Rick Scott Archives - Page 6 of 267 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott addresses military transgender ban, Jeff Sessions

In Jacksonville Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott gaggled with local press after an event announcing $30M in proposed raises for state law enforcement in his next budget.

The gaggle afterwards was more wide-ranging, however, and included queries about President Donald Trump‘s proposed ban of transgender people from the military, as well as the fate of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Gov. Scott was not willing to go especially deep in addressing the latest issues regarding his “partner in the White House,” hewing to generalities and avoiding specific criticisms.

Regarding the announced ban of transgender people in the military, Scott avoided any specific comments as to whether or not the President is right.

“I do know the President’s worried and focused on the safety of all Americans, and I do know that he relies on his military leaders to make decisions. I don’t know the details of that,” Scott said.

When asked about the disconnect between Trump’s commitment to LGBT rights in the campaign and the ban announced via Twitter, Scott noted that he didn’t know the details of the policy change Trump tweeted out.

“I do know that when I talk to him, he cares about the safety of all Americans and I do know he does rely on military leaders to make decisions.”

“With regard to appointees of the President,” Scott continued, “those issues he works on with his own appointees — we all have a way of doing that. I do that with my appointees. I work to make sure everybody knows what my expectations are.”

Report: Dan Raulerson resigning from Florida House in August

Dan Raulerson is resigning from the Florida House.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday that the Plant City Republican has announced he will resign his seat effective Aug. 15. The announcement, according to the report, comes about a month after he made public comments critical of House leadership.

Raulerson had back surgery, which kept him away from the Capitol this year, leading some members to speculate that he was planning to resign. But Raulerson dismissed the rumors, telling Florida Politics Capitol correspondent Jim Rosica in December it was “absolutely untrue.”

Raulerson, who was first elected to the Florida House in 2012, filed to run for re-election in February. State records show he has only raised $2,000 toward his re-election bid since filing to run.

Raulerson told the Tampa Bay Times that he changed his mind about running for re-election, saying he needed to focus on his health and his business.

Gov. Rick Scott will likely call a special election to replace Raulerson, but the timing could be tricky. The 2018 Legislative Session begins in January, and the first committee is scheduled for September.

Shawn Mathis Gilliam, a no-party affiliation candidate, is the only candidate who has filed to run for the House District 58 seat in 2018.

Jacksonville Bold for 7.22.17 — Shadow play

For those in Jacksonville City Hall, these are halcyon days (somewhat). The mayor proposed the most ambitious budget in nearly a decade, addressing long-deferred needs.

But, as is always the case in a Florida summer, storm clouds are on the horizon — with quiet assaults on the mayor’s vision.

We cover two of them here: A bill to push a referendum to gut term limits for Jacksonville’s elected officials and a push to hike property taxes.

Both are non-starters for the mayor and — as affronts to his vision — will join a bill from earlier this summer to allocate budget increases to the pension debt.

When the TV cameras find them, everyone is all smiles; on the record, there isn’t much daylight between Lenny Curry and leading City Council members.

However, these bills are meaningful, in that the City Council is staking out significant differences in policy vision with the Mayor’s Office, challenging Curry for the first time in over two years.

This is, to be very clear, a Cold War. No one is giving interesting quotes.

When cameras are off? That’s when s**t gets real.

Curry introduces new Jacksonville budget

On Monday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Curry released his first budget since pension reform passed: a $1.27B budget, up from the $1.2B budget the previous year.

Lenny Curry finally got to spend some money in his third budget.

With budget relief available after pension reform, Curry made the decision to invest in long neglected city infrastructure and employees, spending more than in the previous two years and adding 175 new hires total — 100 on the police side, 42 in Fire and Rescue, and — as a measure of the ongoing economic boom in Jacksonville — eight new building inspectors.

According to the Florida Times-Union, the spending increase is the “result of a strong economy, growing property values and far more flexibility stemming from a complex series of reforms to the city’s employee-retirement system.” Pension debt is now at hundreds of millions of dollars each year, but it is a trend that reforms had reversed, for the short term.

Curry also focused on putting money into contingency accounts for salaries and committed to hiking reserve levels in the coming years. As well, a $105M budget for capital improvements includes plans for a near-term demolition of the old Courthouse and City Hall.

Council President Anna Brosche said the budget was “in line with what we’ve seen” in recent years, lauding the proposed increase of the emergency reserve in light of impacts created by Hurricane Matthew last year.

Curry, compassionate conservative

One of the interesting evolutions in local political life has been Curry’s path from “party boss” of the local and state GOP to a mayor focused on equity.

This week saw multiple examples: the budget (discussed above); the release of a book to be given to new mothers at local hospitals to encourage them to read to their children and a Thursday commencement address for graduates of the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program.

New Jacksonville mothers will get a new book to read to their children.

The remarks were notable as Curry described his own bootstrap narrative, including his career in accounting that he put on hold to launch his own business and then his move into politics.

Curry told the graduates that they would get a lot of advice, from a lot of people, but his one takeaway for the students: “You only get to do this thing called life one time.”

Curry went on to describe a run for Mayor that the smart set attempted to discourage him from. They said Curry couldn’t win: no name ID; no resources, they said.

“The voices were loud and persistent, but I ignored them,” Curry said.

“Want your dreams,” Curry added, “more than you want to breathe.”

Millage hike?

Will Curry break his “no tax hikes” pledge?

He’s not inclined to, but the Jacksonville City Council auditor wants a 0.25 mill raise in property tax, the Jacksonville Daily Record reported this week.

Property tax hikes were not popular in the 2015 elections.

Curry noted that his finance team is 3-for-3 regarding delivering balanced budgets, a deliverable driven by sweeping $60M money from sub-funds in 2015, going lean in 2016, and pulling off pension reform earlier this year.

Finance Chair Garrett Dennis is more open to a millage hike, saying he would “support” it to invest in the city.

The Dennis/Curry dynamic is worth watching this year. In many ways, they are mirror images of each other. Affable, smart politicians who underneath it all play to win. The moments where collaboration falters, as was the case with swimming lessons money this summer, are those that reveal potential fault lines that will occupy city politics for the next generation.

Council to gut term limits?

Pieces on Jacksonville City Council committees are sometimes just inside baseball — bills and concepts that may never come to pass.

And other times, they strike a nerve — such as Tuesday’s pieces on two committees voting to gut term limits via putting a referendum on the ballot.

The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee doesn’t think eight is enough.

As with the millage hike, this is yet another issue where council members seem more enthusiastic than the mayor: it passed both committees of reference 5-2, with lots of self-congratulatory shtick about “institutional knowledge” as a justification for giving incumbents more time to incumb.

In addition to giving another term to City Council members, the measure would afford constitutional officers and School Board members a three-term limit, pending voter approval in a 2018 referendum.

There isn’t universal buy-in on this one, and one could imagine there being trouble for the bill Tuesday.

Councilman Scott Wilson voted against the bill, saying he believed the community would “overwhelmingly reject” the measure, given that the public doesn’t like elected officials any more than they did in the 1990s.

“I don’t see what we’ve done to change their opinion about a third term,” Wilson said.

Wilson, a pragmatist, did not have his question answered in committee. But it should have been.

Donors give Duval County Schools an ultimatum

Several major donors on major education initiatives – worth over $122 million in the past decade – have given Duval School Board members an ultimatum over plans to reduce funding those projects.

The Florida Times-Union is reporting on one such party, the Quality Education for All Fund (QEA), that sent a letter to all seven members of the Duval School Board, threatening to “cut ties with the district” if it reneges on an “implicit understanding” that the district would continue funding the programs.

Educational initiative donors draw line in the sand for the Duval County School Board.

“We in the private community want to continue to honor our part of the Quality Education for All Fund commitment … but only if we can believe that we can count on the underlying partnership that has existed since we began this journey to improve public education for our most at risk students,” said the letter, signed by QEA chair J. Wayne Weaver, a philanthropist and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Other names on the letter include Gary Chartrand, Lawrence Dubow, Cindy Edelman, Matt Rapp and David Stein.

“If you are not willing to invest in those programs that have proven successful, we must consider that this bond has been broken and we will have no choice but to step back our part of this arrangement until a new understanding can be established,” the letter continued.

To prove their point, the QEA board froze nearly $5 million in contributions from going to the district, Chartrand told the T-U this week. “We think these investments have proven out,” he said. “We asked the board do their part in funding them. If they don’t, it will send a loud signal to the philanthropic community that it’s a one-way street. I don’t know if we can keep the private community as engaged.”

Gwen Graham snags Duval endorsements, talks MMJ

Gubernatorial candidate Gwenn Graham scooped up two key Jacksonville endorsements this week from Councilman Garrett Dennis and former Mayor Jake Godbold.

Gwen Graham got a key pair of Jacksonville endorsements this week.

Graham, who had already been endorsed by former Mayor Tommy Hazouri, nearly crossed paths with another Democrat in the building for another purpose: Sen. Audrey Gibson, Dennis’ political mentor.

The Duval Democrats chair beat a hasty retreat from the cameras, likely mindful of a chair’s need to be neutral in primaries.

Graham talked to media for over a half-hour, with the big news being a more aggressive position on medical cannabis than some may have expected.

The greatest pyrotechnics came when she discussed medical marijuana, and the state Legislature’s lack of fidelity to the Constitutional Amendment passed in 2016.

“I am so sick and tired of the Florida Legislature not doing what the people of Florida have overwhelmingly said they want done,” Graham said regarding the smoking prohibition, putting MMJ in the same bucket with lottery money and Amendment 1 funds, which did not go to Forever Florida this year.

Graham noted the palliative effects of cannabis, and said that it is a “good replacement for opioids.”

Bill Gulliford: ‘Christian Communist’ Pope

Jacksonville City Councilman Gulliford is still sticking to his guns, asserting that Pope Francis indeed is a “Communist,” albeit a “Christian Communist.”

Bill Gulliford, like our own A.G. Gancarski, graduated from Jacksonville’s Bishop Kenny High School.

We reached out to him for further clarification after his take roiled some people last week — and many of his comments came back to schisms in the Church between the conservative American Catholic wing and the “liberation theology” school from which the pontiff hails.

“Liberation theology,” said Gulliford, is a “form of Christian communism,” and one that Francis’ “narratives and pronouncements” still echo.

“All he talks about is social justice,” Gulliford added.

“If he is the head of the Catholic Church, he should put salvation over social justice,” Gulliford continued, adding that “any friend of the United Nations is no friend of mine.”

Murder charges for overdoses?

Murder charges for death-dealing drug dealers? State Attorney Melissa Nelson says yes, but not everyone is on board, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The goal, Nelson told the T-U: “to keep the public safe from those responsible for this deadly crisis” … an appropriate “legal response to the loss of life.”

Melissa Nelson’s latest proposal is not universally-lauded.

However, the T-U notes some issues.

“Beyond the policy questions, there are concerns over the legality of such a prosecution. While Florida’s murder statute allows prosecutors to go after drug dealers in overdose cases, the statute lists what drugs apply, and fentanyl isn’t specifically listed. Just last week Gov. Rick Scott held a ceremony to celebrate the addition of fentanyl to the law, but that addition will only affect cases after Oct. 1 and won’t impact Nelson’s murder prosecution.”

Despite qualms, Nelson commits to exploring this, at least.

“If I’m a drug dealer and I know I’m cutting heroin with fentanyl, and I know I can be prosecuted for murder, I’m just telling you common-sensically, maybe I think otherwise about what I’m doing. If there’s research that shows what I’m saying is off base, I’d like to be able to look at it. I’m telling you something by my gut right now. I can’t point to research that proves what I’m saying.”

Nancy Soderberg hits campaign trail

DeLand is a trek from Northeast Florida, yet that’s where UNF professor and former U.N. Ambassador Soderberg launched her campaign in Florida’s 6th Congressional District this week.

Nancy Soderberg’s rep proceeds her, but does she have the retail politics gear? Open question.

Soderberg has rented an apartment in the district, and her first stump speech as a candidate was — as our Orlando correspondent Scott Powers called it — “moderate Democrat.”

Light on attacks on Republicans, heavy on policy, it’s clear where Soderberg’s base is — old-school ClintonWorld. In a “wave election” year, that might be enough.

Soderberg may need some help with comms though. An email from her campaign, for example, said that when she worked in her DC gig, she “reigned in terrorism” as a negotiator.

Curry boosts Rick Baker

Mayor Curry helped out fellow Republican Rick Baker last month, as the former Mayor of St. Petersburg is running to reclaim his job.

The St. Petersburg mayoral race is arguably the hottest campaign in America right now.

Curry knows that money is oxygen for campaigns. And by helping Baker by raising $25,000, that gives Baker — ahead in most polls — some air.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports, which covered activity from June 24 to July 7, Curry and his political allies from northeast Florida donated $18,000 to Baker’s campaign. That’s more than incumbent Rick Kriseman raised from all sources during the same period.

Feeling generous: Gary Chartrand, the Jacksonville Kennel Club, Tom Petway, Wayne Weaver, and others who opted to max out.

Curry’s political committee will also slide $7,000 to Baker’s, adding up to $25,000 in total.

Scott talks Venezuela with Goldman Sachs

Gov. Scott cut a Jacksonville press event a bit short Wednesday, and media was told the governor had a meeting.

Turned out that meeting was important.

No, Rick Scott didn’t drive a forklift to Goldman Sachs …

A re-released copy of Scott’s Wednesday schedule included a new entry: an 11:30 meeting with Jacksonville’s “Goldman Sachs Asset Management.”

We reached out to Scott’s office for more detail; the meeting had to do with Scott’s policy on companies doing business with Venezuela.

“Goldman Sachs Asset Management requested to meet with the Governor … to discuss his upcoming policy to prohibit Florida from doing business with anyone who supports the brutal Maduro regime,” emailed Kerri Wyland of the Governor’s office.

Wyland added that more “details on his policy will be announced before the Aug. 16 Cabinet meeting.”

Scott foreshadowed this position earlier in July, via a strongly-worded news release.

 “During the next meeting of the Florida Cabinet in August,” Scott asserted, “I will bring forward a proposal that will prohibit the State of Florida from doing business with any organization that supports the oppressive Maduro dictatorship.

“Floridians stand with the people of Venezuela as they fight for their freedom, and as a state,” Scott added, “we must not provide any support for Maduro and his thugs.”

Gov. Rick Scott visits Florida Forklift’s new facility in Jacksonville. Florida Forklift is a dealer of new, used and rental forklifts founded as Tampa Forklift in 1974. The new Jacksonville facility will allow the small business to continue its growth and create additional opportunities in the community.


Gov. Scott announced two reappointments to the Clay County Development Authority.

Russell Buck, 56, of Middleburg, is the regional vice president of Vystar Credit Union. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

Gregory Clary, 65, of Middleburg, is the president of Clary & Associates. Terms of both reappointments are through July 1, 2021.

Rayonier rebuff

Rayonier, one of the key companies in Nassau County, finds itself encountering pushback in an attempt to acquire Tembec, reports the Jax Daily Record.

Rayonier has been in Nassau County for decades.

“Although we appreciate the strategic rationale of a Rayonier-Tembec combination, we believe Rayonier’s current offer significantly undervalues Tembec. If the offer is not increased, we believe Tembec shareholders would be better off if Tembec remains independent,” reads the letter from Tembec’s largest shareholder.

“The price offered to Tembec shareholders does not fully recognize these benefits, nor does it appropriately compensate Tembec shareholders for the increased risk associated with combining with Rayonier,” it said.

City Hall for sale

You can’t fight City Hall. But in Neptune Beach, the Jax Daily Record reports, you soon may be able to buy it.

Prime real estate may be available soon. Mayor and Council not included in the sale.

City Hall out there is in a prime location, a short walk to the ocean. The facility needs repairs also and is too small to accommodate city staffing needs.

And, at a time when property values are peaking, Neptune Beach’s mayor looks to ride the wave.

“We’re sitting here with both of these buildings off the tax rolls in prime locations,” Mayor Elaine Brown said. “I think there’s an opportunity to bring in some more revenue in the form of property taxes and sales taxes.”

Jax Beach Mayor mulls overdose epidemic

Opioid addiction is fast becoming a story that is numbing in the retelling, but anecdotes like those from Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham reveal how deep the epidemic runs.

Latham saw a fentanyl overdose last weekend, reported Action News Jax.

The opioid crisis knows no borders.

The overdose victim was, said Latham, “very purple.” And it took two medics to revive him from the brink of death.

But, via Narcan, he was revived.

“I was in the hospital right when he came around. He acted like it was another day at the office,” Latham said. “Shortly after that, his parents came in, and it looked like, of course, they were facing the worst possible, (worst) imaginable scenario.”

The overdose crisis is hitting Duval County hard, both regarding time and budgetary demands for EMTs and in body count — which exceeds, by multiples, the county’s homicide rate.

Doggone doped-up dogs

BestBet President Jamie Shelton decried “sensationalized” reports of dogs failing post-race drug tests for cocaine metabolites this week.

‘Independent contractors’ to blame for greyhound nose candy.

“We contract with kennel operators that acquire or lease dogs from people who raise greyhounds around the country. They are independent contractors. They are licensed by the state of Florida, and they also receive a badge from us so they can come on to our property to race their product at our facility.” Shelton explained at a Rotary Club meeting, as quoted by First Coast News.

“My oversight of the independent contractors other than me being to ensure that the safety and welfare of the greyhounds while they are in my premises in the kennels and they are being cared for they are being turned out, they are being fed, they are air-conditioned kennels,” Shelton added. “All the things you are asking about, that’s my No. 1 concern.”

BestBet is one of the most politically connected companies in Northeast Florida.

The contractor that supplied the dogs in question no longer works with BestBet.

Naps, jobs cut from CSX

Reforms continue at CSX, per the Jacksonville Business Journal!

The latest: no napping by conductors who are on break, said CEO Hunter Harrison.

“We had a rule that said you could take a nap while you worked,” Harrison told The Wall Street Journal. “We don’t have that now.”

Hunter Harrison: Not a fan of naps, but apparently a fan of layoffs.

The goal: “Precision scheduling.”

The reality Jacksonville people experience: Stalled out trains on tracks stymying their commutes.

Speaking of stalled out: CSX equity price momentum, after what the Journal called a “bombshell” announcement on an earnings call this week.

“I’m a short-timer here,” said Harrison. “I’m the interim person that’s going to try to get this company to the next step and good foundation.”

Harrison pledged 700 more layoffs on the call, a strategy which seems to be helping with earnings in the short term, yet raising long-term existential questions.

Chris Hand talks downtown development

Former Alvin Brown chief-of-staff Chris Hand is now in the byline journalism game and his first column in the Florida Times-Union addresses downtown development.

Chris Hand has joined the pundit class. God help him.

“Downtown revitalization needs a constant supply of fuel to keep running. Unfortunately, the city agency charged with overseeing Downtown revival is nearing an empty gas tank,” Hand notes.

Hand adds that “the DIA has little investment funding to prime the pump on additional Downtown development. The City Council should rectify that worrisome deficiency in this year’s budget process.”

The whole column is worth a read.

JIA opens Firehouse Subs location

Jacksonville-based Firehouse Subs opened its first airport kiosk at Jacksonville International Airport, the latest phase in the rise of the fast-casual food chain.

According to the Jax Daily Record, Firehouse Subs expansion plans include more non-traditional locations, such as U.S. airport terminals, college campuses and military bases.

Firehouse Subs opened its first airport location at JIA July 1, the next phase in the fast-casual brand’s expansion.

The JIA location is located in the post-security food court, with a menu that includes the chain’s staples as well as breakfast options geared toward travelers. It incorporates a revised restaurant design to accommodate smaller spaces.

Robert Palmer buys the Armada

The Jacksonville Armada have been sold. Just seven months after the North American Soccer League (NASL) assumed control of the club when original owner Mark Frisch bailed out, Robert Palmer has stepped into the fold. The new ownership assumes control of the club immediately and secures the long-term future of pro soccer in Jacksonville.

Robert Palmer is making a play in Jacksonville, starting with the Armada.

“While sports ownership has been a dream of mine since I was young, the business opportunity with Armada FC and the NASL was simply too good to pass up,” said Palmer. “I care deeply about the Jacksonville market and have both personal and professional interests in the area. My team at Robert Palmer Companies and I look forward to bringing our proven marketing and business strategies to this outstanding organization.”

A native of Lakeland, Palmer and his wife, Jill, have local ties to the Jacksonville area and have maintained a residence in Neptune Beach since 2007. He is the founder and CEO of Robert Palmer Companies, which is based in Central Florida and is involved in the financing, marketing, and escrow of more than $5 billion in residential real estate.

In addition to RP Funding, Palmer has started several other companies including Homevalue.com, which provides personalized reports on homeowners’ property values from a local real estate agent and Listing Power Tools, a company that helps real estate agents craft the perfect listing presentation, among others.

Palmer is bullish about the market and said at the Press Conference unveiling his ownership,  “You’ll have to be under a rock to not know that the Jacksonville Armada will be playing on any given Saturday .” He continued, ” (We will focus on) aggressive, targeted advertising… these guys know soccer, I know advertising.” Palmer also stated RP Funding ads will include Armada pitches within them. He is also committed to growing the fan base not just in terms of attendance for home matches but also other revenue streams including those who watch away matches on television.

The Armada just concluded the NASL Spring Season finishing in the top half of the table. The Fall Season begins on July 30 with a match-up against the San Francisco Deltas at Patton Park.

Rick Scott: Florida unemployment lowest in decade

Gov. Rick Scott said ‘let there be jobs’—and there were jobs. And the jobs numbers were good.

In fact, in one key metric—the official unemployment rate—the numbers were the best in a decade.

Florida’s unemployment rate “has dropped to its lowest rate in 10 years and nearly 18,000 new jobs were created for families across the state in June,” Scott said in a statement.

In a release with a Las Vegas byline (where Scott is today for economic development meetings with Zappos, Allegiant Air, and other companies), the Governor’s Office noted that Florida’s unemployment rate of 4.1 percent in June is the lowest since June 2007.

As many as 18,000 new private-sector jobs were created in June, part of the nearly 1.4 million such jobs created since December 2010.

And the private sector job growth rate, a healthy 3.1 percent, is nearly double that of the nation’s rate of 1.7 percent. It’s no surprise Scott wants to keep the momentum going.

“Our newly established $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund will keep Florida on track to becoming the national leader for job growth,” he said. “I encourage businesses interested in growing in Florida to learn more about the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund today.”

Department of Economic Opportunity director Cissy Proctor attributed the boon to Florida’s “pro-growth policies.”

Moreover, Orlando in particular continues to lead the state in job creation, Scott said.

“It is great news that the Orlando area continues to lead the state in job creation with more than 46,000 new jobs created over the past year,” he said.

“I am proud to meet with Allegiant Air today to recognize their continued investment in Florida,” he added. “While this national company could have chosen any location for their new training center, they ultimately decided that Florida was the best place to grow their business and create new jobs.”

Allegiant houses its East Coast Training Center at Orlando/Sanford International Airport, and is responsible for 15,000 jobs in Florida, according to the Governor’s Office.

Further, there are nearly a quarter-million job openings in Florida now, Governor’s Office statistics show. June saw nearly 23,000 people placed in jobs in the Sunshine State, according to the state’s regional workforce boards.

Rick Scott makes eight judicial, state board appointments

Gov. Rick Scott announced eight appointments and reappointments this week to a variety of Florida judicial, state boards, and commissions.

11th Judicial Circuit Court

Scott began by naming Judge Lourdes Simon to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court.

Simon, 49, of Miami, currently serves as county judge for Dade County. She previously served as an Assistant Public Defender for the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office.

Simon received her bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a law degree from Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Simon fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Robert Luck to the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Florida Defense Support Task Force

Scott announced the appointment of state Rep. Holly Raschein to the Florida Defense Support Task Force, whose mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance Florida’s military missions and installations.

Raschein, 36, of Key Largo, currently represents House District 120, serves as the State Director for the National Foundation of Women Legislators. Her appointment fills a vacant seat for a term ending July 1, 2019.

Northwest Florida Water Management District

Scott next reappointed Jerry Pate and Ted Everett to the Governing Board of the Northwest Florida Water Management District, which covers the region between St. Marks River Basin in Jefferson County and the Perdido River in Escambia County.

Pate, 63, of Pensacola, is the owner and chief executive officer of Jerry Pate Turf & Irrigation, Inc.

Everett, 57, of Chipley, is the executive director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Both reappointments are subject to Florida Senate confirmation for a term ending March 1, 2021.

Eastern Florida State College District board of trustees

Scott reappointed Alan Landman to the District board of trustees of Eastern Florida State College.

Landman, 54, of Indialantic, is an attorney at Alan Landman, P.A. His reappointment is subject to Florida Senate approval for a term ending May 31, 2021.

Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers

Scott named Gary Pyott to the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers, a part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation that oversees the professional practice standards of the Community Association Manager profession.

Pyott, 58, of Aventura, is the president of Association 1st, LLC. He fills a vacant seat.

Pyott’s appointment is subject to Senate approval for a term ending Oct. 31, 2020.

Clay County Development Authority

Finally, Scott announced two reappointments to the Clay County Development Authority, set up by the Florida Legislature in 1957 to promote the sound economic development of Clay County.

Russell Buck, 56, of Middleburg, is the regional vice president of Vystar Credit Union.

Gregory Clary, 65, of Middleburg, is the president of Clary & Associates.

Both reappointments are for a term ending July 1, 2021.

David Silvers: State must rethink policy about minors, mental health

David Silvers

In September 2016, a 6-year-old child threw a temper tantrum at his elementary school in Jacksonville. Usually, the story would end with the child being sent to the principal’s office for discipline, but, sadly for Nicholas, the child from this story, his journey didn’t end there.

Not knowing how to handle an unruly child, the school counselor contacted the local sheriff to pick the child up and drop him off at a psychiatric facility. Nicholas was held for three days against the wishes of his parents and had to wait more than 24 hours to see a psychiatrist. When the facility finally allowed his parents to take him home, Nicholas had suffered a bloody nose, scraped-up shins, and was in an overtired and almost hysterical state.

Under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the Baker Act, this is legal. The law is a well-intentioned attempt to promote public safety by allowing medical professionals at a mental health facility to hold an individual for up to 72 hours to conduct an evaluation of whether the patient is mentally ill and at risk of causing harm to themselves or others.

However well-intentioned the law is, it can sometimes produce appalling, unintended consequences, such as permitting a 6-year-old child to be held against the will of the child’s parents and endure a traumatic and perhaps a life-altering experience.

That is why I filed House Bill 1183, which would require receiving facilities to initiate medical review for involuntary examination of minors within 12 hours of arrival. The bill would also create a task force to bring accountability and transparency to involuntary examinations of minors in Florida.

While the Senate companion for HB 1183 was not able to get any traction, I worked with several members of the Senate and got the language attached to HB 1121, which also seeks to improve mental health in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott signed that bill into law on June 26.

The task force created in HB 1183 is composed of stakeholders that include experienced experts from the mental health, education, and law enforcement industries, as well as a representative from a family whose child has been brought to a mental health facility for involuntary examination. The task force will analyze data on the initiation of involuntary examinations of children, looking for trends and potential solutions to improve the process and outcome of these situations. I truly believe using this data will improve safety, treatment and the experience of those receiving care through our mental health system.

Working toward solutions that will improve our mental health system and benefit all Floridians should be a priority for every legislator in Tallahassee. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work for my neighbors and for all Floridians to ensure that we have access to a health care system that reflects the importance of mental health for the future of our state.


Democrat David Silvers represents Florida House District 87.


Rick Scott talks Venezuela policy with Goldman Sachs

Florida Gov. Rick Scott cut a Jacksonville press event a bit short on Wednesday, and media was told Scott had a meeting.

Turned out that meeting was important.

A re-released copy of Scott’s schedule for Wednesday included a new entry: an 11:30 meeting with Jacksonville’s “Goldman Sachs Asset Management.”

We reached out to Scott’s office for more detail; the meeting had to do with Scott’s policy on companies doing business with Venezuela.

“Goldman Sachs Asset Management requested to meet with the Governor today to discuss his upcoming policy to prohibit Florida from doing business with anyone who supports the brutal Maduro regime,” emailed Kerri Wyland of the Governor’s office.

Wyland added that more “details on his policy will be announced prior to the August 16th Cabinet meeting.”

Scott foreshadowed this position earlier in July, via a strongly-worded press release.

 “During the next meeting of the Florida Cabinet in August,” Scott asserted, “I will bring forward a proposal that will prohibit the State of Florida from doing business with any organization that supports the oppressive Maduro dictatorship.

“Floridians stand with the people of Venezuela as they fight for their freedom, and as a state,” Scott added, “we must not provide any support for Maduro and his thugs.”

Rick Scott to Congress: ‘Do your job,’ repeal and replace Obamacare

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott was in Jacksonville for a job creation event. But national stories involving the President crowded out the gaggle.

The big story: the subject of the stalled out movement to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In recent months, Scott has played a pivotal role in attempts at healthcare reform, but to no avail so far. Multiple trips to Washington D.C. and meetings with the President and his staff have borne no policy fruit. Scott even went so far as to appear with VP Mike Pence in Jacksonville, as Pence attempted to sell the House version of healthcare reform.

Despite hiccups in the process, Scott reiterated his commitment to “repeal and replace,” and urged Congress to follow through.

“Obamacare’s a disaster,” Scott said, noting that prices for healthcare had “skyrocketed” since the ACA passed earlier this decade.

“Congress has got to do their job. They’ve got to repeal Obamacare. They need to replace it with something that’s going to drive the price of healthcare down, because that’s the big problem. That’s Congress’ job and I know the President’s focused on that, and it’s my expectation that they get it done,” Scott said.

“You need to repeal it and you need to replace it,” Scott said. “No one’s going to have access to good healthcare if costs keep going up, and that’s what’s happened.”

Scott noted that he predicted this fate for Obamacare as far back as 2009.

“The problem with healthcare is government involvement has caused costs to go up,” Scott said, limiting affordability of treatment for individuals, employers, and even the government itself.

“What’s happened with Obamacare is that no one can afford it,” Scott added.

Scott’s visit to Jacksonville included the gaggle, held at a company called Florida Forklift which opened a new Jacksonville facility on the Eastside. He followed that up with an 11:30 engagement at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Rick Scott talks Russia scandal, Donald Trump Jr., Lanny Wiles

In Jacksonville Wednesday for a job creation event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott discussed a white-hot scandal that now has a Florida tie: meetings between Russians and Trump campaign members, either for the purposes of discussing adoption of Russian children or opposition research, depending on who you believe.

Russians, including attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with senior level representatives of the Donald Trump campaign last June.

Just days later, Lanny Wiles — the husband of Susie Wiles, Scott’s former campaign manager who went on to run Trump’s Florida campaign — saved a seat for that same controversial Russian lawyer at a Congressional hearing on Russia policy.

For her part, Wiles has maintained that neither she nor her husband did anything wrong, and that they had no financial ties to Russian interests.

“I did not and would not participate in something that hurt the campaign, the government, the President, or the country,” Wiles said.

We asked Scott if he would have taken a meeting with the Russians, and if he had any thoughts on an apparent axis between Mr. Wiles and the Russia scandal undermining the Trump presidency.

“You’d have to talk to Mr. Wiles about why he took that meeting,” Scott said, his voice betraying a lack of understanding as to why that meeting would have been taken.

“You’d also have to talk to the Trump campaign about any meetings they had with regard to a campaign. I was not privy to how they made their decisions,” Scott said.

We asked Scott straight up if he would take oppo from a foreign power, as Donald Trump, Jr. did.

Scott seemed to chuckle briefly at the concept, though it should be said the Governor’s Office disputes that.

“Well, I mean, I’ve run one primary campaign and two general election campaigns. What I try to do is focus on getting my message out. I think you win elections by getting your message out. My message was about job creation both times. That’s how I focused my time.”

Scott’s visit to Jacksonville included the gaggle, held at a company called Florida Forklift which opened a new Jacksonville facility on the Eastside. He followed that up with an 11:30 engagement at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Ralph Wright Jr. becomes twenty-seventh death row prisoner in Florida to be exonerated

Florida death row inmate Ralph Wright Jr. was released from state prison Tuesday, two months after the state Supreme Court exonerated him in the 2007 killings of his ex-girlfriend and their baby boy.

The release of the former Air Force Sergeant makes him Florida’s 27th exonerated death row survivor, and the 159th person exonerated from death row since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Anti-death penalty groups in Florida hailed his release, arguing that it epitomizes the unfairness inherent in administrating the ultimate sanction by the government.

“If an Air Force Sergeant and former Orange County Deputy Sheriff with no criminal record can be wrongfully convicted and sent to death row, it can happen to anyone,” said Mark Elliot, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

“Ralph Wright, Jr.’s exoneration is the most recent reminder that Florida’s death penalty system not only devalues life but also imperils innocent lives too,” added Brian Empric with Florida Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Alluding to Wright becoming the 27th person to be released from Florida’s death row after being wrongly convicted, Empric says that the state’s death penalty system “is still afflicted with other issues, including rising costs, its failure to offer victims’ families the justice they deserve, and its inability to protect society, which is why many conservatives are increasingly opposing Florida’s broken death penalty program.”

In August 2014, Wright was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder; the jury recommended a death sentence.

In their unanimous opinion, the Florida Supreme Court justices wrote: “there is no fingerprint, footprint, blood, fiber pattern impression or other physical evidence tying Wright to the crime scene.  There is no cell tower evidence placing him in the vicinity of the crime scene. There is no murder weapon. The only evidence presented by the state to prove that Wright was the murder is the fact that he had motive and opportunity.”

The key piece of evidence that prosecutors did have against Wright was a single black glove found at the scene of the crime. The glove was the same kind that had been issued to Wright’s military unit, but analysts who processed the gloves for DNA couldn’t find any that was a definitive match for Wright. It was also unclear whether the glove came from MacDill, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

At the time of his conviction in 2014, Florida did not require a unanimous jury recommendation for death. In Wright’s case, the jury voted 7-5, a bare majority, to recommend the death penalty. Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida’s sentencing scheme for non-unanimous jury recommendations for death to be unconstitutional. Since then, the Legislature has passed a bill, signed by Gov. Rick Scott in March of this year to now require a unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty sentencing.

There have been 119 death row prisoners whose cases have been reviewed in light of the high court’s ruling, and 99 have had their death sentences reversed.

“The exonerations of twenty-seven innocent people on Florida’s Death Row demonstrate the catastrophic failure of a pretentious government program trying to play God,” said Elliot. “It’s time to pull the plug on this wasteful, mistake-ridden, and unnecessary big government program that puts blood on all our hands.”


Show Buttons
Hide Buttons