Each week, I ask you to listen to the latest edition of our podcast, “He Said, She Said.”
Thank you to all of you who do. We hope you are enjoying our labor of love.
This week, I ask you to listen because this week’s episode is extraordinarily personal.
In it, we open up about an important family issue. We are sharing this information, so you all know where we’re coming from … that life is not everything you see on Facebook and Instagram.
Also, we introduce a very special guest: former Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith. A few months back, Smith left the Times to become senior vice president of Mercury’s Tampa office. Now that he is in the private sector (and after years of give-and-take), Smith and I decide to bury the hatchet and sit down for a conversation about local politics, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor‘s campaign, and much more.
The veteran journalist talks about his first political campaign on the candidate side, working with Castor. Smith also shares the most surprising things campaigns don’t know about the press.
Pivoting off politics: Michelle and I talk about what we are reading and watching this season; I argue that peak TV is not over yet.
Scoop — “Florida Lottery extends decades-long deal with Scientific Games” via Florida Politics — The Florida Lottery will be extending the state’s more than 30-year-long partnership with Scientific Games, the only U.S.-based full-service lottery supplier, sources told Florida Politics late Tuesday. A Lottery evaluation committee met in a public meeting last Monday and recommended Scientific Games as the primary supplier of the state’s scratch-off ticket program.
The Lottery posted its intent to award on the state’s procurement website late this Tuesday.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time …
—@SecondLady: Congratulations to @and @ on the birth of your precious baby girl, Carolina! What a blessing! We know Luke will be a great big brother!
—@BenFriedman: Trump is questioning the loyalty of most American Jews. This is textbook #. We don’t need to be lectured about what’s good for our community by the guy who defends Nazis and white supremacists. We know where our values lie — that’s why ~80% of Jews are democrats.
—@MattGertz: “American Jews” has been trending for the last few hours and folks, that’s never a good sign.
—@NikkiFried: For f**k’s sake, who does @realDonaldTrump think he is?!? Nobody owns the Jewish vote, especially him.
—@Parscale: It took @just 15 seconds before he mentioned former President [Barack] Obama in his new campaign ad. Obama couldn’t save Crooked Hillary [Clinton], and he won’t save Sleepy Joe.
—@MarcoRubio: #, a Chinese state-directed company, poses real threats to the national & economic security of the US & our allies. The Administration’s strategy is working. Don’t undermine it with sweetheart export licenses that let Huawei build itself back up.
—@AnthonySabatini: I support a special session on gun-reform! We must pass: — constitutional carry — open carry — campus carry And repeal Florida’s unconstitutional red-flag law. #2A
—@Susie57: So, I hear my dear friend @is returning to the political world … look out opponents. He’s smart, fierce, and loyal — he may be the best young talent in the business.
—@TaReefKnockOut: Just put a spear on the sideline, and the players can raise it up after every turnover @FSUFootball
— DAYS UNTIL —
Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 2; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 3; St. Petersburg primary election — 6; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 8; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 9; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 10; Labor Day — 12; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 14; TaxWatch Productivity Awards — 21; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 26; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 27; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 29; “Joker” opens — 44; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 44; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 68; Brexit scheduled — 71; 2019 General Election — 76; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 78; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 103; 2020 Session begins — 146; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 147; Iowa Caucuses — 166; New Hampshire Primaries — 174; Florida’s presidential primary — 209; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 338; 2020 General Election — 440.
— TOP STORY —
“Florida Legislature’s Republican leaders reject Democrats’ call for special Session on guns” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida Democrats called on the state Legislature to hold a special Session to pass gun legislation in response to back-to-back mass shootings that left 31 people dead in Texas and Ohio, a request that was quickly rejected by the Republican leadership. Three-fifths of the GOP-controlled Legislature would have to agree to have a special Session, which would take place before the Legislature’s regular Session starts on Jan. 14. That appears unlikely, with Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva dismissing the need for a special Session.
“Parkland students unveil sweeping gun-control proposal and hope for a youth voting surge in 2020” via Jaqueline Alemany and Matt Viser of the Washington Post — The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections. The students are speaking out for the first time since 31 people were killed in one weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. They hope their plan — unveiled Wednesday morning — will be considered by President Trump as well as his Democratic presidential rivals and will serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year.
Called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America,” the ambitious platform, which was obtained by The Washington Post, goes much further than the current debate over universal background checks and “red flag” laws, which would apply to people who could be a danger to themselves and others. The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency. It would dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns in ways sure to spark fierce blowback, including raising the age to 21 from 18 for those who want to buy guns. It calls for a “multi-step” gun licensing system, overseen by a federal agency, that would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.
— DATELINE TALLY —
“Ron DeSantis picks judge who doesn’t live in the district” via Mike Synan of the Florida Daily — DeSantis recently picked two men to fill vacancies in the Ninth Judicial Circuit to replace retiring judges–but may have to change those plans as one of the potential judges doesn’t live in the district. … Records with the Seminole County Property Appraiser show a Michael Kraynick with the same middle initial claiming homestead on a property about two miles over the border from Orange County since 2016. DeSantis recently picked two men to fill vacancies in the Ninth Judicial Circuit to replace retiring judges–but may have to change those plans as one of the potential judges doesn’t live in the district. … The governor was not aware of this issue when he made the selection, believing the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) gave him qualified candidates. “Whatever we got, whatever address was on the application was in the District,” DeSantis told Florida Daily.
“DeSantis kicks off ‘Project Opioid,’ UCF gets money” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — In unrelated events, Orlando got two boosts for its fight against the opioid epidemic Tuesday with the kickoff of a new community campaign and a new federal grant for the University of Central Florida. Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced that UCF would receive almost $500,000 to train a new generation of professionals involved in the prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and other community leaders were joined by Gov. DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis to kick off the community effort “Project Opioid” at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.
“DeSantis, Tampa General debut AI-powered ‘mission control’ command center” via Mark Bergin of Florida Politics — Tampa General Hospital has launched a “mission control” clinical command center, which the hospital says uses artificial intelligence for improved patient care. DeSantis and TGH officials debuted the new facility called CareComm on Tuesday. “If you told me we were at Kennedy Space Center in there, I probably would have believed you,” DeSantis said. “ … Look, that’s a good thing. Let’s harness technology.” TGH becomes the fourth hospital in the world and the first in Florida to open such a command center in partnership with GE Healthcare.
It’s official! Our #CareComm is now the first clinical command center in Florida and the 4th in North America! TGH teamwork + @GEHCPartners technology = better care at lower prices. #value https://t.co/Vy0zxBT7Oa pic.twitter.com/00ChZtMR70
— TampaGeneralHospital (@TGHCares) August 20, 2019
“Keith Perry seeks to boost child seat age” via News Service of Florida — Gainesville Republican Sen. Perry is continuing his crusade to require children to be in a car seat or booster seat until the age of 7, raising the age now required by state law by one year. As he’s done for the past two years, Perry filed a measure (SB 158) to raise the age in which children must be in a crash-tested, federally approved car seat or booster seat when riding in a vehicle. Florida’s car seat laws currently require children through the age of three to be in a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. For children ages four and five, a booster seat can also be used.
“USF seeking $37.4M more every year from Legislature to become top-tier national university” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The funds would begin in the 2020-2021 school year. The USF Board of Trustees unanimously approved the ask Monday. “With USF’s momentum, the impact of additional state resources of $37.4 million represents an opportunity for the state to further support one of the most promising universities in the nation,” the request reads. Funds would be deployed to increase student success, increase individual attention to students by lowering the student-to-faculty ratio, increase faculty resources and productivity, including competitive salaries.
“School Boards Association looks to new ideas for 2020 legislative platform” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Having gotten much of what it asked for, the association is looking to new ideas for the 2020 session, for which committee meetings begin in September. Testing and teacher pay could rise to the top of the heap, as the organization whittles down the ideas up for consideration. Florida School Boards Association leaders have sent out a list of 12 possibilities. The group also has its eyes on improving teacher pay, something DeSantis has said must be addressed. On its list is a push for a 3 percent increase in the base student allocation, which districts can spend without any added requirements, with a focus on putting more money into recruiting and retaining teachers.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ashley Moody warns data breach victims of phishing scam” via News Service of Florida — Florida Attorney General Moody is warning consumers about a new phishing scam, targeting people who were already victimized by a data breach of the credit monitoring company Equifax. An agreement reached between Equifax and most attorneys general across the country, including Moody, set up a $425 million fund to help those affected by a 2017 data breach that impacted nearly half of all Americans. Now, scammers are creating fake claims websites, to gain access again to personal information from Floridians. Moody said the phishing scam is successful because it mimics the real claims process. Moody said consumers should never respond to unsolicited emails asking for Social Security numbers, bank account details or other personal information.
“A 15-year-old student is fifth Floridian charged with threatening a mass shooting this month.” via Daniel Figueroa of the Tampa Bay Times — According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Adam Guzzetti was charged with a felony after authorities learned he threatened to shoot and kill people at his school, Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach. Using the username FalconWarrior920 on the gaming platform Discord, deputies said Guzzetti used a fake name and stated: “I Dalton Barnhart vow to bring my fathers (sic) m15 to school and kill 7 people at minimum.” At least five Floridians have been arrested in connection with mass shooting threats in the two weeks since gunmen in El Paso and Dayton killed a combined 31 people. Echoing the El Paso Walmart shooting, three of the arrests came after threats made to Florida Walmarts.
“Bob Gualtieri blunt defense of arming school personnel: ‘It’s going to happen again’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri is defending his support of the Guardian Program that allows teachers, faculty or other school staff to carry guns on campus if they meet a set of rigorous criteria. During an emotional presentation to Pinellas County Commissioners that lasted nearly an hour and a half, Gualtieri made a case for the Guardian Program saying harm mitigation is the best way to address gun violence in schools. “There is one thing we know for sure and three questions that follow that,” Gualtieri said. “It is going to happen again.” The statement was blunt, and its implication hung in the air with cold reality. The questions, Gualtieri said, were when and where the next tragedy would occur.
“Feds take over marijuana prosecutions amid hemp legalization” via Jake Stofan of News4Jax — After multiple state attorneys across Florida announced the legalization of hemp would delay or even halt some marijuana prosecutions, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida has announced the feds will take the reins. The legalization of hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive identical twin, propped state attorneys like Jack Campbell to re-evaluate how they handle cases involving marijuana. In the meantime, Campbell and many other state attorneys have decided to delay or drop marijuana cases. Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida who oversees 25 Florida counties, has now said his office will take over the caseload. “The resources they bring to bear are clearly wonderful and broad,” Campbell said.
“Education officials want schools to teach about child trafficking” via News Service of Florida — Florida students in grades K-12 would be taught about child-trafficking prevention, under a rule proposed by state education officials. The rule intends to have “every school in Florida be a ‘child trafficking free zone,’” according to the proposed regulation published by the Florida Department of Education Tuesday. Under the proposed rule, all public schools would be required to have a plan in place for teaching students about child trafficking. The state Board of Education is poised to consider the proposal next month. Under the proposed rule, school districts that fail to comply with the new mandate could be sanctioned.
“3 women sue Jeffrey Epstein’s estate, citing rape, other sex acts” via Larry Neumeister and Jim Mustian of The Associated Press — The lawsuits in Manhattan federal court were filed on behalf of women who remained anonymous. They sought unspecified damages, citing continuing psychological and psychiatric trauma, mental anguish, humiliation and more. The lawsuits say two women were 17 and the third woman was 20 when they said Epstein sexually assaulted them. All said they were also coerced into giving Epstein sexual massages for years. Each woman explained in separate lawsuits how Epstein entered her life and forever changed its trajectory. They said Epstein dangled his powerful connections to political and business leaders worldwide as he promised to boost their careers in exchange for sexual servitude.
“Victim of 1994 serial killings remembered as execution nears” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Milton Bradley was a 72-year-old World War II Navy veteran living in Savannah in May 1994 when he met Gary Ray Bowles. Bradley was well known as a kind, gentle soul who gave whatever he could to those in need. It was a shock when his bludgeoned body was found behind a golf course shed, leaves and dirt stuffed down his throat. Bowles confessed to the killing but was never tried or convicted of it. He was convicted of murder for the November 1994 slaying of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville Beach. Now 57, Bowles is scheduled to be put to death at Florida State Prison. “It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it?” said Milton Bradley’s nephew Mark Bradley.
— NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE —
What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Doctors should not be blocked from helping N.J. patients end their lives, NJ governor urges court” via NJ.com — Gov. Phil Murphy has asked the state’s highest court to overturn a restraining order that temporarily froze New Jersey’s new “Aid in Dying” law last week. It blocks physicians from writing a prescription to enable patients with six months or less to live to end their lives … The N.J. Supreme Court should act quickly, according to (a) petition, because “terminally ill patients and their families … will be forced to continue in the intense suffering, pain, and indignity of terminal illnesses from which they seek immediate relief.”
What John Morgan is reading — “New law would make Arizona cities pay for raising the minimum wage” via The Arizona Republic — Arizona lawmakers could make cities pay for raising the minimum wage. A new law that takes effect Aug. 27 requires the state to calculate the cost to Arizona’s government when cities and counties raise the minimum wage above the statewide rate. If the state has to pay more for services in those communities because of a higher minimum wage, legislators could force local governments to cover the additional costs … (Some) view it as an effort by the Republican-controlled Legislature to curtail the power of local governments.
What Jeff Sharkey is reading — “University of the Sciences launches MBA in medical cannabis, said to be first of its kind” via WHYY News (Philadelphia) — For those trying to break into the burgeoning medical cannabis industry, there’s a lot to learn. Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences (is offering) a new MBA track, which the school says is a first of its kind … The program is admitting students through Dec. 1, to start courses in spring 2020. As of now, the curriculum includes four courses: An introduction to the medical cannabis industry; finance and regulation (both federal and state-by-state); marketing and sales; and a project-based class in which students will work on creating a business plan or bringing a product to market.
— 2020 —
“Dems fear another rural wipeout will reelect Donald Trump” via Elena Schneider and Catherine Boudreau of POLITICO — Democrats hoping to win the White House in 2020 recognize how critical that advice is after 2016, when Hillary Clinton turned in strong performances in many cities and suburbs but lost rural voters 2-to-1, falling short to Trump by slim margins in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Democrats clawed back some gains in rural counties in the 2018 midterm elections, and they want to build on that momentum in 2020. But the presidential primary, often dominated by cultural issues and Trump-driven hot buttons, including immigration and race, isn’t helping their case.’
“Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders the only Democrats to beat Trump in new poll” via Steve Shepard of POLITICO — A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll is just the latest survey showing the former VP with the biggest lead over Trump. It has Biden up 7 point over the president in a hypothetical general election matchup, 42 percent to 35 percent. Other than Bernie Sanders, who led Trump by 5 points, every other Democrat is either tied with the incumbent or trails him.
“We talked to experts on aging about the 2020 field. Here’s what they told us.” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Concerns about Biden’s age and mental fitness are likely overblown, according to experts on aging and the brain, as well as actuarial tables used by the insurance industry to estimate the health and longevity of customers. The two brain aneurysms Biden suffered in 1988 were thoroughly treated, and he showed no signs of mental trouble as a result, said Dr. Neal Kassell, who performed the surgery on Biden three decades ago. Nor did Biden suffer any brain damage that could come back to haunt him in old age, Kassell said. “He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” Kassell said.
“No Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. We need a moderate, South Florida Democrats tell their party.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A group of prominent current and former elected officials in Broward County is warning the Democratic Party that defeating Trump requires nominating a candidate who can appeal to a broad swath of the electorate — not one of the progressives running far to the left. The group, which is calling itself the Real Solutions Caucus, sees 10 candidates — including former Vice President Biden — as best equipped to appeal to swing voters in a handful of states that will decide the election. Pointedly not on the list: the two leading progressive presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Warren and Sanders.
“President Trump’s phone calls with Wayne LaPierre reveal NRA’s influence” via Elaina Plott of The Atlantic — “Earlier this afternoon, according to a person briefed on the call, the president told LaPierre in another phone call that universal background checks were off the table. ‘He was cementing his stance that we already have background checks and that he’s not waffling on this anymore,’ the source told me. ‘He doesn’t want to pursue it.’ In the call, the source added, Trump said he wanted to focus now on “increasing funding” for mental-health care and directing attorneys general across the country to start prosecuting “gun crime” through federal firearms charges from the Justice Department.
“Trump accuses Jewish Democrats of ‘great disloyalty” via Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times — President Trump said on Tuesday that any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat is guilty of ignorance or “great disloyalty,” intensifying his efforts to drive in a partisan wedge over religion and support for Israel even as he appeared to draw on an anti-Semitic trope.
“In private meeting, Trump calls El Paso Mayor a ‘RINO’” via Karen Pinchin of PBS — The Mayor of the grieving city of El Paso told Trump in a private meeting that he’s presenting “misinformation” about crime in his city, and pushed back when the president used a derogatory term to suggest he wasn’t a real Republican. “He said, ‘You’re a RINO [Republican in name only],’ and I said, ‘No, sir. I am not a RINO,’” Mayor Dee Margo told FRONTLINE. “I said … ‘I simply corrected the misinformation you were given by [the Texas] attorney general, and that’s all I did.’” The Mayor said he was trying to debunk Trump’s false claim that El Paso had one of the highest violent crime rates in the U.S. until a barrier fence was built there.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Rubio calls climate change ‘a real problem’ but rejects aggressive efforts to curb emissions” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune — Climate change is a challenge Floridians ‘must confront,’ Rubio wrote Monday in a new op-ed for USA Today. But Rubio said policymakers should focus on adapting to the flooding and other problems that climate change will bring, instead of aggressive efforts to curb carbon emissions that are warming the planet.
“Ross Spano again faces questions over campaign contributions” via Gary White of the Ledger — The Federal Elections Commission has again raised questions about contributions to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Spano. The federal agency sent a “request for additional information” letter last week to the treasurer of Spano’s reelection campaign in response to records submitted in July.
Assignment editors — Congressman Charlie Crist will speak on the importance of global collaboration in addressing security threats at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DODIIS) Worldwide Conference, 2:30 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa.
— NOT FAR ENOUGH —
Rubio made some excellent points about climate change in an op-ed he wrote for USA TODAY. This conservative Republican conceded that climate change is real.
I may have to fan myself.
“I can tell you Florida will be forced to continue making adjustments in the coming decades because of the changing climate. Trend lines suggest sunny day flooding will become increasingly common as local sea levels rise from a variety of causes,” he wrote.
“As a result, some researchers predict that the 30-year mortgage will die out in low-lying parts of our state.”
That’s when he rolled out the words “proactive adaptation.”
It’s a misdirection play.
Ask the people in Panama City how they “adapted” after Hurricane Michael. That storm blew their world apart last October with winds of 161 miles per hour, and they have recovered yet.
The National Hurricane Center said there have 34 Category 5 hurricanes (at least 157 mph) since 1924. Twelve of those have come since 2003, including four in the last three years.
Michael jumped from a Category 2 to 4 (later upgraded to 5) virtually overnight. Water in the Gulf of Mexico was about five degrees higher than normal for October. Think of that as steroids for hurricanes.
Florida also has had a run of record high temperatures.
July was the hottest month in human history.
Scientists say a significant increase in greenhouse gases the root cause of climate change.
Rising sea levels and coastal flooding are only part of the problem.
— via Joe Henderson
— THE TRAIL —
“Fundraiser teed up for GOP’s Senate campaign fund” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Top Senate Republicans will hit the links in Ponte Vedra Beach next month to raise money for the central political committee supporting GOP Senate campaigns. The golf outing fundraiser, benefitting the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, will be held Sept. 12-13 at TPC Sawgrass. FRSCC is a party affiliated committee charged with maintaining the Republican majority in the state Senate. It spent more than $35 million last election cycle to much success — Democrats launched competitive campaigns in several Senate districts in 2018, but only one battleground went their way.
“Trio of state Senate leaders is endorsing Jim Boyd to succeed Bill Galvano” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sens. Wilton Simpson, Kathleen Passidomo and Travis Hutson all endorsed the Bradenton Republican. “I am thrilled to have their support and am eager to join them in continuing to move Florida forward,” said Boyd. The endorsements come days after Boyd filed to run for Senate President Galvano’s District 21 Senate seat. Galvano cannot seek reelection thanks to term limits; he also endorsed Boyd. Simpson, who will take over as Senate President in 2020 should Republicans hold the chamber, praised Boyd as a solid recruit.
“Jeanette Nuñez backs Ana Maria Rodriguez’s Senate campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Rodriguez picked up political support for her Senate District 39 campaign from former House member Nuñez: “South Florida needs and deserves a strong leader like Ana Maria Rodriguez in the Florida Senate. As a working mother and a community leader, Ana Maria has proven she understands the challenges and opportunities facing the people of South Florida. I am proud to stand with my friend, Ana Maria Rodriguez.” It’s the second major endorsement this week from a South Florida Republican woman with roots in the critical Cuban community. State Sen. Anitere Flores announced her support for Rodriguez.
“Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh draws primary foe Khalid Muneer” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrat Muneer, a real estate broker and prominent civic activist, has filed to challenge Orange County Property Appraiser Singh in the 2020 Democratic primary. Muneer, 68, of Orlando, is a former banker who is president at Jupiter Properties. He has served on numerous boards and area chambers of commerce in Central Florida. He is targeting Singh in part because of a series of scandals the Democratic property appraiser has gone through in recent years.
“Pinellas will ask voters to renew its special property tax for schools” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — Approved every four years since 2004, the tax has raised $477 million to supplement teacher salaries, fuel art, music and reading classes, and update technology. If voters were to approve the measure again in 2020, the district would be required to share the money with Pinellas charter schools, after a decision by the Florida Legislature in April. Another shift is that the item will likely come to voters March 17, rather than in the fall as it has in the past. That way, the district can avoid the “political clutter” of the upcoming presidential election, said Beth Rawlins, the political consultant who has helped shepherd the tax toward approval in previous years.
“Buddy Dyer continues to dominate money chase in Orlando mayoral race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Dyer added $56,176 to his reelection campaign’s coffers during July, keeping his reelection fund at a level about ten times that of any of his opponents. Dyer’s July campaign contributions brought his total to $459,053 since he filed in February seeking reelection in the Nov. 5 election. The campaign has spent about $97,830 through July. Orlando City Commissioner Sam Ings reported raising $6,400 in July, putting his total raised at $43,475. Retired Navy veteran Aretha Simons collected $1,622 in July for a total of $43,641 raised. Shantele Bennett did not report any campaign finance activity in July and has raised just $443 in her mayoral bid.
“David Richardson returns double the petitions to qualify in Miami Beach” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former state Rep. Richardson has enough signatures to run for City Commission in Miami Beach. The former Democratic lawmaker submitted more than 1,950 petitions to qualify him as a candidate in Group IV. That’s more than twice as many signatures as needed, he said. Organizations like SAVE LGBTQ have helped Richardson’s campaign canvass the area. “Throughout his career, David has been a true Champion of Equality,” the group said of the openly gay politician. Richardson said the effort to double the required number of signatures does more than cushion the campaign from having petitions tossed out. The effort helps establish a grassroots network that will assist his candidacy when he’s on the ballot in November.
— LOCAL —
“Down the hatch: St. Petersburg has sent more than 21 million gallons of improperly treated sewage into the aquifer since 2018” via Charlie Frago and Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Since the beginning of 2018, the city has violated its wastewater permit at least six times, state records show. A probable seventh violation occurred this past weekend. When asked to explain the gulf between the city’s news release and the documented violations of state environmental law in three separate illegal pumpings in May 2018, Mayor Rick Kriseman’s spokesman said the city hasn’t been trying to hide anything. Ben Kirby said the city’s public notification protocol wasn’t in place before January. He said the laudatory news release was meant to congratulate Water Resources department employees for their hard work. Was it an attempt to mislead the public? “No,” Kirby wrote in an email.
“Is Tampa Bay about to enter Water War Two?” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — At a Tampa Bay Water board meeting, sparring between St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice and Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda got particularly intense. Rice accused Tampa of ducking transparency. Miranda compared Rice’s desire to seek outside legal advice to a $1 million divorce fight. Board chairman Sandy Murman framed the bad blood as a threat to the region: “I can’t really hold back anymore. I’ll be honest with y’all: We are teetering on the edge of water war.” She said the lack of trust between members governments was endangering the mission of an agency formed in 1999 to put an end to the water grabs and squabbles that convulsed the Tampa Bay region two decades ago.
What are they doing over there — “Lenny Curry’s office waives revolving-door ban for retired administrator to work for Jacksonville Jaguars” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — City Hall’s recently retired top administrator, Sam Mousa, received clearance to work for the Jacksonville Jaguars on their proposed Lot J development, a relationship that could otherwise have been prohibited by the city’s ethics code. Brian Hughes, who replaced Mousa as Curry’s chief administrative officer, wrote a letter on July 1 stating that it would be in the “best interests of the public” for Mousa to consult the Jaguars on the project, citing his “unique and valuable perspective and experience.” He wrote that Mousa’s service would not include any lobbying. The city’s ethics code contains a revolving-door provision that restricts former employees from working on behalf of outside groups on matters they were involved in while working for the city.
“Epic Universe neighbors urge Orange leaders to gain commitments from Universal for $125M investment” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — About 100 future neighbors of the planned Epic Universe theme park urged Orange County leaders Tuesday to tie $125 million to assist the Universal Studios’ project to an agreement for good jobs, affordable housing and “real community involvement.” “If Universal is getting so much from us, we should be getting something back,” said Elias Rivera, 21, who grew up in Oak Ridge, works at Disney and formerly worked at Universal. “I think it would be great for their reputation as a company if they worked with the community, but we need an agreement.” Most urged commissioners to demand binding language in funding agreements with Universal to address their concerns about the theme park.
“Could David Beckham’s contaminated stadium site mean extra time for soccer in Fort Lauderdale?” via of Rafael Olmeda and Britney Wallman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium will remain the training ground for soccer legend Beckham’s new Major League Soccer team — regardless of new questions surfacing about the toxicity of the team’s site for a home stadium in Miami. But it remained unclear whether the contamination at the Miami site, a golf course, was substantial enough to force Inter Miami to extend its plans for regular season play in Fort Lauderdale beyond the current two-year schedule. The city of Miami decided to close the Melreese Country Club golf course after determining the site contains toxic levels of arsenic and other contaminants. It called into question whether Inter Miami would be able to debut in Miami in 2022 as initially planned.
“Deputies say Vero Beach man used popular video game platforms to target children” via Max Chesnes of TCPalm — Kyle Scott, 18, was served with a juvenile arrest affidavit — Scott’s 18th birthday — on 26 counts of child pornography-related charges, according to arrest records. Scott used popular video games, such as Roblox, a multiplayer online game, to coerce children as young as 10 into sending naked photos in exchange for virtual gaming currency, said Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Detective Aaron Scranton. The investigation began May 29 when Pearland Police Department detectives in Pearland, Texas, responded to a complaint that a 13-year-old boy sent a video of himself in the shower after Scott made demands via Discord, an online messaging application, according to sheriff’s records.
“Want a straw? In Sarasota, now you’ll have to ask for one if on city property” via Mark Bergin of Florida Politics — Customers in Sarasota wanting single-use plastic straws on city-owned property now will have to request them specially. That includes, for example, sidewalk cafes on city property or city-sanctioned special events. The Sarasota City Commission this week voted unanimously in favor of the upon-request policy for plastic drinking straws and an outright ban on polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam.
“North Florida schools outfitted with telehealth portals” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — For some North Florida children, the excitement of back-to-school season is secondary to the ongoing trauma of Hurricane Michael. But Let’s Talk Interactive aims to help those students with telemedicine. On Tuesday, the company said it installed 63 telehealth kiosks and set up 63 telehealth iPads portals in every public school within six counties that took the brunt of Michael’s devastation last year: Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, Jackson and Liberty. The portals were deployed in conjunction with first lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope for Healing initiative, the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) and Big Bend Community Based Care (BBCBC). They were funded through insurance, Medicaid and Medicare and grants available through BBCBC.
— OPINIONS —
“Now is the time to invest in Florida roads” via Mark Wilson for the Tampa Bay Times — Despite Florida’s current 21.6 million population, and growing by 900 people every day, this week a newspaper headline questioned the need for improved infrastructure, overlooking facts, and opting for sensationalized clickbait. But the truth is, the facts support smarter infrastructure. In fact, the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition can demonstrate the expected population growth between now and 2030, for each of Florida’s 67 counties. The numbers support these new roads. These economic projections were developed from sound data, and available for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on TheFloridaScorecard.org. What these numbers tell us is that Florida’s urban areas are expanding, and our connections between them should be as strong as possible.
“No, the Super Bowl isn’t going to bring $400M-$600M to Miami” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — In case your summer reading list didn’t include my column on Wrestlemania’s inflated economic impact, here’s a Super Bowl-style remix: Big events make ya feel good, but they don’t typically provide cities tangible returns on investment … “Economic impact” does not equal revenue, and impact reports always seem to conveniently forget basic economic principles. For instance, Miami politicians will never tell you big events disrupt local economies and many people choose to spend less time and money in the city during an event week.
— MOVEMENTS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Matt Brockelman, Southern Strategy Group: Douglas Property & Development
Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair, Amanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Fontainebleau Development
Shan Goff, Elizabeth Moya: Department of Education
Heidi Tringe, MMR: Solera Health Network
— LOBBYING COMP. ROUNDUP —
Florida lobbying firms turned in their second-quarter compensation reports last week, and the quarter was kind to many of leading firms in the profession.
Ron Book and lobbying partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette were among the top-earning advocates of the quarter — they took the No. 3 spot in legislative lobbying pay with a whopping $2.15 million in receipts. Add in the $250,000 they earned lobbying the Governor and Cabinet, and it makes for a $2.4 million quarter.
Though Rubin, Turnbull & Associates’ individual reports didn’t put them in contention for the top-paid legislative lobbying firm, they could have earned nearly as much as some of the perennial top-5 firms.
The firm founded by Bill Rubin and now helmed by managing partner Heather Turnbull earned an estimated $2 million last quarter, with a near-even split between legislative and executive lobbying collections. At a minimum, the firm earned $1.5 million between April 1 and June 30.
Smaller firms fared well, too.
Rhett O’Doski, Ryder Rudd, Sean Stafford, and Sara Clements of McGuireWoods Consulting earned up to $300,000 from their three-dozen clients, among them Florida Crystals, Florida International University, Florida Poly, Hilton and Waymo, a major player in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, meanwhile, earned an estimated $210,000 last quarter — and that may be underestimating their Q2 performance. Quarterly compensation reports also list broad ranges for overall compensation for the quarter, and the firm and the firm reported earning between $100,000 and $250,000 on both of its second-quarter reports.
The team of Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick, Ethan Merchant and Timothy Parson earned no less than $200,000 and could have earned as much as $380,000 in Q2.
— ALOE —
What John Lux is reading — “It looks like Florida. But new Showtime comedy was shot in a place New Orleanians know well” via NOLA.com — Showtime’s new dramatic comedy “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” which stars Kirsten Dunst as a scrappy inhabitant of an Orlando-adjacent city in 1992. Producers of the 10-installment series have a little secret to share. It wasn’t shot in Florida. It was shot in New Orleans. And there’s a good reason for that. “It was a tax incentive thing. The other choice was, obviously, Atlanta,” said series executive producer Charlie McDowell, who also directed the first and last episodes of the season. “But I know the real reason behind it. I know that Kirsten really loves New Orleans. She said, ‘We’re shooting in New Orleans.’ Tax credits played a role in it, but Kirsten loves New Orleans so much.”
“Disney’s Halloween celebration adds new fireworks, characters” via Kelly Stefani of the Tampa Bay Times — It was only mid-August, but the Magic Kingdom was packed for the launch of the annual after-hours celebration. It continues for a record 36 nights through Nov. 1, and it’s the one time of year you can dress in costume at the theme park. Partygoers arrive as early as 4 p.m. to play at the Magic Kingdom before it shuts down at 7 for the Halloween-themed. The new Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks show features nonstop 180-degree bursts spanning from Adventureland to Tomorrowland. The display is set to a castle projection show in which Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas plays the hero when Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy run into trouble while trick-or-treating in a haunted house.
Good riddance — “Florida State will not bring back turnover backpack in 2019” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat — FSU head coach Willie Taggart announced while appearing as a guest on CBS Sports HQ’s Kanell and Bell that FSU will not bring back the turnover backpack in 2019. “You are just going to see us play football,” Taggart said. “You are not going to see a backpack, anything, you are going to see us play football and have fun playing the game with each other and having fun making plays. That was something that our guys wanted to do, and they enjoyed doing it. This is the 2019 team, and guys want to do things different, they want to be different and expect to be different.”
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday belatedly to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. Celebrating today are Lesley Cohen (our incredible travel agent), Caitlin Fishman and Ryan Patmintra.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.