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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.22.19

Like a hot cup of coffee, Sunburn gets you started.

If you’re reading this email early Tuesday morning — Go outside and look up at the 2019 Orionid meteor shower.

NASA says the meteor shower will be visible from anywhere on Earth, and you won’t even need binoculars or a telescope to see it.

Your best chance to see it is after midnight into the early morning of Tuesday as the shower reaches its peak.

Officials said after midnight is the best time because the shower’s radiant point — or point of origin — doesn’t rise until after 11 p.m.

So the higher the radiant point in the sky, the higher the hourly rates of meteors per hour.

So be on the watch for those shooting stars late tonight. And for the lucky ones — some meteors will be early Tuesday morning.


Breaking overnight — Donald Trump OKs disaster declaration for Florida in wake of Dorian — A White House statement says the declaration means that federal funding is now available to eligible state and local governments, as well as certain nonprofits. The statement says funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repairs or replacements of facilities damaged by the storm between Aug. 28 and Sept. 9.

Eligible counties include Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Martin, Nassau, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns and St. Lucie.

It says similar funding also is available statewide for hazard mitigation measures.


Fresh off embargo — Most Florida voters aren’t happy with President Donald Trump’s job performance, but they’re split on whether the U.S. House should proceed with their impeachment inquiry.

The uncertainty was revealed in a new poll conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab.

While most Florida voters are not happy with Donald Trump, there’s still a split on whether he should be impeached.

According to the survey, 53 percent of voters either “somewhat” or “strongly” disapprove of Trump. Meanwhile, 49 percent of voters back a formal impeachment inquiry compared to 47 percent who do not. Asked whether Trump should be removed from office, 46 percent said yes, while 48 percent said no.

Unsurprisingly, opinions fell along party lines — 82 percent of Democrats say the House should move forward on impeachment while 85 percent of Republicans say the opposite. Independents are backing the House 48-43 percent.

“Floridians are evenly split on impeachment, both on beginning the inquiry and removing Trump from office,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of PORL.

“This similarity speaks to the division within the electorate regarding Trump: either they support removing him from office, or they are opposed to the impeachment inquiry entirely. Both Republican Senators may end up sitting in judgment during an impeachment trial. An even split among the public likely would not convince co-partisan senators to break with the president.”

While the lukewarm backing for impeachment could mean it’s DOA, the poll did indicate Trump could have a hard time holding onto Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

If the election were held today, the President would lose to former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Even if South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended up as the Democratic nominee, it would be a dogfight, though Trump currently edges him out 43-42 percent.


This is the story that will dominate the news today — “Florida election website for petition gatherers is broken, state acknowledges” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Legislature’s hasty overhaul of statewide ballot referendums brought more problems Monday as a top state official acknowledged its website for petition gatherers is broken with no immediate fix in sight. In a statement, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee said “we do not have any reason to believe” that the glitches were the work of an external actor, like someone hacking the website or the result of a denial of service attack. Rather, she faulted the “short timeline” to build the system after lawmakers voted at the 11th hour to significantly alter how signatures are collected in Florida.

Those problems reached a “crisis point” in the past week, said Alex Patton, a political consultant for Citizens for Energy Choice, the organization fighting to deregulate the power grid. Worse, Patton said, he couldn’t get an explanation from the Department of State and was repeatedly told the site was just slow. On Monday, a lawyer for Citizens for Energy Choice sent the state a letter demanding answers and an immediate fix.


The Florida Senate is meeting in Special Session to decide whether Scott Israel should be reinstated as sheriff of Broward County. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel for the failures of his deputies during the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well as a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, but a Special Master hired by the Senate says the Governor was wrong.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Attorney General Ashley Moody weighs in on the Special Session, supporting Israel’s removal.

— The union representing Florida teachers is taking its “big red bus” to six Panhandle counties in three days to campaign for public education.

— Veteran pollster Steve Vancore stops by to discuss the Senate Rules Committee meeting during the Special Session.

— And the further adventures of Florida Man, the superhero we don’t need, but richly deserve: Deputies in Polk County charged a man with driving under the influence after he was spotted weaving through traffic on a two-wheeled Segway. His blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

To listen, click on the image below:


@RealDonaldTrump: Doral in Miami would have been the best place to hold the G-7, and free, but too much heat from the Do Nothing Radical Left Democrats & their Partner, the Fake News Media! I’m surprised that they allow me to give up my $400,000 Plus Presidential Salary! We’ll find someplace else!

@MarcoRubio: I understand the anger of Kurds who face threats & attacks from Turkish forces. But U.S. troops don’t deserve insults; they deserve gratitude & praise. They didn’t make the decision to leave, they were ordered to. And they risked their lives far away from their homes & families.

@UncleLukeReal1: I had a great sit down one-on-one Conversation with Senator and Presidential Candidate @KamalaHarris we talked about everything from being a prosecutor to people questioning her blackness. It was epic and wait for you guys to see it

@BetsyDeVosED: Thanks to the bold leadership of @GovRonDeSantis, FL continues to lead the way in providing parents the freedom to find the right school for their child. #EducationFreedom works. Parents demand it. Students deserve it. We just need to see much more of it!

@MattGaetz: For the Everglades, for our fight against offshore drilling [Francis] @RepRooney got more done in 2 terms than most could in decades.

@MDixon55: The idea that trade-offs for votes and other things don’t happen in the Florida Senate, or any legislative body, is absurd. That’s quite literally how the process works. It’s the reason members have forcefully asserted that actual budget negotiations can’t be held in public

@JeffBurlew: Tallahassee political consulting firm VancoreJones came up in 2016 conversation between FBI agent & J.T. Burnette, who said the firm was “the one with the real juice.” The agent noted Burnette paid the firm $15K a month. “Because we know there is going to (be) lifts,” agent said.

Tweet, tweet:

@ChantelleABC27: Probably the most Florida thing that’s happened to me so far — a parrot just landed on my news car.

@SeidelUMBC: Sometimes when I think I made a poor decision, I remember that the Bears traded pick Nos. 3, 67 and 111 and a 2018 third-round pick, to the Niners to move up ONE spot to draft Mitchell Trubisky … with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson still on the board


Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 6; Brexit scheduled — 9; The Florida Chamber’s Insurance Summit — 13; 2019 General Election — 14; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 16; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 21; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 26; Fifth Democratic debate — 29; “Frozen 2” debuts — 31; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 41; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 59; College Football National Championship — 83; 2020 Session begins — 84; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 85; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 103; Great American Realtors Day — 104; Iowa Caucuses — 104; New Hampshire Primaries — 112; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 143; Florida’s presidential primary — 147; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 197; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 276; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 308; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 351; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 359; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 366; 2020 General Election — 378.


Indicted Rudy Giuliani associate joined Ron DeSantis on last-minute campaign swing” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Lev Parnas attended a string of events with Ron DeSantis in the closing moments of the Republican candidate’s 2018 campaign for Governor in Florida. In a photograph taken Nov. 4, two days before the election, Parnas is next to the smiling candidate at a campaign rally in South Daytona. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is standing nearby in the shot. Other photographs show Parnas at a Boca Raton event held 200 miles away an hour and a half later that day. Edward MacMahon, a Virginia attorney representing Parnas, said, “if he was in the pictures,” then Parnas was likely on the DeSantis campaign plane.

Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas seemed to be everywhere during the Ron DeSantis campaign, some suggest he may have even flown on the candidate’s plane. 


As Parkland families watch, Florida Senate committee recommends upholding Scott Israel’s suspension” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The vote was close, with nine Senators voting in favor of Israel’s permanent removal and seven favoring his reappointment. Cheers immediately erupted from family members and supporters of the 17 people killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, who were at the committee when it convened at 10:30 a.m. through the vote at about 8:45 p.m. Israel, who also spent the day at the Senate Rules Committee, sat near the back of the room with his wife Susan for the final hour as senators debated his fate and voted against his reinstatement. The vote was entirely on party lines.

Tom Lee explains his non-vote — The former Senate President texted Florida Politics late Monday night to outline why he abstained from voting. Here are his notes.

“1. This is not a random SB that we can fix on the floor. We are passing judgment on an elected official and it warrants special care.”

“2. The Gov’s Executive Order contains 35 “Whereas clauses” some of which create a new precedent under Ch 30.07 that holds a Sheriff responsible for the single act or inaction of a single deputy in the context of an Executive Suspension. That defies common sense and wasn’t necessary for the Gov to make his case.”

3. Hundreds of new pages of evidence and case law were dropped on us and SM Goodlette said on the record that he hadn’t been able to review it and couldn’t say how it might affect his decision. 3. In the absence of due process, I needed time to review, discuss w/ the SM and seek counsel about the presidential value of this new Exec Order and other issues raised today for the 1st time.”

“4. The vote today served no purpose. Nothing in our rules required the Rules Comm. to render an opinion. We could have reported out the full record of today’s proceeding for consideration by the full Sen.”

“5. We all knew what the outcome would be. Heck, we didn’t even bother to get a motion on the table before starting debate, but in complex cases, judges seldom rule from the bench on the day of trial and the only vote that matters is the constitutionally required vote of all 40 Senators on Wed.”

Special Master Dudley Goodlette responds to questions about his investigation into if suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, right, should be removed from office during the Senate Rules Committee hearing. Image via Colin Hackley.

Israel, the Florida Senate and scoring political points” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amid the partisan spin and distortions in the dramatic showdown between the Florida Senate and suspended Broward Sheriff Israel, one statement stood out: “At the end of the day it is a political decision,” DeSantis’ new attorney, George Levesque, told Senators during the Senate Rules Committee’s lengthy hearing. Levesque is right. Politics drove DeSantis to suspend Israel from office. And politics is driving the former sheriff’s trial in the Senate this week, where 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats will consider Israel’s appeal. On Monday, the political calculation became clearer as Levesque tried to capture lost ground and retry the case.

Sens. Perry E. Thurston Jr., Bill Montford and Tom Lee during the Senate Rules Committee hearing into if suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel should be removed from office. Image via Colin Hackley.

Ashley Moody tells Senators to remove Israel” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Moody released a letter morning as the Senate Rules Committee began hearing testimony to make a recommendation on the case to the full Senate. “My niece was outside playing and heard the first shots ring out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018,” Moody began. “She lost a dear friend due to the acts of an evil person and the cumulative failure of the criminal justice system. The Parkland families deserve accountability. “This was not just one deputy, or a handful of deputies, failing to respond appropriately, follow procedures or field reports,” Moody wrote. “This was the failure of an organization led by Sheriff Israel that failed to protect the Parkland families.

Happening today — DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will meet. On the agenda is a discussion of hiring a new commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, 9 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.


Lawmakers may lift statute of limitations on rape cases” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Two sets of bills seek to lift that statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases, respectively: Senate Bill 170 and House Bill 199 would remove any statute of limitations in criminal cases of sexual battery if a victim was under 18 when the crime was committed. House Bill 277 would eliminate the statute of limitations entirely for any civil cases brought by victims of sexual assault, as well as other sexual crimes. Camille Cooper, vice president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, which advocates against sexual violence, said Florida “has one of the more restrictive criminal statutes of limitations in the country,” making it difficult for victims to seek justice when they do come forward.

Margaret Good hopes algae task forces give life to stormwater proposal” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Sarasota Democrat filed a bill (HB 405) to update regulations, and further limit discharges into Florida water bodies. “Because clean water is a priority in Southwest Florida, I believe we need to take actual, substantive policy action to correct what we have done to Florida’s environment,” she said. Already, the Blue-Green Algae Task Force appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis listed stormwater improvements in a formal recommendation to lawmakers. DeSantis has also appointed a Red Tide Task Force, which likely will also look at how nutrients in waterways feed algal blooms. Good said she was pleased when stormwater showed up in the first draft recommendations from the Blue-Green Algae group.

Chris Latvala wants rental car fees on car-sharing programs” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Latvala filed a bill (HB 377) that changes how the state treats these vehicles. The legislation as filed would apply a rental car surcharge on any car-sharing service that allows access to motor vehicles for paying members. The move comes as startup companies receive pushback from Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport. Companies, such as Turo and Getaround, have created platforms for car-owners to rent out their vehicles to those who need them temporarily.

Chris Latvala is looking to add rental fees to car-sharing programs like Turo.

Derelict vessels targeted in new Wyman Duggan bill” via AG Gancarski Florida Politics — HB 417, filed by first-term Jacksonville Republican Rep. Duggan, would end a long-standing and frustrating practice: vessels lingering in the Ortega and Cedar Rivers. At issue: “several vessels, maybe a dozen … creating problems for residents, boaters, and the city,” Duggan said. These boats create a variety of issues. Boat owners often don’t take their vessels to the marina to pump out waste, creating sewage discharges. Generators on the boats where some live hum into the night. And of course, hazards to navigation abound. And these are best-case scenarios for these boats. Some vessels left in the water have sunk.

Ardian Zika wants FIRST reviewing Florida’s cyber and power grid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — He’s filed legislation (HB 2081) to find a cyber/grid security review by Florida’s Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactics (FIRST). The institute is the brainchild of Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, first announced in 2017. Zika wants $475,000 in the Department of Management Services budget this year so that FIRST can conduct a “cyber/grid security review for the state of Florida, to include emergency response capabilities, critical infrastructure, and recovery, in light of recent cybersecurity attacks that occurred throughout the nation and targeted critical facilities.”


The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets to discuss a bill that revamps statute of limitations on the prosecution of sexual battery cases for victims under age 18, 9 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to discuss the hepatitis A outbreak and risks of vaping, 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets to consider a sales-tax exemption for seniors covering certain home-improvement items, 11 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building.

The House Education Committee meets to discuss the state’s teacher improvement programs, 1 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The House Health & Human Services Committee meets to consider a bill that requires parental consent before minors can have abortions, 1 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee will hear from Maj. Gen. James Eifert, adjutant general of the Florida National Guard, 2 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

Assignment editors — Youth advocates and legislators to hold a news conference to speak out about the truth behind forced parental consent for abortion, 11:30 p.m., 4th-floor (House side), Florida Capitol.

Happening tonight:


White bean and Bradley’s sausage soup; mixed garden salad with dressings; sweet & sour coleslaw; southern potato salad; deli board, lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses & breads; roast turkey divan; blackened redfish on Creole sauce; roast pork tenderloin with warm apple sauce; garlic and herb roasted red bliss potatoes; braised collard greens with ham; southern succotash; assorted cookies and brownies for dessert.


Attorney General’s office cracking down on moving companies” via Alexa Lorenzo and Kaitlyn Brieskiorn of WFTV — The office is suing more than 10 moving businesses for giving customers “deceptive, low ball estimates then extorting higher fees by holding consumers’ property hostage.” The office also said the businesses “have harmed hundreds of consumers.” Michael Haase is with 1776 Moving and Storage and is on the board of the Professional Movers Association. “It’s expensive to run this legitimately. When you see something and you hear a price that is too good to be true, it is too good to be true,” Haase said. Haase said some movers use different sales pitches and tactics, so the Better Business Bureau urges you to go to them first.

Ashley Moody is looking to crack down on shady, deceptive practices of moving companies.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Education continues its listening tour over new academic standards, 5:30 p.m., Hamilton County High School, 5683 U.S. 129 South, Jasper.

Florida’s armed teachers get liability coverage in policy reversal” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida teachers armed on campus will now be covered under the state’s liability insurance, so long as they act within their duties outlined in state law. The new insurance policy is outlined on a page posted to the department’s website. It details how this new coverage only applies to armed instructional personnel, which leaves other armed staff, such as counselors and administrators, without state legal protection if they are sued for actions taken after volunteering to carry a gun. Those employees would have to be covered by their local districts.

Dangerous but disarmed: How Florida has confiscated thousands of guns” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s Risk Protection Court was created last year to take guns from people judged too dangerous to have them. Once, this would have seemed unlikely in the “Gunshine State,” known for lawmakers in lockstep with the National Rifle Association. But since Florida enacted its “red flag” law in March 2018, thousands of guns have been given up or taken by authorities. The tipping point: Seventeen dead at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Since then, through August 2019, 2,654 people in Florida have been ordered to turn over their guns and ammunition and banned from having any more for up to a year. No one appears to be keeping a statewide count of how many guns have been collected.

Former sex workers see value in Florida’s mandated sex trafficking education” via Ryan McKinnon of The Associated Press — This month, Florida became the first state in the nation requiring sex-trafficking education as part of every student’s curriculum. “Tragically, human trafficking is an epidemic in our country,” DeSantis said of the new rule. “Children of all ages need to know and understand the hazards of human trafficking and how to protect themselves from dangerous predators.” The new policy requires every school district to implement age-appropriate lessons about the dangers of one of the state’s fastest-growing industries. “I think it is going to be an eye-opener for our students,” said Valerie Ellery, the Florida Department of Education’s new Human Trafficking Education Specialist. “We are very grateful we are able to have this rule passed so we can start doing education.”

People with disabilities worried about possible cuts” vis Christine Jordan Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Senators are hearing from a series of people who shared stories about how the Medicaid home- and community-based “waiver” program known as iBudget has changed their lives and what would happen if funding for the program was slashed. “I’m scared to death because I am on very few services. And I’m thankful for the ones that I do have. But I still need more,” Amanda Baker, 39, says. The iBudget serves people who have been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities or other disorders, such as autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. In the iBudget program, participants have individual budgets to spend on the services they require. Budgets are determined using a complex algorithm.

Styrofoam ban fight goes to Supreme Court” via the News Service of Florida — The 3rd District Court of Appeal in overturned a ruling by a Miami-Dade County circuit judge who had found three state laws unconstitutional and determined Coral Gables was not prevented from enacting the Styrofoam ban. The case has focused heavily on a wide-ranging Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services bill that state lawmakers passed in March 2016. The bill barred local governments from regulating food-related polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, containers, and made that prohibition retroactive to any local ordinances passed after Jan. 1, 2016. Coral Gables approved a Styrofoam-ban ordinance in February 2016, and the Florida Retail Federation and Super Progreso, Inc., later filed the lawsuit challenging its legality.

Inmates ask appeals court to back hepatitis C ruling” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Arguing that the state has shown “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs,” inmates are urging a federal appeals court to uphold a ruling that requires the Florida Department of Corrections to provide costly treatment to prisoners who have been diagnosed with the early stages of hepatitis C. Attorneys for inmates filed a 58-page brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the department has resisted providing the treatment for financial reasons, violating the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. “The Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to provide medical treatment that avoids serious consequences, not simply treat them after a prisoner becomes dangerously ill,” the brief said.

Home insurance rates keep climbing, along with lawsuits. Will it ever end?” via Ron Hurtibise of the Sun Sentinel — It’s likely you received another rude surprise when you opened your latest home insurance bill this year. Rates for most Florida homeowners are continuing to rise despite reforms enacted last spring by the state legislature that were intended to curtail abusive lawsuits by third-party repair contractors and their attorneys.


Donald Trump calls for public identification of Ukraine whistleblower” via David Jackson, Courtney Subramanian and Michael Collins of USA TODAY — Railing against impeachment at a meeting of his Cabinet, an angry Trump called for the identification of the government whistleblower who made the first accusations against him. “Do we have to protect somebody that gave a totally false account of my conversation?” Trump said at one point. “I don’t know. You tell me.” House Democrats conducting the impeachment inquiry say federal laws are designed to protect the identities of whistleblowers. They also said the statements of this particular whistleblower are consistent with a partial transcript of July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Biden. The president disagreed, telling reporters Democrats have “nothing.”

Private photos of indicted donor depict ties to Trump, Rudy Giuliani” via the Wall Street Journal — Dating back to 2015, the private Instagram account of Parnas, the Ukrainian-American indicted on a charge of illegal campaign donations, appears to show VIP access to Trump and a close relationship with Giuliani. In one photo, Parnas poses with then-gubernatorial candidate DeSantis and Donald Trump Jr. Another photo shows both Parnas and Igor Fruman at the DeSantis election night party.

Who is Bill Taylor? Next impeachment probe witness profiled” via The Associated Press — The former Army officer and retired career civil servant holds a position as charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. But he was drawn into a Trump administration effort to leverage U.S. military aid for Ukraine, an effort Taylor believed was improper and tried to stop. He is scheduled to appear Tuesday before impeachment investigators in Congress, joining a parade of current and former diplomats testifying about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. As the charge, Taylor has run the embassy in Kyiv after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed before the end of her term following a campaign against her led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani.

Career diplomat Bill Taylor is the latest witness in the Donald Trump impeachment probe.

How Florida Republicans are talking about impeachment” via Darlena Cunha of The New York Times — With a damning reconstructed phone call transcript, a detailed whistleblower report, several high-ranking Trump surrogates being subpoenaed and testimonies well underway, how can such a seemingly cut-and-dry issue be read in an oppositional way? With farmers left in the dust, discrimination against preexisting conditions returning to insurance coverage and taxes rising for millions, how can Republicans continue to support the president? Simple. They identify with him. Working-class Republicans in Alachua County see Trump as a white businessman who made a lot of money. They like to think that could be them.

Polling shows some swing-state voters support impeachment inquiry, but not removal” via Nate Cohn of the New York Times — A New York Times/Siena College survey of the six closest states carried by the President in 2016 — including Florida — depicts a deeply divided electorate in battleground states a year from the election, with the President’s core supporters and opponents exceptionally energized and unified. Yet at the same time, a crucial sliver of relatively moderate voters — just 7 percent of the electorate — supports the inquiry without backing Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. The findings suggest that public opinion has stabilized since shifting quickly against the President in late September, and it leaves American politics where it has been for some time: deadlocked, with neither side likely to face severe political costs for its position on the President.


Marco Rubio says it was a ‘bad look’ for Trump to pick Doral for G-7 — after several days of defending the decision” via Matthew Chapman of Raw Story — Indeed, Rubio was even suggesting to reporters that Trump should pick Doral for the G7 in August, long before he made the announcement. “It’s down the street – not far from where I live. It’s in Florida, I think it’s a great idea … I want us to have as many events down there as we can,” said Rubio in one exchange.

Judge: No Godfather clip for Roger stone trial” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with Stone’s attorneys, who argued that showing the clip from the Mafia-themed 1974 Francis Ford Coppola film “Godfather II” could inflame jurors and unfairly introduce issues extraneous to the lying-to-Congress and witness-tampering charges against Stone. “The government will not be permitted to introduce the clip itself in its case in chief because the prejudicial effect of the videotape, which includes a number of extraneous matters, outweighs its probative value,” wrote Jackson. Jackson’s said prosecutors are free to introduce a transcript of the four-minute scene, in which a character known as Frank Pentangeli or Frankie Five Angels backtracks on plans to give Congress incriminating testimony about the Corleone crime family.

Hold the popcorn: There will be no screening of ‘The Godfather’ at Roger Stone’s trial.

DOJ sends Florida $85M for school safety — The U.S. Department of Justice approved $85 million in grant funding to bolster school safety in Florida, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. The funds came out of a pot of money Congress set up following the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The cash will be split up between school districts and law enforcement agencies in Broward, Pinellas, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Those entities may use the money for officer training, school assessment teams and other school safety programs.

— 2020 —

Anxious Democratic establishment asks, ‘Is there anybody else?’” via Jonathan Martin of the New York Times — When a half-dozen Democratic donors gathered at the Whitby Hotel in Manhattan last week, the dinner began with a discussion of which presidential candidates the contributors liked. But as conversations among influential Democrats often go these days, the meeting quickly evolved into a discussion of who was not in the race — but could be lured in. Would Hillary Clinton get in, the contributors wondered, and how about Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor? One person even mused whether Michelle Obama would consider a late entry, according to two people who attended the event, which was hosted by the progressive group American Bridge. … Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg have both told people privately in recent weeks that if they thought they could win, they would consider entering the primary — but that they were skeptical there would be an opening, according to Democrats who have spoken with them. Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who associates say has wondered aloud about whether he should have run and has found it hard to watch Mr. Biden’s missteps, has also been urged to get in. But he still thinks the former vice president, who was once his longtime Senate colleague, is the party’s best nominee.

Mark Zuckerberg has quietly recommended campaign hires to Pete Buttigieg” via Tyler Pager and Kurt Wagner of Bloomberg — Facebook chief executive officer Zuckerberg has privately recommended several potential hires to Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, a rare example of direct political involvement from one of tech’s most powerful executives. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg sent multiple emails to Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg’s campaign manager, with names of individuals that he might consider hiring, campaign spokesman Chris Meagher confirmed. Priscilla Chan, Zuckerberg’s wife, also sent multiple emails to Schmuhl with staff recommendations. Ultimately, two of the people recommended were hired.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says protecting the social network from manipulation is one of his top priorities.

Julián Castro says he will end his presidential campaign if he doesn’t raise $800,000 in the next 10 days” via Nidhi Prakash of BuzzFeed News — In an email to supporters, Castro said he would not have the resources to continue campaigning if he can’t raise the funds by the end of October. “The truth is, for our campaign, these debates have offered our only guaranteed opportunity to share my vision with the American people. If I can’t make the next debate stage, we cannot sustain a campaign that can make it to Iowa in February. My presidential campaign is in dire need of financial resources to keep going.”

Wayne Messam says he’s running for President. Is he really?” via Melissa Gomez of the Los Angeles Times — Messam’s candidacy is something of a mystery. He did some campaigning in early voting states but doesn’t appear to be venturing far on the trail now. When asked, he couldn’t say where he was campaigning in the coming weeks or months. “I don’t have that in front of me right now,” he said. According to Federal Election Commission filings released this week, his campaign raised just $5 in the third quarter, a figure he suggests might be an uploading error. “I’m not sure; I’ll just have to check into that,” he said. He insists he’s still a candidate and “making inroads.” “I’m still in the race,” he said. “I’m still technically in the race.”

Television’s Weather Channel wades into climate debate” via The Associated Press — The Weather Channel is moving beyond cold fronts and heat waves to wade into the politics of climate change, with a special planned for early next month that includes interviews with nine presidential candidates on the topic. The hour-long special, scheduled to debut Nov. 7, interviews candidates at various sites chosen to illustrate the impact of climate change. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, speaks at the site of a devastating California wildfire and Sen. Kamala Harris along a flood-prone area of the Mississippi River. The Weather Channel has done specials on the impact of climate change in Alaska and along the Louisiana coast, for example, but this is the first time the network has gotten involved directly in a political campaign.


Amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour on the verge of getting on ballot” via the News Service of Florida — The political committee Florida For A Fair Wage had submitted 763,330 valid petition signatures to the state, just under the 766,200-signature threshold to reach the ballot, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. Political committees face a February deadline for submitting signatures. Florida For A Fair Wage, led by prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan, also needs the state Supreme Court to sign off on its proposed ballot wording before the minimum-wage increase could go before voters. The proposed amendment would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021, and increase it by $1 each year until it hits $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026.

Happening today — The Financial Impact Estimating Conference meets to workshop a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana, 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building.

Republican Judson Sapp files for another run in CD 3 against Ted Yoho” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Clay County businessman Sapp is making a second run for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District with an announcement that expresses firm conservative values regarding abortion and the Second Amendment and unwavering support for Trump. Sapp is the fourth Republican to file paperwork either at the federal or state level to get in for the 2020 race. That includes Yoho, who voluntarily vowed to term-limit himself out of the 2020 election, though it is unclear whether he will run or not. So, Sapp joins a Republican primary field that for now includes Yoho, Amy Pope Wells, and Joseph Millado. Democrats who’ve filed are Philip Dodds, Tom Wells, and Brandon Peters.

Judson Sapp is trying another attempt at Ted Yoho’s seat.

Happening tonight:

Candidates for Miami-Dade mayor face off in first debate of 2020 race” via Sam Turken of WLRN — In the first debate of the 2020 Miami-Dade County mayoral race on Monday, five candidates expressed commitments to address sea-level rise and expand worker rights but also sparred over their backgrounds and ways to improve mass transit in the county.

Buddy Dyer drops first reelection TV spot” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Dyer has launched the first television commercial of his campaign, with an ad declaring himself “the happiest mayor in America.” A 30-second spot dubbed “Together,” began running on at least four Orlando TV stations. The initial buys, which run through next Sunday, were for about $23,000 on those channels. The “Together” theme, in part, answers criticism that Dyers’ 16-year administration in Orlando has been less inclusive than it could have been, particularly in largely low-income and minority parts of town they charge have been neglected. It’s a charge Dyer has been refuting throughout his campaign, and his answer shows up in the first TV spot.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Kevin Bruning files to run for judge in 12th Circuit” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sarasota attorney Bruning filed for a circuit court judgeship in the 12th Judicial Circuit. “I’m incredibly honored that so many well-respected community leaders and peers have encouraged me to seek a seat on the 12th Judicial Circuit Court bench,” said Bruning. “I have a passion for the law, a desire to serve, and my experience speaks for itself.” Bruning serves as managing partner at Bentley & Bruning, along with politically connected attorney Morgan Bentley. He’s running for a seat now held by Judge Deno Economou, who was originally appointed to the post in 1999 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and who is nearing the mandatory retirement age.

Poll shows incumbents, Robert Blackmon winning St. Petersburg City Council races” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — District 3 council member Ed Montanari leads his challenger, Orlando Acosta, by more than 17 points while District 7 council member Lisa Wheeler — Bowman has a commanding 37 point lead over her challenger, Uhuru candidate Eritha “Akile” Cainion. That’s according to the latest poll from St. Pete Polls. Blackmon leads John Hornbeck by 16 points in District 1. The sole competitive race for District 5 puts Deborah Figgs-Sanders 11 points ahead of Trenia Cox. The Figgs-Sanders double-digit lead is something of a shock in a race against two candidates whose platforms are virtually indistinguishable. Good news for Cox though, 40 percent of poll respondents indicated they were still unsure in that race.

Cape Canaveral features four City Council candidates vying for two seats” via Rick Neale of FLORIDA TODAY — Two incumbents, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Brown and Councilman Rocky Randels, are on the ballot, along with Maria “Mickie” Kellum and Raymond Osborne. Also, a referendum will ask Cape Canaveral voters whether to authorize the City Council to grant property tax exemptions to new businesses — and expansions of existing businesses — that are expected to create new full-time jobs in the city. Cape Canaveral’s elected officials serve three-year terms. Annual salaries are $2,400, and the newly elected council members will be sworn in and seated on Nov. 19, according to Deputy City Clerk Daniel LeFever. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Parking, stadium among top priorities for Miami District 1 candidate Yanny Hidalgo” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Hidalgo believes that voters in Miami’s first district are not looking for a politician to represent them on the City Commission. “We are looking for a community leader,” he said. “That’s what District 1 really needs.” In Allapattah, he said, public safety is important to residents who want to see crime reduced. For Grapeland Heights, the biggest concern is the proposed no-bid 99-year lease for the mall, office park hotel and soccer stadium complex for the upcoming Major League Soccer team Inter Miami. In Flagami, the major problem is traffic along Northwest Seventh Street. “The city of Miami commission and the mayor have failed us because they are approving more and more buildings in that corridor,” he said.


Exclusive —Judge rules Tampa taxing hotel visitors illegally” via Noah Prensky of Florida Politics — A circuit court judge has ruled that a hotel room surcharge — collected by Tampa on top of its existing maxed-out bed tax — is an “illegal tax.” State law prohibits a city or county from taxing hotel guests more than five or six cents on the dollar, depending on the county’s annual tourism figures. Attorneys from GrayRobinson, representing the city of Tampa, argued the case lacked merit, for the $1.50-per-night charge was a “fee” and not a “tax.” The state successfully argued that a per-night fee on hotel stays was a charge on an activity that varies over time, and therefore, a tax that was never authorized by the legislature.

The city of Tampa gets slapped down for overcharging its hotel bed tax, arguing that it’s a ‘fee.’

Jacksonville City Council to vote 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.

As Council fights over hiring lawyer, JEA spending millions on outside advisers” via Ellen Schneider of the Jacksonville Business Journal — As Jacksonville City Council plans to debate Tuesday night if it should hire outside counsel to help it evaluate the potential sale of JEA, the utility has already hired its own slate of outside advisers, agreeing to pay up to $1.3 million in fees to seven law firms and potentially tens of millions of more dollars to two investment banks. Two of the law firms were hired before the JEA board voted in July to authorize its staff to begin a yearlong exploration of privatization methods. The slate of outside firms includes both J.P. Morgan & Co. and Morgan Stanley. Both banks would be paid $3 million each to write opinions on whatever transaction is contemplated.

Duval County School Board’s lawsuit against city revolves around question of consolidation” via Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — Officials with the Duval County School District and Duval Teachers United met in court for a hearing in their case against the City of Jacksonville. It’s one of two lawsuits against the city as a push in favor of the sales tax referendum. The other features Duval Schools parents and grandparents as plaintiffs. Though the two-hour meeting didn’t draw any finite conclusions, the hearing focused primarily on one question: Is the Duval County school board part of Jacksonville’s consolidated government under the charter? “Right now it’s just looking at does the school board have the authority to hire legal counsel,” School Board Chairwoman Lori Hershey said.

At Jackson, an algorithm helps providers manage care for Miami’s most vulnerable” via Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — At Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, patients using the emergency department when they actually need preventive care costs the public health system millions of dollars every year. But about two years ago, the administration decided to do something about it. In 2017, the Jackson Health System started a temporary program — initially for 120 days — in an effort to better manage the medical conditions that brought people in and out of the main hospital’s emergency department like a revolving door. What the staff running the program quickly learned was that the patients had other issues in their lives. By addressing those roadblocks and getting patients into preventive care, Jackson could save taxpayer money — potentially, a lot of it.

Mysterious email attacking Parrish triggers accusations of identity theft, defamation” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — An email with a headline-grabbing subject line — “Media Alert: Health Care Fraud in Brevard County” — began appearing in inboxes from Titusville to Palm Bay on Aug. 27. The email purported to be from Dr. Craig Deligdish, president of OMNI Healthcare, a physician who has a tangled and litigious history with Health First. But the target of this email wasn’t Brevard’s health care giant; it was its smaller competitor, Parrish Medical Center, with whom OMNI has a relationship. Deligdish’s lawyers say he never wrote the email. The contained a PDF on the letterhead of a company that investigates medical fraud. It accused Parrish executives of using their positions on the North Brevard Economic Zone for their own personal financial benefit.

“City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow says he’s lost all confidence in City Manager Reese Goad” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Matlow blasted Goad, saying he has “been complicit in unethical actions” and created a “self-serving culture of fear and intimidation” that contributed to “the bribery crisis” involving former Commissioner Scott Maddox. In an excoriating performance review of Goad — which Matlow posted on Twitter in the “spirit of transparency” — the commissioner said he had lost all confidence in the top city official. He gave Goad, who serves at the pleasure of the five commissioners, an evaluation score of 1.4 out of 5. “Our city demands that we move Tallahassee forward,” Matlow wrote. “To do that, we need a clean slate of those unconnected to the bribery crisis.”


J.T. Burnette asks judge to drop public corruption charges, says FBI agent ‘fabricated’ story” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Attorneys for John “J.T.” Burnette, one of Scott Maddox‘s co-defendants in Tallahassee’s public corruption investigation, asked a judge to drop all charges against him, accusing a former FBI agent of making false statements about alleged bribes to the former city commissioner.

FDLE charges Walton County Schools consultant with bid tampering — Agents arrested John Bradley Hoard, 49, on a charge of bid tampering, the agency said. They began their case at the request of the Department of Education and Walton County Schools Superintendent Russell Hughes. Hoard was the board’s insurance consultant and also managing partner of an insurance company that submitted a bid for the district’s telemedicine services insurance contract. Investigators believe Hoard used his position as consultant to learn about telemedicine services’ competing bids and then changed his company’s bid after the bidding deadline. Hoard’s bid won the contract, allowing him to profit by receiving a commission from every employee who requested telemedicine services, around $1,000 a month.

Chair of Pinellas’ Housing Finance Authority failed to disclose felony arrest” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — Following a yearlong investigation, the inspector general said Casey Cane, who has served on the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority board since 2014, falsified an engineer certification while his construction company was doing a remodeling job. Cane also was “not forthcoming” about his 2006 arrest on a felony scheme to defraud charge in his late teens. While a judge withheld adjudication in the case, Casey failed to disclose the charge when asked if he had ever been arrested in his initial application to join the board in 2014.

Pinellas’ Housing Finance Authority Chair Casey Cane failed to disclose a 2006 felony arrest.

Universal theme park visitor suing over ‘deceptive’ unlimited soda deal” via Fox News 35 — Luis Arnaud has filed a class-action lawsuit against NBCUniversal over what he feels is a “deceptive” business practice regarding Universal Orlando’s offer of unlimited soda refills from the parks’ Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Arnaud claims he was denied his “unlimited” sodas, alleging that he purchased a refillable Coca-Cola Freestyle cup for $16.99 under the understanding that he would be entitled to “unlimited” refills. He also reactivated the deal for the following day. The special cups are fitted with microchips to prevent usage on multiple days. However, Arnaud claims he was denied a second refill after “quenching his thirst,” and was told he would have to wait 10 minutes between each refill.


Sunnier days are ahead for Florida’s lawsuit climate” via Mark Wilson and Harold Kim for the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis’ three appointments to the Florida Supreme Court have transformed the high court, and an empowered state Legislature is more willing to take on billboard trial lawyers. This groundwork will yield improvements over the next few years. The state’s lawsuit climate costs Floridians, too. A study released last fall by ILR found that every Florida household’s share of its tort system was $4,442 in 2016. That’s $1,100 a year more than the national average. There is optimism for turning around Florida’s broken lawsuit system, but more work must be done. We must tackle issues like municipality litigation and “truth in damages.”

The battle over water and public health returns to Tallahassee” via Howard Simon and John Cassani of the Tampa Bay Times — After the last prolonged outbreak of Red Tide and blue-green algae it seemed every politician vowed to “do something.” But, shockingly, the Legislature failed to enact any legislation addressing the sources of nutrient pollution that fuel toxic algae blooms: agribusiness’ use of sewage sludge (biosolids) that seeps into the groundwater and water table, aging wastewater treatment plants that need upgrading, stormwater runoff and leaky septic tanks. The Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force has prepared initial recommendations for the Legislature in 2020, which will make it harder for lawmakers to evade their responsibility. The task force report sets the inescapable factual context: “increased delivery of nutrients to Florida’s water bodies is widely recognized as the primary driver of algal proliferation …”

Vaccinations protect health of community” via the Gainesville Sun editorial board — Given the large number of travelers visiting our state, preventing the spread of infectious diseases is especially important here. Florida has already seen its share of disease outbreaks over the past few years, including a rising number of hepatitis A cases that led state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that can damage the liver and cause death, but it is preventable through vaccination. Failing to vaccinate children who are “super-spreaders” of such illnesses as the flu puts other community members at risk. Protect yourself and others by getting the flu immunization each year, and any other vaccinations recommended for adults and children.


Personnel note: Alexis Bakofsky named chief spokesperson for OIR” via Florida Politics — Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier announced Bakofsky’s appointment as Communications Director for the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). Bakofsky’s appointment is effective Monday. “Alexis brings a wealth of experience to the communications team and we look forward to working with her to enhance OIR’s communications efforts,” Altmaier said in a statement.

— ALOE —

This is such a great read — 1619 project: African exploration of Florida long predates slaves’ arrival” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Estevanico — the first African to explore America — landed in La Florida in 1528. That’s 91 years BEFORE 1619, the year being commemorated around the nation as the first slaves’ arrival in Virginia. That’s 36 years after Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America and 36 years before the birth of William Shakespeare. Estevanico, a nickname for Esteban de Dorantes, was a native Moroccan whose adventures took him all the way to the American Southwest and Mexico. He will be just one of the figures discussed at an open symposium titled “The African Presence in America Before 1619: A Symposium for a New Narrative” at Bethune-Cookman University. It begins at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday.

What Paul Bradshaw is reading — Take a tour of sleek home built from 8 used shipping containers” for Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For over a year, South Florida architect Asghar Fathi has been slowly building this three-story shipping container home in Davie that he and his family soon plan to move into. Installing cabinets and appliances, he’s just adding the finishing touches to the project, which he began to show people that you can build a sustainable and economical house in the region. “It’s a simple, straightforward modern building,” said Fathi as he proudly gave a tour of the home in Davie, which dwarfs the quaint one-story bungalows on the block. “And it’s strong and durable, termite-proof, hurricane-proof.”

Box office: ‘Joker’ to become top-grossing R-rated pic of all time” for Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter — Deadpool, the groundbreaking 2016 superhero pic starring Ryan Reynolds, is the current record holder with $783 million in worldwide ticket sales. Through Sunday, Joker’s global total stands at $737.5 million after three weekends in release. Joker’s domestic haul over the Oct. 18-20 frame was $29.2 million for a North American total of $247.2 million. Overseas, the pic raked in another $77.9 million for a running tally of $490.3 million — the fourth-best international showing of all time for a DC title. Joker is expected ultimately to take in close to $900 million globally; some even think it has a shot at approaching $1 billion.

The Crown season three trailer — Queen and country in crisis” via Hannah Davies of The Guardian — Netflix has released a trailer for the upcoming third season of the hit royal drama The Crown, with Oscar-winner Olivia Colman taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Claire Foy. The series — created by Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan — progresses from 1964 into 1976. The first episode airs on 17 November, with Helena Bonham-Carter also joining the cast as Princess Margaret and Gillian Anderson set to portray Margaret Thatcher. The two-minute preview shows historic events, including the Aberfan disaster of 1966 unfold, while tensions rise within the Windsor family itself as the Queen approaches her Silver Jubilee.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:


Celebrating today is my friend, the brilliant Tony Carvajal, as well as former Sen. Nancy Detert, former Rep. Jim Boyd, great man Watson Haynes and Jonathan Uriarte, communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy


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

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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