Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
What exactly would “A Better Florida” look like?
That’s the theme Democrats have chosen for their next attempt to break the Republican stranglehold on the state.
“They’ve been in the wilderness for about 20 years now,” political analyst Darryl Paulson said. “They need to find something or someone who can lead them back to the promised land.”
They gather Friday at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort for their biennial state conference, where they will spend the next three days planning how to convince voters they can deliver that “better” state.
In other words: prove it.
That task could be complicated by all the focus sure to be on two prominent Democrats who aren’t scheduled to attend – Orlando attorney John Morgan and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
Both have been coy about whether they plan to run for governor in 2018, and both are rich enough that they could follow Rick Scott’s blueprint and launch their own outsider bids if they choose.
While President Trump’s approval rating in Florida has sunk to 38 percent according to a Fox News poll, the outlook for Democrats to take back the governor’s mansion after five consecutive losses is daunting. Republicans have a significant advantage in fund-raising and in statewide races have lost just once – when Alex Sink beat Tom Lee in 2006 to be chief financial officer – in this century.
Republicans have controlled the agenda on guns, schools, taxes and the environment during that time. Which brings us back to the Democratic theme for this cycle: A Better Florida.
How can a party on a prolonged losing streak convince Floridians that the time is right to trust new ideas? Who would deliver all that, anyway?
That’s the issue Democrats must grapple with.
“The outsider is in today in politics,” Paulson said. “Neither (Morgan or Levine) needs to be at the convention, frankly, given their status.
“If you’re a Democratic leader, you’re caught in a bind. You’d like to have someone (running for governor) that you can control, but you need to find someone who can win.”
“Tim Canova vows progressives will push back on status quo at Democratic event” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Last week in Las Vegas, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez removed several party officials from central party committees who backed Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s chairmanship bid. Canova said it “added insult to injury” that Perez appointed former interim DNC chair and CNN commentator Donna Brazile as a DNC delegate and to the Rules and Bylaws Committee. “It’s really disappointing. There are folks who are speculating that this is intended to drive progressives out of the party, and it will be a smaller, weaker party if there’s more of a ‘DemExit.’” Susan Smith, the head of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, hadn’t seen Canova’s email, but she hopes the media and others don’t depict the schism in the party as a battle between Bernie and Hillary, but as the grassroots versus Wall Street. Florida Democrats are scheduled to meet this weekend for their annual state conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Canova hopes to start a conversation about what’s going on within the party. “I’m not fueling the ‘DemExit,’ they are,” Canova says of the Perez/Debbie Wasserman Schultz wing of the party. “I’m fighting for the party to return to its New Deal roots.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @LearyReports: .@, on CNN, says his presidential campaign had no role in Trump oppo.
— @MarcoRubio: I commend @# a public health emergency. Too many in # have fallen victim to this epidemic.for declaring the
— @LedgeKing: .@calls .@ declaration of opioid crisis as public health emergency “a positive step in the battle to contain the growing problem of drug addiction.” FL had 3,228 drug OD deaths acc. to CDC & Buchanan’s cong district led the state.
— @CraigTimes: # mayor tells Japanese delegation not to let # offend them. Group to have dinner tonight at Mar-A-Lago.
— @RosLehtinen: Congrats to @# community proud!on being named as US ambassador to @ . He’ll make our
— @TroyKinsey: Should @# race next week, @ has 1/2 year to size up field. If no clear frontrunner by spring, buckle up.enter
— @BruceRitchie: “Voluntary” and “mandatory” evacuations not defined in Florida law, @‘s Wes Maul tells House panel. So no one says you have to leave.
— @MichaelVanSickler: So this @fella isn’t helping efforts for a new @ stadium.
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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Gwen Graham serves up Cuban sandwiches and campaigning in Tampa” via Steve Newborn of WUSF – Graham helped bake bread and then hustled at the counter at Ybor City’s iconic La Segunda bakery. It’s all part of her getting to know the communities she wants to represent as governor. Graham, a former congresswoman from North Florida, acknowledged no Democrat has won that office since Lawton Chiles in 1994. “I happen to be from North Florida, where I won an election in 2014 in a Republican district where no one gave me a chance, and guess what – we won,” she said. “And we will win this gubernatorial election.” During her visit, Graham took Gov. Scott to task for backtracking this week on his campaign promise to give every teacher a $2,500 pay raise. She said he needs to put it in his budget.
Assignment editors – Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross are slated to speak during a Pinellas County Republican Party Reagan Day Dinner beginning 7 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, 105 North Bayshore Dr. in Safety Harbor.
“Paul Paulson drops Ag bid, backs Matt Caldwell” via Jacob Engels of the Central Florida Post – Since launching his campaign several months ago, Paulson has run an aggressive digital program, amassing almost 80,000 followers on social media. According to sources close to his campaign, they have also cultivated a network of nearly 500 volunteers and interns across Florida, along with a very impressive digital voter ID program. In an exclusive statement … Paulson thanked his supporters. “Though I will no longer be a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, I will still actively work to make sure Floridians get honest, innovative, and independent leadership with their next Commissioner of Agriculture.”
“National Republicans backing both Mike Miller and Scott Sturgill in CD 7” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The National Republican Campaign Committee announced Thursday it is backing both state Rep. Miller and his primary challenger Sturgill in the race to take on U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The NRCC announced it was including both Miller and Sturgill in its “On the Radar” level of support, among 31 candidates nationally thus designated Thursday. The NRCC also named Bruno Barreiro in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, where there is a scramble to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The announcement adds fuel to Sturgill’s campaign, signaling a clear race in what many initially considered Miller’s.
– “Alvin Brown prepares to primary Al Lawson for U.S. House seat” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
– “CD 12 hopeful Mathew Thomas warns election hacking is a federal issue” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
“Judge denies Miami candidate’s request for new ballots” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – A Miami-Dade judge denied a candidate’s attempt to force the county supervisor of elections to halt the distribution of ballots in the city of Miami’s 4th District until new ballots could be redrawn with her name atop her competitors. Denise Galvez Turros had sought to place her name first on the ballot ahead of Manuel “Manolo” Reyes and Ralph Rosado. In a complaint filed this month after absentee ballots began to go out, she argued that the supervisor of elections and Miami city clerk had wrongly considered her surname to be Turros, resulting in her third-ranked placement on the ballot due to alphabetical ordering. Galvez had sought a preliminary injunction from Judge Rosa Rodriguez that would have forced the printing of new ballots, but was denied during an emergency hearing.
“Joe Biden endorses Rick Kriseman” via the Tampa Bay Reporter – Biden is making an appeal to St. Petersburg voters who supported him and President Barack Obama in previous elections, urging them to cast their ballots for Kriseman. The former vice president cited Kriseman’s strong record of accomplishments–lowering crime and poverty, preparing for climate change, and working to grow the middle class. “I have a straightforward message to the St. Pete voters. If you voted for Barack and me when we were on the ballot, then we need you to get out there and vote for Rick Kriseman. Rick has a great track record on important issues to St. Petersburg: like reducing poverty, reducing crime, preparing for climate change, and creating jobs where you can support a middle-class family. So please, get out there and re-elect Rick Kriseman,” Biden said.
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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
Just posted on FloridaPolitics.com: “Race for Senate presidency gets underway, but at stately pace“
“Richard Corcoran rejects using reserves to balance budget” via the News Service of Florida – With the state facing a likely budget shortfall and costs from Hurricane Irma, House Speaker Corcoran made clear he opposes dipping into reserves to balance the 2018-2019 budget. “We are and have gone out, campaigned, knocked on doors and told people that we’re committed conservatives,” Corcoran said during a news conference at the Capitol. He said the state’s current level of reserves is a “minimum number” and is not something the House would support tapping. He said dipping into reserves for non-emergency situations could affect the state’s bond rating, which could increase borrowing costs. “Nothing out there warrants us going into those reserves,” he said. “What we’re really talking about is, `Can I have my pork-barrel projects and get it from reserves’ and pay from those reserves for Irma” expenses.
“Corcoran unveils bill to require more transparency from Visit Orlando” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – “The House is committed to following the conservative principles of transparency and accountability when it comes to all government contracts and expenditures,” Corcoran said. “They will be kept in the Sunshine.” One bill (HB 3) requires local tourism and economic development councils across the state to get the approval of county boards for contracts of more than $250,000 and to post online any contract of more than $5,000. It would also require tourism development organizations to be audited every other year. The proposal is similar to the accountability measures imposed by lawmakers this year on Visit Florida, the statewide tourism marketing agency, including a requirement that contracts of more than $750,000 be approved by lawmakers.
“Lawmakers look for answers amid trauma fights” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – The Florida Department of Health has 40 legal challenges stemming from rules and decisions on trauma care and will spend more than $1 million on litigation over the next five years, according to Assistant Secretary for Health Cindy Dick. House Health Quality Chairman Rep. James Grant wants to pass a bill during the 2018 session that would return stability to the trauma planning process. He advised panel members that they ask tough questions but remain neutral. Florida law limits to 44 the number of trauma centers allowed in the state, with limits also in 19 separate regions. Dick said interest in the trauma centers has been on the uptick since 2010 after a National Uniform Billing Committee move that authorized trauma activation fees. The fees are intended, Dick said, to offset the costs of facilities having trauma resources available on call. Much of the litigation in Florida has come after the HCA health care company began seeking in recent years to open trauma centers at hospitals in various parts of the state. Other hospitals that already operated trauma centers challenged the HCA proposals and the Department of Health.
“Lawmakers seek the right to make surprise visits to troubled youth justice programs” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald – Two state lawmakers from Miami-Dade County have filed a bill that would allow legislators, judges and public defenders to make surprise inspections of lockups and residential programs overseen by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The bill, sponsored by Democrats Rep. David Richardson and Rep. Cynthia Stafford, was filed a little more than a week after the two, along with three of their colleagues, toured the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center and proclaimed it a disgrace. “The living conditions are horrible, horrific, deplorable,” state Rep. Kionne McGhee said as he left the lockup. “Unacceptable. Unacceptable. And we want answers.”
“Push is on to bury a slave-owning past” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – South Florida Democrats are concentrating on burying Florida’s slave-holding past. They are pushing for a memorial to Florida’s slave population, the removal of Confederate monuments on public lands and the ending of three Confederate-related state holidays. “This topic of how we celebrate history, history that might be extremely painful, has come to the forefront in the last couple years and really boiled to the surface in the last year,” said state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who’s sponsoring the bill to end Confederate state holidays. Other efforts to address Florida’s slave-holding past are just getting off the ground. State Rep. Shevrin Jones still lacks a Senate sponsor for his effort to remove Confederate monuments on public lands, but he’s convinced the time is now. Among the 20 official Florida holidays are three honoring the Confederacy — Confederate Memorial Day (April 26) and the birthdays of Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19) and Jefferson Davis (June 3).
“Carlos Trujillo tapped by Donald Trump to be OAS ambassador” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida –Trump nominated Florida state Rep. Trujillo of Miami to be the permanent representative of the United States to the Organization of American States, with the rank of ambassador. The bilingual Trujillo, the Florida House’s budget chairman, was first elected to his legislative seat in 2010 and has also been serving in a temporary role as a representative to the United Nation’s General Assembly for the past two months. Trujillo, an early Trump supporter, said he was unsure if he’ll resign his legislative office before the state lawmaking session begins in January, and that his plans will hinge on the Senate’s confirmation schedule. Trujillo can count on the support of his fellow Miami-area Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve my country,” Trujillo said. “I look forward to me Senate confirmation hearing and my new responsibilities.”
— STATEWIDE —
“FBI: No foreign terror links in Florida mall bomb plot” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press – No evidence has surfaced of links to foreign extremists in an alleged plot by a Honduran man to bomb a Florida mall despite his claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, an FBI agent testified … Agent David Clancy said at a bail hearing that Vicente Adolfo Solano appears to have come up with the idea on his own before sharing the plan with an acquaintance who turned out to be an FBI informant. Under close surveillance, the two of them then began plotting to bomb the busy food court at the Miami-area Dolphin Mall.
“Donald Trump pledges to speed up Lake Okeechobee dike repairs” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to complete a $1.7 billion renovation of the earthen berm in 2025, but Scott has pressed for the project to be completed by 2022. “Today, President Donald J. Trump instructed the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney to accelerate the completion of repairs to Florida’s Herbert Hoover Dike,” the White House statement says. “This project is important to the state of Florida and we are honored to play a role in the funding, and now acceleration, of this essential infrastructure initiative,” Mulvaney said.
“Florida hurricane fund may pay out as much as $5.1 billion” via The Associated Press – Anne Bert, chief operating officer for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, said Thursday the fund will be able to pay claims with cash. That means the fund will not have to borrow any money. The financial health of the fund is important because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if money runs out. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.”
“Officials defend massive evacuation traffic plans” via The Associated Press – Despite widespread traffic jams that choked Florida’s highways, state officials are defending the approach used during Hurricane Irma. Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew explained to state legislators why officials decided against reversing the flow on traffic on major highways such as Interstate 75. Other states such as Georgia made their interstate highways one-way as the storm approached. Dew said a better plan for Florida was allowing motorists to drive on the shoulders of the road. Florida officials allowed this approach on both I-75 and I-4.
“Rick Scott wants more gas for Florida” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gov. Scott on Thursday told the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) “to work with other state agencies, Florida ports, law enforcement and fuel retailers to begin examining ways to increase fuel capacity during emergencies such as hurricanes,” according to a press release. The department’s report will be submitted next January and “will include recommendations for fuel distribution and availability to consumers,” the release said. “We (need to) be sure families and visitors have the resources they need to safely prepare and evacuate during times of emergencies,” Scott said in a statement.
“Proposal would assure governor’s power to name justices” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A proposed constitutional amendment would ensure that future governors could appoint new judges and justices up to their last day in office. John Stemberger, a member of the Constitution Revision Commission, filed the amendment Thursday. It would make certain that judicial terms end the day before a new governor takes over from a sitting one. The filing comes less than a week before oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court in a related case against Gov. Rick Scott. Progressive groups have challenged his authority to appoint three new Supreme Court justices on the last day of his term in 2019.
Unhappy together: Supreme Court thumbs down ‘old rock ‘n’ roll’ case – The state’s highest court Thursday ruled against the artists known as Flo & Eddie, original members of The Turtles, a 1960s band whose most famous hit is “Happy Together.” They were seeking to be paid for continued playing of their old music on satellite radio. “The crucial question presented is whether Florida common law recognizes an exclusive right of public performance in pre-1972 sound recordings,” the court said in a unanimous opinion penned by Justice Charles Canady. “We conclude that Florida law does not recognize any such right and that Flo & Eddie’s various state law claims fail.” Federal copyright protection is only available for recordings made after Feb. 15, 1972.
“Aramis Ayala’s office will seek death penalty in murder case” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel – Chief Assistant State Attorney Deborah Barramade the announcement at a luncheon hosted by the Orange County Bar Association in downtown Orlando. She did not name the defendant but said the assistant state attorney assigned to that case is preparing to file a notice to seek the death penalty. “We recently met to start the process of actually reviewing the cases,” Barra said. “I can tell you that we are going through each case that is currently assigned to our office since January. We are reviewing all of the homicides that came in to see if they would qualify. “And I can tell you that just recently — in fact, yesterday — the board met and we were unanimous that a case does qualify for the death penalty. The state attorney has been informed.”
“Challenge could delay marijuana ID outsourcing” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida – A rejected vendor intends to challenge state health officials’ hiring of a competitor to process medical-marijuana identification cards. The protest could delay for months the outsourcing of the ID cards … that are already the subject of frustration for patients, doctors and legislators. Patients have complained about months-long delays in getting the cards, which are required before they can purchase marijuana products from state-sanctioned dispensaries after doctors have ordered the treatment. Christian Bax, executive director of the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use, heard a litany of complaints this week from lawmakers about delays involving the cards. But on the same day Bax issued a notice that he intended to award the contract for the cards to Veritec Solutions LLC, losing bidder Automated Health Solutions Inc. filed a notice that it intends to protest the decision. A decision from an administrative judge in the protest won’t come until mid-February, according to deadlines set out in Florida law.
Assignment editors – Trulieve Medical Marijuana Treatment Center will open a new dispensary at 10 a.m. at Trulieve-Gainesville, 1527 Northwest 6th Street.
Florida Technology Council holds annual board meeting – … to assess the organization’s mission and strategic plans for the legislative session. The FTC is the only association in Florida focused exclusively on the needs and priorities of the state’s technology sector. They present a unified voice to state government both in the Legislative and Executive branch on behalf of the technology sector. The Council is currently composed of 42 members, all leaders in the technology industry across the county, from California to Florida and with big names like Harris and Uber. The meeting was attended by 30 members of the council, as well as FTC founder and President, Claudia Davant, FTC Chairman Cindy Loomis, and Executive Director, Jim Taylor.
Happening Saturday: Political guru Brecht Heuchan honored with the ICE Foundation Award – The Innovative Community Engagement (ICE) Foundation, a statewide 501(c)(3) headquartered in Tallahassee, is hosting its annual Service Ball presented by Comcast 7 p.m. at the University Center Club at FSU. The Service Ball serves as an event to honor community leaders and organizations for their commitment to service. The recipient of the 2017 Earned Legacy Award is Heuchan, President and Owner of Contribution Link. “Service in its simplest form is meeting the needs of another,” says Heuchan, who is known for his humility and thoughtfulness. “I don’t know of a higher calling than this.” The ball serves as the ICE Foundation’s major community fundraiser with leaders being honored with Shine [BRIGHT] Awards.
— OPINIONS —
“Greg Steube: Hotels want Florida to be like Communist China” via Florida Politics – Recently it was reported by The New York Times that President Xi of China and the Communist Party, in order “To reduce the flow of outsiders to the capital, Airbnb and similar home-sharing services have been temporarily suspended.” Nothing would make the Florida hotel industry and local governments happier than if they could do the same and ban short-term vacation rentals in our state. A recent op-ed by Carol Dover of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) presents an alarmist, inaccurate and unfair portrait of short-term vacation rentals that fails to acknowledge their important contribution to our local and state economies – or her organization’s self-interest in limiting them. Large hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott, for example, pay untold amounts to FRLA and its national organization to protect their market share. Dover claims that vacation rentals are “illegal hotels” – which is absurd. The fact is, travelers love the options they have with vacation rentals and the authentic experiences they enjoy staying in rented rooms, homes, apartments or condos. A recent statewide survey found that 93 percent of Floridians believe Florida travelers should be permitted to rent accommodations other than hotels – such as vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts.
— NEW AND RENEWED LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS —
Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: ofo US Limited
Matt Brockelman, Southern Strategy Group: Apple
James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: University of Miami
Alberto Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Sarah Busk, R. Justin Day, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Ygrene Energy Fund Florida
Erica Chanti, The Rubin Group: The Geo Group
Kenneth Di Sabato, John Gerbino,: Barclays Capital
Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: Manatee County Board of County Commissioners
Kevin Doyle, Wexford Strategies: Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Five Points Health Care
Douglas Holder, Robert Schenck, The Legis Group: 1307 Mosso, Eastern Shipbuilding Group
Julia Juarez, JEJ & Associates: ChargePoint
Ryan Matthews, Peebles & Smith: Ecology & Environment
Darrick McGhee Sr., Johnson & Blanton: Marquis Software Development
Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Centennial Management
Katie Smith, The Mayernick Group: March of Dimes
Angela Adams Suggs: Florida Sports Foundation
Stephen Uchino, Anfield Consulting: City of Flagler Beach
— WEEKEND TV —
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James will speak with eight diverse students from three high schools and 2 middle schools discuss race, patriotism, border control/immigration and police brutality.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include columnist/former state Sen. Paula Dockery; Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet; Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith and political consultant/attorney Jessica Ehrlich.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on the transportation infrastructure of Florida, including how road, rail, and air all fit into the growth of the Sunshine State. Guests include Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes, Republican state Rep. Jason Fischer, Frank Kruppenbacher (Chairman, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority), Whit Blanton (Executive Director, Forward Pinellas), Steve Olson (FDOT Public Information Officer, Central Florida region), Bill Jones (FDOT Public Information Officer, Tampa region).
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Orlando businessman Rob Panepinto talks about his entry into the race for Orange County mayor; PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders about administrative costs for private insurance and Medicare.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas and Dr. Ed Moore.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Rick Mullaney of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and Giselle Carson, board chair of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
— ALOE —
“Disney Cruise line to split time in Florida, Puerto Rico and California for early 2019” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel – Disney Cruise Line will have all four ships based in Florida for at least part of the first half of 2019, but Disney Wonder will also be visiting Puerto Rico and California. The cruise line revealed plans for its fleet for sailings from January-May with bookings open to the public beginning Nov. 2. Once again, the line’s largest and newest ships will keep sailing from Port Canaveral, but will be joined in February by Disney Wonder after a series of sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico in January. Disney Wonder will then make its way via a 14-night Panama Canal cruise to begin two months of sailing the Mexican Riviera and Baja, California out of San Diego.
Happiest of birthdays to our dear friend Alia Faraj-Johnson, who is one of the absolute best working in The Process. Just look at what she’s done since she took over Hill+Knowlton’s Tallahassee operation! More important, she is an incredible wife, mother, and daughter who always puts her family first. We love you, Alia.