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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.10.18

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

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

ICYMI: “Divided we prosper — in Tallahassee, at leastby Peter Schorsch via Tallahassee Democrat — The gift ban may be good government, but it’s bad for … business. And what’s really been bad for Tallahassee business is one-party rule.

Downtown Tallahassee — the heart of Florida’s political body — is dead. It’s so dead that the closest high-end restaurant — one that features a steak named after a local lobbyist — closed its doors.

It’s so dead that the city closed off an entire block of Adams Street and that doesn’t seem to have messed up anyone’s way to work.

With elections for Florida Governor, Cabinet members, and the Legislature in less than three months, what the good people of Tallahassee should be praying for is … gridlock.

That’s right, the answer to the prayers of so many Tallahassee businesses is divided government.


@RealDonaldTrump: Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida is doing a fantastic job and has my complete and total Endorsement! Tough on Crime and Borders, Ted was really helpful on Tax Cuts. Vote all the way for Ted in the upcoming Primary — he will never let you down!

@VP: The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best & bravest will be called to deter & defeat a new generation of threats to our nation. The time has come to establish the US Space Force.

@CahnEmily: Resolved: SPACE FORCE must always be capitalized, because SPACE FORCE is super exciting!

@MarcoRubio: I urge my fellow Floridians in #BrowardCounty to vote for @rpetty for School Board. No one has worked harder or will be a more effective advocate on the issue of school safety. I have seen firsthand his passion & drive. He was a driving force behind

@BallardFirm: Follow @BallardWeather for real-time weather updates from the heart of Downtown Tallahassee! The WeatherSTEM system will provide a source of downtown weather conditions even in the event of widespread power and/or internet outages.

@Jack: I think Twitter is the closest thing we have to a global consciousness. And I believe the world needs that right now.

@ChrisLatvala: Almost 46,000 Pinellas voters have cast a ballot thus far. 46% of them have been from Republicans and 38% from Democrats. #BlueWave

@NewsBySmiley: Only took the City of Miami 11 months to respond to my records request from September regarding documents related to the tower cranes that fell in Hurricane Irma

@Blaskey_S: Update: @DaphneCampbell called the police on me for “threatening behavior” at this event. Last time I checked, asking questions at a public forum was allowed. Don’t worry guys, cops didn’t think the complaint was credible.

@justice2jesus: We’re off to month of primary elects sadly with no statesmen in sight, only politicians. There is a big difference. Service vs. selfish

@GNewburn: Florida decided radical criminal justice transparency actually wasn’t all that radical, and now we have a model for the rest of the country. This one’s going to spread everywhere, and it’s entirely to @ChrisSprowls’ credit.

@PollackHunter: I am so proud that the Parkland families were able to come together on an issue today to show we can be united and work together to defeat @browardschools August 28th by electing new board members. The news conference worked out great.

@Scott_Maxwell: YOU ARE SUCH A SOCIALIST PUPPET!! #MAGA AND BENGHAZI!! AND GRUBER AND BILL AYERS!! AND #MAGA AGAIN, YOU PINKO SNOWFLAKE!! (Sorry, the @orlandosentinel turned off its online-comment section yesterday … and I was feeling nostalgic.)



Start of the U.S. Open — 17; Primary Election Day — 18; College Football opening weekend — 20; Labor Day — 24; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 27; NFL regular season starts — 27; First general election mail ballots go out — 43; Future of Florida Forum — 47; FSU vs. UM football game — 57; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 74; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 75; General Election Day — 88; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 102; Black Friday — 105; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 109; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 186; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 207; 2020 General Election — 816.


Florida wants to help bullied kids — unless they’re gay” via Rebecca Klein of HuffPost — A new anti-bullying program in Florida sounds so good on paper. The first of its kind in the nation, it gives public money to kids who have been victims of bullying and helps them attend private school. The only problem is, not all victims are welcome. For some private schools participating in the program, LGBTQ students need not apply. The Florida Hope Scholarship Program, a voucher program launching this school year, gives up to around $7,000 to individual students who have reported instances of bullying to help them attend a participating private school. However, a HuffPost analysis of private schools that have signed up to participate in the program shows that many of these schools enact their own form of state-sponsored bullying ― by refusing to admit LGBTQ students or outlining punishment for students in same-sex relationships. Nearly 70 schools had signed up to participate in the program … Of these schools, at least 10 percent have zero tolerance policies for LGBTQ students.


Bill Nelson too old for office, GOP super PAC suggests” via News Service of Florida — A Washington-based super PAC backing Republican Senate candidates dispensed this week with what had been more subtle campaign hints aimed at U.S. Sen. Nelson’s age. In a news release titled “Bill Nelson Tragically Forced to Admit His Memory Is Failing,” the Senate Leadership Fund pointed to Nelson saying a day earlier that he couldn’t recall a 2010 letter he wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about delaying the implementation of water-quality standards for Florida lakes, springs and other waterways. “It’s time for Bill Nelson’s caretakers to keep better tabs on the Senator’s whereabouts and public statements so that he is not embarrassed into admitting he’s no longer dealing from a full deck,” Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said.

The Senate Leadership Fund released a new video of a recent “NBC Meet the Press Daily” segment, which points to a pair of “unforced errors” from Nelson. One error was Nelson criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for asking the EPA to hold off on higher water quality standards — a position they both shared. Later, the three-term Senator said he “didn’t recall doing that.” Nelson also later claimed “the Russians penetrated some Florida voter registration systems,” but providing no proof to back up a major accusation. Meet the Press Daily host Chuck Todd said that in this Senate race, a prime opportunity for the Republicans to pick up the seat, Nelson needs to play “error-free ball” against Scott.

To view the video clip, click on the image below:

Ken Detzner questions Nelson’s claim of election hacking” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida Secretary of State Detzner wants clarification from the U.S. Senate on Nelson’s comments to reporters that Russians have “penetrated” some voter-registration systems. Detzner sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr requesting that federal officials share with his agency any “relevant, classified information about current and potential threats.” “Additionally, if you, Senator Nelson or any federal agency, government official or elected official has information that verifies that ‘the Russians are in Florida’s elections records,’ I urge immediate transparency and cooperation in sharing that information so that we can take action to protect our elections,” Detzner wrote. Detzner said he’s been advised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that they had no information backing Nelson’s claim.


Will Parkland parents sway Florida governor race with endorsements?” via the Miami Herald — Despite standing alongside political figures at rallies and public appearances, Parkland activists have for the most part avoided endorsing any particular candidates for office, even those who have supported them since the beginning … the strategy has largely been to endorse policy over policymaker. Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver — the parents of two students who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — broke that mold as they appeared in TV ads for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, the first ads in the race to feature Parkland parents. “I decided not to stay out of it,” said Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among the 17 students and faculty killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. “I know he is committed to an issue that is more important to me than anything.”

Ron DeSantis has list of 9 running mates, considers pre-primary pick” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The congressman’s shortlist, provided anonymously to POLITICO by two top Republicans connected to the campaign, include three Spanish speakers, four people of color, four women, two former prosecutors, a sheriff and two appointees of Gov. Rick Scott, whose management style DeSantis likes. DeSantis’ spokesman, Brad Herold, would neither confirm nor deny the names on the list. But he acknowledged the campaign is already looking past the primary against Adam Putnam, who has steadily trailed DeSantis in polls after President Donald Trump endorsed the congressman and then held a rally for him last week in Tampa.

Five-year-old police report surfaces against Jeff Greene” via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – A former cocktail waitress at Jeff Greene’s West Palm Beach resort said the billionaire, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, “smacked her on the arm” to get her attention because the music at the hotel was too loud, according to a 2013 police report obtained by CBS Miami. … According to the incident report, the episode allegedly occurred on December 28, 2012, at approximately 5 pm at what was then known as the Omphoy Beach Resort. The waitress, Lisa Ann Thomas, who was 24 at the time, “said Jeff Greene walked up to her and `smacked her on the arm’ and said, `can you turn down the music.’”

Claire VanSusteren, communications director for the Greene campaign, issued the following statement: “It’s unfortunate that the Republicans are bringing such a non-story into the political bloodstream in an attempt to weaken Jeff’s campaign. As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day.” … “Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas,” the statement continues. “The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume. As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken. Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”

Chris King launches ‘fearless’ bus tour — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is launching his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, where he will lay out the stakes of this election. “With less than three weeks until Floridians head to the polls, we’re hitting the road to speak hard truths about Florida’s broken criminal justice system and troubled history of institutional racism,” King said. “In our state, there are laws and policies designed intentionally or indifferently to create a different set of opportunities for communities of color —— and until we recognize that and address them, Florida cannot truly thrive.” Tour stops include Escambia, Bay, Leon, Duval, Alachua, Marion, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Osceola and Orange counties.

Get on the bus: Chris King launches his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, stops planned in 20 counties.

Assignment editors — Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will campaign with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, 2 p.m., 646 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Sean Shaw promises task force on gun violence ‘on day one’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Shaw, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, said if elected he will convene a “statewide gun violence working group” on his first day in office. He made the announcement at a Thursday news conference. “Your voices will be heard,” he said, standing outside Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Plaza-level office in the Capitol. He was flanked by members of Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group. “Your concerns will be addressed,” he added. “And I’ll take action.”

Patrick Murphy endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics — The attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist picked up another endorsement for bid in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner on Thursday, this time from former Congressman Patrick Murphy. “I’m supporting Nikki because I know that she is dedicated to promoting the Democratic values we share like protecting Florida’s environment and natural resources, standing up for consumers, and ensuring our state’s agriculture industry has a dependable partner in the Cabinet,” Murphy said. Murphy represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District from 2013 to 2017. He’s been on the sidelines since 2016, when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican U.S. Sen Marco Rubio’s re-election bid. He joins former state CFO Alex Sink and 21 Democratic members of the Florida Legislature, among others, in backing Fried’s primary bid.

For Fried, cannabis a key to the AG race — and public policy” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida Politics caught up with her in Jacksonville, just hours before two heavyweights, John Morgan and Alex Sink, were to host an Orlando fundraiser for her. Fried noted that this “institutional support” is “tremendous,” from “leaders … beacons in the party,” especially Morgan, who has been “so instrumental to the passage of medical marijuana” in Florida, and who backs a cannabis adult-use legalization amendment in 2020. We stayed on the cannabis subject for some time, with Fried making the most explicit argument any statewide candidate has about the connection of cannabis policy to myriad other systemic issues in the state. Fried notes that Christian Bax, Gov. Scott‘s point man for implementing cannabis policy, seemed purposefully inept. “Christian … not a good bureaucrat by any stretch of the imagination” seemed to be “taking orders from Gov. Scott,” Fried said.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will address the Florida Realtors Convention, 12:30 p.m., Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando.


Trump bump for Ted Yoho, as President endorses North Florida Congressman” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Yoho scored a key endorsement on Thursday in Republican primaries, that of President Donald Trump. … Yoho, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus with Trump’s chosen gubernatorial candidate, Ron DeSantis, is running for his fourth term in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District — an inland North and Central Florida district running from Orange Park to Ocala. … he is up against Republican insurgent Judson Sapp in the primary … As of the end of June, Yoho had over $430,000 on hand, comparing favorably to Sapp’s $133,012 bankroll. Trump’s endorsement may not move the needle in this race, which has had no indication of being particularly close; however, rest assured the President will find a way to take credit for victory.

Nancy Soderberg releases first TV ad in District 6 race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The ad, “Hurdles,” highlights “the obstacles Soderberg overcame, both in her national security career and her battle to keep health care after being diagnosed with a pre-existing condition,” her campaign said in a statement. The ad cites her work as Deputy National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton, which included negotiating peace in Northern Ireland and counterterrorism. “I helped bring Northern Ireland’s opposing sides together to secure peace,” Soderberg says in the ad. “I was one of the first to say, ‘Let’s get bin Laden.’” She also talks about being denied health insurance because of her diabetes. “Let’s bring both parties together to deal with hurdles like unaffordable health care, protecting Social Security and Medicare. Hurdles don’t faze me. I’m about solutions.”

To view “Hurdles,” click on the image below:

Poll puts Neil Combee up big in CD 15 primary” via Florida Politics — The Strategic Government Consulting poll, conducted Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, the Auburndale Republican is the pick for 31 percent of primary voters while Dover state Rep. Ross Spano, who had a double-digit lead in an early July measure from St. Pete Polls, is in a distant second place with 17 percent support. The other three GOP contenders — Lakeland contractor Sean Harper, Brandon agribusinessman Danny Kushmer and Lakeland mental health practitioner Ed Shoemaker — showed up in the low single digits. Despite the strong showing for Combee, two-fifths of Republican voters said they were still undecided three weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election.

Kayser Enneking pitches health care experience in first TV ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gainesville physician Enneking, a Democrat, started hitting TV with a new ad backing up her campaign to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. The ad features footage of the anesthesiologist in operating rooms, waiting rooms and living rooms while pitching her as a candidate who can bring health care solutions to Tallahassee. … “Health care in Florida is in crisis. Politicians had years to fix this, but nothing’s gotten better. It’s time to try something different.” … Enneking, outfitted in scrubs, takes over after the intro. “I never thought I would get into politics. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people,” she says. “I’ve decided to run for the state Senate because we need someone who can fix our health care system, defend our environment and protect our public schools.” … Enneking is the leading Democrat running for SD 8, which covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. … the district is a top target for both parties in the fall.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Daphne Campbell keeps calling the cops on reporters” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — Today, she pulled another classic Campbell move and called the cops on Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey for “threatening behavior,” which apparently amounted to asking Campbell questions in public. Blaskey, who has reported critically on Campbell and recently nailed the state senator for likely living outside her district, had been covering a debate today between Campbell and Jason Pizzo. Blaskey tweeted that the cops, naturally, didn’t find Campbell’s claim even remotely credible. That’s at least the second time in recent months the state senator has dialed 911 to report journalism in progress. Earlier this year, Campbell called Miami Shores Police because Rise News reporter Rich Robinson was filming her in public. Miami Shores police also found that Robinson had done nothing wrong.

—“Florida Senator knew I was a journalist doing my job. She called the police anyway” via Rich Robinson of

Campbell continues to claim nonexistent endorsement from Aventura pol” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Campbell lists Aventura City Commissioner Robert Shelley (whose name is misspelled in her materials) on a campaign flyer issued to voters in Senate District 38. You can see his face among a list of others who have endorsed Campbell’s campaign. The problem is: He’s backing her opponent Jason Pizzo in the SD 38 Democratic primary. And this isn’t the first time Campbell has made this claim. It turns out both the Pizzo and Campbell campaigns had received a signed letter from Shelley’s office indicating his support. After contacting Shelley directly, he said the letter to the Campbell camp must have been sent in error, and that he was actually endorsing Pizzo.

No word if Daphne Campbell called 911 after this interview.

Happening Saturday — Democrat Bobby Powell will hold a canvassing event in his re-election bid for Senate District 30, 9:30 a.m. — 4 p.m., 2715 N. Australian Ave., Suite 103, West Palm Beach.

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, has opened his own Florida fundraising panel to support pro-marijuana candidates and influence legislation. Clarity PAC was officially registered Wednesday as a nonprofit corporation and political committee, state records show. Its mission: “To advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic.” It hasn’t yet posted any contributions or expenses. Among its backers: Tampa strip club mogul, free speech fighter and medical marijuana patient Joe Redner.

All For Transportation launches sales tax referendum campaign, plans 7-figure fundraising goal” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — As of Thursday, the group has 89 days to convince voters there is enough incentive to improve transit and transportation in the county to warrant a tax hike. The group didn’t say what the campaign fundraising goal is but said it would be more than organizers raised for Greenlight Pinellas in 2014. That transit referendum failed, despite raising more than $1.1 million. The increased funding would pay for road improvements including congestion relief and traffic calming, road safety and improved transit access. The group has a steep climb. Hillsborough voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal in 2010 and the issue tanked at Pinellas polls in 2014.

Mailer slams GOP candidate for posing with a smiling Obama. But he’s a wax Obama.” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — It comes from an anonymous committee that’s sending mailers attacking Todd Marks in his Republican primary race against Aakash Patel in the race for Hillsborough County Commission District 7. The mailer shows a photo of Marks with Charlie Crist, now a Democratic Congress member but a Republican governor when it was taken. There’s also a photo of Marks with someone the mailer calls “Barrack Obama.” That would be Barack Obama, but if you look closely, you can tell it’s actually a wax figure. When he stopped laughing, Marks told the Tampa Bay Times he had posted the photo on his Facebook page after a visit to a Las Vegas wax museum and denied he’s friends with Obama — in wax or in the flesh.

Todd Marks is getting heat for appearing next to a wax Obama. (Image via the Tampa Bay Times)


In the statewide race for Agriculture Commissioner, the Palm Beach Post editorial board is backing the two female candidates in both primaries. In the Republican race, that’s Grimsley, “who brings the most varied background and who outlines the most detailed plans,” according to the Post. For the Democrats, that’s Fried, who “brings energy, intelligence and a bevy of fresh ideas.”

Sun-Sentinel editorial writers recommend Republican voters in Congressional District 23 back Carlos Reyes, calling him the “best suited to challenge” incumbent Democrat Debbie WassermanSchultz. In the Democratic primary for CD 20, the paper is backing incumbent Alcee Hastings, noting his troubled past but adding, “We find his behavior lamentable, and an embarrassment, but not so egregious that we deny him the endorsement we believe he has earned.” In CD 24, the paper recommends Democratic voters pick incumbent Frederica Wilson, calling her an “an able and energetic representative.”


Gov’s office gloomy on slot tax revenues — The Seminole Tribe of Florida is adding 1,300 slot machines at Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel & Casino, and economists at the Governor’s office say the platoon of new one-armed bandits will yoink slot jockeys away from their usual haunts — the pari-mutuels that pay state taxes. In all, Gov. Scott’s office estimates the new fruit machines will lead to a $29.9 million dip in slot tax revenues. That’s would be a major dip from the $196 million in slot tax revenues expected for the current year. While most at the revenue estimating conference expected some loss from the new slots, some at the revenue estimating conference said those figures were likely too pessimistic. Office of Economic and Demographic Research coordinator Amy Baker said the expansion is “not going to come anywhere near this impact.” While the Seminoles don’t pay slot taxes, they do make millions in payments to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to offer casino-style games statewide. When it comes to slot machines, the Seminoles have exclusivity outside the borders of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Casino firm sinks money into fighting gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — The operator of Miami’s Magic City Casino has spent $525,000 on trying to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the future. West Flagler Associates, Ltd. contributed the money July 31 to a political committee known as Vote NO on 3 … That was the first contribution to the committee, which formed earlier in July. The report also shows the committee paid $523,600 last week to IGT Media Holdings Inc. for a radio ad. The proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear as Amendment 3 on the November ballot, has been backed by millions of dollars from Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Seminole Tribe of Florida bans plastic straws in its state casinos” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Seminole Gaming, the tribe’s gaming arm, announced its Florida casinos will no longer offer plastic straws beginning Sept. 1. Effective the same day, Seminole-run casinos will eliminate plastic takeout bags in favor of paper ones. “Seminole Gaming has a long history of sustainability programs, and we are pleased to add more earth-friendly straws and to-go bags to the list,” said Tracy Bradford, senior vice president of purchasing, in a release. “As the gaming operation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming is proud to help make a difference in conscientious sustainability practices — it’s the right thing to do.” Customers can request “durable, earth-friendly” straws instead, Seminole Gaming said. The no-plastic-straw policy applies to all six of the tribe’s Sunshine State casinos, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Marine life are literally choking on discarded plastic.

State moves forward on marijuana licenses — Health Department officials will hold a workshop Aug. 17 to take input on the application process for new medical marijuana licenses. The workshop, announced Thursday, will deal with one license earmarked for a black farmer who was a member of litigation dealing with discriminatory lending practices and four other licenses for applicants seeking entry into the state’s highly restricted market. A new law required health officials to give preference for two licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus, the subject of at least one lawsuit. Because of litigation regarding the citrus preference, the department is holding off on accepting applications for the remaining two licenses. The measure requires health officials to grant four licenses after at least 100,000 eligible patients have enrolled in a statewide database, a benchmark that was recently surpassed.

Families of Parkland victims call for entire Broward School Board to be replaced” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The families of several victims of February’s shooting in Parkland made their boldest call for action yet Thursday, asking for the entire Broward County School Board to be replaced in elections later this month. “The current school board has failed to properly prepare the county’s 234 schools for the upcoming school year,” said Tony Montalto, a member of the group Stand With Parkland that was created in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Montalto’s daughter Gina was one of 17 people killed in the attack. “The constant reversals of policy positions continue to leave our county’s students and teachers at risk and clearly show there is no unified plan to keep them safe,” Montalto added.

Hillsborough school district didn’t reveal lead findingsvia The Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County School District didn’t tell parents for more than a year that it was discovering high levels of lead in some schools’ drinking water, a Tampa Bay Times investigation found. The district announced the results last week — three days after the Times began asking teachers and principals whether they knew about the lead levels in their classrooms. By then it had ignored for 16 months federal recommendations that said it should disclose the testing. It still hasn’t released the vast majority of test results, including more than 70 tests showing lower levels of lead that researchers say still can be dangerous for children.

In Belleair shore, beach owners don’t even want sea turtles trespassing” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — In the tiny but affluent Pinellas town of Belleair Shore, the question of beach access has sparked a somewhat different dispute. Instead of just humans, some Belleair Shore residents want to give sea turtles the boot too. Town Commission members are complaining about spotting marked sea turtles nests on their beachfront land — nests that they said had all been put there, without permission, by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “They relocated 400 eggs onto private property and didn’t tell us,” Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman said in an interview. “We learned about it by going out and seeing all these roped off areas on private property.” David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, suggested the two commissioners may want to check their property deeds — and also their math. Before moving any nests to Belleair Shore, he said, his turtle team reviewed county property records to ensure they were on public land. “We’re not trying to violate someone’s property rights,” Yates said.

Cities, counties look to prevent bear-human conflicts” via the News Service of Florida — Collier, Lake, Marion, Seminole, Volusia and Walton counties and the cities of Apopka and Mount Dora have collectively applied for $935,181 from the “BearWise” funding program, which has $500,000 available for grants. “This funding will help residents secure their trash and eliminate the primary reason why bears spend time in neighborhoods,” David Telesco, who leads the commission’s Bear Management Program, said in a prepared statement. The grants are expected to be awarded in October. A preference in the selection process is that a community enact a “BearWise” ordinance, which requires residents and businesses to bear-proof trash containers. Lake, Orange, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties have enacted such ordinances, while Apopka is in the process of enacting an ordinance. If enacted, Apopka would join Fort Walton Beach as the only municipalities in the state with such an ordinance. With roughly 4,000 black bears estimated to live in Florida, the Legislature designated the money for the fiscal year that began July 1.

SunPass problems: Lawmaker calls for removal of FDOT secretary” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — As a flood of backlogged SunPass charges are pushed onto customers’ accounts, creating a flood of customer service problems, one state lawmaker is asking the governor to remove FDOT Secretary Mike Dew for his “lack of accountability and transparency” regarding the 70 days of SunPass disruptions. State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott after she says Dew ignored a series of three letters she had sent dating back to July 17. Scott has also failed to indicate how he would hold his own department responsible, or what kind of penalties the state may impose on the two contracting firms hired to supervise the project, HNTB and Atkins.


Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will tour the St. Lucie River and areas where there are algal blooms caused by the harmful federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee. He will also announce additional funding for impacted areas, 8 a.m., Sunset Marina and Anchorage, 615 SW. Anchorage Way, Stuart.

Toxic blue-green algae blooms in St. Lucie River targeted by Martin County” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Martin County plans to start two algae-fighting projects — one to get rid of blooms and one to keep them from reaching the St. Lucie River — as soon as Monday. By Friday, the county expects to receive a $700,000 state grant, part of $3 million set aside for algae cleanup assistance to counties affected by the blooms. “I don’t think we’ll need that much,” said John Maehl, Martin County ecosystem manager, “but we want to make sure we have enough money to get us through the end of the rainy season. I expect we’ll be getting discharges for a while.” To get rid of blooms in confined spaces such as marinas: Boats use nets to concentrate the bloom, and then vacuums — either on a boat or on shore or both — suck the algae into large bags in roll-off dumpsters; the bags will have filters to allow water out but keep the algae mass and toxins inside; once the water is no more than 30 percent of the volume, the bags are hauled to a landfill by the contractor.

Red Tide is spreading through Southwest Florida. (Image via Andrew West/The News-Press)

What travelers should know about Florida’s red tide outbreak” via Nancy Trejos of the Naples Daily News — What is being called the worst toxic algae bloom in years has been killing turtles, manatees, dolphins, and other marine life. It is also creating respiratory and gastrointestinal issues for humans. Many of Florida’s popular west coast beaches from Tampa Bay to Sarasota to Naples are practically deserted as the red tide emits toxic gases. Larry Brand, professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, says it’s difficult to tell why this particular outbreak has been so bad, but Hurricane Irma last year and a particularly rainy fall and winter have contributed to the outbreak. Brand says it is also hard to predict how long the outbreak will last but that it will most likely go through the rainy season, which can extend into November. His advice … “If people want to go to the beaches, go to the east coast.”

Nelson, Scott play blame game with red tide, toxic algae” via Evan Donovan of WFLA — Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are playing the blame game with Florida’s current devastating environmental issues. States are responsible for regulating their waterways, and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper Andy Hayslip said there’s no doubt Florida isn’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely, we are seeing a lack of enforcement on behalf of state regulatory agencies,” said Hayslip. Nelson said Wednesday the blame rests squarely on Gov. Scott. “Gov. Scott signed a law that abolished the periodic inspection of leaking septic tanks. Now you put all that together, and ultimately that’s what you’re gonna get.” On Thursday, Gov. Scott’s campaign fought back. “It’s ridiculous for Bill Nelson to try to blame Gov. Scott for an issue that’s been neglected by the same federal government Nelson has been a part of for decades,” said Lauren Schenone, Scott’s campaign press secretary.


What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits” via Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina of the Miami Herald — “The first thing that people need to know is that there isn’t a final proposal that we have seen yet,” said Mark Greenberg, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), based in Washington D.C. The official proposal would require a period of time for comments and discussions, and could take months to go into effect, he said. “For anyone who is currently considering applying for citizenship, it is important to understand that there is not a new rule, that the standards have not changed and, while the government is considering making changes for the future, they are not in effect now,” Greenberg said. An NBCNews report said legal immigrants could be denied permanent residence and citizenship if they or their relatives have received any public assistance through programs such as Obamacare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — or tax credits. If approved, the new policy would redefine what is considered a “public charge” as well as the criteria that government officials must follow in order to make decisions on immigration status.

If Donald Trump succeeds in his latest plan to scale back legal immigration, it will take a while to go into effect. (Image via Time)

Remaining counties file for federal elections security grants” via Florida Politics — The last of Florida’s 67 counties now have submitted applications for federal election security grants, which qualify them to receive $14.5 million on top of the $19 million already secured, Gov. Scott announced. “As we approach the 2018 election season, there is nothing more important than ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections,” the governor said in a written statement. Scott announced approval of the initial 49 grant applications in July. The announcement came one day after Sen. Nelson asserted that Russian operatives have breached elections systems in some counties ahead of the midterm elections. He did not identify which ones, and elections officials have said they could not confirm Nelson’s claim.

Trump’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint hasten local newspapers’ demise” via Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser of The New York Times — Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin, the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents. Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day. “We’re all paying a huge price,” Skip Bliss, publisher of The Gazette, said of the tariffs’ effect on the industry. “I fear it’s going to be a very difficult time. I think there’s probably going to be some casualties.”


Jeremy Ring: Setting the record straight on business background” via Florida Politics — Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight. I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t. I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations. I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility. I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients. I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies. Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t. Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty. Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.


Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker backs driverless vehicle technology” via Bill DeYoung of — Baker has been added to the Advisory Board of California-based Coast Autonomous, a company that makes experimental, self-driving electric vehicles for cities looking to ease their mass transit woes. “Cities matter,” Baker said in a statement released by Coast. “We are at the beginning of an enormous wave of change that will improve the daily lives of people living in cities around the world. Properly focused on the pedestrian, self-driving vehicles will make cities more user-friendly, safe, comfortable, productive and interesting.” Baker is Coast’s Senior Advisor on Urban Deployment. The shuttle system, he predicted, “will be the future of autonomous technology.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Lighthouse Health Plan

Kevin Cabrera, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: Tom Thumb Food Stores

Dean Cannon, Kim McDougal, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services

Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: ThoughtSpot

Chris Dudley, James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Scott LaGanga, Kristin Parde: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: F. Philip Blank


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga, Tampa Bay Times Government and Politics editor Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Caitlin Johnson and Jeff Lukens, vice chair of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Board.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Will discuss financial literacy and whether it should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum. Joining Walker-Torres are State Sen. David Simmons; state Reps. Kamia Brown and Byron Donalds; Tom Eisenhuth, financial advisor, vice president of The Flagship Group; Anna Ryan, Education Director, M.Ed., Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay; and Ashanti Lee, student, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the latest from Tallahassee with Spectrum News reporter Troy Kinsey; Agriculture Commissioner candidates David Walker and Nikki Fried. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about the deficit.

Sunday Morning Politics with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): State Rep. Dr. Julio Gonzalez, who is running for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, and state Sen. Darryl Rouson, on the effort to change Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with businessman DeVore Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and Rick Mullaney, of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the race for Florida Governor; the powerhouse roundtable will take on the week’s news.

— ALOE —

Happy birthday to defender of the greyhounds (as well as Dayton’s boss), Mr. Jack Cory. Also celebrating today is sharp Dem, Josh Karp, and CFO candidate Jeremy Ring. 

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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