Sunburn for 10.11.17 — HD 44 & 58 results; Closing the Charlie Crist loophole; Frank White for A.G.?; A must-read from the Miami Herald; Pepi Diaz for prosecutor?; Happy b’day Lucy Morgan

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

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

Tuesday was a very big day for political consultants Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo.

The Tampa-based duo known for their sharp elbows and close connections to House leadership began the day seeing one of their clients, Daniel Perez sworn in as the new state Rep. from House District 116. Perez on Sept. 26 won a special election, replacing former Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for an open Senate seat.

Later in the day, Jose Oliva, which will count on Pedicini’s Strategic Image Management as one of his go-to firms as he works to keep a Republican majority in the House, was officially sworn in as Speaker-designate of that chamber.

Less than an hour after Oliva was sworn in, SIM clients in House District 44 and 58 won their special elections.

Winter Garden Republican Bobby Olszewski, of Winter Garden, won by a 56-44 margin over the Democrats late-entry replacement candidate, businessman Eddy Dominguez of Dr. Phillips, in the special election to replace Republican state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

Olszewski was sworn in Tuesday night and immediately departed for Tallahassee, where he expects to begin participating in committee action representing HD 44 starting Wednesday.

Looking to join Olszewski as a redshirt freshman in the House is Lawrence McClure, who defeated the well-regard Yvonne Fry, 55 to 45 percent. The two Hillsborough County natives ran a contentious campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the seat of former Rep. Dan Raulerson, who stepped down in August for health reasons.

McClure’s win is especially satisfying for Pedicini, who was inexplicably featured in a mailer attacking McClure. If you’re a big enough target that your client’s opponent is wasting money on a mailer criticizing you, then that says something.

But so too does the scoreboard. And on that, Pedicini and Piccolo are big winners.

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House panel concludes there’s probable cause to punish Daisy Baez for not living in her district” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Baez, a Democrat, was elected last year to House District 114 after having lived in her Coral Gables home, located in House District 112, since 2009. The five-member bipartisan House Select Committee on Member Conduct made its unanimous recommendation of probable cause, after hearing a presentation by House investigators. The House Committee on Ethics and Elections will take up the issue again Thursday when it will give Baez her first hearing, and decide whether she should be punished. A complaint was filed in May after the Miami Herald reported that Baez appeared to continue to be living in her home on Malaga Avenue, a half mile away from the district she was elected to serve. Baez said at the time that she had two residences, including an apartment in her district on Anderson Avenue that she was renting.

“Dana Young will try for fracking ban again” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Democrats and Republicans from both sides of the Capitol rotunda came together Tuesday to back Sen. Dana Young‘s latest try to ban fracking in Florida. Also known as hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground, breaking up the rock to get at oil and natural gas that’s unreachable by conventional drilling. “Advocates insist it is a safe and economical source of clean energy,” the LiveScience website explains. “Critics, however, claim fracking can destroy drinking water supplies, pollute the air and contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.” In Florida, the process “makes no sense,” said Young, a Tampa Republican, at a Tuesday news conference. It is the second year she’s run a fracking ban bill (SB 462). “It puts our drinking water supply, and everything we build our economy on, at risk,” she said.

“Daisy Baez residency investigation moves to trial” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A House investigative panel on Tuesday found that Miami-Dade Rep. Baez likely broke member residency rules. The Select Committee on Member Conduct decided to refer Baez’s case to the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee for the equivalent of a trial. A finding of “probable cause,” required for further proceedings, means it is more likely than not that a violation occurred. Baez, a Democrat, was elected last year to represent South Florida’s House District 114, but questions soon arose whether she really lived in the neighboring District 112, represented by Democrat Nicholas Duran.

Senate Democrats urge governor to waive KidCare payments through November” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The governor and the KidCare agencies have refrained from asking for a federal waiver, preferring instead to give families who lost jobs, income and homes in Hurricane Irma an extension of the Oct. 1 deadline. As a result, families must make two payments by Oct. 31 to make sure their children remain insured under the state and federal program. “Thousands of Florida families were hit hard by the hurricane and are working to get their homes, jobs and lives back in order,” wrote Sen. Oscar Braynon, the Senate Democratic leader in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott. “Merely extending the time to pay a premium until the end of the month, and then compounding it by asking for a double payment, adds to the financial hardships with which many of them are currently struggling. Given the ongoing emergency situation, these fees should have been waived.” KidCare covers about 160,000 children ages 5-18 and charges most families $15 to $20 a month depending on their family size and income.

Sports franchise bill passes only committee, heads to House floor” via Florida Politics — Florida sports franchises will be banned from constructing or renovating facilities on leased public land under a bill advanced by the House Committee on Government Accountability. HB 13, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Bryan Avila and Manny Diaz, is identical to HB 77, which died in the Senate during the 2017 Legislative Session. As for HB 13, Government Accountability was the bill’s only committee of reference, meaning it now heads to the House floor for consideration by all members during the 2018 Session.

A Senate committee advanced the bill tweaking Florida’s resign-to-run law that prevents politicians from running for two offices, closing a “loophole” used by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 when he was seen as a possible vice presidential candidate.

“Change to resign-to-run law clears first committee” via Florida Politics — A bill that would require state and local officeholders to resign if they qualify to run for federal office cleared its first committee on Tuesday. The bill (SB 186), filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, got a unanimous ‘yes’ vote from the Senate’s Ethics and Elections Committee without debate. The resign-to-run law now only applies to state and local officeholders who run for other state and regional elective offices. Lawmakers in 2008 had repealed the part of the resign-to-run law about federal offices. The bill “also makes a conforming change to clarify that state and local officers seeking to run for U.S. President or Vice President must resign their office if the terms overlap,” a bill analysis says. The measure next heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

– “GOP’s attack on ‘Charlie Crist loophole’ loaded with intrigue” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate begins search for consensus on AOB reform” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Assignment of benefits reform was among the first topics tackled by the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee as it began preparing for the 2018 Legislative Session. A panel of interested parties, invited to debate points of contention, appeared to agree that so-called AOB agreements ought to be in writing, and that a deadline should be imposed for delivering them to insurance carriers. Working out the details could be tricky, however, not least over which parties could sign AOB contracts. The policyholder, certainly. But what if a divorcing couple holds the policy jointly? Should mortgage-holders have a say? “That’s why we’re doing this rather methodically — putting the issues out, giving everybody their time,” committee chairwoman Anitere Flores said following the hearing. “There is more that the sides agree on than they disagree on. So, let’s try to get something passing.”

Venezuela divestment bill filed in House” via the News Service of Florida — Florida would have to divest from companies doing business with the Venezuelan government, under a proposal filed by Rep. Bill Hager. Hager’s proposal (HB 279) is similar to a measure (SB 70) filed in August by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez. The bills are filed for the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. “The people of Venezuela are suffering under the Maduro regime,” Hager said. “Florida has the ability to ensure that our state’s monies are not used to benefit this tyrannical regime.” On Oct. 2, Gov. Scott announced he would push for legislation to expand a Cabinet directive against conducting state business linked to the Maduro regime.

Law would make ‘political beliefs’ subject to hate-crime criteria” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Joe Gruters — a freshman Republican from Sarasota and co-chairman of Donald Trump’s Florida campaign — wanted Florida to punish people more harshly if they commit crimes based upon “political beliefs.” He said he’d seen people intimidated for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and felt he needed to do something to curb political violence “on all sides.” So he filed House Bill 209, calling for harsher punishments for crimes “based on political affiliation or beliefs.” That means if you’re a Red Sox fan who punches a Yankees fan for wearing an Aaron Judge jersey, you could get 60 days in jail. But if you’re a Donald Trump supporter who punches a Hillary Clinton fan for wearing a “Trump’s an idiot” T-shirt, you could get imprisoned for a year. So, Democrats would be a protected class. As would Republicans, communists … even Nazis. Yes, under Gruters’ bill, you’d get a harsher penalty for smacking a Nazi than an old lady. (If you smacked the Nazi for being a Nazi, anyway.)

Assignment editors – State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Rep. Nicholas Duran will join other members of the Legislature and health care professionals for a news conference on changes to this year’s open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. Event begins noon outside the House Chambers on the 4th Floor Rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

Committee meetings to watch

— Slavery Memorial debated — On the agenda of the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee is HB 67, filed by Rep. Kionne McGhee, to establish a slavery memorial at the state Capitol. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— House panel talks education-budget requests — The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will hear presentations on 2018-19 budget requests by the Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— Tourism marketing discussed — The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee will get updates on tourism marketing. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building of the Capitol.

— Prison population updates — The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on Florida’s prison population. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Water infrastructure presentations — The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will hear several presentations on the state’s water infrastructure needs. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate talks `Job Growth Grant Fund’ — on the schedule of the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee our presentations from the Department of Economic Opportunity about the state’s newly launched Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Electricity restoration updates — The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will receive updates on storm restoration efforts by electric utilities. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building in the Capitol.

— House updates on medical marijuana — The House Health Quality Subcommittee will receive updates on the laws passed to enact a 2016 constitutional amendment legalizing some forms of medical marijuana. Schedule speakers include Christian Bax, director of the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 306 of the House Office Building.

— House discusses transportation, tourism budgets — The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will address 2018-19 budget requests. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— Senate addresses nursing home generator rules — The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on emergency rules to require generators at nursing homes and assisted living facilities to run air conditioning systems during power outages. Meeting begins 2 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate considers ending fireworks ban — A bill in front of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee seeks to end a decades-old ban on fireworks sales. SB 198, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, would end the need for consumers to use the loophole allowing fireworks sales only for agriculture-related purposes. Meeting begins 2 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Storm damage to agriculture assessed — The House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee will receive updates from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on storm-related agriculture damage. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.

— Low-Income Pool updates — The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on the Low-Income Pool, which reimburses hospitals and other health providers for caring the care of poor and uninsured people. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— House panel considers Greg Evers memorial — The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will discuss a bill (HB 171) to name a stretch of road in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties as the “Senator Greg Evers Memorial Highway.” Filed by state Rep. Jayer Williamson, the bill honors Evers, a former Republican senator and House member, who died Aug. 21 in Okaloosa County. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

Fundraising roundup — Starting 11:30 a.m., state Rep. Bob CortesTom Leek, and David Santiago will host a joint fundraising event at the Governors Club. At noon, Rep. Rick Roth will also be fundraising at the Club. Later, Reps. Randy FineSam Killebrew and Ralph Massullo will host a Club event beginning 5 p.m. At the same time, state Sens. Dorothy Hukill and Kathleen Passidomo will be in the Club’s Board Room. Beginning 5:30 p.m., Republican candidate James Buchanan will be fundraising at 115 East Park Avenue, second-floor conference room, in Tallahassee. Buchanan is seeking to succeed former state Rep. Alex Miller in HD 72. Finally, at 6:30 p.m., Senate Democrats will hold a “welcome back” event in the Governors Club Plantation Room. The Governors Club is at 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

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Florida Democrats report $3.5M haul, likely raised much less” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — FDP would not comment on the funding breakdown, but almost certainly including $607,000 in contributions from political committees run by the party’s highest priority campaigns, which is money not raised by the party and is generally spent on the specific campaign that raised the money. Each campaign’s aligned political committee is giving money to the party. That money, though, quickly flows through the party and is in turn spent on the campaigns, not other races or FDP expenses. It’s a common practice for campaigns, especially at the statewide level, to send money through the party to fund things like staff. Because statewide parties have human resources departments, they are better positioned to be the entity actually funding staffers for a campaign. That money shows up as a contribution to FDP but is mostly raised by outside political committees.

Ron Sachs says Andrew Gillum threw city under ‘campaign bus;’ mayor calls it a ‘cheap shot’” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Sachs has taken to social media to push back at Mayor Gillum for his recent remarks about the racism he sees every day in Tallahassee. And Gillum pushed right back. Posting on his Facebook page, Sachs, the CEO of Sachs Media Group, said he was disappointed that Gillum “essentially trashed the very community that propelled his political career by electing him repeatedly to the city commission and most recently as mayor.” Speaking at the University of Tampa last week, Gillum said, “There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by in my city where I’m not driving behind a truck on my way to work that has a big old Confederate flag.” Gillum also said he saw institutional racism in the prison system and even in the awarding of contracts at City Hall. Sachs defended the capital city noting that it has been designated as an “All-American City” twice in the past 30 years, most recently while Gillum was mayor.

Chris King surpasses $2.6 million raised King, an Orlando-area entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for governor, announced that his campaign and political committee took in $148,044 in September. The political newcomer’s campaign and political committee, Rise and Lead Florida, has raised more than $2.6 million since launching the campaign, and finished the month with over $1.7 million cash on hand. “Chris continues to remain competitive with career politicians with deep institutional and establishment support,” campaign spokesperson Hari Sevugan said. “… This consistent fundraising has also demonstrated that Chris is positioned to be the clear alternative to Gwen Graham.”

– “Is Philip Levine winning the Caputo primary in Florida governor’s race?” via Peter Schorsch

Utility companies give $800K, funneling up to $2.5M, to Adam Putnam’s campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A review of campaign finance data shows Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy have been major contributors to Putnam’s Florida Grown, the political committee supporting his Republican gubernatorial candidacy. Gulf Power Co. and TECO, the natural gas company, also have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Florida Grown. All totaled, they’ve provided $795,560 directly to Florida Grown since the start of 2015, when Gov. Scott‘s second term began, and the cycle for the 2018 gubernatorial race officially began. Counting contributions from utility companies made to other business groups, which then cut checks to Florida Grown around the same time or shortly after, the amount of money passing from utilities to Florida Grown may be more than triple that amount, as much as $2.5 million.

Seminole County Sheriff backs Ashley Moody for AG — Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma is the latest law enforcement leader to endorse Moody in her bid to succeed Attorney General Pam Bondi. “The safety and security of our local community is the top priority of each Sheriff in Florida. It is important that Sheriffs have a supporter and ally in the next Attorney General,” Lemma said in a statement. “As a former federal prosecutor and a wife of a fellow law enforcement officer, Ashley Moody understands firsthand the dangers and challenges of those who wear a uniform. I can think of no other more qualified to be our next Attorney General.”

Ag Commissioner hopeful Matt Caldwell holds oyster ranch workday – Caldwell continued his campaign for Agriculture Commissioner with a statewide #2LaneTravels Work Days Tour, including a recent visit to Saucey Lady Oyster Company to harvest oysters in the Gulf. Caldwell is using the Work Days Tour to highlight Florida businesses that are vital to the state’s economy. Founded in 2014 by Tim Jordan and Walt Dickson, Saucey Lady is a charter member of an oyster growing program that promotes aquaculture and creates jobs in Wakulla County.

Click on the image below to watch the video.

“Frank White ready to join GOP race for Attorney General” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – White, a first-term state House member from Pensacola, told the Times/Herald he’ll make a final decision in a few days. “We need a proven conservative,” White said. “We need someone who has experience managing a large organization.” He said the state needs a leader who can “protect the Constitution from liberal attacks.”

Disney pumps more money into gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — Disney Worldwide Services sunk another $575,000 in September into a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in Florida. The political committee Voters In Charge, which is spearheading the proposal, had submitted 285,526 valid petition signatures to the state … It needs to submit 766,200 signatures to get the measure on the November 2018 ballot. The initiative would change the state constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state. It would require voter approval of casino-style games in the future. Efforts to get the measure on the ballot have been mainly bankrolled by Disney, which had contributed $2.325 million as of Sept. 30, according to the committee’s newly filed finance report.

Republican planning run against Ted Deutch raising Washington cash” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel — Javier Manjarres, who is exploring a candidacy for Congress against U.S. Rep. Deutch, is raising money in the nation’s capital. And he has the help of a conservative freshman, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz … Gaetz is the draw for the Wednesday evening event in Washington. A member of Congress helps draw attention — and contributions from lobbyists, who are the biggest source of contributors to Washington, D.C., fundraisers. Along with the prospective candidate’s picture, the invitation states simply “Javier Manjarres U.S. Congress in Florida’s 22nd District.” Checks and credit card payments go to the America First Agenda PAC, which is nominally independent but is a fundraising vehicle that can help Manjarres who said in June that he’s considering a challenge to Deutch, a five-term Democrat who represents most of Broward and southeast Palm Beach County.

Pride Fund endorses David Richardson for Congress — Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC — America’s only national LGBTQ political organization focused solely on gun violence prevention — is endorsing Richardson in Florida’s 27th Congressional District … for his commitment to championing LGBTQ equality and support of common-sense gun safety reforms. “David is running for Congress because he knows we need to finally end senseless gun violence — not ignore it,” said Jason Lindsay, Pride Fund Executive Director. “Last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas brought gun violence to the forefront of the conversation on the national level yet again, but David has been leading this conversation in Florida’s State House for years. We’re excited to get involved in this race early because we’re confident David will be a leader on both common-sense gun reforms and LGBTQ equality in the United States House of Representatives, just as he has been at the state level.”

David Rivera uses personal cash to boost House race as congressional debt remains” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Former congressman Rivera’s congressional account remains littered with more than $130,000 in debts to ad houses and political fundraising firms three years after his last attempt at returning to Washington. The Miami Republican’s current race for House District 105 was boosted by $150,000 in personal loans he gave to his campaign, and another $100,000 contribution he wrote the campaign. Rivera is running in the GOP primary against Ana Maria Rodriguez for the seat being vacated by term-limited Republican Carlos Trujillo. He also loaned his failed 2016 bid to join the Florida House $50,000, of which he has paid back $18,238, according to campaign finance records.

Who gave foreign money to Beach PAC? Prosecutors are asking this Norwegian millionaire.” via Nicholas Nehamas and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Add a new name to the strange cast of characters caught up in the downfall of Miami Beach Commissioner Michael GriecoPetter Smedvig Hagland, a member of a billionaire Norwegian shipping-and-oil family, has been contacted by Miami-Dade public corruption investigators seeking to track the foreign money they believe was illegally funneled into People for Better Leaders, a fundraising group tied to Grieco’s campaign. Hagland, 37, might know about a $25,000 donation to the political action committee, according to sources familiar with him and the ongoing state investigation. Hagland lives primarily in London and Stavanger, Norway. He has invested millions in Miami Beach real estate, although with poor results: He took a bath on one deal and is involved in litigation over another.


Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria, distributing aid across Puerto Rico is a mess” via Oren Dorell of USA TODAY — The barriers range from a lack of communication to blocked roads. As a result, one Port of San Juan terminal is storing 3,400 containers — more than double the usual number, said Jose “Pache” Ayala, vice president and general manager for Puerto Rico at Crowley Maritime Corp. Because of tangled power lines across roads, washed out bridges and highways and knocked out cellphone towers and radio antennas across the island, materials are leaving the Crowley terminal gate at 70 percent the normal rate before the storm, Ayala said. The backlog affects goods and equipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, such as food and bottled water, bucket trucks, front-end loaders and 275,000 gallons of diesel and 75,000 gallons of gasoline. “That relief cargo has priority,” Ayala said. It also affects commercial cargo such as building materials and medications that are also in great demand, he said. “It’s easier to help internationally than it is in Puerto Rico,” said Neil Frame with Operation USA in Los Angeles. The nonprofit, which ships donated medical supplies into disaster areas around the world, has not yet found a way to deliver goods onto the U.S. territory.

Nearly 3 weeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still a mess.

Puerto Rico’s economy at ‘a near standstill’ ” via McClatchy DC Bureau – Economic activity has skidded to a near halt in significant parts of Puerto Rico, leaving the hurricane-smashed island on a knife’s edge between slow recovery and partial collapse. Thousands of small businesses are teetering toward insolvency, unable to operate. Heading into the fourth week since Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, barely one out of six clients of the island-wide electric utility has power. The rest remain in darkness. The hum of generators has become the new soundtrack of island life.

Radios headed to info-starved Puerto Rico, thanks to broadcasters” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The National Association of Broadcasters is donating 10,000 battery-operated radios to Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria. The effort is being funded by NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and multiple U.S. broadcasters, according to a press release issued by NAB. The broadcasters are working with Federal Emergency Management Agency and local Puerto Rican authorities “to ensure that the radios are properly distributed to those most in need,” the release said. Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Darren Soto “were instrumental in coordinating this effort,” according to the release.

Senators eagerly waiting for hard facts on how the power grid stood up to Irma” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Will Hurricane Irma inspire the Legislature to light a fire under the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) efforts to buttress the electric grid against powerful storms? Likely. But it’s too soon to know what changes might help. That picture emerged during hearings before the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities: Regulators won’t have digested the data situation in time for opening day in January. Chairman Aaron Bean put the question directly to Cayce Hinton, the PSC’s director of industry development and market analysis, during a presentation on that agency’s 10-year infrastructure “hardening” efforts. “How did we do? Cut to the chase. Did it turn out? Did we get our money’s worth?” … “So, we don’t know yet?” Bean said. “We don’t know yet.”

“Don’t get duped by insurance scams or you’ll fall victim to Irma again” via The Miami Herald – Hurricane season isn’t over and therefore neither is consumer scam season, which has gone into hyper mode following Irma’s destructive sweep through Florida. Homeowners are particularly vulnerable to fast-talking, document-waving con artists who promise to help with repairs, insurance claims and FEMA payments. “Hurricanes bring out a lot of good in people and also the worst in those few bad actors preying on homeowners whose most prized asset has been damaged,” said Jon Moore, spokesman for Florida’s Department of Financial Services. “We’re trying to educate and protect Floridians so they don’t fall victim to Irma for a second time.”

Postponed by Irma, Florida restaurant show returns” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — The annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show makes a comeback through Friday at Orange County Convention Center, featuring demonstrations from prominent Florida chefs such as Art SmithMichelle Bernstein and Jeff Philbin. It will also have more than 400 exhibitors and dozens of classes on everything from liquor to legal requirements. The show was originally scheduled for three days beginning Sept. 10, just when Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida and knocked out power and transportation to much of the state for days.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott and Ag. Commissioner Putnam will visit Washington D.C. to update Florida House members on Hurricane Irma recovery efforts and the state’s influx of Puerto Rican evacuees from Hurricane Maria.

Assignment editors – AshBritt Environmental Chairman Randy Perkins will make a major announcement on post-hurricane Irma pricing during the Parkland City Commission meeting beginning 5 p.m. at 6600 University Dr. in Parkland.


Florida survey on gun control in Sunshine State shows big divide” via Wayne Price of FLORIDA TODAY — The 2017 University of South Florida Nielsen Sunshine State Survey found 49 percent of those questioned believed gun restrictiveness in Florida is “about right,” while another 40 percent took the position that they’re not restrictive enough. About 8 percent said current laws were too restrictive. Interestingly, the question about gun restrictions being “about right” rose to 49 percent from 42 percent — the last time they asked the question was in 2015. Of those content with current gun measures, more men are more content with current gun laws than women — 54 percent versus 44 percent. More whites and Hispanics favor current measures than African-Americans — 53 percent versus 31 percent. Regionally, support is highest in the Orlando area — 57 percent and North Florida 56 percent.

“Rick Scott wants generators required at nursing homes” via Florida Politics – Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday directed state agencies to “immediately begin the formal rulemaking process to permanently enact a rule requiring emergency generators at assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes.” His edict went to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Elder Affairs. “An emergency rule adopted Sept. 16 requires all ALFs and nursing homes to obtain ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel, to sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures for at least 96 hours following a power outage,” according to a press release. “The formal rulemaking process will permanently codify these life-saving measures and allow for extensive public comment ….”

Scott says Lake Okeechobee dike must be fixed or algae blooms will continue” via Chad Gillis of — One message from Gov. Scott, who flew into Clewiston to talk about the response to Hurricane Irma and the future of the Herbert Hoover Dike: “We’ve got to put this lake in the position that we don’t have to do these discharges … If the (Army Corps) has to do these discharges, we’re going to see these algae blooms.” … “We see the algae blooms in the Indian River Lagoon, and we see the dirty water coming out of the Caloosahatchee River, so we’ve got to fund this,” Scott said of an Army Corps rehabilitation project that’s ongoing. Scott said the federal government is about $900 million behind on fixing the dike and funding for Everglades restoration projects.

Changes slated for state worker health insurance” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — As many as 2,000 obese state employees who suffer from conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure can enroll online for a program that provides coverage for treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. The offering is one of the several changes legislators authorized to the state group health insurance plan during the 2017 Session. Available to employees enrolled in Aetna, AvMed, Florida Blue or UnitedHealthcare plans in 2017, the benefit is available for 2018. Foster & Foster also will assist the state as it moves forward with two new health care offerings that will be made available in the 2019 plan year: an online tool to shop and compare the quality of available in-network providers; and a service that offers employees access to comprehensive pricing for surgery and other medical procedures. Both of those benefits also will include a “shared savings program,” where employees can receive a portion of any savings attributable to their health care choices.

State seeks to scuttle marijuana-smoking case” via the News Service of Florida — Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office is asking a judge to toss out a challenge to a new law that bars patients from smoking medical marijuana. A 39-page motion filed last week in Leon County circuit court argues that a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana did not require smoking to be allowed and that lawmakers had good reasons to approve a smoking ban. Orlando attorney John Morgan, who largely bankrolled the medical-marijuana legalization drive, filed a lawsuit in July contending that lawmakers violated the constitutional amendment by barring smoking … The law allows medical marijuana to be used in other ways, including by allowing patients to vaporize, or “vape,” marijuana products. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit said lawmakers pointed to health reasons for approving the smoking ban. “The Legislature considered several significant health-related factors and reasonably determined that the harms caused by smoking were ample reason to exclude smoking from the definition of `medical use,’ “the motion said. It also contended that the constitutional amendment did not specify that smoking would be allowed.

Visit Orlando discloses it spent $76,500 to advertise on the Fox 35 AccuWeather forecast … to people already in Orlando. 

What Richard Corcoran is reading — “Visit Orlando discloses it spent $76,500 on Fox 35 advertising” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Visit Orlando said the deal brought it exposure in several markets across the state and no conflict of interest existed, even though a Fox 35 executive serves on its board. The agency said it sent the letter to “clear up any misunderstandings” with [House Speaker RichardCorcoran [who] demanded to know whether the marketing organization spent taxpayer money for a Fox 35 traffic and weather camera after Visit Orlando CEO George Aguel and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs refused to release the terms at a recent public meeting.

Worst story you’ll read today — “Florida couple accused of prostituting child in exchange for drugs” via Sarah Elsesser of the Palm Beach Post — Kevin Wyatt and Celeste Chambers, of the Florida Panhandle, were both arrested last week … The couple is said to have traded sexual acts with a child for drugs, and the abuse started when the girl was 3 years old, according to WTXL. Sunday afternoon, Wyatt was captured while hiding on a houseboat on the East River near Apalachicola, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.


In “Fight Club,” the Miami Herald’s latest must-read investigative seriesCarol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch uncover the dark secrets behind the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s philosophy of “tough love” — and its emphasis on “tough.”

What the investigative team discovered was not a system designed to reform juvenile delinquents, but one where “already troubled youths have been further traumatized,” often turning into hardened felons.

Though a decade of records, documents, interviews and surveillance videos, a pattern of abuse emerged — regular beatings, poor health care, underpaid staff, neglect, coercion and staging fights for wagering and entertainment. Reporters also examined a dozen suspicious deaths of youths since 2000.

Among the explosive findings in the six-part series:

— For years, youths have complained of staff turning them into mercenaries, offering honey buns and other rewards to rough up fellow detainees. It is a way for employees to exert control without risking their livelihoods by personally resorting to violence. Criminal charges are rare.

— Of the 12 questionable deaths since 2000, including an asphyxiation, a violent takedown by staff, a hanging, a youth-on-youth beating and untreated illnesses or injuries, none has resulted in an employee serving a day in prison.

— The public defender’s chief assistant for the juvenile division, Marie Osborne, said detainees are turned into enforcers by outnumbered staff, and that “in here, a honey bun is like a million dollars.”

— The official response via DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly, who said her agency does not tolerate the mistreatment of youth in its care. “The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been and continues to be committed to reform of the juvenile justice system in Florida. We have worked over the past six years to ensure that youths receive the right services in the right place and that our programs and facilities are nurturing and safe for the youths placed in our custody,” she said.

— One of the main problems: The state offers starting detention officers $12.25 an hour to protect and supervise youths often dealing with mental illnesses, drug addiction, disabilities and the lingering effects of trauma. That’s $25,479.22 a year for a recruit. The Legislature hasn’t seen fit to raise the starting pay since 2006 — although it did give current staff a $1,400 raise on Oct. 1.

— Another problem: Having a violent or sexually abusive past has been no bar to employment with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the private agencies that operate Florida’s residential compounds for kids.

— Why nothing gets done: Over the past 10 years, DJJ has investigated 1,455 allegations of youth officers or other staffers failing to report abusive treatment of detainees — or, if they did report an incident, lying about the circumstances. That’s nearly three times a week.

— The long-term issue: If harsh treatment is meant to deter youths from reoffending, it doesn’t seem to be working. The state says 45 percent of all detainees wind up back in the justice system within one year, many as adult offenders. Although no precise tracking data could be found, it is clear that Florida’s juvenile justice programs have become an on-ramp for the adult prison system.


Is Trump’s chief of staff trying to bar him from Mar-a-Lago members?” via the Palm Beach Post — According to Vanity Fair, Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has developed a “Mar-a-Lago strategy” to prevent Trump from getting advice from club members and friends. The plans, citing sources, included trying to keep Trump “out of the dining room.” In one memorable dinner there, Feb. 11, as Trump and Melania were hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife on the terrace, it was learned that the North Koreans had launched a missile. As staff members and heads of state huddled at the table, printed reports were passed around and examined by the light of cell phones or flashlights. The scene played out in front of at least 100 people, members or guests of The Mar-a-Lago Club. The Washington Post referred to the incident as an “open-air situation room.”

Social media shows Donald Trump and staff members during the Mar-a-Lago “open-air situation room” in February.

8 things I’ve learned from nearly 30 years in Congress” via Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as told to Rebecca Nelson of Cosmopolitan — Listening is an underrated leadership quality … “When you participate in a congressional hearing, it is amazing to me how members are so quick to put in their opinion and their view and their analysis, and they’re not really taking the time to listen to what the witnesses are saying. And so many times — especially the male members, if it’s some topic that they’re not as familiar with — they just presume to know what the female witness is talking about. And I’m thinking, did you not hear anything that this presenter said? Because it’s actually the opposite of what you’re portraying to us.” Don’t be afraid to speak your mind — even if it means going against your party … Or, for that matter, against your president. Don’t tolerate mansplaining … “When I first got to Congress many years ago, there weren’t that many female members of Congress. And now there’s so many more of us, and I think the male members have understood the changing nature of society. They’re more cognizant that maybe what they’re thinking and their points of view are not the Magna Carta.”

Carlos Curbelo, Seth Moulton file bill to ban ‘bump stocks’ like ones used in Las Vegas shooting” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — The bipartisan effort to draft the bill began last week after the Las Vegas shooting, where the shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people using, at least in some cases, weapons outfitted with bump stocks. Under the bill, violating the ban would be a felony offense with increased penalties for offenders. “For the first time in decades, there is growing bipartisan consensus for sensible gun policy, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo said in a statement. “This common-sense legislation will ban devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law without restricting Second Amendment rights. I’m proud to join Rep. Moulton to lead our colleagues in this important first step to address gun violence in our country and show that Congress is capable of working constructively in a bipartisan way to make Americans safer.” The legislation has 20 original co-sponsors — 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Additional members of Congress can only sign on if a lawmaker from the opposing party also inks their name to the bill. Among them is Miami Republican Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

“Matt Gaetz using NFL ‘knee’ controversy for fundraising appeal” via Florida Politics – The freshman GOP congressman from northwest Florida sent a fundraising email Tuesday on pro football players who “continue to disrespect the American flag by taking a knee during the National Anthem.” Gaetz has filed legislation to take away what he calls “special tax breaks” for National Football League teams, which pay taxes as for-profit businesses. The league itself was once tax-exempt, but gave up that status in 2015. Gaetz wrote: “We need to keep fighting back to let the NFL and their millionaire players and billionaire owners know what we really think about their outrageous behavior … I need your help to win this fight. Can you donate $25, $50, $100, $1,000 or more to help?”

“Pepi Diaz again in consideration for South Florida prosecutor job” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In gameshow-like fashion, former state legislator and one-time “Apprentice” contestant Jose Felix Diaz is again in the hunt to be the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida, which covers President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Diaz once looked like a leading candidate to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, but his name faded from consideration when he decided to run a special election last month for Florida’s 40th Senate District. … But almost as soon Diaz lost his race, his name began circulating again in Miami legal circles and, in a sign that Diaz is under serious consideration, the normally talkative and affable Republican didn’t respond to a text message from POLITICO Florida.


Bill Herrle: Joint employer standard stifles entrepreneurship” via Florida Politics – Small businesses and entrepreneurs are facing troubling challenges due to a recent 2015 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision. The decision … dismantles the way small businesses work with one another and prevents entrepreneurs of all trades from following their dreams. The NLRB’s decision in the Browning-Ferris Industries case brought sweeping changes to the joint employer standard and posed a direct threat to businesses striving for growth. Joint employer is a legal theory that seeks to more broadly define who is an employer, particularly in certain instances where two companies may have a working relationship. The most common example is the franchise model, under which franchisees operate independently of the parent company except for the branding. Under the NLRB’s ruling, the franchisor is the “joint employer” of the franchisee’s employees, and is thus liable for the franchisee’s employment law violations. If forced to assume such additional liability exposure, or spend more money and time overseeing their franchises, why would companies continue to use the franchising model as a method of business growth? This new standard has sown so much confusion with small business owners we work with on a day-to-day basis, leading to higher legal and compliance fees, and it has held back further investment given the legal limbo that has been thrust into existing contracts.


Personnel note: Nicole Stookey Albers Joins Florida Municipal Electric Association — Albers will be the association’s new public affairs manager, managing legislative affairs and social media. “Having been a part of state government and the political process for nearly 15 years, Nicole brings a wealth of legislative and governmental affairs experience to FMEA,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “She will be a great asset to our members as we work to advance the legislative agenda of the association.” Before joining FMEA, Albers was deputy director of the Office of Legislative Planning at the Florida Department of Health and has been deputy legislative affairs director at the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Rick Scott reappoints Chip Diehl to HCC Board of Trustees – The governor announced Diehl’s reappointment to the Hillsborough Community College District Board of Trustees. The 63-year-old Tampa resident is the managing director of Diehl and Associates and a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Air Force. He is reappointed for a term beginning Oct. 10 and ending May 31, 2021. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Palm Coast drops lobbyist of 17 years to hire Southern Strategy, mayor’s former employer” via — For as long as it’s existed, Palm Coast government has employed the same lobbying firm: Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell & Dunbar, which has had numerous clients in the region. That reign is over. The Palm Coast City Council last week voted 3-2 to replace it with Southern Strategy Group for $45,000. Southern Strategy is Mayor Milissa Holland’s former employer, though that never entered into the 10-minute discussion preceding the vote last week, the culmination of discussions through meetings going back to September, when the council sifted through four firms and heard presentations from three of them, including Southern Strategy.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Jason AllisonRobert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: CBRE

Robert BeckBryan Cherry, PinPoint Results: Broward County

Anita Berry, Corcoran & Johnston: Florida Independent Glass Association

Joanna Bonfanti, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: South Florida Museum

Ed Briggs, RSA Consulting Group: Florida Association of Community Health Centers

David Bronstein, Bronstein & Carmona: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Kevin CabreraEdgar Castro, Southern Strategy Group: City Year

Rosanna Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: City of Punta Gorda

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: National Lightning Protection Corporation

Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: B.J. Alan Companies

James DaughtonWarren HusbandPatricia GreeneAimee Lyon, Metz Husband & Daughton: Orexo US

Pamela Fort, The Commerce Group: American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches

Kevin Guthrie: Division of Emergency Management

Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: Innovative Psych Solutions d/b/a Innovative Interactive Therapies

Steven Marin, Marin & Sons: Hexagon

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: Gulf Coast Canna Meds

Karl RasmussenJoy Ryan, Meenan: Brookdale Senior Living,

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Locust Branch

Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Lee County Mosquito Control District

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Florida Nurses Association

Corey Staniscia, Tripp Scott: Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: TmaxSoft

— ALOE —

Adults spend 12 hours per day with media” via Sara Fischer of Axios — According to eMarketer’s latest media time spent figures … adults will spend an average of 12 hours, one minute per day with major media this year. Here’s the breakdown by medium, in hours: Digital: 5:53 (3:17 on mobile; 2:03 desktop/laptop; 0:33 on other connected devices); TV: 3:58; Radio: 1:26; Print: 0:24; Other: 0:21. “People have become more efficient at multitasking, thanks largely to mobile devices (excluding voice),” according to the study. “Multitasking via mobile is primarily responsible for the overall increase in time spent with media.”

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to Universal via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — On Jan. 26-28 …  Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum) will attend the special event and participate in festivities throughout the weekend, alongside returning fan-favorites James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). During the three-day celebration, guests will also have the opportunity attend Q&A sessions with film talent and visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida — plus, ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to Universal Orlando.

Disney’s big bet on streaming relies on little-known tech company” via Brooks Barnes and John Koblin of The New York Times — With Disney’s board exhorting speedy action, Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive and chairman, proposed a legacy-defining move. It was time for Disney to double down on streaming. And that was how the Disney board … came to bet the entertainment giant’s future on a wonky, little-known technology company housed in a former cookie factory: BamTech. In August, Disney announced that it would introduce two subscription streaming services, both built by BamTech. One, focused on sports programming and made available through the ESPN app, would arrive in the spring. The other, centered on movies and television shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, would debut in late 2019. “We’re going to launch big, and we’re going to launch hot,” Iger promised at a subsequent investor conference. Based in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, a former factory for the National Biscuit Company, the 850-employee company has a strong track record — no serious glitches, even when delivering tens of millions of live streams at a time. BamTech also has impressive advertising technology (inserting ads in video based on viewer location) and a strong reputation for attracting and keeping viewers, not to mention billing them.

Happy birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan. They don’t make ’em like her anymore.

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.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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