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Dana Young urges Hillsborough PTC to reject new rules for Uber, Lyft

Writing that “Hillsborough County is better than this,” Dana Young is the latest Tampa Bay area lawmaker calling for the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to reject proposed new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say would force them out of the local market.

In a letter Tuesday to PTC Chair Victor Crist, Young says the current proposal set for a vote by the PTC “is plainly designed to be an anti-competitive attempt to push ride-sharing companies out of Hillsborough County.”

“If this occurs,” she added, “our constituents will pay the price by losing a safe and reliable transportation option.”

Young’s letter was co-signed by 12 members of the local Tampa Bay area legislative delegation.

Last week, a PTC subcommittee approved new regulations representatives from Uber and Lyft have said are unacceptable. They include a seven-minute wait time for a passenger to get a for a vehicle for hire in the county, a $7 minimum fare, and Level II backgrounds checks that require fingerprinting their drivers. That last demand actually compelled Uber to leave the Austin, Texas market this past spring, so both companies appear serious about not bending on that issue.

On Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn headlined a news conference featuring members of Hillsborough County’s entrepreneur, tourism, and business sectors. They also called on the PTC to reject the proposed rules.

Although the state Legislature failed to come up with statewide regulations of ride-sharing companies, Young’s letter vows the issue will finally be addressed in the next regular Legislative Session, which begins March. Young says the PTC board should hold off on any action regarding ridesharing in Hillsborough until the 2017 legislative session ends next spring.

Joining her in co-signing the letter are two local Republicans well-known for their enthusiasm for ridesharing and loathing of the PTC — Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant. Republican legislators Larry Ahern, Danny Burgess, Richard Corcoran, Bill Galvano, Jake Raburn, Shawn Harrison, Wilton Simpson, Ross Spano, Dan Raulson, and Democrat Darryl Rouson also signed onto the letter.

Some Hillsborough Democrats have been much less vocal in criticizing the PTC and speaking up for the ridesharing companies than their Republican brethren since Uber and Lyft began operating in Hillsborough in the spring of 2014.

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Bob Buckhorn, others call Hillsborough PTC to reject rules that Uber, Lyft say could drive them out

Two days before the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission looks to approve new regulations that representatives from ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could compel them to leave town, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others in Hillsborough County’s business community had a simple message for them on Monday: Don’t do it.

Specifically, they warned the agency not to approve new regulations approved by a subcommittee of the PTC last week that include a $7 minimum fare and a seven-minute wait time for passengers — and absolutely do not approve Level II background checks which include having Uber and Lyft drivers fingerprinted.

“We are not going to a city that’s going to be held down hostage by any cabal of any industry,” Buckhorn said, a nod to the fact that the taxicab industry in Hillsborough — as has been the case all over the world — objects to the Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) operating under different rules of the road.

Since they began operating in Tampa in April 2014, the PTC has been unable to bring the two companies into compliance with their regulations, many of which the companies believe are onerous and out of date. It’s not unique to this community — the ridesharing companies also remain at odds with regulators in Orlando and Jacksonville, for example, while the companies have come into compliance in the past year with local governments in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

But Uber and Lyft did pull completely out of Austin, Texas, earlier this year over a similar impasse regarding those Level II background checks.

Buckhorn also used the opportunity at the press conference to once again call for the outright abolition of the PTC, the controversial agency created by the Legislature in the 1970s to craft regulations for vehicles-for-hire in Hillsborough County. It’s the only such agency in the state.

The PTC’s heavy-handed tactics in previous years have led to the belief by some that it is a handmaiden of the taxicab industry. It’s a perception that only gained more currency when former PTC Chair Kevin White was convicted of charges of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI after he was found guilty of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and a luxury SUV exchange for helping three prospective wrecker company operators win certificates from the PTC.

“I continue to believe it is a dinosaur,” Buckhorn said about the PTC, a belief shared by Tampa Bay area legislators like Jeff Brandes, Dana Young, and Jamie Grant. “Dinosaurs are extinct. The PTC should be extinct.”

“We are not trying to keep anybody out of the marketplace,” insists Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the PTC. “Instead, the focus is on consensus on regulations that ensure rider safety,” he said in a statement. “We want a solid framework that welcomes TNC’s while making the safety of our riding public a priority.”

Buckhorn was surrounded by more than a dozen people at the news conference, held at the Attic, a downtown coffee shop/bar. Many were representatives of the business community and entrepreneurs who don’t want Uber and Lyft to leave, saying such a loss will hurt with the recruitment of businesses and the retaining and/or luring millennials to stay in the Tampa Bay.

“The whole country took note when Austin passed its draconian legislation,” said Christopher Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We ask that the PTC suspend consideration of this extreme rule, and work with the new business and responsible partners that are hoping to bring transportation solutions for Tampa and Florida’s future.”

Tony DiBenedetto is the chair and CEO of a tech company called Tribridge. He said he doesn’t even own a car these days, and instead takes Uber to wherever he has to go.

“I think it’s sending the wrong message to everybody,” he said about the proposed regulations, which could prompt the companies to leave the region. “I think this is a devastating decision on their part. I think it would hurt us from a recruiting perspective; it’s already hard to recruit to Tampa.”

Although the Level II background checks have garnered the most attention, Uber and Lyft have serious issues with other proposed rules going before the PTC board on Wednesday, such as a seven-minute wait time for anyone to hail a vehicle-for-hire car in Hillsborough County.

“You request a ride, said Blayn Shamble, a Tampa Bay area Lyft driver.”It takes two minutes to get there, and now I have to lock my doors and roll my window down and say, ‘I’m sorry, you cannot legally get into my car until five minutes passes.’

“In my opinion, that is just picking your winners and losers in a free market,” Shamble added.

The PTC has said the new rules were promulgated by members of the cab industry and would-be TNC DriveSociety, who are pushing the PTC hard to pass the new rules.

“Are you a believer in public safety?,” shouted out DriveSociety proprietor Marcus Carter after Buckhorn explained how he believed competition was good for business. “You’re not a member of the media,” barked Buckhorn, who later said that he “welcomed” DriveSociety to the industry.

The Tampa mayor also said the cab industry needed to “up their game” to stay competitive with the new technology.

Louis Menardi, the chair of the Florida Taxicab Association and president of Yellow Cab of Tampa, issued a statement shortly before the press conference took place.

“Uber and Lyft’s approach to this issue is not unique to Hillsborough County or Florida,” he said. “All across the U.S., many local communities, including Portland, San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, and Orlando are raising significant concerns about fundamental public safety issues and background checks, whether TNC drivers have any or adequate insurance, and whether the local communities should require better service from them for passengers in wheelchairs.

“In response, TNCs flout the law, ignore local regulations and resort to threatening local cities and counties with leaving and/or state and federal forced deregulation when they are questioned about their business practices as they relate to public safety and well-being.”

The PTC board meeting on the new rules will take place Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy, Tampa, 2nd floor.

Jacksonville gears up for another attempt at ridesharing legislation

Jacksonville’s attempt to enact ridesharing legislation, thus far, has met with mixed success.

A Vehicles for Hire subcommittee in the city council ended earlier this year, with little in the way of actual resolution.

For every decision the subcommittee made — such as changing the inspection time frame for cabs from once every 120 days to once a year— there was a lesson, such as the fact that inspections, as currently conducted, are vague, subjective, and offer little in the way of guaranteed safety for consumers.

One meaningful decision that could save money for taxicabs: amendment of “blanket insurance” policies, allowing different levels of coverage based on whether a cab is currently hired or not.

However, these recommendations — arrived at after a year of meetings — nibble around the edges of the larger issue.

As Vehicles for Hire chair Matt Schellenberg wrote, the best way to level the playing field is not to lard the ridesharing industry up with regulations, but to deregulate the landscape as much as possible, compelling the cab industry to improve its operations and take advantage of the “technological advancements” the competition is using.

Easier said than done, of course. Legislation has been stalled out in city council since Alvin Brown was mayor.

That said, on the Uber end, optimism reigns, as Uber’s Florida public affairs director Javi Correoso told FloridaPolitics.com Thursday.

The goal, Correoso said: to work with the council and the mayor toward a viable regulatory framework.

The framework makes all the difference.

Legislation currently being considered in Hillsborough County, reports the Tampa Bay Times, includes a $7 minimum fare and a seven-minute wait time — onerous burdens which led State Sen. Jeff Brandes to lament he was “disappointed and sad for Hillsborough that this is the kind of leadership they have.”

Correoso said this could potentially be the “worst regulatory framework in the United States” if it passes, setting up an anti-competitive “matrix of rules … written by the cab industry … to protect entrenched interests,” with the intent of forcing Uber and Lyft out of the Tampa market.

The Tampa tribulation doesn’t necessarily have to be Jacksonville’s fate, of course.

The goal for Uber and Lyft both: a new piece of legislation, which totally levels the playing field, offering commonsense solutions on issues like medallions, inspections, and proof of insurance.

In terms of cities like Jacksonville dealing with events, it could be argued that a thriving ridesharing industry is necessary.

Correoso’s goal: “to have this done by the end of the year.”

There is optimism, of course, that it will be handled on the state level in 2017; a ridesharing bill that cleared the House with ease last session stalled out in the Senate.

But Uber would like for this to be handled locally first.

Mayor Lenny Curry, though not a voting member of the city council, enthused about ridesharing services during his campaign for office.

And for the company, which first came to the market in 2013, Jacksonville is key.

Uber wants background checks, Correoso said, as “safety is very important.”

But the company also wants the safeguards that come with regulation, safeguards which allow the company to partner with sports teams, health care facilities, and other enterprises that see advantages to creating reliable relationships with transportation network companies.

“When you’re not regulated,” Correoso said, “there are a lot more obstacles.”

If there is one member of the PTC who should support Uber, it’s David Pogorilich

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David Pogorilich

Beyond convenience and affordability, ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber have become an essential, safe alternative to drunken driving.

One person who should understand this best is David Pogorilich; Uber could have prevented his DUI nearly two decades ago.

An Uber ride — at only a few dollars — is certainly preferable to a DUI, which brings thousands of dollars in legal fees, not to mention the possible tragedy of a wreck.

Pogorilich, a member of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission who also serves on the Temple Terrace City Council, is pushing for new regulations on ridesharing, including controversial rules on minimum fares, as well as requiring fingerprints be taken of all Uber drivers.

The PTC also seeks to include ridesharing vehicles in PTC rules mandating minimum wait times so traditional taxicabs can stay “competitive.”

Pogorilich is on the PTC rules committee, which voted Tuesday to send these new restrictions to the full PTC governing board at its meeting next week.

“It’s not directed at pushing Uber or Lyft out,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s providing a framework allowing any TNC (transportation network companies) to operate in Hillsborough while ensuring the safety of the traveling public.”

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David Pogorilich (1997)

Be that as it may, in 1997, Pogorilich, then-director of Chitester Management Systems, faced a charge of DUI with Property Damage or Injury by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

That makes Pogorilich the exact type of person who could have most benefited from the safety of an Uber ride. At the very least, he would have saved the $1,000 bond.

Ironically, Pogorilich now stands in the way of allowing other Hillsborough residents in similar situations avoid a DUI, something he indeed could have used 20 years ago, if Uber were around. Ridesharing wasn’t available then, but it is here now.

A 2014 study shows the arrival of Uber in the city of Seattle resulted in a significant drop in DUI arrests — as many as 7 per day, or 10 percent. When given the option, likely drunken drivers will choose affordable, safe and convenient ridesharing, instead of putting themselves and others in danger.

While some may dispute the statistics behind the “Uber effect,” no one can argue that ridesharing offers Hillsborough County a real potential to save money — and lives.

And if anybody can get behind that, it should be David Pogorilich.

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Mitch Perry Report for 9.7.16 — Pam Bondi’s reluctance to investigate Trump University resurfaces on the campaign trail

Who knew Hillary Clinton was a fan of the University of South Florida Bulls?

“Hello, Tampa! Hello, USF! I know I’m only the second-most exciting thing that’s happened here in the last few days. Your big win to open your football season got some attention,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to the audience who gathered at the rather intimate student recreation center on the North Tampa campus on Tuesday (And yes, that 56-20 victory over Towson was impressive).

After dispensing further pleasantries (including a nice shoutout to outgoing Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner), Clinton got down to business, which was all about trashing Donald Trump as being hopelessly overmatched when it comes to discussing national security issues.

While flying to Tampa, Clinton held her second straight news conference with reporters, where she happened to mention the Donald Trump Foundation has recently been fined for illegal activity when it made a political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. As most readers know, Bondi’s office had received complaints from more than 20 Floridians to investigate Trump University because of their negative experiences.

“And of course, as we know, there was a phone conversation between them — they contradict each other,” Clinton said, adding the “American people deserve to know” what was said in that call because “clearly” Bondi “did not proceed with the investigation.”

Trump was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine to the IRS over the $25,000 donation. The Trump Foundation had not listed the contribution in its tax filings, and Trump later reimbursed the foundation for the donation.

Last night on the Fox Business Network, Bondi told host Neil Cavuto that she wouldn’t be “bullied” by Clinton. “I will not be collateral damage in a presidential campaign, nor will I be a woman bullied by Hillary Clinton,” the AG said.

As an RNC spokesman said yesterday, only one attorney general in the U.S. — New York’s Eric Schneiderman — ever pursued charges against Trump U. True, along with a separate federal class action civil lawsuit filed in California. Both allege Trump University defrauded consumers by as much as $35,000 each with promises of a real estate investing education they either did not receive or found to be worthless.

While the fact that Bondi’s office decided not to pursue charges against Trump U. may be completely legit, speculation about “pay-for-play” continues to color this story, and it ain’t helped by statements that Trump has made on the stump, statements his fans love for “telling it like it is.”

“When I want something I get it,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”

In other news …

SD 19 fallen candidate Ed Narain, who came so close before losing out to Darryl Rouson last week, said he’s optimistic about his future following last week’s tough election result.

After reporting earlier in the day that the Tampa Tiger Bay Club didn’t appear prepared to reschedule a debate between the candidates for state Senate District 18, the campaigns and the political forum have come to an agreement to host the debate between Dana Young, Bob Buesing, Sheldon Upthegrove, and Joe Redner on Oct. 21.

It’s getting rough and tumble already in the CD 13 contest between David Jolly and Charlie Crist, with Jolly bashing the former Republican for his “hidden” ties to Donald Trump.

A subcommittee with the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Committee passed by a 2-1 margin controversial new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could drive them literally out of town.

And there’s fallout in the local PR-political world, as Tampa’s Tucker/Hall is suing one of its former major principals, Tony Collins, for breach of contract.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.2.16 — Tampa City Council approves $251 million to improve stormwater system

They did it last night.

After nearly four hours of discussion, the Tampa City Council voted 4-2 to support the biggest infusion of taxpayer dollars ever to attempt to improve the city’s stormwater infrastructure, which for decades has been a major problem in the city.

Mike SuarezLisa MontelioneHarry Cohen and swing vote Guido Maniscalco opted to support Mayor Bob Buckhorn‘s proposal, nearly a year after they rejected a similar one. Councilmembers Charlie Miranda and Frank Reddick dissented, while Yolie Capin was not at the meeting.

The improvements will be paid for through a fee on Tampa property owners. Assessments will be based on the amount of hard surface a property as. Hard surface area cannot absorb stormwater, so fees will be higher for people with more of it.

Critics blasted the proposal, which exempts property owners in New Tampa and Harbor Island, where developers have already paid for drainage systems that do not discharge water to the city’s storm sewers. Others complained that the only “discount,” if you didn’t live in those areas, was a 10 percent reduction.

Although there were people who opposed the project, there were more in the audience at City Hall who spoke out in support of the proposal, with the phrase, “we’ve got to stop kicking the can down the road,” being repeated throughout the evening.

Maniscalco seemed to be wavering in which way he would go and said at one point that the thought the vote should be delayed because many members of the public had stayed away, after hearing reports for days that Thursday night the city would get the worst brunt of a tropical storm.

In fact, the weather wasn’t that bad at all Thursday night, not compared to the evening before or another major storm that occurred early Friday morning.

Although stormwater improvements in South Tampa are among the first projects that will be built with the new funds, Montelione, in particular, emphasized that the problems when major rains come to Tampa are by no means limited to that region of the city, showing a map of areas in her North Tampa district that get flooded out.

Suarez said the same thing, adding that it seemed that the media only liked to cover major flooding in South Tampa.

In other news …

Darryl Rouson leads Ed Narain by 75 votes in the SD 19 race as the official recount in takes place this morning in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Gwen Graham says she gets why Donald Trump has emerged in American politics, and says his unlikely success should be understood by all lawmakers.

Uber is targeting two PTC members to oppose proposed new rules which they don’t like, but are they targeting the right members?

And Charlie Crist‘s campaign manager says essentially the race between his candidate and David Jolly is a mere formality in a memo distributed to the media. Naturally, Team Jolly disagrees.

Partnerships with Uber, others could be future of public transportation

If partnerships are key to the future of public transportation, three Florida communities are already ahead of the curve.

Officials with Altamonte Springs, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit authority highlighted their efforts to partner with private transportation companies during the 2016 Building Florida’s Future symposium Thursday.

The partnerships, with both Uber and local cab companies, have helped their communities ease congestion, fill transportation gaps and give users more options. But they’ve also pushed local leaders to begin thinking about what new transportation technology means for economic development and future growth.

“I think it’s exciting. We’re moving away from … regulatory fights where we’re trying to convince people of the value that we have,” said Stephanie Smith, the senior public policy manager at Uber. “You can already see the shift in the conversation, and that helps us move the conversation past whether it should exist.”

Uber has partnerships in both Pinellas County and Altamonte Springs. In Pinellas County, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority teamed up with the ridesharing company to provide more flexibility to make public transportation more accessible.

The transit authority announced the six-month pilot program earlier this year. Under the program, the transit authority pays half of the fare up to $3 for passenger traveling to a PSTA bus stop or home from one after work or an appointment. The trial was being offered in the Pinellas Park and East Lake areas.

The program has been a success, and has contributed to the growth of Uber in Pinellas County, said Brad Miller, CEO of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

“We’re trying to introduce more and more people (to it) who have never used Uber before,” he said.

In Altmonte Springs, the city picks up the tab for Uber users traveling within city limits. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the city in March announced it would pay 25 percent of the cost of an Uber going to or from the city’s commuter train station to any destination in the city.

It also picks up 20 percent of the fare for Uber trips beginning and ending in Altamonte Springs. The hope is the program will ease congestion in the area.

Frank Martz, Altamonte Springs’ city manager, said the program has been a success, and residents are taking advantage of it.

Uber isn’t allowed in Hillsborough County, but the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority partnered with Yellow Cab to provide services to disabled customers. The program allows customers to use the cabs instead of its HARTPlus program, and allows customers to receive same-day service, instead of having to book ahead of time.

Rep. Jamie Grant, a Tampa Republican, said government often looks for ways to work with the private sector, and advances in technology will allow for private-public partnerships in transportation.

Uber is already being used on a regular basis in Florida. Smith said 1.5 million people used Uber for more than 24 million trips in Florida in 2015. There were 70,000 drivers in 2015.

And the company is expanding in Florida. It rolled out UberPool, a ridesharing program, in South Florida earlier this year. The service connects users with other riders traveling along the same route, allowing users to share the cost of the service. It also launched UberEATS, a food delivery service in the Miami area.

“We’re here to stay,” said Smith.

Jeff Brandes: The future of transportation is ‘right around the corner’

The future of transportation is autonomous. It’s electric. It’s shared and on demand.

And it will be here sooner than you think.

“The message today is it’s right around the corner,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

The St. Petersburg Republican laid out his prediction for the future of transportation during the 2016 Building Florida’s Future symposium in Tampa. The event, hosted by Associated Industries of Florida and Port Tampa Bay, was a chance for industry experts and policy makers to talk about issues impacting transportation, infrastructure and economic development.

Brandes has led the effort to make sure Florida’s transportation efforts are ready for self-driving vehicles. He’s been an outspoken supporter of the technology, pushing legislation in 2012 to encourage testing and study of automated vehicles in Florida.

He also backed legislation approved earlier this year as part of an omnibus transportation bill. That legislation, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in April, paves the way for autonomous vehicles to begin operating on Florida’s roads.

Brandes said he believes self-driving vehicles will be on the roadways soon, in part because of the safety factor. Ninety percent of accidents are caused by human errors, and Brandes said that’s why there is such a push to get these vehicles on the roadways.

“Lives are going to be saved,” he said.

But the future of transportation won’t just be self-driving vehicles, but electric vehicles, ride-sharing, and on-demand services. And while the shift to this technology may seem gradual, one day providers will show up in a community and turn on their services.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time,” he said. “We’re talking about a massive change that is going to occur.”

Florida has been trying to address the new technology, and in recent years has attempted to regulate ride-hailing services, like Uber. Those attempts, however, haven’t been successful in recent years. And as autonomous vehicles start hitting the roadways, questions of who, or what, to license will surely emerge.

Another question lawmakers have to tackle, is how to adjust funding models to account for growth in the electric vehicle industry. More electric vehicles on the roadway could translate to less money from the gas sales tax, which helps fund transportation initiatives across the state.

 

Mitch Perry Report for 8.18.16 — The Affordable Care Act is getting less affordable

There’s more news about the Affordable Care Act this week, and it ain’t that good.

Aetna announced Tuesday it would be pulling out of Florida and 10 other states next year, giving those on the government plan less options for choice here in the Sunshine State.

There have always been problems with the ACA, and they’re starting to exacerbate.

But the answer isn’t just to repeal it, like most congressional Republicans have invoked like a mantra for the past three years.

However, Democrats have got to raise their game and not just robotically defend it.

This is a test for all of our federal candidates on the ballot this fall — for David Jolly, Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and, probably, Patrick Murphy — what do you plan to do?

Hillary Clinton is calling for a “public option” for states, which would expand health insurance coverage beyond the current provisions in Obamacare. Clinton also is calling for allowing people 55 years and older to be able to enroll in Medicare. Currently, the typical age for enrollment is 65. She pledged to expand funding by $40 billion for primary care services at federally qualified health care centers.

Will that get congressional approval, especially if Republicans still control the House? I have no idea, but having Washington remain at loggerheads on our health care coverage is simply not acceptable, not with costs going up everywhere (not just with the ACA) and the citizenry only getting older, this is as big a problem we have in this country.

According to today’s New York Times, “The administration is also hunting for consumers who can deliver ‘testimonials’ advertising the benefits of coverage under the Affordable Care Act. “Interested consumers could appear in television, radio, print and/or digital ads and on social media,” the administration said in an appeal sent last week to health care advocates and insurance counselors.

The paper reports that in Tennessee, Cigna last week requested rate increases averaging 46 percent, double the request it made in June, and Humana is seeking an average increase of 44 percent, up from 29 percent in June. The other major carrier in the state, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, said it was standing by its original request for increases averaging 62 percent in 2017.

The Affordable Care Act is becoming less affordable by the day, it seems. Time for an intervention.

In other news…

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC is backing Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate race, and Pam Keith doesn’t like it one bit.

Victor Crist wants Jeff Brandes to know he’s not down with proposed rules that could compel Uber and Lyft to leave Hillsborough County.

Speaking of Brandes, the St. Petersburg state senator and co-sponsor of Amendment 4 on this month’s ballot takes exception to criticism of the proposal made by one Al Sharpton.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is crushing Tim Canova in their CD 23 race in South Florida, according to a new poll published on Wednesday.

And more endorsements: Frank Peterman is supporting Wengay Newton for the job he once held — representing House District 70 in Tallahassee (It was District 55 when he was in office, for what it’s worth).

And the Florida Education Association is backing Ben Diamond in the House District 68 contest.

The Department of Children and Families says New Beginnings of Tampa did no wrong back in 2008, the second government investigation that has cleared the group after a series of damning articles were published by the Tampa Bay Times in late 2014.

Hillsborough County makes a move to preempt any civil unrest if things go sour between law enforcement and the community.

 

 

Boutique lobbying firms report healthy Q2 earnings

Boutique firms did big business in the second quarter of 2016.

Smaller firms posted strong earnings during the three-month reporting period. Firms are required to file compensation reports each quarter, and the most recent reports were due Aug. 14. The reports typically include compensation ranges.

Adams St. Advocates reported earning at least $100,000 for legislative services during the three-month period; while Liberty Partners of Tallahassee reported earning less than $100,000 during the same time period. Meanwhile, Anfield Consulting and The Mayernick Group reported earning at least $250,000 in the second quarter.

The second quarter of 2016 marked healthy quarter for Adams St. Advocates.

Records show the Tallahassee-based firm reported earning between $100,000 and $249,999 from April 1 to June 30. That range is similar to what it reported during the first quarter of the year.

Along with Robert Beck, the lobbying team is made up of Bryan Cherry, Claudia Davant, Tanya Jackson, and Rebecca Roman.

Top clients during the three-month period included Harris Corporation, which paid between $20,000 and $29,999 for legislative services. In March, state lawmakers agreed to spend $7 million to buy new police radios from its current supplier, Harris Corp.

Other clients included Veritas Technologies and the Florida Pharmacy Association, which paid between $10,000 and $19,999 for legislative services; and the Florida Association of Area Agencies of Aging, the Florida Technology Council, and Intuit, Inc., which paid between $1 and $9,999 for legislative services.

Mark the second quarter down as another solid quarter for Anfield Consulting.

The Tallahassee-based firm reported earninga between $250,000 and $499,999 in the second quarter of 2016.

Along with Albert Balido, the lobbying team is made of Frank Bernandino and Edgar Fernandez.

Top clients during the three-month period included Florida Crystals Corp., Thriller Tours, and WaterSmart Software, all of which paid between $20,000 and $29,999 for legislative services.

Other clients included the Florida section of the American Water Works Association, the Florida Education Association, and the Healthcare Providers Coalition. Records show they paid between $10,000 and $19,999 for legislative services.

The firm reported median first quarter earnings of $410,000, according to LobbyTools.

Liberty Partners of Tallahassee stayed busy in the second quarter. Records show the Tallahassee-based firm earned between $50,000 and $99,999 between April 1 and June 30. .

Along with Jennifer Jankowski Green, the lobbying team is made up of Melanie Shanks Bostick, Thomas Hobbs, and Douglas McAlarney.

Top clients during the second quarter included Expedia, the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Humana. Records show all three of those clients paid between $9,999 and $19,999 for legislative services in the second quarter.

Other clients included HomeAway, Uber, and the Advanced Energy Economy. Records show those companies paid between $1 and $9,999 for legislative services between April 1 and June 30.

The Mayernick Group had a healthy second quarter, according to newly posted lobbying compensation reports.

The Tallahassee-based firm reported earning between $250,000 and $499,999 during the three-month period. The firm’s lobbying team is made up of Frank Mayernick, Tracy Hogan Mayernick and Jodi Lea Stevens.

Top clients during the three-month period included Alkermes, Inc. and HCA Healthcare, both of which reportedly paid between $20,000 and $29,999 for legislative services between April 1 and June 30.

Other clients included Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc., the Jacksonville Armada Football Club, MCNA Dental Plans, and PACE Center for Girls, Inc. Records show those organizations paid between $10,000 and $19,999 for legislative services in the second quarter.

The firm reported median first quarter earnings of $475,000, according to LobbyTools.

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