A top of Sunburn birthday shoutout to one of my favorite people to swap book recommendations over dirty martinis (although I believe he prefers a cold beer while watching his Cubs play): Slater Bayliss of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners.
Ed. note — As Friday is the last day of summer for many Florida students, Sunburn will also be taking one last day off. We will return on Monday. Thanks for your readership and support!
“White House to meet with internet companies after shootings” via Margaret Harding McGill and Daniel Lippman of POLITICO — The White House has invited internet and technology companies for a roundtable discussion on violent online extremism, as the Donald Trump administration comes under growing pressure to deter mass shootings tied to internet-fueled racism. The meeting will include “senior administration officials along with representatives of a range of companies,” according to a White House spokesperson, who did not name who will take part.
“How Donald Trump eased access to guns” via Anita Kumar of POLITICO — Federal agencies have implemented more than half a dozen policy changes — primarily through little-noticed regulatory moves — that expand access to guns by lifting firearms bans in specific locations and limiting the names on the national database designed to keep firearms away from dangerous people. The administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn New York City restrictions on transporting handguns outside homes. And it pushed to allow U.S. gunmakers to more easily sell firearms overseas, including the types used in mass shootings. “This president has in a very intentional, sweeping way made it easier for people to access firearms, not more difficult,” said Rep. David Cicilline, a vice-chair of the House Gun Prevention Task Force.
“2020 Democrats vow action on guns, but there’s little to do without Congress” via Gregory Korte of Bloomberg — No president can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks by executive order. Those are the most sought-after changes by gun-control advocates since the shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend. But would require action by Congress, where gun measures have stalled year after year. That hasn’t stopped the 2020 Democratic candidates from promising new gun safety measures — with or without the help of Congress. One candidate acknowledging the limits of executive power is Joe Biden. He led Obama’s gun violence task force after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 and says the Obama administration took 30 different executive actions on guns. Obama was worried about legal challenges.
“Marco Rubio on red flag bill: I’ll come back to Washington ‘right away’” via Fox 13 Tampa Bay —“[‘Red Flag’ legislation] makes all the sense in the world,” Rubio said in an interview. “Today, if you identify someone as dangerous, you can’t do anything about the guns or the weapons they have until they commit a crime. How it works in Florida is that you have to go before a judge. It can only be a family member or someone who lives with you or law enforcement. You have to prove to a judge that this individual is a danger, and you have to meet a certain standard, and then they can issue a court order, which can’t be any longer than a year.”
“Ron DeSantis cites ‘recesses of the internet’ in attacks” via News Service of Florida — Gov. DeSantis pointed to “recesses of the internet” where people can share “vile” views and a need to look at white nationalism — along with other causes — when asked Wednesday about tackling mass violence. But he also said, after a Purple Heart dedication ceremony at Tallahassee National Cemetery, that it’s not productive to any gun-safety dialogue to focus on partisan politics, as Democrats continued to criticize President Donald Trump after two mass shootings over the weekend. “I have no interest in being part of people’s political narratives. I understand the narratives. I’ve seen it for years and years,” DeSantis said. “I’m trying to focus on solutions, and that’s why we’ve been forward-looking on our threat assessment strategy.”
“How to prevent mass shootings: Floridians explain what ‘do something!’ means to them” via Eve Samples of TCPalm — We asked Floridians to tell us, in 100 words or less, what response they hope to see after the killings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Robert Burns, Viera: The opioid problem came from the access, availability, and abundance of pills. Same thing here. We have more guns than people. Georgia Carolyn, Pensacola: Changes need to start at the school level. David Jahn, Titusville: We need to work to discover why shooters decide to kill and then create realistic plans to combat the formation of these deadly motivations. Jeremy Carroll, Vero Beach: Our Second Amendment right needs to be reinstated as it was intended, allowing individuals to own guns and carry them without infringement.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement — & be quiet!
—@Scavino45: Very SAD to see Ohio Sen. [Sherrod] Brown, & Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley — LYING & completely mischaracterizing what took place w/ the President’s visit to Miami Valley Hospital today. They are disgraceful politicians, doing nothing but politicizing a mass shooting, at every turn they can.
—@SenSherrodBrown: I wrestled with the right thing to do when Trump visits Dayton today. I decided I have a responsibility to look him in the eye and urge him to do the right thing.
—@NanWhaley: Not sure what the President thinks @#and I misrepresented. As we said, the victims and first responders were comforted by his presence. Let’s hope he’s not one of these all talk, no action politicians and actually does something on gun control.
—@MarcACaputo: Back in the day, there were these huge doxxing publications and no one felt particularly unsafe because of them They were called “phonebooks”
—@ccadelago: Scooplet: Kamala Harris going up with her first TV ad of 2020. Harris placed a $66,585 buy in the Des Moines market—8/8-8/14, per our tracker.
—@CHeathWFTV: Days after central Florida @questioned the existence of climate change, @ says we don’t even have time for people who deny this is happening.
—@Fineout: You have reached the Office of Open Government for Gov. Ron DeSantis. We are unable to take your call right now. about sums it up …
—@JoseJavierJJR: As I did in the wake of the El Paso massacre, I ask @to skip Miami in his listening tour, planned in the majority Latino district I serve. By design or by consequence, it will only stoke charged rhetoric directed at persons of color and immigrants already at fever pitch
—@Book4Senate: We did it! Thank you @#. We deserve answers, and this is the first step for ordering an independent, external FDLE investigation into PBSO’s handling of criminal sex predator Jeffrey
—@Fineout: Find it fascinating that as the state in the middle right now of spending millions on repairs to the Fla. Capitol complex that Sen. Kevin Rader thinks it’s time to look at moving the Capitol out of town.
—@LouJacobson: .@magazine is closing. This is such sad news for the staff, and for those who care about state and local governance. My thanks for publishing my column for nearly 10 years.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 15; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 16; St. Petersburg primary election — 19; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 21; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 22; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 23; Labor Day — 25; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 27; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 39; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 40; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 42; “Joker” opens — 57; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 81; 2019 General Election — 89; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 91; 2020 Session begins — 160; Iowa Caucuses — 179; New Hampshire Primaries — 187; Florida’s presidential primary — 222; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 351; 2020 General Election — 453.
— TOP STORY —
“Attorney General questions Jeffrey Epstein work release” via News Service of Florida — A day after DeSantis ordered a state investigation into the matter, Attorney General Ashley Moody is questioning why a Florida sheriff allowed convicted sex offender Epstein to participate in a work-release program more than a decade ago. Moody told The News Service of Florida that she could not find any court records showing that Epstein should have been allowed to participate in the work-release program. “I can tell you, at this point, we have not found anything within the judgment and sentence, and we have not been able to locate any administrative order — nothing in the transcript — that would indicate that the judge was aware of ordered work release in this particular case,” she said.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Florida doubles efforts to hunt invasive pythons” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — The state hosts a popular python hunt for the public every three years in an attempt to control the tens of thousands of pythons that are estimated to be slithering through the Everglades. Scientists say the giant constrictor snakes, which can grow over 20 feet (6 meters) long, have eliminated 99 percent of the native mammals in the Everglades, decimating food sources for native predators such as panthers and alligators. DeSantis said Florida would double its resources for python removal and that the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture have a new agreement to begin hunting pythons in 130,000 acres (52,610 hectares) of state parks.
“Ron DeSantis eyes removing Scott Maddox from office” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Under Florida law, the Governor has no leeway once a municipal officer who was suspended from office is convicted on charges included in an indictment. Statutes say the Governor “shall remove such municipal official from office” under such circumstances. Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith, his longtime aide and accomplice, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on two counts of honest services fraud and a third involving lying to the IRS about ill-gotten income. They face a maximum of 45 years in prison but could shave off time if they cooperate fully with federal prosecutors. After their pleas, Helen Ferre, DeSantis’ communications director, confirmed the Maddox case is under review.
“New York state of mind” via Florida Politics — Arguably the most interesting thing about the July finance report of the Governor’s political committee (PC) is WHERE specific donors come from. Friends of Ron DeSantis, the first-term Republican’s state-level political committee, had a relatively modest haul in July: $340,000, less than half of the June take. Despite the ho-hum haul, a series of July 6 checks from New York City stood out, including a check from former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato. D’Amato left the Senate in 1999, and has lobbied since.
Assignment editors — DeSantis joins Charter Communications for the kickoff of Spectrum’s Inaugural Apprenticeship Program in Florida, 11 a.m., Charter’s Regional Operations Center, 4145 S Falkenburg Road, Riverview.
Assignment editors — First Lady Casey DeSantis will make a major announcement joined by Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, 9 a.m. Central time, Bay High School, 1200 Harrison Avenue, Panama City.
“Move Florida’s capital? Lawmaker proposes alternative to Tallahassee” via the News Service of Florida — Sen. Rader filed the proposal (SB 112) for consideration during the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January. The proposal seeks a study by the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability about the cost of relocating the capital to Central Florida, as well as the economic impact to Tallahassee and the surrounding area. Rader, who would like the study completed by the end of 2021, wants the review to include calculations about the cost to travel to the state capital for members of the public and lawmakers. Rader proposed similar legislation for the 2019 session, but it did not get heard in committees.
Happening today — The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze issues related to the lottery, 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building.
Happening tomorrow — State analysts will hold a meeting to consider the financial impacts of a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand Medicaid coverage, Friday, 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building.
Happening tomorrow — Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hold a hearing in a dispute over a new state law that sparked a bitter feud between one of Florida’s largest cancer-care companies and physicians who formerly worked for the firm, Friday, 9 a.m., U.S. Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.
Happening Saturday — A memorial service will be for Paul Sanford, a longtime lobbyist who died July 17 at age 78. Sanford was a prominent insurance lobbyist and continued to represent clients during this spring’s legislative session. Among those clients was the American Council of Life Insurers, Florida Blue and the Florida Insurance Council, Saturday, 2 p.m., St. Paul Catholic Church, 2609 Park St., Jacksonville.
— RADIO APPEAL —
An appellate court will hear arguments next month in an ongoing legal battle over a state law-enforcement radio contract potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal has scheduled arguments Sept. 17 in an appeal by Harris Corp., which is challenging a decision by the Department of Management Services (DMS) to award the contract to Motorola.
Then-DMS Secretary Erin Rock had adopted a recommended order issued by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper and dismissed a protest filed by Harris.
The new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) build out is scheduled to begin in 2020. The system is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state,” according to the DMS website.
Melbourne-based Harris Corp. had challenged the award to Motorola this March. It had held the contract for SLERS since September 2000. At a hearing last year, Harris had raised the issue of radio towers and how their quantity and quality of service is paramount to officer and public safety.
But Motorola’s legal counsel said his client’s superiority in communications technology essentially means the company can do more with less. A $1 fee tacked on to vehicle registrations will fund the system.
— STATEWIDE —
“State seeks reversal of prison hepatitis ruling” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Department of Corrections, represented by Attorney General Moody’s office, filed a brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as it battles a ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that required the treatment for all inmates with the contagious liver disease. The state does not dispute that the treatment, which involves medication known as “direct-acting antivirals,” should be provided to inmates with later stages of hepatitis C. But attorneys contended in the brief that the state would not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment if it did not provide the medication to prisoners in the early stages.
“Florida legalized hemp. Now prosecutors are dropping marijuana charges and retiring dogs” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — The law, which made the possession of hemp legal on July 1, has forced law enforcement agencies to adapt to a substance that is nearly identical to cannabis, albeit without the psychoactive THC that makes marijuana alluring. Twelve state attorneys said this would affect the prosecution of marijuana in one way or another, and seven explicitly said this changes the probable-cause standard for police who have previously used the sight and smell of marijuana to search potential suspects. Some also said this means that drug-sniffing dogs, who have been trained to bark when they smell any drug, whether it’s marijuana or something more serious, are now obsolete.
“Will our Florida beaches lose their national rankings because of sargassum seaweed?” via Kimberly Miller of The Daily Commercial — A seaweed scourge on Florida’s southeast coast could mean a downgrade in national rankings released each year by Dr. Beach with one popular park already taking a hit. Dr. Beach, whose real name is Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, grades America’s beaches on a 50-point scale that includes whether the shore is awash in stinky, buggy, scratchy sargassum. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park near Miami suffered the consequences in 2019′s Top 10 rankings. “I took off Cape Florida this year because of sargassum build-up,” Leatherman said. “A small amount of sargassum is fine, but the kind of quantity we are seeing is like a sewer breaking open.”
“How did Florida turn into “Jurassic Park” for invasive species?” Via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — It’s a combination of perplexing regulations, foot-dragging and lobbying power. The situation is magnified by a balmy Florida climate that makes it a 65,755-square-mile welcome mat for all sorts of things Mother Nature did not intend to be here. “It’s about as bad in Florida as it gets anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife biologist at the University of Florida.
“Florida continues cutting phone cords” via News Service of Florida — Floridians continue hanging up on traditional phone service. With cellphones in hand — or in their back pockets — and access to broadband technology, hundreds of thousands of Florida residents and businesses stopped using landline phones in 2018, a new state report on the telecommunications industry shows. According to a Public Service Commission report, traditional wirelines declined in the state from about 2.5 million in December 2017 to 1.9 million in December 2018. They dropped by 1.9 million, or about half, from 2014 to 2018. The report said 57.5 percent of Florida households were wireless-only in 2017, somewhat higher than the national rate of 52.5 percent.
“Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc describes Trump rallies as ‘new found drug’” via CNN The Florida man who pleaded guilty to mailing explosive devices said in a letter to a federal judge that attending a rally for President Donald Trump “became like a new found drug.” Sayoc has admitted to sending pipe bombs to CNN, and various Democratic officials and donors. He pleaded guilty last month to 65 felony counts, including using weapons of mass destruction in an attempted domestic terrorist attack. In the handwritten letter filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, he told a judge that “the first thing you here (sic) entering Trump rally is we are not going to take it anymore, the forgotten ones, etc.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Puerto Rico swears in new governor after Supreme Court rules Pedro Pierluisi must step down” via Jim Wyss And Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Puerto Rico’s former secretary of justice, Wanda Vázquez, was sworn in as governor, the third person in six days to hold the island’s top job. But even before her caravan arrived at La Fortaleza Governor’s mansion, there was speculation about how long she might keep the position. Vázquez was sworn in just hours after the U.S. territory’s supreme court ruled that her predecessor, Pedro Pierluisi, had been put in place in violation of the constitution. Pierluisi, in turn, had only had the job since Friday, after his predecessor, Ricardo Rosselló, used an obscure 2005 law to justify the handover of power. The court ruled unanimously that the transition had been unconstitutional.
“Federal legislation filed to address guardianship issues as scandal embroils Florida’s troubled program” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — As Florida’s guardianship program is under increased scrutiny with the revelation that a client died after his Orlando guardian filed a “do not resuscitate” order against his wishes, federal lawmakers filed bipartisan legislation to expand protections for incapacitated people. The Guardianship Accountability Act would expand oversight and data collection “to hold guardians accountable” by creating a national resource center and expanding background checks and communication between local, state and federal organizations, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto’s office said in a statement.
“Cremated remains of 9 people found at Orlando office of disgraced former guardian Rebecca Fierle” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — “As this investigation continues, we will be focusing on whose cremains are in the urns, medical records that identify the cause of death, how long the cremains have been in the target’s office and much more,” Kylie Mason, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Moody, said in a statement. “As this is a very active criminal investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.” FDLE spokesman Jeremy Burns confirmed the agency found cremated remains at Fierle’s office but could not provide more details and directed inquiries to the attorney general’s office.
“Darren Soto, Gus Bilirakis, Charlie Crist file bill to tighten guardianships” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Following an alarming congressional report and a series of stories investigated by the Orlando Sentinel, a bipartisan trio of Florida lawmakers, Darren Soto, Gus Bilirakis, and Charlie Crist, announced they filed a bill to tighten protections for mostly-disabled, mostly-elderly people under control of legal guardians. The bill is intended to create further oversight and create data collection measures to hold guardians accountable. A news release from Soto’s office cites recent reports of “fraud cases and financial exploitation from guardians toward vulnerable populations.” Those include cases highlighted in stories published by the Sentinel this summer, including at least one case that resulted in death.
— 2020 —
“’Elizabeth Warren has built a monster’: Inside the Democrats’ battle for Nevada” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — “Warren just has a gigantic campaign,” said Laura Martin, executive director of the social justice organization Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “There are counties all over rural areas where some campaigns are just doing tours, but she has staff there. And that was a strategy President Barack Obama had in 2008 when he won Nevada.” Another Democratic operative put it more bluntly: “Warren has built a monster.” Among 17 Democratic strategists, activists and experts interviewed, Warren’s campaign was mentioned most often as the most impressive of the field, followed by Harris’.
“Warren leads the way among crossover donors” via Chad Day, Julie Bykowicz and Tarini Parti of the Wall Street Journal — More than 40 percent of the nearly 442,000 Democratic donors who contributed to multiple candidates gave to Warren, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records. She and California Sen. Harris share about 62,000 donors, and she has about 60,000 donors in common with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. About 54,000 donors have given to both Warren and Pete Buttigieg. The donor behavior appears to echo the findings of a recent WSJ/NBC News poll, in which Warren and Harris led the field as likely Democratic voters’ second choice among possible nominees. The survey found that former Vice President Biden is the top choice for likely Democratic voters, but that only 12 percent of them had made up their minds.
“Pete Buttigieg declares gun violence, white nationalism ‘national security’ crisis” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In his first campaign appearance in Orlando, Buttigieg said white nationalism is 21st-century threats to America’s security, along with cyberattacks, elections tampering, climate disruption, and more traditional national security concerns. “These things cannot be dealt with by putting up a 17th-century security solution like a big wall on the border. America is under attack from, among other things, white nationalist violence. And we’ve got to call it out for what it is,” he declared. “If we have such weak policies on gun safety that the 2nd Amendment is allowed to be a death sentence for thousands of Americans every year. This is a security issue. This is a national security issue.”
“Andrew Yang campaign raises over $1M in days after last debate” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Yang campaign raised more than $1 million in the days after the Democrats’ second debate in Detroit, according to Morning Score’s Zach Montellaro. That money was raised in just over four days, following his debate performance Wednesday night through the following weekend. For comparison, the former tech executive raised $1.7 million through the entire first quarter of 2020, followed by $2.8 million in the second quarter. While those numbers significantly trailed some of his more well-known opponents, the $1 million post-debate bump could push him up the ladder once candidates’ third-quarter numbers are released. According to Montellaro’s report, the Yang campaign earned that $1 million from more than 38,000 unique donors.
— GILLUM TO CNN? —
Andrew Gillum hasn’t slinked into the background since losing his bid for the Governor’s mansion, but he could soon be a regular on TV screens nationwide.
Reports are trickling in that CNN is considering the former Tallahassee Mayor for a spot on an all-black panel show alongside April Ryan, Angela Rye and Bakari Sellers.
CNN execs fast-tracked doing the concept after audiences responded positively to the quartet’s appearance on “New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman” during the Democratic debates last week.
“It was the most excitement on that morning show since Chris Cuomo left as co-anchor,” one insider told Page Six.
The show could set up a rating war between Gillum & Co. and another Florida personality: Joy Reid.
“The early chatter is that it could start as a weekend show that would rival MSNBC’s programming with Joy Reid, the Rev. Al Sharpton,” the unnamed source said.
Gillum has been mum about the possibility, but Ryan, a veteran White House reporter, has teased the possibility.
“Your favorite @CNN squad was back on @NewDay today! I so enjoyed working with @Bakari_Sellers, @AndrewGillum & my girl @angela_rye,” she said in an Aug. 1 tweet.
“Andrew Gillum will speak at charity rap battle and cookout in Tampa” via Ray Roa of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Gillum is set to appear at a community rap battle and cookout at Tampa’s Cyrus Greene Park. On Saturday, August 17, the annual Voices for Freedom cookout is being put together by Organize Florida and will feature local artists, vendors and guest speakers, including Gillum. A social media event page says that the purpose of the event — which also features a spades tournament — is to bring the “voices of our Tampa Bay community together.” There’ll even be free haircuts for students headed back to school in the coming weeks.
— THE TRAIL —
“State economist Amy Baker explains new review process for ballot initiatives” via Blaise Gainey of WFSU — Since 2004, the Office of Economic and Democratic Research has looked at the financial impact a petition initiative would have if it were to pass. Baker says that’s now been changed, “during this session, the Legislature passed HB 5 which said in addition to looking at local government and state revenues and costs, we want you to perform an economic analysis of the impact the amendment will have.” The new law made the review process a lot longer. “For the first time, we’re not looking at just government impacts; we’re having to consider private sector impacts or household impacts. So that’s a bigger scope than we ever had,” explained Baker.
Utility deregulation amendment could kill nuclear plant — Associated Industries of Florida SVP Brewster Bevis told the Capital City Republican Club that the utility deregulation measure being pushed for the 2020 ballot would force utilities to sell their power plants, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. “Who’s going to operate Turkey Point nuclear plant?” Bevis said. “You’re going to have a fire sale on a nuclear facility here in the state. I think it’s a very bad experiment to try.” The amendment, backed by political committee Citizens for Energy Choices, would allow customers of investor-owned utilities to choose their energy providers. AIF and most other business groups in the state oppose it.
“Citizenship voting proposal clears signature requirement” via News Service of Florida — Though it still needs a sign-off from the Florida Supreme Court, a proposed constitutional amendment about the citizenship of voters has met a petition-signature requirement to go on the November 2020 ballot. The political committee Florida Citizen Voters had submitted 843,528 valid petition signatures to the state as of Wednesday, topping the 766,200-signature requirement to reach the ballot, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. The committee also had complied with a requirement that it meet certain signature thresholds in at least 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. It is unclear when the Supreme Court might rule on the proposed amendment.
“Leon Schools Superintendent endorses Allison Tant for HD 9” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Democrat Tant is vying to succeed Rep. Loranne Ausley in HD 9 and Leon County Superintendent of Schools Rocky Hanna is in full support. “Allison Tant has been a fierce champion for our public school system for many years now. I will be extremely proud to see her passion and advocacy for our children put to use in the Florida House,” Hanna said Wednesday. Hanna’s nod adds to the list of endorsements for Tant, who also has the support of Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s top elected Democrat.
“Adam Hattersley responds to Ross Spano’s climate-denying interview” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — “As a veteran, I’m listening to the experts at the Pentagon who are warning that human-caused climate change is the No. 1 long-term threat to our national security,” Hattersley said in a statement. “As an engineer, I’m listening to the consensus among the scientists and experts that climate change is real, and we need to use data and facts to address it.” Speaking on “Politics on Your Side” with Evan Donovan, Spano refuted almost unanimous scientific consensus that climate change is real, that it’s caused by humans and presents a threat.
“Bibiana Potestad campaign kickoff slated for Aug. 14” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Potestad will formally launch her campaign for House District 105 next week. Potestad is one of four Republicans seeking the seat, currently held by state Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, who is running for state Senate in 2020. To get her campaign in gear, Potestad is holding an Aug. 14 fundraiser at Las Vegas Cuisine, 11500 NW 41st St. in Doral. The event will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Potestad, an attorney, entered the HD 105 race Aug. 1. Several noteworthy names are in the host committee, including former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, state Sen. Anitere Flores, former state Rep. Jose Felix-Diaz as well as former House Speaker and lobbyist Dean Cannon.
— LOCAL —
“Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is on Team Trump — and Kenny Stills is not at all pleased” via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald — “You can’t have a nonprofit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills wrote on Twitter, sharing both a link to the Washington Post story reporting on the fundraiser and a screen capture from Ross’ anti-racism RISE initiative’s website. RISE’s mission statement: “We are a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.” Trump, through his incendiary language about Hispanic immigrants and his racially tinged targeting of four outspoken female members of Congress, does not meet that standard in Stills’ opinion.
— Kenny Stills (@KSTiLLS) August 7, 2019
“One dead, several injured in fight at Coleman federal prison” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — The Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement that an “altercation between multiple inmates” occurred about 11:45 a.m. at the high-security unit of the Federal Correctional Complex-Coleman, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando. Troi Venable, 39, was taken to a hospital, where he later died. Venable had been serving a 17-year prison sentence for assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to federal prison officials. He had been incarcerated at Coleman since December 2017. “No staff injuries were reported and at no time was the public in danger,” prison spokesman Dale Grafton said.
“8 charged with swiping $5M from Fla. tribe’s casino” via Law360 — Federal and tribal authorities announced charges in Florida federal court against eight people accused of embezzling more than $5 million in cash from the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming casino near Miami by tampering with its electronic gambling machines. The 63-count indictment includes charges for computer fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and making false statements to law enforcement against casino employees and others.
“Pensacola Bay oyster thieves arrested by state investigators” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — Rebekah Nelson, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the group tried to sell the stolen oysters in the Santa Rosa County area. “They were trying to sell them to individual buyers in the community,” said Nelson, who did not know whether any stolen oysters were successfully sold. FWC investigators working on another case received information about the Pensacola Bay Oyster Co. theft, which led them to a local suspect, she said. During a search of the suspect’s home, they found 4,000 oysters. Auburn University’s Shellfish Laboratory then analyzed a sample of the oysters and confirmed they were from Pensacola Bay Oyster Co., Nelson said.
“Katrina Brown’s fraud trial delayed until Sept. 23” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — “If I were to deny the motion for continuance, I think I would be well within my discretion,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard told the one-term councilwoman, but said she was delaying the case five weeks in the interest of justice. Jury selection will start Sept. 18, the judge said. Brown had asked for a six-month delay, a request the judge said was “simply out of the question.” Howard noted that a different six-month delay had already been approved in January with the warning then that changing lawyers wouldn’t prevent a trial in August. But Howard said the complexity of the case — something the court had noted before — justified her leaving Brown a short window of extra time to get her case together.
“Geo Group, company that runs prisons, opens new $57 million Boca headquarters” via Marcia Heroux of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Prison and immigrant detention center operator Geo Group has opened a newly built headquarters in Boca Raton costing $57 million, according to company securities filings. The company’s new headquarters is at 4955 Technology Way, featuring a white and cobalt blue contemporary look. Geo Chairman and CEO George Zoley “wanted to make sure he had an iconic building,” said Juan Calcedo, principal in charge of design at RLC Architects, which designed the headquarters. “He wanted to make sure the building stood out from the crowd.
“How Gulf sturgeon migration will affect Pensacola Bay Bridge construction” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — Work crews are prohibited from driving the pilings to support the second expanse of the new bridge at night from October to May when the sturgeon, which are listed by the federal government as threatened species, are in the Gulf. That means contractor Skanska will need to demolish the 60-year-old existing bridge, remove its rubble and drive pilings to support the second bridge expanse while avoiding the night work. Sen. Doug Broxson said the “sturgeon moratorium” is one reason Skanska is eager to see traffic flowing on the first expanse of the new bridge as soon as possible.
“Anjali Vaya files to run for Orange County Commission” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Winter Park businesswoman Vaya has filed to run for the Orange County Commission’s District 5 seat in the 2020 election. Vaya, who founded and runs the tech firm Tezz Mobile Solutions, is seeking to unseat first-term Commissioner Emily Bonilla in the northeastern Orange County district that stretches from Maitland to the Brevard County line. Bonilla filed last October to seek reelection.
— BACK-TO-SCHOOL —
With children returning to school in a few days, here are a few back-to-school stories from around the state:
“Schools keep punishing girls — especially students of color — who report sexual assaults, and the Trump administration’s Title IX won’t stop it” via Tyler Kingkade of The74Million.com — Schools are required under the gender equity law Title IX to investigate allegations of rape and to combat sexual harassment. Yet documents in these cases reveal a similar pattern: The assault allegations never reached the Title IX coordinator and were instead investigated by administrators. That systemic failure repeatedly resulted in districts punishing sexual assault victims, who often happen to be girls of color, who are already disciplined at higher rates than white students. The U.S. Department of Education stated that it would be “wrong for it to second-guess” a school’s disciplinary decisions during a federal investigation, because local administrators have “unique knowledge of the school culture and student body” and are the best ones to make these calls.
“Broward teachers prep for a new year of uncertainty, financial challenges and safety worries” via Sarah Leonardi of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — At the beginning of the academic year, teachers face the looming possibility of having to switch classrooms spontaneously. Imagine having to pack up everything in your bedroom, store your bedroom for two months, then move your bedroom into a home across the street and redecorate in the span of a few days. This is the unfortunate — and annual — reality of classroom displacement. On top of this, many teachers find out what course and grade level they will be teaching one week prior to the first day of school, giving them just a few days to prepare their curriculum for the year. These uncertainties create gratuitous stress for teachers and an unreliable learning environment for students.
“Little-designed school Florida first net-zero K-12 school” via Renewable Energy Magazine — Philip Donovan, project architect at Little explained a net-zero building is one that, at the end of the year, produced more energy than it used. Any excess energy harvested is then returned directly to the local power grid to help offset local power demands at peak usage periods. “We are so excited for and proud of Osceola School District for raising the bar on sustainable design,” Donovan added. According to Marc Clinch, Chief Facilities Officer with Osceola School District, this project has demystified high performance and zero energy buildings. “We have proven that there is a more cost and energy-efficient way to build schools with minimal premiums.”
“Wanted: 55 more crossing guards to fulfill safety pledge as new Hillsborough school year opens” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Thirty-six additional crossing guards will hit the streets to protect students, and sheriff’s deputies will step up their patrols until another 55 can be hired. The move expands a program once limited to elementary schools, placing guards for the first time at middle schools in the Hillsborough School District and adding more guards at about a dozen elementary schools. A study conducted over three days examined cars, pedestrians, sidewalks and traffic patterns around Hillsborough County schools and determined that guards were only necessary at 35 of the school district’s 43 public middle schools while additional guards were needed at 11 elementary schools, Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the news conference.
“Leon County schools reorganizing bus routes, fixing website ahead of Monday school start” via CD Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — One of the most significant changes this year is that Leon County Schools will organize transportation by route name instead of a bus number. LCS is reducing the number of routes from about 180 to 160 this year. Roughly, 95 percent of the bus stops will remain the same, district spokesman Chris Petley said. Instead of looking at what bus number they need to take, students will be assigned routes that their stops are on. This may mean they ride different buses getting to and from schools. School officials had a website in place to let parents type in their address to find their child’s bus route. But after complaints that the site wasn’t working, LCS officials took it down.
“Floral City kids to get free haircuts, scent kits, stuffed toy bloodhounds” via the Citrus County Chronicle — Head to Toe by Julie & Jo, a Floral City-based salon, will provide free haircuts at the Floral City Elementary School on the occasion of its back-to-school Meet the Teacher Day. To meet the expected high demand, this year, there will be five stylists to serve the students. In addition, Find-M Friends, the nonprofit organization that raises and trains bloodhounds to rescue people who have become lost, will be on hand to give each student receiving a haircut an Out of Harms Way scent kit and a Plush Pup bloodhound stuffed toy.
“Technical institute offering free back-to-school haircuts for students and teachers” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — McDougle Technical Institute, formerly the Beauty Anatomy Institute, is offering free haircuts for children and teachers for back to school. Services include shampoo, haircut and barber services. This special is available Tuesday through Friday during August by appointment only. “We enjoy being able to offer this annual program to the community,” said McDougle Technical Institute founder Octavia McDougle. “It is important that kids feel their best as they start the new school year.”
“A Pinellas task force focuses on stolen cars. Why did St. Petersburg police leave it?” via Tampa Bay Times — After a particularly bad day in his city, when drivers of two stolen cars killed a woman and injured a police sergeant, Chief Tony Holloway told reporters he was frustrated. Officers, he said, had managed to corral some of the juvenile auto thieves plaguing St. Petersburg. But car owners and parents still needed to step up, he declared at a July 16 news conference. He challenged them to lock their vehicles, to stop leaving keys in their unlocked cars and to keep track of their children late at night.
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Some ideas for Senate to consider in mass killing review” via Florida Politics — I’ll give Florida Senate President Bill Galvano credit for being willing to seek the right answers to questions that torment us all. He assigned fellow Sen. Tom Lee to lead an effort to “review and better understand the various factors involved in mass shootings, in addition to, and also including, school shootings.” We should note, though, the study is about mass killings, not just shooting. Let’s not confuse the two. Well, let’s go ahead and put a few things on the table: Magazine capacity restrictions; Guns on college campuses; White nationalism: Do we really have to say it’s bad? School security: This is a tougher issue. Observe and learn what really goes on.
“Open primaries would strip Floridians’ constitutional rights. Supporters want to abolish party primaries.” via Jesse Panuccio for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to abolish the ability of rank-and-file members of political associations to choose their candidates for the general election, replacing it instead with a two-round general election. “The primary election” would become the first round and the traditional election day would become the runoff between the first round’s top finishers. The League of Women Voters offers no good explanation as to a two-round general election, as opposed to one, three, or five rounds. They simply want to abolish party primaries. The League also offers no explanation as to why Floridians should lose their right to freely associate with a political party. That makes their proposal, not just nonsensical, but a threat to our constitutional rights.
— MOVEMENTS —
“U.S. Soccer hires lobbyists to argue women’s national team isn’t underpaid” via Theodoric Meyer of POLITICO — U.S. Soccer, which has disputed there’s a pay gap, responded by bringing on two lobbying firms, FBB Federal Relations and Van Ness Feldman, to help convince lawmakers the women’s claims are inaccurate. “Due to the large number of requests we’ve received from policymakers since the Women’s World Cup, we are taking the proper steps to make sure that those leaders have accurate information and factual numbers that will inform them about the unmatched support and investment the U.S. Soccer Federation has provided as a leader in women’s football across the world,” Neil Buethe, a U.S. Soccer spokesman, wrote in an email.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Todd Josko, Ballard Partners: Renew Financial Group
Dean Cannon, Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: Washington County Board of County Commissioners
Doug Holder, The Legis Group: Association for Development of the Exceptional
Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs, Hospice of Okeechobee
— ALOE —
“The battle against resort fees is on. Who will win the war, hotels or guests?” via Hannah Simpson of The Washington Post — Last month, the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Nebraska filed suit against Marriott International and Hilton respectively, accusing the hotel companies of deceptive and misleading pricing practices for advertising daily room rates that don’t include the fees. Both argued that hotels should display the included additional fees upfront rather than disclose them only after a potential guest starts the booking process. The lawsuits follow the Federal Trade Commission’s 2012 warning to 22 hotel operators that their reservation sites “may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms.”
“Want to be a cannabis connoisseur? Miami Dade College has a class for that.” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — The advertised course, Florida Cannabis Policy and Regulation, is one of three classes offering North Campus students the opportunity to learn about cannabis law in Florida, the medical marijuana industry’s history and the biology and chemistry of medical marijuana plants. Dean Michaela Tomova said the development phase is a good thing, because the industry and law are changing rapidly. “Every day we read something different,” she said. “We will do this right, and we will be the epicenter of [cannabis] education.”
“Disney Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge cantina, lightsaber store now taking reservations” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Visitors can now select times to go into Oga’s Cantina, Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop, the locations where consumers can design (and buy) their own lightsabers. Reservations can be secured via disneyworld.com and the My Disney Experience app. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance, which currently rolls through Feb. 3, 2020. There are several restrictions within the fine type of reservations. For instance, there is a two-drink maximum at the cantina, which features drinks such as the Jedi Mind Trick cocktail. Disney World has not announced a reservations process for the land in general.
“NFL Pro Bowl returns to Orlando for 4th straight year” via The Associated Press — The NFL’s all-star game will be an afternoon match at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. A week later, the league’s championship game will be played a few hours south in the Miami area. Fans, players and coaches will vote for the 88 Pro Bowlers, and the game will match the AFC against the NFC. A weeklong celebration in conjunction with the NFL’s 100th season initiatives also will take place across the Orlando area. Those will include a skills showdown and the league’s flag football championships.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated birthday wishes to Florida’s best Mayor, Orlando’s Buddy Dyer. Celebrating today is Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Bill Coletti, Yolanda Cash Jackson of Becker, Jay Malpass of Motorola, and Jenn Whitcomb.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.