Yeah thisSunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
She said “Yes!” — Congratulations to power couple Stephanie Lewis McClung, fresh off a victorious stint as Nikki Fried‘s finance director, and Reggie Cardoza, who quarterbacked House Democrats to a net+5 cycle, on their engagement.
Note to readers — We’re asking you, our Sunburn readers, to tell us what you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, and we will publish your comments in our Wednesday edition. That will be the last one for this week. Send your emails to Peter@floridapolitics.com.
Even with his opponent retracting his concession while a recount of the election results was underway, Ron DeSantis wasted little time preparing to take the reins of state government. And now, with a second concession from Andrew Gillum and DeSantis named the clear victor, the Governor-elect can accelerate his transition plans.
Look for DeSantis to name a Chief of Staff immediately after — but not before — the Thanksgiving holiday.
Initially, four political insiders — Shane Strum, Kathy Mears, Scott Parkinson, and Scott Ross — were thought to be in the running for the Chief of Staff position, however, the shortlist is in flux as DeSantis plans to interview several more candidates for the job.
>>>Mears, a former chief of staff to two House Speakers and currently the chief lobbyist for Florida State University, has unofficially taken herself out of consideration, insisting that it’s not the right time for her to make a personnel move.
>>>One name he increasingly mentioned as a possibility for CoS is former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Indeed, Corcoran has been a particularly active member of DeSantis’ transition team, speaking up often during policy meetings and personnel interviews. However, the Corcoran-as-Chief-of-Staff rumor is just that, transition sources say.
>>>Although a Chief of Staff won’t be named this holiday week, DeSantis is close to announcing who will comprise his Inaugural Committee.
>>>Additionally, the transition intends to announce more staff hires as soon as Monday.
One big question for DeSantis heading into this week is not about who will get such and such job but rather how does he plan to spend Thanksgiving? Sources say he intends to take part in a charity event Thursday morning and then head out on a well-deserved Turkey Day vacation.
Happening today — The House Republican Caucus will meet in advance of the organization session scheduled Tuesday when Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva will formally become House Speaker, 4 p.m., House chamber, The Capitol.
Happening today — Florida Senate Democrats will meet to elect Sen. Audrey Gibson the 2018-20 Democratic Leader of the Florida Senate, 5:30 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol. A reception will follow immediately afterward at Tallahassee Garden Club, 507 N Calhoun St.
It’s certainly not a lock, but it’s possible that the Senate Democrats will also designate Gary Farmer as Gibson’s successor.
With Janet Cruz‘s win in Senate District 18, along with earlier wins by Lori Berman, Jason Pizzo, and Annette Taddeo, it’s believed that Farmer now has as many as ten votes within the caucus to become Leader in 2020. Opposing him are a handful of members, including Lauren Book and Kevin Rader, but it appears neither of them have lined up enough votes to block Farmer, who spent the election cycle working overtime for other candidates, such as Cruz.
The question for tonight is whether the anti-Farmer forces have enough votes to (again) delay a vote on who will succeed Gibson with the hope that they can identify a compromise candidate. We’ve even even heard Cruz’s name in the mix as such a candidate.
But, at the end of the day, we think today is Gary Farmer’s day.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@realDonaldTrump: Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future — a force to reckon with!
—@Fineout: Former State Sen. Dwight Bullard on Gillum concession: “The problem for Ron DeSantis becoming governor of Florida after running against Andrew Gillum is that at least half the state knows we deserve better. A presidential endorsement from Trump does not a plan to govern make.”
—@NelsonforSenate releases concession with some salty notes. Doesn’t say Scott’s name, notes that he was heavily outspent, and discusses same issues and talking point he did during race. Not the “wish my opponent well, let’s come together”
—@CharlesCWCooke: Gators up 42-0. Bill Nelson to announce a lawsuit on behalf of Idaho.
—@Doug_Hanks: Overheard from the (very far away) Miami-Dade canvassing table. The recount of Senate undervotes and overvotes is finished, and one lawyer told another: “My favorite write-in line was ‘They both suck.’”
—@DeFede: After the recount, election supervisor Brenda Snipes seemed pleased with the process saying only a few things needed to be “tweaked.” That’s right, tweaked. You know the same way the folks who flew the Hindenburg or were responsible for the Titanic needed to make a few tweaks.
—@FredPiccoloJr: Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges. Media looking to attend org session & you do not have an FDLE pass, please stop by the Speaker’s office. If u have an FDLE pass & just want a souvenir please come by as well. W/o this or FDLE badge = no floor access. Plz pass 2 colleagues
—@AGlorios: “I hate everything and everyone and I don’t care about your lawsuit” — fellow reporter I ran into just now while we were both picking up Mexican food.
—@GlennThrush: People dump (o)n Tallahassee the same way they dump on Albany. But, like Albany, it’s a cool town with a really distinct edge. Added bonus: Spanish Moss!
—@AnaMarieCox: If you bring salad to my Thanksgiving you will eat it outside by yourself.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 1; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 1; Thanksgiving — 3; Black Friday — 4; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 8; Hanukkah begins — 13; Partial government shutdown — 18; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 26; 116th Congress convenes — 45; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 70; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 85; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 106; Tampa Bay mayoral election — 106; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 110; Iowa Caucuses — 441; 2020 General Election — 715.
— IT’S OVER —
—“Florida recount 2018: Still confused? Read this.” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times
“‘This was not just about an election cycle’: Andrew Gillum concedes for second time” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — In a four-minute video posted live on Facebook, Gillum stood with his wife R. Jai, a Tallahassee park in the background and both dressed in Florida A&M University orange and green. Gillum first thanked his supporters. Then, he officially acknowledged Republican Ron DeSantis as the winner. “R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said in the video posted at about 5 p.m. Shortly after Gillum tweeted about his concession, DeSantis replied. “This was a hard-fought campaign,” DeSantis responded in a tweet to Gillum. “Now it’s time to bring Florida together.”
To view Gillum’s concession video, click on the image below:
“Rick Scott headed to Senate as Bill Nelson concedes” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Nelson‘s political career now comes to a likely end after four decades in various elected posts. Scott‘s lead after the general election was just over 12,000 votes, a number that shrank to roughly 10,000 after a machine and hand recount. Always trailing by a thin margin, the Nelson campaign had filed a stream of lawsuits that it predicted would produce thousands of additional votes for the three-term Senator. But those efforts failed. He called Scott to officially concede shortly after 2 p.m. Scott put more than $50 million of his own money into the race, giving his campaign a significant financial advantage over Nelson. Republicans have been quick to point out that roughly $50 million from outside Democratic groups was poured into defeating Scott in the closely watched race. On the other side, outside Democratic groups spent about $20 million to try and save the party’s lone hold on power in a third-biggest state in the nation.
—“With victory, Scott joins an exclusive club of Florida politicians” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times
“Nikki Fried maintains hold in AG race after manual recount” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Former medical-marijuana lobbyist Fried is on the verge of being the only Florida Democrat to capture a statewide win, gaining votes over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for Agriculture Commissioner after a manual recount was completed Sunday. Fried’s lead over Caldwell in the Cabinet race peaked at 6,753 votes on Sunday, adding 1,446 votes to her machine-recount total, according to results posted on the state Division of Elections website. Fried, a lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, has repeatedly claimed victory in the race, but Caldwell’s campaign wasn’t ready to concede after the bulk of the manual recount results were provided to the state Sunday.
—“Matt Caldwell should concede ASAP” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics
“Mike Caruso declared winner in HD 89” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Caruso has been declared the next state representative from House District 89, defeating his Democratic opponent by just 37 votes in the official results. The race between Caruso and Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio went through both a machine and manual recount as a result of the razor-thin margin. But once those recounts were completed, Caruso held on to his 37-vote margin out of about 80,000 votes cast. Caruso wins the race with 50.02 percent of the vote to Bonfiglio’s 49.98 percent. All recounts faced a Sunday deadline, after which the final results would be certified.
—“Elizabeth Fetterhoff clings to 61-vote lead after hand recount” via Florida Politics
— THE COUNTING —
“Brenda Snipes submits her resignation” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – Facing the likelihood of an embarrassing removal from office, Broward County’s much-maligned election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, announced Sunday she will resign following a string of controversies plaguing her office before and since Election Day. Snipes sent her letter of resignation to state officials in Tallahassee just as the recount ended, her attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which first reported the news. Her letter was not immediately available nor was the exact date of her resignation clear, the paper reported. Norris-Weeks told the Sun Sentinel that the 75-year-old Snipes wanted to spend more time with her family.
“Broward County misplaced over 2,000 votes” via NBC Miami — Snipes said the 2,040 ballots “are in the building” — referring to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill. The ballots were discovered missing after there was a discrepancy between the recount returns and the original unofficial returns. Snipes said some members of her team did not have as much training as others and possibly misplaced the ballots in the wrong tray during the machine recount. Snipes added that the vote totals and the number of people who participated in the election matched with the original unofficial returns.
“Miami is no longer the laughingstock of election season. Here’s why” via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — About 31,000 problematic ballots in the agriculture commissioner contest had been tallied by hand in eight hours, and once again Florida’s most populous county had reached the finish line ahead of Broward and Palm Beach. Eighteen years after the hanging-chad and “Brooks Brothers Riot” fiasco that helped nudge George W. Bush into the White House and six years after President Barack Obama shamed Miami for long polling-place lines that kept voters waiting past 10 p.m., the county carried out a widely-praised, nearly glitch-free election. Thank Elections Supervisor Christina White. She managed a brisk, clean, efficient operation that was the envy of the state. Part of White’s success stems from her assumption that in an election, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. “She knows that in every election you have to account for Murphy and anticipate curveballs,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. “She is master of the art of planning.”
“Here’s why Palm Beach County is saddled with slow vote-counting machines” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Elections supervisors in other counties replaced their voting equipment in recent years as Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher retained her aging platform and pushed state legislators to change upcoming rules for voters with disabilities. “We didn’t anticipate that we’d have to run 100 percent of our ballots through these old machines,” Bucher told reporters one day before a state-mandated recount deadline she didn’t meet. “We anticipated we would have a pretty quiet midterm election as we used to. I guess that’s not the new norm. We never anticipated that these machines would have to run 24/7 and perform four recounts.” Bucher’s office is alone in using voting equipment from Sequoia Voting Systems, a maligned firm that was bought out by Dominion Voting Systems in 2010. Unlike equipment used in other counties, the Sequoia equipment can’t recount votes in multiple races at once.
—“Even though Florida’s recount is over, Palm Beach may be counting until Christmas” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald
“Democrats hire investigator to identify who altered Florida form used to fix ballot” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — The action came after the USA TODAY NETWORK — Florida reported on an email that showed Democrats were told to distribute the altered forms in an apparent statewide effort, encouraging party workers to give them to as many voters as possible so they could fix signature problems on their ballots despite the fact the state deadline had passed. One party activist has said the idea was to encourage as many voters as possible to fix their absentee ballots after the deadline in hopes that a judge would allow them to be included in a recount later. “Upon receiving notice of the allegations that the form was incorrect, FDP took immediate steps, including hiring an independent investigator to review the issues at hand,” said Mark Herron, an attorney for the party.
“Republicans had a secret weapon in the Florida recount fight” via Jonathan Allen of NBC News — “This is personal for me,” Jessica Furst Johnson said in a telephone interview with NBC News. Now that Nelson has conceded, Scott can thank Johnson and her army of GOP lawyers for helping preserve his victory by largely turning back the sprawling Democratic legal effort to challenge the actions of election officials and various aspects of Florida statutes. Though Johnson is one of Washington’s foremost experts on election law, she’s quick to point out that she’s not a litigator. Johnson managed the battle plan, which Republicans say included more than 100 paid and volunteer lawyers working in courtrooms and at recount centers across the state. Friends say Johnson was in the right person in the right place at the right time for Scott and the GOP because she’s able to keep her cool in the midst of chaos, manage people and tasks, and analyze both legal and political questions with knowledge and judgment.
— THE TRANSITION —
“Trump cried ‘fraud’ in Florida. Ron DeSantis said, tone it down.” via Glenn Thrush and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — While the president was in Paris last week, DeSantis let the White House know, through intermediaries, that Trump’s incendiary tweets accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election were hurting and not helping, according to Republicans and administration officials with knowledge of the situation. Breaking with the most powerful Republicans in his state, DeSantis has grown frustrated with the bombastic attacks on Democrats launched by Trump, Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio, believing it will erode confidence in elections and spark a Democratic backlash.
—“Andrew Gillum advises DeSantis to prioritize diversity” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
— EPILOGUE —
“A ‘stress test’ for the next campaign: Florida recount sets the rules of engagement for the 2020 race” via Beth Reinhard and Amy Gardner of The Washington Post — Florida’s sprawling and diverse landscape of largely Democratic big cities, politically independent suburbs and conservative rural swathes make it a key battleground for debates over voting rights and ballot access expected to shape the next campaign. “The recount was a stress test of the Florida electoral system,” said Matt Gaetz, who had just left Broward County when the call came from Brad Parscale to drive the 300 miles back. “If you were the Trump 2020 campaign, wouldn’t you have concerns right now about what the terrain here will look like?’’ Charles Lichtman, a Democratic attorney who worked on Florida’s infamous 2000 recount and represented Nelson and the Florida Democratic Party this year, called last week’s recount “the warm-up … Starting tomorrow, 2020 will be the most important election in our lifetime,” he said.
“Nelson’s ending: sluggish campaign couldn’t overcome Scott’s millions” via Steve Bousquet and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — After 46 years in public office, he finally met his match in Scott, whose vast personal fortune, trademark aggressiveness, and single-minded discipline has proved to be just enough to produce an excruciatingly narrow victory — Scott’s third, close statewide win in eight years. “When you’re running against Rick Scott, you’re always playing defense,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, “and our path to victory as Democrats is largely predicated on record turnout in a handful of counties. It’s hard to get to a win.” n a period of hyper-partisanship, Nelson bet that voters would gravitate toward the congressman who rose so far above the political fray, he made it to space; the Democrat who affectionately calls his Republican counterpart “Marco;” the candidate who branded himself “Florida’s independent senator.” For the better part of the past five decades, that worked. This time, it didn’t.
“How Fried became Ag. Commissioner” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — How, of all people, did the first-time candidate from South Florida rise above the rest of the Democrats? What was her key to a down-to-the-wire success? She says her campaign’s success was threefold. First, her commitment to a mostly nonpartisan campaign. Second, sticking firmly to three narrow talking points, or her “three w’s”: Weapons, weed and water. Fried’s campaign, which was heavily predicated on gun control and expanded access to medical marijuana, brought an understanding of the agriculture commissioner’s role to those outside of the farming community. Or in other words — Democrats, suburbanites and urban dwellers. “These were things that transcend Democrats, independents and Republicans,” Fried said of her campaign platform. “I made them believe that I want to fix things and make things better.” The third key to her success? The “fourth w,” she said: being a woman.
“Joe Henderson: Public schools a winning issue for Janet Cruz in SD 18” via Florida Politics — Cruz got into the race to make an issue out of gun violence, but she discovered quickly that voters in her Hillsborough County district were even more passionate about restoring public school funding. That became Cruz’s battle cry throughout a tough, nasty campaign against incumbent Republican Dana Young. It proved to be the winning strategy in Cruz’s 411-vote victory out of more than 207,000 votes that were cast. Cruz, who was forced to leave her Florida House seat because of term limits, had an awakening after a chance meeting with a voter at a South Tampa Home Depot. That woman told her she had gone to the store to purchase portable air conditioners for some classrooms at Roosevelt Elementary School in the Palma Ceia section of Tampa. The more Cruz met with those voters, the more she realized how determined they were.
Ryan Torrens says ‘justice done’ after court reversed qualifying decision — The former Democratic candidate for Attorney General on Friday said he was “gratified” after the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned Judge Karen Gievers, who “erred in declaring that Torrens failed to properly qualify” to run. “Our supporters have been assured that their faith in our candidacy has been vindicated by the appeals court,” he said. “Justice was done, not simply for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who supported our determination to stand up to big special interests and fight for everyday Floridians.” The victory was bittersweet: Gievers’ August decision was on hold pending the appeal; Torrens lost to Sean Shaw in the Democratic primary. Shaw, who sued to keep Torrens off the ballot, then lost to Republican Ashley Moody. Shaw claimed Torrens, a Tampa consumer affairs lawyer, qualified to run only because he improperly transferred money into his campaign account. Among other things, the appellate court said Gievers’ “order does not contain any authority supporting its ruling” and that Shaw didn’t have standing to sue, adding that enforcement of state law is a question “within the purview of the Florida Elections Commission.”
“Cygnal polling founder talks firm’s success in Florida midterms” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — While many polls missed the mark in Florida’s multiple statewide midterm races, some surveys nearly hit the nail on the head in what turned out to be a chaotic cycle. Cygnal, a polling firm founded by Brent Buchanan, was one of the better pollsters regarding the U.S. Senate and Governor’s races here in the state. Buchanan spoke with Florida Politics regarding Cygnal’s success, as well as his view of the state of polling in general. “The accuracy comes from correctly predicting what the turnout composition was going to look like,” Buchanan said. “We knew that it would be a bigger midterm percentage turnout than historical midterms, just because of the energy that you saw and the interest and enthusiasm.”
“Offshore drilling still a threat despite constitution ban, environmentalists argue” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — “We enjoyed a really big win on Election Day when 70 percent of Floridians voted to ban offshore drilling in public waters,” said Hunter Miller, Florida spokesman for the environmental nonprofit Oceana. But the federal government is not bound by the Florida Constitution. The Trump administration is expected to announce its updated offshore drilling plan in the coming months and that has Miller worried. Miller believes there is also a chance the oil industry could reach a deal with outgoing Republican leadership members of the U.S. House of Representatives before Democrats take control next year to expand offshore drilling. “Communities that care about our coasts need to remain vigilant. While we cheer this victory, we know that the fight is not over,” he said.
“Despite GOP sweep, Polk Dems encouraged about future” via Gary White of the Lakeland ledger — Can there be a cause for optimism among Polk County Democrats after another winless election? Karen Welzel thinks so. Welzel, the state committeewoman for the Polk County Democratic Party, said the election generated some positivity for Democrats, even as they failed to put any candidates into office at the county, state or federal level. Welzel pointed especially to the relatively close races involving Democrats Kristen Carlson, who ran for the U.S. House, and Bob Doyel, who ran for the Florida Senate. And she exulted in the national results, as Democrats wrested control of the U.S. House of Representatives away from Republicans. To be sure, the election provided plenty of disappointment for local Democrats.
— STATEWIDE —
ICYMI — “Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs via Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — That’s down from 3.5 percent in September and the lowest it has been since January 2007. The state added 17,800 jobs over the month, just below the average 19,000 jobs added per month so far in 2018. Education and health services have gained the most jobs over the year (51,300) after a monthslong run, overtaking the usual competitors for the No. 1 spot, construction and leisure and hospitality. Leisure and hospitality have gained the second-highest number of jobs over the year (51,100) followed by construction (43,400). Government was the only sector to lose jobs over the year through October (-8,900).
“Cabinet meeting reset for end of November” via the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet will meet by phone on Nov. 30 to consider issues such as Florida Power & Light power-plant projects in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Scott and the Cabinet initially scheduled the meeting for Tuesday but canceled that meeting. No explanation was given for the change of dates. Among other things, Scott and the Cabinet could sign off on a plan by FPL to build a power plant in Broward County and revisit a dispute about a nuclear project in Miami-Dade.
“Bill Galvano says hurricane likely a regular Session issue” via the News Service of Florida — “The good news is we had reserves available. The governor had wide discretion to work with those reserves. But it will be a theme for Session,” Galvano, who will formally become President Tuesday, told reporters. “When I talk with our budget folks, you’re talking about a billion-dollar impact that we’re going to have to deal with, and that’s not a prospective (impact). It’s based on dollars that have been spent or will be spent for cleanup and otherwise, that come ahead of any federal reimbursements.” He said issues such as building codes and the power grid in Northwest Florida have to be “vetted” and noted that he had visited parts of the region that sustained massive damage in the storm.
“Galvano says Legislature could consider election law changes” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — “I think we’ve had too many problems through too many cycles,” Galvano told reporters in a wide-ranging interview. “It is something that I am interested in doing, taking a look at how we are working the process and if there are modifications we can make to better serve the people during an election cycle.” Galvano said he had no specific plans, but that senators he spoke with were interested in taking up the issue: “why ballots appear, why they’re hard to track, why we have machine recounts that produce substantially less number of votes than originally reported.”
“Supreme Court signs off on process for picking justices” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In a 4-3 decision, the court held that the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission was acting within its authority to conduct a process that resulted in 59 judges and lawyers applying to replace justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince. The justices are leaving the court in early January because they have reached mandatory retirement age. The Judicial Nominating Commission is scheduled to meet Nov. 27 in Orlando to select nominees for the vacancies. The retiring justices’ six-year terms end on Jan. 8, the day the new governor will take office. The court majority rejected petitions from the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause that had sought to extend the application deadline and halt the current application process.
“Politics, practicality, price: across Florida, rural students put off by perceived weaknesses of higher education” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times — Rural students are far less likely than urban and suburban peers to go to college, and the divide is growing deeper in places across Florida. If they do go, rural students are less likely to choose four-year universities, and they’re more likely to drop out. Many hail from deep-red counties in the economic lurch — the same places where, in major polls, people say they’re disillusioned with higher education. The 1990s-era “college for everybody” sensibility has faded, and thanks to Florida’s investment in career training programs, high schoolers have options. Rural families remain deeply skeptical of a pricey degree that could be useless back home. And they often don’t have as many resources that build a bridge to college and emphasize the undeniable benefits — some 65 percent of today’s jobs require education or training beyond high school.
“Who made key mistakes in Parkland school shooting? Nine months later, no one held accountable” via David Fleshler and Megan O’Matz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Despite an extraordinary series of governmental failures leading to the bloodshed in Parkland, just a few low-level employees have faced consequences over errors that may have cost lives. But not the school administrators who failed to act on warnings of weak security, or the ones who mismanaged gunman Nikolas Cruz’s special education needs when he was a student there. Not the sheriff’s deputies who took cover while children were shot, or their supervisors. And, by all indications, no one at the FBI, which fumbled compelling, back-to-back tips about Cruz in the months before his rampage. “There were so many mistakes,” said Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, whose district includes Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t feel there’s been sufficient accountability. But more importantly, the people that live in northwest Broward, my neighbors and friends, don’t feel there’s been accountability.”
“After Hurricane Michael, St. Marks tickled pink with flamingo sighting” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Flamingos seem to come in 23-year spans at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. And their arrivals always seem to coincide with a hurricane blowing them in from far away tropical locales. Over the past few weeks, a wild flamingo that has been hanging around the refuge has piqued the interest of bird enthusiasts eager to get a glimpse of the wayward visitor. Birders from as far away as Michigan have made the pilgrimage to Florida to see it. Log books where visitors can sign in have entries from Arkansas, Jacksonville and Gainesville, all showing love for the flamingo.
— CONGRATS —
This past weekend, state Rep. Kristin Jacobs was one of only three lawmakers across the nation to win the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s Award for Civility in State Governance. The award was given for her work in crossing the partisan divide to pass meaningful legislation.
In her second term, Jacobs authored and passed several significant measures focused primarily on water and environmental issues. One such measure, HB 53 designated a Coral Reef protection zone and HB 181, the “Natural Hazards” bill which forced state agencies to work with and communicate with each other on resiliency issues related to climate change and water policy. Jacobs also made a name in working with GOP leadership on getting several key water measures included in other members’ bills.
She also was a leader in helping negotiate and pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act and has been asked by Speaker Jose Oliva to co-lead a lunch orientation for freshman lawmakers on, (what else?) the social aspects of lawmaking.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump would ‘love’ Pam Bondi to join administration” via The Associated Press — Donald Trump made the comments Saturday on his departure from the White House for a trip to California. There has been speculation Trump might consider her to replace the recently ousted Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, but the president has not said that. Trump said he would “consider Pam Bondi for anything.” He said she is doing a good job in Florida and “I’d love to have her in the administration.” Bondi has not said what she plans to do when she leaves office.
“Bondi denies meeting on becoming Attorney General” via the News Service of Florida — Bondi disputed a report she will meet with Trump next week to discuss becoming U.S. Attorney General. “The attorney general says that is fake news,” Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray said in an email Friday. The McClatchy news organization reported that it had contacted three sources who said Trump was seriously considering Bondi for the job and that she would travel to his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago while the president was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Trump in Palm Beach: PBSO asks FEMA for $5.6M in Trump security costs” via Alexandra Seltzer of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has asked the federal government to refund his agency more than $5.6 million for the 65,063 hours his staff and deputies worked to ensure the safety of Trump, his wife and young son during their visits to the county from October 2017 through the end of April of this year. PBSO’s request said it is “honored” to work with the U.S. Secret Service to provide security for the president, but PBSO’s budget can’t “sustain the additional costs without compromising public safety,” the application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. Bradshaw had 693 sworn and civilian staff work 65,000 hours to protect Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son for a cost of $5,618,463.56. Bradshaw said the reimbursement is necessary to “alleviate this burden from our taxpayers,” the application added.
“Betsy DeVos gives more power to those accused of sexual assault in overhaul of Obama-era rules” via Michael Sykes of Axios — Secretary DeVos has released a proposed overhaul of how the Department of Education regulates colleges and universities on sexual assault and harassment allegations, empowering the accused and giving their lawyers the right to cross-examine their accusers. The proposal pushes aside guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011 that lowered the burden of proof for accusers and put a time limit on the accused to issue a response to allegations, reports The Washington Post. Under DeVos’ new proposal, schools would only be responsible for investigating allegations that are part of campus programs and are properly reported.
—“Lauren Book bashes federal proposal to change Title IX sexual harassment rules” via Ryan Nichol of Florida Politics
“Cookie ethics: Congresswoman-elect asks if she’s still allowed to sell Girl Scout Cookies” via Nicole Gaudiano and Eliza Collins of USA TODAY — Abigail Spanberger is in a Trefoil over Girl Scout Cookie season. She’s one of her daughter’s troop leaders, and as she prepares for her new job representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, she wonders if she has a conflict of interest. “Can I go in the neighborhood and sell Girl Scout Cookies or are people going to feel compelled because I’m now their representative in Congress? Do you know what I mean?” she asked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Cookie case law from the House Ethics Committee may be wanting. They’ve never publicly addressed the sale of Girl Scout Cookies.
— OPINIONS —
“Advice for new governors: Ignore DC’s ‘gridlock, dysfunction and arrogance’” via Jeb Bush for the Tallahassee Democrat — As you navigate policy and politics in the coming months, understand that the one constant in today’s tumultuous and polarized political environment is the pathetic state of affairs in Washington. Washington is not just our nation’s capital; it is the capital of gridlock, dysfunction, arrogance and antics. In short, there is a tremendous amount of talk, but little real action. With a divided Congress on the horizon, matters will only get worse. So, here’s my advice to our nation’s governors: lead, don’t follow. Exploit the 10th Amendment wisely gifted to us by our founders. The role of governors is key in this current era of disruption and volatility. Governors have the power to reform, to innovate, to convene, to drive the conversation and to problem solve. They balance budgets, work across the aisle and are far more responsible for outcomes and accountable to their constituents than their federal counterparts are.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Hamid Bahadori, John Wiseman, John Gatlin and David John to the Florida Building Commission; Marcus Rowe to the Early Learning Coalition of Duval; Adam Mohammadbhoy to the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee; Darla Huddleston to the Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast; Jacob Horner to the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando; Anna Weaver to the Early Learning Coalition of Santa Rosa; Victor Mraz to the Early Learning Coalition of the Southwest; and Monesia Brown to the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region, Inc.
Personnel note: Alex Anderson joins OFR as Legislative Affairs Director — The Florida State law school graduate started at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation this month. Anderson previously was governmental relations coordinator for the Department of Education and director of legislative affairs for the Florida College System, according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, he was an attorney to the Office of House Majority Leader under then-state Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, and was staff attorney to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Anderson got his undergraduate and graduate degrees in management from the University of Florida. He was admitted to legal practice in Florida in 2011.
— ALOE —
“Don’t make these common holiday travel mistakes” via Christopher Elliott of The Washington Post — Waiting too long to book: It’s too late for a Thanksgiving travel deal, but you might still find a bargain for Christmas or New Year’s. No guarantees. Leaving too late for the airport: If you’re traveling on the busiest travel days of the year — just before or after a major holiday — give yourself an additional two hours just to be safe. Being unprepared: For too many people, travel preparations are an afterthought. The mistakes range from packing the wrong items to forgetting to gas up the car. Ignoring your ticket’s fine print: Several airlines have raised their luggage fees. Other carriers are making less obvious changes, such as tightening their ticket rules. That means inexperienced travelers may get blindsided. Traveling on the wrong day: The holiday travel hordes move in mysterious ways. When it comes to planning, you may want to leave even earlier and stay later to avoid traffic. Giving travel insurance short shrift: Insurance can protect you in the event of trip interruptions, delays or missed connections, or lost luggage, and it can cover medical expenses.
“Brightline passenger rail in Florida: trains whisper, doors swish, bubbly flows” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — South Florida’s Brightline is not like taking the bus — either in fares or comfort. It is a mode of travel that, chances are, not many Floridians have experienced. The train whispers as passengers relax in leather reclining seats. Its doors swish on command from an LED-enhanced button. Attendants are chatty-friendly as they dispense beverages and snacks. If an airplane trip is about contorting people and luggage into a tubular trap, Brightline gives room to stand, stretch and stroll. There’s a cushioned bench at the end of each coach labeled: “A good place to chat.” Then there are the Brightline stations that are the stylish living rooms you don’t have, and, as the company’s reps never miss an opportunity to emphasize, are bright in personality. “Pretty freaking awesome,” said J.C. Sonkin, riding for the first time, traveling from West Palm to Lauderdale for a boat show.
“Disney details new ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ attractions” via The Associated Press — It also announced that composer John Williams, creator of the classic “Star Wars” themes, is writing new music for the “Galaxy’s Edge” attractions, and shared a sneak preview. The two signature attractions of the “lands” now under construction will be “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run,” in which guests can take the controls in three different roles, and “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance,” offering an “epic battle” between the First Order and the Resistance. The attractions are to open at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in the fall.
“Your next Uber ride may have a minifridge stocked with snacks” via Kate Krader of Bloomberg — Cargo Systems Inc., the New York-based provider of in-car commerce for Uber and Lyft Inc., thinks differently. Its Cargo box — sort of like a traveling minibar without the alcohol — is in about 12,000 ride-share vehicles; passengers who catch a ride in one that’s equipped with the box can buy snacks and energy drinks on their way to a meeting or home from a very late night. Cargo expanded its accessibility, announcing a deal with Venmo, the mobile payment service beloved by the millennial set. Earlier this year, Venmo began working with merchants including GrubHub and Uber to let consumers transact with merchants.
Happy birthday belatedly to AG Bondi, super spox Max Flugrath, Capital City Consulting’s Gerald Wester state Reps. Jared Moskowitz, Amy Mercado and Elizabeth Porter and former Sen. Geraldine Thompson. Celebrating today is the great Karen Moore.