Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.21.19

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Wake up right — with Sunburn.

Congratulations to Josh Cooper, a founding partner of Strategic Information Consultants and a competitive barbecue chef, who won the 2019 World Seafood Championship this weekend in Dallas, Texas.

Cooper will now move on to the World Food Championship this May.

The ingredient for the first round of the seafood competition was “southwestern grilled oysters.” The Tallahassee-based grillmaster made grilled oyster topped with chorizo, smoked Gouda, and shallot cream sauce. That scored 98.75 out of 100 points. For the second round, there was Cooper’s signature dish — crabcake eggs Benedict. That made him tied for fourth place heading into finals.

Congratulations to Tallahassee’s Josh Cooper, winner of the 2019 World Seafood Championship.

The finals required a caviar-infused dish; Cooper chose pan-seared scallops with a caviar and Champagne beurre blanc and topped with parsley verte creme fraiche. That earned the highest score in all finals with 98.9, putting him in first place.

The winning prize was $10,000 and a spot in the World Food Championship in Indianapolis.

In addition to being an accomplished chef — and a skilled Florida politico — Cooper also lends his considerable culinary skills to INFLUENCE Magazine, writing pieces on foodie culture.


It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since we lost Steve Madden, who might have been one of the most spirited among us. In October 2012, his wife Carrie and their children, Callen and John Robert, said goodbye to a rambunctious husband and father who loved to entertain and uplift, whether at the piano or playing games or catching up with a large extended family.

Carrie Madden with her two children, Callen and JR.

Today, take a moment to remember Steve: a natural comedian, spirited competitor, and a passionate advocate for his beliefs. While none of us have ever stopped feeling his absence, Steve made it a little easier by setting his own example, seeing the best in the situation and in all of us. We can go forward knowing he is on the other side — pulling for us — and that at least is something we did not have before.

Carrie gave us permission to include this photo with this invitation, showing Steve at the piano at the Governor’s Club. She says she is honored by the idea of this remembrance and remains grateful to the many friends who have been so good to her family.

It’s difficult to believe it’s been seven years since Steve Madden passed.


Sunrise, your morning podcast on Florida politics, is taking a break today, but will return. Thanks to Jim Rosica for filling in last week. We expect regular host Rick Flagg’s triumphant return Tuesday.


@RealDonaldTrump: I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY! Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!

@DaveWeigel: It lasted 48 hours, but that was enough time for Rubio to endorse it. That aged well

@MarcoRubio: Withdrawal & endless war weren’t only options in #Syria This wasn’t a withdrawal it’s a relocation This isn’t end of “endless wars,” 14k troops have been sent to region in last 6 months It was hasty decision with no planning & most consequential impact is dishonor & chaos

@AlexTDaugherty: Francis Rooney’s retirement means Florida will lose its most pro-environment Republican. He used many of the same lines on [Donald] Trump/Ukraine yesterday when talking about his support for banning offshore drilling/taxing carbon

@SteveBousquet: As the FL Senate weighs the fate of suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, some history: It has been four decades since senators refused to support a Governor’s suspension of a sheriff. The 1978 Senate reinstated Jack Taylor, accused of running a “loose” jail in Apalachicola.

@JamesGrantFL: Scott Israel’s failures of leadership directly led to the loss of the office’s Florida Law Enforcement accreditation and a vote of no confidence by Broward Sheriff Deputies at Local 6020. This isn’t about politics. It’s about public safety and accountability.

@BSFarrington: Don’t know how I got swept into a @GovGoneWild Twitter conversation, but will say that I appreciate him for wearing shirts that make mine look cool.

@JaredEMoskowitz: Saw someone who works at Kmart buy a police officer lunch today and I thought. How wonderful! That @Kmart was still in business.

Tweet, tweet:

@JoeMobleyJax: FSU should just find an alum who is coaching somewhere out there ([Chris] Weinke?) to come in for a low salary for a couple seasons. The results wouldn’t be worse and you’d have some time to financially balance the [Willie] Taggart debacle.

Tweet, tweet:


Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 7; Brexit scheduled — 10; The Florida Chamber’s Insurance Summit — 14; 2019 General Election — 15; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 17; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 22; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 28; “Frozen 2” debuts — 32; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 42; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 60; College Football National Championship — 84; 2020 Session begins — 85; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 86; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 104; Great American Realtors Day — 105; Iowa Caucuses — 105; New Hampshire Primaries — 113; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 144; Florida’s presidential primary — 148; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 198; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 277; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 309; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 352; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 360; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 367; 2020 General Election — 379.


Judge temporarily blocks Florida law restricted voting by ex-felons” via Michael Wines of The New York Times — The ruling was a rebuke to the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and its Republican-controlled Legislature. Legislators had enacted a law requiring the fine and fee payments this year after voters resoundingly approved an amendment to the State Constitution that restored voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons. The injunction technically affects only 17 plaintiffs in the suit challenging the law, all of whom said they lacked the money to pay costs stemming from their convictions. But the principle behind the ruling applies to all people convicted of felonies and will require the state to change its repayment policy if it stands, said Julie Ebenstein, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

A judge has blocked the implementation bill for Amendment 4, which some call a ‘poll tax.’

Jeff Brandes: ‘Everything is on the table’ for Amendment 4 fix” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Brandes, and Rep. Jamie Grant, plan to make some adjustments during the 2020 Legislative Session. “I think everything is on the table,” Brandes said. “We definitely want to address the registration form. That’s something that needs to be clarified.” Brandes said the fee payment requirements could be addressed this year, but that he would wait for a judicial ruling before “the pen hits the paper.” Brandes had proposed allowing felons to have their voting rights restored as long as their fines or fees were converted to civil liens, but in the end, he deferred to Grant’s stricter version of the bill. Brandes said his previous version could be considered again, but it’s too soon to go into details.


Ron DeSantis extends an olive branch, invites Florida Republicans to Gov.’s Mansion — DeSantis is opening the doors to the Governor’s Mansion to a large group of leading Florida Republicans in what Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports is an “appreciation event.” The show of unity is an olive branch extended to the Republican Party of Florida, after a somewhat rocky period, with the replacement of several party leaders, and a suggested pay cut for RPOF chair Joe Gruters. Gruters will be in attendance since he is paying for the event. “The RPOF and Chairman Gruters are excited to sponsor this event and looks forward to a wonderful evening as the governor unites our party and leads it to victory in 2020,” newly named RPOF director Peter O’Rourke told POLITICO.

Joe Gruters is paying for an RPOF party at the Governor’s Mansion, so yes, he is invited. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis downplayed ties to Rudy Giuliani associates. Then we found them hugging.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The pictures show DeSantis leaning in to hug a heavyset, middle-aged man amid a sea of onlookers. DeSantis then turns to another man, who wraps his arms around the newly elected governor at his victory celebration in Orlando. The two men embraced by DeSantis in these previously unpublished pictures? Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessmen and Giuliani associates indicted on charges of interfering in U.S. elections. When it was first learned the duo had contributed $50,000 to DeSantis’ campaign last year, the governor’s spokeswoman described Fruman and Parnas as donors who DeSantis didn’t know well — or at all. Four days later, videos and photos of the men huddled together during DeSantis’ victory party emerged.

Democrats seek DeSantis records with Giuliani-tied donors” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — It’s an attempt to put more pressure on DeSantis to explain his ties to two Soviet-born businessmen who helped Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, seek information related to Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, from Ukrainian officials. Parnas and Fruman were arrested last week on campaign finance fraud charges. DeSantis has said he knew the pair from GOP functions, but Democrats are seeking more answers from the governor about the depth of his relationship with them. “There are still a lot of questions DeSantis has yet to answer regarding his relationship with these men ― and what was asked of him by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman for the money he received,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo.

Fate of Broward sheriff will test both DeSantis and Florida Senate” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The political stakes for DeSantis are high. He made a campaign promise to remove Scott Israel, a Democrat, at the urging of the families of the Parkland victims who blame Israel for the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But the stakes for the Senate are less apparent, where that chamber’s ability to serve as a check on the executive branch will be on display. Because Israel is a constitutional officer who was elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to contest it.

Deciding Broward sheriff’s fate a defining moment for Florida Senate” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It is widely expected that one Republican, former Senate President Tom Lee, will side with Democrats in support of Israel, giving the GOP a bare majority on the committee, nine of 17, to recommend his removal to the Senate, assuming all seven Democrats support the sheriff. It’s also a defining moment for the Senate as an institution, and for Bill Galvano, a longtime legislator entering his final session. As a presiding officer and student of the political process, Galvano knows the integrity of the institution always comes first.

Suspended Sheriff Scott Israel says DeSantis’ lawyer is compromised and should be thrown off case” via Anthony Mann of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Benedict Kuehne, Israel’s lead attorney, told the Senate in a letter that the Governor’s new attorney should be removed because he had access to confidential, inside information about his client’s strategy. The Senate Rules Committee begins consideration of the Israel case. Kuehne is objecting to the participation of George Levesque, the outside lawyer DeSantis hired to argue the pro-suspension case in the Senate. DeSantis hired Levesque, a former general counsel to the Senate, after a special master looking into the case said the governor’s office hadn’t proved his case and recommended reinstating Israel as sheriff.

Scott Israel’s fate will be determined by the Senate this week.

Assignment editors — Parkland Families, including Ryan Petty, Hunter Pollack, Fred Guttenberg, Tony Montalto and Gena Hoyer, will hold a news conference, 8:30 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda, Florida Capitol.

DeSantis casts a narrow net for judiciary picks” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis last week filled two vacant posts on the 1st District Court of Appeal, the site of fiercely-fought battles over abortion, gambling, medical marijuana, and education. As the appointment process showed, when it comes to getting a job as a judge in one of Florida’s most important courts, it helps to know somebody.

Ron Rubin’s lawsuit gets venue change — The former Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner’s lawsuit against lobbyist Paul Mitchell has officially been moved from Miami-Dade County to Leon County, POLITICO Florida reporter Dixon tweeted over the weekend. In the suit, Rubin suggests that Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, MCNA Dental founder Jeffrey Feingold, and Mitchell got him the job as Florida’s top financial regulator in exchange for a $1 million in campaign contributions from Rubin’s wealthy father. As Dixon reported in September: “When that fell apart, Rubin alleges, the three set up a scheme to oust him from office. [Rubin] was fired in August, just months after he was hired at Patronis’ urging in February.”


Criminal justice reform legislation could allow judges greater discretion with drug sentencing” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — New bills filed by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Alex Andrade would allow judges the ability to ignore the sentencing required by statute in possession cases. The proposed legislation also changes the threshold for how much of a controlled substance one needs on their person before steeper sentencing kicks in at all. It’s a significant change from the hard-on-crime stance held by the Legislature less than two decades ago. But advocates say the change in law will appropriately leave sentencing to the judiciary. “I want to empower judges to be judges,” said Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican. Bradley’s bill (SB 346) allows for a judge to impose a different sentence for nonviolent offenders caught with illegal drugs.

Rob Bradley is pushing criminal justice reform in 2020.

Jeff Brandes introduces a slew of sentencing reforms” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — One bill (SB 552) revised thresholds for sentencing points. “It gives judges more discretion, something judges asking for a long time,” Brandes said. Another (SB 556) looks at more humane treatment of inmates in the last year of their life. Basically, those who have served more than 10 years in prison and are over 70 years old (sand murderers and sex offenders) can seek supervised release. Another bill (SB 550) aims to allow more diversion from state prison altogether. That’s a fight Brandes has been waging with bail bondsmen for years. Yet another piece of legislation (SB 554) would revise mitigating circumstances to allow for the lowest possible sentence that’s reasonably justified.

Manny Diaz files pair of bills aimed at charter school operation” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Manny Diaz is introducing a pair of bills dealing with the state’s charter school system. The first measure (SB 526) would temporarily bar specific individuals from opening a charter school if they were involved in a charter school that had been shut down. The bill would apply to charter schools terminated due to poor student performance, fiscal issues, legal violations or other instances of “good cause.” Diaz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, also has a measure (SB 536) he says will “streamline” the process for high-performing charter schools to expand. The bill would set up a “High-Performing Charter School Council,” appointed by the Education Commissioner.

Bill would stop accused pedophiles from being hired by other schools” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Diaz is once again introducing legislation aimed at better tracking disciplinary actions involving non-state-certified school employees. Diaz said he saw a need for the measure (SB 534) following reports on Christopher Falzone. Falzone was a substitute teacher for Broward County Public Schools. Despite being dismissed following accusations of sexually harassing and abusing young girls, he was hired by a nearby charter school. This wouldn’t have happened had Falzone been certified at the state level, Diaz argued. His bill would set up a state-level disqualification list to prevent similar hirings.

Republican lawmaker wants to shine light on dark money” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gruters filed legislation (SB 516) aiming to stop dark money from impacting Florida campaigns. “At the end of the day, we should be as transparent as possible,” he said. It’s the fourth time Gruters has pushed this bill. Last year, it died in the Ethics and Elections Committee. But it remains a priority for Gruters, nonetheless. That’s in large part to Gruters’ own political origin story. He ran for House in 2016 a favorite, chairing the Republican Party of Sarasota and the Florida arm of Trump’s presidential campaign. But a series of nasty mailers in the last week of the campaign nearly derailed his own political ambitions.

Randolph Bracy wants end to discrimination based on hair” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The legislation (SB 566) adds “protected hairstyle” as an impermissible grounds for bias with respect to employment, school enrollment and a swath of other arenas. It puts hairdos in the same protected class as race, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap and marital status. The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or “CROWN Act” could have particular importance for racial minorities. And employers like Disney for decades famously barred employees from wearing several hairstyles most prevalent among black citizens. The Orlando Democrat’s bill makes specific mention of “hair characteristics historically associated with race, such as hair texture and styles, including, but not limited to, braids, locks, or twists.”

Randolph Bracy is seeking to end discrimination based upon hairstyles. Image via Colin Hackley.

Kristin Jacobs aims to end shark fin trade in Florida” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A bill filed by state Rep. Jacobs would outlaw the fin trade entirely within the state of Florida. The legislation (HB 401) would explicitly shut down any and all commerce of the kind. “Notwithstanding any other law, the import, export, and sale of shark fins is prohibited, and nothing in this section authorizes such activities,” the bill reads now. Jacobs has yet to further detail punishment for those in the trade. Of course, the fins of sharks remain a coveted good because of high value in the Far East. The organization Shark Truth says the parts regularly go for $650 a kilogram in China, where shark fin soup is considered a fine delicacy that sells for hundreds or thousands of dollars per bowl.

Al Jacquet rejoins push to weaken Governor’s hold over judicial nominating process” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jacquet filed a bill (HB 379) that would weaken the power of the Governor and The Florida Bar when it comes to appointing members to those commissions. Currently, the nine-member panels are controlled by the Governor. Five members are appointed by the Governor, all of whom must reside in the jurisdiction covered by the respective commissions. The remaining four individuals are Florida Bar members recommended by the Bar’s Board of Governors. But the state’s Governor has veto power over those recommendations. The legislation would instead limit the Governor to appointing just three members, each of whom must live in the relevant jurisdiction. The Florida Bar Board of Governors would appoint another three, also subject to those residential requirements.

José Javier Rodriguez seeks condemnation of Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The brutal politics of Central and South America continues to hold the attention of Florida lawmakers. State Sen. Rodriguez filed a resolution condemning the oppression of the Nicaraguan people by President Ortega. Rodriguez’s resolution (SR 546) calls out Ortega for violent crackdowns on protests and the torture of detainees through waterboarding, electric shock, acid burns, forced nudity and the removal of fingernails, among other gruesome techniques. The Senator also slams Ortega’s targeting of the press and the corrupt manipulation of the levers of power in Nicaragua.


Don’t like Florida’s proposed standards? They’re still a work in progress, chancellor Jacob Oliva says” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Department of Education’s academic standards listening tour passed through Tampa, with about 75 teachers, parents and other education advocates from all points on the spectrum turning out to offer their perspective on what the state’s public school children should be learning. Their messages ranged from all-out pleas of “leave our standards alone,” to complaints that the state’s effort to kill the Common Core as DeSantis promised is a “great improvement … but not yet a replacement.” K-12 Chancellor Oliva, who has led the sessions, acknowledged afterward that some of the views are diametrically opposed and could prove difficult to resolve. But he stressed that the input already had impacted the draft that the department has put together.

Florida’s educational standards are still a work in progress, says K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Education continues its ‘listening tour’ on new public-school standards, 5:30 p.m., Liberty Pines Academy, 10901 Russell Sampson Road, Saint Johns.

Florida hemp rules ready for final review” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Final draft rules for a state hemp program in Florida will be discussed in Tampa at the first of multiple public hearings. That means the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services remains on track for adoption and review by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to agency spokesperson Franco Ripple. It’s been a high priority for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to get a final draft out and hemp seeds in Florida soil as soon as possible. The draft rules call for licenses that last just 12 months, and they will be nontransferable. That likely cuts down on the market for selling licenses, something that has frustrated state officials regarding medical marijuana.

Officials: Affordable housing fund is rarely fully funded” via The Associated Press — To the detriment of affordable housing programs in Northwest Florida and the rest of the Sunshine State, the state Legislature earlier this year took another massive bite out of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Such raids of the fund have been going on for years, with the money being used for a variety of purposes other than their intended ones, said Nitsi Bennett, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Okaloosa County. “It seems the Sadowski Fund is the catchall for everything,” Bennett said. “Florida is one of the few states that need to have a balanced budget, and the Sadowski Fund keeps getting raided.”

Report: Florida ports lead the nation in resiliencyvia Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Florida’s seaports are among the best prepared for sea-level rise and natural disasters, according to a new study released by the Florida Ports Council. The study says Florida’s 15 seaports are already equipped to handle 2.5 feet of tidal fluctuations, which is “within the range of anticipated sea level increases in 2050.” The report also asserts that the state’s ports “are already making significant efforts to minimize the extent and duration of impacts from natural disasters.” Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council, said, “Our state’s seaports have a tremendous economic impact on the state of Florida, and we must ensure our port infrastructure is resilient in the face of these disruptions. We are pleased to see Florida’s ports are already committed to innovative practices to protect our ports and support recovery from hurricanes and other disasters.”

Cancer center scores small win in legal skirmish” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — 21st Century Oncology, which is suing over a new law that voided noncompete clauses in contracts of doctors who worked for the center, wants information on the lobbyists and groups that helped convince the Florida Legislature to pass the controversial law. Lawyers for the cancer-treatment center asked for records from outfits such as The Mayernick Group, Capital City Consulting and well-known lobbyist and attorney James Eaton. Lawyers for Dr. Michael Katin, who has intervened in the lawsuit as one of the doctors affected by the new law, challenged the request, saying the information was privileged for a variety of reasons. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, however, rejected the motion.


Census is yet another worry for Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Cities and counties in the storm’s path have suffered lingering population loss, which will not be remedied by the time the Census marks a snapshot of the American people. “It is where your head is in a bed on the first of April,” said Mark McQueen, city manager of Panama City, which lost up to 25 percent of its population, or potentially about 9,000 residents. Leaders hope people will return within the next decade, when homes are rebuilt and businesses reopen. But Census counts will not reflect those intentions.

Among other potential problems from Hurricane Michael, changing demographics in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.

Sloppy’ Tropical Storm Nestor sends surge into St. Marks, washes out Alligator Point road” via Jeff Burlew and Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat — A disorganized Tropical Storm Nestor soaked the Big Bend coast on Saturday, sending storm surge into St. Marks, Alligator Point and St. George Island, but sparing Tallahassee from anything more than occasional rain, wind and bluster.

Guy Harvey, Shark Allies want tourists enjoying sea creatures in real life, not just paintings” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Guy Harvey Enterprises has partnered with Shark Allies to shape policy and encourage sustainable shark tourism. It’s a chance not only to save a critical part of the aquatic ecosystem but to grow an industry that celebrates the sea creatures instead of exploiting them. Worldwide, shark diving generated $314 million in revenue per year, supporting 10,000 jobs. That’s an amount set to double over the next 20 years. “Many people think we would be better off without sharks, that then they could go to the beach and not worry,” says Stephanie Brendl, president of Shark Allies. “A healthy shark population also means a thriving ocean ecosystem because top predators increase the species diversity of the ecosystem.”

Lingering red tide gaining strength, killing sea turtles and moving into local bays” via Chad Gillis and Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — “This is not a happy day,” said Eve Haverfield, director of the nonprofit Turtle Time. “I had four dead ones this morning, and I had four dead yesterday. Eight in two days is pretty drastic.” She said three of the eight were struck by boats, although it’s unknown if the sea turtles were alive or dead when they were hit. “People are reporting them, and there’s awareness, and they know how sad and urgent it is to get these animals and determine what’s going on,” she said. “It’s so sad. The (Kemp’s) ridleys are the most endangered of all the turtles.”


As inquiry widens, Mitch McConnell is said to see impeachment trial as inevitable” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times — McConnell sat his colleagues down over lunch in the Capitol and warned them to prepare for an extended impeachment trial of Trump. He came equipped with a PowerPoint presentation, complete with quotes from the Constitution, as he schooled fellow senators on the intricacies of a process he portrayed as all but inevitable. Few Republicans are inclined to convict Trump on charges that he abused his power to enlist Ukraine to smear his political rivals. Instead, McConnell sees the proceedings as necessary to protect a half a dozen moderates in states like Maine, Colorado and North Carolina who face reelection next year and must show voters they are giving the House impeachment charges a serious review.

Mitch McConnell says an impeachment trial will be ‘inevitable.’

Rick Perry won’t comply with subpoena in impeachment probe” via Anthony Adragna and Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO — Perry becomes the latest official in Trump’s administration to refuse to turn over documents. In a letter to the committees, a senior DOE official reiterated the White House’s objection to the impeachment probe as illegitimate because the House has not formally voted on a resolution to open an inquiry. “Even if the inquiry was validly authorized, much of the information sought in the subpoena appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by executive privilege and would require careful review to ensure that no such information is improperly disclosed,” wrote Melissa Burnison, assistant Energy secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs.

Giuliani pushed Donald Trump administration to grant a visa to a Ukrainian official promising dirt on Democrats” via Manu Raju, Michael Warren, Kylie Atwood, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb of CNN — Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony that Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president, according to four people familiar with Kent’s testimony. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified that around January 2019, Giuliani requested a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin to travel to the United States. Shokin had been pushed out of his position as Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including Biden, over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases.


After backlash, Trump says his Doral resort won’t host G-7 summit” via Anita Kumar and David Semones of POLITICO — Trump made the change after members of Congress and government ethics experts accused him of violating the Constitution by holding the summit at his financially struggling Trump National Doral Miami resort. “Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020,” Trump tweeted just 30 minutes after he defended the decision on Twitter. It was a rare about-face for Trump on his businesses.

Donald Trump says his Miami golf resort will no longer host G-7 summit, blaming ‘Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.’

Trump ‘surprised’ at pushback to hosting G-7 at his Doral resort, chief of staff says” via David Smiley, Michael Wilner and Francesca Chambers of the Miami Herald — Trump changed his mind about hosting a summit of world leaders at his own resort in Doral after being “surprised at the level of pushback” to last week’s announcement, his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said. Mulvaney, speaking during an interview Sunday morning with Fox’s Chris Wallace, said Trump “thinks people think it looks lousy” that he chose Trump National Doral Miami as the host site for next summer’s G-7 summit. Mulvaney called Trump’s sudden change of course — announced by the president on Twitter — “the right decision.”

Trump reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending him” via Toluse OlorunnipaJosh Dawsey and David A. Fahrenthold of the Washington Post — In a round of phone calls with conservative allies this weekend, Trump was told Republicans are struggling to defend him on so many fronts, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. … Trump blamed his G-7 reversal on critics, saying on Twitter that his decision to scrap plans for a summit at the Doral club was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.” But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from his own party.


Many consider Brian Ballard of Florida-based Ballard Partners to be among the most powerful lobbyists in Trump’s Washington D.C. Ballard recently sat down with Nihal Krishan for the Washington Examiner. Here are some highlights of that interview:

— “Our level of competence in our personnel in Florida and here and what our clients retain us for, how they refer other clients to us [is different],” Ballard said about what makes his firm unique. “Our biggest growth has been client referral of other clients. I mean, obviously, it’s helpful to be on the team that’s in power, but it’s more helpful to be competent in your job. …”

brian ballard
A level of competence: Brian Ballard is widely considered one of the most influential lobbyists in the Donald Trump era.

— “I was a John McCain guy. I always praised President Obama as being a great dad and a great role model. I didn’t agree with his policies, still don’t. But I thought he’s a good man. And I think President Trump doesn’t get that same level of courtesy, which is what I take issue with.”

— When asked about those who use the Trump properties to gain favor: “I think that is the biggest load of crap that I’ve heard since I’ve been here. The whole stuff about the hotel and all the rest is the most silly and not real. And these people you talk about list my clients all the time, and it’s ridiculous. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

— 2020 —

Trump leans on a changed GOP for support” via Aaron Zitner and Alex Leary of the Wall Street Journal — Trump accelerated the movement of working-class voters into the Republican Party, creating a GOP that now represents more middle- and lower-income Americans. He has reframed much of the Republican agenda to appeal to these voters, particularly on trade, immigration and foreign affairs, in many cases upending 40 years of GOP policy. And Trump’s combative personal style and dominating presence in the nation’s political discourse have created an unusually tight bond with the new GOP base. The result: Trump heads into the impeachment inquiry — the most dangerous political waters of his presidency — with support from the vast majority of his party.

Donald Trump is relying on a radically changed GOP base for his continued support.

Trump campaign floods web with ads, raking in cash as Democrats struggle” via Matthew Rosenberg and Kevin Roose of the New York Times — Even seemingly ominous developments for Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base. The campaign slapped together an “Impeachment Poll” (sample question: “Do you agree that President Trump has done nothing wrong?”). It invited supporters to join the Official Impeachment Defense Task Force (“All you need to do is DONATE NOW!”). It produced a slick video laying out the debunked conspiracy theory about former Vice President Biden and Ukraine that is now at the center of the impeachment battle (“Learn the truth. Watch Now!”). The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response.

Bernie Sanders returns to the trail with a major rally: ‘To put it bluntly, I am back’” via Sean Sullivan and Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post — Sanders returned to the campaign trail Saturday with an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, making a comeback nearly three weeks after suffering a heart attack with a speech that sought to allay concerns about his health and placed a greater emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion. “I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States,” Sanders said after thanking supporters for their best wishes as he recuperated. “I am more ready than ever to help create a government based on the principles of justice.”

I’m back: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bernie Sanders at a weekend rally attended by 25,000 supporters.

Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are ‘grooming’ Tulsi Gabbard for third-party run” via Dan Merica of CNN — The comment appears to be directed at Hawaii Rep. Gabbard, who has been accused of being cozy with Russia in the past. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.” Clinton did not provide proof about how Russia is “grooming” Gabbard. She and her team pointed to allegations that Russian news and propaganda sites often report on Gabbard’s campaign and that trolls and bots have reportedly amplified moments in Gabbard’s campaign on Twitter with ties to Russia.

Breaking this morning — “Poll: Iowa caucuses are ‘up for grabs’ as Pete Buttigieg surges into top tier” via Susan Page of USA Today —  It’s a new three-way race in Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was initially seen as a long-shot presidential contender, has surged within striking distance of Biden and Warren in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, a Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds. Biden, long viewed as the Democratic frontrunner, is faltering in the wake of a debate performance last week that those surveyed saw as disappointing. The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers.


Francis Rooney, GOP lawmaker who won’t rule out impeachment, is to retire” via Emily Cochrane of The New York Times — Rooney, who first won his district in 2016, said on Fox News that he believed he had accomplished what he wanted to do in Congress and had grown frustrated with aspects of legislative service. Asked if he was interested in a third term, Rooney said, “I don’t really think I do, and I don’t really think I want one.” “I’ve done what I came to do,” he added, noting that he also wanted to set a model in the House for adhering to term limits.

Two is enough: Francis Rooney is retiring after his second term, saying he accomplished everything he set out to do.

Among those considering a run for Rooney’s seat: Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Reps. Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Bob Rommel, former Rep. Matt Hudson, Chauncey Goss, and Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.

Already said they won’t run: Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, former Rep. Matt Caldwell.

Happening today — Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham will visit the Democratic Club of North Florida, 6:30 p.m., Florida People’s Advocacy Center, 603 North Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tallahassee.

Vern Buchanan taps Max Goodman as campaign manager” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Goodman will manage Buchanan’s 2020 campaign, giving Buchanan a veteran presence at the helm of his reelection effort and someone who knows the Southwest Florida political landscape well. “We’re thrilled to have Max back again to run the campaign,” Buchanan said. “He’s a talented and respected professional who understands the district and needs of our communities and oversaw our 33,000 vote win last year against David Shapiro.” Goodman, 36, was the first person Buchanan hired when he first ran for Congress in 2006. Goodman started as a travel aide, became deputy field director and moved to Washington, D.C., after the campaign to work in Buchanan’s congressional office.

Margaret Good in elite fundraising company” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The $450,333 that Good raised in the third quarter of 2019 puts her in elite company among Florida congressional candidates, both challengers and incumbents. Only one candidate who is challenging an incumbent member of Congress in Florida raised more than Good in the third quarter, according to campaign finance reports released last week. Good also raised more in the third quarter than all but two incumbent members of Congress from Florida. Good’s third-quarter fundraising haul is the fourth-best among all candidates running in Florida’s 27 congressional districts. Good raised more than Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, the former Republican Governor who is known as a prolific fundraiser and faces a competitive race this year.

Year before election, Jason Brodeur’s state Senate campaign has already spent $1.3 million” via Steve Lemongello and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel —Since November 2016, they’ve spent more than $1.3 million, according to expenditure reports as of September, and only a third of that has gone towards the usual tools of the campaign trade – consultants, ads, mailers and legal fees. Instead, most of it has gone to contributions to other campaigns, PACs, committees and Republican organizations. Tens of thousands of dollars of campaign spending has also gone towards firms operated by prominent Republicans, and in one case, to a controversial blogger associated with the Proud Boys and InfoWars.

Hialeah City Council election takes on bitter edge as candidates fight in TV ads” via Enrique Flor of the Miami Herald — Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez’ support for a slate of City Council candidates In the Nov. 5 election, as well as attacks by candidate Luis González against rival Jesus Tundidor, have hit TV screens and stepped up the bitterness between opponents. One shows Hernandez having a coffee on a Hialeah street corner while he urges a voter to support the candidates he favors in the municipal elections. The second, paid for by Hialeah For Progress, a political action committee created in Tampa by Hernandez’ former chief of staff, Arnie Alonso, alleges that Tundidor’s campaign is receiving money from and drug smugglers, based on information about businesses owned by Tundidor’s father, James Tundidor, including the Erotica and Bellas nightclubs in Hialeah.


Disney World gondola 911 tapes reveal girl frantically seeking help for epileptic mom” via Gabrielle Russon, Caroline Glenn and Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel — For nearly an hour, an 11-year-old Lakeland girl was on the phone with 911, pleading for somebody to rescue her epileptic and anxious mother trapped on Disney World’s Skyliner gondola earlier this month. Reedy Creek, Disney’s quasi-government that handles the parks’ emergency responses, released the 911 audiotapes Friday after a public records request. The tapes depict stranded riders crying, pleading for help for people with health conditions and in one case, a man who had passed out. “I don’t know if we’re stuck or something,” the girl says early into the call. “It’s been 20 minutes up here! Please. I’m begging you!”

Among those stranded in the Disney gondolas earlier this month was an 11-year-old girl calling 911 to help her epileptic mother.

’Just not a discussion’: How paralyzing groupthink led to six deaths at FIU bridge” via Andres Viglucci and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — The new trove of documents paint a detailed picture of organizational dysfunction. Even as inspectors and subcontractors dutifully documented cracks that grew to proportions that the Federal Highway Administration labels as “abnormal” in a newly released document, project leaders hewed to contractually and strictly defined roles. The NTSB documents show no project leader discussed suspending work, even thought to ask for an independent evaluation or raised red flags that might have prevented the collapse or at least shut down the busy road under the bridge. The lack of urgency reflects two major factors that the NTSB will likely focus on as contributing to the disaster: a faulty design by FIGG and a paralyzing culture of groupthink.

Clear takeover” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The Church of Scientology and companies run by its members spent $103 million over the past three years buying up vast sections of downtown Clearwater. They now own most commercial property on every block within walking distance of the waterfront, putting the secretive church firmly in control of the area’s future. Most of the sales have not previously been reported. The Tampa Bay Times discovered them by reviewing more than 1,000 deeds and business records, then interviewed more than 90 people to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the transactions. Even city leaders said they didn’t know the full extent of the purchases until they were shown maps created by the Times.

The Church of Scientology has purchased a majority of downtown Clearwater.

Is Florida Poly research park in jeopardy?” via Sara-Megan Walsh of the Lakeland Ledger — Developers have suggested that Lakeland commissioners consider making an offer to buy the land adjacent to Florida Polytechnic University, a potential site for a future technology research park, or it could be sold off in bits and pieces. The City Commission is expected to vote on whether to allow the Tulsa-based Williams Acquisition Holding Co. to make regulatory changes to its long-standing plan for roughly 4,500 acres southwest of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway. Commissioner Stephanie Madden said the change could indicate there may be movement, or development, happening soon near Florida Poly. The company has spoken about selling off the land, whole or in parts, for years.

Trouble brewing in Villages paradise over fat tax hike” via Lauren Ritchie of the Orlando Sentinel — Original developers of the massive Villages retirement development have always commanded respect and loyalty of residents, but children and grandchildren of the late Gary Morse — they’ve owned and operated the largest retirement community in the nation since he died five years ago — are destroying that relationship. The Villages cut a deal for taxpayers in rural Sumter County to fund $186 million in roads whose stated purpose is to allow the Morse family to keep building “American’s Friendliest Hometown.” And how does this benefit taxpayers? That’s murky.


City Hall and the revolving door” via Nate Munroe of the Florida Times-Union — Consider the following situation: A board member of a high-profile city agency unexpectedly resigns then promptly comes back to the organization with an eyebrow-raising sales pitch. This pitch — which was totally unsolicited — includes placing this former board member in a lucrative position of some kind or another by either working at the agency this former board member oversaw, or by working with the agency through its blessing. It will all seem remarkably well planned. Even more surprisingly, the powers that be embrace this unusual idea with spontaneous consensus. So enthusiastic, these decision-makers appear in fact, that it seems certain this former board member is on the cusp of getting exactly what they want. This ought to seem familiar.

Jacksonville City Hall has quite a revolving door.

Jacksonville City Council to vote Tuesday on hiring an independent lawyer to help evaluate JEA sale” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — The decision to hire an independent lawyer comes as a group of Council members work to begin examining JEA’s ongoing consideration of privatizing the city-owned utility, a process that started this summer and has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors and without input from the council. “This is a very large transaction. JEA has obviously been working on it for a while. I envision our attorney will guide us on what questions to ask and prepare us,” said Council President Scott Wilson. “The idea is to have someone help us dig in, help us understand how we got to this point.” After inviting firms to submit proposals to purchase the utility, JEA received 17 responses, rejecting one immediately.

What Anthony Pedicini is reading —How Republican is Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, really?” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — Some days, you wouldn’t know it. Because Chronister has taken positions you might not align with the image of a textbook GOP lawman. For instance: Just after a bloody August weekend that included mass shootings in Dayton and at a Walmart in El Paso, a Hillsborough man was charged with phoning in a threat to shoot up a Walmart in Gibsonton. The sheriff said there should be enhanced mental health screening for anyone who wants to own a gun, which was probably not a National Rifle Association-approved position. “We all as a society need to do more about gun safety and those who possess firearms,” he said. This was not a blip: Chronister strongly supports Florida’s red flag law.

Guitar hotel to make its bow as Seminole Hard Rock flexes financial might” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The massive 450-foot guitar hotel towers above the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood. There is nothing anywhere in the region that resembles it, and it’s unclear whether anyone fully understands its potential financial might. The Hard Rock will publicly debut its $1.5 billion expansion Thursday with light beams shooting 20,000 feet into the sky. The project includes Hard Rock Live, a multitiered, 6,556-seat theater that is destined to be an entertainment hub for everything from Broadway shows to headline concerts to boxing matches. Besides nearly 640 new hotel rooms in the guitar hotel, there also will be a promenade of more than 20 shops, fancy new restaurants, a new nightclub venue, and a lagoon called Bora Bora.

The opening of the guitar-shaped Hard Rock Hotel in Miami will be an extravaganza, as well as a show of financial might. 

Retailers offer more perks and maybe higher pay to fill holiday season jobs” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Seasonal jobs are low-skill, low-wage positions, but the labor market, along with increasing theme park wages in Central Florida, could put pressure on retailers to offer more benefits to attract workers, said Hector Sandoval, of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida. Sandoval said wages for seasonal workers might not increase dramatically, but stores could offer other incentives such as flexible schedules, gift cards or store discounts. “I think they will try a combination of things to see what will work best,” he said. Several businesses have touted benefits for seasonal hires ahead of the shopping season.

St. Pete greenlights the launch of e-scooter pilot program” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — City Council members approved a micromobility ordinance that includes the use of e-scooters in the city. The ordinance passed in a 5-2 vote with councilmen Charlie Gerdes and Steve Kornell having the opposing votes due to safety concerns. The ordinance amends the St. Petersburg city code by adding a new article to define micromobility, create regulations and licensing requirements for e-scooters. The city will start a one-year pilot program for the e-scooters, much like how Tampa is currently doing with four vendors. St. Pete’s e-scooter program would kick off in late winter or early spring 2020.

What John Lux is reading — Sarasota-Bradenton on screen: The biggest movies made here” via Jimmy Geurts of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The area’s biggest production to date remains 1952′s “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Cecil B. DeMille’s extravagant love letter to the circus. No film made here in the next few decades came near that level, though there were some intriguing curios like director John Schlesinger’s road-trip comedy “Honky Tonk Freeway” or the adaptation of Sarasota author John D. MacDonald’s novel “A Flash of Green.” Then in the late ’90s, Sarasota-Manatee experienced the excitement and bustle of a major Hollywood production again when the films “Great Expectations” and “Palmetto” came to town, bringing stars like Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Woody Harrelson and Elisabeth Shue. Five years later, Denzel Washington visited Manatee and Charlotte counties while making the thriller “Out of Time.”


End the secrecy over Russia’s election hacking in Florida” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — If it doesn’t change, voters will have even more reason to believe that, when it comes to elections, the state is “more confused than an old person with an iPhone.” That’s a line comedian Craig Ferguson used after problems in the 2012 election. This latest tale concerns Russia hacking into voter registration systems in 2016. It occurred in two or four counties, maybe more. The exact number is unknown because the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have put a needless on gag order on public officials. Democrat or Republican, they don’t like it. They’ve even filed a bill that would remove restrictions on releasing information. No matter, the federal position is entrenched.

Florida is poised to kill a man who may be innocent” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida convicted two men of savagely murdering a 14-year-old girl at Indian Rocks Beach in 1985. The career criminal who now says he alone did it is serving life in prison. The other, who insists he is innocent and may indeed be, is on death row, where DeSantis intends for him to die Nov. 7. This glaring disparity isn’t the only reason why James Dailey, 73, should be spared from execution. To convict him, prosecutors depended on the testimony of jailhouse informants who said Dailey admitted the crime to them. They could have gleaned it all from the newspaper articles that detectives showed them. The most damning testimony against Dailey came from an ex-cop turned career criminal, Paul Skalnick.

What Richard Corcoran is reading —Florida’s reform momentum” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — With little fanfare this autumn, another 18,000 young Floridians joined the ranks of Americans who enjoy school choice. More than 100,000 students, all from families of modest means, already attend private schools using the state’s main tax-credit scholarship. But the waitlist this spring ran to the thousands, so in May, the state created a voucher program to clear the backlog. This is a huge victory for school choice. Also notable: These are vouchers funded directly by state money, which is a challenge to Florida legal precedent. School choice boosted DeSantis into office, and now he is delivering for 18,000 more Florida families. Add another 7,000 next year, and then another 7,000.

Joe Henderson: Only one “fix” is needed on Amendment 4” via Florida Politics — State Sen. Brandes said lawmakers will consider all options next year to fix their fixes on Amendment 4, the measure voters strongly approved in 2018 to restore voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences. I can save them a lot of time on this one if they’ll do what voters intended. People believed the amendment restored the vote for nonviolent felons who completed their prison terms. You know that, and I know that. Members of the Legislature know that, too. How could someone prove they had paid all fines and costs in full? That was effectively a deal-breaker because providing incorrect information can be a third-degree felony.

The once-and-future sheriff of Broward County?” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Even by standards of this state, where weird is commonplace, former Broward County Sheriff Israel’s fight to get his badge back is an odd one. With Republicans controlling the Senate 23-17, confirming his dismissal ought to be a slam dunk. For a Senator from Tampa or Jacksonville or Pensacola, there’s no political downside to scapegoating Israel — especially not in comparison to the downside of offending DeSantis. But Israel will be on the ballot again next summer, and the people of Florida’s biggest Democratic stronghold will determine if he’s really to blame for his deputies’ response to the airport and Parkland mass murders.

Allowing ‘open carry’ of guns a bad idea” via the Panama City News-Herald editorial board — State Rep. Anthony Sabatini is seeking to render the state’s concealed carry license law for handguns moot. Open carry is not a current option. We get the Second Amendment. We get what freedom means. But freedom is a two-sided coin upon which society is balanced. When one’s freedom endangers another, one side gains a freedom while the other loses one. Carrying guns isn’t a freedom like voting or free speech. It is a larger responsibility. Among the bigger issues facing society is the casual slaughter of innocent people by bad people. We’re not making much ground in solving the problem, but the last thing we need during this crisis is a step backward. That’s what this is.

Can the Gulf Coast triumph? Yes” via Don Gaetz for the Panama City News-Herald — Triumph Gulf Coast, established by law to use $1.5 billion as it is paid over 26 years, is two years old. So far, Triumph has received $380 million from BP and committed $237 million to 26 projects located in all eight counties in our purview. Because we insist on sponsors and applicants bringing matching funds, Triumph’s participation has attracted another $642 million in private investment and federal, state and local money. Triumph already has generated $879 million to rebuild and diversify coastal Northwest Florida in years ahead. Until 2033, Triumph will receive and deploy an additional $80 million annually.

PACE financing gives Floridians valuable options to protect homes from hurricanes” via Kristin Jacobs for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As recent history shows, no inch of our state is safe from the devastation of a hurricane’s wrath. That’s why property owners across Florida are exploring all available avenues to make their homes more resilient. One increasingly popular solution is called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE. What makes PACE uniquely appealing is that financing is based on a property’s equity — not an applicant’s credit score. This flexible approach enables more people to make critical home or property improvements, which may have otherwise been unaffordable through traditional financing. Given the high out-of-pocket costs for some home improvements, such as wind-resistant roofing, PACE is attractive because project costs are financed entirely through a tax assessment tied to a property.

A broken trust: Save Bonnet House from a hostile takeover” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The iconic estate will mark a milestone in a few months when it turns 100 years old. But the mood these days is anything but celebratory. A furious struggle for control of this community asset has erupted between Bonnet House Inc., a charity that manages the property and raises money to operate it, and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, a Tallahassee nonprofit that owns the property and pays its bills — more than $1.4 million to date — largely from money raised at Bonnet House. This ugly standoff has all the earmarks of a hostile takeover. Naturally, it’s mostly about money. For the sake of South Florida’s past and its future, the acrimony must end.


Personnel note: Pamela Marsh named new head of First Amendment Foundation” via Florida Politics — Marsh, the former top federal prosecutor for North Florida, will become the next head of the First Amendment Foundation, Florida’s nonprofit open government watchdog, the organization announced Friday. Effective Dec. 1, Marsh will replace 25-year veteran Barbara Petersen, who announced her retirement earlier this year as President of the foundation … ‘Perhaps now more than ever, the mission of the Foundation is critical to Florida communities and to a thriving democracy,” Marsh said.

Congratulations to Pamela Marsh, newly named head of the First Amendment Foundation.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Angela Bonds, Dean Mead: Marriott International

Jeffrey Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: Swope Rodante, Taxpayers Against Insurance Bad Faith

Danielle McBeth: Florida A&M University

Nicholas Mortellaro, Tara Reid, Strategos Public Affairs: Concorde Career Colleges, Kleo d/b/a ClassWallet

Jane West: 1000 Friends of Florida


Wendy Chioji memorial service set in Utah” via Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel — A memorial service for former WESH-Channel 2 anchor Chioji has been announced by her brother. “Wendy’s Memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, November 9, at the DeJoria Center (970 North State Road 32, Kamas, UT 84036). We are working on getting discounted hotel rooms in Park City and will post that information early next week,” Alan Chiogioji announced on Facebook Saturday. An Orlando event will be announced later, a family friend said.

Former WESH anchor Wendy Chioji’s funeral service will be in Utah next month. A local Orlando service will be announced later.

 “Lou Frey funeral open to public on Nov. 1” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The service is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1600 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park. Overflow parking will be available at Mead Gardens a few blocks away. The gardens will have a golf cart available for those who need assistance. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to The Lou Frey Institute, 12443 Research Parkway, Suite 406, Orlando, 32826-3297. Frey, a Republican who represented Central Florida in Congress for 10 years and had a long career as a commentator on public radio, died Monday at a hospice center in Winter Springs. He was 85.

— ALOE —

The Orionid meteor shower is coming Monday night” via Doyle Rice of USA TODAY — “I would rank the Orionids in the top five meteor showers of the year,” AccuWeather astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel said. ”It will be the strongest shower since the Perseids of August … The Orionids provide 20 to 25 meteors per hour on the peak night.” Orionid meteors are debris left behind by Halley’s comet, arguably the most famous of all comets. “This comet leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around Oct. 20-22, while Earth intersects the comet’s orbit, as it does every year at this time,” Byrd said.

What Javi Correoso is reading’Billions’ creators to develop ‘Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber’ series at Showtime” via Joe Otterson of Variety — Brian Koppelman and David Levien are developing a limited series about ride-sharing company Uber. The “Billions” creators and showrunners will serve as writers and executive producers on the series, which will be based on Mike Isaac’s book “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.” Isaac will serve as a co-executive producer on the project, which will be produced by Showtime. Pivoting on Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former CEO who was ultimately ousted in a boardroom coup, the limited series will depict the story of the upstart transportation company, embodying the highs and lows of Silicon Valley. “The story of Uber is rich in plot twists, one-of-a-kind personalities and important implications for corporate America,” said Jana Winograde, co-president of entertainment for Showtime.

‘Billions’ showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien are developing a series based on Uber’s power plays. Image via Variety.

Halloween spending expected to be high with princesses and superheroes dominating” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Florida Retail Federation is expecting record-high spending this year for Halloween. The National Research Federation surveyed shoppers this year who indicated average planned spending of more than $86 each on things like candy, decorations and costumes. The 2019 spending forecast is the third-highest record for the Halloween season, with 2017 being the peak. Nearly all Halloween shoppers will purchase candy, with 95 percent indicating they’d be ready to hand out sweets to trick-or-treaters in their neighborhoods. Almost three-quarters of Halloween shoppers said they would buy decorations, and more than two-thirds plan to buy costumes. The group also surveyed consumers on their Halloween costume plans for their families. Princess and superhero costumes dominated the list.

How Eckerd College helped build a more perfect cantaloupe” via Graham Brink of the Tampa Bay Times — Earlier this year, Jason Cavatorta picked up a cantaloupe from a small plot on a farm near Yeehaw Junction. He sliced it open with a wooden-handled knife, revealing an enticing orange flesh with tightly packed seeds and not too much rind. He lifted a chunk to his mouth — sweet with just enough complexity. Cavatorta is patient. He has to be in his line of work — creating new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Along the way, an Eckerd College professor and her students helped identify which ones were most likely to fend off diseases. The hope was that all the small failures would lead to a new cantaloupe with large yields and great taste.


Best wishes to Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga, state Reps. Ramon Alexander and Brett HageKaris Lockhart, Legislative Affairs Deputy Director at the Department of Economic Opportunity, Jamie Titcomb, town manager of Loxahatchee Groves, and Cameron Yarbrough of Ramba Consulting Group.


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.

One comment

  • Heather

    October 21, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Peter loves lobbyist cock and cookies:

Comments are closed.


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.

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