Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Two years ago, the little girl pictured on the left entered Pre-K. Today, she heads to Kindergarten. And our hearts will never be the same.
Ella’s such a big girl now, so aware of her surroundings and the world at large. She amazes us with her curiosity … her bravery … her compassion … her intelligence.
I suppose we’re no different than any parents who have stopped and wondered: How did we get so lucky to have this amazing child enter our lives?
That’s what we’ve found ourselves doing again and again this summer. Whether it be at a fancy dinner or just hanging around the kitchen, this fierce young woman never ceases to dazzle us.
But now, she’ll be gone for as much of the day as she will be awake at home. That hurts our hearts.
At our wonderful, dare I say idyllic, little school, there is a “Boo Hoo Breakfast” for all of the parents of Kindergarteners. The school bulletin reads, “This casual gathering is a great way to get connected with your fellow Kindergarten parents and share a few tears or a few cheers!!”
I don’t know about the cheers. But if anyone wants to know who the couple in the corner is with tears streaming down their faces, that will be Michelle and me.
Boo Hoo Hoo indeed.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
–@PeterStrozk: Stunned and humbled by the extraordinary outpouring of support already received from thousands of fellow everyday citizens taking time to fight for our country and our shared American ideals. Thank you.
–@PBump: How would the board of a company react if the CEO told them that he hadn’t fired an unqualified employee who was disliked by coworkers because the employee constantly praised him?
–@LearyReports: Most expensive Senate race in the U.S.: Florida ($40.5 million in ads so far) Most expensive gubernatorial race in the U.S.: Florida ($88.6 million) – Per Advertising Analytics, published by NBC News.
–@CahnEmily: Inbox: Sanders is campaigning for Andrew Gillum in #. Another silly decision given that Gillum is in third and unlikely to win, which will just hurt Bernie’s political capital more
–@SenRubioPress: I welcome the decision of @ to close its Confucius Institute. There is growing & well-founded concern about these Chinese Communist Party-funded Institutes. I continue to urge other FL universities to follow suit.
–@RepTedDeutch: 6 months ago today, students fled in horror as a gunman killed 17 people & injured 17 at MSD. Since then, grieving families have honored their loved ones’ memories by fighting for safer schools & student-survivors have inspired a movement. Our community remains proudly #
–@BillGalvano: As incoming Senate President of the third-largest state in the nation – a bellwether for others – I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end here. Some issues simply must transcend politics. The safety of our children is one. We cannot be complacent, or think our work is done – we must continually review existing policies and encourage new ideas to keep our students safe. Florida’s experiences and reforms should be shared and exported to other states. 6 months later, as millions of students begin a new school year, we cannot help but reflect back on that heartbreaking day. As we do, we can mark this moment as a time when grief galvanized action, and we were not immobilized by our differences. #
–@Conarck: Flagler sheriff celebrates incarcerating record numbers of people in his county. Reminder: the vast majority of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime yet and would not be there if they weren’t poor.
–@BrettDoster: Honorable and smart move by Melissa Howard. She just saved her and her allies massive pain and emotional embarrassment over the next 10 days. Congratulations on the primary win @TommyGregoryFL.
–@RyanB1001: So I type http://CentralFloridaPolitics.com into my browser and what do I get? A
#Russian webpage! Don’t tell me there’s no Russian interference in #Florida! They’ve taken over Central Florida Politics!
— LATEST VOTING FIGURES —
“Who added more Florida voters — Republicans, Democrats or NPAs?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Florida’s electorate has grown more Hispanic and less partisan since the 2016 presidential election, new voter registration statistics from the Florida Division of Elections show. The number of Florida voters who register with minor parties or with no party affiliation has increased 4.2 percent since 2016 while Democratic registrations have dipped 0.8 percent and Republican registrations have increased 1 percent. Democrats in Florida and elsewhere have touted a ‘blue wave’ backlash against President Donald Trump in this year’s midterm elections, but the party has seen a minor ebb in registrations in Florida.
“Analysis: Democrats get registered voter gains in South Florida” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Democrats are pushing to flip two, three or even four seats from South Florida Republicans this November. And updated voter roll information shows that in three of those four districts, Democrats earned net gains from the GOP in terms of voter registration changes from 2016 to 2018. Surely party vote share ahead of the August primaries doesn’t tell the whole story. But if it has any predictive value, Democrats should be feeling better than their GOP counterparts overall in these major races that could help decide control of the U.S. House.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Start of the U.S. Open — 12; Primary Election Day — 13; College Football opening weekend — 15; Labor Day — 19; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 22; NFL regular season starts — 22; First general election mail ballots go out — 38; Future of Florida Forum — 42; FSU vs. UM football game — 52; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 69; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 70; General Election Day — 83; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 97; Black Friday — 100; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 104; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 181; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 202; 2020 General Election — 811.
— TOP STORY —
“Conflicts of interest cloud Frank White’s Attorney General bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics – As Republican Frank White’s campaign for Attorney General heads into the final two weeks of the primary, questions arise on how the longtime auto executive will handle oversight of his own industry. Since the Attorney General’s office received more than a dozen complaints against auto magnate Sandy Sansing‘s chain of auto dealerships, where White is general counsel and chief financial officer, criticism will likely grow. … Alan Jay Wildstein, chairman of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, put out a special alert to organizations members saying White’s candidacy marks an “historic opportunity” to elect the first car dealer to serve as Attorney General in state history. “In his role as one of our chief regulators, he will be available and knowledgeable on industry affairs and statewide policies impacting dealers,” Wildstein wrote. And later in the piece: “Supporting Frank would have obvious advantages for every dealer in Florida due to the myriad of challenges facing the industry today.” The call to action went into no great detail about said challenges. But a look at complaints filed against various Sansing companies through the Attorney General’s Office may offer a glimpse at potential conflicts that may arise for White.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Rick Scott on Bill Nelson: ‘If he does have classified information how did he get it?’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Gov. Scott on Tuesday continued to question the motive and origin of Sen. Nelson‘s vague warning over Russian hacking. “If he does have classified information how did he get it? I don’t think he’s entitled to it, and why would he release it to a reporter? … If it’s not true, then why didn’t he just come and say it’s not true?” Scott said after a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee. “From my standpoint, we’re in the middle of a primary election, people are voting, absentee ballots are out, early voting has started in some places and people need to know the facts. And I don’t think he’s been transparent.” There is still no word from the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI in response to a letter Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent Friday asking for any information about Nelson’s claim, despite Detzner setting a Monday deadline. Nelson has stuck by his comments … He attributed that warning to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee but has not elaborated. Those officials have neither confirmed nor contradicted Nelson and said Florida needs to be cognizant of threats. Sen. Marco Rubio, also a member of the committee, has echoed that.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Assignment editors – The Florida League of Mayors, in coordination with the Florida League of Cities and Leadership Forum, will hold a forum for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates. That’s at 2 p.m., The Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 South Ocean Dr., Hollywood.
“Bernie Sanders to rally for Andrew Gillum this Friday” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics – The Gillum campaign announced late Tuesday that the Senator from Vermont will join Gillum at two rallies on Friday — less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 primary. The first of the rallies is set to take place in Tampa, where Sanders and Gillum will speak to voters at 11 a.m. in Armature Works — Gathering Room. In the afternoon, the two will head to Orlando for a 2 p.m. rally at the CFE Arena at UCF. Sanders endorsed Gillum at the beginning of the month, christening him as the progressive option for Florida voters.
“Andrew Gillum passes again on Democrat editorial board meeting with governor candidates” via Jeffrey Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat– Mayor Gillum has opted not to meet with the Tallahassee Democrat’s editorial board, making him the only Democratic candidate for governor to forgo an appearance. Gillum was scheduled to come before the editorial board on July 31, but his campaign canceled hours before the event for an unspecified scheduling conflict. Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s campaign spokesman, promised in an email that day to reschedule. He again vowed to reschedule in a follow-up call with the Democrat on Aug. 9. But after another call and email from the Democrat, Burgan emailed on Monday to call it off. He didn’t offer an explanation. “Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to reschedule, and I understand you have deadlines to meet,” he said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get this set back up for us.” Democrat Executive Editor William Hatfield emailed Burgan back … “So disappointed – personally but also for the many voters that use these interviews to help learn more about the candidates and issues.”
Assignment editors – Gillum will campaign across South Florida: 11 a.m., AARP Miami Chapter monthly meeting, Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami; 12:45 p.m., Kings Point Democratic Club, 7620 Nob Hill Road, Tamarac; 6 p.m., Gillum for Governor volunteer rally, 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 8 p.m., live national Sirius XM radio interview with Joe Madison on “The Black Eagle.”
“Jeff Greene insight into Donald Trump: ‘Weird, narcissistic, nutcase” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – … the billionaire Democrat running for Florida governor, was unsparing Tuesday in his criticism of another billionaire who went into politics, President Donald Trump. “I can’t stand this guy. I mean I never liked the guy when I first met him,” Greene said. “I would be at my table, and he would come over all the time,” he said, explaining that Trump didn’t engage in normal conversation. He said Trump wouldn’t engage with his fellow billionaire, instead addressing a regular comment to Greene’s wife. “He would always like point to me and say ‘your husband is really smart’ and then he’d walk away or say ‘beautiful wife,’ and I was thinking ‘This guy is weird.’” Greene said. “This is a guy who is unwilling to engage in any kind of conversation, he is so insecure.”
“Jeff Greene puts more money into Governor’s race” via the News Service of Florida – Greene loaned another $4.35 million to his gubernatorial campaign in late July and early August, bringing the total to more than $22 million, according to a new finance report. Greene, a billionaire investor, had loaned $22.45 million to the campaign as of Aug. 3 and had received $2,315 in contributions. The campaign had spent $22.43 million, the report shows.
“New Philip Levine ad about disabilities, ‘heart’” via Scott Powers of the Tampa Bay Times – With one television commercial, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is managing to highlight his own efforts to help people with disabilities, bash President Trump for mocking them, and accuse Gov. Scott of being heartless. The new 30-second TV commercial “Sabrina” launching today, also offers a counter to Democratic rival Gwen Graham’s announcement that she’s won the endorsement from the Democratic Party’s Disabilities Caucus. The ad focuses on a woman named Sabrina Cohen, a Miami-area advocate for people with disabilities and founder of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation. She explains a car accident took away her ability to walk when she was 14, and she praises Levine for his efforts when he was Miami Beach mayor, and calls him someone with “heart.”
“Adam Putnam to head out on ‘Florida First’ campaign tour” via Florida Politics – The Putnam campaign for Governor on Tuesday announced a “statewide tour of Florida with at least one stop planned in every major region of the state” … “Over the next two weeks I will be making stops in communities across our great state and sharing my vision to make Florida the launchpad for the American dream,” Putnam said … The Florida First statewide tour will kick off Wednesday and continue through Saturday, Aug. 25. Planned stops include, but are not limited to Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City, Lake City, Winter Park, Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Fruit Cove, Clearwater, Brandon, Dade City, Bradenton, Sarasota, North Port, Moore Haven, West Palm Beach, Miami, The Villages, Sanford, and Temple Terrace.
Putnam says Ron DeSantis has ‘no working knowledge of our state’ — It’s becoming increasingly likely that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, not Putnam, will be the GOP nominee for Governor in the fall. And Putnam has had it with the Trump-backed Congressman. In filter-free rant Tuesday, Putnam repeated his attack that DeSantis’ campaign is “being run out of a TV studio” before going on a tirade highlighting what he says is a lack of preparation for the job he seeks. … DeSantis “really has no plan, no vision, no agenda, no knowledge, no working knowledge of our state. And it would be tragic to have the CEO of the third largest state being, doing on the job training during the first two years.” … Putnam is joined by a few others who have made similar public assertions, though they aren’t his fellow Republicans — they’re the news outlets he’s largely kept at arm’s length during his campaign. As one major paper put it, “DeSantis shows little understanding of state policy or of the challenges facing this state.” Meanwhile, Team DeSantis has moved to making major campaign hires as it preps for the general election.
“Bob Buckhorn eager about lieutenant governor’s race. If he’s tapped, Reddick would take mayor’s seat” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Mayor Bob Buckhorn is sounding more and more like a serious candidate for lieutenant governor, especially when he speaks about the prospect himself. “There’s nobody who has the track record that is as good as mine,” Buckhorn said in an interview Tuesday, speaking of progressive causes like LGBT issues, the environment, unions and family leave, while also noting his history of working across the political aisle. A Buckhorn candidacy also raises the prospect that he’ll be leaving the mayor’s job in September, eight months before his term ends — elevating City Council Chairman Frank Reddick to the position and giving Tampa its first African-American mayor. “It would be good for the city to bring about the diversity that we all talk about,” he said. “And it may encourage other African Americans to seek the office.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —
“New Sean Shaw ad highlights push for gun control legislation” via Ryan Nichol of Florida Politics – The 15-second spot echoes Shaw’s previous promises to reform the state’s approach to gun violence as Attorney General. Shaw said he would not defend the state’s current pre-emption policy on local gun laws and would challenge federal immunity for gun makers, courtesy of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. He has also proposed a gun violence task force to be installed on day one of his stint as Attorney General.
Click on the image below to watch the video:
Assignment editors – Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will attend AgNet Media’s Citrus Expo at 8:30 a.m., Lee Civic Center, 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers. She’ll also be at the Citrus and Agriculture Industry Celebration, 5:30 p.m., Florida Gulf Coast University Alico Arena, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway East, Fort Myers.
“Former Supreme Court justice challenges constitutional amendments” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead is challenging six proposed constitutional amendments on grounds they violate voters’ First Amendment rights. Anstead, who served on the Supreme Court 1994-2009, on Tuesday filed a petition … against Secretary of State Detzner, Florida’s chief election officer. The court did not immediately accept jurisdiction but later Tuesday asked Detzner to respond to the petition “no later than 5 p.m. (next) Monday.” Anstead is challenging six of the eight amendments placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), because each one “bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question.”
“Marsy’s Law effort gets $6M boost” via the News Service of Florida – A national group seeking to pass a Florida constitutional amendment that would expand crime victims’ rights has provided another $6 million infusion to the campaign. The California-based Marsy’s Law for All Foundation contributed the money July 30 to the Marsy’s Law for Florida political committee, according to a newly filed finance report. That brought to $24.35 million the amount the foundation has sent to the committee. Supporters of the proposal, which has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” argue it would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including the right to be notified of major developments in criminal cases and the right to be heard in the legal proceedings. The proposed constitutional amendment is part of a broader national movement that stems from the 1983 death of a California woman, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend.
“Florida Amendment 8 challenge stems from policy disagreement, not wording problems, secretary of state argues” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – A special counsel to the state Attorney General’s Office contends that an effort to remove Amendment 8 from Florida’s November ballot fails to meet the “heavy burden” required to interfere with the “sanctified” amendment process. The League of Women Voters has argued that the proposal, which includes three education-related matters, has a misleading title and summary, and fails to inform voters of its true effects. The amendment seeks to impose school board term limits, embed civics education in the constitution, and allow lawmakers to establish an alternate public school authorizer that is not subject to school board oversight. “Amendment 8 suffers from none of these defects, and this Court should reject Plaintiffs’ attempt to interfere with the amendment process, which attempt stems primarily from their disagreement with Amendment 8 as a matter of policy,” wrote attorney Blaine H. Winship, representing the secretary of state’s office.
“Justices agree to decide ballot fight on county offices” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed to take up a challenge to a proposed ballot measure that has drawn opposition from some counties. The appeals court pointed to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices. Challenges filed in Leon County circuit court argued that the ballot language and summary were misleading and that, as a result, the proposal should not go to voters.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —
“Greg Steube hits Julio Gonzalez for touting non-existent Rick Scott endorsement” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gonzalez has been pushing an online ad backing up his campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District that features Scott praising the Republican lawmaker and insinuating Gonzalez is his pick in the primary race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney. … If it weren’t clear enough by the lack of endorsement-style language, the Associated Press puts to rest any lingering doubts: “Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schultz, said Scott hasn’t endorsed in the race.” … Steube campaign seized on the misrepresentation in a Tuesday campaign email hammering Gonzalez. “Gonzalez … has been falsely touting the support of Governor Rick Scott in an effort to boost his failing campaign,” the email read, citing the AP report. … “This is the latest attempt to mislead the voters from a campaign that is desperately trying to revive itself,” said Alex Blair, Steube’s campaign manager. “…they are trying to mislead voters about Governor Scott’s support.” … Team Steube then alleged the ad was a violation of a state law that says it is illegal to claim an endorsement without the written permission of the person or organization.
“New endorsements signal Al Lawson momentum in re-election bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Lawson continues to demonstrate momentum as early voting continues in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, with two key endorsements conferred upon him Tuesday. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Lawson, calling him a “strong supporter of women’s health and … a dedicated advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers and the people they serve.” He also received the backing of the Florida Times-Union, the hometown paper of Lawson’s primary opponent, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. The paper lauded Lawson’s “no-drama approach,” saying there’s “no compelling reason” for Jacksonville voters to “abandon the incumbent.”
Spotted: Carlos Curbelo in “The five most competitive House races in the midterms” via Axios – The 2018 midterms battlefield is changing every week, and this list shows the uphill battle Republicans will face if they want to keep control. There are a lot of close races, but these ones are especially close, and some haven’t gotten the attention that analysts say they deserve … Florida’s 26th district: It went for Clinton by 16 points in 2016 despite keeping Republican Rep. Curbelo in office for the last four years. A majority of the district’s residents are Hispanic, and both Curbelo and his likely Democratic challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, have Hispanic heritage.
“Retailers recommend George Gainer for re-election” via Florida Politics — The political arm of the Florida Retail Federation is backing Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer in his bid for a second term in Senate District 2. … “Senator Gainer’s knowledge of what it takes to run a small business as well as his support for retailers during his time in the Senate are just two reasons we’ve chosen to endorse his campaign,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We look forward to him continuing to work in support of Florida’s business community and the retail industry in his return to the Florida Senate.” … The FRF nod comes after Gainer’s re-election bid had already picked up an endorsement from the Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional trade association. … Gainer faces Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson in the general election for the Republican stronghold.
Assignment editors – The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) will host a press conference to announce its endorsement of Republican Dana Young’s re-election to Senate District 18. That’s at 10 a.m., La Teresita Restaurant, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.
“Chip LaMarca says his numbers poke holes in Democrats’ HD 93 poll” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – The campaign of Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca hit the House Victory polls for being based on an online tally compiled by a company that’s only been around for a year. It’s end result: Democratic contender Emma Collum with a 2-point lead over LaMarca, a Republican, in House District 93. A live dial poll of 300 respondents conducted by Voter Opinions and sponsored by a pro-LaMarca political committee showed LaMarca with a 6-point lead over Collum. More recently, another live dial poll of commissioned by the Republican Party of Florida and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates showed LaMarca’s lead expanding to 9 points over Collum.
“House candidate Terry Power lives in $500K home but applied for food stamps” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – The Republican who’s challenging state Rep. Jamie Grant for his House District 64 seat lives in a $500,000 home but applied for food stamps, according to recent tweets. The account known as Enforce Current Laws (@FirstWivesFirst) revealed the information. For his part, Power said he had been blocked by the same account. “If it’s anything related to my ex-wife re-opening my divorce two days after I filed for the Florida House, I’ll be litigating the matter in court, not in the media,” Power told one of our reporters. But Power reportedly was denied food stamps “b/c his income was too high.” Moreover, Power’s ex-wife has moved for contempt proceedings against him related to their divorce.
Florida Medical Association PAC endorses Matt Spritz – FMA PAC, “Florida’s leading advocate for electing pro-medicine candidates to office,” on Tuesday endorsed Spritz, a Republican, in his bid for House District 89. “We worked with Matt as a legislative aide on the opioid legislation this past session and look forward to continuing working with him on health care issues as a member of the Florida House,” said FMA PAC President Dr. Mike Patete. HD 89 includes parts of Palm Beach county. It’s an open seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican. Spritz graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Emory University in 2005, after which he attended NYU Law School.
“Anthony Rodriguez wins Central Florida endorsements for HD 118” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Rodriguez, a Kendall business owner and Republican candidate for House District 118, has earned the support of several current House members as he tries to oust sitting Rep. Robert Asencio. The Republican Delegation of Central Florida announced its support of Rodriguez, running unopposed in the HD 118 GOP primary. The group is made up of state Reps. Bob Cortes, Scott Plakon, David Santiago, Danny Burgess, Jason Brodeur, Bobby Olszewski, Rene Plasencia, Mike LaRosa and Jennifer Sullivan.
“Activists launch effort to light a spark for medical marijuana” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Florida medical marijuana activists announced the formation of a new money group aimed at legalizing the drug for medicinal use nationwide. The organization, called “Empowering Wellness,” was formed in part by longtime Florida activists Eric Stevens and Ben Pollara. The pair worked on Florida’s medical marijuana campaigns in both 2014 and 2016. The group was formed as a coalition of more than 30 state and national organizations which support federal legalization. “Empowering Wellness is going to do whatever we can to help move the needle forward on medical marijuana policy in Washington, D.C., and here in Florida,” Stevens said.
— STATEWIDE —
“State debt reduction called ‘sea change’ ” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida –Florida has reduced debt that helps finance initiatives like roads, schools and environmental projects by more than $7 billion over the past eight years, according to a new report from the state Division of Bond Finance. The debt amount dropped from $28.2 billion in July 2010 to $21 billion through June 30, Ben Watkins, director of the bond finance agency, told Gov. Scott and Cabinet members Tuesday. That represented a 25 percent reduction. The debt reduction, which came as Scott pursued a policy of limiting state borrowing, was “unprecedented,” Watkins said, because it reversed a long-term trend of annual borrowing by the state.
Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will join Florida manufacturers to highlight the Manufacturers Association of Florida’s endorsement of his campaign for U.S. Senate. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Florida Machine Works, 86412 Gene Lassere Blvd., Yulee; and 3:35 p.m., Eco Glass Production Corp., 9101 NW 87th Ave., Medley.
“State launches investigation into SunPass failures, fines contractor $800K” via Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 – Florida’s Office of Inspector General will launch an investigation into the state’s SunPass failures … The state also announced the first fines to contractor Conduent: $800,000 for damages. “I’m going to continue to hold the FDOT accountable, and I know they’re holding the vendor accountable,” Scott said. FDOT also announced Tuesday its massive backlog of tolls – which reached nearly 200 million in July – has finally been cleared. But major customer service problems continue to linger due to unexpected and inexplicable charges on some accounts.
“How America’s foreclosure capital (Ft. Myers) came back from the dead” via Lydia DePillis of CNN Money – Whenever he wants to see his old house, Nezam Juman walks to the edge of his waterfront property and peers around the river’s bend. Juman worked as a mortgage originator. In 2007, the housing bust hit like a bomb going off, and all of a sudden nobody was buying. It was a fate that befell one out of ten homeowners in Lee County. The county had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country between 2008 and 2013 … In one zip code, 42% of properties went into foreclosure. But nothing can keep Florida down for long. Unlike rust belt towns that saw their already-weakened industrial bases snuffed out in the recession, Florida’s drivers are warm winters, the beach and low taxes.
This is why Mike Carroll is leaving – “Mother of girl killed in Miami Beach previously investigated by DCF” via Amanda Batchelor of ABC 10 – The mother of a 3-year-old girl who was killed last week in Miami Beach was previously investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, a DCF spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. According to the DCF report from August 2017, someone reported that Skylar Hartley‘s mother was using heroin. The DCF investigation was soon closed with no signs of substance misuse. Now, a year later, the boyfriend of Skylar’s mother is being held in jail without bond on accusations that he killed the little girl last week. “The tragic loss of Skylar is heartbreaking and our condolences are with her loved ones,” DCF Secretary Carroll said in a statement. “DCF has opened a child death investigation and will conduct a thorough review of the prior investigation which closed with no indicators.
— LINES IN THE SAND —
The beach woes in Walton County continue.
Now, beachgoers and vendors in Destin are battling over shore access. This follows the kerfuffle caused by HB 631, which resulted in some members of the public being asked to leave beaches in the county or face possible trespassing charges.
Writes Annie Blanks for the Northwest Florida Daily News, “What’s more, beach chair vendors are increasingly testing the limits of the beach-going public, in some cases violating city ordinances by putting their chairs too close to shore and restricting people from sitting in front of them.”
The law: “Beach vendors shall not block or impede in any manner the right of pedestrian access seaward of a line 20 feet above the mean high water line.”
The breach: Vendors peddling beach chairs “are increasingly setting up well within the 20-foot space,” writes Blanks. She notes that there also have been reports of similar vendors setting up shop in off-limits areas.
Impact?: The aggressive nature of the vendors could lead to fewer tourists opting to visit the shores of Destin. Writes Blanks, “With the city’s public beach accesses only a few dozen feet wide at best, and with beach chair vendors bullying members of the public off the beaches they likely have a legal right to be on, elected officials fear they are facing a crisis as the battle over the beach becomes more and more personal.”
— PROBLEMATIC SOLUTION —
When landmark opioid legislation moved through the 2018 Legislative Session, some doctors — specifically those who dealt with trauma patients — expressed worry that patients who needed scripts could be hurt by new mandatory limits.
But now that the law is active, others in the medical profession are feeling some of the negative effects.
Notes the Orlando Sentinel, “Almost all medications that are classified as Schedule II through V drugs, including steroids; anti-seizure medications; stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin and ADHD medications; Ambien and Xanax are included in the law.”
Understanding: Doctors who don’t prescribe opioids don’t have to worry about prescription limits, but they do have to update a prescription drug monitoring database. “Local health systems have launched massive education campaigns for their staff and patients about the new law, emphasizing mostly limitations on opioid prescriptions, to prepare the patients for what they should expect when they see their doctors.”
Numbers: One surgeon told the Sentinel he estimates a “$750 loss because of the patients he can’t see” as a result of spending time updating the database.
Skepticism: “The laws do service to reduce opioid prescription, but the ultimate goal is to reduce overdose deaths and laws like HB21 are unlikely to do that,” said Dr. Joanna Starrels, associate professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
— OPINIONS —
“America’s debt has exploded. Why does no one care?” via Robert Rubin in the Washington Post – Substantive fiscal policy work is essential, but all the good policy thinking in the world won’t matter unless the politics works. Without good politics, the policies won’t be implemented. And the politics of fiscal discipline have not been effectively addressed by too many of those who are deeply concerned about our country’s economic future — including me.
“Lessons From Parkland shooting: School safety must transcend politics” via Bill Galvano in Newsmax – … [N]othing in my life prepared me for the experience of visiting the crime scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just 48 hours after the shooting occurred – imagining the terror, consoling the grieving, knowing that something had to be done, and it was for us to figure it out – fast. Florida’s 60-day legislative session was past the midpoint when the horrendous shooting occurred. The incredibly courageous, articulate, and intelligent young people who endured the shooting quickly channeled their grief and anger into advocacy and action. Their lives will be forever changed, and not just by the tragedy, but by the life lesson that raising your voice matters. At a time when many young people are cynical about whether our political institutions and the machinery of our government can effect change in polarized times, they saw it happen before their very eyes and they were part of it.
— LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations
Chris Carmody, Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: City of Groveland, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections
Christopher Coker, Coker Consulting: Palm Beach Habilitation Center
Georgia Lorenz, Seminole State College of Florida
Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: City of Hollywood
David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Indian Trail Improvement District
— ALOE —
“Tampa to host 6th annual Florida Autonomous Vehicles Summit” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The summit runs November 27-28 at the Marriott Waterside Tampa. It showcases the latest autonomous vehicle technology including completely self-driving cars, shuttle and even large trucks as well as semi-autonomous vehicles equipped with things like lane assist and real time traffic information. It also feature electric vehicles. As the Tampa Bay region faces mounting transportation issues including constant congestion in key corridors and an overall lack of transit access, local elected officials and thought leaders are looking to the future of autonomous vehicle technology as a possible answer to what has proven to be a daunting problem. “The world is moving to shared, electric, and self-driving. The implications of this shift will have profound impacts on both government and industry,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes … “The Florida Automated Vehicles Summit provides Florida’s policy makers and transportation leaders to interact with experts in this field.”
We need this in Florida – “Kiwi’s robots deliver food to hungry Berkeley students” via Brian Heater of TechCrunch – The robots have become a familiar sight to anyone who’s spent any time on the U.C. Berkeley campus recently. Unlike countless hardware startups, who spend years incubating and iterating products, Kiwi’s team couldn’t wait to take to the east bay to test their product in a real world setting. According to cofounder and CEO Felipe Chavez Cortes, the company has already fulfilled more than 10,000 orders with its team of delivery ‘bots. It’s a differentiator in an increasingly crowded world of delivery robots, for whom testing on city sidewalks has presented a host of issues. In December of last year, San Francisco went so far as banning delivery ‘bots from city streets for fear of a robotic sidewalk takeover.
Happy birthday belatedly to the smartest person I met last month, Gary Hunter of Hopping Green & Sams. Celebrating today is one of my Top 5 favorite Pinellas County Commissioners, Ken Welch.