You must begin today by reading investigative reporter Noah Pransky‘s thought-provoking story about Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight. It went live on FloridaPolitics.com last night and has subsequently lit up discussion boards and social media.
Hamid Keshmirian committed suicide last week, less than 24 hours after bonding out on charges related to his conversations about sex with an undercover deputy, who claimed to be a 14-year-old prostitute.
The chats began on hookup site SkipTheGames.com, where Keshmirian responded to an ad that appeared to be for an adult escort. But detectives with the Sarasota Co. Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) changed the woman’s age to that of a 14-year-old after the conversation about sex began.
Keshmirian, a single man, whose two adult daughters say he was battling depression and loneliness, continued the conversation with the woman he thought wanted to have sex with him. Deputies went as far as to put a man on the phone with Keshmirian, claiming to be the girl’s father, giving permission for the encounter.
Keshmirian ultimately agreed to meet up with the girl on Thursday, Sept. 19 — his birthday. He was arrested upon arrival, spending two nights in jail because Keshmirian’s family says SCSO denied him a phone call and kept his arrest out of the computer system while they continued to hunt other men.
A friend finally bonded Keshmirian out on Saturday morning, Sept. 21; it’s believed he took his life later that night, just hours before he was set to attend the Sunday baby shower for what would have been his first grandchild.
… Five days after Keshmirian’s suicide, Sarasota Sheriff Knight forwent his typical post-sting press conference, where he might face reporter questions, instead releasing information about the operation and the 23 men arrested via news release and a series of Facebook posts.
“I wish I could say these operations were no longer needed but time and time again, even after we make dozens of arrests, these men keep coming back for more,” Knight said in the release.
What Knight didn’t say was that the men — many of whom traveled long distances — might not have ever have come to Sarasota had deputies not convinced them to. It’s also likely many of them — who were looking to talk to other adults on legal, adult dating sites and apps such as Bumble, Grindr, and Plenty of Fish — would never have considered talking to underage teens had deputies not suggested it.
Knight’s office also could not provide any evidence that the adult dating apps and sites they used in the sting were used by adults to prey on teens.
However, bait-and-switch tactics on adult dating sites have become more frequent for law enforcement agencies that seek to boost arrest numbers related to sex crimes, even if the prosecutions don’t always hold up. The “To Catch a Predator”-style stings are relatively easy for law enforcement to conduct, compared to operations that target higher-priority sex crimes like child pornography or sex trafficking.
That’s a tough way to start the morning, so here’s some good news to start your day …
Welcome to the world — Sam Stone, the big bouncing boy of Alan and Melissa Stone, former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Scott. Sam was born September 21 and came in weighing a whopping 9 lbs. 4 oz.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
A suicide in Sarasota raises troubling questions about tactics used by the cyber-cops in the Sunshine State to entice and entrap people into sex stings.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Ron DeSantis is sticking to his guns on the suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel after a special master investigating his removal said the Governor was wrong. DeSantis doesn’t seem to care.
— The Governor gives his support to VISIT FLORIDA, hopefully keeping it off the legislative hit list, but the House Speaker may have other plans.
— A look at some of the new laws that were passed earlier this year and are taking effect tomorrow.
— Also, a one-on-one with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, on everything from hemp and wildfire to Donald Trump.
— A Florida woman who works as a bodybuilding model has been sentenced to five years in prison after faking a kidnapping attempt on her daughter, as well as using phony Instagram accounts to terrorize competitors.
To listen to Sunrise, click on the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Mr_Berman: I learned about sex because of the last impeachment. This time, kids’ll just learn about Ukraine. Sad.
—@StephenMarche: The main experience of the Trump years is waking up to find the President of the United States is viciously attacking somebody you’ve never heard of.
—@ChrisMegerian: The president’s schedule for Thursday includes this event — “THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks and signs an Executive Order Protecting Medicare from Socialist Destruction in The Villages, FL”
Great to visit the HQ for @PopeyesChicken and @BurgerKing in Miami. I’ve been looking for the elusive chicken sandwich, but the stores are still out. Maybe it’s time to issue an executive order requiring all Popeyes in Florida to re-stock them ASAP?? pic.twitter.com/SagYhmAxcj
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 27, 2019
—@CindyPoloFL13: Here’s my biggest gripe about today and this whole weekend of activities with the President of #. It’s not about me being recognized or not. It’s that once again Republicans jump in to the photo ops and become the face to the Latino communities … But when it really matters, when it really counts, they turn their backs on immigrants like COLOMBIANS and VENEZUELANS NICARAGUANS HONDURANS etc. … To watch CUBAN REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS standing next to @ gives a very very false narrative — one that Latinos are falling for
—@KathrynNVarn: Today in Marsy’s Law confusion, just had a PIO refuse to give me the identity of an unsuspicious condo fire victim because the family invoked Marsy’s Law. Except the law is for *crime* victims.
—@CCalfee: As a former AP Gov. teacher, I refused to tell my students my affiliation for fear that it would influence. My proudest moment at the end of each year was when none could really guess. All assumed I was the same political affiliation as they identified. Educate not indoctrinate.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Deadline to qualify for the Democrats’ October debates — 1; 850 Hemp Summit begins — 2; “Joker” opens — 4; NBA 2020 Preseason begins — 4; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 4; CNN hosts candidate town hall on LGBTQ issues — 10; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 11; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 18; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO — 20; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 28; Brexit scheduled — 31; 2019 General Election — 36; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 38; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 53; “Frozen 2” debuts — 53; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 63; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 81; 2020 Session begins — 106; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 107; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 125; Iowa Caucuses — 126; New Hampshire Primaries — 134; Florida’s presidential primary — 169; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 219; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 298; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 330; 2020 General Election — 400.
— TOP STORY —
“Donald Trump’s trip to The Villages is back on for Thursday” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The presidential visit to The Villages postponed in the wake of the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, mass shootings in August is back on. Trump will speak about Medicare … the White House said. … (T)he event will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. … The event will also be Trump’s first visit to Central Florida following the kickoff to his 2020 campaign at the Amway Center in Orlando, highlighting the importance of Florida to his reelection.
— JUST PEACHY —
“From whistleblower complaint to an impeachment inquiry within two weeks, Trump faces a threat like none he’s confronted before” via Julie Pace and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — Trump is facing a high-velocity threat like none he’s confronted before. It has rapidly evolved from a process fight over a whistleblower complaint to an impeachment inquiry within two weeks. Much of the evidence is already in public view. A rough transcript of a phone call in which Trump asks Ukraine’s president to help investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. The whistle-blower’s detailed letter alleging the White House tried to cover up the call, and possibly others. Unlike special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation, which circled an array of people in Trump’s orbit but not always the president himself, Trump doesn’t have the benefit of distance. His words and his actions are at the center of this investigation.
“Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions” via Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post — In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session. As Trump tells it, he is a hardworking and honorable president whose conduct has been ‘perfect’ but who is being harassed and tormented by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” and a corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax, defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.”
“Mick Mulvaney on shaky ground in wake of whistleblower fallout, sources say” via Dana Bash and Pamela Brown of CNN — The sources say the President is not upset with Mulvaney for the White House releasing the summary of his July 25 call with Ukraine’s leader or the whistleblower complaint because he had been convinced that it was necessary. What Trump and other aides are frustrated with, according to the sources, is that Mulvaney did not have a strategy for defending and explaining the contents of those documents as soon as they were publicly released. One of the sources says it’s not just the President, but also widespread frustration in the White House about the lack of a response plan to deal with the fallout after the release of the whistleblower complaint ignited more controversy surrounding the President. The sources say Mulvaney is taking the heat for that.
“Why Nancy Pelosi is confident as she confronts Trump on impeachment inquiry” via Jennifer Haberkorn of the Los Angeles Times — Pelosi begins what is expected to be a short sprint toward an impeachment vote — perhaps no longer than two or three months — with confidence … because the President’s interactions with the Ukrainian president have brought the debate into the national security arena, Pelosi sees the upcoming fight as one she can wage on familiar turf thanks to her 25 years of experience on the House Intelligence Committee. When Trump called Pelosi on the phone to discuss gun legislation and Congress’ demand for access to a whistleblower’s complaint about his alleged abuse of power, the speaker was blunt: “Mr. President,” she said, “you have come into my wheelhouse,” according to a person familiar with the call.
“Adam Schiff confirms tentative agreement for whistleblower to testify before House intelligence committee” via Pamela Brown and Kevin Bohn of CNN — Asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether he had reached an agreement with the whistleblower and his attorneys to come before the committee, Schiff said: “Yes, we have.” And as (acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph) Maguire promised during the hearing, that whistleblower will be allowed to come in and come in without … a minder from the Justice Department or the White House to tell the whistleblower what they can and cannot say. We will get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower,” he said.
“As controversy swirls, Trump’s supporters in Palm Beach County stick firmly in his corner” via Jeff Ostrowski of the Palm Beach Post — Trump backers say they approve of the job he has done since he took office in 2017, and they’re unfazed by another week of unflattering headlines about the unconventional president. A whistleblower revealed that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on the son of Biden. Trump haters see the episode as yet more evidence that the president is deeply flawed and unfit for office. Trump lovers interpret the imbroglio as just another example of Democratic obstructionism aided by the liberal media. “The Democrats have come up with so many witch hunts,” said Michael Harvey, a Trump supporter who lives in Boynton Beach. “There are only so many times you can cry wolf.”
— DATELINE: TALLY —
Assignment editors — DeSantis will deliver remarks at the 2019 Human Trafficking Summit, 8:25 a.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive, Orlando. Later, the Governor will participate in the Brunswick Corporation Technology Center Grand Opening, 1 p.m., 100 Whaler Way, Edgewater.
“Democratic leader says DeSantis should reconsider his ‘unqualified’ judge nominee” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Sen. Audrey Gibson said DeSantis should reopen the search for a new chief judge for the Division of Administrative Hearings, which functions as a check on state agencies. “The qualifications for overseeing the judicial checks on state agencies and boards should amount to more than just a right-wing club membership,” Gibson said in a statement. DeSantis’ pick for the job is John MacIver, a lawyer in his office who has been an attorney for just seven years and has virtually no courtroom experience. DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis chose MacIver to be their nominee, with Agriculture Commissioner Fried the lone vote against him. Former judges told the Times/Herald afterward that they agreed.
“Facing dissolution, VISIT FLORIDA getting key support from DeSantis” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — VISIT FLORIDA has been kept on a short — and tightening — leash by state lawmakers the past two years. But now facing a deadline that would kill the agency outright, tourism officials say they are bolstered by what they see as DeSantis’ show of support. “I think there’s been a real push throughout the state for (tourist industry) people to meet with their local representatives during these summer months,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota and chair of VISIT FLORIDA’s board of directors. “And now, hopefully, the positive comments from the Governor will make a real difference,” she said.
“Nikki Fried seeks meetings on rules for restoring rights” via the News Service of Florida — Agriculture Commissioner Fried, the lone Democrat on the State Executive Board of Clemency, called for DeSantis to schedule a meeting next month to discuss changing rules that govern the state’s process of restoring felons’ civil rights. “There are more than 100,000 disenfranchised Floridians with open, pending application for full restoration of civil rights,” Fried wrote in a letter to DeSantis and his fellow Republicans on the clemency board, Chief Financial Officer Patronis and Attorney General Moody. Fried said the backlog of cases could be remedied by amending clemency rules, which have changed over the years under different state leaders.
“Richard Corcoran predicts teachers will carry guns in 10 years” via Erik Sandoval of News 4 Jax — Florida’s Education Commissioner is making some surprising statements about arming teachers. Richard Corcoran said he believes there will be one in every public school in 10 years. Corcoran was a speaker at the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting on Sept. 9. In addition to showing his support for arming teachers, he also suggested doing away with school resource officers.”
“Joe Gruters dismisses talk that he could lose job as Florida GOP chair” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Recent turmoil within the Florida GOP has led to speculation that state Party Chair Gruters could be in the hot seat and potentially targeted by DeSantis for removal, but Gruters said his relationship with the Governor is strong. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said Gruters, a longtime Sarasota GOP activist who also serves in the state Senate. “The Governor and I have a great relationship. We’re moving the party forward. Everything is great … there are people out there who want to create something out of nothing, but the governor and I have a strong relationship. I am the Governor’s chairman.”
“Tom Lee in search for a ‘sweet spot’ in new Florida gun control regulations” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Lee, as the chair of the Infrastructure and Security Committee, is the Senate’s point man for any legislative remedy to what has become an American epidemic. Senate President Bill Galvano wants the panel to do a full investigation of guns and mass killings, and to propose legislation that might prevent massacres like the ones that killed 17 people at a Parkland high school last year and 49 at an Orlando nightclub two years earlier. Gun control advocates say public support has swung toward stricter rules on guns. And Lee said his constituents find regulations rooted in public safety “not unreasonable.”
“’Put it down’: Emily Slosberg to renew push to ban phone use while driving” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Among Slosberg’s planned proposals is to bar the use of electronic communication devices while driving. Slosberg attempted a similar move during the 2019 Session and spoke about reviving the effort in 2020. Her 2019 bill, which made texting while driving a primary traffic offense, also initially aimed to prevent drivers from using their phones at all. The final bill only set up so-called “hands-free zones” in school zones and active construction zones. But Slosberg says she’ll try again to apply that restriction any time an individual is behind the wheel. “I don’t think it’s that much of a stuff to extend it to all roads,” Slosberg said. “And it’s for enforceability purposes. Just don’t touch the phone. Put it down.”
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Attorney General Moody and the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Families and the University of Central Florida launch the 2019 Florida Human Trafficking Summit, 8:30 a.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive, Orlando.
“Raiding state housing funds hurts disabled Floridians who need homes” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — In 2015-16, some $34 million out of the $100 million in the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program went to households with special-needs residents, according to the 2018 report from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. Advocates say the state could be doing more for special-needs Floridians as well as other lower-income residents if the Legislature fully funded the affordable housing program. A 2019 report showed there were some 922,000 “very low-income” Floridians, including residents with disabilities, who were paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing. But since 2001, lawmakers have raided the affordable housing trust fund for more than $2.2 billion, shifting the housing money to other programs in the state budget.
“Education fight heading to Supreme Court” via the News Service of Florida — Nine county school boards are going to the Florida Supreme Court in a battle about the constitutionality of a controversial 2017 law that sought to bolster charter schools. The school boards filed a notice that is an initial step in asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The move came after the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the law. The law, known in education circles by the shorthand HB 7069, included steps to direct additional money to charter schools and to authorize “schools of hope,” a new type of charter school aimed at areas where low-performing traditional public schools have served children.
“An inmate was raped, impregnated by a guard. He was busted. His co-workers blame, harass her.” via Veronica Penney of the Miami Herald — Anquanette Woodall’s third child was unplanned. In spring 2016 an officer at Gadsden Correctional Facility cornered her in a staff bathroom near the prison’s kitchen and raped her. To cement her silence, the guard, Travis Hinson, said that he knew the address for Woodall’s mother. Hinson ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual battery, but not enough to spur the Florida Department of Corrections into enacting much in the way of new policies to prevent sexual assault. During her pregnancy, Woodall remembers getting messages from Gadsden. “To a physical degree, it was fine, for a while,” said Woodall. “It was more the comments, what was being said, calling me out by name — slut this, ho’ this, snitch — stuff like that.”
“Dorian and Barry were scary, but did you know they helped the environment?” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — Dorian’s slow churn off Florida’s coast pulled up enough deep water to end a heat-driven coral bleaching event in the Florida Keys, while Barry’s July foray through the Gulf of Mexico broke up what scientists thought was going to be a Massachusetts-size dead zone this summer. The wins are fleeting — water will rewarm in the Keys, and the dead zone was reduced only to 6,952 square miles, instead of the forecast 7,829 — but notable. Mark Eakin, Coral Reef Watch coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Dorian wasn’t the first hurricane to litigate a coral bleaching event. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina passed over the Keys in August, cooling the water.
“What’s going on with red tide research? You asked, we answered” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Following an environment-related survey of the Florida Influencers, a group of 50 prominent political and policy figures from across the state, the Miami Herald asked readers what they want to know about the environmentally sensitive peninsula.
— ASSIGNMENT EDITORS —
“Starting Tuesday, it’s illegal for Florida drivers to hold phones through school and work zones” via the News Service of Florida — Just don’t expect tickets until the new year on the hand-held device law. “You can’t have the phone in your hand at all,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Derrick Rahming said. “The only thing you can do is talk on a hands-free device. If you are holding a phone or any kind of device, you will be stopped, and you will be issued a warning.” Tickets, to be issued after Jan. 1, will punishable as a moving violation with three points assessed against the driver’s license.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Where did pro-Israel PAC go after Mar-a-Lago? No one seems to know” via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — A newly formed pro-Israel, pro-Trump, multifaith political action committee that held three fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago last season has skipped town without paying some of its bills, had its Twitter account suspended and failed to file a campaign finance report. Despite its woes, the American Pro-Israel PAC is still hosting posh, big-ticket fundraising events, including one in New York City on Nov. 11 that promises to leave guests “dazzled!” Tickets are $199 for general admission and $599 for a VIP reception and photos with an unidentified notable. Two local vendors who provided services for APIP’s events at Mar-a-Lago but were not paid in full were surprised the group was still raising money. They have not been able to contact APIP.
“New bill might entice Canadians to stay longer in Florida, benefitting Brevard economy” via Bailey Gallion of FLORIDA TODAY — The bill, introduced by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Scott, would allow Canadians to spend two months longer in the U.S. without paying income taxes. Currently, Canadians who spend more than six months are considered U.S. residents and are subject to income tax. Scott and Rubio’s bill would allow them to spend eight months before paying income tax as long as they rent or own property and are over the age of 50. Canadians who stay in hotels or motels wouldn’t count. Florida is a popular destination for Canadian tourists. Canadians accounted for 3.5 million of the 126 million visitors to Florida in 2018, according to a news release from Rubio.
Assignment editors — Scott will be available to the media following his trip to Hong Kong, where he met with business leaders and individuals to discuss the ongoing fight for freedom and democracy, 10:45 a.m. Pacific time, Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, 1020 N Access Road, San Francisco.
“Michael Waltz celebrates Dorothy Hukill’s legacy on House floor” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Waltz took to the House floor Friday to honor former Sen. Hukill, who died from cancer a year ago. “Dorothy Hukill was a servant leader who dedicated more than two decades of her life serving our community, working tirelessly to improve the lives of residents in our area,” Waltz said. The first-term Congressman went on to recount her push for financial literacy education during her time in the Legislature.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
One year ago, Florida lost one of its greatest servant leaders, Dorothy Hukill.
Dorothy dedicated her life to fighting for Volusia County and for Florida. Both are better because of her service.
It was an honor to recognize her legacy on the House floor today. pic.twitter.com/NYpC1Udtpo
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) September 27, 2019
“Migrant children’s shelter no longer being considered for Central Florida” via Steven Lemongello and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida is no longer under consideration for a controversial shelter for migrant children planned by the Trump administration.
— 2020 —
“New Trump campaign ad highlights unsubstantiated Joe Biden-Ukraine ‘scandal’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The first TV ad about the news that persuaded Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry comes from the president’s own reelection campaign. It’s also misleading. In 30 seconds, it splices together footage of Biden lobbying Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin, implying that as vice president, Biden used his influence to steer investigators away from Hunter Biden, who at the time was on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. “Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” a narrator says, before footage rolls from a 2018 appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, where Biden talked about successfully pressuring Ukraine to sack Shokin. The problem: There’s no evidence that Shokin, who was under fire for weak treatment of domestic corruption cases, was investigating Hunter Biden.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
“Biden faces the Trump fusillade. Are he and his campaign up to it?” via Matt Viser of the Washington Post — Several allies, including top financial backers, are weighing whether to create a super PAC to independently defend Biden and go after the president, who has repeatedly accused the former vice president of corruption and whose campaign last week launched a $10 million ad blitz aimed largely at attacking Biden. Other supporters caution that a more aggressive approach could cut against Biden’s above-the-fray appeal and warn him against losing sight of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose steady march in popularity has eroded Biden’s standing and given her narrow leads over him in several recent polls in early-voting states.
“Iowa Democrats may hold remote presidential caucuses in Florida for snowbirds” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The Democratic Party of Iowa is considering holding caucuses next February outside of the state, in places where Iowans congregate in large numbers. Florida, the part-time refuge for many winter-weary Midwesterners, will likely be in the mix to host at least one of these satellite caucuses. Troy Price, the chairman of Iowa’s Democratic Party, confirmed it’s a possibility. If approved, it would be the first time Iowa held caucuses outside of the state. “We’re working through a lot of details right now, and I don’t want to speculate as to how this will play out,” Price said. “But, of course, we’re serious about this.”
— THE TRAIL —
“In Florida, push for strict new gun ban” via Arian Campo-Flores and Zusha Elinson of the Wall Street Journal — Gun-control advocates in Florida are mobilizing behind an ambitious aim: to pass a ban on semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines for the first time in a Republican-controlled state.
“HD 76 candidate Jesse Purdon calls fatal crash ‘most traumatic experience of my life’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “Wednesday was the most traumatic experience of my life and the days that have followed absolutely without a doubt (are) my darkest,” Purdon said in a statement. The crash claimed the life of 26-year-old Ana Maria Arce Valdes. “My heart breaks for her, my devastation is nothing compared to loss of life, and I’m just trying to get through this as best I can,” Purdon said. “I don’t know how I carry this, but I’m trying and praying.” The Florida Highway Patrol cited Purdon for careless driving after his Jeep Wrangler struck a Lincoln Town Car driven by Valdes. Lt. Gregory Bueno said in the wake of Valdes’ death the agency will begin a traffic homicide investigation.
Happening today — State Rep. Adam Hattersley, who is campaigning for Congress, will hold a “teacher town hall” om education, 6:30 p.m., Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St., Brandon.
“Seminole Tax Collector drops $240K worth of bitcoin into reelection campaign” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, a fan of cryptocurrencies, gave his reelection efforts a financial boost by dropping about $240,000 worth of bitcoin into his political campaign account. Greenberg, who listed his personal worth as nearly $5.9 million in a state financial disclosure form filed on Sept. 3, said this month that he was going to mostly self-fund his campaign for a second term. “I feel weird taking money from other people,” Greenberg said. “But I may take some small amounts. But I like the freedom [of not taking political contributions]”
— LOCAL —
“After Twitter backlash, conference apologizes for inviting Miami-Dade state attorney to speak” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle went to New York City this week to speak at the Smart on Crime Innovations Conference. The topic: how the criminal justice system deals with people with disabilities. But two days later — after social media criticism about her office’s handling of a mentally ill inmate’s death — the conference stated via Twitter saying it had not “properly vetted” a guest for the panel and should not have asked the person to speak “on such an important topic.” “As the organizer of this event, we take full responsibility and offer no excuses. We apologize to the disability justice community and to the justice reform community for causing harm,” the conference said in its tweet.
“Two arrested after baby ODs on fentanyl” via Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post — Neither the adults tasked with caring for the 11-month-old nor rescue crews knew what caused the baby to stop breathing in May. At St. Mary’s Medical Center, the medical staff took blood and urine samples and tried to revive him. Then they gave him Narcan. The once limp and unresponsive baby was moving. The anti-overdose drug worked. Test results showed the baby had the powerful opioid fentanyl and its similar “designer” counterpart, acetyl fentanyl, in his system. The two adults who were supposed to be watching him were arrested on child neglect charges. By Friday, both Zuleika Matias and Stephane Alfred had posted surety bonds and were released from the Palm Beach County Jail.
“One dead, one injured from falling beam during I-4 construction in Orlando, authorities say” via Lisa Maria Garza and Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — A construction worker died, and another was hospitalized Saturday night during Interstate 4 construction in downtown Orlando involving a massive concrete beam. Construction along the 21-mile overhaul — a project known as the I-4 Ultimate — has been suspended for an investigation, according to Russ Handler, spokesman for the lead contractor, SGL Constructors. The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. near Sylvia Lane and America Street, just east of the I-4 and State Road 408 intersection. A beam slipped off a piece of equipment and struck two unidentified employees of SGL Constructors.
“Conservative commentator Karyn Turk admits to stealing mom’s Social Security” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — Turk admitted she stole her 83-year-old mother’s Social Security checks. Looking relaxed and unperturbed, Karyn Turk pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a single charge of Social Security fraud. Turk, who was crowned Mrs. Florida 2016 and touts her involvement in charities, faces a maximum one-year jail term and possible $100,000 fine when she is sentenced on Dec. 13. Because the charge is a misdemeanor, the 47-year-old Highland Beach woman (who uses social media and her radio and television shows to defend all things Republican) would not lose her ability to vote — a right she described as “very important to me.”
— MORE LOCAL —
“Steel mill with Mayor’s son as an owner on track for $5 million Miami-Dade subsidy” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez is recommending county commissioners approve a $5 million subsidy package for a $224 million steel mill proposed for the Homestead area by a company partially owned by one of the Mayor’s sons. Linked to future hiring, the money for the “micro” mill would be paid out over 10 years if the Esteel facility meets hiring and investment requirements included in the county agreement. The county program is available to all businesses either expanding or moving to Miami-Dade, but the administration or County Commission can reject applications. The recommendation for the $4.9 million incentive package night came from Jack Osterholt, one of four deputy Mayors under Gimenez.
“Disney World workers endure tourists who scream, punch and even grope them” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — “There are so many situations, so many things that happen every single day to cast members,” said Disney employee Tommy Fontenot, adding that he has seen co-workers crying in the break room. “The guests will push the boundaries … We serve as an emotional punching bag. As a cast member, you have to develop a thick skin.” The reports are likely just the tip of the iceberg because employees say many problems go unreported to authorities. “Our cast members take great pride in making magic for guests, so it is always disturbing when something like this occurs,” said Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger in a statement.
“Using a 150-year-old law, Miami lawyer sues over a once notorious spice in a popular gin” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Bombay Sapphire, one of the world’s most recognizable gins, is distilled with something called “grains of paradise,” an ancient spice grown in the tropics of West Africa that gives the liquor warm and peppery overtones. The gin-and-spice combo, however, may be illegal in Florida. On paper anyway. It turns out that selling liquor infused with grains of paradise is a third-degree felony under an obscure law passed over 150 years ago — during an era when some people believed the spice was a poisonous drug that could morph drinkers into suicidal madmen.
“Ebro Greyhound Park ends live dog racing” via WJHG NewsChannel 7 — Ebro Greyhound Park saw its last night of live greyhound racing this weekend. After 65 seasons there will no longer be live racing at the park. Amendment 13 is phasing out dog racing in Florida by the end of the year. However, bets can still be made on televised greyhound racing, and the poker room at Ebro will still be open. (The track is in Washington County.)
Happening today — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection meets in Polk County to consider a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System draft renewal permit for the Mosaic Fertilizer Bartow Chemical Plant, 4 p.m., Mulberry Civic Center, 901 N.E. Fifth St., Mulberry.
— OPINIONS —
“Nancy Pelosi’s impeach Trump push insults our Constitution. Why not let voters decide about Trump?” via Adam Goodman for Fox News — Fueled with prejudice and injustice it should disgust all who still hold onto the faint belief that truth and the rule of law still count for something. Pushed by Speaker Pelosi and her political vigilantes, the move to impeach a sitting president this week for things that never happened — a “quid” without a “pro quo” — insults our Constitution and subjects America to well-deserved ridicule from the rest of the planet. There was no quid pro quo, no trading of promised military aid for political help, no pressure or demand that Ukraine act — or else! The president’s crime? He won the 2016 election.
“DeSantis’ shoddy case against Scott Israel exposes the actual incompetent” via Fred Grimm for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Based on the hurried, politically motivated, woefully unsubstantiated criteria that DeSantis employed to undo a Broward County election, the Governor should remove himself from office. Be quick about it, Guv. No need to give this any more research or deliberation than you mustered when you ousted Broward’s two-term sheriff from office. Of course, we already knew DeSantis hadn’t bothered to build an evidentiary case against Israel. Nor did DeSantis give much consideration to Israel’s replacement.
“Time to let college athletes profit from their labor” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — It’s too soon to call it a movement, but it looks like college athletes will soon be able to make some money for their hard work and talents. There’s a bill on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk which would prohibit governing authorities from penalizing schools where players would be allowed to hire agents and sign endorsement deals. He ought to sign it, despite warnings from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and some university presidents around the country. They’ve got the system the way they like it, bringing in billions year after year, so their opposition is hardly surprising. House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee introduced a proposal to let Florida athletes be paid for the use of their names and images.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Personnel note: James Miller heads to Florida League of Cities” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Miller is leaving the Florida Retail Federation for a new gig as the League’s Communications Manager. In his new role, he’ll be responsible for the group’s communications, marketing and education efforts. “I’m excited about joining the talented communications team at the Florida League of Cities,” Miller said. Miller has a long resume in communications. Five years ago, FRF brought the Orlando-native on as Communications Manager. In early 2018, he was promoted to Senior Director of External Communications. At that time, FRF President and CEO R. Scott Shalley called him “one of the most effective and influential communicators around.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Greg Black, Black Consulting: Florida Bar Elder Law Section
Tom Byron, Nicola Liquori, Stacy Miller: Department of Transportation
Jim Daughton, Alli Liby-Schoonover, Andy Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority
Megan Fay, Kenneth Granger, Dean Izzo, Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Carahsoft Technology Corporation, Florida Dental Laboratory Association
Brian Lambert, Cotney Construction Lobbying: Blockchain Construction
Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Supportive Housing Coalition
Rob Schenck, The Legis Group: Distributed Ledger, Town of Jay
— ALOE —
“‘Spider-Man’ swings on as Marvel and Sony mend split” via Brian Lowry of CNN — The studios behind “Spider-Man” have reconciled, with Disney and Sony agreeing to collaborate on a third movie featuring the teenage hero, after a very public split a little over a month ago that caused an uproar among fans. On Friday, the parties announced that Marvel would again have a hand in producing the next sequel and that Spider-Man would appear in another upcoming Marvel feature. In a statement, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said he is “thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue.”
“Air gondolas join Disney World’s transit system” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Walt Disney World on Friday introduced its newest way to get around the Florida resort: an aerial cable car system that whisks visitors from hotels to theme parks three stories above the ground while going 11 mph (18 kph). The Disney Skyliner cable cars opening to visitors on Sunday are the latest addition to one of the largest private transportation systems in the U.S. The almost 300 enclosed cable cars join 423 buses, 61 minivans (appropriately named Minnie Vans), 30 parking lot trams, 29 watercraft and 12 monorail trains.
“Bettor wins $2.2 million on 6-race bet at Gulfstream” via Associated Press — Someone hit Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 on Friday, the first time that the total jackpot had been claimed for that wager since July 6. To win the entire jackpot, someone must pick winners of six consecutive Rainbow 6 races and hold the only ticket that does so — otherwise, much of the jackpot rolls over to the next day of racing.
“Bucs stun Rams in Los Angeles” via Mike Sherman of the Tampa Bay Times — Bucs defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to clinch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 55-40 victory over the Los Angeles Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are former Sen. Bill Nelson, former Rep. Curt Clawson, state Rep. Clovis Watson, Michael Cantens of Flagler Strategies, Tracy Duda Chapman, Helen Aguirre Ferre, communications director for Gov. DeSantis, Jason Gonzalez of Shutts & Bowen, Capital City Consulting’s Chris Schoonover (a perennial candidate for World’s Best Dad).
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.