Peter – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Lauren Book’s formula for success

After what most would agree was a highly successful first term in office, Lauren Book — um, SENATOR Lauren Book, was recently re-elected to the Senate without opposition.

How did she do that?

When she returned home she simply did not slow down. That’s an assessment based on feedback from many friends and colleagues in Broward County,

First, there was her 8th annual Lauren’s Kids “Walk in My Shoes” walk across the state — crisscrossing, touching community after community. Then there was a seemingly endless stream of in-district activities, including a half-day active shooter training program.

No matter what it was, there was Book, always working, always connecting, always present, and yes, always fundraising.

I know! I KNOW!

There was tension among the ranks. Some said her team was too aggressive when everyone “knew” she would have no opposition. Why raise all that money they groused?

Some would say that she didn’t need to do that, but I’m not among them.

But she didn’t just hoard the funds. She went out to her voters early and aggressively.

During the past month, Book’s campaign was dropping mail and running ads on television — network television! — to ensure her numbers were solid.

And if you had any doubt this was a sophisticated operation, check out the link on YouTube above; notice there are over 200,000 views! That’s 200,000 completed views, just on YouTube and I am told there were over a quarter million completed views across multiple channels plus over a million partial views on top of that.

Always working. Always connecting. Always present.

Book did what she needed to do, and she did it very well. Yes, she pushed hard but the results are right there for everyone to see.

Of all the Senators up for re-election in this crazy year, only two were re-elected without opposition: Book and incoming Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson. (Gibson had an active opponent who, for various reasons (not the least of which was a recent federal indictment) did not qualify.)

For some, success looks easy. After over two decades in politics, I will agree, the formula is simple but it damn sure ain’t easy. And for Book, she just earned 4 more years “the easy way.”

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.26.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

It’s only been eight years since Tallahassee’s “Taj Mahal” courthouse scandal made headlines, sparking an investigation into the state’s decision to fund a lavish $48 million building for the First District Court of Appeals. Granite counter tops, flat screen TVs and framed artwork were among the building’s high-end amenities.

Now, it appears another Taj Mahal, or several, might be in Florida’s future.

Late last year, in the time span of one month, the Department of Management Services waived a rule for eight state agencies that require them to look for office space in an existing building before they consider new construction.

As one might expect, the waiving of this rule for eight agencies in a row wasn’t simply a coincidence.

Three agencies — the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Department of Transportation and Department of State — have confirmed plans to move to a proposed new office complex on Blair Stone Road when their current leases with the Koger office complex expire in October 2019. This was first reported last month by James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat.

The remaining five agencies will be spread across the capital city, some miles away from their current southeast locations at the Koger and Winewood office communities.

So, what does this all mean for Florida taxpayers? That’s to be determined.

But with the Taj Mahal controversy still fresh in the minds of Florida voters, we wonder if the state learned its lesson the first time.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 2; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 12; MLB All-Star Game — 21; Deadline for filing claim bills — 36; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 36; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 37; Start of the U.S. Open — 62; Primary Election Day — 63; College Football opening weekend — 65; NFL season starts — 73; Future of Florida Forum — 92; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 119; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 120; General Election Day — 133; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 233; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 252.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Bill Nelson intensifies criticism of Donald Trump administration over immigrant children” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Nelson said he has many unanswered questions following a visit to the Homestead facility housing young immigrants and asserted it’s “obvious” there is no plan for reuniting those children with their parents. Nelson flashed irritation about being told that the person responsible for that job was not available Saturday because she works Monday through Friday. The Democrat, locked in a tight re-election campaign, tried “numerous times” to call that person “with no response.” Nelson also suggested politics are at play because Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was able to get into the facility Friday before Nelson’s Saturday visit. Nelson initially tried to get in Tuesday but was denied at the door, saying he needed to give a two-week notice. “This is the most partisan administration in all my years of representing Florida up here,” Nelson said, adding he was including his time in the House.

Odd bedfellows: Rick Scott administration helps Nelson continue office communication” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott’s administration last month did give Nelson a boost by helping him continue to use his official office for mass mailings and other messaging tools. Like all members of the U.S. Senate, Nelson can use taxpayer dollars through his official office to send mass mailings, maintain a mobile Senate office, send unsolicited emails and use the Senate’s official TV studios. They are deemed official constituent communications, not political advertising, but have long been seen as an incumbent advantage tool that allows members to send communications to constituents that include messages aligned with campaign themes … Senate rules do not allow an incumbent to use those taxpayer-funded functions 60 days before a primary unless the incumbent does not have a primary opponent. That’s where Scott’s election office comes into play. For any senator to keep continue to keep communicating through their office, state election officials must confirm they are uncontested. In this case, that fell to Scott-appointed Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who had to send his certification to the Senate Rules Committee that Nelson was uncontested in the Democratic primary.

Scott pulls in $670K with NRSC in May” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida -Scott last month raised more than $670,000 last month through a joint fundraising committee with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Washington-based group that coordinates national GOP Senate races. The money technically goes to the Rick Scott for Victory Fund, which is separate from Scott’s official U.S. Senate campaign, but directly boosts his efforts against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, the three-term incumbent Scott is challenging. Though the $671,800 raised through the agreement in May will technically be split between Scott’s victory committee and the NRSC due to campaign finance caps, all the money raised through the agreement will likely benefit Scott’s campaign. The NRSC is already heavily engaged and is likely to use any money raised with Scott on the Florida race.

Happening today: Gov. Scott will make campaign stops at businesses in Collier, Hillsborough and Duval counties. (9:30 a.m., Two Guys Kitchen and Catering, 1230 Airport Pulling Road North, Naples. Also, 11:45 a.m., Florida Forklift, 3221 North 40th St., Tampa. Also, 3:45 p.m., Bobcat of Jacksonville, 1182 Suemac Road, Jacksonville.)

Jeff Greene, Andrew Gillum appear at Miami Gardens gubernatorial forum — Greene and Gillum were the only Democratic candidates to appear at a forum Monday at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, sponsored by the Florida East Coast Baptist Association and Faith in Florida. Michael Puntney from WPLG moderated the event. While all Democratic and Republican candidates were invited, but according to the church, the others did not reply or couldn’t make it. Greene talked about education, the economy, gun control, and criminal justice reform, and appreciated the fact that he came to speak with them — noting that some others did not.

Jeff Greene takes selfies at a forum at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, sponsored by the Florida East Coast Baptist Association and Faith in Florida.

Inbox from Florida Democratic Party’s Kevin Donohoe: “Is Mike Pence over Adam Putnam.” Donohoe’s email highlights a CNN report that says “Trump or Pence would probably be on the trail soon for Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor in Florida; and that there also would be some engagement from Trump with GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner in Pennsylvania.”

>>>Sunburn is unclear why the FDP is suggesting Pence is over Putnam. Trump has said he’d campaign for DeSantis. That CNN report doesn’t mention anything about Pence backing away from his former U.S. House colleague.

Frank White drops second statewide ad in AG race — According to his campaign, the new TV ad from Republican state Rep. White — titled “Tough. Effective. Conservative.” — makes him the only candidate for Attorney General advertising statewide. The 30-second, part of the $1 million ad buy, spot touts his “Constitutional conservative” bona fides, with a “record to back it up.” The ad also talks of White’s A+ rating from the NRA, his 100 percent pro-life stance, support of term limits and “stands with President Trump.”

To view the ad, click the image below:

New Matt Haggman ad features wife: ‘Trump is destroying families’via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad from Democratic congressional candidate Matt Haggman is once again going after the Donald Trump administration over its immigration policies. This time, however, Haggman is using his wife Danet Linares, whose family migrated from Cuba through the Freedom Tower. In the ad, which is set to air on English TV stations, Linares speaks in Spanish critiquing Trump’s now-reversed policy to separate migrant children from their families when the parents have been charged with entering the country illegally. Linares says, “My parents arrived from Cuba on the Freedom Flights. My family is everything to me. Trump is destroying families. In Congress, my husband Matt will do everything possible to eliminate ICE.” The ad will run with English subtitles.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Write-ins closed five legislative primaries” via the News Service of Florida — Florida law allows all voters in a legislative district to cast ballots in a primary election if each candidate is from the same party. But under the “write-in loophole,” the presence of a write-in candidate restricts the primary to voters of one party. The Senate races are in Palm Beach County’s Senate District 30, where only Democrats will be able to vote in the primary between Sen. Bobby Powell and fellow Democrat Rubin Anderson, and in Broward County’s Senate District 34, where only Democrats will be able to vote in the primary between Sen. Gary Farmer and fellow Democrat Jim Waldman. The House races are in House District 56 in DeSoto, Hardee and Polk counties, where only Republicans will be able to vote in the primary between GOP candidates Melony Bell and Jeff Mann; in Hillsborough County’s House District 61, where only Democrats will be able to vote in the primary between Democratic candidates Sharon CarterNorman HarrisDianne Hart and Karen Skyers; and in Hillsborough County’s House District 62, where only Democrats will be able to vote in the primary between Democratic candidates Mike AlvarezChristopher Carlos Cano and Susan Valdes.

Susan Valdes campaign threatens man for posting video” via Florida Politics — A Tampa man says a campaign consultant working with School Board member Valdes, now a candidate for House District 62, threatened to get him fired and booted out of the Democratic Party for posting a video of Valdes on Facebook. The five-minute video, recorded during a Saturday meeting of the Hillsborough Hispanic Democratic Caucus, is of Valdes’ response to a question of whether she would accept or reject campaign funding from the National Rifle Association, charter schools, the sugar industry or real estate development companies. In it, Valdes eventually says she will not accept funding from the NRA, but firmly declined to make the same pledge when it comes to “the other folks.” … “When people donate to me, let me make it clear, it’s because they believe in what I’m doing, not that I’m going to support what they want me to support. That’s not the way Susan Valdes rolls — has ever rolled. Ever,” she says in the video … she says that when the interest groups such as charter schools about donate to her, “that’s what they’re buying.”

First in Sunburn – Florida Democratic Party announces Leadership Blue speaker line-up — The FDP announced the lineup for the sold-out 2018 Leadership Blue Gala, which includes Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Chair, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, and Sen. Nelson. “We are so excited to welcome Leader Clyburn, and Chair of the Democratic Governors Association Governor Jay Inslee to speak to Florida Democrats, as we look to elect a Democratic Governor for the first time in 24 years,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. “This weekend couldn’t come at a more important time. We are so excited for this opportunity for Democrats across the state to come together to strategize, train, and prepare to turn Florida blue in 2018.” The sold-out event is being held this coming weekend in Hollywood and will include grassroots training, strategy meetings with Democratic caucuses and clubs, and Saturday night’s Gala.

‘Protect Dogs’ drops new video on greyhound industry” via Florida Politics — Advocates for a ballot initiative to put an end to dog racing have released a video to bolster their claim that “greyhounds are confined for as much as 23 hours per day at Florida racetracks.” The 1-minute, 33-second YouTube video, titled “Greyhound Racers Can’t Handle the Truth,” was posted on Monday by the Protect Dogs — Yes on 13 group. The video purports to use the greyhound industry’s own words against it, showing clips of breeders, trainers and others saying how often dogs are let out of their cages to exercise, suggesting they are confined a minimum of 21 hours daily. It also showcases several still photos of dogs in kennels, adding “…when greyhound racers try to distort the facts, tell them you know the truth.”

To view the video, click the image below:

 

 

— STATEWIDE —

Disney ‘die-in’ protest canceled to avoid ‘trauma’ to kids” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — A “die-in” protest at a Walt Disney Co. property initially planned for June has been called off, a co-founder of the gun control advocacy group called National Die In, said … “People were saying, ‘you’re going to traumatize children,’” said Nurah Abdulhaqq, a Georgia teen who helped start National Die In group. The protest was originally designed to draw attention to Disney’s large donations to a political committee supporting Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam over his support for the NRA and bills to ease gun laws. Putnam called himself a “proud NRA sellout” in 2017, upsetting many gun control activists. Disney has given $739,000 to Florida Grown, the political committee, since 2015, including $300,000 since Feb. 14, when 17 students and faculty were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Protesters cancel a planned Disney ‘die-in,’ similar to this one at a Florida Publix. (Image via Getty)

Report on Jack Latvala case is presented to state prosecutors” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The 90-page report was the work of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and took about six months. State Attorney Jack Campbell in Tallahassee estimated that he and his senior staff would take about two weeks to study the report and decide whether the facts as outlined by FDLE warrant prosecution. Latvala and his attorney, Steve Andrews, were puzzled as to why FDLE still had not sent the report to prosecutors, two months after the ex-lawmaker was interviewed.

Financial regulator job draws 34 hopefuls” via the News Service of Florida — The most prominent being state Rep. Jay Fant, as Gov. Scott and the Cabinet seek to quickly fill the position. Scott and the Cabinet will hold a conference call on Wednesday to discuss replacing Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Drew Breakspear. Fant, who oversaw the final years of a family-owned bank that went out of business after the recession, abandoned a campaign for Attorney General to apply for the financial regulator job. Aides for Scott and the Cabinet members are expected to discuss the applicants on Tuesday. Among the final resumes posted were William Jannace, who said he has worked nearly 30 years in the securities industry at the American and New York stock exchanges and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, (FINRA), which is a private, self-regulatory organization; Kevin Rosen, a partner with Shutts & Bowen who practices law in securities and financial regulation and who spent 16 years with FINRA as a senior regional counsel; and Rose Schindler, an attorney with Greenspoon Marder in Boca Raton, concentrating in the areas of securities regulation.

Happening today — Aides to Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will meet 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol in advance of a Wednesday state Cabinet meeting. During the upcoming meeting, Scott and Cabinet members could appoint a replacement for Drew Breakspear, who is stepping down as commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation.

Charles Canady moves back in the Chief Justice role” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Supreme Court Justice Canady will start a two-year stint as chief justice Sunday, succeeding Jorge Labarga, who will remain on the court. Canady, who served as chief justice from 2010 to 2012, was sworn in as chief justice during a small ceremony last week … Canady, a former state lawmaker, congressman and appellate judge, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. The other members of the Supreme Court elect the chief justice.

Supreme Court removes judge from bench” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — In the unanimous decision, the court ordered the removal of Judge Scott DuPont, who heard cases in Putnam and Flagler counties in the 7th Judicial Circuit. The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates wrongdoing by judges, recommended that DuPont be taken off the bench after a hearing panel found numerous violations of judicial canons, including an allegation that DuPont published false allegations online about his 2016 election challenger, Malcolm Anthony, and Anthony’s family members. The investigation also found that, during a candidate forum in 2016, DuPont said that he would not find a state law unconstitutional “because it’s not my job to legislate from the bench,” a “blatant violation” of judicial canons that ban judges from predetermining how they will decide on certain cases. The panel also took issue with DuPont for changing the times of first-appearance hearings in criminal cases during Memorial Day weekend in 2016 to accommodate his campaign schedule. DuPont admitted he “made a poor decision” but “simply could not say why he started the hearing early,” according to court records.

Proposed medical marijuana rules already bringing challenges” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — They haven’t even been approved, but proposed rules on medical marijuana have already drawn legal challenges. Liberty Health Sciences, a licensed medicinal cannabis provider, is challenging two rules, both debuted only two weeks ago. One is on a “supplemental licensing fee” and another covers a “variance procedure” for the state’s medical marijuana treatment centers. Both challenges were filed last week in the Division of Administrative Hearings … “We’re not generally opposed to the concept of either rule,” LHS attorney John Lockwood said. “We’re just concerned with some of the formalities imposed.”

Happening today — Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the James Madison Institute, among others, are hosting a conference call to release a study — “Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion Efforts” — 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-813-769-0500. Code: 664087887.

State looks to give tourism boost to Keys” via the News Service of Florida — While boasting about how quickly the Keys were able to reopen after last September’s storm, VISIT FLORIDA’s approximately $200,000 “Keys to Summer” campaign is intended to reaffirm the islands are open. Unlike a $5 million post-Irma marketing effort last fall and winter, a big part of the upcoming drive will involve the use of social media. The campaign also is employing digital billboards in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami that show the miles to the Keys and includes a partnership with American Airlines highlighting a new direct route from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport to Key West International Airport.

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 ten 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.

Norman Braman seeking a ‘lift’ from the state — The billionaire auto dealer has asked state regulators for an exemption from elevator regulations at his Palm Beach Bentley and Rolls-Royce dealership, records show. Braman seeks a variance from a rule governing elevator “platform guards and bottom car clearances” because it “poses a significant economic/financial hardship.” A design flaw was found only after construction, his petition says, and the “current structural elements” at the dealership cost “in excess of $8 million.” The dealership tried to conform the elevator to Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines but couldn’t “due to varying elevations.” Instead, Braman is asking to use a “retractable toe guard,” a platform-type device often used for uneven floors.

— THAT TIME OF YEAR —

On July 1, 105 new state laws will take effect.

Reports Jim Turner for the News Service of Florida, “Lawmakers sent 195 bills to Scott from the session that ended in March. The governor vetoed two, while signing the rest … of the remainder, 54 went into effect upon Scott’s signature, with the rest effective in October or 2019.”

Turner recalls some of the high-profile pieces of legislation that will come into play on Sunday — including the House’s omnibus education bill that included “Hope Scholarships” for bullied students.

Drugs: An opioid-prevention package signed by Gov. Rick Scott “will place limits on prescriptions that doctors can write for treatment of acute pain.”

Child marriage: A partial ban on child marriages that prevents anyone under the age of 17 from getting married, is among the new laws. “In the past, minors ages 16 and 17 have been able to get marriage licenses with parental consent, and judges have had [the] discretion to issue licenses to younger minors if they have children or if pregnancies are involved.”

Daylight saving time: Still awaiting congressional approval, the new law could mean Florida observes daylight saving time year-round.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Carlos Curbelo: Migrant children housed in Cutler Bay are ‘happy’via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A trio of Florida congressmen toured a migrant housing facility in Cutler Bay Monday, with Rep. Curbelo noting the children appeared to be treated “exceptionally well” and “were smiling, they were happy.” That’s according to a report from The Associated Press. Curbelo was joined by fellow Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The visit to Catholic Charities Boystown was bipartisan, however, as Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also attended. About 70 children are being housed at the facility. Curbelo says 22 of those children have been separated from their parents. According to the AP, Curbelo said the center is “doing a good job” of caring for those separated children. But he also made clear in comments to CBSMiami that he opposes the overall practice, and is looking for a legislative fix to stop it in the future.

Carlos Curbelo tours Catholic Charities’ Boystown in Cutler Bay, says children there are ‘happy.’ (Image via Miami Herald)

U.S. Senate approves Frank Brogan for top K-12 job at Education Department” via Education Weekly — Brogan replaces Jason Botel, the acting assistant secretary who clashed with Sen. Lamar Alexander over the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. … Brogan has already been on hand at the department as a senior aide, serving as the acting assistant secretary for post-secondary education since late January. But now he’ll be able to do the job he was nominated for.

— OPINIONS —

Florida needs to explain its own price gouging” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol … it appears Gov. Scott’s administration may have been responsible for the state’s most egregious case of price gouging. Ignoring existing contracts for hurricane cleanup and disposal may have inexplicably cost taxpayers $30 million in unnecessary bills. Usually, local officials strike a deal with private firms ahead of time to ensure an immediate response and price certainty after a major storm hits and cleanup is a priority. Monroe County, which absorbed the brunt of Hurricane Irma’s force as it moved over the Keys, had exactly that type of contract with the debris-hauling firm AshBritt. Yet, two days after the storm, the Florida Department of Transportation hired two outside firms to begin the cleanup. Apparently, cost was not a consideration. The Scott administration says it intervened because the local government asked for assistance. Except that doesn’t appear to be true. In a deposition given in a lawsuit filed by AshBritt, the Monroe County emergency services expert says he never made the request. He says he later called Tallahassee and questioned why extra firms were being hired and was never given an explanation.

— JOKE’S ON US —

Trying to drive home a point about the momentum of GateHouse Media, NiemanLab writer Ken Doctor began a recent story on the publisher by recalling a Florida Politics April Fool’s Joke.

On April 1, we published a joke story: “Tampa Bay Times to be sold to GateHouse Media in $79M deal.” But some took the ‘news’ to heart, as it followed the company’s head-turning rate of purchasing outlets. GateHouse now owns 146 dailies, adding two more since we published the April Fool’s Joke.

“The news wasn’t real, but it was believable: GateHouse’s acquisition appetite has seemed insatiable,” Doctor wrote.

He also discussed the state of publishing and GateHouse’s ambitions with Mike Reed, who directs the company’s investments.

Close to home: Reed says the paper is looking for products that have dedicated audiences who are interested in local news. “We believe that local news, in today’s world, is more valuable than it ever has been — if you can provide something that’s unique to a consumer, that they value and want. Then you have something long-term that continues to be sustainable and of value.”

Staffing up: The company, which recently purchased the Palm Beach Post, has made notable additions to its executive staff. GateHouse is spearheading a consumer marketing agency from within to focus on “products and services including apps, podcasts, specialty newsletters, e-editions and other digital products across the entire enterprise.”

Suspicions remain: Notes Doctor, “In 2017, its revenue was down almost six percent compared to 2016. Its earnings report for the first quarter of 2018 showed a decline of 4.5 percent compared to the same time last year.” Reed pointed to the recent hires as a way of dismissing suggestions that the company is employing a “burn-the-furniture, maximize profit, and turn-off-the-lights strategy.”

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Amanda Handley joins Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association” via Florida Politics — The association (FRLA) announced the hire of Handley as its new press secretary. She brings expertise in media relations and strategic message development to the state hospitality trade industry’s association, the group said in a Monday news release. “Amanda’s experience, work ethic and passion for communication and community will bring exceptional value to our organization,” said Carol Dover, the association’s President and CEO. “We proud to have her as part of our FRLA family and excited to leverage her talents and skills as we continue to advocate for the hospitality industry.”

— ALOE —

Apple to unveil high-end AirPods, over-ear headphones for 2019” via Mark Gurman and Debby Wu of Bloomberg — The Cupertino, California-based company is working on new AirPods with noise-cancellation and water resistance … Apple is trying to increase the range that AirPods can work away from an iPhone or iPad … You won’t be swimming in them though: The water resistance is mainly to protect against rain and perspiration … Slated for 2019, the earbuds will likely cost more than the existing $159 pair, and that could push Apple to segment the product line like it does with iPhones. Apple is also working on a wireless charging case that’s compatible with the upcoming AirPower charger. The company has also internally discussed adding biometric sensors to future AirPods, like a heart-rate monitor, to expand its health-related hardware offerings beyond the Apple Watch … The current AirPods will be refreshed later this year with a new chip and support for hands-free Siri activation, Bloomberg News reported.

Happy birthday to top fundraiser Lydia Claire Brooks, state Rep. Lawrence McClureEric Carr, and Ann Herberger

Taj Mahal Part Deux?

It’s only been eight years since Tallahassee’s “Taj Mahal” courthouse scandal made headlines, sparking an investigation into the state’s decision to fund a lavish $48 million building for the 1st District Court of Appeals. Granite counter tops, flat screen TVs and framed artwork were among the building’s high-end amenities.

Now, it appears another Taj Mahal, or several, might be in Florida’s future.

Late last year, in the time span of one month, the Department of Management Services waived a rule for eight state agencies that require them to look for office space in an existing building before they consider new construction.

As one might expect, the waiving of this rule for eight agencies in a row wasn’t merely a coincidence.

Three agencies — the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Department of Transportation and Department of State — have confirmed plans to move to a proposed new office complex on Blair Stone Road when their current leases with the Koger office complex expire in October 2019. This was first reported last month by James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat.

The remaining five agencies will be spread across the capital city, some miles away from their current southeast locations at the Koger and Winewood office communities.

So, what does this all mean for Florida taxpayers? That’s to be determined.

But with the Taj Mahal controversy still fresh in the minds of Florida voters, we wonder if the state learned its lesson the first time.

Last Call for 6.25.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Noting an uptick in online fraud, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis says he’ll next focus on the use of “cryptocurrencies” such as bitcoin.

“Many of our citizens rely on their investment or retirement accounts for their income and cryptocurrencies continue to grow and attract more investment from our state,” he said in a Monday statement.

Cryptocurrency is online money, “decentralized digital currency beyond the reach of banks and governments,” as Fortune magazine once defined it.

“I am committed to making the necessary rule and legislative changes in the 2019 Legislative Session to ensure we are tracking cryptocurrency companies based in Florida and that we are regularly informing the public of any crypto scammers or lawbreakers.”

Patronis also is running for election this year after being appointed to the post last year by Gov. Rick Scott. Former CFO Jeff Atwater announced he was stepping down early to work for Florida Atlantic University.

“Cryptocurrencies have seen massive volatility in the short time they have been available to the general public for purchase,” he said. “This year, the cryptocurrency market alone has lost more than half of its value.”

State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, is the only lawmaker who has previously expressed any interest in regulating cryptocurrency.

Hukill, an attorney, has long been interested in law and technology issues. In a 2016 interview, she noted a Miami-Dade circuit court ruling that held bitcoin isn’t money as now contemplated by state law.

“I think it’s something we need to get ahead of,” she said then. “We need to look at what the role of government should be, with an emphasis on consumer protections.”

Evening Reads

Florida voters don’t support immigrant family separation” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

Bill Nelson intensifies criticism of Donald Trump administration over immigrant children” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Governor Rick Scott visits Franklin County after fire destroys dozens of homes via WJHG

Pam Bondi responds to weekend confrontation with protesters, says she won’t be bullied” via John Lucas of The Capitolist

Ron DeSantis ad touts Trump endorsement” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Philip Levine opening Orlando campaign office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Carlos Curbelo: Migrant children housed in Cutler Bay are ‘happy’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Ashley Moody’s acceptance of public campaign financing sparks clash with rival” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

New budget, dozens of laws poised to take effect” via the News Service of Florida

In Jack Latvala investigation, what’s taking FDLE so long?” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“Partnering with innovative companies to test new technology — while also ensuring we uphold privacy laws and in no way violate the rights of others — is critical to us as we work to further keep our community safe.” — Statement from the City of Orlando on ending its pilot project for police to use facial recognition software.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Aides to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Patronis will meet in advance of a Wednesday state Cabinet meeting. During the Wednesday meeting, Scott and the Cabinet are expected to appoint a replacement for Drew Breakspear, who recently announced he was stepping down as commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

Officials from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the James Madison Institute are expected to take part in a media conference call to release a study titled, “Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion Efforts.” That’s at 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-813-769-0500. Code: 664087887.

The Florida Public Service Nominating Council will consider applicants for two seats on the Public Service Commission. The nominating council is expected to designate a list of “most qualified” candidates to interview for the posts. The seats are currently held by Public Service Commission members Julie Brown and Gary Clark, whose terms expire in January. Brown and Clark have applied for reappointment. The nominating council will send a short list of candidates to Gov. Scott, who will make the appointments. That’s at 10 a.m., Greater Aviation Orlando Authority, Orlando International Airport, 1 Jeff Fuqua Blvd., Orlando.

The Florida Education Association will hold a media call to announce an initiative aimed at improving public schools. Participants are expected to include union President Joanne McCall. That’s at 10 a.m.

Starting a three-day Florida Board of Governors meeting at the University of Central Florida, the Academic and Research Excellence Committee will review reports from the Florida Council of 100 on higher-education research. The university-system board’s Strategic Planning Committee will follow with a review of the annual accountability plans for the 12 state universities. Meetings start at 1 p.m., University of Central Florida, Fairwinds Alumni Center, 12676 Gemini Blvd. North, Orlando. Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525. Code: 4122150353.

The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet will meet for the first time since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Damien Kelly, director of the state Office of Safe Schools, and Jacob Oliva, a vice chancellor of the K-12 system, will make a presentation on school safety requirements. That’s at 1 p.m., Hillsborough County Center, 601 East Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

Agriculture Commissioner Putnam will take a helicopter and ground tour of damage from the Lime Rock Road Fire in Franklin County. He will then meet with reporters at 3:30 p.m., Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department, 24 6th St., Eastpoint.

Former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will kick off the opening of his 12th statewide regional office in Orlando. That’s at 5 p.m., 646 West Colonial Drive, Orlando.

A fundraising event will be held for Democrat Debra Bellanti, who is seeking to unseat Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican, in Hillsborough County’s House District 60. That’s at 6 p.m., Pane Rustica, 3225 South MacDill Ave., Tampa.

Erika Donalds, a member of the state constitution Revision Commission, will appear at Cape Coral Republican Club meeting to discuss proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot. That’s at 7 p.m., Personal Touch Catering, 1530 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.25.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Might Adam Putnam have time on his side?

As was made clear via Twitter on Friday, Putnam’s opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Ron DeSantis, has the full support of Donald Trump. As we have seen time and time again this election cycle, that seems to be the only factor that matters to GOP primary voters. Just look at what happened last week in South Carolina, where U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford was unseated by a challenger who was backed to the hilt by Trump.

So how can Putnam avoid the same fate?

First of all, he starts out the post-qualifying period with a healthy lead. Last Thursday, Fox News released results of a poll showing Putnam up 32-17 over DeSantis among likely GOP voters in the race. A recent poll from the pro-Putnam Florida Chamber of Commerce also has Putnam up big over DeSantis. So, for the sake of this argument, let’s say Putnam is currently up ten points over DeSantis.

That lead would probably evaporate if Trump were to make DeSantis his pet project for the next two months, but is there any indication that will happen?

Is time on Adam Putnam’s side?

Ballots to overseas voters will start to be mailed July 23-24, with ballots to early voters going out ten days later. Elections in Florida are, for the most part, decided by those early voters.

So all Putnam really has to do is withstand a Trump onslaught for five or six weeks. Trump isn’t barnstorming for DeSantis between now and the July Fourth holiday, so that kills almost two weeks off the calendar. It’s those weeks between the holiday and before the kids go back to school when Putnam is most vulnerable.

The best way to minimize that vulnerability is to own the airwaves. Whatever Team Putnam was planning for a media buy in the dead of Summer should be increased by 25 percent. Blow out the afterburners to keep DeSantis from gaining ground while early voters are making their final decision.

The fear for Putnam’s campaign is that Trump sets up shop in the Panhandle and Tampa Bay and holds more than one or two rallies for DeSantis. Or that he does something extraordinary — perhaps cuts TV ads — on DeSantis’ behalf (a barrage of mail and robocalls from Trump are already baked in the cake.)

As for what DeSantis should be doing, it should be more of the same. Those grassroots rallies with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz throughout the Panhandle aren’t drawing a lot of media coverage from POLITICO or the Times/Herald, but they’re reaching the voters DeSantis needs to touch.

Were I DeSantis’ campaign manager, I’d be doing what Brad Herold has been doing: conserving my money. But I’d also consider going through the motions of setting up a better statewide operation. Smartly spend $500K to hire some “volunteers” and open a few campaign offices. Print a few T-shirts and bumper stickers (has anyone even seen a DeSantis bumper sticker this election cycle?)

At least make it look like DeSantis has more than just the Trump card.

Then again, that may be the only card DeSantis needs to play.

Trump: DeSantis has full endorsement for Florida Governor” via The Associated Press — Trump tweeted out his support for the Republican … saying that DeSantis is “strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes.” He added that the “brilliant young leader” will be a “great governor.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@SenBillNelson: On I-4. Traffic is bad. Again, I am officially calling on Gov. Scott to let us build high-speed rail. We would be riding at 180 mph between Orlando and Tampa right now had he not turned away $2.4 billion in 2011.

@FLGovScott: Even more exciting news — the process has begun for a privately funded high-speed rail connection from Orlando to Tampa.

@DWStweets: It’s clear the Trump Administration is not doing nearly enough to reunite young children with their families. This is not a one-person job, and right now at the Homestead facility I visited today, they only have one person doing it. That’s unacceptable. #FamiliesBelongTogether

@RepLoisFrankel: I am horrified by what I have seen in this detention center. It is un-American to secure the border by separating mothers and fathers from their children. We have to reunite these families and do better to give them a humane living situation. What’s happening is unacceptable.

—@Fineout: No-show Scott? The Republican Party of Florida will gather in Orlando next week for its Sunshine Summit. And the biggest Republican politician in the state probably won’t be there. @ScottforFlorida campaign keeps saying that no final decision has been made. … but don’t expect him

@AGGancarski: What surprised me: the fierce, real grievance DeSantis has toward Putnam and that type. The “started from the bottom, now I’m here” narrative. This is going to be a dogfight. And the person who would win the street fight between them will win the primary.

@CarlosGSmith: Write-in candidates are a joke. … and mostly a scam to disenfranchise voters on both sides. Both parties abuse the system which must be changed. I’ve got no dog in this hunt, it’s just wrong.

@JoseFelixDiaz: Fahrenheit 451 was a dark & compelling work of fiction that captured my imagination as a kid. HBO ‘s version vividly shows that dystopia is gradual and that books & free thought are the only antidote to the poisons of social media that have turned us against each other

— DAYS UNTIL — 

Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 3; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 13; MLB All-Star Game — 22; Deadline for filing claim bills — 37; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 37; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 38; Start of the U.S. Open — 63; Primary Election Day — 64; College Football opening weekend — 66; NFL season starts — 74; Future of Florida Forum — 93; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 120; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 121; General Election Day — 134; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 234; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 253.

— TOP STORY —

DeSantis attended convention with speakers who has suggested killing Muslims, demeaned women” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — The David Horowitz Freedom Center, established by right-wing provocateur David Horowitz, picked up the $1,218 tab for the three-term congressman’s two-night stay at a luxury beachfront hotel in Palm Beach last November, according to financial disclosure forms. DeSantis was invited to speak on national security issues. Horowitz has emerged as an influential conservative political figure and has publicly shared controversial views on race and immigration, once lamenting the national “melodrama of black victimization and white oppression.” … “If blacks are oppressed in America, why isn’t there a black exodus?” Horowitz wrote in a 1999 Salon article.

— EPILOGUE: QUALIFYING WEEK —

25 state lawmakers re-elected without opposition” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The noon Friday deadline to make the ballot for a state legislative seat has come and gone, and 25 incumbent lawmakers (and two fresh faces) have already punched their tickets to Tallahassee. … Of the 27 races that are now officially over, Republicans won a half-dozen. Most notable among that crowd is incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva … The other five GOP lawmakers skating into another term were Reps. Halsey Beshears, Travis Cummings, Brad Drake, Michael Grant and Sam Killebrew. The remaining 21 seats decided Friday went to Democrats, including incoming Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson and Plantation Sen. Lauren Book along with Reps. Ramon AlexanderLoranne AusleyKamia Brown, John Cortes, Tracie DavisBen DiamondBobby DuBoseJoe GellerEvan Jenne, Al JacquetShevrin Jones, Kionne McGheeSharon PritchettEmily SlosbergRichard StarkBarbara Watson and Clovis Watson. … The other two candidates earning go-ahead victories weren’t incumbents. Boynton Beach Democrat Joseph Casello will take over the House District 90 seat vacated by Lori Berman earlier this year … In House District 95, Lauderdale Lakes Democrat Anika Omphroy has beaten incumbent Democratic Rep. Barry Russell without lifting a finger. Russell did not qualify for re-election according to the Division of Elections even though he turned in paperwork as recently as 99:37 a.m. Friday.

Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A record number Democratic candidates qualified for state races this week, and the Florida Democratic Party said now it’s time to prepare for the “Blue Wave.” … “From the Gubernatorial race, to State House and Senate, to county commissioners and mayors, we have the most qualified, committed, and exciting group of candidates we have ever seen,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. … Democrats plan to take the chamber back has been clear for months — flip Tampa Bay and field fresh, credible challengers in Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36. Win five, win the Senate. … in 2018 the strategy in the lower chamber reflects a familiar adage: “You must be present to win.” To that end, Democrats are fielding a candidate in over 100 districts, a marked increase from the 63 Democrats who took a shot in 2016. And it’s not all quantity over quality.

—”Florida’s wide-open election season is off and running” via Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy of The Associated Press

—“Democratic women ride wave of new candidates in Florida” via Steve Bousquet and David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Rematch: Jim Waldman challenges Gary Farmer in SD 34” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Two years after his last-place finish in the Democratic primary for Senate District 34, former Rep. Jim Waldman thinks voters are ready for a change. The Coconut Creek attorney got his paperwork in at the last-minute Friday to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer, and along with the surprise filing he sent out a compilation of gripes he has with Farmer after his first term in the Legislature, inviting “all voters who are fed up with Farmer’s style of politics as usual” to back him in the Aug. 28 primary election. … “When Sen. Gary Farmer voted with the NRA against the most historic gun control bill ever to get to the floor of the Florida Senate, I began the decision-making process that has led to my qualifying today to run for Florida Senate District 34,” Waldman said. “Gary Farmer lied to the residents of the district during his campaign that he was pro-gun control; however the truth is when it was time to stand up to the NRA, he stood with them.” … Waldman’s indignance over that one vote is understandable given the 2016 primary for SD 34. Farmer destroyed Waldman in that race — Waldman finished third behind a woefully underfunded Gwyn Clarke-Reed — largely due to Farmer’s commitment to take on the NRA and his attacks on Waldman for making two pro-NRA votes through his eight years in the Florida House.

Jim Waldman returns to challenge Gary Farmer. (Image via browardbeat.com)

—“Lauren Book lone Florida Senator re-elected without opposition” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Northeast Broward is major 2018 Democrat vs. Republican battleground” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

New state legislator elected when incumbent fails to qualify” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Following the failure of state Rep. Barrington Russell to qualify for office, Anika Omphroy, who had faced a tough primary election against an incumbent state representative, won the election by default. With no Republican or independent candidates in the race, Omphroy is headed to Tallahassee without a vote being cast. The 39-year-old, at a Starbucks ordering a Mint Majesty Tea, screamed over the phone when she heard the news. “I’m super excited to be this position right now,” she said, “but I keep thinking the system must have messed up. There must be a glitch.” But there was not. It’s unclear why Russell failed to qualify for re-election … He turned in part of his required paperwork, a sworn statement reading that one qualified to hold the seat, back in November. That’s too early for it to count for qualifying; the sworn statement has to be more recent.

David Rivera fails to qualify for state House run after giving $360k to campaign” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – It appears former Republican U.S. David Rivera has failed to qualify in his run for House District 105 despite pouring in $360,000 into his own campaign. Rivera was one of four candidates slated to run for the open seat. The qualifying deadline for state House races was noon Friday. Rivera’s campaign was sure to attract attention as he faced a civil lawsuit filed by the FEC last year over allegations he sent at least $69,000 secretly to the campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad. Sternad was allegedly posing as a straw candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary to help weaken Rivera’s general election opponent for Florida’s 25th Congressional District. Rivera would go on to lose that race.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

CBS News poll: Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson by five points” via Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Kabir Khanna and Fred Backus of CBS News — Scott has a five-point edge among Florida likely voters. Most Florida voters like the job Scott is doing as governor, he has a 61 percent approval rating among registered voters. In addition to strong support from his own party, most independents approve of the job he’s doing (as do about a third of Democrats). Scott currently leads Nelson among independents. The two are effectively tied among Hispanics. As for the Trump factor, two-thirds of Republican voters in Florida would like their next senator to be someone who tries to support Trump as much he or she can, rather than a conservative who is independent of Trump. More Democrats are looking for their senator to be someone who opposes Trump as much as he or she can (46 percent in Florida), instead of a progressive who sometimes works with the president.

First DeSantis ad airs — The DeSantis campaign is out with its first ad part of a $12 million ad campaign to run through the Aug. 28 primary. The 30-second spot “Only DeSantis” closes with a mention of Trump’s latest Twitter endorsement of the three-term North Florida congressman.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Philip Levine airs new ad — The Miami Beach Democrat is launching a new $1 million ad buy focusing on health care, with a 30-second spot (“Remedy”) where he promises to expand Medicaid and work to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

To view the video, click the image below:

Happening today — Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw of Tampa will hold a town-hall meeting about proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot, 6 p.m., Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 East Palm Ave., Tampa.

Campaign sign turned ‘flying disc’ causes social media ruckus” via Jim Rosica and Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – Cocoa Mayor and House District 51 candidate Henry Parrish has posted a video on Facebook showing a supporter of his opponent pulling up and flinging a Parrish campaign sign. What’s raising eyebrows is who did the tossing: Veteran lobbyist Guy Spearman, whose Spearman Management office is right next door. He supports Republican rival Tyler Sirois, executive director of Brevard-Seminole State Attorney Phil Archer’s office, in the race to succeed termed-out GOP state Rep. Tom Goodson … Spearman told Florida Politics that Parrish is in the wrong. He “readily admits” to slinging Parrish’s sign, saying it “was on my property. I’m sorry, but you can’t put a political sign on my property without asking me.” Parrish counters he had permission to place the sign and has filed a police report, saying he’ll “stick with law and order.”

— TRUMP’S FLORIDA —

Media gets look inside South Florida facility holding unaccompanied children” via the Miami Herald — A group of about 20 journalists from news organizations including the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald watched the immigrant children as the reporters were ushered through the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a facility under such tight control that Sen. Nelson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other government officials were turned away … After Nelson’s visit, he said: “it’s clear this administration is hiding something.” Friday’s guided, one-hour tour seemed to be an attempt to dispel this idea. Cellphones and audio or video recording equipment were prohibited — a “matter of security of privacy on minors in our shelters,” said Mark Weber, a representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Homestead and other shelters. On Friday, the Homestead facility housed 1,179 migrant children between 13 and 17 years old, including 70 who had been separated from their families at the Mexican border, said program director Leslie Wood.

Immigrant children walk outside at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children.

Marco Rubio: ‘Zero-tolerance’ immigration is what Trump campaigned on” via Jennifer Hansler of CNN — “Whether you agree with him or not, to the extent that what he is doing now is consistent with what he promised he do if elected, I think people have to acknowledge that.” … “I think you have to separate the politics from the public policymaking, and that’s become increasingly hard,” Rubio told David Axelrod on a televised edition of “The Axe Files.” Rubio said immigration “may very well be a winning issue for a lot of people because there’s real frustration,” adding there’s “always been an audience” for anti-immigrant sentiment.

Pam Bondi confronted by protesters outside Mister Rogers movie” via Kirby Wilson and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — A video of the confrontation, taken by progressive activist Timothy Heberlein of Organize Florida, shows several people shouting down Bondi as she leaves the theater escorted by law enforcement after seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor. “What would Mister Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!” Maria José Chapa, a labor organizer, can be heard yelling at Bondi in the video. “Shame on you!” “You’re a horrible person!” another protester shouts.

Tweet, tweet:

 

— JAMMED UP —

Firearms manufacturers are having a hard time conducting business amid increasing opposition from corporate America.

From payment processing firms limiting transactions to large companies like Bank of America locking gun makers out of capital, the firearm industry has been targeted as other companies look to capitalize off or contribute to the anti-gun violence momentum that’s followed several mass shootings in the U.S.

And now, reports Lisa Marie Pane for The Associated Press gun advocates could make a case against companies standing their ground against the Second Amendment.

In Georgia: One man made a legal argument against credit card companies who refused to process gun purchases. “But the state rejected it, saying that credit card processing is not considered a financial service under state law.”

Applause: Of course, anti-gun violence advocates cheer companies who make decisions friendly to their cause. “Experts say it’s a sign that the business world views wading into the gun debate as not at all risky — and, in fact, potentially beneficial to their brand.”

What’s next: The gun industry won’t give up easily. “We may have to seek legislation to make sure it can’t be done and that you can’t discriminate against individuals from lawful exercise of a constitutional right,” Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Marie Pane.

— STATEWIDE —

Scott announces potential high-speed rail linking Tampa and Orlando” via Lawrence Mower, Caitlin Johnson and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Brightline, the high-speed railroad linking Miami and West Palm Beach with hopes of reaching Orlando, said it has put it in a bid to build track along Interstate 4, leasing land owned by the state and the Central Florida Expressway Authority. “As one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions, Tampa Bay is a natural extension for Brightline,” said Patrick Goddard, president and COO of Brightline, in a statement. “We are currently engaged in the (bidding) process, which is the first step needed to extend the system to the Tampa Bay region.” Ostensibly, taxpayer dollars would not be used, sidestepping the reason why Scott struck down a similar rail proposal seven years ago.

This is b*llshit – “Father’s Day protests draw swift responses at two Florida prisons” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Chad Harris was taken out of his cell and placed in administrative confinement on June 17, but not because of anything he did wrong. Officials at Martin Correctional Institution put him there because his mother, Geraldine Harriel, showed up at the prison to protest its living conditions. Prison staff also had trespass warnings issued to the protesters, including Harriel. She’s now barred from returning to see her son. Harris, who is imprisoned on drug charges, is not set to be released until September 2020. Harriel, who lives in the same county where her son is imprisoned, drew the Department of Corrections’ ire by associating with a group of protesters who have long roiled officials in Tallahassee — activists who advocate for abolishing prisons and who call their group the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons. In the last two years, those activists and others have ramped up their efforts to organize inmates to protest inside Florida’s already-strained prisons. Their actions have been linked to September 2016 prison riots and an unprecedented statewide lockdown in August 2017, among other incidents. Corrections officials cited the group’s history and said those who gathered outside Martin were attempting to “incite a riot” and calling for those inside the prison to burn it down. Protesters and an inmate at Martin called that characterization “ridiculous.”

Audit finds problems with state purchasing cards” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The state auditor general found that between March 2016 and January 2017, the Florida Department of Health failed to timely cancel so-called state purchasing cards for 119 former employees who worked at the agency or county health departments. After a closer review of 20 of those records, auditors found that it took the state an average of 48 business days after employees left their jobs for the state to cancel the purchasing cards. One purchasing card was active for 114 business days after the employee left. Auditors also discovered ten charges, totaling $1,175, incurred on three employees’ purchasing cards after they left their jobs but before the cards were canceled. The report noted that department management described the charges as “automatic” and said they were processed by department vendors. The audit was focused on the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan and the Bureau of Early Steps and Newborn Screening.

Gambling cruise operator exempted from clean water requirements – Victory Casino Cruises, operator of gambling cruises in Florida, got a 5-year reprieve by the Department of Environmental Protection from “water purity requirements.” The department issued a final order last week exempting the company for its “Victory I Casino Vessel” out of Port Canaveral. Its petition asked for a rule variance because of the “a marine waste treatment system that produces sterile, clear, and odorless reuse water without generating solid waste, (which) eliminates the need to pump out or dump waste.” “No public comment was received,” the department noted.

Ethics board member: Report shows top-down ethical ignorance at City Hall” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The investigative report and audiotaped interviews produced as part of the state ethics investigation of former City Manager Rick Fernandez point to a top-down culture of easy ethics at City Hall, said key members of the city’s independent ethics board. The records, released to the public after the State Commission on Ethics unanimously found probable cause that Fernandez misused his position to accept gifts, reveal a cozy relationship between city staffers, lobbyists and their clients. It shows an environment in which it was a common practice to attend Florida State games in the luxury skybox of a local lobbyist, rub elbows with celebrity chefs and chat with developers about their projects and what they need from the city. “I am really concerned because from the very top level of the city government there is demonstrated an absolute non-understanding of what the role of government is and what the role of ethics in government is,” said Bill Hollimon, a local attorney and newest appointee to the city’s Independent Ethics Board, during a recent ethics board meeting.

— SHORE WAR —

A new law regarding access to certain beaches already is making waves in some parts of Florida’s shoreline.

In Santa Rosa Beach, reports Brendan Farrington for The Associated Press the local sheriff’s office anticipates it will begin arresting people for trespassing on beaches starting July 1, when the new law takes effect. It’s the only county where a current local ordinance doesn’t mesh with the recently passed state law.

“We are required by law to treat the beach as if it’s somebody’s front yard,” Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson told Farrington.

The law: Bill sponsor Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole said the legislation was aimed at ending legal disputes between beachfront property owners and local governments.

Pros: Those happy with the possibility of having beachgoers arrested “want to enjoy their beach in peace, and they say their property values will be affected if anyone can take advantage of the space many paid millions to have to themselves.”

Cons: “Beach access should be sacrosanct for all. The notion of a private beach is an oxymoron,” one local told Farrington. “After this goes into effect, people can be physically removed from specific beaches, like bouncers at a bar, and to me that’s despicable.”

— OPINIONS —

Johnny Boykins: Why would we start over with health care?” via Florida Politics — I admit there are problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But we can’t afford to start over, as some are suggesting with their health care proposals. Why would people support that and lose the health care they enjoy? Congress should be focusing on common-sense policies to cover the remaining 9 percent of Americans still worried about what will happen if they or their family member gets sick or goes to the hospital — not upending our health care system through sweeping, unrealistic and unattainable legislation. With the 2018 elections approaching, we must support candidates who prioritize pragmatic, patient-centered health care policies. We need leadership in Washington willing to work hard to preserve the current health coverage that millions enjoy and fix what isn’t working to make health care accessible for all Americans.

Joe Henderson: Sarah Sanders incident latest step into the abyss” via Florida Politics — It is wrong that Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant over the weekend because the staff and owner don’t like her politics and her presence made them feel uncomfortable. I disagree with almost everything she says and, especially, the man she represents in the White House press briefing room. Actually, it was quite a weekend for hate. Sanders’ father, the incredibly hypocritical former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, fired off a sickening tweet that showed a picture of gang members with the words, “Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House.” But hey, it’s all politics, right? That makes it OK, right? There is very little going on right now in our national discourse that qualifies as OK. So where does it stop? One person at a time, I think. Time to pump the brakes, folks.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Trey Lytal becomes FJA President” via Florida Politics – As Lake H. “Trey” Lytal, III came of age, his father Lake Lytal, Jr. was rising in the ranks of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (now the Florida Justice Association) and eventually became president of the group in 1994. After graduating from Florida State University and receiving his law degree from Stetson University, Trey Lytal became an attorney. He is managing partner with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath in West Palm Beach. During a ceremony at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach at FJA’s Annual Convention, 47-year-old Lytal became president of the Florida Justice Association – sworn in by his father.

Lake H. “Trey” Lytal, III

Personnel note: Marc Dunbar, Stronach Group part ways – Dunbar, the Tallahassee-based gaming lawyer and lobbyist, no longer will represent Canada’s The Stronach Group, operator of Hallandale Beach’s Gulfstream Park racetrack and casino, and North America’s largest thoroughbred horse-racing company. Dunbar said he withdrew his lobbying registration for the group on Friday. The parting was mutual, he added. “I am eternally grateful to (Stronach Group founder) Frank Stronach for the opportunity he gave me and wish him nothing but the best,” Dunbar said in a phone interview. Dunbar said he first started representing Stronach in 1999. This summer, he is acting as executive vice president and general counsel to another client — Baha Mar, an integrated casino-resort in Nassau, Bahamas. Dunbar will return this fall to the Jones Walker law firm in Tallahassee, where he remains a partner.

Personnel note: Ben Gibson joins Shutts & Bowen” via Florida Politics – Ben Gibson, a former lawyer to Gov. Scott, has joined Shutts & Bowen as a partner in its Business Litigation Practice Group in the Tallahassee office, the firm announced Friday. His statewide practice focuses on government, political, and corporate clients, involving government affairs, appellate, litigation and administrative matters. Micky Grindstaff, Shutts’ managing partner, said Gibson “brings a wealth of Florida executive, legislative and political experience to Shutts.” Gibson served as Deputy General Counsel and Assistant General Counsel to Scott for nearly five years.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Brian BallardBrady BenfordBrad BurlesonChris DorworthStephanie Grutman Zauder, Ballard Partners: Uber Technologies and Affiliates

Laura BoehmerSeth McKeelSydney RidleyDavid Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners

Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: Precision Contracting Services

Megan Fay, Capital City Consulting: Renaissance Learning

Nick IarossiAndrew KetchelDean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Brandt Information Services

Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Jobs for Florida’s Graduates

David Reiner: Quest Diagnostics Incorporated

Meredith Woodrum Snowden, Leath Consulting: Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association

— ALOE —

What Matt Dixon is reading –—“Papa John’s withdraws request for warmer pizza sauce” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain has told state health regulators ‘never mind’ on its request to store its pizza sauce at higher temperatures. A “closing order” from the Department of Health shows the company withdrew its petition for a variance from the state’s “safe temperature” refrigeration standard of “41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.” The variance would have permitted Papa John’s sauce to be kept “equal to or less than 85 degrees” for up to 10 hours.

Happy birthday belatedly to our friend Blake Dowling, Constitution Revision Commission member Rich Newsome, state Rep. Bryan Avila and Tara Price.

Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018

A record number Democratic candidates qualified for state races this week, and the Florida Democratic Party said now it’s time to prepare for the “Blue Wave.”

“From the Gubernatorial race, to State House and Senate, to county commissioners and mayors, we have the most qualified, committed, and exciting group of candidates we have ever seen,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo.

“We have a record number of people who have stepped up to run, and what this shows us is that no GOP seat is safe. After nearly 20-years of all-Republican rule, Floridians are fed-up with economic policies that don’t benefit working families, they are tired of their children’s education being shortchanged, and they are tired of leaders who have failed to take action on everything from gun violence prevention to climate change.”

Rizzo also touted a record-breaking 82 Democratic women making the ballot for state legislative races.

“Women will be the difference in 2018, I do truly believe that. They are instrumental to the success of the Democratic Party, and they feel more empowered than ever to take their future into their own hands by running for office,” she said.

It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can crack the GOP’s hold on state government by flipping the Governor’s Mansion, or possibly even the state Senate, but now that the title cards are set it’s clear heretofore underdogs’ strategy is more reminiscent of Rocky than Glass Joe.

Republicans currently hold a 23-16 advantage in Florida Senate, with one vacancy. Democrats plan to take the chamber back has been clear for months — flip Tampa Bay and field fresh, credible challengers in Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36. Win five, win the Senate.

On the Tampa Bay front, Democrats have recruited House Minority Leader Janet Cruz to challenge Republican Sen. Dana Young in SD 18; former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take on former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, and trial attorney Carrie Pilon to challenge St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes in SD 24. None of those races will be easy, but the 2018 crop of candidates is certainly more competitive than in 2016.

In SD 8, the party likes its odds with Kayser Enneking, and she’s done her part by pulling in a respectable amount of cash for her campaign. Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry still leads her in fundraising, but not by near the margin found in the Tampa races.

The fundraising gap and Republican lean is more significant in SD 22, where former circuit court judge Bob Doyel is challenging Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel. He’s a much more formidable opponent however than the 2016 Democratic nominee, Debra Wright, who to her credit still came within 7 points despite being outspent 20-to-1.

Time will tell on David Perez’ bid against Republican Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36. Diaz is a popular and very well-funded, and Perez has only been in the race for a couple of weeks.

While the Senate roadmap is known, Florida Democrats have been less direct about their overall strategy to chip away at the GOP’s sizable majority in the House.

Republicans currently have a stranglehold on the chamber, which is split 76-41 with three vacancies. Two of those empty seats are Republican locks, and the third was a gimme for Democrats — congrats to Boynton Beach Democrat Joseph Casello, who was elected to HD 90 without opposition Friday.

At 42 seats, the party is still a dozen from the number that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and in 2018 the strategy in the lower chamber reflects a familiar adage: “You must be present to win.”

To that end, Democrats are fielding a candidate in over 100 districts, a marked increase from the 63 Democrats who took a shot in 2016. And it’s not all quantity over quality — a cursory glance the 95 House races that weren’t decided Friday jogs the memory on some of the strong candidates running under the Democratic Party banner.

In Orlando’s HD 47, Anna Eskamani has strong odds to flip the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Mike Miller. In Broward-based HD 93, Emma Collum has a genuine chance to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. George Moraitis. And in perennial target HD 63, Fentrice Driskell is raising cash and landing endorsements as she aims to unseat Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Even in some districts previously thought of as moonshots, some real-deal candidates have shown up and gotten to work. In Sarasota’s HD 74, for instance, Tony Mowry is confident he can hand James Buchanan his second defeat of the year in a traditionally Republican seat. Tracye Polson is matching her GOP opponents in fundraising in her bid to flip HD 15, the seat vacated by Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — At the old ballgame

In her lifelong fight against child abuse, state Senator Lauren Book has found a friend in America’s favorite pastime.

The Plantation Democrat brought together 1,000 middle and elementary school children from seven schools in the Bronx for a walk to advocate for child safety and protection Thursday.

Lauren Book brings her crusade for child safety to the Bronx.

Led by Book, the large group of children approached Yankee Stadium — the heart of the Big Apple borough — as they chanted “Whose streets? OUR streets!”

Once inside, the children were joined by Yankee’s staff and players as they paced the warning track. As most stars should be, the activists were recognized over the stadium’s PA system.

It’s the fourth time the Senator has linked the surrounding neighborhood with one of the most popular teams in baseball, proving that her influence and advocacy knows no geographical limits.

The walk followed recent fatal shootings killing two young people outside local schools. Book paralleled the spirit of Bronx youth with that of Parkland.

“These students remind me that advocacy has no age limit,” Book said. “I wish I could shield these children from violence, abuse and poverty they experience daily, but the reality is, something more powerful is going on here: a new generation is being raised up that will combat these things themselves. It’s not about me, it’s about them.”

In the Bronx, Book also teaches lessons from her “Safer, Smarter Kids” curriculum. The first of its kind program is also taught in Manhattan. As part of the walk, Book donated to a local children’s advocacy center 200 copies of her book “Lauren’s Kingdom,” which encourages children suffering abuse to speak up.

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:

Take 5

Governor disavows immigration practice — Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for an end to the practice of separating migrant children from their parents when they are detained for being in the country illegally. The letter preceded President Donald Trump’s announcement later this week that he plans to end the immigration policy via an executive order. “I have been very clear that I absolutely do not agree with the practice of separating children from their families,” Scott wrote. “This practice needs to stop now.” In the letter, Scott requested HHS to notify him of unaccompanied migrant children in the state and made several inquiries regarding health care, education and social services being provided to the children. He also offered a helping hand from the state to reunite children with their parents.

Plans advance to close Broward nursing home — The state won a key victory this week in a series of legal battles with a troubled nursing home in Broward County. An appellate court upheld a state agency’s decision to suspend the operating license of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, the nursing home where authorities linked several patient deaths to negligence following a power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. Also upheld by the court were moves to suspend the facility’s participation in the Medicaid program and block Medicaid admissions. Meanwhile, the state still is battling the nursing home over whether it should be required to turn over death records of thousands of nursing home patients across the state. A circuit court judge ruled last week that the state Department of Health should provide the records for a reasonable fee. State attorneys this week filed an appeal to that ruling, reports the News Service of Florida.

Feds could join FIU bridge lawsuit — The federal government is “actively considering whether to file a statement of interest” in a Miami Herald lawsuit seeking records held by the state Department of Transportation, reported Jim Rosica for Florida Politics. The records requested pertain to the FIU footbridge that collapsed in March killing 6 people. The Herald and two named reporters are seeking “emails, meeting minutes and other records relating to the bridge’s design and construction” from DOT. The U.S. attorney who filed the document this week cited the involvement of a federal entity, the National Transportation Safety Board, as a rationale for potentially justifying involvement in the lawsuit. The state Department of Transportation has cited an ongoing NTSB investigation as just cause for not releasing the records sought by the Herald, as they cannot release the information without NTSB approval.

Groups push halt to early voting ban — University students who are suing over the state’s ban on early voting at college campuses filed a motion this week to halt the ban ahead of this year’s election. The motion seeks a “preliminary injunction to prevent Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner from enforcing” the ban, according to a news release. Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida notes that the students who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit are supported by the Democratic-aligned Andrew Goodman Foundation, along with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups. Writes Dixon, “the groups argue the push is not political, but rather to ensure that younger voters are not treated differently.” Sponsoring the plaintiffs — made up of nine students from the University of Florida and FSU — is Priorities USA Foundation. The group’s Chairman Guy Cecil said, “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.”

Florida relevant in landmark sales tax ruling — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that’s being acclaimed by some as a move toward “leveling the playing field” between physical retails stores and online sellers could significantly affect the dollar amount of taxes remitted in the Sunshine State. Reports Jim Rosica for Florida Politics, “Estimates have varied on how much Florida would get if it captured taxes on its residents’ online purchases, from $200 million to more than $750 million.” The recent court ruling walks back an earlier precedent that online retailers could only be required to collect sales taxes on purchases if they had a physical presence in the state. The ruling supported a South Dakota law that required online retailers to collect sales taxes on orders from customers within the state. Currently, Floridians are required to pay sales taxes for online orders, and while large online retailers like Amazon already collect sales taxes, other smaller outlets do not, reports Axios. Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Retail Federation lauded the ruling. TaxWatch said the decision signals an opportunity for Florida to modernize its tax system, and the FRF pointed to the ruling as a chance for legislators to create equity between brick-and-mortar stores and online sellers.

Scott targets algae blooms

Amid reports of algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee River and east to the St. Lucie River estuaries and the Indian River Lagoon, Gov. Scott directed the state Department of Environmental Protection to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “redirect the flow of water out of Lake Okeechobee to the south.”

Rick Scott is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to redirect water being released from Lake Okeechobee

“Two years ago, we saw the devastating impact of releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and estuaries which caused widespread algal blooms and led to the declaration of a state of emergency in four counties,” Scott said in a statement Wednesday. “We are taking immediate action to do everything in our power to solve this problem.”

In response to the order, reports TCPalm.com, USACE began reducing overall discharges Friday. “Some have noted that there is no storage nor not enough conveyance for the water to go to the south, and that is going to be a problem,” reports TCPalm.

In his request, Scott noted that the state has a tentative agreement with the Donald Trump administration to expedite repairs to the federal Dike from where water needs to be discharged.

Added Scott: “Also, working with the Florida Legislature, I signed a law that accelerated the EAA reservoir to move more water south of the Lake, to help ease these discharges. But, while we continue to wait on the federal government’s action on the Dike and EAA reservoir, we are going to do all we can to protect our waterways as we enter the hot summer months in Florida.”

Bondi touts scam-targeting operation

Operation Main Street, a nationwide initiative focused on stopping scams that target small businesses, saw success in the Sunshine State.

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced this week that of the 24 actions taken against scammers during the initiative, four were in Florida. The following businesses caught the wrath of the Attorney General: Florida Corporate Filing Services, GNA Housekeeping, LLC, United Business Services, Inc., and US Yellow.

Pam Bondi is targeting small business scams.

According to a news release from Bondi’s office, US Yellow tricked “small businesses into believing US Yellow provided free local listings with local Yellow Pages” and then charged businesses more than $1,000 a year for a listing.

For the other named scammers, Bondi’s office obtained final judgments for deceptive practices.

“Small businesses are vital to Florida’s economy, employing more than 3 million Floridians and contributing to our state’s economic strength,” Bondi said.

Instagram of the Week

#WeShouldAllCare 🇺🇸 #KeepFamiliesTogether @nymag @justinteodoro

A post shared by Congressman Darren Soto (@repdarrensoto) on

The Week in Appointments

Collier County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Crystal Kinzel will fill a vacancy created by the death of Dwight Brock. Her term began June 20 and will last through Nov. 13. She was the Chief Deputy Clerk of the same circuit.

Lake County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Gary Cooney will fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Neil Kelly. His term began June 15 and will last through Nov. 13. He was the Chief Deputy Clerk of the same circuit.

Education Dept. lauds family involvement initiatives

The Florida Department of Education this week announced the winners of its 2018 Family and Community Involvement Award, which recognizes schools for their efforts to get families and communities involved in education.

“It is my pleasure to recognize these schools with the Family and Community Involvement Award,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “As a former teacher and principal, I have seen firsthand how family and community involvement can positively impact student achievement. My congratulations to our schools for their innovation in creating meaningful programs that connect students, parents and the community.”

Winning awards for their initiatives were Callahan Intermediate School in Nassau County, Denn John Middle School in Osceola County, Gulf Middle School and Hudson Elementary School in Pasco County, Killearn Lakes Elementary School in Leon County, Minneola Elementary School in Lake County, Poinciana Elementary School in Monroe County, Thomas L. Sims Middle School in Santa Rosa County and Woodlands Community Middle School in Palm Beach County.

The winners will be formally recognized and invited to share their award-winning programs at the Educational Strategies and Student Engagement Institute in November.

FWC staff recognized for conservation efforts

John Hunt, a biologist working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and FWC officer Michael Bibeau were both honored this week by the Florida Guides Association for their conservation efforts.

John Hunt, with Captain Phil Chapman, was honored by the Florida Guides Association.

For his “passionate commitment” to protecting marine fisheries, Hunt received the Capt. Phil Chapman Award. He is known across the globe for scientific contributions that have been instrumental in preserving the Caribbean spiny lobster fishery.

Gil McRae, Director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said Hunt “embodies” the needed application of “sound science and collective problem-solving approach that relies upon strong partnerships among government, stakeholders and environmental groups.”

“Perhaps, most importantly, John is a tireless advocate for his staff within the agency,” added McRae. “He has repeatedly shown admirable dedication and commitment to his staff, serving as a model for all of us with his leadership, compassion and courage.”

For his work patrolling Pinellas County, Bibeau was honored with the Trained Eyes Coastwatchers Officer of the Year award.

“The hard work of my brothers and sisters in conservation law enforcement inspires me to do my job every day to the best of my ability,” Bibeau said.

Parks surpass prescribed-fire record

The Florida Park Service has beaten a previous record for the amount of land managed by prescribed fire in a fiscal year.

More than 80,837 acres of land have been managed via controlled burns this year. The process is extremely beneficial to the environment, and remains a safe and effective way to help woodlands; the fires are planned, set and extinguished by specialized staff.

Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper.

“We are proud of Florida State Parks staff for setting a new record for protecting park habitat with prescribed fire,” said Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper. “Florida is fortunate to have such dedicated people working in state parks reducing risks of wildfire and restoring natural systems.”

The risk of wildfires is mitigated through prescribed fires because the deliberate blazes can be used to target areas where dry, dead plants have accumulated. It’s an effective tool that allows park workers to clear brush out of the way. Other benefits of controlled burns include increased nutrients in soil and upticks in biodiversity.

There are 175 state parks in Florida, 67 of them have seen more than 390 prescribed fires this year.

Preliminary citrus budget gets approval

The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary $17.68 million spending plan for the Florida Department of Citrus in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

That’s a $442,000 increase from last year, which ended up being one of the worst years for Florida citrus in recent history as it reeled from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

The tentative plan figures Florida citrus growers should produce 60 million boxes of oranges and 5 million boxes of grapefruit. The budget is based on a tax projection of $.07 per box of processed oranges, all grapefruit and all specialty fruit. A tax of $.05 is projected for fresh oranges.

Though the overall budget increased, international programs, scientific research, and administration components of the budget saw cuts.

The budget will not be finalized until October, after the USDA releases its initial crop forecast for the upcoming season. Florida growers are on track to produce just 44.95 million boxes of oranges this year, according to the latest USDA forecast, and citrus groves suffered extensive damage that could affect crop production for years to come.

No SunPass fines during update

Good news for drivers: there’ll be no late fees or penalties as the state updates the troubled SunPass electronic toll collection system.

“I share the frustrations with our customers over the rollout of (the updated system) and find it unacceptable,” said Mike Dew, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew promises no SunPass fines during updates.

“We will not be imposing late fees or penalties on SunPass accounts until the system is providing the benefits and ease of access that our customers deserve and expect.”

“The SunPass system has accumulated toll charges for customer accounts since the maintenance period began June 1,” a news release said. “In the best interest of the customer, the posting of toll charges was withheld until the website and call center systems were operating more efficiently.”

SunPass customers will continue to be charged regular tolls, however. Once the system gets a clean bill of health, fees and penalties will resume for delinquent accounts.

Lawmakers ranked on progressive positions

It’s a common practice for activist groups and interests to dole out letter grades for lawmakers based on their voting records during the previous Session.

Typically, the results fall along party lines. And a recent report card from Progress Florida was no outlier to that trend; all of the 17 lawmakers who earned an A grade are Democrats, and very few Republicans received anything but an F grade — although term-limited Republican Sen. Rene Garcia of Miami got a C.

Unsurprisingly, Carlos Guillermo Smith earned the top grade among Florida progressives.

Votes were factored into whether they expressed support for what Progress Florida dubbed “People First” positions. During 2018, votes, like supporting an assault weapons ban, or opposing the House’s education package, met the “People First” criteria.

“Floridians don’t always know where their legislators stand on key issues impacting their lives, from access to health care and environmental protection to gun safety, the economy and supporting public schools,” said Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo. “Our People First Report Card grades state lawmakers based not on what they say in a campaign mailer, but on how they actually voted on issues Floridians care about.”

Unsurprisingly, Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith topped the group’s list. The freshman Democrat helped found and chaired the Legislative Progressive Caucus. He was joined with 100 percent scores by South Florida Democrats Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Rep. David Richardson. Each aligned with Progress Florida on every scored vote.

Chip LaMarca recognized for local commitment

As he vies for the South Florida HD 39 seat in the Legislature, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca was recognized this week for his work at the local level.

The Florida Association of Counties chose LaMarca as the recipient of the 2018 President’s Commitment to Service Award — the honor is bestowed upon those who address local issues and serve alongside the association.

Chip LaMarca earns kudos for his local work.

In accepting the honor, LaMarca emphasized home rule — which has come to be a hot topic of the Legislature as lawmakers have pre-empted powers to the state. The state has been criticized for overreaching into governing decisions usually determined at the local level.

“The Florida Association of Counties works on behalf of Florida’s 67 counties to advocate for home rule and legislation that is vital to the quality of life for all of our residents,” said LaMarca.

Florida Association of Counties President Christopher Constance, also a Charlotte County Commissioner, said LaMarca’s “unwavering commitment to local governments exemplifies the definition of a dedicated and selfless public servant.”

If LaMarca makes it to the House in November, Constance and the counties could have another local-friendly fighter in the state House.

Utility leaders honored for service

Four public powers leaders were honored this week by the American Public Power Association (APPA) for their important work of providing electricity to the state.

Among the honorees: Amy Zubaly, who is the Executive Director of Florida Municipal Electric Association, or FMEA; Fred Bryant, the former general counsel of FMEA and Florida Municipal Power Agency, or FMPA; Chris Gent, who is the vice president of communications for Kissimmee Utility Authority; and Michael Perri, Jr., a board member of Fort Pierce Utilities Authority.

Amy Zubaly, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) Board of Directors.

Zubaly was awarded for her 18 active years with APPA. The association recognized her important work restoring power in Florida after Hurricane Irma, as well as her efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Bryant was given the James D. Donovan Individual Achievement Award. It’s the second time he’s received the honor. He is credited with unmatched legal expertise in his field.

Perri, the board member, was recognized in his capacity as an elected official. APPA awarded him the honor for assisting in beneficial legislation and opposing potentially harmful bills.

FSU research: Church does little for opioid addiction

A new study conducted by researchers at Florida State University found that religious involvement has no significant effect on mothers who are misusing prescription drugs — like opioids.

Illegal drugs, however, are a different story; the researchers found that practicing religion could have an effect on prohibited substance use.

FSU Associate Professor Amy Burdette (Image via FSU /Bill Lax)

“However, religious communities are just beginning to discuss the dangers of prescription drug abuse,” explained FSU Associate Professor Amy Burdette, who spearheaded the research.

Across the slice of population studied — female mothers who were mostly single — drug abuse was low.

“That’s a bit of good news,” Burdette said. “Whether you’re talking about prescription drug misuse or illegal substance abuse, it’s somewhat rare in our sample — it’s not that most mothers are doing this.”

Still, Burdette believes the study should be taken into consideration by religious leaders.

“Our research suggests that church leaders may want to directly address the issue of prescription drug misuse as churchgoers may not view prescription drugs in the same way that they view illegal drugs,” Burdette said. “Not directly addressing the issue may lead to a high degree of moral ambiguity.”

Leon County balances budget without increasing millage rate

After tentatively coming to an agreement this week, commissioners for Leon County are touting the seventh-consecutive year in which they’ve drafted a budget without raising the millage rate.

The elected leaders of the county that houses the capital city are proposing a $262.5 million spending plan for the year ahead — a 3.46 percent increase from last year.

Leon County Commission Chair Nick Maddox.

But that increase is accompanied by no change in the millage rate, currently set at 8.3144 mills.

A news release announcing the budget plan said it was created during “a slowly improving economy, where growth in property tax revenues and state sales tax revenues are beginning to cover the inflationary costs of government expenses without having to reduce program services.”

“While property values continue to slowly rise in our recovering economy, the County remains committed to serving our citizens while avoiding new expenses,” said Commission Chairman Nick Maddox. “This balanced budget demonstrates that commitment.”

Making way for new Publix near downtown

If you travel Gaines Street often, get ready for detours.

Starting next week, there will be what the city calls ‘traffic impacts’ on the strip because of construction on the new Publix Greenwise Supermarket being built near Gaines and Railroad Avenue.

The city promises, however, that “access to area businesses and residences will be maintained at all times.”

Here’s the plan, according to a city news release:

— From next Monday through Sunday, July 1, the eastbound lane of Gaines from Railroad to Woodward Avenue will be closed. The westbound lane will remain open and detour signs will be posted.

— Starting Monday, July 2, until Thursday, July 5, the eastbound lane of Gaines from Railroad to Woodward will be closed daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

— Starting Friday, July 6 and lasting through Sunday, July 8, there will be a full road closure (both eastbound and westbound lanes closed) on Gaines in front of the site.

For more information, email Dwaine Stevens, the Publix Media and Community Relations Manager for the region, at Dwaine.Stevens@publix.com.

Artopia: Big Bend Cares

Artopia is a charity art fundraising event Saturday, June 23, to benefit Big Bend Cares.

Local and regional artists donate artwork for this event, which includes a few signed and numbered limited editions. With art and media including painting, sculpture, photography, arts and crafts, Artopia features both silent and a live auction at the end of the evening.

Last year, Artopia featured more than 300 pieces of original artwork, including oils, pastels, acrylics, photography, scenography, sculpture, pottery, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, mixed media and much, much more.

In addition to all of the artwork, local businesses and individuals donate gift certificates and other perks to bid on. Tickets are $25.00; event begins 7 p.m. at the Donald L Tucker Civic Center, 505 W Pensacola St.

Capitol Directions

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 6.22.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Candidate qualifying closes at noon today, and the question arises:

Will there be any more surprises?

We saw two minor ones: Jacksonville Republican state Rep. Jay Fant dropped out of the attorney general’s race to apply for the top job at the Office of Financial Regulation.

Also, Republican state Rep. Jake Raburn of Lithia announced he would pass on trying for re-election to a fourth term before being term-limited, citing his need for more family time.

We’ll also start to see some more candidate net worths being reported.

And stay tuned to Florida Politics throughout the day to find out who’s re-elected because of no opposition.

Ten candidates qualified for cabinet races” via News Service of Florida — With a noon Friday deadline to qualify for this year’s elections, 10 candidates for state Cabinet seats had qualified as of Thursday morning, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. Republicans Ashley Moody and Frank White and Democrat Sean Shaw had qualified to run for attorney general, while Democrat Ryan Torrens was expected to appear Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee to submit his paperwork. The candidates are seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi. In the race to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Republicans Matt Caldwell and Mike McCalister and Democrats Nikki Fried and David Walker had qualified as of Thursday morning. Also, incumbent Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had qualified to defend his seat. Democrat Jeremy Ring and a write-in candidate had qualified to try to topple Patronis.

Jeff Greene posts $3.3B net worth” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Greene announced his plans to run just this month but has said he will spend whatever it takes to become Florida governor. His ability to do just that was outlined in the massive financial disclosure report he filed with state election officials. After announcing he would get in the race, Greene quickly spent $3 million on TV ads. A top-line breakdown of Greene’s financial disclosure report: $147 million real estate portfolio with properties in California, Pennsylvania and Florida, including a $85 million house in Palm Beach County; $230 million in personal bank accounts, including a nearly $200 million Merrill Lynch investment account; More than $2.5 billion from ownership interests in dozens of entities, the largest of which is $536 million in California-based lender Aviation Plaza Partners.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@realDonaldTrump: You cannot pass legislation on immigration whether it be for safety and security or any other reason including “heart,” without getting Dem votes. Problem is, they don’t care about security and R’s do. Zero Dems voted to support the Goodlatte Bill. They won’t vote for anything!

—@SenBillNelson: Pres. Trump’s order does nothing to help the 2,300 kids already separated from their families. I am heading back to Homestead, FL Saturday to check on 94 kids there who were separated from their parents to find out exactly what’s being done to reunite them with their families.

—@MarcoRubio: Charles Krauthammer was a man of extraordinary intellect. Truly one of a kind. The conservative movement & the nation will miss his incredible insight, especially in times such as these. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. May he Rest In Peace

—@RepValDemings: Boys are being sent to a West Texas “tent city” to help with the overflow of kids torn from their parents. Where are the girls going? #WhereAreTheGirls?

—@AlexDaugherty: .@RepCurbelo @MarioDB and @RosLehtinen vote NO on conservative Goodlatte immigration bill, which fails as expected

—@Scott_Maxwell: Finally saw Jeff Greene ad that features Trump yelling at him at Mar-a-Lago. Overall, ad’s pretty decent. But from brief clip of the argument, it’s hard to tell whether it’s really “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump” or more “Jeff Greene takes shit from Trump … at Trump’s club.”

—@Scontorno: Very interesting … Both Republican candidates for Florida governor will accept public matching funds on donations to their campaigns. Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis put in the paper work for it today when they officially filed to run for office.

—@MCImaps: Jeff Greene is already all over my Instagram and Twitter with digital ads #flgov #flapol #sayfie

—@KevinsiDonohoe: According to a new Fox News poll, Republican primary voters second most important issue is health care — but neither DeSantis or Putnam mention the issue on their websites and have nothing to say about it on the campaign trail. #flgov #sayfie #FlaPol

—@JimRosicaFL: SPOTTED today in Tallahassee: — A “Cory Booker for President 2020” bumper sticker. — A hand-painted sign on a utility pole reading “Damn Trump + GOP.” cc: @CoryBooker #FlaPol

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 6; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 16; MLB All-Star Game — 25; Deadline for filing claim bills — 40; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 40; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 41; Start of the U.S. Open — 66; Primary Election Day — 67; College Football opening weekend — 69; NFL season starts — 77; Future of Florida Forum — 96; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 123; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 124; General Election Day — 137; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 237; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 256.

— TOP STORY —

Bill Nelson, others to tour Homestead migrant facility Saturday” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — After being denied access on Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing migrant children, Sen. Nelson says he has been granted a tour of the facility by Health and Human Services (HHS) officials. That tour will take place Saturday. Nelson arrived at the center earlier in the week with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and incoming Florida House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee. The group had planned to speak with migrant children being held there. Around 1,000 children in total are housed at that facility, 94 of which were separated from their families under a recently-amended policy by President Donald Trump. Nelson and Wasserman Schultz say they were told they would be able to tour the facility before arriving, but were barred by HHS officials on the scene.

Felony drug defendant tells shocked Miami judge: I work caring for kids seized at border” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Franky Santos appeared before Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, who is overseeing his case in drug court. Santos told the judge he had just been hired as a “lead youth care worker” at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ compound in Homestead. “I watch over the children,” he said, to “make sure they don’t sneak off or go anywhere where they’re not supposed to.” The judge, who had presided over child welfare cases for more than a decade, appeared to be surprised at Santos’ new job. “People with open criminal cases should not be watching children that we have in holding facilities in our country,” she said. “I think it’s a disgrace.” “I’m just shocked, although I shouldn’t be,” she added. Santos said he works at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a 1,000-bed center for children who have entered the U.S. without permission. The shelter was shuttered last year when the number of unaccompanied youths being held there declined. But it was reopened in recent weeks just as the Trump administration announced it would hold children separately from their families if the parents faced criminal prosecution for illegal entry.

— “Analysis: Trump immigration policy is political gift to Bill Nelson and other Democrats” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

— “Rick Scott crosses rhetorical border on caged children” via Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post

— “Scott gave tax deal to company running Miami’s child-migrant center after fraud settlement” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times

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— FIRST IN SUNBURN: LEVINE > PUTNAM OR DESANTIS —

Democrat Philip Levine has a five-point advantage over both favored Republican candidates in the Florida Governor’s race, according to a new poll set to be released Thursday.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,308 Florida voters between June 18-19, finding the former Miami Beach Mayor would be the preferred candidate in a head-to-head matchup with either Putnam or DeSantis.

— The poll shows Levine would defeat Putnam 43-38 percent, with 19 percent unsure.

— Against DeSantis, Levine wins 41-36 percent, with 22 percent unsure.

— As for favorability ratings, Levine also leads with 32 percent favorable, compared to 17 percent unfavorable. However, more than half (51 percent) say they are unsure.

— With fellow Democrat Gwen Graham, her favorability breaks down to 27-12 percent, with 61 percent unsure. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Orlando businessman Chris King and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene all remain in the high single digits — 9 percent each for Gillum, 8-10% for King and 8-9% for Greene. Respondents are unsure about all three Democrats, in the low-80 percent range.

Two other notes from the poll:

— Florida voters also give the Attorney General’s race to Democrat Sean Shaw, with another five-point lead over Republican Ashley Moody, 40-35 percent. Twenty-six percent say they aren’t sure.

— Floridians also hold a slightly unfavorable opinion of Trump, with 49 percent not approving of his job in office versus 45 percent approval. Fifty-four percent of respondents also say they oppose Trump’s policy to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, with 33 percent supporting the policy.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

More polling — “Levine and Graham tight, Chris King in third” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new poll from RABA Research is finding the Florida Democratic primary race for the governor’s election is close to a dead heat between Levine and Graham. The poll, using random digit dialing and excluding cellphones, surveyed of 660 Florida Democrats Friday and Saturday, found Levine’s support at 27 percent, Graham’s at 26 percent, King at 15 percent, Gillum at 8 percent, and Greene at 3 percent. Just 21 percent of those surveyed said they did not know, or that they wanted someone else. This survey does not take the usual “likely voters” track for Democrats; instead, it redistributes weight between super voters and new voters, with those who indicated the potential to vote in the August 28 primary. Among those surveyed, 79 percent they were almost certain they would vote, 10 percent said probably, and 11 percent said there was a 50-50 chance. RABA reported a margin of error of 3.8 percent for overall results.

More polling — Fox News poll shows Putnam up big on DeSantis — A Fox News Poll of Florida likely GOP primary voters finds Putnam ahead of Congressman DeSantis by a 32-17 percent margin. … The poll, released Thursday, finds 22 percent of these GOP primary voters believe immigration is the top issue facing their state, while 16 percent say health care, 15 percent the economy, 12 percent guns, 10 percent the opioid crisis, 7 percent taxes, 5 percent environmental issues, and 4 percent abortion.

Will lightning strike twice in the South? Gillum campaigns in Trump country.” via Jonathan K part of The Washington Post — There was something familiar in the tone, urgency and words of Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee. “I think that that is what is going to make way for us to not only break through this primary election,” he continued, “but is what’s going to pierce the hearts, the minds, the imagination, the hope, the inspiration and aspiration of voters all across our state, who may or may not be Democrats.” But it is what he said at the end of this oration in the latest episode of “Cape Up” that triggered my sense of déjà vu. “I’m not gonna capitulate and shrink from who I am, and what I believe in, in this race,” Gillum told me at the WNYC studios in lower Manhattan earlier this month. Rhetorically, Gillum reminded me of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia. “We keep running these races as if we are running Republican-lite on the belief that if we are just good enough, just nice enough, just acceptable enough, if we don’t say loud enough what it is that we believe in, that maybe they’ll like us, and when they go into the ballot box they’ll choose us,” Gillum said, referring to the difficulty Democrats have had in winning back the Florida governor’s mansion over about the past 20 years. “What Republican voters have shown us is that when they have the choice between the real thing and the fake one, they go with the real one every time. … And then our voters, the very ones that we need in order to win, we’re not providing them a motivation or a stimulation to get out there and vote for us. Why? Because they’re not sure that we’re for them.”

After bristling at ‘dark money’ label, Andrew Gillum-backing super PAC discloses it was funded with dark money” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — But the ultimate source of all the money The Collective Super PAC received — $742,720 — is not clear at all. The entire sum of its contributions was given in one lump on a single day, May 7, by the PAC’s nonprofit arm called Collective Future, according to the super PAC’s filings with the Federal Election Commission. And because Collective Future is a 501(c)(4), it does not have to disclose its source of funds publicly under tax and election law. Almost all of the money in Florida was spent trashing Gillum‘s rival, Graham, as a phony liberal in a TV ad campaign. Graham’s supporters accused The Collective of being a “dark money” group that doesn’t disclose donors, prompting the super PAC’s executive director and founder, Quentin James, to deny it in an op-ed in the Miami Herald May 14, seven days after he received the publicly untraceable money from the affiliated nonprofit, which shares the same Washington P.O. box address. “It’s only a matter of time before we see dark money flowing into Florida to silence the voices of Florida voters,” Gillum warned on Twitter. Gillum’s political committee, Forward Florida, has also received untraceable money from Collective Future, which has contributed $266,000 in total, or about 14 percent of its nearly $1.9 million raised.

Congressional Progressive Caucus leader endorses Graham — Congressman Ted Lieu of California is endorsing the former Democratic congresswoman for Florida Governor. “Despite representing one of the most conservative districts of any Democrat in Congress, Gwen Graham always stood up for the critical progressive values that unite us,” Lieu said. “Gwen fought to protect a woman’s right to choose. She supported full equality for LGBTQ Floridians. And she voted to defend President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, his Clean Power Plan, and DREAMers.” Lieu, who was sworn into the House alongside Graham in 2015, added: “Gwen has spent her life fighting for key progressive values. In law school, she worked pro-bono for the Sierra Club to protect the environment. As a mother, she volunteered at her children’s schools to improve public education. And then she stepped up to run for public office and she beat an extreme incumbent Republican. Now she’s taking the fight to Donald Trump and running to end 20 years of Republican domination in Florida. As governor, Gwen will protect Florida families from Trump’s attacks and fight to expand health care, restore Florida’s public schools, and create good-paying jobs.”

Graham’s latest ad focuses on Medicaid expansion” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Her latest 30-second spot, “Absolute,” begins like a dramatic movie trailer with pounding music and flashing images of Tallahassee and someone being rushed on a hospital gurney, as Graham begins, “It’s disgusting what’s going on in Tallahassee. It didn’t used to be this way.”

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Levine launches new ad speaking out on Donald Trump’s ‘cruel treatment of immigrant children’ — In “humanity,” the former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate calls out Trump on “inhumane and cruel policies that have separated thousands of children from their parents.” The 30-second spot has Levine saying: “As a dad, I’m appalled by what’s happening to children on America’s southern border — we never thought we’d see this kind of inhumanity or a President who wallows in it. We learned from the past that intolerance breeds inhumanity. And that the only way to stop it, is to refuse to accept it.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Putnam, DeSantis will accept publicly financed matching of contributions” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The two Republican candidates running for governor in Florida have decided to accept public matching of campaign contributions, a program long criticized by conservatives as a taxpayer-funded freebie for politicians. … If the election were today, Putnam would receive more than $1 million and DeSantis would get about $600,000, according to an analysis of campaign finance records. Those numbers are likely to increase significantly in the coming months. The state matching program was created in 1990 under Gov. Lawton Chiles to help ward off the growth of special interest money in politics and give lesser-known candidates a chance to compete.

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Assignment editors — DeSantis joins Congressman Matt Gaetz for campaign events Saturday in St. John’s, Columbia and Marion counties: St. Johns County Meet and Greet, 9 a.m., Sawgrass Marriot — Masters Ballroom A&B, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach; Columbia County Meet and Greet, 12:30 p.m., Quail Heights Country Club 161 SW Quail Heights Terrace, Lake City; Marion County Meet and Greet, 3:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, 3600 Southwest 38th Ave., Ocala.

Adam Putnam shares his ‘Florida First’ agenda at the Republican Women’s Club of Lakeland, Federated monthly meeting

Jimmy Patronis pulls in $400,000 for CFO race, with nearly half coming from insurance industry” via the Tampa Bay Times — Patronis, who is expected to square off in November with former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring, also drew more than $35,646 from the health care industry, $22,296 from Realtors and real estate agencies and $13,092 from the financial-services field, according to numbers posted Thursday on the state Division of Elections website. … Among the $216,046 the campaign and committee received from insurance agents and companies, Insurance Administrative Solutions of Clearwater, State Mutual Insurance of Rome, Ga., and Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance of Clearwater each gave $50,000, and FCCI Services of Sarasota put up $25,000.

Florida CFO cut late reimbursement check after wrecking state car on way to meet political consultant” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — About an hour before the workday ended for most state employees, Florida Chief Financial Officer Patronis left the state Capitol in a government-owned Chevy Tahoe, drove to a political consultant’s business and promptly caused a car crash. In most Florida agencies — including Patronis’ own — a state worker’s personal use of a state-owned vehicle is generally prohibited. But Patronis’ office said the CFO was allowed personal use of the vehicle because he reimbursed the state for it. However, Patronis only cut a single $4,015.62 reimbursement check on the exact day that POLITICO made a general inquiry of his agency for its vehicle-reimbursement policy. And that was seven months after Patronis wrecked the car. “The CFO wanted to go above and beyond by writing a personal check out of an abundance of caution to ensure he had paid for any personal time he used in the state vehicle,” Patronis’ spokesman, Jon Moore, said when asked about the reimbursement coinciding with questions about state vehicle use. While no one was hurt in the crash, Patronis’s vehicle use was enough of potential political liability that he ceased using a state vehicle for personal reasons.

Internal poll shows Maria Elvira Salazar with commanding lead in GOP primary for CD 27” via the Miami Herald — The Miami broadcast journalist received the support of 38 percent of likely GOP primary voters while former Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro received 16 percent. No other candidate in the poll received more than three percent, and 36 percent of voters are undecided.

Senate incumbents ready for re-election campaigns” via the News Service of Florida — All but one of the Florida Senate incumbents running for re-election this year had qualified for the ballot as of Thursday morning — with two continuing to run unopposed. The state Division of Elections website Thursday showed 16 incumbent senators had qualified, while Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat running in District 38, had not. Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson of Trilby remained unopposed in District 10. Also unopposed was Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation in District 32, while Sen. Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale, had drawn only a write-in opponent in District 34. In all, 22 Senate seats are up for election this year, with five not having incumbent candidates.

Happening today — Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, who is running re-election to Senate District 22, will take part in the “Coffee with the Candidate,” 10:30 a.m., Lake County Republican Party office, 212 West Main St., Tavares.

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Hialeah City Council President endorses Manny Diaz in SD 36 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Diaz‘s Senate campaign just notched another endorsement with Hialeah City Council President Vivan Casals Muñoz announcing her support Thursday. Diaz is competing for the Senate District 36 seat after serving in the state House since 2012, where he’s represented House District 103. “Manny Diaz really demonstrated his leadership abilities in the Florida House,” said Muñoz. “While he has been at the forefront of issues like education reform, he has never taken his eye off the importance of policies that support a strong economy and pressing constituent needs in his district. He is ready to continue leading in the Florida Senate, and I’m proud to support him.”

Stuart City Commissioner backs Toby Overdorf for HD 83” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Treasure Coast businessman Toby Overdorf has earned a second endorsement from a Stuart city commission member, as Becky Bruner announced her support for Overdorf’s House District 83 campaign. Bruner was elected to the Group II Seat last year with 64 percent of the vote. She also owns Becks Fine Furniture in Stuart. “Toby Overdorf is the right person for the job,” said Bruner in a statement. “Toby knows this community well and has the right motivation to serve in the Legislature. I’m confident we can count on him to support policies that strengthen our economy, keep taxes low, and protect our rights.”

Meanwhile … “Groups funded by Democratic-aligned nonprofit wants judge to block campus voting ban” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Supported by a Democratic-aligned foundation, the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups asked a federal judge to prevent Gov. Scott’s top election official from enforcing a current ban on early voting on college campuses. The organization joined the Andrew Goodman Foundation to file the underlying lawsuit in June on behalf of a group of college students from the University of Florida and Florida State University. They are now asking U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to preliminarily enjoin Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner from enforcing his interpretation of state law that blocks early voting on campuses, a policy largely opposed by Democrats. Though college campuses are often full of Democratic voters, the groups argue the push is not political, but rather to ensure that younger voters are not treated differently.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida retailers cheer Supreme Court online sales tax decision” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The head of the trade group for the state’s retailers said Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling opening the door for online sellers to collect sales tax the same as brick-and-mortar stores was “great news.” That’s even though Floridians already are technically supposed to pay sales tax on online purchases. “Retailers have been adamant in seeking equity in taxation of bricks and mortar and online sales,” Florida Retail Federation President & CEO R. Scott Shalley said in a statement. “This decision paves the way for a level playing field throughout the industry. The Florida Retail Federation looks forward to working with Florida’s legislative leaders and the Department of Revenue to ensure fair and equitable application of the law.”

Census shows greatest Hispanic growth rate in North Florida” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau offer a snapshot of how Florida’s Hispanic population changed from July 2016 to July 2017. They don’t reflect the wave of Puerto Ricans moving to Florida after Hurricane Maria struck the island two months later. Tiny Madison County along the Georgia border had the highest growth rate this time, at more than 11 percent, followed by Nassau County, north of Jacksonville. St. Johns County near Jacksonville has the largest Hispanic growth rate this decade, jumping by two-thirds. Miami-Dade and Broward counties had the greatest Hispanic growth in pure numbers last year.

Chill in the air: Canadians in Florida cancel visits as tensions with U.S. snowball” via Callie Schmidt of the Naples Daily News — Alana Holmstrom treks from Canada to Florida each year, staying for weeks at a time with her parents in Naples. But this year, her family — including her husband and 8-year-old daughter — are seriously considering traveling elsewhere. Many Canadians who live or visit Florida fear a trade war due to the increasingly strained relations with the U.S., with some deciding to boycott U.S. goods and vacations. “I love Naples and it feels like a second home, but it’s hard to visit when tensions are high,” said Holmstrom, who originally was from Kenora, Ontario. “It’s more the principle of not going down. We are Canadians … we don’t fight with anyone.” They have been visiting Naples for eight years, but before that, they vacationed in Mexico for almost 20 years. “Unfortunately, I feel that the president is creating unnecessary tension,” Holmstrom said. “Why, I don’t know. I scratch my head to understand why he does the things he does or says. I’ll reserve my opinion about him, as it’s not polite.”

Are Florida’s hurricane shelters safe enough to protect evacuees during the big storm?” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — For decades, Florida emergency management leaders have worked to bolster the amount of shelter space in a state that has weathered some of the most severe storms in the country. They have come a long way in creating more spaces considered safe and appropriate for the worst storms as building codes have improved and sturdier schools are built. For example, counties in the Panhandle and much of the state’s east coast have enough space in shelters that meet the strictest safety standards. But estimates by state leaders show 24 counties do not have enough suitable space to meet the shelter demand for people who don’t evacuate before a deadly storm, according to the Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan released in January by the state’s Division of Emergency Management. Most of those counties are around Tampa Bay, Southwest Florida, parts of Central Florida and South Florida. “If we saw a Category 5, we are going to spend all our time evacuating people. All bets are off when we see that kind of storm come in,” Rich Collins, the Sarasota County Emergency Service director, told local officials in a May meeting.

State considers options for Edmund Kirby Smith statue” via the News Service of Florida — The Statue Location Selection Committee will meet June 28 in Tallahassee … The issue stems, in part, from a law approved during this year’s legislative session to place a likeness of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Bethune’s statue is expected to replace the statue of Smith, who has long been one of two representatives of Florida in the hall … The Legislature voted in 2016 to replace the Smith statue during a nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols … Lawmakers followed up this year with the decision to honor Bethune. This year’s law, however, also included a requirement that state Division of Cultural Affairs take possession of the returned Smith statue and “make the statue available for public display.” The law, which takes effect July 1, will serve as a formal request to the federal Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to switch the statues.

Fant doesn’t mention his bank failures in application for banking regulator” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Fant, a Jacksonville Republican, spent 18 years working at First Guaranty Bank & Trust of Jacksonville, the last nine as its CEO. The bank was founded by Fant’s grandfather in 1947, and at one point it was the oldest bank in Jacksonville. According to his application, his “reason for leaving” First Guaranty was that it “became CenterState Bank.” That’s technically true, but it’s the nicest possible version of the story of First Guaranty. The reason why the bank “became” CenterState Bank was because it was shut down by the Office of Financial Regulation in 2012, and the FDIC turned over its assets to CenterState, based in Winter Haven. Banking regulators at OFR found that under Fant’s leadership, the bank started offering riskier commercial real estate loans, including loans to people with questionable backgrounds. When the Great Recession hit, the bank went under.

Regulators plan to keep using emergency rule on race-dog drug testing” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Gambling regulators this week said they plan keep using an emergency rule that allows them to continue testing racing greyhounds for drugs. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling through its Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, posted a “notice of renewal” in Thursday’s Florida Administrative Register. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. The emergency rule on “Procedures for Collecting Samples from Racing Greyhounds” was adopted late last December. That was after an administrative law judge struck down the testing program, saying it was invalid.

Day 17 of SunPass outage: late fees & penalties to be waived” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — With Florida’s tolling systems still not online and more than 50 million toll transactions believed to be sitting in a computer backlog, one influential lawmaker is getting the state to take action following a series of 10Investigates reports. State Sen. Jeff Brandes says he has been talking to Florida Department of Transportation officials this week about their delays in getting toll system upgrades completed, as well as the lack of communication with account-holders. Late Thursday, FDOT announced it would waive all late fees and penalties incurred by drivers as the Florida Turnpike Enterprise tries to get its system back up and running. It could take weeks for the tens of millions of unprocessed toll transactions to hit drivers’ accounts. Meanwhile, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise has again failed to answer numerous questions about what has exactly gone wrong in what was supposed to be a six-day project.

Tampa Bay job centers gave away millions in credit cards and boosted hiring totals” via Mark Puente and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa Bay’s two largest job placement agencies handed out $6 million in Visa and gas cards since 2014 — all paid for with public tax dollars — and a share of that money went to people who didn’t use the centers to find work and never had to account for how they spent it. A number of recipients said they received the credit cards simply for reporting to either office when they found jobs on their own. Many Florida job centers offer to pay for gas, clothes or tools, usually for people who most need financial help to get work. But CareerSource Tampa Bay, which serves Hillsborough County, gave out far more cards than any other jobs center in the state. CareerSource Pinellas ranked fourth among the state’s two dozen career centers.

— LIFE UNDER TARPS —

Power, water and cell service have been restored to most of Puerto Rico, but the islanders still aren’t back to normalcy.

Blue plastic tarps drape roofs in Puerto Rico as it approaches a year since Hurricane Maria’s landfall, reports Ben Fox for The Associated Press.

Shelter exists, but it’s only temporary. And with hurricane season upon the Atlantic, officials still don’t have an exact tally of how many permanent roofs are needed — or how they’ll help replace them.

Just a jump-start: Help from FEMA and other forms of government aid “is not set up as a replacement for homeowner’s insurance, which a significant portion of Puerto Rico lacks.” A FEMA spox told Fox, “We help you until you are on the road to recovery.”

Missing materials: “Temporary roofs remain … because people either can’t qualify for loans or grants — often because they don’t have the titles to their property or are missing documents — or the amount of assistance they can get isn’t enough to cover the cost of repairs.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

U.S. Chamber runs ad thanking Carlos Curbelo for immigration work” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The Miami Republican has spent weeks negotiating with GOP leadership, the conservative wing of his own party and Democrats in an attempt to pass an immigration bill in the House of Representatives. Those efforts could fall short today if an all-GOP immigration compromise bill fails on the floor of the House, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is cutting an ad on behalf of Curbelo thanking him for his work on the issue. “Do you want to protect Dreamers? Carlos Curbelo does,” the ad says. “Carlos believes Dreamers belong here, they are one of us and deserve permanent legal status. Help stop the unfair treatment of Dreamers, protect DACA, stand with Carlos.” The ad is part of an initial digital buy that will later transition into a larger TV ad buy.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— OPINIONS —

Revision Commission deserves a thumping in the courts” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The revision commission grossly abused its power to propose amendments that range beyond a single subject. To do it with proposals that have nothing much in common is called logrolling. To the commission it was called “bundling,” a distinction without a difference. There is a Florida Supreme Court precedent from the 1950s against a similar caper that the Legislature tried to pull off. Amendment 8 isn’t in court yet, but it will be. Ron Meyer, an attorney for the Florida Education Association, said the paperwork is being prepared. The ballot summary, he said, is not only misleading but “essentially unintelligible.” It deserves to go into the trash can along with Amendment 10. The overall performance of this commission was so poor, especially compared to that of the last commission 20 years ago, as to renew an old argument about whether Florida still needs this method of amending the constitution. We think it does, but the courts should send a clear message to the commission of 2037-38 not to abuse its powers as this one did.

The separation of immigrant families is my fault” via Joel Searby on Medium — Have you heard any political leaders say anything like, “we must lay aside the partisan games, sit down together, take responsibility for our part in this policy and get it fixed?” Yeah, I didn’t think so. You sure as heck haven’t heard anyone say, “this is my fault.” With alarming speed, both sides rushed to place blame (Trump). Point fingers. Hold news conferences and PR stunts (Nelson and Wasserman-Schultz). There is no real leadership. The buck stops nowhere. “Solutions” have been proposed. But they are Democratic and Republican “solutions,” designed and brought forth without the relational hard work of bringing ideas to the table that could actually pass. Both sides have made it abundantly clear they want a political win. On social media, I’ve been attacked by Democratic and Republican friends alike for even suggesting that both sides are culpable. (To be clear, they are, over several administrations and congresses.) This blame dynamic is really, really important. Don’t miss the enormity of this moment in the noise of social media and tribal news sources. Even in the face of this obvious tragedy and longtime injustice, no matter how you view the issue, our political leaders are completely incapable of dealing with it. It does not appear, from anything I can find, that any real conversations are happening between “the two sides.” They’re not even trying. It’s the other side’s fault. Period.

— MOVEMENTS —

First on #FlaPol — Florida Democratic Party staffs up for midterms — The FDP is expanding its staff once again to increase field operations to reach voters across the state, hiring a new coordinated director, field director, and a Hispanic outreach director who will focus on reaching newly-arrived Puerto Ricans. “It’s going to take a committed, experienced, and motivated staff of Democrats to help us take back Florida after nearly 20-year of Republican rule — and we are building a team who is ready to do just that,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. New hires include Steven Jackson, Coordinated Director; Amir Avin, Field Director; Lisa Fishman, Finance Operations Director; Ali Akin Kurnaz, Digital Manager; Sierra Fareed, finance assistant; Jami Hudson, Community Engagement Director District 8; Adi Ramachandran, Deputy Data Director; Elena McCullough, Community Engagement Director Region 2.

First on #FlaPol — Eddie Phillips, formerly policy chief in the Environmental Unit of Gov. Scott’s Office of Policy and Budget, now is chief adviser to new Florida Public Service Commissioner Andrew Fay. Fay had been special counsel to Attorney General Pam Bondi and served as her Director of Legislative Affairs, Cabinet Affairs and Public Policy. Scott named him to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities.

Personnel note: Jennifer Wilson joins Shumaker Advisors” via Florida Politics — Attorney Wilson, formerly with Adams and Reese’s Tampa office, has moved to Shumaker Advisors Florida, LLC, to help boost its Florida practice. The team is the lobbying subsidiary of the SHUMAKER® law firm, also known as Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. Wilson previously worked as a top adviser and campaign manager for several Florida lawmakers. She brings more than a decade of experience, having drafted and analyzed legislation as a key staff member, including bills on economic development, transportation and criminal justice. Shumaker Advisors President and CEO Ron Christaldi said the firm was “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.”

— LIGHTS, CAMERA, TYSON —

Mary Beth Tyson, the talented photog behind INFLUENCE Magazine, has a way of capturing a still of someone’s essence — especially with subjects who aren’t so accustomed to the limelight.

“When faced with lights, cameras and photographer Mary Beth Tyson, most of 2018’s INFLUENCE 100 were a little bit intimidated,” writes Roseanne Dunkelberger.

Most of INFLUENCE’s subjects are too busy working to indulge in regular photo shoots, but that didn’t stop Tyson, who flawlessly captured 58 of this year’s INFLUENCE 100.

Mary Beth Tyson at work.

Experience: INFLUENCE Magazine is only one of Tyson’s clients. She’s traveled across the country shooting high-end weddings, where the “bouquets probably cost more than my wedding did.”

Style: Tyson told Dunkelberger she’s always loved “raw, natural, not-so-polished photography.” A look at INFLUENCE — which features some less-than-conventional shots of big Florida names — signals Tyson has embraced this style.

Not a model?: No worries. “When you look in the mirror and you’re like ‘Oh, I’m looking pretty good today’, that’s what I want you to see in the magazine or in an image.”

— WEEKEND TV —

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei host a roundtable with guests Jim Warishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Committee; Noah Pransky, WTSP investigative reporter; attorney Carlye Morgan; Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper, host of “That’s All I’m Saying.”

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on how to better fund local arts programs with a look at the arts and music in the community and schools. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sen. Keith Perry, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Dr. Dakeyan Graham, Ph.D., director of bands, King High School; Flora Maria Garcia, CEO, United Arts of Central Florida; Joshua Vickery, CEO, Central Florida Community Arts; and Cole NeSmith, Creative City Project IMMERSE.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: a discussion of the race to fill former state Sen. Jack Latvala’s seat with both Republican candidates — former state Rep. Ed Hooper and local restaurant owner Leo Karruli. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about guns being seized in Florida.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with attorney Sean Pittman and political reporter Dara Kam.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: Jacksonville City Council Past President Lori Boyer, University of North Florida President David Szymanski and Democratic Attorney General candidate state Rep. Sean Shaw.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will discuss migrant children impacted by the border crisis.

— ALOE —

’Slaughter Sinema,’ newest house for Universal Halloween Horror Nights” via John Gregory of Orlando rising — Playing off the 1980s theme for this year’s event, this house is a Universal creation riffing on B-movie monsters from the decade and themed to look like a decrepit drive-in movie theater. “As you approach, you’ll see movie trailers of what you’re about to witness, filling you with dread as you make your way inside,” Universal said in its blog post on the new house. “The smell of popcorn will be first to hit your senses as you find yourself in a movie theater snack bar. But from there, it’s all downhill for this double-feature.” Universal mentioned four original stories which will be featured as “movies” for this haunted theater, complete with their own ‘80s-style posters. These include “Midnight Snacks 2: The House Swarming,” “Amazon Cannibals from Planet Hell,” “The Cult of the Beast Baby” and “Pumpkin Guts.” The first night of Halloween Horror Nights 28 is set for Sept. 14, though guests have already reported seeing a house under construction in the extended queue for Men in Black: Alien Attack. The event will then take over Universal Studios Florida on select nights through Nov. 3.

Get ready for ‘Slaughter Sinema.’

What James Kotas is reading — “Darden turns in big fourth-quarter sales, profits even as newly acquired Cheddar’s struggles” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is struggling a year after being acquired by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, as same-restaurant sales continued to drop and there were issues with staff turnover, Darden’s earnings report revealed. The news came as Darden reported an otherwise healthy boost in sales and profits during the fourth quarter, enough to send the company’s stock price to record highs. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen’s same-restaurant sales fell 4.7 percent, even as Darden’s other brands, including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, recorded a 2.2 percent increase for the quarter that ended May 27. Darden bought Dallas-based Cheddar’s a year ago for $780 million, but the brand has failed to grow, with same-restaurant sales falling 2.0 percent in the past year.

Happy birthday to our favorite WeatherfordDrew, as well as Amy Young and state Rep. Daniel Perez. Belatedly to state Rep. Chuck Clemons. And early birthday wishes to our friend Kate Wallace of Florida Internet & Television.

— AWAY MESSAGE OF THE DAY —

Via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press: “Ah! You received an autoreply. That’s a clue that I’m not working. Where am I? At something called Beaver Fever. ‘Beaver Fever? What’s that?’ you might ask. It’s a family gathering on an Arkansas lake. I’ve never been to Arkansas. And I’m meeting some in-laws I’ve never met before. And staying in a mountain lodge where the rooms still have VHS players (I’m trying to find my old copy of ‘Jaws’). Some of you might be snickering and making banjo music sounds, but I tell you what, the photos of Beaver Lake look beautiful, the in-laws I have already met are great folks and there’s a microbrewery nearby. So while you folks are checking the latest Florida “feels like” heat index and melting away your body water by the buckets, I’ll be on some cool waters drinking craft beer.”

Last Call for 6.21.18 – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

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 Ken Detzner 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 Guy Cecil, 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. Rick Scott’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.”

Evening Reads

Despite Donald Trump’s move, immigrant children will remain held in Florida for now” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott meets with Puerto Rico’s governor at P3 Summit” via Vanessa Araiza of WKMG News 6

Bill Nelson goes after Scott as ‘Oil Slick Rick’ in digital ad” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Nelson says he will be allowed inside Homestead shelter for migrant teens” via Skyler Swisher of the Sun Sentinel

Billionaires, bankers and a Ukrainian oligarch: See who’s funding Florida’s campaigns for governor” via Emily L. Mahoney and Mary Ellen Klas of Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald capital bureau

Poll: Philip Levine and Gwen Graham tight, Chris King in third” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Levine talks opioid crisis, marijuana legalization, race in Boynton Beach” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Andrew Gillum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and polling that doesn’t feel right” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

East versus West dynamic still evident in Alvin Brown, Al Lawson race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Felony drug defendant tells shocked Miami judge: I work caring for kids seized at border” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“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.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will accept applications through Friday to become commissioner of the state Office of Financial Regulation. Commissioner Drew Breakspear recently announced that he would leave the post, under pressure from state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The position is advertised to pay a salary of $120,000 to $140,000 a year.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, 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 Philip Levine 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.

Looking Ahead

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo 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.

— 3:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, 3600 Southwest 38th Ave., Ocala.

Democrat Katie Tripp, who is running against Rep. Tom Leek, 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.

Andrew Gillum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and polling that doesn’t feel right

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.”

Phillips’ excitement was based on a new survey from Gravis Marketing — an organization which once got a Maryland congressional race wrong by 96 points — which gives Gillum a five-point lead in the Democratic primary.

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.

Ten points?

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.

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