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Orkin says Tampa Bay-area among most rat-infested

Here’s one national survey where it’s preferable not to be in the top 10 — or 20.

Fortunately, in Orkin’s Top 50 “rattiest” cities, Tampa/St. Petersburg only ranks No. 38, with the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area as the top Florida community, coming in at No. 18.

Experts at Orkin, the national pest control company, say the metro regions are ranked by the number of rodent treatments the company performed from September 15, 2016 — September 15, 2017. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

Chicago tops the list as the city with the most rats during the winter months, followed by New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C.

“Rats and mice begin looking for warmer, more insulated places to get through the winter, and these too often happen to be our homes or businesses,” said John Kane, entomologist and Technical Director of Orkin’s Midwest region. “Rodents like to chew on wood and electrical wires, increasing the fire danger behind your walls and potentially damage to your home.”

It’s not hard for rodents to get into a home or business, Kane added.

West Palm Beach is at No. 46, joining Orlando/Daytona Beach as the four Florida communities listed in the Orkin 50.

In July, a social media report of possible rodents in a West Palm Beach AMC movie theater showing the comedy “Girls Trip” went viral.

One of the people who shared the Facebook post told a reporter for WPTV-TV she saw half the people in the theater run out in fear. The woman said rodents had apparently run across the feet of people sitting in the front rows.

Orkin’s full list is here.

St. Pete discussion panel talks Trump tax plan Saturday

President Donald Trump’s tax plan and the effect it could have on the Bay area will the topic of a discussion panel set for Saturday morning in St. Petersburg.

The panel, titled “Trump’s Top-First Tax Plan: A Community Conversation” will be held at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center, 1111 18th Ave. S, and will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

According to the event listing put out by organizers, many groups — predominantly left-leaning ones — will have a hand in hosting the discussion, including For Our Future FL, the Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, MoveOn and Women’s March Pinellas, among others.

“Come get the facts from experts and community advocates and learn about how this plan could impact you and your family if it passes,” organizers said in the event listing.

In addition to the tax plan discussion, the panel will also talk about “what steps you can take to get more involved.” Organizers also said attendees will have an opportunity to submit questions to the panel.

The event listing does not say who will be on the discussion panel.

Those interested in attending can take a look at the Facebook page, or Eventbrite page for more details on the event.

Ed Hooper lands Wilton Simpson nod on the heels of Bill Galvano endorsement

Former lawmaker Ed Hooper is looking to rejoin the Legislature via Senate District 16 next year, and in the past couple days he’s landed endorsements from the two men who would serve as Senate President during his first term.

“Ed Hooper is a committed public servant dedicated to working for his neighbors. As a firefighter and as an elected official, Ed has demonstrated that we can trust him to get job done,” Majority Leader Wilton Simpson said in a press release. “Common sense and integrity are the hallmarks of a leader, so I give my full support to Ed and ask the people of District 16 to join me to support Ed Hooper for the Florida Senate.”

Simpson, a businessman and farmer, has been in the Florida Senate since 2012 and is set to take over as Senate President after the 2020 elections.

“I appreciate Senator Simpson’s faith in my candidacy and in my ability to get the job done,” Hooper said. “I look forward to working with him in the Senate and getting good things done for Florida.”

Simpson’s public show of support for Hooper comes just days after an endorsement from Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano, who is a couple weeks away from becoming Senate president designate and would take over for current Senate President Joe Negron following next year’s election.

Hooper has called the Clearwater area home for 45 years, including 24 years working for the city’s fire department. He served in the House from 2006 through 2014, when term limits forced him to retire, and has spent his three years out of the Legislature working as a consultant.

Currently, Hooper is the only Republican candidate in the race running for the seat currently held by Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who is termed out of the senate and running for Florida governor in 2018.

SD 16 covers the northern half of Pinellas County and a strip of coastal Pasco County that includes New Port Richey. It also has a clear GOP lean, with about 20,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats. The district voted for Donald Trump last year over Hillary Clinton 56-39.

Since filing in January 2016, Hooper has racked up endorsements from fellow GOP pols – including one from Latvala – and raised about $144,000 for his campaign.

Justin Bean wins backing from firefighters union

Add a firefighters union to the list of those endorsing Justin Bean in the St. Petersburg City Council District 6 race.

On Friday, the 30-year-old businessman received the backing of the St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters Local 747.

“We feel Justin Bean best understands the current and future needs of the Firefighters and Paramedics of St. Petersburg to enable us to best serve the citizens of this great city,” said Local President Rick Pauley.

Bean faces Gina Driscoll in the District 6 contest, which will take place in about three weeks. The Suncoast Police Benevolent Association has already given him their endorsement.

“I am extremely proud to receive the support and endorsement of our community’s firefighters and paramedics,” Bean said in a statement. “I appreciate the faith they have placed in me, but, most importantly, I appreciate the job they do every day to keep us safe.”

Bean has also received the backing of the Tampa Bay Times, the Pinellas Realtor Organization and Associated Builders and Contractors.

Driscoll has been endorsed by the Florida National Organization for Women PAC, as well as current council members Karl Nurse, Darden Rice, Charlie Gerdes and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman.

Democrats struggle to fundraise against Dennis Ross for 2018

Democrats in Florida’s 15th Congressional District think Republican Dennis Ross could be vulnerable in his quest for re-election in 2018.

What else can explain why no fewer than six Democrats have already filed to run against the Polk County incumbent next year?

Even with a full year until the midterms, Ross certainly isn’t taking anything for granted, raising more than $136,000 in the third quarter of this year. He now has more than $269,000 cash on hand for his re-election bid.

Meanwhile, Navy veteran and educator Andrew Learned led the fundraising among Democrats over the past three months, bringing in $7,333. He now has $12,861 total cash on hand.

Greg Pilkington, a 54-year-old from Indian Lakes Estates, raised $2,435 over the past three months. He has all of $210 cash on hand.

No other Democrat has done much on the fundraising front. Insurance broker Cameron Magnuson raised just $205 in the third quarter, and has raised a total of $3,297.

Former police officer and criminal investigator Ray Pena Jr. raised just $257 in the third quarter, and shows a negative cash on hand balance of $2,656.

No FECC data was available on the other Democrat in the race, Greg Williams.

Jeffrey Rabinowitz, who originally filed as a non-party-affiliated candidate, then switched to the Democratic primary, is no longer listed as a candidate, according to FEC records.

There is one Republican challenging Ross, Loretta Miller. She raised $1,525 in the past quarter, and has $1,530 cash on hand.

Florida’s CD 15 encompasses parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake Counties.

Last November, Ross defeated Democrat Jim Lange by 16 percentage points.

David Jolly says nation might be ‘better off’ if Democrats take back Congress in 2018

Amid growing concerns over President Donald Trump‘s temperament, David Jolly suggested (on national television, no less) that the country might be “safer” if Democrats took control of the House in 2018.

“I will be honest with you, Lawrence; I, personally, as a Republican in the past few weeks, have wondered if the Republic’s safer if Democrats take over the House in 2018,” the former Republican congressman from Pinellas County told Lawrence O’Donnell Monday on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”

“This is a president that needs a greater check on his powers than Republicans in Congress have offered,” Jolly added.

Clearly surprised by the comment, McDonnell asked Jolly to repeat what he just said. Did he really just hear a Republican say that — for the safety of the country — we’d be better off with the Democrats in control next year?

“There is no discernible Republican ideological agenda that is worth fighting for right now,” Jolly replied. “But we do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power. The Democrats could, and we might be better off as a republic, if they take the House in 2018.”

To regain the House of Representatives, Democrats would need to flip 24 seats next year.

Jolly also insisted he’s still thinking of running as a Republican against Democrat Charlie Crist in a rematch of the 2016 race in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

But after comments like this, will Pinellas Republicans rally behind him?

Watch below:

As for curfews, Bob Gualtieri says he is not a fan

Hours before Hurricane Irma made its trek toward the Tampa Bay area, a territorial dispute erupted between Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill.

The debate was over the mayor’s announcement earlier that day to impose an overnight curfew in Tampa. Merrill argued he was the only person in the county to have such jurisdiction, a claim Buckhorn disputed.

In the end, it didn’t really matter; Buckhorn declared the curfew over around 8 a.m. the day after Irma hit.

However, if it was up to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, no one in such a situations would be declaring curfews.

“I’m not a fan of curfews,” Gualtieri told members of the Tampa Bay Area Legislative Delegation at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Monday afternoon.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman also declared a curfew, but, at the time, he said it wouldn’t be enforced.

Gualtieri stressed “consistency.” If a curfew is to be imposed, the Sheriff said it’s best to be announced for an entire county, versus an individual city. “That does tend to confuse people,” he said.

If a curfew is to be imposed, the Sheriff said it’s best to be announced for an entire county, versus an individual city. “That does tend to confuse people,” he said.

Tampa House Democrat Sean Shaw asked directly if the city can call for a curfew when a county hasn’t.

“They do but I don’t think they should. I think it should be centralized,” Gualtieri responded, adding it wasn’t a good thing if one city calls for an evacuation while the county doesn’t.

“People get confused just by the situation they’re faced with, much less mixed messages coming out of whether it’s the city or the county,” Gualtieri said.


Pinellas emergency manager has issue with Rick Scott’s emergency generator rule

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities aren’t the only entities who have an issue with Governor Rick Scott’s declaration that they must have generators that can power air-conditioning systems installed by next month.

Sally Bishop, director of Pinellas County’s emergency management department, told state legislators Monday that there is an unintended consequence to Scott’s emergency declaration: health care facilities canceling their agreements with other counties that offer shelter to evacuating facilities.

“We’re finding that the sheltering facilities are canceling those agreements with the evacuating facilities because of their concerns on being able to meet the requirements of the new generator rules,” Bishop told members of the Tampa Bay Area Legislative Delegation at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Scott’s emergency rules announced on September 16 gave the nursing homes and assisted living facilities 60 days to install generators. It came just days after eight residents of a Broward County nursing home died after losing air conditioning because of Hurricane Irma. Six more residents later died.

Bishop said she already has a problem in having enough shelters ready to house evacuees when the next hurricane threatens the region. She says new storm surge data with accompanying flood evacuation zones leave her with 170 evacuating facilities and only 125 receiving facilities.

That could lead to evacuees having to go to another county — which is unlikely because there won’t be available transportation, she says.

“I’m very concerned about not only do I have an issue with more evacuating than receiving facilities, but I’m finding that receiving facilities are going to start canceling agreements with evacuating facilities, which really leaves me and all other emergency management entities in the same boat,” Bishop contended.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities estimate it will cost $350,000 to install large enough generators to provide air conditioning for a 120-bed nursing home.

Bishop said that those shared agreements between health care facilities have been going on for more than 30 years.

State Rep. Wengay Newton, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, asked Bishop about reports that some people who were “diaper-dependent” were turned away from shelters with special needs.

Bishop said that there were definitely problems with communications between health care officials and those running the shelters, something that she says has to be addressed going forward.

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz from Tampa said she received complaints from some constituents who were turned away from animal-friendly shelters because they didn’t have shot records of their dogs. Cruz said in comparison, she stayed at a hotel during the storm and saw plenty of people with pets who didn’t get questioned about their medical records.

Bishop said that it’s not good to mix pets who are without proper vaccinations, “or you end up with a lot of sick pets after the fact.” She said that nobody with a pet was turned away from animal shelters in Pinellas, but it varied from county to county.

“I think there was a disconnect,” Cruz said, adding that she didn’t want to see that situation happen again.

Officials from the Florida Public Service Commission, Port Tampa Bay and the Florida Petroleum Association, and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri also spoke to the delegation about what they went through during the storm and lessons learned from it.

An industry group has filed a legal challenge to Scott’s emergency rule requiring generators for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In the legal challenge, LeadingAge Florida said penalties for failing to comply with the generator requirements could include revoking the licenses of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

interim Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister

Chad Chronister boasts bipartisan backing in fundraiser invite

Chad Chronister is looking to shed the “interim” tag in front of his title as Hillsborough County Sheriff next year, and a peek at the host committee he’s wrangled for his Oct. 25 campaign kickoff shows his support is both far reaching and bipartisan.

Chronister has been with the office since 1992 and was a colonel before the retirement of longtime lawman David Gee earlier this year, which vaulted him into the leadership role. He filed for election to the office a day after he was sworn in as interim sheriff.

The run for sheriff is Chronister’s first campaign, though the invite for his upcoming fundraiser has more names than many seasoned politicians – it fills up nearly a whole page of legal size paper and includes well over 200 names.

Among his supporters are both sides of the courtroom in State Attorney Andrew Warren and Hillsborough County Public Defender Julie Holt.

Chronister, a Republican, also has politicians from both sides of the political spectrum flocking to support his fledgling campaign.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, and former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, the current favorite to succeed him, also made the list alongside House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sens. Dana Young and Tom Lee as well as County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, all Republicans.

The throng of supporters will gather at The Italian Club at 1731 E 7th Ave. in Ybor City to get the sitting sheriff’s campaign off the ground. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs for two hours.

So far, Chronister’s only competition is no-party candidate Juan Rivera. The election will be held in November 2018.

The full invitation is below.

Ben Albritton adds endorsement from former DeSoto County Sheriff

Republican Rep. Ben Albritton picked up an endorsement from former DeSoto County Sheriff Will Wise Monday for his campaign to take over the Senate District 26 seat currently held by Denise Grimsley, who is running for agriculture commissioner in 2018.

“Ben Albritton’s time in the Florida House has cemented his reputation as a fine public servant,” Wise said in a press release. “I spent my entire career working to keep our communities safe, and I know Ben understands how important it is to put resources behind law enforcement. I’m proud to support Ben because I know he will keep working hard in Tallahassee, but he won’t forget where he came from. He is a true conservative and a true servant leader.”

Wise was in law enforcement for more than 40 years, first as a deputy in the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office before joining the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He retired as sheriff after the 2016 elections and was replaced by James Potter.

“I’m honored to have the support of a respected leader like Sheriff Wise,” said Albritton. “He worked hard for the citizens of DeSoto County, and that’s exactly what I intend to do in the Florida Senate. It means a lot to have folks like him on our team.”

Wise’s endorsement is the latest in a string of high-profile backers for Albritton’s senate campaign, including DeSoto County Commissioners Elton Langford, Buddy Mansfield and James Selph. U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross have also thrown their support behind the Wauchula Republican, who is currently serving his fourth term in the Florida House.

Albritton holds the District 56 seat in the House, which covers all of DeSoto and Hardee counties, as well as western Polk County, including Bartow.

Senate District 26 covers much of the same area, but tacks on all of Glades, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as a chunk of Charlotte County, including Punta Gorda, and a small strip of northeastern Lee County up to the outskirts of Fort Myers.

Grimsley is eligible for another term in the senate, but her run for Ag Commissioner gave Albritton the opportunity to make a Senate run without sitting out of the Legislature until Grimsley termed out.

Albritton is so far the only candidate running for the safe Republican seat and since filing in February he has raised about $54,000 for his campaign, with about $24,000 of that money on hand.

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