Gov. Ron DeSantis is poised to roll out his budget Monday morning at the Capitol, setting off what will be months of debate and jockeying over the details.
DeSantis, though a Freedom Caucus conservative in Congress, was freer spending in his first budget than some might have expected. The $91.1 million budget that he signed in June was the biggest in state history, with the Governor taking advantage of a still-strong economy and robust reserves to move forward on some issues.
Environmental spending, to the tune of $682 million, was a big feature of the previous budget. VISIT FLORIDA took a haircut last session also, down to $50 million. The Job Growth Grant Fund, a holdover from the Rick Scott era, likewise stuck around, but at a $40 million price tag.
Expect this Session to see the Governor’s Office advancing proposals that may not have immediate traction in the House and the Senate.
Exhibit A: the proposed replacement for the controversial and much-maligned Best and the Brightest teacher bonus program.
The Governor envisions $600 million for new teacher pay, pushing minimum salaries up to $47,500. Bonuses would be doled out by a “tier” system that is already being panned by the Florida Education Association. Support from the House and Senate, leadership on down, is tepid at best, suggesting challenges ahead for the proposal.
Despite the Governor’s popularity in polls, the honeymoon could be over. Headed into an election year, expect the rhetoric to be increasingly pitched. The measured responses to his first budget will likely not be repeated Monday.
FloridaPolitics.com is offering comprehensive coverage of the budget all day Monday, with reaction and analysis from the Capitol and around the state.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
State Sen. Gary Farmer and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith talk about filing bills once again to ban assault rifles in Florida.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Gov.DeSantis is holding a news conference this morning for what his office calls “a major announcement” — what they say almost every time there’s a presser. But today, the Gov.’s office may be right — he’s unveiling the new state budget.
— Florida Supreme Court Justice Robert Luck gets his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s pick for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
— Speaking of the ultimate Florida Man — Trump will be holding a “homecoming” rally Thanksgiving week. The President recently changed his official residence to Mar-a-Lago.
— Florida’s unemployment rate is holding steady, but it has not changed much over the past year; the head of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says it’s all good.
— Attention Florida Man (and/or Woman): Sheriff’s deputies are looking for the person who left a bag of treats outside a Family Dollar store in the town of Citrus Springs. Inside the bag: A half-empty container of eggnog, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, $700 cash, 23 grams of methamphetamine, 15 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of fentanyl, 3 grams of marijuana — and a cellphone.
To listen, click on the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@PeteButtigeig: China is waging a shocking, merciless campaign to erase the religious and ethnic identity of millions. The United States has a responsibility to speak out. This president’s silence has a cost.
—@RichardEngel: Massive attacks underway against the Kurds in northern Syria. No ceasefire. Total nonsenses there is. US military officials tell me they are ashamed, “sickened.” It’s cold now outside. What about the families, and kids, out of their homes?
—@TheRickWilson: Luckily, the GOP can always count on a big Trump rally to push their candidate over the finish line … Oh. Wait.
—@JoeGruters: Great to have a former Statesman of the Year winner back, thank you @and thank you for the job you are doing in DC on our country’s behalf.
—@TroyKinsey: # time: @ to unveil his 2019-20 budget proposal Monday, portions of which already appear fanciful to some lawmakers. On the gov’s $10k minimum teacher pay raise plan, @ says his “initial thought is one of gratitude” for balanced budgets.
—@JimRosicaFL: The world as we know it is ending … @JessePanuccioFL is going to work for David Boies.
—@GBrulte: Big things are happening in #. Join us at the 2019 @ to learn why Florida is leading the country on autonomous vehicle policy and the public deployments of AVs.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Fifth Democratic debate — 2; “Frozen 2” debuts — 4; Next government shutdown (maybe) — 4; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 14; Florida Chamber’s Transportation, Growth and Infrastructure Summit — 17; UK votes on Brexit — 24; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 32; College Football National Championship — 56 2020 Session begins — 57; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 59; New Brexit deadline — 74; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 76; Great American Realtors Day — 77; Iowa Caucuses — 77; New Hampshire Primaries — 85; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 116; Florida’s presidential primary — 120; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 170; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 247; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 281; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 324; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 332; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 339; 2020 General Election — 351.
— TOP STORY —
“Donald Trump to hold ‘homecoming’ rally in his new home — Florida” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The event is Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. The “Keep American Great Again” rally is also being dubbed a homecoming rally now that Trump has officially declared Florida, not New York, his state of residence. “President Trump recently became an official resident of the great state of Florida and looks forward to a ‘Welcome Home!’ rally with his fellow Floridians,” said Michael Glassner, Chief Operating Officer for Trump’s campaign. “Florida is thriving under President Trump, and this homecoming rally will be one of our best yet.”
“Judge: Trump’s name can’t automatically lead Florida ballot” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — A federal judge tossed out a nearly 70-year-old Florida law that would have guaranteed that Trump’s name would be first on the 2020 ballot. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker said the law was unconstitutional and “allows a state to put its thumb on the scale and award an electoral advantage to the party in power.” He issued a permanent injunction against state and local officials from using the law when assembling the 2020 ballot. The 1951 statute, enacted when Democrats were in control of the Legislature and Governor’s mansion, requires that candidates who belong to the same party as the governor must be listed first on the ballot.
“Trump’s Doral resort was a last-minute addition in search for G-7 site, newly released email shows” via David Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Secret Service agents had identified four U.S. sites as finalists for next year’s Group of Seven summit — but then they were told to add a new finalist: Trump’s Doral resort, according to an internal Secret Service email. “Our original itinerary included Hawaii, Utah, California and North Carolina,” a Secret Service official wrote, describing a trip that a team of Secret Service personnel took in July to examine the finalists. “By departure, they had already cut two (California and North Carolina) and added Miami on the back end.” “Miami” meant President Trump’s resort near the Miami airport, which hadn’t been among the original 10 sites that the Secret Service team had vetted.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Ron DeSantis, indicted Ukrainian-American Lev Parnas met at least 6 times, Governor’s office says” via Gray Rohrer and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The number of interactions is more than previously reported by Florida news outlets asking questions for weeks about the Governor’s ties to Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman. The duo also has been tied to the Ukraine scandal that has led to House impeachment hearings of Trump. DeSantis has refused to talk about his encounters with the two South Florida businessmen beyond an initial brief description of them, even though Parnas repeatedly contacted his campaign and sought meetings with DeSantis. Now Parnas and Fruman face charges of illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. campaigns.
“DeSantis picks Orlando airport board member Randall Hunt to run Florida Lottery” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — The Governor named Hunt, a fitness-club owner from Lake Mary who has been a member of the Orlando airport board since February, the new secretary of the Florida Lottery. “Randall’s entrepreneurial skills and perseverance will serve him well as he takes the helm of this important department,” DeSantis said in a statement. The Lottery appointment continues a rapid ascent for Hunt, who was mostly unknown in Florida politics until February when the newly elected DeSantis picked him for a coveted seat on the board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the agency that runs Orlando International Airport.
“Jeanette Núñez to lead Florida trade mission to Colombia” via Florida Daily — The mission, which will feature small and mid-sized businesses, will be coordinated by Enterprise Florida (EFI), will take place from November 18-21. Almost 20 manufacturing and exporters from the Sunshine State will take part in the mission, and they “will be matched with Colombian importers through the United States Embassy’s Gold Key Program in pursuit of long-term trade opportunities.” “Colombia is an important trading partner for our state, and this mission offers a great opportunity for Florida companies looking to expand their global presence,” said Núñez.
“Financial regulator ‘decimated’ by vacancies amid leadership fight” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Office of Financial Regulation has staffing shortages in nearly every one of its divisions, including the top job of commissioner, a post that has been open since July, when DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet fired Ronald Rubin after a political clash with CFO Jimmy Patronis. In addition to the commissioner job, the office has dozens of vacancies in divisions that oversee financial investigations, consumer finance and securities. Those divisions conduct the basic functions of the office, including oversight of the financial services industry and consumer and investor protection. “I don’t know how they are getting anything done with that skeleton crew,” said Stephen Masterson, who served as OFR’s top attorney in the securities division until his April retirement.
“Marijuana measures drawing attention from wary lawmakers” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — Three ballot proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana in Florida are still looking iffy as far as making it before voters next year. But state lawmakers aren’t taking any chances. House health committees have been hearing testimony in recent weeks about states that have approved adult-use marijuana and now face a host of unexpected issues. “I would be surprised if one of these initiatives was not on the Florida ballot next year,” said House Health & Human Services Chair Ray Rodrigues. “I’m not a fan of recreational marijuana. But I’m a policymaker who’d like to be able to articulate the reasons why I don’t support it.”
“Bill clarifies process for rescinded gubernatorial appointments” via the News Service of Florida — The measure (SB 932) was filed by Sen. Tom Lee for the 2020 Legislative Session. Lee’s measure would establish that a Governor may rescind an appointment before the Senate confirms the individual. The proposal is also retroactive to Jan. 8, 2019, the day DeSantis was sworn into office. In the weeks after his inauguration, DeSantis yanked dozens of Scott appointments. In trying to explain his overall decision to have his own appointees in place across the state, DeSantis said in February that “some of these folks (appointed by Scott) I just don’t know very well either way.” The new Governor also said he wanted to allow other Floridians to serve.
“No worries from Jennifer Bradley about Senate leadership scrum” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — After Sen. Travis Hutson conceded the race for the Senate presidency in 2022 to Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, speculation swirled as to how that affected Northeast Florida. One plugged-in Republican said the region’s position was compromised for some time. The theory: that Bradley, running for Senate in 2020, would be blocked from the presidency herself. “They tried to tie [Hutson], Manny Diaz, and Jennifer Bradley together and seize the future of the Senate for six years and it became too much,” suggesting that the deal-making went back as far as the 2019 budget deliberations when Sen. Rob Bradley was budget chair. This read sees it as a “big setback” for the Bradleys, with Hutson “hitched to too many people’s goals.”
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida remains on a roll with 21,400 new jobs created last month” via Graham Brink of the Tampa Bay Times — About 21,400 new jobs were created, and the unemployment rate remained the same as a month earlier at 3.2 percent, according to numbers released by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. About 331,000 people were looking for jobs, down by 5,000 from September. The overall workforce grew slightly to 10.5 million. Most of the state’s major sectors, including construction, financial activities and manufacturing, added jobs in October or remained the same as the month before. The government sector and the catchall “Other Services” shed jobs.
Happening today — The VISIT FLORIDA Finance Committee and Audit Committee meet: Finance Committee, 9 a.m. Central time; Audit Committee, 10 a.m. Central time, Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort, 4114 Jan Cooley Dr., Panama City Beach.
“It’s all hazy: Medical marijuana report remains MIA” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Florida officials were supposed to release a new report that would detail medical marijuana use in Florida, including smoking marijuana, but the report has been delayed and the Department of Health isn’t providing any insight as to why. The Boards of Osteopathic Medicine and Board of Medicine’s Physician Certification Review Pattern Panel were slated to discuss the findings of the report at a meeting Friday. But DOH Communications Director Alberto Moscoso said the discussions were postponed because panel members “did not have sufficient opportunity to review the report prior to the meeting.” Usually, the Department of Health posts the information that medical boards will discuss at upcoming meetings days – if not weeks – in advance, so the public can review the information. But that wasn’t the case in this instance. The News Service of Florida made a public records request for the final report but it wasn’t available at press time. Moscoso said the report should be posted for public purusual in the coming days.
“Hundreds of inmates are serving drug sentences no longer in state law” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — In the 1990s, the state Legislature was determined to get tough on crime. State Rep. Victor Crist proposed a law that would impose severe penalties for repeat violent offenders, as well as predetermined sentences for people convicted of trafficking drugs. These would become “mandatory minimums.” At the time, drug lords were his target. The bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. For years, people caught with prescription painkillers in Florida received tougher penalties than those with the same weight in street drugs. In some cases, they received five times the sentence because that’s what the law required. Alarmed by these inequities, public defenders from around the state went to Tallahassee to lobby the Legislature to change the law.
“Citizen groups claim new Florida law gives too much power to developers” via Mike Diamond for the Palm Beach Post — Citizen groups are pushing back against a new state law that has changed the way they can challenge developers in court. They claim that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to oppose reckless development plans. At issue is a law passed in the last Legislative Session that requires the losing party to pay legal fees from a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a county or municipal decision approving residential and commercial development. Previously, a judge had the discretion to force the losing side to pay legal fees. That is no longer the case. The Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations (COBWRA) says the law (HB 7103) could bankrupt it if it filed an unsuccessful legal challenge.
“State continues looking at virtual school changes” via the News Service of Florida — The State Board of Education was briefed on recommended changes to the virtual school, including establishing an Office of Inspector General to “promote accountability, integrity and efficiency” and conduct an annual audit report of the operations. Another proposal, which will be considered by the board in January, would reduce a virtual-school franchise fee that school districts pay to have online courses. The franchise model would only charge “what is necessary for cost recovery of the course,” state officials added in a report. The proposal would save school districts about $2.1 million each year.
— MOTHER NATURE —
“Florida’s building code doesn’t take sea rise into account. That could change.” via Alex Harris of the Bradenton Herald — The last time the Florida building code changed, it required any new construction along the coast to elevate buildings a whole foot. Now, a new study suggests that it may not be enough and calls for yet another foot. The rising base elevations of homes are a clear sign that the people who plan and build in coastal Florida consider the threat of sea rise very real. “If we’re going to build a resilient Florida, the hurricanes aren’t going away. Climate change isn’t going to stop,” said Craig Fugate, Florida’s former director of emergency management and FEMA head under Barack Obama. “We cannot keep building the way we always have and expect a different outcome in future disasters.”
Happening today — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried awards a check to Franklin County schools, based on proceeds of 15 percent from state forests for “fiscally constrained” counties. Franklin County money is from the Tate’s Hell State Forest, 10 a.m., Franklin County school district, 85 School Road, Eastpoint.
What Eric Silagy is reading — “The world’s only $100 billion utility owes its rise to win power” via Gerson Freitas of Bloomberg — This year, that company — now named NextEra Energy Inc. — became the world’s first utility with a market capitalization of more than $100 billion, thanks largely to its clean-power business. It’s developed enough wind and solar farms across the U.S. and Canada to power the entire nation of Greece. Shares have doubled in four years, outperforming virtually every other stock in the industry. Not that NextEra started down the clean-energy road with a master plan. The move into renewables happened pretty much by accident after the company began lending money to wind-farm developers. Some of them ran into financial troubles. NextEra forgave debts in exchange for majority stakes in the farms.
Happening today — A coalition of Florida municipal utilities will break ground on a major solar-energy project, 10 a.m., Harmony Solar Energy Center, 8331-8219 East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, St. Cloud.)
“José Javier Rodríguez, Daniella Levine Cava to host climate change town hall” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The event will be at the YMCA Miami at 351 NW 5th St in the city’s Overtown neighborhood beginning at 6 p.m. “It’s time to declare a climate crisis & take action,” Levine Cava wrote on Twitter to help promote the event. The pair have made climate change a primary focus during their time as elected officials. The 2019 Legislative Session marked the second consecutive year, where Rodríguez donned rain boots every day of Session to bring attention to the issue. Those boots also displayed a message reading “#ActOnClimate.”
“Citrus growers’ new crisis: They’re producing fruit again but can’t sell it” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix — As much as one-sixth of Florida’s next citrus harvest is “naked” – having no contracted buyer – because traditional buyers are locked into contracts with foreign growers who had fruit to sell at a time when Florida did not.
“You shouldn’t travel to the Florida Keys, says this tourism website. Here’s why” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — Fodor’s Travel has just said no to the Florida Keys. The travel website, which releases a “Go” and a “No” list each year — has put the Keys are on the “No” list for 2020. Now, what have the Keys done to earn the ire of Fodor’s? The site reports that it uses the list to “highlight issues — ethical, environmental, sometimes even political — that we’re thinking about before, during, and long after we travel.” In the case of the Keys, the decline of its coral reefs are the cause for concern (a legitimate one) — they’re struggling). Fodor’s wants to give them a break and let them heal, suggesting you enjoy your vacation from the beach this year instead.
“More than 400 crash victims could have lived — if they’d buckled their rear seat belt” via David Lightman of the Miami Herald — 803 people died last year riding in back seats while not wearing their seat belts. Had they buckled up, more than half would have survived, says a new study released Monday. Part of the problem: 20 states, including Florida, have no requirement that rear-seat passengers wear a belt. And people are clicking the belts less in the rear seats, notably because they don’t see a need on short trips, they forget or they’re uncomfortable doing so, according to the nonpartisan Governors Highway Safety Association, which conducted the study.
“‘This is my calling.’ Everglades python hunter brings her passion to bear in fight against invasive species” via Karl Schneider of the Daily News — “A Burmese python nearly 12 feet long swims alongside a levee as Donna Kalil tries to coax it out of the water. She squats at the edge of the gravel road with one boot in the water. The snake stops just short of her.”
“What Hurricane Dorian’s miss cost Florida utilities” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Duke Energy, calculates its Dorian costs were about $153 million. Duke also is Central Florida’s largest power provider, with 380,000 customers in Orange, 158,000 in Seminole, 86,000 in Lake, 82,000 in Volusia, 50,000 in Osceola and only a couple hundred in Brevard. Florida Power & Light Co., with more than 5 million customers, estimates that it cost $274 million preparing for Dorian. FPL assembled 17,000 crew members, a population larger than that of Mount Dora’s, including those brought in from out of state. Kissimmee Utility Authority’s estimate for storm preparation is $643,000, with much of that cost attributed to bringing in, housing and feeding out-of-state crews.
— Craig Pittman (@craigtimes) November 17, 2019
Meanwhile … “The Bahamas have a tough road ahead. Dorian caused $3.4 billion worth of damage, report says” via Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Hurricane Dorian, the monster storm that struck the Bahamas with punishing 185 mph sustained winds and 25 feet storm surges in early September, caused an estimated $3.4 billion in damages, according to a new report by the Inter-American Development Bank.
— PEACHY —
“Democrats invite Donald Trump to testify in impeachment inquiry” via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Pushing back against accusations from the President that the process has been stacked against him, Nancy Pelosi said Trump is welcome to appear or answer questions in writing if he chooses. “If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it,” she said in an interview that aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Trump “could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants,” she said.
“‘Pam Bondi is a great womem!’: Another Trump typo mocked by Twitter users” via William Cummings of USA Today — Anyone who posts as many tweets as President Donald Trump is bound to have some typos here and there, but the president’s typing errors tend to get more attention than those committed by the average user. That was the case on Sunday, when ‘womem’ became a trending term on the social media site after the president sent out that misspelling in a retweet praising former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“Lindsey Graham promises to investigate Hunter Biden, call whistleblower if impeachment proceeds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “I think we should look at the State Department’s concern about Hunter Biden’s conflict of interest,” the South Carolina Republican told Florida Politics. That includes investigating emails about Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings and its affiliation with Hunter Biden. “See where that goes,” Graham said. Graham visited Sarasota to accept the Statesman of the Year award from the Republican Party of Sarasota. It’s an honor that has attracted several national figures to Sarasota, notably a not-yet-elected Donald Trump in 2012 and 2015.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“What might ‘Medicare for all’ mean for Florida?” via Abraham Mahsie of the Palm Beach Post — The issue could be pivotal in Florida, a swing state that will be one of the biggest electoral vote prizes in 2020. Florida has consistently led the nation in the number of Obamacare enrollees — it had 1.7 million last year. “This would be a big issue in Florida,” said Tricia Neuman, director of the Medicare policy program at the Keiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C. To pay for it all, costs would be shifted from states, employers and individuals to the federal government and paid for by trillions of dollars in new tax revenue levied on corporations and the highest earners.
“Rick Scott defends opportunity zone tax breaks that benefited wealthy donors” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune — Scott called a report that he steered lucrative new tax breaks for real estate development to wealthy campaign donors during his time as governor ‘ridiculous’ Friday during a swing through Sarasota.
“Matt Gaetz restores benefits for mother battling disease” via Leslie Acosta of WEAR — According to Gaetz, the mother, Saffron Young, who is battling a rare disease, has had her health insurance and social security benefits restored. “I’m thrilled at the outcome our congressional inquiry yielded, and I’m pleased that Ms. Young’s health care and social security benefits have been restored. As always, I encourage any of my constituents experiencing issues with federal agencies to contact my office so we can work to place inquiries on their behalf,” said Gaetz. Young has been battling a rare disease called Achalasia for the past two years and still needs extensive treatment. This disease affects her esophagus and stomach, and it led to the formation of the cancerous mass.
“DCCC launches social media blitz over Ross Spano criminal investigation” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is boosting an ad on Facebook and Instagram calling attention to recent reports that Spano is under criminal investigation. The ad shows a sneaky looking Spano in black and white with a red bar across his chest with the words “REP. SPANO: UNDER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION” emblazoned across it. The top of the boosted post shows a red siren emoji next to “BREAKING” and then goes on to explain that the U.S. Justice Department “is officially investigating” Spano. “It’s shameful. Whether he’s tying himself up in campaign finance scandal — or siding with big drug companies instead of lowering our prescription drug costs — Rep. Spano continues to embarrass and fail our community,” the post reads.
“What Washington can learn about climate action from South Florida” via U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked me to lead the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I knew an important part of my job would be learning from the local communities that are already leading the way on climate action. That’s why, last week, I jumped at the chance to join two of my Democratic colleagues — U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala — to discover what Washington can learn from South Florida about responding to the climate crisis. Beyond reducing carbon pollution and creating the jobs of the future, one of the most important goals in our fight to solve the climate crisis will be protecting our families from extreme weather events.
Happening today — On the U.S. Senate agenda is a vote on Florida Supreme Court Justice Luck for a seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 5:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.
— 2020 —
“Democrats fear a long primary slog could drag into summer” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — That scenario is prompting the campaigns, several of which have signed up veteran delegate counters, to begin strategizing for a protracted nomination slog, with some even playing out scenarios for deal-making in the weeks leading up to the Democratic convention in July. “What’s different is the number of candidates who can lay claim to being serious enough to win delegates,” said Elaine Kamarck, a member of the party’s Rules Committee and the author of the book “Primary Politics.” “That alone can result in someone with a plurality.” The anxiety is the result of an unusually wide-open race.
“Pete Buttigieg surges ahead of his Democratic primary rivals in Iowa, new poll shows” via Annie Linskey, Chelsea Janes and Scott Clement of The Washington Post — A new poll of Iowa voters suggests a disruption in the Democratic primary contest in the first voting state, with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Buttigieg surging to the front of the crowded pack. The survey showed Buttigieg with support from 25 percent of likely caucusgoers, followed by essentially a three-way tie for second place between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, who all have about 15 percent support. None of the other candidates are in double digits. The poll differs from other recent Iowa polls, which showed Buttigieg, Biden, Warren and Sanders knotted closely together.
“Kamala Harris picks up major union endorsement” via Tai Kopan of the San Francisco Chronicle — Harris is getting the presidential endorsement of the United Farm Workers. The major endorsement is timed with the California Democratic Party Endorsing Convention in Long Beach. It comes as a shot in the arm as the Democrat’s campaign has struggled in recent months. The powerhouse California-based farmworkers’ labor group has a long history in progressive politics. Established by liberal organizing icons Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla, the union represents more than 10,000 agricultural workers in California and along the West Coast. The union also has a strong political grassroots presence in the Southwest.
“Michael Bloomberg 2020 decision ‘days, not weeks’ away” via Margaret Talev of Axios — Bloomberg‘s final decision on a presidential run is “days, not weeks” away, a person familiar with his thinking tells Axios — with an announcement expected before Thanksgiving. The source said the billionaire and former New York Mayor’s funding of a $100 million, digital, anti-Trump ad series is “a step toward running for Mike, not a step away from running,” and that “he is actively preparing.” The ad campaign is aimed at helping whoever wins the Democratic nomination by beginning general election spending now to target Trump early in the battleground states. The first of these ads are expected to go live by Monday.
“Republican Party rallies behind embattled UF student body president” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida is coming to the defense of University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy, who is facing impeachment over using student funds to book Donald Trump Jr. for a speaking engagement last month. Caroline Wren, an official in Trump’s reelection campaign, reached out to Murphy asking him to book the younger Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Republican National Committee Co-Chair Tommy Hicks. Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle spoke at the Gainesville campus Oct. 10 and were $50,000 in student activity fees. Murphy was presented with an impeachment resolution on Tuesday. On Friday, the RPOF sent an email and creating a petition where supporters can “tell University of Florida students you stand with their student body president.”
— THE TRAIL —
“Groups fan out to churches in push for voter registration” via Abraham Mahshie of the Palm Beach Post — Before the organist at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church had pressed his fingers to the keys Sunday morning, 75 parishioners had signed a ballot initiative calling for an assault weapons ban. Several had registered to vote, and many more learned that their friends and family who had served their time for committing a felony could not be held back by any law or court fees — there was a path to voting again. ‘If we’re religious folk, forgiveness is part of our whole thing,’ said pastor Gerald Kisner, who has been leading worship and encouraging civic activism at the century-old Northwest community church for 25 years.
“Anthony Sabatini draws another Democratic challenger” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican Rep. Sabatini has drawn another challenger in his reelection bid for House District 32. Clermont Democrat Stephanie Dukes filed for the seat on Wednesday, setting up a possible primary against Ryan Morales, also of Clermont. As far as fundraising, Morales hasn’t yet established himself in the race, leaving room for Dukes to catch up. Since launching his campaign in April, he’s raised about $2,500 and had about $400 banked. Sabatini, meanwhile, had raised $22,200 in hard money through the end of last month and had a little under $10,000 on hand. HD 32 is heavily Republican, with GOP voters accounting for 40% of the district’s electorate. Democrats, by comparison, make up less than a third.
— LOCAL RACES —
First on #FlaPol — “Sean Shaw backs Harold Pryor for Broward State Attorney” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “I have been surrounded by some of the top minds in the legal profession for my entire life. There is no question that Pryor is among the brightest legal minds I have ever come across,” Shaw said in a statement. “That — combined with his proven leadership ability; tireless work ethic; love of the law; and vision for equality in justice — makes him the most qualified and the best choice for Broward State Attorney. I proudly and enthusiastically endorse him for Broward State Attorney and look forward to actively campaigning for him.”
— MORE LOCAL —
“Opponents call JEA brochures ‘scare tactics’” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — JEA customers opening the mail for their November bills found a stark warning that they face a future rate increase “as high” as 52 percent combined with worse service caused by “deep cuts” to JEA’s workforce and reduced spending on the utility’s system. But JEA’s own studies don’t have any scenario that would result in a 52 percent increase in rates along with deep cuts to the number of JEA workers and to spending on the utility’s operation and maintenance. JEA says its bill insert, titled “The facts about what’s next for JEA,” is correct because it shows the different impacts from various scenarios that “could happen” in the future.
“Osceola Parkway and Split Oak road recommendations to be revealed” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Central Florida Expressway Authority is receiving the Osceola Parkway Extension Project Development and Environmental Study Re-evaluation from environmental contractors RS&H Monday. A public workshop unveiling the study and its recommendations is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lake Nona Middle School. The study should show the preferred route for that highway to be pushed through the region of Lake Nona, Split Oak, and communities in between. The region is along the county line between Orange and Osceola counties and would affect both counties, in an area that is on the verge of booming with thousands of acres development.
“Seminole Tax Collector Joel Greenberg budgets $106K on travel — much more than Orange, Lake and Osceola” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — The biggest chunk — an estimated $40,633, according to public records — is for two people from Greenberg’s staff to spend 130 days in Tallahassee to take part in legislative sessions aimed at developing cutting-edge blockchain technology, which Greenberg has called the “wave of the future.” His travel budget also calls for sending staff members to Miami and Washington, D.C., to attend conferences, educational seminars and Legislative Sessions, according to public documents. In defending the travel costs, Greenberg said it’s necessary because Florida is studying how local governments can benefit from transitioning to and using blockchain-based systems for record-keeping, financial transactions and data security in government transactions.
“North Florida judge draws town’s wrath over school violence case” via Florida Politics — Anxieties multiplied quickly across Baker County, a mostly rural community of 28,000 in northern Florida when news spread that a 15-year-old had planned a massacre at the county’s only high school. “MAKE SURE THE TEACHERS ARE DEAD,” he ranted in a notebook. “Then rinse repeat.” When the sophomore shared his six-page “School Shooting Plan” with a classmate in early September, it set in motion what authorities called a textbook response to avert another Parkland school shooting. Within minutes, the student was in custody. By most accounts, parents felt reassured by the swift action of school officials and law enforcement.
“Scandalous details to emerge in ex-mayor Joy Cooper’s corruption trial” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Most of those details are related to former lobbyist Alan Koslow, a star witness for the state. A flashy character who at one time boasted that he was “Mr. Hollywood,” Koslow became an FBI informant tapped by the agency to ferret out public corruption in Broward County. But before all that, Koslow fell for a ruse set up by two undercover agents who went by the names Jack and Joey. They posed as out-of-town developers who wanted his help getting a high-rise project approved in Hallandale Beach. Koslow told the men he had influence with the Hallandale Beach Commission and “had the vote of the Mayor,” court records say.
“Women and girls said a Hialeah cop sexually assaulted them. The chief gave him a raise.” via Tess Riski, J Weaver and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — In 2015, a teenage girl told investigators that Hialeah Police Department Sgt. Jesús “Jesse” Menocal Jr., a decorated patrol officer and SWAT team member, stopped her while she was walking home, told her to get into his police truck, and ordered her to perform oral sex. She was 14 years old. The veteran cop was found to have brought another eight women and girls into a Hialeah police station without filing any reports, a violation of department procedure. Far from disciplining Menocal, whose well-connected family has held high-ranking positions in South Florida law enforcement, Velázquez gave him a raise — and moved him back onto the SWAT team as a coordinator. Months later, he was back patrolling the streets.
“How David Beckham’s Inter Miami plans to thrive as lasting soccer team where others didn’t survive” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fans of the new club, team representatives, members of the local soccer community and MLS representatives are not shy about acknowledging South Florida’s surprisingly difficult history of embracing a soccer team. They also believe Inter Miami has the best chance of being the team that finally makes it. The team has built a following on social media and presented a splashy well-crafted website with its signature pink trimmings. When communicating with the public online, they opt for Spanglish — which is essentially the predominant language in Miami and much of South Florida. The team’s website calls Miami a city of the “future” and constantly points out the global aspect of the city.
“Is it time to take the ‘city’ out of Weeki Wachee’s city of live mermaids?” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — The iconic Florida roadside attraction where women wearing tails put on an underwater swimming show — Weeki Wachee — isn’t just known as the City of Live Mermaids. It is, literally, the incorporated city of live mermaids. The problem with that, according to a determined advocate for the county’s most treasured natural resource — the Weeki Wachee River and springs — is that the elected city commissioners of Weeki Wachee also are critical employees of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Shannon Turbeville sees that as a conflict of interest. Turbeville will urge the Hernando County state legislative delegation to disband the city of Weeki Wachee by an act of the Florida Legislature.
“Hillsborough Sheriff: 5-month human trafficking investigation is done” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies have been working for almost half a year on a human trafficking sting. According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, Chronister will fill the public in on the details at 9:30 a.m. from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Operations Center located at 2008 E 8th Ave in Tampa. The sheriff’s office will play videos shot during the operation at Monday’s news conference.
“Independent Ethics Board to take up complaints, ethics officer candidates” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The city of Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board will meet Tuesday to narrow its list of candidates for ethics officer and — in a separate closed session — take up several ethics complaints against city officials The complaints are confidential because the board hasn’t made any legal sufficiency or probable cause determinations yet. It’s unclear whom the complaints are against, what they allege or how they came in. The Ethics Board takes sworn complaints from citizens but also can self-initiate complaints based on information from anonymous hotline calls.
— OPINIONS & ANALYSIS —
“Thousands of Floridians have died. Heartless Republicans still won’t expand Medicaid” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage is costing lives, according to data from the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research. The study found that states that broadened coverage for low-income residents between 2014 and 2017 saw significant reductions in death rates among adults ages 55 to 64 — enough, essentially, to save an estimated 19,200 people nationwide. A follow-up study by the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities broke down the numbers further and found that an estimated 2,776 Floridians lost their lives during that period because they didn’t have Medicaid coverage. Not surprisingly, Florida Republicans are dismissive of the research — just as they’ve been dismissive of the many Floridians pushing for expanded coverage.
“Donald Trump Jr. should pay back the $50,000” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — For a father and son to be involved in simultaneous impeachment controversies is strikingly unusual, to say the least, but the oddity shouldn’t obscure important points about what’s happening at the University of Florida. Those issues are freedom of speech, the responsibility of a university to be a forum for robust debate, and the misuse of public money. His appearance at the university incited the campaign to oust Michael Murphy, its student body president. Murphy paid $50,000 in student funds — i.e., public money — to have Trump and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, speak at the university on Oct 10. There is a dispute as to whether the speech was merely to promote Trump Jr.’s new book or his father’s reelection campaign.
“Anti-free speech movement comes to UF via Donald Trump Jr.” via Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board — When Donald Trump Jr. talks, blood pressures rise. So it’s not surprising his speech at the University of Florida last month generated controversy. It’s even led to an impeachment, though in this case the chief executive is Michael Murphy, UF’s Student Body president. The Student Senate passed a resolution last week to remove him from office, alleging abuse of power and misuse of public funds. UF can litigate whether spending rules were broken. What’s more clear is that some people on campus wanted to silence Trump well before the spending issue emerged.
“AdventHealth, Orlando Health punish students for UCF hospital deal” via Florida Politics — UCF has a young medical school with a bright future. A lot of their success over the past decade stems from partnerships with two of the major health care providers in Central Florida: AdventHealth and Orlando Health. But those companies have decided to punish UCF students over the university’s decision to partner with HCA in a teaching hospital. HCA gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse — shared ownership of a state-of-the-art, $175 million facility right next to the medical school. The other offers put forward were no match, and UCF made the right call. Now, AdventHealth and Orlando Health say they won’t let UCF medical students do rotations at their facilities anymore. That’s put students in a bind.
“Dr. Delay: Some progress, but here’s what’s left in the Selmon Expressway project” via Monique Welch of the Tampa Bay Times — Since the Selmon Extension project began in February, many local residents became accustomed to the loud, daily banging as construction crews drove concrete piles to support the new incoming ramps. That part at the east end of the interchange was completed last month. But it’s an ongoing project, and plenty of work remains before the planned fall 2020 completion. Construction crews are setting bridge segments over the Westshore/Gandy Boulevard intersection, temporarily closing the intersection at night from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.. It’s forcing drivers going north or south on Westshore to detour right onto southbound Gandy Boulevard and take the nearest U-turn opportunity.
“Florida undervalues its teachers, the second most important influence in a child’s life” via Ryan Haczynski of the Orlando Sentinel — Education is the primary investment we make in our children to ensure they have the best and brightest future possible, whether that is as an individual family or as a community of citizens. For the last two dozen years, the Florida Legislature has abdicated its duty to broadly invest in public education, instead putting politics and profit over people. Despite having a $1 trillion economy that is the fourth largest in the U.S. and ranks 17th in the world, our legislators value our children and educators so little that Florida now ranks 45th in education spending, 48th in average teacher pay, and is dead last when we adjust for inflation since the end of the Great Recession.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Anthony Bedell joins Becker — Becker is expanding its Washington, D.C. presence with the addition of Bedell, who most recently served as the U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs, the number two governmental affairs position in the Office of Secretary Elaine Chao. Bedell’s resume includes numerous Republican campaigns at the state and local levels, as well as many high-level policy development and government relations gigs. “We are excited that Anthony has joined our team. We know that our clients will benefit from his legislative, corporate and executive branch perspective,” said Bernie Friedman, Becker’s lobbying practice chair. Bedell added, “Becker has a well-earned reputation advising clients on federal matters. The opportunity to join the bipartisan team was something I couldn’t pass up.”
“Personnel note: Cari Roth to join Lykes Bros. Inc.” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Dean Mead lobbyist Roth is heading to Lykes Bros., the company owned by one of the “Big Five” families of Florida agriculture. Roth, who has 35 years of legal and legislative experience, will serve as the company’s new Vice President of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs. She starts on January 2, 2020. Until then, Roth will be transitioning clients to the other members of Dean Mead and Dunbar Government Relations team. Kristen Chittenden will remain as general counsel at Lykes. “Cari brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to our leadership team. It is clear that she has built a wealth of respect and relationships in the halls of government over the years,” Lykes CEO Johnnie James Jr. said.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Tyler Craddock: bluebird bio
George Feijoo, Floridian Partners: JM Family Enterprises
Cesar Fernandez, Jonathan Kilman, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Firefly Systems
Rafael Perez: Ygrene Energy Fund Florida
— ALOE —
“Near-record travel is forecast for Thanksgiving.” via Larry Spilman of WJN0 — AAA is out with its Thanksgiving travel forecast and the auto club is predicting 2.9 million Floridians will hit the road or head to their local airport, train or bus station to get out of town- the most since 2005. “So a lot of folks will be out on the roadway- about 3% more than last year,” AAA’s Mark Jenkins said. “You can certainly expect a lot of delays, especially on Wednesday (before Thanksgiving), which is what we’re expecting to be the busiest travel day of this holiday.” Jenkins says the strong economy is motivating Floridians to travel this Thanksgiving in near-record numbers.
“Black Friday deals are out there now as holiday shopping starts early” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Good deals already abound at the Park Avenue women’s apparel retailer Tuni, weeks before the traditional Black Friday start of the holiday shopping season. Markdowns are part of a shopping season that generates about a third of the Park Avenue store’s business for the year, said Paige Blackwelder, who owns the shop with her mother, Tuni Blackwelder. “Truthfully, everybody discounts again on Black Friday. So, we’ve started our markdowns early,” she said. “Then, on Black Friday, we’ll have special things like an extra 50% off these sale items, or an extra 30% off this group.” And there will be added pressure on merchants and customers alike because Black Friday is coming late on Nov. 29 this year, shortening the shopping season.
“Nostalgia is the most powerful force in American culture right now. No one can sell you more of it than Disney.” via Josh Spiegel of The Washington Post — Disney Plus may offer several new shows and films as hooks for subscribers. But even those offerings, which include a remake of the beloved animated classic “Lady and the Tramp” and a hotly anticipated Star Wars TV series, “The Mandalorian,” suggest why Disney Plus will stand out: The most powerful force in American culture right now is nostalgia, and no one can sell viewers more nostalgia than Disney. The result may be a comforting, reliable bundle for consumers. But Disney’s very dominion over old classics may make it more difficult for artists to create new ones.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Rep. Geraldine Thompson, Leon Co. Commissioner Bryan Desloge, Madeline Holzmann (how is she so polished and just turning 23 years old?), as well as former state Senate candidate Dean Asher, and Gerald Wester of Capital City Consulting. Over the weekend, those who celebrated included former Miami Herald editor Rich Bard, former Attorney General Pam Bondi, Max Flugrath, Don Germaise, Darrick McGhee of Johnson and Blanton, Bill Nelson, Jr. Alan Snel, and Jim York.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.