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A view of the Capitol from Apalachee Parkway Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

Emails & Opinions

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 11.8.17

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

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

Before we get to the election results, we must share an important personnel note:

Florida Politics has learned that highly respected Mosaic executive Mark Kaplan will be leaving the company in January after nearly eleven years.

In his time at Mosaic, Mark has established their Tallahassee and D.C. offices, served as global head of public affairs and chief communications officer, directed crisis response efforts and led significant parts of their operations in Florida and Louisiana. Before joining Mosaic, Mark served as chief of staff for Governor Jeb Bush, turned around the troubled Florida Housing Finance Corporation as Executive Director in the early 2000s, and had a successful legal career. Mark served on the State Board of Education and currently chairs the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

No word yet on what Mark is going to do next, but given the credentials and character of this man, it is definitely worth watching.

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— @Twitter: We’re expanding the character limit! We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves.

— @Marynmck: You realize now 140 is gonna seem all lean and cool and stylish. The iced vodka of tweets. The Brioni of tweets. The Paul Newman of tweets.

— @PoliticsK12: Public service announcement: @BetsyDeVosED told me she plans to stick around for @realDonaldTrump‘s entire term.

— @CHeathWFTV: It’s almost as if a million “Democrats Need To Learn” and “Running Away From Trump” stories suddenly cried out and then were silenced.

— @MViser: Virginia just elected Danica Roem, who defeated a 26-year GOP incumbent, to become America’s first transgender state legislator.

— @CillizzaCNN: The pressure on national Dems to fully fund Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race just went WAY up

— @TroyKinsey: “The people are the boss,” @CharlieCrist says of @Kriseman‘s re-election as St. Pete Mayor. “They want a vibrant, inclusive & progressive” city.

— @CruzMissle: @BobBuckhorn #RunBobRun Florida needs you.

— @SteveBousquet: Attorney General Pam Bondi on women who have made anonymous sexual harassment allegations: “You have to come forward”

— @GrayRohrer: Tallahassee update: City: FBI probe FSU: Greek life nixed Legislature: Sex scandals

— @PeterSchorschFL: Reason crowd was light at Gov Club Monday was not #LatvalaEffect or any other BS; 120 ppl were at Frank Terraferma party down the street.

— @Daniel_Sweeney: Always great, but in 2010, there was no better pitcher alive — as @Marlins found out the hard way. He pitched a perfect game against them.

— @JoeReedy: It’s official, #FSU#ULM game has been rescheduled for Dec. 2 at noon


Rick Kriseman wins re-election for mayor of Saint Petersburg via WFTS Tampa Bay — In an epic battle of the Ricks for Mayor of St. Petersburg … unofficial results show Kriseman received 51 percent of the vote and Rick Baker received 49 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, Baker conceded to Kriseman and said he said he would always be St. Pete’s biggest supporter. Kriseman told Action News he hopes to continue to focus on growth in target industries like marine and life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, data analytics and creative arts and design.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman. (Photo via Kim DeFalco).

— “St. Pete Referendum: Preliminary results show ‘Yes’ on Vinoy and baseball complex questions, charter amendment” via the Tampa Bay Times

— “Dunedin Charter: Voters approve five amendments” via the Tampa Bay Times

— “Bob Matthews, Roger Edelman re-elected in Seminole” via the Tampa Bay Reporter

Miami, Miami Beach voters elect two mayors” via Ana Ceballos — In what came as little surprise on a busy election night in Miami-Dade County, voters overwhelmingly picked two new mayors. In Miami Dade, former state representative Dan Gelber got 82 percent of the votes. Gelber will replace Mayor Philip Levine, who last week announced his bid for the governor’s mansion. In Miami, Francis Suarez took 85 percent of the vote.

Miami passes $400 million general obligation bond” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Miami residents have voted to tax themselves to fund nearly a half-billion dollars in government spending to help quell flooding, fund affordable housing, and pay for other public projects … about 55 percent of Miami’s electorate voted in favor of outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado’s $400 million Miami Forever general obligation bond with mail-in ballots, early voting and nearly three-fourths of the city’s precincts reporting. With the new ability to take on debt, Miami’s city officials have promised to spend $192 million on storm drain upgrades, flood pumps and sea walls to curb flooding … Another $100 million will pay for affordable housing and economic development, $78 million for parks and cultural facilities, $23 million for road improvements and $7 million for public safety. That the bond initiative would pass was no guarantee. Miami’s labor unions … and a majority of the candidates running in the city’s races for commission and mayor also were against the bond.

Tweet, tweet: @BrittanyWaldman: Fort Lauderdale REJECTS 5-0 the Lauren Book Hope and Healing Highway signage on U.S. 1.

Jim Gray, Robert Stuart, Regina Hill all re-elected to Orlando City Council via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Orlando voters returned all three incumbents on the ballot Tuesday to the City Council. Gray easily won a second term, strongly defeating challenger Tom Keen in District 1, 53 percent to 40 percent. Stuart squeaked to victory in District 3 over challenger Asima Azam, 51 percent to 49 percent, a difference of 122 votes. Hill needs 50 percent plus one vote in a crowded field of seven and succeeded with 50.2 percent of the vote. Ericka Dunlap, a former Miss America who runs a public relations firm, was the only other candidate in District 5 to break double digits. She took 25 percent of the vote while Sarah ElbadriCynthia Harris, and Jabreel Ali all grabbed 7 percent; Betty Gelzer, 3; and Ondria James less than 1 percent.

Political newcomers win in Longwood; Mayor re-elected in Oviedo” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Oviedo residents re-elected Mayor Dominic Persampiere to a fifth term after he received 67 percent of the vote over political newcomer Charlene Larney … In the Group 1 race, Steve Henken won a sixth term after defeating attorney Patrick Westerfield, garnering nearly 63 percent of the vote … In Longwood, three political newcomers — Abby ShoemakerRichard Drummond and Matt Morgan — won elections despite a political mailer sent to thousands of homes that claimed the candidates were supposedly in support of approving “Las Vegas-style” casino gambling at the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. The three strongly denied the charge, saying they were victims of dirty politics. Shoemaker won District 1 with 58 percent of the vote; Drummond garnered nearly 53 percent of votes in District 2; Morgan received 59 percent of the vote in District 3.

Fernandina Beach voters oust incumbent commissioner while other race goes to runoff” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union — In the Group 2 commissioners race, newcomer Philip Chapman III had 56.1 percent of the vote to beat incumbent Timothy Poynter … Poynter was a city commissioner from 2009 to 2012 before his current run. In Group 3 … Ronald “Chip” Ross had 41.44 percent of the vote to 30.65 percent for Orlando J. Avila and 27.91 percent for Medardo Monzon … With no 50 percent majority, the top two candidates head to a runoff election Tuesday, Dec. 12. In the straw ballot for Fernandina Beach mayor, Commissioner Johnny Miller beat Commissioner Len Kreger.


Poll shows Donald Trump inches up in Florida, voters divided year after election” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — His favorability has improved, slightly, in a new Florida poll — but more of the state’s voters disapprove than approve of the way he’s handling his job. A Florida Atlantic University Poll found 41 percent approve and 47 disapprove of Trump’s performance, a net negative of 6 percentage points. In the previous FAU Florida poll, conducted in August, Trump’s performance had 37 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval, a net negative of 10 points. His Florida numbers are better than his national numbers. The RealClearPolitics average of national polls, which includes several surveys that coincide with the anniversary of Trump’s Nov. 8, 2016, election, show his approval at 39 percent and his disapproval of 56 percent, a net negative of 17 percentage points.

Bill Nelson gears up for 2018 by going into letter-writing mode.

As election mounts, Bill Nelson leans into letter writing mode” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Nelson has become a letter-writing machine, issuing what seems to be daily missives to legislative and Trump administration officials. “Nelson calls on …” his news releases begin. Nelson’s office sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging “tough economic sanctions on the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.” The issues, ranging from Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hurricane response to demands for an investigation into the South Florida nursing home deaths, are not trivial. But the activity also shows that the Democrat is using every available resource as he settles into election mode.

Philip Levine committee launches bilingual ad campaign for Affordable Care Act sign-ups — Miami Beach Mayor Levine’s All About Florida political committee is launching a five-week, six-figure statewide radio campaign to encourage Floridians to sign-up for the Affordable Care Act during this year’s open enrollment period. “President Obama had a vision — that every American have access to affordable health care — and I join with him in urging that every man, woman and child in America be covered before Donald Trump, or anyone, has a chance to tear down the Affordable Care Act we waited so long for,” said Mayor Philip Levine. The bilingual radio ad campaign will run Nov. 8 through Dec. 15 across Florida media markets.

Click on the image below to listen to the ad.

Twitter exchange of the day:

— @RichardCorcoran: @MayorLevine first act as gov candidate? Dbl down on the obamacare train wreck. Not for FL.

— @MayorLevine: .@richardcorcoran, while you root for failure, I want to deliver on the promise we made: that everyone has a right to health care.

— @RichardCorcoran: Typical response of an out-of-touch liberal. It’s ’17 and O-care has already FAILED. O-care is not the answer! #LiberalLevine

More than 400 supporters from all over Florida joined Adam Putnam for a family-style chicken and pasta dinner in Lake City. The gathering took place at the Florida Gateway College.

Assignment editors — Putnam will join supporters for an “Up & Adam” Breakfast beginning 9 a.m. at the COOP, 610 W. Morse Blvd. in Winter Park.

Assignment editors — Later, Putnam will join state rep. Rene Plasencia, President and CEO of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Julio Fuentes, and Executive Director of Latino Leadership Marucci Guzman at the Puerto Rico Family Response Center in Orlando. Event begins 2:30 p.m. at 8617 E. Colonial Dr., Suite 1200, in Orlando.

Bay County Sheriff latest to endorse Ashley Moody for AG — Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford became the latest Florida Sheriff to support Republican Moody for Attorney General. “Ashley Moody’s conservative principles and steadfast commitment to the rule of law distinguishes her from the pack. Florida needs an experienced ‘top cop’ with a proven track record of working with law enforcement to combat crime and the ability to effectively collaborate with sheriffs statewide. Ashley Moody is that person. I know her legal expertise, background, and persuasive personality make her a leader law enforcement can trust to vigilantly protect the citizens of our great state,” Ford said in a statement.

Democrats sue state over special election dates via the News Service of Florida — The chairman of the Florida Democratic Party is asking a judge to force Gov. Scott to set special-election dates in a Palm Beach County Senate district and a Miami-Dade County House district. The lawsuit, filed in Leon County circuit court hours before Scott announced election dates in the Senate district, focuses on seats left vacant during the past two weeks by the departures of former Sen. Jeff Clemens and former Rep. Daisy Baez. Scott announced that he had scheduled a special primary election Jan. 30 in Senate District 31 and a special general election April 10. He did not announce election dates in House District 114. The lawsuit, which names FDP Chair Stephen Bittel and two residents of the districts as plaintiffs, seeks an order that would lead to holding elections in time for the replacements in Senate District 31 and House District 114 to take part in the 2018 Legislative Session.

David Silvers will not run in special Senate election to replace Jeff Clemens” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Scott has set a Jan. 30 primary date and April 10 general election to fill the District 31 Senate seat … “My work’s not done here in House District 87,” Silvers said. “To be here is an absolute honor. I love what I’m doing.” Two other Democrats — state Rep. Lori Berman and former state Rep. Irving Slosberg — have already launched campaigns for the Democrat-leaning seat. County Republican Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally has also expressed interest in running.

— “Ed Hooper heading to Tallahassee for Wednesday fundraiser” via Florida Politics

Josie Tomkow files to replace Neil Combee in House District 39” via Florida Politics — Tomkow is a third-generation cattle rancher and has been involved in Florida’s beef industry since birth, according to a release from her campaign. She’s become a vocal advocate for Florida’s agriculture industry carrying out the traditions set by her grandfather over 70 years ago. “Florida’s agriculture industry is too important to our economy,” Tomkow said. “I will stand with Florida’s farmers and ranchers to make sure our state’s policies protect and defend the values of our community. I will represent the needs of Florida’s hardworking families to keep the Florida dream affordable and government from intruding further into our lives.” Combee is already backing Tomkow.

— “Progressive Caucus co-endorses both Democrats in HD 72 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

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Will they ‘clear his name?’ Meet Jack Latvala’s legal team.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Tallahassee defense attorney Steve Andrews, who’s representing the Pinellas lawmaker along with lawyer Stephen Webster, sent a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, asking that a retired judge be chosen to preside over any hearing and that all testimony be under oath, making false testimony subject to a perjury charge. “As one can easily understand, these allegations are incredibly serious and could permanently stain the reputation of a longtime public servant,” Andrews wrote to Negron. Andrews also asked Negron to appoint an “experienced investigator” to conduct the probe and that a former law enforcement official also participates. Andrews is a high-profile defense lawyer who successfully sued Gov. Scott and forced the governor to pay $700,000 to settle seven public records lawsuits in 2015.

Pam Bondi: Women charging sexual harassment ‘have to come forward’” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Addressing reporters’ questions after a Cabinet meeting, Bondi said: “As a career prosecutor, I would say you have to come forward, because someone has the right to face their accuser. It can’t be done under the condition of anonymity. So you have to come forward” … “As a woman, I’d say, ‘Please come forward.’” She added that the #MeToo movement on social media “says a whole lot about where we’re going and where we need to go further as a culture” … “People say, ‘Well, why don’t women come forward?’ Because they’re intimidated. They’re scared. Don’t be scared … If Rose McGowan can start this in Hollywood with someone as powerful as Harvey Weinstein, it can go throughout our country.”

Sexual harassment victims must ‘come forward,’ says Pam Bondi.

Proposal takes aim at ‘coercion of sex’ in capitol” via Dara Kam of the News service of Florida — A handful of women legislators want to change Florida ethics laws to make it a crime for elected officials to coerce someone into having sex in exchange for official acts, in the same way, that it’s off-limits for officials to accept other kinds of gifts. State law prohibits solicitation and acceptance of gifts by elected officials, but “never mentions sexual harassment or assault or abuse of power of any kind related to withholding political power or exercising it in exchange for sex,” said Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat who’s leading the charge for the legislation. “I went back to double-check, to make sure. Nothing. Nowhere,” she said. Book said her proposal, still in the works, would treat “coercion of sex for official action as a crime, no less than taking tickets to a sporting event.”

Tweet, tweet:

Dana Young, Shawn Harrison fight ‘modern-day piracy’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — There were no Jolly Rogers or parrots in the Capitol Tuesday, but two lawmakers are seeking to put what they call a predatory boating-assistance practice in Davy Jones’ locker. Sen. Young and Rep. Harrison, both Tampa Republicans, held a news conference on legislation they’re sponsoring to combat “modern-day piracy,” they said … The idea is to “put a stop to the predatory practice of those salvage operators who provide relatively minor assistance to boaters and then charge outrageous fees by labeling the service a ‘salvage claim.’ ” One example given was a $30,000 bill to replace a hose on a bilge pump.

Jeff Brandes, Randy Fine file bills to slash state contracts with anti-Israel companies” via Florida Politics — Current law allows Florida municipal governments to do up to $1 million of business each year with anti-Israel companies. But the 2018 measures, HB 545 and SB 780, would institute a zero-tolerance policy for contracts with pro-BDS companies. Brevard County Rep. Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the Florida Legislature, said he was grateful to Senate President Negron and former Rep. Ritch Workman for championing the 2016 law, but said it’s time to take it a step further. “BDS is the latest incarnation of anti-Israel sentiment that goes back since the formation of the Jewish State. To oppose the State of Israel is to oppose Judeo-Christian values. I am proud that the legislation we introduce … takes the next step to make Florida a zero-tolerance state,” Fine said.

Randy Fine, the only Jewish Republican in the Florida Legislature, is calling for Florida to drop state contracts with anti-Israel companies.

Senate CRA crackdown advances” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Sen. Tom Lee wants Community Redevelopment Agencies to return to their roots and fight blight — echoing the concerns of some Tallahasseeans who have seen their local agency enmeshed in an FBI public corruption investigation. The War-on-Poverty era initiative was part of an effort to clean up blighted areas and “uplift the people” who live there, said Lee. Lee wants to require, among other things: People who pitch projects to CRAs register as lobbyists; board members undergo annual ethics training; boards expand to include two citizens not elected officials but with relevant expertise, such as in finance, land use, architecture, etc.; restrictions on spending — striking from state statute the phrase “not limited to” and a list of prohibited expenditures.

Senate moves again on health insurance changes” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Physicians would have greater leeway in prescribing medications to patients, and insurance companies would have less time to approve prior-authorization requests under a bill unanimously approved by a Senate panel … But bill sponsor Greg Steube told senators that if they would like to see the proposal (SB 98) make it into law, they need to press the House of Representatives — which, he said, killed a similar measure last year. The bill would amend current law to require health insurers, HMOs, Medicaid managed-care plans and pharmacy benefit managers to approve or deny prior-authorization requests in urgent circumstances within 24 hours of receiving the requests. In non-urgent situations, companies would have three days. The timelines are shorter, for example, than what’s currently allowed in the state-employee health insurance program and the Medicaid program.

Controversial ‘sanctuary city’ ban bill clears lone committee stop” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — It could head to the House floor as soon as Session starts. The proposal — a House leadership priority — would allow local officials who vote for “sanctuary city” policies, a police chief, sheriff or mayor to be fined or removed from office if they do not fully comply with federal immigration authorities. HB 9, sponsored by Republican Rep. Larry Metz, would have an “indeterminate” financial burden on local communities without a guarantee of reimbursement, according to the bill’s analysis. And despite unanimous opposition from audience members, the measure passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-7 vote, along party lines. Following the vote, House Speaker Richard Corcoran praised the move.

House PIP repeal legislation clears its only committee” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Legislation to repeal Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system handily cleared the House Commerce Committee — the only committee slated to consider the measure. The vote was 17-8, and support for the measure was bipartisan — even though some members confessed to qualms about overturning an insurance system that has prevailed since 1971. “I know that this is a major change for Florida,” and that interest groups disagree about whether it’s a good idea, bill sponsor Erin Grall said. “I would really like to see us make this change and see what the true rates are under a mandatory bodily injury system before we start to address the boogeyman in the room.”

Teresa Jacobs vows more transparency with Visit Orlando.

Teresa Jacobs tells Richard Corcoran Orange County, Visit Orlando working on transparency” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “We believe that the additional transparency measures we plan to implement will greatly enhance the transparency and accountability of VO while still preserving their ability to operate successfully on behalf of our community in a global tourism marketplace, as well as supporting our robust tourism industry and protecting jobs,” Jacobs wrote. Her letter is in part a response to Corcoran’s ongoing crusade to make Florida’s convention and visitors bureaus and other quasi-public private corporations working for government stop shielding much of their activities and spending with public money from scrutiny. Last Legislative Session, Corcoran led an effort that nearly defunds VISIT FLORIDA, and this year he’s turned more attention to the local organizations. In August he sent letters to 12 local tourism development councils, and followed up with a second letter in early October to Visit Orlando, demanding accountability and open records.


Bill Nelson, state tangle over disaster jobless benefits” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Nelson wants the federal Department of Labor to provide help to the state as he’s heard “multiple accounts” of Floridians put out of work by Hurricane Irma unable to apply for disaster assistance. The state Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees Florida’s unemployment system, disputes the claim. In a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Nelson said constituents have been unable to use a Department of Economic Opportunity website to apply for disaster unemployment assistance, despite the extension of an application deadline to Nov. 14. “They are getting kicked out of the online application system because they are not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance, despite being eligible for DUA (disaster unemployment assistance),” Nelson wrote. Nelson said applicants are being disqualified as answers allowed for disaster unemployment benefits are being rejected under criteria for regular unemployment benefits. Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Tiffany Vause called Nelson’s claim “not true.”

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will highlight his proposal for $180 million in tax cuts as part of his 2018-2019 budget with a 10:15 a.m. CST news conference at Global Business Solutions, Inc., 2400 W. Michigan Ave., #1, in Pensacola.

Rick Scott won’t say if he’ll seek recusals over Supreme Court ‘hot mic’ incident” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An attorney for Gov. Scott has filed a public records request with the state Supreme Court over last week’s ambiguous “hot mic” conversation between Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justice Barbara Pariente. But Scott stopped short Tuesday of saying whether he will ask the two justices to recuse themselves from further involvement in a case over his judicial appointment power … With a microphone tuning in and out, the justices had seemed to be referring to a piece of paper and discussing membership of the Supreme Court’s Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC), which vets and recommends appointees for Supreme Court justice to the governor. “Let’s find out what was going on,” Scott said, speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

State will file federal suit against Valeant pharmaceuticals” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — … over the $62 million it lost when it purchased company shares while Valeant allegedly ran a scheme that shielded it from competition and aggressively increased drug prices. If the state opted to join a class action suit, instead of filing its own lawsuit, the estimated recovery would have been much less — about $390,000, according to a staff analysis.

Florida is going after Valeant Pharmaceuticals for aggressive price increases.

Environmental activists sue to block waterfront project by powerful developer Carlos Beruff” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash and the environmental group Suncoast Waterkeeper have filed suit to overturn the county’s approval of a new development by well-connected homebuilder and onetime U.S. Senate candidate Beruff. Beruff and partner Larry Lieberman have been trying for years to develop their waterfront land on Sarasota Bay, first as Long Bar Pointe, and now as Aqua By the Bay. Both projects have stirred controversy for their anticipated effect on the bay and its wetlands. Manatee commissioners rejected Long Bar Pointe in 2013; a decision Beruff challenged in court. He lost. The Manatee commissioners began a public hearing on his new version, called Aqua By the Bay, in May. They concluded it Oct. 3 with a unanimous approval — but only after taking a three-hour recess during which Beruff and his consultants revised the development plan and drawings.

City: Rick Fernandez deleted text messages to lobbyist” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee City Manager Fernandez deleted from his cellphone a text message chain with a lobbyist who he asked for pricey football tickets, believing they weren’t public records and didn’t need to saving, City Attorney Lew Shelley said. “The messages were deleted last year under the good faith belief that they did not constitute public records or were transitory communications and not required to be retained,” Shelley said in a letter to John Bussian, a First Amendment lawyer for the Tallahassee Democrat. It doesn’t matter what Fernandez believed, or that he made the bad call to destroy the texts, Bussian said. The city is still responsible for producing the texts, and failing to produce them violates the state’s Public Records Act, he said.

Citing workload, St. Augustine Beach commissioner resigns” via Sheldon Gardner of the St. Augustine Record — Gary Snodgrass has resigned from the City Commission, saying he’s no longer able to handle the workload. His latest term would have ended Dec. 31, 2018, and now the city will advertise to find someone to fill his seat for the remainder of the term. In his resignation letter, he wrote that the number of commission meetings has increased over the years as well as the length of meetings. He said he suggested several months ago that the city and commissioners find ways to tighten-up the meetings, but nothing has changed, he said. “We continue to have more and more meetings, and we even started the meetings an hour earlier than in the past, just so we can slug our way through the agenda. … I run out of time to prepare for the meetings,” he said.

Feds want cash seized in a raid last year, so they’re suing the cash” via David Goodhue of the Florida Keys News — The money, totaling $166,400, was found in a laundry basket inside a Big Coppitt Key home where a federal, state and local drug task force executed a search warrant Jan. 10. Agents deposited the money in the U.S. Marshals Service Seized Asset Account, and federal prosecutors want to make sure it stays there. In the house at 39 1st St., agents found indicators there was a drug-dealing operation happening there — plastic bags with cocaine and marijuana residue in them, heat sealer dealers typically use to package contraband, scales for weighing drugs covered in marijuana residue and the cash, which was also packaged by someone who used a heat sealer.

Worst story you’ll read today: Pinellas parents bury newborn who died in Pasco foster care” via Mark Douglas of WFLA — The death of a newborn infant in Pasco foster care named Kwon McGee is now the focus of two investigations and agonizing questions by his Pinellas County birth parents. “Two and a half months later I get a call he’s deceased and you know, it hurts. It hurts,” said his mother, Shira Sangamoung. “I didn’t even get to see my baby.” It all started July 29 when Sangamuang gave birth at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and social workers began talking to her about where she would live after she left the hospital. Sangamuang was unemployed and broke and needed temporary shelter, but had plans to move to Connecticut with Kwon to live with her mother. Days later, those same social workers came to the Travelers Inn in Clearwater where Sangamuang was staying and demanded that she hand over Kwon. The baby ended up in the care of foster parents in Pasco County while Sangamuang tried to arrange for counseling and other directives ordered by a judge to get her child back. The child’s father, Ladell McGee, was away when Kwon was born and says he never had a chance to see his son.


While the USF system (which includes the St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses, as well as USF Health) spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on goods and services and construction contracts, an incredibly small percentage of that — less than 1 percent — has gone to black-owned businesses.

University officials are aware of those numbers, and this summer USF President Judy Genshaft said that the university system had invoked a “proactive strategy” to provide minority-owned businesses equal access to sourcing and purchasing contracts across the system:

— Of the nine black companies that were listed by the school to contract with … the majority ($270,000) went to a business (Brailsford & Dunlavey) out of Atlanta, leaving the other eight companies to split $100,000 of projects out of $187 million … calculated to be 1/10th of 1 percent.

— “In the six (6) years since we first engaged the USF System about diversity spending, there literally has been no change (in) the amount of USF System funds actually spent with African-American owned companies,” wrote James Ransom, board member and chairman of the economic development committee with TOBA, in a letter to Terrie Daniel, the recently hired Assistant Vice President of Supplier Diversity, back in July.

— Speaking before at a Cafe Con Tampa event at the Oxford Exchange last month, Yvette Lewis, the recently elected new chair of the Hillsborough County NAACP, blasted the university, saying, “USF has a long way to go. USF has been an island out to their own, and they figured they didn’t need the African-American people.”

— In July 2016, USF announced they would hire a VP of Supplier Diversity, and establish a diversity and inclusion committee overseeing the USF system. The atmosphere seems to have changed dramatically with the hiring of Terrie Daniel this spring to build the Supplier Diversity Program. Daniel previously served as the deputy commissioner of the State of Indiana Department of Administration, where she implemented and led that state’s Supplier Diversity initiatives.


Jeff Kottkamp: Real animal welfare reform starts with shelters” via Florida Politics — State Sen. Tom Lee has proposed a constitutional amendment, as a member of the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission, that would end live greyhound racing and allow all 12 of Florida’s greyhound tracks to essentially continue operating as minicasinos. The fact is — if live racing is stopped the welfare of over 8,000 majestic racing greyhounds would be put in jeopardy. If you take away the ability of the dog owners to make a living — you also take away the ability of the owners to care for the dogs. Apart from the fact that making our shelters “No Kill” shelters is a far better way to improve the welfare of dogs than ending greyhound racing — I do not believe the greyhound issue belongs in the Constitution because it does not involve a fundamental right. The Constitution should be reserved to set forth our state’s founding principles and fundamental values — not used to circumvent the Legislative process. For that reason, I urge the Constitutional Revision Commission to reject the greyhound proposal.


Art Graham picked to lead Public Service Commission” via the News Service of Florida — Graham, who will succeed Julie Brown in the leadership role Jan. 2, also served stints as chairman from October 2010 to January 2012 and from January 2014 to January 2016. Brown will remain on the five-member commission. Graham, a former Jacksonville City Council member, was first appointed to the Public Service Commission in 2010 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. He has been reappointed twice by Gov. Scott, with the latest reappointment announced in September. He is expected to serve two years as chairman.

Personnel note: Andrew Behrman named to Veterans Rural Health Committee — Behrman, president of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, was appointed to the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee by Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. The 12-member committee advises Shulkin on health care issues affecting veterans living in rural areas of the country, including identifying barriers to the provision of rural health care services. Behrman will conduct research and review national policies. The committee also gives recommendations to enhance VA’s rural health care services.

Personnel note: Patricia Mazzei leaving Herald, joining NYT — Mazzei, the Miami Herald’s political writer, announced on social media this week she had accepted an offer to become The New York Times’ Miami bureau chief. “I’ll always leave a piece of my heart at the Herald, still home to one of the most fun (and kick-ass) newsrooms in journalism,” she tweeted. Mazzei spent the last decade at the paper. The Times called her “a prolific reporter … who covers politics, natural disasters and seemingly everything else of consequence in South Florida.” The Caracas, Venezuela, native was hired by the Herald straight out of the University of Miami.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Jim BoxoldNick IarossiDean IzzoAshley KalifehAndrew KetchelRonald LaFace Jr.Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Lennar Ventures

French Brown IV, Hopping Green & Sams: Step Up for Students

Matt BryanDavid DanielThomas GriffinJeff HartleyLisa HurleyJim NaffAndrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: G2Lytics

Candice EricksLauren Jackson, TSE Consulting: Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization

Rheb Harbison, GrayRobinson: Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care

Bill Helmich, Helmich Consulting: Election Systems & Software

Warren Husband, Metz Husband & Daughton: Avis Budget Group

Julia Juarez, JEJ & Associates: Christopher L. Warren

Frank Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: GTI Florida

Kirk PepperRobert Shave, GrayRobinson: Charlotte County

Rebecca Roman, Adams St. Advocates: The Children’s Forum, Unisys Corporation

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

Corey Staniscia, TSE Consulting: Broward County

Sheela VanHoose:

New on the Twitters: @ClaudiaDavant

— ALOE —

FSU College of Law Moot Court Team wins national competition —The team won first place in the 2017 Appellate Lawyers Association National Moot Court Competition, the school announced Tuesday. Florida State also won the Best Brief Award. The competition was Nov. 3-4 in Chicago. Nineteen law school teams participated. Florida State beat Chicago-Kent College of Law in the final round of the tournament, held in the ceremonial courtroom of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Winning team members are third-year law student Catie Messinger, from Jacksonville, and second-year law student Keriann Smith, from Panama City.

Twitter is giving everyone longer tweets, but you probably won’t use them” via Kurt Wagner of — Twitter announced that it’s rolling out longer tweets to virtually all of its users, doubling the traditional 140-character limit to 280 characters. Twitter has been testing longer tweets since September and claims the test proved out the company’s theory — that giving more people room to tweet results in more engagement. When Twitter first announced that it was testing longer tweets this fall, the service’s users freaked out, worried that giving people more room to write would ruin the brevity that makes Twitter Twitter. Shockingly, it looks like that reaction was overblown. Twitter says that just 5 percent of tweets sent by users in the test group were longer than the traditional 140-character limit. Only 1 percent of those tweets actually used all 280 characters.

What Cesar Fernandez is reading — Uber CEO releases new company rules: ‘We do the right thing’” via Haley Britzky of Axios — Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi revealed new company rules after recognizing that “the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get [them] to the next level.” After months of scandals surrounding the ride-sharing company, Khosrowshahi’s new rules are an attempt to save its brand and change its culture, which employed values that “didn’t represent the kind of company we want to be.” Some of Uber’s new rules: “We do the right thing. Period.” “We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average … we encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard.” “We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems.”

Spotted: Extensive Enterprises Media’s Peter Schorsch, The Capitolist’s Brian Burgess and Master Chef Josh Cooper appear on a recent edition of Burgess’ new show. Schorsch promotes the latest edition of INFLUENCE magazine, Cooper cooks something delightful, and Burgess generally plays the role of gracious host.

Click on the video below to watch the segment.

’Unboxing’ this year’s hot toy: The LOL Surprise” via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post — The $69.99 toy … is quite simple: a glittery, dome-shaped plastic case filled with 50 surprises — four dolls, along with accessories, clothing, charms and other knickknacks — that must be individually unwrapped. Much of the appeal of the Big Surprise is in its slow reveal. It can take hours, purchasers say, to peel away the toy’s layers and figure out exactly what’s inside. Some dolls cry, spit or “tinkle.” Others change color in cold water. Watching that process unfold has become a pastime in itself, and there are thousands of L.O.L. Surprise unboxing videos on YouTube to prove it. One, a 13-minute video of a woman opening the Big Surprise, has been viewed 7.1 million times since posted on Sept. 30.

Happy birthday to Leah Bickley and Emily Sitzberger.

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.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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