Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Apologies in advance, but we are very excited about something that has absolutely nothing to do with politics.
The moon, Earth and sun will line up this weekend for the only total lunar eclipse this year and next. At the same time, the moon will be ever so close to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual — a supermoon.
The whole eclipse starts Sunday night or early Monday, depending on location, and will take about three hours.
It begins with the partial phase around 10:34 p.m. Sunday. That’s when Earth’s shadow will begin to nip at the moon. Totality — when Earth’s shadow completely blankets the moon — will last 62 minutes, beginning at 11:41 p.m.
If the skies are clear, the entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America, as well as Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and the French and Spanish coasts. The rest of Europe, as well as Africa, will have partial viewing before the moon sets.
During totality, the moon will look red because of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why an eclipsed moon is sometimes known as a blood moon. In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon.
So informally speaking, the upcoming lunar eclipse will be a super blood wolf — or great spirit — moon.
The next total lunar eclipse won’t be until May 2021.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MichaelCohen212: As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.
—@DeFede: You can have SOTU in writing but please keep the responses on TV — those are always memorable. The Marco Rubio‘s water grab. Bobby Jindal looking like Kenneth from 30 Rock. Steve Beshear sitting in some weird Twilight Zone-like diner. Joe Kennedy drooling
—@DavidJollyFL: Legitimate question. Why are any Administration or Congressional officials of either party traveling overseas during a government shutdown?
—@MollyMoorhead: When you’re flipping through the network news channels looking for the governor’s news conference and are reminded that soap operas are still a thing that exists
—@HashtagJativa: Never in a million years did I think I’d see John Morgan, Matt Gaetz, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis standing together on a platform making a marijuana announcement. Crazy times, people
—@TomMnwfdn: Water from the Sea of Galilee that new Governor @and First Lady Casey DeSantis saved from a trip to Israel and used last week to baptize their 9-month-old son Mason was tossed out by a cleaning crew at the governor’s mansion.
—@JamesGrantFL: If you believe decriminalizing marijuana will reduce violent crime, trafficking, & end dangerous underground markets but supported @FlaDems push to criminalize everything but a six gun: Ask yourself why criminalizing guns won’t do the opposite of decriminalizing marijuana.
—@CarlosGSmith: Gov. @is RIGHT on medical cannabis! As I argued in 2017, we must respect the will of the voters, allow whole flower + smokable medical cannabis and let’s open up the industry to small/minority owned biz. I look forward to working w/ANYONE, R or Dem to achieve this!
—@Scott_Maxwell: Reader sent a note that said all the recent news about nonsense in the Fla. Legislature prompted her to do some extra praying lately. Now she asks: “Is the man upstairs listening?” Way to go, Legislature. You’re so bad, you have devout Christians questioning God.
—@FlFinancialReg: Would you like to be @FlFinancialReg’s commissioner? The application is open thru 2/14.
— DAYS UNTIL —
MLK Day — 3; State of the Union address (maybe) — 11; Super Bowl LIII — 16; Scott Maddox trial begins — 24; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 25; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 25; Valentine’s Day — 27; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 46; Tampa mayoral election — 46; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 49; St. Patrick’s Day — 58; 2019 Major League Baseball season begins — 61; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 86; Easter — 93; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 105; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates begin — 140; 2019 General Election — 291; Iowa Caucuses — 378; 2020 General Election — 655.
— TOP STORY —
“Ron DeSantis wants ban on smokable medical pot ended” via Brendan Farrington and Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — DeSantis wants a new law by mid-March that will end a ban on smokable medical marijuana and loosen limits on treatment center licenses, saying voters spoke clearly when they approved medical marijuana in 2016. If the Legislature fails to act, DeSantis will drop challenges to lawsuits on both those issues, effectively letting the courts resolve them instead of lawmakers. He said he would prefer not to do that. “I want to have the elected representatives write the law in a way the people intended, so we’ll give them a couple of weeks in session to address the smoking issue, and if they don’t do it, we’re going to dismiss the case and move on,” DeSantis said.
— John Kennedy (@JKennedyReport) January 17, 2019
— “John Morgan and Joel Greenberg bury the hatchet” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics
More: even as @GovRonDeSantis was calling on lawmakers to rewrite the state law implementing the #MedicalMarijuana amendment, @HealthyFla ‘s outside lawyers were defending it. #FlaPol pic.twitter.com/iaA650oTH7
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) January 18, 2019
— THE NEW ADMINISTRATION —
“State Attorney intends to help defeat appeal by suspended superintendent of schools” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News’ Tom McLaughlin — Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson has decided to appeal Gov. DeSantis’ decision to suspend her and will seek reinstatement to her seat. [The request from George Levesque, a Tallahassee-based attorney representing Jackson] initiates a process which will culminate in the entire Senate deciding whether Jackson should be permanently removed from office or reinstated with full rights and pay.
“From Sea of Galilee to North Adams St.” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — When Gov. DeSantis makes his first international trip to Israel, he plans to tout Florida but also will have a chance to get a new supply of water — and probably will do a better labeling job. Water from the Sea of Galilee that DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis saved from a past trip to Israel and used last week to baptize their 9-month-old son Mason was tossed out by a cleaning crew at the governor’s mansion. “We’re not used to having people pick up for us,” the governor said while in Boca Raton. “I think the folks who clean didn’t realize what it was.” The governor noted he and his wife kept the water left over from the baptism in a nondescript Zephyrhills-style water bottle that wasn’t marked as being anything special. In the Bible, the shores of the Sea of Galilee feature prominently in the ministry of Jesus.
“Danny Burgess could get approval next week as veterans’ affairs chief” via the News Service of Florida — Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet have scheduled a meeting to vote on a new leader for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. DeSantis is backing state Rep. Burgess to be executive director of the veterans’ agency. Burgess, a 32-year-old attorney who is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, interviewed for the agency-head job during a Cabinet meeting. “To get a young guy like you out there helping our veterans’ community, I think, will do a lot of really good things. I think you have the passion for it and that’s important,” DeSantis, who is a U.S. Navy veteran, said during last week’s meeting.
— ROAD TO SESSION —
“Annette Taddeo asks feds to denounce Venezuelan ‘dictator’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Sen. Taddeo is calling on the White House and Congress to condemn Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and recognize the country’s National Assembly leader as its rightful President. “As a member of the Florida Legislature, whose district encompasses a large Venezuelan community, I am troubled by the continued oppression of the Venezuelan people and the regime’s carelessness in violating the rule of law,” said Taddeo, a Democrat elected in 2017. “I urge members of Congress and the White House to intervene and join other countries in calling the Maduro regime an illegitimate government and recognizing the President of the National Assembly as the rightful President of Venezuela.” The complaints about his presidency stem from an election held in May which some observers claim was tainted by election violations.
“CRC repeal idea emerges in Senate” via the News Service of Florida — Sen. Jeff Brandes filed the proposal (SJR 362). Rep. Brad Drake filed a similar proposal (HJR 249) in the House last week. If approved, the proposed abolishment would go on the 2020 ballot because ending the commission would require changing the state Constitution. The Constitution Revision Commission drew controversy and legal challenges, in part, because it lumped together seemingly unrelated issues into single ballot proposals.
“Jason Fischer files bill backing autonomous vehicles” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Fischer filed the first autonomous vehicle bill of the 2019 Legislative Session Thursday. HB 311, includes several provisions to get autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars, rolling on Florida roadways … It defines many terms in statute, including “automated driving systems” and “fully autonomous vehicles.” … would also open the door for an automated ride-sharing platform and allow The Florida Turnpike Enterprise to “fund, construct and operate test facilities” to study AV technology. … AARP Florida and the Florida Council of the Blind both issued statements supporting the bill. … “Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and Florida has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of autonomous vehicle policy,” he said. “Autonomous vehicle technology will ensure our transportation modes serve all Floridians, providing opportunities for the elderly and special needs communities to have an independent and reliable source of transportation.” … The Senate companion bill will be filed by Sen. Brandes.
Today’s legislative delegation meetings — Okeechobee County — state Sen. Ben Albritton and state Rep. Cary Pigman — 9 a.m., Okeechobee County Government Center, 304 N.W. Second St., Okeechobee. Highlands County — Albritton and Pigman — noon, Highlands County Government Center, 600 South Commerce Ave., Sebring.
— STATEWIDE —
“Opioid death rate plunges 41 percent in county at center of epidemic” via Lois Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Almost three years after Palm Beach County officials set out to combat the opioid epidemic, it looks like their efforts are paying off: The State Attorney’s Office reports there were 326 opioid deaths in 2018, down from 558 in 2017. When the crisis started in 2012, 143 deaths were attributed to these addictive prescription drugs. Then there were 189 deaths in 2014, and 307 in 2015. They hit a peak of 569 in 2016. That’s when county officials unleashed a stampede of lawyers, health officials, police and rehab specialists to tackle the scourge.
“Homeowners caught up in the fight against citrus canker finally getting millions the state owes them” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — This week, the state started paying tens of thousands of South Florida property owners who found themselves in the middle of the fight against citrus canker. Eligible Palm Beach County homeowners who had their trees cut down by the state will get a total of about $26.6 million and Broward County homeowners will see about $15.9 million. The payout is the result of the class-action lawsuit first filed in the early 2000s by homeowners upset about what they saw as the state’s disregard for their private property. “I am elated that this has finally come to fruition, no pun intended,” said Robert Gilbert, a South Florida trial attorney who’s been involved with the lawsuits since they began.
“Scholarships for bullied students get fewer takers than predicted, officials say” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — About 60 children so far have received Florida’s new private-school scholarship for students who claim they have been bullied in public school, according to Step Up for Students, which helps administers the program along with two of the state’s other school voucher programs. That number is far fewer than the 7,300 youngsters the state estimated would use the new Hope Scholarship this school year. Joe Pfountz, Step Up’s chief financial officer, told the State Board of Education that bureaucracy may be the culprit. “Frankly, I think there’s some difficulties in getting the proper communication from the school district,” he said. “The difficulty is they have to file a report with the school district, they have to get the paperwork right.”
“Parkland parent gets major film studio to move the release date of a teen slasher film” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre last Valentine’s Day, took to Twitter to plead with Universal to move the release date of “Happy Death 2 U” from its original planned Feb. 14 opening. “My daughter and 16 others were killed on February 14th. Universal Studios is releasing a movie called Happy Death Day 2 U? I get the pin on Valentine’s Day,” Guttenberg wrote. “For me, it will always be the day my daughter was murdered. Please reconsider this.” Apparently, Guttenberg’s request wasn’t in vain. On Wednesday, he tweeted that Universal honored his request. The movie will now open on Feb. 13 in North America theaters. But not in the immediate Parkland vicinity. “Outdoor, digital and in-theatre marketing for the film will be suspended in that market,” the rep told Yahoo! Entertainment. “The studio understands the importance of memorializing the February 14 date as an opportunity to continue to allow the Parkland community to heal.”
“SFWMD effort to end mandated Everglades pollution limits in consent decree subject of motions” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Several environmental groups are opposing the South Florida Water Management District’s effort to end a federal court’s oversight of Everglades restoration projects. The district and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection “have yet to fulfill the promises they made” to clean water entering Everglades National Park, according to a motion filed by the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Florida Audubon Society. The “promises” were actually mandated by a 1988 court case, in which the federal government sued the Florida government for failing to control pollution entering the Everglades. The resulting “consent decree” set strict limits, primarily on phosphorus.
Correction — In Thursday’s Sunburn, we used an incorrect name to refer to Secretary of the Department of Children and Families Chad Poppell. We regret the error.
— LOCAL —
“Surveillance evidence against St. Lucie County Commissioner lands on DeSantis’ desk” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — Another public official came to the governor’s attention mired in controversy: St. Lucie County Commissioner Sean Mitchell. Surveillance cameras and eyewitness testimony exposed the fact that Mitchell isn’t even a legal resident of the district he represents, but filed false paperwork claiming residency there, in direct violation of the Florida Constitution. Mitchell’s case has been referred to the Florida Commission on Ethics and is under active investigation, but the evidence against him appears overwhelming, according to a letter submitted to DeSantis this week by St. Lucie County resident Robert L. Polakow. The submitted evidence also claimed that Mitchell sought to cover his tracks by attempting to sell his actual residence in December, a month after the election was over. It is unclear if DeSantis will take the matter up immediately.
“Resolution would censure South Fla. official over anti-Muslim remarks” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow has released resolution language to censure her colleague, Anabelle Lima-Taub, after Lima-Taub commented that a Muslim congresswoman might “blow up Capitol Hill.” Lazarow said she planned to introduce the resolution at the commission’s upcoming meeting next week. Now, Lazarow has released the resolution along with another statement criticizing Lima-Taub’s remarks. “In the days since Commissioner Lima-Taub’s remarks were brought to light, she has responded by attempting to make this issue about everything except what it is actually about,” Lazarow said. “She has taken no responsibility and made no apology for her offensive words and the hurt that they have caused to Hallandale Beach’s residents and our reputation.”
“Naples Councilwoman Nancy Penniman resigns, special election to be called” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Penniman cited health concerns for her husband. “Nick and I are assessing our priorities for the coming years, and we’ve determined that flexibility and time with family are really important to us,” according to the Naples Daily News. “We also believe that in order for us to achieve the ends that we’re interested in doing, that it would be best for (me) to step down.” City officials by charter must call a special election within 60 days. A special meeting to take that action has been scheduled for Jan. 23.
“Hurricane-impacted county’s property values could drop 30 percent” via Tim Croft of the Port St. Joe Star — The board of Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc. heard a presentation on the impacts on property values and tax rolls in just one county hit hard by Hurricane Michael. Gulf County Property Appraiser Mitch Burke provided the information his office has gleaned so far in their work to craft a property roll, with a long way to go before the tentative roll is certified in July. “We still have a great deal of work to do,” Burke said. “We are very early in our appraisal.” But if the numbers in July look anything like the numbers Burke presented, local governments will be in for serious sticker-shock come budget time this summer. As just one example, at the high end of Burke’s current calculations, the Board of County Commissioners would see a decrease in revenue of nearly $4 million next year alone, based on current millage rates.
“School closures likely with high repair bills and lower student population for Bay District schools after Hurricane Michael” via Genevieve Smith of the Panama City News-Herald — With attendance data showing a possible loss of up to 4,700 students and between $250 to $300 million in upcoming repairs, it is likely some schools will no longer be necessary or financially viable to keep open, said Superintendent Bill Husfelt. Husfelt says of the majority of potential closures will likely take place in the elementary division. He did say he does not plan to close any high schools, as they are each continuing to service over 1,000 students each. “Our population has dropped almost five thousand students and many of our schools are well under capacity,” said Husfelt. “Financially, we just can’t afford to keep all of our schools open at the low level some of them are at, so we’re going to have to make some decisions.”
“Another South Florida city wrestles with scooter craze” via Brittany Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is making it clear: Keep your scooters out of our town. “They’re going to cause a problem for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and themselves,” town Commissioner Elliot Sokolow said. “They’re just inherently dangerous.” The spread of electric scooter sharing has put users and critics at odds — not only in Fort Lauderdale, but across the country. Fans say the scooters are an affordable, environmentally friendly — and fun — way to get around. But critics say the scooters add another dangerous hazard to roads as riders zigzag along sidewalks. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea wants no part of the controversy. Signs at the town’s entrances warn “STOP. No electric scooter zone.”
—“Electric scooter rentals — convenience or menace?” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Is there a licensed one? — “Four arrested at unlicensed ‘sexual encounter center’ and bottle club in Brandon home” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — A deputy witnessed patrons paying money to enter the house at 606 Huntington Street with liquor between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, arrest reports say. The deputy also witnessed patrons “having sexual relations and displaying nudity,” the reports say. Four people were arrested and charged with operating a bottle club and sexually oriented business without the required licenses, both misdemeanor violations of county ordinances. Each was released from the Hillsborough County jail after posting $500 bail, records show. The county ordinance defines a sexual encounter center as “a business or commercial enterprise that, as one of its principal business purposes, purports to offer for any form of consideration, physical contact in the form of touching, wrestling or tumbling between persons when one or more of the persons is seminude.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“57 percent of voters say they won’t support Trump in 2020” via Laura Santhanam of PBS News Hour — According to the latest poll from the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist, another 30 percent of voters said they would cast their ballot to support Trump, and an additional 13 percent said they had no idea who would get their vote. But who would Republicans want to see run against Trump? According to the poll, 29 percent of Republicans and conservative-leaning Independents said they felt favorable about Sen. Mitt Romney the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Another 24 percent said they thought well of former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich — but 48 percent of potential Republican voters had no idea who Kasich was, a sign of the challenges most GOP candidates would have in taking on a sitting president from their own party. When asked about how they felt about 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls, 76 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents said they had a favorable view of former Vice-President Joe Biden, followed by 57 percent who felt favorable toward Sen. Bernie Sanders and another 53 percent who felt positive about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Marco Rubio, Rick Scott followed Trump and Mitch McConnell’s lead on shutdown negotiations” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Republican leaders in Washington don’t have the power to end a government shutdown on their own, but Scott and Rubio aren’t publicly offering any ideas to resolve the current impasse between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over border-wall funding. Scott and Rubio have supported McConnell’s decision not to take up government spending bills passed by the Democratic-led House in the past two weeks. When asked if the Senate should begin voting on bills and allowing amendments to resolve differences, or at least to show where lawmakers stand on Trump’s unconditional demand for border-wall funding, Scott deflected the question and said the impetus for negotiation is on those who disagree with the president. “One thing I learned as governor is that you’ve got to work through the process,” Scott said. “The Senate is part of it, the House is part of it. The bottom line is it has to be a negotiation between the president and anybody that doesn’t want to” fund a border wall.
“Scott says Congress should not be paid during shutdown” via WTXL — Scott released a statement calling for Congress members’ pay to be furloughed until the government shutdown ends. “I’ve been a member of the United States Senate for three days, and it’s as dysfunctional as you think it is — probably even more dysfunctional. The vast majority in Congress say they want border security. The vast majority also say they want to open the government. So, of course, they won’t do either,” he writes. He says he is working with colleagues to make this happen as soon as possible. “The people of Florida deserve a government that functions. Period. And until that happens, Congress shouldn’t get paid,” he says.
No specifics offered by Scott on how to resolve the current impasse between Trump and Pelosi on border security
— Alex Daugherty (@alextdaugherty) January 17, 2019
“The government shutdown hits home in Tallahassee” via Adam LaRose for the Tallahassee Democrat — While the harrowing effects on the individuals and families across our country — who are worrying about missing their rent or mortgage payment — have crowded the media, I felt compelled to add a real human, Tallahassee story to the conversation. I see the effects of the government shutdown on federal workers because, unfortunately, my mother is one of them. For the last 14 years, my mom has worked for the Federal Correctional Institute on Capital Circle NE, where she serves a special-education teacher. She has taught English as a second language to Spanish-speaking inmates; she oversees college counseling; provides standardized testing for prisoners seeking skills development and higher or vocational education; and she mentors women who are trying to rebuild their lives. She risks her life each day to keep our country safe while ensuring that rehabilitation — not only incarceration — is a fundamental facet of our justice system. When I asked my mom about missing her paycheck, she said, “I’m trying to not get in fear. I was yesterday; doing better today.” This saddens and angers me.
First in Sunburn — Rubio files bill to help veterans enter STEM fields — A new bill from Rubio could soon help veterans re-entering the workforce get jobs in STEM-related fields. “Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act” would require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate programs to train and transition military veterans for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math. “Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation,” Rubio said, “and we must do everything we can to ensure that they have the skills and opportunities they need to successfully transition into the 21st-century workforce.” Co-sponsored by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the bill would encourage the National Science Foundation to specifically encourage veterans to study and pursue careers in STEM-related fields. That includes the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, which recruits and trains math and science educators. The idea is to help veterans, many of whom work in STEM fields while in the service, move into jobs that often require outside training and certifications.
“First item on Charlie Crist’s new Congress to-do list — preserve Social Security” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — First thing Crist did in the 116th Congress — reintroduce his Save Social Security Act, which calls for reforms to the system and preserve benefits for another generation. The proposal would eliminate the Social Security tax cap for people earning more than $300,000. Under current law, anyone making more than $127,200 annually does not have to pay Social Security tax above that limit. Under Crist’s bill, people earning between the current cap and $300,000 would still receive that tax break, but those making more than $300,000 would pay Social Security tax on their entire earnings. “Why should the very wealthiest get a tax break, when nurses, electricians, and clerks at Publix pay into the system on 100 percent of their earnings,” Crist wrote in an op-ed when he first filed the bill in 2017.
“Mario Diaz-Balart says Trump could be convinced to expand TPS to Venezuela” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The Trump administration has spent the past two years rolling back Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans amid a larger push to curtail immigration, but Rep. Diaz-Balart is convinced that Venezuela is different. The Miami Republican who represents Doral, the U.S. city with the largest percentage of Venezuelan-born residents, is introducing a bill that would extend TPS to Venezuelans due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and crackdown on democracy. Diaz-Balart says the Trump administration’s tough talk against President Maduro and the current use of tax dollars for humanitarian aid shows that the administration could be open to supporting an expansive immigration policy. “It’s pretty clear they understand the situation in Venezuela, the nature of that dictatorship,” Diaz-Balart said. “We’re spending $95 million on humanitarian funds for the most acute crisis this hemisphere has seen. We can’t return or send Venezuelans back as well.”
Assignment editors — Congressman Diaz-Balart will meet with members of South Florida’s Venezuelan community, and announce legislation co-sponsored with Congressman Darren Soto to allow Venezuelan nationals in the U.S. to get Temporary Protected Status, 10:30 a.m., 8669 NW. 36th St., Second Floor, Doral.
“Carlos Curbelo critiques today’s GOP in first appearance as NBC contributor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former GOP U.S. Rep. Curbelo had a criticism of the direction his party is headed in his inaugural appearance Thursday as a contributor on NBC News/MSNBC. Curbelo was hired to that role after his narrow defeat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District to Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Curbelo was asked whether there was still room for a “conservative, Jeb Bush-style Republican,” in the GOP after he and many other Republicans lost their seats in November. “The truth is, I really don’t know the answer to that,” Curbelo replied.
It must be reassuring to know that if you are a Republican from Florida and you lose your race in a swing congressional district, there will always be a place for you at @MSNBC. https://t.co/glrtPx4HiF
— Peter Schorsch (@PeterSchorschFL) January 17, 2019
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis leads on medical marijuana” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — DeSantis showed he recognizes the problem and respects the intent of the voters. He got right to the heart of the issue, saying “Who am I to judge?” whether patients should smoke marijuana. ‘‘I want people to be able to have their suffering relieved.”
— MOVEMENTS —
“Pot czar Christian Bax teams up with John Lockwood” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Bax, who stepped down as director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use late last year, has joined forces with regulatory lawyer extraordinaire Lockwood, who’s bested the state in a number of gambling-related legal victories, and has emerged as one of Florida’s top cannabis lawyers. “This industry is rapidly expanding and evolving, and it makes perfect sense for us to have somebody with the significant experience Christian provides,” Lockwood said. Bax is “of counsel” to Lockwood’s law firm and also has his own firm, which Bax said “is a full-service management and regulatory consulting” shop.
Deadline extended to apply for judicial nominating commissions — The deadline has been extended to receive applications for one lawyer vacancy on each of the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs) for the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 14th and 16th circuits, The Florida Bar said this week. The Bar must nominate three lawyers for each JNC to the governor for his appointment. Each appointee will serve a four-year term, starting this July 1. Lawyers interested can click here to download the application form. Completed applications must be received no later than 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 4. “Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application,” The Bar said. “The Board of Governors will review all applications and may request telephone or personal interviews.”
Boeing hires Ballard Partners — Ballard Partners recently disclosed it will be adding The Boeing Co. to its federal-level lobbying efforts. According to an online filing, Ballard, Daniel McFaul and Sylvester Lukis will handle the account. The company bills itself as “the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defense, space and security systems” and “America’s biggest manufacturing exporter.”
— WEEKEND TV —
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 ARC Capital CEO and founder Rita Ferrandino; columnist and former state Sen. Paula Dockery; independent journalist William March; and Gow Fields, founder of Fields & Company, Inc.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion of race relations in Florida in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Joining Walker-Torres are Florida State Rep. Wengay Newton, Gwendolyn Wiggins, Human Relations Manager, City of Orlando and representative of Orlando’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission; William Gary, president, Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc. Board of Directors.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will look at Gov. DeSantis’ first 10 days in office and the latest on the government shutdown. State Rep. Adam Roger Hattersley will also talk about his election victory.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon will speak with attorney Sean Pittman and state Sen. Bill Montford.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: The show will follow the old Jacksonville City Hall Annex building, scheduled to be imploded this Sunday.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the continuing government shutdown. Also, the powerhouse roundtable will take on the week’s news.
— ALOE —
“Jacksonville’s oldest gay bar set to close after 55 years” via the First Coast News — Duval County’s first gay bar, Bo’s Coral Reef, is closing its doors after 55 years. The owner of the Jacksonville Beach bar announced on Instagram that they are selling the bar and closing the doors for the final time Tuesday, Jan. 22. The owner closed the caption by saying: “The Bo’s Family will forever be grateful for the gratitude and love shown by every person that has walked through our doors, we could have never achieved the level of success we have without your support.” Bo’s was opened in 1964 by Roverta “Bo” Boen.
“A peek at how Disney resort shows are made” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Disney World recently invited The Associated Press for a look at how it puts the shows together. The AP saw dancers rehearsing in a studio, rows of seamstresses stitching together costumes, a warehouse full of parade floats and a room where virtual reality technology is used to help build a new animatronic show. The results of those labors take stage when Disney World unveils a new Magic Kingdom parade, a Hollywood Studios street showing off the characters from “The Incredibles” franchise, a Caribbean-style street band in Animal Kingdom and the start of an arts festival at Epcot. Bettina Buckley oversees the entertainment division’s 6,700 workers in 100 different disciplines responsible for more than 200,000 performances a year at the resort. Putting a show based on a character under the Disney corporate umbrella in Disney World extends the life of that franchise, ultimately making it more valuable to the company. When deciding on which character or property to use for a show, she pays attention to what visitors say in surveys and letters. She also considers the available space and how the show would affect the brand. “If a character resonates, we stop and say, ‘Hey, maybe we should do something,’” said Buckley, vice president of live entertainment at the resort.
“Universal’s Harry Potter ride and Disney’s Star Wars will open in 2019. Price hikes may come, too.” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — “All the major theme park operators have put a lot of money in 2019, Disney in particular,” said Rick Munarriz, a senior analyst for Motley Fool. The biggest new expansion will be Star Wars land built on 14 acres with two signature rides. It’s scheduled to open in late fall in Orlando. Universal also is building a new roller coaster based off the Harry Potter franchise that’s set to open sometime in 2019 at Islands of Adventure. For five years in a row, Disney has raised ticket prices on “a sleepy Sunday morning in February,” and Munarriz expects it to continue again this year. Disneyland raised prices in early January. Its Star Wars land is set to open sometime in the summer. “Like it or not, it’s going to happen,” Munarriz said, estimating Disney World might see a “healthy” increase averaging 5 to 7 percent.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsell Powell, as well as good folks Brody Enwright and Sara Johnson. Early best wishes to Rep. Jayer Williamson and Rick Porter. Sunday is the birthday of one of our favorite people, Jen Lux, and Rep. Al Jacquet.
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.