Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum kicks off in Orlando this morning, bringing together business leaders and elected officials together to discuss the future of the Sunshine State, from housing to health care.
Earning the top billing for day one of the two-day event is Gov. Rick Scott, who is set to receive the Chamber’s “Spirit of Free Enterprise” award. Attorney General Pam Bondi is also slated to be inducted into the business group’s Women’s Hall of Fame this evening.
But it’s not all pomp — though execs from businesses such as Bank of America and Florida Power & Light and elected leaders including state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and state Rep. Danny Burgess will speak and participate in thought-provoking panels, it’s the State of Florida that will truly take center stage.
Armed with the Chamber’s Florida 2030 research report, set to release with the start of the forum, those leaders will expound on the blueprint for Florida’s future from tackling the challenges it faces to seizing on its innate opportunities.
With that research in hand, expect expert opinions on each of the Chamber’s “six pillars” to cement a bright future from the Panhandle to the Keys: Talent development and education, innovation and economic development, infrastructure and growth, the business climate and competitiveness, governance systems, and quality of life.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@TheRickWilson: If the Founders traveled forward in time and discovered we were arguing about the virginity of a Supreme Court nominee, I suspect they would beat us all.
—@MichaelCBender: President Trump considering keeping on Rosenstein, he tells adviser. Meeting on Thursday afternoon for Trump to hear [Rod] Rosenstein’s side of the story, officials said. “The president is genuinely conflicted,” said one person who has spoken to POTUS.
—@mkraju: I just asked Sen. Lisa Murkowski, key GOP swing vote, if there should be a full FBI investigation into allegations from [Brett] Kavanaugh‘s past. ‘It would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?’ she said.
—@NPRKelly: I asked Anita Hill is she ever regrets coming forward, given how it’s defined her life. “No,” she says. “It is true that it’s redefined my life in many ways, but in the end, I still have the power to define who I am and what my life stands for.”
—@MattGaetz: I worry that leadership wants to send us home at the end of the week, tell us to go campaign for the midterms, and that we won’t really get these answers. Rosenstein’s impeachment can be brought up for a vote by any member of Congress at this point.
—@ScottforFlorida: As I have always said, the will of the Puerto Rican voters should be respected — and it’s clear they have voted in favor of statehood. I look forward to continuing to work with @@ @ in FL and in Washington to fight for PR.
—@Jason_Garcia: Rick Scott is governor today because of his tough immigration rhetoric. (That @-cam footage of [Bill] McCollum flipping on the Arizona law was the most devastating ad ever.) And then instead of an Arizona law and E-Verify, Scott gave in-state tuition to undocumented kids.
—@MDixon55: I bet the Florida governor’s race and US Senate race will both be pretty close #
— DAYS UNTIL —
Government shutdown — 5; FSU vs. UM football game — 10; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 14; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 27; MLB World Series begins — 29; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 29; Early voting begins — 31; Halloween — 35; General Election Day — 41; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 52; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 55; Thanksgiving — 57; Black Friday — 58; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 62; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 139; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 160; Captain Marvel release — 163; 2020 General Election — 769.
“Midterm spending to rival presidential year” via Sara Fischer of Axios — Spending on political ads for the midterms ($2.9 billion) will be nearly as high as presidential-election spending two years ago ($3 billion), estimates MAGNA, the media and research arm of Interpublic Group … This year’s midterm spend is up so much compared to the 2014 midterms due to more competitive races.
“Tom Steyer to spend millions backing Andrew Gillum in Florida” via Alexander Burns of The New York Times — Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democratic activist, has directed his political operation to spend more than $5 million aiding Gillum’s campaign for Governor, an enormous investment that will test whether fired-up Democratic voters can flip control of a state long dominated by Republicans. Steyer, who is based in California and has crusaded since last year for Trump’s impeachment, said in an interview that he would spend more money in Florida this fall than any other state. He endorsed Gillum in the Democratic primary and hailed him as a model for the national Democratic Party. In the interview, Steyer praised Gillum for having endorsed impeachment, though he said that had not been a “litmus test” for his support.
“Gillum, Bill Nelson hold slight leads in latest Florida poll” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The new NBC/Marist poll recorded Democrat Gillum with a 5-percentage point advantage over Republican Ron DeSantis in the race for governor. Likely voters were willing to back the Tallahassee mayor by a margin of 48-43 percent. It’s the eighth consecutive poll where Gillum held a slight lead over DeSantis, a former three-term congressman. In the Senate fight, which has implications for which party will control that chamber next year, Democratic Sen. Nelson leads Republican Gov. Scott 48-45 among likely voter
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“Slash and burn: Nothing positive in latest Ron DeSantis, Gillum ads” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The RGA released a spot called “Too Radical.” It highlights what it a spokesman for the Republicans called Gillum’s “unwavering support for the radical Dream Defenders.” Dream Defenders organizes efforts to end police brutality against people of color and to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Excerpt: “These radicals argue for quote ‘a border-free tomorrow’ … that ‘police and prisons have no place in justice.’ Later, the Republican Party of Florida, issued a positive ad, called “Way of Life.” It portrays DeSantis as a champion of the environment who, as governor, would clean up waterways, restore the Everglades, fight red tide and complete the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. It’s the same strategy the Republican side used 10 days ago. The Republican Governors Association issues an attack ad against Gillum and the state Republican Party issues an ad playing up DeSantis.
To view “Way of Life,” click on the image below:
To view “Too Radical,” click on the image below:
“Florida Democrats hold events to bash DeSantis on health care” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The issue has become central to the Florida Governor’s race, with Democrats taking every possible opportunity to bring up DeSantis’ vote for the 2017 American Health Care Act … they were on the offensive again, launching a new television ad and staging events around the state to highlight what they claim is the former Congressman’s record of undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “When campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 2015, he said, ‘I am committed to the full and complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said at a news conference of Democratic elected officials. “And he meant it.” Also in St. Petersburg were Kristen King, the wife of Democratic lieutenant governor nominee King, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Democratic state senate candidate Lindsay Cross. Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum also held events in Miami and West Palm Beach to talk pre-existing conditions.
“Parkland parent shames Gillum for fundraiser with ‘Coward of Broward’ Scott Israel” via Troy Kinsey of Spectrum News 13 — Seven months after the tragedy in Parkland, what began as a grassroots movement to reform Florida’s gun laws is becoming a prime topic on the road to the Governor’s Mansion … Now the debate is intensifying, the state GOP seizing on a Gillum campaign Friday fundraiser attended by Broward County Sheriff Israel … accused by critics of failing to act on warning signs that could have prevented the Parkland shooting and then bungling the response. DeSantis says if he were governor now he would suspend the sheriff from office and Republicans say it is ‘offensive’ and ‘disgusting’ for Andrew Gillum to stand with the ‘Coward of Broward’ … For many voters, what happened back in February is personal. Which is where Andrew Pollack comes in, his daughter Meadow was killed in Parkland … Now’s he’s going public with contempt for Gillum telling the Democratic nominee, “Andrew … you are a socialist that uses the deaths of children to advance your political agenda.”
To view the story, click on the image below:
“RGA spending on Governor’s race approaches $5 million” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The group has so far sent $4.8 million to a Florida political committee called Florida Facts, and has said it will spend up to $10 million backing DeSantis’ bid against Democrat Gillum. The Democratic Governors Association is also heavily involved in the Florida gubernatorial battle, so far giving $2 million directly to a Gillum political committee. The first TV advertisement paid for through “Florida Facts” continued Republicans’ effort to cast Gillum as a “socialist” who is too far left for Florida general election voters.
“What happened to Chris King’s ‘bullet tax’?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — King was asked about the bullet tax after he made an appearance in West Palm Beach to denounce Republican nominee DeSantis on health care. “Part of what happens when you lose an election and you now have a new boss is he sets the ultimate priorities,” King said. “And as we’re assimilating, it doesn’t appear that that one has moved forward into the general election.”
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Rick Scott: A model of inconsistency as Florida governor” via Steve Bousquet and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — He embraced environmental stands he once opposed, softened his hard-line stand on immigration, championed more money for schools he tried to cut, signed new gun restrictions he once opposed and changed course twice on expanding health care coverage under Medicaid — opposing it, favoring it, then opposing it again in the face of certain political defeat. “He has evolved,” said J.M. (Mac) Stipanovich, a strategist and lobbyist who advised two former Republican governors. “If you wrote a profile of Rick Scott in his first year in office and you wrote one this week, you’d be describing two starkly different men.” Stipanovich said Scott’s evolution has been driven by politics.
“Nelson jumps to seven-point lead over Scott in new Florida poll” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — In a new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida’s big-spending Senate race, Nelson’s advantage — a net 7-point shift in his favor since Quinnipiac last surveyed the race just after the Aug. 28 primaries — comes on the heels of two major developments: the contentious nomination hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Democrats’ ability to start evening up the score in TV ad spending. In the poll of 888 likely Florida voters, Nelson leads 53-46 percent. The error margin is plus or minus 4 percent, so Nelson’s lead is still not outside the margin of error. Nelson and Scott were each tied 49-49 percent in Quinnipiac’s last poll released Sept. 5.
— George Bennett (@gbennettpost) September 25, 2018
“’These numbers should sound the alarm for Nelson’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Scott holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Nelson among Hispanic voters 50 and older in a new Florida poll, the latest sign that Nelson is struggling to rally Hispanic voters behind his reelection bid. Scott’s support is buoyed by strong Cuban-American backing and decent favorability ratings among Puerto Rican voters, who tend to support Democrats. Without a greater foothold among Hispanic voters, Nelson is at risk in a Senate race that is essential to Democratic hopes of winning a Senate majority this fall. The Republican governor’s 14 percentage-point advantage among older Hispanic voters in the Senate race stands in stark contrast to the essentially tied gubernatorial contest in which Republican DeSantis has a slim lead of 2 points over Democrat Gillum, according to the AARP/Univision/Bendixen & Amandi International survey.
“Here comes promised Democratic hits on HCA, wealth against Scott” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Long before Scott entered Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Democrats vowed they would attack him for his leadership of the scandal-plagued Hospital Corporation of America and his prospering personal finances since then. A new ad delivers on that pledge. Majority Forward is launching a new television commercial in Florida painting Scott as “a shady millionaire” who got rich as his company was investigated for massive Medicare fraud [and found guilty after he left it,] and then got richer as governor when his investments prospered under his state policies. Scott resigned from HCA in 1997, more than 20 years ago — and well before he ran for Florida Governor. The company has undergone several changes since then.
To view “Soared,” click on the image below:
“Florida Republicans break with Trump on divisive issue of Puerto Rico statehood” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s midterm candidates have spent months courting Puerto Rican voters they are hoping will turn out for them this November — some of them choosing to break with Trump on stances they believe to have the support of Puerto Ricans in the state. Some Republican Boricuas here think it’s not enough. “The Republican Party’s platform [on statehood] is useless if we don’t have a leader that gets behind that,” said Peter Vivaldi, a former Republican Florida Senate candidate and local community leader. “If we’re not going to be treated equally, are you going to cut ties with Puerto Rico, or what are you going to do?”
Tsk, tsk, Blaise — “GOP leaders close dinner, meeting to press” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Republican leaders will gather this weekend at Walt Disney World for a major fundraising event. But the Republican Party of Florida’s “Victory Dinner” will be a private affair. The dinner Saturday night at the Grand Floridian Resort and the party’s quarterly meeting, which starts Friday at the nearby Contemporary Resort, are closed to the press, said Yohana de la Torre, a spokeswoman for the party. The closure follows a recent trend. Last year’s “Statesman’s Dinner,” which was held at the Grand Floridian and featured a speech by Vice President Mike Pence, was also closed to the media. Prior party events have been open.
“Personnel note: Sean Shaw for AG brings on Julia Gill Woodward, Shellie Levin” via Florida Politics — Shaw has brought on longtime Gwen Graham staffer Gill Woodward and Alex Sink for Governor alumna Levin as senior finance consultants. Woodward, a graduate of Florida State University, was Graham’s campaign manager during her 2018 bid to become Florida Governor. Levin, an attorney whose political beginnings date back to 1997, when she began working for EMILY’s List, a national group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic to public office. In 2010 she joined former CFO Sink’s gubernatorial campaign, serving as deputy campaign manager where she was tasked with restructuring the finance team that ended up raising more than $40 million for the statewide campaign.
“Jeremy Ring returns fire with list of dodgy Jimmy Patronis donors” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ring, the Democratic nominee for Florida Chief Financial Officer, is hitting back hard against a website that highlights his supporters with criminal pasts. Now, Ring is playing the same trick with Patronis’ donors, some of whom have faced their own criminal charges. Jeffrey Bragg: In 2003, Bragg settled a case after facing allegations that he harmed investors by signing misleading flood insurance documents. Mike Horner: A former state representative who resigned his post in 2012 after an investigation pegged him as a client at an Orange County brothel. Jay Odom: A GOP donor who was previously indicted over federal campaign finance allegations. He has put forward a whopping $5,000 to Treasure Florida. Thorsten Pfeffer: Co-owner of a club in Panama City Beach who faced charges he used to club to distribute drugs. Ring’s campaign promises “more to come” regarding Patronis’ donor base.
“Big money backs ballot measures” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — MARSY’S LAW: Part of a national movement to boost crime victims’ rights, Amendment 6 on the November ballot had already drawn $30.37 million as of Sept. 14. Almost all of the money backing the Florida measure, $30.045 million, has come from the national Marsy’s Law for All Foundation … Another $325,000 has come from Henry Nicholas. GAMBLING BATTLE: Amendment 3, which is designed to make it harder to expand gambling in the state, has drawn millions of dollars from supporters and opponents. Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have combined to contribute $26.43 million to the political committee Voters in Charge. FELONS VOTING: Buoyed by money from the American Civil Liberties Union and a series of other large donors, the political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy is seeking to pass a proposed constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 4. Floridians for a Fair Democracy had raised $14.4 million as of Sept. 14 to get the measure on the ballot and to try to pass it. The ACLU had contributed $3.8 million in cash and had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions. GREYHOUND RACING: Animal-rights groups have tried for years to convince lawmakers to stop greyhound racing in Florida. An effort known as the Committee to Protect Dogs had raised about $2.3 million as of Sept. 14 to bolster efforts to pass the amendment, with $1.5 million coming from the Doris Day Animal League. The group Grey2K USA had added more than $480,000.
Voters in Charge ramps up in Panhandle — Voters in Charge, the political committee sponsoring the Yes on 3 campaign, unveiled a group of Panhandle-area leadership committees in the effort to put Florida voters in charge of casino gambling decisions in Florida. Florida Panhandle Chairs: Collier Merrill, President of Merrill Lands and former Florida House Majority Leader Jerry Maygarden. Panhandle Committee Members: Mayor Ashton Hayward; state Rep. Clay Ingram; former House Speaker Allen Bense; Sheriffs David Morgan of Escambia County, Larry Ashley of Okaloosa County, Michael Adkinson of Walton County, Mike Harrison of Gulf County and Lou Roberts of Jackson County.
“Amendment 13 backer calls claim that dog racing ban could threaten hunting ‘outrageous, false’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Carey Theil, senior adviser for the Yes on 13 campaign, replied to an alert put out by Marion Hammer, past president of the NRA and executive director of the United Sportsmen of Florida. Her alert to members charged that the amendment’s language declaring “the humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida” could lead “extreme animal rights organizations” to “immediately begin work to ban all hunting and fishing.” Theil responded that the claims are outrageous, fearmongering, and false, that the amendment is entirely and exclusively about greyhound racing, and that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with that after hearing similar assertions in court hearings and filings challenging the amendment this summer. “It’s now clear that opponents of Amendment 13 are incapable of debating the merits of commercial dog racing. In recent days, they have started to circulate a series of falsehoods,” Theil said in a written response.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —
“David Shapiro bashes Vern Buchanan over red tide crisis” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shapiro is turning the tables on his Republican opponent in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Buchanan, blaming Buchanan’s policies for exacerbating the red tide crisis. Shapiro, who earned the Democratic nomination last month, argues Buchanan is actually part of the problem in a new ad called “Clean.” “When you see these signs, it means more than a lost day at the beach,” Shapiro says in the ad. “It’s costing us jobs. Vern Buchanan took over $100,000 from big sugar special interests and voted to weaken regulations that fight the pollution that make red tide worse. I’ll protect local jobs that depend on clean water and beaches, not the special interests that are ruining our economy and costing us jobs.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
Joe Biden endorses Lauren Baer — The former Vice President said: “Lauren Baer is exactly the kind of leader we need in Washington. Having served six years as a senior adviser in the State Department during the Obama–Biden Administration
— DOWN BALLOT —
—“Kayser Enneking bounces back in SD 8 money race” via Florida Politics
—“Is faulty polling fueling Florida Democrats’ optimism in Dorothy Hukill-Mel Martin race?” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics
—“David Perez puts a dent in Manny Diaz’s fundraising advantage” via Florida Politics
New polling shows Tracye Polson, Wyman Duggan neck-and-neck in HD 15 — In House District 15, the battle between Democrat Polson and Republican Duggan is down to the wire … An internal poll from SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Duggan up two points (41-39) in what many see as a swing district. The same poll gives Gov. Scott a six-point lead over incumbent Nelson for Senate 49-42 percent, with Democrat Gillum two-points over Republican DeSantis in the Governor’s race, 48-46 percent. The survey also indicated that voters could move from Duggan to Polson when issues are presented to contrast the candidates.
“Duggan back on air with GOP support, new Jax endorsement” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Duggan, is back on the air this week for the first time since the primary. Paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, the 15-second spot is evidence that the GOP is engaged to keep outgoing Jay Fant‘s seat. The ad introduces a new endorsement: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams joins Duggan’s political patron, Mayor Lenny Curry, in backing his bid. The spot hits some biographical points, including Duggan’s stint in the United States Marine Corps, before moving on to issues, such as “priority funding for public school students” and “more resources to fight crime.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“You thought you knew these candidates? In House District 38, it’s Tent Killer challenging Little Danny” via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Most everybody knew John David Hayes simply as “David’’ until 1982. The then-21-year-old skydiving enthusiast, however, made a bad landing on his 11th jump in Alberta, Canada, and soon everyone started calling him something else. “TK.” “Tent Killer,’’ said Hayes, recalling how he missed the landing zone and squashed someone’s temporary living quarters. Daniel Wright Burgess Jr., 32, has been “Danny’’ since his election to the Zephyrhills City Council at age 18. He has been Zephyrhills mayor and a practicing attorney and now is a two-term state representative and the recently hired manager of the future operations division of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Hayes and Burgess are not strangers. Burgess said they’ve worked together on legislation dealing with workers’ compensation and on coordinating a relief effort to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Irma. “I like Danny. He’s really a good guy,’’ said Hayes. “I just disagree with him on all of his policies.’’
—“Mike La Rosa’s war chest continues to overwhelm Barbara Cady’s campaign finances” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
—“Bobby Olszewski swamping Geraldine Thompson in campaign cash” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
“Shawn Harrison leads in HD 63 battleground, but tuned-in voters favor Fentrice Driskell” via Florida Politics — The SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey, commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party, found Harrison with a 45-39 percent edge, but among voters who rated their attention and interest in the Nov. 6 general election as high his standing slips. To that end, voters with the highest level of interest — measured from one to five — favored Driskell by a 58-31 percent margin. Lumping in the four-out-of-five crowd sees Harrison’s share slip to 29 percent while Driskell’s position holds firm.
“Jennifer Webb leads Ray Blacklidge by double digits in new HD 69 poll” via Florida Politics — The SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey found Webb with a 48-33 percent lead over Blacklidge with 19 percent of voters unsure. When it came down to the issues, Webb’s positions were seen in a substantially more favorable light than those of her opponent. Once informed of each candidate’s platform, Webb surged to a 58-36 percent lead.
—“Heather Fitzenhagen keeps well ahead of Parisima Taeb in fundraising” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
“Meet the ultra-organized teenager masterminding Parkland’s midterms push” via Dave Cullen of Vanity Fair — I’ve spent six months covering Jackie Corin, who is one of the lead organizers for March for Our Lives (MFOL). I have seen her stressed and overloaded, bending but never breaking. Jaclyn Corin, more comfortable as Jackie, has a presence — and relentless tenacity. Jackie was elected freshman-class vice president, and president of her sophomore, junior, and now senior classes. She knows how to get things done. Corin helped create #NeverAgainMSD, which evolved into MFOL. She will never command a stage like Emma González, match the fire of David Hogg’s Twitter feed, or keep the faithful giggling like Cameron Kasky, who delighted in telling reporters that he thought up the name #NeverAgain while sitting on the toilet in his Ghostbusters pajamas. But Jackie is a natural implementer and a driving force behind the scenes.
— STATEWIDE —
“Alage crisis task force proposed — again” via Chad Gillis of the Naples Daily News — Scott said last week he wants the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and others to develop a red tide research center, and that he wants the state to again fund a task force aimed at studying causes and impacts of harmful algal blooms like red tide and blue-green algae. FWC should also ask for more money, Scott said in a news release. But some local environmental groups say these problems could have been averted years ago by cutting off pollution at its source. “I had a little bit of mixed feelings about it because it appears to be more of a political stunt,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. “I don’t think with the existing budget they can do anything meaningful; so whatever governor assumes office after the election, that’s where the direction will have to come from.” Cassani said Scott had eight years to re-establish the harmful algal bloom task force, which started in 1999 but was defunded in 2001.
“Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Crist is calling for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate Marlin Financial, saying he was “disturbed” by a recent Tampa Bay Times’ investigation into the online auto finance company. Crist asked Mick Mulvaney to investigate Marlin, which has operated across Florida, for potential “unfair, deceptive and abusive practices” and other possible violations of federal law. “Should any of the outrageous behaviors reported by the Tampa Bay Times violate federal consumer financial protection laws, I urge you to hold the company accountable and make its victims whole,” he said. An investigation by the Times found that Marlin customers felt forced into purchasing an optional product that can push the interest rate on the company’s loans far beyond state limits.
“Citizens touts post-Irma financial strength” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Citizens Property Insurance has incurred $1.81 billion in losses from Hurricane Irma and handled an estimated 70,800 claims, which has led the state-backed insurer to go outside to cover nearly one-third of its storm-related costs. But Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Montero told Citizens’ Audit Committee the insurer’s financial picture is “incredibly strong” despite the losses due to Irma. With more than two months remaining in the 2018 hurricane season, Montero pointed, for example, to a $6.5 billion surplus and $2.2 billion in coverage through state’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides relatively low-cost reinsurance. The estimated number of claims for last year’s Irma represents about 16 percent of the 442,629 policies that Citizens had as of Aug. 31. As part of its response to Irma, Citizens expects to receive $534.7 million from the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and an additional $126.4 million from private reinsurers. The company pays for reinsurance coverage — essentially insurance for insurers — so it doesn’t have to dip deep into its surplus.
“Supreme Court sets arguments on FPL plume costs” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Feb. 6 in a dispute about whether Florida Power & Light should be able to recoup money from customers for a project stemming from a saltwater plume that moved from an FPL plant into nearby groundwater. The court issued an order that scheduled arguments in a challenge filed by the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues. The case centers on a December decision by the Florida Public Service Commission that would allow FPL to collect at least $176.4 million for the project. The South Florida Water Management District in 2013 determined that “hypersaline” water from a cooling-canal system at FPL’s Turkey Point complex in Miami-Dade County had moved off-site.
“Republicans and Democrats gathering for medical marijuana” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — The medical marijuana advocacy group Empowering Wellness will host a bipartisan conference in St. Petersburg Oct. 6 featuring marijuana friendly elected officials and industry representatives wanting to expand patient access to cannabis. Co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Crist and Darren Soto, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes. “It is a pleasure to launch our first Empowering Wellness event with distinguished champions for medical marijuana from either side of the aisle,” Ben Pollara, co-founder of Empowering Wellness, said in a statement. “If we remove the legal stigma around medical marijuana, thousands of American suffering from chronic pain stand to gain——from cancer patients to our veterans to children suffering from chronic seizures. This conference represents a continuation of that important conversation.”
“Judge backs ex-softball coach on retirement benefits” via the News Service of Florida — An administrative law judge said the state should restore retirement benefits for a former longtime Gulf Coast State College softball coach who was accused of taking meal money that had been provided for players. Susan Painter, who coached at the Panama City school for 21 years, pleaded no contest to a grand-theft charge. The plea led to the state Department of Management Services saying that Painter should lose her benefits under the Florida Retirement System. Painter filed a challenge, and Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stevenson issued a 17-page recommended order that sided with her. The case stemmed from Painter’s handling of money during a 2014 trip to Las Vegas, where her team played in a tournament. “No showing was made that Ms. Painter acted willfully and with intent to defraud the public or the public employer of the right to receive faithful performance of her duties,” Stevenson wrote.
— LOCAL —
“Miami named worst city for renters in the U.S. for the second year in a row” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — A new study by the website Apartment List shows that 62.7 percent of renter households in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach in 2017 were cost-burdened — which means they paid more than 30 percent of their income on rent. That’s only a tiny improvement from 2016, when 62.8 percent of South Florida households were cost-burdened. According to the study, which uses data from the U.S. Census, 33.8 percent of renter households in the Miami metro area are severely cost-burdened — or spending more than half their income on rent.
“Man threw other man ‘face first’ off bridge, Daytona Beach police say” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — A Daytona Beach police officer arrested a man after spotting him throwing another man “face first” off the Main Street Bridge and 30 feet into the water … Derrick Goodin, 21, was charged with aggravated battery causing bodily harm, battery and disorderly conduct. “He jumped over the bridge,” Goodin told police. But Daytona Beach Police Officer Christopher Maher told a different story. And his body camera video also appeared to show Goodin pushing a man off the bridge.
To view a video of the incident, click on the image below:
“Markeis McGlockton was turning away when Michael Drejka shot him, new documents claim” via WTSP — Newly-released documents support prosecutors’ previous claim that McGlockton was backing up and turning away from Drejka when Drejka shot him outside a Clearwater convenience store. Drejka has been charged with manslaughter. He was released on bond but his case has reignited a nationwide debate over Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office previously cited as a reason not to arrest Drejka right away. “Markeis McGlockton immediately backs up when confronted with the firearm,” the documents said. “As he backs up to his vehicle he begins to turn toward the front of the store away from the shooter.”
“119 cases dropped involving fired Jackson County Deputy Zachary Wester” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Prosecutors in the 14th Judicial Circuit have dropped charges in a grand total of 119 cases after finishing their review of arrests involving a former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on motorists. The charges involved everything from misdemeanor and criminal traffic offenses to felonies, including possession of methamphetamine and other controlled substances. All of the cases involved former Deputy Wester, who was fired Sept. 10 and remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. On Tuesday alone, some 49 cases were dismissed after a short proceeding before Jackson County Judge Wayne Mercer in a near-empty courtroom. The state began dismissing cases on Sept. 13 that Wester either initiated or was heavily involved in.
— OPINIONS —
“Why Scott will struggle to win — and could lose — in Martin County” via Gill Smart of TCPalm.com — Martin County has a huge Republican plurality … But come November, I expect Martin County voters to act like a bunch of liberals. Which is to say that in certain key races, I don’t see how the Republican candidate wins anything close to a 2-1 margin. Some GOP candidates might not win Martin County at all. This has nothing to do with any “blue wave.” Rather, it’s all about the “green wave” — the sorry state of our waters, and the likelihood voters will punish those they deem responsible for it. First and foremost among them: Scott. In fact, I’m going to edge out onto a limb and predict that Scott — Florida’s Republican governor, now looking to unseat Democratic Sen. Nelson — will fare poorly in Martin County. Maybe very poorly. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Nelson took the county.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Ashley Coone to Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: The Arcanum Group
Melanie Bostick, Jennifer Green, Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Florida Sheriffs Association, Uber Technologies and Affiliates
Heather DiGiacomo: Department of Juvenile Justice
Meghan Hoza, Ken Pruitt, The P5 Group: Indian River State College Foundation, Ruffin Acquisitions, Treasure Coast Food Bank
Julia Juarez, JEJ & Associates: The Nemours Foundation
Theodore Mannelli: 11th Judicial Circuit State Attorney
Frank Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: Kalkomey Enterprises
— ALOE —
“Kangaroo escapes from South Florida sanctuary” via The Associated Press — Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were hunting for the 5-year-old kangaroo named Storm in an area of Palm Beach County known as Jupiter Farms. Eric Westergard, the owner of the sanctuary, said he doesn’t know how Storm escaped but noticed the kangaroo missing Tuesday morning. After the escape, Storm was spotted by a man walking his dog and a mother and son in Jupiter Farms.
“Weeki Wachee’s mermaids to swim in Sea Life Orlando tank” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The famed underwater performers from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park will swim among the permanent residents of the International Drive attraction, with performances at the top of every hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily through Oct. 21. They will be doing meet-and-greets from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. It could be a good chance to see the mermaids in action, which is thought to be their first performances in Orlando. The swimmers will not be performing at Weeki Wachee from Nov. 26 to March 15 because of renovations to their underwater theater.
Happy birthday to Cynthia Henderson, Clay Ingram‘s better half Leslie, Tanya Jackson, and Lori Weems.