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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.6.17

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

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

Let’s apply some Donald Rumsfeld logic to the scandalized politics engulfing Florida’s capital.

“There are things we know we know,” is Rumsfeld’s first dictum. In this case, WE KNOW things like Jeff Clemens had an affair, a private investigator has been tracking Jack Latvala, and a surveillance camera was found in a condominium building occupied by several lawmakers and lobbyists. We know that POLITICO Florida has published a report detailing accusations against Latvala of inappropriate contact and sexual harassment. We know that Joe Negron has ordered an investigation into the allegations.

That’s really all that we know we know.

Now, for the second part according to Rumsfeld, the known unknowns. We know there was a PI trailing Latvala, but we don’t know who is behind that. We know there was a camera in the Tennyson Building, but we don’t know what it captured. We know there are accusations against Latvala, but we don’t know who the accusers are. We know Latvala will be investigated, but we don’t know how the investigation will be handled.

Channeling Donald Rumsfeld in the Jack Latvala/Jeff Clemens situation.

We may get answers to some of these questions, but likely not all of them.

And, finally, as explained by Rumsfeld, there are unknown unknowns or things we don’t know we don’t know.

By definition, it’s difficult to pinpoint the unknown unknowns, but if we had to hazard some guesses, we are left to wonder:

Will Latvala continue to fight back against the accusations made against him?

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Will Latvala’s accusers go on record against him? Are they credible? Is any testimony they provide credible?

If Latvala fights back will he a) remain Appropriations Committee Chairman during said fight b) continue to run for Governor?

Will other accusers, anonymous or not, come forward against Latvala? What if there aren’t any more and no one will go on record against him?

What if the accusers do go on record and the result is a mixed bag that reads more like inappropriate behavior but falls short of sexual harassment?

What if, for any combination of reasons, Latvala is forced from the Senate and the Governor’s race, will he go quietly? Or will he take down other elected officials? (If the current situation really is, in part, due to the efforts of former Sen. Frank Artiles, who is not exactly a rocket scientist, what could an exiled Latvala do with his institutional memory and millions of dollars?

And here’s the question on everyone’s mind — the ultimate unknown unknown — who is next? First, it was Clemens, now it is Latvala, but does anyone believe it ends there?

— “Capitol culture under scrutiny after Jeff Clemens exit” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida

— “Code of silence is breaking on Tallahassee’s sex secrets” via Mary Ellen Klas, Steve Bousquet and Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

— “Advice for Jack Latvala” via Peter Schorsch

— “Florida congressman blasts ‘predator’ Latvala amid counteroffensive against sexual harassment chargers” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon

— “Tallahassee whispers tie state Sen. from Broward to sex harassment” via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @StephenAtHome: Sunday is the end of Daylight Saving, so remember to turn your clocks back one hour, then go back to yoking your oxen!

— @TB_Times: Former DNC head Donna Brazile says she considered replacing Clinton with Biden as nominee

— @MDixon55: .@JeffreyBrandes not so subtly pushing senate to outside counsel direction for @JackLatvala investigation … Obvious context is the two are not friends, but Brandes is first (I think) senator to go on record about need for independent investigation

@DeFede: The culture of sexual harassment in Tally needed exposing. The sad part is now if you are a female lobby’s you will be at a disadvantage … Legislators already telling me they won’t meet female lobbyists after hours at bars and restaurants for fear of being accused of doing … something wrong. But they will continue to socialize with male lobbyists after hours

— @MissStPete: How much do special elections cost FL? Are we looking into like, group discounts?

— @SenReneGarcia: So very proud of @univmiami football. We are most certainly back!

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CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Independent investigation ordered into Jack Latvala allegations” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — After the allegations emerged … Negron directed General Counsel Dawn Roberts to lead the investigation. But in a letter Saturday, Roberts pointed to her past professional dealings with Latvala, including their previous roles with the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. “During my initial assessment, it became clear to me that my professional relationship with Senator Latvala through the years, most recently as staff director of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, of which he was chair during President (DonGaetz‘s administration, could call into question the objectivity of the investigation,” Roberts wrote. “Therefore, effectively immediately, I am recusing myself from the investigation.” Negron issued a memo saying he is “ordering a professional, independent, third-party investigation of the allegations regarding Senator Latvala. A professional, independent, third-party investigator will ensure a full, fair and impartial investigation. Senators and staff will be notified when the independent third-party investigator has been selected.”

Jack Latvala allies come to his defense after sexual harassment claims” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – The allegations against Latvala … range from him grabbing a female lobbyist’s buttocks to making unsolicited comments about breasts … The women Florida Politics talked to said they were not among them, but they have worked with him closely in The Process. Following criticism from members in both parties in the House and Senate, these women continued to praise the Senate budget chief’s ethics. Two of them acknowledged that they too have experienced sexual harassment at the Capitol by other elected officials, but insisted they never saw Latvala act inappropriately. “If you are a female elected official then you should have an expectation that people will say and do things to you in a sexual nature with the intention of being offending,” former Sen. Ronda Storms, a Republican, said. “That hasn’t been my experience with (Latvala), but it has been my experience with other people, with another male senator.”

Chris Latvala rejects Adam Putnam’s commentary via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times — It wasn’t a matter of if, but when, Putnam was going to put out a statement about allegations against Latvala. Latvala’s son, Rep. Chris Latvala, didn’t take too kindly to it and tweeted this. Latvala was likely referring to former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who worked closely with Putnam when he served in Congress. Hastert served 13 months in prison starting in 2016 after admitting he had sexually abused boys he supervised while he worked as a high school wrestling coach. So yeah, this is pretty much going to be the most vicious race for governor we’ve seen in quite a long time.

The governor’s race is going to get nasty, as Chris Latvala goes to bat against Adam Putnam over his dad’s troubles.

Quote of the Month — “It’s almost like a dark state going on in Tallahassee” — Rep. Carlos Trujillo, as quoted in this Times/Herald story.

Sex scandal snuffs out Democrat’s political career” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Democrats in Palm Beach County and Tallahassee are left to wonder what might have been for Clemens, who had worked as a reporter in Naples and played guitar in a rock band before embarking on his political career. Clemens might have attended a legislative delegation meeting with Palm Beach County commissioners on Thursday, but the meeting went on without him. The name of the man who carried county bills and was poised to become one of the most powerful voices in Tallahassee was not mentioned a single time. With the surprise and disappointment of Clemens’ resignation still fresh, some county officials were unwilling to discuss him. Others recalled a singular talent who understood policy and how to win. Indeed, it seemed Clemens couldn’t lose.

Spotted: Rep. Jim Boyd and wife Sandy celebrating their anniversary at St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club.

Lawmakers foresee ‘headwinds’ in passing major insurance legislation” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, who represents the Irma-battered Florida Keys, said property insurance would be the “main” insurance issue she will tackle in the upcoming legislative session. “I made some promises to myself over the summer that I was going to have a much calmer session this year, and not be in the middle of too many fights, but Mother Nature had different plans,” Flores said during a panel discussion at the Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Insurance Summit. Still, lawmakers predict numerous “headwinds” in passing major insurance legislation this session. Republican Rep. Jay Fant said some of those obstacles include an election year and a state Supreme Court that “is not particularly friendly” toward business groups at the moment.

The Florida Chamber’s Frank Walker leads a legislative panel during the 2017 Insurance Summit. 

Stadium funding proposals stay on sidelines” via the News Service of Florida —  Shut out by the House in the past, backers of professional sports stadiums did not seek state money this year for upgrades or to build facilities. Karen Smith, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic Opportunity, said in an email that the agency did not receive any applications for an annual stadium-funding program. The program was created in 2014 as a way to reduce lobbying for state money for stadium projects. But with House leaders opposed to such spending, the program has not been used. Rep. Bryan Avila has filed a measure (HB 6005) for the 2018 session that would repeal the 2014 law, which was designed to make available $13 million a year in state sales-tax dollars for stadium work.

Committee meetings to watch today:

— Florida Forever examined in Senate — The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will discuss SB 370, from Chair Rob Bradley of Fleming Island, which seeks to spend up to $100 million a year for the Florida Forever land-conservation program. Meeting starts 1:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate debates child marriage bill — The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will discuss SB 140, from Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, to ban the issuance of marriage licenses to people under the age of 18. Meeting begins 4 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate considers diaper tax exemption — The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will discuss SB 56, from Plantation Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, for a sales-tax exemption on diapers, incontinence undergarments, pads and liners. Meeting starts 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

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NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Maybe he’s not perfect — “John Morgan is pushing for a $15 minimum wage in Florida, but some employees at his companies make less” via Colin Wolf of Orlando Weekly — A recent posting on the job site Indeed.com offers $11 an hour for a customer service/call center position at the Law Offices of Morgan & Morgan in Orlando. Another position, posted on the site Glassdoor.com, offers $12 an hour for an office runner job. “I can tell what angle you’re getting at with this story, and it’s bullshit,” said Morgan in a phone interview Oct. 20 with Orlando Weekly. “I bet you don’t make $25,000 a year,” Morgan said. “This all needs context,” explained Morgan, who says the turnover rate for employees at his call center is tremendous in the first six months, but those who stick it out make an average of $35,000 a year. Morgan also says his office made a costly decision to keep their call center operations from going overseas. It’s worth noting that an hourly wage of $15 an hour is equal to roughly $31,200 a year.

John Morgan pushes back on accusations he doesn’t practice what he preaches in the Fight for 15.

Tampa, St. Pete leaders endorse Gwen Graham — Jim DavisDwight Dudley and Karl Nurse on Friday announced their support for Graham as Democrat for Governor in 2018. “In dedicating themselves to improving their communities, these leaders have seen firsthand how 20 years of one-party, Republican rule in Tallahassee has harmed Florida families across our state,” Graham said. “As governor, I will stand with them in fighting for our values. We will restore our promise to public schools, protect our clean land and water, and create an economy that works for every Floridian.” Davis is a former Florida House majority leader, congressman and candidate for governor. Dudley is a former state representative for Pinellas County. Nurse is a St. Petersburg city councilman.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff endorses Frank White for AG – Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson is the latest in a list of law enforcement professionals supporting White for Attorney General. Johnson’s endorsement closely follows that of Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. “Frank White is the Attorney General Florida needs,” Johnson said in an announcement. “Frank has been unwavering in his support for our law enforcement community and Florida’s veterans. It is critically important that we have a principled conservative and advocate for the rule of law in our next Attorney General.”

Florida Dem chair urges Rick Scott to ‘immediately’ set election to replace Jeff Clemens” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel urged the governor to “immediately” set a date for voters to choose a replacement for hastily departed Sen. Clemens. “Gov. Scott plans to call for a special election in accordance with Florida law. Our office will work with the Secretary of State and local officials, and we will have an announcement soon,” Scott spokesman John Tuppssaid. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher — a former Democratic state House member — has suggested a Jan. 30 primary and April 10 general election to replace Clemens in Senate District 31. Under that scenario, constituents in the heavily Democratic district would likely go through the entire 2018 Legislative Session without representation in the Senate. Bittel’s letter does not suggest a specific date for elections.

Lori Berman says Joe Negron’s sexual harassment policy ‘absolutely shameful’ via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Democratic state Rep. Berman criticized GOP state Senate President Negron for defending what she calls “a terrible sexual harassment policy that discourages victims from coming forward,” saying it’s “absolutely shameful.” Berman is running for the seat vacated by former state Sen. Clemens, who resigned last week after confessing to having an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. “This policy silences victims by forcing them to confide in the same people who have the power to terminate their employment, and who many times have political allegiances to the members being accused of harassment,” said Berman in a statement issued by her state Senate campaign. “This is absolutely shameful.” She said the Senate should follow the policies in place by most major companies and organizations: Let victims file complaints to human resource staff instead of a direct superior.

With Matt Matin entry, three Democrats now vying for HD 44” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Real estate agent and former urban planner Matin of Winter Garden filed in late October to run there, and businessman Eddy Dominguez of Dr. Phillips said he has sent in his paperwork to run, both joining Dawn Marie Antonis, who filed in August. The trio is seeking a chance to take on newly-sworn-in state Rep. Bobby Olszewski, who won a brutal Republican primary in August and then beat Dominguez in a special election in October to fill what had been a seat vacated last spring by former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, who left for a judicial appointment. Republicans have owned the seat for decades.

Assignment editors – St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King will speak to volunteers for a get-out-the-vote effort at 1 p.m. at the North St. Pete campaign staging location, 1081 118th Terrace N. in St. Petersburg.

Tweet, tweet:

Spotted: Caldwell was also out and about Saturday at the Apalachicola Seafood Festival.

STORMS

Spending proposals pitched as Irma remains priority” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — House members, mostly Republicans, have pitched 114 projects and programs for state money. The proposals range from $30,000 for the Okaloosa County Historical Museum to $2 million for coastal work in Jacksonville Beach to $300,000 for drainage improvements in Miami Gardens. House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, who is vice chairman of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, said priority would be given to projects that can be linked to Hurricane Irma relief or to brace for future disasters. “My suspicion is, as we move forward in the process, the appropriation bills that are going to get a hearing deal with these topics more so than the bills that do not,” Rodrigues said.

Among the 114 projects pitched to the Legislature for Irma recovery is $2 million for coastal work in Jacksonville Beach.

Assignment editors — CREDO, AFSCME Florida, For Florida’s Future, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and Progress Florida will deliver petition signatures from more than 12,000 Floridians urging the Legislature to launch an investigation into Gov. Scott and his administration’s role in the deaths of 14 seniors at the Hollywood Hills Nursing Home during Hurricane Irma. News conference begins 11 a.m. at the Florida State Capitol Fourth Floor Rotunda.

Price tag for Florida food relief program created after Irma hits $1.3 billion” via Kate Santich for the Orlando Sentinel — One of the largest food disaster programs in U.S. history … In just four Central Florida counties — Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola — nearly 460,000 people have received disaster food stamps, known as D-SNAP, totaling nearly $153 million, paid for by federal taxpayers. That doesn’t include the 285,000 people who normally receive benefits under SNAP, the federal Supplemental Food Assistance Program, who got nearly $49 million in additional benefits to replace food that spoiled during prolonged power outages. To some, the program administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families has been an unparalleled success. To others, it is a mess that could put pressure on an already vulnerable food stamp budget. “I have to say, after 24 years of doing this work, going through all kinds of disasters, I believe the state overall did one of the finest jobs that I’ve seen,” said Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “We know there was incredible need after the disaster hit. When you see people standing in line for six, seven hours — that, to me, says they’re desperate.”

’Vermin. Rats. Snakes. Possums. Raccoons.’ Life next to a Hurricane Irma debris dump” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Sonya Brown Wilson, fellow residents and community organizers are accusing Miami-Dade of being far more targeted when it comes to where the storm’s refuse gets stashed. They’re questioning why Miami-Dade chose to place more than 350,000 cubic yards of debris across the street from a tidy and lushly landscaped housing community there, rather than in more prosperous neighborhoods. Miami-Dade denies the allegations, noting it has six large debris staging areas across the county, including one that backs up against a residential subdivision in the largely Hispanic Kendall area. But Miami-Dade leaders did yield to the criticism in Liberty City. On Wednesday, the county barred trucks from taking new loads of debris to the site, a county-owned lot off Northwest 25th Avenue that’s slated for redevelopment and called the Poinciana Industrial Park. Miami-Dade doesn’t expect to have the temporary dumps cleared until February.

STATEWIDE

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will tour the state to announce proposed tax cuts in his 2018-2019 recommended budget, starting with a 9 a.m. news conference at Alufab USA, 6360 Topaz Court in Fort Myers. At 12:15 p.m., Scott will be at Hernon Manufacturing Inc., 121 Tech Dr. in Sanford. Then, at 2:30 p.m., the governor will be at Polyhistor International, Inc., 11200 St. Johns Industrial Parkway North, Suites 7-8 in Jacksonville.

If you read one thing — “Supreme Court justices caught on ‘hot mic’ — but about what?” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — “Izzy Reyes is on there, he’ll listen to me.” That’s what Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga can be heard saying to Justice Barbara Pariente right after Wednesday’s oral argument in a lawsuit over the governor’s judicial appointments power. A lawyer named Israel U. Reyes is a member of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC). The panel vets and recommends appointees for Supreme Court justice to the governor. In a videotape provided to Florida Politics on Friday, some puzzling “hot mic” cross-talk can be heard between the two jurists, sitting on the bench as the attorneys were leaving the courtroom. The exchange also was noted by some viewers as they watched the live argument; it’s not captured in The Florida Channel’s archived video on its website. “I heard what sounded like two JNC members’ names being mentioned,” said Jason Unger, a GrayRobinson lawyer-lobbyist in Tallahassee and the Supreme Court JNC’s chair.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga had a puzzling ‘hot mic’ moment.

Judge rejects ex-. .S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s sentencing delay request” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – “While Ms. Brown’s latest motion raises additional issues that she contends warrant a continuance, they are all matters that can be readily addressed at the sentencing hearing,” U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan wrote. The ruling means Brown’s sentencing hearing for her 18 felony convictions remains scheduled for Nov. 16. In seeking the delay, Brown’s attorney said this week that a pre-sentencing report … recommended “significant and lengthy prison time,” and that Brown needed time to make her case for probation instead.

TV producer sues Florida House over chef Emeril’s show” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — A television show hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse is at the center of a brewing court battle pitting the Florida House against the producer behind the cooking show. The Republican-controlled House wants years of records detailing how the show spent millions of dollars paid out by the state’s tourism agency and how much was paid directly to Lagasse. Tallahassee television producer Pat Roberts and his company MAT Media sued the House, contending that the records sought by the House include trade secrets and confidential business information. Attorneys for Roberts are asking a judge to block a subpoena issued by the House for the records. Tim Jansen, one of the attorneys, blasted House Speaker Corcoran for the subpoena. “One politician in his drive for publicity, power and higher office has trampled over the rights of private businesses and individuals that properly contracted services with a quasi-state agency,” Jansen said.

Lottery, House close to settling suit over $700M contract” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Florida Lottery and the House of Representatives have told an appellate court they’re “on a pathway to resolution” regarding a pending lawsuit over the agency’s $700 million contract for new equipment. But the settlement in question may require legislative approval, a filing in the case now suggests. The parties filed a status report with the 1st District Court of Appeal last week, released after a records request to the court. The 3-paragraph report says the “parties have reached an understanding,” but the “resolution may involve some final budget action by the Legislature and Governor for the next fiscal year.”

Medical marijuana dispensaries blocked from opening by moratoriums, bans” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — Although Florida voters, a year ago, overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment allowing the use of medical marijuana for cancer patients and others with a range of medical conditions, Brevard County and many of its cities and towns have enacted moratoriums or bans on the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries. Several months ago, Brevard commissioners seemed ready to approve a measure that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the same zoning locations as retail pharmacies — which was one of the limited options available under Florida Legislature-approved guidelines. But that support shifted to opposition after Commissioner John Tobia distributed to other commissioners a few maps showing where such dispensaries could open. One of the locations was not far from County Commission Chairman Curt Smith‘s home. And another was not far from the church where Commission Vice Chair Rita Pritchett works and worships. After that, the majority of the commission detoured from focusing on how to craft rules for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Brevard to how to have a moratorium that would prohibit them from opening.

Brevard County was ready to approve medical marijuana dispensaries until Commissioner John Tobia weighed in.

New documents shed light on canceled prison visits in August” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Department of Corrections took the uncommon step of canceling visits from friends and family at all of its major prisons for a weekend in August, saying a planned march for inmates’ rights in Washington, D.C., might have encouraged prisoners to take some sort of action from behind bars … Records show activist groups outside the prison walls had sent prisoners newsletters encouraging nonviolent protests and mentioned disturbances in four Florida prisons from September 2016 — the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising in New York. Over the weekend of Aug. 19, when the visits were canceled, inmates at 55 prisons statewide received disciplinary citations or punishments for misbehavior such as possession of contraband, weapons or drug paraphernalia; possession of unauthorized amounts of cash or cellphones; disobeying orders and making threats, documents released by the corrections department show.

From inmate to inspiration: how a local program helped troubled youth via Shannon Valladolid via WTSP — At 9 years old, Jamie Jones was breaking into homes to steal money. Anna Meenes was stealing cars at 14 and taking part in other illegal activity that would earn her fast money. They are just two of six youths who admittedly made mistakes when they were younger and managed to turn their lives around. Jamie and Anna have been a part of Eckerd Connects’ Project Bridge, which helps troubled youths transition from the juvenile justice system back into their home communities … GTE Financial recognized these two teens along with four others at a leadership banquet where they spoke to their peers about their past, and now, their much brighter future. They say this program helped save their lives. The Bridge program provides services to boys and girls ages 11-21.

Alligator removals at Disney more than double since death of Lane Graves” via David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel — Graves was killed June 14, 2016, on the shores of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Before his death that year, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission removed 24 gators from Disney properties, with kills every other month. That number more than doubled to 53 from the date of the incident to the end of the year, when they removed some every month … FWC data show 16 gators were killed in June 2016 and another 17 in July 2016. About 40 alligators have been removed so far in 2017 through early September. The highest month for removals was July 2017. February was the only month in none were recorded. In 2016, SNAP received 12,772 nuisance alligator complaints statewide, resulting in the removal of 8,118 alligators. Through September, there have been about 6,500 taken out of Florida waterways.

MOVEMENTS

Criticized by Sierra Club, others see Audubon’s Eric Draper as an effective advocate via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone told POLITICO last week that Draper “has continually compromised his own values” and that most environmentalists “would be ashamed” to work in Gov. Scott’s administration. Some Republican legislators and other lobbyists say Draper was effective on behalf of the environment, making Audubon more successful than other groups in achieving its goals. Draper was with Audubon for 22 years and was executive director for the past eight. On occasion, Draper sometimes was brought into negotiations at the Republican-dominated Legislature when other environmental groups are left out.”I think Eric Draper is a champion for Florida’s environment,” said state Sen. Rob Bradley, chairman of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

Scoop –Personnel note: Neil Combee tapped for USDA job; unclear if he must leave Florida House” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has appointed state Rep. Neil Combee as Florida State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), the department announced in a news release Friday night. Combee could not be reached late Friday; it’s not clear whether the new job will cause him to resign his House District 39 seat. The Polk County Republican will “help implement U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies in planning, organizing, and administering FSA programs in their respective states,” the release said. FSA state directors “are also responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the state FSA office.” … Combee, first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, chairs the House Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee. He lists his occupation as “agribusiness, real estate sales.”

Neil Combee named Florida State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Personnel note: Rebecca Kapusta made ass’t secretary at DCF” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Rebecca Kapusta, general counsel for the Department of Children and Families (DCF), will next serve as the agency’s new Assistant Secretary for Operations, a DCF spokesman said Friday. Kapusta, who’s been with the agency for more than a decade, replaces Vicki Abrams … “Rebecca began transitioning into her new role today, and will continue to work closely with Vicki until her last day on December 22,” spokesman David Frady said. Her “experience across programs provides a solid foundation for her to serve the department in this new capacity.”

Appointed — Patrick Farrell and Steve Newman to the Port St. Joe Port Authority.

Former FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad named Florida Transportation Builders Association president – The Florida Transportation Builders’ Association’s (FTBA) board of directors voted unanimously to name former Department of Transportation Secretary Prasad as president-designate of the statewide organization. Prasad will work with current FTBA President Bob Burleson as president-designate through Dec. 31, 2018. Burleson will retire at the end of 2018 after 30 years with the transportation construction industry group. Prasad will begin at FTBA Dec. 1, 2017, assuming the title of president Jan. 1, 2019.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Kenneth Atwater: Hillsborough Community College

Brian BallardChris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: Handy Technologies

Robert BeckBryan CherryTanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: Youth Advocate Programs

Al CardenasSlater BaylissStephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Centennial Management Corp., Squire Patton Boggs

Chris CarmodyChristopher DawsonRobert Stuart Jr.Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: Lykes Bros.

Julie Fess, GrayRobinson: Florida Crystals

Katie Flury, GrayRobinson: Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: Business and Leadership Institue for Earling Learning, Feeding South Florida

Thomas Joos: Moffitt Cancer Center

Ryan Matthews, Peebles & Smith: Florida Municipal Insurance Trust

Marty Monroe, League of Women Voters of Florida

Julius Parker, Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: Abacus Energy Services

Gary RutledgeJon CostelloCorinne Mixon, Rutledge Ecenia: Pine Gate Renewables

Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Florida MEDS

Corey Staniscia, TSE Consulting: Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization

Herschel Vinyard Jr., Foley & Lardner: Southern Land and Cattle Company

Spotted at The Poynter Institute’s Bowtie Ball: Laura and David Jolly, Rep. Kathleen Peters, Tucker/Hall’s Bill Carlson.

ALOE

The allegations against Kevin Spacey got ‘House of Cards’ canceled. Good riddance.” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Throughout its run, “House of Cards” committed the ultimate sin: The series presented itself as a savvy look at the dark heart of national politics, when actually it was a wildly naive conspiracy story that only worked by making Frank Underwood’s (Spacey) opponents too dumb to catch him. “House of Cards” suggested that Washington institutions were basically simple and easy to manipulate, smoothing away the irritating narrative inconveniences that are constituent politics, congressional caucuses and the workings of the bureaucracy. The series ran down journalism and journalists, particularly in its egregious portrayal of Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) as an eager up-and-comer willing to sleep her way to the top. And it treated ideology as a rube’s fantasy, rather than as a real and powerful motivation for a lot of what goes on in Washington. I’m not entirely sure what kind of pop culture argument about politics would be useful in our current, hyper-polarized environment, though ABC’s rookie sitcom “The Mayor” has some ideas about the virtues and rewards of local engagement that I don’t completely hate. But I know we’ll be better off without “House of Cards.”

House Of Cards to end after season 6 following Kevin Spacey allegations. “Good riddance,” says Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post.

Peak South Florida cruise season opens with ‘smart’ ships, fancy terminals, luxe voyages” via Arlene Satchell of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Those and other perks await cruisers departing from Port Everglades and PortMiami aboard select ships, some from newly refurbished terminals. And yes, they will be traveling to the Caribbean, a region industry executives are eager to advertise as being open for business despite a hurricane season that knocked out many ports. Some of the hardest hit destinations, they say, are starting to receive cruise ships again, or soon will. Nearly 90 percent of the Caribbean’s ports are open for business, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, which says that nearly 100 destinations have been fully operational since Hurricanes Irma and Maria … Travelers departing from Port Everglades to the Bahamas aboard Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess will be among the first to see the multimillion-dollar transformation of Cruise Terminal 2 as part of next week’s soft launch of Carnival’s Ocean Medallion Vacations. Princess is a Carnival subsidiary.

Palm Beach Post dominates Florida Press Club contest with 10 firsts” via the Palm Beach Post — in the 66th Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Competition presented in Sarasota …  The Post’s “Heroin: Killer of a Generation” special section won the Frances DeVore Award for Public Service. More than a dozen Post staff writers and editors contributed to telling the stories of the 216 people who died from heroin-related overdoses in Palm Beach County in 2015. “Your online package is simply amazing,” judges wrote. “You demonstrated that opiates are not discriminatory, they don’t have ageism or an agenda, color and religion mean nothing. … Your pictures — especially the wall of photos — tell more than a simple article can. It gave readers the human equation.” The heroin package also won the Lucy Morgan In-Depth reporting award, with a set of five stories by reporters Pat BeallChristine StapletonLawrence Mower and Joe Capozzi. The judges added: “What can one say other than ‘Wow,’ about such an amazing package.”

Happy birthday belatedly to the best of the best, David Johnson, as well as House candidate Emma Collum. Celebrating today are Lee Constantine, the brilliant Eric Deggans, Pinellas Commissioner Janet Long, our new guy Danny McAuliffe, and fundraiser Jon Stewart.

Happening tonight:

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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