Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.19.18
A view of the Capitol and Dept. of Education buildings Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

Florida Legislature

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, is asking for prayers as wife Susie enters hospice.

Her “Alzheimer’s has advanced considerably,” he said on Facebook yesterday. “She is now at the very end stage … Starting today, she is under hospice care in our home, and it appears that her time with us will be short.”

Scott Plakon and his wife Susie.

Susie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in late 2014. It’s “an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks,” according to the National Institute on Aging.

Plakon first served in the House 2008-12, then returned in 2014. As he once told our Scott Powers, Susie’s symptoms were “generally mild and progressing very slowly … I told a few people at (a 2016 political) event about her diagnosis, and they were surprised because they did not notice it.”

That July, however, a motorist ran a red light and struck their car. The impact appeared to accelerate her Alzheimer’s symptoms, Plakon said. Adding to that, she suffered a seizure at home about two months later, hit her head and had bleeding on her brain.

Plakon, a devout Christian, says he’s leaning on God during this trial, following his wife’s example. The couple has six children; they’ve been married for over three decades.

“I have never met another person that has walked closer and had a more intimate relationship with Jesus than Susie Plakon,” he wrote on Facebook. “She soon will be in God’s presence and experience beauty, joy, love and peace that our earthly minds cannot even begin to comprehend.

“I have never been more sure of anything.”

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— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: 3.4 million jobs created since our great Election Victory — far greater than ever anticipated, and only getting better as new and greatly improved Trade Deals start coming to fruition!

@MarcoRubio: I know for a fact #Putin interfered in 2016 & we should punish it. But while we can’t change the past we can influence the future. So let’s pass the #DeterAct to try & prevent Putin interference in 2018 & beyond.

@AlCardenasFL_DC: Since there is zero political/diplomatic logic to what the President has said today in Helsinki, other possible reasons for those statements are highly troubling & any member of his administration not publicly disavowing them or resigning; should be held complicit.

—@SenBillNelson: Just filed a bill to impose sanctions and freeze assets of Nicaraguan officials responsible for the violence against protesters. Ortega and his thugs must be held accountable for the abuse and murder of Nicaraguan people exercising their rights.

@MDixon55: It is packed house at @BBKingsOrlando for @RonDeSantisFL rally. Henceforth, all political events should be held at Blues bars

—@SteveSchale: Those rising DeSantis numbers as the RGA dealing with serious @GwenGraham anxiety about Florida again, as they have attacked her twice today. If you want to know who they are scared of facing in November, well, they haven’t attacked anyone else since at least April.

@BrowardPolitics: Awful. Jumping around asking each candidate different questions is a strange “debate” format.

—@JuanPenalosa: Want to give a shout out to the press for covering the @FlaDems Gov Debate in #SWFL — I may occasionally push back on stories, but without an independent press corp we wouldn’t be America.

—@BuceRitchie: Did you know Florida DEP has a campaign encouraging you not to use plastic straws because they are a pollution threat? Neither did I.

—@JimRosicaFL: One thing I learned back in my @tbocom days: For every claim that dog racing is dying, @jackcoryatpa has a photo of a grandstand filled to the brim with track-goers.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida Chamber Global Florida Webinar — 5; MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit — 12; Deadline for filing claim bills — 13; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 14; Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday begins — 15; Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 20; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 22; Start of the U.S. Open — 39; Primary Election Day — 40; NFL season starts — 40; College Football opening weekend — 42; Labor Day — 46; Future of Florida Forum — 69; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 106; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 97; General Election Day — 110; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 131; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 208; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 229; 2020 General Election — 838.

TOP STORY

Democrats talk algae, quality of life issues in Fort Myers Governor debate” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As the five dominant Democrats running for Governor shared a debate stage in Fort Myers, discharges from Lake Okeechobee rose to the top of a list of progressive causes discussed. The debate participants universally promised to fight Big Sugar and find solutions to the closely watched environmental issue. “If you don’t have the political courage to stand up to the industry that has had a vice grip on environmental politics in the state of Florida for 20 years, paying off politicians all throughout the state of Florida, you are now willing to hold this office,” said Orlando businessman Chris King. All the candidates promised not to take sugar money. King zinged former Rep. Gwen Graham for accepting money in the past, but she noted that one had all gone to help the Indian River Lagoon. “I am proud sugar money is being used to clean up the mess they created,” Graham said.

Not every candidate offers his own money to help candidates in other races on the ballot. Jeff Greene just did” via Adam Smith and Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – “I will spend my own money to get out there and fight these Republicans, and I will back up the downticket races so we turn Florida blue — not just in the governor’s race, but in the Senate race and in the House race,” said Greene, who in one month has spent more than $9 million to become a leading contender in the five-person primary. “I am committing to helping Democrats up and down the ballot if I’m the nominee. It’s time for Democrats to have the resources they need to,” Greene reiterated on Twitter after the debate.

Tweet, tweet:

WINK News FL Dem gubernatorial debate is one of the worst I’ve had to witness. It’s not a debate. It’s a forum of unchallenged talking points. Moderators are racing through a list of questions & so few Qs are being answered on ag, transportation, insurance, medical marijuana etc.

— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) July 18, 2018

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Tom Steyer’s NextGen America ground troops begin their march into Florida for Andrew Gillum” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — “As we battle for the heart and soul of this nation, Andrew Gillum is the kind of leader we need on the front lines,” Steyer said in announcing his endorsement of the Tallahassee mayor last month. “He’s someone we can trust to do the right thing, to put the people before the powerful, and who is unafraid to stand up for justice, now when we need it most. Those who are willing to act courageously and stand up for what is right, are those who will shape the political landscape of the country, and that’s why we’re taking this unprecedented step to make sure Andrew is representing the Democratic Party in November.” Organizers with NextGen America intend to reach out to populations that they say historically haven’t been engaged much in statewide campaigns, such as communities of color and young voters. NextGen cites its work last year in the Virginia governor’s race as evidence that the group’s approach is effective.

Chris King’s daughter stars in new ad — The new TV ad from Chris King for Florida, “Mary Grace,” features his 9-year-old daughter to help share her dad’s progressive policies on gun safety, health care, and Florida’s environment. The 30-second spot will air in the Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce television markets.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— “Chris King promotes new health care platform on statewide tour” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida

Donald Trump Jr. joins Fox News team campaigning for Ron DeSantis” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — The younger Trump, accompanied by girlfriend and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, appeared with DeSantis at an afternoon event. Trump Jr. was also scheduled to attend an evening fundraiser with DeSantis. DeSantis has been a frequent guest on Fox News programs to defend the president and criticize special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe … shortly after the president stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and gave equivocal remarks about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, DeSantis appeared on Fox to assert that Russia’s actions didn’t influence the election’s outcome and occurred while Barack Obama was president. “We have to stay engaged,” Trump Jr. said. “Don’t take it for granted. Just because — and I see all the MAGA hats and I feel all the love in this room — just because Donald Trump isn’t on the ticket doesn’t mean that everything that he has accomplished is not on the ticket. It is.”

“Packed house!” Republican candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis thanks a crowd in Orlando, where he stumped with Donald Trump Jr.
“I’m your guy”: GOP candidate for Governor Adam Putnam, along with state Sen. Travis Hutson, met with supporters for another “Up & Adam” breakfast in Flagler Beach on Wednesday.

Assignment editors — Attorney General Pam Bondi will join her fellow Florida Cabinet member, Adam Putnam, for the grand opening of Team Putnam Orlando Campaign Office, 2:30 p.m., 660 W. Fairbanks Ave., Suite 1, Winter Park.

Matt Caldwell rolls out more Florida endorsements — The new names were added to the growing list of conservative leaders and organizations endorsing Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Congressman Matt Gaetz, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) and the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA). New endorsements includes: Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Monroe County; Sheriff Mike Scott, Lee County; former Sheriff Bob White, Pasco County; Tax Collector Rhonda Skipper, Walton County; Clerk of the Circuit Court Alex Alford, Walton County; Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson, Lee County; Clerk of the Circuit Court Linda Doggett, Lee County; Clerk of the Circuit Court Ronnie Fussell, Duval Clerk; Property Appraiser Carey Baker, Lake County; former Tax Collector Mike Corrigan, Duval County; former Clerk of the Circuit Court Gail Wadsworth, Flagler County; County Commissioner Stacy White, Hillsborough County; County Commissioner Gavin Rollins, Clay County; County Commissioner Henry Dean, St. Johns County; County Commissioner Jeb Smith, St. Johns County; Councilman Matt Schellenberg, City of Jacksonville.

Frank White’s pro-life CRED earns him Family Research Council backing” via Florida Politics — The new endorsement came in from the political arm of the staunchly-Christian-conservative Family Research Council, which takes hard-line stances against abortion and LGBTQ rights and in favor of increasing the role of Christianity in public life. “During Rep. Frank White‘s tenure in the Florida House of Representatives, he has stood boldly for life, family, and religious liberty. As a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, he sponsored a bill that requires HHS to partner with organizations that support and promote childbirth. He also supported a bill that allows parents to challenge politicized public-school curricula, a bill that provides pregnancy and wellness services to women in need, and a bill that bans dismemberment abortions,” said Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of FRC Action PAC.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Democratic challenger Sanjay Patel outraises Bill Posey in quarter for CD 8” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Patel raised $101,000 in the second quarter of his campaign for Florida’s 8th Congressional District, besting incumbent Republican Posey‘s fundraising efforts by more than $30,000. At the end of June, Posey, the five-term congressman from Rockledge, still possessed a significant campaign cash advantage over the newcomer candidate, with $642,000 in the bank compared with Patel’s $160,000. Yet the positive quarter led Patel to declare momentum in a district that Republicans have owned for many years. Patel’s first-quarter report was the best by a Democrat in that district in this century, and Patel’s campaign topped that in the second quarter. During the second quarter, Patel picked up $101,067 for his campaign, for a two-quarter total haul of $192,178. Posey picked up $67,775 in the April-June fundraising period, giving him $548,888 raised during this election cycle.

Sanjay Patel leaves Bill Posey lagging in CD 8.

National Democratic committee targets Republican Gus Bilirakis’ seat as winnable” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added District 12 to its Majority Makers list, a collection of 56 Republican seats across the nation identified with the potential to flip blue. DCCC spokeswoman Amanda Sherman said Bilirakis‘ 2017 votes to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act and to pass Trump‘s controversial tax bill make District 12 a likely target. Sherman said the district also is in play because of the legitimacy of Democratic challenger Chris Hunter. “There is a path for a Democrat there, and we think Chris Hunter can build on that with his profile,” Sherman said of the district, which covers all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Fundraising magic disappears for Debbie Wasserman Schultz foe Tim Canova” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — On June 30, Canova’s campaign reported just $9,010 cash in its bank account. On the same date two years ago, Canova had more than 100 times as much cash on hand: $986,345. His campaign had $20,061 in debt two years ago, which could easily have been paid off with his available cash. His current campaign debt is $50,061. Canova, a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University, is mounting his second attempt to unseat Wasserman Schultz, who is seeking an eighth term representing the Broward/Miami-Dade County 23rd Congressional District.

Florida Medical Association endorses Ed Hooper for SD 16 — FMA PAC is endorsing Republican former state Rep. Hooper for the open seat in Senate District 16. FMA PAC President, Dr. Mike Patete said: “The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Ed Hooper for Senate District 16. During his time in the House, the FMA worked very closely with him and he was a stalwart on issues of importance to the medical community. We hope to continue that relationship into the Florida Senate.” The SD 16 seat includes parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties, which opened after the resignation of state Sen. Jack Latvala.

FMA PAC prescribes a second term for Gary Farmer” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The political arm of the Florida Medical Association endorsed Farmer over former Rep. Jim Waldman in the Democratic primary for Senate District 34. “The FMA PAC is honored to endorse Senator Farmer for re-election. We have worked closely with him on issues of importance to us and look forward to continuing that work to make Florida the best state to practice medicine for physicians and the patients we serve,” said committee president Mike Patete. … Farmer was elected to the Florida Senate in 2016 after taking 43 percent of the vote in a three-way primary against former Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed and Waldman, who finished third with a smidgen over 28 percent of the vote. … Waldman, a Coconut Creek attorney, has neither attracted donors nor anteed up in the weeks since he announced he wanted a rematch by issuing a missive attacking Farmer … As it stands, Farmer has more than $120,000 in hard money at the ready and another $470,000 in his political committee, while Waldman has less than $6,000 in the bank, nearly all of it loans.

Who you know: Wyman Duggan ad highlights Lenny Curry connection” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Duggan released the first television ad in the competitive three-way Republican Party primary in House District 15. Central to the ad: one of his key supporters, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. Curry vouches for “principled conservative” Duggan, stressing the importance of “having conservatives we can trust fighting for our shared values.” The ad asserts that the NRA endorses Duggan, stands with President Trump and opposes “sanctuary cities,” of which there are none currently in Florida. Duggan will be up on television through the primary, with this and other spots.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Judge is slated to hear House qualifying dispute” via the News Service of Florida — Judge John Cooper issued an order scheduling the hearing in the lawsuit filed by Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat running in state House District 47. Eskamani contends that her Democratic primary opponent, Lou Forges, did not properly qualify because his wife notarized paperwork submitted to the state Division of Elections. Eskamani argues that state law bars such notarization by spouses and that Forges should be decertified as a candidate — arguments that Forges disputes. Democrats are seeking to capture the seat, which is open because Republican state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park is running for Congress.

— A WINNING STRATEGY —

Democrats might have a saving grace in one succinct message: Republicans are corrupt.

That’s according to a recent poll, published by the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund, that found 54 percent of voters in 48 Republican-held congressional districts feel Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats (46 percent felt the other way).

Reports Natasha Korecki for POLITICO, “Those are welcome numbers to Democrats who have struggled to find their messaging in the run-up to the midterms. In May, the party signaled an effort to tap the “culture of corruption” theme …”

The impetus: A spokesman for the poll linked the newfound sentiments to corruption exposed in the Trump administration. Among the running tally of casualties: former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Encouragement: Fortunately for Democrats, the party already has made a point of highlighting possible corruption in the GOP tax reforms, by which some members of Congress benefitted. Notes Korecki, “The polling suggests that the Republican tax cuts — and loopholes tapped by some of the same members who voted for the plan — may be an area ripe for exploitation.”

But: It’s a matter of perception. Republicans are using the same tax reforms to re-elect or elect their party’s candidates this cycle. Per Korecki, “Last week, Vice President Mike Pence pointed to a humming economy and the Republican tax plan as marquee selling points as he toured a series of competitive Midwestern House districts to boost candidates.”

— STATEWIDE —

Scott urges approval of citrus money — The Governor said he “urged the (state) commission charged with granting spending authority to approve $340 million in federal funding to aid Florida’s citrus growers.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the federal funding to aid the citrus industry’s recovery from Hurricane Irma. The Florida Legislative Budget Commission will consider the money Thursday. The block grant for Florida citrus is part of a more than $2.3 billion federal package approved earlier this year. “We will keep fighting for this important industry and the many families whose livelihoods depend on the success of Florida agriculture,” Scott said.

Scott signs death warrant in 1992 murder” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Nearly 26 years after a woman was beaten and stabbed to death in her Miami-Dade County home, Gov. Scott said her murderer should die by lethal injection on Aug. 14. Scott signed a death warrant for inmate Jose Antonio Jimenez, who was convicted in the October 1992 killing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas, whose neighbors heard her shout, “Oh God! Oh my God!” during the attack, according to court documents. Jimenez, now 54, would be the first inmate put to death by lethal injection in Florida since Feb. 22 … Jimenez also would be the 28th inmate executed since Scott took office in 2011 — the most of any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a state Department of Corrections list shows. Scott signed the death warrant after the Florida Supreme Court on June 28 rejected an appeal by Jimenez, who was convicted of the murder in 1994.

Jose Antonio Jimenez is set for an Aug. 14 execution.

’Look right into my soul,’ Florida politician said. But he was lying, ethics board alleges” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — Michael Grieco, a former Miami Beach commissioner and current candidate for Florida’s House, was lying to the public when he denied involvement in a campaign fundraising operation last year and beseeched Miami Herald reporters to “look right into [his] soul” for the truth, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust alleged. In a closed-door meeting, the ethics commission found probable cause to charge Grieco with two counts of violating a Miami-Dade County charter provision that prohibits municipal officials from “knowingly furnish[ing] false information on any public matter.” The commission also said Grieco broke a Miami Beach ethics ordinance against soliciting city vendors for campaign funds. Grieco, who faces voters in a late August Democratic primary, has 21 days to dispute the charges and ask for a hearing or settle the matter with an admission of guilt.

One of Florida’s largest medical marijuana businesses forced to stop processing pot” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Surterra, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana treatment centers, has been forced to stop processing cannabis — halting its production of new items — after it failed to meet a food safety inspection deadline in a little-noticed provision of state law last week. The requirement, which mandates that medical marijuana treatment centers complete third-party inspections in the first year to ensure “good manufacturing practices,” caught several businesses by surprise earlier this month when the Department of Health indicated that it was enforcing the provision in letters sent out July 6. The inspection requirement, which was part of the Legislature’s implementing bill broadly authorizing medical marijuana last year, went unnoticed or ignored by some businesses because they misconstrued it as part of the statute’s guidelines on edible medical marijuana. The Department of Health has still not cemented rules pertaining to edible forms.

Battling an image problem, Broward schools seeks public relations exec for up to $175,000 a year” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The school district is advertising for a chief public information officer who can find ways to “champion a favorable public image and brand for the district” and can “bring to life the many stories” of the school district, according to a job posting. The job pays between $104,836 and $174,870. The school district has suffered many public relations hits since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, which left 17 people dead. School Board members have complained that the district needs to be more aggressive in defending itself against negative news coverage.

For the first time, a David Beckham stadium proposal will go to voter referendum in Miami” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami commissioners voted to hold a November referendum to ask voters if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham’s ownership group to build a commercial and soccer stadium complex on the city’s only municipal golf course, Melreese Country Club. The pivotal vote capped a week of controversy over the preliminary details of the vote, highlighting the level of distrust associated with stadium deals in Miami. Commissioner Ken Russell, believed to be the swing vote on the five-member commission and the reason the commission postponed last week’s vote until Wednesday, voted in favor of sending the issue to the voters after receiving some verbal and some written concessions he demanded from the Beckham group. In that 3-2 vote, commissioners Manolo Reyes and Willy Gort dissented. “I had resigned myself to voting no,” Russell said during the break. “All the issues I demanded concessions for were issues the residents had brought for me.”

—D.C. MATTERS —

A critical factor in 2020: Democrats make significant cut to caucus states” via Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed News — By next year, Democrats could see the number of caucus states cut in half. Four states have already moved from a caucus system to a traditional primary: Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, and, as of last month, Idaho made the switch. Party officials say two more states — Nebraska and Washington — are now considering the same change. And as Democratic Party members prepare to adopt changes to the nominating process at their annual summer meeting next month — including a new rule to “encourage” the use of primaries over caucuses “whenever possible” — caucus states may face new outside pressure to embrace state-run primaries. The shift could leave just seven caucus states on the nominating calendar. For more than 20 years, Democrats have held caucuses in no fewer than 14 states.

Assignment editors — Sen. Rubio speaks at the Heritage Foundation on “deep fake” technology, which manipulates audio and video of real people saying or doing things they never said or did, 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE., Washington D.C.

Democrats call for federal audit of Keys debris contract” via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami — Expressing concern Florida will seek “reimbursement for potentially wasteful debris removal contracts,” Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri demanded to know when the Federal Emergency Management Agency first learned about these agreements and how it will determine if the costs in those emergency contracts “are necessary and reasonable.” On Wednesday, the eleven Democratic members of Congress from Florida sent their own letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General arguing “tens of millions of federal taxpayer dollars are being squandered” and requested the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conduct an audit. “An OIG audit would go far to restore public confidence that taxpayer funds spent on disaster relief will not be allocated inappropriately or inefficiently,” the members of Congress wrote.

Email we didn’t open — “Pee-proof underwear company icon sends “Endurance Packages” to women senators urging them to protect women’s rights, block [BrettKavanaugh’s appointment to SCOTUS” via Unbendable Media

— OPINIONS —

Alex Sink: Donald Trump’s stumbles should help Gwen Graham, all Dems” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Sink is the only Democrat to win a Florida statewide election in this century when she beat Tom Lee in the race for chief financial officer in 2006. So, when she says she knows what Graham faces in her campaign to be Florida’s next Governor, it carries considerable weight. “My advice for the primary would be to focus on her two or three strongest issues that appeal to voters, especially those who are concerned about the right of privacy and the right of a woman to control her own body.” … “One of the things we have as Democrats, going off the last 48 hours (with Trump), oh my God,” she said. “If we can’t see what’s going on in the nation right now, then we’re pitiful. Period.”

Just say no: A disgraceful assault against Floridians” via Mark Howard of Florida Trend — The difference between the 1997-98 commission and the 2017 -18 commission isn’t the level of political calculation in the mix. It’s the level of sheer gutlessness and cynicism on the part of the current commission and its string-pullers. The current commission took a collection of individual proposals and turned them into steaming piles of confusion, lumping multiple measures willy-nilly into single amendments. They clearly didn’t trust the voters to evaluate each idea on its own merits, hoping we’d be willing to swallow controversial proposals if they’re sugarcoated in feel-good provisions. And so we get to vote on a proposed amendment that incongruously couples three issues: A guarantee of benefits for the families of first responders killed on duty, along with a measure restricting universities’ ability to levy fees — and a third that restricts the activities of state colleges. Another proposal also squeezes three ideas into one amendment: A measure that does away with an outdated law barring some immigrants from owning property; a housekeeping measure involving criminal laws; and another removing the language related to high-speed rail — which voters have already repealed — from the constitution.

Net neutrality debate could strike a blow to Florida’s economy, local job creation” via Brad Swanson for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Rather than embrace a return to the internet’s original “light touch” style of regulation formed during the Clinton administration, some members of Congress recently launched a Congressional Review Act (CRA) process, an ill-conceived, rarely used stunt, to force a vote to reinstitute Title II rules. Make no mistake about it: restoring Title II regulations would have an unwelcome impact on the lives and livelihoods of resident Floridians. Despite these realities, the CRA passed the Senate and is now headed to the House. Title II regulations are designed to regulate utility industries, where consumers have one choice, or else. The ISP industry, on the other hand, offers millions of customers across America a smorgasbord of wired, wireless and satellite-enabled choices in how they access the internet. These regulations at minimum are categorically inappropriate for this dynamic, market-driven industry. Worse, under Title II, future administrations could introduce billions in new regulations to ISP companies and passed-on costs to the businesses and households they serve.

Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — To his credit, Gov. Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapons permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor has a duty to reassure Floridians that this serious state obligation is being performed responsibly. If Putnam is confident the applications to carry concealed guns are being processed appropriately, he should welcome an outside review that could ease growing concerns about the potential for mistakes that could wind up endangering Floridians. There are more than enough revelations about shortcomings in the processing of concealed weapon permits to justify an independent investigation ordered up by the governor. The growing concern comes at an awkward time for both Republicans, with Scott running for the U.S. Senate and Putnam running for governor. But an independent look could clear the air and benefit them both. Most importantly, it could reassure Floridians that the Agriculture Department is properly staffed and diligently processing concealed weapons permits with the care and thoroughness that responsibility requires.

— MOVEMENTS —

Florida Municipal Electric Association elects new officers — Assuming leadership roles at FMEA are President Joel Ivy, general manager for Lakeland Electric; President-elect Mike Poucher, utility director for Ocala Electric Utility; Vice President Allen Putnam, managing director of Beaches Energy Services in Jacksonville Beach; and Secretary-Treasurer James Braddock, director of support services and internal auditing for the City of Wauchula. FMEA is the statewide trade association representing Florida’s public power utilities. The association “represents and advocates for member cities’ interests on a wide variety of state and federal issues, provides education and training for members and serves as a clearinghouse for industry news and information,” it said in a news release.

Ballard Partners adds three clients to its DC roster” via Florida Politics — Ballard Partners Washington, D.C. operation added another three clients over the past week … The first was Singani 63, a New York-based beverage company backed by Academy Award-winning film director Steven Soderbergh that is trying to popularize a type of Bolivian liquor made from grapes. … The second was Coral Gables-based Cyxtera Technologies, a cybersecurity firm that provides a variety of services to help its clients “keep pace in a climate of unprecedented cyberthreat, rapid change and constrained resources.” … And on Monday, Ballard added Turkish state-owned bank Halk Bankasi, which has run into a bit of trouble as of late. In January the bank’s head of international operations, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was sentenced to 32 months in prison by a US judge after he was convicted of helping Iranians skirt US sanctions by laundering more than $1 billion in oil revenue.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian BallardChristopher Hansen, Ballard Partners: Longevity Health Plan

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Terrace of Kissimmee

Jennifer Green, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Uber Technologies and Affiliates

Allison LibyLiby-Schoonover, Metz Husband & Daughton: Asian-American Hotel Owners Association

Robert Reynolds, Robert R. Reynolds & Associates: Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center

Dale Whittaker: University of Central Florida

— CANDIDATE EMERGING FROM OFR HOPEFULS —

Some of the smartest people along Adams Street in Tallahassee are now calling attention to one of the 58 candidates who applied to head the state’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR).

That’s Ronald Rubin of Washington, D.C., who among many other things is a former enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In fact, he was one of the agency’s earliest employees.

Who the heck is Ronald Rubin?

Who is this guy? According to his bio, he “played an important role in building the CFPB’s enforcement capabilities, and drafted critical internal procedures.”

Since leaving the bureau in late 2012, he “has represented several clients in their CFPB investigations and examinations” at the Hunton & Williams firm in Washington.

What’s his background? Previously, Rubin “was a criminal prosecutor, an enforcement attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, senior special counsel at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and a managing director on Wall Street.”

He got his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University, an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Does he have any Florida connection? Rubin volunteered on Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. He was an assistant prosecutor in Fort Lauderdale in the mid-1990s. He’s still licensed to practice law here, as well as in New York, D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California.

Does he have any hobbies? He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard and Bloomberg, his resume says. He also played ice hockey in college.

— ALOE —

Netflix releases first look at reset ‘Narcos: Mexico’” via Jackie Strause of the Hollywood Reporter — After three seasons of exploring the cocaine war in Colombia in both the pre- and post-Pablo Escobar world, Narcos underwent a reset for its fourth season to explore the origins of its next threat in the drug war: Mexico’s Guadalajara cartel. The cartel series moved production to Mexico City, suffering the death of a location scout in the process, and brought in new stars Michael Pena and Diego Luna as leads. The announcement marked the end of main character Javier Pena’s story — and phasing out for leading man Pedro Pascal. Now Netflix has confirmed that the series is officially resetting as Narcos: Mexico and will launch as a new original series later this year … Narcos: Mexico will explore the origins of the modern drug war by going back to its roots, beginning at a time when the Mexican trafficking world was a loose and disorganized confederation of independent growers and dealers.

SeaWorld wrapping up construction on new raft ride” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The Infinity Falls raft ride at SeaWorld Orlando has reached its final height of 67 feet … a specific opening date has yet to be announced. Cranes lifted the final piece of the 41-ton “whimsical” steel tower into place over the weekend. The 67-foot tower will house the ride’s elevator-like lift system. The actual drop guests will experience is 40 feet — which SeaWorld says earns Infinity Falls the title of world’s tallest river rapids attraction. “Aboard the rides 8-passenger circular rafts, riders will embark on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s most incredible freshwater ecosystems,” SeaWorld said in a news release. “The new attraction will feature dynamic drops and turns, interactive water elements, and allow visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids.” Infinity Falls will anchor a new area of the park designed to look like a “basecamp” of explorers and scientists. Along with the ride, this section will feature interactive exhibits pushing SeaWorld’s message of conservation for freshwater ecosystems.

The 67-foot tower of SeaWorld’s Infinity Falls.

What Ron Sachs is reading — “Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show is coming to Netflix” via Sam Barsanti of AV Club — Netflix is going to be releasing a filmed version of the show Dec. 15 — the night of the very last performance. The Netflix version (like the Broadway show) will feature Springsteen playing acoustic songs and telling stories from his Born To Run biography, many of which are “often very poignant.” In a statement, Netflix head Ted Sarandos said, “This groundbreaking experience defies the boundaries of theater, concerts and film, and will give our global audience an intimate look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our time.”

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

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