Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 2.20.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

It has been just six days since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

Questions are far from being answered, and the conversation surrounding how Florida will respond – and whether that response will include any meaningful gun control or mental health reforms – is still in its first act.

The dead, including 14 students, are starting to be buried, but their classmates who survived the nightmarish event are only just beginning to be heard.

Nonetheless, it’s Election Day in two Florida House districts. Apologies for the brief Parkland pause.

In Polk and Osceola counties, Josie Tomkow faces Jennifer Spath in the Republican primary for House District 39, which opened up over Thanksgiving with the exit of Neil Combee.

The primary winner is Combee’s de facto replacement. Whomever emerges will be up against Democrat Ricky Shirah in the May 1 general election, but the so-called “blue wave” would need to be a tsunami of biblical proportions to register in the deep red district.

Tomkow got early nods from area Republicans, including Combee, and has also dominated the money race. She had raised about $120,000 through Feb. 15, more than double Spath’s tally.

In Miami-Dade, Jose Pazos and Andrew Vargas are competing for the Republican nomination in HD 114, vacated after Daisy Baez pleaded guilty to perjury in a case surrounding her residency.

Vargas is law partners with Rep. Carlos Trujillo and has the advantage in the money race, but Pazos is no slouch. The combat veteran runs a condo association management business and earned the Miami Herald’s endorsement over Vargas for the passion he brings to the campaign trail.

The winner of the seat will face Democrat Javier Fernandez and independent Liz de las Cuevas in the May 1 general.

That result will be viewed as yet another bellwether for November. And that’s all it’ll be good for anyway, as the winner will have to run for re-election six months later having never cast a vote in the Legislature.


— @RealDonaldTrump[email protected]MittRomney has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!

— @NickConfessore: It’s a sign of how potent these kids are, just speaking for themselves, that the pro-Trump media has turned to efforts to discredit and slime them.

— @DavidHogg11: Thank you to @RepTedDeutch for actually listening to us

— @DavidJollyFL: If a Florida sheriff’s ‘game-changer’ plan is to arm teachers and train them to shoot at students shooting other students, maybe that’s when we as a nation admit there’s a problem that wasn’t envisioned by the authors of the 2nd Amendment.

— @Jay_Fant: We can’t let @AndrewGillum and the DC liberals win. The Parkland killer has taken away enough from us. Let’s not let this tragedy take away our right to bear arms too.

— @ShevrinJones: The fact that I just read a tweet from one of my colleagues stating “don’t let this tragedy also take our 2nd Amendment right” is what’s wrong with politics. I challenge everyone to come off the campaign trail, and LISTEN to what these children are saying

— @RepBillHager: Why on earth is there no waiting period to purchase an assault weapon? At the very least, there should be a 30-day waiting period on these weapons. Allow time for proper and complete background checks.

— @GusCorbella: To my legislative friends, and respectfully to my D friends, don’t make Wednesday’s rally a partisan event. Countless Rs and others are also united in wanting to see significant change. Let us join together as Floridians and not squander this historic opportunity.

— @RT_Dailey: Leon County Schools will allow excused absences on Wednesday for its students who wish to join their counterparts from Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High School at a rally planned at the Capitol

— @NWSTampaBay: The temperature at Tampa Intl hit 88 degrees today breaking the previous record high of 86 which was set in 1891 and again in 1997. This 88 degree temperature also ties the all-time record high for the month of February. Another hot day is expected again tomorrow!

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Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony – 5; Last day for regularly scheduled legislative committee meetings – 7; Disney Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – 9; Last day to take up Special Order Calendar – 13; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program termination begins – 13; Sine Die (maybe) — 15; St. Patrick’s Day – 25; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 39; Easter – 40; NFL Draft begins – 65; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 73; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 92; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 122; Primary Election Day — 189; General Election Day — 259; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 357.


Parkland students begin trip to Tallahassee in search of legislative action” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – Students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting are beginning their travels to Tallahassee on Tuesday in search of legislative action that can prevent a future massacre like the one they experienced. Meetings with Attorney General Pam Bondi, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and other legislative leaders have been set up for Wednesday, according to student group leader, Jaclyn Corin. As of now, the teenager-led #NeverAgain movement is focused on lobbying four Senate bills: SB 1476, which could repeal a provision that does not allow state or local government agencies to keep track of privately-owned firearm; SB 838, which would require a three-day waiting period for private handgun sales; SB 196 that bans the sale and transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines; and SB 1434, which would boost funding for mental health in schools. The last bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, is the only one with Senate leadership backing. The other Democrat-championed bills eyed by the group of students are unlikely to move in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Funeral after funeral, an emotional marathon for survivors of the Parkland school shooting” via Kevin Sullivan and William Wan of The Washington Post – “This is physically and emotionally the kind of marathon I never want anyone else to have to run,” said Ken Cutler, a city commissioner, following one of the funerals chats for victims of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen people died, mainly teens. “These are children who have never had death touch their lives,” said Cutler, whose wife is a teacher who survived the shooting. “Facing your own mortality as an adult is hard enough. I can’t imagine what it is like for a teenager.” This affluent city of gated communities, private golf courses and top-notch schools is struggling to cope with the American tragedy of mass shootings. They are also fighting back with a focused fury: Parkland’s teenagers, some in braces, have emerged since the shootings as a fearless and powerful political voice calling for stricter gun laws.

15-year-old shot 5 times protecting classmates” via the Associated Press – A fundraising site says Anthony Borges was shot in both legs and his back while attempting to close and lock a classroom door last Wednesday. Seventeen people were killed. Borges’ friend Carlos Rodriguez told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the two rushed to hide in a nearby classroom when they first heard gunshots. He says no one knew what to do, but that Borges “took the initiative to just save his other classmates.”

Parkland’s Alex Schachter loved marching band, dad’s secret smoothie” via Monique Madan of the Miami Herald – Frozen strawberries, mango, blueberries and coconut water. Those were the secret ingredients to the smoothie 14-year-old Schachter and his friends enjoyed so much that they’d always plead for second and third servings. That was among the stories shared Sunday, according to one of the near-1,000 friends, family and community members who attended the boy’s emotional funeral. Other remembrances focused on his love for movies, his humor and his passion for the high school’s marching band, in which he played trombone. The teen, who was described as confident and kind, loved summer camps, playing Nerf basketball in his room and collecting Fatheads sports decals. In Alex’s honor, the family set up a GoFundMe page. The funds will go toward creating a scholarship program to help other students experience the joys of music as well as fund increased security at schools.


In the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, several state and local leaders will spend the bulk of Tuesday discussing school safety improvements and methods to keep guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness.

Split into six workshops at three different locations, the meetings come at the request of Gov. Scott. He will attend the workshops throughout the day, joining members of law enforcement, school administrators, teachers, mental health experts, and state agency leadership.

“I am bringing local and state leaders together to find solutions on how to prevent violence in our schools and keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill individuals,” Scott said. “This is an urgent matter that we must address quickly.”

Times and locations of the workshops are below.

Florida Department of Education: Workshops will take place from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m to focus on “school safety improvements and updating school security protocols and emergency plans.”

Florida Department of Children and Families: Workshops will take place from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. to focus on “ways to expand mental health services for Floridians, especially students, and improve coordination between state, local and private behavioral health partners.”

Florida Sheriffs Association: Workshops will take place from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m. to discuss potential safety improvements and methods to keep guns away from the mentally ill.


Scott will not attend CNN town hall” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott will not attend Wednesday night’s CNN town hall about Parkland … “With only three weeks left of our annual legislative session, Governor Rick Scott will be in Tallahassee meeting with state leaders to work on ways to keep Florida students safe, including school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness,” read a statement. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio will participate in the town hall, as will Rep. Ted Deutch. In the aftermath of the shooting, Scott has come under intense scrutiny for his ties to the NRA.

Gabby Giffords gun control group goes after Scott, running ads in four markets” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – Giffords PAC, founded by former Arizona Congresswoman Giffords, is spending “a strong six figures” on a television ad attacking the governor for his defense of the 2011 “Glocks vs. docs” bill, the organization’s executive director, Peter Ambler, said. “Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Parkland. We need to stop dangerous people from getting guns, but Gov. Rick Scott made it illegal for a doctor to ask a patient if they owned a gun, even a mental health professional,” the gravelly voice in the 30-second ad says. “This law was so dangerous that a court had to strike it down. “Gov. Scott, we need more than your thoughts and prayers. Stop putting the gun lobby ahead of our safety.” The ad is running in the Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Palm Beach markets, Ambler said.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Attorney general candidate on Parkland: ‘Let’s not let this tragedy take away our right to bear arms’” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – At 12:31 p.m. Monday, state Rep. Jay Fant tweeted that liberals are using the Parkland school shooting to push a political agenda. At 12:32, Fant tweeted, “The Parkland killer has taken away enough from us. Let’s not let this tragedy take away our right to bear arms too.” Fant used the tweets to call out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum — a favorite conservative target. Like many Florida liberals, Gillum has been active in calling for gun control measures in the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting. The AG candidate’s next two tweets focused on his perception that gun rights in Florida could be under attack. (Gillum’s response to Fant’s tweets: “Bless your heart, Representative.”)

Broward County business donates commemorative bracelets for Parkland – LogoUp says it designed 500 bracelets to donate to lawmakers in remembrance of the victims of the mass shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School. Brian Roberts, the Pompano Beach firm’s co-founder, said: “We must stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand for the sake of our community. Though there are no words to express the grief and gut wrenching feeling that parents of victims are enduring, it is our hope that these bracelets will unify our elected officials, community leaders and fellow Floridians throughout the Sunshine State.”


Donald Trump offers support for background checks on gun buys” via Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press – At his Florida club just 40 miles from a community ravaged by the shooting that left 17 dead last week, Trump gave a nod toward a specific policy action, with the White House saying he had spoken Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified the support, stressing that talks continue and “revisions are being considered,” but said “the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”

Marco Rubio calls for firearms task force” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “Responding to his critics in the wake of Florida’s latest mass shooting, Rubio says a task force of experts should examine the “epidemic” of mass shootings and expressed concern that Congress essentially bans federally funded research into firearm violence. … “If you’re going to talk about gun violence, you’re going to have to focus on the gun part. But you also have to focus on the violence part,” Rubio told POLITICO. “What is the catalyst causing people to do this?” Rubio’s support for a task force is still in its early stages and marks a first for him since he joined the Senate as a gun-rights conservative. Rubio said he wasn’t sure who would sit on a task force or not, and he understood “people roll their eyes at a task force.”

Age limits and waiting periods for assault weapons? Legislators considering it” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – After visits to Parkland left them horrified at the ease with which a gunman could kill 17 people in six minutes, Florida legislators in both the House and Senate are doing something they have resisted for years: drafting legislation to limit access to semi-automatic rifles. “We owe it to victims of families on what I now consider the absolute most important issue of the session,” said Sen. Bill Galvano, who has taken the lead in putting together a wide-ranging Senate proposal. But while the measures are moving quickly in the aftermath of the shooting, they also fall far short of the assault weapons ban called for by the grieving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The plan would raise the legal age of possession of an assault rifle to 21 and add a three-day waiting period for all rifle purchases. It has the support of Republican leader Wilton Simpson and top Senate leaders, Galvano said, but it has not been endorsed by the full Senate.

Solution to school violence? Focus on ‘people,’ not guns, Pinellas sheriff says” via Andrew Krietz of WTSP – We need to do something, said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri when asked about changes to a background check program. In fact, Gualtieri says, there isn’t much of a program to begin in the state nor country. “What we have is a system … (where you’re) declared incompetent, or whether you have a disqualifying crime as a conviction,” said Gualtieri, speaking of ways a person can be barred from buying a gun. “You can tell a deputy last night that you’re going to kill your mother and still walk into a gun shop today and buy a gun.” Gualtieri says it’s not reasonable to pick and choose which guns someone can or cannot have access to purchasing. There’s hypocrisy in the law if people were not allowed to buy such weapons and then be asked to fight with them in Iraq, said Gualtieri, who says society needs to focus less on guns and more on processes and systems to ensure individuals who can’t possess guns shouldn’t be able to do so.


Major education issues hold Session key” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Decisions will begin unfolding when the Senate Education Committee takes up a nearly 200-page bill (HB 7055) that is important to House leaders. The legislation includes provisions that are in more than a half-dozen other education bills pending in the Legislature. Late Friday, Senate Education Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill filed a 115-page “strike all” amendment that would replace the House version of the bill with a Senate proposal. It’s a sign of how Senate-House negotiations will begin on a bill that will be one of the keys to lawmakers reaching a series of agreements, including approval of a new $87 billion-plus budget, and ending the 2018 session on time March 9. The Senate already rejected the House’s request to have the education bill considered as part of formal budget negotiations. Instead, the measure will be treated as a regular bill subject to committee review and amendments as it moves to a vote on the Senate floor. The Senate proposal embraces some of the key provisions in the House bill.

Slavery memorial could be poised for approval” via the News Service of Florida – The Senate released a list of bills that it will consider during a floor session Wednesday, including a bill (SB 286), filed by Sen. Darryl Rouson that proposes the slavery memorial. The House in January approved a similar measure (HB 67), filed by Rep. Kionne McGhee and Rep. Larry Lee Jr. Under the proposals, the Department of Management Services, after receiving recommendations from the Florida Historical Commission, would develop a plan for the memorial. The plan would then be submitted to the governor and legislative leaders.

Greg Evers retirement dispute goes to judge” via the News Service of Florida – Nearly six months after former Sen. Evers died in a traffic accident, the State Board of Administration filed a court document that said his wife and children are in a dispute about who should receive his state retirement money. The State Board of Administration filed what is known as a “complaint of interpleader” in Leon County circuit court that indicated Evers’ wife, Lori Weems Evers and his children, Jennifer J. Evers, Robert S. Evers and Stephanie E. Barlow, are battling about Evers’ Florida Investment Plan account. Greg Evers named his wife as beneficiary but then subsequently named his children as beneficiaries, with each child to receive an equal third share, the document said. The State Board of Administration, which administers the retirement system, said it can continue to hold the money if directed by a judge while the dispute plays out. The court document did not indicate how much money is in the retirement account, only that the amount is more than $15,000.

Governors Club Tuesday lunch buffet menu Tuesday’s buffet menu has a Latin flair with mixed green salad with assorted dressings; tuna salad; winter greens; corn chowder soup; chicken empanada; pulled pork; Spanish rice; pinto beans; grilled zucchini; carrots; churros for dessert.


Mike Pence to visit Kennedy Space Center” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “There, he will tour the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch facilities and participate in a commercial spaceflight federal reception,” read a release. “On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Vice President Pence will lead the second meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. ‘Moon, Mars and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier’ will include testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States’ space enterprise. The Vice President will conclude his visit with a tour of Kennedy Space Center.”

Judge rejects injunction sought by school boards” via the News Service of Florida – A coalition of 13 school districts has challenged the massive law, commonly known as HB 7069, and sought a temporary injunction against two parts of it. Those issues dealt with a requirement that school districts shift a portion of local property-tax revenues to charter schools for building projects and requirements related to “turnaround” plans for low-performing public schools. The school boards argue that the requirements violate their constitutional powers to operate local schools. But Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper issued an order turning down the request for a temporary injunction. While the order did not explain his reasons, Cooper said during a Jan. 30 hearing that legal standards for a temporary injunction are different from the considerations in issuing a final ruling.

League of Women Voters urges gun ban amendment, Carlos Beruff dismisses it” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – LWV of Florida President Pamela Goodman said she met with and is representing student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and urged the commission to consider such a ban, or to use their influence with the Florida Legislature to do so. “Let’s start calling them what they are: weapons of mass destruction,” Goodman said outside in a news conference, and then again before the commission. “There is a distinction with no difference in killing power,” she added. However, Goodman’s pitch to the commission ran longer than the two minutes allowed per speaker. And when she reached two minutes, Beruff stopped her, told Goodman that her time was up, and then rebuffed her for addressing something the commission is not considering.

Assignment editors – The Florida Constitution Revision Commission will hold a public hearing in Duval County beginning 1 p.m. at the University of North Florida, Adam W. Herbert University Center, 12000 Alumni Dr. in Jacksonville.

Assignment editors – Congressman Dennis Ross and the Lakeland Economic Development Council will visit IGT Instant Ticket Services, which is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil its 45,000 square-foot expansion of the company’s ticket printing facility in Lakeland. Event begins 1 p.m. at 4000 Southside Frontage Road, Suite 400 in Lakeland.


Richard Corcoran puts more money behind new immigration tv ad” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – Speaker Corcoran is doubling down on his tough-on-immigration talk with a new television ad that calls for more deportations. The television ad is blander than his inaugural one, which was heavily criticized by Democrats for portraying immigrants who came into the country illegally as a danger to Floridians. Records show the new media buy will run at least on the CBS affiliate in Orlando — not Fox News, which was the focus of his first buy. Florida Democrats are already criticizing him for running an ad that “demonized immigrants” instead of pushing for “common sense gun control laws” in the wake of the Parkland high school mass shooting.

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

Ron DeSantis starts stumping in the Southwest – The Republican congressman and candidate for governor “brought his message of economic growth, better education and conservative leadership to Southwest Florida in Naples,” a photo press release said Monday. Early Saturday, DeSantis met for coffee with grassroots supporters … and spoke later in the afternoon to a full room of conservatives at Phyllis Schlafly’s American Eagles’ Florida Division.

On Saturday, Ron DeSantis brought his message of “economic growth, better education and conservative leadership” to Southwest Florida.

Assignment editors DeSantis will speak at a “Statesperson of the Year” dinner by America Connected beginning 6 p.m. at the Boca Raton Marriott, 5150 Town Center Cir. in Boca Raton.

James Carville, Darren Soto headlining D.C. fundraiser for Nancy Soderberg” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Soderberg, running in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, has D.C. connections — and they will be visible at a March 8 fundraiser. The former Ambassador to the United Nations in the Bill Clinton administration will have a fellow Clinton alum as a special guest for that fundraiser in Washington: Carville. Also on the host committee: U.S. Rep. Soto, a Central Florida Democrat. Soderberg has shown momentum since entering the race in summer 2017. She raised $207,949 last quarter, putting her above the $544,000 mark. She has $376,000 cash on hand.

Tom Rooney decides not to seek re-election” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY – “After what will be 10 years in Congress representing the good people of Florida’s Heartland, it’s time to ‘hang em up,’ as my old football coach used to say,” he said. “I will not be running for re-election to Congress in 2018. I want to thank my constituents for allowing me the opportunity to represent them in Washington.” Rooney, a GOP moderate from Okeechobee, did not give a reason for his decision. But, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he had voiced concerns at times over congressional inaction on spending issues. More recently, he vented over delays in getting lawmakers to approve disaster aid for losses from Hurricane Irma which ravaged orange groves in his sprawling, agrarian-based district. Congress agreed to a spending deal earlier this month that included billions for disaster aid.

Assignment editors – Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will speak to the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida beginning 8 a.m. at the Citrus Club Orlando, 255 S. Orange Ave., Suite 1800 in Orlando.

Donna Shall poll shows her dominating Democratic field in CD 27” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “In one of the nation’s top races for congressional Democrats, Shalala‘s likely opponents have treated her like the candidate to beat — and a new poll she paid for shows why. Shalala … leads the crowded primary field with 24 percent of the vote in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, with state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez trailing her with a distant 10 percent, according to the poll of 600 Democratic voters conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International. All six other candidates polled in the single digits. At least 70 percent of the district’s Democratic electorate had no idea who they were. After the pollster read respondents positive and negative messages about Shalala (concerning the 77-year-old’s health, for instance) Shalala’s numbers jumped 16 percentage points, to 40 percent, over her opponents while Rodriguez had 8 percent of the vote. The undecided share of the vote dropped from 51 percent to 38 percent.

Stockton Reeves kicking off HD 47 campaign with Dean Cannon, Tom Gallagher, Ken Pruitt, Kevin Beary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The rally, set for Thursday 5 p.m. at Hannibal’s On the Square in Winter Park, is Reeves’ campaign opener after more than six months of relative quiet, while his Democratic opponent Anna Eskamani of Orlando has run one of the most active and aggressive early campaigns in Florida, and in which Reeves, a Winter Park businessman, picked up a rival for the Republican primary nomination, Mikaela Nix, an Orlando lawyer. Reeves’ campaign kickoff host committee appears formidable, led by former Florida Speaker of the House Cannon, former Florida Insurance Commissioner Gallagher, former Florida Senate President Pruitt, and former Orange County Sheriff Beary. Others on the host committee include former State Attorney Lawson Lamar, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Jeff Fuque, state Rep. Sam Killebrew of Winter Haven; and several current and former suburban municipal leaders from Central Florida, as well as numerous attorneys, architects, builders, first responders and others.


Joe Henderson: After Parkland shooting young people say ENOUGH!” via Florida Politics – To those young people who lived through the slaughter that was the Parkland shooting and vowed this will be the last time any school endures this: stick with it. I hope you march on Washington next month, like many of you promise. I hope you inspire others to march in cities around the state and country. I hope the raw passion of your words will be enough to shame the shameless sellouts who masquerade as lawmakers but are really just paid billboards for the National Rifle Association. That will be much harder than you think. These people are good at giving you a comforting hug with one hand while taking NRA cash with the other. Those people don’t believe you will follow through. They think after the echo of the bullets that flew through the halls and classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School subsides, most of you will return to a life of disengagement. Prove them wrong.

Jill Beitscher Fox: ‘The look’” via Florida Politics – I’m living in a heartbroken community where everyone in a state of shock, a sea faces with bloodshot eyes, undone hair and traces of mascara, each person looking like they haven’t slept for days, and have obviously been crying. I’m not going to claim that I know how this or any of the affected families feel because I don’t, and I have been thanking God for that as much as possible. But for my husband, and me watching it from just a few doors down put it in perspective. I no longer have to refer to my community as “a little south of Boca” or “pretty close to Coral Springs.” From now on, I know when I say I’m from Parkland, I will get “the look.” That look of terror in their eyes and shock on their face. And then, there will most likely be a follow-up question. The same question I asked my neighbor just one day ago: “Did you lose someone?” But I’m the lucky one. I’m the one that gets to answer with a sigh of relief. No, thank God. My family is safe.

Right sentence for the right person” via the Ocala Star Banner editorial board – Reform of Florida’s rigid criminal-sentencing laws and dramatic improvement of the state’s judicial-system databases are complementary efforts that warrant simultaneous approval. Fortunately, Sen. Jeff Brandes — a Republican from Pinellas County and a member of the Committee on Criminal Justice — is seeking to blend sentencing-reform legislation with an equally valuable bill in the House of Representatives to upgrade Florida’s databases on sentencing. Senate Bill 694 would enable judges to sentence illegal drug sellers to less than the minimum — which can range from three to 15 years, depending on the amount sold — if the defendant was: not engaged in a “continuing criminal enterprise;” did not threaten or use violence; did not cause a death or serious bodily injury. This bill and others with the same aim are welcome. The mandatory-minimum laws were designed, in part, to promote consistency in sentencing — an important goal. But by eliminating judicial discretion, the sentencing laws resulted in too many people going to jail for nonviolent crimes — ruining the lives of defendants and running up huge expenses for taxpayers when effective alternatives were available.


First on #FlaPol –Marc Dunbar in line to join Citizens Property Insurance board” via Florida Politics – The Tallahassee-based lawyer and gaming lobbyist is scheduled to be interviewed Tuesday morning for a vacancy on the state-run insurance concern’s board of governors. The interview was listed Monday on CFO Jimmy Patronis’ official schedule, posted online. Citizens is the state’s insurer of last resort. Dunbar, who described himself as “an outsider with no insurance ties,” said he was “honored to be considered.” He would replace Don Glisson Jr., an insurance executive who stepped down last August.

Appointed Allan Roberts to the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District; Domingo Sanchez (reappointed) and Maggi Montalvo to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: CORE Construction Services of Florida

Michael Cantens, Flagler Strategies: Florida Crystals Corporation, Florida Power & Light Company, U.S. Stem Cell

Jason Gonzalez, Shutts & Bowen: APR Energy, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Danny Jordan, Samuel Verghese, One Eighty Consulting: Asysco

H. Lee Moffitt: Tynda Holdings

Ken Pruitt, Mark Timothy Pruitt, The P5 Group: Tampa General Hospital

Chris Spencer, GrayRobinson: City of Winter Park

Michelle Strenth, Orlando Health: South Lake Hospital

Jennifer Wilson, Adams and Reese: Everest Venture Group


’Women’ or ‘ladies’? At the Winter Olympics, that depends on the sport.” via Liz Clarke of The Washington Post – The nomenclature of “ladies” figure skating is more than a century old, included in the Constitution and Regulations of the sport’s international governing body, the Switzerland-based International Skating Union, founded in 1892. And it has stood since, regarded as a designation worth honoring, in the view of many. To others, “ladies” sounds increasingly archaic — especially given that male skaters compete in the “men’s” event rather than the equivalent “gentlemen’s.” And there are rumblings, albeit polite rumblings, that it’s time for figure skating to update its lexicon. Count 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski among those ready for change. “The term ‘Ladies’ has been long-standing in figure skating, and while I generally respect tradition in the sport, I do think the terminology has become antiquated and uneven, considering we refer to male skaters as ‘men,’” wrote Lipinski. “I would support a change from ‘ladies’ to ‘women.’”

A fist-bump instead of a handshake? Norovirus precautions overtake Olympic tradition” via Cindy Boren of The Washington Post – The handshake may be replaced by a fist-bump at the Winter Games in PyeongChang …blame the norovirus. Nowhere does the traditional handshake more visibly signify what the Olympics are supposed to be about than after hockey games, when opponents line up to shake hands. But an outbreak is underway in South Korea, with 49 of 283 confirmed Olympic cases still in quarantine, and Olympic officials are urging athletes to just bump fists. So a fist-bump it is for the U.S. men’s hockey team, with Jim Slater, an alternate captain, fist-bumping media members, too. “It’s good … I do it to everybody. Touching hands and stuff, you never know where hands are. Just being cautious.”

Olympic curlers are buff now, and have the calendars to prove it” via Scott Cacciola of The New York Times – Obliterating the sport’s tired reputation as ground zero for paunchy, beer-swilling weekend warriors, curlers like Thomas Ulsrud, who is back at the Olympics for the third time with Norway, are representative of a growing emphasis on fitness — for men and women alike. They bench press, bang out bicep curls and lay off the sauce. Some, like Ulsrud and Marc Kennedy, a Canadian Olympian, have gone so far as to showcase their physiques in racy promotional calendars for the sport. “It kind of goes to show you just how far curling has come,” said Kennedy, 36, who posed shirtless while doing yoga with two curling stones for the cover of the 2018 Men of Curling Calendar.

In Erin Jackson, U.S. speedskating sees a bright glimpse into the future” via Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post – Stories in the Olympics genre, as varied as their characters may be, generally fall into one of a few well-worn categories … the story of American speedskater Jackson — the first African-American woman to compete for the United States in long-track speedskating — won’t slide neatly into any of those categories. She didn’t expect to be here. She wasn’t even trying to be here. And because she is here, the future of American speedskating got a little bit brighter. A year ago at this time, she hadn’t tried speedskating at all. She had won scores of national inline skating titles, competed for roller derby championships and earned a degree in material science from the University of Florida. But none of those provided the challenge the Olympics did. Like Apolo Anton Ohno and current teammates BrittanyBowe and Joey Mantia, she considered a move to the ice to reach higher levels of sport than inline skating offered.

— ALOE —

Prepping for St. Patrick’s Day – It’s cabbage season: Farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) celebrated National Cabbage Day, observed annually on Feb. 17. In Florida, nearly 8,900 acres of cabbage are planted annually, yielding more than 270 million pounds. The crop is expected to produce a total value of roughly $34 million. Cabbage season, which runs Nov. 15-April 15, produces enough cabbage to feed 250 million people, farmers say.

​EAA Farmers prepare to supply the nation in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Happy birthday to Jimmy Gonzalez.

Last updated on February 20, 2018

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.


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