Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.29.16

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

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


Florida’s overall crime rate is dropping, but reports of murders, rapes and car thefts increased during the first half of 2016.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday released statistics that showed that the overall crime rate decreased 3.4 percent over a six-month period this year.

But there were 561 murders in the first half of the year, a jump of 15.2 percent. The total includes the 49 people who were shot and killed at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Last year, there were 487 murders between January and June 2015.

There were 3,769 reported rapes in Florida, an increase of 1.9 percent over the first half of 2015.

Still, Gov. Rick Scott heralded the overall lower crime rate.

The crimes that went down last year include robberies, burglaries and aggravated assault.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce new jobs at 9:30 a.m. at Atton Miami Hotel, 1500 SW 1st Ave in Miami.

RICK SCOTT’S SUPREME COURT CANDIDATES SELL THEMSELVES WITH ADJECTIVES: ‘ORIGINALIST,’ ‘CONSERVATIVE’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Scott‘s goal of reshaping the Florida Supreme Court drew closer … as the nominating commission controlled by the governor interviewed 11 candidates for his first appointment and each made a point of offering up their conservative credentials. The candidates to replace Justice James E.C. Perry were six women and five men and all are white … The appointment of a conservative to the seven-member bench will allow the governor to add another justice to the court’s conservative minority, now comprised of Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston. A former circuit court judge in Seminole County and graduate of Columbia Law School, Perry was appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. As one of two blacks on the high court bench, he has frequently joined with the moderate members of the court’s majority in several cases that have invalidated laws passed by the Republican-led Legislature and the Republican governor.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Michael Joseph Rudisill echoed the sentiments of many of the candidates interviewed in the Orlando law offices of GrayRobinson when he vowed: “I will bring to the bench a core set of conservative principles,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the Legislature or formerly in the Legislature” and “I know politics.” Alice Blackwell, a circuit judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit in Orlando, told the panel: “I’m conservative in my approach…I’m not an activist judge.” When asked to explain herself, Blackwell said, “to me, that means figuring out what do the words mean that are in the law.” Sandy D’Alemberte, former dean of the Florida State University School of Law, said he hoped that the nominees sent to the governor would not be selected based on judicial ideology but merit and integrity.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA COMMITTEES MEET IN MIRAMAR BEACH — Several Enterprise Florida committees will meet Tuesday as part of the organization’s two-day meeting in at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, 4000 Sandestin Blvd. S., in Miramar Beach. The organization’s board finance & compensation committee, board audit committee, and board legislative policy committee will meet in the morning. The Enterprise Florida executive committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. (CST), followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors will meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

EIGHT MONTHS AFTER LOSING CONFIRMATION FIGHT, JOHN ARMSTRONG LEAVES DOH via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The state announced … Michele Tallent will officially take over the role of deputy secretary of health for administration after holding the job on an acting basis since January. Tallent, who previously ran DOH’s budget office and was Gov. Rick Scott’s top adviser on the health and human services budget, will oversee the administrative functions of DOH. Her salary is $120,999. “(Tallent’s) years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, the current surgeon general … Armstrong has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer diagnosed last year. He continued to receive a $119,000 paycheck and benefits while on medical leave. The state surgeon general and secretary of health from 2012, Armstrong left the job in March of this year, facing a state Senate that would not confirm him. Some senators criticized the department’s handling of medical marijuana policy, the removal of sick children from a state-run health insurance program and cutbacks in county health departments that accompanied apparent rises in new HIV cases.

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BLAISE INGOGLIA LAUNCHES FLORIDA GOP CHAIR RE-ELECTION BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Ingoglia, the current chairman of the RPOF and a state representative, officially announced his candidacy Monday. The Spring Hill Republican also announced the support of dozens of Republican leaders from across the state, including state committeemen and women from Miami-Dade, Pinellas, and Palm Beach counties. “Two years ago, when I announced I was running for RPOF Chairman, I did so after talking to many of you about the importance of emphasizing the grassroots in our elections and our party,” he said in an email to executive committee members across the state. “Your support launched us on an incredible journey that included a lot of lofty goals and expectations.” Ingoglia was elected chairman in 2015, after Republican activists rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairman. He’s hoping that same support will help him win another term as chairman. In an email formally announcing his candidacy, he said he was running again “with the support of many of our fellow RPOF members — the grassroots who knocked on doors and made the phone calls that pushed Republican candidates across the finish line.”

— “Does Florida’s Republican Party chairman Blaise Ingoglia already have a second term sewn up?” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

GOOD READ THAT DOESN’T DEMONIZE THE POLITICAL PROCESS — LUXURY BOX FUNDRAISER HIGHLIGHTS RICHARD CORCORAN’S DUAL ROLE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The arm of the Republican Party of Florida that runs House campaigns and is led by House Speaker Corcoran held a college football fundraiser … in a box owned by U.S. Sugar, a company that has one of the largest stables of contract lobbyists in the state. The fundraiser, which was held during a game between Florida State University and the University of Florida, is not unique, but is notable for the fact that Corcoran recently implemented a round of sweeping new House rules that largely focus on reducing the influence of lobbyists. It underscores the two hats Corcoran must wear as a legislative leader who has vowed to limit the role of lobbyists and a GOP leader who must raise money from them. Corcoran’s public comments on the new rules have been peppered with shots at the lobbying industry, which holds sway over every element of state government. Because RPOF paid for the suites used for the fundraiser, they were technically not U.S. Sugar’s for the game, which FSU won, 31-13. The party controlled who got tickets and access to the suite, according to Fred Piccolo, a Corcoran spokesman. Piccolo said that scenarios like this underscore the importance of the new rules, which includes a requirement that lobbyists disclose the specific interests they are trying to influence.

JANET CRUZ OK WITH NEW HOUSE RULES, BUT SHOT DOWN ONE PROPOSAL via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Cruz is generally supportive of the ambitious new rules proposed by Speaker Corcoran that were unanimously approved by the entire Florida House last week … But she and other Democrats did draw the line on a provision that would have allowed members to bring guns to committee hearings and on the House floor. “We fought against that, and a few other pieces of the legislation,” Cruz said … That measure was not part of the basket of new rules approved last week. Corcoran worked with Lantana Democrat Lori Berman on the rule changes. office did not respond immediately for a request for comment. During the 2016 regular session, bills that would allow the open carrying of firearms as well as the carrying of firearms on college campuses were approved by the House but shut down in a Senate committee … The Tampa Democrat said she was initially “taken aback” by the volume of proposals presented by Corcoran, but admiringly calls the Land O’ Lakes Republican “a real scientist who plays it three dimensional” in terms of his deep thoughts on how to reform how Tallahassee operates.

BILL GALVANO SAYS MOFFITT CANCER CENTER COULD BE SITE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA RESEARCH FACILITY via Claire Aronson of the Bradenton Herald — With patients in Florida who suffer from debilitating illnesses soon to have access to medical marijuana, one state lawmaker says a research facility should open to study the drug’s effects on patients. “I think it’s highly appropriate to have a research component built into anything that we do so we can start building real evidence because we don’t have that,” Sen. Galvano, R-Bradenton, said during a Bradenton Herald Editorial Board meeting Monday. … As a supporter of medical marijuana, Galvano said he would like to work with Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on establishing a research facility, which would initially be cancer based. “Most of our evidence is anecdotal so I’m going to work to see if we can establish a real research facility for medical marijuana,” he said. “We are going to be able to better apply it to the marketplace. …You can’t just ignore some of these anecdotal types of stories as to how this positively impacted certain conditions.”

DAVID SIMMONS BUYS TV TIME TO THANK VOTERS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Simmons, re-elected in June when no one filed to run against him in Seminole County’s Senate District 9, is airing TV commercials in Orlando for three weeks thanking voters and urging people to put aside political differences and come together during the holidays. Simmons spent $150,000 on the effort, having Southern Campaign Resources of Tallahassee produce and place the 30-second spot on Orlando’s four major broadcast stations, WESH, WFTV, WKMG and WOFL. The ads started Monday. Otherwise Simmons, entering his final term in the Senate after eight years in the Florida House and six in the Florida Senate, spent very little of the $257,000 he raised for his campaign actually on campaigning. Lately, he’s closed out the account balance by buying the TV time, making some donations to the Florida Senatorial Campaign and several charities and kept a bare-bones staff and list of consultants on board. Simmons said he’s grateful for the opportunity. ”The reason I’m doing it is because it’s been a very divisive year, 2016,” Simmons said. “I thought it was appropriate to, No. 1, say thank you; and in the way of saying thank you to say this is the time to get together and put differences aside, and get to solving the myriad of problems we have, with the opportunities we have to work together.”

DURING SUPREME COURT INTERVIEW, LARRY METZ DISCLOSES HE HAS PARKINSON’S via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Metz, a Yalaha Republican, shared his diagnosis with members of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission at the end of his interview. “I don’t think it’s an issue,” Metz told the panel, adding he is not on medication for the condition. “But I did not want to not mention it.” Parkinson’s is a “chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time,” according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. It’s caused when certain nerve cells in the brain die. There is no cure, although the symptoms can be managed through medication. The disease, which has an unknown cause, often manifests through trembling of the hands, legs and jaw. The late U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno had the illness, as does actor Michael J. Fox. Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease, according to the foundation.

GUNS-IN-AIRPORTS BILL RESURFACES FOR 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A Florida House member has reintroduced legislation that would allow people to carry firearms inside airport terminals. Rep. Jake Raburn filed HB 6001 on Wednesday. The measure would eliminate the words “passenger terminal” of airports from a list of places where state law forbids people to carry guns. The measure also would eliminate language requiring that guns be “encased for shipment” in aircraft baggage holds. Raburn submitted his proposal for the 2017 legislative session. He proposed similar legislation during the 2016 session, but no committee ever debated the measure. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved a version of the bill introduced by Sen. Wilton Simpson.

BILL WOULD DIVEST TIEBREAKING POWER FROM DUVAL SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The Duval County School Board, when fully-staffed, is a seven-person body. However, just one resignation or absence can turn the DCSB into a six-person panel. And, in the event of a controversial or closely contested issue, a 3 to 3 tie is quite likely. The board wasn’t at full strength earlier this year, after Rep. Jason Fischerresigned to run for the state house, and during that period a rift surfaced between Ashley Smith-Juarez (the chair of the board at the time) and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Smith-Juarez had suggested Vitti take his talents elsewhere, and while there never was a vote to release Vitti from his contract, the situation illustrated the pitfalls of a shorthanded board … especially if a chair had the tiebreaker in addition to her own vote. A local bill that may get pushed next session in Tallahassee, if a Jacksonville City Council resolution passes, may change that perceived imbalance of power. Resolution 2016-782, sponsored by Councilman Aaron Bowman, would express support for a J-Bill that would amend the Florida statute so that the vote of the Duval County School Board Chair would not break a tie. In 2006, the legislature adopted a measure for Orange County that dictated that, in counties with between 800,000 and 900,000 people, the school board chair’s vote breaks the tie. Councilman Bowman said that it is his understanding that the entire Duval County School Board supports this measure.

WITH PAY RAISES LIKELY A VICTIM OF TIGHTENING STATE BUDGET, UNION SAYS “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – With prospects of a pay raise for Florida’s 113,00 state workers looking iffy at best, the public employees union told legislative leaders … “enough is enough.” … “Every year, we are told that there is enough money to spend on giveaways to big businesses and enough pork to grease the wheels for re-election back home,” the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said in a statement. “But when it comes to helping state workers putting food on the table there is suddenly a budget crisis that prevents it,” AFSCME said, days after House Speaker Richard Corcoran … laid out a stark picture for next year’s spending plan. “Enough is enough,” the union said. “In a budget of $80 billion there is more than enough to invest in our state’s future by investing in those that will make it happen.” Senate President Joe Negron also acknowledges that state money is tightening. But his budget chief, Sen. Jack Latvala …  has already declared that his “highest personal priority” will be to approve some kind of state worker pay raise. Latvala also is a supporter of including a pot of money in the state budget as business incentives, designed to lure companies to Florida. Corcoran is dead set against that, and killed the approach last year when Gov. Scott wanted a $250 million incentive package. The state’s full workforce has drawn only one pay hike in the last decade, increases in 2013 of $1,400 for workers making under $40,000 a year and $1,000 for those making more. The last straightforward, 3 percent pay raise came in 2006. Even the increase three years ago, for many, only partially offset what they’d lost when in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature ordered state workers to contribute 3 percent of their pay to their state pension fund.

FORMER CMS ADMINISTRATOR PHYLLIS SLOYER DIES via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Sloyer, the former administrator of the state’s Children’s Medical Services program and a longtime health care advocate for children, has died while on a vacation cruise with her husband and family. Sloyer’s death was announced on Facebook by her brother, Philip DeVliegher. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. “I am shattered and my heart is broken as I grieve the loss of my dear sister Phyllis,” DeVliegher wrote. “She set the example of intelligence, strength, courage and compassion. Phyllis dedicated her career to improving the lives of sick and special needs children and today the world lost an incredible advocate. I love you forever. Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations, posted on Facebook that Sloyer was a “wonderful colleague and friend to me and many in our field. She will be missed by us all.” Sloyer, who held a doctoral degree in public health administration, was considered the face of the Children’s Medical Services program, having implemented and managed it until 2011 when she was forced to retire. Sloyer was one of a number of high level employees purged from the state health department between 2011 and 2012 after the election of Gov. Rick Scott.

PERSONNEL NOTE: MICHELE TALLENT BECOMES DEPUTY SECRETARY AT DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH via Florida Politics – Tallent, a budgeting whiz, becomes the Department’s full-time deputy secretary for administrative services after acting as interim since January. The department announced the move in a Monday press release. “Her years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services,” said State Surgeon General and Health Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip in a statement. Tallent oversees the Divisions of Administration, Disability Determinations and Medical Quality Assurance, and Office of Information Technology. She served as director of the department’s Office of Budget and Revenue Management from March 2014 until becoming acting deputy secretary for administration in January 2016. Tallent also was Health and Human Services budget chief in the Governor’s Office.

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DICTIONARY.COM’S WORD OF THE YEAR IS ‘XENOPHOBIA’ via Leanne Italie of the Associated Press — You might have thought about it, heard it. A lot. You might have even felt it:’s word of the year is “xenophobia.” While it’s difficult to get at exactly why people look words up in dictionaries, online or on paper, it’s clear that in contentious 2016, fear of “otherness” bruised the collective consciousness around the globe. The Brexit vote, police violence against people of color, Syria’s refugee crisis, transsexual rights and the U.S. presidential race were among prominent developments that drove debate — and spikes in lookups of the word, said Jane Solomon, one of the dictionary site’s lexicographer. The 21-year-old site defines xenophobia as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.” … Searches for xenophobia on the site increased by 938 percent from June 22 to June 24, Solomon said. Lookups spiked again that month after President Obama’s June 29 speech in which he insisted that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric was not a measure of “populism,” but rather “nativism, or xenophobia, or worse.”

SUCCESS BRINGS QUESTIONS ABOUT COACH JIMBO FISHER’S FUTURE via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Florida State’s Fisher says he would rather be talked about than not, even if it is about his coaching future. Fisher was frequently asked about his interest in LSU the past two months after Les Miles was fired. Those questions were put to rest Saturday after Ed Orgeron had the interim title removed. This has been the second straight season Fisher’s name has been mentioned about openings. He doesn’t think it will be the last. “When you’re successful, people do that,” Fisher said after his No. 12 Seminoles defeated No. 15 Florida 31-13 Saturday. “When I was at LSU, Coach (NickSaban had it every year. Every year I was ever around him he was going to 32 different jobs. It was 10 times worse as far as jobs and things.” Besides Saban, Fisher mentioned another one of his former bosses when it comes to dealing with coaching rumors. Fisher is quick to point out that Bobby Bowden had to deal with such questions during his first 10 years coaching Florida State. The difference though between LSU and other openings was Fisher’s history with the school. He was the offensive coordinator there for seven seasons before coming to Florida State. Fisher said the only time he brings up his future with the team is when he was asked directly by players or recruits. He also added that there weren’t too many questions about whether he was remaining at Florida State. “I’m straight honest with them. They can read my body language. They can read me. If they ask, I tell them. They know,” he said. “There’s a trust factor, and I trust them, and hopefully they trust me.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Freddy Balsera.

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.

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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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