Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Candidate qualifying closes at noon today, and the question arises:
Will there be any more surprises?
We saw two minor ones: Jacksonville Republican state Rep. Jay Fant dropped out of the attorney general’s race to apply for the top job at the Office of Financial Regulation.
Also, Republican state Rep. Jake Raburn of Lithia announced he would pass on trying for re-election to a fourth term before being term-limited, citing his need for more family time.
We’ll also start to see some more candidate net worths being reported.
And stay tuned to Florida Politics throughout the day to find out who’s re-elected because of no opposition.
“Ten candidates qualified for cabinet races” via News Service of Florida – With a noon Friday deadline to qualify for this year’s elections, 10 candidates for state Cabinet seats had qualified as of Thursday morning, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. Republicans Ashley Moody and Frank White and Democrat Sean Shaw had qualified to run for attorney general, while Democrat Ryan Torrens was expected to appear Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee to submit his paperwork. The candidates are seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi. In the race to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Republicans Matt Caldwell and Mike McCalister and Democrats Nikki Fried and David Walker had qualified as of Thursday morning. Also, incumbent Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had qualified to defend his seat. Democrat Jeremy Ring and a write-in candidate had qualified to try to topple Patronis.
“Jeff Greene posts $3.3B net worth” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Greene announced his plans to run just this month but has said he will spend whatever it takes to become Florida governor. His ability to do just that was outlined in the massive financial disclosure report he filed with state election officials. After announcing he would get in the race, Greene quickly spent $3 million on TV ads. A top-line breakdown of Greene’s financial disclosure report: $147 million real estate portfolio with properties in California, Pennsylvania and Florida, including a $85 million house in Palm Beach County; $230 million in personal bank accounts, including a nearly $200 million Merrill Lynch investment account; More than $2.5 billion from ownership interests in dozens of entities, the largest of which is $536 million in California-based lender Aviation Plaza Partners.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@realDonaldTrump: You cannot pass legislation on immigration whether it be for safety and security or any other reason including “heart,” without getting Dem votes. Problem is, they don’t care about security and R’s do. Zero Dems voted to support the Goodlatte Bill. They won’t vote for anything!
—@SenBillNelson: Pres. Trump’s order does nothing to help the 2,300 kids already separated from their families. I am heading back to Homestead, FL Saturday to check on 94 kids there who were separated from their parents to find out exactly what’s being done to reunite them with their families.
—@MarcoRubio: Charles Krauthammer was a man of extraordinary intellect. Truly one of a kind. The conservative movement & the nation will miss his incredible insight, especially in times such as these. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. May he Rest In Peace
—@RepValDemings: Boys are being sent to a West Texas “tent city” to help with the overflow of kids torn from their parents. Where are the girls going? #WhereAreTheGirls?
—@AlexDaugherty: .@RepCurbelo @MarioDB and @RosLehtinen vote NO on conservative Goodlatte immigration bill, which fails as expected
—@Scott_Maxwell: Finally saw Jeff Greene ad that features Trump yelling at him at Mar-a-Lago. Overall, ad’s pretty decent. But from brief clip of the argument, it’s hard to tell whether it’s really “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump” or more “Jeff Greene takes shit from Trump … at Trump’s club.”
—@Scontorno: Very interesting… Both Republican candidates for Florida governor will accept public matching funds on donations to their campaigns. Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis put in the paper work for it today when they officially filed to run for office.
—@MCImaps: Jeff Greene is already all over my Instagram and Twitter with digital ads #flgov #flapol #sayfie
—@KevinsiDonohoe: According to a new Fox News poll, Republican primary voters second most important issue is health care — but neither DeSantis or Putnam mention the issue on their websites and have nothing to say about it on the campaign trail. #flgov #sayfie #FlaPol
—@JimRosicaFL: SPOTTED today in Tallahassee: — A “Cory Booker for President 2020” bumper sticker. — A hand-painted sign on a utility pole reading “Damn Trump + GOP.” cc: @CoryBooker #FlaPol
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 6; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 16; MLB All-Star Game — 25; Deadline for filing claim bills — 40; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 40; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 41; Start of the U.S. Open — 66; Primary Election Day — 67; College Football opening weekend — 69; NFL season starts — 77; Future of Florida Forum — 96; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 123; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 124; General Election Day — 137; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 237; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 256.
“Bill Nelson, others to tour Homestead migrant facility Saturday” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – After being denied access on Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing migrant children, Sen. Bill Nelson says he has been granted a tour of the facility by Health and Human Services (HHS) officials. That tour will take place Saturday. Nelson arrived at the center earlier in the week with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and incoming Florida House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee. The group had planned to speak with migrant children being held there. Around 1,000 children in total are housed at that facility, 94 of which were separated from their families under a recently-amended policy by President Trump. Nelson and Wasserman Schultz say they were told they would be able to tour the facility before arriving, but were barred by HHS officials on the scene.
“Felony drug defendant tells shocked Miami judge: I work caring for kids seized at border” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Franky Santos appeared before Circuit Judge Jeri B. Cohen, who is overseeing his case in drug court. Santos told the judge he had just been hired as a “lead youth care worker” at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ compound in Homestead. “I watch over the children,” he said, to “make sure they don’t sneak off or go anywhere where they’re not supposed to.” The judge, who had presided over child welfare cases for more than a decade, appeared to be surprised at Santos’ new job. “People with open criminal cases should not be watching children that we have in holding facilities in our country,” she said. “I think it’s a disgrace.” “I’m just shocked, although I shouldn’t be,” she added. Santos said he works at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a 1,000-bed center for children who have entered the U.S. without permission. The shelter was shuttered last year when the number of unaccompanied youths being held there declined. But it was reopened in recent weeks just as the Trump administration announced it would hold children separately from their families if the parents faced criminal prosecution for illegal entry.
— “Analysis: Trump immigration policy is political gift to Bill Nelson and other Democrats” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel
— “Rick Scott crosses rhetorical border on caged children” via Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post
— “Scott gave tax deal to company running Miami’s child-migrant center after fraud settlement” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times
BREAKING: Administration official tells AP: About 500 children reunited with families after separation at border since May.
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) June 22, 2018
— FIRST IN SUNBURN: LEVINE > PUTNAM OR DESANTIS —
Democrat Philip Levine has a five-point advantage over both favored Republican candidates in the Florida Governor’s race, according to a new poll set to be released Thursday.
Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,308 Florida voters between June 18-19, finding the former Miami Beach Mayor would be the preferred candidate in a head-to-head matchup with either Putnam or DeSantis.
— The poll shows Levine would defeat Putnam 43-38 percent, with 19 percent unsure.
— Against DeSantis, Levine wins 41-36 percent, with 22 percent unsure.
— As for favorability ratings, Levine also leads with 32 percent favorable, compared to 17 percent unfavorable. However, more than half (51 percent) say they are unsure.
— With fellow Democrat Gwen Graham, her favorability breaks down to 27-12 percent, with 61 percent unsure. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Orlando businessman Chris King and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene all remain in the high single digits — 9 percent each for Gillum, 8-10% for King and 8-9% for Greene. Respondents are unsure about all three Democrats, in the low-80 percent range.
Two other notes from the poll:
— Florida voters also give the Attorney General’s race to Democrat Sean Shaw, with another five-point lead over Republican Ashley Moody, 40-35 percent. Twenty-six percent say they aren’t sure.
— Floridians also hold a slightly unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, with 49 percent not approving of his job in office versus 45 percent approval. Fifty-four percent of respondents also say they oppose Trump’s policy to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, with 33 percent supporting the policy.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
More polling – “Levine and Graham tight, Chris King in third” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new poll from RABA Research is finding the Florida Democratic primary race for the governor’s election is close to a dead heat between Levine and Graham. The poll, using random digit dialing and excluding cellphones, surveyed of 660 Florida Democrats Friday and Saturday, found Levine’s support at 27 percent, Graham’s at 26 percent, King at 15 percent, Gillum at 8 percent, and Greene at 3 percent. Just 21 percent of those surveyed said they did not know, or that they wanted someone else. This survey does not take the usual “likely voters” track for Democrats; instead, it redistributes weight between super voters and new voters, with those who indicated the potential to vote in the August 28 primary. Among those surveyed, 79 percent they were almost certain they would vote, 10 percent said probably, and 11 percent said there was a 50-50 chance. RABA reported a margin of error of 3.8 percent for overall results.
More polling – Fox News poll shows Putnam up big on DeSantis – A Fox News Poll of Florida likely GOP primary voters finds Putnam ahead of Congressman DeSantis by a 32-17 percent margin. … The poll, released Thursday, finds 22 percent of these GOP primary voters believe immigration is the top issue facing their state, while 16 percent say health care, 15 percent the economy, 12 percent guns, 10 percent the opioid crisis, 7 percent taxes, 5 percent environmental issues, and 4 percent abortion.
“Will lightning strike twice in the South? Andrew Gillum campaigns in Trump country.” via Jonathan K part of The Washington Post — There was something familiar in the tone, urgency and words of Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee. “I think that that is what is going to make way for us to not only break through this primary election,” he continued, “but is what’s going to pierce the hearts, the minds, the imagination, the hope, the inspiration and aspiration of voters all across our state, who may or may not be Democrats.” But it is what he said at the end of this oration in the latest episode of “Cape Up” that triggered my sense of déjà vu. “I’m not gonna capitulate and shrink from who I am, and what I believe in, in this race,” Gillum told me at the WNYC studios in lower Manhattan earlier this month. Rhetorically, Gillum reminded me of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia. “We keep running these races as if we are running Republican-lite on the belief that if we are just good enough, just nice enough, just acceptable enough, if we don’t say loud enough what it is that we believe in, that maybe they’ll like us, and when they go into the ballot box they’ll choose us,” Gillum said, referring to the difficulty Democrats have had in winning back the Florida governor’s mansion over about the past 20 years. “What Republican voters have shown us is that when they have the choice between the real thing and the fake one, they go with the real one every time. … And then our voters, the very ones that we need in order to win, we’re not providing them a motivation or a stimulation to get out there and vote for us. Why? Because they’re not sure that we’re for them.”
“After bristling at ‘dark money’ label, Andrew Gillum-backing super PAC discloses it was funded with dark money” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — But the ultimate source of all the money The Collective Super PAC received — $742,720 — is not clear at all. The entire sum of its contributions was given in one lump on a single day, May 7, by the PAC’s nonprofit arm called Collective Future, according to the super PAC’s filings with the Federal Election Commission. And because Collective Future is a 501(c)(4), it does not have to disclose its source of funds publicly under tax and election law. Almost all of the money in Florida was spent trashing Gillum‘s rival, Gwen Graham, as a phony liberal in a TV ad campaign. Graham’s supporters accused The Collective of being a “dark money” group that doesn’t disclose donors, prompting the super PAC’s executive director and founder, Quentin James, to deny it in an op-ed in the Miami Herald May 14, seven days after he received the publicly untraceable money from the affiliated nonprofit, which shares the same Washington P.O. box address. “It’s only a matter of time before we see dark money flowing into Florida to silence the voices of Florida voters,” Gillum warned on Twitter. Gillum’s political committee, Forward Florida, has also received untraceable money from Collective Future, which has contributed $266,000 in total, or about 14 percent of its nearly $1.9 million raised.
Congressional Progressive Caucus leader endorses Gwen Graham — Congressman Ted Lieu of California is endorsing the former Democratic congresswoman for Florida Governor. “Despite representing one of the most conservative districts of any Democrat in Congress, Gwen Graham always stood up for the critical progressive values that unite us,” Lieu said. “Gwen fought to protect a woman’s right to choose. She supported full equality for LGBTQ Floridians. And she voted to defend President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, his Clean Power Plan, and DREAMers.” Lieu, who was sworn into the House alongside Graham in 2015, added: “Gwen has spent her life fighting for key progressive values. In law school, she worked pro-bono for the Sierra Club to protect the environment. As a mother, she volunteered at her children’s schools to improve public education. And then she stepped up to run for public office and she beat an extreme incumbent Republican. Now she’s taking the fight to Donald Trump and running to end 20 years of Republican domination in Florida. As governor, Gwen will protect Florida families from Trump’s attacks and fight to expand health care, restore Florida’s public schools, and create good-paying jobs.”
“Gwen Graham’s latest ad focuses on Medicaid expansion” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Her latest 30-second spot, “Absolute,” begins like a dramatic movie trailer with pounding music and flashing images of Tallahassee and someone being rushed on a hospital gurney, as Graham begins, “It’s disgusting what’s going on in Tallahassee. It didn’t used to be this way.”
Click on the image below to watch the ad:
Philip Levine launches new ad speaking out on Donald Trump’s ‘cruel treatment of immigrant children’ — In “humanity,” the former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate calls out Trump on “inhumane and cruel policies that have separated thousands of children from their parents.” The 30-second spot has Levine saying: “As a dad, I’m appalled by what’s happening to children on America’s southern border — we never thought we’d see this kind of inhumanity or a President who wallows in it. We learned from the past that intolerance breeds inhumanity. And that the only way to stop it, is to refuse to accept it.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Putnam, DeSantis will accept publicly financed matching of contributions” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – The two Republican candidates running for governor in Florida have decided to accept public matching of campaign contributions, a program long criticized by conservatives as a taxpayer-funded freebie for politicians. … If the election were today, Putnam would receive more than $1 million and DeSantis would get about $600,000, according to an analysis of campaign finance records. Those numbers are likely to increase significantly in the coming months. The state matching program was created in 1990 under Gov. Lawton Chiles to help ward off the growth of special interest money in politics and give lesser known candidates a chance to compete.
.@richardcorcoran previously had harsh words for this: “You really have to be clueless or just plain selfish to accept money from our state coffers that could go to our schoolchildren, first responders or be put back in the pockets of our taxpayers.” https://t.co/iTMOrJtNMQ
— Emily L. Mahoney (@mahoneysthename) June 22, 2018
Assignment editors — DeSantis joins Congressman Matt Gaetz for campaign events Saturday in St. John’s, Columbia and Marion counties: St. Johns County Meet and Greet, 9 a.m., Sawgrass Marriot — Masters Ballroom A&B, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd, Ponte Vedra Beach; Columbia County Meet and Greet, 12:30 p.m., Quail Heights Country Club 161 SW Quail Heights Terrace, Lake City; Marion County Meet and Greet, 3:30 p.m., Holiday Inn, 3600 Southwest 38th Ave., Ocala.
“Jimmy Patronis pulls in $400,000 for CFO race, with nearly half coming from insurance industry” via the Tampa Bay Times – Patronis, who is expected to square off in November with former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring, also drew more than $35,646 from the health-care industry, $22,296 from Realtors and real estate agencies and $13,092 from the financial-services field, according to numbers posted Thursday on the state Division of Elections website. … Among the $216,046 the campaign and committee received from insurance agents and companies, Insurance Administrative Solutions of Clearwater, State Mutual Insurance of Rome, Ga., and Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance of Clearwater each gave $50,000, and FCCI Services of Sarasota put up $25,000.
“Internal poll shows Maria Elvira Salazar with commanding lead in GOP primary for CD 27” via the Miami Herald – The Miami broadcast journalist received the support of 38 percent of likely GOP primary voters while former Miami-Dade commissioner Bruno Barreiro received 16 percent. No other candidate in the poll received more than three percent, and 36 percent of voters are undecided.
“Senate incumbents ready for re-election campaigns” via the News Service of Florida — All but one of the Florida Senate incumbents running for re-election this year had qualified for the ballot as of Thursday morning — with two continuing to run unopposed. The state Division of Elections website Thursday showed 16 incumbent senators had qualified, while Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Miami Democrat running in District 38, had not. Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson of Trilby remained unopposed in District 10. Also unopposed was Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation in District 32, while Sen. Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale, had drawn only a write-in opponent in District 34. In all, 22 Senate seats are up for election this year, with five not having incumbent candidates.
Happening today — Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, who is running re-election to Senate District 22, will take part in the “Coffee with the Candidate,” 10:30 a.m., Lake County Republican Party office, 212 West Main St., Tavares.
— Chris Spencer (@ChrisSpencerFL) June 21, 2018
“Hialeah City Council President endorses Manny Diaz in SD 36 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Manny Diaz‘s Senate campaign just notched another endorsement with Hialeah City Council President Vivan Casals Muñoz announcing her support Thursday. Diaz is competing for the Senate District 36 seat after serving in the state House since 2012, where he’s represented House District 103. “Manny Diaz really demonstrated his leadership abilities in the Florida House,” said Muñoz. “While he has been at the forefront of issues like education reform, he has never taken his eye off the importance of policies that support a strong economy and pressing constituent needs in his district. He is ready to continue leading in the Florida Senate, and I’m proud to support him.”
“Stuart City Commissioner backs Toby Overdorf for HD 83” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Treasure Coast businessman Toby Overdorf has earned a second endorsement from a Stuart city commission member, as Becky Bruner announced her support for Overdorf’s House District 83 campaign. Bruner was elected to the Group II Seat last year with 64 percent of the vote. She also owns Becks Fine Furniture in Stuart. “Toby Overdorf is the right person for the job,” said Bruner in a statement. “Toby knows this community well and has the right motivation to serve in the Legislature. I’m confident we can count on him to support policies that strengthen our economy, keep taxes low, and protect our rights.”
Meanwhile … “Groups funded by Democratic-aligned nonprofit wants judge to block campus voting ban” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Supported by a Democratic-aligned foundation, the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups asked a federal judge to prevent Gov. Scott‘s top election official from enforcing a current ban on early voting on college campuses. The organization joined the Andrew Goodman Foundation to file the underlying lawsuit in June on behalf of a group of college students from the University of Florida and Florida State University. They are now asking U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to preliminarily enjoin Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner from enforcing his interpretation of state law that blocks early voting on campuses, a policy largely opposed by Democrats. Though college campuses are often full of Democratic voters, the groups argue the push is not political, but rather to ensure that younger voters are not treated differently.
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida retailers cheer Supreme Court online sales tax decision” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The head of the trade group for the state’s retailers said Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling opening the door for online sellers to collect sales tax the same as brick-and-mortar stores was “great news.” That’s even though Floridians already are technically supposed to pay sales tax on online purchases. “Retailers have been adamant in seeking equity in taxation of bricks and mortar and online sales,” Florida Retail Federation President & CEO R. Scott Shalley said in a statement. “This decision paves the way for a level playing field throughout the industry. The Florida Retail Federation looks forward to working with Florida’s legislative leaders and the Department of Revenue to ensure fair and equitable application of the law.”
“Census shows greatest Hispanic growth rate in North Florida” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau offer a snapshot of how Florida’s Hispanic population changed from July 2016 to July 2017. They don’t reflect the wave of Puerto Ricans moving to Florida after Hurricane Maria struck the island two months later. Tiny Madison County along the Georgia border had the highest growth rate this time, at more than 11 percent, followed by Nassau County, north of Jacksonville. St. Johns County near Jacksonville has the largest Hispanic growth rate this decade, jumping by two-thirds. Miami-Dade and Broward counties had the greatest Hispanic growth in pure numbers last year.
“Chill in the air: Canadians in Florida cancel visits as tensions with U.S. snowball” via Callie Schmidt of the Naples Daily News — Alana Holmstrom treks from Canada to Florida each year, staying for weeks at a time with her parents in Naples. But this year, her family — including her husband and 8-year-old daughter — are seriously considering traveling elsewhere. Many Canadians who live or visit Florida fear a trade war due to the increasingly strained relations with the U.S., with some deciding to boycott U.S. goods and vacations. “I love Naples and it feels like a second home, but it’s hard to visit when tensions are high,” said Holmstrom, who originally was from Kenora, Ontario. “It’s more the principle of not going down. We are Canadians … we don’t fight with anyone.” They have been visiting Naples for eight years, but before that, they vacationed in Mexico for almost 20 years. “Unfortunately, I feel that the president is creating unnecessary tension,” Holmstrom said. “Why, I don’t know. I scratch my head to understand why he does the things he does or says. I’ll reserve my opinion about him, as it’s not polite.”
“Are Florida’s hurricane shelters safe enough to protect evacuees during the big storm?” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — For decades, Florida emergency management leaders have worked to bolster the amount of shelter space in a state that has weathered some of the most severe storms in the country. They have come a long way in creating more spaces considered safe and appropriate for the worst storms as building codes have improved and sturdier schools are built. For example, counties in the Panhandle and much of the state’s east coast have enough space in shelters that meet the strictest safety standards. But estimates by state leaders show 24 counties do not have enough suitable space to meet the shelter demand for people who don’t evacuate before a deadly storm, according to the Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan released in January by the state’s Division of Emergency Management. Most of those counties are around Tampa Bay, Southwest Florida, parts of Central Florida and South Florida. “If we saw a Category 5, we are going to spend all our time evacuating people. All bets are off when we see that kind of storm come in,” Rich Collins, the Sarasota County Emergency Service director, told local officials in a May meeting.
“State considers options for Edmund Kirby Smith statue” via the News Service of Florida — The Statue Location Selection Committee will meet June 28 in Tallahassee … The issue stems, in part, from a law approved during this year’s legislative session to place a likeness of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Bethune’s statue is expected to replace the statue of Smith, who has long been one of two representatives of Florida in the hall … The Legislature voted in 2016 to replace the Smith statue during a nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols … Lawmakers followed up this year with the decision to honor Bethune. This year’s law, however, also included a requirement that state Division of Cultural Affairs take possession of the returned Smith statue and “make the statue available for public display.” The law, which takes effect July 1, will serve as a formal request to the federal Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to switch the statues.
“Jay Fant doesn’t mention his bank failures in application for banking regulator” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Fant, a Jacksonville Republican, spent 18 years working at First Guaranty Bank & Trust of Jacksonville, the last nine as its CEO. The bank was founded by Fant’s grandfather in 1947, and at one point it was the oldest bank in Jacksonville. According to his application, his “reason for leaving” First Guaranty was that it “became CenterState Bank.” That’s technically true, but it’s the nicest possible version of the story of First Guaranty. The reason why the bank “became” CenterState Bank was because it was shut down by the Office of Financial Regulation in 2012, and the FDIC turned over its assets to CenterState, based in Winter Haven. Banking regulators at OFR found that under Fant’s leadership, the bank started offering riskier commercial real estate loans, including loans to people with questionable backgrounds. When the Great Recession hit, the bank went under.
“Regulators plan to keep using emergency rule on race-dog drug testing” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gambling regulators this week said they plan keep using an emergency rule that allows them to continue testing racing greyhounds for drugs. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling through its Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, posted a “notice of renewal” in Thursday’s Florida Administrative Register. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks. The emergency rule on “Procedures for Collecting Samples from Racing Greyhounds” was adopted late last December. That was after an administrative law judge struck down the testing program, saying it was invalid.
“Day 17 of SunPass outage: late fees & penalties to be waived” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — With Florida’s tolling systems still not online and more than 50 million toll transactions believed to be sitting in a computer backlog, one influential lawmaker is getting the state to take action following a series of 10Investigates reports. State Sen. Jeff Brandes says he has been talking to Florida Department of Transportation officials this week about their delays in getting toll system upgrades completed, as well as the lack of communication with account-holders. Late Thursday, FDOT announced it would waive all late fees and penalties incurred by drivers as the Florida Turnpike Enterprise tries to get its system back up and running. It could take weeks for the tens of millions of unprocessed toll transactions to hit drivers’ accounts. Meanwhile, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise has again failed to answer numerous questions about what has exactly gone wrong in what was supposed to be a six-day project.
“Tampa Bay job centers gave away millions in credit cards and boosted hiring totals” via Mark Puente and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa Bay’s two largest job placement agencies handed out $6 million in Visa and gas cards since 2014 — all paid for with public tax dollars — and a share of that money went to people who didn’t use the centers to find work and never had to account for how they spent it. A number of recipients said they received the credit cards simply for reporting to either office when they found jobs on their own. Many Florida job centers offer to pay for gas, clothes or tools, usually for people who most need financial help to get work. But CareerSource Tampa Bay, which serves Hillsborough County, gave out far more cards than any other jobs center in the state. CareerSource Pinellas ranked fourth among the state’s two dozen career centers.
— LIFE UNDER TARPS —
Power, water and cell service have been restored to most of Puerto Rico, but the islanders still aren’t back to normalcy.
Blue plastic tarps drape roofs in Puerto Rico as it approaches a year since Hurricane Maria’s landfall, reports Ben Fox for the Associated Press.
Shelter exists, but it’s only temporary. And with hurricane season upon the Atlantic, officials still don’t have an exact tally of how many permanent roofs are needed — or how they’ll help replace them.
Just a jumpstart: Help from FEMA and other forms of government aid “is not set up as a replacement for homeowner’s insurance, which a significant portion of Puerto Rico lacks.” A FEMA spox told Fox, “We help you until you are on the road to recovery.”
Missing materials: “Temporary roofs remain … because people either can’t qualify for loans or grants — often because they don’t have the titles to their property or are missing documents — or the amount of assistance they can get isn’t enough to cover the cost of repairs.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“U.S. Chamber runs ad thanking Carlos Curbelo for immigration work” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The Miami Republican has spent weeks negotiating with GOP leadership, the conservative wing of his own party and Democrats in an attempt to pass an immigration bill in the House of Representatives. Those efforts could fall short today if an all-GOP immigration compromise bill fails on the floor of the House, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is cutting an ad on behalf of Curbelo thanking him for his work on the issue. “Do you want to protect Dreamers? Carlos Curbelo does,” the ad says. “Carlos believes Dreamers belong here, they are one of us and deserve permanent legal status. Help stop the unfair treatment of Dreamers, protect DACA, stand with Carlos.” The ad is part of an initial digital buy that will later transition into a larger TV ad buy.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
— OPINIONS —
“The separation of immigrant families is my fault” via Joel Searby on Medium — Have you heard any political leaders say anything like, “we must lay aside the partisan games, sit down together, take responsibility for our part in this policy and get it fixed?” Yeah, I didn’t think so. You sure as heck haven’t heard anyone say, “this is my fault.” With alarming speed, both sides rushed to place blame (Trump). Point fingers. Hold news conferences and PR stunts (Bill Nelson and Wasserman-Schultz). There is no real leadership. The buck stops nowhere. “Solutions” have been proposed. But they are Democratic and Republican “solutions,” designed and brought forth without the relational hard work of bringing ideas to the table that could actually pass. Both sides have made it abundantly clear they want a political win. On social media, I’ve been attacked by Democratic and Republican friends alike for even suggesting that both sides are culpable. (To be clear, they are, over several administrations and congresses.) This blame dynamic is really, really important. Don’t miss the enormity of this moment in the noise of social media and tribal news sources. Even in the face of this obvious tragedy and longtime injustice, no matter how you view the issue, our political leaders are completely incapable of dealing with it. It does not appear, from anything I can find, that any real conversations are happening between “the two sides.” They’re not even trying. It’s the other side’s fault. Period.
— MOVEMENTS ––
First on #FlaPol – Florida Democratic Party staffs up for midterms — The FDP is expanding its staff once again to increase field operations to reach voters across the state, hiring a new coordinated director, field director, and a Hispanic outreach director who will focus on reaching newly-arrived Puerto Ricans. “It’s going to take a committed, experienced, and motivated staff of Democrats to help us take back Florida after nearly 20-year of Republican rule — and we are building a team who is ready to do just that,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. New hires include Steven Jackson, Coordinated Director; Amir Avin, Field Director; Lisa Fishman, Finance Operations Director; Ali Akin Kurnaz, Digital Manager; Sierra Fareed, finance assistant; Jami Hudson, Community Engagement Director District 8; Adi Ramachandran, Deputy Data Director; Elena McCullough, Community Engagement Director Region 2.
First on #FlaPol – Eddie Phillips, formerly policy chief in the Environmental Unit of Gov. Scott’s Office of Policy and Budget, now is chief advisor to new Florida Public Service Commissioner Andrew Fay. Fay had been special counsel to Attorney General Pam Bondi and served as her Director of Legislative Affairs, Cabinet Affairs and Public Policy. Scott named him to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities.
“Personnel note: Jennifer Wilson joins Shumaker Advisors” via Florida Politics – Atttorney Wilson, formerly with Adams and Reese’s Tampa office, has moved to Shumaker Advisors Florida, LLC, to help boost its Florida practice. The team is the lobbying subsidiary of the SHUMAKER® law firm, also known as Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. Wilson previously worked as a top advisor and campaign manager for several Florida lawmakers. She brings more than a decade of experience, having drafted and analyzed legislation as a key staff member, including bills on economic development, transportation and criminal justice. Shumaker Advisors President and CEO Ron Christaldi said the firm was “very excited to have Jennifer join our team. Her experience and leadership as a key staffer to multiple members of the Florida Legislature help bolster our presence in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.”
— LIGHTS, CAMERA, TYSON —
Mary Beth Tyson, the talented photog behind INFLUENCE Magazine, has a way of capturing a still of someone’s essence — especially with subjects who aren’t so accustomed to the limelight.
“When faced with lights, cameras and photographer Mary Beth Tyson, most of 2018’s INFLUENCE 100 were a little bit intimidated,” writes Roseanne Dunkelberger.
Most of INFLUENCE’s subjects are too busy working to indulge in regular photo shoots, but that didn’t stop Tyson, who flawlessly captured 58 of this year’s INFLUENCE 100.
Experience: INFLUENCE Magazine is only one of Tyson’s clients. She’s traveled across the country shooting high-end weddings, where the “bouquets probably cost more than my wedding did.”
Style: Tyson told Dunkelberger she’s always loved “raw, natural, not-so-polished photography.” A look at INFLUENCE — which features some less-than-conventional shots of big Florida names — signals Tyson has embraced this style.
Not a model?: No worries. “When you look in the mirror and you’re like ‘Oh, I’m looking pretty good today’, that’s what I want you to see in the magazine or in an image.”
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei host a roundtable with guests Jim Warishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Committee; Noah Pransky, WTSP investigative reporter; attorney Carlye Morgan; Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper, host of “That’s All I’m Saying.”
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on how to better fund local arts programs with a look at the arts and music in the community and schools. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sen. Keith Perry, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Dr. Dakeyan Graham, Ph. D., director of bands, King High School; Flora Maria Garcia, CEO, United Arts of Central Florida; Joshua Vickery, CEO, Central Florida Community Arts; and Cole NeSmith, Creative City Project IMMERSE.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: a discussion of the race to fill former state Sen. Jack Latvala’s seat with both Republican candidates – former state Rep. Ed Hooper and local restaurant owner Leo Karruli. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about guns being seized in Florida.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with attorney Sean Pittman and political reporter Dara Kam.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: Jacksonville City Council Past President Lori Boyer, University of North Florida President David Szymanski and Democratic Attorney General candidate state Rep. Sean Shaw.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will discuss migrant children impacted by the border crisis.
— ALOE —
“’Slaughter Sinema,’ newest house for Universal Halloween Horror Nights” via John Gregory of Orlando rising — Playing off the 1980s theme for this year’s event, this house is a Universal creation riffing on B-movie monsters from the decade and themed to look like a decrepit drive-in movie theater. “As you approach, you’ll see movie trailers of what you’re about to witness, filling you with dread as you make your way inside,” Universal said in its blog post on the new house. “The smell of popcorn will be first to hit your senses as you find yourself in a movie theater snack bar. But from there, it’s all downhill for this double-feature.” Universal mentioned four original stories which will be featured as “movies” for this haunted theater, complete with their own ‘80s-style posters. These include “Midnight Snacks 2: The House Swarming,” “Amazon Cannibals from Planet Hell,” “The Cult of the Beast Baby” and “Pumpkin Guts.” The first night of Halloween Horror Nights 28 is set for Sept. 14, though guests have already reported seeing a house under construction in the extended queue for Men in Black: Alien Attack. The event will then take over Universal Studios Florida on select nights through Nov. 3.
What James Kotas is reading – “Darden turns in big fourth-quarter sales, profits even as newly acquired Cheddar’s struggles” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is struggling a year after being acquired by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, as same-restaurant sales continued to drop and there were issues with staff turnover, Darden’s earnings report revealed. The news came as Darden reported an otherwise healthy boost in sales and profits during the fourth quarter, enough to send the company’s stock price to record highs. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen’s same-restaurant sales fell 4.7 percent, even as Darden’s other brands, including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, recorded a 2.2 percent increase for the quarter that ended May 27. Darden bought Dallas-based Cheddar’s a year ago for $780 million, but the brand has failed to grow, with same-restaurant sales falling 2.0 percent in the past year.
Happy birthday to our favorite Weatherford, Drew, as well as Amy Young. Early birthday wishes to our friend Kate Wallace of Florida Internet & Television.
— AWAY MESSAGE OF THE DAY —
Via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press: “Ah! You received an autoreply. That’s a clue that I’m not working. Where am I? At some thing called Beaver Fever. “Beaver Fever? What’s that?” you might ask. It’s a family gathering on an Arkansas lake. I’ve never been to Arkansas. And I’m meeting some inlaws I’ve never met before. And staying in a mountain lodge where the rooms still have VHS players (I’m trying to find my old copy of “Jaws”). Some of you might be snickering and making banjo music sounds, but I tell you what, the photos of Beaver Lake look beautiful, the inlaws I have already met are great folks and there’s a microbrewery nearby. So while you folks are checking the latest Florida “feels like” heat index and melting away your body water by the buckets, I’ll be on some cool waters drinking craft beer.”