Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
First in Sunburn — Jacksonville’s The Fiorentino Group (TFG) has hired Shannan Dunaway Schuessler as a principal in its Tallahassee office.
Schuessler joins the firm from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), where she served as Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative Affairs.
During her time there, Schuessler assisted with the supervision and operation of all department activities, including policy development, responsibility for 6,200 employees and a $10 billion annual budget. She also served as the primary liaison for FDOT with other state agencies and local governments to advance multimodal transportation projects and priorities.
“We are looking forward to Shannan becoming part of our team,” said TFG founder and President Marty Fiorentino. “With technology changing the transportation landscape almost daily, Shannan’s experience and knowledge of state transportation issues will be invaluable to our clients.”
In her new position, Schuessler will continue to focus on legislative affairs and policy development and “create strategies to assist clients with transportation issues as well as business, economic development and local government issues,” the release explained.
“I am excited and honored to be joining The Fiorentino Group,” said Schuessler. “I look forward to remaining a part of the Tallahassee community and using my professional relationships and experience to assist clients in navigating state government.”
Save this date now — The Fifth Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Celebrity Bartender Benefit will be held on March 12 from 6-9 p.m. at Township Tallahassee, and celebrity bartenders will be announced soon. All tips and proceeds go directly to Big Bend animal rescue organizations. Uber is generously offering discounted rides to and from the event. Interested in sponsoring? Contact Sara Clements at firstname.lastname@example.org
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!
—@MikeBloomberg: In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President. That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016, and we can’t afford to run it now.
—@Arwa_Gunja: If Howard Schultz runs, I think it would be a conflict of interest for reporters covering the election to drink Starbucks in public or on the job … Think. About. That.
—@MarcoRubio: Russia is not going to save [Nicholás] Maduro. # & his oligarch companies like Rosneft have already poured close to $20 billion in sales, loans & exploration licenses & Maduro doesn’t pay. Putin may be evil, but he is not stupid.
—@deborah_solomon: CBO short version: U.S. fiscal situation getting worse. Longer version: Deficit will exceed $1T every year beginning in 2022. Debt: GDP will hit 93% in 2029, highest since WWII. Aging population will continue to boost spending.
—@GeorgePBush: With all due respect @Tombrokaw I am one of those “little brown ones” and can assure you that my grandparents conveyed to me that they loved and were proud of me before they passed.
—@JimRosicaFL: If @follows the example of @ he may release his proposed 2019-20 state budget on Wednesday, during his appearance at the @ pre-legislative session briefing.
—@SchmitzMedia: A former SFWMD board member referred to the Governor’s director of appointments as a “little girl” to a journalist ON THE RECORD.
—@JimmyPatronis: Another bad call by @= their decision to NOT donate to support FL Panhandle hurricane recovery. This devastation can’t be forgotten and Floridians need support regardless of viewership numbers. Looking forward to seeing how much we can put you down for @
Tweet of the day:
THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A COLOR TO DESCRIBE HOW COLD IT’S GOING TO BE pic.twitter.com/p1aMriPMh5
— Patrick Fenelon 🌹 (@Patrick_Fenelon) January 28, 2019
— DAYS UNTIL —
Super Bowl LIII — 5; Scott Maddox trial begins — 15; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 14; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 14; Valentine’s Day — 16; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 35; Tampa mayoral election — 35; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 38; St. Patrick’s Day — 47; 2019 Major League Baseball season begins — 59; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 75; Easter — 82; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 94; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates begin — 129; 2019 General Election — 280; Iowa Caucuses — 367; 2020 General Election — 644.
— TOP STORY —
“John Stemberger calls on Florida GOP chair to resign over LGBT rights bill” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Stemberger, president of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, is calling for the resignation of Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters because he’s backing legislation to protect LGBT workers from retaliation at work for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Stemberger wrote a memo to his members claiming the measure would “be used as a weapon to punish Christians for simply acting out their faith as small-business men or private individuals.” “No state Republican Party chairman in the history of America has ever supported a bill this dangerous and irresponsible,” Stemberger wrote. “The bill represents both bad policy and bad politics, and because of his refusal to pull his support from this egregious legislation, we are announcing a grassroots campaign to unseat him as state party chairman.”
The same John Stemberger who said Pam Bondi shouldn’t be AG cause she was single? This guy has been out of touch for at least a decade. https://t.co/lkPMQMuDhw
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 28, 2019
Meanwhile … “Gruters, saying Florida’s no New York, files pain-capable abortion ban” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “The science is now very clear that unborn children over 20 weeks in the womb can feel pain as any other human can,” Gruters said. “That’s why fetal anesthesia is routinely administered when surgery is performed on unborn children, and why stopping such cruel, ruthless procedures as poisoning and dismemberment on a human that feels pain and recoils from it is morally necessary.” The Sarasota Republican this Session introduced the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” State law currently allows abortions to be performed until about 24 weeks into term. Gruters offered the bill as a stark contrast to legislation just passed in New York. There, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo just signed into law a bill allowing abortions from 24 weeks until birth if a mother’s health is at risk.
— THE NEW ADMINISTRATION —
Assignment editors — DeSantis will make a major announcement, 1 p.m. Eastern time, Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. Media are requested to arrive at 12:30 p.m. Later, the Governor will join DEP Sec. Noah Valenstein for an announcement, 3 p.m. Eastern time, Everglades Holiday Park, 21940 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale. Media are requested to arrive at 2:30 p.m.
“Ron DeSantis replaces disgraced Secretary of State with Tampa Bay judge” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis tapped Hillsborough circuit judge Laurel Lee to be Florida’s next Secretary of State, following the abrupt resignation of her predecessor last week after photos surfaced of him in blackface. Lee, a former federal prosecutor, is the wife of state Sen. Tom Lee. She has no experience in elections, but she has deep ties to Florida’s attorney general and was being considered as a running mate to DeSantis last year. “It is clear to me that Judge Lee’s background and experience make her an excellent choice to serve as Secretary of State for Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “She is ready to handle the important elections administration duties and cultural responsibilities accorded to this position with a steady hand and good judgment.”
What a good husband, right?
Florida is gonna love Laurel Lee! The Lady Diana of the Sunshine State. Honorable, principled, loyal, smart, gracious, classy, beautiful and, fortunately for me, very tolerant. pic.twitter.com/j7acZ36m0J
— Senator Tom Lee (@TomLeeFL) January 28, 2019
“‘You’re suspended.’ How DeSantis differs from Rick Scott in ousting local officials” via Skyler Swisher and Aric Chokey of the Sun Sentinel— DeSantis is taking a vastly different approach toward suspending local officials than his predecessor Rick Scott, according to an analysis by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. DeSantis demonstrated a greater willingness to intervene in local issues in his first 10 days in office, suspending three elected officials even though they had not been charged with a crime.
“Nikki Fried, GOP lawmakers tour Hurricane Michael damage near Marianna” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Fried cited the need to bounce back from crop losses, plus the danger of wildfire and pine beetle infestation unless millions of downed trees are cleared. Statewide, timber losses have exceeded $1.3 billion. “This must be the top priority of my administration, and we’ll be working with our partners to get this done,” Fried said during a news conference on the campus of Chipola College in Marianna. “We have your back, and we’ll be here every step along the way,” she told Panhandle residents. Accompanying Fried during the tour and a news conference were Sen. George Gainer of Panama City and Brad Drake of Eucheeanna, both Republicans, who thanked her for bringing attention to the local recovery efforts.
— ROAD TO SESSION —
“Ousted Palm Beach elections chief says she won’t pursue Senate hearing” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Susan Bucher, who was suspended earlier this month, said she would not contest the decision before the Florida Senate and submitted her resignation. In a statement, Bucher said she had reviewed her legal options and had decided against moving forward with a hearing, citing the political balance of the chamber. The Senate is tasked with reviewing executive suspensions. “The process established in Florida law would require that I go before a hand-picked State Senate Committee with the Governor’s lawyers as the prosecutors,” Bucher wrote. “Prior to my service as your supervisor, I was a very vocal member of the House Minority Party in Tallahassee. As such, I do not believe I can receive a fair hearing before a very partisan Senate.”
“Senate poised to look at DeSantis budget plan” via the News Service of Florida — The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to meet at 10 a.m. Feb. 6 to receive a presentation on DeSantis’ budget plan. That will be followed later Feb. 6 by presentations on DeSantis’ plan to Senate appropriations subcommittees focused on health and human services; transportation, tourism and economic development; agriculture, the environment and general government; criminal and civil justice; and education.
“Lawmakers to look again at ‘job growth’ fund” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said a close look is warranted at the $85-million-a-year Job Growth Grant Fund, which was passed by the Legislature in 2017. “I’ve always had some concerns about the parameters of that money,” Bradley told reporters. Bradley said his primary concern is that the “legislators are appropriators, not the executive.” Under the program, Rick Scott had wide discretion in how to use the money for regional projects. “While we’re interested in infrastructure, investing in infrastructure, we’re going to take a close look at economic development initiatives,” Bradley said. House Appropriations Chairman Travis Cummings said the House would also look at the fund. However, he has not received direction from Speaker Jose Oliva and the House is waiting to see Gov. DeSantis’ proposed budget and how the new governor views the fund. “At this time, I think it’s still early,” Cummings said.
“Jeff Brandes files bill to repeal state medical marijuana smoking ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State Sen. Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, filed legislation to do away with the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana. The bill (SB 182) also would remove the prohibition on providers selling whole flower that’s not in a “sealed, tamper-proof receptacle for vaping” and would permit sales of “pipes, bongs, (and) wrapping papers.” “Floridians overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana in 2016, and with this legislation, we will provide access in all its forms — including smokable,” Brandes said. “The government should not stand in the way of reasonable treatments recommended by physicians.”
“Brandes has lots to say about medical marijuana. DeSantis seems to be listening.” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — According to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close friend and adviser of DeSantis, Brandes is not only behind this bill. He’s been coaching the governor behind the scenes, too. Gaetz said ever since Brandes met one-on-one with the governor the two have been “singing out of the same hymnal.” The Republican congressman from Fort Walton Beach said Brandes was once “a lone voice in the wilderness,” but now has “the most powerful man in Florida mirroring his language and ideology.” If you ask Brandes about prescribing smokable marijuana, he’ll say the state should leave it to doctors. At his news conference on the matter, DeSantis asked, “Whether [patients] have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that?”
But will this go anywhere? — “Kevin Rader files bill to adopt ‘jungle primary’ system” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The South Florida Democrat introduced a bill (SB 556) that would move the state to a “jungle primary” system where the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of political party, would face off in the general election. The system would open up primary voting to all registered voters, even independents. In 2018, the Constitution Revision Commission looked into a system modeled off California’s. But the committee declined to move forward. Rader’s bill would cover elections “for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, any Cabinet office, the Legislature, United States Rep., United States Sen., the office of state attorney or public defender, or any county, municipal, or district office.”
“No child should get lost in the child welfare system, Spencer Roach says” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The North Fort Myers Republican filed a bill (HB 421) aiming to ensure children removed from their parents by the Department of Children and Families get placed back with family or into a permanent home with 12 months. “A year is a long time in the life of a child,” Roach said. The legislation is his first filed since being elected in November. He replaced Republican Matt Caldwell, who unsuccessfully ran for Agriculture Commissioner last year, in House District 79. The bill’s passage would fulfill a campaign promise but also address a problem near to his heart. Roach in his personal time has volunteered as a guardian ad litem, an advocate for children in disputes between families and the state. The job requires monthly visits and communication with courts over the children’s best interests.
— STATEWIDE —
“Fund set up for families of 5 women slain in Florida bank” via the Associated Press — SunTrust has established a fund to offer financial support to the families of five women slain at a Florida bank branch. In a statement Monday, SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers said the outpouring of support for the victims’ families ‘has demonstrated the best of humanity in a time of tragedy.
“Airbnb’s tax payments to Florida nearly double year over year” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Airbnb collected nearly $90 million in tax dollars from Florida visitors last year, roughly double what the room-sharing and renting platform paid to the Sunshine State and its counties the year before. One of the main reasons for the spike? How much tourism continues to grow in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the state as a whole, said Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit. “Since hotels are doing great as well, it seems that simply more people are traveling to the region, staying longer and spending more,” Breit said in a statement. “That has a direct economic impact for the hosts and homeowner … but then there’s a secondary impact — increased tax revenue for the counties, and increased spending for local small businesses and restaurants.”
“She wanted to call 911. DCF investigator smashed cellphones to stop her, cops say.” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies say a Florida Department of Children and Families investigator tackled his former live-in girlfriend to the ground and destroyed four cellphones in the house to prevent her from calling 911. Andrew Barratt Weader, 29, was arrested shortly after 6 a.m. on criminal mischief, hindering law enforcement and simple battery charges. He was released at 2:30 p.m. DCF has placed Weader on administrative leave. According to the arrest affidavit, the woman had gone to Weader’s house in the Upper Florida Keys because he said he would give her $35 he owed her. The woman told Deputy Joel Torres that Weader asked her to come to bed with him, but she refused and asked for the money, according to the report.
Who knew this was a thing — State cannot allow ‘dry needling’ by physical therapists, judge says — In a win for the state’s acupuncturists, an administrative law judge — in a 60-page final order — struck down a proposed rule allowing a procedure called “dry needling” by physical therapists (PTs). The Florida State Oriental Medical Association, which represents acupuncturists, had challenged the proposed regulation, which would have allowed physical therapists to put needles in the skin at certain “trigger points” to reduce pain or increase the range of motion. (Dry needling, however, doesn’t involve injections or medication.) Administrative Law Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson wrote that “dry needling is acupuncture as defined in” state law, which “does not allow PTs to practice dry needling in Florida.” That decision “made unnecessary an ultimate finding as to the adequacy of the training prescribed in the Proposed Rule,” he said, adding there also wasn’t “statutory authority” for such a rule.
“Anglers, environmentalists laud FWC for suspending herbicide spraying, including Roundup” via Tyler Treadway of TC Palm — Fishermen and environmentalists are applauding the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s decision to temporarily stop spraying aquatic plant killers, including the controversial herbicide Roundup. The suspension beginning Monday is open-ended and statewide, but much of the focus has been on Lake Okeechobee, where FWC sprayed more than 20,000 pounds of pesticides in 2017.
— LOCAL —
Save the date:
“Seminole County mayors endorse Jason Brodeur” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Former state Rep. Jason Brodeur announced a volley of endorsements Monday for his bid to take over Senate District 9. The Sanford Republican got the nod from the mayors of every Seminole County municipality — Altamonte Springs Mayor Pat Bates, Casselberry Mayor Charlene Glancy, Winter Springs Mayor Charles Lacey, Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor, Longwood Mayor Ben Paris, Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett. … Brodeur is looking to succeed Republican Sen. David Simmons, who will be unable to run for re-election in 2020 due to term limits. He has been actively campaigning since early 2017 and is currently the only Republican seeking the seat, which includes all of Seminole and part of Volusia County.
“Wilton Simpson backing Randy Maggard in HD 38 special election” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Trilby Sen. Simpson gave his stamp of approval to Dade City Republican Maggard in the impending special election to replace Danny Burgess. Simpson is the first major backer for Maggard, who is currently the only Republican vying for Pasco County’s House District 38. “Randy Maggard and I have been close friends for many years,” Simpson said. “We’ve served our community together and fought side by side for our shared values here in Pasco County. “Randy is a small-business man and proven conservative with a distinguished record of service in our community. He’s fought hard for less government, more personal responsibility and lower taxes. Randy has also led efforts to protect and preserve our natural resources and improve our water quality.”
“Ted Deutch endorses Dan Daley bid for HD 97” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Deutch, whose Florida 22nd Congressional District overlaps in part with HD 97, became the latest in a long line of regional officials to give Daley the nod. “Northwest Broward is a special place that needs the right leadership, and I am confident that Dan Daley is the best person to represent District 97 as their next State Rep.,” Deutch said in a statement. “He has consistently worked with and for the people of his community, even on the hard issues. It has been a pleasure to work with him in his role as Coral Springs Commissioner over the years, and he has my full support for State Representative.” The HD 97 seat became open because Gov. DeSantis appointed Rep. Jared Moskowitz to lead the Division of Emergency Management. Moskowitz also says he’s backing Daley as his successor in the House.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“White House doesn’t fully rule out pardon for Roger Stone” via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called chatter of President Donald Trump potentially pardoning his longtime associate Roger Stone ‘ridiculous,’ but she did not fully rule out such a move. ‘I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals that are just ridiculous,’ Sanders said of a possible pardon for Stone. ‘I’m not aware of a conversation regarding that or a need for it.
“Rick Scott wants DACA, TPS, border fixes in deal” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — While he is pushing for the current Congressional immigration and border security deal to include people in DACA and temporary protected status program, plus a border barrier, Scott is not expressing high hopes. “It’s going to be hard,” Scott said in Orlando, shortly before meeting with a group of Hispanic political activists, primarily Puerto Rican, on his first roundtable listening event since getting sworn in on Jan. 8. This followed his first address from the floor of the U.S. Senate, which also was about Puerto Rico, and his bill amendment seeking $600 million in additional post-Hurricane Maria aid. Without using the word preferred by Trump, “wall” — Scott preferred the phrase “physical barrier” — Florida’s junior said Senator said Congress needs a barrier approved for parts of the southwest border with Mexico but also needs immigration reforms to assure secure status for young people in the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program and the TPS program for refugees from countries such as Haiti.
“Marco Rubio praises expected sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company” via Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald — Rubio applauded an expected decision by the Trump administration to impose sanctions against state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as pressure increases to cut sources of funding to the Nicolás Maduro regime. “The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders,” Rubio said in a statement before the announcement was made by the administration. “The oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and therefore the money PDVSA earns from its export will now be returned to the people through their legitimate constitutional government.” Details of the sanctions are scheduled to be released shortly.
“Venezuelan console in Miami recognizes Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela” via Teresa Frontado and Tim Padgett of WLRN Miami — First Consul Scarlet Salazar said in a video circulated by the Miami-based channel EVTV that she has taken the decision to recognize Guaidó‘s authority “obeying my principles and democratic values.” “Always at the service of my beloved country, I’ll continue to provide consular services in Miami,” says Salazar, who also called for other Venezuelan diplomats to “stick with Constitution and the amnesty law decreed by the National Assembly.” “This is our country’s moment. Let’s support the Venezuelans,” says the diplomat in the video. Salazar is one of the four members of the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami, according to the website of the Venezuela Minister of Foreign Relations.
— MOVEMENTS —
Pete Mitchell scaling back federal lobbying — Mitchell, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, started the year by dropping a handful of his major federal lobbying clients, including AT&T and Disney. The PJM Strategies head doesn’t plan to exit the federal game altogether, though he confirmed he is dialing down his DC efforts and would instead refocus his on his state-level clients in Florida.
Personnel note: Jamie Van Pelt gets new gig — Van Pelt, chief of staff and comms director to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has been named the president of ESPMedia. The Tallahassee-based communications firm, founded by lawyer-lobbyist Sean Pittman, announced the news this week. Pittman is a longtime supporter and confidant of Gillum. Pittman remains ESPMedia’s CEO. He called Van Pelt “an effective community leader and an innovative communications mind in Tallahassee and we feel that for us, he is the perfect fit at the perfect time.”
Gunster attorneys promoted to shareholder — The law firm announced that three associate attorneys have been promoted to shareholder status. They are Alyse Reiser Comiter (Private Wealth Services) in Boca Raton/West Palm Beach; Michael B. Green (Business Litigation) in Miami; and Jessica Shapiro (Real Estate Law) in West Palm Beach. “The board of directors has invited a few of our talented associates to become shareholders of the firm which is a memorable milestone in every lawyer’s career,” said Bill Perry, managing shareholder of Gunster. “This year, three individuals earned the right to be called a shareholder of Gunster and they will play an integral role in our future.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Christina Brodeur, Mathew Forrest, Ballard Partners: SailFuture, Florida Atlantic University Foundation
Douglas Bell, Metz Husband & Daughton: Florida Community Financial Services Association
Matt Bryan, Thomas Griffin, Lisa Hurley, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: FWD.US
Sara Clements, McGuireWoods Consulting: Council For the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
Ernest Cox, Family Lands Remembered: Darling Wildlife Society
Brett Cunningham, Thomas Friedrich, Mark Nelson: Jones Edmunds & Associates
Jodi Davidson, Colodny Fass: Broward League of Cities, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Eric Friday, Kingry & Friday: Florida Carry
Gina Giacomo: Florida Parole Commission
Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Florida Sheriffs Association, Friends of Miami Dade College, Miami Children’s Health System
John Harris, GrayRobinson: Eskimo Hut Worldwide
Nick Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Florida Atlantic University Foundation, Florida Justice Reform Institute, Pinellas County School Board
Beth Kirkland, Beth Kirkland Consulting: Florida Economic Development Council
Jason Kofender, Crown Castle and its Affiliates
David Mica: Department of Children and Families
Stephanie Owens, Dolphin Strategies: Common Cause Florida
Kenneth Pratt: Florida Bankers Association
Melissa Ramba, Floridian Partners: American Fair Credit Council c/o MultiState Associates
Manny Reyes, Pereira Reyes Consulting: Alvarez Feltman & Da Silva
Pierce Schuessler, Metz Husband & Daughton: Florida Community Financial Services Association
Sam Wagoner, Sunrise Consulting Group: Pasco Hernando State College Foundation
— ALOE —
“Donation bins are overflowing. You can thank Marie Kondo’s Netflix home organization show.” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — Officials with Goodwill of Central Florida say they’ve seen a 20 percent increase in donations this year compared with the first few weeks of 2018, bolstered not only by New Year’s resolutions but by the trendy Netflix reality show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” The show, inspired by Kondo’s 2011 book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” is being credited nationwide for a surge in donations — and cleaner homes — after Netflix debuted the series Jan. 1. Thrift stores and resale shops from Central Florida to New York have reported a surge in donated items. Goodwill’s Karla Radka said she can’t credit “Tidying Up” for all of the increase, but customers have mentioned it while dropping off items.
“Number of shark bites dropped last year, both in Florida and worldwide” via Craig Pittman of The Tampa Bay Times — The number of reports of sharks biting people around the world fell dramatically in 2018, in large part because of a drop in the number of shark bites in Florida, according to newly released figures from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark research program. The number of people bitten by sharks worldwide in 2017 was 88, but last year that fell to 66. That’s 26 percent lower than the most recent five-year average of 84 incidents a year. “That’s quite a drop,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. One big reason for that drop: The number of bites in Florida fell from 31 in 2017 to 16 last year. (The all-time Florida record: 37 in 2000.)
“Snow in Florida? Flurries and ice possible in Santa Rosa, freezing temps for Pensacola” via Annie Blanks of the News Journal —It might be time to break out the scarves and hats in Florida, but don’t dust off that toboggan just yet. The coldest temperatures of the season are expected to descend in the Northwest Florida area Tuesday afternoon through Thursday, and could bring with it snow flurries for extreme northern parts of Santa Rosa County. But Pensacola and most of Northwest Florida aren’t expected to see any of the cold white stuff.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is Marlene Williams, General Motors’s state governmental relations manager for the Southeast region.