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A view of the Capitol and Dept. of Education buildings Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

Emails & Opinions

Sunburn for 10.18.17 — Do it, Pam Bondi; Karen vs. Blaise; Jaguars apologize for kneeling; John Morgan ready to write a check; Tom Lee doesn’t like the dogs

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

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

What’s old is new again, as rumors re-emerge that Attorney General Pam Bondi could have a job in the Trump administration.

With a new twist in the nomination for the nation’s drug czar, Bondi returns to the spotlight, amid renewed speculation she could be headed to Washington.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, President Donald Trump‘s drug czar nominee, withdrew from consideration this week following reports that he played a key role in weakening the federal government’s authority to stop companies from distributing opioids.

There is a good argument to be made for Trump to put Bondi at the top of the list: Her record on fighting drugs in Florida, and her overwhelming success in shutting down the state’s pill mills.

After Trump’s victory, many considered Bondi a sure bet to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly known as the drug czar.

As a friend of the president, Bondi had a role on Trump’s transition team. Earlier this year, the president appointed her to a White House panel on drug abuse – one of Bondi’s passions as attorney general.

But then, later in the day, came this twist: The Attorney General said she wasn’t sure the country even needed a drug czar.

“I don’t know,” she told reporters after a Florida Cabinet meeting. “I’m in D.C. a lot. I can tell you the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is doing great, all the executive offices are doing great … Everybody works well together.

“Whether that exact position is needed? I don’t know.”

One thing’s sure: Bondi will be back in Washington Friday for a meeting of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.


— @MarcoRubio: Reminder situation in #PuertoRico remains dire as our fellow Americans struggle to find safe drinking water

— @JKennedyReports: Debris hauler Ashbritt boss Randy Perkins, a D who ran for Congress last yr, helped w/angry letter from Fla Cong D’s in battle w/@FLGovScott

— @JeffClemens: Florida SNAP event in John Prince Park today is an absolute nightmare. Traffic backing up for miles in all directions, and onto the highway. Feds, state totally unprepared for crowds.

— @MDixon55: .@Adamputnam wonders why he should take storm advice from @JackLatvala, who questioned if gov was being overly cautious ahead of Irma. Comment came post-Cabinet when asked by reporters. Latvala has been critical of those (Putnam) accepting campaign $ from utilities. Putnam also noted that Latvala has taken utility $ over his 16-year political career. Was most aggressive form of Putnam I’ve seen to date

— @LedgeKing: .@SunStateSurvey finds the environment among top 5 issues facing FL w/most pressing concerns being loss of land for wildlife (20%), invasive species (17%), water-related problems (16%), rising sea levels (15%), & hazardous waste/landfills (11%).

@AdamSmithTimes@FlaDems will hold “Nasty Women and Bad Hombres” Hallown Party at their state conference w @JulianCastro @keithellison, @JasonKander,

— @JeffSchweers: Tallahassee ethics board votes 4-1 to write letter admonishing City Manager for getting discount on daughter’s wedding reception.

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Marco Rubio, Gus Bilirakis co-sponsored now-controversial drug bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Millions of TV viewers learned Sunday of a successful attempt by the drug industry to weaken federal regulations just as the opioid crisis was reaching its peak — and two Florida Republicans played a supporting role. Rep. Bilirakis and Sen. Rubio were among a handful of co-sponsors of the legislation, which sailed through Congress last year … signed into law by President Barack Obama. “The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market,” The Washington Post reported in conjunction with 60 Minutes. “Congressman Bilirakis hoped that this legislation would bring stakeholders at all levels together to discuss ways they could work together to prevent abuse while allowing really sick people like cancer patients, seniors, Veterans, and others with significant pain to get the relief they need with a legitimate prescription,” spokesman Summer Robertson wrote.

Gus Bilirakis and Marco Rubio are under fire for helping weaken regulation of the drug industry, just as the opioid crisis began to peak nationwide.

How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA” via Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post — Emboldened by the Trump administration’s hostility toward foreign trade, a group of Southeast growers are pushing for tough new protectionist measures against their Mexican rivals — so tough, in fact, that their demands threaten to wreck the negotiations. Those include the demands of the Florida tomato growers, who say Mexico is selling tomatoes in the United States at artificially low prices … Florida producers are pushing for stronger anti-dumping measures — an idea that has been soundly rejected by the Mexicans. The problem, in a word, is humidity. Florida has a whole lot of it … growers can’t use greenhouses, which better protect the vegetables, and they have severe problems with pests and diseases … the Mexican greenhouse industry has taken off, they argue, only because the state helped subsidize it.

Charlie Crist dropped by Salomon Melgen’s house, Melgen’s wife testifies” via Matt Friedman of POLITICO — In 2010, then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was an uninvited house guest of Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. That’s according to Melgen’s wife, Flor Melgen, who told the unusual story of how Crist showed up at her house unannounced during her testimony in the corruption trial of Melgen and Sen. Robert Menendez. “He was looking for my husband. He knew that my husband was Bob’s [Menendez] friend, and he was wondering if he might be with him,” Flor Melgen testified. “I didn’t know he was going to spend the night at my home and I wasn’t prepared.” The Crist visit happened on the weekend of Oct. 9, 2010 … Crist didn’t even see Melgen until later that night. Instead, he dined with Flor Melgen, her daughter and son-in-law … she had to pick up food from The Capital Grille. The next day, Crist wrote the Melgens a $100 check to cover his visit.

In 2010, then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was an uninvited house guest of the wife of Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, who is now on trial for corruption with Sen. Robert Menendez. Crist paid for dinner.

Jaguars apologize to military for protest during anthem in London” via Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports — The Jacksonville Jaguars have sent a letter to Bill Spann, director of Jacksonville’s military affairs and veterans department, apologizing for the team’s demonstration. The team, including owner Shad Khan, locked arms during the anthem, with several players kneeling. Jaguars president Mark Lamping said the team was “remiss in not fully comprehending the effect of the national anthem demonstration on foreign soil has had on the men and women who have or continue to serve our country.” Lamping added, “This was an oversight and certainly not intended to send a message that would disparage you, our flag or our nation.” Jacksonville has a significant military presence, with this letter clearly aimed at bridging whatever rifts may have formed between the team and local military.


Desperate Puerto Ricans line up for water — at a hazardous-waste site” via Arelis R. Hernández and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post — Fencing around the area had been torn open, and a red and white “Peligro” sign, warning of danger, lay hidden beneath debris and dense vegetation. One after another, people attached a hose to draw water for bathing, washing dishes and, in some cases, drinking. They filled buckets, jugs, soda bottles. What many didn’t realize is that the well is one of nearly a dozen that are part of the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund site — designated last year by the Environmental Protection Agency as among the nation’s most toxic sites … Hurricane Maria has brought desperation in many forms. In this corner of the island, many residents still have no reliable source of water and search for access wherever they can.



After Maria, Puerto Rico citizens are lining up for water wherever they can find it … even at a Superfund site.

Tweet, tweet:

— “Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere” via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times

Debbie Wasserman Schultz continues to seek answers from Rick Scott about debris removal” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Wasserman Schultz, who last week confronted Scott in person over slow debris removal in Florida, today sent a letter amplifying those concerns. The letter, signed by several other Florida Democrats, involves Scott’s refusal to pass along to FEMA debris removal contracts at higher rates than had been negotiated before Hurricane Irma. Companies have been going with the most favorable rates. “Given these concerns, and your office’s unsatisfactory response to them, we were dumbfounded by reports that your administration, following nonpublic bidding, entered into contracts for debris removal in Monroe County at rates far higher than those negotiated before the hurricane,” the letter reads. “This action is clearly inconsistent with your office’s refusal to facilitate reimbursement of contracts at higher rates negotiated by local jurisdictions.”

Disasters could push up insurance rates” via the News Service of Florida – Florida’s insurance commissioner said homeowners’ policies could face some “upward pressure,” as he was asked about the impact on rates from this year’s series of natural disasters. Commissioner David Altmaier said the state Office of Insurance Regulation hasn’t seen any indications that insurers are unable to meet claims from Hurricane Irma … But he said with Irma, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and devastating wildfires in California, there may be a trickle-down effect from companies that provide backup insurance to insurers. “We would expect some upward pressure on reinsurance rates that might impact the direct rates that Floridians pay, but at this point in time the precise number is a little early to predict,” Altmaier told Scott and the Florida Cabinet.


Adam Putnam throws elbow at Jack Latvala — The two rivals in the GOP primary for governor have smacked each other around the past few weeks, with the most recent hook coming from the Latvala camp. The Pinellas Republican chided Putnam for utility money accounting for much his massive campaign and committee accounts and said that his own campaign for governor, as well as his political committee, would refuse any money from the literal power brokers. Latvala’s son, Rep. Chris Latvala, got a little more aggressive and was a little more direct in going after Putnam for his donor roll via social media. Putnam’s response: “For 16 years he has accepted their money, I’m not sure he is choosing to send all of that back.” Latvala has received about $100K from utilities since the 2012 cycle, during which Putnam collected more than $800K from the industry. In reality, Putnam’s total could be well into the millions due to many of the committees backing him forking over huge sums conspicuously soon after cashing a fat check from utilities.

Blasting Adam Putnam is a family affair for Jack and Chris Latvala.

John Morgan pledges $1M for ‘living wage’ fight” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – A possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, Morgan said he understands that critics will say he’s using the “living wage” proposal to further his potential candidacy. Morgan, though, said he’s not sure he’ll run for governor, but he definitely wants a minimum wage increase on the 2020 ballot. … On Oct. 13, Morgan’s newly formed Florida for a Fair Wage political committee engaged University of Florida law professor Jon Mills to begin drafting a proposed “living wage” constitutional amendment. Mills drafted the medical marijuana initiative for Morgan previously.

David Jolly wonders if ‘the Republic’ would be safer with Democrats taking House” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Jolly on MSNBC suggested the “Republic” might be safer if Democrats take control of the House in 2018 — therefore providing more of a check on President Trump. Jolly … is known for his open criticism of Trump but has gotten increasingly vocal about what he views as the GOP’s unwillingness to confront the president. Some Republicans scoffed at the remarks. Rob Simms: new quote This is a big deal from him? Same member who assisted 60 Minutes expose of colleagues. Even by DC standards, the self-serving is stunning.”

Brian Mast to appear at GOP HQ opening — The Palm City Republican is scheduled to attend the grand opening of the new Republican Party of Palm Beach County headquarters. Event begins 6 p.m. at 1555 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 500, in West Palm Beach.

Carlos Curbelo outraises Debbie Mucarsel-Powell” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Curbelo raised $431,580 from July 1 to Sept. 30 while Mucarsel-Powell raised $177,048 … The latest quarter is Mucarsel-Powell’s first fundraising total since announcing her bid for Curbelo’s Miami-to-Key West seat in August. Curbelo’s fundraising numbers were down this quarter, as many South Florida politicians chose to suspend fundraising for weeks due to Hurricane Irma. Last quarter, Curbelo raised $705,026. His campaign has raised over $1.7 million in the 2018 cycle so far … Curbelo, a second-term Republican, has garnered financial support from some local Democrats and is one of his party’s leading voices on climate change. Mucarsel-Powell has $161,762 cash on hand while Curbelo has $1.3 million.

— “Lauren Baer Raises $250K, Pam Keith $150K For CD 18 Primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “CD 27 Scramble Already Draws $2 Million In Campaign Donations” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Spotted on the Republican State Leadership Committee’s list of endorsed candidates: Daniel Perez, a Miami-Dade Republican who defeated Democrat Gabriela Mayaudón to replace state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

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Cabinet approves protecting Okeechobee ranch land” via the News Service of Florida —  Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet agreed Tuesday to spend about $5.7 million to conserve more than 2,500 acres of ranch land in a deal that nearly depletes this year’s funding for a program used to keep the agricultural property from development. The deal — known as purchasing a conservation easement — allows the owners of the Corona Ranch in Okeechobee County to continue using the land for cattle, but it prevents future development of the property, which drains into the Kissimmee River. Owned by the Corona family, the land, which is less than 5 miles south of Kissimmee Prairie State Park, houses species such as gopher tortoises, fox squirrels, and burrowing owls and has had three recent Florida Panther sightings … About 34 percent of the land is considered wetlands.

Florida school districts file formal challenge to constitutionality of HB 7069” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — 13 Florida school boards including Pinellas County filed suit in Leon County court, challenging the constitutionality of several provisions of the law created by HB 7069. It argues that local school boards have authority over taxation for local schools, which the Legislature attempted to subvert by making requirements for how to use the revenue. It further contends that local school boards are charged with operating, controlling and supervising all free public schools within their districts, and that system of free public schools must be “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality” … “By creating independent charter ‘Schools of Hope’ in HB 7069, the State is fostering plural, nonuniform systems of education in direct violation of the mandate for a uniform system of free public schools.”

– “Pinellas makes last-ditch plea to legislators to fix HB 7069” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times

Speaker demands Port Tampa Bay execs’ expense and travel reports” via the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Speaker Richard Corcoran has formally asked Port Tampa Bay to provide a voluminous amount of information about its expense and travel activity dating back several years.

Richard Corcoran is asking Port Tampa Bay for a full accounting of expense and travel activity going back several years.

Tom Lee may file constitutional amendment to ban dog racing” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State Sen. Lee, who also sits on the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), has been gauging support for a constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing … Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican running for state Chief Financial Officer in 2018, has called some of the state’s dog track owners to “take their temperature,” said one industry lobbyist, who asked not to be named. “There’s not many people that know about that,” Lee confirmed after a CRC meeting Tuesday. “It’s something that has been on my mind … There’s no question I’m considering it.”

Florida Bar aims to engage Floridians in constitutional review” via Florida Politics — With most Floridians not knowing what the Constitution Revision Commission is or does, The Florida Bar is trying to change that. The Bar launched “Protect Florida Democracy: Our Constitution, Our Rights, Our Courts,” a statewide public education program to fill the void in Floridians’ awareness of constitution revision and engage Floridians in this critical process, according to a news release. “Florida’s constitution determines how much power we the citizens give to our state government and what form that takes,” said Michael J. Higer, president of The Florida Bar. “It is therefore important that we all tune in, stay informed and educated as to any process to amend Florida’s Constitution. It is critical we stay engaged to make sure that we exercise great caution as to any proposed amendment.”

Jason Fischer, Jeff Brandes introduce self-driving cars bill” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — HB 353 would allow for the safe and legal operation of “autonomous vehicles.” The bill also calls for updating sections of Florida’s motor vehicle laws that “require or presume” there’s a human behind the wheel. Fischer stressed the safety that autonomous vehicles would bring to Florida. “Every year in the United States, tens of thousands of people are killed in motor vehicle-related crashes, and more than 90 percent of those crashes are caused by human error,” he said. “Because autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate this error, I plan to do everything in my power to bring these lifesaving technologies to the Sunshine State.” The bill is being sponsored in the Senate by St. Petersburg Republican Brandes, who has been a champion for AV technology.

— “Self-Driving cars could ease traffic, but increase sprawl” Via Matt O’Brien Of The Associated Press

St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes has been a champion for AV technology.

Jeanette Nuñez, Rene Garcia file bill to ban state from investing in businesses with ties to Maduro regime” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – SB 538/HB 359 come on the heels of an announcement Scott made this summer when he threatened to introduce an agenda item before the Trustees of the State Board Administration in August which would prohibit the Sunshine State from doing any business with organizations supporting the Maduro regime. The SBA eventually voted unanimously to approve Scott’s proposed resolution — and now it’s headed to the Florida Legislature for another round of approval. Nunez and Garcia said proposals like theirs would be pivotal in helping bring a light of hope to the Venezuelan people. “This important legislation shows that Florida continues to stand strong against the brutal Maduro regime and any business that supports their oppressive leadership,” Garcia said. “We will continue fighting for human rights and democracy for our friends in Venezuela.”

Tahirih Justice Center thanks lawmakers for bills banning child marriage” via Florida Politics — Republicans Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Reps. Jeanette Nuñezand Frank White filed identical bills in the House and Senate — HB 335 and SB 140 — that would outlaw marriage for anyone under 18. Democratic Rep. Daisy Baez filed a similar measure, HB 71, earlier this year in response to news reports of a Cutler Bay man who committed suicide rather than face possible legal repercussions for sexually abusing multiple girls — one of whom he married — lured into his home as foreign exchange students. “Allowing children to marry robs them of a childhood and forces them into mature situations for which they are not physically, emotionally or financially prepared,” said Jeanne Smoot, the senior counsel for policy and strategy at Tahirih.

Broward Delegation public meeting, votes on leaders — In a public hearing ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Broward County Legislative Delegation choose its leaders. Meeting begins 9 a.m. At the Sunrise Civic Center, 10610 West Oakland Park. in Sunrise.

Lee County Delegation holds public meeting — State Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers, Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and Denise Grimsley of Sebring, will join Reps. Matt Caldwell of North Fort Myers, Dane Eagle of Cape Coral, Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers and Ray Rodrigues of Estero for a meeting in preparation for the 2018 Session. Meeting begins 9 a.m. at the Florida Southwestern State College Nursing Building, 8099 College Parkway in Fort Myers.


State says law enforcement ready for UF speech” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said authorities are prepared to handle people who commit or encourage violence when a white-nationalist leader speaks Thursday at the University of Florida … Gov. Scott got backing from Cabinet members for the state of emergency he declared in Alachua County … issued at the request of Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, included putting the Florida National Guard on standby, in advance of the appearance by “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen intends to be in Gainesville. “Those who show up to exercise their constitutional rights under the First Amendment, they will have no issues,” Swearingen said. “Those who show up to engage in or encourage violence, they are going to have problems. We will be prepared to deal with those folks.”

The head of Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement intends to be in Gainesville for Richard Spencer’s speech.

State targets pharmaceutical company in stock case” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In a rare move, Florida is considering taking on a large pharmaceutical company, alleging the state’s pension fund lost some $127 million in stock value because of federal security violations by the company. The State Board of Administration … will decide next month whether to hire a New York-based law firm to pursue a “direct action” case against Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., rather than joining a class-action lawsuit against the company. Valeant has been accused of violating federal securities regulations by marking up drug prices and then selling the drugs through a pharmacy network, without disclosing the full scope of the transactions to the stockholders. “In my view, if the SBA files a direct action, the SBA may be able to enhance its recovery above the class action recovery by double-digit millions of dollars,” Ash Williams, head of the State Board of Administration, said in a memorandum.

Florida minimum wage rising 15 cents amid calls for $15 hourly” via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s minimum wage will rise by 15 cents, to $8.25, starting in January, but it will have little impact on Central Florida because theme parks and many national chains — including Disney World and Target — are increasing minimum hourly pay to $10 and $11 this year. Target pledged to raise the minimum by 2020 to $15 hourly. A union coalition representing Disney workers also is aiming for that figure in ongoing negotiations — saying it represents a “living wage” that would also help boost the economy by sparking more consumer spending. But about 150 businesses in Florida said they would need to cut staff if the minimum wage rises to $15, among 300 businesses surveyed recently by the Employment Policy Institute. “Many companies are choosing to raise wages voluntarily. We’d argue that this suggests the lack of need for a broad mandate that some small businesses cannot absorb,” said Justin Bruneau, a spokesman for the institute.

PSC regulators say no to FPL nuclear fees without financial analysis” via Susan Salisbury of the Palm Beach Post — Without a required feasibility analysis to show that two new proposed nuclear reactors are a good deal for customers, Florida Power & Light Co. cannot collect costs incurred after 2016, the Florida Public Service Commission decided …  PSC commissioners unanimously agreed with a staff recommendation that because FPL failed to submit a required financial analysis, costs incurred for the two reactors from Jan. 1, 2017, going forward cannot be collected through nuclear power-related fees customers pay. Since 2009 Juno Beach-based FPL has sought an operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the proposed 2,200-megawatt Turkey Point 6 and 7 reactors which could cost as much as $21.8 billion. They might never be built, or no sooner than 2031, at the same facility where FPL already has two operating reactors overlooking Biscayne Bay south of Miami.

Happening today — Workers’ compensation rate reduction discussed — The Florida Office Of Insurance Regulation will consider a proposal by the National Council On Compensation Insurance to reduce the rates of workers’ compensation insurance In 2018. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building in the Capitol.

Fentanyl fuels rise in drug deaths in South Florida” via Ryan Van Velzer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — County medical examiners have compiled statistics for Florida’s upcoming report on 2016 drug overdoses, showing the cause of death from certain drugs doubled, tripled and, in some cases, quadrupled the number of fatalities in 2015, records show … Deaths from fentanyl leapt in Palm Beach County from 80 in 2014 to 324 in 2016. Broward County saw a similar rise, increasing from 44 in 2014 to 180 in 2016. Cocaine-fueled overdose deaths doubled in both counties last year, killing 214 in Palm Beach and 265 in Broward last year, records show. County medical examiners listed two or more drugs as the cause of death in about two-thirds of all overdose cases in Palm Beach and Broward counties in 2016. Often the death is listed as the “combined toxic effects” of drugs including fentanyl, heroin, morphine, cocaine, alcohol, oxycodone and alprazolam (an anti-anxiety medication commonly referred to by the brand name Xanax).

Carlos Beruff has entered the fray to lure a new Amazon corporate headquarters to Manatee County.

Look what Carlos Beruff is up to — “Manatee County homebuilder submits Amazon headquarters bid” via Mark Gordon of — … a project that would include up to 50,000 employees and some $5 billion in capital investments. The bid, officially submitted by FedEx to Amazon’s original Seattle headquarters, comes from Sarasota-Manatee homebuilder Carlos Beruff. The site he proposed is 935 acres in north Manatee County, on the Manatee-Hillsborough County line, just off Interstate 75. Beruff, the founder of Medallion Homes, bought the land for about $5 million in 2013. “We can build a city for them here,” Beruff said. “They will have a blank palate.” Manatee County wasn’t in the national conversation until Beruff chatted with Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran, a longtime friend. Moran mentioned the Manatee land Beruff owned, and he put the builder in touch with Sarasota area urban planner Shay Atluru, president and CEO of engineering consulting firm DTC. Atluru, in turn, worked with planning firm Looney Ricks Kiss on the initial Manatee County-Amazon HQ2 proposal for Beruff and his team.


Tom Rooney: Still time for Senate to save Florida citrus” for The Hill — For the past decade, Florida’s citrus growers have been on the ropes battling a disease that causes their trees to produce yellowing leaves and small fruit … Greening has now spread to virtually every grove in the state and has decreased crop production dramatically. Over this past year, state and federal funding for greening research coupled with growers’ own investments in HLB therapies began to show promise. Growers’ trees were looking healthier, there was less fruit on the ground, and many longtime growers were projecting a rebound. It finally looked like they had turned a corner. That all changed when Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. This storm is a potential deathblow to the Florida citrus industry. However, all hope is not lost. The federal government can provide Florida’s agriculture industry the lifeline it needs to survive this storm. One thing must be made clear: if the federal government does not do something immediately, I am afraid this crop, this way of life, this state treasure, could become a thing of the past. We must not let that happen.

Carol Dover: Protect Florida tourists, neighborhoods by stopping illegal hotel operators” via Florida Politics – Far from the concept of “home sharing,” where homeowners welcome a guest into their residence on an occasional basis, this new phenomenon involves commercial operators acquiring and listing multiple units in the same residential neighborhood and/or listing these units in a “revolving door” fashion. In other words, these real estate speculators are operating de facto hotels without adhering to the common-sense regulations and tax obligations every other hotel or inn in the State must follow. As a practical matter, this means that when a short-term rental goes awry — by becoming a year-round party house in a sleepy residential neighborhood, or the site of a bedbug outbreak — impacted consumers and neighbors have little recourse, and the unscrupulous landlord can continue to operate their short-term rentals unchecked. Our lawmakers must take this new and growing trend seriously, as they will ultimately make the tough decisions on how to respect the property rights of homeowners while reining in those commercial operators operating outside of current law.


John Thrasher among veterans named to Hall of Fame” via the News Service of Florida — Florida State University President Thrasher, a former state House speaker who served in the Vietnam War, is among 20 members of the 2017 class of the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the class recommended by the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Council. A display of hall of fame members is on a wall near the east entrance of the Florida Capitol. An induction ceremony is being planned for the week after Thanksgiving.

Reappointed Mario Bailey to South Florida Regional Planning Council.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Ocean Park Condominium Association, American Clinical Solutions

Ron BookRana BrownKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency

Jennifer BraistedMichelle BranhamCyrena DuncanEvan Holler: Alzheimer’s Association

Kevin CabreraEdgar CastroNelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: Brightgray Solutions

Rosanna Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: City of Punta Gorda, Poseidon Resources

Jonathan Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: US Iron

Gabrielle Craft, Ard Shirley & Rudolph: Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association, Hialeah

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: The Unlimited Path

Mercer FearingtonJim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: AZ Ocala Ranch, Gulfstream Natural Gas System

Susan Goldstein, The Legis Group: Jacksonville School for Autism, Mix’d Greens

Nicholas IarossiKen GrangerDean IzzoChristopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Rick Staab

Mike Haridopolos: MJS Capital Holdings

Carly Hermanson: Allstate Insurance Company, Castle Key Insurance

Lisa Miller, Lisa Miller and Associates: Pier Associates

Allen MorthamSandra Mortham, Mortham Governmental Consultants: Sunstate Academy

Greg Parks, Parks Advocacy Group: BrightGray Solutions

Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: Florida Nurses Association

Joy Ryan, Meenan: Brighthouse Financial

Craig Wright: Office of Insurance Regulation

— ALOE —

Alligators are out there eating sharks, no big deal” via Amy Wang of The Washington Post — The American alligator has long been known as a fierce apex predator, easily capable of taking down its typical freshwater prey — fish, crustaceans, wading birds — and very occasionally going after humans. But its diet may extend further than previously thought. When given the chance, these gators will travel into saltwater environments and feed on marine animals such as stingrays and sharks, according to a new study published in the journal Southeastern Naturalist. James Nifong, the lead author of the study, spent nearly a decade observing American alligator populations along the coasts of Florida and Georgia … Nifong and the teams he worked with temporarily caught more than 500 alligators and pumped their stomachs using a hose, a pipe and something of a Heimlich maneuver … alligators had consumed three new species of sharks and one new species of stingray, Nifong said. He estimated that the largest sharks eaten were 3 to 4 feet long, while the largest stingrays consumed were probably 2 to 3 feet long.

Happy birthday to GrayRobinson’s Tim Cerio, INFLUENCE 100 alum Marcus Jadotte, and the awesome Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners.

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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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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