Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit over the state’s prohibition on early voting at college and university campuses filed a motion “seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent Florida Secretary of State KenDetzner from enforcing” the ban, according to a Thursday news release.
“With this year’s primary and general statewide elections rapidly approaching, the plaintiffs are requesting an immediate end to this practice, which systematically burdens young Floridians’ right to vote,” the release says.
“Young people across Florida are excited and ready to vote this August and November, and we should be doing all that we can to encourage their participation in our democracy,” said GuyCecil, chairman of the Priorities USA Foundation, which has been sponsoring the plaintiffs’ challenge that was filed last month.
“It is so unconscionable that Secretary Detzner’s actions essentially treat Florida’s young people as a separate class of citizens who now must travel farther and wait longer to cast their ballots,” Cecil added. “We’re confident that we will prevail in court when this case goes to full trial, and in the meantime urge the court to stop Secretary Detzner from suppressing the vote any further.”
Republican Gov. RickScott’s administration opposes the effort, defending its interpretation of state law to leave out state university buildings from those sites available for early voting.
“The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, an appointee of former President Obama, who has ruled decisively against Scott in two previous voting rights cases,” the Tampa Bay Times recently explained. “The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are nine students at UF and Florida State.”
“What is happening will have a permanent effect on these kids … If a parent puts a kid in a cage, that’s child abuse. Our government is doing the same thing. That’s crazy.” — Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist Louis St. Petery, speaking at an interfaith prayer vigil for families separated at the Mexico-U.S. border.
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Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will accept applications through Friday to become commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation. Commissioner DrewBreakspear recently announced that he would leave the post, under pressure from state Chief Financial Officer JimmyPatronis. The position is advertised to pay a salary of $120,000 to $140,000 a year.
Sen. KelliStargel, a Lakeland Republican running for re-election in Senate District 22, is slated to take part in a Lake County GOP “Coffee with the Candidate” gathering. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Lake County Republican Party office, 212 West Main St., Tavares.
The Able Trust, which works to provide opportunities to people with disabilities, will host the finals of its annual Jeannie Amendola Speech and Research Competition. The finals include high-school students from Lauderdale Lakes, Oviedo, Quincy and Orlando. That’s at 11 a.m., Golden Eagle Golf & Country Club, 3700 Golden Eagle Drive East, Tallahassee.
Former Miami Beach mayor and Democratic candidate for governor PhilipLevine will visit the Tampa Bay area. He’ll be at a “Conversation with Springboard to Success,” 11:45 a.m., PTCA Building, 650 Seminole Blvd., Largo. Also, he will attend a small business roundtable discussion at 5 p.m., Key Person of Influence, 412 E Madison St., Suite 800, Tampa.
Qualifying for candidates to run for offices across the state will end Friday at noon. Candidates for governor, state Cabinet offices and the Legislature will be among those qualifying during the week. Primary elections will be held Aug. 28, with the general election Nov. 6.
Florida Democratic Party Chair TerrieRizzo is slated to speak at a Lake County Democratic Party breakfast. That’s Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Leesburg Community Center, 201 East Dixie Ave., Leesburg.
The Florida Food Policy Council will meet in Seminole County. The discussion is expected to focus on issues such as upcoming forum in the race for state Agriculture Commissioner. That’s Saturday, 9 a.m., Sanford Civic Center, 401 East Seminole Blvd., Sanford.
Congressman and Republican candidate for governor Ron DeSantis will be hosting campaign events in St. Johns, Columbia and Marion counties this Saturday, to be joined by fellow Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz:
— 9 a.m., Sawgrass Marriott, Masters Ballroom A & B, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach.
— 12:30 p.m., Quail Heights Country Club, 161 SW Quail Heights Terrace, Lake City.
Democrat KatieTripp, who is running against Rep. TomLeek, an Ormond Beach Republican, in Volusia County’s House District 25, is slated to hold a fundraiser. That’s Saturday, 6 p.m., 128 Point O Woods Dr., Daytona Beach.
There I was, in Pisa on Wednesday, taking in the wonder that is the Tower of Pisa.
And I just couldn’t stop thinking about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
I know, I know … what a shame it was for me, while on a glorious vacation in Italy and yet I could not stop thinking about Florida politics. However, before setting off on our Pisa excursion, I checked my email, including one message from Gillum’s campaign manager, Brendan Phillips proclaiming “Andrew’s in the lead.”
Reading those numbers, I underwent the same sense of skepticism that Giovanni di Simone must have felt when he took over the Tower’s construction: something just doesn’t feel right.
It’s easy to knock poll results you don’t like. Perhaps there’s an over-sample of a specific demographic. Or the survey was conducted over too long a period. Maybe the polling firm itself has a spotty record.
While there are any number of issues with this particular Gravis poll (especially glaring is a 16-day polling window), the most troubling indicator is one of the survey’s other findings. According to this poll, Bill Nelson leads Rick Scott 50 to 40 percent.
There’s a better chance of me climbing the stairs to the top of Tower of Pisa than Nelson defeating Scott by ten points.
Seriously, there isn’t one serious Democratic consultant or activist who has Nelson leading Scott by double digits. It’s doubtful many of them believe Nelson is even leading Scott, much less by that margin. In fact, the most recent public polling has Scott ahead of Nelson by as many as four points.
A more rational assessment of the U.S. Senate race came via Steve Schale, who remarked on Twitter, “The polling at this point is relatively pointless. It’s gonna bounce around a bit, but fundamentally FL is very stable. Last two Gov & last two Pres all decided by a point. This should be same kind of race.”
Perfectly said, Steve. That’s why it’s ridiculous to believe a poll that shows Nelson +10. And if it’s ridiculous to believe that part of the poll, it’s ridiculous to believe that Gillum is up five over his opponents.
Those on Gillum’s team who say he is leading reminds me of the builders who tried to make the Tower of Pisa look better by making its columns and arches on the south side about an inch taller than those on the north side.
You just want to shout: “You’re not fooling anyone!”
A clearer picture of the Democratic primary probably can be found in the poll produced by the research organization Let’s Preserve the American Dream which finds the Democratic gubernatorial race tight between Philip Levine and Gwen Graham, with newcomer Jeff Greene having a lot of ground to make up.
Florida Politics reported exclusively about this poll, so it may have missed your radar screen.
One other polling note, this one not about Gillum or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There are now two polls that show Democrat Sean Shaw leading Republican Ashley Moody in the Attorney General race (although there’s no guarantee Moody will be the GOP nominee). FP hears that Shaw’s strong showings are creating quite a buzz at the Florida Justice Association’s annual gathering at The Breakers.
Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State KenDetzner – Florida’s chief elections officer – on Wednesday said the department “has been working diligently to make federal funding through the Election Security Grant available to counties.”
Moreover, Detzner will hire “five cybersecurity specialists to assist state and local election officials during the 2018 elections.”
Last month, Gov. RickScott “ordered state officials to expedite the acquisition of a $19 million federal grant aimed at protecting the state’s election systems from cyberattack, one day after (Detzner) said the money wouldn’t be available until after the November election,” The Associated Press has reported.
Now, Detzner says he needs “state legislative budget authority (and) is in the process of finalizing a proposal for review and approval by the Legislative Budget Commission (LBC),” expected to next meet in mid-July.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for Sen. RobBradley, alternating chair of the LBC. It acts as a joint committee of the Legislature, charged with reviewing and approving the equivalent of mid-course corrections to the current year’s state spending plan.
“In order to expedite the distribution of funding to counties, the Department is opening up the grant application process to counties today (June 20),” spokeswoman SarahRevell said in a statement. Counties must apply no later than July 18.
“The Department will expedite review and approve grant applications … which will allow the Department to quickly disperse funds to counties once the LBC gives” State the ability to release the money.
“I came here today to remind myself that children being separated from their parents and being thrown into cages is a practice my people have experienced before.” — State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who is Jewish. The Broward County Democrat spoke to reporters outside the federal Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead.
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The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors will meet in Hillsborough County. That’s at 9 a.m., The Westshore Grand, 4860 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
CareerSource Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, home builders and Uber will combine to hold a job fair in the Panhandle. That’s at 10 a.m., Pensacola State College, Milton Campus, 5988 Highway 90, Milton.
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.
A joint Committee on Controlled Substances, which includes members of the boards of Pharmacy, Podiatric Medicine, Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Optometry and Podiatric Medicine and the Council on Physician Assistants, will meet to carry out a new law (HB 21) aimed at helping curb the state’s opioid epidemic. That’s at 1 p.m., DoubleTree Hotel, 5780 Major Blvd., Orlando.
The state Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Board will meet in Hillsborough County. That’s at 2 p.m., Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore-Airport Area, 700 North Westshore Blvd., Tampa.
The Florida Department of Transportation District 1 will hold a public hearing on a proposal to rebuild the interchange at Interstate 75 and Fruitville Road in Sarasota County. That’s at 5 p.m. Selby Public Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.
Republican DaveCummings, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Brian Mast in Congressional District 18, is slated to appear at a meeting of the Palm Beach County Young Republicans. That’s at 7 p.m., Tom Sawyer Country Restaurant, 3208 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
As the nation and politicians in Florida are engulfed in an emotional debate about immigration and the deplorable practice of separating children from their parents, it’s important to note that one aspect of the overall debate has turned out to be a surefire loser for candidates running this cycle.
The cheap promise, espoused by so many Republican candidates, about ending so-called sanctuary cities, has done nothing for the candidates spouting this line.
On Tuesday, arch-conservative Jay Fant ended his went-nowhere bid for Attorney General. As a state lawmaker, Fant was a leading sponsor of a bill to shut down sanctuary cities. On the campaign trail, Fant was even more shrill, promising to send immigrant-protecting mayors to jail if he had been elected Florida’s next AG.
Fortunately, neither of these situations are now a possibility.
Fant joins House Speaker Richard Corcoran on the list of statewide candidates who attempted to reach statewide office by making a crackdown on sanctuary cities such a prominent part of their campaign. Corcoran infamously ran a frightening television ad about the issue (specifically about the case of Kate Steinle) that was roundly criticized for its not-so-subtle racism. The Pasco Republican really never recovered from that disaster.
But it’s not just statewide candidates who have made the mistake of playing the anti-immigration card too hard. James Buchanan, the son of the popular U.S. Representative who was running in a special election for the state House, also saw his promising campaign undone because he went to the well once (or twice or three times) too often on the sanctuary city issue. Buchanan, heavily favored to win the special election at the outset of the race, lost to Democrat Margaret Good.
There are probably other cases where Republicans who made the sanctuary city issue their touchstone ended up fizzling out like Fant or losing like Buchanan. But these three cases should serve as enough of a warning to all GOP candidates that tacking so far to the right on this issue may play well on Fox News, but it has not worked out so well for those running in Florida.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@SenBillNelson: The company running this facility told us we would be welcomed to tour the facility. HHS then denied us entry and said that they need “two weeks notice” to allow us inside. That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something.
—@RosLehtinen: No, @POTUS, saying immigrants “infest” our country is repugnant, reprehensible, + repulsive. To dehumanize those who wish to make a better life for themselves + their families flies in the face of decency. The real infestation is only one of your baseless rhetoric
—@RepTedDeutch: Mr. President, while you are on Capitol Hill talking with Republicans about your family separation policy, how about you stop by my office? I want to ask how you can defend this cruel policy and tell you about my constituents who are demanding you end it. #KeepFamiliesTogether
—@learyreports: .@SenBillNelson office on border kids: Have received about 1,000 calls total, 600 since yesterday. Also received about 1,400 emails since last night. 99% of calls and emails are against Trump’s policy.
—@anaceballos_: When news broke yesterday that a facility in Florida was housing migrant children, @FLGovScott said it was not aware of any old or new facilities in the state housing children as a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” Today, he says he knew facility reopened in February.
—@fineout: Documents released by @FLGovScott office show that HHS informed state officials and members of Congress about the pending reopening of the Homestead facility in February. But at that time the facility was to be used for “unaccompanied alien children.”
—@TroyKinsey: #Florida GOP state @SenReneGarcia on @realDonaldTrump admin’s #BorderChildren policy: “This is unethical and shameful to say the least.”
—@Ananavarro: After attacks on a disabled reporter, McCain, Judge Curiel, & the Khan’s, the Access Hollywood tapes, Charlottesville, 2nd-class treatment of Puerto Ricans, & the countless lies, I thought I’d reached a point where I could not possibly feel any more disdain for Trump. I was wrong.
—@KevinCate: Hug your babies. Then make sure other parents can do the same.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 2; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 8; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 18; MLB All-Star Game — 27; Deadline for filing claim bills — 42; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 42; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 43; Start of the U.S. Open — 68; Primary Election Day — 69; College Football opening weekend — 71; NFL season starts — 79; Future of Florida Forum — 98; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 125; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 126; General Election Day — 139; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 239; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 258.
— TOP STORY —
“’Bullhuckey:’ Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied access to immigrant kid lockup” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — U.S. Sen. Nelson and Rep. Wasserman Schultz were denied access to a 1,000-bed federal facility in the state that was opened to receive an influx of immigrant children, some of whom may have been detained due to Donald Trump‘s new family separation policy for the undocumented. “What they are doing is a cover-up for the president,” Nelson said. “The president is dug in on a policy, and he doesn’t like all the flak that he’s getting, even from some Republican senators.” Nelson said the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which ultimately denied access to the lawmakers — including state House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee, the district’s state representative — was “being obstinate, headstrong.” He said the agency’s decision was “an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the life and health of children are at stake.”
It’s unclear how many children are now at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children or how many were taken there under the president’s policy separating minors from parents who have requested asylum of a border patrol agent but have crossed illegally.
“Congress flails as family separation crisis spirals” via Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle — Republican and Democratic senators are beginning to talk across the aisle about ending President Donald Trump’s practice of splitting families at the border. But so far, they’re mostly talking past each other. And with Trump showing no sign he’ll back down despite the growing public pressure, the result is that migrant children may continue to be ripped from their parents’ arms for weeks to come if they cross the border illegally. Democratic leaders note Trump can change the policy now without Congress’ help and have rallied around legislation written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to stop the family separation, though it’s gotten zero GOP supporters. Republican leaders are devising their own bill to end the practice based on preliminary work from Sen. Ted Cruz, but so far GOP leaders have barely reached out to Democrats, who are skeptical that Trump would sign Cruz’s legislation.
“Rick Scott is wealthiest governor in Florida history. In July, he must reveal details.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Required as part of Scott’s U.S. Senate candidacy, the much-anticipated disclosure has some environmental groups and Democrats ready to raise questions about whether Scott’s personal holdings in the energy industry have helped steer Florida’s policy on climate change. “It seems pretty obvious he’s making decisions that will benefit companies in which he has an interest,” said Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The alliance was not one of the groups that sued Scott and his administration in April to demand a science-based climate recovery plan and to acknowledge the reality of climate change, but it supports the legal action. Scott held $14.7 million in stock in 2014 in Argan Inc., a Maryland holding company in power generation and renewable energy fields. In April, Argan told the SEC: “We may be affected by regulatory responses to the fear of climate change.” About two dozen other firms in Scott’s portfolio expressed similar concerns. Those energy-related companies accounted for nearly one-sixth of Scott’s net worth of $132.7 million in 2014, or about $20 million.
Florida Democrats call on Scott to acknowledge climate change — After the Tampa Bay Times reported on Scott’s financial interests in various companies that would benefit from inaction on climate change. The Florida Democratic Party is launching a petition calling on the Senate candidate to “put self-interest aside” and acknowledge the harmful impacts of climate change. FDP spokesperson Nate Evans said in a statement: “We always knew Rick Scott was a climate denier, but now we have a clearer picture as to why. In true self-serving Scott form, he has millions of dollars in investments in companies that have directly advocated against climate change regulation. It’s time that Scott, who has continued to get richer at taxpayer’s expense, put Florida’s best interest first and finally acknowledge the harmful impacts that climate change is having on the state.”
— QUALIFYING WEEK SURPRISE #2 —
“Jay Fant drops out of attorney general race to seek OFR post” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Jacksonville Republican decided to end his campaign, which was struggling to gain momentum, to apply to become commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, a spot that came open earlier this month when OFR Commissioner Drew Breakspear resigned amid pressure from CFO Patronis, who oversees the office. “Florida is the third-largest state, but not the third-most influential state for financial headquarters,” Fant told POLITICO. “There is no reason that can’t change. We need safety and soundness along with an understanding that we need to make Florida more attractive from a regulatory perspective.” He also said that he wants to instill a “servants culture” in the office. One of Patronis’ biggest public criticisms of Breakspear was that he failed to meet with some financial interests that his office regulated … Breakspear clashed with bankers and other interests he oversaw, prompting some to go to Patronis for help.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Gwen Graham goes after Scott on child detentions” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Graham’s following up on reports that children being separated from their parents at the Arizona-Mexico border are being transported to a Homestead detention center. She wants to know how much Scott knows about the facility — or others — and when he learned about it. “Seeing photos of these children, listening to their screams, I think of my own children and how hard I would fight if anyone tried to separate us,” Graham said in a news release. “Floridians deserve to know what Rick Scott knows about the Trump administration using our state in their political plot to separate families and what he’s doing to assist or stop Trump from bringing children to our state.”
“Jeff Greene launches two TV commercials, blasting Trump, remembering dad” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Greene is going up in a big way, spending $2.9 million of his own money on this week alone on the TV ads and a digital buy, which his campaign said is four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor … The 30-second ad is called “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump” … an early theme of Greene’s campaign rhetoric: “The timid need not apply.” A news release states: “Greene’s unique appeal to Florida Democrats lies in his ability to spend whatever it takes to go toe-to-toe with historically better-funded Republicans in the general election to help Democrats regain control of the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years without being beholden to special interest groups.” The Trump commercial begins with a narrator declaring, “Jeff Greene stood up to Trump on national TV.” Greene is then shown appearing on CNBC in a pre-2016 election interview in which he says, “I know enough about Donald Trump to be scared to death to see him as our president.”
Matt Dixon gets results — “Phil Levine says he’ll sell $600K in oil industry stocks following POLITICO inquiry” via POLITICO Florida — With a campaign focused in large part on climate change and sea level rise, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine said Tuesday he would sell nearly $600,000 in oil industry stock after POLITICO asked about the investments that appeared in his latest financial disclosure report. The environmental issue is a heated one in Democratic politics, but especially sensitive for Levine, who as a former mayor of Miami Beach was on the front lines of dealing with flooding stemming from rising sea levels. And much of the charged campaign trail rhetoric is directed at one source: oil companies. That toxic perception of holding ownership in oil industry interests while campaigning as a climate change crusader did not square for Levine, whose top campaign official said they began the process of selling his oil industry investments after getting questions from POLITICO. “This was part of an investment adviser’s portfolio recommendation — the mayor has instructed them to sell the stocks,” said Christian Ulvert, a Levine campaign senior adviser.
Adam Putnam endorsed by eight sheriffs — Putnam announced Tuesday that eight Panhandle Area sheriffs have endorsed Putnam in his run for Governor. The announcement took place during a stop in Lynn Haven where Putnam shared his “Secure Florida First” agenda … Putnam was joined today by Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White.
Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will attend the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Cattlemen’s Supper, 6 p.m., Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, 1500 Masters Blvd., ChampionsGate.
“Jimmy Patronis, Jeremy Ring net worth’s top $5 million” via the News Service of Florida — As he qualified for the race, incumbent Republican CFO Patronis filed a financial-disclosure form that listed a net worth of $6.49 million. The largest chunks of Patronis’ assets, totaling about $4.72 million, were in stock, partnership interests and a retirement account in family businesses … Patronis’ family, at least in part, owns Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant in Panama City Beach. Patronis also listed a $486,000 home in Panama City Beach. Democratic candidate Ring, a former state senator from Broward County, filed a financial disclosure this month listing a net worth of $5.12 million. Ring, a former executive with Yahoo who also qualified for the Cabinet race and listed assets including $4.35 million in securities and a $962,000 home in Parkland.
“Matt Haggman repeats call to shut down ICE in new CD 27 ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — In the midst of increasing criticism directed at the Trump administration’s decision to separate thousands of children from their parents at the border, congressional candidate Matt Haggman is out with a new six-figure ad campaign. Once again, he’s calling for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Haggman, running for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, first announced his support to abolish ICE earlier this month: “ICE was created in 2003. We’re talking about a 15-year-old agency that has far overstepped its intended, national security function and is sucking up government resources to deport families and detain children.”
“Jayer Williamson draws late opponent for House seat” via the News Service of Florida — Bobbi Sue Osborne, a Jay resident running without party affiliation, opened a campaign account to challenge Williamson in House District 3, which is made up of parts of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties … Williamson had been running unopposed. He had raised $100,750 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Meanwhile, the race for an open seat in nearby House District 1 also drew a late candidate when Republican Lisa Doss opened a campaign account. The Escambia County seat is open because Pensacola Republican Rep. Clay Ingram faces term limits. Five candidates have opened campaign accounts, with two — Republican Rebekah Bydlak and Democrat Vikki Garrett — listed on the state website as having qualified as of early Tuesday afternoon.
“New candidates emerge for Larry Lee, Jake Raburn seats” via the News Service of Florida — Port St. Lucie Republican Teri Pinney became the fifth candidate seeking to replace Lee in St. Lucie County’s House District 84 … Two of the five candidates — Fort Pierce Democrat Forest Blanton and Port St. Lucie Republican Mark Gotz — had formally qualified for the race. Meanwhile, with Raburn announcing he will not seek another term, Lithia Republican Michael Sean McCoy opened a campaign account to run in Hillsborough County’s House District 57. McCoy joined Democrats Layla Hartz and Debbie Katt in the race, with Katt listed on the state website as having qualified.
Joe Casello rolls out South Florida endorsements in HD 90 race — Boynton Beach Commissioner Casello is announcing endorsements from U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, as well as the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association. Casello, a retired firefighter and a veteran of the Air Force, is the only candidate remaining after several candidates withdrew from the race to replace Lori Berman in the heavily Democratic House District 90. Since entering the race May 2017, Casello has earned more than thirty endorsements from some of Palm Beach County’s most well-respected public figures, business and civic organizations, and labor unions. “On the Boynton Beach City Commission, Joe Casello was a strong voice for the Democratic values we share and a tireless advocate for his community,” Frankel said. “In Tallahassee, I know he’ll continue to fight for workers’ rights and organized labor, quality public education, expanded job creation, and our environment.” Casello has served on the Boynton Beach City Commission since 2013.
Happening today — Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux will speak at an event for the Federated Republican Women of North Dade. Invited guests include Rhonda Lopez, a candidate in state House District 115, Bibi Potestad, a candidate for HD 119, and candidate Joe Kaufman, who is running in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, 7 p.m., 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 N.W. 57th Ave., Miami.
— DEMOCRATIC DISCOURSE —
Amid talks of a blue wave and ahead of a difficult but potentially game-changing election, Terrie Rizzo assumed leadership of the Florida Democratic Party.
She’s keenly aware of the challenges ahead, but has high hopes for Democratic candidates this fall. In a recent five-question interview with the News Service of Florida, she acknowledged what appears to be Democratic energy, but pointed out the party is “not taking anything for granted.”
“But believe me,” Rizzo told the News Service. “There is a tremendous energy and excitement.”
Presence: “We have tremendous candidates running in races where we haven’t had people before recently,” Rizzo said. It appears the Democrats are looking to show out from the top of the ticket all the way down, even in school board races.
The Republicans: Rick Scott’s spending big — but that’s expected, Rizzo said. As for the party’s outreach in rural areas, “we’re letting people in those districts know there are alternatives,” Rizzo said.
What about the cash?: Democrats can’t compete with Republican money. But, “we have the better policies, the better message and the better candidates,” Rizzo said.
— STATEWIDE —
“Accounting watchdog claims Florida doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — A Chicago-based watchdog group says Florida owes more than it owns to the tune of $11.6 billion, earning it a C ranking in the group’s annual report of state financial standings. Truth in Accounting released its letter-grade rankings of each state … The nonprofit was founded to highlight inaccurate government financial disclosures. “Florida’s elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the state with a debt burden of $11.6 billion, according to the analysis. That burden equates to $1,800 for every state taxpayer.” Truth in Accounting figured Florida had $58.6 billion available in assets to pay $70.1 billion in spending. Most of the debt comes from pension funding, or a lack thereof. Per the report, “Of the $60.8 billion in retirement benefits promised, the state has not funded $10.9 billion of pension benefits and $9.3 billion of retiree health care benefits.”
“Counties sue to remove amendments from Florida’s November ballot” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — In separate lawsuits filed this month in Leon County Circuit Court, Broward and Volusia counties are asking the court to invalidate Amendment 10, the proposal placed on the November ballot by the Republican-controlled Constitution Revision Commission. The two counties argue that the proposal unconstitutionally misleads voters because it fails to explain that if approved, voters in Broward and Volusia counties would be stripped of their right to govern themselves. The amendment rolls together several ideas, the most controversial of which would overrule county charters and require Broward to elect a tax collector, Miami-Dade to elect a sheriff to replace its appointed law enforcement officer, and force Volusia County to reverse a decision voters made in 1970 to appoint its county officers. Miami-Dade County has not joined the lawsuit. “The ballot title and summary for Amendment 10 are misleading, inaccurate, and fail to fairly inform voters of the true effect and impact of the proposed amendment,” wrote lawyers for Broward County in a lawsuit filed Friday.
“Citizens board may delay rate hike” via Lloyd Dunkleberger of the News Service of Florida — Citizens Property Insurance is poised to delay a 7.9 percent rate increase for policyholders, after some board members suggested Tuesday another rate hike may be too soon following a May 1 increase. The Citizens Board of Governors, which oversees the government-backed insurer that has some 443,000 policies in the state, will discuss the proposal at its Wednesday meeting in Maitland.
Department of Health seeks more time in marijuana appeal — It opposes a lower court’s decision that JoeRedner, the Tampa strip club mogul, could grow and make juice of his own medical marijuana. The department filed a motion earlier this week asking for a deadline extension to file its initial brief. The filing asks the 1st District Court of Appeal for 60 more days, moving the deadline from this Wednesday to Aug. 20. “Due to numerous conflicting deadlines and previously scheduled events … the undersigned have not had adequate time to prepare the Initial Brief,” it says, noting that Redner attorney LukeLirot objected to the request. The department is represented in the appeal by Shutts & Bowen attorneys AmberStoner and JasonGonzalez. Redner, a lung cancer survivor, says his doctor recommended eight ounces daily of fresh, juiced marijuana as the best way to avoid a recurrence. In a separate filing, the court also rejected Redner’s request to put the appeal on a fast track.
“Two more health plans get Medicaid contracts” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Prestige Health Choice and Molina Healthcare will each be awarded contracts in two of Florida’s 11 Medicaid regions … the state announced it would award additional Medicaid managed-care contracts to Aetna Better Health of Florida, UnitedHealthcare of Florida and Simply Healthcare. As a result of the decisions, Agency for Health Care Administration spokeswoman Mallory McManus said the state has settled legal challenges involving what are known in the Medicaid program as “managed medical assistance” contracts and “comprehensive” contracts. Plans with managed medical assistance contracts will provide services for general and acute health care needs, from childhood checkups to surgeries. Comprehensive plans will also offer long-term care such as skilled nursing services. However, legal challenges remain from companies that want to provide “specialty” services, including providing care to people with HIV and AIDS or serious mental illnesses. The state faces challenges from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Magellan Complete Care, among others.
“Judge close to decision in radio system bid protest” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Lawyers late Monday filed recommendations as to how an administrative law judge should rule in a bid protest over the statewide law enforcement radio system, a deal potentially worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The recommended orders from Motorola Solutions and the Department of Management Services (DMS) were filed under seal, however, meaning they are unavailable for public view. Another filed by Harris Corp. was turned in with redactions, citing the need to protect confidential information, such as trade secrets. Attorneys argued the case last month before Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in Tallahassee.
“Judicial election fight remains in holding pattern” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court kept in place a stay in a legal battle about whether a Northeast Florida circuit judge should be elected or appointed and refused to quickly send the case to the Florida Supreme Court. Jacksonville attorney David Trotti filed the lawsuit this spring, contending that an upcoming vacancy created by the retirement of 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Foster should be filled in the November election, rather than through an appointment by Gov.Scott. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed with Trotti, but the Scott administration appealed, triggering an automatic stay of Dodson’s ruling. Trotti then went back to Dodson, who ruled that the stay should be lifted. But the 1st District Court of Appeal quashed Dodson’s order to lift the stay and said the case should remain on hold until the appellate court can rule on the underlying issues.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“AARP polls Florida on Trump approval, U.S. Senate race” via Florida Politics — Trump’s job approval rating is split 48 percent-49 percent among Florida registered voters, “higher than how he performed nationally,” according to a new POLITICO/AARP poll released Tuesday. That rating was 43 percent approving and 52 percent disapproving, said Tyler Sinclair of Morning Consult, which conducted both polls … And older Floridians, specifically voters age 50 and over, “are more likely to give Trump higher marks”: 51 percent approving of the way he handles the presidency and 44 percent disapproving … In the U.S. Senate matchup between term-limited Republican Gov. Scott and Nelson, they’re “virtually neck and neck,” with Scott polling at 40 percent and Nelson at 39 percent. Importantly, 21 percent said they “haven’t made up their mind yet.” Older Floridians are more likely to vote for Scott, by 44 percent-35 percent, according to the poll.
“Donald Trump Jr. cancels fundraiser with Jeb Bush son” via Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene of Axios — Trump Jr. and George P. Bush had formed an unlikely alliance despite their fathers, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, loathing each other — with Don Jr. backing George P. in his re-election campaign for Texas land commissioner, and even planning to headline a New York fundraiser for him on June 25 … Two sources close to Don Jr. tell Axios that he has decided to pull out of the fundraiser due to the Bush family’s opposition to his father. Most recently, Jeb Bush tweeted that “children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool” and that President Trump should end his “heartless policy” of family separation.
“Feds weigh entering lawsuit over FIU bridge records” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for north Florida has told a Tallahassee judge it now “is considering participation” in a lawsuit by The Miami Herald seeking records on March’s bridge collapse at Florida International University that killed six people. U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova sent a notice dated June 15 to Circuit Judge John Cooper saying federal law authorized him to “attend to the interests of the United States in (any state) lawsuit,” court records show. The three-page document … says that the Herald “seek(s) to compel disclosure of certain records … (that) are the subject of a pending accident investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “Thus, the United States may have an interest in setting forth for the court its views with respect to the pending motions and potential disclosure of information,” it says. Canova asked Cooper to “defer (any) rulings” until it determines whether to get involved. The feds said they would let Cooper know by next Wednesday whether they would enter the case or stay on the sidelines.
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Nelson visit was right thing to do (and good politics)” via Florida Politics — Florida’s senior U.S. Senator, in a fight for his political life, traveled to inspect the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children facility. It’s a holding camp keeping an estimated 1,000 children — some came to America without their parents, and others because their parents are being held elsewhere on suspicion of trying to enter the country illegally. Nelson said he set up the visit in advance through proper Health and Human Services channels but was advised it would have to be delayed because applications for such visits must be submitted to two weeks in advance. He went there anyway but was blocked from going inside for a firsthand look. He might have found a locked door there, but it was campaign gold and it didn’t cost a cent. “They obviously are hiding something,” he said. “They are using the excuse (that) you have to apply two weeks in advance (to visit). That is what the deputy secretary told me this morning.” Nelson’s righteous anger should make his Senate opponent, Gov. Scott, squirm a bit. In this case, though, he ceded the stage — and a whole bunch of free media — to Nelson. That’s blunder No. 1. Blunder No. 2 was the refusal by HHS to allow Nelson’s visit to continue. Officials could have told him that cameras had to stay outside but to walk around and check things for himself.
“Ron Littlepage: Hocus-pocus from Lenny Curry and the Sheriff” via RonLittlepage.com — It was comical as well as maddening watching efforts to drag out of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office exactly how many police officers are employed by the agency now. JSO, under the leadership of Mr. Transparency Mike Williams, kept telling the news station that number wasn’t available. Come on. The agency doesn’t know how many people are on its payroll? The number is a sensitive issue for the sheriff and Mayor Curry. As you might recall, Curry hammered Mayor Alvin Brown during their campaign battle for reducing the number of police, basically saying that Brown was responsible for the city’s high murder rate. In Curry’s current re-election campaign television ads, he boasts of adding 180 police officers to ensure public safety. If that was the answer to violent crime, as Curry contended in his first mayoral race, why are most days in Jacksonville still marked by murders? The first answer is that Curry is highballing the number … With 137 more officers patrolling the streets of Jacksonville, which more than makes up for the 96 lost under Brown, why is mayhem still the order of the day? If it was Brown’s fault then, is it Curry’s fault now?’
— MOVEMENTS —
Marc Dunbar says he’s ‘interested’ in Citizens Insurance chairmanship” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee-based lawyer and gaming lobbyist, has officially “expressed interest in serving as chair of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors,” CFO Jimmy Patronis announced. Dunbar, whom Patronis only recently appointed to the board, was one of six names released by Patronis’ office. At last week’s Cabinet meeting, the state’s chief financial officer had asked Citizens CEO Barry Gilway to identify board members who’d be interested in stepping up to chair. The chair, now Christopher Gardner, serves at the CFO’s pleasure; Patronis can name a new person at any time.
“Personnel note: Jason Harrell to lobby for Florida court clerks” via Florida Politics — Harrell has been named director of legislative and government affairs for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers (FCCC), the organization announced Tuesday. Harrell now is budget and communications director for the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation (CCOC). He’ll continue in that role until the end of the Florida Legislature’s Revenue Estimating Conference in July, which will determine the clerks’ statewide budget authority for fiscal year 2018-19. At FCCC, Harrell will “develop and direct the association’s new in-house legislative team and lead strategic advocacy for legislative policy and budget efforts on behalf of Florida’s independently elected clerks and comptrollers,” a news release explained.
What Seth McKeel is reading — “Pinellas County decides to negotiate contract with new lobbying firm” via Suzette Porter of the Tampa Bay Newspapers — Commissioner Janet Long cast the deciding vote during a work session June 12 on the firm that staff will negotiate with to provide lobbying services for statewide matters. In an unprecedented move, commissioners decided not to go with staff recommendations but instead wanted to hear oral presentations from the top three ranked firms that submitted proposals to provide state governmental relations (lobbying) services. The firms included Dean, Mead & Dunbar, which has served as the county’s state lobbyist firm since 2002, Southern Strategy Group of Tampa Bay and Gray/Robinson.
— ALOE —
“’Alexa, order me room service.’ Amazon’s voice assistant checks into Marriott hotels” via Jordan Valinsky of CNN — Amazon announced a partnership with the hotel company to add Amazon Echo smart speakers into a select number of rooms. Guests can use the Alexa-enabled device to order room service, turn on the lights, set alarms, notify housekeeping, ask for hotel information, call the front desk, play music and other typical Alexa functions. In a promo video posted to Amazon.com, a hotel guest is seen using various Echo models, such as the tall silo-shaped signature speaker and the hockey puck-sized Amazon Echo Dot. Guests won’t need an Amazon account to use the devices. But in the future, Amazon will allow them to sign in to their accounts to play their playlists and audiobooks.
Happy birthday to Matt Harringer of Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign, Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Ed Miyagishima, and Ieva Smidt.
“Faith leaders all over the country are raising their voices against a ‘zero tolerance’ policy that is tearing families apart, imprisoning parents, and sending young children to mass detention centers,” Copeland wrote.
“I believe that people of faith need to raise their voices in protest of this immoral policy and in prayer for its victims.”
“If you can’t join us, please pray for children taken from their mother’s arms and that our nation’s leaders will reconsider this disastrous policy,” he said.
“It’s not just racist, it’s economically ridiculous because our country’s been built by immigrants and we need fresh immigrants coming in for our workforce.” — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, on the family separations crisis at the Texas border.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Republican candidate for Governor AdamPutnam will host an “Up & Adam” breakfast, to be joined by Seminole County Sheriff DennisLemma. That’s at 8:30 a.m., The Town House Restaurant, 139 N. Central Ave., Oviedo. This is a ticketed event. If you plan to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 p.m. Tuesday (tonight).
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hear a staff proposal about rules related to shrimp harvested and sold alive as food. Currently, bait shrimp are maintained alive but shrimp for food is required to be iced. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.
The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will meet in Central Florida and is expected to discuss 2019 rate filings. It also is expected to discuss new lobbyist registration rules, which involve a change in the corporation’s internal code of ethics. That’s at 9 a.m., Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr., Maitland. Call-in number: 1-888-942-8686, code: 5743735657.
As the 2017-2018 growing season comes to an end, the Florida Citrus Commission is set to discuss its budget, market research and scientific research. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Department of Citrus, 605 East Main St., Bartow. Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525, code: 2265370149.
The Space Florida Board of Directors will meet and review a number of projects that involve SpaceX, Blue Origin rocket testing, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and the common use of infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center, as well as deals in progress under code names Project Forge, Project Pine, Project Blue Heron and Project Made In Space. That’s at 1:30 p.m., The Westshore Grand, 4860 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Call-in Number: 1-866-528-2256, code: 2120278.
The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer meeting about proposed increases in water and wastewater rates for River Ranch Water Management. That’s at 6 p.m., Long Horn Center at River Ranch, 3200 River Ranch Blvd., River Ranch.
Former U.S. Sen. GeorgeLeMieux of Florida will speak during a meeting of the Federated Republican Women of North Dade. Also expected are RhondaLopez, a candidate in state House District 115, BibiPotestad, a candidate in state House District 119, and JoeKaufman, a candidate in Congressional District 23. That’s at 7 p.m., 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 N.W. 57th Ave., Miami.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
As a matter of policy, America is now splitting families seeking asylum in the U.S. by illegally crossing the border.
For many (in both parties), it is difficult to reconcile this reality.
Every day, dozens of parents are separated from their children – as the federal government labels them “unaccompanied minors” to be remanded to government custody or foster care, while the parents are considered criminals and sent to jail.
For opponents of the Donald Trump administration, this policy of family separation is indefensible, particularly after new audio emerged showing children crying, and wondering where their parents are.
More than 2,700 children have been separated from their parents between Oct. 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, with nearly 2,000 of them from April 18 to May 31 – the final six weeks of the period.
Currently, an average of 45 children every day is taken from their parents.
Vox is reporting that one Honduran refugee committed suicide in a detention cell after his child was taken away.
While this policy is not new, it has increased at a rapid pace under Trump, resulting in an increasing sense of outrage throughout the country – from both Republican and Democrats – which could play a role in the upcoming 2018 midterms.
“’I do not favor separating families’ says Rick Scott in slight break with Trump” via Marc Caputo of Florida Politics — Scott, however, stopped short of calling for an immediate end to the policy — which has resulted in the parentless detention of thousands of children — and downplayed the administration’s role in enforcing it. “What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government. They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos,” Scott said in a written statement. “Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime.” The policy is the latest in a string of administration controversies that have weighed on Scott as a U.S. Senate candidate in Florida, which has a significant foreign-born population sensitive to immigration issues.
“Q poll: Republicans support separating immigrant children; no other group does” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The poll states that Republican voters, by 55-35 percent, support the policy of Trump of prosecuting parents immediately even if it means separating them from their children in detention and perhaps beyond that. But Democrats, independent voters, and cross sections of whites, blacks, Hispanics, men, women, young voters, early-middle age voters, late-middle-age voters, and older voters; and, among white voters, those with or without college educations, all oppose the policy. Overall, 66 percent of those polled oppose the policy and 27 percent support it. The Republican support carried the support and was overwhelmed by 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independent voters oppose it. Opposition is particularly strong among black voters [88 percent;] Hispanic voters [80 percent]; voters under age 35 [80 percent;] and women [70 percent]. Among all white voters, 60 percent oppose the policy, and among all men, 61 percent oppose. Even the cross-section of white men shows 55 percent opposition.
“Marco Rubio campaign manager: The GOP no longer has an ‘ideological compass’” via Jon Ward of Yahoo! News — GOP operative Terry Sullivan, who ran Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign … leveled his critique at both Republicans and Democrats, but said as a Republican he was more authorized to speak about that party’s drift. He blamed the deeper problem on a shift away from ideas-based campaigns. “The campaigns are much more about personality than they are about issues,” Sullivan said. “Issues are only seen as a vehicle to determine somebody’s personality. … We see that with the current president.”
“Feds holding 1,000 migrant children at Miami-area compound, lawmaker says” via Jerry Iannelli and Tarpley Hitt of the Miami New Times — Roughly 1,000 migrant children are being held inside a secured compound in Homestead, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. It’s unclear whether the children crossed the border on their own or whether they were taken from their parents under Trump’s new policy. The beige prisonlike facility outside Miami, called the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, is the former Job Corps site at 960 Bougainville Boulevard. The facility opened under the Obama administration and was previously used to house unaccompanied migrant children. There’s little information about where exactly the children inside came from. In 2016, the Herald reported that the kids arrived unaccompanied across the border and had been flown in from around the country; they were either sent back home or placed with sponsors and spent an average of about a month in Homestead. At the time, the federal government said the facility was equipped to hold only 800 kids.
“Rallies in Tampa Bay protest separating families at the border” via Sean Streicher of WTSP — The group, Indivisible Safety Harbor, held “Rally to End Family Separation” on the corner of FL-580 and McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater. The Women’s March — Florida Chapter also held a rally at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg. According to the USA Today, family separations on the U.S.-Mexico border have drawn global attention since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in April. Sessions has described the policy as a deterrent to families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.
—@RealDonaldTrump: Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.
—@MarcoRubio: Currently govt must either release parents & continue incentive for illegal entry with children or separate families by detaining parents. Neither is good. Let’s change the law to allow families to be held together at family facilities & shorten detention with expedited hearings
—@JebBush: Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
—@ScottforFlorida: My position in regards to health care reform has not changed. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much. We must find a way to reform it. But I do not agree with efforts to remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
—@SenBillNelson: The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want. Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.
—@AndrewGillum: Tonight I called on @FLGovScott to issue an executive order banning the use of any state resources that would assist in the separation of children from their parents. And I also called on @SecNielsen to resign — her Department has lost its moral standing. This is a disgrace.
—@MarioDB: It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable.
—@RepHastingsFL: Separating children from their families and holding them in cages is government-sanctioned child abuse. I don’t care where you come from; no family deserves to be treated this way. Shame on Donald Trump for permitting such an immoral, indefensible policy.
—@David4Florida: Today, images of children in cages cover our television screens. Why? President Trump is using these children as hostages to be exchanged for wall funding and immigration cutbacks. Now more than ever, we need a Congress that will stand up to Trump and protect our values.
—@fineout: Amid dust-ups over debris contracts, pre-existing conditions & Trump border policy, @FLGovScott headed off to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to offer “guidance” & “assistance” on hurricane recovery
—@GbennettPost: As #Florida governor candidate filings trickle in, Dem @MayorLevine reports net worth of $133 million; Dem @GwenGraham reports $14.4 million.
—@DanmericaCNN: Hillary Clinton, speaking in NYC, endorses Donna Shalala, former Clinton admin official and candidate for Congress in Florida’s 27th district: “I know she will be an excellent Congresswoman from Florida.” Shalala, who also ran the Clinton Foundation, introduced Clinton today.
—@JohnMorganESQ: I’ve been saying this loudly for the last 5yrs. It’s a no-brainer. Small minded people & politicians on the take from drug companies are all that separates us from compassionate care. @FLGovScott drop your appeal & let compassion win. Only you can do that
— DAYS UNTIL —
Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 3; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 9; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 19; MLB All-Star Game — 28; Deadline for filing claim bills — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 43; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 44; Start of the U.S. Open — 69; Primary Election Day — 70; College Football opening weekend — 72; NFL season starts — 80; Future of Florida Forum — 99; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 126; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 127; General Election Day — 140; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 240; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 259.
— QUALIFYING WEEK SURPRISE #1 —
“Jake Raburn won’t seek re-election in 2018” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Raburn announced he is not running for a fourth term in the Florida House this fall, citing the need to spend more time with family. “The past six years have been the most surreal, humbling, overwhelming, exciting, challenging and gratifying on my journey thus far,” said Raburn, a Lithia Republican, in an email from his campaign. “What started as a glimmer of a dream in my heart many years ago came to fruition in 2012 when you elected me to serve you by representing our community in the Florida House of Representatives,” the 33-year-old added. … “After much thought and many hours of prayer with my wife, Melissa, and our family, I’ve decided to not seek re-election this fall. While serving in the Florida House has been a tremendous honor and pleasure, my No. 1 responsibility is to my family, and I’m confident my place right now is at home with them and in our family business.” … Raburn’s exit leaves Democrats Layla Hartz and Debbie Katt alone in the contest. If the GOP is to retain control of the southwestern Hillsborough seat, another Republican will need to file and qualify before the candidate qualifying period ends Friday at noon.
Speaking of which: Veteran, conservative businessman files to succeed Raburn — Sean McCoy, a West Point graduate, Iraqi veteran and community leader, filed paperwork to succeed Raburn in House District 57. “Our community enjoyed six years of strong representation in Tallahassee under the leadership of Representative Raburn. We need a leader to succeed Representative Raburn who will continue the same strong commitment to our conservative values and local priorities,” McCoy said in a statement. “Our state needs servant leaders who will not back down but instead will work night and day to keep Florida on the right track. The Army taught me how to meet challenges head-on and work together as a team to win. I’ve done that in the battlefields of Iraq and the boardrooms of America, and I’ll do it in Tallahassee for those I seek to represent in District 57.” McCoy, a resident of Fishhawk, founded Fishhawk Military & Veterans to promote patriotism in the Hillsborough County community and support members and their families.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“As Bill Nelson fights for political life against Scott, concerns grow among Democrats” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats in Washington and Florida are increasingly nervous as Scott and Republican allies have unleashed a flood of money into TV and online ads — roughly $20 million so far, more than Nelson‘s 2012 opponent spent on the entire campaign — and maintain a superior organization that spares no opportunity. Scott is employing the same scorched earth strategy he used to win office twice before: Blanket TV, define the opponent in starkly negative terms, campaign nonstop and never go off script. If things get tight, spend millions more … the narrow path for Democrats to reclaim the Senate runs is challenged by states that Trump won, including Florida. Nelson is suddenly one of the party’s five most vulnerable members in the country, and the nation’s third-largest state is by far the most expensive state of those five. A victory for Nelson will be extremely costly and could drain resources from Democrats elsewhere.
“Democrats press Scott on pre-existing conditions” the Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrats continued to attack the state of Florida’s decision to join an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that could take away guaranteed coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions. Sen. Nelson highlighted the issue during an event in Orlando, saying 7.8 million Floridians could be hurt if the lawsuit is successful. In Tampa, Rep. Kathy Castor and former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner joined activists for an afternoon event and criticized Gov. Scott for not withdrawing the state from the suit, filed in Texas. It has received new attention after the Trump administration said it would not defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate and protections for pre-existing conditions. No longer on the defensive over Obamacare, Democrats are working to make health care a focus of the midterm elections and polls show it’s a top issue for voters.
“New Scott attack ad bashes ‘negative’ Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It’s the fourth consecutive attack ad the Scott campaign has released criticizing Nelson. This time the ad accuses Nelson of going negative in his campaign — only it doesn’t address Nelson’s campaign exactly since Nelson’s campaign hasn’t actually released any negative commercials. So, the commercial goes after the Democratic organizations that have been running negative ads on Nelson’s behalf and blames Nelson for them. The new Scott 30-second ad, “Negative Nelson,” makes the leap quickly from around a long time to negative campaigning. “When Bill Nelson was first elected, Richard Nixon was President. Yep. Nixon. A professional politician for 46 years, Nelson has learned some tricks. Cheap tricks, like attack your opponent regardless of the facts.”
“Scott accepts trio of fall debates” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Among the network hosts: CNN, Telemundo 51 in Miami, and Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 (co-hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute). Dates and times of the debates are not yet available, though the Scott campaign said they’d take place in the fall — presumably well after the Aug. 28 primary. Neither candidate faces formidable opposition from within their parties.
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will travel to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello, to continue to offer “guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.” The Governor will participate in the Puerto Rico P3 Summit.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Veterans group breaks policy by endorsing Ron DeSantis for Governor — In a break from its policy of only endorsing congressional candidates, Combat Veterans for Congress PAC is endorsing DeSantis for Florida governor. “Ron DeSantis is a fiscal and constitutional conservative who will work to rein in the out-of-control spending and protect and support our Second Amendment rights in the State of Florida,” the group said in a statement. “As Governor, he will stimulate the private sector to grow and create new jobs while bringing integrity and Judeo-Christian traditional family values to Florida’s government.” For nine years, the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC never endorsed a candidate for state office. However, since 2012 After endorsing and supporting DeSantis in his bid for Congress, the group “observed how he has superbly represented the voters of Florida,” which caused them to change their endorsement policy, in this one case. “We approve of his commitment to honorable principles, strong leadership, and his dedicated service to his country.”
Ryan Tyson poll – Philip Levine, Gwen Graham close via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – This latest poll, taken June 6-9, shows Levine … with 24 percent of likely Democratic voters; Graham with 21 percent; … Gillum with 11 percent; and King with 4 percent. Greene, who filed to run June 1, received 3 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats were undecided. In a cover memo, Tyson noted that while Levine has a much wider lead in other polls, a comparison of internals, demographic samples, convince him that “this race is as close as the top lines suggest.” In particular, the Let’s Preserve poll heavily sampled women voters — 58 percent of the survey group — taking in account the high female turnouts of the past two Democratic primary elections.
“Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum campaigns to seek taxpayer funding in Democratic gubernatorial primary” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Florida’s public financing program allows candidates for governor or any of the three Florida Cabinet posts to receive taxpayer dollars in return for agreeing to certain restrictions. In order to be eligible, a gubernatorial campaign must raise at least $150,000, a point Graham and other top-tier candidates have easily surpassed. Under the program, contributions of up to $250 will be matched by the state, while contributions of over $250 will be matched up to $250. The required paperwork to seek public matching funds must be filed when a candidate formally qualifies. Graham filed hers last week, and Gillum will do the same this week, which is the qualifying deadline for state candidates. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Winter Park housing developer Chris King are not eligible for taxpayer funding for their campaigns because each has loaned themselves money. The same is expected for Jeff Greene, the latest entry into the race. If he qualifies, he’s expected to tap into his personal fortune to fuel his campaign.
“Jeff Greene launches two TV commercials, blasting Trump, remembering dad” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Greene is going up in a big way, spending $2.9 million of his own money on this week alone on the TV ads and a digital buy, which his campaign said is four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor … The 30-second ad is called “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump,” but might as well take the name of the commercial’s tagline that is an early theme of Greene’s campaign rhetoric: “The timid need not apply.” A press release states: “Greene’s unique appeal to Florida Democrats lies in his ability to spend whatever it takes to go toe-to-toe with historically better-funded Republicans in the general election to help Democrats regain control of the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years without being beholden to special interest groups.” The Trump commercial begins with a narrator declaring, “Jeff Greene stood up to Trump on national TV.” Greene is then shown appearing on CNBC in a pre-2016 election interview in which he says, “I know enough about Donald Trump to be scared to death to see him as our president.” The narrator then takes over, adding: “Is standing up to him on gun safety, affordable health care, and women’s choice. But Jeff is the only candidate in America who was willing to stand up to Trump in his own dining room.”
Assignment editors — Adam Putnam will hold an announcement with Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White, 2:30 p.m. Central time, Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven.
“Poll: Sean Shaw leads Ashley Moody, Frank White in Attorney General race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new poll of the Attorney General race shows Tampa Democratic Rep. Shaw leading his top Republican rivals in a head-to-head matchup. According to an online poll commissioned by the campaign and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, Shaw currently leads former circuit court judge Moody by five points,41-36, and Pensacola Rep. White by 4 points, 40-36. In both cases, 21 percent of voters said they were undecided. … The polling memo shows Shaw with a double-digit lead among independent voters in both head-to-heads, and his lead was nearly the same among women — plus-10 if Moody is his opponent and plus-9 if he faces White. Hispanic and Latino voters preferred Shaw by 33 points in the Moody matchup and by 25 points in the White matchup. The ALG survey included another positive tidbit for Democrats: Trump is still underwater in the Sunshine State. … 43 percent of Floridians had a favorable view of the president, while 54 percent find him unfavorable. Among that group, 44 percent said they had a “very unfavorable” view of the president.
“Jared Moskowitz endorses David Richardson in CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. Jared Moskowitz is throwing his support behind David Richardson in the packed Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Richardson is one of five Democrats running for the nomination along with Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala. Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, says Richardson is the right candidate to take over the seat from departing Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In an emphatic statement backing Richardson, Moskowitz said: “During our six years together in the Florida Legislature, nobody was more feared by the Republicans than Representative Richardson. David was a watchdog as opposed to the lap dogs we see in Congress today.” “If the voters of Florida’s 27th Congressional District elect him,” he continued, “they will have one of the most productive Representatives in Congress. Period, full stop. I endorse him!”
“Ed Hooper hits the airwaves in SD 16” via Florida Politics — Depending on where in the Pinellas- and Pasco-based district viewers live, they’ll see a different version of the ad. The ad airing in North Pinellas on Spectrum features an introduction from Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. West Pasco residents will see an ad with the same script but featuring an intro from Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Both Gualtieri and Nocco were early backers of Hooper’s Senate campaign. Both spots then cut to Hooper, who says he will “fight for issues that are important to our community, like growing a strong economy, protecting our seniors and making sure insurance is affordable.” He also says that by working with leaders like Gualtieri and Nocco, “we can get a lot accomplished.”
Florida Retail Federation endorses Kathleen Passidomo for SD 28 — “Senator Passidomo has been a true champion for retail by helping ensure Floridians are prepared in the event of a disaster, working toward tort reform, providing more than $150 million in tax relief for Florida families and having the best interests of the state’s businesses at heart,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re eager to continue working with Senator Passidomo on identifying ways to support retailers, families and our industry going forward.” In announcing its endorsement, the FRF noted that Passidomo sponsored a Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday which provided Floridians with tax relief when purchasing hurricane supplies and has worked on issues important to Florida retailers like tort reform and regulating commerce activities. This past Session, Passidomo worked to continue broad-based tax relief to families and businesses across the state, resulting in $168.6 million in tax relief.
Whoa – “Rene Plasencia alleges espionage by opponent’s treasurer, seeks criminal charge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — State Rep. Plasencia is alleging that a volunteer who moved from his re-election campaign to the campaign of his Republican primary opponent George Collins illegally downloaded Plasencia’s campaign data and took it with him to Collins’ campaign. Plasencia and his campaign met with an Orange County Sheriff’s Office detective and said they intend to pursue criminal charges, perhaps theft of intellectual property, a third-degree felony. Plasencia is alleging the man now serving as Collins’ campaign treasurer, Zane C. Matter, used access to Plasencia’s webElect political data account to download data after-hours onto a home computer. Matter then left Plasencia’s campaign and joined Collins’ campaign.
“George Gainer, Mel Ponder, Cord Byrd face foes as qualifying starts” via the News Service of Florida — Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson opened a campaign account to run against Gainer in Senate District 2, which is made up of Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington and part of Okaloosa counties, according to the state Division of Elections website. Gainer, who qualified for the race, had raised $176,100 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Also in the Panhandle, Valparaiso Democrat Rebecca Koelzer opened an account to challenge Ponder in Okaloosa County’s House District 4 … Ponder, had raised $100,375 for his re-election bid as of May 31. Meanwhile, in Northeast Florida, Fernandina Beach Republican Joseph Francis Zimmerman opened an account to challenge Byrd in House District 11, which includes Nassau County and part of Duval County. Byrd had raised $70,960 for his campaign account as of May 31. Also in the race is Yulee Democrat Nathcelly Leroy Rohrbaugh.
Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will speak to the Fort Myers Republican Women’s Club Luncheon, 11:15 a.m., The Helm Club in The Landings Yacht, Golf and Tennis Club, 4425 S. Landings Drive, Fort Myers.
“The Key West mayoral candidate with the most cash is no longer in the race” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — … citing a back injury. Danny Hughes, a full-time Key West resident for five years who hails from New Orleans, said ending his campaign, in which he has so far raised $48,685 and spent all but about $5,000, was a surprise even to himself. “We already have our signs, we have everything,” Hughes said. “We were all teed up and ready to go.” His departure leaves 10 candidates who have announced a run to succeed Mayor Craig Cates, who is term-limited after being first elected in 2009. Key West elections are nonpartisan. Hughes said the back issue started June 1 and hasn’t gotten any better after two weeks of rest. After three days of testing at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Hughes made the decision to end his campaign.
— VILLAGE PEOPLE —
In a recent POLITICO Magazine feature, Michael Grunwald takes a deep dive into The Villages, offering readers a glimpse into what he describes as “Florida’s political Tomorrowland.”
Per Grunwald, Villagers are politically incorrect at times and they’ve come to love Trump and be critical of those against him. The story also points out that The Villages is whitewashed and reliably red, and home to a growing population that routinely turns up at the ballot.
“For all the hype about Puerto Ricans moving to the Sunshine State after Hurricane Maria, or high school students like the Parkland gun control activists turning 18 and registering to vote any Democratic surge could be offset by the migration of Republican-leaning seniors who like Florida’s balmy weather and lack of income tax,” writes Grunwald.
Nostalgia: U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, whose district encompasses The Villages, told Grunwald, “They want an America that’s a little more like it was when they were growing up, and that’s what Trump is offering.”
Dissenters: Grunwald describes the uniformity of The Villages before diving into its politics, in which — just like the area’s architecture — one style rules. Conservative beliefs are dominating and prevalent, but there are a few Democrats among the masses. One, Oren Miller, is even running for state Representative.
Old against young: For the needle to move left in Florida, younger Democratic voters have to show up at the polls. But the amount of Villagers, and older voters in general, is increasing. Concludes Grunwald, “Future results will depend a lot on whether white, older, exurban enclaves like The Villages keep growing faster than the multiracial, younger, urban enclaves of the left.”
— STATEWIDE —
“Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An appellate court has shot down a trial judge’s order to make immediate her ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida. The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a one-page order dated Monday, quashed Circuit Judge KarenGievers‘ order allowing patients to smoke. The state’s appeal of the decision placed an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ order lifted that stay. “The stay provided for by (the) Florida Rule(s) of Appellate Procedure … shall remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal,” the appellate court’s Monday order said. “An opinion setting forth this Court’s reasoning will issue at a later date.”
“Judge could face reprimand for reference letter” via the News Service of Florida — A Miami-Dade County judge could face a public reprimand at the Florida Supreme Court because she wrote a letter of reference for a man charged in a federal health care fraud case, according to documents filed on the Supreme Court website. County Judge Deborah White-Labora wrote the letter in January 2018 on behalf of Sam Konell, who was later sentenced by a federal judge to five years in prison. White-Labora reached a stipulation agreement with an investigative panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and acknowledged that such reference letters violate the state’s judicial conduct code. The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended a public reprimand, though the Supreme Court has the ultimate authority to decide punishments for judges.
What Lenny Curry is reading — “Court upholds Jacksonville pension surtax” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court rejected a challenge to a 2016 ballot measure aimed at addressing an underfunded pension system in Jacksonville. The city’s voters approved the measure, which called for a half-cent sales-tax surcharge to help deal with the pension problems. But a group of citizens filed a legal challenge to the measure, including arguing that the ballot title and summary misled voters and that the referendum should be voided, according to a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. A Duval County circuit judge upheld the ballot measure, and a three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed.
“Questions linger as ‘Hurricane Formula One’ bears down on Miami” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma hit Florida last year as a Category Four hurricane and caused billions of dollars worth of damage in South Florida. But the Miami City Commission last month voted to bring “Hurricane Formula One” to the streets of Miami every year for the next 10 years. Miami’s city manager is now negotiating with Formula One on terms to bring the race to Miami. But there are lingering questions of who is paying for this storm of sound and expense that’s bearing down on the city. Miami Mayor FrancisSuarez has spearheaded efforts to secure the race. In comments to Florida Politics, Mayor Suarez said “Miami is a world-class, global city and Formula One is a world-renowned, global event. Naturally, joining forces is something that would be highly exciting for both our city and the racing world.” Suarez sees the event as a revenue magnet. “Formula One has the potential of making an enormous impact on our economy and elevate our standing on the world stage of sports and entertainment. This event would attract tourists, race enthusiasts, visitors, and media outlets from all over the world to Miami, creating incredible excitement and opportunity.” But not everyone is as optimistic.
“Florida has more to lose with sea rise than anywhere else in the U.S., new study says” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — By 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida face flooding every other day. Half of those are in South Florida. If you buy a house now, before your new mortgage is paid you might have to regularly do the rolled-up-pants, shoes-in-hand commute that has become an enduring image of sea rise. These numbers, released in a report compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, used housing information from Zillow and a flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that predicts 6 1/2 feet of sea rise by the end of the century. By the end of the century, Florida’s number of at-risk homes jump from 64,000 to a million. In 2100, the report said, about 1 in 10 homes in Florida will face flooding every other day. That puts the Sunshine State at the top of the list nationwide for homes at risk.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Supreme Court sides with Florida man in free speech case” via Jessica Gresko of The Associated Press — The Court sided with Fane Lozman in a lawsuit that began with his 2006 arrest at a City of Riviera Beach city council meeting. Lozman, who also won a case against the city at the Supreme Court in 2013, was arrested while talking about corruption in the county during a public comment portion of the meeting. Lozman argued he was arrested in retaliation for being a critic of the city and sued. But a lower court said Lozman was barred from bringing a lawsuit for retaliation because a jury found a police officer had probable cause to arrest him for disturbing a lawful assembly. The Supreme Court disagreed, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing in an 8-1 decision that Lozman’s lawsuit isn’t barred. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. “What happened to me was wrong. It happens all the time to public speakers. This is going to tell municipalities that you’re not immunized from legal actions. There is a price to pay,” Lozman said.
“Donald Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create ‘space force’” via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press — Vowing to reclaim U.S. leadership in space, Trump is directing the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space. Trump envisioned a bright future for the U.S. space program, pledging to revive the country’s flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars. The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.” … “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,” Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”
— OPINIONS —
“Sean Shaw: A legal strategy to combat gun violence” via Florida Politics — As is often the case in Florida, Republican leadership rolled common-sense reforms like raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21, banning bump stocks, and more money for school safety, into a bill that would also arm our teachers. Unfortunately, the tragic reality is it took three of the most horrific mass shootings ever, all occurring in our state in the past two years, and the fierce advocacy and leadership of our state’s children to force a real conversation about gun violence among our elected leaders. As Attorney General, I will use the independence of the office to hold state government accountable, fully investigate these horrific shootings and other acts of violence, prosecute those breaking the laws we already have in place, and challenge unjust federal laws that provide near-total immunity for gun manufacturers who should be held accountable for their role in gun violence. Stopping gun violence requires our next Attorney General to embrace the independence of the office fully. Florida’s Attorney General is not appointed by the Governor but elected by the people.
“John Thomas: Duke Energy should keep its promise to Polk County” via Florida Politics — Duke Energy partnered with U.S. EcoGen in 2011 to build a $400 million plant to produce biomass renewable energy … Relying on this agreement, U.S. EcoGen has already spent more than $40 million developing the project and bought more than 1,300 acres in Polk County for the new facility. The project was delayed by everything from the discovery of gopher tortoises to the new federal tax reform law — things beyond the control of the smaller company. U.S. EcoGen asked Duke Energy for a one-year extension, meaning it would start delivering power in 2020, but the megacorporation said no. This refusal is both baffling and harmful to consumers, since the state Public Service Commission has said the project would save ratepayers almost $60 million. Baffling, that is, unless you consider that it looks like Duke Energy has taken an interest in operating its own renewable energy business. In a PSC document from last year, Duke Energy asked permission to enter the renewable energy field, which would make it a direct competitor with U.S. EcoGen — not a partner. Unless, of course, it found a way to stop U.S. EcoGen’s plant from ever opening. Duke Energy has a real chance to do something good for its ratepayers, good for this community, and good for the public.
“Paul Bradshaw: It’s time for Tallahassee to grow up” for the Tallahassee Democrat — Imagine an alternative history for Tallahassee, one where a modern skyline of a dozen or more 20-story buildings boldly defines the urban core in the historic city center; a skyline that projects the power, optimism and sophistication of being the capital of the nation’s third most populous state. Unfortunately, that idealized Tallahassee doesn’t exist. To fully understand, you have to go back decades to the Martinez administration and the origins of Southwood. St. Joe Company — which had previously been a sleepy landowner holding vast tracts of timber and grazing land — decided it wanted to take a more aggressive role as a developer, including on its land near Capital Circle SE. But it had one problem. With Tallahassee’s government-dominated city center more than five miles away, there was little incentive for state workers to live in that area. St. Joe had an inspired (if self-serving) idea: Instead of asking workers to travel to the Capitol complex every day, essentially move the Capitol complex to St. Joe’s cow pastures. St. Joe got its anchor tenant and Tallahassee lost the full potential of revitalizing its downtown. It was quite possibly the worst planning decision in the history of Tallahassee. If Tallahassee is serious about revitalizing its downtown and creating a vibrant mix of land uses that provides opportunities for working, shopping and living within a walkable area, the city needs to partner with the state and recommit to growing up instead of growing out.
— MOVEMENTS —
First on #FlaPol — JenniferWilson, formerly of Adams & Reese and Sen. Tom Lee’s office, is joining Shumaker Advisors. We’ll have a full story later today. Till then, here’s a quote from firm President and CEO RonChristaldi: “We are very excited to have Jennifer join our team. Her experience and leadership as a key staffer to multiple members of the Florida Legislature help bolster our presence in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations
Makayla Anne Stilianou Buchanan, Kevin Andrew Doyle, Wexford Strategies: Florida Title Group
Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: 831 Federal Acquisition dba The Big Easy Casino
Rachel Cone, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments
Paul Lowell, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Gomez Barker Associates
Jonathan Paul Steverson, Foley & Lardner: Lazlo326
— ALOE —
“Michael Jackson’s elephant escapes enclosure at Florida zoo” via the Associated Press — An elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch briefly escaped its enclosure at a Florida zoo. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens posted on Facebook that Ali the bull elephant wandered through a gate that was accidentally left open Sunday and wound up in a courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant barn. The zoo said guests weren’t endangered and safety protocols were quickly put into place. Zoo staff used food to entice the elephant back into the enclosure. Ali was loose for about 20 minutes.
What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg” via Hannah Denham of the Tampa Bay Times — The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate through the software development community, Suncoast Developers Guild, Inc. … It was recently licensed by the state, said Suncoast President Toni Warren. The school will welcome 15 to 30 students in the initial class; each of them will go through an online application, interview process and be charged $14,900 in tuition. Warren called it Florida’s first 501(c)(3) not-for-profit computer coding school. “(St. Petersburg) is really where the creatives live,” Warren said. “People come to our school because they want to express their creativity and they want to be in an industry with continuous learning.”
Happy birthday to our favorite BCC team member, Lyndsey Brzozowski, as well as our man in Jacksonville, A.G. Gancarski.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Lawyers had until this afternoon to file recommendations as to how an administrative law judge should rule in a bid protest over the statewide law enforcement radio system.
Attorneys for Harris Corp., Motorola Solutions and the Department of Management Services (DMS) argued the case last month before Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in Tallahassee.
Culpepper’s request for recommended orders likely signals he’s close to a decision. His recommended order goes to DMS Secretary ErinRock, who can adopt it, modify it, or reject it entirely. Any further challenge would go to the 1st District Court of Appeal.
Melbourne-based Harris had challenged the award to Motorola this March to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, or SLERS, which Harris had since September 2000 and lost.
As we previously reported, “The awarding of the new contract concluded almost three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.”
The deal is potentially worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Harris’ attorney raised the issue of radio towers and how their quantity and quality of service is paramount to officer and public safety. But Motorola’s legal counsel said his client’s superiority in communications technology essentially means the company can do more with less.
The filings due today had not added to the docket as of late afternoon.
“Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.” — Former Florida Gov. JebBush, a Republican, tweeting Monday.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will open a two-day meeting with discussions about issues such as new rules for airboat operators who have commercial passengers. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.
Committees of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a series of meetings in advance of a full board meeting Wednesday. Meetings start at 11 a.m., Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr., Maitland.
Javier Enriquez, a candidate in Miami-Dade County’s House District 114, and Annie Martinez, a candidate in House District 119, are slated to speak to the Old Cutler Republican Women’s Club. That’s at noon, Brio Tuscan Grille, 8888 S.W. 136th St., Miami.
The Florida Public Service Commission will consider a draft report about utilities’ hurricane preparedness and restoration activities. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will hold an announcement with Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Jr., Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Mike Harrison and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White. That’s at 2:30 p.m. Central time, Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven.
First Lady Ann Scott will be honored during a reception hosted by the Women’s Republican Club of Naples Federated, the Republican Women of Southwest Florida Federated and the Southwest Florida Young Republicans. That’s at 3 p.m., The Continental, 1205 Third St., Naples.
The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer meeting about proposed increases in water and wastewater rates for Orchid Springs Development Corp. in Polk County. That’s at 6 p.m., Chain O’ Lakes Complex, 210 Cypress Gardens Blvd. West, Winter Haven.
Former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will speak at the monthly meeting of the Democrats of South Dade Club. That’s at 7:45 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, 7701 SW 76th Ave., Miami.
“You’ve guaranteed there will be an INFLUENCE Magazine for another two years.”
That’s what one of the members of the INFLUENCE 100 told me after the first listing of the most influential people in Florida politics was published two years ago. This person’s point to me was that by creating a ‘Fortune 500 of Florida politics,’ I had instantly made our fledgling magazine relevant.
I didn’t know if I believed that. Not until another member of the list — a prominent lobbyist — told me about executives of a major corporation who were considering changing their roster of contract lobbyists.
The in-house lobbyist who managed the team pushed back against the executive’s meddling by taking out the INFLUENCE 100 edition of the magazine, showing it to the executives and asking them to show him where the lobbyists who the execs wanted to hire. On those pages were some of the members of his existing team.
That, my friends, is influence. And that is what the magazine — and especially this edition (our tenth!) — is all about.
But influence is a commodity that’s hard to define. The adage that you’ll know it when you see it doesn’t apply to influence because, in many ways, those who wield influence don’t often want to be seen at work.
That’s what’s special about the INFLUENCE 100.
There are no elected officials or agency heads on the list. That’s for two reasons: the first being that, of course, the Governor of Florida is the most influential person in the state; the second is that the power of most officeholders is with their position and that (mostly) they don’t take it with them once they leave.
Instead, the INFLUENCE 100 includes all the other masters of the universe: The Players, The Thought Leaders, The Lobbyists, The Titans, The Counselors, The Media, The Industry Leaders, The Advocates, and The Legends.
The original inspiration for the INFLUENCE 100 is Time magazine’s annual list of the most influential people in the world, which, rather than ranking them, also breaks down its list into sectors.
The INFLUENCE 100’s two favorite aspects for me — beyond the parlor games it will inspire — are the superb photographs that accompany many of the profiles, and that the blurbs were written by the subjects’ peers, competitors, and admirers.
After all, who knows the 100 better?
Since this is the second edition of the INFLUENCE 100, it’s almost as interesting to consider who is no longer on the list as who is making a repeat appearance. About 60 percent of the latest list was on it in 2016, but still, a lot of room opened up on the rankings.
And, as it was with the first edition, this is MY list. I’m responsible for the facepalming, out-of-left-field choices, as well as the glaring sins of omission. I’m the one who initially decided not to rank the list. I’m the one who moved so-and-so from the “100” section to the honorable mentions.
Beyond the INFLUENCE 100, this is a really, really good edition of the magazine. Probably our best yet (and that’s saying something, considering INFLUENCE Magazine finished second in the state for the Florida Magazine Associations’ best single edition award). There’s just a slew of news and notes and insights and features about what we think is the most politically active and interesting state in the country.
You’ll “know it” when you peruse this latest edition of the 100, a review of the most influential people in Florida policy and politics.
Once again, the list covers campaign consultants and the people they get to open their wallets. The people who decide who becomes a candidate and who stays home.
Then there are the ardent advocates. The media elite. The people who make “The Process” in Tallahassee work. You know, the ones who decide which bills get filed — and which never see the light of a Capitol copy machine.
As before, don’t expect to see anybody in elected office, running a state or other government agency, or running for office.
We’ll say this again, too: “Influence may be hard to define, but who’s influential is easy to see.”
—@marcorubio: Negotiations with Cuba & #NorthKorea are very different. Deal with Cuba was about rewarding dictatorship with diplomatic recognition in return for nothing. Negotiation with North Korea about avoiding nuclear war & millions dead. Kind of a big difference
—@NelsonForSenate: On this day six years ago, the DACA program was enacted offering protection to millions of children brought this country, the only country they know. We must pass a permanent legislative solution to protect #Dreamers — we can’t keep kicking the can down the road.
—@AndrewGillum: On #FathersDay I am standing with the families being inhumanely torn apart on our southern border. I demand that @ScottforFlorida — who is now asking for our vote to be our next Senator — stand up to the Trump Administration & support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act.
—@JamesGrantFL: We cannot ignore the fact that people living under oppressive and brutal regimes will continue to pursue freedom. The need for economically sustainable, operational, and secure immigration policy cannot be overstated. Enacting it consistent with our principles is a must.
—@AGGancarski: If America’s English language national media covered realities of lives in Mexico & places south, there may be a better understanding of why people move here. It’s remarkable how much of our narrative is shaped on rendering cultures as “other” and depersonalizing ppl from them.
—@TheRickWilson: The cheering section in the “conservative” media that has been screeching with joy over Trump‘s executive orders, his unlimited pardon power, steamrolling the rule of law, etc. ad nauseam is STRANGELY silent on why he doesn’t just change the family separation policy by diktat.
—@DeFede: .@FLGovScott also said Monroe County asked the state to come in. But we went back to the September 27 Monroe County Commission meeting and found none of that was true. (See attached transcript) Monroe officials said the company they hired was on the job.
—@DavidJollyFL: Had a long talk with a 6th grader tonight who told me about his classroom active shooter drills. They practice hiding in closets. Once a month. I guess many parents are living this, but I can’t believe Members of Congress are. Laws would change. Laws should change.
—@Conarck: Receiving complaints from those with loved ones in Florida prisons who have spoken out publicly against visitation process. They say their partners are being placed in confinement. Will be working to verify over the next couple of weeks. Please send similar stories my way.
—@fred_guttenberg: Father’s Day is a day for us dads to remember our main purpose, and that is our commitment to the safety of our families. Trust me, the fun times stop when you lose one of your children. Do not let your family become the next to suffer like this.
—@TheHideaway10: $1 off coffee drinks for members of the free press. All day, every day.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 4; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 10; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 20; MLB All-Star Game — 29; Deadline for filing claim bills — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 44; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 45; Start of the U.S. Open — 70; Primary Election Day — 71; College Football opening weekend — 73; NFL season starts — 81; Future of Florida Forum — 100; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 127; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 128; General Election Day — 141; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 241; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 260.
— TOP STORY —
In some ways, qualifying for the November elections is only a formality.
Candidates have been raising money for months, appearing at campaign events and eyeing their opponents. But with the qualifying period starting Monday in hundreds of state and local races, some candidates could be in the express lane toward election.
As of Friday morning, three incumbent state senators — Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and Sens. Lauren Book and Gary Farmer — had not drawn opponents as of Friday morning.
Meanwhile, 21 House candidates, including two newcomers, also could be headed toward election without opposition. They are state Reps. Jayer Williamson, Mel Ponder, Brad Drake of Eucheeanna; Halsey Beshears of Monticello; Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee; Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee; Kimberly Daniels of Jacksonville; Stan McClain of Ocala; John Cortes of Kissimmee; Kamia Brown of Ocoee; Bruce Antone of Orlando; Al Jacquet of Lantana; Emily Slosberg of Boca Raton; Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale; Evan Jenne of Dania Beach; Joe Geller of Aventura; Shevrin Jones of West Park; Barbara Watson of Miami Gardens; and Kionne McGhee of Miami.
The newcomers are Alex Andrade of Gulf Breeze; and Joe Casello of Boynton Beach.
That all could change, of course, before qualifying ends at noon Friday. Some of those legislative candidates could draw opponents at the last-minute. Meanwhile, other candidates could cruise into office — if opponents do not qualify.
But it’s safe to assume that candidates across the state will be regularly checking the state elections website to find out who qualifies — and who doesn’t.
— MAYOR FOR GOVERNOR —
Democratic front-runner Philip Levine’s campaign is built largely on talking points of his tenure as Mayor of Miami Beach, but a closer examination suggests his blunders at the city’s throne could undermine his accomplishments.
The Miami Herald — which has had its fair share of bouts with Levine — recentlypublished a story on the former Mayor’s watch over Miami Beach. It’s a testament to Levine’s character; details are equal parts progressive ambition and suspicious wheeling and dealing.
A reader will see that the Mayor’s politics are cutthroat — a bit of prose is even dedicated to artistically rendered severed heads of Levine’s political rivals — and will notice a pattern of Levine benefiting personally from major governing decisions.
Greener pastures: Per a former political strategist, who now is a Republican operative, “Levine openly talked during his 2013 campaign about treating his time on the third floor of City Hall as a springboard to better things, like becoming governor or president. Two other sources familiar with Levine’s aspirations confirmed this.”
Ouch: The Herald’s David Smiley and Joey Flechas note, “Two years after campaigning against cronyism and special interests, Levine would spend spring afternoons on his 70-foot boat … and at Fisher Island making phone calls to developers and city contractors for campaign cash … into a political committee called Relentless for Progress, whose RFP acronym was conspicuously the same as the acronym the city used for competitive contract solicitations.”
Good, bad or ugly?: Ultimately, voters’ interpretation of the Mayor will determine if he makes it to November. “Levine … will sink or swim come the Aug. 28 primary at least in part because of what Levine the mayor did over the last few years.”
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Ron DeSantis setting up $12M TV buy through primary day” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The St. Johns County Republican is funding the ad campaign through both his campaign and political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis. The first ads for his campaign will start running in late June and continue through the Aug. 28 primary. When, exactly, DeSantis would go on air has been one of the pressing questions of the GOP primary. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s camp and his allies, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a dark money group tied to the state’s sugar industry, have flooded the airwaves with $11 million worth of primary ads, prompting questions about whether DeSantis’ campaign was waiting too long to get on the air. DeSantis’ first ads will start airing on broadcast TV starting June 26. His campaign and affiliated political committee currently have about $9.7 million cash on hand, but the ad buy represents future airtime reservations, which means the money to fund them can be paid later.
“Gwen Graham returns to her Leon roots” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — It was a homecoming for Graham as she addressed the Capital Tiger Bay Club. The Democratic candidate for governor recalled coming to Tallahassee as “kind of a geeky 15-year-old” in 1978, when her father, Bob Graham, was inaugurated as Florida’s new governor. She had to make the transition from a Miami high school to a new school in the smaller, more Southern environs of the state capital, she said. “The people at Leon High School and the people of North Florida embraced our family … and that’s where it started for me,” Graham said.
First on #FlaPol — “Jeff Greene preparing to launch Governor’s race ad blitz, with education on his mind” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Greene is getting ready to reintroduce himself to Floridians with his first round of TV commercials starting next week. And while he’s remaining coy on the content, the Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor is making it clear that public education reform is at the top of his list of issues. “It’s all well and good to say I have good ideas. You have to be able to get things done. The way I look at this election, for me, this is like an eighteen-wheeler moving down the highway, you know, pretty high-speed. It’s basically the Republican governors and the Republican-controlled Legislature that has sat in Tallahassee for a long, long, time,” Greene said in a lengthy interview with Florida Politics … “What that truck has done, is it has dismantled a lot of things I’m talking about. It has not been focused on upward mobility for people who are kind of behind the eight ball. It has not been focused on improving education or taking care of people who need help from Tallahassee,” he continued. “So, you need someone who can, No. 1, jam the brakes on that truck, turn it around and start going the other way quickly.” … “Do I want to stack up my resume alongside the resumes of Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Philip Levine?” he said. “All day long.”
“Quote from a 20-year-old King has him apologizing today” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is grappling with a single quote that could be read with anti-Semitic overtones, attributed to him back when he had been a 20-year-old Harvard University sophomore, bitter over losing a close and contentious 1998 campus election for Undergraduate Student Council president. “I was nailed to the cross,” King was quoted in a Newhouse News Service story published Feb. 28, 1999, in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.” Today, King does not specifically recall making the statement quoted by the Newhouse News Service story, but he is not disputing it. He apologized for it and disavowed any anti-Semitic overtones as not of his beliefs. The comment attributed to him about the editorial staff had been a reference to the staff of the campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which had editorialized against King’s candidacy, in part because he was well-known as an evangelical Christian. “This quote from when I was 20 years old is completely at odds with my beliefs. It was a hurtful and stupid comment and I apologize,” King said in a written response.
Levine significantly expands regional staff — On the heels of recent polling giving the former Miami Beach Mayor the lead, the Levine for Governor campaign announced the expansion of its team, as well as the launch of a significant statewide field program. The new roles include Deputy Regional Area Directors Brian Bees, Palm Beach; and Miles Davis, North Florida. Campaign Coordinators include Matthew Byrd, Tampa; Madeline Streilein, Tampa; Jonathan Santiago, Central Florida; Emily Frost, West Palm Beach; Darren Steptoe, West Palm Beach; Chris Hill, Broward; Wes Crew, Broward; Carol Solano, Miami; and Chelsea Leger, Miami.
“Richard Corcoran’s political committee continues spending spree in May” via Florida Politics — House Speaker Corcoran won’t be on the ballot this year, but that hasn’t stopped his political committee from spending beaucoup bucks. Topping the expenditure list was more than $50,000 in payments to public opinion research firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, which has worked with many Republican politicians including Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Watchdog PAC paid the firm $44,750 for a survey, $7,500 for research consulting and another $2,000 for research services. Tallahassee shop Rapid Loop Consulting received $46,275 for travel expenses, web design, office supplies and meeting expenses; Jacksonville-based Political Capital received $40,000 for fundraising and political consulting; and $25,000 apiece to Capital City Friends of NRA and political committee Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy. Watchdog PAC spent $341,361 in all last month, leaving it with $1.63 million banked heading into June.
“Nikki Fried campaign video features marijuana grow-op, call for gun control” via Florida Politics – According to newly filed Agriculture Commissioner candidate Fried, the state is lax on gun control and too overbearing on medical marijuana. In a new campaign video, the Democrat makes her introduction to voters by setting up a dichotomy between pot and assault rifles. “One helps sick and dying Floridians and is overregulated,” Fried says of marijuana. “And the other one is used to terrorize our schools and our communities and is barely regulated at all.” Her advocacy for pot bridged into her campaign, where it will likely be a defining element. In the video, which features pan shots of a Southwest Florida marijuana grow operation, she asks, “Honestly, what type of Agriculture Commissioner could be against a plant and the farmers who grow it?” The video will air on Fried’s social media. To watch the video, click on the image below:
Ashley Moody rolls out more endorsements in Attorney General’s race — Republican Moody announced a new wave of elected officials who believe the former Hillsborough County judge is the most qualified to succeed AG Pam Bondi: State Sens. Rob Bradley of Orange Park, Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and Keith Perry of Gainesville; Speaker Pro Tempore, state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez of Miami and Rep. Lawrence McClure of Plant City; Commissioners Mike Cella of Clay County; Todd Dantzler, Polk County chair; Mike Moore and Kathryn Starkey of Pasco County; Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke; Tax Collector Larry Hart of Lee County; Palm Shores Mayor Carol McCormack; Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters; Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank Quesada; Ocala Councilman Justin Grabelle; and Pasco County School Board Member Allen Altman.
Happening today — Tampa Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, a candidate for Attorney General, will speak to the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee meeting, 6 p.m., IBEW union hall, 966 Liberty St., Jacksonville.
“Felons’ rights backers top $400,000 in May” via the News Service of Florida — The committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which helped lead efforts to get the initiative on the November ballot, raised $409,220 in cash last month and had nearly $453,000 in cash on hand as of May 31. Nearly half of the money in May came in a $200,000 contribution from the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, which backs social and environmental issues. The proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by 60 percent of voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution. Felons convicted of murder and sexual offenses would not be eligible.
“Personnel note: Major B. Harding joins greyhound group’s legal team” via Florida Politics — Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding has joined the Florida Greyhound Association legal team. The addition of Harding, a high court appointee of the late Democratic Gov. LawtonChiles, was announced Wednesday by association general counsel JeffKottkamp. Harding served on the Florida Supreme Court 1991-2002; Kottkamp was Florida’s lieutenant governor from 2007-11 under Gov. CharlieCrist. The association, which represents owners and breeders, is now fighting against Amendment 13, a proposed state constitutional change put on the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission. The measure aims at ending dog racing in the state. It needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. A lawsuit against the amendment was filed in Leon County.
“Group ramps up to elect Democrats up and down Florida ballot” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — For Our Future Florida, part of a $70 million national battleground state effort funded by a coalition of labor groups, never actually stopped working in Florida after Donald Trump won the state in 2016. Alongside other progressive groups including Indivisible, Women’s March, Mi Familia Vota, Florida Voices for Health, and Progress Florida, it has been helped put together women’s marches, phone banks, and empty chair town hall meetings spotlighting Republicans avoiding public events. “We’ve helped organize over 500 rallies, trainings and town halls and knocked on 302,714 doors since the 2016 election,” said Field Director Jenn Whitcomb. They are not doing this in a vacuum. Conservative groups such as the Libre Institute targeting Puerto Ricans have been engaging with voters for months, and the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, have had dozens of field organizers working across Florida for months.
“Democrats asked to investigate whether Alan Grayson paid protesters” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — two prominent Democratic Party women from Central Florida are asking the national party to investigate what they contend were Grayson-paid protesters at Darren Soto rallies, including one carrying a sign that called U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel “senile.” In a letter to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin and former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder said they were “astonished and horrified” to see protesters with offensive signs at a Soto rally in Orlando that featured Frankel. “The worst was directed at Rep. Frankel: ‘Lois Frankel, Still Senile’,” the women wrote. “When asked why they were there, one of the sign holders replied that they had been paid by Alan Grayson,” Chapin and Schroeder wrote.
Florida retailers back Kelli Stargel in SD 22 —— The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) PAC is endorsing incumbent Republican Stargel in Senate District 22, which encompasses most of Polk County and south Lake County. “In her role as Senate Finance & Tax Chair this past year, Senator Stargel showed continued leadership in her support of Florida’s retailers by including in the tax package a reduction in the business rent tax and multiple sales tax holidays,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. Stargel works as the investment property manager for her family-owned small business in Lakeland. She is Chair of the Finance & Tax Committee, Vice Chair of Health and Human Services Appropriation Committee and has served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee, the Regulated Industries Committee and is the Deputy Majority Leader.
“Belinda Keiser antes up another $500K out of pocket for SD 25 campaign” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With more than $600,000 added to candidates’ coffers in May, the race for Senate District 25 just got a whole lot richer. However, a whopping $500,000 of that was in the form of a self-loan from Keiser to her campaign. That’s on top of nearly $55,000 in donations earned by Keiser in her first month as a candidate for SD 25. Keiser, who serves as vice-chancellor of Keiser University, announced her bid back in early May. For some, the move raised eyebrows, as Keiser is based in Broward County. SD 25 covers Martin and St. Lucie counties as well as a piece of Palm Beach County. Keiser has also taken heat for numerous past donations to Democrats despite her decision to run as a Republican. The influx of money into her campaign could help Keiser fight back if her opponents try to target her on those issues.
FMA blasts Kaiser in SD 25 with mailers, video — The Florida Medical Association PC ‘Better Florida Fund Corp’ announced in independent expenditure in the Senate District 25 race against Keiser. The ad seeks to paint Kaiser as a Broward County Democrat moving from Parkland to run in SD 25; gave thousands to Democrats ($141,667) and nothing to Trump. According to the ads, she also ran for office as a Democrat (Broward County state House seat in 2000). The FMA also points out that Keiser used her Keiser University address in Port St. Lucie on her filing papers as opposed to her home address in Parkland. Ad ends with “Vote No on ‘Blue Wave’ Keiser.” Keiser will likely face state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the Republican primary in SD 25, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach counties.
“Hillsborough elections supervisor played favorites with Susan Valdes” via Florida Politics — Valdes is eyeing a run for the Florida House, for the seat being vacated by Janet Cruz. In preparation for a bid for House District 62, Valdes resigned her seat on the Hillsborough County School Board just before the deadline. The supervisor’s office told Tampa Bay Times reporter William March that Valdes had not resigned by the deadline. Tom Alte, a consultant working with the Michael Alvarez campaign, got the same answer at first — with the added detail that the resignation letter was rejected — before he found out supervisor’s office was taking the “unprecedented” step of reconsidering that decision. “This is something that wouldn’t be done for any other candidate,” Alte said. “It very clearly violates the statute.”
“Terry Power owes alimony, records show; he says no” via Florida Politics — Power, a Republican candidate for House District 64, owes nearly $88,000 in alimony, according to court records reviewed this week. A document in the case from Pinellas County shows a “payoff amount” of $87,904. It also lists a “balance due” of only $4,668. In a statement to Florida Politics, however, Power says he doesn’t legally owe any of that money: “I am 100 percent current on all of my court-ordered alimony obligations.” Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Jamie Grant in the Republican primary for the seat, which covers northwest Hillsborough County and a slice of eastern Pinellas County. The area leans heavily Republican.
Chip LaMarca releases first digital ad in HD 93 race — The Lighthouse Point Republican is releasing his first digital video, “Working for You,” a 90-second spot highlighting LaMarca’s roots in House District 93 and his commitment to improving economic opportunities in Broward County. LaMarca is seeking the seat of term-limited state rep. George Moraitis, which covers eastern Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Lighthouse Point and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
“‘There was no abuse’: Michael Caruso counters allegations in interview” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — House District 89 Republican candidate Caruso denied allegations of abuse and financial delinquency in a new interview exclusive to Florida Politics. Caruso sat down to share his side of the story after a piece published yesterday detailing those allegations. Many of the accusations stem from a messy divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Beverly, Caruso says. Indeed, despite the bitter back-and-forth between him and his ex-wife, Caruso says the couple eventually agreed to split custody of the kids. “If I was the bad guy that I supposedly am, do you think she’d give me custody of the kids? If I was the child abuser, or I was the violent one, or the one who was mentally disturbed?” He adds: “Would a judge allow it?”
“Scott fires back in lawsuit over early voting on campus” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott’s administration fired back in federal court, seeking to undercut a League of Women Voters lawsuit over early voting on college campuses. The League last month sued Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whose office in 2014 interpreted state law to exclude state university buildings from a list of sites available for early voting. Scott’s lawyers asked the federal court to step aside and let the case be decided by a state judge. “A state court, interpreting state law, can decide the case on narrow, statutory interpretation grounds and, perhaps, avoid any constitutional issues,” the state’s brief said. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, an appointee of former President Obama, who has ruled decisively against Scott in two previous voting rights cases. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are nine students at UF and Florida State.
“State judge rules in favor of environmental groups on conservation spending” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — State Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of environmental groups in a case involving a 2014 ballot measure that set aside money for water and land conservation. During a hearing, Joseph W. Little, attorney for Florida Defenders of the Environment, told Dodson the amendment only allows for land acquisition and restoration, and for other activities only on land purchased after 2015. Dodson agreed, calling Little’s argument the “core issue” in the case. Dodson said: “When I read it in its entirety — I come to the conclusion that it clearly refers to conservation lands purchased after the effective date of the amendment.” Dodson canceled a trial in the case scheduled to start July 23. He asked attorneys for the environmental groups to prepare an order for him and said he expects it to be reviewed by the 1st District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court.
“State budget glitch may doom homeless money” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The state budget set to take effect July 1 includes $4.1 million in grants for homeless organizations helping needy families. But lawmakers this year left something out of the budget — language directing the state to actually spend the money. As a result, 27 homeless agencies from the Keys to the Panhandle seem likely to be out cash, some losing as much as $350,000. It’s a large portion of what many say already is a meager amount spent on helping struggling Floridians. “This is such a small amount of money in the state budget, it’s practically a rounding error,” said Dawn Gilman, chief executive officer of Changing Homelessness, Inc., which this year received $258,500 from the state to serve Duval, Clay and Nassau counties. “But the homeless don’t get much attention from the Legislature. So, for our organizations, losing this is big, and it really hurts,” she added.
“State tops 100,000 marijuana patients — but no more providers” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Florida now has topped 100,000 “active” and “qualified” patients in its medical marijuana use registry, the Department of Health announced in an email Friday. But again, according to a department official, that doesn’t mean the department will issue another four licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana, as provided under state law. The state had exceeded 100,000 overall almost two months ago — coincidentally on April 20, or 4/20 — in its medical marijuana use registry. Friday’s mark of 100,372 refers specifically to those that have an approved patient identification card application. “That figure does not completely reflect an actual threshold that would trigger the new licenses,” spokesman DevinGalleta said in a phone interview Friday.
Scoop — “State investigating ‘possible’ criminal breach of driver’s license info” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Agents are “investigating possible improper use of personal identifying information” of the state’s licensed drivers put online by a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) vendor, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman confirmed … FDLE agents in Tallahassee — including the agency’s Cyber Crime Squad — were working the case, which she said falls under the “active” criminal investigation exemption to the state’s public record law. The same vendor now at issue, Unisoft Communications of Miami, had previously been flagged in 2016 — about a year before the DHSMV agreed to a new contract — for posting the personal information from two individuals’ driving records, records show.
“They knew she was a suicide risk. Girl, 15, was still able to hang herself in the lockup.” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Florida juvenile justice administrators knew that Alleny Carbone was at risk of taking her own life: During at least a dozen stays in state custody, she had been placed on suicide alert. Yet on the night when the 15-year-old fashioned her own sports bra into a makeshift noose at the Bradenton lockup, no one was watching. Alleny’s dad, Victor Carbone, said he was told his daughter was under suicide watch at the state’s juvenile lockup. Department of Juvenile Justice administrators said that Alleny “was not currently under suicide precautions.” Either way, it appears Alleny, who was in foster care, succumbed to her demons — the culmination of a years-long battle with depression. By the time authorities discovered her body, in a sitting position, she was unresponsive. Alleny, who is from Bartow in Polk County, becomes the 13th youth to die in DJJ custody under questionable circumstances since 2000.
“Hospitals worry about ‘confusing picture’ on health website” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Consumers won’t be able to find price information on 71 hospitals for a variety of health care services if the state Agency for Health Care Administration sticks with a plan to make facility-specific information available to consumers before industry giant Florida Blue and other insurance carriers begin submitting paid claims data to the state. That’s troublesome to Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben, who worries that an early release of the facility-specific information on the FloridaHealthPriceFinder website will confuse, not enlighten, consumers. The 71 hospitals are in 48 counties scattered across the state, including heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and rural counties across the Panhandle, according to the hospital association. For example, Leon County has two hospitals — Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Capital Regional Medical Center — but without the claims data from Florida Blue and other carriers, people can’t compare prices for services at the facilities.
“Cooling towers imploded at Florida power plant” via The Associated Press — The identical, 462-foot towers were imploded at St. Johns River Power Park in Jacksonville … Jacksonville Electric Authority and Florida Power & Light contracted Total Wrecking & Environmental to handle the implosion of the cooling towers and demolition of the power park for $14.5 million. The project is expected to be completed in April 2020. They were the second tallest cooling towers to be imploded in the world, Total Wrecking & Environmental said. Preparation took about 10 weeks for the implosion. It was over in just more than 10 seconds. More than 1,500 pounds of dynamite and 12,000 linear feet of detonation were used.
“Adam Corey gave Edison discount to Mayor’s Office, too; city attorney says it benefited public” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Corey, who’s mixed up in the FBI’s public corruption investigation, instructed colleagues at The Edison restaurant to give a catering discount to Mayor Gillum’s Family First Week programs in 2016. But there was nothing improper about the discount, the Mayor’s Office said, noting that it benefited the public rather than the mayor himself. And while the Mayor’s Office spent nearly $7,000 on the catering, it was later fully reimbursed by Whole Child Leon, which acted as fiscal agent for the initiative. Corey discussed the discount in a text message May 20, 2016, to John Minas, then chef of the restaurant, and Sam McKay, then general manager. The text also mentions Eddie Kring, who served as The Edison’s catering director. “What is the actual cost for the upcoming breakfast events we are doing for the Mayor’s summit for children?” Corey asked. “I need to give them a discount. Let me know ASAP. Sam and Minas, work with Eddie on this and let me know. Thanks.”
— IRMA AD NAUSEAM —
“Irma produced a litigation wave at Citizens Insurance, committee told” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Hurricane Irma-related lawsuits surged at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. early this year, representing a nearly 50 percent increase in the company’s litigation load compared to the same period in 2017. More than 90 percent of those lawsuits originated in South Florida. The state’s insurer of last resort fielded 4,287 legal claims in January through April, the vast majority involving residential policies. Irma claims represented 60 percent of that litigation, according to a report delivered to Citizens’ claims committee during a telephone conference call Wednesday. In nearly half of the lawsuits, policyholders hadn’t disputed Citizens’ adjustment decisions before filing, even though the company encourages them to update claims based on emerging information about the scope of their damage. “These insured are just giving over the option and opportunity to further adjust the claim with us and just going straight to sue,” Elaina Paskalakis, Citizens’ vice president for claim litigation, told the committee.
“Citrus growers end worst season in decades” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The latest forecast numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show no change in the past month for orange production, which is off 34.7 percent from the earlier growing season. Meanwhile, grapefruit production has fallen another 1.8 percent from a May forecast, coming in at half of what was picked in the prior growing season and at its lowest level in nearly a century. “This brings a very difficult citrus season to a close,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to a quiet, resilient season in the fall.”
“Florida’s spiny lobster harvest stunted by the 2017 hurricane season” via Dayna Harpster of National Fishermen — Immediately after Hurricane Irma blew through south Florida in early September 2017, about 154,000 of the 350,000 lobster traps deployed annually in the waters around the Florida Keys were severely displaced or lost. About 60,000 were recovered by early May. Landings data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows nearly 3.3 million pounds harvested between the season’s start Aug. 6, 2017, and its conclusion March 31, 2018. The previous year’s total was about 5.4 million pounds, and it was thought to be a fairly slow year, as well. This year, the average price per pound was $9.30, with August averaging the lowest price at $6.72 and February the highest at $11.66. “Dock prices started out on the slow side,” Islamorada lobsterman Gary Nichols agreed, but then rallied. February’s high reflects so many being exported to China for the Chinese New Year, he said.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump’s move to redefine water rule threatens wetlands banks” via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press — A private firm is making big money selling promises about some gator-infested Florida swampland. The Panther Island Mitigation Bank is part of a federal system designed to restore wetlands across the United States. Banks like this sell “wetlands mitigation credits” to developers for up to $300,000 apiece, offsetting the destruction of marshes by construction projects elsewhere. It’s a billion-dollar industry that has slowed the loss of U.S. wetlands, half of which are already gone. This uniquely American mix of conservation and capitalism has been supported by every president since George H.W. Bush pledged a goal of “no net loss” of wetlands, growing a market for mitigation credits from about 40 banks in the early 1990s to nearly 1,500 today. Now the market is at risk. Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency has completed a proposal for implementing Trump’s executive order to replace the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS, with a much more limited definition of what constitutes a protected federal waterway. “It would destroy wetland mitigation banking at the federal level,” said Royal Gardner, a professor at Florida’s Stetson University College of Law.
“Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign” via Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ros Helderman of The Washington Post — One day in late May 2016, Stone met a man with a man who called himself Henry Greenberg, who offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton … Greenberg wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said. “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer. “He doesn’t pay for anything.” Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting … “How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote according to a text message. Noting that Greenberg wanted ‘big’ money, Stone replied: “waste of time.” Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s sprawling investigation … Stone and Caputo now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump. They cite records showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant. … Greenberg denied that he had acted on the FBI’s behalf when he met with Stone.
Assignment editors — Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Former State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Olivia Babis, and local activist Karen Clay hold a news conference to call out Gov. Scott’s poor record on health care issues and his refusal to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on pre-existing conditions, 1 p.m., 344 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa.
“Ballard Partners signs Sentry data systems and ARTOC auto” via Florida Politics — Sentry Data Systems bills itself as a “pioneer in automated pharmacy procurement, utilization management and 340B compliance.” … the company develops data analytics software for the health care industry that helps providers order prescription drugs and comply with medication pricing rules. Founded in 2003, the South Florida-based company has built a client base of more than 11,000 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. Ballard’s other new client, ARTOC, was for a time Egypt’s sole importer of cars manufactured by Czech Republic-based Škoda Auto. While most Americans would struggle to pick the 121-year-old automaker’s badge out of a lineup, they’re likely familiar with its parent company, Volkswagen Group.
— OPINIONS —
“Fathers deserve more than stuff for Father’s Day. They deserve respect” via Marco Rubio for The Federalist — Like so many other things in our culture today, the commercialization of this holiday obscures its true meaning. Father’s Day is about so much more than store sales and cheesy coffee mugs. It is, to borrow the words a resolution President Calvin Coolidge once signed on its celebration, a day “to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations,” and remind ourselves of the importance of fatherhood to our country. It is something that, unfortunately in today’s culture, needs to be repeated often and with clarity: fathers matter. Their responsibilities in families and society are all essential to the strength of our country. Fathers and mothers serve equally important, but distinct, functions in raising children. Fathers play the indispensable role in protecting their families from harm, encouraging children to overcome challenges, disciplining children with authority, and teaching boys how to become responsible men by modeling responsibility themselves. This should not be controversial. In fact, it is an area of bipartisan agreement.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Gary Cooney to the Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court; Matthew Caldwell to the Broward College District Board of Trustees.
“Dream realized: Jonathan Kilman opens his own influence firm” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Veteran lobbyist Kilman has finally realized a “long-term dream of starting (his) own firm” with the creation of Converge Government Affairs, with offices in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Kilman, formerly with the Foley & Lardner law firm, announced the new concern last week in a LinkedIn post … Kilman is keeping his inaugural client list close to the vest, but a look at his past lobbying disclosures shows companies such as video game maker Electronic Arts, ride-hailing platform Lyft, and autonomous-truck developer Starsky Robotics. “I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see many of the clients that we represented in the past will continue to be our clients in the new firm,” he said.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson, Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Consortium of Florida Education Foundations
Kevin Marino Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments
Marisa Carrozzo, Amber Crooks, Nicole Johnson: The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Nicole Graganella, Trevor Mask, Peter Murray, Katherine Webb, Colodny Fass: FedNat Insurance Company
Brian Jogerst, BH & Associates: Health Diagnostic Management
Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: IMCS Group
Adam McGill Ross, 6th Judicial Circuit State Attorney
— ALOE —
“Universal’s new ‘Cinematic Celebration’ nighttime show to debut this summer” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — “Universal’s Cinematic Celebration” — ditching the “Epic Cinema Under the Stars” tag — and will include heavy use of water fountains and effects being constructed on a large platform in the park’s lagoon. “The show combines an all-new storyline with full panoramic water screens accented by additional multilayered water screens, pyrotechnics and — for the first time — more than 120 dancing fountains and projection mapping to transform the entire waterfront and surrounding buildings into a vivid celebration of epic movie moments and beloved characters,” Universal said in a news release. Projection mapping, which has become a mainstay of nighttime shows in other Orlando parks, hadn’t been mentioned in the earlier post. It would set the show apart from other shows based around water screens like Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. The latter has several elements in common with Universal’s new show, though Disney has boasted it has nearly 1,200 fountains, 10 times what Universal is promising.
“Avenue Eat & Drink joins growing list of shuttered Tallahassee restaurants” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Elected officials aren’t the only ones subject to brief stints in the capital city. Avenue Eat & Drink, a popular downtown eatery on East Park Avenue just blocks from the Capitol, has indefinitely shut down, according to owner and operator Chris Clark. Clark said the location “hopefully” could be up and running again soon — perhaps under the same name — but financial woes forced Clark to file bankruptcy on what’s evolved into one of a few staple eateries for anyone looking to grab a bite downtown. Avenue and Clark in late May were sued for defaulting on a cash advance, according to court records. That resulted in Clark, a veteran of the service industry and longtime Tallahassee restaurateur, bankrupting the business, although he told Florida Politics he has faith in its redemption.
“The Southern is dead. Long live Pizza Deck!” via Florida Politics — Friday night The Southern Pub and Fat Noodle closed in downtown Tallahassee … like all great things that manifest in a majestic unending cycle of death and rebirth, the owners of a new restaurant will be sweeping out the last of the Southern dust bunnies and rapidly gear up to roll out the Pizza Deck … a collaboration between the owners of Metro Deli, a popular Monroe Street restaurant that seems to have learned how to survive in the Darwinian food scene of the capital, and the wildly popular Pizza Bruno from Orlando. To bring the culinary magic Pizza Bruno relies on a special gas-fired, wood-burning oven custom-made from a shop next to the Ferrari factory in Italy. This bit of Old World kit will be shipped to New York, with fabricators trained in the ancient art of pizza oven assembly actually bringing it to Tallahassee for installation in the former Southern space. Hopefully, Pizza Deck can become a place for some fun Italian comfort food and cold craft brews by the time committee weeks start in the fall.
“What we talk about when we talk about Anthony Bourdain” via Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat — The real reason food writer and TV personality Bourdain came to Florida State University in February 2011 was that he was invited by the Creative Writing Program. Poet Erin Berliu drafted the letter. Opening Nights then-director Steve MacQueen sent it. Bourdain jumped at the chance. That easy. He spent the morning talking to members of the Dedman School of Hospitality. That night he lectured a sold-out house at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, even though he ragged on Southern matriarch Paula Deen most of the time. After that was over, he signed every book and posed for every photo during a reception at the College of Music. “We are really working you hard,” MacQueen said to Bourdain at one point. “You tell me when you don’t want to do something.” “Man, I’m not on my feet for 12 hours in a hot kitchen,” Bourdain said. “This is a piece of cake. This is a pleasure.” And he meant it. His fave novel was Walter V. Higgins’ taut, crime drama “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” what does a novel about a middle-aged, low-level gunrunner in a cruddy part of Boston have to do with writing about food? Everything. “From the opening paragraph, it tells you everything about the book ahead,” Bourdain said, and I paraphrase. “Nothing is wasted. I used it as my template when I sat down to write. I threw away everything that was not necessary.”
Celebrating during our extended absence was state Sen. David Simmons (Wednesday).
Those were two very telling — but perhaps overlooked — questions recently surveyed by the Florida Chamber. By determining how voters feel about the state’s direction and what tops their list of priorities before they head to the ballots, the Chamber’s latest poll helps to inform guesswork ahead of the midterm election, when Florida will elect a U.S. Senator, Governor, Cabinet and a slew of other positions.
Gun issues, the chamber found, have taken a back seat compared to results of an April poll in which gun-related concerns topped the list of statewide voter priorities. Currently, “jobs and the economy” rank first, topping the list for 14 percent of voters, followed by “education” at 13 percent and “gun issues” at 10 percent.
Another telling survey item gauged whether voters believe Florida is on the right or wrong track. The question is a strong predictor of voter turnout.
At the state level, Republicans are in control. This meshed well with how Republican voters feel about the state’s direction. An overwhelming majority (roughly 76 percent) answered “right track,” while just 10 percent felt the Sunshine State is heading in the wrong direction and 11 percent were unsure.
On the other hand, 50 percent of Democratic voters answered “wrong track,” while 29 percent felt the state is headed in the right direction; 17 percent were unsure.
Meanwhile, independent voters overall had a more positive interpretation of the state’s direction than Democrats. More than half answered “right direction,” 27 percent answered “wrong direction,” and 18 percent were unsure.
In total, around 52 percent of respondents felt the state was headed in the right direction. Just 30 percent believe the state is on the wrong track; 17 percent are unsure.
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:
Scott rebuts report on debris removal — Gov. RickScott’s administration has refuted suggestions that it steered contracts to companies to remove debris in areas especially hard-hit by Hurricane Irma. A CBS4 investigative report this week showed two companies, which submitted emergency debris removal bids at the request of the state, invoiced more than $43 million for their post-Irma services. The report claims that similar companies already under contract could’ve done the same work for $13 million. Scott responded to the report, saying the emergency services were needed: “It’s easy for these vendors to look back and say they would have shown up and completed the work for cheaper, but in the days following the storm, they were clearly overleveraged and did not have the people or equipment to fulfill their commitments. I will never let special interests get in the way of storm recovery. We sent additional resources to get the job done for a community that needed help and given a choice; I would do the same thing again.”
Putnam downplays missed background checks — Following a Florida Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam responded to questions about a Tampa Bay Times report published last week showing that an employee under his supervision failed to use a background check system (one of a few) required for some Floridians who wish to obtain a concealed-carry license. The Commissioner told reporters that “public safety was not at risk” and that none of the 291 permit holders who have since had their licenses revoked were arrested during the lapse. The initial Times report found that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) went unused for a little more than a year in 2016-17 because an employee could not log in to the system. Putnam’s office has told the public that only 365 applications would’ve required use of the NICS, because two other databases are used for most applicants. When asked how applicants got by without further review, Putnam said, “It was a thing that happens to anybody with a computer: She (referring to the former employee) emailed I.T. and said, ‘my password isn’t working.’ They emailed her back with instructions on how to fix the problem. By her own admission, she dropped the ball.”
Amendments face uphill battle — A poll conducted by the Florida Chamber shows that, as of now, only a few proposed revisions to the state’s Constitution could pass in November. Of the 13 ideas primed for the ballot, just four met the 60 percent voter approval threshold needed to pass an amendment, although many surveyed voters were “unsure” of each proposition. The amendments with enough support currently, per the poll, include: Amendment 1, which would increase the state’s homestead exemption on property taxes; Amendment 3, which would give voters sole discretion on future gambling expansion; Amendment 7, which would extend death benefits to families of military and first responders killed on duty; and Amendment 8, which would impose school board term limits and let the state establish schools without school board approval.
‘Horrible’ citrus season ends — The United States Department of Agriculture this week forecast Florida citrus production for the 2017-2018 season will be its lowest since World War II. The USDA estimates Florida is on track to wrap its season with 44.95 million boxes of oranges, its premier citrus crop. Before Hurricane Irma, a storm that authorities described as “lethal” to citrus groves, private estimates expected Florida growers to produce 75 million boxes of oranges. Each box weighs 90 pounds. “This brings a very difficult citrus season to a close,” said ShannonShepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “We look forward to a quiet, resilient season in the fall.” The silver lining for Florida farmers awaits federal action. A federally funded $2.36 billion disaster package and a $340 million block grant are expected to dramatically mitigate losses incurred by Hurricane Irma.
Troubled nursing home gets small victory — The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where 12 residents died during a power outage that followed Hurricane Irma, won a small dispute in court this week after a judge ruled the state must provide requested death records to the Broward County nursing home for “a reasonable fee.” The ruling comes after the Rehabilitation Center was asked to pay $5 each for paper records of the nearly 6,000 deaths that occurred across the state at the same time, reports Michael Moline for Florida Politics. The nursing home requested the records in the hopes of establishing that its staff acted reasonably in declining to evacuate residents before Hurricane Irma swept through the state.
Cabinet reaches conservation easement milestone
With the recent approval of more than 8,300 acres purchased through a unique conservation easement program, the Florida Cabinet is touting a more than 1,000-percent increase in acres preserved under three sitting members of the Cabinet who’ve been at their posts since 2011.
Those members include Gov. RickScott, Attorney General PamBondi and Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam. Current Chief Financial Officer JimmyPatronis replaced the former CFO JeffAtwater, who was elected in 2011 and 2014.
The easement program, known as the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, is a cooperative between the state and local ranchers that seeks to preserve active agriculture ops and the environmental benefits they offer. On Wednesday, the Cabinet surpassed 50,000 acres of protected land through 45 easements in total since Scott and most of the Cabinet took office.
“We must continue to prioritize the conservation of our agricultural lands and world-renowned natural spaces,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, we partner with farmers and ranchers to preserve the invaluable pieces of our rural economy and environment to help preserve what makes Florida such a special place to live.”
Wednesday’s approved easements include Goolsby Ranch in Highlands County, Howze Ranch in Manatee County, Sampala Lake Ranch in Madison County and Rodman Plantation in Putnam County.
Agriculture Commissioner Putnam is accepting nominations for the 2018 “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award, which recognizes women in all areas of the industry who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture.
Nominations can be sent by mail to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Plaza Level 10, The Capitol, 400 S Monroe St., Tallahassee FL 32399-0800. By fax, 850-617-7744. Or email to Clay.Hollis@FreshFromFlorida.com.
More information about the “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” award and past award winners can be found at FreshFromFlorida.com.
The deadline for submitting nominations is July 31.
Patronis highlights AOB abuse arrest
As lawmakers and elected officials target abuse of assignment of benefits, or AOB, Chief Financial Officer Patronis is spreading the word that those that engage in the form of insurance fraud could face severe criminal penalties.
In a news release this week, Patronis drew attention to the case of TimothyMatthewCox, who arrested earlier this month for an AOB fraud scheme that impacted 19 homeowners in eight counties across Florida and in one Texas County. Cox owns Nationwide Catastrophe Services and Restoration Response Services, which he allegedly used to pocket almost $140,000 for unfinished home repairs needed after natural disasters.
“Criminals who prey on Florida families after a hurricane or tropical storm are some of the worst we see,” Patronis said. “This type of fraud has skyrocketed and impacts all Florida consumers.”
Per the news release, the Bureau of Insurance Fraud — overseen by Patronis — found that “Cox pressured homeowners to sign an AOB contract to have damages repaired.” But, “after receiving the insurance payments, Cox’s team never started any of the work they were contracted to perform.”
And according to Patronis, Cox’ case may not be an isolated one: “With more than 100 ongoing investigations statewide, we are coming for anyone who takes advantage of our residents during vulnerable times.”
The Week in Appointments
Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority
LuzWeinberg and LeonardBoord were appointed this week to serve terms ending April 6, 2022. Weinberg, 46, of Miami, is the CEO of GlobComm, LLC, and is a graduate of Florida International University. She succeeds CliffWaters. Boord, 57, of Miami, founded Slon Capital. He currently serves on the Florida International University Board of Trustees.
Hernando County Board of County Commissioners — JohnMitten will serve during the suspension of Commissioner NicholasNicholson for a term ending Nov. 16, 2020.
Broward College District Board of Trustees
MatthewCaldwell, not to be confused with the state Representative from Lehigh Acres, will serve a term that began June 14 and ends May 31, 2022. He is the president and CEO of Florida Panthers Hockey Club. Caldwell currently serves on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club.
Women’s Hall of Fame
AdelaHernandezGonzmart, JanetPetro and LeeBirdLeavengood were inducted Thursday by Gov. Scott. Gonzmart, (1920-2001), helped manage “The Columbia” — the oldest restaurant in Florida — and was a community advocate who helped co-found the Latino Scholarship Fund at the University of South Florida. Petro, 58, has worked as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and was the first female Deputy in the history of John F. Kennedy Space Center. Leavengood, 89, has a long history of contributing work to the University of South Florida. She championed the creation of the University of South Florida’s Division of Senior programs, now known as the Osher Lifelong Learning Center.
FDLE upgrades alert system
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it updated its AMBER and Missing Child Alert Public Notification System this week.
Using what’s called an Everbridge platform, people can now receive AMBER and Missing Child Alerts through text messages as well as email. In the coming months, citizens will also be able to sign up to receive alerts through voice calls, TDD/TTY messaging, and through mobile device apps.
To use the new system, however, they must create an Everbridge account (click here). Current subscribers will continue to receive email alerts, but to access the additional functions, an Everbridge account is needed.
Everbridge will use your email and phone numbers to send Florida AMBER and Missing Child Alert notifications only. Information will not be sold or distributed. Everbridge is used by government agencies to issue emergency alerts, like severe weather warnings, nationally and in Florida.
FWC to meet in Sarasota
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet June 19-20 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. Meetings both days are open to the public.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. and the public will be provided opportunities to speak on agenda items each day. The Commission will also provide time for public comment on subjects not on the agenda at the end of the first day. Those who wish to offer comments during this period will be asked to make sure their comments are not related to any agenda item.
Those who can’t attend can follow coverage at Twitter.com/MyFWC (@MyFWC) and join the conversation by using the #FWC2018 hashtag. Check the Florida Channel for possible live video coverage at TheFloridaChannel.org.
FWC: Don’t forget about dive flags
For some counties along the Gulf Coast, the annual quest for bay scallops begins today.
But before Floridians jump into the water, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants them to hoist their dive flags, which signal to nearby boaters that there are divers down below or at the surface.
“Displaying and understanding what constitutes a proper divers-down symbol are critical,” said Capt. TomShipp of FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “These safety devices are meant to alert boaters to the presence of people under the water’s surface and to give them plenty of room.”
The iconic red rectangle with a white diagonal stripe must be displayed via a flag on a vessel or a buoy in the water. Each must be at least a foot in length and width if presented from the water, and at least 20 inches by 24 inches and flown at the highest point of a vessel if used in flag form.
Vessels are instructed to stay at least 100 feet from a flag when maneuvering through rivers, channels and inlets, and at least 300 feet from a flag in open waters. Divers, unsurprisingly, are asked to remain within the same boundaries of their flag.
Scallop season begins in Dixie County and a portion of Taylor County today and lasts through Sept. 10. In Franklin, Levy, Citrus, Hernando and the Northwest portion of Taylor County, the season begins July 1 and continues through Sept. 24. Pasco County’s season starts July 20 and ends July 29, and Gulf County’s season takes place Aug. 17 through Sept. 30.
Lawmakers ask for legislative action amid background check report
Politicians across the state chimed in with criticism following a Tampa Bay Times report that showed the Florida Department of Agriculture failed to use one of a few background check tools for more than a year.
A few Democratic state legislators have taken that criticism a step further and are calling for legislative action in the wake of the report.
State Sens. LindaStewart of Orlando and KevinRader of Delray Beach penned a letter to Senate President JoeNegron requesting the creation of “a special select committee under Senate Rule 1.5 ‘to provide the measure of full transparency the public demands from their elected officials.’”
Rader, who is vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Department of Agriculture, said he was not made aware of the issue during the 2018 Legislative Session.
“Was it a cover-up?” Rader posited. “Was it a way to rubber stamp what they knew they had already done?”
Similarly, in the state House, Democratic Rep. JaredMoskowitz, whose district encompasses Parkland, wrote a letter to House Speaker RichardCorcoran asking him to convene the House Government Accountability Committee and the Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee to address the report.
Miami Democrats chip in for new Coral Gables fire station
State Sen. JoseJavierRodriguez and state Rep. NicholasX. Duran this week presented a $1.5 million check to the City of Coral Gables for the purchase of land required to build a much-needed new fire station.
Funding for the land purchase was secured during the 2018 Legislative Session. It will help Coral Gables take the first step toward constructing a fire station in Cartagena Park. Currently, traffic congestion has limited first responders’ access to the area.
“Ensuring and supporting the public’s safety is a top priority for the City of Coral Gables. Senator Rodriguez and I are proud to support added protection measures by continuing to work closely with our municipal partners,” Duran said in a prepared statement. “Efforts to secure increased safety and expand green space is undoubtedly a win for all residents.”
Following the land purchase, the city is expected to build its fourth fire station at the park, which connects to an 11-mile bike trail along Old Cutler Road. Per a news release, “The fire station will provide necessary supervision to the area as well as enhanced safety for all visitors enjoying this regional attraction.”
Dana Young delivers check to Redefining Refuge
A Lutz-based nonprofit that advocates for sexually exploited and trafficked youth got a visit this week from Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young, who arrived with a $500,000 check from the state in tow.
“Redefining Refuge fights for women and children who have been victims of sexual abuse and works to end the domestic sex trafficking of minors,” Young said. “Redefining Refuge ensures those they serve receive the specialized care they need and deserve, providing fundamental needs, such as safety, shelter, clothing and food, as well as educational, psychological or emotional support.”
Redefining Refuge founder and director Natasha Nascimento thanked Young and the Legislature for the funds, which will help the nonprofit expand its suite of services for victims.
“This appropriation will truly have a significant impact on the women and children we serve, by allowing us to further our positive contribution to the lives of human trafficking victims by equipping and empowering them to build strong foundations for their futures,” she said.
Rene Garcia wants DACA fix ASAP
Hialeah Republican Sen. Rene Garcia used his platform at the Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairmen to call on Congress to pass permanent fixes for DACA, an Obama-era policy that protects from deportation young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Garcia and the BHCC said they were in support of a proposal being pitched in Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers,” alongside stricter border security laws. Garcia commended CD 26 U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo for helping push that permanent fix.
“DACA has been great for the U.S. economy and recipients are estimated to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade. Congress must take a pragmatic approach in ensuring a path for Dreamers, while also strengthening our safety and enhancing border security,” Garcia said. “Through bipartisan compromise, Congress has an opportunity to find middle ground, push politics aside, and protect not just the Dreamers, but also all people who call the United States home.”
The alternative to that proposal, preferred by hard-line House conservatives, would give Dreamers temporary protection in exchange for ending rules that allow legal immigrants to sponsor their family members entry into the U.S., a practice derogatorily referred to as “chain migration.”
FSU Medicine among most selective schools
When prospective medical students apply to Florida State University’s College of Medicine, the odds are stacked against them.
Of the 7,200 FSU med-school applicants in 2018, just 120 were admitted. That’s a 2.6 percent acceptance rate, giving FSU the third spot in U.S. News and World Report’s list of medical schools with the lowest acceptance rates. The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and Stanford University took the top two spots, respectively.
“We’re obviously pleased to see so much interest in this medical school and our unique, community-based and patient-centered approach, but we are even more excited about what a quality pool of applicants means in terms of helping us achieve our mission,” College of Medicine Dean JohnP. Fogarty said.
Moreover, while the med school may be selective, it boasts a diverse student population. The Class of 2022 includes 69 women and 51 men, as well as 15 black students and 15 Spanish, Hispanic or Latino students.
Those numbers make it among the top 10 for enrollment of both black and Hispanic students — the only school to do so within the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Career fairs for evacuees
Nineteen local workforce boards will host a statewide, construction industry-focused job fair beginning June 12 in cities and towns across Florida. The events bring together construction and related companies seeking to hire Floridians and individuals displaced by Hurricane Maria for a variety of high-paying jobs.
“Puerto Rico evacuees, veterans, Hispanics and other job-seeking Floridians are encouraged to attend,” said JulioFuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Whether an entry-level laborer or a skilled engineer, hiring companies offer paid, on-the-job training, so applicants of all experience levels are welcome to apply. Additionally, Uber is providing discounted rates to all individuals traveling to and from the career fairs using discount code CAREERSOURCEFL.
Locations holding a one-day career fair between June 12 and July 11 include Bradenton, Clearwater, Crestview, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Jacksonville, Kissimmee, Lake City, Lauderdale Lakes, Madison, Milton, New Port Richey, Ocala, Rockledge, Stuart, Vero Beach and West Palm Beach. For dates and locations, click here.
FSU sports get props from Scott, Cabinet
At a Cabinet meeting this week, Gov. Scott and the Cabinet celebrated the long-term success of Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin and the newly cemented legacy of the Florida State softball squad with a pair of resolutions.
The one lauding the 2018 Seminoles softball team, fresh off winning their NCAA tournament, listed off accomplishments including their “do-or-die heroics” against Louisiana State in the Super Regional and their six-game run from the elimination bracket to their sweep of the University of Washington in the championship series.
Individuals getting enshrined in the doc include WCWS Most Outstanding Player Jessie Warren, ACC Pitcher of the Year Kylee Hanson and the ACC Freshman of the Year Sydney Sherrill.
The resolution celebrating Martin recounted his first win for the ‘Noles, which came against rival Miami in 1980, before rattling off some of the most impressive stats among active NCAA baseball coaches — in his 39 seasons at the helm, FSU baseball has “won 1,987 games; scored 21,606 runs; recorded 21,623 strikeouts; hit 2,956 home runs and placed 49 former players in Major League Baseball,” the resolution said.
He also got a clap on the back for being the all-time winningest coach in NCAA baseball and having the second-best winning percentage in the record books.
Ed. Note — We misspelled the name of Collier County School Board and Constitution Revision Commission member ErikaDonalds in last week’s Capitol Directions. We regret the error.