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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.22.19

Here’s your morning briefing of what you need to know in Florida politics.

A crowd of business leaders is headed to West Palm Beach Wednesday as part of a two-day summit on “prosperity and economic opportunity” hosted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The event aims to foster discussions about how to address poverty levels throughout the state. The gathering will take place at the Palm Beach Convention Center from Wednesday, May 22 to Thursday, May 23.

Starting today, the Florida Chamber will begin a two-day summit on the state’s ‘prosperity and economic opportunity.’

Among the featured speakers: Feeding Florida Executive Director Robin Safely, Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson, and state Rep. Paul Renner of House District 24.

While the talks will mostly focus on the business community’s responsibility in aiding impoverished communities, the event will tackle other angles as well.

Former House Speaker Will Weatherford will join Renner for a talk on policy proposals aimed at helping Floridians get out of poverty. After he left the Legislature, Weatherford co-founded Weatherford Capital, a private equity firm, and now sits on the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors.

Other planned topics at the two-day meeting include education, housing and child care, among others.

A reception will follow Wednesday’s speeches and panel meetings. Those discussions will continue into Thursday before the event wraps.

Ninety-eight members of the Florida Legislature earned A’s or B’s on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Legislative Report Card, according to a scorecard released Tuesday by the Chamber.

They “helped lower the cost of living and cost of doing business on families and job creators, while also preparing for future growth and protecting Florida’s constitution,” the organization said in a news release.

Many lawmakers earned higher grades this Legislative Session with their renewed focus on important competitiveness issues like property insurance, lawsuit abuse, regulatory and targeted tax reforms, to name a few.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation, above special interests and their attempts to protect the status quo.

“We believe in transparency and accountability, and the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is a fantastic tool for families, small businesses, taxpayers and voters to know if their elected officials voted in support of lowering the cost of living and reducing the cost of doing business, while also preparing for Florida’s future,” said Executive Vice President David Hart.

Check it out here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@GovRonDeSantis: Florida mourns the loss of Sandy D’Alemberte who leaves a lasting legacy in our state, particularly @fsu, to the benefit of generations to come. Casey and I send our deepest regrets to his wife Patsy and family.

@SteveBousquet: Florida’s chief elections official, Laurel Lee, tells election supervisors at a statewide conference that “foreign threats” to state elections remain a major concern in 2020, and that despite Russian “intrusions” in two counties, no voter data or election results were manipulated

@JohnMorganEsq: .@AndrewGillum has dedicated his life to himself. Tell me what job he has ever had? How much money did you give him? We gave him $2MM. BS is BS no matter what party! The trouble with parties is they stand silent when their side is acting badly. I won’t. Too damn old.

@MikeHaridopolos: Sad to hear of the passing of my friend Sandy D’Alemberte. He was a man of character and I was honored to work w/him on the @innocence project and compensate [Wilton] Dedge and [William] Dillon.

@MDixon55: Put in one records request or FOIA each day. It does not take long, and if you do it daily, in a month or two you’ll have a flow of records. Not all turn out, but many do. Whenever there is a clash on your beat, or some high-profile issue, ask for the paper. It’s often the story.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Memorial Day — 5; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 16; U.S. Open begins — 21; Father’s Day — 25; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 27; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 35; Independence Day — 43; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 69; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 94; St. Petersburg primary election — 97; USF open vs. Wisconsin Badgers football — 100; UCF Golden Knights open vs. Florida A&M football — 101; FSU Seminoles open vs. Boise State football — 101; Labor Day — 103; “Joker” opens — 135; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 159; Scott Maddox trial begins — 166; 2019 General Election — 167; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 169; Iowa Caucuses — 257; New Hampshire Primaries — 265; Florida’s presidential primary — 300; 2020 General Election — 531.

— TOP STORY —

Florida Democratic Party says it’s spending $4M organizing in communities of color” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Over the next 18 months, Democrats in the nation’s largest swing state say they’ll spend $4 million on efforts to drive up the vote in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. That includes a previously announced $2 million voter registration drive, but also a grassroots organizing effort and a six-figure ad campaign in black-owned newspapers, including the Miami Times. The first ads ran last week and encouraged people to call their local school board members in opposition to a new law that allows classroom teachers to carry guns after going through state-approved training. Ads are expected to run in the Capitol Outlook, Florida Sentinel Bulletin, Jacksonville Free Press, Orlando Times, Weekly Challenger and Gospel Truth, among other publications.

— THE ADMINISTRATION —

Questions raised over Florida Cabinet meeting in Israel” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — When Ron DeSantis first announced the trade mission, he noted that his Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Agriculture Commissioner would accompany him, and that the Cabinet would hold a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem during the trip, which runs from May 25 to May 31. “I see no reason to hold a Cabinet meeting in Israel,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the open-government watchdog group First Amendment Foundation. “And we still don’t have an agenda, so I don’t know what they will be doing at that meeting.” As of Tuesday, the Cabinet website not only didn’t list an agenda for the meeting; it didn’t even have the meeting on the calendar.

— POST-SESSION —

Dane Eagle touts rapid advances for Republican House agenda” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As Session closed this year, the leader labeled a new budget the most “Everglades-friendly” in history. There, he credited DeSantis with prioritizing water quality. It was a given Southwest Florida lawmakers would support that type of spending this year after a summer of red tide and blue-green algal blooms. Eagle also scored some district funding wins, including landing $4.5 million for wastewater improvements in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. He didn’t carry any policy bills this Session, though. Rather, he focused his efforts on sweeping caucus priorities. He left Tallahassee pleased with results.

Teachers union ‘analysis’ of Florida’s new voucher undeserving of media coverage” via Ron Matus of redefinED — The Florida Education Association, which is virulently opposed to private school vouchers, has released a perfectly predictable fiscal impact “analysis” of the new Family Empowerment Scholarship. They reached this conclusion by adding up the projected cost of the new vouchers without considering the savings to districts that are a given because 1) districts will have tens of thousands fewer students to educate, and 2) the cost of the voucher is far less than the full per-pupil cost in district schools. This wasn’t analysis. This was propaganda. Yet 10 media outlets thought it worthy of a story, an 11th thought it worthy of mention, and only one bothered to offer a contrasting voice.

’Defenders of Home Rule’: Florida League of Cities honors its champions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic state Reps. Ben Diamond and Anna Eskamani and Republican state Rep. Sam Killebrew have been declared “Defenders of Home Rule,” the Florida League of Cities’ way of touting its champions from the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. Diamond, Eskamani and Killebrew are being given special recognition that they “consistently vote and advocate on behalf of the League and its member cities.” “We believe the government closest to the people should make the decisions that affect the quality of life of the citizens they have been elected to represent,” the league’s Legislative Director Scott Dudley stated.

Jennifer Webb bashes GOP over restrictive abortion laws” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Rep. Webb blasted Republicans during a rally in downtown St. Pete. Webb spoke during a Progress Florida rally to “stop the bans” on abortion. “While we know that my Republican colleagues in Tallahassee like to tout the virtues of liberty and autonomy and keeping the government off our property, far from our businesses and out of our lives, when it comes to the women’s ability to access abortions and health care, they quickly clamp down,” Webb said. The rally comes just days after Alabama passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law ever banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected even in cases of rape and incest. Some Republican lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation in Florida this year.

At a protest in St. Petersburg, Jennifer Webb blasts the GOP over its recent hard-line stance on women’s reproductive rights.

— UPHILL BATTLE —

Rep. Eskamani reflects on the difficulty of advocating her values in the Legislature in a recent Orlando Sentinel feature by Steven Lemongello. 

The Orlando Democrat acknowledges her party’s failures from Session. But the 29-year-old lawmaker also discussed Session shortcomings stemming from problems within her own party. 

“Eskamani said rank-and-file members ‘never really had the guidance from our leadership to prepare for issues. We would have a caucus meeting right before going to the floor, but it was never substantive,’” Lemongello writes. 

On the Republican front: Eskamani noted her party’s unsuccessful attempts to stop a bill that targeted so-called sanctuary cities and another that allows school districts to decide whether they’d like to allow teachers to carry firearms. But she also discussed Senate Republicans’ unwillingness to pass legislation restricting abortion rights, something she chalked up as a positive. 

Caucus divided: Eskamani is one manifestation of an emerging Democratic faction. She, like national counterparts, rails against corporate interests. But that’s not something all Democrats are on board with, to Eskamani’s dismay. She also discussed votes that should’ve been party-line but instead picked up Democratic support. 

Compromise: Eskamani highlighted the state budget as something that reflects Democratic wins. Among the victories were an increase to arts and culture funding and a lesser sweep to the affordable housing trusts. 

— STATEWIDE —

Republicans launch ‘Champions’ ad lauding Jimmy Patronis” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida is releasing new statewide digital ads to laud Chief Financial Officer Patronis for his efforts to push through a bill extending additional cancer coverage for Florida firefighters. The ad is built around Senate Bill 426, approved and signed this spring, which recognizes that firefighters’ jobs expose them to increased risks for cancer. SB 426 extends health care benefits to full coverage, with cities and counties picking up the firefighters’ usual out-of-pocket medical expenses. Local governments, particularly through the Florida League of Cities, strongly opposed the measure as an unfunded mandate. Patronis, who also is the Florida Fire Marshal, made the bill his top priority.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Duke, TECO tap tax cuts to pay storm costs” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — State regulators signed off on two settlement agreements that include Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. using money from federal tax savings to cover the costs of restoring power after Hurricane Irma and other major storms. The settlements, which combine to total $575 million, were reached after negotiations between the utilities, the state Office of Public Counsel, the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group. The Office of Public Counsel represents consumers in utility issues, while the business groups represent major commercial electricity users. The agreements are part of a broader picture about how utilities are using savings from a 2017 federal tax overhaul, which cut the corporate income-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Virgin Trains announces construction start for rail between Orlando and South Florida” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — The privately owned passenger-rail company is beginning the expansion at the airport with the installation there of 3 miles of track, signals and related infrastructure and the development of 70 acres for a maintenance shop. The start of additional rail construction from the airport to West Palm Beach “is imminent” the company said in its announcement. Virgin Trains expects project completion and the start of service to be in 2022. Construction of railway will include about 35 miles of new track from the airport to near Cocoa along the State Road 528 corridor. Another 129 miles of rail along the east coast will require upgrades to 56 miles of existing track and construction of 100 miles of new track.

4 closed, 7 still open; greyhound tracks reveal plans to stop racing” via FirstCoastNews.com (WTLV-WJXX) — Amendment 13 passed by almost 70% of the voter in Florida in November 2018. It says greyhound racing must shut down by the end of 2020. Here’s a look at which tracks are closed already and which will race to the end.

Strip-club bills, campaign cash: Indictments paint nasty pictures of Florida court clerks” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — The Department of Justice was describing how the owner of a debt-collection firm was plying Florida clerks of court with all kinds of financial favors so he could keep his lucrative contracts with their offices. Then on page 12, it says the owner picked up a $936 tab for former Orange County Clerk Eddie Fernandez “and other attendees of the Florida Court Clerk and Comptrollers Conference at the strip club.” There it is … the strip-club section. At a comptrollers conference, no less. Maybe they were auditing lap dances. The only thing that could’ve made it more Florida was if a naked gunman and an alligator were somehow involved.

— RIP, SANDY —

Florida State remembers President Emeritus Talbot ‘Sandy’ D’Alemberte” via FSU Communications — A brilliant legal mind and international champion of human rights, Florida State University President Emeritus D’Alemberte passed away May 20 at the age of 85. The consummate Southern gentleman, D’Alemberte could often be seen wearing his signature bow tie around campus at Florida State, where he served as its 12th president from 1994-2003, dean of the College of Law from 1984-89 and as a law professor for much of his career.

Farewell: Florida State President Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte died Monday at the age of 85. Image via FSU.

—“‘Brilliant and fierce’: Friends, admirers remember the life of Sandy D’Alemberte” via Florida Politics

D’Alemberte was a rare leader, universally beloved” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — D’Alemberte was one of those visionaries who had just what the state needed, just when we needed it. Since his death, a heartfelt outpouring of tributes to the former legislator, FSU law school dean, university president — and much more — has come from all over Florida. In the early 1970s, he was instrumental in restructuring Florida’s crazy quilt court system into the two-tier operation we know today. He chaired the Constitution Revision Commission in 1977-78, but he also helped the poor and powerless. “He was a person of great integrity with an abiding sense of social justice, who made a difference in people’s lives here and around the world,” said FSU President John Thrasher.

Antonin Scalia, Sandy D’Alemberte and the pack of Marlboros” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — About a quarter-century ago, a pack of Marlboro cigarettes sealed a friendship between the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Florida legal legend D’Alemberte.

— D.C. MATTERS —

House Democrats call for impeachment proceedings after Donald Trump blocks White House counsel from testifying” via Mary Claire Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro of the Orlando Sentinel — A growing number of rank-and-file House Democrats, incensed by former Counsel Don McGahn‘s empty chair in the Judiciary Committee hearing room, are confronting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and pushing her and other leaders to act. Their impatience is running up against the speaker’s preference for a more methodical approach, including already-unfolding court battles. Some other Democratic leaders, while backing Pelosi, signaled that a march to impeachment might at some point become inevitable. “We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues including impeachment,” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it.”

Former White House counsel Don McGahn dismissed a Congressional subpoena and is now facing a possible charge of contempt.

Marco Rubio to FEMA: Reconsider debris removal denials” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Citing potential wildfire threats, and the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions for Hurricane Michael survivors, Rubio urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “swiftly reconsider, and approve, applications for private property debris removal” in a letter. The letter, to Acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, said the Panhandle communities devastated by the Category 5 hurricane continue to struggle with miles of downed tree debris and other challenges. He urged Gaynor to consider the extraordinary circumstances.

Rick Scott renews criticism of Prince Charles’ Cuba trip” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — It has been almost two months since the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla made their historic visit to Cuba; Scott renewed his denunciation of the trip and asked Trump to say something to the prince about it. Trump is planning to meet with the Prince on a trip to the United Kingdom next month. In recent weeks Scott has been increasingly expressing his crusade against Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, (by extension) against Cuba and anyone who supports Cuba. On Tuesday he issued a statement declaring that he is asking Trump to talk with Prince Charles about the trip and Cuba, to try to get the United Kingdom to change its diplomatic expansion with Cuba.

Everglades bill clears House committee with $200 million” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The federal Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill was approved by the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations with the full $200 million Florida wants for Everglades restoration. The approval is a key step, brought about in part by the strong urging by Florida’s united congressional delegation and that of DeSantis, who also managed to convince Trump to put the full $200 million in a budget amendment for the Army Corps of Engineers’ South Florida projects, after initially proposing less than $70 million. Helping to get the full amount into the bill and pushing it through were five Florida members who are on the committee, Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, and Charlie Crist, and Republican U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and John Rutherford.

Trump supporters disrupt protest outside Vern Buchanan’s Sarasota office” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune — An effort by liberal activists to pressure U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to hold a town hall about the Mueller report was disrupted by supporters of President Trump on Monday.

Lobbyist linked to Trump to host fundraiser for House Democrat“via Theo Meyer of POLITICO — Brian Ballard, the Florida lobbyist who’s a top fundraiser for President Trump’s campaign, on Tuesday will raise money for a Democrat. Ballard and several lobbyists at his firm, Ballard Partners, will gather at a Washington steakhouse to raise money for Rep. Ted Deutch, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

— 2020 —

How Trump is outspending every 2020 Democrat on Facebook” via Thomas Kaplan and Sarah Almukhtar of The New York Times — Recently, the Trump campaign has spent heavily on one subject in particular: the President’s birthday. Trump turns 73 next month, and his campaign has run an assortment of ads asking people to sign a birthday card. Some show a young man in a party hat embraced by friends bearing gifts and balloons; others show a woman holding a birthday cake, candles ablaze. More just show Trump. Curiously, many of the ads say, incorrectly, that he will be turning 72. So far this year, Trump has spent about $5 million on Facebook advertising. Early in the year, Trump’s Facebook spending exceeded that of all of the Democratic candidates put together, though Democrats’ collective spending eventually surpassed Trump’s total.

Joe Biden caps cash dash with big Florida haul” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Biden collected at least $1.7 million this week from two Florida fundraisers, underscoring the former vice president’s pull with big-dollar Democratic donors and his front-runner status in a crowded presidential primary. The twin fundraisers in the Miami and Orlando areas capped a monthlong coast-to-coast cash dash. Biden Then went on to shatter first-day fundraising records, as his campaign built an online small-dollar fundraising machine to complement his pursuit of traditional donors who can write max-out checks of $2,800 per election. Biden’s huge two-day financial haul in Florida highlights the still-ample power of big donors in a Democratic primary field that has put more emphasis on digital dollars.

Joe Biden rakes it in with a quick fundraising run through Florida.

Pollsters rush to patch fraying methods for Trump’s re-election race” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — The impending death of the telephone poll comes just as the 2020 presidential election is approaching — and without enough time for a tested and trusted alternative to replace it. That raises serious concerns about the reliability of polling results heading into the election with scrutiny of the industry set to be heavier than ever after Trump’s surprise victory in 2016. Fewer Americans than ever are willing to pick up the phone and talk to pollsters, sending costs skyrocketing to roughly double what they were four years ago. Despite enjoying a largely successful 2018 election, pollsters are furiously experimenting to fill the void left by the slow failure of the telephone poll, looking at everything from internet-based solutions to snail mail.

— THE TRAIL —

A Miami Republican may run for Congress in 2020 after being snubbed by Democrats” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Carlos Curbelo, who was mocked by Trump after losing re-election, has spent the past few months as a Harvard politics fellow, advising various interest groups on issues like climate change and marijuana and mulling a bid for Miami-Dade mayor in 2020. But he injected himself back into Washington politics last week. Curbelo was set to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee over his proposal to tax carbon emissions. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer objected to his testimony, and committee chair Richard Neal canceled Curbelo’s invitation. Now Curbelo says he’s considering a run for Congress. He said the incident “obviously brought the idea of running for public office to the forefront.”

After getting uninvited to the House Ways and Means Committee, Carlos Curbelo is looking at another run for Congress.

Farm Share backs out of food distribution event after Daphne Campbell links it to Senate campaign” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Farm Share is a 501(c) (3) organization. According to the IRS, such organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” Campbell was set to be featured as a guest. In promotional materials on Farm Share’s website, Campbell was identified as a “Former Florida Senator.” That is, there was no link between the group and Campbell’s current campaign for Senate District 35. But on Campbell’s Facebook page, a different poster surfaced. That one identified Campbell as a “candidate” for “Senate District 35.” It also read, “Approved By Daphne Campbell For Florida State Senate District 35.”

Anna Hochkammer releases bilingual digital ad for SD 39 racevia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Pinecrest Vice Mayor Hochkammer is out with her first bilingual digital ad as she campaigns in an open race for Senate District 39. Hochkammer, a Democrat, announced her candidacy in early April. While Pinecrest sits outside the boundaries of SD 39, Hochkammer says she recently began renting a condo in Key Largo. Her new video highlights her time as PTA President of Palmetto High School as well as the 15 years she spent living in Ecuador. SD 39 covers Monroe County and parts of Miami-Dade County. Term-limited GOP Sen. Anitere Flores currently represents it.

Ryan Morales: A medical marijuana patient running for the House” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Ryan Morales may be the first and only medical marijuana patient to run for the Florida Legislature as a major candidate. He’s doing so with a determination to make medical marijuana more accessible for veterans and low-income patients, and ultimately to fight for full legalization. Morales, 42, of Clermont, is a Democrat running in HD 32 against Republican state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who also supports both medical marijuana and legalization of marijuana. Yet Morales, who’s running on a full platform of Democratic positions, is confident his firsthand experience with medical marijuana gives him insights that can set him apart as a candidate.

Nikki Fried endorses Kelly Smith in House District 38 special election” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Smith is a Democrat running against Republican Randy Maggard in the deep red district. In her announcement, Fried praised Smith for her ongoing commitment to East Pasco County and its families. “Given her proven leadership record and compassionate volunteerism, Kelly Smith will be a fierce and effective advocate for the citizens of Pasco County,” Fried said in a statement. “As I’ve gotten to know her, it is clear that many of Kelly’s community values are drawn from life experience, both personally and professionally.”

Brian Mast endorses fellow veteran John Snyder in HD 82 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “I am proud to call John Snyder a friend and a brother in arms,” Mast said. “I know he will fight for our community, all our people, and our beautiful waters the way he served our great nation — with everything he has.” So far, Snyder doesn’t have to fight at all. On May 3, he became the first candidate to file in the Florida House District 82 race. That means he has yet to file his first financial report, but he’s unrolling powerful endorsements already. Florida House District 82 includes part of Palm Beach County including Stuart, and overlaps significantly with Mast’s district. Rep. MaryLynn Magar cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

— LOCAL —

Nikolas Cruz makes brief court appearance” via The Associated Press — Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer set new hearing dates for May 28 and July 17 for 20-year-old Cruz in the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz could get the death penalty if convicted. Nothing of note was raised at the hearing. Cruz’s attorneys say he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence, but prosecutors have refused that offer. The presiding judge recently ordered that the Broward County public defender’s office must continue to represent Cruz for now even though he could get an estimated $432,000 payout before taxes from his late mother’s annuity.

Fourth Miami-Dade commissioner: I’m running for Mayor in 2020” via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald — Jean Monestime, a former commission chairman who took office in 2014 as the first Haitian-American member of the 13-seat board, has privately told fellow commissioners he is running. Publicly, he sounds like a candidate-in-waiting. “I’m speaking to leaders in the community right now. I’m reaching out to different advisers and counselors and elders in the community. … as I’m trying to formulate a plan to get in there,” Monestime said of the 2020 race. “I think I should be able to do that formally within the next 30 days.” The Democrat joins three fellow commissioners on the list of 2020 contenders. Only one, Daniella Levine Cava, has actually filed candidacy papers. The other two, Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Xavier Suarez, are raising money for a potential 2020 race to succeed term-limited Carlos Gimenez, but have not filed papers or made an announcement.

While Daniella Levine Cava is the only officially declared candidate for Miami-Dade County Mayor, the field is potentially getting a bit more crowded.

Clay Sheriff Darryl Daniels steps down from school’s board” via the First Coast News — Daniels has resigned from one local school’s board of directors following an extramarital affair that blossomed into a larger scandal over payments to the woman he was involved with and calling for her to be arrested for stalking. St. Johns Classical Academy released the following statement: “Sheriff Daniels resigned from the SJCA Board to focus on his family and his job as the Sheriff of Clay County.” Daniels was elected to the board in January. The affair initially came to light as part of an internal affairs report into Duval County corrections officer Cierra Smith, whom Daniels supervised when he was jail director.

An old Taco Bell will become a medical marijuana dispensary” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — A former Taco Bell restaurant in Longwood will be home to a new medical marijuana dispensary opening this Friday. Yes, there will be a drive-thru window. Sarasota-based medical marijuana company AltMed is opening its fifth “Muv” medical marijuana dispensary statewide in the Seminole County city in a former Taco Bell at 1090 W. State Road 434. Owners say it will look more like an Apple store than a fast-food restaurant. The dispensary will also offer delivery.

New Gun Intelligence Center adds to Jacksonville’s crime-fighting arsenal” via Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union — “The value in this technology for prosecutors and law enforcement is real-time intelligence,” said State Attorney Melissa Nelson. “With violent crimes involving firearms, any delay in identifying links between the firearm and the shooter, makes it that much more difficult to solve crimes and take dangerous offenders off the street.” The City Council approved allotted $1 million into the 2017-18 city budget for the center that will combine local, state and federal resources. It is an interagency collaboration focused on faster collection, management and analysis of crime gun evidence, such as shell casings, to identify suspects.

Feds cite ‘blatant noncompliance,’ fakery and $17 million in questionable spending at embattled Tampa Bay CareerSource offices” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — The U.S. Department of Labor said administrators at CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay encouraged staffers to fake job placements and falsify records under the leadership of former CEO Edward Peachey. The federal review was triggered by a Tampa Bay Times investigation which highlighted questionable practices at the nonprofit agencies. The CareerSource centers receive millions in tax dollars to perform their work. The findings were detailed in a 50-page report, which a Labor Department official summarized in a letter to Ken Lawson, the executive director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. The state agency oversees 24 CareerSource offices across Florida, which train and connect people to jobs. Peachey was fired by boards in both Pinellas and Hillsborough last year.

A Pinellas teacher brought a gun to school. Was it a political statement?” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Betty Jo Soto walked out of jail flanked by television reporters after posting $500 bail. She mostly ignored the barrage of questions about why she brought a loaded gun and two knives to her fourth-grade classroom at Starkey Elementary School. Then she uttered four words captured in a video by WFLA Channel 8: “Ask DeSantis. Your Governor.” Though Soto has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Florida, state law does not allow her to carry such weapons on a school campus. Even under the new legislation signed by DeSantis, no teacher is permitted to carry a gun on campus unless the local school board approves it and they are screened and trained by a sheriff’s office.

— OPINIONS —

Rubio: We need to invest in American workers again” via the Orlando Sentinel — Over the last 40 years, corporate profits increased from about 10 percent to nearly 30 percent last year. During this same period, business investment decreased by 20 percent despite corporations tripling the amount of capital returned to shareholders. This is deeply problematic. An American economy that favors quick financial profits for shareholders, instead of the challenging work of making real things and inventing new products, is not in the best interests of working Americans. Now we must pursue policies that deliberately and strategically prioritize long-term investment in ourselves again — especially in the critical 21st-century industries that can employ working Americans at decent wages, and drive national prosperity in which we all can share.

Daniel Webster: End this mockery of congressional oversight” via the Washington Examiner — Democrats have stooped to a new low in their witch-hunt against Trump. Last week, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler led his committee’s Democratic members to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. What has led the Democrats to take this drastic action? Barr, whose responsibility is to uphold federal law, declined to violate federal law and release a fully unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Democrats have responded to every Department of Justice offer to review the minimally redacted report and accompanying documents, by making additional demands that violate laws, procedure and committee process. They even demanded that Barr be questioned by an unelected, unaccountable committee staff member during an official committee meeting.

Bill Galvano: Lawmakers focus on priorities for Florida’s future” via the Tampa Bay Times — First and foremost, the tremendous impact of Hurricane Michael weighed heavily on the Session, guiding facets of our decision-making in all other areas. To address both the short- and long-term recovery needs of our Panhandle communities, we dedicated significant funding to restore critical life-safety services, provide affordable housing options for displaced families, rebuild local government infrastructure, repair county and municipal roads and rebuild education facilities. As we look to the future, education opportunities for the next generation of Floridians is a top priority. Our goal this Session was threefold. We worked to improve safety, expand our commitment to parent-directed educational choice, and elevate the traditional neighborhood public schools that have been the backbone of our education system for decades.

Pre-K failures are a sign of the Florida Legislature’s contempt for citizen initiatives” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Good on DeSantis for refusing to quietly watch Florida’s pre-kindergarten program decline. Too much is at stake for the program’s some 180,000 kids. There’s more to it, however. That pre-K program originated from a citizen initiative amendment to the state constitution in 2002. But like too many other such initiatives, the Legislature hasn’t followed through on the will of the people. DeSantis has an opportunity to address both issues: He can support pre-K kids by making it a key priority in next year’s budget, and he can send the Legislature a message that citizen initiatives aren’t second-class amendments by vetoing a bill designed specifically to weaken the people’s ability to change the constitution.

Brad Rogers: A big idea with little detail” via the Ocala Star-Banner — DeSantis signed SB 7068, aka the toll road bill, into law. At least we know exactly what we’re going to get for our money, right? Oh, except for how much it will cost. Except for where the routes will run. Except for how we will pay for the multibillion-dollar price tag. Except for how much environmental damage will be done to Florida’s most vital remaining watersheds. Yep, except for those things, we’re good. Growth necessitates more roads. But shouldn’t they be where growth is actually occurring, where gridlock is a daily fact of life? Instead, these roads will open some of the best rural lands in Florida to rooftops and asphalt and unfettered sprawl.

Emmett Reed: For nursing homes, preparing for hurricane season means more than just generators” via Florida Politics — One of the most important things we can do after a major hurricane is learn from it, and our state certainly learned this: We must ensure that our nursing homes and other long-term care centers are fully prepared to keep their residents safe through whatever nature throws their way. For months now, members of the Florida Health Care Association have been implementing measures designed to keep our residents safe through this season, and beyond. All long-term care centers in Florida are currently in compliance with the state’s generator and fuel storage requirements. Many of those centers have generators fully installed, inspected and approved. We know that the steps we have taken will go a long way to keep them safe through another hurricane season.

— EARNINGS REPORTS —

From gambling to machinery, The Advocacy Group makes 1st quarter bank” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The seven-member firm led by senior partner Al Cardenas represented nearly 70 clients during the reporting period, which included the first half of the 2019 Legislative Session. Lobbying firms report the pay they receive from each client in ranges covering $10,000 increments. If all The Advocacy Group’s contracts hit the median number in those ranges, the firm would have earned $1.23 million. Firms also must disclose their overall income in ranges covering a broader spectrum. According to that line in TAG’s compensation reports, the firm earned at least $1 million in Q1 — $500,000 lobbying the Legislature and $500,000 lobbying the Governor and Cabinet.

With nearly 70 clients, The Advocacy Group brought in some solid 1Q numbers.

Ramba Consulting Group cracks Top 20 in legislative lobbying pay” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The firm’s new compensation reports show it earned an estimated $480,000 lobbying the Legislature during the first three months of the year … good enough to earn it the No. 18 spot in legislative earnings for the quarter. Ramba Consulting Group also reeled in up to $50,000 more lobbying the Governor and Cabinet, for an overall earnings estimate of $530,000 in Q1. Lobbying firms report the pay they receive from each client in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Florida Politics uses the middle number of those ranges to estimate earnings. Ramba’s top-paying client on their legislative compensation report was the Florida Optometric Association, which pitched in $35,000 over the three months.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Florida Realtors promotes Danielle Scoggins to VP of Public Policy” via Florida Politics — Florida Realtors announced it had promoted Scoggins, to this point their Senior Public Policy Representative, to VP of Public Policy.“ Danielle has proved herself to be an invaluable part of the public policy efforts of Florida Realtors where she has delivered a multitude of key legislative victories since joining the team,” says Florida Realtors CEO Margy Grant. Before joining Florida Realtors in 2015, Scoggins had worked as the Director of Legislative and Cabinet Services for the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR), the Deputy Legislative Affairs Director for the Executive Office of the Governor and Policy Chief in the Office of Policy and Budget.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Slater Bayliss, Steve Schale, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Relativity Space

Carole Duncanson, CLD & Associates: ALPHA House of Pinellas County

— SUNSHINE SPORTS —

Top Florida softball teams are still in the mix. Next stop? Super regionals.

FSU, Florida to host more softball: Defending national champion Florida State hosts Oklahoma State in a best two-of-three softball super regional beginning Thursday in Tallahassee. The Florida Gators will host Tennessee in Gainesville starting Friday.

Does it matter where the Rays owner lives?

Location, location, location: New York resident Stu Sternberg essentially dismisses critics who say low team attendance is because he is an absentee owner.

A gold and green coach is focusing on the former.

USF coach heads to Olympics: Ken Erikson, longtime softball coach at the University of South Florida, was named head coach for the 2020 USA Olympic softball team.

A former Tampa Bay Bucs assistant coach sadly passed away recently.

Rest in peace: George Chaump died Sunday at age 83. He also coached at Ohio State, Navy and other schools.

Ex-FSU QB Deondre Francois is headed to Boca Raton.

Walking on at Florida Atlantic: He was dismissed from the Seminoles following video of a possible domestic violence issue surfaced.

FAMU athletics program hit with penalties” via the News Service of Florida — Florida A&M University will be banned next year from postseason play in major sports, will have records vacated for a dozen teams and will face financial penalties and scholarship reductions, after an NCAA panel found the school “lacked institutional control.” The school’s athletics department was placed on probation for five years. The university said 93 athletes had been improperly certified as eligible to participate in 12 sports from 2010 to 2017. “The university certified student-athletes as eligible when they failed to fulfill required credit hours, did not complete required percentages of their degree by designated times, did not meet minimum GPA requirements and/or failed to meet transfer requirements or exceptions,” the NCAA announcement said.

— ALOE —

Florida Gators-FSU football series extended through 2022 season” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida-Florida State football series will continue for at least another four years after both programs announced a contract extension. The four-year extension runs through the 2022 football season, starting with their Nov. 30 meeting in Gainesville this fall. FSU will host the Gators on Nov. 28, 2020, and Nov. 26, 2022. The 2021 meeting will be on Nov. 27 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. UF leads the historic rivalry 35-26-2.

The Florida State Seminoles will line up against the Florida Gators at least through the 2020 season.

Gasoline prices are on the decline. How much lower will they be for the holiday?” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Savings app GasBuddy says gas prices in South Florida have dropped more than 5 cents a gallon over the past week. On Monday, the average price of gas in Miami-Dade averaged $2.68 per gallon. Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, said the trend is due to oil refineries finishing maintenance and oil prices slipping slightly over the last few weeks. He also said the trend of falling prices might continue into the holiday weekend. Naples and Cape Coral are seeing cheaper gas, too, according to GasBuddy. Naples gas is down 6.3 cents from last week, and Cape Coal’s is down 6.2 cents. AAA says Florida gas is at the lowest daily average since March.

MINI Cooper debuts special ‘Florida edition’ convertible” via Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s a limited production run of 100 cars that will only be sold in the Sunshine State. This marks the first time that the car company has presented a special edition for a state. Company officials said they wanted to create a one-of-kind edition for Florida, its largest convertible market. In 2018, MINI sold 5,299 convertibles nationwide and up to 18 percent of them found homes in Florida. “When we talk about Florida, we happen to be the number one market for the MINI convertible,’’ said Ishaan Khatri, product planning manager at MINI USA, adding that cars are customization-friendly. “This was our first go at something that is very region specific … to really offer something that is unique.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to our friends, Rep. Dane Eagle and Eileen Stuart of Hopping Green & Sams, as well as Sam Ard and Jordan Raynor. Belated birthday wishes to one of our Top 5 favorite Blairs, James.

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.

Written By

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.

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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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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