Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.7.19

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Wake up right: Get your scoops and other news about Florida politics.

Florida is key to President Donald Trump‘s 2020 reelection. But he won’t get much help from Hispanic voters, according to a new poll conducted by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative at Florida Atlantic University.

The survey of 600 Hispanic voters shows Trump is underwater, with 48 percent disapproving of his job performance compared to 31 percent who approve.

No bueno: A new poll puts Donald Trump underwater with Hispanic voters in Florida; his numbers are even worse among Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans.

The split was even more significant among Puerto Rican and Mexican-American voters, though the Cuban voting bloc is maintaining its traditionally Republican-leaning — Trump has a plus-19 approval among those voters.

Additionally, about a quarter of Hispanic Republicans are entertaining the idea of voting against Trump in the GOP primary.

As far as who Hispanic voters favor to go up against the incumbent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a slight advantage with 27 percent of the vote, followed by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at 21 percent and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 20 percent.

On the party level results, FAU warned that it’s “important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced.”

Still, there aren’t any bright spots for Trump in hypothetical head-to-heads against the top-3 Democratic hopefuls. Biden fared best, with a nearly 2-to-1 lead over Trump, though Warren wasn’t far behind, defeating Trump 65-35 percent, while Sanders beat out the president 62.1 to 37.9 percent.


Selling JEA to a private utility company is unpopular. As in less popular than taxes.

A new poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab found 60 percent of Duval County voters are against selling the publicly owned utility — be it the electric, water or sewer components of the operation.

Those results come a day after UNF found the vast majority of registered Duval County voters would vote for a half-cent sales tax for school capital improvements.

UNF also asked voters about their feelings on JEA and found about three-quarters of those polled believe keeping the utility in public hands would benefit the City of Jacksonville. Just 16 percent think otherwise.

The poll doesn’t bode well for the proposed sale. Even though JEA is courting bids from the private sector, voters will have the final say.

“There is a strong base of opposition to the sale of JEA among voters of all parties here in Jacksonville,” PORL director Michael Binder said. “However, without a concrete proposal in place, it is difficult to infer how opinion might change when a proposal is finally put forward.”

On that front, 39 percent want to cast a ballot ASAP, while 55 percent say the sale question should appear on the November 2020 ballot.


FITCon starts today.

The third edition of the Florida Internet & Television’s annual conference will bring policymakers and industry leaders to Orlando to discuss all things telecommunications, from wired smart cities to the cutting edge of wireless technology.

The two-day event will feature discussions with two of the most tech-savvy members of the Legislature, Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jason Fischer.

Jeff Brandes, one of the more tech-savvy legislators in Florida, will among the featured speakers at the two-day 2019 FITCon, which begins today.

Also on tap to attend are Rep. Jackie Toledo, Enterprise Florida CEO Jamal Sowell, as well as former DOT head and current Florida Transportation Builders Association President Ananth Prasad.

The day one agenda focuses on the now — it kicks off at noon with a panel on the state’s connected economy, followed by a discussion on the evolution of political messaging in the digital age.

Friday is all about the future. The morning’s opening panel will delve into the future of connected cities — think road sensors for autonomous vehicles and even smart trash cans.

That will be followed by a discussion on keeping people connected when natural disasters strike, a major policy issue during the past several Legislative Sessions.


“He Said, She Said” celebrates ‘100 Days of Schorsch’ — On a new episode of “He Said, She Said,” Michelle and I preview the holiday season — known in our household as “100 Days of Schorsch.”

But even as the holidays quickly approach, #FlaPol still keeps coming! Before we dig into the meat of the episode — pop culture — we do a quick run-through of election talk, both Florida-based and national.

Michelle and I discuss the Florida Democratic Party and the controversy surrounding state GOP chair Joe Gruters. We also touch upon the Democratic presidential primary, the Iowa Caucus and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Plus, we take a look at some of the races taking shape, such as Florida’s 19th Congressional District: Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen, Bob Rommel are each in the mix.

After politics, Michelle and I turn to what’s happening in culture, as we breakdown the new Apple TV+ streaming service — and try to figure out the “skip intro” feature — as well as the hot new shows on Amazon Prime and HBO. We recap Ella‘s school auction, why it’s a priority to get the coveted parking spot every year, and Michelle’s distinctive look for the event.

Now that Halloween is over, we all know what that means: Time for holiday music, which is currently playing throughout the Schorsch household.

And don’t forget about the big week in college football, as I discuss Florida State’s football problems and the firing of head coach Willie Taggart, which I suggest could have a racial component. It’s also why I make FSU both winner and loser of the week.

Please listen and subscribe to “He Said, She Said,” available now @ iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.


Florida’s Supreme Court is taking up an issue with substantial political implications — do former felons have to pay all their fines and make restitution before having their voting rights restored?

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Two Central Florida lawmakers are filing bills to protect roofers, farmworkers, landscapers and others who work outdoors from heat-related illnesses. The bills include providing cool water, shade and regular breaks.

— State Rep. Eagle has become the first Republican to officially announce he’s running Florida’s 19th Congressional District, currently held by Frances Rooney, who plans to retire from Congress. Part of the reason, Eagle says, is to defend Trump.

— Speaking of Trump, a new poll from Florida Atlantic University shows the President is in trouble with Hispanic voters in the Sunshine State. Sunrise’s in-house polling expert Steve Vancore stops by to parse the numbers.

— And the continuing adventures of Florida Man — or men, as the case may be — who stole Bigfoot.

To listen, click on the image below:


@CallTallahassee: Florida former Attorney General Pam Bondi career becomes more lucrative. She signed a million-dollar a year consulting agreement with Qatar and is expected to get to work on the impeachment battle of the century.

@fineout: Key line: “Bondi wasn’t planning to take the job with the White House, but the president personally asked her, said an adviser to the president who spoke anonymously without authorization from the White House.”

@GovRonDeSantis: AliFrazier. Yankees-Red Sox. Florida-Florida State. All battles of the titans, and today we have another: @PopeyesChicken vs. @ChickfilA. While I may someday render judgment on the superior sandwich, I’d like to know which one you prefer?

@steveschale: Whispers: It’s Popeyes. (runs for the hills)

Tweet, tweet:

@FLSecofState: The Division of Elections is testing an upgraded voting system to ensure ballots are counted correctly to #Protect2020 elections. DOS certifies all voting machines across Florida to ensure accuracy, and @LeonVotes graciously allowed us to use their facilities to conduct this test.

@Colleen_Wright: It’s back: A bill exempting meetings & candidates for college/university president jobs from public record has been filed by @SenMannyDiazJr. Interesting to see how this could play out with @MDCollege. That board has said the sunshine law impeded its search for a new president.

Tweet, tweet:

@JamesGrantFL: Hearing that the cries for restored discipline in the FSU program have resonated with decision-makers. A name I’m told has been pulled out of left field and added to the shortlist is Bud Kilmer. A winner & a controversial one at that. But his focus on discipline is undeniable.


“The Mandalorian” premieres — 5; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 10; Fifth Democratic debate — 13; “Frozen 2” debuts — 15; Next government shutdown (maybe) — 15; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 25; UK votes on Brexit — 35; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 43; College Football National Championship — 67; 2020 Session begins — 68; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 69; New Brexit deadline — 85; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 87; Great American Realtors Day — 88; Iowa Caucuses — 88; New Hampshire Primaries — 96; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 126; Florida’s presidential primary — 132; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 181; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 258; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 292; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 335; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 343; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 350; 2020 General Election — 362.


Florida high court hears arguments on felon voting rights” via The Associated Press — The Florida Supreme Court began considering Wednesday whether a voter-approved constitutional amendment restoring the voting rights of felons who complete their sentences means they also have to pay court-ordered fines, fees and restitution. Justice Ricky Polston pointed out that the court isn’t ruling on the constitutionality of the law, but rather the definition of what a sentence includes. “Whether the whole thing goes, or whether pieces of it stay, all those things would yet to be sorted out down the road, but it’s not before us right now,” he said. Whether the legal questions are settled before Florida votes in the presidential election remains to be seen.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston says the Court is not debating the constitutionality of Amendment 4 but is trying to clarify what a ‘sentence’ includes.


Judge backs ‘Best and Brightest’ settlement” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a 22-page order that said the $15.5 million “settlement fund is a fair and reasonable recovery considering all the facts and circumstances” in the case. He will hold what is known as a “fairness” hearing in March, after which he could give final approval to the settlement. The state Department of Education and the Florida Education Association asked Hinkle to give preliminary approval in September, after two years of legal wrangling about whether the Best and Brightest program discriminated against black, Hispanic and older teachers. The lawsuit has focused on a decision by state lawmakers to partly base Best and Brightest bonuses on teachers’ scores on SAT and ACT college-admission exams.

State expects to dole out all Hurricane Michael Recovery Grants by year’s end” via Florida Politics — State emergency management officials expect to dole out the entirety of the $25 million Hurricane Michael Recovery Grant Program by the end of the year, expediting rebuilding efforts in the Panhandle. The program was created last Session to advance local governments’ recovery projects. The bill for eligible projects totaled $80 million, of which the state’s Division of Emergency Management (DEM) will select the most beneficial to receive grants. Recovery funding is routinely not approved until July of the year following the need’s identification. However, Hurricane Michael, struck close enough to this year’s Legislative Session that DEM officials did not know the extent of relief and recovery requests, possibly push that process to 2020.

State officials say Florida will be handing out the entirety of the $25 million Hurricane Michael Recovery Grant Program by the end of 2019.


Tampa General Hospital marks 10,000 transplants with Capitol ceremony” via Florida Politics — Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson joined dozens of Tampa General Hospital patients and their family members in the Capitol courtyard to mark a milestone of 10,000 transplants performed at the hospital. The press conference was part of Tampa General Hospital Day at the Capitol, held by hospital CEO Mark Couris. The hospital celebrated its landmark transplant event, which places Tampa General Hospital among the top transplant centers in the country.

Tampa General Hospital Day at the Capitol
Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson joined dozens of Tampa General Hospital patients and family members to mark a milestone of 10,000 transplants performed at the hospital. Image via Jim Rosica/Florida Politics.

Bill cracking down on ‘stolen valor’ incidents gets initial OK” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that would amend a law making it illegal to misrepresent oneself as a member of the military. Reps. Bryan Avila and Anthony Sabatini are co-sponsoring the bill (HB 205). Florida law already makes it illegal for a person to either misrepresent himself or herself as a member of the military or wear “the uniform of or any medal or insignia authorized for use by members or veterans.” The bill would make those actions illegal by clarifying the line about a “material gain,” ensuring it applies to those running for political office or applying for a job.

The slippery slope of more public records loopholes in Florida” via Steve Bousquet of the Sun Sentinel — Here we go again. The 2020 session of the Legislature hasn’t even begun and lawmakers are almost tripping over each other as they try to create new and questionable loopholes in Florida’s public records laws.

Anna Eskamani, Michael Grieco push bill allowing local bans of single-use plastics” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democrats Eskamani and Grieco are once again pushing a bill (HB 6043) that would allow local municipalities to ban single-use plastics such as plastic bags. Florida law currently blocks local governments from acting on the issue. “[N]o local government, local governmental agency, or state government agency may enact any rule, regulation, or ordinance regarding use, disposition, sale, prohibition, restriction, or tax of such auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags,” the current law reads. Eskamani and Grieco attempted to change that with a bill last Session, which would strike that portion of the statute. Now, the duo is back with another attempt ahead of the 2020 Session.

Sunscreen proposal starts moving in House” via the News Service of Florida — A House panel approved a proposal that would prevent local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens and cosmetics, despite pushback from Democrats who contended the measure is a “knee-jerk” effort by lawmakers to limit local control. Rep. Spencer Roach, who is sponsoring the bill (HB 113), said it would prevent Key West from enforcing a ban on sunscreens that contain chemicals believed to be harmful to coral reefs. Key West is the only city in Florida that has voted for a ban on sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which studies have found can contribute to coral bleaching.

The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meets, 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building. On the agenda: Presentations on guardianship by the Department of Elder Affairs and the Clerks’ Statewide Investigations Alliance.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building. On the agenda: Presentations on Everglades restoration and protection of water resources by the Department of Environment Protection, and Medical Marijuana Initiatives by Florida A&M University.


Italian seafood soup; mixed garden salad with dressings; Caprese salad; fava bean salad; deli board, lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses & breads; chicken piccata; Italian sausage with braised onions and white wine; fish and chips with tartar sauce and malt vinegar; (½ pan) Brussels sprouts with bacon; (½ pan) zucchini, tomatoes and garlic; ground-Parmesan and spinach polenta; warm berry cobbler for dessert.


Inside this Florida politician’s mission to make CBD legit” via Matt Laslo of Vice News — Beware of the many CBD products being peddled as medicinal cure-alls. While many claim natural healing benefits, they may actually be packed with chemicals, toxins, metals, and other things you’d never expect to see sold over the counter in the U.S. — even large amounts of THC, which can cause you to, say, fail a drug test. That dire warning comes from Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In a state where agriculture is king, that makes her one of the most powerful women in government. And she’s serious when she pleads with people to drop the CBD — for now, anyway — as she and other state officials attempt to do what the Trump administration won’t.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is making it her mission to make CBD legitimate in Florida.

Keeping Florida’s pension fund financially healthy won’t be cheap” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — Key retirement officials recently agreed on a recommendation to reduce the pension fund’s “assumed rate of return” from 7.4 percent to 7.2 percent. The change may look small, but it’s significant, potentially impacting state and local government coffers by the millions. The current 7.4 percent assumed return, independent financial analysts say, is too high. A recent report said a 6.59 percent assumed rate is a more “reasonable estimate of likely portfolio returns over the next 15 years.” If the rate is unrealistic, it may mean the pension fund, in the long term, could come up short when paying benefits to retired teachers, county workers, state workers, university personnel, and other public workers who rely on the state pension system.

Poll from anti-preemption group shows Floridians support local control” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey from the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC) finds a majority of registered voters support local governments being given the flexibility to pass local ordinances that go beyond protections under state law. The poll asked whether respondents agree that local officials “should generally be able to pass local laws to protect public health, the environment, and quality jobs when a community believes that statewide laws aren’t enough.” A whopping 81 percent agreed, while 13 percent disagreed. Respondents were also asked whether “[l]ocal governments are better connected to the community than state government and should be allowed to pass policies that reflect their community’s needs and values.” A similar number — 80 percent — agreed, while 14 percent disagreed.

How that DNA test you took for fun could be used by law enforcement” via Kashmir Hill and Heather Murphy of The New York Times — For police officers around the country, the genetic profiles that 20 million people have uploaded to consumer DNA sites represent a tantalizing resource that could be used to solve cases both new and cold. But for years, the vast majority of the data have been off-limits to investigators. Last week, however, a Florida detective announced at a police convention that he had obtained a warrant to penetrate GEDmatch and search its full database of nearly one million users. Legal experts said that this appeared to be the first time a judge had approved such a warrant and that the development could have profound implications for genetic privacy.


Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani hires his own lawyers, as investigations mount” via Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post — Giuliani announced the hires on Twitter, indicating that he will be represented by New York lawyers Robert Costello, Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal. The hires marked a shift for the former New York mayor, who had until recently insisted he did not need a defense lawyer, even as scrutiny of his interactions with the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, has mounted. Parnas and Fruman connected Giuliani to current and former Ukrainian officials as Giuliani sought damaging information about Democrats in Ukraine. That project is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into Trump after the President pressed Ukraine’s president to work with Giuliani and launch investigations involving the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rudy Giuliani lawyers up.

Pam Bondi to join White House impeachment response team” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Bondi, who has worked for lobbyist Brian Ballard since leaving the Attorney General’s office earlier this year, will join the White House communications staff “temporarily” in order to help with messaging during the ongoing impeachment inquiry. They will also work on “special projects.” Former U.S. Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh will also join Bondi in the communications office. Her expected hire is “both an acknowledgment Trump needs help coordinating a response to the House probe, & a compromise between competing factions in the White House where rivalries opened during a two-week-long process deliberation over which adviser to bring inside,” Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender reported on Twitter.

Fox News brass to network hosts and personalities: Do not identify the whistleblower” via Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter of CNN — Several hosts and commentators on the network who have been supportive of Trump seem to want to name the person they believe to be the whistleblower, but Fox’s guidelines have said not to do so. Right-wing media hyped a report from a website last week, which claimed it had likely identified the possible whistleblower. Fox is perhaps the only major component of the right-wing media machine that has, thus far, refrained from naming the person identified by that story. No mainstream news organization has identified the whistleblower.

Prosecutors in Roger Stone trial will call Steve Bannon to testify” via Clair Hymes, Amber Ali and Jeff Pegues of CBS News — Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said the government plans to call several high-profile witnesses over the course of the trial, including former Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon, deputy chairman Rick Gates and radio personality Randy Credico. Bannon is among the senior campaign officials who communicated with Stone about the hacked Democratic emails, prosecutors said. According to Zelinsky, Stone emailed Bannon that he knew how to win the 2016 election, but it “ain’t pretty.” The first witness called to testify was Michelle Taylor, an FBI agent who worked on the case. After WikiLeaks released the trove of documents on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Taylor said a Trump official messaged Stone to say, “Well done.”


Trump attorneys file notice of porn actress settlement” via The Associated Press — Attorneys for President Trump have notified the court overseeing a settlement between Ohio’s capital city and porn actress Stormy Daniels of money owed to him by Daniels. A federal judge last year said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, must pay Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys’ fees and another $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed. Earlier this year, the city of Columbus reached a $450,000 settlement with Daniels over the porn actress’ arrest at a strip club in 2018.

Donald Trump is looking for a piece of Stormy Daniels’ $450,000 settlement with the city of Columbus over her arrest in 2018.

Judge strikes down new Trump rule on religious objections” via Larry Neumeister of The Associated Press — A federal judge on Wednesday struck down a new Trump administration rule that could open the way for more health care workers to refuse to participate in abortions or other procedures on moral or religious grounds. U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department overstepped its authority and went beyond existing law in issuing the rule. He also said that the measure could be costly, burdensome, and damaging to emergency care and that the whole rationale for the rule was based on a lie. He said the department’s claim that there was a significant increase in complaints about workers being forced to violate their conscience was “flatly untrue.” The HHS rule, he said, is a classic “solution in search of a problem.”

Former Twitter employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of kingdom critics” via Ellen Nakashima and Greg Bensinger of The Washington Post — The Justice Department has charged two former Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia by accessing the company’s information on dissidents who use the platform, marking the first time federal prosecutors have publicly accused the kingdom of running agents in the United States. One of those implicated in the scheme, according to court papers, is an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who the CIA has concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year. The charges came a day after the arrest of one of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who is alleged to have spied on the accounts of three users on behalf of the government in Riyadh.

Marco Rubio’s ‘common-good capitalism’ garners mixed reactions from Catholics” by Religion News Service’s Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service — Rubio’s speech on faith and economics is triggering mixed reactions from his fellow Catholic faithful, with some praising his remarks and others arguing that he ignores elements of Catholic social teaching and that his rhetoric doesn’t match past policy positions.

Bill to make animal cruelty a federal felony heading to President Trump” via Matthew Daly of the Associated Press — Congress has passed a bill making certain types of animal cruelty a federal felony. The bill would expand a 2010 law that made creation or distribution of so-called ‘animal crushing’ videos illegal. The new bill would make the underlying acts of cruelty a federal crime. The Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act on Tuesday, two weeks after the House passed it on a voice vote. Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan sponsored the bill. Deutch, a Democrat, said it ‘sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals’ and noted that the bill was received overwhelming support from both parties.

— 2020 —

Florida’s presidential primary is close, but will it matter?” via David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida will mail out early ballots starting Feb. 6, a quarter-million more Democrats are receiving mail ballots than in the 2016 presidential preference election — and a reminder that Florida’s March 17 primary really begins about six weeks earlier. Unable to divert attention or cash from states where the primary comes earlier, more than a dozen candidates will likely rely on staffers and surrogates to carry their messages in Florida until the primary. Democrats in Florida will cast their ballots in what is shaping up to be a primary by proxy — with voting in the nation’s most populous swing state based on mostly news coverage from other states and what they can glean from the candidates’ bare-bones campaigns in Florida.

Joe Biden’s sister isn’t running the campaign this time — and it’s ‘damn f you MAC Sweeney rustrating’” via Henry Gomez of BuzzFeed News — Wherever Valerie Biden Owens goes, as she tries one last time to make Biden President, a local Democrat reads dutifully from her bio. So impressed was Biden Owens’ host at an event last month, she read word for word it as it appears online — sparing no detail. The family — the Bidens — always ran Joe’s campaigns, from fundraising to organizing. If you listen to the candidate or talk to the people around the family or read the stories about them over his many decades in politics, you’ll learn about pivotal meetings at the Biden family home, and the decisions his brothers, his sons, and his sister helped him make. There’s been no one more essential to Joe’s career than Val.

Valerie Biden Owens, sister of Joe Biden, greets people at the Aiken County Democratic Party headquarters in South Carolina.

I sold political ads for Google. Banning them won’t work.” via Jeffrey Webb for The Atlantic — Late last week, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey went to the opposite extreme by announcing a ban on all political ads — and won widespread praise for it. But there is a conceptual confusion at the core of Dorsey’s decision: What, exactly, is a political ad? If a newspaper promotes an op-ed by a columnist arguing that Trump is unfit for office, is that a political ad? If an eco-friendly brand such as Patagonia runs an awareness campaign about conserving the environment and fighting climate change, is that a political ad? There is simply no reasonable way to enforce a ban like this consistently and objectively.


First in Sunburn — “Alex Penelas touts massive $850K October haul in first month since joining Mami-Dade mayoral race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — That number, accrued in his first month since officially filing as a candidate, is far and away the highest monthly fundraising total of any of the eight candidates declared so far. “People are hungry for action and bold ideas, and they have shown it once again with their support. People are tired of politicians talking a good game, but not delivering results on issues like transportation, affordability, social inequities and the threats of climate change,” Penelas said in a statement. Penelas had been collecting money through his political committee, Bold Vision, prior to formally entering the race, often outpacing most other candidates. Since April, he’s now pulled in $2.4 million.

Political outsider becomes sixth GOP candidate hoping to topple Charlie Crist” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sharon Barry Newby is a self-proclaimed political outsider running on far-right conservative views. She lists her support for the Second Amendment as a women’s issue, opposes reparations and wants to eliminate the “slush fund” for congressional sexual harassment cases. Her top priorities include maintaining a strong economy, eliminating fraud and government waste, reducing social security taxes, and restoring civility to politics. Newby lists herself as a Clearwater business owner for 42 years with seven years’ experience as an educator. She also touts her membership in the National Rifle Association.

Pro-NRA conservative Sharon Barry Newby is the sixth Republican to join the race against Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Dane Eagle announces he will run for Francis Rooney’s congressional seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Eagle is running for Florida’s 19th Congressional District. “We deserve a Congressman who will represent us and our values, someone who will stand up and fight for our Constitution and for the good work our President is accomplishing.” Eagle is the first Republican candidate to announce since Rooney said he would not seek reelection. While Eagle said he respects Rooney and did not plan to challenge him in a primary, he quickly sought to establish himself as an ally of Trump: “Our values, our way of life, and our President are under attack,” Eagle said.

Miami Beach Commission race comes down to literally one vote” via Manuel Madrid of the Miami New Times — Former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez will head to a mandatory runoff election since neither she nor any of the other candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote. However, her runoff opponent has yet to be decided. After a final tally last night, Michael Barrineau found himself in second place — one single vote ahead of the next runner-up, Steven Meiner. The final tallies were Rosen Gonzalez with 3,700 votes, Barrineau with 2,316, Meiner with 2,315, and Rafael A. Velazquez trailing with 1,374. Because the difference between the vote counts of Meiner and Barrineau was below one-quarter of a percent, election law mandates a manual recount of all votes, where overvotes and undervotes will be identified.

Former Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is in the runoff to get her old job back; it’s who she’s running against that’s still up in the air. Image via Miami Herald.


Clearwater to state lawmakers: Stop raiding the affordable housing trust funds” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The city’s legislative priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session includes a drafted document laying out the city’s stances says the state should fully fund the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds and make sure the money in them goes exclusively to housing. Chuck Lane, the city’s assistant director for economic development, said the Tampa Bay area’s third-largest city had been hit particularly hard by the affordable housing crunch that afflicts cities all over the state. Clearwater is a tourism town, and tourism is an industry staffed mainly by the working class. Those people need affordable places to live, and they’re having difficulty finding them in the city, Lane said.

Jacksonville Port Authority receives $20 million grant” via Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Port Authority is the recipient of a $20 million grant for infrastructure improvements to include reconstructing about 100 acres of pavement at the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal on Blount Island to allow the port to accommodate large container vessels better. Other improvements to the terminal include storm drainage, enhanced lighting, signage and utilities, JAXPORT said. The project is expected to create an additional 15,000 jobs, according to U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, former Jacksonville sheriff and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development that funds transportation infrastructure projects.

Hurricane Dorian hit hotel tax revenue in Orange County” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The 6 percent tax on short-term stays brought in about $17.8 million in September, 7.6 percent less than what was collected in the same month a year ago. “Thankfully, Orange County didn’t take a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said. “However, (the tourist development tax) took a direct hit from the hurricane when visitors canceled trips.” Hurricane Dorian veered, missing Florida. However, theme parks, the Orlando International Airport, and other tourist destinations were affected, and the waiting game to see where it would hit. Social media showed light crowds at the theme parks, an indication that travelers were changing plans instead of vacationing in Florida amid the possibility of dangerous weather.

Pinellas sheriff sues maker of rifles that suddenly turn into ‘machine guns’” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri sued a Tampa Bay area gun manufacturer, another step in what has become a fraught relationship between the sheriff and the company. The lawsuit, filed Monday, spells out in painstaking detail the problems that the Sheriff’s Office has experienced with more than 300 AR-15s bought from Odessa-based Adams Arms. The agency started buying from the gun maker in July 2014. The first defect, which the lawsuit says caused the semi-automatic gun to turn fully automatic “like a machine gun” arose in August 2016. The sheriff previously said he’s seeking a refund for all 309 Adams Arms rifles in the agency’s possession, which amounts to about $301,123.


Judge strikes down 2 Sarasota County charter amendments” via Timothy Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A 12th Judicial Circuit judge has ruled that two Sarasota County charter amendments approved by voters last year, including one that stopped the county from selling parkland to Mote Marine Laboratory for its planned multi-million dollar aquarium near Interstate 75, are invalid and cannot be enforced. The charter amendments “are hopelessly inconsistent with Florida Law; they both cannot survive,” Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll wrote in his opinion. “Florida’s Constitution directs in this situation that Florida law is supreme, and the Charter provision must yield.” Carroll concluded that voters do not have the power to adopt, amend or repeal ordinances. Instead, these powers remain with the County Commission under the charter.

Feds to St. Petersburg: give back our $2.2 million” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — The Department of Housing and Urban Development gave that money to the city 12 years ago to buy land on which St. Petersburg officials promised to create permanent industrial jobs. The federal government has granted the city numerous extensions, yet the property remains undeveloped, and those jobs were never produced. Federal officials say they’re done waiting. Last month, they denied the city’s latest request for an extension. “HUD has patiently provided numerous extensions,” housing department spokesperson Jereon Brown said in an email. “In fact, we’ve provided extensions to the extensions. Despite the extensions, and over one decade, the city did not use the funding to provide a significant public benefit through the creation of jobs.

Proposed DCF changes could divert millions from South Florida or send kids here for care” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade and Monroe counties could lose about $11.5 million in funding for their child welfare system in the next few years, under changes that are being weighed by the state Department of Children and Families. But a potential plan to keep the existing funding in place could involve sending some of the state’s most troubled children from other regions to a facility in South Florida for more involved care, DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said, without additional funds to support them. Those children could include some in the child welfare system in Hillsborough County, where the local lead agency has struggled to place teenagers who are resisting placements or therapy.

An elected official’s company was ranked last for a contract. Here’s how he won anyway” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — When a committee in North Miami was reviewing applications to manage the city’s employee health care benefits, all five members gave one applicant the lowest marks: Gelin Benefits Group, a small firm run by Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin. “They have limited staff so unsure if they have the capacity to accommodate our demand,” Karen Muir, the city’s risk management director, said. The rate the company proposed was also higher than that of two other applicants. But when the committee’s scores were released, Gelin Benefits Group ranked first out of four finalists. That’s because it got a 10-percent point boost through North Miami’s “local business preference” program, intended to give businesses with a presence in the city a leg up.

A company run by Tamarac Commissioner Mike Gelin was ranked last for a government contract to manage North Miami’s employee health care benefits. It won the contract anyway.

Anti-sex trafficking effort launched for Miami Super Bowl” via The Associated Press — Major events that draw tens of thousands of people such as the Super Bowl have become hubs for sex trafficking, which Miami officials said Wednesday that they are determined to snuff out for this season’s event. The Miami effort will include ads including a “creepy guy” poster bearing the words: “Buy Sex. Be Exposed.” That and other ads will appear on buses, in social media, on billboards, at mass transit stations, and in many other places. The plan includes a 24-hour phone number people can call or text to report suspicious behavior: 305-FIX-STOP. “Sex trafficking is a big deal,” Miami U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan said. “We have no problem going after the most difficult cases.”

Young Circle could become world’s only giant two-way traffic circle” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Picture Young Circle, one of the busiest and most confusing gateways in South Florida, going from seven traffic lights to zero by 2025. Under a plan that would cost up to $20 million to design and build, those seven stoplights would disappear and five roundabouts would take their place. An ambitious scheme never tried before; it would make Hollywood the only city in the world with a supersized two-way traffic circle. Vice Mayor Traci Callari called it a “darn good idea” on Wednesday. “It doesn’t work, what we have right now,” she said of accident-prone Young Circle. “There has to be a change. We have a problem. We have a problem, and we’re trying to fix it.”


Sean Shaw: Don’t let insurers put profits over patients” via Florida Politics — Big insurance companies have earned their reputation among patients and customers as profit-hungry corporations that would rather feed their bottom line instead of making sure patients who pay their premiums every month have access to essential care. Meanwhile, their networks get narrower, putting affordable care even farther out of reach. Now, Americans are learning about the insurance companies’ most underhanded tactic of all: surprise medical bills. These bills happen when patients in need of medical care are treated by a doctor outside of their insurance network, without their knowledge. Instead of covering necessary, essential, and even lifesaving care, insurers pass the bill along to the patient. Congress has taken up this issue, as it should.

The NRA doesn’t want Florida to vote on an assault weapon ban, so it’s going to the Supreme Court” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — They say the term “assault weapon” amounts to political rhetoric that doesn’t belong on the ballot or in the state constitution. Apparently, opponents of the amendment prefer to win the argument in court, not at the ballot box. The NRA is contending in written arguments to the state Supreme Court that the term assault weapon was “coined by anti-gun activists as a derogatory and pejorative term …” Someone tell that to, an online site that lists assault rifles for sale. Or the gun manufacturer Heckler & Koch, which once advertised “The HK 91 Semi-Automatic Assault Rifle …” Or Guns & Ammo magazine, whose July 1981 edition featured a story with the headline, “The New Breed of Assault Rifle.”

’Climate change’ finally enters Florida GOP lexicon. But we need action.” via the Palm Beach Post editorial board — Our state’s climate scientists and local governments have made it abundantly clear that taking substantive action must be a priority. And it must be a priority now. Yet it appears this is another issue on which the state’s Republican lawmakers continue to lag behind their constituents. According to a statewide survey released by Florida Atlantic University last week, more than two-thirds of Floridians say that climate change has them concerned about the well-being of future generations in Florida and do not feel government is doing enough to address the impacts. The new survey also shows that nearly half of Floridians (47 percent) are willing to pay $10 a month to make the state’s infrastructure more resilient against weather hazards.


Personnel note: Bruce Rudolph joins Converge Government Affairs’ NYC office” via Florida Politics — Rudolph, who has overseen over $1 billion in capital grants for New York City, has retired from government and joined Converge Government Affairs to support not-for-profit clients through the grant process. The hire coincides with the opening of Converge’s office in New York City. The office will focus on supporting clients in the area of grant funding. “Bruce’s experience in capital grants is second to none in New York City, and his expertise is exactly what we are looking to offer Converge clients,” said Jonathan Kilman, chairman of the Converge Government Affairs organizations.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Sebastian Aleksander, The Aleksander Group: Gamma Defense

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Solidaridad Sin Fronteras

Melanie Bostick, Jennifer Green, Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Lutheran Services Florida

French Brown, Jennifer Ungru, Dean Mead: Manatee County Board Of County Commissioners

Dean Cannon, Joseph Salzverg, Gray Robinson: The American Law Institute

Cole Ginther, McGuireWoods Consulting: Tactical Air Support

William Helmich, Helmich Consulting: House of Hope

Nick Iarossi, Dean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Blue Lake Realty

Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: Florida Food Truck Association

Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: DaVita

Larry Overton, Joel Overton, James Card, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Trinity Health PACE

Sydney Ridley, The Southern Group: Florida Prepaid College Foundation

Stephen Shiver, Jeffrey Woodburn, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Ryan Smith, McNicholas & Associates: Florida Family Fairness

Olivia White: Renew Financial Group

— ALOE —

Disney: New fireworks’ debut will be livestreamed” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The debut of Walt Disney World’s new nighttime spectacular, “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks,” will be livestreamed and available to folk not at Magic Kingdom theme park that night. The first showing will be Friday, Nov. 8. The livestreaming will begin at 9:55 p.m. and shown via the official Disney Parks Blog. The new show, a part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party after-hours event, will feature traditional music such as “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.” It will be accompanied by projections upon the park’s iconic Cinderella Castle.

Adorable photos show Florida SWAT members visiting boy, 6, hit by car on Halloween” via Tiffini Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida boy who was hit by a car as he trick-or-treated in his SWAT costume got a special surprise to help sweeten his Halloween 2019 memories. Real-life SWAT members visited the Pasco County 6-year-old and his twin brother and let them check out a SWAT specialty vehicle and a K9 truck. The boys also got to meet Sheriff Chris Nocco, the department said Wednesday in a Facebook post.

A Pasco County boy who was hit by a car on Halloween gets a surprise visit from the county SWAT team and was allowed to check out one of its specialty vehicles.


Jimbo Fisher reacts to Willie Taggart’s firing at FSU” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — There’s been a lot of reaction to Florida State firing coach Taggart on Sunday. One voice I hadn’t heard from: His predecessor, Fisher. So on today’s SEC teleconference, I asked the Texas A&M coach what his reaction was to the news: “Hate it for the program, himself and all the kids and everybody involved,” Fisher said. “Wish him nothing but the best.” Fisher said he still has a great fondness for the Seminoles. He led the program to the 2013 national title and five consecutive New Year’s Six/BCS bowl games.

Jimbo Fisher, Willie Taggart’s predecessor at FSU, wishes the newly fired coach ‘nothing but the best.’


Celebrating today are Jenn Meale Poggie, Bill Murphy of Bay News 9 and Richard Swarttz.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

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