Best news from the weekend — “Dane Eagle weds Brooke Iwanski in Iceland” — House Republican Leader Eagle wed Dr. Iwanski in a private ceremony.
The couple shared news on the House member’s Twitter account: “On October 1st, Brooke and I were married in a private ceremony at Búðakirkja, the Black Church of Búðir, in Iceland,” he wrote. “It was absolutely perfect. We are so thankful for the love and support that brought us to this day. Here’s to the rest of our lives together. Skál!”
Iwanski is a chiropractic physician at Integrative Medicine and Rehab in Fort Myers. Notably, Iwanski already knows something about relationships with someone in public service. She’s the daughter of former Kissimmee Police Chief Fran Iwanski and retired Orange County Deputy Greg Iwanski.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
A new law setting up a process to restore voting rights for former felons is being challenged in federal court. Amendment 4 was supposed to make the process easier, but ACLU lawyers say the implementation law is undermining it
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Gov. Ron DeSantis proposes boosting the minimum salary for teachers to more than $47,000. The teacher’s union says it’s nice to have a Governor who appears to be listening to their concerns, but they still have some questions.
— Two South Florida lawmakers filed bills requiring background checks to purchase ammunition.
— Noah Pransky reports on an online sex-sting by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department that raises troubling questions about just how far cybercops go to try to set someone up and make an arrest. One of the suspects arrested during a sex sting last month was a 62-year-old man who committed suicide after his arrest.
— A 36-year-old Escambia County man is accused of breaking into a woman’s home and holding her hostage while he masturbated and tried on some of her baby’s clothing.
To listen, click on the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@NikkiHaley: We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend
—@Brett_McGurk: Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff, or he confronts a hard phone call.
—@RandPaul: I stand with @realDonaldTrump today as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy.
—@GeraldoRivera: Apparent emergence of # more evidence of my central thesis re Trump Admin: It’s surrounded by snitches, vipers, rats & backstabbers. Fed by shared contempt of @ & greased by media-adulation & free meals-this unsavory crew basks in self-righteousness.
—@MatthewJDowd: Jesus preached each day saying don’t worry about the ends, concentrate on the means. Love one another and the kingdom of god will be here. Many faith supporters of trump say forget about the means and focus on the ends; don’t worry about integrity if we get policy results.
—@TedCruz: As a lifelong @fan, I was proud to see @ call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protesters in Hong Kong. Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @ is shamefully retreating.
—@JebBush: Proud of #’s leaders for investing in # and our future. This proposal is a great step forward to ensuring every child has a quality teacher in the classroom. Thank you, @ and Commissioner @ .
—@AnnaforFlorida: Questions to consider: 1. Increased pay for veteran teachers? 2. Increased pay for support staff? 3. Can we pay for this via repealing corporate tax giveaways and other politically motivated tax exemptions? Asking for many many friends and constituents
—@DanDaley: Today, I filed Jaime’s Law in honor of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who tragically lost her life in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Jaime’s Law seeks to close the ammo loophole by requiring background checks on ammunition purchases.
—@SenRickScott: I always love getting to stop by and see my grandsons during the day when I’m in Naples. They are growing up so fast, so we have to make every second count!
— DAYS UNTIL —
CNN hosts candidate town hall on LGBTQ issues — 2; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 3; Fourth Democratic debate outside Columbus, Ohio — 7; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 10; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO — 12; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 20; Brexit scheduled — 23; 2019 General Election — 28; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 30; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 45; “Frozen 2” debuts — 45; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 55; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 73; 2020 Session begins — 98; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 99; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 117; Iowa Caucuses — 118; New Hampshire Primaries — 126; Florida’s presidential primary — 161; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 211; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 290; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 322; 2020 General Election — 392.
— TOP STORY —
“Starting Florida teacher pay should rise to $47,500, Ron DeSantis says” via Scott Travis and Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The minimum starting salaries for teachers would rise from a state average of $37,636 to $47,500, which would vault the state from 26th in teacher starting pay to as high as second, under a budget proposal the governor discussed at Bayview Elementary in Fort Lauderdale. In 2017-18, only New Jersey paid new teachers more, at $51,443, according to 2018 figures from the National Education Association. “We have to be in a position to recruit and retain really great teachers,” DeSantis said. “One of the things we think will make a great impact is to really focus on the minimum salary.” The proposal is “transformational,” said Education Commissioner Corcoran.
Teacher pay bump faces criticism — Gov. DeSantis proposed bump in teacher pay would rocket Florida to the No. 2 position in starting salaries among all states. And that’s an important caveat, teachers say. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, while raising the minimum teacher salary to $47,500 would benefit 100,000 teachers, it wouldn’t help out the approximately 76,000 veteran teachers who already earn a wage above that threshold. Responding to the critique, DeSantis said experienced teachers “shouldn’t feel slighted. This is not the sum total of our education proposals.” The Florida Education Association and some Democrats also have questions about whether support staff would see any benefit under the new plan.
— PEACHY —
“House committees subpoena Pentagon chief and acting director of Office of Management and Budget for documents in impeachment inquiry” via John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Brittany Shammas of the Washington Post — House investigators subpoenaed documents from the Department of Defense and Office of Management and Budget about the withholding of military aid to Ukraine as the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry barreled forward. The move came after Republicans stepped up their attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after late-night tweets from Trump, suggesting that she should be removed from office, not him. A State Department official declined to appear at a planned deposition by House committees seeking to learn more about Trump’s efforts to press the leader of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter at a time when U.S. military assistance had been suspended.
“Trump’s defiance of oversight presents new challenge to Congress’ ability to rein in the executive branch” via Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade of The Washington Post — A former State Department official set off a firestorm when he defied the White House’s no-cooperation strategy and provided Congress with text messages detailing the administration’s effort to leverage a meeting with Trump to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to launch investigations into the U.S. president’s political rivals. And House Democrats are expected to interview other critical witnesses as they try to build a case for impeaching Trump. But these rare triumphs are seen as fleeting even by Democrats and serve as a stark reminder of how much the administration has run roughshod over Congress, prompting concerns among constitutional experts and lawmakers that Trump’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight is undermining the separation of powers.
“’We absolutely could not do that’: When seeking foreign help was out of the question” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — One day in October 1992, four Republican congressmen showed up in the Oval Office with an audacious recommendation. President George Bush was losing his reelection race, and they told him the only way to win was to hammer his challenger Bill Clinton’s patriotism for protesting the Vietnam War while in London and visiting Moscow as a young man. Bush was largely on board. But what came next crossed the line. “They wanted us to contact the Russians or the British to seek information on Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow,” James A. Baker III, Bush’s White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo later that day. “I said we absolutely could not do that.”
“Mike Pence going after Democrats over impeachment — in their districts” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — VP Pence will embark on a national tour of congressional districts represented by Democrats who’ve come out in support of the inquiry. The move comes as the administration is struggling to combat an intensifying investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Each of the districts on Pence’s itinerary were won by Trump in 2016, making them potent targets for Republicans. The deployment comes as the White House has been flailing for a focused response to the escalating probe into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
“William Barr’s review of Russia investigation wins Donald Trump’s favor. Those facing scrutiny suspect he’s chasing conspiracy theories.” via Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris and Rosalind Helderman — Attorney General Barr has taken an interest in a mysterious European professor whose conversation with an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign helped launch the FBI investigation into possible coordination with Russia — and who has since become the focal point of an unproven conservative theory that the entire inquiry was a setup, people familiar with the matter said. Those involved in the FBI investigation said they are mystified by the attorney general’s activities and interest in the professor, Joseph Mifsud, and they suspect that Barr might be using Justice Department resources to validate conjecture that Mifsud was deployed against a Trump adviser by Western intelligence to manufacture a basis to investigate the campaign.
“Florida businessmen with Rudy Giuliani, Ukraine ties won’t comply with impeachment inquiry” via Alex Daugherty and Kevin Hall of the Miami Herald — Two South Florida businessman who peddled supposedly explosive information from Ukraine about corruption involving Biden and Hillary Clinton will not comply with a request for documents and depositions from three House committees overseeing an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will not respond to a Monday deadline for documents and do not plan to appear for depositions scheduled for Thursday and Friday, their attorney John Dowd told the Miami Herald. “No response planned,” Dowd, who helped defend Trump during part of the recently concluded Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, said in an email.
Meanwhile … President ordered to turn over returns to Manhattan D.A.” via William Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser of The New York Times — A federal judge rejected Trump’s effort to shield his tax returns from Manhattan state prosecutors, calling the president’s argument that he was immune from criminal investigation “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” The decision from Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan was the first significant ruling in a case that could require Trump to hand over his tax returns and ultimately test the limits of presidential power. The judge dismissed a lawsuit that had been filed by Trump, who was seeking to block a subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.
And … “Where’s Matt? Gaetz was no-show at own pro-Donald Trump rally” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Gaetz announced last week he would be rallying voters and speaking in front of Democrat Congressman Charlie Crist’s office. But Gaetz canceled his appearance about an hour before the event was scheduled, citing a “miscommunication.” “The event has shifted to a training and rally supporting the President,” Trump Victory Spokesperson Danielle Alvarez said. Alvarez offered another statement later. “Instead of focusing on what they were elected to do, Democrats like Rep. Crist, have broken their promise to voters, choosing to waste taxpayer dollars on a baseless impeachment inquiry.” Word of the rally spread quickly over the weekend and Tampa Bay Democrats quickly organized a counterprotest.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Federal funds, new coordinator to help Florida in ‘war against opioids’” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — First Lady Casey DeSantis and a variety of state and local leaders were in Jacksonville to discuss the opioid crisis and to herald new mechanisms for a response. DeSantis and others at the event called attention to a $58 million Centers for Disease Control grant that will drop over the next three years. Of that money, $7.6 million will go to the Department of Health, and $12 million will be distributed to localities where the crisis is most grave. DeSantis noted that pregnant women and unborn babies are particularly affected, with nearly 6,000 babies born in recent years with Neo-Natal Abstinence Syndrome.
Casey DeSantis defends use of private planes — First Lady DeSantis defended her use of a private plane owned by an influential Republicans donor, reports Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida. She would not say whether she would accept plane rides from donors in the future. “Everything we do is 100 percent in accordance with the law,” DeSantis said when asked about the flights. “This morning, as you saw, the governor was here in Clay County talking about his teacher initiative, putting the state of Florida number two now in the nation as it pertains to teachers’ pay. So, I hitched a ride with the better half, and I’m going to be driving home.” When asked if she was “done with donor planes,” DeSantis said, “I am doing everything I can in accordance with the law.”
Assignment editors — DeSantis will make a major announcement, 10 a.m., Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Hilton Miami Downtown, Ryder Room, 1601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
“Background checks to buy bullets? South Florida lawmakers say ‘Jaime’s Law’ would close ammo loophole.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The proposal is called “Jaime’s Law,” in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 people killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. State Rep. Dan Daley and state Sen. Lauren Book said their proposal would apply to all sales of ammunition if it becomes law. Current law prohibits someone who can’t buy or possess a firearm from purchasing ammunition. Daley and Book said requiring background checks for ammunition buyers would close what they termed a loophole in the law.
“Jeff Brandes again seeks to scale back mandatory minimum sentencing” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The bill (SB 468) would allow courts to deviate from minimum sentencing and fine requirements under Florida law if the court finds the convicted person did not engage in a continuing criminal enterprise, did not threaten violence or use a weapon during the commission of the crime and did not cause death or serious bodily injury. Brandes has long sought to limit the use of mandatory minimum sentencing, which he says places too much focus on punishment rather than focusing on rehabilitation. Such mandates leave judges without discretion to apply leniency in situations that might otherwise warrant it and are part of the state’s problem with prison overpopulation. Reducing sentences in certain situations would help reduce Florida’s prison population.
Happening today — Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo hosts a legislative forum, 6 p.m., Barry University, Landon Student Union, 11300 N.E. Second Ave., Miami Shores.
Delegations meet — The Charlotte County Legislative Delegation meets, 8 a.m., Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association, 2001 Shreve Street, Punta Gorda. The Broward County Legislative Delegation will have a local bill hearing, 9:30 a.m., City of Miramar Commission Chambers, 2300 Civic Center Place, Miramar.
“Chris Connell unexpectedly passes away; Capitol mourns the loss of a ‘cop’s cop’” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Connell, the director of the Capitol Police and a 28-year veteran of the Tallahassee Police Department, died Friday at the age of 59. The cause of death has not been announced. Connell, a Florida State University alum, joined the Tallahassee Police Department in 1986 and rose to the rank of Major before he left for a position with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 2014. “He was a cop’s cop, levelheaded, funny, and all-around good human being,” wrote Jim Russell, a former Florida State University law enforcement officer, in a Facebook posting.
— STATEWIDE —
Happening today — The Florida Department of Education continues its “listening tour” on new academic standards for public schools, 5:30 p.m., Winter Springs High School, 130 Tuskawilla Road, Winter Springs.
“Hurricane Michael one year later: Housing crunch still a major obstacle” via Patrick McCreless of the Panama City News-Herald — A year has passed since the Category 5 hurricane gashed Bay County. Twelve months later, not much has changed for many residents. The thousands who evacuated can’t return and those who stayed, but lost their homes, have struggled to find new residences or ones that fit their price range. But the housing crunch is about much more than the loss of homes. It has permeated nearly every aspect of life in the county, from the economy to tax revenue, education and population. A year later and the problem seems nearly as dire as it did in the early days after the storm.
“Workers still scarce a year after hurricane” via Tom McLaughlin of the Panama City News-Herald — H.G. Harders & Son has been doing heavy civil and marine construction since 1952, operating under the motto, “get the best people for the job and treat them like the best in the industry.” Since Hurricane Michael, though, just finding people, much less the best among them, has proven difficult for the Panama City-based company, as it seemingly has for most Bay County businesses. “There’s a plethora of work, which is great, but that doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have the resources to cover what you think you could cover,” said Bill Crittenden, who has been with H.G. Harders & Son for 15 years. “The workforce is not what it was prestorm.”
“Justices to take up insurance payment fight” via the News Service of Florida — In a case stemming from Hurricane Frances in 2004, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up a dispute about whether the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. could be required to pay for lost rental income from damaged apartment buildings. Justices issued an order saying they will hear an appeal by Citizens of a ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal in the Brevard County case. The dispute involves damage sustained by nine apartment buildings owned by Manor House, LLC, Ocean View, LLC and Merritt, LLC, according to court records. After Citizens initially made payments of $1,927,747 and $345,192, the property owners filed a lawsuit that led in 2010 to Citizens paying an additional $5.5 million.
“Losing their ‘heritage’: Ban on dog racing unconstitutional, federal lawsuit says” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Members of the greyhound industry are asking a federal judge to strike down a state constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing in Florida, saying in part that it “forever depriv(es) them of making a living.” The Support Working Animals organization and eight other plaintiffs on Friday sued DeSantis, Secretary of State Laurel Lee, and Attorney General Ashley Moody in South Florida federal court over Amendment 13, which passed with 69 percent ‘yes’ votes in November, It specifically outlaws the placing of bets on live greyhound and other dog races, such as at the state’s pari-mutuels, effective Jan. 1, 2021.
“Florida grapefruit growers take risks on new plants in bid to save industry” via Paul Brinkmann of UPI — Two large grapefruit growers on the state’s Atlantic coast have committed to planting 1,500 acres of new trees — the biggest grapefruit planting the state has seen in years. Key participants in the plan acknowledge significant risks, though, with citrus greening still sickening trees throughout the state. At stake is a segment of an industry that has a $10 billion-plus economic impact in Florida, with some 60,000 jobs, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Growers are using new strategies to combat citrus greening, which is spread by the pin-size psyllid insect. Canker also took its toll on Florida’s citrus groves before citrus greening — but greening is by far the most significant threat now.
— NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE —
What Nadine Smith is reading — “Supreme Court takes up transgender civil rights for first time in hearing Michigan case” via The Detroit News — A Michigan woman this week will become the first transgender person to have a civil rights complaint heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are set to hear oral arguments Tuesday morning in the case of Aimee Stephens, 58, of Metro Detroit, who was fired from her job at a Garden City funeral home in 2013 after informing her boss she was transitioning from male to female.
What Desmond Meade is reading — “Convicted felons now allowed to vote in Louisiana, but not all do” via nola.com — Unlike some other states, Louisiana does not disenfranchise all convicted felons. But until March, state law did not allow them to vote if they were “on paper” — serving either probation or parole. Act 636 changed that. Now the population of eligible voters includes all felons who are on probation and anyone released on parole who has been out of prison for at least five years.
What Kim Rivers is reading — “D.C. sued over medical marijuana policies for district employees” via WAMU.org — Many front-line employees were told in summer 2018 their roles had been reclassified as safety-sensitive, meaning they would now be subject to urinalysis drug testing (whether a person has used marijuana over the course of days or weeks, but not whether they are currently impaired). In May 2019, some employees received a memo telling them to find an alternative to medical marijuana to treat their ailments. The agency began implementing its drug-testing system in June.
— D.C. MATTERS —
The only story that matters — “Budget office estimates the U.S. deficit is just under $1 trillion” via The Associated Press — Last year’s deficit ran $779 billion, but this year’s came in at $984 billion, more than $200 billion higher despite very low unemployment and continuing economic growth. Many mainstream economists have long taken the position that deficits and the nation’s $22 trillion national debt are unsustainable. CBO notes that deficits have been growing faster than the size of the economy for four years in a row, ending 2019 at 4.7 percent of gross domestic product.
“One of the most politically volatile terms in years tests John Roberts and the Supreme Court” via Robert Barnes of The Washington Post — The Supreme Court has a powerfully controversial docket for its term beginning Monday that will test Chief Justice John Roberts’ efforts to portray the institution as above the noisy and partisan battles of the moment. Two unknowns — the health of the court’s oldest member, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and whether the court will be drawn into legal controversies arising from the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump — add to the uncertainty. Resolution of the most contentious cases could happen in June, in the heat of a presidential campaign in which the future of the court has emerged as a galvanizing issue for conservatives and liberals.
“Marco Rubio warns the divided flow of information is threatening democracy in the U.S.” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — “No country can survive if it’s split in two, three parts,” Rubio said during a speech before the Inter American Press Association at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. “Nowadays, we even debate the facts themselves.” Florida’s senior Republican Senator cautioned about the dangers of America’s splintered information systems while speaking about the influence of digital media in the Americas. He spoke both about what troubles Latin America — where Rubio is among the most influential voices in terms of U.S. policy — and about how some of those same issues are surfacing in the United States as people of different political persuasions hear drastically different stories about the events of the day.
“Rick Scott demands meeting with NBA commissioner over China uproar” by Chris Mills Rodrigo of The Hill — Scott on Monday demanded a meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver over the league’s response to the Houston Rockets general manager expressing support for protestors in Hong Kong.
“Everytown continues gun control push on Rubio and Rick Scott” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Everytown for Gun Safety, a pro-gun-control group backed by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced Monday that it plans to spend $200,000 on digital advertising against Republican senators in 10 states, including Florida. The push also includes a Moms Demand Action event in Orlando on Wednesday, where Rep. Stephanie Murphy and survivors of guns violence will urge Rubio and Scott to pass gun control bills in the U.S. Senate that have passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
“Congressman surveys Tyndall recovery” via Collin Breaux of the Panama City News-Herald — Rep. Doug Lamborn, the ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee, toured the base to see the recovery and lingering devastation. Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, and Rep. Neal Dunn saw support administration functions, the flight line and the First Air Force Air Operations Center. “Even though it’s been a year, seeing what happened with the destruction is very unnerving and sad,” Lamborn said. “Now, having come down here at the request of Neal Dunn and having seen what the missions are here at Tyndall Air Force Base, I know this is a national asset.”
— 2020 —
“Trump’s enemies add up in the wrong state” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Since taking office as president, Trump has alienated what looks like a mini-United Nations of voters with deep connections to other countries, tens of thousands of whom live in the state that’s essential to his reelection — Florida. Florida is a state historically won at the margins — Trump won the state by just 1.2 percentage points in 2016. The political turf is shifting in Florida as more and more nonwhite voters are added to the rolls both as a result of domestic and international migration, and natural growth. And these voters — who typically vote disproportionately Democratic — tend to be the ones Trump is incentivizing to turn out against him next year.
“How Pete Buttigieg would lower drug prices” via Sarah Karlin-Smith of POLITICO — The wide-sweeping proposal, similar to plans from rival candidates and a bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calls on the government to negotiate the costs of drugs in Medicare, as well as the government-run “public option” Buttigieg has proposed to compete with private insurers. Those prices would also be available to private health insurance plans and Medicaid. Buttigieg would also cap out-of-pocket spending for seniors and people enrolled in the public option. Buttigieg aims to boost government investment in drug research and manufacturing, particularly for critical areas like pandemic prevention and antibiotics.
— HAPPENING TODAY —
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation CEO Alberto Ibargüen is the featured speaker at the Economic Club of Florida, 11:15 a.m., FSU Alumni Center, 1030 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.
— THE TRAIL —
“New Jersey’s Phil Murphy to keynote Florida Democratic convention” via Ryan Hutchins of POLITICO — New Jersey Gov. Murphy will deliver a keynote address Saturday at the Florida Democratic Party’s biannual State Convention, taking a high-profile speaking slot in the key swing state as part of his leadership of the Democratic Governors Association. Murphy, the vice-chair and chair-elect of the DGA, will lay out his “road map for Democratic victories up and down the ballot in 2020” and discuss the “critical role of Florida Democrats in defeating President Donald Trump,” the state party said in a statement announcing Murphy’s speech. About 2,000 people are expected to attend the convention, which will be held all weekend at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando.
“Amendment 4: Professor testifies law prevents 80 percent of ex-felons from registering to vote” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — The testimony came during a hearing in a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups and ex-felons fighting the law. Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor, testified that he analyzed information from the Florida Department of Corrections and from 58 out of the 67 clerks of court offices to determine who would be ineligible to vote because of the law. “About four out of five still have some type of legal financial obligation,” Smith said. His study found that more than 500,000 ex-felons owe some form of fine, fee or other court costs that would have to be paid under the new law to vote. Most of them owe between $500 and $5,000.
“Revoking petition signatures is impossible. But this group wants Florida voters to try.” via Samantha Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — A Coral Gables-based political committee called Floridians for Truth is sending mailers to Floridians urging them to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would deregulate the state’s monopoly utilities — and telling them to “revoke” their signatures from the petition that would put the measure on the November 2020 ballot. But that’s impossible. It’s been a decade since voters in Florida have been able to revoke a signature on a petition once they have signed it. One of the organizers of the petition drive to get the amendment on the ballot — an amendment opposed by investor-owned utilities — said the letter is designed to “sow chaos.”
First on #FlaPol — “Charlie Crist raises another $400K for reelection campaign” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The new haul sets Crist’s campaign fund up with $2.56 million heading into October. The third-quarter effort keeps pace with Crist’s first- and second-quarter reports, when he raised $358,000 and $431,000, respectively “I’m extraordinarily honored to serve the people of Pinellas County in Washington,” Crist said in a news release. “We are doing the people’s work, with the people’s backing — on health care, our environment, social security and Medicare, and for our veterans. These are challenging times, but the progress we’re making is critical to the future of our nation.”
“Campaign to succeed state Sen. David Simmons now has 4 candidates” via the Orlando Sentinel — Democrat Alexis Carter opened a campaign account, becoming the fourth candidate to enter next year’s race in Senate District 9, which is made up of Seminole County and part of Volusia County. Carter joined fellow Democrats Rick Ashby and H. Alexander Duncan and Republican Jason Brodeur, a former state House member from Sanford. Since 2016, Brodeur has raised more than $2 million and spent more than $1.5 million between his campaign and political committee accounts combined. State Democratic leaders see the seat as one they could possibly win but have yet to recruit a high-profile candidate to take on Brodeur.
— LOCAL —
“Three blob plight: Trio of tropical disturbances includes one near South Florida” via Jon O’Neill and Brett Clarkson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The National Hurricane Center is now watching three tropical disturbances in the Atlantic tropics, with one of them emerging at the southern tip of Florida, forecasters say. The Florida disturbance is basically a smattering of rain showers and thunderstorms resulting from a trough of low-pressure extending northeast from the Florida Straits to the southern tip of the state, forecasters say. It has been given a very low chance of developing into a tropical cyclone — just 10 percent over the next two days. Cyclones are tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes. Regardless of whether or not it develops, it’s expected to bring rain to South Florida over the next few days.
“JEA gets 16 bids for utility” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — JEA opened 16 bids from entities interested in striking a deal with the city of Jacksonville for privatizing the city-owned utility. The bid opening at 2 p.m. did not disclose the names of the entities or any information about their offers. JEA is using a tightly held, secret process to enter into negotiations with entities over the next five months. The utility expects that in February, bidders will put in their “best and final” offers that JEA’s staff will evaluate for a top pick that will go to the JEA board. To purchase the entirety of JEA’s electric and water operations, a bidder would need to be able to pay at least a range of $6.8 billion to $7.3 billion.
“Escambia and Santa Rosa leaders say ‘transformational’ funding from BP spill coming soon” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — Restitution payments for the region include: Approximately $70 million from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund designated for Escambia County and $30 million designated for Santa Rosa County, a portion of $36 million in annual payments through 2031 in Natural Resource Damage Assessment money earmarked for projects in Florida, a share of $1.5 billion in economic development grants to eight Panhandle counties from Triumph Gulf Coast, and portions of several other pots of money designated for restoration of the Panhandle economy and ecosystem after the spill.
“Orlando bids to host NFL Pro bowl again in 2021” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County commissioners must decide Tuesday whether to commit $5.4 million in tourist-tax revenue to provide “incentive funding” required for the latest bids. “It’s the exposure,” said Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, which asked for the bid fees through the Sports Incentive Committee, a commission advisory board. The National Football League announced in August that Orlando would serve as host of the 2020 Pro Bowl, held at the end of the 2019 regular season. The city also hopes to host the 2021 game at Camping World Stadium, a fifth consecutive year for the venue. Each game requires a payment of $2.7 million in bid fees to the NFL.
“A $110,000 bribe, an empty chair and a hotel denied: Inside the J.T. Burnette allegations” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — When the federal grand jury in Tallahassee handed down a new indictment against businessman Burnette, it sent a strong signal prosecutors are trying to expand and solidify their case against him using information about crooked City Hall deals from his one-time associate, former City Commissioner Scott Maddox. “The (new indictment) has ‘Maddox debrief’ written all over it,” attorney David Moye said. “Maddox is very much cooperating. In other words, taking direct bribes from J.T.” The indictment details how Maddox killed a major downtown hotel project in exchange for a $110,000 bribe from Burnette because it would have rivaled his own hotel and office building interests nearby.
“Someone stopped Adam Corey on a Miami highway to hand him a subpoena for Burnette trial” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Former lobbyist Corey — not the easiest man to track down since the FBI’s investigation in Tallahassee became public — got handed a subpoena on a Miami highway to testify in Burnette’s upcoming trial. Corey, the force behind several local restaurants and bars, managed to avoid interviews and witness testimony earlier this year in former Mayor Andrew Gillum’s state ethics trial, which got short-circuited in a settlement anyway. But he couldn’t avoid an aggressive white pickup truck in Miami, according to a motion to quash the subpoena filed by his attorney, Chris Kise.
— MORE LOCAL —
“Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill sued over public records request” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — David Bear, vice president of The Lewis Bear Co., filed a lawsuit against Underhill alleging the commissioner has failed to fulfill several public records request related to his Facebook accounts. Bear, who has publicly clashed with Underhill on Facebook on several occasions, made at least three public records requests related to Underhill’s two Facebook accounts. The request encompassed information in regards to who Underhill is blocking, any comment on private message where Underhill mentioned a member of the Bear family, and finally any comment or message any way related to Underhill’s position as County Commissioner.
“Port Richey dissolution is power grab by Amber Mariano’s father, city alleges” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — State Rep. Mariano’s effort to dissolve Port Richey is a power grab by her father, Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, city officials alleged. Commissioner Mariano also was part of a bidding-irregularities scheme involving planned dredge work at city canals, City Manager Vince Lupo charged in a statement issued Monday afternoon in advance of a Tuesday morning press conference. “Port Richey has the natural assets, location, access to the Gulf and resources desired by the county, all falling within Jack Mariano’s jurisdiction as county commissioner,” the statement said, adding, “a piggyback scheme related to dredging was developed to circumvent the bidding process in furtherance of this power grab.”
“Lawmakers call for investigations into Wesley Chapel psychiatric hospital” via Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — State and federal lawmakers are asking for reviews of North Tampa Behavioral Health after the Tampa Bay Times found that it exploits patients held under the state’s mental health law. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis sent a letter asking federal regulators to investigate the Wesley Chapel psychiatric hospital for possible misuse of taxpayer dollars. Bilirakis pointed directly to patients and families who were required to stay longer than allowed by law and received no psychiatric care. “I know you share my desire to ensure all patients have access to high-quality health care and mental health services and to stop any potential wrongful billing practices that may divert precious resources from vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” he wrote.
“Jerry Falwell Jr. settles Miami court case over South Beach ‘pool boy’ venture” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In a federal court filing, Falwell and the young lawyer who sued him, Gordon Bello, said they had settled the case for an undisclosed “monetary sum” that Falwell, the president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, will pay Bello, a legislative aide for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Bello sued in 2017, claiming he was promised a stake in the South Beach hostel that a Falwell family entity purchased in 2013 for $4.7 million. Bello, 28, claims he and his father, Miami builder Jett Bello, pitched Falwell on the hostel idea after being introduced by Giancarlo Granda, a high school friend of the younger Bello’s.
“’The strange saga of Karyn Turk, Palm Beach MAGA socialite charged with scamming the elderly” via Tarpley Hitt of The Daily Beast — In the past two years Turk has become a recurring character on the fringes of the MAGA extended universe. She’s appeared alongside conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, for whom Turk has a “girl crush,” calling Ilhan Omar a “sleeper cell” and making claims like Democrats “want little girls to get raped.” Turk has a long and complicated legal record. Just hours after her fundraiser, for example, Turk appeared in a West Palm Beach federal courthouse and pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $46,376 from her late mother’s Social Security benefits. In court documents, the mother’s guardian accused Turk of appropriating the funds to realize her dream of starring in “The Real Housewives of Palm Beach.”
“’You won’t believe what happened’: The wild, disturbing saga of Robert Kraft’s visit to a strip mall sex spa” via May Jeong of Vanity Fair — Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach resident who ranks 232nd on the Forbes list of richest Americans, told me that he could not understand why any man would want to pay for sex, but that he did understand why Kraft had chosen to go across the bridge. Everyone in Palm Beach attends the same parties, Greene explained, and wakes up the next morning to read about the selfsame parties in the town newspaper, printed on glossy paper so as not to smudge the gloved hands of its readers. “Palm Beach is a small town,” Greene said. “I imagine if you want to do something you shouldn’t be doing, you go out of town.”
“Student arrested after social media threat targeting Miami-Dade high school” via Christian De La Rosa of ABC 10 News — According to police, the student and friends were involved in a group chat on global warming when the teen became angry and began threatening the others. “I am going to attempt to mass murder on Monday, October 7 at G. Holmes [Braddock] Senior High.” the student tweeted. “You have the warning, don’t be surprised when I walk into your class and start shooting everyone. You have been pre-notified of this special event on Monday. Thank you, and I hope many of you will show up. I am looking forward to it.” “PS, you may invited (sic) your friends the more the merrier.”
“Disney World gondolas: At least 1 person hospitalized, then released” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — A person riding in a cabin evacuated by the Reedy Creek firefighters asked for medical attention, said Eryka Washington, the new communications manager for Reedy Creek, Disney’s quasi-government that provides emergency services for the theme parks. Additional information on the person’s age, gender or condition were not available. It was unclear when the person was released from the hospital. Reedy Creek took two other people to the hospital Saturday night but it was unclear if they had been trapped on the gondolas, which broke down for several hours midflight, she said.
— OPINIONS —
“The NBA’s bow to Chinese repression was reprehensible“ via Giancarlo Sopo for The Federalist — Sadly, the NBA’s dastardly comments were not the result of PR malpractice. It is an accurate reflection of corporate America’s cowardice and pitiful moral neutrality on matters of strategic national interest. While large U.S. companies enjoy all the benefits of doing business in the United States — such as unparalleled property rights, legal protections, a society that values entrepreneurship, and a favorable tax climate — too many don’t really view themselves as, well, American, or even care for the duties that come with citizenship, like standing up for liberty and human rights.
“Washington should follow Florida’s lead on Puerto Rico child tax credit” via Cesar Conda for the Orlando Sentinel — According to recent U.S. Census data, one-third of all Puerto Ricans who fled to the mainland after Hurricane Maria now call Florida home. These Puerto Rican migrants, which number around 45,000, undoubtedly faced challenges. But many of these families also gained access to a surprise consolation: a $2,000 tax credit for each of their first two children. Some of these new Floridians may have been familiar with the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) in Puerto Rico. Several proposals pending before Congress seek to fix this inconsistency. Sen. Rubio has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that makes Puerto Rican families fully eligible for the CTC without having to move to the state to claim it.
“The Florida Supreme Court needs to be more diverse” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — This is a remarkable period of turnover for the state’s highest court, which DeSantis already has transformed into a more conservative institution. To his credit, DeSantis’ record of appointing black judges to lower state courts is already better than his predecessor’s. Now DeSantis has another opportunity to set things right at the Supreme Court. A more diverse judiciary makes for a more informed and fairer court. About 17 percent of Florida’s population was black in 2018. Diversity by race, ethnicity and gender on the state’s highest court is imperative for all Floridians to have confidence in the system. He unexpectedly has an opportunity for a do-over. He should do the right thing and appoint at least one black justice.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Alberto Moscoso joins Health — Moscoso joined the Department of Health last week after a brief stint out of state government. That was with the McNicholas & Associates PR firm’s Tallahassee office. The former Army National Guard helicopter pilot (2009-16) previously was communications director for the Division of Emergency Management, and press secretary for the Department of Corrections, both under former Gov. Rick Scott. Moscoso received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in international affairs from Florida State University.
— ALOE —
“Jeff Daniels to play James Comey in CBS Studios miniseries” via Rick Porter of The Hollywood Reporter — The project, which CBS Studios locked down a year ago, is based on Comey‘s memoir A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership. Additionally, Brendan Gleeson (Mr. Mercedes, the Harry Potter franchise) will play Trump — who fired Comey as FBI director in May 2017 and is a major figure in the book. A Higher Loyalty takes its title from what Comey says Trump demanded of him during the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Published in April 2018, A Higher Loyalty was an instant bestseller, moving more than 600,000 copies in its first week. The book covers Comey’s 2013-17 tenure as FBI director, his role in 2016.
“South Florida takes center stage in SNL’s race-baited TV news sketch” via Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — While politics hovered over NBC’s “Saturday Night Live’’ this weekend, so did race relations in a sketch set in a fictional South Florida TV news station. “SNL” guest star Phoebe Waller-Bridge played an anchor along with Keenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim and Alex Moffat who sat on a news set with images of palm trees and beach high rises in the background. “SNL” cast member Chris Redd portrayed a meteorologist named Dennis Jones. As the anchors delivered crime stories, each celebrated when the suspect was that of the opposite race. The reading of the news stories became a black vs. white competition between the anchors as they guessed the races of the suspects based on the description of the crime.
“Divers carve pumpkins underwater for Florida Keys contest” via The Associated Press — A group of scuba divers submerged 30 feet beneath the surface to sculpt jack-o’-lanterns during the annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest in the Florida Keys. Detroit’s Josephine Walker and Stephanie McClary crafted moray eels embracing a heart to win the competition this weekend at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Other carvings included stingrays, an octopus, jellyfish, a “Protect Our Coral” message, and traditional toothy grins. Participants used knives and fine carving tools to transform their orange gourds into sea creatures. They had to keep the naturally buoyant pumpkins from floating away while they carved.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to one of the classiest members of the Florida Legislature, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen. Also celebrating today is Matt Alford, the Deputy Legislative Affairs Director at Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, journalist Anne Geggis, the wonderful Vivian Myrtetus, Gordon Oldham, and smart guy Juan Penalosa. Belated wishes to Joe Follick.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.