Oliva, past Senate President Andy Gardiner, as well as Sens. Aaron Bean, LizbethBenacquisto, Rob Bradley, Jeff Brandes, Anitere Flores, Denise Grimsley, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, KeithPerry, DarrylRouson, DavidSimmons, PerryThurston, DanaYoung. Also, House Republican Leader RayRodrigues, Rep. JoeGruters, former Sens. ChrisSmith and NancyDetert, former Speakers DeanCannon and LeeMoffitt, former Reps. SusanGoldstein, DougHolder, EdHooper and RobSchenck.
“Prep for hurricanes, PSC reminds Floridians” via Florida Politics — With last year’s Atlantic storm season among the strongest, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) urges residents to prepare now for the 2018 hurricane season, which runs June 1-Nov. 30. The commission, which issued a news release Monday, regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities. “Hurricane preparedness should top our to-do lists,” said PSC Chairman ArtGraham in a statement. “Preparation is the best protection against dangerous storms. Build an emergency storm supply kit, gather important utility contact information, and prepare your home to help keep your family protected.”
“Judge faces discipline for racially derogatory remarks” via the News Service of Florida — A Miami-Dade County circuit judge could face a 30-day suspension without pay and a public reprimand … Circuit Judge Stephen Millan has acknowledged making the remarks and conducting what is known as an improper “ex parte communication” with the attorney, an investigative panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission said in the documents. In one instance, Millan used the racial epithet “moolie” to describe an African-American defendant during a one-on-one conversation with the defendant’s lawyer. In another instance, while on a break with attorneys in his chamber, Millan instructed a bailiff to return to the courtroom and retrieve his wallet because he didn’t “trust it in there with those thugs,” the investigative panel wrote in its findings and disciplinary recommendations.
“Jacksonville sues Councilwoman Katrina Brown over unpaid debt” via Eric Wallace of News 4 Jax — In 2012, the city loaned $380,000 to CoWealth LLC, which is owned by Brown and her mother Joann. The company took out loans to finance opening a barbecue sauce manufacturing plant on the Westside that was supposed to create 56 jobs. According to the lawsuit, called a complaint for breach of guaranty of payment, the company hasn’t made any loan payments since Jan. 1, 2017, and the company owes more than $357,000 in principal and interest. On April 24, a law firm hired by the city sent Brown a letter demanding payment within 15 days.
“Esteban Santiago researched layout of Los Angeles airport days before Fort Lauderdale shooting, feds say” via Paula McMahon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Santiago used his cellphone to look up a map of the LAX airport Jan. 3, 2017, prosecutors wrote in court records. They did not elaborate on why Santiago traveled instead to South Florida. That same day, Santiago purchased a one-way ticket on a Delta flight from Anchorage, Alaska, where he lived, to Fort Lauderdale, via Minneapolis. The flight departed Jan. 5 and landed in Fort Lauderdale around lunchtime Jan. 6. Santiago, 28, is expected to plead guilty to multiple charges this week and will be sentenced to five life terms plus 120 years in federal prison, according to court records. Santiago has agreed to plead guilty to five counts of committing violence causing death at an international airport and six counts of committing violence causing serious bodily injury at an international airport. If his convictions or punishment are ever withdrawn or overturned, the feds have retained the right to reconsider seeking the death penalty in the future, according to the terms of the plea agreement.
Flags at half-staff for Texas school shooting victims — Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff in Florida, in solidarity with Texas as it mourns 10 dead there, after another high school shooting spree … “I spoke to Texas Gov. GregAbbott and offered any assistance or support they may need in response to this horrific act of violence against innocent students, teachers, and law enforcement,” he said … To “honor and remember” the victims at the Santa Fe High School on May 18, he directed the U.S. and state flags “to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida … The flags shall be lowered immediately and remain at half-staff until the expiration of President Donald Trump’s national directive, until sunset on Tuesday, May 22,” he said.
“Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz made cellphone video of himself” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cruz made three video recordings of himself on his cellphone around the time of his deadly rampage, according to a summary of evidence turned over to his lawyers by prosecutors in the case. “Three video statements made by the defendant on his cellphone” were included, according to the summary. It’s not clear when Cruz recorded the videos — he was arrested more than an hour after the shooting stopped. The evidence will not be released to the public immediately — clerk’s office employees are legally required to redact certain information, which could take several days.
— FUTILITY —
Policymakers can do as they see fit to prevent school shootings, but without passing further gun restrictions, it could all be for naught.
That’s the suggestion made in a recent story in The Atlantic by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. People can sometimes see the ‘red flags,’ though in many cases it’s not so black and white. For instance, people had mixed feelings about alleged Santa Fe shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis.
And that’s just one example Hagerty uses to suggest that “in the end, there’s not much that anyone can do to stop a determined shooter, aside from preventing him from getting a gun in the first place.”
Denial: “Parents are often confused and overwhelmed by their child’s behavior, but they grow used to it, tolerate it, adjust their lives around it, and attempt to cope with it alone,” writes Hagerty in describing how some children ‘slip through the cracks.’
Defense: Policymakers look to enhance families and schools to prevent school shootings. Though ‘family’ had not prevented the deadliest school shootings since 1999.
Deadliness: Stemming access to stronger firearms, it seems, would be an effective approach to preventing deadly shootings. AR-15s, one source tells Hagerty, are so much more lethal. “You don’t have to hit the target straight on to kill a person. If you’re shot in the torso, it will kill you.”
— COUNTY CONTROL —
As the school year winds down and the nation finds itself reeling from another shooting, counties in the Sunshine State are moving apace to make changes to prevent another school tragedy.
In at least one case, reports Suzie Schottelkotte of The Ledger, the county (Polk) will make immediate changes for the remaining days of school this week.
Meanwhile, other counties still are polling public sentiment, asking whether parents, teachers and students would like to have non-law enforcement personnel carry firearms at school. And, should the former not be favorable, where the money will come from to staff armed officers at each school, a mandate included in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Sheriff Grady Judd: The renowned Polk Sheriff told media Friday, “Today is the last afternoon in the Polk County school system that there won’t be armed security on every public campus.”
In Lake: Support is split for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, the optional plan to arm nonteacher personnel, reportsTom McNiffof the Daily Commercial. Currently, there aren’t any school resource officers at elementary schools, but additional funding to staff more SROs could come from municipalities within Lake.
In St. Johns: Colleen Jones of the St. Augustine Record reports, the Guardian Program is not favored, but the county still is unsure what it will do. “Some difficult choices will no doubt have to be made as both the St. Johns County school board and county commission begin drafting their 2018-19 budgets.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Man who stormed Trump resort booked into jail” via The Associated Press — Miami-Dade County jail records show 42-year-old Jonathan Oddi of Doral was booked Sunday evening while still wearing what appeared to be a hospital gown. Police say Oddi stormed the lobby of the Trump National Doral Golf Club carrying an American flag and shouting about the president. According to police, he fired at a chandelier before exchanging gunfire with officers, who shot him in the legs and took him into custody. Oddi was held without bond on charges of 2nd-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault with a firearm, burglary with assault, criminal mischief, grand theft and falsely pulling a fire alarm.
What Kevin Donohoe is reading — “The princes, the president and the fortune seekers” via Desmond Butler and Tom LoBianco of The Associated Press — After a year spent carefully cultivating two princes from the Arabian Peninsula, Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for Trump, thought he was finally close to nailing more than $1 billion in business. To do that, the California businessman had helped spearhead a secret campaign to influence the White House and Congress, flooding Washington with political donations. Broidy and his business partner, Lebanese-American George Nader, pitched themselves to the crown princes as a backchannel to the White House, passing the princes’ praise — and messaging — straight to the president’s ears. Now, in December 2017, Broidy was ready to be rewarded for all his hard work. It was time to cash in. Broidy and Nader sought to get an anti-Qatar bill through Congress while obscuring the source of the money behind their influence campaign. A new cache of emails reveals an ambitious, secretive lobbying effort to isolate Qatar and undermine the Pentagon’s long-standing relationship with the Gulf country. The cache also reveals a previously unreported meeting with the president and provides the most detailed account yet of the work of two Washington insiders who have been entangled in the turmoil surrounding the two criminal investigations closest to Trump.
“Florida delegation playing hardball to extend offshore drilling moratorium” via Jeremy Dillon of Roll Call — Emboldened by a Defense Department report that expressed worries about unfettered offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s House delegation is preparing to throw its weight around to win a multiyear extension of a moratorium off its coasts. The bipartisan commitment from the third largest congressional delegation … may affect the $708.1 billion defense authorization bill that is being considered by the Rules Committee ahead of a vote … That must-pass defense measure, as well as a comprehensive public lands energy bill moving out of the House Natural Resources Committee, could be a vehicle for an amendment to extend the moratorium. “I don’t see any light between Democrats and Republicans on this very passionate issue,” said GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan, the co-chairman of the Florida delegation. “We are the third largest delegation, and we have a lot of clout when we are united.”
“Val Demings: Orlando is back in federal anti-terrorism grant program” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Demings and others from Central Florida have been fighting for several years to convince the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that rules it adopted for 2014 were unfair to cities such as Orlando that have enormous swells of tourism population, making them more likely targets. Orlando had received grants from the department’s Urban Area Security Initiative before 2014, but not since, even with the horrific 2016 attack on the city’s popular gay nightclub Pulse, which killed 49 people. Orlando will receive $1.5 million this year, announced Demings, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. The grant program was created to provide funding to help with anti-terrorism planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas which could be targeted. Since 2014 it has gone only to the nation’s largest cities.
“Ted Deutch, Carlos Curbelo-led climate caucus urges budget help” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The bipartisan congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, led by Democrat Deutch and Republican Curbelo, is urging House budget leaders to remove provisions from 2019 budget proposals that would hamper climate change research and initiatives. The pair sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee asking they “oppose and remove any policy provisions or riders from the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bills that undermine efforts to confront climate change.” The letter was signed by 34 members of the Climate Solutions Caucus including Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Democrats Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist. “Climate change is already a threat to life and property, rising temperatures, sea levels and worsening impacts from severe weather events,” the letter states. “The bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, of which we are all members, is engaged in developing market-based solutions to address the critical issue of climate change.
Spotted: Carlos Curbelo in The Washington Post, “‘Just pure frustration’: How months of inaction led 20 Republicans to take a stand on immigration” — Nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers have now joined together, spurred by pressure back home and frustrated by the GOP leadership’s lack of action on a heated issue that has long stymied the party. They could represent the best chance that dreamers — beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — now have to secure legal protections under President Trump. They are pitted against the conservatives who dominate the Republican rank-and-file and have campaigned against “amnesty” for people who are in the country illegally … “You just wake up one day and realize that you’re running in place, and that’s when we got together and said it’s time to take this step,” said Rep. Curbelo, who filed the “discharge petition” that has prompted the showdown.
— OPINIONS —
Ernest Hooper: Vote against the politics of division” via the Tampa Bay Times — My friend says instead of boycotting Publix, people upset about the company’s support of gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam should back voter registration drives and get more people to the polls. I’m more upset about the pages he’s borrowed from Trump’s playbook than the money Publix gave him. His decision to smear “liberal elites” with misleading assertions leaves me wondering who Putnam is. In one commercial, he speaks of faith and in the same breath insults people who share a love for Florida but hold a different perspective on how to make it better. What faith tells people to rise up by putting others down with lies? Divisiveness will be on the ballot in a lot of forms this November, and if it wins — again — the state will struggle to right the ship.
“Joe Henderson: Sure, young people are registering to vote, but for whom?” via Florida Politics — Idealistic young voters often feel neither major party listens to them, and they can be attracted to the message that a candidate out of the mainstream might offer. That’s where I think Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam has been smart. He has become a champion of expanded vocational education in the state, even to the point of ridiculing the notion that everyone should go to college as some liberal elitist plot. I think that’s an issue that could resonate with young voters who see a job market that seems to offer them only service positions at $10 an hour. In close races, those voters can sink the hopes of a candidate from one of the established parties. Put another way, while major Republican candidates would love to have a big share of the youth vote, they’re probably OK if it goes to anyone else but a Democrat. That thought alone should keep Dems awake nights.
“Rebecca McLaughlin: What Publix can learn from Chick-fil-A about handling political activists” via Florida Politics — First, never apologize for your political position. The best corporate example here is Chick-fil-A. Progressive activists disdain the company for its conservative, Christian values. Chick-fil-A, however, just keeps growing, even in places such as liberal Manhattan, because Chick-fil-A doesn’t apologize for its views. Apologies for intentional political stances only draw media attention, attract more activists, and make companies appear less authentic. Second, never say what your company did NOT do. In the @Publix tweets, Publix clarifies they do not support the National Rifle Association (NRA). By attempting to be unambiguous Publix actually reinforced the idea of a link between themselves and the NRA. By saying what the company doesn’t support, Publix issued a denial and in politics, denials look like guilt. Third, don’t respond to activists unless the media is directly asking for a response regarding the issue. The criticism of Publix could have been limited to a fringe social media campaign had Publix opted not to respond. By issuing a response, however, Publix created a mainstream media story that probably would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Stephen Pitre to the 1st Judicial Circuit Court; Angela Mason to the Okaloosa County Court; Ramiro Christen Areces and Elijah Levitt to the Miami-Dade County Court.
He did it again: Ballard Partners scores another big client — Leonardo DRS, “the U.S. arm of Italy’s top defense, aerospace and security contractor,” hired the Ballard team for military procurement matters, O’Dwyer’s PR News reported Monday. BrianBallard heads the lobbying team, along with DanielMcFaul, campaign manager for former Republican Congressman and now “Morning Joe” host JoeScarborough. Earlier this month, Leonardo DRS replaced Northrop Grumman as incumbent on a $65M contract from the Navy and Japan for radars designed to detect low-flying cruise missiles. If all contract options are exercised, the pact’s value could increase to $265M. The firm also is “pitching the Air Force to build its next-generation trainer aircraft.”
“Personnel note: Heather DiGiacomo to chief of staff at DJJ” via Florida Politics — DiGiacomo will be the Department of Juvenile Justice’s new chief of staff, effective July 2, Secretary Christina Daly announced in an internal email Monday. “Heather has also been a valuable member of the leadership team and was an instrumental part of the development and rollout of the Department’s ‘Roadmap to System Excellence,’ before her appointment as communications director in 2014 and then her dual role of deputy chief of staff in 2016,” Daly said. DiGiacomo replaces Fred Schuknecht, who … has agreed to stay on with DJJ in a part-time capacity. … “Over the next month and half, Fred and Heather will be working closely together to ensure a seamless transition,” Daly said. … Prior to joining DJJ, DiGiancomo worked at the Florida Juvenile Justice Association from 2011 through 2013 and at the Florida Association of Counties from 2006 through 2011. She is an alumna of Florida State University.
“Personnel note: UF taps Mark Kaplan for government relations VP” via Florida Politics — Kaplan’s resume includes working as the global head of public affairs and chief communications officer for The Mosaic Company … He’s held that position since 2007, though Sunshine State politicos are more likely to remember Kaplan as former Gov. Jeb Bush’s chief of staff during his last three years in office and as the former executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Kaplan’s connections to the Bush family remain strong more than a decade later. He has a seat on the board of The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and has served as its chair since 2017. Gov. Scott also appointed Kaplan recently to the Tampa Port Authority.
Spotted: Greenberg Traurig’s Barry Richard again listed in the Chambers USA Guide — Richard, a shareholder in the firm’s Tallahassee office, has been recognized as a ‘senior statesman’ in the guide since 2014. He was again listed in this year’s guide for appellate litigation and general commercial litigation. According to its website, Chambers and Partners, UK-based publisher of annual guides in several global markets, selects attorneys and practice areas for inclusion based on thousands of interviews with practicing lawyers and clients around the world. In the USA Guide, attorneys can also be designated as a “Star Individual,” “Eminent Practitioner,” “Senior Statesman,” “Up and Coming,” “Star Associate,” or “Associate to Watch” by market and practice.
Volunteer Florida announces hirings, promotions — Among several moves announced Monday, ErinSjostrom joins the organization as Chief Financial Officer, responsible for finances of both the Commission and Foundation. Previously, she worked for the State of Florida as the Director of Retirement as well as being on the Florida Prepaid College Board. She’s married to Jonathan Sjostrom, chief judge of the Tallahassee-based 2nd Judicial Circuit. Also, Audra Peoples is now External Affairs Director and Aly Coleman is External Affairs Coordinator. Savannah Kelly has been promoted to Executive Liaison and Legislative Coordinator, supporting the agency’s legislative initiatives and Cabinet Affairs. Erik Steffen is now Director of Information Technology, TracieLambright was promoted to Senior Financial Analyst, and AnitraThomas becomes AmeriCorps Program Manager.
— ALOE —
“All-glass house to be built in Fort Lauderdale’s posh Las Olas Isles neighborhood” via Lisa Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Designed by Rex Nichols Architects, the home will feature an open floor plan with floor-to-ceiling, unobstructed views of the back garden. A wraparound, L- shaped pool, Jacuzzi and waterfall will be accessible through exposed sliding glass doors at the back of the home. Once completed in 2019, the 4,000-square-foot home could be listed for $3.5 million. “The walls are literally all glass,” said architect Rex Nichols. That includes all living areas such as the master suite, library and the bathrooms. What about privacy? The pool will wrap around the master bedroom and bathroom, and the landscaping will be a buffer. Landscaping and an “art wall” near the master bathroom is also intended to keep neighbors’ eyes out, Nichols said.
“Here’s where Tech Data, Publix fall on the new Fortune 500 list” via Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Tech Data Corp. is No. 83 on the new Fortune 500 list. The Clearwater IT distributor with $36.78 billion in revenue, landed in the highest spot on the list for a Tampa Bay company, at least in recent years. Tech Data, which was No. 107 last year, advanced after an acquisition in February 2017, and surpassed the longtime local leader on the Fortune 500, Publix Super Markets Inc., for the first time. The companies on the 2018 list have a combined $12.8 trillion in revenue or two-thirds of U.S. GDP, and 28.2 million employees worldwide.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
A bipartisan panoply of political stars came out this past weekend for the 22nd annual “Phil Galvano Golf Classic,” held at the Longboat Key Club and Resort.
The event is held in memory of Senate President-designate Bill Galvano’s late father — golf pro Phil Galvano — and raised $600,000 for the Manatee Education Foundation.
Spotted on the attendee list were Outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Speaker-designate Jose Oliva, and past Senate President Andy Gardiner.
Joining them were Sens. Aaron Bean, LizbethBenacquisto, Rob Bradley, Jeff Brandes, Anitere Flores, Denise Grimsley, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, KeithPerry, DarrylRouson, DavidSimmons, PerryThurston, and DanaYoung.
Also, House Republican Leader RayRodrigues, Rep. JoeGruters, former Sens. ChrisSmith and NancyDetert, former Speakers DeanCannon and LeeMoffitt, and former Reps. SusanGoldstein, DougHolder, EdHooper and RobSchenck.
Legal and lobbying behemoth GrayRobinson was the title sponsor.
The elder Galvano, who died in 1996, wasn’t your run-of-the-mill golf pro. For a story on his background and achievements, check out this post from last year.
“You just wake up one day and realize that you’re running in place, and that’s when we got together and said it’s time to take this step.” — U.S. Rep. CarlosCurbelo, on filing a “discharge petition” in a showdown over DREAMers.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Sen. AaronBean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will discuss the 2018 legislative session during a meeting of the Jacksonville Oceanside Rotary Club. That’s at 7:30 a.m., Atlantic Beach Country Club, 1600 Selva Marina Dr., Atlantic Beach.
The Florida Public Service Commission will hold an event in Hillsborough County to provide information to senior citizens about issues such as energy conservation, applying for the Lifeline program and avoiding utility scams. That’s at 11 a.m., Tampa Baptist Manor, 215 West Grand Central Ave., Tampa.
Gov. Rick Scott will honor Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award. That’s at 2:45 p.m., National Guard Armory, 401 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand.
Rep. JulioGonzalez, a Venice Republican running in Congressional District 17, is slated to speak to the North Port Area Republican Club. That’s at 5 p.m., Olde World Restaurant, 14415 Tamiami Trail, North Port.
A campaign kickoff event will be held for Delray Beach Republican MikeCaruso, who is running in state House District 89. The Palm Beach County seat is open because GOP Rep. BillHager faces term limits. That’s at 6 p.m., Museum 66, 2051 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach.
Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner DeniseGrimsley is slated to attend the Miami Young Republicans Meeting. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, Suite 106, 1465 SW 8th St., Miami.
Democratic candidate for Governor ChrisKing will address Broward County Democrats on reforming criminal justice in Florida. That’s at 7 p.m., Edwin F. Deicke Auditorium, 5701 Cypress Road, Plantation.
Enterprise Florida has secured space for a Florida section within the USA Pavilion for Hospitalar 2018, a health fair that is one of the largest in South America. That’s Tuesday through Friday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
No one is surprised that guns are the big political issue in Florida this year.
With a deadly school shooting this week in Santa Fe, Texas, and the Parkland tragedy in February, guns and school safety are assured to be at the forefront in both Florida and nationwide for 2018.
The best evidence of this rests in Tampa’s Senate District 18, where the rhetoric over guns has already begun to heat up between incumbent GOP Sen. Dana Young and outgoing House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz.
On Sunday, Young took to Twitter to note that Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister ordered additional policing in county schools throughout the coming week, a result of the Friday shooting in Santa Fe.
Funding for the increased law enforcement presence came from the $400 million “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” which passed quickly after Parkland and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March.
“Sheriff @ChadChronister and @HillsboroughSch have finalized plans for implementing our enhanced school security program here in Hillsborough County,” Young tweeted. “Our number one goal is keeping our children safe!”
Chronister’s plan is being funded by the school safety bill lawmaker passed at the end of Session. Young voted for the bill despite pressure from the NRA not to. Cruz voted against the package including, the common-sense gun law reforms.
The Act, which the House approved 67-50, was a particularly difficult vote for Democrats (including Cruz), who took a caucus position against it, mostly justified by their opposition to armed personnel in schools.
Reservations about arming teachers could be a valid point to some, but just as many (if not more) believe it is a good idea. And that could prove problematic later.
Since guns are the guaranteed issue of the day — and we like and respect both candidates in SD 18 — Cruz’s vote against a school safety package could, unfortunately, come back to haunt her and hurt Florida Democrats this November.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Breaking overnight: John Morroni, a Republican member of the Pinellas County Commission and former state Representative, died Sunday evening. The affable pol, known for his centrist views and his annual awards dinner for emergency personnel, had recently been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Morroni is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their son, Mike. Florida Politics will have more on Morroni’s passing throughout the day.
Another month, another poll, another win trumpeted by Philip Levine’s gubernatorial campaign.
A Public Policy Polling survey, shared first with Florida Politics, again shows the former mayor of Miami Beach atop the primary field among Tampa Bay Democrats. Levine’s senior adviser, Christian Ulvert, commissioned the poll.
He’s the pick for a full third of voters, while his three rivals combine to 32 percent support. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham accounts for most of that at 19 percent, followed by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at 8 percent and Orlando-area businessman Chris King at 5 percent.
At 35 percent, “unsure” reign as the top choice for likely voters remains unbroken, though the share has shrunk by a few points since the last Tampa Bay poll, which showed Levine polling at 32 percent followed by Graham at 18 percent.
The survey showed the South Florida Democrat firmly in the No. 1 spot among men and women, young and old, and in each of the five counties surveyed — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and Pasco. Graham was the No. 2 pick in all categories and Gillum was firmly in third. Despite a few ties with King in the crosstabs, he never slipped to the back of the pack.
Though the top-of-page results are nearly identical to last month’s edition, there were some gains that’ll be met with glee at Levine’s headquarters, none more so than name recognition.
As of mid-May, 54 percent of Tampa Bay Democrats have now heard enough about Levine to form an opinion — a 6-point gain from the last poll — and he’s seen in a favorable light by a margin of 45-8. That puts him 17 points ahead of Graham in name recognition and in another league from Gillum and King.
The same number of respondents indicated they’d see one of Levine’s TV commercials, an 8-point gain. Among those who had, he scored plus-53 in favorability, 61-8. That’s certain to be seen as a good return on Levine’s “investments,” which have shown no sign of slowing down and have little reason to with the Aug. 28 primary fast approaching.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RobJGifford: New @CBSNews Nation Tracker Poll: President Trump looks like a positive factor among Republicans during primaries & ahead of midterms, 7 in 10 of whom say they’d prefer candidate he backs — but more Independents say they’re less likely to support a candidate backed by Trump.
—@ChuckTodd: Roger Stone confirms on #MTP this morning that neither he nor his lawyer has been in contact with Special Counsel Bob Mueller
—@Ballotpedia: Spending in Florida Senate race passes $11 million: Term-limited Gov. Rick Scott has spent more than $8 million in the first month of his U.S. Senate campaign; satellite groups have also poured $3 million into the race.
—@AdamPutnam: Florida’s annual job growth rate has outpaced the nation for 72 of the past 73 months. As governor, I’ll continue @FLGovScott’s legacy and support Florida’s job growth with a career-ready and 21st-century workforce.
—@DanaYoungFL: What makes a great night in the 813? Sitting with my favorite Governor @FLGovScott at the Hillsborough REC dinner and the @TBLightning up 3-1 in Game 5! #GoBolts
—@JChristianMinor: Shev (re Shevrin Jones) is one of those guys you can’t help but love. You may not agree with him on every single policy front, but he’s open to the conversation regarding it and loves his community deeply. He “walks the walk” and legislates with his conscience/moral compass.
—@TheRealStanLee: Never give up on your dreams! When I first wrote Spider-Man my publisher said I was crazy because people hate spiders and insects and he was not going to publish it. But I never gave up, until it was published.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 4; Memorial Day — 7; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 19; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 21; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 22; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 24; Father’s Day — 27; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 32; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 38; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 48; MLB All-Star Game — 57; Deadline for filing claim bills — 72; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 72; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 73; Start of the U.S. Open — 98; Primary Election Day — 99; College Football opening weekend — 101; NFL season starts — 108; Future of Florida Forum — 128; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 155; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 156; General Election Day — 169; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 269; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 288.
— TOP STORY —
“Florida’s expensive race for governor highlights lax laws” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — So far, at least $13 million has been spent on television ads in the governor’s race that includes two Republicans and four Democrats vying for the job that will be vacated by Gov. Scott. Television ads are poised to play a crucial role in the race since polls continue to show a majority of the state’s voters don’t really know the Republican or Democratic candidates vying to replace him. But the surge of ads highlights Florida’s arcane and loosely regulated campaign finance system. Over the years, the Republican-controlled Legislature has made it easier for candidates and their allies to raise large amounts of money, while at the same time making it harder for the state’s elections commission to go after those who violate the law. “Florida really has no campaign finance laws,” joked Christian Ulvert, a political consultant who is a senior adviser for the campaign of Levine. Adds Mark Herron, an election law attorney based in Tallahassee: “You can do almost anything in Florida if you put it in the right bucket.” Critics say state laws are flouted because the commission is slow to handle complaints and operates under too many constraints placed on it by the Legislature. “They handle nickel and dime cases but overlook the huge problems of unregulated and improper spending,” Herron said. “They will kill you to death if you don’t file a report on time or don’t put a disclaimer on a sign. But to deal with these big issues? It ain’t happening.”
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Rick Scott avoids mentioning Donald Trump again — even at GOP dinner celebrating Trump” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump was a big part of the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s major annual fundraising dinner — everywhere except in the keynote speech by Gov. Scott, who’s running for the U.S. Senate. Scott didn’t mention him in a brief version of his stump speech delivered to about 400 excited Republicans at the dinner. Most of the rest of the speakers, including both the leading Republicans running to replace Scott in Tallahassee, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, extolled Trump, and the crowd loved hearing his name.
“Scott surprises South Florida Republican audience with dynamic speech” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Scott, who’s prevailed in two tough Florida elections but never enjoyed a reputation as a great orator, surprised Broward County Republicans with a late-night speech that heightened their optimism over his attempt to unseat Bill Nelson. Scott delivered a crisp, optimistic vision of conservative policies. He reported the campaign has already knocked on more than 160,000 doors. And he exuded humanity and warmth — something even supporters have said isn’t his greatest skill in public settings — when honoring family members of victims killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre … several people in the audience who’ve heard Scott speak many times over the past eight years said they hadn’t seen this kind of performance before from the governor.
“State worker unions look forward to future, say Scott has been a ‘bad boss’” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Labor leaders say the state’s 162,000 employees, and wage earners in general, have suffered through eight years of Gov. Scott’s administration. “(Scott’s) legacy is poor for many reasons,” said Marshall Ogletree, executive director of the United Faculty of Florida. “Between him and the Legislature, there is not a good record there — especially in health care but across the board … There hasn’t been a real increase in funding or any funding that supports necessary programs.” A spokesman for the governor’s office countered that Scott appreciates state employees’ hard work and recognizes “their achievements every day.” “Governor Scott was proud to provide raises for state workers both in 2013 and 2017 as well as the pay raises he has championed for Florida’s brave state law enforcement. Under Governor Scott’s leadership, Florida has built the most efficient state government workforce in the nation …” said McKinley Lewis.
“Attention Florida voters: Do you know who this man is?” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — You’ve probably heard: Nelson flew to space. Thirty-two years ago. To this day, that’s how many people identify the Florida Democrat — now a three-term Senator, he blasted off on the space shuttle Columbia as a 43-year-old Congressman — underscoring that for all the flamboyance of the mission, Nelson has been long grounded in the vanilla center of politics. Just always there, anodyne even in name — Bill Nelson — one of Florida’s most successful politicians ever and the only current statewide elected Democrat. Yet Nelson suddenly finds that opaque identity under assault by Republican Gov. Scott in what has become the toughest re-election challenge in the 75-year-old senator’s career. A February poll from the University of North Florida showed only 5 percent of registered voters didn’t know enough about Scott to form an opinion. Nelson was at 26 percent.
Must-watch — Bill Nelson shows his stuff this weekend to Clearwater first responders. The 75-year-old three-term U.S. Senator was in town Saturday for the Pinellas County’s Hands Across the Sand, one of over 100 offshore oil-drilling protests nationwide. Nelson popped into Clearwater Fire & Rescue Station 45 to take part in its chin-up challenge — demonstrating how it is done.
“Young people keep marching after Parkland, this time to register to vote” via Michael Tackett and Rachel Story of The New York Times — The pace of new voter registrations among young people in crucial states is accelerating, a signal that school shootings this year … may prove to be more than ephemeral displays of activism … In Florida, voters under 26 jumped from less than 20 percent of new registrants in January and February to nearly 30 percent by March, the month of the gun control rallies. That ticked down to about 25 percent in April, as the demonstrations subsided, but registration of young voters remained above the pace” before the Parkland shooting.
What Brad Herold is reading — “Trump phones Pam Bondi with Saturday night surprise: ‘we’ll be in Tampa very soon’” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Republicans got a surprise when Trumpcalled into their big annual fundraising event, the Lincoln Day Dinner … For a few minutes, the crowd of hundreds listened raptly as Attorney General Bondi, speaking to Trump on her cellphone, held it up to the mic at the podium. Trump’s message: “I’ll be there fairly soon. We’ll hold a special event there in the near future … We’ll be in Tampa very soon.” … “Pam is fantastic,” he added.
Happening today — Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam celebrates the opening of a Brandon campaign office, 10 a.m., 1463 Oakfield Dr., Brandon.
What the Chris King campaign is reading — “Gwen Graham vows to get housing money into communities” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Graham accused the Republican-led Florida government of neglecting the needs of affordable housing and vowed to change that with full funding of the state’s Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and efforts to get housing money quickly into communities. “When I get into office, I am going to take a hard look at where we are spending our resources, and what we need to do. I’m not naive. I know it’s going to be tough. There are going to be a lot of challenges Florida has not faced in a very long time, and housing is one of them,” she said. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we get resources into communities to begin to immediately address these shortages.” Graham stressed the affordable housing crisis in the greater Orlando area, saying it ranked third worst in the nation behind Los Angeles and Las Vegas, adding, “and it’s only getting worse.”
Happening today — Graham will speak at a meeting of the Duval Democratic Executive committee, 6 p.m., IBEW Union Hall, 966 Liberty St., Jacksonville.
“Long fight over nearshore oil drilling heads to ballot with campaign spending uncertain” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil and gas drilling in Florida waters are more optimistic than ever that Florida voters will approve the proposal come November, but opponents are neither revealing their strategy nor how much money they may spend to combat it. Advocates on both sides of the drilling issue say they’re not sure how much money or organization will go into their efforts leading up to the November general election. Far more cash money will go into the campaigns for governor and other Cabinet members, U.S. Senate and legislative races. But supporters say Florida is closer than ever to putting the ban in the Constitution. The question is whether the issue will be as divisive as it has been in the past — and whether industry groups will spend millions, as some did in 2014, when a solar energy measure was on the ballot.
“Neil Combee adds Lake County support for CD 15 campaign” via Florida Politics — Joining the dozen or so backers already lined up behind the former state Representative were Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker, Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks and state Sen. Dennis Baxley, who lives in Marion County but represents most of Lake in the Senate. Combee faces Dover state Rep. Ross Spano, Sean Harper, Danny Kushmer, Curt Rogers and Ed Shoemaker in the Republican primary.
“Two progressive organizations, but different candidates?” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Many political junkies are questioning whether two different entities that support the same goal — a Democrat in Florida’s 15th Congressional District — are backing two different candidates in the primary. Andrew Learned has been a candidate for the post since June and has the advice and help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and some well-known Democrats like Congresswoman Kathy Castor. Attorney Kristen Carlson opened her campaign May 2 … adding that she had been encouraged to run by local Democrats and Emily’s List. And while Carlson said it was the urging of Emily’s List members that convinced her to jump in the race, she was not listed as being officially recommended among the organization’s 2018 list of 49 women candidates on its website … The DCCC, as its practice, has not openly endorsed Learned, but Castor’s hosting of a fundraiser for him likely would not have occurred without the tacit approval of the campaign committee. One Democratic candidate, Gregory Pilkington, pulled out the primary days before federal qualifying for the ballot, accusing the DCCC of supporting Learned in the primary. Learned said he is being given advice from the committee and others, but only after Republican Dennis Ross announced he would not run for re-election.
“Pam Keith: Democrats rigging Aug. 28 primary for Lauren Baer; DCCC disagrees” via Ali Schmitz of the TC Palm — Pam Keith isn’t quiet. … Now’s she speaking out about how she thinks it’s wrong — and bad for democracy — for Democrats across the country to jump into Florida’s District 18 congressional primary to support her opponent, Lauren Baer. Keith and Baer are vying for the opportunity to oust Rep. Brian Mast of Palm City, to represent Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach counties. … Keith said she initially reached out to the DCCC for its support last year while she planned to announce her campaign. She mentioned how … she won nearly as many votes as the high-profile campaign of then-Rep. Alan Grayson … The DCCC initially complimented her, then told her it was still actively recruiting candidates for the Nov. 6 race … “The mood and the feel was they had a plan and they were kind of just humoring me,” Keith said … When Baer announced, Keith said she immediately knew it would come down to money. … While Keith’s contributions have come mostly from Florida donors, Baer’s have come mostly from donors who don’t live in District 18, including prominent liberal activists … Keith also criticized the DCCC for showing favoritism toward Baer by naming her to its Red to Blue campaign in February.
“Donna Shalala’s foes finally got to debate her. Here’s how they treated the front-runner” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — They finally got her in a room Saturday — and treated her with kid gloves. Without having to play much defense, Shalala killed the “she-won’t-debate” line of attack lobbed at her all week and showed she can hold her own against four opponents who’ll need to knock the front-runner back to claim the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 27th congressional district. In the friendly confines of the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami — where she was president for 14 years — Shalala swatted away skepticism about her enthusiasm for gun-control, went whole-hog on recreational marijuana, and promoted her record on the environment. If anything, where Tuesday’spointed debate highlighted the candidates’ differences … Saturday’s forum reinforced how aligned all the candidates are on most liberal issues.
“EMILY’s List backs Shalala in CD 27 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shalala has scored an endorsement from EMILY’s List, a PAC that advocates for more pro-choice women in government, in her run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “She is a proven leader who is prepared to take her breadth and depth of experience fighting for others to the halls of Congress. EMILY’s List is proud to stand with Donna and show her the full support of our community to turn this red seat blue.”
Holly Raschein draws Democratic challenger — Islamorada Democrat Stephen Richard Friedman this week filed to run for the House District 120 seat currently held by Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein this year. He is the only Democrat running for the seat. Democrat Pat Gessel had been running for the seat but shut down her campaign at the end of April. Raschein, currently in her third term, also faces Jose Felix Peixoto in the Republican Primary. As of April 30, she had about $98,000 on hand in her campaign account. Raschein won re-election over Democrat Dan Horton by 15 points in 2016.
2020 watch — “John Morgan: Lessons from medical pot are helping $15 minimum wage campaign” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — … Morgan is using the lessons he learned from his campaign for medical marijuana as he moves forward with a new cause, a referendum to raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15 an hour by 2026. Morgan’s firm, Morgan & Morgan, has given almost $500,000 to Florida For A Fair Wage, the political committee aimed at collecting enough signatures to get the minimum wage issue on the ballot in 2020. … Morgan said he is taking no chances. “We need 100,000 because some [won’t be] valid,” he said. “We’re closing in on that, we’re almost there.” The plan, he said, “is to collect enough signatures, even with some bad signatures, so we can take it to the [state] Supreme Court and make sure the language is OK. We’ll get enough signatures to review it and I’ll pause … I’m not going to keep spending money if the language is not valid.” … “If they tell me the language is fine, we’ll get the rest of the signatures,” he said. … Morgan said he has learned to schedule ballot measures for presidential elections. His first referendum to approve medical marijuana was held in 2014 and failed to get the required 60 percent. His next attempt in 2016 was successful.
— STATEWIDE —
“Opioid makers gave $1 million to Florida politicians over last 20 years” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — When she announced her lawsuit against some of the largest makers of opioids, Attorney General Bondi vowed the companies would “pay” for what they’d done … The nine companies and their subsidiaries she’s suing have given more than $1 million to state lawmakers during the opioid crisis, nearly all of it — 89 percent — going to Republican candidates or Republican committees … The amounts to candidates have been relatively meager — the most that anyone has received was $15,250. But the money went far and wide and went overwhelmingly to the Republican Party of Florida ($429,550) and the Republican State Leadership Committee ($225,000). None of the nine companies has given more than Johnson & Johnson, a mega-corporation whose subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, sold the opioids Nucynta and Tapentadol and routinely downplayed or ignored their risks of addiction, according to Bondi’s complaint.
“Think you know what’s next for Bondi? You have no idea.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — “If anyone claims to know what those opportunities are, it is not true because I have not yet even told my best friends or family,” she said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. It took nearly a month to get Bondi to volunteer that nugget, the most she’s revealed about the future of one of the most talked about politicians in Florida … with just eight months left in her term, it’s not clear where Bondi will be next year. She’s term-limited and not on the ballot for any other jobs, and even some of her closest confidants and political allies don’t know what’s next for the Republican firebrand.
“The headlines have faded, but the investigation into charges of public corruption against Jack Latvala continues” via John Lucas of The Capitolist — The allegations dominated headlines and led to two special investigations by independent counsel hired by the Senate to look into the charges. Those investigations both determined that Latvala had groped women and made insensitive comments. They also determined that Latvala may have traded his legislative influence in exchange for sexual favors. One of the reports suggested that charges of quid pro quo for sexual favors be forwarded to law enforcement to investigate for possible public corruption. They were. The next chapter in the sexual harassment case against Latvala will be determined once FDLE investigators finish their work and turn their findings over to the local state attorney. It will be up to the state attorney to determine whether the charges against the former senator have enough merit to follow through with charges of public corruption.
“Before massacre, Nikolas Cruz threatened to shoot his brother over a jar of Nutella” via Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — It happened a few months earlier, when their mother brought home the groceries. Nikolas snatched a jar of Nutella, unscrewed the lid, scooped out the gooey contents with his unwashed hand then licked his sticky fingers. Then he dipped into the jar again. Appalled at Nikolas’ manners, Zachary pushed or slapped the jar out of his hands. Nikolas charged upstairs, grabbed a long gun out of his bedroom closet, descended the stairway, sat down, loaded the firearm and pointed it at his brother in front of their horrified mom, according to Zachary. “If you’re gonna shoot me, shoot me!” Zachary shouted. The rage receded. Nikolas bounded back upstairs, stashed the gun and sat down to watch a little TV. “After that day,” said Zachary, “I never messed with him again.”
“School officials once predicted Parkland shooter could be ‘model student’” via Megan O’Matz, Scott Travis and David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Public Schools cleared a path for Nikolas Cruz to attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High with a December 2015 report saying he’d shown that he “can be a model student.” Documents raise questions about how the school district monitored him once he left the protective cocoon of Cross Creek, a Pompano Beach school for children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders … If Cruz could have been a model student, it would have been a remarkable turnaround. Cruz was sent to Cross Creek as an eighth-grader after a staggeringly troubled experience at Westglades Middle School, where he was suspended at least 67 days over a year and a half. At Cross Creek, he was with other kids like him: hyperactive, defiant, unruly, prone to obsessive compulsions, struggling academically. By the end of his ninth-grade year at Cross Creek, Cruz had shown improvement, but there were still troubling issues, according to a June 2015 assessment of his progress. He grew angry and oppositional when he didn’t get his way. He used racial slurs, was fascinated with guns, lacked impulse control.
“NRA appeals ruling that it must use real names in lawsuit” via The Associated Press — The National Rifle Association is appealing a ruling that required it to disclose the names of two teenagers that it wants to include in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s new gun law. This latest legal move has resulted in a judge putting the group’s lawsuit on hold while the appeal is considered. The NRA is suing to block a Florida law requiring a gun buyer to be at least 21 years old. NRA attorneys wanted to keep the names of the teenagers confidential so that they would not be harassed. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that parties in lawsuits must use their real names.
“State files to block effect of ‘home grow’ ruling” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The state’s Department of Health says a trial court made an “erroneous conclusion” that Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner “has a constitutional right to homegrown, juiced (medical) marijuana.” The department filed a response Friday to Redner’s request to the state’s Supreme Court to allow him to immediately pursue growing and juicing his own marijuana. He won a decision, now under appeal, from Tallahassee Circuit Judge KarenGievers last month that Redner — a 77-year-old lung cancer survivor — has an immediate right to ‘home grow’ … But the state appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeal, which reinstated a delay of the effect of the ruling while the case is under review there.
“Former Flagler elections chief Kimberle Weeks gets 30-day jail sentence, remains free” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Former Flagler County elections supervisor Weeks was sentenced Friday to 18 months of probation, with the first 30 days to be spent in jail. But Weeks spent little more than an hour at the Flagler County jail from where she was released at 4:12 p.m.Friday. Her attorney, Kevin Kulik, convinced the judge to allow Weeks to remain free on $25,000 bail pending appeal of her seven felony convictions for illegally recording conversations, including a telephone conversation with the Florida Secretary of State, who asked for jail time. In allowing Weeks to remain free while she appeals, Circuit Judge Margaret Hudson noted that there are legitimate issues to appeal. The case involves crimes committed in a digital age prosecuted with laws from an analog era.
“Brightline’s inaugural West Palm-to-Miami trip draws crowd, celebration” via Kenny Jacoby of the Palm Beach Post — Brightline trains transported riders Saturday from West Palm Beach to Miami, marking the first time in 50 years that the Florida East Coast Railway has been used to bring passengers to the Magic City. The historic trip, capped off by a celebratory grand opening of the MiamiCentral station, signaled a milestone achievement for the Florida company, which has endured a turbulent first four months of operations. Located downtown, MiamiCentral resembles the West Palm Beach station in its modern, Disney-esque design but is much larger. Brightline’s MiamiCentral is three stories tall and features the same café and convenience store as the West Palm Station, but it has added amenities such as a children’s play area and a four-sided video board that extends from the ground floor to the ceiling of the second. Special to the grand-opening festivities were an arcade, solar-powered photo booth, meditation class and mojito bar.
“Construction causes new epidemic on Miami streets” via Linda Robertson of The Associated Press — Miami is plagued by a flat-tire epidemic. Construction debris litters our roadways and parking lots. We’re paying the price to repair and replace punctured tires. “Look at this — it blew a hole in the rim,” said David Gonzalez, twisting a six-inch nail between his fingertips. “The strangest thing we found was a wrench inside a tire.” The shop is averaging about 10 flats per day, double what it used to be.
— DOESN’T ADD UP —
Florida Atlantic University reported to the feds an incorrect tally of women athletes in 2017.
The Palm Beach Post’s Kenny Jacobyuncovered the error. He reports the ‘mistake’ follows the university’s poor female representation in sports standing in 2016.
The error centers on an egregious overreporting of the women’s track roster. FAU reported 98 women athletes, but 43 were listed on the roster online — and 38 were pictured in the team photo.
It gets worse: Corrected numbers show 46 percent of the school’s athletes were women in 2017, but just 36 percent of scholarships went to female athletes. That’s against Title IX standards. The school has since revised that stat without explanation of how it arrived at new numbers.
Meanwhile: “Football players shared 82 full-rides, and men’s basketball players shared another 12.”
Silence is golden: One female athlete told Jacoby that complaints are seldom because athletes fear their careers could be harmed.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump’s personal dentist highlights friendship with president to obtain Florida dental license” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Dr. Albert Hazzouri ultimately withdrew his licensing application after receiving significant pushback from the Florida Board of Dentistry, which was concerned that he failed to complete the application properly, a state law requirement. Missing were scores for a written and clinical exam, official transcripts and CPR certification, according to a Feb. 26 letter from Florida Department of Health Executive Director Jennifer Wenhold. At the board meeting, Hazzouri stressed his personal relationship with Trump, according to three people who attended the meeting but did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “This guy was so arrogant. He was saying you should break all the rules and make an exception for me,” said one attendee. “So basically, he was being lazy and thought that he could just come in and say, ‘I’m the president’s dentist, give me a license,'” said a second attendee. A third person present at the board meeting described Hazzouri’s actions as “bizarre,” noting that he “implied it hard” that Gov. Scott supported him receiving special permission. Scott’s office denied any special treatment.
“Nelson, Levine rip federal response to Puerto Rico” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Speaking at the 9th Annual Puerto Rico Summit in Orlando, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Levine and Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson ripped the federal response to Puerto Rico’s devastation by hurricanes last fall. Nelson called for statehood for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló also ripped Washington, but his ire was focused on Congress for including a new excise tax on Puerto Rican businesses in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 passed in December. All three drew at least partial standing ovations, though the crowd was mixed, with Democrats, Republicans and others, including a scattering of elected officials from Central Florida, South Florida and Puerto Rico.
“Hundreds hold hands against offshore drilling on gulf beaches” via Adam Smith and Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Held annually since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, the “Hands Across the Sand” demonstration was among 119 similar events staged simultaneously in 18 states and seven countries. This year’s demonstration occurred as Trump’s administration seeks to open more of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean to oil exploration. The administration has sent conflicting messages about whether politically powerful Florida would be excluded from that effort. “The threat doesn’t ever seem to go away,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “It’s like a vampire that keeps coming back.”
— STONE ZONE —
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed an aide of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, Reuters reports, the latest sign that Stone is becoming one of the critical targets of Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
John Kakanis, 30, worked as a Stone’s driver, accountant and operative. Florida state records also identify him as the owner of “Citroen Associates.”
During the 2016 GOP primaries, a Stone-linked political action committee paid more than $130,000 to Citroen Associates for “voter fraud research and documentation” and “research services consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records.
The FBI briefly questioned Kakanis on possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, as well as the hacker or hackers known as Guccifer 2.0.
Mueller has not scheduled a grand jury appearance for Kakanis, Reuters notes.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that FBI agents working for Mueller delivered subpoenas to Jason Sullivan, a social media and Twitter expert who worked for Stone during the 2016 campaign. Agents told Sullivan that Mueller’s team wanted to question him about Stone and WikiLeaks. Other Trump associates questioned by Mueller include former campaign advisers Sam Nunberg and Michael Caputo.
— OPINIONS —
“CRC panel should have abolished itself” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Looking at the eight amendments put on the ballot by the CRC, it’s hard to see how the public would suffer if the commission had just decided not to revise anything. Or, better yet, it could have taken up one amendment — abolishing itself — and spared us future misadventures like we’ll see next November. The eight amendments produced by the CRC have something for everybody to disdain. One of few CRC proposals not linked to an unrelated issue, abolishing greyhound racing, was challenged in court last week and might get scratched before we get to vote in the fall. Have we ever voted to abolish a business? How would you like it if we had a public referendum on whether your job should remain legal? Maybe the next three to five governors, in the next 20 legislative sessions, could advocate for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the CRC. We could still amend the Constitution, when we need to make amends, through the Legislature or public-initiative petition.
“Scott’s cronyism shows lack of conservative values” via the Pensacola News-Journal editorial board — Over the years, Scott has handed out important, high-paying jobs to inexperienced political loyalists everywhere from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to the Department of Environmental Protection. Such shameless promotion practices might be commonplace in communist regimes, but it shouldn’t be happening at the state of Florida or from self-professed “conservatives” in the Republican Party … Before the top dog leaves elected office and walks out the door, he throws bones out to all the sycophants and yes-men who were panting, political lapdogs during the official’s time in office. And guess who pays for all the puppy treats? Taxpayers. We finance the high-paying perks and state salaries that are used to buy the fawning and the favoritism. Talk about a swamp that needs to be drained. It’s disgusting.
“DOC makes unwise cuts to substance abuse treatment programs” via Mark Fontaine for Florida Politics — The loss of substance abuse inmate programs means a greater likelihood of drug and alcohol relapse and a greater chance for repeat criminal offenders. The loss of therapeutic beds means no more graduated re-entry into society and offenders going back into their communities without critical substance abuse treatment. These programs are integral to rehabilitation; these offenders obtain jobs, pay restitution, child support and fines. The DOC cuts also affect drug courts. Judges’ options to choose a substance abuse diversionary program over a prison sentence will be greatly diminished, thus continuing to crowd Florida’s prison system, and denying treatment to offenders in the community. The loss caused by this action to communities, individuals and businesses is staggering. The Florida Department of Correction cuts to Substance Abuse Treatment Programs (representing just 1.5 percent of the entire FDC’s $2.4 billion budget) should not be happening at all, let alone in the middle of the opioid crisis and the worst drug epidemic the state has ever experienced. Gov. Scott and our state leaders need to fix this problem before it’s too late to turn back.
“Long-stalled campaign for equality deserves more GOP support” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — When it comes to legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida, Tallahassee is stuck in a time warp. Bills are introduced in the Florida Legislature every year, and every year they get buried in committee. Yet as far back as 2013, a statewide poll by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service found 73 percent of Floridians supported such legislation. Now some Central Florida Republicans, to their credit, are trying to break the cycle of futility and inequality … an event in Orlando last week organized by a group called Conservatives on the Right Side of Equality was attended by an array of GOP leaders from Orange County: commissioners, mayoral candidates and legislators, including Winter Park Rep. Mike Miller, who is now running for Congress. Supporting the Competitive Workforce Act shouldn’t be a stretch for Republicans. The legislation promotes fairness, opportunity and economic growth — all values that resonate with conservatives. More of them need to take a stand for equality in Florida.
“Florida is leading the pack on autonomous vehicles” via Christopher Emmanuel for the Florida Times-Union — Four factors explain why the Sunshine State is leading the pack: We have a pro-business and pro-autonomous regulatory climate, championed by lawmakers like Gov. Scott and state Sen. Jeff Brandes. Florida has rolled out the welcome mat … Our state has implemented a statewide regulatory framework rather than relying on a patchwork of local government transportation regulations … Our state has recognized the key role that data will play in the operation of autonomous vehicles … to prepare for this coming demand, the Florida Legislature passed a means for the deployment of small cell networks that can bring 5G connections using existing infrastructure … There has been widespread buy-in for autonomous vehicles from state and local transportation professionals. For proof, look no further than the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and its plans for an Ultimate Urban Circulator. Forward-thinking companies are excited to work with forward-thinking communities
“The Florida Law Enforcement Officers’ Hall of Fame was created by the 2014 Florida Legislature to recognize and honor law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of Florida’s citizens and visitors through their works, service and exemplary accomplishments,” an FDLE news release said.
— Robert E. Blackburn, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
— Donald F. Eslinger, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
— Ernest W. George, West Palm Beach Police Department.
— Frederick A. Maas, Sunny Isles Beach Police Department.
— James W. Smith, Miami Beach Police Department.
FDLE Assistant Commissioner JenniferPritt presided over the ceremony, held at The Capitol.
For bios on all the inductees to date, click here.
— ALOE —
“Local horses shutout in Preakness” via Carlos Medina of the Ocala Star-Banner — Justify broke through the fog on another sloppy track Saturday to take the 143rd Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, winning the first two jewels of the Triple Crown and setting up a possible try for the third in three weeks in New York. Despite battling a sore hoof, Justify broke fast and battled head-to-head with Marion County-trained Good Magic for most of the 1 3/16-mile race. The two colts swapped the lead several times with Good Magic pushing his rival to the limit. But Good Magic, who carried the hopes of Marion County with him, was the first to weaken down the stretch and finished a strong fourth just behind Bravazo and Tenfold, who put in late surges to challenge Justify near the shadow of the finish line. Good Magic and Justify finished just a length apart. Good Magic got his early race training at Stonestreet Training and Rehabilitation Center in Summerfield.
“Hasbro trademarks Play-Doh’s scent: Sweet, slightly musky” via The Associated Press — The United States Patent and Trademark Office has recognized Play-Doh’s distinctive smell with a registered trademark, something rarely issued for a scent. The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toymaker describes it as a “sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, combined with the smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.” The Play-Doh brand has been around since 1956. Hasbro applied for the scent trademark last year. The company says the smell “has always been synonymous with childhood and fun” and explains that the trademark allows it to protect “an invaluable point of connection between the brand and fans.”
“UCF nonprofit testing 3-D printing prosthetic arms” via Orlando Rising — A nonprofit that builds prosthetic arms made by 3-D printing for children at the University of Central Florida is collaborating with an Oregon medical school to conduct clinical trials on the arms. Limitless Solutions announced it would team up with researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland to launch clinical trials. The trials could lead to approval by the Food and Drug Administration, which would allow the prosthetic arms to be covered by insurance. Traditional prosthetics can typically exceed $100,000. The 3-D printing prosthetic arms have a hardware cost of less than $1,000.
Spotted at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Spa in St. Petersburg: Ana Ceballos and Matt Dixon.
Happy birthday from the weekend to Sens. Daphne Campbell, Kathleen Passidomo and Greg Steube, Southern Strategy Group’s Matt Brockelman, Anna Eskamani, Tim Heberlein, Data Targeting’s Matt Mitchell, Jim Rosica’s better half, Erin, Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez, and Steve Uhlfelder. Celebrating today is Sen. George LeMieux, James Blair, and Speaker Tom Feeney.
This week, an extra 10 cities, including Tallahassee, were officially tacked onto a lawsuit challenging a state law that gives the Legislature the sole authority to regulate firearms and ammunition.
The original lawsuit was filed in April by several South Florida cities frustrated at their inability to further restrict guns through acts of the local government. The amended complaint hasn’t changed; it takes arms with the statute in part because it imposes stiff penalties for local officials who disregard it — a provision unlike any other pre-emption law, the amended suit alleges. The statute’s language, the lawsuit claims, has had “a chilling effect” on local officials.
What’s significant about the new complaint is the addition of the capital city to the list of plaintiffs. Not only does it illustrate the contrast between state and local government, but the city is also headed by Mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s seeking the Democratic nod to lead the state.
Gillum gave us a statement on the matter this week, calling the law Draconian and saying local officials have been “bullied.” He added: “We will not sit idly by and allow them to handcuff local democracy, and we look forward to the Court finally addressing the clear unconstitutional nature of these laws.”
Though the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer was quick to call Tallahassee’s addition to the suit a political move.
“What do you expect from city officials who have a candidate for Governor, Andrew Gillum, as their Mayor? For Tallahassee it’s not about the capital city, it’s about politicking,” Hammer said.
Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Drew Wilson, Danny McAuliffe, Jim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.
But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:
Bondi takes on opioid makers — Attorney General Pam Bondi this week brought forth a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The suit alleges manufacturers used front organizations and opinion leaders to promote false messages about opioids, and that distributors failed under state law to take action against high order volumes. “We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming 175 lives a day nationally and 15 lives a day in Florida, and I will not tolerate anyone profiting from the pain and suffering of Floridians,” said Bondi. She said the suit “seeks to hold some of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in this crisis.” Defendants named include opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma L.P., Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cephalon, Inc., and Allergan plc, and opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., McKesson Corporation and Mallinckrodt LLC.
Democrats force poll on Special Session for education — Members of the Legislature this week were asked: “Should a special session of the Florida Legislature be convened for the purpose of addressing public school funding?” The move was spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Shevrin Jones, of West Park, Nicholas Duran, of Miami and Carlos Guillermo Smith, of Orlando. The lawmakers claimed that base allocations to school funding amounted to 47 cents, while Republican leadership has touted a $101.5 increase. In a news release, Duran and Jones claimed that lawmakers were blindsided by provisions in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which excludes some school money from districts that opt out of a plan to arm non-teacher personnel. To reconvene, the poll must find support from three-fifths of the Republican-led Legislature. Lawmakers have until Thursday to respond.
Greyhound owners sue over amendment — The Florida Greyhound Association filed a lawsuit this week challenging the state’s placement of a proposed greyhound racing ban on the 2018 ballot. The suit alleges the language and ballot summary …… fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to minicasinos.” The proposal was brought to the ballot via the Constitution Revision Commission. Should it (Amendment 13) pass with 60 percent voter approval, the state allows other gambling activities to occur at dog tracks, in lieu of greyhound racing. A top ban proponent, however, told Florida Politics the suit is “dead on arrival.”
Counties plead for ballot security money — With elections imminent, county ballot offices are growing impatient with the state because it has yet to file necessary paperwork that would give ballot controllers access to funding approved by Congress to make elections more secure, Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times reported this week. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told Bousquet, “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating. This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.” Officials have said they need the funding, which amounts to $19.2 million for the Sunshine State, “to harden systems against threats, improve technological security and better educate voters,” wrote Bousquet. The state recently announced it will hire five cybersecurity consultants to work with elections offices across the state.
Judge now has ‘no smoke’ case — A Leon Circuit Court judge is primed to make a decision on whether a statute ban on smoking medical marijuana is constitutional. The issue centers around a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016 that permitted the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Backed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, the ballot language did not detail the methods by which patients could use marijuana. When crafting statutes during the following 2017 Legislative Session, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott prohibited smoking the drug. At the trial this week, Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby claimed the smoking ban is “entirely consistent” with the state’s role to regulate public health, citing safety concerns of smoking pot—- as opposed to vaping or ingesting it.
Scott medals Florida Veterans in Marianna
Gov. Scott visited the National Guard Armory in Marianna this week, where he presented 89 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award.
Spotlighted in the ceremony was U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher L. Gilley, a Florida Army National Guard Veteran who has served under several state missions, most recently during the state’s Hurricane Irma response. Gilley was also deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
All Florida residents who are currently serving or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, or the U.S. Reserve Forces are eligible for the Governor’s Veterans Service Award.
During his tenure as Governor, Scott has awarded the medal to nearly 14,000 veterans.
Scott announces $616 million Irma recovery ‘action plan’
Gov. Scott announced this week that the Department of Economic Opportunity had submitted a plan that would see Florida use $616 million in federal disaster recovery funds to build new affordable housing and provide grants to severely impacted businesses.
“Even before Hurricane Irma made landfall, we began working with the federal government to express the diverse needs our state would face following a storm of this magnitude and how best to address those needs,” Scott said. “Since the storm, we have worked tirelessly alongside community and business leaders to build stronger communities that are better prepared for future disasters. I’m glad that DEO submitted this plan to help families in our state.”
Federal rules on the Community Development Block Grant require 80 percent of the funds head to the hardest-hit areas in the state, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development lists as Brevard, Broward, Collier, Duval, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Polk and Volusia counties, as well as certain ZIP codes in Bradford, Clay, DeSoto and Flagler counties.
“We are thankful to these communities for their commitment and partnership to determine the best way to use this funding to make a difference across the state. We are committed to helping Floridians recover, particularly families who do not have the resources to rebound as quickly after a disaster,” said DEO head Cissy Proctor.
Bondi awards Orlando cop with Officer of the Year award
Lieutenant Scott Smith, one of the Watch Commanders who responded to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, was recognized this week as Attorney General Pam Bondi’s 2017 Officer of the Year.
According to a news release from Bondi’s office, Smith led a police team into the nightclub and returned fire at the then-suspected shooter Omar Mateen, who was killed.
“Florida has some of the best and bravest law enforcement officers in the world, and I am honored to be able to recognize these heroes through our annual law enforcement awards,” said Bondi. “We cannot thank these officers enough for the sacrifices they and their families make daily to protect our communities and keep us safe.”
Upon accepting the honor, Smith told WCTV that to succeed, officers should like what they do: “Enjoy serving the public and helping people and that what it comes down to. It comes down to that desire to help people.”
Among the other law enforcement nominees also recognized by Bondi: Jeff Batz, Schiefer S. Buckles, Don Cannon, Wolfgang Daniel, Justin Ferrari, Sandra Marquez and Julio Torres.
Opioid outside counsel
Bondi assigned some of her office’s top attorneys to her racketeering lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, but also reached into the private bar.
Outside counsel on the case includes Cliff Curry, a trial lawyer from Brandon who’s been active in GOP politics, including service in the 2000 and 2004 George Bush and Dick Cheney campaigns.
Also assisting is Rich Newsome of Orlando, whose firm handles product liability cases. He served on the 5th District Court of Appeals Judicial Nominating Commission under Jeb Bush, and is a past president of the Florida Justice Association. He had a hand in the big Takata exploding airbags litigation.
Additional outside counsel includes Drake Martin of Seaside, who helped negotiate the BP oil spill settlement; and Adrien “Bo” Rivard of Panama City, a Scott appointee to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Knocking on Citizens door
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is trying to bring the public into his campaign to force disclosure of lobbying targeting Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s property insurer of last resort.
Patronis wrote to Citizens executives earlier this month, serving notice of his campaign for “transparency” for the organization. He wants the state-sponsored company to deliver options during the next Cabinet meeting.
Now he’s keeping up the pressure via his “Weekly Rundown” newsletter.
Patronis observed that Citizen insures more than 440,000 policyholders who have a stake in the company’s dealings with “special interests.”
“Transparency ensures accountability. That is not up for debate,” Patronis wrote.
The week in appointments
State University System Board of Governors
Fred Salerno, 74, fills a vacant seat on the board for a term effective immediately and ending Jan. 6, 2019. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. Of Hobe Sound, Salerno is a longtime veteran of the telecommunications industry. He is a former chair of the board of trustees for the State University of New York.
Quote of the Week
“You cannot underestimate Rick Scott. He’s methodical … He’s like a bald (Energizer) bunny. He never stops. He’s got the message. If I were BillNelson, I’d be worried.” — John Morgan, on the race for U.S. Senate.
Florida Highway Patrol partners for ‘Click It or Ticket’
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) joins law enforcement and highway safety partners in participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign that continues through June 3.
Drivers will see increased education and enforcement on buckling up to help motorists avoid serious injury and death, a news release out this week said.
“FHP is committed to raising awareness and educating the public: Not wearing a seatbelt is deadly,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “FHP will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to ensure everyone’s safety on Florida’s roadways.”
In 2017, more than 600 people that chose not to wear their seat belt were killed in a vehicle crash. FHP reminds everyone that Florida law requires the use of seat belts by drivers and passengers in the front seat and all children under the age of 18 in the front or back seat of a motor vehicle.
General safety tips include “Buckle up, every time,” “Obey all speed limits,” and “Don’t drive distracted.”
Smith dubbed ‘Champion of Equality’
For his continued advocacy on behalf of the LGBT+ community, Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith was honored this week with the Champion for Equality Award from the LGBT+ Center’s 6th Annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast and Awards.
Smith, who is openly gay, said he was “extremely humbled to be recognized by an organization that has done incredible work in our community.” The District 49 representative referenced the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando saying, “During our darkest moments, The Center served as a hub for rapid response, inclusion and compassion.”
The Center celebrates 40 years of operation this year.
Awards also were presented to Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Blue Star and Sam Singhaus, also known as “Miss Sammy.”
Smith is running for re-election in 2018 but does not yet have an opponent. He leads the Legislative Progressive Caucus in Tallahassee and is known for pushing ambitious left-leaning ideals in the Republican-led Legislature.
DOC announces cost-cutting deal to treat HCV
The Florida Department of Corrections announced this week that it’s teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Merck to treat inmates with chronic Hepatitis C infections.
“Inmate health services is a key constitutional responsibility of the Department, and we are pleased to enter this agreement with Merck and align our treatment with the evolving standard of care that is recognized nationally for HCV. This agreement will help us treat and prevent the spread of this disease, provide savings to Florida’s taxpayers and address this growing public health issue,” said Corrections Secretary Julie Jones.
The multiyear agreement comes after Jones sent a letter to pharmaceutical companies in November asking for “innovative solutions” in treating the disease, which is spread by contact with infected blood – most commonly by sharing needles – and treated via antiviral medications.
“In order to reach the goal of eliminating chronic hepatitis C, we believe it is part of our responsibility to work with government, health care providers and the community as a whole to help break barriers and increase access to care for populations that may be disproportionately impacted by HCV,” said Merck executive director John Schwind.
Stewart names ‘School-Related Employee of the Year’
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced this week that Stephanie Melton is Florida’s 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year.
For the past 10 years, Melton has worked as a Behavioral Health Assistant at W.E. Cherry Elementary School in Clay County, her alma mater. She was one of five finalists for the annual award recognizing education support personnel, and in addition to the pat on the back, she’ll take home a $10,000 check. The other finalists will receive $6,500.
“I am thrilled to recognize Stephanie Melton as the 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year,” Stewart said. “Working full time while pursuing a degree in Education has not stopped her from finding time outside of the school day to help her students and their families. Her passion for meeting students’ individual needs is obvious, and she is truly deserving of this honor.”
Melton also got props from her boss’ boss, Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis, who said Melton “represents the core values of our school district and is an exemplary educator,” and that she is “honored to work alongside” her.
Ken Detzner adds to National Register of Historic Places
Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week that a trio of Florida properties has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The three buildings making the grade: Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Archer, The Eugene Knotts House in Yankeetown, and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Locomotive #1504 in Jacksonville.
“These three historic resources listed on the National Register demonstrate the care Florida’s citizens have taken to protect some of the state’s valuable historic treasures,” Detzner said. “From a surviving wooden nineteenth-century church, a mid-century modernist house and a World War One-era locomotive, Florida continues to add more historic properties to its diverse collection of National Register honorees.”
The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida. Nationally, the list is maintained by the National Park Service and includes districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that have been identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.
Jax lawmakers present check to YMCA
Fernandina Beach Sen. Aaron Bean and Jacksonville Rep. Kimberly Daniels helped land $250,000 in funding for youth programs at the Johnson Family YMCA in Northwest Jacksonville and this week they handed it over.
“The YMCA is consistently a leader in advocating for Florida’s youth by providing programs that positively impact their lives and give them the opportunities needed to succeed,” Bean said. “This funding will allow the YMCA to increase programming for at-risk adolescents in the most underserved areas of Jacksonville, which will truly change lives and benefit our entire community.”
Daniels added that the funds will help a facility between two crime hot spots in Jacksonville.
“The youth in these neighborhoods will benefit from the program expansion, and I am excited about what is ahead for our community,” she said.
On hand with Bean and Daniels for the oversized check’s presentation were YMCA of Florida’s First Coast CEO Eric K. Mann, the YMCA’s Metropolitan board of directors and its senior leadership team.
“The new Teen and Pre-Teen Centers at the Johnson Family YMCA are an investment in our youth,” said Mann. “We are grateful that our state leaders understand the importance this funding will have in helping the Y ensure that every child has the opportunity to envision and pursue the best possible future.”
Workers’ comp costs rising moderately
A survey found moderate growth in the cost of workers’ compensation claims in Florida — but the findings don’t reflect 2016 Florida Supreme Court rulings that insurers fear could drive up costs.
The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s CompScope Benchmarks cover 2011 through 2016. It found 3 percent to 5 percent growth per year in medical payments per claim, indemnity payments and benefit delivery expenses.
The survey compared Florida with 17 other states and found that it fell somewhere in the middle.
“Upcoming CompScope studies will monitor the impact of the 2016 state Supreme Court decisions on Florida’s workers’ compensation system with more mature data after the rulings,” said Ramona Tanabe, the institute’s executive vice president and counsel.
The rulings at issue struck down both a mandatory attorney fee schedule for workers’ compensation cases and the state’s 104-week cap on temporary total disability payments.
Many happy returns!
Happy birthday to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which turns 25 this year. The Legislature created the official reinsurance pool after Hurricane Andrew caused more than $10 billion in residential losses — vastly more than was thought possible.
Insurers had collected a mere $1 billion in premiums that year.
The storm bankrupted at least 10 insurance companies. Those that survived threatened massive policy nonrenewals, cancellations or to abandon Florida altogether. Large, national insurers did mostly take their leave.
By 2006, a state task force concluded that the fund had served as the “cornerstone for market recovery and catalyst for attracting new companies and additional new companies to Florida.”
Additional innovations included the creation of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to serve the residual storm insurance market, and encouragement of Florida-based insurers to serve the market.
Meanwhile, newcomers continue to pour into vulnerable regions. A seven-county coastal swath extending from Palm Beach to Charlotte counties realized 55 percent population growth between 1990 and 207 — adding 2.6 million people.
Policy think tank unveils podcast series
The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank, is the latest entity to join the ever-growing podcast realm.
Titled Pundits on the Porch, JMI began working on the series a few months ago to go live with four episodes in May. Guests include like-minded influencers like Fox News contributor and political editor of Townhall.com Guy Benson. The podcast is hosted by JMI President and CEO Dr. Bob McClure and Vice President of Policy Sal Nuzzo.
In an episode recorded with Congressman Neal Dunn, McClure said the style of the show would be to get “beyond cable news, what it’s really like in the halls of Congress.”
Dunn helms the largest geographical district East of the Mississippi River, stretching from Panama City all the way to the Ocala area. He told McClure and Nuzzo that the most common message he hears from constituents is, “Get the government off my back … Everything you’ve got in Washington, just give me less of it.”
The other two episodes available from the podcast launch are with guests Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Mary Katharine Ham, an editor at large of Hot Air, contributing editor to Townhall Magazine, a senior writer at The Federalist and a CNN contributor. Episodes are available for free on iTunes and JMI’s podcast page.
Chamber releases Caloosahatchee River video
The eighth installment of the Florida Chamber’s Securing Florida’s Water Future video series focuses on a natural resource located on the southwest Gulf Coast of Florida: the Caloosahatchee River.
A news release from the Chamber said stakeholders and governments are working on unique strategies to combat the effects of man-made changes to the Caloosahatchee watershed and the effects of heavy rainfall.
In the video, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett calls for moving residential septic tank owners onto a centralized system, which he says would require state funding to “try to offset those homeowner costs.”
“A typical septic tank will put out about 60 milligrams per liter of nitrogen through a drain field, we’re trying to get one or less into the estuary,” Bartlett says.
“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With 6 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.”
State workers recognized for productivity
Florida TaxWatch this week honored approximately 750 state employees for their innovation in the workplace.
The nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog doles out the Prudential Productivity Awards annually to highlight and reward workers who reduce costs and improve services for taxpayers in the Sunshine State.
“State workers rarely get recognized for their dedication to making sure Florida continues to be the best state in the country for years to come,” said Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida TaxWatch wants to ensure that the taxpayers notice the contributions of these hardworking stewards and that state employees get the praise they deserve.”
TaxWatch has recognized state employees for nearly 30 years and it estimates that awarding winners’ achievements has resulted in an around $10 billion worth of added value in the state.
The Prudential Productivity Awards are brought to workers via a partnership with the state, Florida TaxWatch and the Council of 100.
This year’s diverse pot of winners include people like Brady Harrison, Adam Neuse, Andrew Williams, Laura Bollmann, and Ryan Mulvey of The Florida Park Service GIS Team in the Department of Environmental Protection, along with others like Karen Watts, Elaine Mathews, Dr. Dawn C. Allicock, Noreen Nickola-Williams and David Klater of the Florida Department of Health’s HPV Vaccinators – Cancer Eliminators Team.
FSU grad student named Ford Foundation Fellow
A graduate student studying psychology at Florida State University was awarded this week the distinguished 2019 Ford Foundation Fellowship.
The student, Keanan Joyner, is one of just 70 to be selected to participate in the coveted fellowship. Awarded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the three-year scholarship gives students a $24,000 stipend each year.
“It’s pretty special,” Joyner, who plans to be an academic clinical scientist, said. “The Ford fellowship is an absolutely great program. I believe in their mission. I see the need to diversify academia however I can. Receiving external funding from such a prestigious program will definitely help me advance my career.”
Joyner’s research focuses on substance-related addictions, specifically, the relationship shared between reward sensors and substance abuse. The secure funding, he said, means he can focus more on his academic research.
Joyner claims to be the “only black man” in his department. He said in a news release that he looks forward to networking with other minorities at the Ford Fellows Conference as part of his award.
FSU film students forging Tally-to-Cannes pipeline
Two Florida State film students are finishing up one of their best weeks ever – presenting one of their projects at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Tyler Knutt and Nicholas Markart, both seniors in FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts, jetted over to the French film festival to present their documentary, “Peacekeeper,” which focuses on the human impact of the controversial oil pipeline between North Dakota and Illinois completed in 2017.
Knutt and Markart are two of five FSU film students who made the trip to the renowned festival this year.
“Going to the Cannes Film Festival is absolutely mind-blowing,” said Markart. “It feels kind of crazy because if you ask any film student about their chances of getting a project into Cannes, it would seem like a pipe dream.”
That dream looks like it’ll continue for the duo, who are riding high after learning “Peacekeeper” – which they produced in their sophomore year – has been nominated for a 2018 BAFTA Award.
“To have this recognition as a filmmaker is extremely rewarding and very humbling, but it’s also gratifying to know we’re getting this story out to a much larger audience,” Markart said. “It’s very emotional to know that the people we met, who felt they didn’t have a voice, are now being heard internationally.”
City of Tallahassee prepping for Hurricane Season
Hurricane season is just around the corner, and the City of Tallahassee is encouraging residents to learn and prepare at a June 2 event.
The fourth annual “Build Your Bucket” disaster preparedness expo will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Florida Fairgrounds and include information and activities for all ages.
The main event will see attendees drop by booths to learn about local resources for surviving and recovering from disasters and pick up supplies to add to their buckets. The Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross will also be on hand leading “Pillowcase Project” workshops where children can learn how to stay safe in an emergency.
Attendees can also get an up-close look at a variety of emergency response vehicles during “Touch-a-Truck.” Confirmed for the event are autos from the fleets of the Tallahassee Fire Department, Leon County Emergency Medical Services and the Salvation Army.
Drug mix-up at Tallahassee Publix sparks lawsuit
A Tallahassee woman is suing the Publix supermarket chain after she said she was mistakenly given an antidepressant medication instead of a pain drug.
Queen Fields filed suit this week in Leon County Circuit Civil Court, saying she suffered “bodily injury,” “disfigurement,” and “mental anguish.” She seeks over $15,000 in damages.
Her complaint said she thought she was picking up an anti-pain prescription for Tramadol in August at the pharmacy in the Publix on the corner of Capital Circle and Crawfordville Road.
Instead, she was given – and presumably took – a prescription for another customer for Wellbutrin, used to treat depression, her suit said. The complaint doesn’t say how long she took the wrong drug before noticing the mistake.
Fields is represented by Tallahassee attorney David Burns. Publix policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
Southside sidewalks, streets to get facelift
The City of Tallahassee said southside residents can expect new sidewalks on Putnam Drive and a smooth, freshly paved ride on S. Meridian Street in the coming months.
“These projects are just two more examples of the many infrastructure enhancements the City is making across the entire community,” City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “Whether on foot, bike or four wheels, these efforts will provide Southside residents with increased mobility and safer travels throughout the area.”
The first phase of the Putnam sidewalk projects is underway, and the city expects it to be complete by September. Workers will begin on phase two early next year. Crews have also started prep work ahead of repaving the stretch of Meridian from Van Buren Street to Paul Russell Road and the first asphalt is expected to go down May 28.
As with any project, drivers will have to deal with lane closures while crews are on the job – in this case, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Weather permitting, the work will be done by mid-August.
Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Ella Joyce has her big dance recital this weekend (she’s performing in six (!) numbers), so forgive me for this brief topper. I need to push out today’s edition of Sunburn and go help Michelle prepare for the festivities.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History … and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!
—@JoePerticone: Bill Nelson, who sits on the Finance Committee’s subcommittee on international trade, just told me he doesn’t know what ZTE is …
—@RobertMaguire_: Rep Mo Brooks — who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee — says that rising sea levels are caused not by climate change but from … … wait for it….. … rocks falling in the ocean
—@RepLoisFrankel: 64yrs ago #SCOTUS ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional in #BrownvBoard. Great progress has been made but the road to equality is long&we must keep fighting so all kids, regardless of race, gender or background, have access to quality education&a chance to succeed.
—@RepStephMurphy: JUST IN: @USArmy selected #Orlando as the new HQ for its initiative to merge live, virtual & gaming domains into a single, state-of-the-art training environment for soldiers. The new HQ will support dozens of jobs & demonstrates Orlando is the world leader in this area.
—@CHeathWFTV: Florida fails to fund DOC (again) and is now shocked that DOC doesn’t have enough money.
—@Aronberg: Positive news from Delray Beach: 79% decrease in opioid overdose deaths (19 vs. 4) in the first 4 months of 2018, compared to the same period last year
—@AGlorios: Doesn’t anyone know that the only place malls are still cool is Dubai?
—@MikeGrunwald: I wrote a book about natural Florida’s transformation into a mall so the American Dream news is a bit on the nose
—@SharkeyJeff: Sharkey’s restaurant in the capitol is following suit and eliminating plastic straws in addition to our biodegradable cups and containers … all good for Florida
— DAYS UNTIL —
Solo: A Star Wars Story premiere — 7; Memorial Day — 10; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 22; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 24; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 25; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 27; Father’s Day — 30; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 35; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 41; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 51; MLB All-Star Game — 60; Deadline for filing claim bills — 75; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 75; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 76; Start of the U.S. Open — 101; Primary Election Day — 102; College Football opening weekend — 104; NFL season starts — 111; Future of Florida Forum — 131; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 158; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 159; General Election Day — 172; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 272; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 291.
— TOP STORIES —
“Man firing shots and ‘spewing’ about president inside Trump National Doral shot by police” via Doug Phillips of the Sun Sentinel – A man who was firing shots, waving an American flag and ‘yelling and spewing some information about President Trump’ was shot and wounded by police early Friday at Trump National Doral, the golf and spa resort owned by President Donald Trump in northwest Miami-Dade. The shooting … happened about 1:30 a.m., Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said during a pre-dawn news conference … These officers did not hesitate for one second to engage this individual who was actively shooting in the lobby of the hotel,’ Perez said. … During the incident which played out quickly an officer from the Doral Police Department was hurt, but not from gunfire. He was taken to a hospital with a possible broken bone, officials said.
“Greyhound owners sue over proposed dog racing ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The group that represents Florida’s greyhound owners and breeders is suing to keep a proposed constitutional amendment to rid the state of dog racing off the November ballot. The Florida Greyhound Association and its president, James Blanchard, filed suit Thursday in Leon County Circuit Civil court against the Department of State, which include the Division of Elections, and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Among other claims, the suit says the ballot title and summary ” … fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to minicasinos.” The amendment, one of eight by the Constitution Revision Commission, would allow other gambling activities such as card games to continue at tracks after dog racing ends. The suit asks for a court order preventing the division “from placing Amendment No. 13 on the ballot for the November 2018 General Election.”
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Nelson files bill to force more FEMA aid for displaced Puerto Rican families” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Nelson’s office said the bill would require FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program as a means to extend aid for those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria through February 2019. “This administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico,” Nelson said in a statement. ” … These displaced families are American citizens who desperately need our help. We have a responsibility to help them, just as we would want to be helped if we were in their shoes.” When activated, the Disaster Housing Assistance Program offers rental assistance for up to 18 months after the declaration of a disaster. It has been used before after hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita.
Happening Saturday — Gov. Scott speaks at the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 North 50th St., Tampa.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Must-do for Florida’s midterm candidates: A stop in Puerto Rico. Or three.” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Holding political office in Florida increasingly requires trekking to Puerto Rico, the former home of a growing number of Florida residents. More than a million Puerto Ricans already lived in the state before the hurricane, and another 56,000 joined them in the first six months after Maria, according to an estimate by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York. Perhaps not all of them will stay, much less vote: Puerto Ricans have tended to cast ballots less reliably than other Florida Hispanics … Candidates down the ticket are also adopting the island’s cause. State Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach, a Democratic candidate for Congress, this month spent 48 hours on what he called a “listening tour” of the island. He is running in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which is nearly 72 percent Hispanic and largely Cuban-American. His campaign research, however, revealed that about 25,000 Puerto Ricans live in the district, he said, so Richardson felt a trip to the island was in order.
“Chris King backs Orange County children’s initiative” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — King weighed in on an Orange County local issue, saying the push for a children’s trust fund fits in for his call for sweeping criminal justice reform in Florida. A coalition of children’s advocates is pushing this year to get a children’s services independent taxing authority, like those found in other Florida metropolitan cities, created through a ballot initiative this November. King joined former state Rep. Dick Batchelor, chairman of The Children’s Trust of Orange County committee, former Orange County chair Linda Chapin, businessman Harold Mills, and the Rev. Derrick McRae of the Experience Christian Center to argue that the initiative is a criminal justice reform issue. “I am on day three of a massive trip around the state talking about criminal justice reform. It is deeply, as Dick said, deeply interconnected to the issues of the children’s trust,” King said.
“Philip Levine’s social media blocking haunts Florida gubernatorial campaign” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida –Philip Levine blocked a Twitter critic back when he was mayor of Miami Beach and got sued. Now it’s starting to haunt the Democrat’s bid for governor of Florida and threatens to paint him as a thin-skinned bully. First, Twitter accused the city of threatening its officials as part of a legal strategy to keep Levine from being deposed during his campaign for governor. Then, Levine’s top adviser had to take the stand on his behalf this month and admit the former mayor blocked Twitter comments he didn’t like, setting the stage for a potentially precedent-setting case concerning social media and government censorship. In the coming weeks, the likely Democratic frontrunner faces the prospect of a deposition in the case, which also raises broader questions about his temperament and his mayoral legacy.
Levine expands communications team — The Levine for Governor campaign expands its communications team with the addition of Deputy Communications Director William Miller and Hispanic Media Coordinator Guillermo Perez. Miller served as the campaign’s Communications Coordinator since the campaign’s inception and previously served Hillary for America as Press Assistant for the South Florida region. Perez currently serves as a Communicators Coordinator in Levine senior adviser Christian Ulvert’s firm, EDGE Communications, where he has been since the start of 2018. Previously, Perez served as a Press Intern in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and for U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“Ron DeSantis: Sorry Adam Putnam, but Trump is solidly behind me” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis, banking on Trump’s endorsement to help him win Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary against Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, is not worried that Trump could wind up staying on the sidelines. Vice President Mike Pence and others, according to The New York Times, have been urging the president not to take sides. “There’s clearly worry in Putnam’s camp about the role he will play, but I would stay tuned on that. I mean the idea that anyone is telling Donald Trump what to do is just not accurate,” said DeSantis, adding “there’s a good chance” Trump will campaign for him.
“New Putnam ad blames ‘liberal elites’ for college debt, pushes vocational training” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s also a continuation of Putnam’s attack on so-called “liberal elites,” who this time he blames for pushing students into college debt and degrees that don’t lead to jobs. “Liberal elites look down on people who work with their hands,” Putnam said. “College is not the only path to success, and it’s OK to say it.” The ad was paid for by Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee. Vocational training for trade jobs is the cornerstone of the “Florida Jobs First” agenda Putnam introduced in Riverview. To view the ad, click the image below.
Assignment editors — Putnam will deliver remarks at the Broward County Lincoln Day Dinner, 7 p.m., Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, 1881 SE. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale.
Happening Saturday — The Villages Democratic Club will hold a forum for gubernatorial candidates, with expected guests King, Levine and Gillum, 10 a.m., Savannah Center, 1575 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.
Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley of Zolfo Springs will speak at the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club luncheon, 11:30 a.m. Eastern, EVEN Hotel Sarasota — Lakewood Ranch, 6231 Lake Osprey Dr., Sarasota.
Assignment editors — State Rep. Sean Shaw gives a legislative update and explains why he is running for Attorney General at Café con Tampa, 8 a.m., upstairs at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
John Ward releases first TV ad in CD 6 campaign — The ad, titled “American Made,” highlights Ward’s service to his country in the U.S. Navy and steadfast commitment to the Constitution. “An unbreakable Constitutional conservative, Ward stands with President Trump, fighting to take our country back from the swamp,” the ad says. “Made in America, John Ward for Congress.” Ward’s ad will run throughout Florida’s 6th Congressional District with a substantial six-figure buy. The veteran and businessman is seeking the seat vacated by Ron DeSantis’ bid for Florida governor. To view the ad, click the image below.
“After allegation of ‘exposure,’ Kristen Rosen Gonzalez faces defamation lawsuit” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former Miami Beach City Commission candidate Rafael Velasquez has filed a defamation lawsuit against congressional candidate Rosen Gonzalez, after she accused Velasquez last year of exposing himself to her following a dinner. Velasquez confirmed the filing with a post on Twitter. In a statement on the lawsuit, Velasquez calls the Rosen Gonzalez accusations a “cheap political ploy,” saying she made the claims “to influence a close election and thrust her own congressional campaign into the middle of a discussion about sexual harassment and abuse, thereby manipulating the media to gain notoriety and sympathy as a champion of the #metoo movement.” The allegations were first made by Rosen Gonzalez in October of last year. She says the two were together after a dinner when he began aggressively flirting with her before exposing himself. “He started to get really abusive, to say, ‘I know you want it,’ ” Rosen Gonzalez said. “And then he exposed himself.”
“Donna Shalala set to skip debate at her namesake student center” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — This marks the second time in a week Shalala declined to attend a debate among Democratic primary candidates. Shalala said she had a scheduling conflict, barring her from showing up at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Coral Gables, where the first debate was held. However, organizers of that debate say Shalala did commit to attending, only to back out eventually. It was later confirmed that she skipped out on the debate to attend a film screening. Current state Rep. David Richardson, one of Shalala’s primary opponents, is calling her out for missing Saturday’s debate at her namesake student center at UM, where she served as president.
“With Shalala endorsement, EMILY’s List hits trifecta in Miami congressional races” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida –EMILY’s List, the largest Democratic group supporting women candidates, endorsed Shalala in one of the party’s most coveted congressional seats, marking the first time it has three solid candidates in each of the Republican-held U.S. House seats in Miami. The group’s support of Shalala … isn’t too much of a surprise because Shalala helped found EMILY’S List in 1985. Since then, the group says it has raised more than $500 million to ensure that more women who support abortion rights won office.
“Miami Lakes mayor endorses Manny Diaz in SD 36” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The mayor of Miami Lakes says he’s backing Diaz in the race for Senate District 36. Mayor Manny Cid becomes the fourth Miami-Dade mayor in recent weeks to endorse Diaz, following the mayors of Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, and Doral. Diaz has represented House District 103 since 2012, but now has his eyes on the Senate. Cid says Diaz’s time in the House shows he’s ready to make the move: “Manny was an effective state representative, and there’s no question that he will be an outstanding state senator.”
Happening today — Political commentator and former presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the Orange County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Social hour begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:45 p.m., Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will attend the 9th Annual Puerto Rican Summit to discuss steps Florida has taken to help those displaced by Hurricane Maria, 8:30 a.m., Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at sea world, 10100 International Dr.
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will announce April job numbers at 10 a.m., El Meson Sandwiches, 6622 Eagle Watch Dr. in Orlando
“Amid election cyberthreats, counties plead with state for more money” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida election supervisors say they want access to some of the $19 million in federal election security money Congress approved for all 50 states nearly two months ago. But the state doesn’t yet have the money, and election officials say they’re growing impatient. “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating,” said Supervisor Mark Earley in Tallahassee’s Leon County. “This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.” Congress included $380 million in a 2018 budget bill and in March directed the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to distribute the money to states. Trump signed the budget bill on March 23. “The EAC is releasing this money quickly so that the grants can have an immediate impact,” the commission said on March 29. The money will help counties “immediately begin system upgrades.” Elections officials are looking locally for money now, preparing next year’s budgets to present to county commissioners.
“Florida CAT fund healthy, but council contemplates doomsday scenario” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund has reserves enough to easily cover its Hurricane Irma liabilities — as much as $300 million in excess of its $17 billion statutory liability limit. But what happens if a major storm — or a swarm of them — wipe out the fund’s assets? It might have to demand emergency assessments of a broad array of policyholders. Council staff stressed during an advisory council meeting Thursday that they were talking really-bad-case scenarios. But it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, chief operating officer Anne Bert said. “We certainly faced that in 2006, because we wiped out the CAT Fund in ’04 and ’05,” she said. “It’s not the worst. The worst would be if we didn’t have any pre-event bonds,” Bert said. Still, “This one’s pretty bad.” The fund floats those “pre-event” bonds as a contingency against disasters.
“NRA appeals judge’s decision against pseudonyms in Parkland lawsuit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The National Rifle Association is appealing a federal judge’s ruling against shielding a plaintiff’s name in its litigation against the state’s new school safety and mental health law. The NRA filed a notice of appeal Thursday to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, court dockets show. U.S. District Judge MarkWalker earlier this week turned down the association’s request to use a “Jane Doe” pseudonym for a 19-year-old Alachua County woman. She’s been portrayed in court documents as seeking to remain anonymous due to fear that public exposure could result in “harassment, intimidation, and potentially even physical violence.” In late April, the NRA filed a motion to add “Jane Doe” as a plaintiff to the lawsuit, which contends the age restriction in the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act “violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding adult Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
“Before massacre, Nikolas Cruz threatened to shoot his brother over a jar of Nutella” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — It happened a few months earlier, when their mother brought home the groceries. Nikolas snatched a jar of Nutella, unscrewed the lid, scooped out the gooey contents with his unwashed hand then licked his sticky fingers. Then he dipped into the jar again. Appalled at Nikolas’ manners, Zachary pushed or slapped the jar out of his hands. Nikolas charged upstairs, grabbed a long gun out of his bedroom closet, descended the stairway, sat down, loaded the firearm and pointed it at his brother in front of their horrified mom, according to Zachary. Nikolas had the much closer relationship with their mother, Lynda, Zachary said. His supposed favored-son status did not prevent Nikolas from threatening their mom. He recalled one blistering episode. “Nik got his AR-15 and put it to my mom’s head,” Zachary said of the September incident. Portions of Nikolas’ psychiatric file, obtained by the Miami Herald in March, portray a young man who exhibited frequent and extreme mood swings. His attitude would brighten for weeks at a time, then darken into anger and paranoia. Zachary can attest to that: “He was mentally ill, and in hindsight, his actions were a cry for help.”
“Student gets no relief and pot appeal” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court refused to scuttle drug-related charges against a student who lived in a Florida State University dormitory where a police officer responded in 2016 because of a complaint about loud music and “marijuana fumes wafting,” as one judge described it. The case centered on arguments that the student, identified as S.S. because he was a 17-year-old minor at the time, was not responsible for marijuana found in a Mason jar in a common area of the townhouse-style dorm unit. A roommate testified that S.S. had not used the marijuana. The police officer said five young men were in the townhouse when she responded. S.S. was charged with possession of cannabis and paraphernalia but sought to have the charges dismissed. A Leon County circuit judge rejected the request and found S.S. guilty of the charges but withheld adjudication of delinquency and sentenced S.S. to three months of probation. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with the refusal to dismiss the charges. Appeals-court Judge Scott Makar wrote an 11-page concurring opinion, concluding that S.S. could be subject to a “constructive possession charge” because he was in a common area of the townhouse where the marijuana was in plain view.
“Task force OKs $1.3 million in grants to advance military” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A state task force on Thursday approved grants worth nearly $1.33 million for projects designed to support military installations and preserve Florida’s reputation as the most military-friendly state. They included land and easement buys neighboring the Avon Park Air Force Range and Camp Blanding; development of a Bay County innovation center to advance amphibious warfare; and support for efforts to lure the MQ-9 Reaper drone wing to Tyndall Air Force Base, also in Bay County. The programs are designed to help the state adjust as advances in technology revolutionize defense strategy, potentially rendering the military programs that comprise the state’s second-biggest economic driver obsolete. “Our operations here are being devalued,” said Sen. Doug Broxson, the Pensacola Republican who chairs the Florida Defense Support Task Force. “We’ve got to do a better job of communicating that to our members in the Legislature,” he said. “The people that represent this group are the eyes and ears of 20 major installations that are telling us what’s important to them.”
“Citrus agency counts on bigger crop next year” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — As the Florida Department of Citrus starts to patch together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the department is projecting that revenues will increase by just over $400,000 through upticks in orange, grapefruit and specialty-fruit production … However, a continued decline in the forecast for the ongoing growing season forced the Bartow-based department to once again squeeze its current operating budget. This time the Citrus Commission, which oversees the department, had to cut $137,866 from the just over $17 million operating budget. Department officials said they were able to make the cuts by shifting $122,352 from reserves, with the remainder from general revenue service-charge changes and medical research.
“Supreme Court backs regulators on FPL project” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Rejecting arguments by the Sierra Club, the state Supreme Court unanimously backed a 2016 decision by utility regulators to approve a rate agreement for Florida Power & Light. The Sierra Club challenged part of the wide-ranging agreement that dealt with replacing what are known as “peakers” — generating units that are used at times of high customer demand and during emergencies such as storms. In the rate agreement, FPL sought to recoup costs of replacing decades-old peakers with larger, more-efficient units. In October 2016, FPL and three other parties, including the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents customers, reached a settlement agreement on major rate issues, including the peaker project. The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utility rates and projects, later approved the agreement. But the Sierra Club, which opposed the settlement, challenged the commission’s decision at the Supreme Court. The Sierra Club argued, in part, that FPL had not been required to consider alternatives, such as solar energy, to meet peak demands.
“Two years after it swallowed 215M gallons of polluted water, Mosaic sinkhole finally corked” via Craig to an of the Tampa Bay Times — Nearly two years after a massive sinkhole opened at Mosaic’s Mulberry phosphate processing plant, a company spokeswoman says it has been sealed at last and will be completely filled by the end of May. The state Department of Environmental Protection has approved demobilizing the deep drilling and grouting equipment used to fill the chasm “since the sinkhole now is sealed in accordance with the consent order requirements,” said Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron … All that’s left is some cosmetic work, Barron said. “We’re currently working to fill the upper portion of the cavity, close the opening and level the surface,” she said, predicting that would be done in the next two weeks.
“Nation’s largest mall wins Miami-Dade approval as county backs American Dream Miami” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In a 9 to 1 vote, county commissioners approved changing Miami-Dade’s growth plan and zoning designations to allow Canadian developer Triple Five to create an even larger version of its current signature property, Minnesota’s Mall of America, in Northwest Miami-Dade. With six million square feet of retail and entertainment space, American Dream Miami predicts 30 million visitors a year and about 70,000 vehicle trips in and out of the property, roughly equivalent to some of the busiest stretches of the Dolphin Expressway. Triple Five still faces significant hurdles before it can start construction on a project it has said will cost roughly $4 billion to develop. It must obtain a string of permits from the county after clearing regulatory milestones, including environmental mitigation, sewage capacity and water use. The company can’t proceed without Florida and Miami-Dade implementing about $200 million worth of roadway improvements, with only a portion of the costs coming from Triple Five. Triple Five also has to line up commercial loans to build the 175-acre project at a time when traditional malls are under siege from the rise of online shopping.
Fallen trees from 2016 storm in Tallahassee result in lawsuit — A Georgia-based tree company is suing over an unpaid $25,000 bill for grounds cleanup at the Capital City Country Club and golf course in Tallahassee after 2016’s Hurricane Hermine. TreeXpert this week sued the City of Tallahassee, which owns the property, and Integrity Golf Company, which had operated the facility. The company’s complaint said it did “tree removal, cutting and clean-up services,” for which it never received payment. A contract was inked in October 2016 after Hermine rolled through the capital in early September of that year. The suit seeks the $25,000 plus interest, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees. A request for comment was sent to a city spokeswoman.
Assignment editors — The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association open the NFL and Medical Cannabis Conference, the first of its kind to merge two controversial and popular topics, connecting traditional western medicine and medical marijuana in a professional, educational environment. The conference begins 9:45 a.m., Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 NW. 72nd Ave. in Miami. Contact Savara Hastings, email@example.com or (321) 917-3212.
Happening Saturday: NAACP, Airbnb launch national initiative in Miami — Miami Gardens will be the first site of the national initiative between the two organizations. Residents are invited to attend the launch at the Betty T. Ferguson Complex, 3000 NW. 199th St. from 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. to learn about opportunities to serve as ambassadors for their communities, participate in Airbnb’s local Experiences program, and have the opportunity to sign up as a host. Joining the NAACP and Airbnb for the event will be Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who recently assumed the presidency of the African-American Mayors Association.
— ACTION —
The survivors-turned-advocates of Parkland aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
They’re capitalizing on the anti-gun violence momentum that’s ensued since the Feb. 14 tragedy, reportsKimberly Hefling of POLITICO, by setting up “community conversations and a high school voter registration drive in their push to keep their gun control movement alive ahead of the November midterm elections.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students Emma González and David Hogg recently announced their plans at the Education Writers Association conference at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Mark your calendar: The first community conversation is June 15 in Chicago. And Hogg said the organizers are pushing for a high school voter registration drive May 29.
Bipartisanship: At the event, Hogg “expressed frustration that House Speaker Paul Ryan has not scheduled a vote on legislation to bolster background checks for gun buyers.” But, he sees a “bipartisan path” toward passing reforms that view and treat violence as a health epidemic.
Education works: González noted how everyone’s surprised at the efficacy of MSD activism: “People sent us to high school so that we can learn stuff, and then are amazed that we paid attention.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Florida to receive $84.5 million in federal disaster aid” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida will receive $84.5 million in new federal aid to help schools recover from Hurricane Irma, and to defray costs associated with reopening campuses, including some that were closed for weeks after the storm. The department previously announced Puerto Rican schools will receive nearly $600 million, while $89.4 million is slotted for the Texas Education Agency, $14.4 million is designated for the California Department of Education and $13 million will go to the U.S. Virgin Islands. States and territories are to use the money for assistance to districts, charter schools and private schools for expenses associated with restarting school operations after the disasters … “We will continue to work closely with Commissioner Stewart and Governor Scott to ensure students and teachers have the resources they need now and in the future,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement.
What Gaston Cantens is reading — “Sugar policy won’t change as part of Farm Bill as House rejects amendment” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The Sugar Policy Modernization Act amendment would have eased import quotas on foreign sugar and eliminated government bailouts of the sugar industry. The vote was 278-137, with U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Palm City Republican, voting to eliminate sugar price supports … “After decades of brutal water issues, the status quo must change,” Mast said. “That’s why today I voted in favor of securing the environmental future of our community.” Another proposal to change U.S. sugar policy, called the Zero-to-Zero plan, also died because it never was filed as a Farm Bill amendment. It would have eliminated price supports, but banned imports from countries that have them, such as Brazil and Mexico. The House is scheduled to vote on the Farm Bill Friday. The Senate is expected to debate its own version of the Farm Bill later this summer.
What Matt Gaetz is reading: “Congressional committee approves medical cannabis protections in appropriations spending bill” via The National Cannabis Industry Association — The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on Thursday approved a measure to “renew protections for state medical cannabis programs when the current spending budget expires in September.” The amendment was introduced by Rep. DavidJoyce, an Ohio Republican. It prevents the Department of Justice from using any resources to target medical cannabis patients or providers who are in compliance with state laws … U.S. Attorney General JeffSessions has opposed any form of marijuana legalization, though his boss, President DonaldTrump, has indicated sympathy to its medical use.
— OPINIONS —
“Daniel Ruth: Don’t run government like Rick Scott ran his business” via the Tampa Bay Times — Scott holding himself up as a paragon of savvy business acumen is a bit like Sonny Corleone claiming to be an expert in anger management. It was Scott who was forced out as CEO from his own company, Columbia/HCA, before it was fined $1.7 billion by the federal government for what was at the time the largest case of Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. It was also Scott who claimed his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times during a deposition in an unrelated legal matter. And now this chap is lecturing voters about running government more like a business? What business is he referring to? Enron?
“NRA heroism: Disparaging Parkland kids’ anti-gun campaign as ‘civil terrorism’” via columnist Fred Grimm in the Sun Sentinel — “They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism,” Oliver North complained to the Washington Times in a May 9 interview. North, the newly anointed president of the National Rifle Association, described how the NRA has been the object of a social media campaign led by young student survivors of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre. The Parkland students convinced retail chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling assault weapons. “We love these kids and their rallying cry ‘Enough is enough.’ It got to us,” Dick’s CEO Edward Stack told The New York Times. Walmart quickly followed suit. “This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” North said. It’s a bit startling, comparing the civil rights movement to the NRA’s uncompromising push to utterly deregulate guns, even military assault weapons. But North’s complaints fit nicely with the NRA’s great motivation device, the dissemination of mendacious paranoia.
“Melissa McKinlay: Palm Beach County, on front line, is taking action” — On Sunday, there was an editorial in The Palm Beach Post … indicating the [hurricane] conference program does not mention climate change or sea level rise mitigation. Although tide hazards are relatively new, and some of the short and long-term effects are not fully apparent, Palm Beach County and its municipalities have taken critical steps to help protect their communities. Climate change effects of rising sea levels will lead to increased high-tide flooding commonly referred to as “king tides” and stronger, more frequent hurricanes. This recent reality underscores the need for critical infrastructure funding so that the basic service of security can be reliably delivered to our citizens. Recently passed federal budget items included full funding to expedite these dike repairs. We are grateful to senators Bill Nelson and MarcoRubio for securing funds. Currently, the county has submitted nine projects to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reduce the effects of sea-level rise and king tides in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Fred Salerno to the Board of Governors of the State University System.
Amy Hass named UF vice president and general counsel — University of Florida President Kent Fuchs announced Thursday that, following a national search, Hass has been selected as vice president and general counsel. Hass has served as interim vice president since July 2017 and joined the UF Office of the Vice President and General Counsel in 2006. Before joining the University, Hass was a litigator with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in Atlanta and New York. While in private practice, Hass represented financial services companies and individuals in a wide range of government enforcement proceedings, civil litigation, white collar criminal defense, arbitrations and internal corporate investigations. She graduated with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Furman University. She is a member of The Florida Bar and the State Bar of Georgia.
Former state official Lisa Edgar pleads ‘no contest’ – Edgar, the former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, has pleaded ‘no contest’ in a case stemming from an alleged drunk-driving hit and run last April. She had been set for jury selection Friday. But court dockets accessed Thursday showed she instead pleaded out earlier this month to “reckless driving, reduced from DUI.” Leon County Judge LayneSmith withheld adjudication, meaning he made no formal finding of guilt, and ordered her to serve six months on probation, complete 75 hours of community service, and “continue counseling.” Last February, Edgar resigned as director of the Florida Park Service after less than two months on the job, citing “an immediate family emergency.” Edgar was a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, the panel that regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, and had been a deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Rosanna Manuela Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe County
Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Feeding Tampa Bay
Nick Iarossi, Megan Fay, Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Absolute Defense, George Hackney d/b/a Trulieve
Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: IOA Re
Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Kumballistic
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFedeon CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with WMNF reporter Mitch Perry, political consultant April Schiff, attorney Rochelle Reback and Darryl Paulson, Professor Emeritus USF-St. Petersburg.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on the opioid crisis and legislation in Florida amid holding pharmaceutical companies responsible. Joining Walker-Torres are Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, and Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: State Rep. Jay Fant discusses his bid to become Florida Attorney General. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by Congressman DeSantis about Republican gubernatorial opponent Putnam.
The Usual Suspectson WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will talk about Florida’s 27th Congressional District, interviewing two of the Republican candidates for the seat. Also, a discussion of the presidential election in Venezuela.
— STAR WOES —
When the latest chapter of the Star Wars saga, Han Solo spinoff “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” hits theatres next week, it could be defined by its bumps in production — something emblematic of Lucasfilm’s troubles thus far in recapturing a decades-old classic.
The delayed release of “Solo” resulted from Lucasfilm replacing former directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord with legend Ron Howard to shift the “tone” of the movie, Associated Press’ Jake Coylereports from the Cannes film festival this week, where executives premiered the movie to boost global awareness.
And “beneath the billions of dollars in box office and merchandise, there are hints of a growing existential crisis in the far, far away galaxy as it gets further and further removed from Lucas’ original vision.”
Balance: Each new Star Wars film has in some way faltered in attempting to capture the sound, tone and voice of the original trilogy while making a distinct impression on the series. For “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” writer Lawrence Kasdan — who’s still involved in the production — that’s the reason Lord and Miller didn’t fit the bill.
Early reception: Reviews are “tepid,” with an initial 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and many unhappy with Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Hans Solo, who of course was made famous by Harrison Ford.
The political angle?: There shouldn’t be one, according to Kasdan. “What drew me to it was there was this guy who walked into the cantina, a gunslinger with a great sidekick.”
— ALOE —
“Disney’s Magic Kingdom now serving alcohol at all restaurants” via Lily Rose of Fox News — Crystal Palace and the Plaza Restaurant will be serving an assortment of alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. The Crystal Palace, which hosts a Winnie the Pooh and Friends character buffet, will offer three different kinds of beer, a cider, multiple wine offerings, and a mimosa made with Domaine Ste. Michelle bubbly. The Plaza Restaurant offers much of the same, though their signature cocktail is a sangria made with Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc, pineapple juice, spice, and fruit.
“FSU still exploring all options for football facility upgrades” via Wayne E. McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — One option is to renovate the Moore Athletic Center, which is connected to Doak Campbell Stadium and has housed the football program since the 1950s. The other option is for FSU to build a new stand-alone football facility, which has become a trend among major college football programs … “We’re getting our first look at the feasibility study and are starting to digest that a little bit,” FSU’s Senior Associate Athletics Director for Governance and Compliance Jim Curry told the Tallahassee Democrat. FSU football coach Willie Taggart made it very clear Wednesday morning during ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island that he wants a new stand-alone football facility. Taggart referred to a renovated Moore Center as a Band-Aid to reporters, and made his case for the new facility during the interview.
Happy birthday to a slew of Florida politicos, including Rep. Mike Miller, future St. Pete City Councilmember Robert Blackmon, Brooke Bustle of Florida Tax Watch, Ana Ceballos, Trevor Mask, and Michael Wickersheim.