Good Monday morning. Let’s start the day with an exclusive look at some polling data that, to be frank, should change the way we look at the initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana.
According to a new survey conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, one of the most respected public research firms in the nation, two-thirds of likely Florida voters polled favor legalizing the use of marijuana for adults age 21 or over.
Of those, 45 percent said they strongly favored legalization, and 22 percent said they somewhat favored. Only 29 percent opposed legalization.
The 67 percent favorability finding in the poll is a massive win for legalization proponents. It sets a solid ground for work on three proposed amendments seeking ballot inclusion that all would require 60 percent of the vote to be approved.
There is a slew of data in this poll, including numbers on top messaging points and potential opposing strategies, and all of it can be read here in this must-read story from Janelle Irwin.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: In France, we are all laughing at how knowingly inaccurate the U.S. reporting of events and conversations at the G-7 is. These Leaders, and many others, are getting a major case study of Fake News at it’s finest! They’ve got it all wrong, from Iran, to China Tariffs, to Boris!
—@RealDonaldTrump: The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous. I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!
—@BetoORourke: This decision is as baffling as it is alarming. Our planet is burning — the least we can do as a party is debate what to do about it.
—@Eric_Jotkoff: Really @? Are you really going to claim, “Democrats have turned politics into a reality TV.”
—@LtGovNunez: Democrats have boxed in voters, specifically Hispanic voters, into a one-size-fits-all approach, particularly on the immigration front … The contrived labels of intolerance, white supremacy, and racism are buzzwords used by liberals to circumvent facts and demonize those who dare to disagree on immigration policy.
—@Kriseman: 1. I am NOT running against my friend @, ever. That’s a crazy rumor I keep hearing. We need Charlie in DC! 2. I have no plans to run statewide. I’d happily spend the rest of my life as mayor of the best city in the world.
—@PNJ: We’re entering the six-week period during which most hurricanes occur.
—@MattDonnelly: “Everything the light touches is our kingdom,” voice-over says at the top of the Walt Disney Studios presentation at #. No f*cking kidding.
—@Rob_Bradley: Andrew Luck is the canary in the coal mine. We will see more and more players make this decision. Made enough $ for family to be secure, health relatively intact, happy, growing family, other interests developed. Perfectly rational. And others will see the logic and follow.
—@Fineout: So if everyone promises to buy a Dr Pepper in the next week would @consider just jettisoning this whole Fansville campaign?
— DAYS UNTIL —
St. Petersburg’s primary election — 1; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 3; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 4; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 5; Labor Day — 7; CNN hosts candidate forum on the climate crisis — 9; TaxWatch Productivity Awards — 16; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 21; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 22; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 24; “Joker” opens — 39; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 39; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 46; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 62; Brexit scheduled — 66; 2019 General Election — 71; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 73; Frozen 2 debuts — 88; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 98; The Rise of Skywalker premiers — 116; 2020 Session begins — 141; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 142; Iowa Caucuses — 161; New Hampshire Primaries — 169; Florida’s presidential primary — 204; Black Panther 2 debuts — 254; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 333; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 365; 2020 General Election — 436.
— TOP STORY —
Florida voters, for the most part, approve of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ job performance so far, while they remain split (or slightly underwater) on President Donald Trump, according to a new statewide St. Pete Polls survey.
Of those polled, 58 percent indicated a favorable opinion of the Governor, while only 30 percent had an unfavorable view.
As for Trump, polling gives a somewhat unfavorable opinion of the President. Forty-eight percent of Floridians approve of the job Trump is doing while 49 percent disapprove. The remaining 3 percent are unsure.
Since both are Republicans, these numbers suggest Trump’s support is not strictly based on partisanship.
Unsurprisingly, DeSantis does best among Republicans with 81 percent supporting; only 12 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 49 percent did not approve of DeSantis; 36 percent did. His highest approval numbers are among white Floridians with 64 percent supporting, and 26 percent disapprove. Hispanic voters also had a high opinion of DeSantis, with 56 percent supporting his work and 34 percent disapproving.
One demographic that might come as a surprise to Trump critics is his support among women. More women approve of Trump than disapprove, though the margin is just 0.7 of a percentage point. Men indicated a 50 percent disapproval rating while only 47 percent approved of Trump’s job performance.
DeSantis polls lowest among black voters — 49 percent do not approve of the Governor’s job performance; only 32 percent approve.
Pollsters also asked about the minimum wage amendment, which found support highest among Democrats, with 75 percent. Among Republicans, that number is 51 percent
—“‘A deep and boiling anger’: NBC/WSJ poll finds a pessimistic America despite current economic satisfaction” via Carrie Dann of NBC News
—“Americans’ economic outlook: Optimism, but Trump tweets and trade raise concerns — CBS News poll” via Anthony Salvanto and Jennifer De Pinto of CBS News
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Ron DeSantis distances himself from Donald Trump on Jewish voter ‘disloyalty’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “I’ve heard the complaint from a lot of Jewish Republicans that more Jewish Americans are not voting, you know, against the Democratic Party,” DeSantis told reporters. “But I think that’s just because there’s a whole bunch of other issues that people vote on. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.” DeSantis, a political ally of Trump, took a different approach when asked about the president’s comments, noting that Jewish voters, like any subset of the electorate, are often not single-issue voters. “I’m realistic. If someone has voted Democratic for 50 years, it’s just a different calculation,” DeSantis said. DeSantis ran a pro-Israel gubernatorial campaign, a continuation of his focus on the issue during his three terms in Congress.
“Governor seeking ‘best value,’ speed on road projects” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis said he has expressed concerns to the head of the Florida Department of Transportation about the cost and length of time to get projects completed. “I think if you look at some of the price tags in these things, I just want to make sure we are getting the best value,” the Governor told reporters in Orlando after a speech to members of the Florida Realtors Association. DeSantis added that he would like to see infrastructure projects done “as soon as possible and not take forever and a day.” DeSantis did say he would like a “speed up” on the I-4 Ultimate corridor expansion project, and he would like the project to be more cost-effective.
“Daniel Davis appointed to St. Johns River Water Management Board” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Davis, expected to make a play for Jacksonville Mayor in 2023, will be involved in a potentially major issue until then. Davis, the CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and a former state Legislator, was picked for the St. Johns River Water Management Board Friday. A former City Council President, Davis presents facility with issues, specifically the intersection of local and state concerns. His ascension to the water management board comes at a time when Northeast Florida residents are concerned, for many reasons, about the St. Johns River.
The governor did NOT pick the guy who actually knows water issues and devoted his life to protecting clean water.
Instead, he chose a former legislator who now leads the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
An environmental agenda, indeed.https://t.co/QWleZ9ly6M https://t.co/3mharkwksA
— Scott Maxwell (@Scott_Maxwell) August 24, 2019
Assignment editors — DeSantis will deliver remarks at the opening of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners, 10:30 a.m., 4520 Oak Fair Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa.
Jeanette Nùñez, business leaders tout Donald Trump economy — Trump Victory hosted an economic roundtable featuring in Miami Lakes with Lt. Gov. Nùñez and small business owners to discuss Trump’s economy working for Florida businesses and workers. The event at Pharma-Natural was part of Trump Victory’s nationwide “Open for Business” tour, which featured more than 30 economic events over 17 states. “Across our great state, I continually hear real-life success stories thanks to the bold economic policies President Trump’s administration has ushered in,” Nùñez said. “Thanks to lower taxes, higher worker wages and cutting government red-tape, Florida is growing exponentially, and that message of prosperity will resonate come 2020!”
Scoop — “Jimmy Patronis’ attorney suggests criminal charges against fired OFR head” via Jim Rosa, of Florida Politics — Peter Penrod — general counsel for Patronis’ Department of Financial Services (DFS) — advised the CFO about a request by Ron Rubin for whistleblower status under state law. Other emails show that Rubin still had not turned in his state-issued computer and cellphone. Rubin, former head of the state’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), was terminated last month in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments in the workplace. Before that, Rubin had applied for whistleblower status, claiming he was being retaliated against by CFO Patronis for not hiring the friend of a favored lobbyist. Penrod’s email is redacted, but a person inside the department confirmed the subject is Rubin.
Assignment editors — Members of the Florida House Democratic caucus will call for colleagues to support a special Session to address the epidemic of gun violence in the state, 10:30 a.m., in front of the Orange County Courthouse, 415 N. Orange Ave., Orlando
Lawmakers to host St. Johns River forum today — Invoking the spirit of former legislative lion John Thrasher, two House Republicans in the NW Fla. region hope to revive a cooperative spirit regarding the St. Johns River. Reps. Bobby Payne and Paul Renner will host the St. Johns River Forum meeting, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, St. Johns River Center, 102 North 1st St., Palatka. Payne says he hopes to bring back “the St. Johns River Caucus,” which Thrasher saw as a way to clean up the river. Renner notes that other Legislators from the region will be there, as well as the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the public. This will follow on efforts by Sen. Rob Bradley to bring more water restoration money to the region.
“Investigation concludes Marion Hammer must disclose NRA money for lobbying” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Office of Legislative Services ordered Hammer to refile quarterly lobbying compensation reports for the past four years to reflect income from the National Rifle Association. Those amended reports have been submitted and Senate President Bill Galvano said he considers the case closed. Two Democratic lawmakers filed formal complaints in May about Hammer’s quarterly compensation reports. They charged she failed to fully disclose how much money she was paid to lobby the Legislature on gun issues. Hammer formed Unified Sportsmen of Florida in 1975 as an NRA affiliate to promote Second Amendment rights at the Capitol. She is its only employee.
— STATEWIDE —
“On guns, voter polls say one thing. Politicians do another. What gives?” via Antonio Fins of the Palm Beach Post — Following the latest round of American carnage, efforts to advance gun safety legislation — whether universal background checks or an assault weapons ban — appear stalled in Congress. In Tallahassee, calls to convene a special Legislative Session, perhaps by prohibiting military-style weapons, have hit a wall, too. A déjà vu result that — when contrasted against polls clearing highlighting the public’s desires — political analysts say leaves the citizenry soured. “It’s the fateful question about whether or not the desires of the voters actually translate into the actions of the legislators,” said Kevin Wagner, pollster and chairman of the political science department at Florida Atlantic University. “There is frustration in Florida that sometimes what the majority wants doesn’t translate in the legislative process.”
“It’s taking forever for Hurricane Michael disaster aid to reach the wrecked Florida Panhandle” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — “They think FEMA’s the savior, but it’s not, really,” Jackson County Commission Chairman Cliff Pate said. FEMA earmarked $7.2 million for temporary housing in Jackson County, he said. “We haven’t gotten that money yet, but it’s been allocated to us … but we don’t have it.” The Trump administration did pick up a larger portion of the check. The feds paid 100 percent of the response and recovery expenses for the first 45 days following the storm, and later increased the federal government’s share to 90 percent. The standard practice provides for a 75 percent federal share, with state and local governments splitting the rest. But the money hasn’t shown up in a timely way, local officials say.
“Peak hurricane season is here. Get ready to feel all these emotions” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — Stage 1: Denial. “It’s not going to hit here. Jim Cantore will not be booking a flight to MIA. We will not lose power for a week. We are not spending 12 hours evacuating to Orlando.” Stage 2: Anger. “Don’t we have enough to make life miserable here what with the gators, iguanas, pythons, bad drivers, tourists, impossible rent and $18 cocktails?” Stage 3: Bargaining. “OK, listen, if it’s going to be a storm, let it hit someplace else. Not Florida. Not even Tallahassee. Send it to another state.” Stage 4: Depression. “I can’t believe I have to put up the shutters/buy batteries/fight over plywood at Home Depot.” Stage 5: Acceptance. “Fine. A hurricane is coming. Let’s hit the liquor store.”
“Big Florida highway expansion continues to generate big concerns” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — Environmental groups and planning organizations that oppose building three major toll roads through rural stretches of Florida plan on reviving attacks they leveled unsuccessfully in spring as the plan powered through the Legislature with the backing of Senate President Galvano. “These are roads to ruin,” said David Cullen, a lobbyist with Sierra Club. “There is a build-at-all-costs attitude underway here, and I fear that these hearings are going to demonstrate that.” The target for opponents will be three new task forces launching what is scheduled to be a series of hearings over the next 13 months, analyzing the cost, design and likely routes, along with the potential benefits and risks of each of the massive highway plans.
Big, if true — “Talk of ‘massive, massive’ teacher pay raises in Florida next year — an election year” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis is firmly on record as supporting a pay increase for Florida teachers, but he has steadfastly avoided addressing the most critical question: How much? A possible answer comes from very high up in the administration: Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. At a meeting in Orlando of the Florida Education Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Department of Education, Corcoran outlined in detail what he said is under consideration. “We’re really working with the governor on a massive, massive teacher compensation package. Our number that we’re trying to reach is two billion dollars,” Corcoran told the group. “It could raise the minimum starting teacher salary statewide to the largest in the nation.”
What Jose Oliva is reading — “UCF leaders transferred more than $99M in operating funds improperly, report finds” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — UCF leaders transferred more than $99 million in operating funds for capital projects over an eight-year period, a violation of state rules, and misled the Board of Trustees about the expenditures. A report on the probe, conducted by an Atlanta-based attorney, was delivered to the University of Central Florida leaders. In all, UCF has paid more than $1.3 million to lead investigator Joey Burby’s law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. That figure includes an initial investigation into the Trevor Colbourn Hall funding, which the university ordered last year. The investigation found that former UCF administrators didn’t inform trustees about some of the projects or provided information about the funding sources that were “limited and often vague and contradictory.”
Duh — “Florida residents still make up most of the freshmen class at state public universities” via Pamela McCabe of the Fort Myers News-Press — More than 240 public universities across the country admitted fewer in-state students in 2017 than they did just five years earlier, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Eight Florida schools saw enrollment dips for in-state students, with the most notable change happening in Fort Myers at Florida Gulf Coast University. Between 2012 and 2017, the school reported a 9.06 percent decrease in Florida-based first-year students. But that’s not part of a recruitment plan, explained Interim Provost Jim Llorens. “It is not something we are actively seeking,” Llorens said. He added that for the current semester, which began Monday, FGCU’s enrollment of out-of-state students is closer to 8 percent.
First on #FlaPol — “Florida Education Association makes $24 billion ask for 10-year public education funding” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The organization’s “Decade of Progress” initiative calls for $24 billion commitment to boost public education after what they describe as two decades of neglect and bad policy. “We are in an education crisis in this state,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “Our children are paying the price for more than two decades of underfunding and poor policy decisions. We have a severe teacher shortage, and about 300,000 students started school this year without a permanent, qualified teacher. This situation has to change. Lawmakers must fund Our future.” The group references local referendums in counties across the state, implementing voter-approved taxes to better fund local education.
“Florida kids are getting sent to psychiatric units under the Baker Act in record numbers” via Frank Gluck of the Fort Myers News-Press — In the last 10 years alone, they have more than doubled in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. There are now more than 2,200 such cases involving children every year in this region. Many see this as a sign of increased awareness of mental illness in children. Their increase also tracks with the rise of mass shootings in the United States, and a heightened awareness of that threat, particularly in schools. But some say the rapid increase in such forced examinations, which are designed for only those likely at immediate risk of harming themselves or others, suggests that the law is being used more as a disciplinary tool than a mental health aid.
Arguments set in Parkland liability dispute — Florida Supreme Court justices will hear arguments this Thursday at 11 a.m. in the dispute about how much the Broward County School Board could be forced to pay to parents and other victims of last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The issue centers on the state’s sovereign immunity law, which limits how much government agencies can be forced to pay in lawsuits. The dispute involves whether a $300,000 limit should be an overall total because the mass shooting was a single incident, or whether each plaintiff filing a claim against the school board should be able to receive $200,000 because the shots were separate occurrences.
“Renowned Miami surgeon praises plastic surgery law as ‘good start’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Deregulation around plastic surgery costs lives in the Sunshine State, according to Dr. Adam Rubinstein. The Aventura surgeon said the state took a step in the right direction with a new law cracking down on crummy doctors. But as new and sometimes dangerous cosmetic techniques and fads come along, the state needs to remain vigilant. “Florida as a state has been a very easy place for people to do business,” Rubinstein told Florida Politics. “When people were opening these clinics, the state hasn’t had the oversight that is now coming thanks to the Florida Legislature.” The new law, sponsored last year by state Sen. Anitere Flores and state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, turns its sights on serial medical malpractice.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“No change to Obamacare premiums in 2020 in Florida.” via Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — That’s a reprieve after several years of premiums hikes, which increased by an average of 5 percent this year and by 45 percent in 2018. Nine insurance companies are offering individual plans on and off the Obamacare marketplace next year. This year, there were seven. The majority have reduced their premiums compared to what they offered this year. The newcomer in the exchange next year is Bright Health Insurance, which will be available in several counties, including Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole.
“Feds Search for site to house 500 immigrant children in Central Florida” via Ryan Gillespie and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to locate the shelter in an area that includes the area near Walt Disney World as well as Orlando, all of Seminole County, most of Orange and Lake counties and portions of Osceola, Sumter and Polk counties. In all, the department is looking to lease a building of about 100,000 square feet with 125 bedrooms that would be move-in ready by November 2020, according to a General Services Administration listing. “Care will be provided 24 hours a day/seven days a week by 500 staff,” the listing reads.
“Ethics complaint filed against Darren Soto, 14 others” via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger — The allegations are by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a nonprofit and nonpartisan group. The complaint centered on a letter co-signed by 14 Democrats and one Republican and sent to the chairman and chief executive officer of Red Rock Resorts, discussing support for a tax cut provision he sought and urging him to allow union organizing activity at his casinos. FACT charged that the letter amounted to a quid pro quo suggestion. FACT made the complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent and nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct against members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The OCE can refer matters to the House Committee on Ethics.
“Remember Mark Foley? Disgraced in sexting scandal, but now reinvented and honored by Republicans” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — He’s now enjoying a political renaissance among South Florida Republicans who admire his political skills, applaud his community service, and like his support for Trump. After his resignation, he went to rehab for alcohol addiction. He also came out as gay. Before then, his sexual orientation was long an open secret in South Florida and Washington, D.C. After rehab, Foley returned to Palm Beach County. In recent years he’s hosted a radio show and done some work in real estate, most notably the deal that resulted in a new stadium that brought the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros to the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for spring training starting in 2017.
Meanwhile … what Bob Graham is reading — “U.S. judge orders release of FBI records in Sarasota probe that may tie Saudi royals to 9/11 hijackers” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — A federal judge has ruled the FBI unlawfully withheld from the Florida Bulldog key sections of records of its investigation of a Saudi family that fled Sarasota two weeks before the 9/11 attacks – leaving behind cars, clothes, furniture, food and other belongings.
— 2020 —
“Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh announces he will challenge Donald Trump in Republican primary” via Jeanine Santucci of the USA TODAY — The conservative talk show host said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that he’s running because Trump is “unfit” and “somebody needs to step up.” His announcement comes after an op-ed in The New York Times in which Walsh said a Republican should challenge Trump “from the right.” He said Trump “can’t be trusted.” “The fact is, Mr. Trump is a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base and advance his electoral prospects,” Walsh wrote.
“How Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale went from family bankruptcy to splashing out millions on mansions, condos and luxury cars through his companies that get a hefty cut of the president’s $57M campaign contributions” via José Lambiet of The Daily Mail — Parscale‘s lavish spending sped up this year — just months after he was promoted from digital media director, the job he held during the 2016 campaign when he ran Trump‘s social media campaign, to Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. Parscale will not apologize for becoming wealthy. Others view Parscale’s rise as no more than his willingness to live on the edge of acceptable political ethics — this, at a time when the Trump campaign is planning to rely heavily on contributions of less than $200 made by often low-income voters. In a highly unusual arrangement, Washington insiders tell DailyMail.com that Parscale’s slew of companies and their subsidiaries are now getting a percentage of most of the contributions to the Trump 2020 campaign, about $56.8 million so far this year, federal elections filings show.
“Who will make the next Democratic debate? Gamblers weigh in” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — Online users of PredictIt, an online prediction/betting site, are speculating candidates on the bubble, such as billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, will fail to reach the polling threshold needed to make the stage. PredictIt users are speculating Steyer won’t get the last qualifying poll he needs to push him into the debate, betting against him by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. As of Sunday afternoon, shares of Steyer making the cut were trading at just 35 cents on the dollar. Gabbard needs two more qualifying polls to make the stage, and PredictIt bettors were wagering just 10 cents on the dollar that she would make the cut.
“Democratic National Committee votes against allowing 2020 candidates to participate in climate change debate” via Adam Leavy and Leyla Santiago of CNN — The language that was rejected — inserted at the behest of climate change activists during a contentious Resolutions Committee meeting — said the DNC, “will continue to encourage candidates to participate in multicandidate issue-specific forums with the candidates appearing on the same stage, engaging one another in discussion.” Democratic presidential candidates are barred from appearing together on stage outside of DNC-sanctioned debates. The text approved in committee also conflicted with the resolution itself because it stated, “the DNC concluded that it should not hold debates devoted to one specific topic, nor can it agree to requests for such debates by individual presidential candidates.”
Amazing. Presidential candidate @AndrewYang is peddling new limited edition campaign merch that blends his love for math with his support for marijuana legalization.https://t.co/vdLN36klv1 pic.twitter.com/maQZBzxrxB
— Tom Angell 🌳📰 (@tomangell) August 24, 2019
— THE TRAIL —
“Manatee County pivotal in District 16 congressional race” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The district now includes the northern portion of Sarasota County, all of Manatee County and a part of southern Hillsborough County. That makes Manatee County the power base for District 16 because it has the most voters. Last year Democrat David Shapiro came within 1,348 votes of winning the Sarasota County portion of District 16 but ended up losing in a blowout thanks to Vern Buchanan winning Manatee by 27,484 votes and Hillsborough by 4,188. Shapiro’s loss made it clear that any Democrat needs to spend a lot more time and money cultivating support in Manatee County. So far Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good — who announced she would challenge Buchanan in 2020 — seems to be taking that lesson to heart.
“Carlos Curbelo won’t run for Miami-Dade Mayor in 2020” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Curbelo, whose antagonism with Trump helped land him a commentary gig with MSNBC, won’t run for Miami-Dade Mayor in 2020. Curbelo, who lost his seat in the 2018 “blue wave” to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, told supporters in an email he had spent “over a year’s time” considering a bid to succeed a term-limited Carlos Gimenez as Mayor of Florida’s most populous county. “Although I’m confident in my ability to win the election, the campaign would be long and grueling,” he wrote. “And while I’ve always been up for a challenge, the timing is just not right for our family.”
Florida Republicans plan to target state Senate seats held now by Miami Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez and Tallahassee Democrat Bill Montford, reports Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida. The shift to offense by the GOP comes as Democrats sit three seats shy of reclaiming the chamber. Rodriguez defeated GOP Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in 2016 and will has filed for reelection. Montford cannot seek another term thanks to term limits. Sen. Wilton Simpson, who would become Senate President in 2020 so long as Republicans hold the chamber, said the GOP Senate political committee plans to target both seats. Democrats so far have only targeted two GOP-held seats, one being vacated by term-limited Sen. Anitere Flores in Miami and another being opened by retiring Sen. David Simmons in the Longwood area.
“’Judge me by my merits’: Jennifer Bradley talks Senate bid” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — There are few surer bets in Florida politics right now than Bradley being the next person elected to Florida’s Senate District 5. The wife of incumbent Sen. Rob Bradley, the candidate will benefit from a star-studded fundraiser event and over $600,000 in the incumbent’s political committee. In a majority-Republican, largely rural North Florida district, there is no drama in this race at all. Some have called this a “coronation.” But Mrs. Bradley takes nothing for granted. “My message is simple: Judge me on my own merits. I am going out there and fighting for this seat. I’m not inheriting it, and I’m not entitled to it. I am going to earn it,” she said.
Happening tonight — Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues heads to Tampa to raise money for his Senate District 27 bid. The host committee includes lobbyist Alan Suskey, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, and state Reps. Jamie Grant, Jackie Toledo and Chris Sprowls, who is set to take over as House Speaker after the 2020 elections. Lobbyist Ron Pierce and former House Speaker Will Weatherford are on the invitation list. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the home of Drs. Jim and Gail Norman, 50 Ladoga Avenue, Tampa.
— LOCAL —
“Florida man convicted in parking lot shooting of black man” via Terry Spencer and Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Six jurors deliberated for six hours in Clearwater before convicting Michael Drejka for the July 19, 2018, death of Markeis McGlockton. Drejka, who could get 30 years, looked down after the verdict was read then wiped his brow with a blue handkerchief. The 49-year-old Drejka was ordered held without bond until his sentencing in October. The verdict came about a half-hour after jurors sent out a note saying they were confused by the state’s self-defense law. The lengthy statute generally says the shooting is justified if a reasonable person, under those circumstances, would believe they are in danger of death or great bodily harm. But it also says the shooter could not have instigated the altercation.
What Rick Scott is reading — “Arrests are imminent in Hollywood nursing home deaths, lawyer says” via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Police are set to make at least four arrests related to the 12 deaths at a Hollywood nursing home where the air conditioning had gone out after Hurricane Irma blew through the region. Defense attorneys for two nurses and a facility administrator are negotiating for their clients to surrender either at the Hollywood Police Department or at the Broward Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale. Other sources also confirmed that arrests were imminent and that Hollywood police were planning a news conference about it.
“Violent Facebook threat tied to drug case that snared nearly 50” via Brandon Meyer of Fresh Take Florida — His cousin on trial on felony drug charges in Gainesville, as convicted criminals and informants testified in the case, Roosevelt Smoaks II left the courtroom in disgust, walked toward the courthouse terrace and opened Facebook on his phone. In a profanity-laden Facebook Live broadcast, Smoaks, 34, unloaded a lifetime’s worth of angst and frustration. He threatened to kill anyone testifying in Courtroom 3A against his family that day. Within minutes, the threatening Facebook Live broadcast came to the attention of worried prosecutors inside the courtroom and Gregory Smith, an Alachua County sheriff’s detective who had been on the trail of members of the Smoaks family as part of a drug task force since at least 2014.
“Nope, didn’t really know the guy, say many listed in Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘little black book’” via Kevin Hall of the Miami Herald — My sister knew his girlfriend. Maybe I handed him my business card once. We met at a party a long time ago. Those are the kinds of answers offered by people listed in Epstein’s “little black book.” Asked why they’re in Epstein’s book and you’ll hear a lot of throat clearing, vague answers and head-scratching befuddlement. Epstein’s address book included the home phone numbers of billionaires, Wall Street titans, Hollywood icons and top-tier athletes. It also included an array of everyday people whose lives intersected with the late accused pedophile financier. Being in the book doesn’t mean the listed person did anything wrong. But the black book has garnered renewed attention since Epstein’s arrest for sex trafficking.
“City Council on sidelines of JEA sale process” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — As JEA board members see it, their requirement that any sale of JEA must result in $400 million in one-time customer rebates would be a way to reward longtime ratepayers. To Jacksonville City Council member Garrett Dennis, that promise of rebates would just be a campaign tool. “To take $400 million to buy votes, that’s just wrong,” Dennis said. “That’s unethical. That’s corrupt. This isn’t Chicago.” At this point, however, Dennis has no say in setting the requirements for a sale. Like other City Council members, he’s been on the sidelines, watching the fast-breaking action unfold since the JEA board voted one month ago to put the utility up for a potential sale.
“Matt Carlucci says 2020 better for sales tax choice” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council member Carlucci will offer an amendment putting a sales tax referendum for schools on the November 2020 ballot rather than this November. An amendment by Carlucci at the City Council meeting would mark a major shift in his stance. Carlucci has been one of the council’s most vocal advocates for putting the half-cent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot, saying “more delay, more decay” if voters don’t have a chance to cast ballots on a sales tax. He said he will offer the amendment because it would be difficult for elections officials to organize a special election between now and Nov. 5.
“Judge nixes charter schools’ bid for share of new $200 million school tax” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley threw out a lawsuit by the three schools that claimed the county school board violated Florida law by refusing to share the tax windfall with charters. The ruling is a stinging defeat for the county’s 52 privately operated charter schools, which have long complained that the school board discriminates against their students by denying them money from special voter-approved taxes. Charter schools and traditional public schools generally receive the same amount of money per student from state and local taxes. But state law is silent on whether charters are entitled to a portion of special school taxes approved by county voters.
“Orange County’s road to future transportation” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Early in his new administration, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is gambling big, putting together a tax-and-spend proposal and asking residents two questions: Do you want to raise the sales tax by a penny to improve transportation? And what transportation projects need to be done? The first question could sink the whole proposal. The second question could lead to a broad community discussion about fundamental roads, buses, trains, bikeways, and trails plans that already have daunting challenges and could be radically changed, regardless of what happens with the tax. “This will be a game-changer,” Demings likes to say about his proposal, as he did last week at Orange County’s first town hall on the idea.
“Some young Americans warm to socialism, even Miami Cubans” via Ellis Rua of The Associated Press — While more than half of Americans rejected socialism in a recent Gallup poll, 43 percent surveyed said some version of it would be good for the country. That sentiment was held by 58 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34, compared with just 36 percent of those 55 and older. The popularity of self-described democratic socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has influenced the 2020 Democratic candidates, several of whom say they at least partially support socialist-style policies. Americans who came of age during the last recession often embrace a more significant government role in social policy. They cite stagnant wages, student loan debt, and a decrease in employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions.
“Johns Hopkins to pay nearly $40 million to two families hurt by all children’s heart surgeries” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — The families of two children who were paralyzed after heart surgeries at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital will receive $26 million and $12.75 million in settlements with the hospital, state records show. Although the identities of the children are not public, the records describing their cases match two of the patients featured in a Tampa Bay Times investigation into the hospital’s troubled heart unit. Both families were struggling with the costs of caring for a permanently disabled child with no relief in sight. A third family that lost a child after heart surgery will receive $750,000.
“Activists call upon local lawmakers to commit to combating climate change” via Lisa Conley of the Naples Daily News — A small group protesters paraded through downtown Naples, waving signs depicting the earth on fire and chanting, “Climate change is not a lie, do not let our planet die,” in an effort to bring attention to an issue they say local lawmakers are ignoring. The Naples Youth Protests are part of Fridays For Future, an international movement that began last year when then-15-year-old Greta Thunberg — who’s since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize — sat in front of the Swedish Parliament for three weeks to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. Colleen Gill, an environmental activist who’s been involved with the protests, said there’s “pretty significant” climate change denial in Naples.
“5G coverage coming to Orlando, bringing potentially 20,000 small-cell nodes” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — To upgrade from the current 4G network, carriers including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will install hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment across the country. Called small-cell nodes, the antennas, and corresponding radio equipment are frequently attached to poles in the public right of way with a limited range, so they’re needed about every tenth of a mile to service an area properly. Orlando’s planning department has projected carriers will need about 20,000 nodes to bring about 60 percent coverage, with the most needed to bring strong coverage to dense downtown and touristy International Drive.
— OPINIONS —
“Underestimating the Latino vote could cost the Democrats in 2020” via Jeanette Núñez for the Miami Herald — Our nation, as a country of laws, is in danger of being hijacked by irresponsible rhetoric. This careless discourse has clouded judgment and common sense. It has further pushed the left to applaud lawlessness, threatening the very essence of America’s foundation. So much so, that Democrats have boxed in voters, specifically Hispanic voters, into a one-size-fits-all approach, particularly on the immigration front. The contrived labels of intolerance, white supremacy, and racism are buzzwords used by liberals to circumvent facts and demonize those who dare to disagree on immigration policy. Trying to inject fear into the Hispanic voting bloc as a power play for the elections is nothing to be proud of.
“How Florida lawmakers sided with big government and rock mines over citizens” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Robert Howell and Myles Friedland filed lawsuits in 2013 and 2017 that challenged Pasco County’s approval of two rock mines in north-central Pasco County. They argued the mines violated the county’s land-use rules. One of the last tools Floridians have to preserve their communities is filing lawsuits. Now even that avenue has been effectively blocked. In May, the Florida Legislature added into a controversial bill a requirement that the loser pays the opponent’s legal fees in lawsuits questioning whether a development order is inconsistent with a comprehensive land-use plan. It’s tough enough for the little guy to fight big government. It’s next to impossible when the Florida Legislature changes the rules to favor Goliath over David.
“’The Nickel Boys’: A searing reminder of Dozier school horrors and what’s not unthinkable” via George Will for the Tallahassee Democrat — It requires artistry to write beautifully about children suffering at the hands of evil men, and from the riveting first sentence of his slender new novel “The Nickel Boys” — “Even in death the boys were trouble” — Colson Whitehead’s prose unfurls with controlled fury as he re-imagines life at what was the Arthur G. Dozier School. The fact that Whitehead never raises his authorial voice enhances its wallop. Americans do not want to know what goes on in their prisons, where a not-insignificant portion of the nation’s rapes happen — is much better now. More people are alert and watching. And perhaps more will be because of Whitehead’s searing reminder that what happened not long ago, and here, was not unthinkable.
“Joe Henderson: Video proved Michael Drejka wasn’t standing his ground” via Florida Politics — The jury in the Drejka manslaughter trial got it right. He wasn’t standing his ground when he shot Markeis McGlockton to death in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Drejka acted like a reckless crackpot with an itchy trigger finger, and he believed that a misguided law had him covered. He awaits a judge’s decision on how much time he will spend in prison because of that miscalculation. Case closed, right? Yeah, maybe — this time anyway. But even if you trust a judge to uphold the conviction, what happens when the next Michael Drejka comes along — only this time, without video of the act?
“In turning the corner, Broward Health slams into wall” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — To hear it said, you’d think a majority of Broward Health commissioners did little more than add a comma or fix a typo in their rush to change the bylaws that govern the public hospital district, which serves — and taxes — county residents living north of Griffin Road. But on closer examination, significant changes were made in the bylaws that four members raced to approve — a vote that the board’s chairman called illegal and walked out on, and that another board member called wrong and hung up on. They should retract the election they then instantly convened to unseat Andrew Klein as chairman and Christopher Ure as vice chairman, placing Ray Berry and Nancy Gregoire in those seats, respectively.
“Central Florida needs an ethics board to sniff out problems” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Just because something smells fishy, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s rotten. It does mean you should give it a good, hard look. A whiff of ethical fishiness is coming from two government agencies in Central Florida. It’s linked to two people. Robert Saltsman was a member of Florida Virtual School’s Board of Trustees. He also worked, at least for a brief time, as a consultant for Frank Kruppenbacher’s law firm. Kruppenbacher was the general counsel for FLVS. So, while he reported to Saltsman in one job, Saltsman reported to him in another. The City of Orlando also has no ethics commission. It’s time for local governments to stop relying on the creaky state system and create their own ethics boards.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Glenton Gilzean named to Florida Commission on Ethics — DeSantis last week appointed Gilzean to the Commission. Gilzean, of Orlando, president and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League. Previously, Gilzean was a vice president at Step Up For Students, a scholarship granting organization. He also has served on the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees. He was a regional field director for the Florida Department of Education 2006-09. Gilzean received his undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and a graduate degree in entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida. He is appointed to a two-year term, with the appointment subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
Appointed — Palmer Clarkson (reappointed) to the Jacksonville Port Authority.
— D23 —
The only story that matters — “Disney Cruise line names first new ship Disney Wish” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Coming in 2021 will be the Disney Wish, the company announced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim. “I mean the Disney Wish, what a fitting name,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “And that’s because making wishes come true is part of our DNA,” Chapek said that while delivery will be in late 2021, the first sailing won’t take place until January 2022. He also revealed the ship character on the stern would be Rapunzel, “whose story represents the desire to explore the world,” he said. Also, the interior three-story atrium “will be inspired by the beauty of an enchanted fairy tale,” Chapek said.
“Disney unveils more changes at Epcot, including Mary Poppins attraction” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Changes at Epcot will include a reorganization of lands. World Showcase will remain, but Future World will be split into three neighborhoods called World Nature, World Discovery and World Celebration. World Discovery is the side where a roller coaster is currently under construction. Its name — Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. That’s also the future home of the newly named restaurant Space 220. That name reflects the view of Earth from 220 miles into space. World Celebration — the area from Spaceship Earth back to the World Showcase Lagoon — will get new landscaping, fountains and a three-level structure that will serve as a home base for Epcot festivals. Also, its Dreamers Point will feature a new statue of Walt Disney.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ sizzle reel wows at D23” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — J.J. Abrams and cast received a standing ovation at D23 after showing a sizzle reel of the new Star Wars film. Notably featured were dozens of Star Destroyers and a fight scene between Kilo Ren and Rey that was a point of intrigue. The moment that really captivated the audience was when Rey portrayed in a dark robe with a dual red lightsaber. This film is said to conclude the nine-part cinematic experience that began in the 1970s.
“‘Frozen 2′ new footage revealed. It’s dazzling” via Todd Martens of Los Angeles Times — Jennifer Lee, who heads up Walt Disney Animation Studio, announced a new film slated for 2020, and dazzled audiences with footage from Frozen 2. The new film, entitled “Raya and the Dragon,” inspired by the mythos of Southeast Asia, will premiere on November 2020. As for “Frozen 2,” that will be released later this year. The new footage features Elsa and Anna’s mother singing them lullabies, among other events.
“Black Panther 2 release date officially announced at D23” via Ben Kuchera of Polygon — D23 brought dozens of announcements for Marvel, not least of all a release date for Black Panther 2. Audiences will be able to sit down for the next installment of the Black Panther franchise on May 22, 2022. “We’re really hard at work on it trying to give you something special,” Director Ryan Coogler told the audience. “We’re gonna take our time; we want it to be right.”
“Mulan’ star a no-show at D23, but new footage shows Phoenix that replaced Mushu” via Ross A. Lincoln and Jeremy Fuster of The Wrap — Amid political controversy after some “off-brand” comments about Hong Kong police, Mulan’s leading lady didn’t show up to D23. However, that didn’t stop Disney from giving audiences a taste of the film. Director Niki Caro offered a first look at live-action Mulan. It included the iconic scene where Mulan catches teacups with her feet, showing off her agility before dropping everything. It ended with a shot of a Phoenix that will be replacing Mulan’s beloved dragon companion, Mushu.
“At D23, Disney finally reveals the shape of its post-John Lasseter era” via Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair — Pete Docter, Pixar Chief Executive, and Disney Animation’s Jennifer Lee showed off an upcoming animated slate at D23 while still maintaining a veil of secrecy. John Lasseter, who formerly occupied these roles, left the two spots open when he left the company amid allegations of unwanted sexual advances. D23 offered the two new executives, who are now working closely together, to show off what they can do. The pair announced two new feature films Pixar will be debuting next year.
— ALOE —
“Florida vs. Miami showed it’s already time to stop thinking about the state of Florida” via Chuck Culpepper of The Washington Post — As college football nears its 150th birthday on Nov. 6, those of us afflicted with the sport doesn’t really think much anymore about the state of Florida, except for a team (UCF) we never used to think about. It’s almost as if the seas went ahead, finished their anticipated rise, took the whole state underwater and left only UCF shouting from an inflatable flamingo. Whether that means it’s time to stop thinking all that much about the Pac-12, Florida vs. Miami showed it’s already time to stop thinking all that much about the old state of Florida except for UCF, unless Florida State rustles from the crypt, which isn’t forecasted. That’s all while September has yet even to awaken.
“Netflix confirms rumors: Breaking Bad movie will be released in October” via Daniel Politi of Slate — Netflix released a trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Saturday and announced the film is being released on October 11. The movie will focus on Jesse Pinkman, the meth cook played by Aaron Paul who was last seen speeding off in a stolen Chevrolet El Camino at the end of the popular series. “In the wake of his dramatic escape from captivity, Jesse must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future,” reads the Netflix official plot description. Series creator Vince Gilligan wrote and directed the movie and the big question now is whether Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, will be making some sort of appearance.
“TV in the Sunshine State” via Alison Herman of The Ringer — Of all the places to set a story about a woman caught in the clutches of an MLM, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” chooses wisely. The Showtime series stars Kirsten Dunst as Krystal Stubbs, a freshly widowed single mother who’s inherited her husband’s debt-ridden “business” with Founders American Merchandise, or FAM. A pragmatic “Splashercize” instructor at a local water park, Krystal decides the only way out is further in, betting big she’ll become one of the precious few at the top of FAM’s pyramid scheme. A similar scrappiness underlies Florida Girls, the straightforwardly titled sitcom that broadcast its 10-episode first season earlier this summer on Pop, the little-known network that’s become an underrated comedy powerhouse.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated birthday wishes to Gary Fineout of POLITICO, Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Skip Foster, and John Lux of Film Florida. Celebrating today are Sen. George Gainer, former Rep. Irv Slosberg, Christian Camara, Joy Friedman, and Jonathan Rees of Anheuser-Busch.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.