Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.15.19

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Look for Governor Ron DeSantis to unveil today a proposal to make good on his commitment to clear the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship waiting list. To accomplish this, the Governor will propose an education savings account-styled program for poverty-stricken families.

Florida Politics does not know what the backstory is here, but we have discovered (we say discovered because it’s been sitting out there for a week and no one has noticed it) that Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg asked to be recused from a case involving state Rep. Emily Slosberg, who is being accused of petit theft, trespassing, and criminal mischief. The Governor’s Office granted Aronberg’s request and has re-assigned the case. Here is the EO.

Wednesday brought a mixed bag of emotions to Florida.

Valentine’s Day, as always, brought many people joy as they cherished and celebrated their relationships, be they old or new.

But Valentine’s Day also brought forth feelings of wistful, sorrowful love.

The holiday marked the anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas massacre. Reminding the parents who lost children, the students who lost friends, of how a rogue gunman forever severed their treasured bonds.

The anniversary also served as a tacit reminder to those who haven’t experienced the same depth of agony that life can change quickly.

Bittersweet: Valentine’s Day brought a range of emotions, from sadness and agony, to love, victory and hope. Image via Getty.

But love isn’t the only human emotion. There’s also the thrill of victory and hope.

Coral Springs Commissioner Dan Daley, a Democrat, was indeed feeling the former after being declared the winner in the House District 97 special by lunchtime.

Parkland parents and survivors had reason to feel the latter.

Like Jared Moskowitz, the lawmaker he replaced, Daley is a Stoneman Douglas alum and has signaled that he’d like to continue efforts to toughen Florida’s gun laws.


@RealDonaldTrump: One year ago today, a horrific act of violence took the lives of 14 students and 3 educators in Parkland, Florida. On this somber anniversary, we honor their memory and recommit to ensuring the safety of all Americans, especially our Nation’s children…

@BarackObama: In the year since their friends were killed, the students of Parkland refused to settle for the way things are and marched, organized, and pushed for the way things should be – helping pass meaningful new gun violence laws in states across the country. I’m proud of all of them.

@MarcoRubio: “No crisis justifies violating the Constitution” — Sen. Rubio in explaining his opposition to Trump’s wall plan. Rubio also says he voted no on the spending deal because it didn’t include hurricane-recovery money & would use “communities in Florida as pawns”

@AOC: Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.

@Ohmaar1: But how funny would it be if HQ2 ends up in Florida after Cuomo blamed Florida for stealing all their millionaires?

@Conarck: Roses are red And government has flaws So Ch.119’s not a suggestion It’s the damn law

—@Aric_Chokey: I filed my first records request with @GovRonDeSantis‘s open government office a month ago and am 0/4 for returned calls and emails for followup since then. Bad precedent for the new administration.

@GovRonDeSantis: This week brings one of the most anticipated days of the year for baseball fans: pitchers and catchers report. Florida welcomes our @FlaSpringTrain Grapefruit League teams, which includes the last two World Series champions, and wishes them good luck in 2019

@Fineout: To all of my @AP colleagues that I have worked with for the last several years…Good night and good luck.


Fat Tuesday — 18; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 18; Tampa mayoral election — 18; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 21; Players Championship begins — 27; St. Patrick’s Day — 30; Jacksonville municipal first election — 32; Scott Maddox corruption trial begins — 42; Major League Baseball season begins — 42; Final season of ‘Veep’ begins — 44; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 58; Easter — 65; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 77; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates start — 112; 2019 General Election — 266; Iowa Caucuses — 350; 2020 General Election — 627.


Parkland’s day of remembrance: Moments of silence, reflection and grief” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Stoneman Douglas scheduled a “day of service and love.” Teachers organized community service projects, but attendance was voluntary. School buses arrived in the morning nearly empty. After early dismissal, students with school IDs hanging around their necks — a requirement since the shooting — streamed by the flower garden. Most hugged. A few cried. Therapy dogs brought in to help students heal last year came back down from Philadelphia for the anniversary and frolicked around the teenagers’ legs. In the evening, hundreds of people attended an interfaith vigil at nearby Pine Trails Park, an echo of the one a year ago, when the sound of gunfire was still fresh. Some people held single red roses or white carnations, which in any other context would have symbolized Valentine’s Day, a holiday that in this community may never be the same.

A day of remembrance: A ceremony at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando honored those killed one year ago today in Parkland.

Donald Trump referred to ‘gun violence’ in his Parkland remembrance. Hours later, he changed it to ‘school violence.’” via Colby Itkowitz of The Washington Post — On the anniversary of that wrenching tragedy, the White House released a lengthy statement from Trump offering his condolences and listing the ways his administration had “made tremendous strides” in protecting students from school violence. Missing from that list is anything to address gun violence, except for his administration’s ban on bump stocks, a device that attaches to firearms to make them trigger faster. The only direct reference to gun violence comes at the end of his statement: “Melania and I join all Americans in praying for the continued healing of those in the Parkland community and all communities where lives have been lost to gun violence.”


Ron DeSantis is proposing larger teacher bonuses, but will they cure Florida’s teacher shortage?” via Ryan Dailey of WUSF — If public school teachers in Florida hit certain performance benchmarks, they may soon stand to benefit to the tune of as much as $9,000. An incentive program is already in place under Best & Brightest, which tops out at $6,000 for those rated “highly effective.” DeSantis says he can increase the bonuses with a $422 million investment. But Scott Mazur, president of the Leon County Classroom Teachers Association, says only about a quarter of teachers will benefit. “It may be a step in the right direction of trying to do something positive with the Best and Brightest, but it is not a step in the right direction to deal with a teacher shortage,” Mazur said. “Quite frankly, we’re not investing in public schools or any system — even if it includes vouchers or charters, that would make individuals consider it a long-term career,” Mazur said.

Is it enough? Ron DeSantis wants to give larger teacher bonuses, but some say it’s not enough to stem the shortage of qualified teachers. Photo courtesy of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Press Office

Assignment editors —DeSantis will join education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for a significant announcement, 9:15 a.m., Cavalry City Academy, 2500 W. Oak Ridge Road, Orlando. Later, the Governor will make another major announcement, 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, Greater Miami Adventist Academy, 500 NW. 122nd Ave., Miami.

Assignment editors — Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and First Lady Casey DeSantis will host a listening session to hear from Venezuelan exiles regarding their challenges in Florida, 2 p.m. Eastern time, Florida International University Graham Center, 11200 SW. 8th St. C1210 Room 243, Miami.

Jimmy Patronis’ pups” via Jim Turner and Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — It’s not the same as watching former Attorney General Pam Bondi in high heels heft a displaced dog at the start of a state Cabinet meeting, but dog adoption efforts continue with a statewide elected official. Chief Financial Officer Patronis is taking the leash on the Cabinet’s role as a pet-adoption service with the Humane Society by posting a “Pup of the Month” on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. First up is Mariah, a 50-pound, 2-year-old “sweet and spunky shelter dog,” which as of Thursday remained unadopted.

Hurricane Dana Young” via Jim Turner and Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Florida’s new tourism czar, former Sen. Young, is pitching lawmakers to continue setting aside $76 million a year for VISIT FLORIDA and is promoting the agency’s ability to overcome negative publicity while drawing record numbers of visitors. Young said this week that an expected eighth consecutive year of record tourism would be announced before the end of February, even with the problems of red tide outbreaks and Hurricane Michael in 2018. “We did a study of red tide and the visitor response to red tide, and in that survey, we asked, ‘What city would you be less likely to visit because of red tide?’ They said Orlando,” Young told the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Dana Young
Like a hurricane: VISIT FLORIDA head Dana Young is expected to announce the 8th consecutive year of record tourism numbers.

SFWMD board: Out with the old, but … where’s the new?” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News — You’d think the new Administration would have been Johnny-on-the-spot getting their replacements appointed and cleared in time for the first meeting. But they didn’t. And that means just four board members, thus no quorum for the only SFWMD Governing Board meeting during February. A month wasted. Not a flying start for an Administration that accuses the departing Governing Board of “delaying” Everglades restoration. So, what happened? Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss, DeSantis’ first board appointment on Jan. 29, apparently didn’t have his paperwork properly completed in time. Goss won’t be sworn in today. Broward developer “Alligator” Ron Bergeron, who does a lot of business with the District, won’t be seated until he gets an opinion from the Senate Ethics Committee on whether he has too much of a conflict to sit on the board at all. Meanwhile, there was major business on today’s agenda.


Old Florida law says Disney can build a nuclear power plant. Legislators could change that.” via Gabrielle Russon and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — A 52-year-old state law says Disney World’s government can build a nuclear power plant on its property in Orlando. Disney has no plans to capitalize on that power, though. Disney and nuclear power have been a hot topic of discussion recently among some state legislators from Central Florida, some who want to strip the company of that right. State Rep. Bruce Antone is considering filing a bill this session that would grant more protections to firefighters who work for Reedy Creek, Disney’s governmental agency, while also removing the company’s nuclear option. It doesn’t make sense for a theme park full of families to also have a nuclear power plant nearby, said state Sen. Victor Torres. “I don’t think Disney would ever do that; I don’t foresee that,” Torres said. “But I just want to prevent anything like that from occurring — period.”

Nuclear option: Despite Disney showing no interest in a nuclear reactor — solar is the preferred direction — lawmakers want to take away that right to build a reactor if it wanted.

Bill aims to prohibit use of offshore sites to buy lottery tickets online” via Brian Pempus of — Florida House Bill 629 was introduced by State Rep. Will Robinson and it seeks to establish a prohibition against the “use of personal electronic devices in lottery games.” From the short, four-page bill that hasn’t yet had a hearing: “A person may not use a personal electronic device to play, store, or redeem a lottery ticket or game or representation thereof. However, the storage of a photographic image of a lottery ticket or game on a personal electronic device exclusively for personal use is permissible, provided the image is not used in any manner in conjunction with or instead of the paper ticket or game for purposes of playing or redeeming the paper ticket or game.” More than 10 states in the U.S. have some form of internet-based lottery gambling.

Joint session slated for morning opening” via the News Service of Florida — The House and Senate will hold a joint session at 11 a.m. March 5 to hear Gov. DeSantis’ State of the State address in the traditional opening to the 2019 Legislative Session. Senators will gather at 9:30 a.m. March 5 in the Senate chamber before moving to the House chamber for the State of the State. A first-day schedule for the House is not yet online. During the first week, the Senate has also tentatively scheduled a floor session on the afternoon of March 7. The 60-day annual legislative session is scheduled to end May 3.


Amendment 4 allowing returning citizens to vote but ambiguities emerge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida does not have a concrete system to determine whether people have completed their sentences, there is uncertainty about the broad definitions of the two disqualifying groups of felonies, murder and sex crimes, and there is complexity in tracking and confirming out-of-state felony convictions, a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee revealed. Those are among the issues that the Florida Legislature will have to tackle as it deals with the constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved in November by Florida voters, restoring voter rights to an estimated 1.4 million Floridians who’ve completed their felony sentences, and who were not convicted of murder or sex crimes.

Jimmy Patronis fights lawsuit over employee ouster” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Patronis’ attorney argued in a 21-page document that the lawsuit should be dismissed and that the Republican Cabinet member disputes allegations that longtime state employee Christine Taul was forced out of her job because she did not attend a fundraising event and write a campaign check. “CFO Patronis adamantly denies Taul’s allegations that she was dismissed because she did not attend a fundraiser or contribute to his successful 2018 campaign to remain Florida’s CFO,” the document, a motion to dismiss, said. “Rather, Taul’s employer, DFS (the Department of Financial Services), dismissed her for ongoing performance deficiencies, despite attempts to correct the deficiencies over several months with training opportunities and counseling. This dismissal had nothing to do with CFO Patronis’ campaign.” Taul, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit Oct. 31 in federal court in Tallahassee, less than a week before Patronis was elected to a four-year term.

Fighting back: Jimmy Patronis is pushing back against an employee who said she was terminated for not supporting the CFO during last year’s elections.

As USF steers closer to consolidating, a big decision remains” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Accreditation rules say one site must be designated as the main campus, which many have suggested should be USF Tampa. The others can take on one of two titles with vastly different meanings. If designated as “branch” campuses, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee would retain high levels of autonomy. The campuses would keep strong leaders in place who would continue to have discretion over hiring, spending and curriculum, according to accreditation rules. However, many in the USF community fear the two smaller campuses could become “instructional sites” instead. That designation, according to leaders at both institutions, would strip them of the independence that has helped them thrive. While a decision on USF’s structure won’t be final until March 2020, when trustees submit a plan to the region’s accreditation agency, conversations on the topic could begin any time.

Charlie Crist: Branch campuses ‘only logical’ choice for USF consolidation” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — In the coming months, USF leaders will decide to designate smaller campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota as either “instructional sites” with little autonomy under USF Tampa, or “branch” campuses that keep control over hiring, spending and curriculum. Congressman Crist wrote to USF President Judy Genshaft and board of trustees Chairman Brian Lamb, urging them to support the latter. “A branch campus designation … is the only logical and appropriate choice,” he said in a letter. Mike Griffin, leader of USF’s consolidation task force, shared the same sentiment with university leadership at a meeting this week, saying the two campuses have come too far developing programs and forming community connections to lose those abilities.

What Randy Fine is reading —Former UCF chair Marcos Marchena resigns from Board of Trustees amid probe into misspent cash” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Marchena relinquished the chairmanship two weeks ago during a meeting of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system, saying that though he and other trustees knew nothing about the university’s misspending, he wanted to “show the seriousness” with which he approached the matter. At that same meeting, the Board of Governors voted to extend an outside investigation into the University of Central Florida’s construction spending at the school’s expense, even though trustees had voted a week earlier not to do so. In a letter emailed to Ned Lautenbach, the chairman of the Board of Governors, Marchena wrote that he had intended to continue to serve as a trustee after stepping aside as chair. His plan changed after trustees met, he wrote.


Five qualify in race to succeed Halsey Beshears” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Five candidates have qualified to run in special election for House District 7, which was left vacant after former Rep. Beshears snagged the top job at DBPR. The qualifying period opened Wednesday morning and Big Bend Community Based Care CEO Mike Watkins, former Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell, Virginia Fuller and St. Joe Gas Company VP Jason Shoaf each got their paperwork in early. Democrat Ryan Terrell told Florida Politics that he qualified minutes ahead of the noon deadline, and his status has since been updated on the Florida Division of Elections website. HD 7 covers Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties as well as part of Leon County.

Big shoes to fill: 5 people will be on the ballot for the special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Halsey Beshears.

Two Republicans, one Democrat make HD 38 ballot” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Randy Maggard and David “Mac” McCallister, both of Dade City, will square off in an April 9 primary election. The winner will move on to face Democrat Kelly Smith in a June 18 general election. The trio is seeking to replace former Rep. Danny Burgess.

David McCallister to run as pro-Trump candidate in HD 38” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — McCallister is best known  for his advocacy on Southern heritage issues and has for years been a mainstay at Hillsborough County Commission meetings advocating for Confederate issues as the head of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. McCallister also spearheaded the group Save Our Southern Heritage in efforts to save a Confederate monument in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse that was ultimately unsuccessful. The group came under fire for doxxing more than 100 civil rights activists who were advocating for its removal. The group considered filing suit against the group but ultimately dropped its pursuit. “This issue is kind of fake news really,” McCallister said. “It’s only been made divisive by far-left liberals. When I’ve stood up and spoken for veterans, it’s for all veterans.”

Randy Maggard holding Dade City fundraiser Feb. 28” via Florida Politics — Maggard announced he was hosting a campaign fundraiser in Dade City later this month. The host committee features several members of the Maggard clan as well as dozens of influential Republicans, including Pasco Commissioner Ron Oakley, who has endorsed Maggard’s campaign, and former House Speaker Will Weatherford, who once held the eastern Pasco seat. … Per the invite, the Feb. 28 fundraiser will be held at Kafe Kokopelli, 37940 Live Oak Avenue, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.

José Oliva: Dan Daley won’t be seated in HD 97 till June” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Daley won House District 97 by default — but he won’t be heading to Tallahassee for Session. Republican House Speaker Oliva said Daley couldn’t be seated under state elections law till the date of the special general election — which is in mid-June. “By operation of Florida law, an unopposed candidate is elected on the date of the general election,” Oliva said in a statement. Daley, a Coral Springs City Commissioner, was the lone candidate to qualify for the legislative seat … But “the special election … is set for June 19,” Oliva added. (The Governor’s executive order actually says “June 18,” a Tuesday.) “The unopposed candidate will be deemed elected and seated on that date.” That means HD 97 won’t be represented during the 2019 Legislative Session.

Lenny Curry raises $200K more for re-election bid” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The money, raised between Jan. 26 and Feb. 8, encompasses hard money raised to his campaign account, and soft money raised by his Jacksonville on the Rise political committee. Of the new money, $80,937 went to Curry’s campaign coffers, giving his campaign account $460,000, which is more than all of his opponents combined have on hand. Hard money donors include Foley and Lardner, JEA CFO Melissa Dykes, City Councilwoman Lori Boyer, City Councilwoman-elect LeAnna Cumber, the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, “civic engager” Ceil Pillsbury-Schellenberg, and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby. The real action in any Curry campaign is on the committee side, of course, and Jacksonville on the Rise still has $2 million on hand, with $121,750 raised in the last two weeks.

Raking it in: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry added another $200K in his bid for re-election.

Ethics complaint for Anna Brosche” via Florida Politics — Brosche, a Jacksonville City Council Republican running for Mayor, was the subject of a complaint filed Monday with the Florida Commission on Ethics [contending] Brosche omitted required Form 6 disclosure of her Florida Retirement System account for four years … Brosche is running a campaign based on the premise that Mayor Curry‘s administration has not been transparent, and a complaint like this impedes that narrative … consultant Ryan Wiggins said this was an error of omission that would be corrected.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber files for 2020 re-election” via Florida Politics — Gelber says he officially filed paperwork on Thursday to kick off his campaign for re-election in 2020. “It’s been my greatest privilege to serve the only hometown I’ve ever known,” Gelber said in a statement announcing the filing. “I’ve tried to serve honorably and openly, and would like to continue to help make our City the best version of itself” … Gelber was first elected to the Mayor’s spot in 2016, replacing outgoing Mayor Philip Levine. Levine went on to run for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2018, losing out to Andrew Gillum.


Poll shows voters on both sides disaffected heading into 2020” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new poll shows 15 percent of voters who supported Trump in 2016 may shift their party support in the next election. But 13 percent of those who backed Democrat Hillary Clinton say the same. The Morning Consult released a major poll showing a high number of disaffected voters in both major parties. The survey found a full 24 percent of voters considering supporting a different party in the 2020 election that they supported in the past. That includes 21 percent of self-described Trump voters and 20 percent of Clinton voters.

Disillusioned: A portion of Donald Trump supporters will be shifting their alliances in 2020, but just about as many said the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

Trump to talk about Venezuela at Florida International University” via David Smiley and Franco Ordoñez of the Miami Herald — Trump is headed to Miami to speak about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela, a move that could embolden interim President Juan Guaidó and put further pressure on Nicolás Maduro to flee the country. Trump is scheduled to speak Monday at Florida International University, where he’ll reaffirm his support for Guaidó and, according to the White House, hammer socialism as a scourge. The president will deliver his address at the university’s Modesto A. Maidique campus in Sweetwater, which is immediately south of Doral, home to the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S.

Marco Rubio defended Elliott Abrams, who covered up genocides and massacres” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — It is a fact that Abrams, America’s special envoy to Venezuela, covered up at least one Latin American genocide. Now that Abrams is fomenting regime change in yet another Latin American nation, Democratic Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar brought up the various acts of slaughter that Abrams has defended in the past. Ilhan, who apologized for an anti-Semitic comment, also recalled the time Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress about sending illegal arms shipments to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua. This brings us to Rubio, who — rather than offering an apology for Abrams’ horrid and unspeakable action — instead decided to attack Omar online for bringing up American war crimes. In a just world, Rubio would not be allowed to make a statement like the one above without enduring massive public scorn.

Rubio demands answers after veterans waited weeks for treatment at Orlando VA” via Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — Rubio wants answers after a recent report showed as many as 450 veterans faced long wait times for endoscopy procedures like colonoscopies at the Orlando VA Medical Center and that the hospital didn’t use a VA program that allows veterans to use community providers to help shorten the wait times. Rubio sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, asking for “an explanation on disciplinary actions that have been executed, and if there are none, the reason.” “VA appreciates the Senator’s views and will respond to him directly,” wrote Heather Frebe, a spokeswoman for the Orlando VA Medical Center, in a statement. “VA has reviewed extensively the issues [Office of Special Counsel] raised, and the Orlando VA Medical Center reviewed every Veterans case referenced in the report, finding no patient harm.”

’Stop the stupidity’: Donna Shalala files bill to end government shutdowns” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The bill would set up an automatic trigger to fund areas in government for which money was not appropriated. However, the Congress and Executive Office of the President would not receive that funding. The goal is to keep government agencies running while simultaneously punishing leaders for failing to pass an appropriations bill. Shalala is helping introduce the measure in the aftermath of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. “A government shutdown should never be used as a negotiating threat due to policy differences, and no person should be furloughed — or worse, working without pay — because Congress can’t do its job,” Shalala said.

Stop the stupidity: Donna Shalala is filing a bill that would prevent another government shutdown.

Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan file inquiries on MacDill housing via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Buchanan and Bilirakis want a thorough inquiry of housing conditions at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The investigation call comes a day after Stars and Stripes published an investigation of poor conditions at U.S. bases. “Our soldiers and their families living on military bases should not be subjected to squalid conditions and health hazards like mold and lead,” Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, said in a statement. “I’ve launched an inquiry with the Air Force and will continue to demand answers.” Bilirakis and Buchanan filed inquiries of Michaels Military Housing, the parent company for Harbor Bay, a property manager for many homes serving MacDill families.

Twitter user circulates faked letter from Brian Ballard — A letter addressed to a Nigerian politician that claimed to be from lobbyist Brian Ballard made waves on Twitter Wednesday. The document says polling shows the People’s Democratic Party nominee, Atiku Abubakar, has “a very slim chance” of winning Saturday’s presidential election. Ballard, who represents the political party in Washington, and one of the party’s goals is boosting election integrity. He said the letter was “fraudulent” and that signature on the doc was a forgery. … “Ballard Partners has not conducted any survey research on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria. The entire contents of the letter are false, and no individual employed by Ballard Partners has been involved in any of the actions cited in this phony letter.”


Shutting down UCF was a loopy idea, but Oliva shares the blame” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The bigger problem is that a person with a proven record of clownish behavior was put in a leadership position where his words carry extra weight. That’s right, the Brevard County Republican is chairman of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, appointed to the post by House Speaker Oliva. In making the selection, Oliva either wasn’t paying attention or he purposely overlooked Randy Fine’s history of outrageous remarks. His style is that of a bully without a filter. Oliva can’t do anything about voters deciding to elect Fine, but he can choose not to reward unseemly behavior with a chairmanship. This is the predictable result: Deliberations over a serious spending issue devolving into silliness. It doesn’t reflect well on Fine or on Oliva.

Technical education vital to career building and future of Florida” via Kent Shoemaker for the — “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question many adults enjoy asking young people. The truth is that few of us know what we want to be when we’re still teenagers. Many stumble into careers based on what’s available or the influence of a parent or mentor. With the world changing faster than ever, a new, more structured approach is needed. The Florida Council of 100 is taking a deep dive into this question, evaluating the options available to our youth and how those options line up with the needs of the new Florida economy. Vital to for our future will be the skills taught through technical education. The Council of 100 applauds Gov. DeSantis on his bold new initiative to raise the profile of long-neglected career and technical education in Florida.

Florida needs incentives for dentists to practice in underserved areas” via Jolene Paramore and Myron Schrock for FLORIDA TODAY — The Florida Dental Association is urging support for Senate Bill 716 and House Bill 465, introduced by Sen. Ed Hooper and Rep. Mike Grant to bring immediate care to Florida communities and patients who need it most. This legislation would help bring dentists where they are needed by establishing a dental student loan repayment program for dentists who practice as Medicaid providers serving low-income patients in designated underserved and rural areas. Hundreds of dentists are graduating from Florida dental schools each year. However, they are graduating with an average of at least $250,000 in student loan debt, and that is driving them to practice in the areas where they can earn enough to cover that debt. Establishing a dental student loan repayment program will help bring dentists to the areas where they are needed most.


Former Adam Putnam staffer named Port Tampa Bay chief of staff” via Florida Politics — Port Tampa Bay hired a new Chief of Staff: Mark ClaytonClayHollis III starts work next Monday. Hollis previously served as the External Affairs Director for former Agriculture Commissioner Putnam. Hollis replaces Jamal Sowell, who left after being tapped by DeSantis to lead Enterprise Florida.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Angela Bonds, Christopher Moya, Dean Mead: Charter Schools USA, HERT Coalition c/o MultiState Associates

Ron Book, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Florida Pet Retailers

Joshua Burkett, Mark W. Anderson: American Hotel and Lodging Association

Dean Cannon, Joseph Salzverg, Todd Steibly, GrayRobinson: City of Greenacres, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, RiverStone Claims Management

Rosanna Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: American Great Loop Cruisers Association

Matthew Choy: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Leslie Dughi, Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: American Property Casualty Insurance Association, Vertical Bridge Holdings

Cesar Fernandez, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Electronic Arts

Deborah Foote: Sierra Club

Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group:  Lake Sumter State College

Richard Gentry, Gentry & Associates: Florida Manufacturing & Logistics Council

Adam Giery, Jim Horne, Tara Reid, Strategos Public Affairs: Educational Testing Service

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Miami-Dade Expressway Authority

Nick Iarossi, Andrew Ketchel, Scott Ross, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: UZURV

Lauren Jackson, Ericks Consulting: Broward County, City of Plantation

Nicholas Matthews, Becker & Poliakoff: National Health Transport

Larry Overton, Joel Overton, James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Millennium Management

William Powell, Capitol Advisory Group: Associated Industries of Florida Service Corporation

Jared Rosenstein: Division of Emergency Management

Joshua Spagnola: HMS

Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig, FCCI Insurance Group, Florida Police Chiefs Association

Alex Villalobos, Florida Legislative Research: South Florida Autism Center

Don Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: Intact Partners


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 Florida Federation of GOP Women 2nd Vice President Deborah Tamargo; attorney and former Congressman Jim Davis; Pasco County GOP State Committeeman Bill Bunting; and Tony Collins, president and CEO of the Blake Collins Group.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion of insurance fraud regarding assignment of benefits and the millions of dollars spent litigating fraud claims. Joining Walker-Torres is David Altmaier, Florida Insurance Commissioner; Barry Gilway, CEO, Citizens Property Insurance Corp.; state Reps. David Santiago and Ben Diamond.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the latest from Tallahassee; Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will discuss new hires within the department and new initiatives, and PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a tweet about immigrants and the border.

Politics on Your Side with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Donovan continues his one-on-one interviews with candidates for Tampa Mayor with Dick Greco Jr.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon will speak attorney Sean Pittman and political reporter Gary Fineout, who will be moving to POLITICO from the Associated Press.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are State Attorney Melissa Nelson of the 4th Judicial Circuit, who will review the crime reduction program in Philadelphia to see if it can work in Jacksonville; Duval Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry will talk about the fact that no Democrats are running for Jacksonville mayor, even after Duval voted for Andrew Gillum in November; and Dean Black, chair of the Duval Republican Party, who is criticizing GOP mayoral candidate/former City Council President Brosche for working too closely with Democrats.

— ALOE —

‘”Chef’s Table’ Season 6 lands on Netflix February 22” via Greg Morabito of — This four-episode series will focus on: Mashama Bailey, the chef of the Grey in Savannah, Georgia; Sean Brock, the creator of the Husk restaurants and a forthcoming Appalachian-themed project in Nashville, Tennessee; Asma Khan, the chef/proprietor of London’s acclaimed supper club-turned-restaurant Darjeeling Express; and famed butcher and slow food champion Dario Cecchini, who operates a meat shop and a string of restaurants in Panzano Italy. Although the show is unquestionably one of Netflix’s most popular culinary series, Chef’s Table has received some criticism in the past for devoting too much attention to brilliant white men working in high-end restaurants.

Chef’s Table Season 6 will address criticism that it mainly focuses on white men and high-end restaurants.

Florida’s tallest skyscraper boasts best views south of New York City” via Lisa Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s an ear-popping elevator ride to the 85th floor — the tippy top of the Panorama Tower, the tallest apartment building south of Manhattan. From an eastern balcony in this Miami skyscraper, there’s a bird’s-eye view of manatees in the water and view of all Key Biscayne, Virginia Key and Fisher Island. You can see landmarks in Miami Beach, Sunny Isles Beach and even as far as Fort Lauderdale. And off the western balcony, you can catch sight of Tao Sunrise, the two 26-story apartment buildings more than 30 miles away in west Broward. Perhaps more surprising, the Panorama Tower won’t stay the tallest for long because the company behind it plans on outdoing itself with two taller residential buildings — and other developers aren’t far behind.

Here’s what’s new at this week’s Miami boat and yacht shows” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Miami International Boat Show and the Miami Yacht Show each begin five-day runs Thursday, offering attendees what yacht show spokesman Danny Grant calls “the world’s largest collection of boats” — about 1,900 — for $53 combined admission. “Nowhere can you go and see such a diverse inventory — from small boats to some of the largest in the world,” says Grant, whose employer, Informa, promotes the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which hosted an estimated 1,500 boats in November. Would you like to learn how to pilot a boat, or refresh your captaining skills? The boat show features 90-minute and 3-hour on-water training classes, taught by U.S. Coast Guard-certified captains.

Black Crow Coffee Co. in St. Petersburg is first coffee shop in Florida to be deemed ‘zero waste’” via Sean Daly of WTSP — The hangout in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast neighborhood is the first coffee shop in Florida to be deemed “zero waste” by the environmental company Suncoast Compost. The designation means 90 percent of the shop’s waste is kept out of Pinellas County landfills. “The journey didn’t start with us wanting to become zero waste,” says owner Deana Hawk. “The journey started with us wanting to make changes.” Black Crow uses organic and biodegradable cups, sleeves and coffee bags. Everything is compostable.


Best wishes to Audrey Bridges of the Florida Association of Health Plans and state Rep. Bobby DuBose. An early birthday shout-out to soon-to-be Rep. Dan Daley and BillieAnne Gay of the Florida School Boards Association.

Today’s Sunburn was written by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

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.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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