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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.4.19

Sunburn, your morning buffet of the best in Florida politics.

Before we launch into our continuing coverage of Hurricane Dorian, we want to wish Ryan Tyson, one of the brightest minds in Florida Politics, a happy birthday. Ryan was twice recognized as one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s 100 most influential people in Florida politics and deservedly so. But that’s not why his birthday warrants top-of-‘burn placement. No, he’s earned that with his steadfast devotion to his wife and three boys. Because while we may disagree with (many of) Ryan’s political opinions, there is no doubting his commitment to his family.

Happy birthday to our friend, Ryan Tyson.

In fact, we asked Ryan’s better half, Mary Beth, to contribute to this birthday message, just so everyone in The Process gets a sense of what a good guy he is. Here are MBT’s words:

“Everyone in politics knows Ryan as the strategy and data guy, but he’s much more than that in his personal life. He’s the dad who teaches his three boys to love and never be afraid to show humility and brokenness. Ryan has always been committed to what is right and honorable. He’s humble but confident and always very generous.

“Deeply patriotic with his love for this country, faithful in his beliefs and loyal to his friends. The depth of his heart and character you have to experience daily to truly understand. At home, he does dishes, folds laundry, and watched cartoons with his three boys.

“Ryan is the steady one who keeps all of the ships he’s in command of on the straight path, and he’s the captain of many ships.

“Happy birthday to the guy that so many of us depend on for support, guidance and strength.”

We couldn’t say it any better.

The latest on Dorian: The hurricane eye is passing to the east of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the deadly storm is now about 90 miles (144 kilometers) east northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Maximum sustained winds are being clocked at 110 mph (175 kph). It’s moving to the north northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

The Miami-based weather center says a turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast on Thursday morning. The core of Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through Wednesday night. The center of Dorian is forecast to move near or over the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday through Friday morning. Earlier this week Dorian pummeled parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, leaving widespread devastation and at least seven people dead.


@MaggieNYT: A [Donald] Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said weeks ago that the president, whose own approval ratings have stayed upside down, needs voters to feel negatively not just about his opponents but about long-standing institutions

@RepTedDeutch: .@WalmartInc has listened to the American people and has made customer safety a priority. We need change on a national level. @senatemajldr, it is time to step up and work to protect our communities by passing common-sense gun safety legislation now.

@MarcoRubio: Over the next few days & weeks we will be coordinating with @GovRonDeSantis to secure prompt federal reimbursements to #Florida counties for storm-related costs. But we face some hurdles regarding … “Category B Reimbursement” is for pre-storm “Emergency Protective Measures” but are generally limited to direct federal assistance provided if @FLSERT is unable to meet a counties needs. It does not appear any direct federal assistance will occur with this storm. … I am concerned (as is Governor)that in future counties may be reluctant to undertake pre-storm protective measures if costs will not be reimbursed. Especially since many of these counties are still waiting for reimbursements from 2016 & 2017 storms.

@AlexTDaugherty: Spoke w/ @RepWilson, who has family on the #Abaco Islands that she hasn’t been able to reach. “I keep seeing in my mind nightmare images of Katrina, Hurricane Katrina, when people were on rooftops and isolated and not knowing how to receive help. This is so emotional for me.”

@ChefJoseAndres: The American People should be so proud of our @uscoastguard @USAID providing relief around the world! We are the leaders of the Free World, and while we need to take care of our own, we need also to help in distress situations other countries, specially ally the ones near us.

@Fineout: As Hurricane Dorian finally begins to move @GovRonDeSantis said that he “appreciates a lot of Floridians hanging in there” and notes the storm can still bring damage and will be riding the coast for another day … DeSantis also acknowledged listening to locals about whether to evacuate — saying there was “frustration in the past, people crisscrossing the state” — likely a reference to the massive evacuation that happened under Hurricane Irma

@Fineout: Florida legislators — mostly Republican, but one Democrat as well — on a conference call today praised @GovRonDeSantis & emergency staff for their outreach/communication ahead of Hurricane Dorian. @VoteRandyFine said it was definitely an improvement from 2 yrs. ago during Irma

@CHeathWFTV: The “don’t tell me about a category five hurricane because it might not hit me or weaken crowd” is something to behold.

@AnniePNJ: Waffle House has four “disaster menus” ready for each storm: no water, no power, limited (when some other non-WaHo stores/restaurants in the area are open) and emergency (when they’re literally the only place open). Prices are rounded to nearest 10th cent to make math easier

@JoeMobleyJax: How long before people to start using the Attorney General’s price gouging app to report $9 water at stadiums?


TaxWatch Productivity Awards — 7; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 12; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 13; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 15; Emmy Awards live on Fox — 24; 850 Hemp Summit begins — 28; “Joker” opens — 30; SNL season premiere with Woody Harrelson — 31; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 30; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 37; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 44; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 54; Brexit scheduled — 57; 2019 General Election — 65; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 64; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 89; “Frozen 2” debuts — 107; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 107; 2020 Session begins — 132; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 133; Iowa Caucuses — 152; New Hampshire Primaries — 160; Florida’s presidential primary — 195; Black Panther 2 debuts — 245; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 324; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 356; 2020 General Election — 426.


Gary Farmer discloses affair with lobbyist to Senate Democrat colleagues” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Farmer has reached out in recent weeks to Senate Democratic colleagues, informing them he has separated from his wife and begun a relationship with a Tallahassee lobbyist. Farmer released a statement to Florida Politics Tuesday night acknowledging the relationship, as well as his comments to colleagues in the Senate. “As is common knowledge among our close friends and family, my wife and I have been separated for a few months,” Farmer said. “Shortly after the separation, I felt it was important, as Leader-designate, to inform my colleagues of this fact. At this time, I have no further comments except to say that this is a painful and difficult time for me and my family, and we ask for privacy.”

Gary Farmer admits to his Senate colleagues about an affair with a lobbyist. 

When contacted Tuesday regarding Farmer’s disclosure to Senate Democrats, several doubted any personal issues would cause problems for Farmer as Leader-designate or declined to comment, citing privacy concerns. But that feeling was not unanimous. Orlando Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart was among the caucus members not contacted by Farmer about the matter. Stewart is still miffed at Farmer from the caucus leadership meeting in the spring, when Farmer dismissed state Sen. Lauren Book as a potential minority leader because she has two children to care for. “That pretty much did it for me,” Stewart said.

Sen. Janet Cruz said also confirmed that she spoke with Farmer. “Fifty percent of marriages, unfortunately, end in divorce and I’m sorry for Gary, and I’m sorry for his family,” Cruz said, acknowledging Farmer reached out to her. “He did let us know that he’s living alone and that he’s going through a divorce.” When asked if she were comfortable with Farmer remaining Senate Democratic Leader, she said, “I think that’s fair to say.”

Publisher’s note: Florida Politics is declining to name this lobbyist for a variety of concerns. The lobbyist does not nor has not held public office and, therefore, should not be subject to the same level of scrutiny as an elected official. Furthermore, I believe that it is more often women than men who bear the brunt of whatever negative repercussions may emanate from these type of matters, specifically in which a powerful man is romantically linked to a woman engaged in the political process.


Ron DeSantis embraces role as spokesman-in-chief as Dorian churns” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Between last Thursday and Sunday, on average, DeSantis was mentioned on television more than 1,000 times, a huge spike for an official who is mentioned 50 to 100 per day under normal circumstances. Dorian is DeSantis’ first brush with severe weather since becoming Governor, and he’s leveraged the storm as a real-life test drive of his new administration’s emergency management apparatus. There is an army of staff and experts across the state who help hammer out everything from forecasting to relief logistics, so frequently the Governor’s most significant role is to be the face and voice of the collective response.

Ron DeSantis is embracing his role as the face of Florida’s response to Hurricane Dorian.

DeSantis faces first hurricane leadership test” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Just eight months on the job, the new Republican governor insisted politics was the last thing on his mind when he geared up to lead the state’s response. “I don’t view it politically at all,” DeSantis said during a briefing. “We are trying to protect the state, protect people.” But history shows hurricanes can have far-reaching political consequences. Even if Florida’s damage is light, DeSantis will be graded on how he handled preparations. Everything can be scrutinized from the Governor’s clothing to his delivery style. In the lead-up to Dorian, DeSantis touted his close ties with Trump as helping him secure whatever federal aid was needed, but the governor avoided some of the president’s flubs that drew criticism.

Local emergency managers praise DeSantis’ leadership in his first hurricane test” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — As Florida faced down the second-most-powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, the state’s new governor also faced his first big test. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis took a measured approach and deliberately pivoted from the centralized message-making of his Republican predecessor, winning praise from local officials and emergency managers across the state.

Rule provides pay for hurricane duty” via News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ administration issued an emergency rule that will allow midlevel managers in state agencies to get paid for extra hours they work because of Hurricane Dorian. The rule will enable employees to get paid for the “critical services” they provide to the public in hurricane preparation and recovery. Under the emergency rule, employees whose local offices shut down due to the storm would still be able to get paid if they travel and work where needed. The rule applies to employees who serve at the bureau chief level or equivalent, officials say.

FEMA agrees to bypass review of some hurricane recovery funding — FEMA has agreed to speed up the way it approves billions in hurricane recovery dollars for Florida by skipping a rarely used congressional review period that can stall funding by up to 40 days, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. Members of Congress can use the review period to alert constituents about the approval process. But under the new agreement, which FEMA finalized with the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Monday, the agency will allow funding requests of less than $1 million to skip the review, state DEM Executive Director Jared Moskowitz said on Tuesday. FEMA Acting Administrator Peter T. Gaynor said the agency would continue to look for opportunities that will speed up the approval process.

ICYMI from Tuesday night’s ‘Last Call’ newsletter — Wednesday’s Cabinet Aides meeting and next week’s Cabinet Meeting have been canceled “in an abundance of caution” because of Hurricane Dorian, according to Meredith Beatrice, a spokeswoman for DeSantis. According to the official Cabinet calendar, the next regularly scheduled meetings would be Sept. 18 (for the aides) and 24 (for the Cabinet). Due to the severity and slow-going of Dorian, however, it remains in question whether those will be held. In any case, Tuesday’s decision means another delay on a discussion of two high-profile hires: Replacements for Ronald Rubin, fired in July as head of the Office of Financial Regulation, and Bob Cohen, the state’s outgoing chief administrative law judge.


‘A disastrous outcome’: In Bahamas, hurricane cripples rescue efforts” via Rachel Knowles, Elisabeth Malkin and American government helicopter crews — mainly from the United States Coast Guard but also from Customs and Border Protection — have been conducting evacuation missions. Responders were trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity after the eye passed over Grand Bahama to try to rescue people, but many police cruisers and other emergency vehicles were under water.

’A long road to recovery.’ U.S. preps aid for Bahamas, taking stock of Dorian’s damage” via Michael Wilner, Tara Copp and Alex Daugherty of McClatchy — A USAID official told McClatchy that aid had been prepositioned in Miami, Houston, Barbados, Haiti and Dominica — including food, water buckets, hygiene kits, chain saws and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter — awaiting shipment to the Bahamas once the agency’s disaster team completes its first assessment of the damage. “We have stuff ready to go — but right now we’re preparing to do assessments,” the official stated. USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team is conducting the evaluations, the official added, to identify the Bahamian government’s most urgent needs firsthand.

Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas, causing massive flooding and devastation.

Pentagon readies response, evacuates military personnel ahead of Dorian” via Ellen Mitchell of The Hill —” Even though the storm’s category has changed, it’s still a life-threatening storm, with high winds expected to affect Florida and the Carolinas over the next few days,” DOD spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters at the Pentagon. “Even without a landfall, there may be some significant impacts, which we’re preparing for.” About 80 percent, or more than 4,000, of the Nation Guardsmen, are in Florida, while the remaining troops are in Georgia and South Carolina, according to U.S. Northern Command head Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy. Another 2,700 active-duty troops are standing by if needed, he added.

Aerial video shows Abaco islands in the Bahamas after Dorian” via WPTV — With streets almost impassible due to high water and stranded vehicles, residents of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island were fervently working Tuesday to rescue people in communities where the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Dorian was much worse than expected. New video of the islands shows scenes of incredible devastation. At least five people were reported killed in the archipelago. With rain still falling and tropical-storm-force winds, residents put together an ad hoc rescue group with boats and personal watercraft. Dozens of people were going back and forth to help with the rescue. Some of the people who were rescued were utterly exhausted after spending all night clinging to their roofs or being stuck in their attics.

Florida avoids direct hit, but Dorian will cause damage” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — While the state isn’t out of the woods, the outlook was much improved from forecasts last week that, at times, had the storm running across the central part of the state into the Gulf of Mexico or up the spine of the peninsula. The National Hurricane Center reported online that the storm will “move dangerously close to the Florida East Coast through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.” The storm has forced the halting of operations involving planes, trains and ports, while closing retail businesses, including Publix supermarkets, along major parts of the coast.

Dorian forces more than 100 Florida health care facilities to evacuate” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — More than 100 health care facilities have been evacuated in Florida as state officials remain wary of storm surge and flooding that Hurricane Dorian could bring on its path up the east coast. Dorian was downgraded Tuesday to a widening yet weakened Category 2 storm and now looks unlikely to unleash its full wrath on the state’s densely populated coastline. But dozens of facilities, fearing days of power outages or water damage in low-lying evacuation areas, have moved patients and residents to other facilities and buildings inland. Many of the evacuated facilities — including eight hospitals, 19 nursing homes, and about 80 assisted living facilities — were subject to mandatory evacuation orders that directed them to leave.

Dorian tests Florida’s ability to move older adults out of harm’s way” via Patricia Mazzei, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and  of the New York Times — A new state law requires backup generators and enough fuel to maintain comfortable temperatures at nursing homes and assisted living centers, a mandate first tested last year when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle. Last week, four nursing home workers were charged in the Hurricane Irma deaths, which were ruled homicides. At the Towers of Jacksonville, a retirement community in Jacksonville, Fla., officials advised residents with just a few hours’ notice that it would disable its elevator on Monday afternoon. That would have left Lois Evelin, 72, unable to get downstairs unless someone carried her, said her daughter-in-law, Ester Evelin, who rushed to pick her up earlier than she had planned. “It was a little frustrating, because we were still trying to get our place hurricane-ready,” said Ms. Evelin, 45, whose mother-in-law is now safely at home with her, her husband and their son in Neptune Beach. “But there are a few people that had to stay because they didn’t have any family near that could get to them in time.”

‘We got spared,’ Floridians sigh as Dorian starts to move on” via Brittany Wallman, Andrew Boryga and Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel — Days of tension and fear turned to relief Tuesday along Florida’s Treasure Coast as Hurricane Dorian inched away from the region. Residents in northern Martin and St. Lucie counties woke to wind and rain and some power outages. Property owners remained wary and pensive as they waited for the slow-moving storm to move along finally. Though the barrier island was evacuated and closed to traffic, Florida Power & Light Co. workers in bucket trucks were busy there Tuesday morning fixing sagging power lines.

More than 2,400 price gouging complaints made as Dorian approached Florida” via Ron Hurtibse of the Sun-Sentinel — Despite strong warnings by state officials before Hurricane Dorian — and every recent hurricane, for that matter — some merchants apparently can’t resist the urge to make a few extra bucks off frightened preppers. More than 2,400 complaints of price gouging are under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office, spokeswoman Kylie Mason said in an email Tuesday. At least 650 were submitted through the office’s new NO SCAM app. “Most of these concern fuel and water,” Mason said. “We are starting to hear about hotel pricing as evacuation orders come down.” Investigators with the office’s Consumer Protection Division have visited about 150 businesses, “and as a result, prices have been reduced and refunds issued in numerous instances.”

Here’s why only a fraction of Florida price gouging reports wind up in court” via Jenna Bourne of WTSP — Out of the 14,000 reports of suspected price gouging during Hurricane Irma, about 7,600 were sent to the Consumer Protection Division for further review. Out of all those, the agency pursued more than 1,000 for possible legal action. “Every contact that is made with our office doesn’t always constitute price gouging — so, that’s number one. But we never want to discourage anyone from letting us know about a situation because it could, in fact, be price gouging and we need to know that so we can take action,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. A lot of the reports that come into the hotline don’t have enough information for investigators, according to Florida Attorney General’s Office Spokesperson Whitney Ray.

Surfers help rescue woman who jumped from Jacksonville Beach Pier” via Eileen Kelley of The Florida Times-Union — A surfer and his friends helped rescue a young woman Tuesday afternoon after she jumped from the end of the Jacksonville Beach Pier, plunging into roiling, white-tipped waves. Surfer Ty Miller grabbed the limp woman and pulled her onto his longboard about 30 yards south of the pier. Somehow the woman apparently slipped past the locked entry gate and was seen sitting on the guard rail for hours. Surfer Tyler Sebring noticed the woman sitting on the guard rail, her legs dangling over. He kept trying to get a better look at her and to talk to her from the water below. “Are you OK?” he called out.

Dorian is exposing an insurance gap in the Bahamas” via Leslie Scism, Nicole Friedman and Caitlin Ostroff of the Wall Street Journal — Swiss bank UBS Group AG expects the insured damage in the Bahamas to be between $500 million and $1 billion, said Jonny Urwin, an analyst with UBS. For the storm overall, the bank is projecting $5 billion to $10 billion of insured losses. The economic loss, which includes uninsured assets, is expected to be much higher. For example, Matthew caused about $4 billion in insured losses, but the total economic damage was about $12 billion, according to Swiss Re Institute. In the Bahamas specifically, Matthew caused $900 million in economic damages, of which $500 million was insured, Swiss Re said.

The devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian exposes a considerable gap in insurance, with estimates of uninsured losses to be much higher than the $5 billion to $10 billion of insured losses.

HCA can’t hide from hurricanes with 45 hospitals in Florida, so it preps like it’s the apocalypse” via Blake Farmer of Nashville Public Radio — It almost didn’t matter where the storm hits; HCA Healthcare’s hospitals were going to be affected. The hospital chain is exposed every time a hurricane threatens the Sunshine State. HCA positioned nearly three dozen truck-sized generators in Florida that could fully power entire hospitals. Each facility received satellite phones. They were sent gas cards to help staff buy fuel for their own cars and overnight kits for doctors and nurses who end up stranded. They prepared places for pets who end up coming along with evacuated patients. HCA’s emergency preparedness has grown from a one-person operation into a team that does nothing but think about “what ifs” — from natural disasters to disease outbreaks.

Weather agencies see risk to future storm forecasting from 5G” via Thomas Seal and Angelina Rascouet of Bloomberg — Weather agencies are warning that signals from new 5G mobile networks will make it harder to predict and track deadly storms, as the fiercest hurricane in more than 80 years tore across the Bahamas to threaten the U.S. East Coast. The global mobile industry is pushing back against meteorologists, who say radio waves from the fast cellular networks will interfere with the ability of weather satellites to detect resonance from water particles. Those faint radio signatures offer clues to the future intensity and direction of storms. 5G technology is set to supercharge smartphones and connect factories at data speeds at least ten times faster than current networks.

Disney defends decision to leave crew on private island in the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — Disney Cruise Line decided to leave its staff on its island, Castaway Cay, to ride out the storm in the company’s hurricane shelter. One hundred and two staff members stayed in the concrete shelter, which the company said is 20 feet above sea level and designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. All crew members remained safe during the storm, and the company said no one was injured. “Having operated Castaway Cay for more than 20 years, we have extensive experience managing situations like this, with the care and safety of our Crew driving every decision we make,” wrote Kim Prunty, a spokesperson for Disney Cruise Line, via email.

Walt Disney Company to donate more than $1 million in relief efforts to help Bahamas victims” via WFLA — Disney’s commitment includes a $1 million donation to nonprofit relief agencies who will be undertaking recovery and rebuilding efforts, as well as the provision of supplies — including food staples and basic construction materials — to those in impacted areas. “We hope our $1 million donation will provide much-needed relief and help our neighbors, colleagues, and all those impacted by this devastating storm begin the long process of recovery as they work to put their lives and communities back together,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company Robert Iger said. Disney employees at Disney’s Castaway Cay, which experienced only tropical force strength winds will also have access to resources.

Meanwhile …Tropical Storm Fernand is born in the Gulf Of Mexico, one of four other possible hurricanes besides Dorian”  via Brett Clarkson of the Sun Sentinel — While Hurricane Dorian finally starts to inch away from the Bahamas, with the forecast so far calling for a close shave up Florida’s east coast, the tropics are brimming with action including the formation on Tuesday afternoon of Tropical Storm Fernand in the Gulf of Mexico.


Will schools have kids make up the lost hurricane day during Thanksgiving break?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — If classes get canceled because of hurricanes, the makeup days are set. And they’re plopped right in the week off for Thanksgiving. Will districts actually stick to those dates? That’s another story. First off, officials said, they need to wait until the threat of Hurricane Dorian has passed. Then, they’ll likely ask the Florida Department of Education to waive the hours missed — something the department has routinely offered for a day or two, though not much longer. If the waiver is approved, nothing else needs to happen. But if not — say the department doesn’t see making preparations for a storm that never arrived as sufficient rationale — then the next set of discussions would have to take place.

Former school Supt. got lucrative benefits after being suspended, then reinstated” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Former Okaloosa school superintendent Mary Beth Jackson — suspended, then reinstated by DeSantis — was able to get lucrative educator retirement benefits, starting with a recent, lump-sum payout of $200,721.12, according to state officials. Now that she’s retired, she can also collect her regular monthly benefit. Jackson began getting that benefit in August, and the monthly amount was $5,582.36, according to retirement information from the Florida Department of Management Services. “Okaloosa County School Board is a participating member of the Florida Retirement System, and Mary Beth Jackson is retired,” said DMS spokesman David Frady. While she’s entitled to those benefits after decades of service, Jackson’s case could have turned out differently, depending on the circumstances.

Former Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson is enjoying a lucrative retirement package.

Patricia Williams revives bill to include human trafficking curriculum in schools” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Williams is bringing back legislation that would add human trafficking education to Florida’s public school curriculum. The measure (HB 105) was filed by Williams Tuesday. Sen. Perry Thurston has submitted a companion bill (SB 154). Both Williams and Thurston pushed similar legislation in the 2019 Legislative Session. But their respective measures died in the committee process. Williams’ bill is aimed at informing students about “the dangers and signs of human trafficking,” according to the legislation’s language. The goal of the bill is to give young students warning signs in case traffickers approach them.

Panel eyes small number of doctors making pot approvals” via News Service of Florida — As the number of Floridians allowed to use medical marijuana continues to grow, new data shows that a relative handful of doctors have been responsible for a majority of the patients approved for pot. Florida had 168,810 patient “certifications” for medical marijuana between Oct. 1 and March 31, and more than half of them came from 89 doctors, according to a new draft state report on medical marijuana. “To me, I look at this data and say this is just another form of a pill mill,” Sarvam TerKonda, a Jacksonville medical doctor and member of the Physician Certification Pattern Review Panel, said last week after reviewing the six-month draft report.

How Florida’s red flag gun law works” via Amy Sherman of Politifact — Law enforcement officials are using Florida’s so-called “red flag” law to remove guns from people five times a day. That’s what Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said on MSNBC when asked about the state’s implementation of the red flag law, enacted after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

After beating by guards, Florida woman is a quadriplegic. She’s suing” via Julie K. Brown of Miami Herald — In what’s being called one of the worst prison beatings in memory, four male Florida prison guards attacked an inmate suffering from mental illness, slammed her to a concrete floor, elbowed her in the neck, then dragged her ‘like a rag doll’ through the facility, taking her outside, away from cameras, then resuming the assault until she was near death, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.”


What Ag. Commissioner Nikki Fried is reading — “New Mexico green chile roasts spread coast to coast” via PEW Stateline — The hot fresh peppers, the crackling sound and the smell of roasting — necessary to blister the tough outer membrane so it can be peeled way — are a late summer tradition in New Mexico. But the chilies are spreading across the country as former New Mexicans spread the word and others take notice. New Mexico’s southern Rio Grande Valley has produced chile peppers for 400 years since Spanish explorers brought the seeds from South America. The industry ramped up in the early 20th century after a horticulturist at New Mexico State University spent decades crossbreeding peppers to find a tasty and disease-resistant strain.

What DCF Secretary Chad Poppell is reading — “Housing agency didn’t warn families when placing them in shelters with sex offenders, audit finds” via The Boston Globe — A homeless father, fleeing an abusive domestic situation with his two little boys, felt safe when the state found them emergency shelter earlier this year in a Plymouth condominium complex. And for the first time in a long time, there was someone there to help … But unbeknown to the father, that friendly neighbor was a registered sex offender with convictions that included child rape. In May, police arrested him on a charge of indecent assault and battery against one of the father’s boys.

What NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is reading — “Odessa shooter failed gun background check” via The Texas Tribune — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that the gunman in Saturday’s mass shooting in Midland and Odessa had previously failed a gun purchase background check and did not go through a background check to buy the gun used in the incident. Abbott’s tweet did not say why the 36-year-old Odessa man didn’t pass the background check or how he obtained the rifle he used to kill seven people and injure 22 others — including a state trooper and two police officers. The gunman died after a shootout with police outside a Midland movie theater.

— D.C./2020 —

House Democrats wait for Dorian to pass before taking on mass shootings” via Alex Daugherty of the Tampa Bay Times — A special legislative meeting on gun control scheduled after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian. The House Judiciary Committee originally had planned a markup of three bills for Wednesday, amid an outcry for action after 22 people were killed in an El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3 and 10 people were killed outside a Dayton bar less than 24 hours later. Five members of the committee are from Florida, and three members are from Georgia, where Hurricane Dorian is leading to evacuations and airport closures. Members of Congress typically return to their districts when major weather events strike.

Pete Buttigieg racing to build person-to-person network in Iowa” via Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press — Thanks to his campaign taking in nearly $25 million in contributions in the last quarter, money that he is using to help create an army of peer-to-peer foot soldiers, Buttigieg is rapidly trying to catch up. And while Buttigieg’s team has confidence in his strategy, particularly the component of aggressively multiplying the personal influence of his early supporters, he faces intense time pressure to put in place the pieces that could vault him into serious consideration. “This is something that’s going to take some time,” said Jess O’Connell, a Buttigieg senior strategist.

Pete Buttigieg’s campaign exudes confidence as it builds a person-to-person network in Iowa.

Why Kamala Harris hasn’t caught fire in the Democratic 2020 race” via Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg — Despite a shot of adrenaline after confronting front-runner Joe Biden in the first debate, she has failed to catch fire with Democratic voters torn between a nostalgic fondness for Biden and a revolutionary desire for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Harris’s attempt to replicate her feat in the second debate backfired among Democrats who say she went too negative on Biden. The Californian also suffers from a perception that she lacks a deep ideological well to guide her policy ideas, in contrast to her three main rivals who are better-defined. And her past as a prosecutor has earned her supporters and detractors.


Senate Republican fundraiser went ahead despite Dorian” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — As Hurricane Dorian first aimed at and then veered away from Florida, Democrats in the state Senate and Republicans in the state House both canceled fundraising events scheduled for the Labor Day long weekend — but the Senate Republicans didn’t. The events, out-of-state party weekends at major tourist destinations, show how big-time and professional fundraising for Florida’s GOP-dominated state Legislature has become. The Senate Republican fundraiser was a planned weekend of events at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in New York. It went ahead as planned, although Senate President Bill Galvano left early and came home after a Saturday dinner, according to spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. She didn’t provide information on how many Senators attended.


Dorian shuts Central Florida government offices and courts” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange and Osceola County government offices and courts will be closed Wednesday because of Hurricane Dorian. The looming arrival of the monster storm, which battered the Bahamas on Sunday and Monday, also led Orlando leaders to shutter business operations an extra day. Orange County and Orlando also halted garbage, recycling and yard waste through Wednesday. Emergency management officials predict the high winds will strike Central Florida linger through Wednesday evening. The storm according to the National Hurricane Center was moving at a crawl, 1 mph by some estimates. “We continue to monitor this massive storm,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.

Central Florida was busy closing courts, government offices and boarding up businesses in advance of Hurricane Dorian.

Water is high in St. Johns River, but Jacksonville shouldn’t expect ‘Irma-type’ flooding” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — Although water levels in Jacksonville’s St. Johns River nearly hit flood stage on Tuesday afternoon before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said residents shouldn’t expect a repeat of the historic flooding produced by Hurricane Irma in 2017. … Dorian, a Category 2 storm that is predicted to pass Northeast Florida between 65 to 95 miles offshore, should produce a storm surge of about 2 to 3 feet in the river near downtown and roughly 4 feet in the Intracoastal Waterway. She said the storm surge on the coast should be upwards of 5 feet.

Volusia-Flagler residents try to be productive during wait for storm” via Cassidy Alexander of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — With Dorian now traveling north from the Bahamas at 3 mph as a Category 2 storm, the News-Journal asked how people are passing the time waiting. Turns out, residents are frustrated and bored, but also productive. They’re staying busy. Marie Cerniglia Bernier said she has her home secured, her supplies at the ready, her generator prepped, and now she’s spending some time in the kitchen. So far, she’s made pesto with harvest basil, a loaf of wheat bread, chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins. Lisa Sheythe is watching rescue dogs and those of some evacuees. Daytona State College student Eric Imlach said he’s using the time to get ahead on schoolwork.

Miami’s Bahamian community sends relief home to islands devastated by Dorian” via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — Christ Episcopal, whose former pastor was civil rights activist Theodore R. Gibson, and the nearby 123-year-old Greater St. Paul A.M.E. Church, also founded by Bahamians, are leading a drive for relief supplies to be delivered to victims by seaplane. In less than a day, they had already collected stacks of canned food, bottled water, diapers and toiletries. “People have lost everything,” said Jonathan Archer, rector at Christ Episcopal. “We were spared, thankfully. Why not send our hurricane supplies to those who truly need them?” Archer, a native of Nassau, had previous church postings in Eleuthera and Long Island, where he and his flock weathered four hurricanes.”

With Dorian in rearview mirror, dockless scooters will return to Miami streets” via Bob Wile of the Miami Herald — In a statement, a city official said scooter providers had gotten the green light to replace scooters that had been removed in the run-up to Hurricane Dorian’s potential landfall. A total of 750 scooters are available in the city’s District 2, which runs along Biscayne Bay from Coconut Grove to Northwest 79th Street. Meanwhile, as of approximately 9:20 a.m., a Tweet from Citi Bike Miami said it had not yet gotten permission to replace 2,000 bikes in areas where they were evacuated.

Indian River County lifts mandatory evacuation; opens bridges” via Colleen Wixon of the TC Palm — Based upon latest weather forecasts, Indian River County officials made the decision to let people go home if they wanted, Emergency Operations Center spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said at a Tuesday news conference. While people can return home, they should keep weather precautions in place until Wednesday, officials said. All bridges to the barrier island have been opened, as of noon. “That doesn’t mean go out there and go sightseeing,” Flowers said. “We don’t want people out driving around.” County Administrator Jason Brown added, “We ask people to exercise good judgment.”

Rick Kriseman urges residents to hold onto sandbags after avoiding Dorian” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — “Although we aren’t likely to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian, we continue to closely monitor the storm and hope our neighbors to the East stay safe,” Kriseman wrote on Facebook. The city began handing out sandbags last week when the Tampa Bay region was still in the cone of uncertainty for potential effects. Now that the area is outside of that danger zone, attention has shifted more to the east coast of Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina “Thanks to everyone for taking storm preps seriously,” Kriseman said. “Hang on to those sandbags — storm season isn’t over yet!”

Rick Kriseman says to hold onto those sandbags; you might need them later.

Stealing sandbags: Men accused of looting during an emergency” via Doug Phillips of the Sun-Sentinel — Governments and agencies across Florida have been giving away sandbags to their residents in anticipation of flooding because of Hurricane Dorian, but two men near Daytona Beach are accused of looting a construction site to obtain them. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy spotted the men about 5 p.m. Monday along a road that’s off Interstate 95 and I-4. One man was loading the bags into a pickup as the other man acted as a lookout, the sheriff’s office said. Thaylon A. Lewis, 43, and Joseph Colombo Jr., 45, “are the first to be arrested for looting during a state of emergency,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook posting.

Scammer for fraudulent Hurricane Dorian relief fund poses as Denis Phillips, meteorologist says” via Frank Pastor of the Tampa Bay Times — Hurricanes can bring out the best in people: welcoming evacuees into their homes, helping neighbors clean up or rebuild, volunteering to assist with relief efforts. They also can bring out the worst: fights over water or gasoline, looting, price-gouging. At the nexus of the two are scammers preying on people’s generosity for their own personal gain.

New ‘referee’ appointed in lawyer discipline case against Scott Maddox — Without explanation, a new “referee,” or hearing officer, has been named in the Florida Supreme Court’s disciplinary action against Maddox, an attorney and now-former Tallahassee city commissioner. Suwannee County Judge William F. Williams III will replace 3rd Circuit Judge Melissa Olin, according to a Tuesday court filing. Maddox pleaded guilty last month to selling his vote for money as part of a yearslong FBI investigation into corruption in the capital city. A Florida Bar spokesperson has said that in “cases of felony convictions, there is a presumption of disbarment.” Maddox was admitted to the Bar in 1995.


Imagine the terror in the Bahamas, then help” via the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board — On Thursday, with Hurricane Dorian taking dead-aim at us, South Florida adopted the air of a community that knows the drill and began bracing for the strongest storm ever to threaten Florida’s East Coast. On Sunday, thankfully, Dorian’s cone of uncertainty took a turn. And finally, the plodding monster took that predicted turn, lashing us only with modest rain and wind gusts, hardly worse than a summer rainstorm. The same cannot be said for our neighbors in the Bahamas, just a little over 100 miles away. It had to have been horrible to be there. You can only imagine the terror of enduring a Category 5 hurricane packing sustained winds of 180 mph for nearly two days.

Hurricane Dorian, Donald Trump and dangers of climate change ignorance” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Dorian intensified, Trump announced that he would loosen rules on emissions of methane. Methane contributes roughly 10 percent of the emissions that cause climate change. By freeing small drillers from having to cap emissions from natural gas rigs, the change would save them an estimated $19 million per year. Meanwhile, let’s review what’s happening with climate change as it relates to hurricanes. Dorian follows Matthew in 2016, Irma and Maria in 2017 and Michael in 2018. Now, let’s review what these storms did to Florida. Most of the state got off relatively easily with Matthew. Like Dorian, it brushed the coast, though it still left $1.5 billion in damage. Those who live on the First Coast, though, would disagree.

Joe Henderson: Kathy Castor’s climate change work has never been more important” via Florida Politics — Climate change may not be creating more hurricanes, but the ones that do form carry unprecedented deadly potential thanks to overheated oceans and seas. Castor must watch as Trump systematically overturns many of the environmental protections enacted in the last decade. Methane is a major contributor to climate change, but Trump rolled back safeguards to reduce levels of the gas in the atmosphere. He announced that move even as Dorian gained strength. That basically was an upraised middle finger to environmentalists. “We need to be clear here: Trump isn’t just undermining our ability to tackle the climate crisis — he’s undermining our democracy,” she recently tweeted. “This is what corruption looks like.”


— ALOE —

On Craigslist, Floridians seek Hurricane Dorian ‘thunder buddy’ and sell their survival supplies” via Chabeli Herrera of the Orlando Sentinel — On the website that never sleeps, yard sale enthusiasts — and let’s be honest, maybe some scammers — don’t miss a beat. So, too, is true even when a natural disaster by the name of Hurricane Dorian is threatening our shores. All sorts of knickknacks, running the gamut from downright useful to truly confounding, hit the site late last week when the hurricane appeared to make a beeline for Florida. As of Tuesday, Dorian was on a trajectory that took it away from the state, but that doesn’t mean some online entrepreneurs aren’t still angling to make a few bucks. And then there were those looking for love, or something like it, at least.

Brevard evacuees find rooms (and fun despite worry) at Disney hotels” via Lyn Dowling of FLORIDA TODAY — “Disney resorts are well-built, have always had uninterrupted power and water and have great customer service,” said Chuck Stevens of Viera, who is staying at Art of Animation. “Under the circumstances — it was the best choice, without question. And we have a great suite with a microwave and a refrigerator, which helps.” Dawn McPherson of Merritt Island found accommodations at Art of Animation with her husband, Josh, and son, Jack. “We’ve met a lot of people here from the Melbourne and Satellite Beach areas,” she said Tuesday while awaiting news of the storm’s track. “We’re annual passholders (familiar with Disney hotels), and we know they’re safe, strong and do not lose power. The electrical grid here is good.”

Flying dolphins make their way into Hurricane Dorian satire” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — In what has become the internet’s hurricane mission operandi, social media is again being speckled with extraordinary images of Mother Nature hurling chaos into the path of now-Category 2 Hurricane Dorian. While the storm that hit the Bahamas Sunday as a Category 5 yielded some legitimate images of mass destruction, it is not blowing sea creatures through the air as some doctored images might lead people to believe. A doctored image showing a dolphin purportedly blowing through the air as a result of the storm’s catastrophic winds is making its way across the internet this week … again. Locally, Orlando radio station Magic 107 posted the story Tuesday morning but later took the post down.

No, folks. It’s not real.


Celebrating today is Rep. Evan Jenne.


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

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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