Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
We apologize for today’s late Sunburn, but with a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast and today being the anniversary of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, we just didn’t want to get out of bed. Anyway, here is the latest.
Hurricane Florence has slightly increased in speed as it heads toward the U.S. East Coast.The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Florence is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph (24 kmh) and the storm will continue a slight increase in speed during the next couple of days.
The Miami-based center says the storm’s center was located about 410 miles (660 kilometers) south of Bermuda and about 975 miles (1570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 140 mph (220 kph) as it moved west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
“Rick Scott offers help to states as hurricane looms” via the News Service of Florida — Scott offered resources and assistance to the governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia as Hurricane Florence threatened the Southeast U.S. coast. Florida Division of Emergency Management officials have also been in contact with South Carolina … Due to the storm, Scott waived weight requirements for emergency supply and response vehicles through Sept. 17 and put the Florida National Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers on standby to help in areas affected by the storm.
“Hurricane Florence undercuts Miami Beach convention bid” via Natasha Korecki and David Siders of POLITICO Florida — Hurricane Florence isn’t great for Houston. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Miami Beach. The two cities are finalists to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. While both face the threat of flooding and downpours as the storm gains steam this week, it’s Miami Beach that has the most to lose. Five Democrats with knowledge of the selection process tell POLITICO that at least some site committee members consider the race to be between Houston and Milwaukee. And that was before this week’s threatening weather. Heat, humidity and hurricanes were already among the factors weighing against Miami Beach. Some members worried about traffic and Miami Beach’s hard-partying reputation, which might muddy convention messaging. They’re also not crazy about the consideration of cruise ships as options for housing some delegates. Finally, there’s sensitivity to hosting yet another convention in the Eastern time zone while trying to portray a party that’s not anchored on the coasts.
Flags at half-staff to honor victims of Sept. 11, 2001 — Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday “in honor and remembrance of the victims of 9/11.” The governor directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff “at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the state of Florida,” he said in a statement. The flags will remain at half-staff until sunset. His Patriot Day proclamation is here.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@AdamSmithTimes: 2 lines from @SenBillNelson in today’s @TB_Times edit board I’ve not heard from other candidates: 1. “Check the Federal Register.” 2. “Remember Smoot-Hawley”
—@MarcACaputo: Not being part of a do-little Congress that specializes in making you take bad votes that can haunt a campaign seems like kind of a no-brainer, especially if the candidate is leaving Congress anyway in January
—@Fineout: A governor can’t appoint someone to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It can only be filled by election. Article I Sec. 2.
—@Rob_Bradley: Congratulations to @USouthFlorida on its huge jump in the public university rankings! The region owes a huge thanks to @DanaYoungFL for being a tireless and effective advocate for the Bulls.
— DAYS UNTIL —
First general election mail ballots go out — 11; First day of fall — 11; Future of Florida Forum — 15; Government shutdown — 20; FSU vs. UM football game — 25; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 28; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 42; MLB World Series begins — 42; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 43; Halloween — 50; General Election Day — 56; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 70; Thanksgiving — 72; Black Friday — 73; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 77; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 154; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 176; 2020 General Election — 784.
“Ron DeSantis resigns from Congress to focus on run for Governor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis has announced his resignation from Congress in order to focus his efforts on campaigning against Democrat Andrew Gillum to be Florida’s next Governor. “One of my guiding principles during my tenure in Congress has been to protect the taxpayers that I represent,” begins DeSantis’ resignation letter. It was sent to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. “As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary.” DeSantis noted his resignation would be retroactive to Sept. 1.
>>>Burn via Volusia County Democratic Chair Jewel Dickson: “It’s a good thing that Ron DeSantis’ resignation received so much attention from the press because, otherwise, the people of District 6 would never have realized he was gone. DeSantis has spent his time in DC voting to take away our Medicare, cut our Social Security, and raise our health care costs. DeSantis never listened to the people of this district — because he didn’t care about us. DeSantis avoided town halls, refused constituent meetings, and then voted against our interests in Washington. It’s always been easier to find him on Fox News than anywhere in Volusia County. Ron DeSantis quit on his constituents years ago — and he won’t be missed.”
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“DeSantis reels in most matching funds” via the News Service of Florida — Florida’s matching-funds program pumped $142,665 more into the governor’s race on Friday. The program, which matches contributions of $250 or less for gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who qualify, sent a check worth $79,488 to DeSantis and $63,177 to Gillum. DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, has now received $1.055 million from the program, while Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, has collected $558,241 … Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, the Republican candidate for attorney general, received $35,574 on Friday. She has received $380,175 from the program. Her Democratic opponent, state Rep. Sean Shaw, didn’t get a check on Friday but has received $222,702 from the state.
“Florida Democrats hit ‘right-wing extremist’ DeSantis on health care” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is out with a new campaign hitting Republican gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. DeSantis on his long-running opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The FDP released a new video titled “DeSantisCare,” as well as a new website looking to highlight DeSantis’ health care record. We reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment on the FDP’s efforts and are awaiting a reply. The video and website pose as mock ads for the new “DeSantisCare.” While purporting to sell viewers on the idea of DeSantisCare, the new video and site are littered with jabs at the Republican’s health care proposals.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
Assignment editors — DeSantis will attend the Tampa Hispanic Outreach Roundtable hosted by the Tampa Bay Hispanic Republican Leaders, 1 p.m., La Teresita Restaurant, Second Floor, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.
“Andrew Gillum could waive secrecy in ethics case but hasn’t yet” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — So far, Gillum has opted not to do so. However, his lawyer, Barry Richard of Tallahassee, said Gillum will waive secrecy eventually, perhaps after commission staff has prepared its report on the investigation. Gillum could lift that shroud of secrecy with the stroke of a pen. Under Florida law, officials facing ethics complaints must request in writing that the records and proceedings be made public. “The reason for the confidentiality is anybody can file anything with the commission,” Richard said. “And it’s not fair to the person complained against if all that stuff is made public before the commission makes a determination of probable cause. All you would be doing is … allowing candidates, for example, to use it as a weapon against their opponent by having people file stuff.”
Florida Conservation Voters endorses Gillum — The organization’s board of directors voted unanimously in favor of Gillum, the Democratic nominee and Tallahassee Mayor, citing his strong commitment to protecting Florida’s environment. “Mayor Gillum has proved that he has the leadership and vision to defend Florida’s environment,” said Aliki Moncrief, the executive director, in a statement. “Around the world, Florida is known for our beaches, parks, and remarkable natural areas. Sadly, we are also now known for letting entire ecosystems collapse due to lenient laws and little oversight. Mayor Gillum is the only candidate who has a plan to hold big polluters accountable and make sure we do everything in our power to protect our state from climate change and sea-level rise.”
“Don’t forget Florida’s all-important white vote” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — They account for roughly three of every four voters in midterm elections, and they vote heavily Republican. How heavily is the difference between who wins and loses. “Having a surge in black voters is not significant because if you increase the black vote by 10 percent, it’s only 1 percent of the electorate,” said Democratic consultant Barry Edwards, who analyzed turnout by race over Florida’s last eight elections Among the 51 percent of voters who turned out in Florida’s last midterm election, 73 percent were non-Hispanic white voters, 10 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black. Given that the last two governor’s races were decided by a single percentage point, an energized African-American electorate can indeed decide an election. But in sheer numbers, white voters still matter most. Gillum has virtually no chance of winning a majority of white Florida voters. A key to a Democratic candidate’s victory in Florida and nationally is to limit the size of their loss among white voters.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“John Oliver took Scott to task for disenfranchising felons.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Oliver called Florida the “disenfranchisement capital of America, noting how more than 1 million Floridians — and more than one in five black Floridians — can’t vote because they’re felons. The state is one of only a few that doesn’t automatically grant the right to vote upon completing a sentence. Oliver, in a brutal takedown of the process, said, “It’s like finishing a triathlon only for Scott to say, ‘No, it’s a quadathon. Now you have to learn Mandarin … It doesn’t really seem fair.”
To view the video, click on the image below:
“Scott plays ‘keep away from Trump’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Scott — who was frequently by Trump’s side at the White House and at his resorts in Palm Beach and Bedminster, New Jersey, in 2017 — began putting more distance between himself and the unpopular president this year as he geared up for a Senate run that Trump himself had repeatedly urged him to make. Scott also chaired the super PAC backing Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. Now Scott seldom mentions the president and won’t commit to having an event with him specifically. “I want everybody that believes in what I’m going to do to come help me win,” Scott told a Tampa Bay Times reporter last week when asked if he would like to have Trump campaign for him. Scott isn’t completely snubbing the president. He flew down from Washington on Air Force One to Tampa with Trump in July and then accompanied Trump to an official presidential visit to Tampa Technical High School — an event where their exposure to TV cameras was limited.
“Federal complaint alleges Scott illegally benefited from anti-Bill Nelson Super PAC ads” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The complaint from End Citizens United, to be filed with the Federal Elections Commission, says that ads aired by New Republican PAC in May and June violated campaign finance laws because they helped Scott in his Senate race. Though the ads didn’t mention the Republican, they attacked Sen. Nelson … The timing of the ads were suspect, End Citizens United says, because they came just months after Scott stepped down as chairman of New Republican PAC. The complaint says that the timeline “demonstrates that Rick Scott began developing political and communications strategy for a potential campaign for Senate while serving as a chair of a super PAC that immediately after his announcement began running advertisements to aid his campaign.”
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will continue his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour, 2:15 p.m., Eisenhower Rec Center, 3560 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.
“Sean Shaw comes out of primary with financial edge” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Shaw, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, began the general-election campaign with a nearly $500,000 financial advantage over his Republican opponent, Moody. But don’t expect Moody, who depleted her cash in a grueling primary, to struggle to catch up. Moody’s campaign announced a Sept. 18 fundraiser at the Governors Club in Tallahassee. The invitation suggests a minimum contribution $3,000 for the event, which includes as co-chairs Brian Ballard … former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux; and lobbyist Michael Corcoran, brother of outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Shaw had about $470,000 in cash on hand in his campaign account and nearly $78,000 in the political committee Sean Shaw for Florida, according to his most recent filings.
“In wake of bank account closures, Charlie Crist joins Nikki Fried in call for marijuana policy reform” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Fried teamed up with Crist in a call for reform of federal medical marijuana policy. Fried, a Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer, is one of the state’s most prominent lobbyists for expanding access to medical marijuana. Fried and Crist used the account closures to underscore their stance on protecting state programs from federal interference. Fried’s official campaign account was terminated twice in the past few weeks — once by Wells Fargo and once by BB&T. A review of Fried’s campaign finances shows a $1,000 donation from Savara Hastings, executive director of the Florida-based American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association and $3,000 from Jake Bergman, CEO and founder of Atlanta-based Surterra Holdings LLC. Fried said that since her account closures made national news last week, her campaign has been approached by other state-chartered credit institutions who have “offered an olive branch” … “The silver lining is that it became a national issue,” she said.
Save the date — Republican Matt Caldwell will hold a campaign fundraiser and VIP dinner in his bid for Agriculture Commissioner, Thursday, September 20, Blackbeard’s Ranch, Myakka City. For more information, contact Sandy Taylor at (850) 570-9363 or Sandy@TaylorStratFlorida.
“Jimmy Patronis continues building financial edge” via the News Service of Florida — State Chief Financial Officer Patronis began September with $4.37 million in two campaign accounts, with the addition of $180,900 in contributions in the days immediately following the Aug. 28 primary elections. The contributions included $25,000 from Miami-based Dosal Tobacco Corp. and $25,000 from the Coral Springs-based insurance company Pearl Holding Group. As of Aug. 31, Patronis had raised a combined total of $5.16 million for the two accounts. Since the primary, he also has received two checks worth a total of $8,010 from the state matching-funds program. In all, he has received $305,105 through the program.
“PAC organizes to oppose tax amendments 1, 5” via Florida Politics — Two tax-related proposed constitutional amendments, placed on the November ballot by the Legislature, would shift the burden from the wealthy and corporations to working families, a newly formed political action committee complained Monday. Floridians for Tax Fairness, registered with the state on Wednesday by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida Education Association, AFSCME, Progress Florida and Sierra Club of Florida, issued a written statement denouncing Amendments 1 and 5. Amendment 5 would make any legislation imposing new or increased taxes or fees contingent on a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate. “Passage of this amendment means any attempt to eliminate special tax breaks for profitable corporations would be easily blocked by a few bought-and-paid-for politicians,” the group said.
Florida Supreme Court refuses to rehear Amendment 6 challenge — The justices made good on their promise not to reconsider their vote to keep Amendment 6, the proposed victims’ rights measure, on the ballot. Harvey Sepler, the attorney representing one of the two private citizens challenging the ballot title and summary language, tested the court’s determination in a motion filed Friday, the same day the court ruled. He argued that a strict reading of the Florida Constitution allows the CRC to offer amendments either to the entire document or a single part. That contradicted a line of precedents by which the high court has allowed the CRC to “bundle” multiple changes into single amendments. The justices disposed of the motion in a single sentence: “Pursuant to this court’s order dated Sept. 7, 2018, the motion for rehearing is hereby stricken as unauthorized.”
Assignment editors — A group of Florida’s constitutional officers — Sheriffs, Tax Collectors, Clerks of the Court, and Property Appraisers — are holding a news conference on Amendment 10, known as the Protection Amendment, to launch a statewide education initiative, 10 a.m., The Old Capitol (on the steps facing the courtyard). On-site contact: Nanette Schimpf (PIO for Florida Sheriffs Association) at (850) 528-2639.
Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 picks up firefighters’ endorsement — The campaign supporting passage of Amendment 13, which seeks to put an end to live dog racing in Florida, has been endorsed by the Brevard County Professional Firefighters, Local 2969. In a letter, President Richard Pierce told the group his organization “agree(s) that the protection of animal rights in this case is both an ethical and moral obligation. We support voting yes on Amendment 13!” The proposed constitutional amendment would ban wagering on greyhound racing beginning in 2021. It would not, however, affect other gambling now at race tracks.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Poll: Nancy Soderberg neck and neck with Mike Waltz” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and showed Waltz earning 47 percent of the vote to Soderberg’s 46 percent. The firm surveyed 400 likely voters Sep. 4-6. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. While the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato both peg this as a “likely Republican” seat, FiveThirtyEight sees a closer race, projecting Waltz to win by less than four percentage points.
Soderberg campaign reaches $2M mark — The campaign of former U.S. Ambassador and Democratic congressional candidate Soderberg announced raised more than $2 million this cycle, with over 7,500 contributions and the majority of which $100 or under. Soderberg said: “Florida families in this district have made it clear they are ready for new leadership. They know they can count on me to protect protections for pre-existing conditions because I’ve lived with one. They know they can count on me to protect Social Security and Medicare instead of threatening to make deep cuts, because I listen to seniors who are worried about their ability to retire. I’m proud to fight for folks here and I’m proud of the movement we’re building together.”
“Stephanie Murphy, Mike Miller campaigns tussle over debates” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A spokeswoman for Miller said he’s agreed to invitations from WFTV-Channel 9, WESH-Channel 2 and the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida and claimed Murphy’s staff tried to limit the number of debates. A Murphy spokeswoman, however, said her campaign was proposing multiple debates across several different mediums, including broadcast, print and radio, and wasn’t trying to limit the number at all. In a statement, Miller said he’s “willing to debate my opponent as many times as we are invited, so I am hopeful that other highly respected media outlets like WKMG, Univision, WOFL, Spectrum13 and the Orlando Sentinel will sponsor or co-sponsor debates.”
Assignment editors — Murphy will honor Vietnam veterans as part of the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, 10 a.m., Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8207, 1520 N. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood.
Save the date:
“BusinessForce endorses 12 in Central Florida races” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The organization that spun off from Orlando Inc., the Orlando Area Chamber of Commerce, recommended the election of Republican David Smith House District 28, and the re-elections of Republican state Reps. Scott Plakon in HD 29; Bob Cortes in HD 30; Jennifer Sullivan in HD 31; Mike La Rosa in HD 42; Bobby Olszewski in HD 44; and Rene Plasencia in HD 50. BusinessForce also made three endorsements in races for open seats on the Orange County Commission: Christine Moore in District 2; Mayra Uribe in District 3; and Susan Makowski in District 4. BusinessForce announced it was backing Jay Zembower in the District 2 race for the Seminole County Commission. And for the Orange County School Board, BusinessForce endorsed Melissa Byrd for the District 7 seat.
“Julián Castro PAC backs Emma Collum in HD 93” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Opportunity First, a PAC created by former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Castro, has now thrown its support behind Collum in House District 93. Castro led HUD under the Barack Obama administration and has garnered buzz for a possible future presidential run. Now, his group has endorsed Collum in an effort to flip the HD 93 seat to the Democrats. “Emma is a strong leader that will spur economic progress, protect our most sacred rights and be a model for inclusive leadership,” Castro said in a statement.
“USF trustees will move quickly to replace president Judy Genshaft” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – As Genshaft announced on Monday that she would step down, Ramil, the retired president and CEO of TECO Energy, was among many local leaders wondering who could possibly fill the shoes of the only leader USF has known in nearly two decades. Ideally, he said, he wants a successor whose No. 1 priority is, like Genshaft’s, student success. Genshaft’s retirement has set in motion a national search for her replacement. And it will move fast, USF board of trustees Chairman Brian Lamb said. State rules require “transparent, robust” searches for public university presidents.
“USF’s new leader will need political savvy, fundraising skill” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The USF search will be watched closely by Florida business and political leaders. It will unfold at a critical time in the history of a school that began life in 1955, without a mascot or a student dormitory. USF has made major strides in its long-sought path to “pre-eminence,” which brings prestige and state money. It is aggressively conducting research that can lead to lucrative patents and is consolidating campuses, building a downtown Tampa medical school and trying to elevate an athletic program in a state devoted to the Seminoles and Gators. The next USF president might be an academic who’s worlds away, but history suggests it might also be a member of the Legislature or a homegrown political leader who can secure millions from the state Capitol. The search will be in the hands of 11 people on USF’s board of trustees, most of them with political ties to Gov. Scott
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit claiming beach access law creates ‘cloud’ over property — A federal judge has tossed out a Walton County property owner’s lawsuit challenging a controversial state law that could allow public access to the beach near his home. The Legislature earlier this year created a campaign issue when it passed FL HB 631 (18R), which overturned an ordinance in Walton County providing the public with “customary use” access to designated beaches on private property. The new law requires judicial approval of individual customary use designations. The Walton County Commission is considering seeking judicial approval for new beach access designations as provided in the law change. But property owner Walter W. Blessey Jr. asked a federal court to determine that the state law is unconstitutional. In an order, U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers said the county no longer has an ordinance in place affecting Blessey’s property. And the judge wrote that Blessey had offered no legal support for his claim that the state process has placed a “cloud” over his property. “Essentially, Blessey asks the court to address his constitutional challenge to the common law doctrine in the abstract, which it may not do,” Rodgers wrote.
“Mike Huckabee’s role in pushing controversial beach access law” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Huckabee owns a beachfront home in Blue Mountain Beach, an upscale community in Walton. He is a man of strong opinions, and his view is clearer after an email exchange with Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo of Naples, sponsor of the Senate version of a beach access law (HB 631) that has stirred intense controversy. On Jan. 12, Huckabee wrote an email to Passidomo, thanking her for her sponsorship of a bill “involving the customary use abuse by Walton Co.” … “I’m one of those beachfront owners whose title goes to mean high water line,” he wrote. “Walton Co. taxes me on that property and I pay handsomely for it! I actually don’t mind people who simply want to enjoy the beach and certainly not walk on or past. … What beachfront owners object to is the illegal taking of taxed and titled property without compensation or even consideration. In fact, we are demonized as ‘greedy, selfish and rich’ owners who want to deprive the poor of their ‘rights.’”
“Coalition aims to ban assault weapons by constitutional amendment” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Two organizations created in the aftermath of February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have joined together in an effort to ban assault weapons in the state of Florida. Americans for Gun Safety Now (AFGSN) and Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN) say they have combined forces to create a bipartisan coalition to ban those weapons, with the goal being passage of an amendment in 2020. BAWN had already announced the push for an amendment earlier this year. Now, AFGSN says it will join those efforts by “spending its resources educating Florida residents and opinion leaders on this critical issue,” according to a release obtained by Florida Politics.
“More Florida counties are voting to raise local taxes for schools. Is it a message to lawmakers?” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times – Does Florida give enough money to its public schools, or not? That debate still rages, and is shaping up to be an issue in the governor’s race. But many voters have already addressed it more directly in the primary election, and many more will get the same opportunity in November. Around the state, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are opening their wallets to lend extra support to their schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 ballot, every single one passed.
“Most Florida nursing homes don’t have required generators despite new law after Irma deaths” via Melanie Payne of the Fort Myers News-Press — More than three-quarters of Florida’s 684 licensed nursing homes haven’t fully complied with a state law requiring a generator capable of keeping temperatures at or below 81 degrees for 96-hours. Even with an extended Sept. 1 deadline, only 170 nursing homes have the generators. And just under half of the state’s 3,441 licensed assisted living facilities have fully complied with the installation requirement, according to information from the Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses health care businesses such as nursing homes and assisted-living centers.
Patronis seeks roundtables on AOB reform — Florida’s Chief Financial Officer had called on Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to host the talks, to let stakeholders discuss the best ways to target assignment of benefits fraud and abuse. Patronis recently blocked a proposed rate increase that Citizens attributed to rising costs for fixing non-weather water damage, and to litigation. He noted that AOB lawsuits increased from 400 in 2006 to more than 28,000 in 2016. “When used correctly with reputable contractors, assigning your benefits over isn’t a bad practice,” Patronis said. “However, in the hands of bad actors who want to make a quick buck, that could mean skyrocketing insurance rates for everyone.”
“Feces-filled sewage flooded the streets. The city did nothing for 10 days, records show” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — For ten days, untreated sewage leaked into flooded streets in the industrial zone of Opa-locka, a nearly-bankrupt South Florida city so dysfunctional it has spent the last two years under a governor-decreed state of emergency. Each day on their way to work, hundreds of people slogged through the murky, foul-smelling water, unaware of the increased risk of dysentery, E. coli, and meningitis. Miami-Dade County tests confirmed the early August floodwater near the pump contained 50 times the amount of fecal matter that would close a beach. (One test showed 3,450 enterococci — bacteria — per 100 mL of water. Beaches close at 70.) Now, the system is too deteriorated to be patched, and the city doesn’t have the money to replace it. Sometimes it doesn’t even have enough money to pay the county for water and sewer services.
Pre-reveal games company plans to continue appeal — The owner of the Jacksonville company that distributes “pre-reveal games” says her attorneys will ask an appellate court to reconsider its recent ruling against them. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month found that the specific version called Version 67 “is an illegal slot machine.” Gator Coin II’s Kathey Bright Fanning, daughter of the late founder Bud Bright, on Monday said her attorneys plan to file a motion for rehearing en banc, or before the entire 15-judge court. Their argument: The games “preview” outcomes as to their winning or losing nature, meaning there’s no element of chance. The panel, however, said: “The element of chance is inherent in it given that it has a preset win/loss ratio.” Fanning said whatever happens in the courts, she plans to return to Tallahassee next Session to persuade lawmakers to expressly legalize the machines: “The whole thing has gotten so crazy out-of-hand.”
“Services set for longtime lobbyist Richard ‘Dick’ Hollahan” via the News Service of Florida — A funeral service is scheduled Wednesday in Bristol for Hollahan, who lobbied in the Capitol for decades before retiring in 2010. Hollahan, 86, died Friday in Tallahassee after a lengthy illness … The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Rock Bluff Assembly of God Church in Bristol. A Jacksonville native, Hollahan worked early in his career for Secretary of State Tom Adams and then became an assistant to House Speaker Fred Schultz, according to the obituary. Hollahan later lobbied for numerous clients.
— REMEMBERING IRMA —
The path of Hurricane Irma last year spared many urban areas from utter destruction, but still left its mark on some rural Floridians’ homes and lives.
Lisa Marteeny lost her husband to the storm. Tina Collins suffered extensive flooding damage to her historic Southwest Florida home that’s slept former presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
Their stories are included in environmental reporter Amy Green’s latest piece for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Everglades City: The subject of the commemorative story “bore the brunt of this second landfall when the hurricane pushed a devastating storm surge into the remote village. Everything not on stilts flooded.”
Climate change: The flooding in Everglades City could’ve happened anywhere, Green writes. In a warming world, it’s something every coastal community in Florida fears. “There are a lot of different ways that if we acknowledge these problems now that we can actually help people save money, help keep people safer and make for a future where hopefully some of these events are less catastrophic,” Thomas Ruppert, a coastal planning specialist for Florida Sea Grant, tells Green.
The numbers: In Everglades City, “60 percent of homes were condemned,” according to Green. A year has passed since the storm struck the town, and nearly a quarter of residents have yet to return.
— OPINIONS —
“On second thought, Scott’s Hurricane Irma response wasn’t so great” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Favorable first impressions last fall of his response before and after Irma helped Scott as he prepared to challenge Nelson. We noted at the time that the governor “quickly visited hardest-hit areas to focus relief efforts and share information.” At times, we said, Scott “presented not only as a leader, but a likable leader.” Since then, however, it has become clear that the governor didn’t perform very well. Let’s start with calls to that cellphone. Scott’s office deleted them. A spokeswoman claimed that the action was legal because the calls involved “transitory” information and thus did not need to be retained. “Each voicemail,” she said, “was collected by the governor’s staff and given to the proper agency for handling. Every call was returned.” Because of the deletion, however, there’s no way for the public to verify those claims, especially regarding the nursing home.
“Joe Henderson: Judy Genshaft did what many believed impossible at USF” via Florida Politics — She has been relentless. Focused. She was the center of nearly every room she entered. She had a vision for USF that probably sounded ridiculous when she arrived on campus in 2000, but then made it happen. She wanted to turn an urban commuter college filled with nontraditional students into what it is today — a pre-eminent university with rigid admission and academic standards, an economic powerhouse, and focused on helping guide the Tampa Bay region into whatever the future brings. By any measure, she has succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations except maybe her own, but her era is coming to an end. On her watch, the six-year graduation rate from 38 percent to 70 percent. Admission standards got much tougher, a shock to some in the community who always looked at USF as a fallback option if their sons or daughters couldn’t get into Florida or Florida State. I’m sure she’ll be given all the appropriate honors and the proper send-off before she leaves. I have no doubt we’ll see her name on the side of a building or two at some point … all I have to say is this: good luck following this dynamo of a lady named Judy Genshaft.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Carlotta Stauffer retiring as PSC clerk — Stauffer, clerk to the Florida Public Service Commission, is stepping down effective Dec. 31, a commission spokesperson said Monday. Adam Teitzman, a former PSC attorney supervisor, is returning and will replace Stauffer upon her retirement. The commission regulates investor-owned utilities. Stauffer has been clerk since 2013, and was an executive assistant for the commission in 2011-13, according to her LinkedIn page. Before that, she was a senior management analyst supervisor at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of State Lands and was an assistant to the DEP’s Deputy Secretary, among a string of state jobs going back to the 1980s. She’s also a Realtor and licensed real estate agent at Ochlockonee Bay Realty in Panacea.
“Personnel note: Nichole Geary heads to Floridian Partners” via Florida Politics — Geary, formerly the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) General Counsel, is joining Floridian Partners, LLC’s government affairs and law practice, the firm announced Monday. Geary, who will be in the firm’s Tallahassee office, will focus on health care policy, medical cannabis regulation, strategic business consulting, and general legislative and executive branch advocacy under the firm’s government affairs division. And, under the private practice of law division, Geary will join attorneys Charles Dudley and Jorge Chamizo, with whom she will focus on health care regulatory compliance and operations. “Nichole’s unique legal, regulatory, and public policy experience in both the private and public sector blend in very well with our firm culture of being subject matter experts and advocates for our clients,” said Dudley, Floridian Partners’ managing partner in Tallahassee.
Personnel note: Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary heads to Wall Street Journal — Leary, the Times’ Washington, D.C. correspondent, will now be reporting there for The Wall Street Journal, he announced Monday on Twitter. Adam Smith, the political editor at the Times, also tweeted that the WSJ had hired one of “the nation’s best political reporters” with its decision to bring Leary on board. At the Journal’s Washington bureau, Leary joins Michael Bender, a fellow alumnus of the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau. While in Tallahassee, Leary’s investigative reporting helped bring down former House Speaker Ray Sansom, who was eventually tried on corruption charges. The case was dropped mid-trial in 2011 when a judge ruled a key witness for the prosecution could not testify.
— ALOE —
Happy birthday to the Florida Justice Association’s Jeff Porter.