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Sunburn for 10.9.17 — INFLUENCE Mag debuts; Fla. still counting the dead from Irma; Joe Negron’s 2018 priorities; EFI doles out raises; Chris Spencer’s new gig

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Ending an eight year run that included the publishing of more than 51,000 blog posts, I will no longer publish original content to (the site will remain up as an archive for the extensive work produced since 2009).

Going forward, I am devoting my full energies to the Florida Politics brand, whether it be the website, email programs like this and “Last Call,” or our gorgeous, award-winning INFLUENCE Magazine.

2018 promises to be the busiest election cycle in Florida’s modern history. If you love politics as much as I do, I can think of no better platform to watch it all than as publisher of a site dedicated just to that.

You can read the entire post about the end of SaintPetersBlog here. However, you may want to do that later and first enjoy…


This is not a special women’s edition.

There’s no list of the top female lobbyists.

This edition is about some of the best lobbyists in the industry. Period.

What I hope to accomplish with this edition is to show that the industry is changing, albeit slowly. It’s still male-dominated, but increasingly, women do rule. This is especially true within the youngest cohort of professionals.

As many of you, I am the proud father of a young girl, Ella Joyce. This edition is for her.

Few things about parenthood have been more frustrating than the institutionalized effort to limit opportunities for girls. (Why, exactly, are the toys about science in the boys section, but not the girls?)

I want Ella Joyce to grow up in a world where no door is closed to her.

On the pages of this quarter’s edition are features, interviews and stories about the kind of woman Ella’s mother and I hope she grows up to be. Intelligent. Strong. Fierce. Considerate. Ambitious. Empathetic.

Many of these women are recipients of a Golden Rotunda — our award for being among the best in the business. This is the second year of the Golden Rotundas and we received hundreds of nominations and votes. Congratulations to all of the winners.

One final note: in the next edition of INFLUENCE, we’ll unveil who made the INFLUENCE 100 — our list of the most influential people in Florida politics.

I have a feeling there won’t be as many dudes on it as there was on the first list.

Click here to read a digital version of INFLUENCE Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to the print edition of the magazine (the Fall 2017 edition will be in print by October 23.)

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Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday the federal government has issued an emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the Panhandle following Hurricane Nate. A similar declaration was issued for the state of Alabama.

Scott said that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any needed disaster assistance in the two counties, although there are no reports of major damage or deaths in the area.

As of midday about 6,800 electric customers were without power in Florida, the governor said.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi, early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression by midday Sunday.


As legislative session looms, lawmakers get to work” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Tallahassee Sen. Bill Montford wants to know what it means to have billions of dollars of hurricane damage. Hurricane Irma hit Florida hard in the gut, disrupting two of the state’s economic engines, agriculture and tourism. And as chair of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, Montford has a role to play in how the Legislature responds to Irma’s economic damage. “The consequences are far reaching, financially and from a human point of view as well,” said Montford. “Unemployment? If Irma scared off the tourists, if there’s nothing in the field to harvest, the consequences grow for all aspects of government.” Montford has assembled a panel of business leaders and experts for Monday’s Commerce meeting. The meeting is the first of nine the Senate will hold in the coming week to understand how damaging of a hit Irma delivered to Florida. The Health Committee will hear about nursing homes and emergencies. The Environment Committee will receive reports on freshwater storage and beaches. Energy has scheduled a presentation on investor-owned utilities. “It’s uppermost in most people’s minds,” said Montford. “It could easily have an effect on the state budget.”

Bright Futures is Joe Negron’s top priority for 2018 Session” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – In his second — and last — year as senate president, Negron aims to boost state university scholarships and cement the funding into state law … Negron said he wants to make sure any student who’s accepted to the Florida university of their choice can afford to attend. The Republican’s aim isn’t free education for all, just financial aid for the needy. “What I don’t want to happen is that a student would be admitted to Florida Atlantic University or the University of Central Florida and they would have to sit down with their parents at the kitchen table and say, ‘I’ve been admitted, I’m qualified and I can get a degree. But we can’t financially make it work, even when we’re all pitching in in good faith,’” said Negron, whose daughter attended the University of Florida. “I want everybody to have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals.” Lawmakers last year committed over $300 million so top-tier Bright Futures awards included 100 percent of tuition and a $300 book stipend each semester. But it was temporary, for this year only.

Workers’ comp drops off the legislative map” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Just a year after dire predictions that the state’s economy was in peril due to rising insurance costs, Florida businesses could see an average 9.3 percent reduction in workers’ compensation premiums in the coming year … If approved, manufacturing businesses could see a 10.3 percent reduction in their workers’ compensation rates, and rates for office and clerical businesses could decrease by 11.3 percent … the proposed reduction filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance presents a hurdle for business lobbyists and special interests who have warned lawmakers for more than a year that a pair of 2016 Florida Supreme Court rulings would drive workers’ compensation rates so high that employers would be forced to slash jobs. Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, acknowledged that after traveling the state in the summer of 2016 discussing the issue and spending the majority of the 2017 session unsuccessfully pushing a workers’ compensation bill, it’s not a priority this year. Enthusiasm to tackle the complicated issue has waned since the proposed 9.3 percent reduction was filed in August, he said.

Today in the Capitol:

— Senate committee considers St. Johns restoration, beach nourishment projects – The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will meet to consider SB 174, filed by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala, which seeks to invest $50 million a year on beach erosion in other issues. Also on the agenda is SB 204, from Environmental Preservation and Conservation Chairman Rob Bradley that looks to spend at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on restoration projects for the St. Johns River and its tributaries and Keystone Heights Lake Region. Meeting begins 1 p.m. at Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Human trafficking examined – A meeting of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will consider SB 96, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, allowing schools to teach about identifying signs of human trafficking as part of a health-education curriculum. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Hurricane Irma consequences discussed – A panel discussion on Hurricane Irma and its “consequences and responses” is on the schedule for the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, beginning 3:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate looks at police searches – The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will consider SB 262, from Sen. Gary Farmer, which prohibits law-enforcement officers from searches without first informing the individual that they the right to decline such searches. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Higher education proposal moves through Senate – A higher education bill in front of the Senate Education Committee would, in part, require universities to develop “block” tuition plans, expand Bright Futures scholarships and other need-based aid programs. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, chair of the Higher Education Appropriations committee, SB 4 is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Capitol’s Knott Building.

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Closing Florida’s write-in loophole is right thing to do” via Sherry Plymale for TCPalm – There currently exists a dubious “loophole” in the Florida Constitution that has allowed individuals across the political spectrum to manipulate state and local elections. Florida, like many other states, has a closed primary system. This means that during primary elections, registered voters can only vote in their own party’s primary. In 1998, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to open primary elections to all voters, regardless of political affiliation, when the winner of that primary election would face no opposition in the upcoming general election. In 2000, a state agency issued an advisory opinion stating “a write-in candidate constitutes opposition in a general election” as it related to Article VI, Section 5(b) of the Florida Constitution. In other words, the advisory opinion concluded a write-in candidate was enough to close a primary election in Florida, even if the winner would not face a major party rival in the general election. It’s important to note that a write-in candidate has never won any major election in Florida, and they don’t pay filing fees or collect petitions when qualifying for office. This makes it all too easy for individuals to close primary elections by propping up write-in candidates to create an unfair political advantage.

“Lawmakers must protect tourism by addressing illegal rentals” via Troy Flanagan for Florida Politics – On behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), I am honored to go before the Senate Community Affairs Committee to discuss short-term rentals — an important topic of concern in recent years given the emergence of online rental platforms. While these platforms provide people with a new method to access and advertise short-term rentals, there have also been many unintended side effects. Alarmingly, these platforms are being exploited by commercial operators who run illegal hotels without adhering to Florida’s commercial rental laws — putting legal hotels at an unfair competitive disadvantage, and tourists and residential neighborhoods at risk from a health and safety perspective. Countless Floridians have even felt the effects of this platform manipulation on their basic peace of mind — ask anyone who has found themselves living next door to something akin to a year-round spring break party house. Florida is a mecca for tourism, continually inviting new and innovative industry endeavors. But with any new business development — like online short-term rental platforms — there comes a time when that change must be reviewed to ensure operations are occurring fairly and soundly, in order to protect consumers who choose to utilize that new business offering, as well as those who may be unintentionally impacted by it.


Weeks after Irma, Florida is still counting the dead” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union – They are the final victims of Hurricane Irma: 66 people whose deaths across Florida are officially tied to the storm’s high winds, flooding rains and lasting effects on roads, emergency services and power grids … Other deaths that seem storm-related are not attributed to Irma, while some on the state list appear to have little connection. Medical examiners’ offices statewide handle all death investigations, and only they can officially attribute any deaths to the storm that ran up the peninsula last month, said Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesman Alberto Moscoso. Those causes of death are as varied as heat exhaustion and diabetic issues. About 20 are attributed to a blunt-force injury or some kind of impact, including people killed in traffic crashes or crushed by a fallen tree or collapsed structure. Eight people died from drowning, and 13 died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused in some cases by running generators indoors. The most deaths listed are in Broward County but don’t include the 12 victims, ages 57 to 99, who died after the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost its air conditioning for three days post-Irma. As of the Wednesday tally — the numbers are revised weekly — only one of Broward’s deaths is even heat-related.

Nursing home that had 12 people die lays off all workers” via The Associated Press –  The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills … was evacuated last month, several days after the storm damaged the electric transformer that powered the facility’s air conditioning. State officials later suspended their license, and owners eventually closed the facility permanently. The layoffs include 79 certified nursing assistants, 37 licensed practical nurses, 23 occupational or physical therapists, 18 registered nurses, 25 environmental or laundry workers, 10 administrative assistants, five doctors, and others who worked in activities, dietary aid, engineering and supplies.

Fed up residents haul storm debris themselves” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel – Fed up with the turtle pace of government-funded, storm-debris cleanup, thousands of Central Florida residents are tackling the task. Others are hiring junk crews, landscapers with trailers or ambitious teens with shovels, muscles and a truck to take it away to free drop-off locations. Most “convenience centers” — the name given to the sites — opened a few days after Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida on Sept. 11, when it became clear the chore was overwhelming local governments, some of which were abandoned by professional removal contractors. Orange County has 11 locations, Lake has five plus its landfill, while Seminole and Osceola counties created four each. More than 35,000 people have taken debris to the sites since the first one opened Sept. 13 — some have taken more than one load. They’ve dumped more than 75,000 cubic yards. That’s enough logs and limbs to fill more than 5,000 dump trucks, which would form a bumper-to-bumber convoy stretching about 23 miles — longer than Lake Mary to downtown Orlando on Interstate 4.

A case for underground power lines” via Marcia Heroux Pounds of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – So what if power lines were underground — and not above ground where poles and lines were knocked out by high winds and fallen trees? In a post-storm survey of South Florida cities and other communities … many are either undertaking or considering burying power lines. Even Florida Power & Light Co., which historically supported overhead construction because it’s easier to fix, says it is now evaluating underground projects in the next phase of “hardening” its electric grid, which powers half the state. James Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, the utility company’s parent … said that burying more lines was a “potential” part of a corporate plan to harden the system. FPL has spent $3 billion since 2006, and plans to spend another $17 million to $19 million through 2020 to improve reliability, he said. Robo’s statements followed comments by FPL CEO Eric Silagy, who said that “we’re big fans of undergrounding.” Currently, 40 percent of Florida Power & Light Co.’s distribution system is underground, according to FPL spokesman Bryan Garner. And there are several underground installation projects underway, including one on the island of Palm Beach. But burying lines is expensive. And below-ground networks offer no guarantees of outage-free storms. It costs an average of $1 million a mile to move power lines to subterranean levels, according to FPL.

— D.C.  MATTERS — 

Donald Trump lists immigration demands that could derail ‘dreamers’ deal” via Seung Min Kim of POLITICO – “The priority for Congress ought to be to save American lives, protect American jobs and improve the well-being of American communities. These reforms accomplish that,” a senior administration official told reporters … “They live up to the president’s campaign commitment to have an immigration system that puts the needs of hardworking Americans first.” The broad parameters of the immigration wish list have been telegraphed in recent days. But some of the key provisions run counter to an agreement Democratic leaders believed they’d struck with Trump during a White House dinner last month. Trump announced in September that he would wind down the Obama-era immigration executive action starting in March, throwing the onus to Congress to codify DACA into law and launching in earnest an immigration battle in Washington. The list will certainly turn off Democrats and even Republicans — many of whom have endorsed providing a pathway to legal status for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.

’The New Washington’: Once racing to flee the Senate, Marco Rubio now digs in” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times – As the Florida Republican settles into a second term in a Senate that he once couldn’t leave fast enough, Rubio is aggressively pursuing his legislative interests in ways he did not while chasing the presidency. “We just have more time than we perhaps didn’t have the last couple of years when I ran for president,” Rubio said in an interview … “We were still doing our job, but you can’t be in two places at once sometimes.” Rubio seems determined to shrug off the disappointment of a presidential race that didn’t go his way and show he is serious about the Senate, making up for lost time. Given his personal ties to Puerto Rico, as well as the substantial Puerto Rican population in his state, Mr. Rubio has been engaged in ensuring that the relief effort there gets on track and stays there. He has flexed his influence on American policy toward Cuba and Venezuela. He has worked with Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, on a proposal to expand the child tax credit that could become an important element of the coming tax debate. He has helped push to passage a bill to help the Department of Veterans Affairs hold employees more accountable. He was part of a bipartisan group behind a new law directing drug companies to pursue more pediatric cancer treatments. He is an important party voice on immigration. Whether this is all a prelude to a future presidential run for Rubio, 46, is hard to gauge.

Rubio and Lin-Manuel Miranda tussle over Puerto Rico” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “As much as anyone else, I have called out the shortcomings in the initial response to #HurricaneMaria in #PuertoRico,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “But to say entertainers doing more for #PuertoRico than military @FEMA & local responders is inaccurate & unfair.” He was referring to this Herald story, whose headline originally read: Lin-Manuel Miranda says he is doing more for Puerto Rico than the government. But as Miranda points out the story does not hold up that headline, and he pushed back at Rubio: “Sir, in no UNIVERSE did or would I say that. And certainly nowhere in that article. False headline, @MiamiHerald.” The headline has been changed. It now reads: Lin-Manuel Miranda hopes new Puerto Rico song will inspire a stronger federal response.

Darren Soto: Congress understands Puerto Rico plight” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Soto spent the early part of the week touring Puerto Rico and then met with the House Natural Resources Committee, leaving convinced that the island is in desperate straits, that the administration of President Trump still has not come to terms, but that Congress has … Soto said many parts in the island still have not seen any federal officials, let alone airdrops of food, water and supplies. And he expects it to be many months before the society is even minimally functional again in many parts of the island outside of San Juan. “We’ve had much better success in getting Congress to understand the devastation than we have in getting the Trump administration to do so,” Soto said. “That’s the good news in all this,” Soto said, noting that he expects Congress to pass an emergency $29 billion FEMA package for hurricane relief to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with Puerto Rico getting $10 billion of that. “Keep in mind it took over 90 days for the tristate area [New Jersey, New York, Connecticut] to get their FEMA relief from Hurricane Sandy, and it took more than that for Louisiana to get relief from Hurricane Katrina. So the fact that we’re getting this hurricane relief package out in an expedited manner is the positive news in all of this,” he said.

Scientists call on Florida’s senators to oppose Trump nominee for NASA” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Last month Trump nominated an Oklahoma congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, to run NASA, marking the first time in history that any president picked a politician to run the scientific agency. Prior NASA administrators have almost all been scientists, engineers or former astronauts. The sole exception: James Webb, a former Treasury Department and State Department official who had served as vice president of the company that manufactured radar and navigation systems during World War II. Both Nelson and Rubio have blasted Trump’s choice, but neither has said whether they will vote against Bridenstine. In their letter, the scientists pointed out that Bridenstine has no formal science education. And while he serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, he has no experience running such a large agency and no experience with scientific research. A former Navy pilot, he once ran Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum. They were also critical of his stance on climate change. Bridenstine has been openly skeptical of whether climate change exists and has questioned why the United States has to do anything to combat it.


Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will tour the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee starting at 11 a.m., 709 Hoover Dike Road in Clewiston. Later, the governor will attend the grand reopening of Tin City, a historic marketplace and tourism destination in Naples which had closed from Hurricane Irma. Event begins 2 p.m. at 1200 Fifth Ave. S. in Naples.

Enterprise Florida gives raises, ditches bonuses” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Raises will be provided to 16 upper-level and mid-level employees of Enterprise Florida, as the state’s business-recruitment agency does away with a controversial bonus program. The Enterprise Florida Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve a recommendation – supported by Gov. Scott – to replace the bonus program. The pay increases are seen by committee members as a way to maintain Enterprise Florida without causing an exodus of employees. The public-private agency has faced heavy scrutiny during the past year, with House leaders even seeking to eliminate it. The raises – retroactive to July 1 range from $3,000 to $25,000 and will increase payroll by $118,000 for the year, under the plan outlined for the committee. The bonus program, which officials promoted as coming from money pooled by private contributions rather than tax dollars, was tied to a series of recruitment and hiring objectives for each year.

Medical pot has learning curve” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times – More than 39,000 Floridians have signed up through the Florida Department of Health to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment for a list of qualifying illnesses since the registry opened in 2016. And more than 1,000 physicians have taken the state-mandated course that officially qualifies them to examine those patients and recommend products that might help. But some patients are finding themselves in the unsettling position of being in the examining room with physicians who seem tentative, unable to speak with much authority about medical marijuana. One issue may be the state course, which doesn’t go into great detail about dosages, common side effects and other information doctors should have when recommending the substance to patients — at least not to the degree the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does with legal prescription drugs. And the course, initially eight hours long at a cost to doctors of $1,000, now lasts only two hours under a new Florida law. The cost has been slashed to $250. The Florida Medical Association and Florida Osteopathic Medical Association oversee the required course for Florida physicians interested in recommending cannabis. Doctors, many of whom took the original eight-hour course, are expected to retake the newer two-hour program and exam when they renew their medical license each year.

New report details Florida airport shooting that killed 5” via The Associated Press – A 30-page report released by a sheriff’s office in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a Florida airport details how an Alaska man waited at a baggage carousel for several minutes January before being paged to pick up the bag containing his gun, which officials said he used to kill five people and injure six others. Delta Airlines was paging Esteban Santiago, 27, to retrieve the bag after his flight arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Jan. 6. Minutes after he picked up the bag, the shooting began … the document is the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s final review of its actions following the mass shooting. The page by Delta is a new detail in the airport shooting. The report didn’t disclose whether airline officials knew what was in the bag.

Altamonte Springs forms its own utility as it moves toward renewable energy” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel – Hoping to slash the city’s annual $2 million power bill, Altamonte Springs soon will launch its own municipal utility with the goal of providing electricity from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources to government facilities, including City Hall and police and fire stations. Residents and commercial properties — such as the Altamonte Mall on State Road 436 — will continue receiving power from Duke Energy as part of the city’s franchise agreement with the North Carolina-based power company. The plan, approved by Altamonte Springs commissioners last week, is unique in Central Florida and comes after St. Petersburg officials voted last year to move toward having its entire city — not just its municipal facilities — operate with renewable energy in the coming years. “We’re not taking over from Duke Energy,” City Manager Frank Martz said. “We formed a municipal electric utility in order to explore alternative energy in the new millennium and save our taxpayers money.”

Water farm on ex-citrus grove reduces Lake O discharges into estuaries” via Susan Salisbury of the Palm Beach Post – For decades, thousands of orange trees thrived at Caulkins Citrus Company’s 3,200-acre grove in Palm City, producing a bountiful crop each year. But now another “crop” is being harvested — polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. On Tuesday, the Martin County water farm’s expansion from a 413-acre pilot project to a 2-mile by 3-mile reservoir that stores dirty water from the C-44 Canal linked to Lake O was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting event attended by more than 100 people. The goal is to store up to 35 billion gallons of water every year to keep the dirty water from heading to fragile estuaries, rivers and the coast, causing fish kills and harming marine and tourism industries. Even George Caulkins III, the company’s president, admits that water farming can be a difficult concept. The expansion’s construction cost $7.5 million, and Caulkins is being paid $5.5 million a year under a 10-year agreement. It’s not a lease; it’s for a service provided, said Ansley Marr, the water management district’s section administrator for the Northern Everglades. While water farming has been done in other places, Marr said that in terms of scale, the SFWMD is at the forefront.


Old news – “Tom Lee says he’s running for CFO” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times; “Joe Henderson wrote this on August 17: Tom Lee gets closer to formally entering CFO race

Matt Haggman appears to top CD 27 field with $512K haul in third quarter via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Haggman, a Coconut Grove resident who is a former program director at Miami’s Knight Foundation and a former award-winning investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, appears to have topped the field in fundraising for the third quarter of 2017 in the CD 27 contest. He and a bevy of other candidates seek to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring. His campaign is reporting that Haggman raised $512,000 in just two months, August and September, and he entered October with $469,000 in the bank. That includes no loans from the candidate, and all the money was raised through individual donations, the campaign reported. That’s the most reported by any of the candidates in that race so far, even though the field includes some high-profile political veterans.

Jason Brodeur spends $18K on 2020 SD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Brodeur, who’s aiming to succeed Republican state Sen. Dave Simmons after the 2020 election, reported raising $1,000 and spending nearly $19,000, mostly on messaging … He has raised more than $160,000 so far, including in-kind contributions, and has spent more than $67,000, leaving him with about $92,000. The biggest expenditure in the latest report, through the end of September, was $15,000 to a New Jersey company, which allowed him to send — via texts to cell phones — public service updates on power and hurricane response information to 66,000 people of Seminole County following Hurricane Irma, which knocked out more than half the county’s power on Sept. 10-11.

Happening tonight – Rep. Jim Boyd is hosting a fundraiser supporting the “Building on Your Dreams” committee. Event begins 5 p.m. at the Governors Club Board Room, 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

Financial disclosure forms raise questions about candidates’ business savvy” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – One of the candidates for a state House seat covering much of northern Sarasota County is amending his financial disclosure … while another is declining to offer documentation to support her claim that her business is doing well despite losing $24,000 last year. Republican James Buchanan, 35, touted his “small business background” in launching his campaign for the state Legislature. The real estate company owner lists a net worth of $1.2 million, and earned $22,712 last year from his firm, Amerestate Global, LLC. The sum Buchanan collected from Amerestate originally was listed as his only income in 2016. After the Herald-Tribune questioned his campaign about the disclosure form, Buchanan submitted an amendment to the form listing another $164,053 in income from the sale of his personal residence. Democratic candidate Ruta Jouniari’s business lost money in 2016. Jouniari said last year’s income is not indicative of the health of her business. She said her staffing company is cyclical and that “every three years I take a loss.” Jouniari recruits former U.S. military members to help service military vehicles and other equipment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which purchases large amounts of military equipment from the United States. “On the third year they freeze because they don’t know who’s going to be awarded the contract,” she said of the Saudi agencies doing the hiring.


Ballard Partners signs the Democratic Republic of Congo” via Kevin McCauley of – Ballard Partners, which has close ties with the Trump White House, has inked a $600K one-year contract to promote “free and fair elections” in the Democratic Republic of Congo … to provide “strategic consulting and advocacy services” to the Group of Seven political coalition regarding its pitch to Washington. DRC president Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, booted G-7 representatives from the government for voicing opposition to his continued rule. Kabila was supposed to leave office by the end of 2016, but a new election date has not been set for the nation of more than 70M people. BP also will make G-7’s case before the United Nations about its return to the Congo and ability to participate in the electoral process.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Michael Abrams, Ballard Partners: The Pew Charitable Trusts

Natalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Community Champions

Anthony Monaco: KPMG

Chris Moya, Jones Walker: Aptim Environmental & Infrastructure, Leon Medical Centers

Patrick Shortell: Renovate America

John White, Mercury Public Affiars: International Institute of Orthotics and Prosthetics

“Personnel note: Paul Jess becomes FJA executive director” via Florida Politics – Paul Jess has become executive director of the Florida Justice Association (FJA), the group announced Monday. Jess, a veteran attorney and association executive, had been acting as FJA’s interim executive director since January. “Paul has been with FJA for almost three decades, during which time he served in just about every professional capacity at the association,” said FJA President Dale Swope of Tampa … “With Paul as FJA’s Executive Director, the modes by which we defend and enhance the civil justice system for the afflicted in our state are about to be more effective and powerful than they have been in the history of our organization” … While with FJA, Jess continued to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an intelligence officer, eventually serving three tours as Commanding Officer of various commands before retiring at the rank of Captain … He has decades of experience lobbying the Florida Legislature and executive branch, has testified before legislative committees, and drafted countless pieces of proposed and adopted legislation.

“Personnel note: Chris Spencer heads to GrayRobinson” via Florida PoliticsSpencer, longtime aide to Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, is leaving the Legislature to become a lobbyist at the Tampa office of GrayRobinson, the law firm announced Monday. “Spencer has nearly a decade of experience working with Florida’s legislative and executive branches,” a press release said. “Prior to joining GrayRobinson, he managed successful campaigns for multiple legislators, including Brandes and Sen. Dana Young,” a Tampa Republican. “We are thrilled for Chris to join our Tampa office,” Tampa managing shareholder David L. Smith said. “He will be an asset to our Tampa-area clients in addition to supporting the Firm’s statewide lobbying practice.”

— ALOE —

“Beer, wine from vending machines? Fla. company says ‘yes’ ” via Florida Politics – A newly-formed Miami-Dade company is seeking an OK from state regulators to install what it calls “self-checkout micro marts” with beer and wine … La Galere Markets of Coral Gables, which filed articles of incorporation with the state in August, submitted its request with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco on Sept. 27, records show. The company asked the agency for a declaratory statement that the machines would be legal under existing law and regulations … But Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who sits on the Senate’s Regulated Industries committee, said he’d “be shocked if that’s legal.” … “Look, I’m open to considering all kinds of options, but (as a state) I don’t think that’s where we heading,” he said, referring to La Galere’s business idea.

Indigenous Peoples Day? Italians say stick with Columbus” via Deepti Hajela and Dake Kang of The Associated Press – A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the U.S., with Los Angeles in August becoming the biggest city yet to decide to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism. But the gesture to recognize indigenous people rather than the man who opened the Americas to European domination also has prompted howls of outrage from some Italian-Americans, who say eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too. “We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years,” said Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. “Columbus Day is a day that we’ve chosen to celebrate who we are. And we’re entitled to do that just as they are entitled to celebrate who they are.” It’s not about taking anything away from Italian-Americans, said Cliff Matias, cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, which is hosting a Re-Thinking Columbus Day event Sunday and Monday in New York.

Mystery: Where’s the sign that welcomes visitors to Key West” via The Associated Press – Officials in Key West have a mystery on their hands. They want to know who took the sign that welcomed visitors to “Paradise U.S.A. Residents say they last saw the “Welcome to Key West” sign on the ground after it was presumably knocked down by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10. The sign at the island’s entrance off U.S. 1 features a painted sunset. It was an $8,000 gift from the local Rotary Club, whose members just want the sign back, no questions asked. For now, a hand-painted sign marks its spot at the busy intersection. “Welcome to Paradise,” it says.

’The Florida Project’ is probably the best movie you’ll see this year” via Glenn Whipp of the Orlando Sentinel – Let’s just say that “The Florida Project,” an unforgettable, immersive film about itinerant families (particularly their mischievous children) living in the cheap motels in Disney World’s shadow, has set the bar very, very high. Directed and co-written by Sean Baker(“Tangerine”), the movie is also, as my colleague Justin Chang points out in his rave review, as rousing and vivid a portrait of childhood as you’ll ever see on the big screen. “A dazzling neorealist sugar rush of a movie,” Justin writes in his review … And, yes, I think the sky’s the limit with this one in terms of awards potential. “The Florida Project” is the kind of movie that critics groups will wholeheartedly embrace with the academy following suit.

Happy birthday to Senate President Joe Negron, Rep. Ben Diamond and former Rep. Janet Atkins, as well as our dear friend Keyna Cory, Tia Mitchell and our frenemy Mike Grissom. Belated wishes to Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

Written By

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.

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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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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