Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.9.19

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Start your day right — with Sunburn.

This week, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board criticized the lack of diversity on the Florida Supreme Court and called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to “do the right thing” and “appoint a black justice.”

While we agree with the Times’ call for more diversity on the state’s highest court, the editorial board’s position is dripping with hypocrisy.

Let’s meet the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board, shall we?

Times CEO Paul Tash: White.

Times Editorial Editor Tim Nickens: White.

Times Editorial Writers, Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill, and Jim Verhulst: White. White. White.

Tampa Bay Times CEO Paul Tash et al. should examine themselves before saying anything about a lack of diversity.

It’s no secret there is no love lost between the Tampa Bay Times and Florida Politics. I try to take the high road, and then they print something like this. I can’t help but respond.

The Editorial Board, which calls its editorials the “institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times,” has a 100 percent lily-white perspective and does not represent the nearly 25 percent of the Tampa metro area that is Black, Hispanic or Asian.

But maybe even more egregious is that the editorial begins by implying DeSantis is not concerned about a diverse court then completely contradicting that argument a few paragraphs later.

In the opening sentence, ye olde Ed. Board, peering down from its literal Ivory Tower, points the finger at the Governor to “do the right thing” and appoint a black justice. Buried in the second to last paragraph is the fact that in nine months since taking office, DeSantis has appointed more African American justices than Rick Scott did in eight years.

If DeSantis does appoint a black justice, will the Editorial Board bring its Anglo-Saxon brain trust together to applaud him, or will they put out another editorial saying he should have appointed two?

Diversity is a good thing. Certainly, DeSantis and the state’s Judicial Nominating Commissions should make every effort to create a Supreme Court that reflects the diversity of Florida.

It would be nice if the Times had the same concern about its Editorial Board.


Supporters of new restrictions on firearms are taking aim at Sen. Scott … and he’s not the only one in the crosshairs.

Also, in today’s Sunrise:

— A national organization called Support Working Animals is challenging Florida’s constitutional amendment that will shut down the greyhound racing industry. They want the amendment overturned, but the Florida Greyhound Association does NOT support the lawsuit; former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp explains why.

— Every four years, a state task force seeks to increase efficiency in state government; they’ll be looking at everything from red tape to water policy.

— As a federal judge in Tallahassee hears a lawsuit over Amendment 4 — which restores voting rights to former felons — a new survey shows most Floridians agree with a law passed by the Legislature this year saying rights cannot be restored until former inmates have paid all fees and fines and have made restitution to victims.

— Adventures of Florida Men: A fiery meth-head, beer-swilling gators and a man flinging live lobsters at pedestrians.

To listen, click on the image below:


—@RealDonaldTrump: I think that Crooked Hillary Clinton should enter the race to try and steal it away from Uber Left Elizabeth Warren. Only one condition. The Crooked one must explain all of her high crimes and misdemeanors including how & why she deleted 33,000 Emails AFTER getting ‘C’ Subpoena!

@LindseyGraham: Have heard on numerous occasions disturbing allegations by @RudyGiuliani about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin. … Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine. … Therefore I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns.

@DaveWeigel: A fair question might be: Does the White House believe there is *any* mechanism for punishing a president if he commits a crime? It appears that they don’t.

@FLOTUS: I am pleased to announce the groundbreaking of a new tennis pavilion on the White House grounds. This structure will be a testament to American craftsmanship and skill. It is my hope that this private space will function as both a place of leisure and a gathering place for future First Families. Thank you to the many talented people involved for their dedication and support.

@JoseJavierJJR: Usually not a selfie guy, but in DC and had to come by and show support outside the SCOTUS. [Donald] Trump administration is urging the court to rule that it’s legal to fire workers for being LGBTQ. It strengthens our resolve to pass local protections #passCWA

@CarlosGSmith: CONFESSION: I am friends/friendly with Republicans who supported war in Iraq and who have anti-LGBTQ records. Have I lost your respect?

@MikeClemensNFL: Criticizing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Bitching about the Monday Night Football crew. Do you know newspaper media critics use to rip Howard Cosell? And that’s when the game had a 30 share! #OldNews. Move on, people.

—@EvanAxelbank: Don’t let anyone tell you this place can’t get loud or that it’s too far for a big crowd or that it’s not nice enough. If you’re here for baseball, there’s nothing wrong with it. #RaysUp


CNN hosts candidate town hall on LGBTQ issues — 1; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 2; Fourth Democratic debate outside Columbus, Ohio — 6; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 9; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO — 11; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 19; Brexit scheduled — 22; 2019 General Election — 27; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 29; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 44; “Frozen 2” debuts — 44; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 54; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 72; 2020 Session begins — 97; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 98; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 116; Iowa Caucuses — 117; New Hampshire Primaries — 125; Florida’s presidential primary — 160; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 210; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 289; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 321; 2020 General Election — 391.



Lawmakers made Amendment 4 an ‘administrative nightmare,’ federal judge says” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — A federal judge raised serious constitutional questions about the Legislature’s crackdown on Amendment 4, saying lawmakers created a “mess” that has left felons afraid to register to vote. “What we have now is an administrative nightmare,” said U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who is overseeing a challenge to the law by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, during a hearing in Tallahassee. The ACLU asked Hinkle to temporarily stop the law, which requires felons to pay back all court fees, fines and restitution to victims before being allowed to vote. Hinkle is expected to rule on it in the coming weeks.


White House counsel: No compliance with ‘illegitimate’ impeachment probe” via The Associated Press — The White House has notified the U.S. House that the Trump administration will not participate in what it is calling Democrats’ “illegitimate” impeachment probe. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to House Democratic leaders that their inquiry has been processed in a “manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” and “lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation” or “pretense of fairness.” The letter comes the same day Trump intensified his fight with Congress by blocking Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from testifying behind closed doors about the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

>>Read the White House letter in response to the impeachment inquiry here.

A letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone tells the House that the Trump administration will not comply with the ‘illegitimate’ impeachment probe.

Whistleblower had ‘professional’ tie to 2020 Democratic candidate” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — In an Aug. 26 letter, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, wrote that the anonymous whistleblower who set off the Trump-Ukraine impeachment fight showed “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.” Now, there is word of more evidence of possible bias on the whistleblower’s part. Under questioning from Republicans during last Friday’s impeachment inquiry interview with Atkinson, the inspector general revealed that the whistleblower’s possible bias was not that he was simply a registered Democrat. It was that he had a significant tie to one of the Democratic presidential candidates currently vying to challenge Trump in next year’s election.

House Democrats consider masking identity of whistleblower from Donald Trump’s GOP allies in Congress” via Rachael Bade, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post — The steps under consideration include having the whistleblower testify from a remote location and obscuring the individual’s appearance and voice, these officials said. The efforts reflect Democrats’ deepening distrust of their GOP colleagues, whom they see as fully invested in defending a president who has attacked the whistleblower’s credibility and demanded absolute loyalty from Republicans. “There are lots of different protocols and procedures we’re looking into to find out what works and doesn’t work to protect the identity of the whistleblower,” said a person familiar with the talks. “That is paramount.”

Donald Trump’s Ukraine call was ‘crazy’ and ‘frightening,’ official told whistleblower” via Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times — A White House official who listened to Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader described it as “crazy,” “frightening” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security,” according to a memo written by the whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine scandal, a CIA officer who spoke to the White House official. The official was “visibly shaken by what had transpired,” the CIA officer wrote in his memo. A palpable sense of concern had already taken hold among at least some in the White House that the call had veered well outside the bounds of traditional diplomacy, the officer wrote.

Why Republicans may want a House vote on impeachment inquiry and Nancy Pelosi doesn’t” via Sara Weiner of the Los Angeles Times — In both the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment inquiry resolutions, the minority party on the investigating committee was granted the power to subpoena — something the minority party does not normally have. If similar language were included in a House impeachment inquiry resolution against Trump — which is what Republicans are pushing for — it would theoretically enable GOP members to, say, subpoena testimony or information from former Vice President Joe Biden, or his son Hunter, or try to take the inquiry into an entirely different direction. If Republicans get the power to issue subpoenas, they’re likely to use it, said William Howell, a professor of American politics at the University of Chicago. “This is almost entirely about framing the narrative.”

Marco Rubio says Trump’s call for China to probe Joe Biden is ‘inappropriate’ but not a ‘real proposal’” via Jacob Pramuk of CNBC — “I don’t think what he said was right. I don’t agree with it,” the Florida Republican said, days after he said Trump only made his remarks to “provoke” the media. The Senator later added: “It’s an offhand comment and an inappropriate one but not a real proposal or a real initiative that’s [being undertaken].” A White House spokesman declined to comment on whether Trump’s request was not really a serious plan. Though he said he disagreed with the president’s remarks on China, Rubio added that he is “not thinking the Chinese are working on a plan” to probe the Bidens.

They’re talking about you, Matt — This article is for Congressmen who think Captain Kangaroo presided over kangaroo courts” via Gillian Brockell of The Washington Post — At a news conference, Rep. Matt Gaetz had this to say about the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry: “What we see in this impeachment is a kangaroo court, and Chairman [Adam] Schiff is acting like a malicious Captain Kangaroo.” Here we are in 2019, where it has become necessary to explain that the classic children’s television show “Captain Kangaroo” was not a courtroom drama. There are many theories about the American origins of the term. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it first appeared in print in the 1853 novel “A Stray Yankee in Texas,” in a description of a farcical court assembled by drinking buddies to “prosecute” one of their friends for kissing a black woman.

Matt Gaetz is catching heat for conflating Captain Kangaroo with ‘kangaroo court.’

Joe Gruters bringing ‘stop impeachment’ effort to Stephanie Murphy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican Party of Florida Chair Gruters is being billed to lead the #StopTheMadness Stop Impeachment rally outside Murphy’s office. Organized by the Seminole County Republican Party Executive Committee and the Republican National Committee, the rally is set for 10:30 a.m. outside Murphy’s office at 110 W. First St. in Sanford. Murphy of Winter Park has picked her impeachment words carefully in view of House Democrats’ impeachment movement. She has declared her support for an impeachment inquiry, but not for impeachment.


Ron DeSantis calls on lawmakers to overhaul state’s occupational licensing system” via Florida Politics — The fruits of the “Deregathon” were unveiled. DeSantis announced his new occupational licensing reform agenda to increase professional opportunities for Floridians. The Governor also highlighted the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) progress toward “eliminating barriers to employment.” The department held what it called a “Deregathon” event in January.

Tweet, tweet:

DeSantis says he expects the Florida Senate to back his decision removing the Broward sheriff” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — Despite a report saying the former Broward County sheriff should be reinstated, DeSantis says he expects the Florida Senate to back his removal of Scott Israel from the post because of his role in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting. During a press conference in Broward County, DeSantis insisted: “The decision I made was the right decision.” “We’re going to be showing why it was the right decision,” DeSantis said. “So, I’m confident that the Senate will vote to sustain what I did.”

Nikki Fried: Light Capitol blue in memory of Chris Connell — Agriculture Commissioner Fried requested that the Florida Capitol light shine blue this weekend in the memory of Connell, the Director of Capitol Police, who died unexpectedly last week. The request was approved Tuesday by the Department of Management Services. It will illuminate the historic Capitol in blue light Friday, Oct. 11-Sunday, Oct. 13. Connell “served the people of Florida admirably for over three decades. By lighting the Capitol blue, we’re showing our appreciation for his commitment to the safety of those who do the People’s work here,” Fried said.

Despite LGBT+ court cases, supporters still up on Florida Competitive Workforce Act” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The group Florida Competes is encouraging Floridians to support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act no matter the outcome of U.S. Supreme Court cases being heard. The proposed act would add workplace protections for LGBT+ workers to Florida law. The court “will hear three cases related to LGBT+ employment discrimination that will determine if federal law protects LGBT+ people against discrimination,” said Florida Competes spokesperson Christina Johnson. “Regardless of how the court rules, our elected leaders must pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act to ensure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT+ Floridians.”

Susan Valdes files ‘mental health day’ bill for public school students” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The bill (HB 315) would allow students to take one “mental health day” per semester if approved. “Each district school board and charter school governing board may allow up to one mental health day for each semester as an excused absence for a student as part of its policies relating to student absences,” the bill reads. Valdes’ bill would update existing law governing public and charter school student absences that requires school district superintendents to be responsible for enforcing school attendance of all students …. and supporting enforcement of school attendance by local law enforcement agencies.” The law also requires parents to “justify each absence of the student, and that justification will be evaluated based on adopted district school board policies.”

Susan Valdes wants to offer students a ‘mental health day’ from school.

Did Port Richey turn a corner just to get mugged by legislator?” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — State Rep. Amber Mariano’s district includes the city of Port Richey. Last week, she dropped the bombshell that she and Sen. Ed Hooper plan to introduce legislation to revoke Port Richey’s charter. It would require Pasco County to take over. Mariano doesn’t think city voters should consider the proposed dissolution in a referendum. It’s now clear from interviews and public records that Pasco County government officials, county commissioners, SheriffChris Nocco and even the state cops at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had been notified in some fashion of the Mariano-Hooper plan to file the bill. “It’s ugly. It’s a political stunt to usurp the demonstrated will of the people,’’ said Port Richey City Manager Vince Lupo.

Escambia County lawmakers hear support for proposed $603 million teacher raise” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Gov. DeSantis‘ proposal to raise the minimum salary of Florida teachers to $47,500 was met with cautious optimism at the Escambia County local delegation’s public meeting, though they stayed away from endorsing the plan. Escambia County’s local lawmakers heard from several speakers, but the largest group were teachers and school officials advocating for more education funding. Escambia Schools Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said more questions need to be answered about the proposal, but it’s a good start. Rep. Alex Andrade said he was excited about DeSantis’ announcement. Rep. Mike Hill made no mention of the plan. Sen. Doug Broxson didn’t speak to the merits of the proposal.

Delegations meet — The Lake County legislative delegation meets, 1:30 p.m., Lake-Sumter State Colleges Leesburg, 9501 US-441, Leesburg. The Nassau County Legislative Delegation meets, 4 p.m., Nassau County Commission chamber, James S. Page Governmental Complex, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee.


Does Florida law allow the Legislature to set teacher pay?” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis’ proposal Monday to boost Florida’s minimum teacher salary to $47,500 raised several questions, such as where the money will come from and what he intends to do for veteran educators who earn just slightly more than his recommended base.

Florida to use VW money for cleaner buses” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — New public-transit and school buses that run on electricity and alternative fuels would get much of Florida’s share of a federal payout from a Volkswagen emissions scandal, under a plan rolled out by the state. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued what is known as a request for information on a $116.4 million initiative intended to remove older buses from the road voluntarily. The funding would account for 70 percent of the money Florida is slated to receive from the 2017 settlement over allegations that Volkswagen violated emissions requirements. The Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund called the request for information “a victory for climate action.”

Road should have been closed before FIU bridge collapse, top state road engineer told NTSB” via Monique Madan, Rene Rodriguez, and Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — In a letter to investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board, Will Watts, the chief engineer for FDOT, wrote that the road should have been “completely closed to traffic if the contractor was undertaking activities that posed a risk to the public. “FIU and its contractor were responsible for asking the state to close Tamiami Trail, he wrote. “At the core of this issue is sound engineering judgment,’’ he wrote, adding later, FDOT “employees faced with a situation like the one presented by the FIU bridge would have been expected to take immediate action to close the road.”

The street under the FIU bridge should have been closed before the collapse, a new report says.


What Charles Canady is reading — “Supreme Court won’t take up WV impeachment case” via The Charleston Gazette-Mail — The U.S. Supreme Court said it will not hear arguments in the case that halted impeachment proceedings against West Virginia Supreme Court justices last year. The decision means an October 2018 ruling from the state Supreme Court that halted those proceedings will stand. Leaders of both chambers of West Virginia’s Legislature, the Senate and House of Delegates, had appealed the state ruling.

What Scott Rivkees is reading — “Hawaii Health Department prepared to ban Electronic cigarettes if needed” via Honolulu Civil Beat — If ongoing state and national investigations provide conclusive evidence that vaping is behind a recent trend of lung illness, the Hawaii Department of Health is prepared to pull certain e-cigarette products from the shelves, officials said. The health department Monday stopped short of placing an outright ban on e-cigarette products and paraphernalia, issuing a public health advisory instead “urging everyone to stop vaping” until national investigations are complete.

What Simone Marstiller is reading — “Court ruling could make it harder for abused minors to sue” via The Associated Press — An Idaho Supreme Court ruling could make it harder for juveniles molested by state officials to sue their abusers. In the unanimous decision, the court said five men who said they were sexually abused as youths at a juvenile detention center could not sue the state because they waited too long to file a tort claim — even though they were well within the statute of limitations for the lawsuit itself.


Siren —Senate Intelligence Committee: Russian meddling targeted Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush in 2016” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new intelligence report says a Russian disinformation campaign targeted Rubio and former Gov. Bush during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee released the second part of a report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The document included the fact the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg used social media to spread disinformation. Attacks on Democrat Hillary Clinton have been widely publicized, especially after Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his own investigation findings. Less publicized, though, were Russian efforts to discredit Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination, which ultimately went to now-President Trump.

Russians also targeted Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in 2016.

Rubio says Chinese firms should be delisted from U.S. exchanges if they don’t follow securities laws” via Berkeley Lovelace of CNBC — Delisting Chinese companies has “nothing to do with trade,” the Florida Republican said, referring to trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. “This is a national security and human rights matter.” Rubio and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, are co-sponsors of a bill to increase oversight of Chinese and other foreign companies listed on American stock exchanges. The legislation calls for delisting firms that are out of compliance with U.S. regulators for three years.

Rubio becomes first Republican to demand probe of crooked Brazilian meatpacker that benefited from Trump farm bailouts” via Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News — Rubio became the first congressional Republican on Tuesday to call for an investigation into a Brazilian meatpacking company that has raked in millions of dollars in Trump administration farm bailouts despite a long history of corruption and seedy international ties. Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s panel on transnational crime, urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter to have his department begin a formal review of how JBS SA has been able to become one of the biggest players in the U.S. food industry, even though its notoriously corrupt owners have admitted to bribing thousands of Brazilian officials, done business with Venezuela and relied on financing tied to China’s authoritarian government.

Rick Scott: ‘NBA’s refusal to denounce Communist China is shameful’” via Mark Bergin for Florida Politics — Scott claimed the NBA had declined his request to meet with commissioner Adam Silver. In a tweet, the Republican senator said NBA officials told him that Silver is on a business trip in Asia. “Maybe he should make a pit stop in #HongKong to see the people fighting for their autonomy and human dignity,” Scott tweeted. “The NBA’s refusal to denounce Communist China is shameful,” Scott wrote in a previous tweet. Silver held a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo. He also released the following statement ahead of it: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.”

Trump’s Medicare order could lead to seniors paying more for their medical bills” by Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News — Vowing to protect Medicare with “every ounce of strength,” President Donald Trump last week spoke to a cheering crowd in Florida. But his executive order released shortly afterward includes provisions that could significantly alter key pillars of the program by making it easier for beneficiaries and doctors to opt out. The bottom line: The proposed changes might make it a bit simpler to find a doctor who takes new Medicare patients, but it could lead to higher costs for seniors and potentially expose some to surprise medical bills, a problem from which Medicare has traditionally protected consumers.

Scott heading to Brazil” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott is heading to São Paulo this week to explore trade opportunities and to continue his push for support for freedom in Venezuela, which shares a border with Brazil. The key event for Scott’s trip is the Brazil Investment Forum 2019 in São Paulo, taking place Thursday and Friday, organized by the Brazilian government, and featuring appearances by Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and top ministers of his government. Scott will participate in a panel discussion at the forum about Brazil’s role in the global economy and important trade relationship with the United States.

Rick Scott meets with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and leaders on ways to strengthen the economic and trade partnership between the United States and Brazil.

— 2020 —

Trump’s 2016 campaign was run on a shoestring. His reelection machine is huge — and armed with consultants.” via Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy of The Washington Post — As president, Trump’s campaign machine has dramatically escalated, powered by a historically large war chest of donations large and small that has given him a head start over the eventual Democratic nominee. At this point in the last election, Trump’s campaign employed 19 consultants. Now, there are more than 200. When Trump had all but locked up the nomination by May 2016, he had spent $63 million. Thus far, pro-Trump committees have spent $531 million. Trump’s overflowing coffers have allowed him to spend lavishly early in the race. For instance, the committees recently launched a $10 million ad offense targeting Democrats, including former Vice President Biden.

Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is much more robust than his 2016 run.

Bernie Sanders heart attack casts cloud over his candidacy” via Holly Otterbein and David Siders of POLITICO — According to interviews with Sanders’ aides and surrogates, they’re betting that his performance at next week’s debate and on the campaign trail will show he still has the stamina to run for and serve as president. Sanders’ staffers also plan to emphasize how his health scare demonstrates the need for Medicare for All. Throughout the Democratic Party, however, insiders and strategists are openly questioning the effect his heart attack would have on his bid for the White House — and the primary as a whole. Sanders’ team is also coming under fire from some journalists and Democrats for not announcing earlier that he suffered a heart attack. His aides have declined to allow reporters to interview Sanders’ doctors.

Democrats call for Venezuelan TPS, see chance to woo Florida voters” via Abraham Mahshie for the Palm Beach Post — A decade ago, at age 21, Juan José Correa-Villalonga was deported back to Venezuela despite threats against his life for his family’s speaking out against the regime of Hugo Chávez. To survive, he had to live in hiding in Caracas for two years while his mother, who remained in Florida, successfully worked to win him political asylum in America.

— HMMM —

Pete Antonacci ‘very confident’ hackers won’t affect Broward vote count in 2020” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Broward Elections Supervisor Antonacci attempted to calm concerns of a potential hack into the county’s election results after he intimated such an attack is possible. At a Broward legislative delegation meeting in Miramar, Democratic Rep. Richard Stark asked him how the county has prepared for future elections. Antonacci said the county’s main concern with a hack is the voter information database, not election results. “I think one thing that you should keep in mind when you hear stories about the penetration of data systems that are supported by the Secretary of State and by Supervisors is that there really are two systems,” Antonacci said. The voter information database is connected to the internet. The tabulation system is not.

Elections Supervisor Pete Antonacci is very confident that hackers will not affect the Broward vote in 2020.


National Republicans eye Florida state Senate races — The Republican State Leadership Committee, chaired by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, is spending big in Florida. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the committee has spent $201,000 in Florida this election cycle, including $50,000 last month. McCollum said his group would fund state House and Senate races, with most of the attention heading to the latter. “Between now and 2020, the Senate is a high priority for us because it’s critical, and the Democrats have focused on it,” he said. “Florida is one of the top states, and will get more resources than other states not in that group,” he continued. “We just don’t how much yet. It’s early.”

Travis Hutson sends $95K to 2020 Senate candidates” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Sen. Hutson has sent some backup to Senate candidates across the state. In September, the St. Augustine Republican pumped nearly $100,000 to the campaign and committee accounts of fellow Republicans running for open seats in the chamber. The biggest beneficiaries were former Rep. Jason Brodeur and current Reps. Ray Rodrigues and Ana Maria Rodriguez, each of whom received a $25,000 transfer to their own political committees. Hutson’s committee also cut checks $10,000 checks to the committee accounts of former Rep. Jim Boyd and Senate Budget Chief Rob Bradley, whose wife, Jennifer Bradley, is running to succeed him in the Senate.

Travis Hutson is cutting some big checks to 2020 Senate candidates. Image via Phil Sears.

Bruno Portigliatti reports $34K fundraising in September” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — House District 44 Republican candidate Portigliatti reported raising more than $34,000 for his election campaign and an unofficial political committee supporting his run. Portigliatti, a businessman and president of a Christian university in Orlando, announced his campaign picked up $10,740 and his affiliated political committee, Liberty and Prosperity Fund, $23,500 in September. Through the end of August, Portigliatti’s campaign had about $51,000 in the bank, and the political committee about $15,000.

Fiona McFarland gathered another $20K in September” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sarasota Republican McFarland’s campaign has cast her as a front-runner as she announces $20,227 in September contributions. That means the Naval Reservist raised $125,058 since filing in June for the House District 72 seat. September marked the first local fundraiser for McFarland, held at Caragiulos in Sarasota. She also announced the endorsements of Sarasota County School Board Member Bridget Ziegler and Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.

Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy announces run for state House” via Bailey LeFever of The Palm Beach Post — City Commissioner Hardy will challenge Democratic Rep. Al Jacquet for his District 88 seat in the Florida House. Hardy said he would send in his resignation letter to the state and the city in June and occupy his position in Lake Worth Beach until November of 2020. He was up for reelection in March of 2022. “I had to weigh finishing these things in Lake Worth versus potentially accomplishing much more at the state level,” Hardy said. “Ultimately, I feel that I can do more for Lake Worth in Tallahassee than I can in City Hall.” The city’s election in 2021 will now include four seats — Mayor Pam Triolo along with commissioners Scott Maxwell, Andy Amoroso and Hardy’s.

Save the date — Republican Ned Hancock is holding a fundraiser in his bid for HD 55, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, The Capital Room, The Governor’s Club, 202 South Adams Street, Tallahassee.


Collier Commissioners don’t bite on retail sales ban for cats, dogs” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Commissioners backed off a potential ban of the retail sale of cats and dogs, instead opting to consider regulating the practice. Proponents of a ban had argued that it would help prevent the abuse of animals that are commercially bred and protect the public from contracting an infectious disease. The proposed ban was vehemently opposed by an owner of several Petland franchises who plans to open a location in Collier in December. He said the bulk of his business comes from selling puppies in his stores and that he makes sure the animals are treated well and don’t come from so-called puppy mills.

Turmoil at West Palm City Hall; City manager Jeff Green is out” via Tony Davis of The Palm Beach Post — City Administrator Green resigned by what he said was mutual consent with Mayor Keith James, after a series of issues placed the new Mayor in a bad light, including a $7.9 million no-bid security guard contract awarded to a friend of James and Green. James named Assistant City Administrator Faye Johnson as an interim administrator. He hired Johnson, a former St. Lucie County administrator and assistant Palm Beach County administrator, in August. “It was a mutual decision,” Green said Tuesday of his departure. “Every mayor should have the ability to put in place the team that he wants and I enjoyed serving the city these past eight years.” Through a spokeswoman, James declined to comment on what sparked his top manager’s departure.

West Palm Beach City Administrator Jeff Green resigns.

Broward is projected as a top place for black workers, McKinsey says” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — The county is now home to one of the country’s best labor markets for African Americans, according to a new report from consulting giant McKinsey. Broward ranked eighth among areas with the most projected net job growth for African Americans, with a forecast of more than 25,000 net new jobs by 2030. Broward made the list because it is rapidly becoming one of the most diverse counties in the nation. Census data show that while three in five county residents were white in 2000, today the county is almost evenly split between whites, blacks, and Hispanics — with the black population gaining most each year.

Jacksonville to get esports ‘arena’” via Tom Szaroleta of the Florida Times-Union — ACE Arena is scheduled to open later this fall and will cater to esports players. It will have more than 120 gaming systems, four training/party rooms, a video projection wall, and a lounge. It will reportedly be 22,500 square feet and will be the largest dedicated esports facility in Florida. It’s in Mandarin at 10503 San Jose Blvd., Suite 18. The center will be run by Awkward Croc Entertainment, a Jacksonville company founded by John Sarmie. Jill Sarmie, who handles marketing for the company, said the center is intended to be family-friendly and will be home for little eLeague, a local esports league for kids, as well as adult and corporate leagues. It will also be open for walk-in gamers.

With Orlando rents averaging $1,217, lawmakers renew push for rent control and tenant protections” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — State Rep. Anna Eskamani has refiled a bill that would lift the state’s preemption on rent control and leave the decision to local governments. But rent control would only be allowed if there is a housing emergency “so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public and that such controls are necessary and proper.” State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith also plans to refile a bill aimed at protecting renters from “predatory landlords.” It would restrict the reasons for which landlords can evict tenants; require landlords to provide leases and eviction notices in tenants’ preferred language; prevent landlords from charging exorbitant application fees and require them to refund fees when no units are available.

The rent’s too damn high: Anna Eskamani is filing a bill that institutes rent control measures.

Polls open in Santa Rosa County: More than 11,000 ballots cast so far in sales tax special election” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — After months of heated debate over the future of the sales tax in Santa Rosa County, 41 voting precincts opened their doors. Nearly 7,000 vote-by-mail ballots have been received, and 4,500 in-person voters had been reported by mid-day Tuesday. Supervisor of Elections Tappie Villane told the News Journal it was business as usual for an election day. Opponents of the sales tax increase were the most visible Tuesday morning. Santa Rosa County hasn’t had a stellar track record getting voters to approve sales tax increases in the past. A small sample of voters polled by the News Journal Tuesday morning all said they voted to reject the tax increase.

FSU police investigated, couldn’t substantiate hazing claim last week against Delta Tau Delta” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — The day before its national office suspended Delta Tau Delta, Florida State University police ended an investigation of possible hazing after the allegations could not be substantiated. It is not known if the national office’s decision to issue a cease-and-desist order against the fraternity is tied to a closed FSU Police report obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. The story is one of five released and the only one including a narrative involving Delta Tau Delta, dating back to March. The Office of Student Affairs upheld the national office’s actions Sept. 27. Two additional Greek-letter fraternities at Florida State University, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, have been suspended pending the outcome of investigations.



A year later, Panama City needs help, remains hopeful” via Mark McQueen for the Tallahassee Democrat — The strides that have been made in Panama City toward recovery are nothing short of remarkable. The ability to get our schools functioning, medical capacity back online, tackling the enormous housing challenges, bringing new businesses to town, and seeing old businesses reopen are among our proudest accomplishments. Combine these with cleaning up the marina, development of a community-led action plan for downtown and all of Panama City, planting thousands of new trees, and the never-ending fight, spirit and determination of our residents — and it all spells progress and hope! We still need multiyear investments from Tallahassee — a mix of infrastructure, communications, utilities and housing — as well as effective fund allocation and appropriate implementation guidance for CDGB-DR funding.

A year after Hurricane Michael, Panama City is still hopeful — still needs more help.

At Tyndall, human resilience trumped nature’s wrath” via Ed Offley of the Panama City News Herald — The graphic image from space of Hurricane Michael passing over this military airfield, its twin runways clearly visible in the center of the eye, should be the iconic symbol of what happened here a year ago. Yet Col. Brian Laidlaw, commander of the 325th Fighter Wing both before and after the storm, disagrees. Laidlaw said he had collected a rich body of evidence that shows a different — and more uplifting — symbol of what has happened at Tyndall Air Force Base. As he and thousands of military personnel and civilian contractors have labored 24/7 to bring the base back to life, Laidlaw said, the resilience and dedication of the Tyndall community have supplanted the mere images of destruction.

Timber loss still a strain on Panhandle after Michael, but that’s not slowing ‘remodeling phase’” via Ryan Dailey of WUSF — The losses were huge — valued at $1.3 billion. Yet not all was lost, as some lumber and paper mills in the region are still going strong. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Michael former Blountstown City Council member Steve Bailey was worried about the industries that rely on timber. “Eighty percent of our income around here is timber-driven. They’re talking about pulling the mills out now because, for the next 30 years, they will have no wood here,” Bailey told WFSU last October. Meanwhile, the demand for wood products is still being met by local businesses in hard-hit Panama City. Mid-South Lumber General Manager Dave Williams says companies like his are crucial to rebuilding.

New study shows Florida panther breeding program helped rescue endangered state animal” via Amy Greene of WMFE — The study shows that genetic diversity in offspring from the Florida panthers and Texas pumas has tripled, alleviating the threat of physical defects related to genetic inbreeding. Bob Fitak of the University of Central Florida is a co-author of the study. He says the 1990s breeding program was among the first of its kind. “So not only does this help Florida panthers, but we now have a better understanding of the future for genetic rescue in other endangered species. And this now is happening throughout the world with these protected animals.”

State’s new bear management plan does not call for another bear hunt” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida wildlife officials are not recommending the state hold another bear hunt as part of a proposed management plan for the animals. Instead, the 209-page draft plan from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission talks about managing the bears’ habitat and access to trash bins in order to help prevent conflicts with humans. While the plan does mention hunting as a population management tool in other states, there’s no recommendation to hold a successor to the hunt that happened in 2015. “That’s a policy decision,” wildlife commission executive director Eric Sutton said. That means his bosses, the commissioners, “are the ones who would have to decide this.”


Joe Henderson: Don’t forget experienced Florida teachers when increasing pay” via Florida Politics — If the Governor’s plan is approved, the minimum starting salary for a teacher will increase to $47,500 — a jump of about $10,000. Florida currently ranks 26th nationally for starting teacher pay but would be No. 2 after this. But unless the Governor has something for the more than 70,000 other teachers who might not receive raises, there could be a real problem. Judging by the wording of this announcement, it doesn’t look like there will be — at least not immediately. Imagine you’ve been toiling for years in a classroom and make just a little more than the new minimum. Those teachers have been on the front lines of a Tallahassee assault on their profession for years.

Campaign promises about salaries and term limits — baloney YOU fall for” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — During last year’s mayoral campaign in Apopka, Bryan Nelson vowed to take a massive pay cut if elected. “Cut the mayor’s salary in half!” was literally the first vow he made in his campaign mailers. Nelson bet voters would bite. And they did, electing Nelson, who took the pay cut … right up until he made headlines last week for getting a 69 percent raise. Similarly, Rick Scott asked voters to put him in the U.S. Senate last year, so that he could impose term limits on Congress. Yet since getting elected, Scott’s term-limit vow has gone nowhere. Voters were duped. But I’m not here today to fuss about them. I’m here to fuss about you. And me.

A ‘real request’ to Sen. Marco Rubio. Call out Trump for asking China to launch Biden investigation” by Steve Bustos of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board —Sen. Rubio said lPresident Trump was not being serious when he said the Chinese government should open an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Biden and his son, Hunter, in connection with a 2013 trip to the country. The Florida senator, speaking with reporters the day after Trump made his pitch to the Chinese, suggested the press should do a better job of determining when the president is playing the role of a joker. It’s not the press that falls right in line. It’s Republicans like Rubio who refuse to call out Trump when he’s clearly in the wrong.


Personnel note: Dean Ridings departs Florida Press Association” via Florida Politics — Ridings, the president of the Florida Press Association (FPA), has resigned to become CEO of the newly formed America’s Newspapers. Ridings also leaves his post as CEO of Intersect Media Solutions, the marketing agency that is part of the Association. The resignation is effective Nov. 1. The move was announced in an email this week … Ridings’ new employer was formed out of the merger of the Inland Press Association and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the email said.

Former JEA chair nabs utility privatization gig” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — JEA has hired local attorney Alan Howard, a former board member who said in July that the city-owned utility needed to consider privatization to escape a “certain death spiral,” to provide assistance as it considers 16 offers from potential buyers. Howard signed a contract with JEA on Aug. 28 to provide “specialized legal counsel.” He said on Tuesday that JEA hired him because of his experience on the board and “extensive knowledge” of JEA’s potential privatization. He will earn $500 an hour, and his contract is limited to $75,000. Howard said he never discussed working for JEA until after he stepped down from the board.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

George Anderson, The Southern Group: VERRA MOBILITY

Trenton Cotney, Cotney Construction Lobbying: Florida RACCA

Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group: Department of Florida American Legion Auxiliary

Matthew Gotha: Renew Financial

Nick Iarossi, Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Absolute Pharmacy

Leeann Krieg: City of Jacksonville

Amy Maguire, Shumaker Advisors Florida: Ocean Conservancy

Amanda Stewart, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: Live Nation Entertainment

— ALOE —

Florida craft beer lovers can raise a glass. More breweries are on tap even as some close.” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Ocean Sun joins Red Cypress Brewery in Winter Springs and the south Orange County location of Sea Dog Brewing Co. in closing this year in Central Florida. Even so, breweries remain on the rise in Florida, with the national Brewers Association tracking 35 openings and five closings in the state between September 2018 and this August. Of those numbers, nine opened and one closed in Orlando and nearby cities. There were 285 craft breweries across Florida in 2018, up from 45 in 2011 and then 151 in 2015, and more than 30 are in the Orlando area, the association reports.

Winter Springs’ Ocean Sun Brewery — as well as several others — is closing, but many more is taking its place.

Play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff’s weekend gets a little wilder with Buccaneers in London” via Greg Auman of The Athletic — For 40 years, he has been the play-by-play radio voice of Florida State football, and for the last 30 years, he’s done the same for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which typically means getting home from one game Saturday night, getting up early Sunday and either driving his RV down to Tampa or taking a flight from Tallahassee to Atlanta to wherever the Bucs are playing. This weekend is a bit more complicated, though. “Next time we find out we’re going to play in London, I’m going to have to call the commissioner,” Deckerhoff said. “Will I be out of line if I call Roger Goodell and ask him to schedule this game on such-and-such date?”


Best wishes to state Rep. Ben Diamond, former Rep. Janet Adkins, veteran lobbyist Keyna Cory of Public Affairs Consultants, Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix, top legislative aide Clayton Clemens,  journalist Tia Mitchell, former Senate President Joe Negron and lobbyist Ron Watson.

Oh yeah, it’s also, whatshisface’s birthday … I forget his name … you know who I’m talking about, the guy lucky enough to be marrying Kristen McDonald … should we just refer to him as Mr. Kristen McDonald? No? OK … fine … it’s Mike Grissom‘s birthday. Someone get him a framed picture of Matt Dixon because that’s who he gives all of his good intel.


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

Peter Schorsch

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.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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