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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.1.19

There’s always a good time for Sunburn.

Thanks to a retweet from CNN’s Jake Tapper, “hundreds” are now expected to attend the services of a veteran who died Aug. 30. 

Tapper retweeted a news brief from WFLA noting that the public was invited to services for Edward K. Pearson, who died at age 80. 

Pearson has no immediate family, the news brief notes. 

Veteran Edward Pearson, who died in Naples at age 80 with no immediate family, could have hundreds of people at his funeral when the public was called upon to attend.

“His public service will be held Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 12:30 p.m. at the Sarasota National Cemetery,” it said. “The cemetery is located at 9810 State Road 72 in Sarasota.”

The Herald-Tribune later on Monday noted that Tapper’s tweet ignited “a storm of social media support.”

“Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Sen. Marco Rubio and thousands of other social media users have also expressed their support,” the newspaper noted. 

“Hundreds of people from across the nation have shared their condolences and their plans to attend the service.”

Pearson, who was born in Pennsylvania and lived in Naples the past 25 years, served 1962-64, at which point he was honorably discharged, the paper added.

— “This Florida veteran died without a family. You’re invited to his funeral.” via Kirby Wilson and Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times


Converge Government Affairs of Florida is announcing the addition of Mario Bailey to its growing roster of government affairs professionals. He joins Converge as a Senior Government Affairs Adviser.

Bailey is well-known in both Tallahassee and South Florida business, political and civic circles. He brings more than a decade of public policy and advocacy experience. Known for expertise in the appropriations process, Baily has secured millions in state funding for clients. In addition to advocating on regulatory matters, he worked on high-profile issues such as the historic legislation adding a statue of educator and civil rights leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune to National Statutory Hall in Washington, D.C.

“As we grow Converge in Florida, we are looking for proven lobbyists who are impact players for clients — every conversation came back to Mario Bailey,” said Jonathan Kilman, Converge’s chair of Government Affairs. “Mario will be able to immediately play a leading role on behalf of our clients. That makes this a great move for him and our firm.”

Bailey currently serves on the board of directors of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists. Before joining Converge Government Affairs, he spent eight years as a Senior Government Relations Consultant at the law firm of Becker and Poliakoff. Bailey also served on the campaign of former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and as the legislative aide to former State Rep. Dwight Bullard.


A national leader in the fight against human trafficking says Florida is one of the states leading the way — but we still don’t know the full extent of the problem or a way to prevent it.

Also, today on Sunrise: 

— The state wildlife commission is considering new rules for a handful of companies that offer elephant rides to the public. While the proposal doesn’t ban the practice, new regulations could put some of those companies out of business.

— New laws passed in the 2019 Legislative Session are taking effect today. Make sure you don’t hurt a police dog, haze someone, text while driving through a school zone or try to buy a child-like sex doll.

— Another new gun bill has been filed for the 2020 Session. This time, it’s to ban guns — including concealed carry — at childcare facilities in Florida.

— A toothless Florida woman faces two charges of auto theft after her dentures were discovered inside a stolen Kia.

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@RealDonaldTrump: … If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews

@RepKinzingerI have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant.

@HillaryClinton: The president is a corrupt human tornado.

@FeliciaSonmez: Cable news chyrons just now: CNN: “Trump ‘trying to find out’ whistleblower’s identity” MSNBC: “[Rudy] Giuliani subpoenaed for Ukraine documents” Fox: “[Robert] De Niro’s latest foul-mouthed rant”

@PaulKrugman: Starting to look like two possible outcomes: Trump and a number of others end up in jail, or thousands of journalists end up in prison camps

—@NikkiHaley: Leave Joe Biden alone? So are you telling us @KamalaHarris that what Biden did was ethical and moral? Where are the questions about the conflict of interest that occurred from Biden’s actions and the issues with his son? This response is embarrassing.

Tweet, tweet:

@Amanda4Florida: @AnnaForFlorida is my #shero. I did an interview today for a pair of students at my school and got to talk about Anna’s people-centered approach. That’s what our political system should look like!

@Money23Green: Thank you to California Governor @GavinNewsom for his leadership signing the bill protecting college athletes and bringing more equality to the multi-billion dollar industry. Cc: @KingJames #MoreThanAnAthlete


850 Hemp Summit begins — 1; “Joker” opens — 3; NBA 2020 Preseason begins — 3; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 3; CNN hosts candidate town hall on LGBTQ issues — 9; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 10; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 17; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO — 19; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 27; Brexit scheduled — 30; 2019 General Election — 35; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 37; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 52; “Frozen 2” debuts — 52; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 62; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 80; 2020 Session begins — 105; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 106; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 124; Iowa Caucuses — 125; New Hampshire Primaries — 133; Florida’s presidential primary — 168; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 218; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 297; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 329; 2020 General Election — 399.


All Florida cops and elected officials will be forced to comply with ICE as of Tuesday” via Monique Madan and Daniel Rivero of the Miami Herald — A federal judge has temporarily blocked a portion of a controversial Florida law that called on local police to cross state lines to assist federal immigration officials but left in place a provision where the officers would have to hold undocumented immigrants until the feds pick them up. In an order issued on Monday — one day before the new law is slated to take effect on Tuesday — Miami U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom shot down a small piece of the state law requiring Florida police officers to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies, like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Florida law — SB 168 — will continue to forbid sanctuary cities. Bloom ruled that local police cannot transport undocumented immigrants across state lines at the request of the feds, saying it is strictly the job of the federal government. Her ruling can be appealed. However, her ruling maintained that local police departments would still be required to hold arrested people in jail for an extra two days until ICE picks them up.

Starting today, all Florida police will be ad hoc ICE agents.


Donald Trump may have lied to Robert Mueller, House Democrats say” via Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO — Lawyers for the House of Representatives revealed on Monday that they have reason to believe that the grand-jury redactions in special counsel Mueller’s report show that Trump lied about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks. The attorneys made the stunning suggestion in a court filing as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bid for Mueller’s grand-jury materials, which have remained secret by law. To back up their claim, the House’s legal team — led by House General Counsel Douglas Letter — cited a passage in Mueller’s report about former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s testimony that he “recalled” Trump asking to be kept “updated” about WikiLeaks’ disclosures of Democratic National Committee emails. There is a grand-jury redaction in that passage, the lawyers note. “The text redacted … and any underlying evidence to which it may point are critical to the committee’s investigation,” they wrote.

Democrats are now saying that Donald Trump may have lied to Robert Mueller.

William Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016” via Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris and Matt Zapotosky of The Washington Post — Attorney General Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries. Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he met senior Italian government officials. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, sources said.

Mitch McConnell: Senate must take up impeachment if House approves” via Laurie Kellman of The Associated Press — Republican Leader McConnell said Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against Trump if approved by the House, swatting down talk that the GOP-controlled chamber could dodge the matter entirely. “I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said on CNBC. But he cautioned, “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.” House Democrats are pushing for quick action on their probe into a phone transcript and whistleblower complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Biden’s family. If the House approves articles of impeachment — not introduced at this point — they would be sent to the Senate for trial.

Under Senate rules, Mitch McConnell may not have a choice but to take up impeachment if it passes the House.

But it’s a Quinnipiac poll … —Poll finds majority of voters approve of impeachment inquiry” via Quinnipiac University — American voters are divided on impeaching and removing Trump from office — 47 percent — closing a 20 point gap from less than a week ago, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll Among the political party subgroups, Democrats showed the greatest change from the last poll. Today, they show a virtual consensus on impeaching Trump, 90 — 5 percent. The gap also closed among independents, who are only slightly opposed to impeachment at 50 — 42 percent. Republicans say Trump should not be impeached 92 — 7 percent, and last week, they were opposed 95 — 4 percent. Thinking about Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine, 55 percent of voters say that they are paying a lot of attention.

Trump’s impeachment fight lacks one big thing that saved Bill Clinton” via Ben White of POLITICO — In 1998, as the GOP-controlled House moved to impeach President Clinton, the stock market soared and the economy grew nearly 5 percent. But economists and Wall Street analysts note that conditions are very different now as Democrats push toward a possible impeachment of Trump. During the Clinton impeachment, the dot com boom was making Americans exuberant about the economy. Today, the economy is slowing, consumer confidence is dipping, and corporate America faces a gauntlet of worries. In 1998, senior Clinton aides took heart that a rocking economy would provide a floor for the president no matter how bad things got. In 2019, that may not be the case.

Trump’s allies on TV are having trouble relying on reality to defend him” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — A phalanx of legislators and staffers loyal to Trump deployed to the sets of news shows, ready to do battle with the hated news media. The subject, of course, was last week’s revelations about Trump’s having pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Biden and the White House’s subsequent effort to hide records of that call. Confronted with the reality of what Trump and his administration did, each supporter deployed the same tactic: denial and deflection. Even on Fox News, Trump’s team found no respite. Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller spoke with the network’s Chris Wallace, offering many of the same defenses of his boss.

Ron DeSantis calls Trump impeachment political theater, despite his own Obama inquiries” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Miami Herald — When Gov. DeSantis made his first public comments on the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump last week, he said that he was glad to be out of the “charade” of Washington. DeSantis, a former congressman, characterized the congressional call for investigations into the executive branch as pure political theater. “I get, like, you go on, you make a scene, you can get on cable news, you can do all this,” he said. “But man, focus on some issues that really matter.” But he failed to mention that during his three terms in the U.S. House, DeSantis led many investigations of Obama administration officials, which helped him become a regular guest on Fox News.


Amid Trump impeachment, DeSantis decries Washington cable news culture. He used to be part of it” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — When Gov. DeSantis made his first public comments on the impeachment proceedings against President Trump last week, he said that he was glad to be out of the ‘charade’ of Washington. DeSantis, a former congressman, characterized the the congressional call for investigations into the executive branch as pure political theater.”

— “DeSantis, Waltz attend opening of Brunswick boat technology center in Edgewater” via Clayton Park of the News-Journal

Gwen Graham kicked off rebuild 850 Hurricane Michael relief committee” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “Yesterday, a friend called to tell me that because I have been tough on our new Governor — calling him out on Twitter and Facebook for policies I believe are harmful to Florida — I will no longer continue as co-chair of Rebuild 850,” tweeted Graham, a gubernatorial candidate herself last year before she lost in the Democratic primary. “Regardless of any position with any group, my commitment to the people of North Florida who are still suffering remains strong and unwavering. Next week is the one-year anniversary of Michael’s destructive path through communities I was honored to represent in Congress,” she added, among multiple follow-up tweets.

Tweet, tweet:

Report calls for changes in disabilities program” via News Service of Florida — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration recommended the state keep intact a Medicaid “waiver” program for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities but called for a redesign of how the so-called iBudget program works, including capping amounts people could spend annually on services designed to keep them at home. The report does not recommend that the state scrap the existing program and enroll people in managed-care plans, a fear of many advocates for people with disabilities. With the report compiled by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Agency for Health Care Administration, the top recommendation is for state economists to begin analyzing spending and enrollment trends as they do for other Medicaid programs.

Lawmakers seek money for local projects” via News Service of Florida — Lawmakers are already seeking about $120 million for projects and programs in their local communities, while the latest state revenue estimates have spurred the House budget leader to urge “restraint” as the 2020 Legislative Session nears. And based on past sessions, the number of local funding proposals — sometimes derided by critics as “pork” or “turkeys” — will soon explode. As of Monday morning, 55 proposals had been submitted on a variety of projects. The proposals come after lawmakers were advised that the state is on the verge of an economic slowdown that will result in it bringing in about $867 million less in revenue over two years than previously projected.

José Javier Rodríguez wants amendment proposals limited to a single issue” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic state Sen. Rodríguez has filed a resolution (SJR 396) requiring the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC) to limit proposed amendments to the state constitution to a single issue. That follows a separate resolution from Rodríguez (SJR 176) that would similarly restrict the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The TBRC last met in 2008 and is next scheduled to convene in 2028. The CRC, meanwhile, met in 2018 and voted to place multiple amendments on the 2018 ballot. But some of those CRC amendments faced criticism for bundling various, unrelated issues into one measure.

Colombian Democrat defends comment blasting Miami ‘Cuban Republicans’ as hypocritical” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The drama began when the Colombian embassy hosted a private reception for Colombian President Iván Duque at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Afterward, Colombian-American state Rep. Cindy Polo — who was not invited — took to Twitter to express her frustration. She posted a picture of the Mayors of Miami and Miami-Dade County, and several former members of Congress smiling while at the Biltmore, joking that her “invite got lost in the mail.” Then she blasted “Cuban Republican” leaders in attendance. “It’s not about me being recognized or not. It’s that once again Republicans jump into the photo ops and become the face to the Latino communities,” she tweeted.

Tweet, tweet

Amber Mariano, Ed Hooper seek to dissolve city of Port Richey” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Mariano and Hooper portrayed the measure as a cost-savings to city property taxpayers who no longer would have to pay for municipal services along with their county tax bills. Mariano said Port Richey property owners could see a more than 40 percent reduction in their annual tax bills. But the representative, who pushed this idea last legislative session, didn’t mince words in noting the city’s recent scandals. “There’s a whole laundry list of problems,” Mariano said. “Fiscally, they have not done a good job in their history of spending their dollars wisely, and it’s scandal after scandal that really accumulated into a poorly run city.” But the maneuver drew rebukes from the city’s elected officials.

Assignment editors — State Rep. Jackie Toledo will join Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Hillsborough County School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins for a news conference to highlight a new state law that takes effect making all school and work zones hands-free, 9:30 a.m., Outside Mabry Elementary, 4201 W. Estrella St., Tampa.

Delegations meet — The Bay County Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing, 5 p.m., Bay County Government Building, 840 W. 11th St., Panama City.


Casey DeSantis announces mental health funding — On Monday, First Lady DeSantis joined Flagler Hospital and THE PLAYERS, of THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament, to announce $1 million for a new mental health program in St. Johns County Schools. THE PLAYERS donated the cash to Flagler Health+ to launch Being Resilient and Voicing Emotions (BRAVE). The program will encourage students to seek emotional support when needed and to improve coordination of behavioral health care referrals for students in the district’s 39 schools. “I was thrilled to take part in today’s launch of the BRAVE program, a perfect example of the importance of the private sector being part of the solution to solving the mental health crisis facing our state,” DeSantis said.

First Lady Casey DeSantis joins Flagler Hospital and THE PLAYERS to announce $1 million for a new mental health program in St. Johns County Schools.

Human trafficking summit opens with concern that prevention still lags” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — There remains so little visible progress, especially in prevention, a keynote speaker told Attorney General Ashley Moody‘s first statewide Human Trafficking Summit in Orlando. “They say that trafficking responds to the three ‘P’s: prosecution, protection, and prevention. They say that prevention is the P that’s lagging behind,” said Bradley Myles, chief executive officer and executive director of Polaris, an international, anti-human trafficking organization that also runs the United States human trafficking hotline. “Responding to the problem does not equal solving the problem. And even though we’ve gotten great at responding to it, I still think that trafficking is probably the same size as it was 20 years ago,” Myles said.

Moody calls on health care regulators to take action after fake nephew authorizes veteran’s cremation”  via Kylie McGivern of Action News — “State Attorney General Ashley Moody is calling on state health care regulations to take action, after I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern revealed a fake nephew signed off on a local veteran’s cremation without telling his family.”

Jimmy Patronis: Florida must ensure digital trust in cryptocurrency” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — When the Blockchain Task Force held its first meeting, he spoke to the panel about the technology’s importance. Patronis said the technology could keep reliable records of crypto-transactions, which impacts a growing amount of commerce. But it also helps guard citizens against fraud. “I get really concerned when it comes to accountability and potential fraud in these areas,” he said. “We need to help protect our citizens from fraud, and this technology [blockchain] could be an amazing tool to ensure accountability.” Blockchain, a method of recording transactions that can be used with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, has important potential, the CFO said. “Blockchain proponents say this technology will be as transformational as the internet,” he told the Task Force.

Jimmy Patronis wants to ensure the trust in cryptocurrency like bitcoin.

Richard Corcoran issues final order on monitoring contract” via the News Service of Florida —Education Commissioner Corcoran has issued a final order in a legal dispute about a contract to help monitor social media for threats of violence and other problems in school districts. Corcoran last week agreed with an administrative law judge who rejected a joint protest by the firms Abacode and ZeroFox. The protest came after Corcoran issued a decision that he was awarding the contract to NTT Data. A Department of Education negotiating team had recommended awarding the contract to Abacode. Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy ruled that Corcoran had adequate reasons for disregarding the negotiating team’s recommendation. But under administrative law, Creasy’s ruling was a recommended order that had to go back to Corcoran for a final order.

Prison officials pitch retention pay, shift reductions” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — Heading into the 2020 Legislative Session, Florida Department of Corrections officials are asking lawmakers for nearly $90 million to address “exceptionally high turnover rates,” which they say exacerbate understaffing at prisons. The agency wants to put in place a $60 million retention-pay plan for correctional officers and launch a $29 million pilot program that would allow correctional officers in approximately one-third of the state’s prisons to reduce their 12-hour shifts to 8-hour workdays. “Staffing at the department has reached a critically low level, and many of the staff currently employed are extremely inexperienced,” agency officials wrote in a 2020-21 legislative budget request.

Using phone in school zone can cost drivers” via Bobby Cania Calvan of The Associated Press — Better keep your hands off that cellphone if you are driving near a school or through a construction zone in Florida. Starting Tuesday, it will be against the law to hold a cellphone while driving in those places. Florida earlier this year outlawed texting while behind the wheel, but the new law didn’t ban all hand-held use of phones while driving outside of school and construction zones, including scrolling through news feeds or holding a phone to an ear. Police can begin pulling over motorists Tuesday, but they won’t start issuing tickets until Jan. 1.

Happening today — Several new laws passed during the 2019 Legislative Session take effect: Measures to protect police dogs and horses, cracking down on college hazing and the sale of child-like sex dolls. 

Safety officials want state’s texting-driving law to follow successful path of seat belt law” via Lamaur Stancil of TCPalm — Citations since lawmakers in June 2009 made not wearing a seat belt a primary offense for a traffic stop show Floridian motorists are increasingly heeding the advice — or the threat of a ticket — to buckle up. Law enforcement officials across the Treasure and Space coasts are hoping the new texting-while-driving law, will show similar results in years to come. The full law goes into effect Jan. 1, although some agencies statewide started ticketing people the $30 fine in July. “It’s a different animal than the seat belt law,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said. “It’s easy to see when someone doesn’t have their shoulder harness on.”

Trap a Florida songbird and become a jailbird thanks to new state rule starting this week” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s songbirds are under attack, victims of illegal trapping by poachers as well as capture by misguided admirers. Starting this week, those birds will have new protections to sustain their songs in the wild. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s new regulation starts Oct. 3 and covers illegal captures with bird traps. “The illegal trapping of native birds has long been a concern in the state, particularly in South Florida where trapping is believed to be widespread,” the FWC said in a news release about the new rule. “Birds are lost from the wild population and, in many cases, maybe mistreated and sometimes killed or injured when illegally trapped.”

Floridians push back on Nestlé’s plan to bottle our water” via Steven Patrick of News4Jax — The Seven Springs Water Co., a supplier to Nestlé, is asking the Suwannee River Water Management District for a five-year renewal of a permit allowing it to pump nearly 1.2 million gallons a day from wells near Ginnie Springs and the Santa Fe River, in Gilchrist County, about 25 miles south of Lake City. How much will the company pay for taking all this freshwater from Florida? A total of $115 for a one-time permit fee. Calls are growing for the permit to be denied. Our Sante Fe River, a nonprofit that works to protect the river and its watershed, is urging the public to speak out against the permit.

Space Florida proposes budget increase — A panel that helps write Space Florida’s budget approved a tentative spending plan nearly $800,000 larger than its 2019-20 year’s budget. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development arm proposed a budget that measures in at $16 million. $11 million of those funds would come from the state, which is the same amount Space Florida received from the Legislature in the current budget. Most of the increase — $627,000 — would pay for seven new full-time staffers to help with an expected increase in federal grant money and the processing of economic development deals that have been already been worked out.


What Mark Inch is reading — “Virginia made most of its execution process secret. Now news outlets are suing” via The Virginian-Pilot — After witnesses to Ricky Gray’s execution reported prison officials took an unusually long time to place IV lines for the chemicals that killed the convicted murder, Virginia moved to shield that process from view, a move several news organizations are now challenging in court. The lawsuit, filed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Associated Press, Guardian News and Media and Gannett Co. Inc., says the First Amendment guarantees a public right of access to government proceedings, even including executions.

What Joe Gruters is reading — “NJ Attorney General blocks ICE agreements with county jails, intensifying standoff” via The Bergen Record — The state attorney general took another step to limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration officials, intensifying a showdown with two South Jersey sheriffs. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal blocked authorities from participating in a U.S. program that trains corrections officers to determine the immigration status of jail inmates and then “flag” them for federal action. At the same time, he expanded the list of criminal offenses where notice to immigration officials is permitted. 

What Fedrick Ingram is reading — “Who gets the best-paid teachers? Often, the most affluent kids” — Vermont’s K-12 school funding system is often touted as one of the most progressive systems in the country. But at home in the Green Mountain State, education officials say inequality remains baked in. Administrators often say, for example, that more affluent districts tend to pay teachers the best, while schools with the neediest kids see higher turnover and less-experienced educators. (We) analyzed data from the Agency of Education on average teacher salaries and student poverty in every public school in Vermont.


’Devastating’: Peru’s refusal to pay bond debts could impact Florida first responders’ pensions” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — While Steven Camacho and other Orlando first responders are counting on the pension provided by the city to retire, that fund could be affected by Peru’s refusal to issue payments on land bonds it sold decades ago. The city of Orlando invested in those bonds as part of its pension portfolio. Chiquita Camacho says she’s now worried those payouts could be hampered by Peru’s decision not to pay out the bonds’ full value, thereby denying money to the city. “It was devastating to hear about that,” Camacho said. “That’s our retirement, and that’s all we have.” Several state and federal lawmakers in Florida have voiced concern in recent months about how Peru’s decision could impact pensions here in the state.

Marco Rubio’s mother, who left Cuba for Miami, dies at 88” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Rubio announced Oriales Rubio’s passing in an Instagram post. “My mother Oria Rubio returned to be with the Lord on Friday night,” Rubio wrote. “God blessed her with almost 89 years of life filled with love. And with a peaceful death surrounded by those who loved her.” Oriales Rubio was born on Nov. 2, 1930, in Jatibonico, Cuba. In 1956, she and her husband, Mario Rubio, arrived in the United States from Cuba, 2 1/2 years before Fidel Castro’s takeover, and they lived in Miami until 1979, when they moved to Las Vegas. In 1985, the Rubio family returned to South Florida and moved to West Miami where their son goodness began his political career.

First in Sunburn — Kathy Castor announces staff shuffle, new press secretary — Castor’s Press Secretary, Steven Angotti, will now serve as grants coordinator and will take on additional responsibilities for constituent services. Angotti has worked with Castor since early 2015. “Steven is already a trusted partner to organizations across the district in addressing their concerns and connecting them with available federal resources. In his new role, he will also be helping individuals in much the same way,” Castor said. Former Press Assistant for the House Democratic Caucus, Rikki Miller, began Monday as Castor’s new press secretary. Miller formerly served in constituent services for U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell. Castor called Miller “an ideal fit for this role.”

Ethics probe in Ross Spano campaign finance snafu extended until November” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The House Committee on Ethics is investigating Spano, but he won’t know his fate over several complaints leveled against him alleging campaign finance violations for several weeks. The Committee filed an extension on an ethics probe against Spano, but in doing so revealed they are planning to look into the matter. It’s the first time the committee has acknowledged the complaint, which they don’t have to investigate. The committee wrote in a release they will announce their course of action in the matter on or before Nov. 14. Spano came under fire after it was uncovered he accepted about $180,000 in loans from friends and then used those loans to fund his Congressional campaign.

Assignment editors — Florida House Appropriators and members — including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mario Diaz-Balart, Frederica Wilson and Gregory Meeks of New York — will survey Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco in The Bahamas, and report on the damage and recovery efforts when they return to Miami, 8:30 a.m., Miami International Airport Concourse D, #4 TSA checkpoint, Departures Level — Pre-security.


Mounting evidence is showing that, after nearly a decade, the ACA is making some Americans healthier — and less likely to die.

According to Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, this mosaic of evidence comes just as the ACA’s future is once again cast into doubt.

“The most immediate threat arises from a federal lawsuit, brought by a group of Republican state attorneys general, that challenges the law’s constitutionality,” Goldstein writes.  “A trial court judge in Texas ruled late last year that the entire law is invalid, and an opinion on the case is expected at any time from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The case could well put the ACA before the Supreme Court for a third time.”

While the Donald Trump administration is dismantled much of the law as they can, by both promoting low-cost health plans that “skirt ACA rules,” as well as cutting federal aid to poor people who sign up through the insurance marketplaces.

Despite the difficulty in proving the ACA has made a difference in individual people’s health, there is evidence from the journal Health Affairs showing that uninsured people who bought into the ACA health plans — using the federal subsidies — had a spike in the diagnosis of high blood pressure and the number of prescriptions filled.

“Most of the emerging evidence concentrates on the health effects of joining Medicaid under the law’s expansion of the safety-net program,” Goldstein notes.

— 2020 —

Joe Biden’s digital ads are disappearing. Not a good sign, strategists say.” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — In a race where many voters are following politics on their smartphones, Biden’s pullback is an unusual and potentially worrisome sign about his appeal among the Democratic activists, young people and donors who are especially engaged on social media. Candidates rarely withdraw so much money from their online campaigns unless they are seeing weak results in online fundraising, according to interviews with digital strategists. Instead, he has shifted his spending priorities toward traditional tactics like buying television ads in Iowa. But that strategy has not paid dividends so far.

Joe Biden is pulling out of digital ads, going to Iowa television instead. That’s worrying many strategists.

Cory Booker says he hit his $1.7M campaign fundraising goal” via The Associated Press — Democratic presidential candidate Booker says he’s hit the $1.7 million fundraising goal he set for his campaign about a week ago, ensuring he has enough money to continue his White House bid. Booker says on his website he’s “proud of this grassroots team — thank you.” The New Jersey senator had said on Sept. 21 that if he failed to raise the money by Monday, he’d end his 2020 bid. The plea prompted support from politicians including former rival New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who hopped on an all-staff phone call Sunday to encourage Booker’s team. Booker’s campaign manager said the money would go toward ballot access and hiring staff, among other things.


Hotel and restaurant trade group ‘deeply offended’ by John Morgan’s ‘slave wages’ comparison” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is firing back at Orlando attorney Morgan after comments he made at Tampa Tiger Bay referring to the state’s existing minimum wage as “slave wages.” “Mr. Morgan has made his position on minimum wage clear … While I respectfully and vehemently oppose his position on this issue, I am deeply offended by his remarks at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club on Friday,” FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover said. “By referring to minimum wage as ‘slave labor,’ Mr. Morgan showed us all just how tone-deaf he is and how utterly oblivious he is to a very real problem in our state.”

John Morgan’s comment about ‘slave wages’ isn’t sitting well with hotels and restaurants.

Florida Republicans raising cash at the Swamp” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Top-10 matchup between the Florida Gators and the Auburn Tigers is sure to bring a massive crowd to Gainesville. Among them: House Speaker José Oliva, Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls and Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner. The trio is planning to pregame with a “tailgate party” fundraiser benefitting the Republican Party of Florida. The invitation doesn’t list a time or give specifics on where the event will be held, but it’s a safe bet the event will kick off before the football game, which is slated for 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

This Miami-Dade commission race gets a jolt after Hillary Clinton names her choice” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Clinton delivered some fundraising help to Miami-Dade commission candidate Sybrina Fulton, endorsing the anti-violence activist on Twitter and urging people to help her “make the change we need.” After the death of her son, Fulton became a national advocate for gun reform and social justice. She campaigned for Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. Fulton is running for the District 1 seat being vacated by a term-limited Barbara Jordan in 2020. Her opponent is Oliver Gilbert, the Mayor of Miami Gardens.

’Nastiest’ election ever? Just 2 weeks away, Santa Rosa County special election heats up” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — With a special election in Santa Rosa County less than two weeks away to determine the fate of the county’s local option sales tax increase, arguments both for and against the increase are heating up. Sheriff’s Office reports have been filed relating to sign vandalism, social media commenters are getting into heated debates on community Facebook pages, homemade signs are popping up in yards, and bumper stickers are being slapped across cars. Some citizens are adamant they’ll vote against the half-cent sales tax increase, either because they’re opposed to tax increases altogether or because they want to send a message to County Commissioners that they’re fed up with growth that’s putting a strain on local infrastructure.


Palm Beach Police Chief, Mayor want to amend wording of gun statute” via Adriana Delgado of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach Police Chief Nicholas Caristo and Mayor Gail Coniglio are urging the state Senate to change the wording of the Florida Weapons and Firearms statute. They have written a letter to State Sen. Bobby Powell prompted by the Town Council at its April 23 meeting after the gun group Florida Carry, which supports Trump, stopped at a bridge within the Town of Palm Beach openly displaying firearms. In the letter, Caristo and Coniglio express concern with the “Lawful Uses” section of Florida Statute 790.25 (3)(h) which allows the “use and possession of a firearm while engaged in fishing, camping, target shooting, or hunting or going to and from lawful hunting, fishing, target shooting or camping expeditions.”

Donald Trump-supporting gun group Open Carry stopped at a bridge within the Town of Palm Beach while openly displaying firearms, to the chagrin of both the Palm Beach Police Chief and Mayor. Image via the Palm Beach Post.

Tampa mulls resolution supporting federal assault weapons ban” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — City Attorney Gina Grimes is scheduled to provide a report on the board’s legal authority to propose and approve a resolution supporting the ban. Grimes’ report is likely to be a complicated rundown of a simple answer — not much. First, a resolution in support or opposition of an issue — whether it’s local, state or federal — is symbolic. It merely sends a message to the community showing where the city’s values lie. In Florida, elected municipal boards are banned from passing any gun-related ordinances that supersede state law. So, for example, Tampa City Council is not legally allowed to pass a restriction or a ban on assault weapons.

What Chris Sprowls is reading —South Florida companies charged in $2.1 billion genetic testing scheme” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Owners of telemedicine companies in Loxahatchee and Fort Lauderdale are among 35 people charged by federal authorities with targeting elderly cancer patients for unnecessary genetic testing and billing Medicare $2.1 billion. Defendants include Richard Garipoli, 42, owner of Lotus Health LLC in Loxahatchee, and Jamie Simmons, 62, owner of MedSymphony LLC and Meetmydocc LLC in Fort Lauderdale. Prosecutors say Garipoli and unnamed conspirators billed Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans more than $326 million for false and fraudulent cancer genetic (CGx) tests that were not medically necessary and not eligible for Medicare reimbursement.

Jerome Brown tells jury (that) sauce was made as fraud trial continues for 2 ex-Jacksonville City Council members” via Steve Patterson of the Times-Union — Barbecue maven Jerome Brown talked about making sauce and losing money during the sixth day of the fraud trial for his daughter, former Jacksonville City Council member Katrina Brown and fellow council ex-member Reggie Brown.

School officials scramble to review Sept. 11 Deerlake presentation after parent’s concerns” via Nada Hassanein and CD Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ahmed Rashidi, whose 12-year-old son attends the school and is Muslim, was shocked when he downloaded history teacher Vince Cartwright’s presentation titled “Roots of 9-11” earlier this week from the school’s website and read the words: “On 9/11 Muslims celebrated news the WTC (World Trade Center) collapsed.” The image was sourced from, a Biblical website out of Canada. Another image was pulled from an online forum, History Commons, which identifies itself as “open-content” and “participatory.” In the 92-slide PowerPoint, obtained by the Democrat from Rashidi, several images were hyperlinked to unofficial sources including from commentator Debbie Schlussel’s website. “These are the types of presentations that divide a community and pit people against each other,” Rashidi said.


Miami-Dade may spend $76 million to build a Virgin rail station by the Aventura Mall” via Bob Wile and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — A draft memo sent to a county transportation board reveals the outlines of the proposal by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Miami-Dade would use the county’s half-percent transportation tax to purchase land for the station, and then Virgin would build the station using public dollars. Virgin, which used to be called Brightline, agreed to give Aventura-bound passengers a 35 percent discount off its normal fare for trips between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. A trip from Miami to Fort Lauderdale costs $15 today, so a ticket to Aventura would cost no more than $9.75 one-way. Virgin would pay to operate the station and service, using its existing trains and staff.

Miami-Dade could spend as much as $76 million to build a Virgin Trains rail station by the Aventura Mall.

Brevard School Board takes a pay cut after new law tying salaries to teacher pay” via Eric Rogers of FLORIDA TODAY — Thanks to a recent change in Florida law, school boards throughout the state can no longer be paid more than first-year teachers in their districts. As a result, Brevard school board members will see their annual salaries drop by about $850. Board members were paid a salary of $40,080 before July 1 when the change went into effect. That’s down to $39,226, the school district’s beginning salary for teachers with bachelor’s degrees. The law, which passed without much fanfare in March 2018, requires that school board members be paid the state-set rate — determined, as for most elected officials, by the state Office of Economic and Demographic Research — or their district’s starting teacher salary, whichever is less.

Sarasota’s Hugh Culverhouse giving $1.1 million to UF law school” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The University of Alabama may not want Culverhouse’s money, but the Palmer Ranch developer still has a good relationship with the University of Florida and recently announced a $1.1 million donation to UF’s Levin College of Law. “Alabama and I had a difference of opinion, but Gainesville and I have the same opinion,” Culverhouse said. “This new commitment to UF Law is an excellent way to acknowledge the incredible legacy of leadership built over the last 110 years,” UF President Kent Fuchs said in a statement.

The money that Hugh Culverhouse would have given to the University of Alabama is now going to the University of Florida. Image via the University of Alabama.

FEMA reimbursing $159 million to Bay County for debris removal” via Patrick McCreless of the News-Herald — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse Bay County $159.8 million for hurricane debris removal, officials announced on Monday.

Hurricane Lorenzo brings potential of coastal flooding, beach erosion to Treasure Coast” via Cheryl McCloud of TCPalm — Lorenzo may be in the middle of the Atlantic, but its presence is felt on the Treasure Coast. The threat for minor coastal flooding and beach erosion this week is increasing as the Category 2 hurricane spins in the Atlantic. Lorenzo is maintaining 105 mph winds, according to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings have been issued for the Azores.

Siesta Village businesses band together for Bahamas relief” via Jimmy Geurts of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Four restaurants and bars took part in the Bahamas fundraiser It Takes a Village, raising an estimated total of nearly $10,000. Participants included Siesta Key Oyster Bar, known as S.K.O.B. to locals, which is also donating its famous dollar bill decorations to Bahamas relief efforts. After about a month, S.K.O.B. has collected around $15,000 in dollar bills. And it may ultimately amount to more, said general manager Kristin Hale. “We were going to leave a bunch up for aesthetic measure,” Hale said, “and we probably still are.” Daiquiri Deck, 3.14 Pi Craft Beer & Spirits and Gilligan’s Island Bar participated along with S.K.O.B.

Assignment editors —Trulieve opens the doors of its latest location, the first dispensary in Destin, 10 a.m., 868 Highway 98 East, Destin.


Jeff Flake: Fellow Republicans, there’s still time to save your souls” via The Washington Post — Traveling overseas I witnessed the damage being done to our standing in the world as a result of Trump’s fondness for authoritarians. Now, two years later, it is my former Republican Senate colleagues who have a decision to make. Or, as I see it, two decisions to make. The first is difficult; the second is easy. Compelling arguments will be made on both sides of the impeachment question. With what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment. If the House decides against filing articles of impeachment, or the Senate fails to convict, Senate Republicans will have to decide whether, given what we now know about the President’s actions and behavior, to support his reelection. Obviously, the answer is no.

Joe Gruters: Beware ‘open primary’ amendment” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The open primary amendment proposed to the Florida Constitution is a bad idea, and is counter to what is currently working well in Florida’s diverse political environment. It’s a bad idea because it destroys the ability of 9.2 million grassroots members of political parties in Florida to determine the candidates they want to represent their party. But this specific proposal deceives Florida voters as to what it will actually do. It actually abolishes party primaries for Gov., Cabinet, and the state Legislature, in favor of a jungle primary that can be more easily manipulated by special interests and political consultants.

Setting the record straight on AOB legislation, insurance costs” via Barry Gilway for Florida Politics — A recent article in another publication completely mischaracterized statements I made during a recent Board of Governors meeting regarding Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s continued efforts to rein in skyrocketing costs brought on by unnecessary litigation. I’m writing to set the record straight. So, let me be clear. The passage of HB 7065 was a significant step forward in the fight to bring rate relief to millions of property insurance policyholders who must pay higher rates for unnecessary litigation. By addressing assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse, the Legislature came through for policyholders across the state.

Proposed text for Confederate statue: ‘I was forced to come here …’” via Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel — This column asked readers some weeks back to provide suggested text to display with the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, which is slated to come to the Lake County Historical Museum in Tavares. Never mind that Smith has nothing to do with Lake County or that more than 400 people came out in the searing heat of an August day to protest the plan as hurtful and wrong. Why put up a 14-foot-high tribute to a St. Augustine man who fought to keep the institution of slavery? There is no valid reason. Some folks have contended that destroying the statue destroys history. This is nonsense. No one “needs” a statue to learn about history. Take Germany, for example.


Service slated Friday for late House Speaker” via News Service of Florida — Former House Speaker Donald Tucker will be remembered Friday in the civic center that bears his name. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee for Tucker, who died last week at age 84 after a battle with cancer, according to an obituary on the Bevis Funeral Home website. Tucker was a Democrat who represented the Tallahassee area in the state House from 1966 to 1978. Tucker served as Speaker from 1974 to 1978 and was the last lawmaker to serve two terms in the powerful position. Since then, speakers have served one two-year term and then stepped down. FSU now owns the civic center named after Tucker.

RIP: Former House Speaker Donald Tucker will be remembered in a ceremony at the Civic Center that bears his name. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

D.C. lobbyist Danielle McBeth to head legislative affairs at Florida A&M” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — McBeth succeeds Barbara Cohen-Pippin, who is retiring Oct. 17, FAMU President Larry Robinson said in a release. McBeth, a partner with Alcalde & Fay, a government and public affairs firm in Arlington, Virginia, begins Oct. 28. “We are excited about having Danielle McBeth take the baton into the 2020 legislative session and beyond,” Robinson said. “The work of representing the university in this capacity will continue to be in good hands.” McBeth graduated from FAMU with a bachelor’s in journalism in 1991 and earned her law degree from the American University Washington College of Law in 2003.

Personnel note: Aimee Stafford joins League of Women Voters of Florida” via Florida Politics — Stafford, formerly Senior Vice President of Administration for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, is the new executive director of the League of Women Voters of Florida. The League announced the hire in a Monday news release. She will be based at the League’s state office in Orlando. “Aimee comes to us with over 20 years of nonprofit experience, and we are thrilled to have her as part of the team,” Florida League President Patricia Brigham said.

Happening today — The University of Florida’s Office of Government Relations will host the first “UF Community Leaders Speaker Series” in Orlando, focusing on a preview of the 2020 Legislative Session. Expected attendees include Sen. David Simmons and Reps. Mike LaRosa and Rene Plasencia, with GrayRobinson President and CEO Dean Cannon moderating, 5:30 p.m., GrayRobinson, 301 E. Pine St.-Suite 1400, Orlando.

850 Hemp Summit sold out, future events being planned” via Tallahassee Democrat — The passage of the 2018 federal Farm Bill legalizing hemp and the recent passage of state legislation creating the “State Hemp Plan,” has generated tremendous excitement about the potential for cultivating, processing and manufacturing hemp and CBD products throughout the state. To educate farmers, businesses and others across North Florida about the economic opportunities for hemp, the Apalachee Regional Planning Council, in partnership with the Florida Hemp Association, is hosting the 850 Hemp Summit on Wednesday at the FSU Turnbull Center, 555 W. Pensacola St.

— ALOE —

Boy who gave Disney trip money to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees gets day at Disney after all” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Jermaine Bell had been saving for more than a year for a planned trip to Disney before Hurricane Dorian threatened the U.S. coast. Bell took his money saved in a piggy bank and used it to buy hundreds of hot dogs, bags of chips and bottled water for people who were evacuating as the hurricane threatened the U.S. East Coast. On Sept. 8, he was surprised at his birthday party by a visit from Mickey Mouse and Disney cast members who gifted to him a Disney vacation as a reward for his good deed. That vacation happened over the weekend as Jermaine and family members got a VIP experience through all four parks.

Jermaine Bell sacrificed his Disney vacation money to help hurricane Dorian evacuees. Disney returned the favor with a VIP pass to all four parks. Image via Disney.

Disney World’s new Skyliner opened Sunday, and we took a ride” via Kelly Stephani of the Tampa Bay Times — “It rivals the monorail,” said Alison Armor, vice president of Disney transportation operations. “With 10 people per cabin at this frequency, it’s a huge people mover.” With 300 cabins, five loading stations and 22 character themes, the Skyliner runs 90 feet off the ground and connects four resorts (an additional five are within walking distance) and Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The cabin designers, who are from Switzerland, have come up with an airflow system for the cabins that move at 11 miles per hour: Six windows, cracked at an angle, and two floor vents circulate air throughout the cabin. “The temperature inside the cabin is cooler than the ambient temperature outside,” Armor said. “It’s like being in the shade.”


Best wishes to Ryan Banfill, communications director of the Florida Justice Association, Rena FrazierKimberly Stone Kirtley, Danielle OchoaDanielle Cone Scoggins of the Florida Realtors.


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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