Tampa Bay Archives - Page 2 of 70 - Florida Politics

Vern Buchanan talks jobs with restaurant owners

Jobs and the economy drove the discussion Wednesday when Vern Buchanan met with a group of nearly a dozen restaurant owners from Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The Sarasota Republican congressman listened as the entrepreneurs discussed some of the financial challenges facing their businesses during the meeting at the Holiday Inn Sarasota-Airport.

Buchanan’s meeting comes on the heels of a study released this week ranking Bradenton one of the best small cities in the U.S. to start a small business. According to the personal finance website WalletHub, Bradenton was ranked 114th out of 1,261 small cities around the country. Sarasota came in at 391.

Buchanan, a successful businessman before entering Congress, has called for an overhaul and simplification of the tax code to lower rates for individuals and small businesses.

“When our small businesses succeed, the Suncoast succeeds,” he told the group. “Your hard work helps to drive our economy and create jobs.”

John Horne, chief executive officer of Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton, was among the attendees.

“It’s nice to have a businessman representing us in Congress,” Horne said. “Congressman Buchanan understands these issues well.”

Buchanan represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District, which includes Manatee County, along with parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties.

The area’s 1,500 restaurants employ more than 29,000 people in Buchanan’s district, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Buchanan also updated the group on his “Main Street Fairness Act,” a proposal to make sure that no small business in the country pays a higher tax rate than large corporations. The legislation picked up bipartisan steam earlier this month when Sens. Bill Nelson and Susan Collins of Maine introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

“Tax reform will generate enormous economic growth and create jobs,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan (middle, white shirt) addresses the group


Primary care physicians: Health care plans must have prevention

Dr. Joy Jackson

Any health care program implemented by Congress or the state must include affordable preventive health care for all, Dr. Joy Jackson told members of the Polk County Tiger Bay Club Wednesday in Bartow.

Jackson is the Polk County Health Department director and chairs the Florida Department of Health’s statewide committee on Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

She has also served as medical director for Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, a free and low-cost clinic for those in the health insurance gap, since 2012.

Tiger Bay had billed her talk as “Trump vs. Obama health care programs,” but Jackson said affordable health care for everyone is the key to prevention of more serious health problems and increased medical costs. The “how” is up to the politicians, she said, declining to take a side.

At the turn of the 20th century a third of worldwide deaths was due to influenza, she said. Now the No. 1 cause of death is cardiovascular disease and No. 2 is cancer.

“We are living longer and dying of chronic diseases,” Jackson said, making it more crucial that everyone has access to preventative health care.

One of the major causes is obesity and the state has implemented a preventative program known as the Healthiest Weight Project.

Although Jackson steered away from the political side of health care, some Tiger Bay members characteristically did not, asking blunt questions.

One, in particular, wanted to know if Jackson supported universal health care.

“As a physician, I struggle with universal health care, but also universal health care would include preventative health care,” she said. “It is desirable for everyone to have access to affordable, quality health care.”

Asked if she thought everyone gets quality health care she said she didn’t think they do, adding there are multiple reasons. A major one is people not having a primary care physician.

Another health issue concern in Florida with summer approaching is last year’s Zika virus outbreak.

The Florida Department of Health and its county departments monitored the threat carefully she said. There were over 30 travel-related cases of Zika in Polk County alone. But only in Miami-Dade County were there local mosquitoes found to be carrying Zika.

Six babies in Florida were reported with Zika-related issues.

While the health agencies throughout the state are on guard, residents must also be, she noted.

“Keep tipping and draining,” she said referring to bird baths and small water containers outside, “No going away and leaving standing water.”

While there is no visible presence the alerts must continue with strong mosquito control and with people being aware, Jackson said.

Joe Henderson: Tom Lee’s recent travails could start the guessing game again

State Sen. Tom Lee usually keeps people guessing about his plans.

While the Republican from Thonotosassa is well-known in the Legislature and isn’t afraid to stir things up, he has spoken often about possibly running for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. He waffled last year about that almost up to the filing deadline before deciding to run for another term in the Senate.

I wonder if recent events in the Senate might start Lee wondering again if it wouldn’t be better to work a little closer to home.

His well-publicized bill to eliminate public subsidies for the construction of sports stadiums failed to get out of committee. This was on the heels of what amounted to a rebuke when he called for an independent audit of the $2.1 billion expansion project at Tampa International Airport.

He tried to attach an amendment to the Senate budget that would have triggered the audit, but it was rejected by a voice vote. Those who spoke out against Lee on that gambit included Republicans Dana Young and Jack Latvala.

Bear in mind, Lee doesn’t have to do anything right away. He was elected to a four-year term in the newly created District 20, covering parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.

But the field is shaping up for the 2018 county commission races in Hillsborough. Veteran Republican Al Higginbotham already announced he will not seek re-election to his countywide seat, while long-serving Republican Ken Hagan said he will try for election to a single-member district.

Victor Crist, who also has been a fixture on the commission, is term-limited in his district, but most people expect he will run for Hagan’s soon-to-be open countywide seat. Right now, he likely would face only token competition in the primary from tea party activist Tim Curtis.

If Lee jumps in, he could go for Higginbotham’s spot. He would be a formidable candidate and likely would campaign about how he could bring his Tallahassee experience to bear for the betterment of his home county, but there is some intrigue there, too. Some prominent Democrats – including former commissioner Kevin Beckner and state Rep. Janet Cruz – might decide to get involved.

Plus, Lee has been linked to a possible run for the state’s Chief Financial Officer, where he would have great influence over spending policies. That’s in his wheelhouse. But he also ran for that job in 2006 and lost to Democrat Alex Sink.

When you talk to Lee, it usually doesn’t take long for the conversation to drift into the direction of impact he could make in his home county. He has also said his prime motivation for returning to the Legislature (he previously served 10 years there) was to help change the way business is done.

He clearly has been fighting that fight, but his nose has gotten a little bloodied in the process. It’s worth wondering whether the bleeding is enough to make him get serious about working closer to home.

Tom Lee not backing down on claim of questionable spending at Tampa International Airport

Tom Lee insists he never wanted to air any “dirty laundry” about Tampa International Airport when he attempted to introduce an amendment to the Florida Senate’s budget last Wednesday that would have the airport independently audited.

But the Brandon Republican says that there are too many unanswered questions about how the airport is being run for him to stand silent.

“When you’re presented with this information, and you’re a member of the Florida Legislature, and you don’t act on at least an innocuous audit of status of the airport expansion project, that’s a pretty irresponsible disregard of your public duties,” Lee said Sunday.

The Senate rejected Lee’s amendment on a voice vote, but airport officials have stated that they would have no issue with such an audit, if one ultimately took place.

Tampa Republican Dana Young objected to the process by which Lee introduced his amendment, asking him on the floor why he couldn’t have done so when the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation (which Lee chairs) met last December.

Lee told Young and Jack Latvala, who also objected to the late-filed amendmentthat it was only because of recent media reports that he was compelled to do his own due diligence about the airport’s finances, specifically referring to a report from WFLA News Channel 8.

That story, which aired on March 1, reported that phase one of the airport’s $1 billion master plan expansion was running four months behind schedule.

A story that Lee didn’t mention on the Senate floor, but which he confirmed with FloridaPolitics.com, was a crucial source for him was reported approximately a year-and-half ago by WTSP’s Mike Deeson. That story relied on quotes from two Hillsborough County Tea Party activists who questioned the spending at the airport, as well as excerpts of memos written by former Hillsborough County Aviation Authority member Martin Garcia to board members years earlier. Garcia has been a frequent critic of TIA executive director Joe Lopano and his spending plans at the airport ever since Garcia abruptly left the agency after less than a year of service in May 2014.

Lee says that he “stumbled across” Garcia after he had done some initial research on the airport’s finances, and says that the former Aviation Authority board member “put some meat on the bones” of those reports.

Garcia is the head of a Tampa-based investment firm and served as Pam Bondi’s campaign manager for her successful run for Attorney General in 2010. Lee says he knew of Garcia from local GOP circles, but not well before the recent conversation about the airport.

During those discussions, Lee stated that Garcia told him that he was in possession of documents that referred to the extent of which airport management had “gone out of its way to conceal some of the facts and had refused to proceed in a fiscally irresponsible manger with these independent feasibility studies.” But when Lee asked him if he could share that information with him, he said Garcia told him he would not do so “without a subpoena.”

A call to Garcia for comment was not returned.

Garcia also told Lee about his issues with Gigi Rechel, the Aviation Authority’s former attorney who Garcia encouraged the Florida Bar to investigate regarding text messages she had sent to him that could not be recovered.

In February, the Florida Bar ruled that Rechel did not violate the state’s Sunshine Laws.

Lee admits that other various other media reports about other incidents about the airport have inspired his zeal for an audit. One of those incidents was a report about an alleged security breach and questionable business practices by staffers in the IT department. Two of those staffers ultimately resigned, and a business consulting firm found no security breaches.

Lee says that his request for an audit was a “perfunctory” request, and says he remains surprised that it has become such a major story. But while he insists he doesn’t have a “settled opinion” on whether improprieties are happening with the airport’s finances, Lee also injected the arguably inflammatory words “potential public corruption at the airport” early in his discussion of the debate on the Senate floor last week.

He defends those comments, saying it came later in the public debate after Young challenged him.

“The airing of the dirty laundry on the Senate floor is not my doing,” he maintains, saying he did everything he could to avoid that conversation and said that there had already been ten minutes of discussion off the floor of the Senate before he made that comment (You can watch the debate on the Senate floor, beginning at the 5:30:45 marker here).

Lee also says that Young was advised by lobbyists for the Aviation Authority not to challenge him on the floor because they knew that it could result in exposing “dirty laundry.”

(FloridaPolitics.com reached out to Young and the two lobbyists working for the airport to confirm the accuracy of the claim. None immediately responded).

Acknowledging that an internal state audit could be time-consuming, Tampa Airport officials say that they would welcome such a review because they have nothing to hide.

“If an audit turns up any findings, we certainly would adjust practices as necessary,” says airport spokesperson Janet Zink, “but we feel really comfortable with the way the project has been managed.”

Zink says the Aviation Authority provides monthly updates to the Florida Department of Transportation and has their internal auditing team reviewing the project on a regular basis, as well as producing an annual audit with an external auditor.

“There is a lot of monitoring going on, and we’ve been really, really diligent and careful in the way that we’ve managed the project,” she says.

Lee says that he also is concerned that there hasn’t been much public discussion about phases II and III of the ultimately $2.6 billion master plan. However, Zink says that there will be a board workshop at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Aviation Authority’s boardroom on Phase II of the Master Plan (public notice was the first week of April). There will also be an open house April 27 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom for more people to get information about the project.

Over the weekend, FloridaPolitics reached out to two Aviation Authority members for comment; neither Mayor Bob Buckhorn nor Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist chose to respond. Crist initially responded to a request to talk, but later returned a subsequent message.

Vern Buchanan requests more aid for red tide

Noting the dangerous threat toxic algae poses to humans, marine life and the economy, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan announced today he has requested increased federal funding to combat red tide.

Red tide, also known as Karenia brevis algae, has lingered along Suncoast shores on and off for several months now, killing thousands of fish and discouraging potential visitors from taking in some of the country’s best beaches. Karenia brevis algae produces a toxin that can harm and kill a variety of animals, including birds, fish, sea turtles and marine mammals such as dolphins and the already endangered Florida manatee. In fact, the toxins from red tide blooms killed nearly 300 Florida manatees in 2013.

In a letter sent to the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, Buchanan requested increased funding to combat harmful algal blooms. Buchanan said the specific focus should be on red tide, within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Congressman stressed the critical need for federal support as harmful algal blooms, including red tide, are occurring with “increasing frequency and severity across the country.”

Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the U.S., according to NOAA.

“We need to use every tool at our disposal to safeguard the public and protect marine life and fragile coastal ecosystems,” Buchanan wrote. “Not only do harmful algal blooms deter tourists and upset related industries, they can be dangerous to humans as well.”

Human consumption of shellfish contaminated from red tide areas can cause serve illness and even lead to death in certain circumstances. Additionally, people who swim in red tide or inhale the toxins while near the water can suffer from severe respiratory issues, skin irritation and rashes. The state’s health department even advises that people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions like asthma are especially vulnerable and should steer clear of red tide waters.

Buchanan has an extensive record of preserving Florida’s waterways and pristine coastline. Earlier this year he co-chaired a bipartisan meeting of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation focused on combating red tide, toxic algae and examining other water quality issues. The Congressman also is a longtime opponent of drilling off the Gulf Coast. Last month Buchanan expressed his opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to open up more than 70 million acres off the coast of Florida to oil and gas drilling over the next five years starting this August. He also backed legislation, signed by President Obama in 2016, that would protect estuaries, including Sarasota Bay.

Full text of the letter can be found below.

The Honorable John Culberson                                       The Honorable Jose Serrano
Chairman                                                                          Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations                                          Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee of Commerce, Justice,                              Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science, and Related Agencies                                         Science, and Related Agencies
H-309, the Capitol                                                            1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                                                    Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Culberson and Raking Member Serrano,

Harmful algal blooms, including red tide, are occurring with increasing frequency and severity across the country. The toxic bacteria, which can cause respiratory problems and has been linked to acute liver failure, is particularly harmful to coastal communities dependent on clean water.

This threat to humans, marine life and the economy deserves our attention.

As you being your work on the fiscal year 2018 Commerce, Justice, and Science funding bill, I respectfully ask that you include robust funding to combat these harmful algal blooms, with a specific focus on red tide, within NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

HABs are a growing national concern because of the widespread and lasting damage they cause to not only the health of humans, marine life, and coastal ecosystems, but to our local economies as well. In fact, due to its impacts on public health, tourism, seafood and other related industries, HABs occurring in U.S. marine waters are estimated to cost the U.S. over $80 million a year.

Currently, however, there is no effective method to combat some of the most challenging and devastating HABs, such as red tides caused by Karenia brevis algae, without severely affecting our marine ecosystems. Red tide outbreaks, which have affected the Gulf of Mexico since the 16th century can kill or sicken turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, and even leads to massive fish kills. They also lead to widespread closures of shellfish beds from Florida trough Texas every year.

Perhaps most concerning, however, are the negative consequences HABs and red tide specifically have on people. Not only do harmful algal blooms deter tourists and upset related industries, they can be dangerous to humans as well.

People can become ill with Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) or even die as a result of consuming contaminated shellfish that has been exposed to HAB toxins. People who swim in red tide or inhale the toxins while near the water can also suffer from severe respiratory issues, skin irritation and rashes.

We need to use every tool at our disposal to safeguard the public and protect marine life and fragile coastal ecosystems.

I would also encourage you to collaborate with local and state partners and non-profit marine research institutions and universities to better utilize emerging technologies and cutting edge approaches to fight back against harmful algal blooms. Thank you for your consideration of this request, and for your leadership on the committee.

HART introducing cutting-edge vehicles to HyperLink connection with Innovation Alliance

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will announce next week a partnership with the Tampa Innovation Alliance to enhance transportation options in the USF area. The plan is to introduce a small fleet of cutting-edge Tesla vehicles into the local market.

Since its implementation last year, HART’s HyperLink program has allowed riders to book a ride through a smartphone app to and from bus stops in three designated areas: North Tampa, Brandon, and Carrollwood. It’s designed to solve the “first mile/last mile” issue by picking people up from home or work and taking them directly to their nearest bus stop.

The Innovation Alliance will now be the fourth area to get the HyperLink program. The Innovation Alliance is the region anchored by USF, University Mall, Florida Hospital, Busch Gardens and the Moffit Cancer Center.

“If you’re on (the USF) campus and you want to get somewhere off campus somewhere in that radius, you’ll be able to book a trip, and it will take you there,” says Cesar Hernandez, government relations specialist for HART.

Hernandez says the pickup spot on the USF campus will probably be at the Marshall Center. The service connects riders within a 3-mile zone, which at USF would be close enough to take passengers to HART’s University Area Transit Center on 131st Avenue, where students (or anyone else) could then take a HART Metro Rapid bus into downtown or elsewhere.

The new fleet of cars that will take them there will consist of four Tesla Model X’s and one MV-1 model that seats seven and can be used to accommodate the disabled. The five cars will be utilized exclusively in the Innovation District surrounding the campus and will by operated by TransDev, the private-sector operator that is working with HART on the HyperLink program.

Hernandez says if there’s a need, TransDev will have other vehicles ready to roll out.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance is the public-private agency charged with redeveloping the University area of North Tampa that was formed in January of 2015 and is led by former County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

“HART HyperLink is incredibly important to the Tampa Innovation Alliance, and we are proud to be the first place in the United States where this kind of partnership between rideshare and public transit is taking place,” Sharpe said. “We are tackling real challenges for the people in our community and technology and innovation.”

Sharpe and Hernandez raised funds to deploy the Teslas in the district. He calls their partnership “serendipitous,” and praises Hernandez as having a “facet for innovation.”

Along with former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Sharpe was the leading politico championing the Moving Hillsborough Forward transit tax initiative that went down to an ignominious defeat in 2010. He continued to fight for transit during his years serving on the HART board, but grew frustrated with the direction of the agency when it was led by Philip Hale, at one time accusing the former CEO of “uninspired, unimaginative leadership.” But he has nothing but praise for Hernandez and Hale’s successor, Katharine Eagan.

“When I was leaving (the agency) she came to the fore and took over and really kind of transformed HART into the agency that I wanted to work with, so it’s great what they’re doing,” he says.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes has a made $500,000 appropriations request in the Florida Senate’s budget for an expansion of the HyperLink program into downtown Tampa.

Brandes’ advocacy led to the Department of Transportation giving HART the $1.2 million in startup capital for HyperLink, which was then bid out to TransDev.

Hernandez says if and when autonomous vehicles come online, “We’re set in place to be able to adopt to that technology because those vehicles will have the capacity to do so.”

Among those helping sponsor the program is Tampa Electric Company, Northern Technologies Group, Nitro Solutions, Diamond View Studios, entrepreneur Roberto Torres with the Blind Tiger Cafe and former county commission candidate Tim Schock’s firm, Lightning Capital Consulting.

Appeals court overturns decision clearing Tampa, officer in 2014 ‘suicide by cop’ shooting

Jason Turk

Federal appeals judges overturned a court ruling that cleared the city of Tampa and a police officer in an attempted “suicide by proxy” case where a local real estate agent was shot after threatening to kill himself.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling Friday that had absolved the city and officer Timothy Bergman, who shot Jason Turk twice in the face while he sat in a car Jan. 9, 2014. Amanda Turk, Turk’s estranged wife, called 911 telling dispatchers her husband was threatening suicide. The Turks and their attorney claim Turk never pointed his gun at the officers.

They also argue that Bergman, a K-9 officer, was not adequately trained to handle the situation. The couple sued police for violating Turk’s constitutional rights by using excessive force.

“The suit is about law enforcement being accountable,” Michael Maddux, the Turks’ lawyer, told the Tampa Tribune. “They had a cry for help and the response was tactical, almost like he was committing a crime.”

Although the lower court decided Turk’s rights were not violated, the appeals court overturned the ruling, sending it back to the lower court.

“We cannot say that a police officer in Officer Bergman’s position would reasonably perceive Mr. Turk, a non-suspect sitting in the BMW, as posing an imminent threat of serious physical harm to the police officers on scene,” the ruling said. “We must reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment on all counts and remand for further proceedings. On remand, the district court in the first instance should consider the other defenses raised by Officer Bergman and the City of Tampa but not ruled on in the first summary judgment order.”

Charlie Crist to be ‘carved up’ at Suncoast Tiger Bay After Hours April 20

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club often likes to “carve up” politicians for lunch. Next week, they will have one for dinner, too.

Congressman Charlie Crist is the special guest for the Club’s “Tiger Bay After Hours” event Thursday, April 20. The St. Petersburg Democrat will appear at a special evening meeting, which begins 6:30 p.m. at The Hangar Restaurant at the city’s waterfront Albert Whitted Airport downtown.

There will be appetizers and a cash bar. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

As seating will be limited, organizers have announced a firm RSVP deadline of Monday, April 17 – walk-ins will not be accommodated. Tickets are free for Tiger Bay Club members, and $10 for guests.

Reservations are available online. The Hangar is at 540 First St. SE in St. Petersburg.

Sparks fly with Tampa Bay GOP senators over Tom Lee’s call for Tampa International Airport audit

Sparks flew on the floor of the Florida Senate Wednesday between Tampa Bay-area Republicans after Tom Lee stated that “potential public corruption” is taking place at Tampa International Airport.

The Brandon Republican then proposed inserting an amendment to the Senate budget calling for the Auditor General to review spending at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which is currently in the midst of a billion-dollar-plus master plan renovation.

“There have been allegations of gross representation,” Lee told Dana Young of Tampa (as well as the rest of the Senate), saying reports surfaced on local television and in “newspapers.”

Young objected, as did Jack Latvala of Clearwater; both stated that they had no idea what Lee was talking about.

“That’s a very inflammatory thing to say,“ Latvala said. “Can you tell me which channel it was on and maybe a little more about it, because obviously none of us condone corruption, but since you’re the only one in the delegation that has seen it, maybe help us a little bit?”

Senate President Joe Negron then interrupted, saying all legislators should be cautious when talking about the reputation of others, or, in this case, Tampa International Airport.

Lee then backed away slightly, saying that what he has seen was the definition of public corruption, but “perhaps I shouldn’t use that term.”

After seeing a report on WFLA News Channel 8, Lee said he reviewed the financial statements on the airport’s website, as well as pulling the Fitch bond report from last summer.

“I concluded that … rental fees going up from $2.50 a couple of years ago to $5.00 and now $6 a day … maybe our airport is having a problem sinking those bonds,” Lee said. “Based upon that personal analysis … I concluded that we needed a second set of eyes.”

Latvala noted that several lawmakers had just tried to Google “Tampa airport corruption.” They came up empty.

“So maybe you can tell what they said?” he asked.

Lee said he was convinced financials from the airport “weren’t just matching up.”

Young added that she believed in complete transparency; her only concern was the method Lee presented his amendment.

By bringing the issue up without making very much concrete information available, Latvala said: “We’re potentially putting a black mark on the name of that airport.”

Jeff Brandes then piped up. The St. Petersburg Republican took Lee’s side, saying: “We should give great deference to any senator who asks for an audit.”

But after a 20-minute debate, the Senate rejected Lee’s amendment. Nevertheless, Lee’s proposal had one effect — a dramatic spike in interest on the spending habits of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

Florence Snyder: Florida’s opioid crisis, Part 4 – Showtime at the Kabuki Theater

When Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi finally got around to talking about Florida’s opioid crisis, the hot air was suffocating.

In parts of Florida, opioids have overtaken homicides and DUIs as a cause of very premature and utterly unnecessary death. That is not breaking news to anyone who has been paying even a little attention. In a time when reporters are in short supply, almost every newspaper in Florida has made a noble, front-page attempt to assess the grievous impact of the opioid epidemic on their local communities.

The truth is out there, along with plenty of supporting data. Much of it comes from Palm Beach County, where “sober homes,” operated by insurance fraudsters and human traffickers, have proliferated like pythons in the Everglades. A relentless newsroom at The Palm Beach Post prodded the community to confront the mounting death toll, and to come up with evidence-based strategies and solutions.

And that’s exactly what the community did.

There’s a grand jury report full of strategies and solutions courtesy of Bondi’s hand-picked pill mill czar Dave Aronberg. There’s a Sober Homes Task Force Report. There’s a Heroin Task Force trying hard to get a second vote for a good plan of action that starts with joining states like Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia in acknowledging opioid addiction as a public health emergency that can be significantly ameliorated by public health professionals.

But who cares what an army of experts and affected citizens and taxpayers think?

Not Scott, whose brother’s unspecified addiction “taught” him that “In the end, it’s always going to come down to that individual and that family is going to have to deal with this issue.”

Not Bondi, who brings to President Donald Trump‘s Opioid Task Force insights such as “No short-term fix is going to help this problem,” as if anybody on earth had suggested a “short-term fix.”

Scott and Bondi will be sending a multiagency Kabuki Theater Touring Company around the state to hold “workshops” and “generate ideas.”  That news did not go down well in Palm Beach County, where beleaguered taxpayers, addicts struggling to recover, and grieving families of the dead are stocking up on torches, pitchforks and rotten tomatoes.

Excellent ideas are all over the place. It’s leadership that’s in short supply.

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