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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.7.17

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

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

It’s Election Day in an off-year election, which means the most attention being paid is in Virginia. It’s anybody’s guess whether Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam will pull off a win against Republican challenger Ed Gillespie in the race for governor there.

In New Jersey, the only other governor’s race in the land, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is trying to ride the coat-tails of term-limited GOP Gov. Chris Christie, but Democrat Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is expected to prevail.

Also, voters across the country will go to the polls in more than a dozen major cities to pick a mayor. In Florida, all eyes are on the mayor’s race in St. Petersburg and municipal elections in Orlando.

It’s Election Day in St. Petersburg.

Polls show the race between incumbent St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker to be dead even, not surprising because only 70 votes out of more than 56,000 separated the two when they battled in the Aug. 29 primary.

Baker isn’t just any challenger; he’s a former two-term popular mayor (2001-2010) who has found a welcome audience in opposing the incumbent. Though technically a nonpartisan race, it’s been anything but, with national Democrats from Barack Obama and Joe Biden on down backing Kriseman. Baker has received tens of thousands of dollars from GOP-affiliated PACS.

There are also three other city council seats up for grabs on Tuesday, with a chance of the eight-member body having five female members.

At least two and possibly three incumbent members of the Orlando City Council find themselves on the run to keep their seats in city elections.

If the incumbents have any advantage, it’s enhanced in a broad perception that the city of Orlando is doing pretty well. The economy is booming. New sports and entertainment venues have recently opened or are soon to open. Since the last city election, the city bound together in a rare unity following its darkest day, the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre of June 12, 2016.

If the challengers have any advantage, it’s rooted in the belief that rapidly-growing and rapidly-changing Orlando’s voters are seeking new leaders for a new era.

Lest we forget: Miami and Miami Beach voters also will select a mayor. In Miami, Francis Suarez is the favorite to replace outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado. And former lawmaker Dan Gelber looks like a lock to replace current Mayor Philip Levine in Miami Beach.


Worth the click: “100 million Americans have an election this November

Candidates prepare for sharp contests nationwide” via David Weigel of The Washington Post — In Washington, Democrats are hoping to secure control of the state Senate, and with it the entire state government. In Maine, progressives are trying to force the expansion of Medicaid coverage with a popular ballot measure. In Donald Trump’s own New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to frame an expected landslide victory as a rebuke of the president. “The best reason to vote Nov. 7 is because of what happened last year Nov. 8,” De Blasio told the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights Sunday morning. “Millions of people didn’t vote, and they woke up that next morning to a rude awakening. Very rude. I think you know what I mean.” Democrats, who watched Republicans pick off local offices and state legislative races during Barack Obama’s presidency, have counterattacked with a combination of Trump bashing and careful investments. In New York, where Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is seeking a third term, Democrats have run ads linking him to Trump, while Trump donor Robert Mercer has put $1 million toward an effort to defend him.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also up for re-election, in a race that some say is a referendum on Donald Trump.

Ed Gillespie shuns Donald Trump in biggest race of 2017” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — As the Virginia and New Jersey governors races draw to a close, one person is conspicuously absent from the trail: President Trump. The president hasn’t appeared in either campaign, an indication of his increasingly narrow political appeal and his growing inability to draw support in swing and liberal states … the administration made it clear to Gillespie it wanted to be helpful however possible and was open to sending the president, three Trump aides to Trump said. Vice President Mike Pence appeared at a rally and fundraiser for Gillespie, but administration officials said the candidate never made a hard ask for Trump. Gillespie’s team reviewed polling in the final weeks of the race showing that Trump was a drag — his approval ratings had been stuck in the low 40s in the commonwealth for some time. While the president is well-liked across much of the conservative southern part of the state, he is extremely unpopular in the more liberal northern suburbs.

Maine Medicaid expansion vote seen as ‘Obamacare’ referendum” via Marina Villeneuve of The Associated Press — Voters in Maine will decide whether to join 31 other states and expand Medicaid under former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It is the first time since the law took effect nearly four years ago that the expansion question has been put to voters. The ballot measure comes after Maine’s Republican governor vetoed five attempts by the politically divided Legislature to expand the program and take advantage of the federal government picking up most of the cost. It also acts as a bookend to a year in which President Trump and congressional Republicans tried and repeatedly failed to repeal Obama’s law.

Poised for West Coast dominance, Democrats eye grand agenda” via Alexander Burns and Kirk Johnson of The New York Times — It is the stuff of liberal fantasies: a vast, defiant territory, sweeping along the country’s Pacific coastline, governed by Democrats and resisting Trump at every turn. A single election in a wealthy Seattle suburb could make that scenario a reality, handing the party full control of government in Washington State — and extinguishing Republicans’ last fragile claim on power on the West Coast. The region has been a rare Democratic stronghold on an electoral map now dominated by vast swaths of red, and Republicans’ only toehold on power there has been a one-seat majority in the Washington State Senate. The prospect of such far-reaching autonomy for Democrats, who already hold all three governors’ offices as well as both houses of the legislatures in Oregon and California, has infused extraordinary energy into what might have been a low-key special election.

Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill also faces re-election.

Voters in Orlando, other Central Florida cities head to polls via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Voters will head to the polls to decide three competitive races for seats on the Orlando City Council, representing Lake Nona, College Park and Parramore, among other neighborhoods. Elections are also in Oviedo and Longwood as well as five Lake County cities: Clermont, Groveland, Mascotte, Minneola and Mount Dora. A crowd of candidates is vying to represent Parramore and other west-Orlando neighborhoods in District 5, where Commissioner Regina Hill is seeking a second term. In the races with more than two candidates, if none can get more than 50 percent of the vote, the city will hold a runoff election between the top two vote-getters Dec. 5. The District 5 race, with its glut of candidates, likely has the highest probability of a runoff. The vote will serve as a referendum on the city’s current course, as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who recently confirmed his plans to run for re-election in 2019, has endorsed all three incumbents.

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— @LedgeKing: .@SenBillNelson not shy about asking for fed help if he thinks @FLGovScott admin falls short. He sent letter Monday asking Labor @SecretaryAcosta for tech support b/c Floridians applying for disaster-related unemployment benefits having probs w/state unemployment website.

— @JKennedyReports: .@FLGovScott tax cut pitch for final year sidesteps corporate income tax he vowed to erase during his 2 terms. White whale still swims.

— @TroyKinsey: “As long as there’s rampant testosterone, there’s going to be sexual harassment” at FL Capitol, Barbara DeVane tells reporters this AM.

— @MDixon55: Tough to overstate how the 3-year presidency battle between Negron-Latvala impacted the chamber. Interesting legacy of that fight building

— @TravisPillow: .@aglorios: Women working in Florida capital say harassment is “soundtrack” to every day at the office

— @BBeltz1: I can’t tweet enough about the great work @aglorios, @marcacaputo, and @mdixon55 have been doing.

@RealMichaelWilliams: To recap today, FL Sen Budget Chair replaced, FSU suspends Greek Life, Major Florida Press shakeup, & Gov released tax cut plan. What else?

— @RichardCorcoran: Congratulations @TIAreports on your next journey. Tallahassee won’t be the same without you. We’ll do the next FB live from ATL airport


Gov. Rick Scott calls Jack Latvala controversy ‘disgusting’” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — In Fort Myers for a tax-cut event, Scott, without prompting from reporters, said: “That‘s disgusting,” but he did not mention Latvala by name. Referring to his wife Ann and his two daughters, the governor said: “I would be horrified if they were treated (like that). It’s disgusting if anybody does that. There’s an independent investigation, and we need to follow that and find out the real facts of what actually happened.” Scott added: “If anybody has done anything wrong, they need to be out of office. There should be no corruption in politics. We should expect all of our elected officials to be of the highest standards in our society.”

— “On harassment, Rick Scott slams Latvala, but went soft on Trump” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Latvala out as Senate Appropriations chair, Rob Bradley in” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Latvala on Monday asked to be relieved of his chairmanship of the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, a request that President Joe Negron quickly obliged. Until further notice, Fleming Island Republican Bradley is Senate budget chief … “I understand that you are in the process of hiring an independent, third party to conduct an investigation regarding the anonymous (sexual harassment) allegations made against me in a recent news article,” Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, wrote in a memo to Negron that was released by the Senate. He “request(ed) that you permit me to temporarily take a leave of absence from my role as Chair of the Committee on Appropriations until this matter is resolved … I look forward to defending myself against these untruthful allegations and believe I will be fully exonerated.” You got it, Negron said: “While the independent, third-party investigation regarding Senator Latvala is pending, I believe it is in the best interest of the Senate for another Senator to temporarily serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.”

Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley is filling in for Jack Latvala as Senate budget chief.

Bradley vows to keep ‘trains moving on time’” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The former prosecutor has chaired three budget subcommittees since joining the Senate five years ago. Bradley said he’s “going to keep the trains moving on time” to make sure the budget process keeps on track in Latvala’s absence. When asked about the mood of the Senate following Jeff Clemens’ exit and the accusations against Latvala, Bradley said it was “awkward” … “I think there’s been an appropriate focus on sexual mistreatment in the workplace. It’s no surprise that Tallahassee isn’t immune from those dynamics and those discussions.” Bradley said he treats everyone equally, and called on his colleagues and lashed out at anyone who’s excluding women. “This concept that women feel like they’re going to be disadvantaged because men are less inclined to deal with females or work with females because they’re afraid of being misconstrued, I think that’s a bunch of hogwash,” he said.

Senate looks to hire Latvala investigator this week — President Negron hopes this week to hire an outside law firm to investigate sexual harassment claims made against Senate budget chief Latvala. The Office of Legislative Services says, “they are currently in the initial phase of researching individuals and firms that specialize in employment law who would be able to conduct this independent investigation for the Senate,” Negron spokeswoman Katie Betta said. She said they hope to announce a firm “within the next few days.” Betta had a rough timeline for the search process but is not saying who will be contacted as part of that process.

Independent investigation needed of harassment claims against Latvala” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — An independent, thorough investigation of allegations of sexual harassment against Latvala is the best way to determine their veracity and start restoring integrity to a Florida Legislature awash in accusations of inappropriate behavior and political backstabbing. It was appropriate for the Clearwater Republican to be replaced as chairman of the powerful appropriations committee until an investigation is completed. Now any women who have been targets of harassment should come forward, work with investigators and help root out any misconduct without fear of reprisals … an independent investigation has to come first. That independence should encourage women to come forward with specifics of any harassment claims without fear of retribution from the Legislature, and the final report should be made public. If this investigation is fair and objective, it should be the first step toward cleaning up a corrosive culture in Tallahassee — and another 20 years will not pass before anyone who believes they have been sexually harassed comes forward.

— “Latvala deserves to face his accusers” via the Sun-Sentinel editorial board

First in Sunburn — Latvala retains attorney Steve Andrews — Florida Politics has learned he has retained Andrews, a longtime Tallahassee lawyer, to represent him in a sexual harassment investigation. Andrews represented former Sen. Frank Artiles in a Senate conduct investigation after the Miami-Dade Republican reportedly accosted two black lawmakers using racially-charged language at the Governors Club this past session. The inquiry was cut short when Artiles resigned his office. Andrews has made something of a specialty out of suing state government; in recent years, he also sued Gov. Scott for records related to a property dispute involving land near his central Tallahassee office and the Governor’s Mansion.

Former Latvala staffer says state senator ‘very demeaning’ in dealing with women” via Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — A former Senate staffer who worked for Latvala says the accounts of six women who accused the Republican of sexual harassment sound credible because of demeaning remarks he made about women. “I totally believe them. That’s the guy he is,” Molly Wilson, a Republican who worked for Latvala when he was the Senate’s majority leader from 1998-2000 said … Wilson — who says she was never inappropriately touched by Latvala — stressed that she’s speaking to support the accusers and not to say that her experience was equivalent to theirs. Latvala denied the charges from the women, but Wilson said she recalls the “often uncomfortable work environment under” him. “The way he talked about women was very demeaning,” Wilson said. “Jack was known for making comments about women. He demanded special attention from everyone; it wasn’t just women. He was very demanding. … People were required to suck up to him.”

– “Florida congressman blasts ‘predator’ Jack Latvala amid counteroffensive against sexual harassment accusers” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

– “Janet Cruz ‘horrified’ reading allegations of sexual harassment in capital” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Latvala cancels Vero Beach campaign event” via Kelly Schmitz of TCPalm — Latvala … canceled a fundraising event scheduled for Wednesday at Quail Valley River Club in Vero Beach, according to Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari. Solari, who was one of the hosts listed for the reception, said Latvala’s campaign canceled the event, not the local organizers. “They said he believes that he needs to focus on allegations made against him up in Tallahassee,” Solari said. Latvala also was scheduled to speak at a Taxpayers’ Association of Indian River County meeting at the Vero Beach Country Club Wednesday morning. It’s unclear whether he will attend.

Lobbyists-lawmaker sex could become a banned ‘gift’ ” via Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida – In the wake of back-to-back scandals rocking the Florida Senate, state Sen. Lauren Book said Monday she’s working with other legislators to draft legislation banning lawmaker-lobbyist sex and she’s trying to establish a panel and process to handle sexual harassment claims. … Book said she was working on legislation with a fellow Democrat in the House, state Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek). The House Republican budget chief, Carlos Trujillo, is already throwing his weight behind it.

Breaking overnight – “Audrey Gibson wins close vote to lead Senate Democrats” via Florida Politics – On Monday evening, state Sen. Audrey Gibson won a narrow 8-7 vote of Senate Democrats to become Senate Democratic Leader Designate for the 2018-2020 legislative term. Gibson will succeed current Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II when his term ends next November. The split was described by one observers as moderates versus progressives, a dynamic which some fear will split the caucus; our source tells us Braynon was the deciding vote.

Flashback to October 30 edition of Sunburn – “With Clemens gone, it looks like Audrey Gibson will become the next leader of the Senate Democrats.”

Assignment editors – State Sen. Audrey Gibson and Minority House Leader Janet Cruz will discuss proactive legislation to aid 2.8 million Floridians in the fight against Type 2 diabetes. News conference begins noon at the 4th Floor Rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

Bill requiring $100M a year in Florida Forever passes Senate panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Senate Bill 370, introduced by Committee Chairman Rob Bradley flew through the committee with support from the Florida Land Acquisition Trust Fund and a handful of environment and conservation groups, with just a few concerns raised about whether the bill says enough about long-term planning, or whether purchases can be evenly distributed in the state. Bradley hailed the bill as the answer to Florida voters who in 2014 overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1, dedicating more money for Florida Future — only to see meager appropriations in the three years since. “It is I think long overdue… that we move forward aggressively in making sure we honor what the voters did in Amendment 1,” he said.

Rene Garcia urges legislators to ‘stop ignoring’ mental health issues” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – “We can no longer move on as a society until we start addressing this fundamental issue and stop ignoring it,” Garcia said. “This is a committee of children and families and we are charged with dealing with these complex issues.” Garcia said he is welcoming suggestions and recommendation to make SB 12 — a landmark health care bill signed into law in 2016 — a more robust piece of legislation to better improve the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services in the state. Garcia championed the bill. And this year, he hopes legislators can use it as a “vehicle to tweak some more things in.” Among many things, SB 12 directs the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families to modify licensing rules to ease the administrative burden on providers and make it easier to offer both acute mental health and substance abuse services.

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Rick Scott wants tax holidays and cuts in license fees” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press –With an expected bid for U.S. Senate looming, Scott wants $180 million worth of cuts in both taxes and fees during his final year in office. Scott wants a 10-day back to school tax holiday where residents would not pay sales taxes on clothes or school supplies. He also wants three separate weeklong tax holidays where residents would be able to buy storm preparation supplies — like batteries and flashlights — tax-free. His push for a storm supply tax holiday comes in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which ripped across the state in September, causing billions in damage and killing at least 70 people. The governor is also proposing cutting the price of renewing a driver’s license by more than half and would take it from $48 to $20. He also wants to lower the price paid by people when they get their first Florida driver’s license.

First on #FlaPol –State proposes rule changes on controversial card games” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The state’s gambling regulators propose to delegate some of the policing of a contentious card game back to the casinos that offer them. The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which oversees gambling, on Monday published proposed rules on “designated player” games offered at certain pari-mutuel facilities. The contemplated changes say that “card games that utilize a designated player … shall be governed by the cardroom operator’s house rules” … The games, similar to poker, were the crux of a recent lawsuit by the Seminole Tribe of Florida against the state.

FPL seeks state go-ahead for utility deal” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — After what it described as “very extended discussions and negotiations,” Florida Power & Light is asking state regulators to clear the way for a $185 million deal to purchase a utility system run by the city of Vero Beach … which was finalized by the city and FPL last month. It comes after a long-running debate about utility service in Indian River County — a debate that included a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year in a dispute between the city and county. The city has provided service for decades in some unincorporated areas of the county, with FPL serving surrounding areas. But with the planned deal, FPL would provide electricity to all of the areas through the elimination of what is known as a “territorial agreement” that carved up the county. Under the agreement, FPL would pay $185 million in cash for such infrastructure as 550 miles of transmission and distribution lines and 10 substations, along with the right to provide service to 34,000 customers.

FSU President John Thrasher shuts down Greek life on campus in wake of hazing death.

FSU President John Thrasher after suspension: ‘There will be a new normal for Greek Life’” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat – Saying Florida State University has a “serious problem” within its Greek Life system, Thrasher announced an immediate interim suspension on all fraternities and sororities on campus … the action follows the death Friday of Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, who was found unresponsive after attending a party at an off-campus house. He also announced the unrelated arrest earlier Monday of Garrett John Marcy, 20, who was charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine. Marcy is a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. “I want to send a strong message that we have a serious problem and we have to deal with it,” Thrasher said … Thrasher also imposed a ban on alcohol at all registered student organization events during this interim period. FSU has more than 700 student organizations outside of the Greek system, he said.


Post-ABC poll: Voters favor Democrats over Republicans in 2018 House midterms by widest margin in years” via Sean Sullivan and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Voters say they prefer Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives over Republicans by the widest margin in over a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a fresh sign of trouble for the GOP majority one year before the midterm elections. But Democrats’ effort to convert widespread disapproval of President Trump into victories in 2018 could be undercut by lower turnout, with Republicans expressing just as much motivation to vote in next year’s elections. A slim 51 percent majority of registered voters say that if the election were held today, they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, while 40 percent say they would choose the Republican. That’s the biggest spread in a Post-ABC survey since October 2006, just weeks before a midterm in which Democrats won back control of the House and Senate amid deep dissatisfaction with then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.

Senate Republicans name new Florida director — Ryan Patmintra is the new Florida political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. A former Regional Director for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Patmintra serves as Tampa Bay Partnership vice president of public policy and advocacy. He will be based out of Tampa.

Ryan Patmintra is the new Florida political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

What Omar Khan is reading — “Bill Cotterell: An impressive new face in the Democratic race” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Maybe it’s just the novelty of seeing a real outsider making a serious bid for a high public office but, if you listen to him, you can believe Chris King not can only win the Democratic nomination for governor, but change Florida. “This is not your typical tax-and-spend liberal, this is a grow-and-invest Democrat,” King said at The Associated Press’ pre-legislative conference. “I’m a progressive. I’m a lifelong Democrat.” I asked him the difference between a liberal and a progressive, and King said the latter term fits his generation better. He said, “it’s someone who’s about fairness, opportunity, care for the neediest, someone who fights for equality.” But, King added, he “always marries it to entrepreneurship.” The word “entrepreneur” is big with King … and it’s a nice fit for the Democrats — whomever they nominate for governor. And how does King propose to “transform Tallahassee” enough to accomplish such things in a Republican Legislature? Not even the most misty-eyed optimist thinks the party is likely to take over either the House or Senate next year … “I’m going to be dropped into hostile territory,” King said of the Legislature.

Adam Putnam headed to Lake City” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Putnam will be joining “grassroots supporters,” per the campaign, “for a family-style dinner and evening” at Florida Gateway College’s Howard Conference Center. The event starts at 5:30, with the program starting at 6 p.m. Putnam has focused on technical education — an appropriate topic given his venue in Lake City — and attendees can almost certainly expect a riff along these lines. Workforce development has been a key talking point of Putnam’s, who believes community colleges have a unique role in reversing the “talent flow” out of Florida and “becoming a magnet … diversifying our economy: manufacturing, logistics and trades.” The payoff could be “generational in nature,” Putnam has been saying.

Matt Caldwell locks another key endorsement block in Agriculture Commissioner bid — Caldwell announced the endorsements of Republican House members from South Florida, in the fourth wave of legislative endorsements … which follows the unanimous support of Republican House members from the Panhandle, Southwest Florida and Northeast Florida delegations. The wave of legislative endorsements includes Speaker-Designate Jose Oliva, Reps. Manny DiazCarlos TrujilloBryan AvilaMichael BilecaJeanette Nunez and George Moraitis.

John Rutherford and Lenny Curry endorse Frank White for Attorney General – Two of Northeast Florida’s most recognized and respected conservative leaders announced their endorsements for White in the campaign for Attorney General today. “As a true conservative and someone who spent a career keeping our streets safe, I welcome Congressman Rutherford’s support,” said White. “In Mayor Curry, I see a Republican champion who has brought a conservative reform agenda to his city. Having both leaders on our team, working in Northeast Florida, will be an important step in our path to victory. I am honored to have them both.” On Monday, White announced he had received the support of Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson.

Dates set for election for Clemens seat – Gov. Scott on Monday set a Jan. 30 special primary election and an April 10 general election in Senate District 31 … The special election dates in the Democratic-leaning Palm Beach County district could keep the seat vacant throughout the upcoming 60-day legislative session, which begins Jan. 9. The election dates matched a request by Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, a former Democratic state House member.


Marco Rubio: Tax reform should help American families” for The New York Times — There’s a reason many people feel it’s harder to afford children now than in previous generations. It’s true. Ask just about any couple, and they’ll tell you this absolutely influences their decisions about when to have children and how many to have. Tax reform is a key part of reinvigorating the American dream so that couples have the flexibility to choose how to best start and raise a family. The status quo means the cost of having children makes those choices for them, resulting in smaller families, riskier pregnancies, longer commutes from more affordable exurbs and more missed recitals. Providing significant tax relief to working families shouldn’t be a final box to check after all of the lobbyists have had their fill. As Congress works on a tax reform package, families must be our priority. We cannot lose sight of what should be the primary goal of tax reform for our time.

Marco Rubio beleives tax reform is essential for American families.

Florida lawmakers should drop hypocritical efforts to subvert home rule” via the Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board — There is a great deal of hypocrisy at the state level concerning the home-rule issue. Florida lawmakers often rail against federal overreach and unfunded mandates imposed on the state by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Yet these same state lawmakers have little or no reservation about placing greater restrictions on local governments. There also is a geographical argument to be made here. Currently, local residents can take their concerns about local issues directly to their respective city council or county commission and gain a hearing. But where do these same residents go in the absence of home rule, when issues are determined solely at the state level? Tallahassee. That’s a long way from the Treasure Coast. Democracy is demeaned when an alternative is a one-size-fits-all form of governance controlled by distant bureaucrats. The Florida Legislature should discontinue its efforts to subvert home rule.

Stephanie Garris: Free and charitable clinics have important hurricane role” via Florida Politics – Finding yourself without medical coverage or care can be terrifying. Imagine that, after having to leave your home, possessions, and perhaps even friends and family behind. It’s another layer of confusion and exhaustion in an already difficult situation. Fortunately, that’s where Florida’s free and charitable clinics come in. The clinics of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics provide free health care for uninsured, low-income communities. This year, our 82 volunteer-driven clinics provided nearly 200,000 patients with more than 400,000 medical, dental, vision, specialty care, behavioral health, and pharmacy visits at no cost. These front-line medical providers are now serving an influx of newly arrived patients from Puerto Rico. In some cases, the treatment received is life-saving — and life-changing. Florida’s free and charitable clinics are here for the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who will pass through our doors this year. We’re here when our state needs us the most. And we’re here for our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico seeking stability, compassion, and care here in the Sunshine State.


Tampa Electric CEO Gordon Gillette to retire via the News Service of Florida — Gillette will retire Nov. 30 and be replaced by an executive from the utility’s parent company, Emera Inc. Gillette, who has been with TECO for 36 years, appeared at a state Public Service Commission meeting as regulators considered a rate settlement. “I see a bright future for Tampa Electric Company and our customers,” Gillette said. Gillette will be replaced by Nancy Tower, who has served as chief development officer for Emera, a Canadian firm that finished an acquisition of Tampa Electric last year.

Tampa Electric CEO Gordon Gillette.

Personnel note: FWC chair Brian Yablonski to join Montana-based environmental think tank via Florida Politics — Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Chair Brian Yablonski is leaving Florida to become executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center based in Bozeman, Montana. Yablonski was with FWC since January 2004 and held positions as vice chairman and chairman. He will continue to serve in his current role through the end of this year. During his tenure at FWC, Yablonski worked to create new critical wildlife area and provided landowners and citizens with more conservation incentives, including a constitutional amendment providing tax relief for conservation. In 2009, he was named Florida’s Wildlife Conservationist of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation, and in 2016 he was the recipient of Audubon Florida’s Theodore Roosevelt Award.

Personnel note: Ashley Carr joining Healthy Kids — Carr, the communications director for CFO Jimmy Patronis, is heading to the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. as director of marketing and communications, she said Monday. Her first day there is Dec. 1. The new job is a “great new adventure” and “an offer I could not turn down,” she said. Healthy Kids, a public-private organization, provides health insurance such as KidCare to Florida’s children. Carr leaves the state’s Department of Financial Services after four years, starting under then-CFO Jeff Atwater, including the last two as head spokesperson. She also was a deputy press secretary and press secretary at the Department of Health.

Florida Times-Union political reporter Tia Mitchell is leaving Jacksonville for Atlanta.

Personnel note: Tia Mitchell to join AJC — Mitchell, the Florida Times-Union’s capital bureau reporter and former reporter for the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, Monday announced on social media she was leaving the T-U “at the end of the month.” She will join the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to cover DeKalb County government, she said. “Side note: I figured out how to keep ‘the blogs’ from scooping you on your own job update announcement: Don’t tell other journalists. LOL,” Mitchell tweeted. The current president of the Capitol Press Corps is a Louisville, Kentucky native and Florida A&M University graduate, according to her website. “She is also active in the community as a member of the Tallahassee Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as an advisor to the collegiate chapter at Florida State University and in her church,” it says.

Personnel note: Cecka Rose Green joins LeadingAge Florida — Green will be communications director for the nonprofit aging advocacy group after serving in a similar role at the Florida Housing Finance Corp. “Cecka brings a wealth of knowledge and vast experience,” said Steve Bahmer, LeadingAge Florida president and CEO. “She has deep expertise that will enhance our communications efforts in line with our strategic initiatives.” The Florida A&M University graduate began her career with the Florida League of Cities as Publications Director. She also has been Deputy Communications Director at the Florida Department of Children and Families, and was Press Secretary at the former Agency for Workforce Innovation. Green replaces Greg Ungru, who is now state director of Marsy’s Law for Florida.

New and renewed lobbyist registrations

Ron BookRana BrownKelly Mallette: Whitman Family Development

Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: Charlotte County

Diana Ferguson, Rutledge Ecenia: Pine Gate Renewables

Cynthia Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: Silverlight Aviation

Lauren Henderson,  Cynergy Consulting: CMA Consulting

Julia Juarez, JEJ & Associates: Christopher L. Warren

Andrew McClenahan: Department of Children and Families

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: MedAvail Technologies, Abacus Energy Services

Douglas Russell, D. Russell & Associates: Tallahassee Retail Ventures

Stephanie Toothaker, TSE Consulting: Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization


What Stephanie Smith is reading — “When the goal is getting to the ER fast and cheap, some choose ride-sharing over 911” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — Ride-sharing drivers in Tampa Bay and beyond are noticing an uptick in rides to and from the emergency room as consumers try to avoid spending what could be thousands of dollars for an ambulance. It’s an updated version of a role long played by cabs. What’s new is that the ride-sharing experience, with its ability to tell people how soon a car will arrive, is seen by many as more nimble and better suited to a spur-of-the-moment decision like rushing to the ER. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft don’t openly condone this kind of service in the case of an emergency; even their websites share positive stories of drivers helping women in labor get to the hospital on time. “We’re grateful our service has helped people get to where they’re going when they need it the most,” said Javi Correoso, a spokesman with Uber. “However, it’s important to note that Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals. In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage riders and driver-partners to call 911.”

Happy birthday to Jen Meale and Richard Swarttz.

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.
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