Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.16.17

Florida Capitol - Backside

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

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

Some sobering news (no pun intended) from the state’s latest “Drugs in Deceased Persons” report, released Wednesday by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission:

“Of the 27,383 deaths investigated by Florida’s medical examiners (in 2016), toxicology results determined that the drugs listed below were present at the time of death in 11,910 deaths.”

That’s close to half (43.5 percent, to be more precise). Furthermore, the report says “the vast majority of the 11,910 deaths had more than one drug occurrence.”

In fairness, that doesn’t always mean drugs caused a given death, just that drugs were in the person’s system.

“Drugs,” meaning uppers, downers, hallucinogenics, inhalants, cocaine, pot, and of course opioids and even alcohol, the report says.

The highlights section keeps piling on the bad news: “Total drug-related deaths increased by 22 percent (2,126 more over 2015).”  

Drug-related deaths in Florida have skyrocketed.

Also, “5,725 opioid-related deaths were reported, which is a 35 percent increase (1,483 more). The opioids were identified as either the cause of death or merely present in the decedent.”

And “6,658 (24 percent more) individuals died with one or more prescription drugs in their system. The drugs were identified as either the cause of death or merely present in the decedent. These drugs may have also been mixed with illicit drugs and/or alcohol.”

A shocking kicker: “Occurrences of fentanyl increased by 80 percent and deaths caused by fentanyl increased by” — steady yourself — “97 percent.”

The latest findings are haunting. No doubt the report will come up as lawmakers continue to wrestle with the opioid epidemic and its depressing fallout.

“Nearly every Floridian has been impacted by substance abuse in one way or another, and the opioid epidemic continues to claim and destroy lives at an exponential rate,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a statement.

“Today’s report shows the grave reality of Florida’s opioid epidemic, and I applaud Gov. [RickScott for declaring a state of emergency in response to this crisis and his leadership in proposing aggressive measures to combat opioid abuse.”

Pam Bondi, state attorneys general call for more legal accountability in opioid crisis” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Bondi has joined more than 40 state attorneys general on a letter to congressional leaders urging them to repeal a 2016 law to restore the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to hold drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids more accountable. “The opioid crisis is affecting families across our country and we need every tool available to combat this epidemic and save lives,” Bondi said in a press release. “To ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration is able to stop the oversupply of dangerous prescription opioids, Congress must repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.” Florida joined a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general who recently sent subpoenas and demanded additional information about potentially unlawful practices in the distribution, marketing and sale of opioids.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@BallardFirm: If Judge Moore is the GOP nominee let pray the Dem wins. Let’s go Alabama GOP get rid of this dirtbag.

— @SchmitzMedia: I asked Mast’s communications director if Mast believes Moore is a pedophile. Have not received a response.

— @Fineout[email protected]FLGovScott is out of the state for the next 2 days at the @The_RGA annual conference. Scott has already said he’s not seeking to be chairman of the organization during his final year in office — one of the multitude of signs that he will run against U.S. Sen. Nelson

@JebBush: Thanks to @RepJoseOliva and the Florida House for hosting me in Tallahassee today. Was great to talk #edreform and the future of Florida!

@Fineout[email protected]JebBush says his first impulse would be to stay on sidelines during GOP primary for governor. Calls Putnam and Corcoran his friends. “Is Latvala still a candidate? He’s a friend of mine.”

— @RichardCorcoran: If you believe in free-market health care, then join me in supporting HB37! We’re making it easier for you to access care and increasing the opportunities for affordable, quality care! #HB37

— @JamesGrantFL: Thanks to @JeffreyBrandes’ leadership from the outset, FL continues to be and focus on being a leader on autonomous.

— @TiaReports: As I embark on a new chapter of my career, I can only hope to make a difference the way @lucytimes has. That is my prayer

— @CraigTimes: To snag #alligator poachers, #Florida‘s @MyFWC set up a phony #alligator farm — and ran it with undercover officers for 2 years.

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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

John Morgan urges women to “come forward” on sexual harassment claims” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – John Morgan continues to be coy about whether he will finally declare a bid for governor … On the issue of sexual harassment, of which anonymous claims have endangered the political ambitions of another gubernatorial candidate, Jack Latvala, Morgan wasn’t as coy … “I believe if someone is going to be accused, the accuser should have to come forward,” he said. “Not to be able to confront your accuser to me does not seem to be just. I don’t know who they are, but I agree with Bondi. I don’t agree much with Bondi. But if somebody is gonna come back 5, 6, 10 years later and say this happened, it can’t be in the shadows. It has to be in the daylight.”

Banning sex ‘gifts,’ selective outrage … another week in Tallahassee” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — On the heels of accusations of sexual harassment in the Florida Legislature, Tallahassee has been a city full of indignation and calls for action. Florida journalists revealed a potential problem — and the politicians sprang into action. If you only read headlines from the past few weeks, you might think it always works that way. It does not. Not at all. Florida journalists uncover and spotlight scandalous, troubling and even deadly issues with great regularity. Often, legislators simply yawn. So why the difference? Why, when media reported largely anonymous allegations against Jack Latvala, did legislators immediately act on that report when they so often shrug? Maybe because legislators had personal or political reasons for wanting to pile on Latvala — who had been campaigning against Corcoran in a possible showdown for next year’s governor’s race and who had mounted a failed campaign against Joe Negron for Senate president. I suppose the non-cynic could argue that these men genuinely care about a harassment-free workplace — and that they just never knew such an environment existed before now.

Amid sexual harassment allegations, Latvala’s union mailer concerns AFSCME” via Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso – The largest state workers union is expressing concerns that one of its members is featured on a gubernatorial race mailer issued by a Florida senator who faces accusations of groping women in the state Capitol. Bearing the headline “Public Employees have a champion in Senator Jack Latvala,” the flyer started hitting mailboxes this week and featured the Republican standing next to government workers, including a woman in a kelly green American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees shirt.

Senate President Joe Negron and embattled Sen. Jack Latvala; what makes this week in Tallahassee different? 

Property taxes likely to spur school funding fight” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In his $87.4 billion budget proposal for 2018-2019, Gov. Scott called for a $770 million increase in funding for Florida’s kindergarten through 12th-grade education system. But nearly $7 out of every $10 of that increase would come from rising local property-tax revenue, much of it the result of increased property values with a stronger economy. Senate leaders support the governor’s plan, while House leaders remain firmly opposed to using the increased local property tax collections, arguing that such a move would represent a tax increase. The projected $534 million increase in local property tax revenue includes $450 million in “required local effort” taxes and $84 million in discretionary local school taxes. In an explanation of Scott’s budget, his office noted the school proposal does not change the required local property-tax rate, meaning “there is not tax increase.”

Tom Lee defends dog racing ban; Pam Bondi noncommittal” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State Sen. Tom Lee fired off a tweetstorm Wednesday in support of his proposed constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing in Florida. Lee — a Thonotosassa Republican, previous Senate president and current candidate for Chief Financial Officer — called dog racing “cruel and inhumane,” and added the “greyhound industry opposes any real reform.” He filed the proposal as a member of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state’s governing document. Meantime, Attorney General Pam Bondi — a Tampa Republican who regularly brings shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted — declined to say whether she would support the amendment. Bondi also sits on the 37-member CRC. “As a member of the commission, I look forward to reviewing the more than one hundred proposals that have been filed,” Bondi said in a one-sentence statement.

“Lawmakers champion efforts to reform criminal justice system,” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics  – A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pushing measures that aim to reduce the state’s prison by giving sentenced that “fit a just result.” They say that seeing the positive impact of criminal justice reform efforts in other states has given them new impetus to do the same. While Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, says more measure will roll in as Session nears, the effort is starting with two proposals. One that seeks to give judges’ discretion over mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug cases and raising the felony property theft threshold from $300 to $1,500. The group says the effort is a conservative one because it would save taxpayers’ money and it would reduce crime rates across the state.

Gambling expansion set to resurface next year” via the Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Voter Control of Gambling Amendment, pushed by the group Voters in Charge, has turned in and verified more than half of the 766,200 signatures required to get on the 2018 general election ballot. Almost 20,000 of those signatures came from Volusia County and more than 4,000 from Flagler County … Florida voters have been hostile to casino-gambling expansion. They turned down casino proposals in 1978, 1986 and 1994. Still, that was then, this is now, and attitudes toward gambling have softened. The latest person trying his hand at changing Florida gambling law is Sen. Travis Hutson, whose district includes Flagler County and northern Volusia County. He filed a bill last week that he characterized in a news release as “attainable reform.” Well, good luck with that. South Florida tends to welcome gambling expansion. North Florida opposes most gambling expansion. And Central Florida is a swing region, as it so often is.

It’s ‘good cop, bad cop’ for Christian Bax, director of the Office of Compassionate Use at the Florida Department of Health.

Legal challenges bog down medical cannabis process” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A litany of lawsuits continues to jam up the state’s medical marijuana licensure process, the state’s top marijuana official told House lawmakers Wednesday. Christian Bax, executive director of the state Health Department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, gave the House Health Quality Subcommittee an overview of his work, including the latest tally of legal challenges. “(Our) position is, we need to see whether a judge will stop this process prior to accepting applications,” Bax said. “We want to start accepting applications and move forward.”

Bill would help dentists work In underserved areas” via Daylina Miller of WUSF — But two bills filed in the Florida House and Senate would create a repayment plan for dentists who practice in areas with few dentists. HB 369 and SB 764, filed by Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Colleen Burton, would establish a dental student loan repayment program for eligible dentists who practice in a public health program that serves Medicaid recipients and low-income patients in dental health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas of Florida. Participating dentists, who are graduating with student loan debt averaging from $250,000 to $400,000, may receive up to $50,000 per year to help repay those student loans and can serve in this program for up to five years.

— RECOVERY —

Irma insured losses near $5.9 billion” via the News Service of Florida – A report posted online by the state Office of Insurance Regulation put estimated insured losses at $5,878,901,664. By comparison, a similar report in mid-October put estimated insured losses at $4.94 billion. The new report showed that 830,788 claims had been filed as of Monday, with 689,905 involving residential properties. Miami-Dade County had the largest number of claims filed, 108,513, while Broward County had 68,624, Orange County had 66,541 and Lee County had 62,078. Irma made landfall Sept. 10 in Monroe and Collier counties before barreling up the state.

Tab mounts to clean up Irma water debris” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida continues to spend about $2.4 million a week to clean up debris strewed across state waters during Hurricane Irma two months ago. Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary David Clark told members of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness that by early next year the state may use up the $36 million allocated to the agency for storm-debris cleanup: “At that pace, we’re going to run out of money by the time we get into session at the beginning of January or sooner.” Clark said the state has already spent about $12 million to clean up about 76,000 cubic yards of household goods, building materials and vegetation that ended up in state waters following the powerful and deadly storm.

— “Rick Scott proposes $100 million for Hurricane Irma aid programs” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics

— “SBA Irma loans in Florida top $500M” via Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Orlando home sales rebound after Hurricane Irma” via Mary Shanklin of the Orlando Sentinel

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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Tweet, tweet:

First on #FlaPol — “Tom Lee in no rush to declare CFO candidacy” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — While he remains “absolutely committed” to running for the 2018 Republican nomination for CFO, Lee said there is no rush to sign paperwork and officially declare his candidacy. “I had a practical conversation about all this with my campaign staff, and we don’t see a lot of urgency to jump into the race at this moment,” he said. “Unless I resign from the Senate and leave the Constitution Revision Commission, I can’t devote full time to campaigning. “The good news is that this is a down-ballot race and there won’t be much focus on it until the primary itself.” Lee said in August that he expected to announce his bid formally within a few months, but decided that his other requirements in Tallahassee take up too much time for now.

Sen. Tom Lee is in no rush to launch a campaign for CFO.

Victory Fund endorses Lauren Baer, David Richardson in CD 18, 27” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Baer and Richardson are both openly gay, marking the second consecutive congressional election cycle in which Floridians have two opportunities to elect the state’s first openly-gay member of Congress. As in the 2016 campaign, both face tough Democratic primary challenges first. Baer and Richardson are two of five congressional candidates nationally to earn the Victory Funds’ support in this first round of early endorsements. The organization backs its endorsed candidates with cash and in-kind campaign support. Victory Fund President Aisha Moodie-Mills praised Baer’s record of public service and her commitment to Victory Fund’s principles and goals. Another news release, issued by Richardson’s campaign, cited the Victory Fund for praising Richardson’s efforts in the Florida Legislature to remove a forty-year-old ban on gay adoption from Florida statute.

Emily’s List backs Mary Barzee Flores in Miami congressional race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “This open seat represents an opportunity for Floridians to send a message to Washington,” Stephanie Schriock, EMILY’s List president, said in a written statement. “Working families need a representative who will fight to protect basic women’s health care services, defend against the rolling back of environmental protections, and push to reform our broken immigration system.”

HD 58 Democratic contender announces endorsements Jose Vazquez Figueroa, the Democrat running in the House District 58 special election, says he’s gotten some high-profile backers this week. House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa is endorsing him, he says, as is Tampa House Democrat Sean Shaw and former state Rep. Hazelle Rogers, now mayor of Lauderdale Lakes. The previous incumbent, Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, stepped down because of health problems. Vazquez will face Dover Republican Lawrence McClure in the Dec. 19 general election, along with Libertarian Bryan Zemina and non-party-affiliated candidate Ahmad Saadaldin. HD 58 is a Republican-majority district that includes Plant City, Temple Terrace, Dover, Mango, Seffner, Thonotosassa, and parts of Tampa and East Lake-Orient Park.

Joe West, long shot candidate for Tallahassee mayor (Photo via Tallahassee Democrat).

Disabled vet wants to be mayor to get rid of elected mayor, set term limits” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Not many candidates have the candor to admit they haven’t got a “snowball’s chance in hell” of winning an election, but then not many candidates are Joe West. “I’m not what anybody would envision to be mayor,” said West, 67, a former stand-up comic, recovering alcoholic and disabled Vietnam War veteran who filed to run for mayor of Tallahassee … But he is so outraged by the lack of ethics and unwillingness to act on obvious wrongdoing he sees at the City Commission, he decided to run for mayor if only to engage others in the voting process. “I never ran for office before. I don’t want to run now,” West said. “But I don’t like what’s going on. I don’t like the people that want that job. Everybody seems self-involved.” West claims no party affiliation but has been a regular guest on a local conservative radio program. He wants to help drive out the current members of the commission, set term limits and abolish the elected mayor’s office, returning it to a position appointed by the commission on a rotating basis.

— STATEWIDE —

Marco Rubio: Trump ‘needs to work’ on water drinking form via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO Florida — Rubio has some advice for President Trump on how to best quench his thirst. Trump taunted the Florida senator in 2013 for stopping to drink water while responding to former President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Rubio got a chance to get back at the president when Trump paused while addressing reporters at the White House to open a bottle of water and take several sips. “Similar, but needs work on his form. Has to be done in one single motion & eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his 1st time,” Rubio tweeted. During his first public comments since returning from a diplomatic trip to Asia, Trump suddenly stopped while discussing his trade efforts in Japan. “They don’t have water. That’s OK,” Trump said. He initially ducked down beneath his lectern in search of a water bottle. After someone off-camera pointed to the Fiji bottle on a table, the president picked it up and, without looking away from the television cameras, unscrewed the top. He glanced away and lowered his mouth to the bottle, then tipped it back and took a sip. A few minutes later, Trump paused again to sip from the water bottle.

Rick Scott makes big dollar request from Congress to recover from Irma” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — In a letter penned to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Scott called on Congress to pass a disaster relief package for Florida agriculture; fund the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee and speed up the project so it can be completed by 2022; fund the federal share that the state is expected to spend to house; and educate the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican families who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria and emigrated to Florida. And, oh yes, why they’re at it, make sure to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Damage caused by Irma compounded the yearslong citrus greening disease, an existential threat to Florida’s citrus growers. That’s why Scott proposed more than $21 million for citrus related issues earlier this month, as well as a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program. “While I continue to be 100 percent committed to helping citrus growers recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma, the state cannot do this alone,” Scott said in the letter.

What Brady Benford is reading – “Court tosses out verdict against tobacco companies” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court ordered a new trial in a case in which tobacco companies were ordered to pay $12 million in the death of a smoker diagnosed with lung cancer at age 42. A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal sided with Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which argued in part that a Pinellas County circuit judge had improperly responded to a request from jurors to read back potentially critical testimony. The lawsuit was filed against the cigarette makers by the estate of Douglas Duignan, who began smoking at age 14 and was diagnosed in 1992 with a cancerous tumor in his lung. Duignan died after cancer was found elsewhere in his body, the 31-page ruling said. The jury ruled in favor of Duignan’s estate, awarding $6 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages. But a key issue in the case was a contention by the tobacco companies that Duignan “smoked because he liked smoking rather than because he was addicted to nicotine or because he was misinformed about the risks,” the appeals court ruling said.

Orlando shooter’s wife wants testimony about his affairs” via the Associated Press – Attorneys for the wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub want to introduce testimony that he frequently lied about visiting a friend to cheat on her … attorneys say the testimony is relevant because Omar Mateen told his wife, Noor Salman,  he was visiting his friend “Nemo” on June 11, 2016, hours before his rampage at the Pulse nightclub. Nemo, whose full name has not been released, told FBI agents Mateen frequently used him as a cover to visit women he’d met through dating websites. Prosecutors argue Mateen’s wife knew of her husband’s plans and charged her with obstruction of justice, which she denies.

‘Icky brown’ water is troubling Palm Beach County tourism officials.

Icky brown waters off Palm Beach County concern tourism leaders” via Kim Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Officials from the South Florida Water Management District and county agree the icky looking stew is the result of stormwater runoff from record rainfall and canal discharges necessary to keep communities from flooding. But beachgoers are dismayed, and tourism leaders are concerned, so much so that the Palm Beach County’s Tourist Development Council agreed last week to send a letter to Gov. Scott and legislative leaders about the water. County Mayor Paulette Burdick, who is chairwoman of the council, said she wants it known that water concerns aren’t just a Treasure Coast issue. Lawmakers were focused during the 2017 Session on finding a solution to the algae that clogs the St. Lucie estuary and can show up on Martin County beaches when too much Lake Okeechobee water is released.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Robert Hawken changing roles at FCCI“Hawk” Hawken, the director of legislative affairs for FCCI Insurance Group for the past 30 years, will transition to the lead role of a retained consultant and lobbyist for the company, according to a Thursday news release. The change is effective next May 1. For three decades, Hawk “has been an extraordinary ambassador, always making progress to benefit the original vision of FCCI,” the release said. Hawken will continue to be the face and voice of FCCI government affairs and strive to ensure all of our initiatives are even more successful. In his on-going leadership role, Hawken will continue to maintain political operations out of Tallahassee: “He’ll still be that same ‘go-to person’ advancing our most important causes now and into the future,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Tom Koval.

Florida’s Turnpike chief joins New Jersey governor’s transition team” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The executive director of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, is advising the newly-elected Democratic governor of New Jersey on transportation issues. Gutierrez-Scaccetti is listed among 145 transition team members for Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, who was elected last week to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Before Gutierrez-Scaccetti came to Florida six years ago, she was executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. She was hired in Florida by former transportation secretary Ananth Prasad.

Florida Turnpike Enterprise Executive Director Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

Appointed: Chief Melanie Bevan to the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking; state Rep. Larry Metz to Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame Council.

Spotted: ExcelinEd CEO Patricia Levesque was featured last week on the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog, talking about parents’ “biggest testing bugaboos.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Sergio Abreu: TECO Energy

Barney Bishop III, Barney Bishop Consulting: Financial Casualty & Surety

Kimberly Broom: Florida Health Care Association

Kenneth Granger, Capital City Consulting: Uber Operations

Ron Greenstein: Emerald Coast Spa Academy

Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: U.S. Imaging Network

Adiba Ighodaro: Actis Advisers

Chris Spencer, GrayRobinson: City of St. Cloud

Michelle Strenth, Orlando Health: West Orange Health Care District dba Health Central

Screven Watson, Screven Watson & Associates: Florida Beer Wholesalers Association

Tonjua Williams: St. Petersburg College

More time for Prudential Productivity Awards nominations — Florida TaxWatch said Monday the deadline to send in nominations for the Prudential Productivity Awards is extended to Dec. 31. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the nonprofit watchdog said it “wanted to allow ample time for state employees to send in their nominations.” The awards program publicly recognizes and rewards state employees and work units whose work significantly and measurably increases productivity and promotes innovation to improve the delivery of state services and save money for Florida taxpayers and businesses. Submit your nominations here.

What Stephanie Grutman is reading – “Sage owners opening Italian steakhouse restaurant in Ballard Building” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat – Sage restaurant, known for gourmet meals prepared with locally produced ingredients, is trying something new in what may become an iconic downtown corner … Business partners Terry White, the chef, and sommelier Craig Richardson will debut a high-end, Italian steakhouse on the ground floor of the nearly complete glassed, six-story building on Park Avenue and South Monroe Street owned by Brian Ballard … For months, the super lobbyist and close associate to President Donald Trumpvetted high-end national steakhouse chains, some of which made the short list. In the end, he wanted a hometown treasure … Sage restaurateurs haven’t decided on a name but hope to open sometime in late summer or early fall 2018. They’re ironing out design plans for the 7,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor downtown location with Tallahassee-based Architects Lewis + Whitlo.

— ALOE —

Elon Musk: The architect of tomorrow” via Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone — What he has done is something that very few living people can claim: Painstakingly bulldozed, with no experience whatsoever, into two fields with ridiculously high barriers to entry — car manufacturing (Tesla) and rocketry (SpaceX) — and created the best products in those industries, as measured by just about any meaningful metric you can think of. In the process, he’s managed to sell the world on his capability to achieve objectives so lofty that from the mouth of anyone else, they’d be called fantasies. It is easy to confuse who someone is with what they do, and thus turn them into a caricature who fits neatly into a storybook view of the world. Our culture always needs villains and heroes, fools and geniuses, scapegoats and role models. However, despite opinions to the contrary, Elon Musk is not a robot sent from the future to save humanity. Nor is he a Silicon Valley savant whose emotional affect has been replaced with supercomputer-like intelligence. Over the course of nine months of reporting, watching Musk do everything from strategize Mars landings with his rocket-engineering team to plan the next breakthroughs with his artificial intelligence experts, I learned he is someone far, far different from what his myth and reputation suggest.

Elon Musk: Architect of the future?

Theme park expo offers preview of what’s new for 2018” via Terrance Harris of the Associated Press – This year’s theme park expo in Orlando, Florida, features the latest  trends in rides and the next big food items, which could be coming to an amusement park near you as early as next summer. The expo runs from is sponsored by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) … some of the exciting things to look forward to in 2018 and beyond are … the Time Traveler ride, which is debuting next summer at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The ride drops you at a 90-degree vertical angle right out of the gate and it only becomes more intense from there … Skywarp, a 30-foot tall, 290-foot long coaster features two cars speeding around each other on double loops set to debut at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in summer 2018 … Infinity Falls, coming to SeaWorld Orlando next summer, is a rafting ride that begins with an elevator lift that launches eight passengers in a river and eventually sends them to a 40-feet drop … Aquaticar, currently in the concept phase, allows passengers to steer their way through a marine life experience at 130 feet per minute while submerged underwater with an oxygen-filled canopy covering their heads … A New Jersey-based company is shopping a pizza in a cone concept where pizza sauce, cheese and choice of toppings are stuffed into a cone-shaped crust and then baked.

Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee, one of the best men in The Process, wait, scratch that … he’s one of the best men period.

Peter Schorsch

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.



#FlaPol

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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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