Sunburn for 5.17.16 — What will Carlos Beruff say next?

beruff, carlos - thinking

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.


By most all accounts, Manatee homebuilder Carlos Beruff is a serious man. In addition to making millions from Florida’s boom-and-bust construction and housing market, he has a beefy policy resume that includes stints on the boards that run the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, the State College of Florida, and the Rick Scott-created Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding.

No, he’s never held elected office, but with that policy background and his political activity as a major campaign donor, Beruff probably has as much experience in The Process as the lieutenant governor and the two recently elected U.S. Representatives (along with political neophyte Todd Wilcox) who are competing with him for one of Florida’s U.S. Senate seats.

Yet since he launched his campaign to succeed to replace Marco Rubio, the self-proclaimed outsider has done nothing but step on his d*ck.

Out of the gate, Beruff’s biography came into question when it was revealed, as the Bradenton Herald’s Kate Irby reported, that he listed Cuba as his birthplace on a voter registration form in Manatee County, despite multiple assertions by Beruff and his campaign he was actually born in Miami.

Asked for his position on Muslim immigration, Beruff out-trumped even The Donald saying, “I don’t think it’s safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country.” Tell that to, among others, Iranian-born Mori Hosseini, the newest member of the University of Florida Board of Trustees and a past chair of the state Board of Governors.

Last week, Beruff referred to President Barack Obama as “an animal” while speaking in front of a group of St. John’s County Republicans.

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretary of defenses,” Beruff said.

Statements like that, which has already drawn rebukes from Beruff’s Democratic and GOP opponents alike, have to make Republicans wonder if Beruff is ready for primetime.

Carlos Beruff is not Donald Trump, as much as he would like to ride the Trump-outsider wave. He’s not a global celebrity. He did not star in 14 seasons of a reality TV show. He has not survived the scrutiny of New York’s tabloid media.

The only aspect of Trump that Beruff may be able to emulate is the foul-mouthed ability to coarsen the political dialogue in a wide-open campaign.

Beruff’s camp will point to the recent Quinnipiac poll that showed him trailing the leading Democratic candidate by only single digits. Beruff “appears to be using Gov. Rick Scott’s playbook. Scott came from nowhere and won the governor’s chair with a campaign arguing that his outsider status and business experience made him a better choice,” wrote Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll.

After spending what one rival campaign estimates to be at least $500,000 a week on TV ads to introduce himself, Beruff “is polling roughly as well as the other four GOP candidates.”

But don’t be fooled by those numbers. At this point, any generic Republican would be neck-and-neck with any generic Democrat.

So, yes, Beruff’s checkbook has afforded him a seat at the table. And kudos to out-of-state political consultant Curt Anderson for once again foisting an outsider with an American Express Black Card onto center stage of Florida politics.

But once voters really start paying attention to this race, will they like what they hear or see from Beruff?

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FIRST IN SUNBURN — BARACK OBAMA TO FUNDRAISE FOR DNC IN MIAMI ON JUNE 3 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The dinner is being billed as an opportunity to support the national party, and “stop Donald Trump from reaching the White House in 2016 … President Obama has built a tremendous legacy during his time in office and it is extremely important that we keep the White House and elect a Democrat to further his legacy … We need to build on President Obama’s hard work and continue to make progressive change that will benefit generations to come.” A contribution of $10,000 per person is required to attend the dinner as guest and receive a photo. Couples who contribute $33,400 will be listed as a co-host of the event and will get a photograph.

HILLARY CLINTON SUPERPAC LAUNCHES FLORIDA ADS CASTING DONALD TRUMP AS ANTI-WOMEN via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — A super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton is going on air in Florida and other battleground states with ads that seek to define Donald Trump as hostile to women. It is the first salvo in what will be a negative, expensive general election. Priorities USA said the ads are part of a three-week $6 million statewide buy in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Nevada. “This is only the beginning of an aggressive and sustained advertising campaign against Donald Trump, and the more voters learn about him the less likely they’re going to be comfortable with the idea that he could be president,” said the group’s chief strategist, Guy Cecil.

DONALD TRUMP HIRES FORMER RICK SCOTT POLLSTER TONY FABRIZIO via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — After resisting hiring a pollster for months, Trump’s presidential campaign has signed up veteran political strategist Fabrizio … who advises the Florida U.S. Senate campaign of Ron DeSantis … was the top strategist who masterminded Scott’s improbable Florida win in 2010. Fabrizio also played a top advisory role in Matt Bevin‘s 2015 win in Kentucky. Scott and Bevin have a common link to Trump: They were both outsider businessmen who bucked the establishment. Fabrizio has also polled for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GOP presidential candidates Bob Dole in 1996 and Rick Perry in 2012 … Fabrizio is a longtime friend of top Trump adviser Paul Manafort and top Trump backer Roger Stone … Aside from his acumen in understanding how to shape public opinion, the cigar-smoking Fabrizio is well-known for being a blunt talker who doesn’t sugar coat his message.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @MarcoRubio: Why do airlines use 767 with layflat seats for 40 min flight to Orlando but smaller plane with seats that barely recline for redeye from LA?

MARCO RUBIO MAY BE READY TO ENDORSE IN U.S. SENATE RACE, DEFENDS HIS OWN PACE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “I’ll have something to say about that in the next couple of days,” Rubio said after meeting in Orlando with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs to discuss Central Florida’s heroin crisis. In Florida’s Republican U.S. Senate race, Rubio has barely stayed on the sidelines so far. While not endorsing, he had appeared side-by-side on several occasions with his longtime friend, fellow Miamian and kindred political spirit, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, while the former was still running for Republican nomination for president and the latter seeking the Republican nomination for Rubio’s Senate seat. “I’m not running for re-election. We will have people running. We have a good slew of candidates,” Rubio said. “I continue to hope the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate will be our next senator.”

ALAN GRAYSON’S OWN CAMPAIGN CORRECTS HIM ON CLAIM THAT TIMES IS ‘FULL OF SH*T’ via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida — Grayson accused The New York Times of being “full of sh*t,” in response to questions about the paper’s coverage of his hedge fund, which has drawn the scrutiny of congressional ethics investigators. But in the end, it was Grayson — not the paper — who was in error, and his Senate campaign subsequently corrected the candidate by saying he spoke “incorrectly” about his version of events … “That’s not true, he never spoke to The New York Times,” Grayson told Jim Defede, the host of the Sunday morning show “Facing South Florida” … “You’re saying he never spoke to The New York Times?” DeFede asked. “That’s correct,” Grayson said. “The New York Times is full of sh*t, Jim.” But Grayson’s campaign quickly walked back that claim in a statement to DeFede. “Rep. Grayson recalled the details of his conversation with David Keith incorrectly,” read the statement, which DeFede read on the air.

DAVID JOLLY ON BACKING DONALD TRUMP: ‘I DON’T KNOW IF I WILL GET THERE BY NOVEMBER’ via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Jolly said on MSNBC’s “With All Due Respect” … he would not “stand in the way … I do hope Donald Trump has the ability to truly unify the party by November,” said the Pinellas County Republican. “He won the nomination of our party.” Among the “strong policy differences” Jolly says he has with Trump are the New York billionaire’s suggestion that the United States pull out of NATO, his comments on the use of torture and his monetary policy. “The reason he brought in so many new voters is he wants to get Washington back to work,” Jolly said.

MINNESOTA’S RICK NOLAN JOINS JOLLY IN DISCUSSING THE STOP ACT AT NATIONAL PRESS CLUB IN DC via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Nolan was one of what were called the “Watergate babies” when he was originally elected to Congress in a huge Democratic class in 1974. He left after 1980, but returned in 2012 after more than 30 years in the private sector. He says lots of things have changed in the three decades in between, and one of them is the excessive money in politics. “When I served in the past, we did not spend anytime dialing for dollars. It just wasn’t done,” Nolan said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Monday morning. “The Republicans and Democrats did not have call centers right across the street where you were expected to do that.” Nolan joined … Jolly in discussing the legislation. He’s one of just eight members of Congress who have signed on as co-sponsors to Jolly’s proposed legislation, which would ban federal officeholders from directly soliciting campaign funds. Nolan blasted the infamous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, and said the way to get big money out of politics would be to reverse that decision, but also to back Jolly’s Stop Act.

— “Senate conservative fund does direct mail for Ron DeSantis, Mary Thomas” via POLITICO

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be making multiple stops in the Panhandle. Wilcox will be in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Boca Raton.

KEN SUKHIA WINS CONSERVATIVE STRAW POLL IN CD 2 via the Sunshine State News — The straw poll was held after a debate in Tallahassee … Sukhia, who served as U.S. attorney in North Florida under President George H.W. Bush, took 42 percent of the vote with Tallahassee attorney Mary Thomas in second with 28 percent. Dr. Neal Dunn and businessman Jeff Moran are also running in the Republican primary … “I thank the debate attendees who cast their ballots for me and hope they’ll join in my fight to fix Washington and return conservative values to America,” said Sukhia. “Our district deserves someone with a proven conservative record who won’t back down to the Washington establishment. I’m ready for the fight!” Sukhia entered the race at the end of March. He has reeled in the support of some prominent figures including conservative author Peter Schweizer and former Congressman Bill Grant. Grant ran for the Senate in 1992 against Bob Graham, the father of current incumbent Gwen Graham, who is retiring after a single term in Congress.

MATT GAETZ CHALLENGES DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL OPPONENT TO DEBATE OVER CROSS ON PUBLIC LAND via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – Gaetz is known for his combative debate style on the floor of the Florida House. Now, he says he’d like to take it to the congressional campaign trail. The Fort Walton Beach Republican and 1st Congressional District candidate challenged Democratic opponent Amanda Kondrat’yev to a debate over the Bayview Park Cross, a religious symbol which has sat on public land in Pensacola for five decades. Kondrat’yev, a self-described “Berniecrat,” objects to what she says is a violation of the legal principle of separation of church and state. She is one of a number of complainants named in a federal lawsuit led by humanist and secular groups filed earlier this month which aims to remove it. Gaetz said Monday her objection to the large white cross which commands the landscape at Pensacola’s Bayview Park is wrong and out of step with voters in CD 1 — and he’d like to prove it in a formal debate with Kondrat’yev at the site of the cross.

FORMER SENATOR CONNIE MACK ENDORSES HANS TANZLER III IN CD 4 GOP RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – “Washington needs to be reformed, and Hans Tanzler is exactly the man to do it,” said Mack. “Insiders and special interests have no chance against the commonsense and insightful leadership of Hans Tanzler. I can think of no one better to be engaged in overturning Obamacare and balancing our budget than him.” Mack, a two-term Republican senator from 1989 to 2001, preceded those two terms with three terms in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 1989.

REPUBLICAN BILL MCCLURE FORMALLY ANNOUNCES HIS CD 4 RUN via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Sounding populist themes similar in tenor to what he said last month, McClure, a Republican, opined: “Congress is broken. And electing the same kind of career politicians who are focused on what’s politically correct won’t fix it. “That’s why we need someone who’s done more than just run for re-election … The last thing we need in Washington is another politician looking out for his next re-election or how to pay back one of his fat cat lobbyist buddies … That’s not how you do things in the real world. I’m running for Congress because I think we need a businessman, not another politician, to take on the serious challenges facing America.” McClure is one in a crowded field of Republican hopefuls, including former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, Rep. Lake Ray and perennial candidate Deborah Pueschel. Additionally, Democrat Eric Smith announced his plans to run.

— “Tom Rooney receives enough signatures to qualify in CD 17” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

CORRECTION: Yesterday, a blurb referenced Randy Perkins as a candidate in CD 26. Perkins is running CD 18.

ANTI-AMENDMENT 2 GROUP RETURNS TO OPPOSE MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Vote No On 2 released a new video highlighting the potential dangers of legalizing medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. The new spot — called “Search” — is an ad entirely based on an unknown man’s Google research for medical marijuana in California. The video opens with an intro that medical marijuana is back on the ballot in Florida this year, but says nothing about the amendment language had been changed to avoid the problems it had in 2014. The group contends that the constitutional amendment is simply a “loophole” which would allow people who aren’t legitimate doctors to prescribe the drug. The group also says the amendment’s definition of “debilitating conditions” is too broad and doesn’t have enough limitations to keep medical pot out of the hands of those who don’t necessarily need it. Vote No On 2 also argues the constitutional amendment would allow teenagers to start buying pot before they even reach the legal drinking age.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Former state Rep. Loranne Ausley hosts a fundraiser in support of her bid to return to House District 9. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the home of Katee Tully, 315 14th Avenue N.E. in Saint Petersburg. RSVP at [email protected] or (850) 544-7382.

DANIEL EVANS BECOMES THIRD REPUBLICAN TO RUN IN HOUSE DISTRICT 13 via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Evans currently serves as secretary and public relations co-chair for the Duval County Soil and Water Conservation Board and is involved with the non-political MAD DADS group, known locally for calling attention to senseless acts of violence in Jacksonville’s streets. Evans, who moved here from Memphis, has been active in grassroots initiatives since he came to Jacksonville. When asked why he is running, he said that “we have a representative there that’s in trouble,” though he stressed that he wouldn’t use the legal travails of incumbent Democratic Rep. Reggie Fullwood in his campaign. “There’s enough distractions as it is,” Evans said. Evans has been a registered Republican for decades, he said, citing Martin Luther King’s observation that “we cannot afford to have all our people on one side.”

RICARDO RANGEL SWITCHES FROM CONGRESSIONAL RACE TO RUN FOR HIS OLD FLORIDA HOUSE SEAT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Rangel … served in the House representing northern Osceola County in House District 43 from 2012 to 2014, but lost the primary to current incumbent state Rep. John Cortes … Rangel filed to take on Cortes again. This time there already is a Democrat forcing a primary, so it will be a three-way race between Cortes, Rangel and Sara Katherine Shaw. There are no Republicans filed to run in HD 43. Rangel, who took a job this winter with the Gravis Marketing political strategy and advertising company … first filed last summer to run for Congress in Congressional District 9 … But his candidacy lagged well behind the Democratic primary frontrunners, state Sen. Darren Soto and Susannah Randolph of Orlando, and behind two other candidates, Dena Minning and Valleri Crabtree.

SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. Jake Raburn is holding a fundraising reception Thursday, May 26, in his re-election effort to House District 57. Event begins 4 p.m. at the Governors Club Library, 202 South Adams St. in Tallahassee. RSVP at [email protected].

SEAN SHAW PICKS UP HILLSBOROUGH FIREFIGHTERS ENDORSEMENT IN HD 61 BID via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Hillsborough Firefighters noted Sean’s work as Florida’s Consumer Advocate, “Sean obtained a firsthand, working knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing aspects of our Legislature. The citizens of Florida and the Firefighters of Hillsborough County Local 2294 are in need of the fair, balanced, and tenacious advocacy of Sean Shaw in the State’s capital.”

FORMER TV ANCHOR JOHN HILL ANNOUNCES BID FOR SARASOTA STATE HOUSE via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — “There many issues facing Florida today,” Hill says in a 60-second video shot outside of the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections office. “Our teachers are underpaid, schools are deteriorating and state workers have not had a raise in eight years. We have yet to fix our death penalty law to the standards of the U.S. Supreme Court. Our children are not being taught how to sign their name with a signature and they’re not being required to learn the ‘times tables’ … We need to get back to the 3Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic.” Hill, 74, will challenge Sarasota businesswoman Alex Miller in the GOP primary for the District 72 seat covering north Sarasota County. The winner will face off against Democrat Edward James III.

PATRICK ROONEY DROPS RE-ELECTION RUN; WANTS TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH SONS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Three-term state Rep. Rooney … won’t seek re-election this fall, a move opening up a Republican-leaning seat in northern Palm Beach County. “It really came down to the fact that I’d like to be around for the next couple of years,” Rooney said. “Something had to give.” Rooney, 52, is the grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers’ founder Art Rooney, and brother of U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney … He’s been a low-key member of the ruling Republican majority in the state House, proving a reliable supporter of cutting taxes and regulatory rollbacks and other bread-and-butter GOP issues. His most prominent moment may have come when he successfully got legislation approved for enhanced military funeral buffer zones, a response to demonstrations held by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. Rooney’s business, Palm Beach Kennel Club, was authorized to have slot machines for the first time under a proposed gambling compact Gov. Rick Scott reached this year with the Seminole Tribe.

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FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via – As of Monday, a single new travel-related case was reported in Miami-Dade County. Of all the cases in Florida, five still exhibit symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms associated with the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 113 total cases in Florida; by county (number of cases): Miami-Dade (45), Broward (15), Orange (8), Palm Beach (7), Alachua (4), Lee (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Polk (3), Brevard (2), Seminole (2), Volusia (2) and a single case each in Clay, Collier, Pinellas, Santa Rosa and St. John’s and seven cases involving pregnant women. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant are strongly suggested to postpone travel to Zika-affected areas. The CDC also recommends that if you have traveled to a country with local transmission of Zika, you should abstain from unprotected sex. The DOH also encourages Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing; and covering windows with screens. Florida currently has the capacity to test 6,358 people for active Zika virus and 2,021 for Zika antibodies.

WASHINGTON TO TAKE UP ZIKA FUNDING THIS WEEK BUT PLANS VARY GREATLY via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Various proposals differ greatly, setting up a fight that will test the clout of Florida lawmakers. House Republicans plan to introduce a plan that provides less than $1 billion and would take the money from other areas of the budget. “It’s adequate funding to face the problem,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers told reporters … House Democrats are demanding the amount sought by President Obama: $1.9 billion. Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are pushing for the full amount but there are competing plans in that chamber set to come up …  A bipartisan Senate compromise plan calls for $1.1 billion and is favored to pass. There’s also a $1 billion plan from Sen. John Cornyn … which calls for budget offsets, meaning other spending would have to be cut.

CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU TO FIGHT ZIKA! via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press –  No experience is necessary for what the U.S. Department of Agriculture envisions as a nationwide experiment in citizen-science. Teenagers already have proven themselves up to the task in tryouts involving a small number of high school students and science teachers. Now it’s time for the Invasive Mosquito Project to scale up and fast … health officials are preparing for the possibility of small outbreaks in the United States. But there’s little money in government budgets to track its spread. “We don’t have a lot of data — good, solid data,” said John-Paul Mutebi, an entomologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. What the USDA is proposing is the kind of population survey not seen in the continental United States since World War II, when the country eradicated mosquito-borne viruses … Volunteers now are needed to collect mosquito eggs in their communities and upload the data to populate an online map, which in turn will provide real-time information about hot spots to help researchers and mosquito controllers respond.

MARIO DIAZ-BALART: FUNDING TO FIGHT SPREAD OF ZIKA IS ‘CRITICAL’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – “The funds proposed to combat Zika are critical. This horrible disease has the capability to infect many, and we must focus on stopping it before it continues to spread. This is especially important in Florida, where the spring and summer seasons are especially rainy, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Diaz-Balart … in a statement. “It is imperative the Centers for Disease Control and the administration provide Congress with detailed guidance on how they plan to spend these proposed funds. Congress must know these funds will be spent efficiently and effectively to battle this disease.” The House proposal is significantly less than the $1.8 billion President Obama had asked for to fight the disease. It’s also less than a $1.1 billion proposal that could be voted on by the U.S. Senate this week.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend the groundbreaking at United Technologies at 9:40 a.m. at the intersection of Donald Ross Road and Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens.

PASS THE SUNBLOCK: TOURISM SETS NEW RECORD IN FLORIDA via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The 29.8 million visitors here from January through March topped the record-setting 28.5 million that arrived during last year’s opening months. Scott said 1.2 million Floridians are employed in the tourist industry — also a record and up 3.8 percent from the same period last year. “Given the challenges our industry is facing – the strong dollar’s impact on Canada and issues in Brazil – this record quarter for Florida tourism is even more exciting. It’s further proof that tourism marketing works,” said Will Seccombe, president and CEO of Visit Florida.

CAPITOL TERROR DRILL SETS UP WORST CASE SCENARIO via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – A practice run for the Northwest Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force for if/when armed maniacs try to terrorize the seat of Florida’s government … more than 200 officers, firefighters and EMT who participated in the drill came from the 13 counties — stretching across the Big Bend from Lafayette to Bay County — that make up the Northwest task force. It is one of seven task forces Florida created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center … in recent years, regional anti-terrorism forces have had to fight for dollars while preparing to do battle with evil-doers. According to the National Priorities Project, federal homeland security spending increased from $20 billion in 2001 to a high of $55.1 billion in 2009 and has been falling since. Next year’s budget request is a little over $40 billion and includes a nearly $300 million cut to a local anti-terrorist grant program … [The] exercise was designed to test first responders in the confusion created by several shooters on multiple floors with wounded bystanders — played by cadets from the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy. It tests human and communication resources in a scenario where the individual is unfamiliar with their surrounding or teammates.

CONFEDERATE FLAG RETIRED FROM IN FRONT OF MARION CO. GOVERNMENTAL COMPLEX via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star Banner – The Confederate flag that has caused controversy in Ocala for nearly a year was officially lowered and retired during an official, yet low-key, ceremony at the Marion County Governmental Complex. On Sunday, the five historical flags, including the Confederate flag, were removed from outside the McPherson Governmental Complex. Those flags were replaced with area law enforcement flags, representing agencies who have lost officers, dating back to 1881. The Fallen Officer Memorial will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at the McPherson complex. The flag, or what was known as “The Blood Stained Banner,” was the third official flag of the Confederacy. As taps played, it was carefully lowered, folded and placed in an official triangle box. It will be presented to the Marion County Commission and slated to be displayed at the Marion County Museum of History and Archeology. That facility is located a few blocks from where the flag had flown for years. Sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Marion Dragoons Chapter 2311, the 30-minute event was attended by about 25 people. Many marched two blocks to raise “The Stars and Bars,” the first official flag of the Confederacy, at its new location outside the museum.

ONLINE AUCTION OF OLD OKALOOSA COURTHOUSE WILL FEATURE UNIQUE ITEMS via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News – For those who have been holding out for a good deal on a Dictaphone voice processor, a motorized projector screen or commercial bathroom stalls, your time has arrived. Okaloosa commissioners will likely vote today to authorize the auctioning of those items and many more left behind April 4 when county employees moved out of the courthouse building in Crestview. Jack Allen, Okaloosa’s purchasing services coordinator, said the auction items include just about everything that one department or another couldn’t find a use for when the courthouse was vacated.

CITY TERMINATES CLYDE’S & COSTELLO’S RIGHT TO USE SIDEWALK via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat – Angered by complaints of trash and overcrowding on the sidewalk in front of Clyde’s & Costello’s, the city is yanking the business’s ability to host patio seating after Saturday. The move could threaten the 40-year-old cocktail bar, the owner warned. The city has put Clyde’s & Costello’s on notice for violating terms of operations for public right of way property in front of the longtime downtown business. In an email, Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder included pictures taken by Barry Shields, general manager of the Governors Club. They show large crowds standing on the sidewalk where Clyde’s has patio seating set up. Tedder indicated the Clyde’s owner Dave Ericks had previously met with city staff regarding blocking sidewalks over time. “At the meeting, you indicated that the sidewalks were not being blocked but that you would discuss with the managers of the bar to ensure that there was open sidewalk access,” Tedder wrote. ” As I stated on the phone … due to the continued violations of the agreement, the city will terminate the use of right of way agreement … May 21, 2016.”

HAPPENING TODAY: As part of Infrastructure Week to elevate infrastructure improvements as a critical issue, Tampa elected officials and industry leaders will participate in a panel discussion, news conference, and interactive exhibit on the future of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. Scheduled to appear are Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Secretary Paul Steinman; State Sen. Jeff Brandes; Tampa City Council and HART Chair Mike Suarez; Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Executive Director Joe Waggoner; HNTB Associate Vice President Greg Krueger; and Volkswagen Senior Staff Engineer Kaushik Raghu. Panel discussion begins 9:30 a.m. at the Hilton Tampa downtown, 211 N. Tampa St. in Tampa. News conference and interactive exhibit begins 11:30 a.m. on Franklin Street adjacent to Lykes Gaslight Square Park.

APPOINTEDRussell MarcusKaryne Pompilus and Mark O’Loughlin to the Broward County Housing Authority.

APPOINTED: Nancy Banner and Philip Ward to the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.

STATE LOBBYISTS EARNED MORE THAN $36 MILLION DURING Q1 TO LOBBY LEGISLATURE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Once again, the top five earners come as no surprise: Ballard Partners, $2.4 million; Southern Strategy Group, $2.3 million; Ron Book, $2 million; Capital City Consulting, $1.5 million; and Greenberg Traurig, $1 million. The rest of the Top 10 are The Rubin Group, $972,000; Corcoran & Johnston, $896,000; Metz Husband & Daughton, $875,000; Johnson & Blanton, $855,000; and GrayRobinson, $808,000. The top five principals in payments are: FCCI Insurance Group, $298,000; AT&T, $250,000; State Farm, $245,000; U.S. Sugar, $233,000; and HCA Healthcare, $182,000.

PERSONNEL NOTE: ALLYCE HEFLIN LEAVING FLORIDA HOUSE FOR SOUTHERN STRATEGY GROUP via Florida Politics – Heflin, budget chief for the Florida House of Representatives’ Education Appropriations Subcommittee, is heading to lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group. Heflin has been with the House since late 2006, according to her LinkedIn profile. Two years before that, she started in state government working in the budget office for the Florida Department of Education. [She] will help fill the void created by the untimely death of SSG lobbyist Stacey Webb [who] led the lobbying firm’s education practice. She represented the Association of Florida Colleges, Broward College Foundation, Florida Prepaid College Foundation, University of Central Florida Foundation, the school boards of Clay and Seminole counties, as well as Apple Computers and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Palm Beach County’s top prosecutor, Dave Aronberg, discusses some his most memorable and outrageous cases during his first term as state attorney, including the intense scrutiny and worldwide attention surrounding his decision to not prosecute Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski for simple battery after video showed him grabbing and pulling a reporter. Aronberg, a Democrat who previously served as a state senator talks about his efforts to take politics from the State Attorney’s Office and his decision to send the Corey Jones police shooting case to a grand jury. Gomes also tells the story of a young man once convicted of second-degree attempted murder, now living a life free of crime thanks to a nonprofit juvenile justice program for high-risk offenders in Florida. SailFuture founder Michael Long explains how his program utilizes the ocean as an alternative to incarceration and is transforming the lives of at-risk high school students with second chances.

TWITTER BENDING 140 CHARACTER LIMIT TO FIT WAY PEOPLE TWEET via Sarah Frier of Bloomberg Technology – The change could happen in the next two weeks … Links currently take up 23 characters, even after Twitter automatically shortens them … It’s a step in a larger plan to give users more flexibility on the site. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said … the company was looking for new ways to display text on Twitter, and would experiment based on how people use the service. The company earlier this year considered raising the limit to as many as 10,000 characters. But the quick, concise nature of Tweets has helped set the site apart from the competition. Executives have spent the last few months emphasizing how Twitter is a destination for live events and discussion. Removing the character requirement for links and photos may encourage users to add more media to their posts.


BROADBAND SERVICE TENDS TO STOP AT THE POVERTY LINE IN THE U.S. via Michael Coren of Quartz – A recent analysis of public data by the Center for Public Integrity found that internet access has improved in recent years, but families in poor areas are five times less likely to have access to high-speed broadband than richer American households. More than 30 million Americans, mostly rural and lower income residents (those with median household incomes under $47,000 a year) lack broadband in their area … High-bandwidth applications overwhelm mobile data plans and slow connections. This limits or even cuts off many families from e-commerce, banking, health care and services. The U.S. government is pressuring telecommunications companies to accelerate the rollout of high-speed internet. The FCC found this January that “broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” Comcast … has pushed the FCC to add a digital literacy campaign, citing FCC and industry data that suggest low awareness about the benefits of faster internet—not merely high cost and access—are slowing adoption among low-income people.

FLORIDA FRONTIERS: WW II MILITARY BASES TRANSFORMED FLORIDA via Ben Brotemarkle of Florida Today – World War II provided Florida with unprecedented economic growth and revived areas that had been crippled during the Great Depression. Defense contracts led to construction jobs, and then other civilian employment opportunities after military facilities were built. Rural landowners often benefited financially from the construction of military installations through government purchase of their property… Florida’s population exploded. Key West had 13,000 residents in 1940 and 45,000 by war’s end five years later. The population of Miami almost doubled to more than 325,000. After the war the population of the United States increased by 15 percent, and the population of Florida expanded by 46 percent. The impact of military facilities coming to an area was not always positive. Sometimes entire communities were lost. The impact on African-American neighborhoods was usually negative.

GOSSIP GIRL via Anne Helen Petersen of BuzzFeed – Fifty years ago, Rona Barrett forged a Hollywood gossip empire. Then she left it all behind, her innovations attributed to others, her legacy almost entirely overlooked. But as she nears 80, there’s very little Miss Rona regrets … Barrett slowly but fundamentally altered the type of information we consider newsworthy, blurring the distinction between hard and soft “news” so thoroughly that it’s never been rebuilt.

REACHING THE AGE WHEN AGE IS A LIABILITY — ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post – I am about to turn 58. Not ancient, but still: less wunderkind, more éminence grise, although the eminence is debatable and the grise eminently concealable. And, actually, neither wunder nor kind. I once was one of the two, anyway … Every generation confronts the uncomfortable reality that its time is passing and that it is about to be supplanted by the next … At the same time, the explosion and primacy of technology have served to reduce the value, both real and perceived, of experience. The traditional path in my line of work, for instance, was that a young journalist would spend years in the reporting trenches before being given a column. Today, the Internet has lowered, if not eliminated, the barriers to entry for opinion writing, and the whippersnappers, it turns out, are awfully good. Age is an even more fraught subject when tangled up with gender. A working paper last year from the National Bureau of Economic Research found “unambiguous evidence of age discrimination for female job applicants.” Economists sent out phony résumés, from older (64 to 66), middle-aged (49 to 51) and young (29 to 31) workers for retail sales, administrative assistant, janitorial and security guard jobs, ultimately “applying” for more than 40,000 positions. They found “strong overall evidence of age discrimination, with callback rates statistically significantly lower by about 18 percent for middle-aged workers, and about 35 percent for older workers.” But the evidence was much more “consistent and compelling” for older women.

THE SKILLS SCHOOLS AREN’T TEACHING BUT MUST via Michael Bloomberg and Jamie Dimon for Bloomberg View – While helping more students go to college has been a topic of discussion and is a vitally important goal, what about those who do not go — or who drop out of high school? They are largely being ignored … That must change. We will not solve the critical challenges of poverty, underemployment, wage stagnation and bulging prisons unless we get serious about investing in effective programs that prepare kids who are not immediately college-bound for middle-class jobs …  too many students are put on traditional academic tracks that lead to dead ends, often graduating unprepared to perform anything but minimum-wage service jobs that hold few prospects for advancement. Many cannot find work at all, increasing their risk of being involved in crime and violence. We must do better.

WHEN DID OPTIMISM BECOME UNCOOL? via Gregg Easterbrook of The New York Times – This election season, the impending apocalypse has been issue No. 1 for presidential aspirants on both sides. Yet a glance out the window shows blue sky. There are troubling issues, including the horror of mass shootings, but most American social indicators have been positive at least for years, in many cases for decades. The country is, on the whole, in the best shape it’s ever been in. So what explains all the bad vibes? But the core reason for the disconnect between the nation’s pretty-good condition and the gloomy conventional wisdom is that optimism itself has stopped being respectable. Pessimism is now the mainstream … If you don’t think everything is awful, you don’t understand the situation! … Though candidates on the right are full of fire and brimstone this year, the trend away from optimism is most pronounced among liberals. A century ago Progressives were the optimists, believing society could be improved, while conservatism saw the end-times approaching. Today progressive thought embraces Judgment Day, too. Climate change, inequality and racial tension are viewed not as the next round of problems to be solved, but as proof that the United States is horrible … In almost every case, reform has made America a better place, with fewer unintended consequences and lower transaction costs than expected. This is the strongest argument for the next round of reforms. The argument is better made in positive terms — which is why we need a revival of optimism.

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Cesar Fernandez: “2,000 ft up in the air, she said yes!”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Karen Skyers.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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