Yes, we could wish Ron Book, arguably the GOAT of the Florida lobby corps, a happy birthday, but two more important people in his life decided to do the honors.
“Happy birthday to ‘Bapa’ from Kennedy and Hudson.”
Day one of the Florida TaxWatch’s 40th annual meeting is in the books, with day two slated to kick off Tuesday morning.
Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux led off Monday’s event with a Florida history lesson during lunch at The Breakers, which is hosting this week’s conference.
Florida TaxWatch is a business-backed taxpayer watchdog, but the conference branched out into other topics as well.
The afternoon saw Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein joining Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer and Everglades Foundation CEO Erik Eikenberg to discuss water issues in the state.
The trio touted recent efforts at the state level to tackle environmental issues, including DeSantis’ push for $2.5 billion to use toward that goal across his first term in office.
Florida TaxWatch bills itself as nonpartisan, but one of Monday’s speakers took aim at his political rivals.
Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th Congressional District dinged Democrats repeatedly over various taxpayer-funded initiatives he branded as “giveaways” — from pushes on publicly-funded elections to Medicare-for-all.
Mast also tackled the issue of illegal immigration, comparing the monthly influx of undocumented immigrants to the D-Day invasion force in World War II.
“What has come across our southern border in some months has been the equivalent of the U.S. presence in the D-Day invasion,” Mast said Monday.
“And that’s literally true. That’s how many people have come across our southern border in one month.”
The program was back to basics in the evening, as former Governor Bob Martinez introduced U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Chao gave the keynote speech following Monday night’s dinner.
“I just want to assure you that we are using taxpayers’ dollars carefully, prudently and wisely, never forgetting that the American taxpayer is who we report to,” Chao said.
“I am so delighted to be here tonight because you are guardians of basic principles of freedom, which is to safeguard our citizens’ ability to make decisions for themselves.”
Tuesday will feature a series of additional policy discussions that will run through the morning and afternoon, followed by the 40th anniversary reception and dinner.
Among Tuesday’s lineup of speakers is former Attorney General Bill McCollum, state Rep. Vance Aloupis and TaxWatch Chairman Pat Neal, who also formerly served in the state Senate.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries. The Federal Reserve should likewise act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies. This makes it very hard for our manufactures & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen – Fed!
—@DavidJollyFL: Just a reminder, the Ukraine call summary released by the WH is not a transcript. And the Administration has refused to allow testimony from those who spoke directly with Trump – Mulvaney, Bolton, Pompeo, Kupperman, etc. Let’s not accept a debate on a GOP false playing field.
—@Chris_Minor: Legislature has done a great job investing in prevention services changing DJJ which was once considered a ‘feeder system’ to DOC Leadership under @SMarstiller coupled by those like @Rob_Bradley @JeffreyBrandes @ByronDonalds @JamesGrantFL gives me hope
—@NateMonroe: Small housekeeping from JEA’s weekend tantrum, but one I wanted to make sure to address. @says you can find minutes from the June meeting where the bonus scheme was discussed. No, you can’t – I knew this bc I looked for them last week before writing my column.
—@DJGroup: What if Matt Santos and Arnold Vinick had Twitter?
— DAYS UNTIL —
Florida Chamber’s Transportation, Growth and Infrastructure Summit — 2; Florida GOP Statesmen Dinner — 4; UK votes on Brexit — 9; Sixth Democratic debate — 16; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 17; College Football National Championship — 41; 2020 Session begins — 42; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 43; New Brexit deadline — 59; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 61; Great American Realtors Day — 62; Iowa Caucuses — 62; New Hampshire Primaries — 70; Nevada caucuses — 81; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 101; Florida’s presidential primary — 105; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 154; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 232; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 266; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 309; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 317; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 324; 2020 General Election — 336.
“Prosecutors: More charges possible in case of Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman” via Ryan Lucas of NPR — Prosecutors could bring more charges in the case of two Soviet-born associates of Giuliani — although it wasn’t precisely clear when, what or who else might be involved after a conference in New York City on Monday. Parnas and Fruman face charges of conspiracy, false statements and falsification of records in connection with two alleged schemes to violate U.S. election laws. But it’s their work helping Giuliani dig up dirt in Ukraine that has put the pair under intense public scrutiny. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and FBI investigators are making their way through what prosecutor Douglas Zolkind called a “voluminous” amount of evidence in the case — around 9 gigabytes’ worth.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Russell Weigel to succeed Ronald Rubin as OFR Commissioner” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics —Weigel will succeed Rubin as Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner. Gov. DeSantis and the Cabinet approved the Coral Gables attorney during a Monday Cabinet meeting. DeSantis was backed by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, while Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried abstained. “I am pleased to be selected to serve this great state as commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation,” the new commissioner said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Gov. DeSantis, CFO Patronis, Attorney General Moody, and Commissioner Fried to continue to fulfill OFR’s mission of growing the financial services industry and protecting Floridians from financial fraud.” Weigel’s salary will be $166,000, the same that Rubin’s was.
Assignment editors — Ag. Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a town hall meeting to discuss clemency and voting rights restoration, concealed weapons laws, and nutrition and wellness initiatives at 6 p.m., New Mt. Zion AME Church, 1401 Old Bainbridge Road, Tallahassee.
Happening today — The Governor and Cabinet will meet to discuss land conservation purchases in DeSoto and Dixie counties. The parcels cover nearly 16,000 acres and would cost the state $6.5 million and $2 million, respectively. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room at the Capitol.
“Cyndi Stevenson pushes for St. Augustine Lighthouse repairs again” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Rep. Stevenson will try again to secure funding to preserve the St. Augustine Lighthouse tower. Since 2017, the St. Augustine Republican has unsuccessfully pushed for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars for preservation and repairs each session. “It’s really important to St. Augustine, St. Johns County and Florida that we maintain this important historical resource,” Stevenson said. And while the Legislature faces tighter budget constraints this Session, Stevenson remains hopeful the museum will see a cut. The 165-foot lighthouse, now 145 years old, is a Smithsonian affiliate and accredited by the the American Alliance of Museums. 216,000 people each year visit the museum, operated by staff and 266 volunteers.
Happening today — State Sen. Tom Lee and state Rep. Lawrence McClure, both Tampa Bay area Republicans, will participate in a roundtable discussion on the 2020 Legislative Session. It begins at 4 p.m. at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce, 106 North Evers St., in Plant City.
— STATEWIDE —
Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on a proposed constitutional amendment that would open partisan primaries to all voters, regardless of their party affiliation. All Voters Vote, the political committee backing the amendment, recently announced it had gathered enough signatures to make the ballot. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the Florida Supreme Court building.
Happening today — A federal judge will hear arguments in a case challenging the Legislature’s implementation of the successful ballot amendment to restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences. The crux of the case is whether fines and fees should be treated as part of a sentence. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee.
“Gun age lawsuit set for October trial” via News Service of Florida — Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker has scheduled a trial for a period that begins Oct. 19, 2020, according to an order issued last month. The National Rifle Association filed the lawsuit in 2018 after the Legislature passed a school-safety law following the mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The law included raising from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase rifles and other long guns. The NRA challenged the constitutionality of the age restriction, but the lawsuit was on hold for more than a year because of a fight about whether two young adult plaintiffs could remain anonymous. The NRA last month dropped an appeal about the anonymity issue.
University research spending hit $2.3B last year — Florida’s public universities spent more than $2.3 billion on research in 2018. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the sum represents an increase of $147.5 million over 2017 numbers. The figure was included in a National Science Foundation survey released last month. The report also showed Florida’s increase outpaced the national average. Research spending has been prioritized in recent years in order to maintain the state university system’s top ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s annual list. Including private institutions, Florida universities spent $2.7 billion on research in 2018, the ninth-highest total among all states.
Happening today — The Demographic Estimating Conference will meet to discuss its forecast at 1:30 p.m. in the Knott Building at the Capitol.
— MOTHER NATURE —
“Ginnie Springs water battle draws Janet Cruz bills, Anna Eskamani protests” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A water use battle in Gilchrist County has Democratic state Sen. Cruz proposing legislation to require more oversight and fees on spring water usage and Democratic state Rep. Eskamani calling for opposition to the proposed major new Nestlé Waters North America bottling plan in north-central Florida. Seven Springs Water Co. has had a permit to take water from the springs since 1998 and has provided it to various companies operating a nearby bottling plant. The permit allows for nearly 1.2 million gallons a day. But Seven Springs and its bottling partners have never come close to that, peaking at under 270,000 gallons per day for the past four years.
“Underground power lines dispute continues” via News Service of Florida — An administrative law judge will hold a hearing this month in a dispute about how to carry out a new law that is expected to lead to more underground power lines in Florida — and higher costs for utility customers. The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents customers, is challenging a Nov. 5 decision by regulators to approve proposed rules stemming from the law, which the Legislature passed this spring. The public counsel does not challenge the underlying law but contends that the rules, approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, are flawed.
“Non-native fish are found throughout Florida’s freshwaters” via Karl Schneider of the Naples Daily News — Usually, when there’s news about escapees from medical research facilities, freshwater fish are not the obvious fugitives. But that was the case with the pike killifish when researchers released about 50 of the fish into agricultural canals in the late 1950s. Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified up to 22 non-native fish in Florida’s fresh waters. The agency in May added new rules that will “help proactively protect Florida from invasive species becoming established in the state,” according to a news release. While no freshwater fish made the list this year, the agency is “currently examining fish that are on the federal Lacey Act but not regulated by the state to see if they pose a risk to the state.”
“PETA asks Florida for iguana killing intel, gets $75K bill” via The Associated Press — Florida wildlife officials have come under scrutiny since telling residents earlier this year they could kill iguanas without a permit. The non-native reptiles are such a nuisance that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says residents should exterminate them on their property whenever possible. Iguanas aren’t dangerous, but they multiply rapidly, carry salmonella bacteria and can dig lengthy tunnels and damage seawalls and sidewalks. The animal rights group PETA worries the reptiles are not being killed humanely because officials did not offer instructions on how to kill them. The group filed a public records request seeking information on how officials arrived at the decision and were told it would cost nearly $75,000 to review 377,609 emails.
— PEACHY —
“Judiciary panel to take reins on Donald Trump impeachment inquiry” via Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press — The House Judiciary Committee is moving to the forefront of President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, starting with a hearing Wednesday to examine the “high crimes and misdemeanors” set out in the Constitution. It’s a moment many Democrats on the panel have been waiting for. Should Democrats draft articles of impeachment against Trump, as is expected, and approve them with a House vote, then impeachment managers would be appointed to present the case to the Senate. Traditionally, those managers have come from the House Judiciary Committee, which is stacked with lawyers and former prosecutors.
“Trump complains about impeachment hearing during NATO trip” via Aamer Madhani of The Associated Press — Trump is complaining the House Judiciary Committee will hold an impeachment inquiry hearing while he attends a NATO summit that comes at a critical moment for the 70-year-old military alliance. Speaking to reporters at the White House before departing Monday, Trump says the NATO trip is “one of the most important journeys we make as president” and the summit date was established a year ago. He says Republicans are united in opposing impeachment and the inquiry is backfiring on Democrats, adding “I think it is going to be a tremendous boost for the Republicans.” Trump says he will continue to pressure European allies to step up their defense spending, saying “it has not been a fair situation for us.”
“GOP impeachment report claims Trump did nothing wrong” via Alayna Treene of Axios — Trump committed “no quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or abuse of power,” Republicans on the House committees investigating the Ukraine controversy have concluded in a 110-page report reviewed by Axios ahead of its formal release. The document is a prebuttal to the Democratic majority’s highly anticipated report compiling the evidence against the president and recommendations on how to proceed. The report covers a lot of the same talking points that House Republicans rolled out in a staff memo before the public hearings.
“Ukraine’s Zelensky: I never talked to Trump about ‘position of a quid pro quo’” by John Bowden of The Hill — Ukraine’s president says in a new interview that he never discussed a “quid pro quo” with Trump, but criticized any blocking of U.S. security aid for his country at a time when it is at war with Russia. “I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Time published Monday. “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war,” he said. “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump administration mulls up to 100% tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of French imports in retaliation for tax on American tech giants” via Paul Wiseman of The Associated Press — The Trump administration is proposing tariffs on up to $2.4 billion worth of French imports — from Roquefort cheese to handbags — in retaliation for France’s tax on American tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says France’s new digital services tax discriminates against U.S. companies and says that the tariffs could reach 100%. The agency will accept public comment on the plan through Jan. 6 and hold a hearing Jan. 7. The French tax is designed to prevent tech companies from dodging taxes by putting headquarters in low-tax European countries. It would impose a 3% annual levy on French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than 750 million euros ($830 million) and French revenue exceeding 25 million euros.
“Billboards to steak-loving President Trump: Go vegan in January for $1 million” via Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A tall order for President Trump: Go vegan and get $1 million. The request is plastered on billboards near Palm Beach International Airport that feature 10 kids who’ve adopted a vegan lifestyle. With crossed arms, power stances and serious faces, they mean business. One billboard calls out the president directly and reads: “We’ll give $1 million to our veterans if you go vegan for January. Deal?” Trump notably likes to eat steak well-done, with ketchup. The billboard kids, who are part of a local nonprofit group called Animal Hero Kids, hope he’ll give that up for the month of January.
“U.S. Supreme Court takes up consequential gun rights case this week” via Robin Bravender of the Florida Phoenix — A momentous clash over gun rights is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court is slated to hear oral arguments on Monday in a case over a New York City handgun regulation. It marks the first major gun control dispute to reach the Supreme Court since its ideological shift with the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and legal observers are billing it as the biggest Second Amendment case to come before the high court in years. At the heart of the case: a New York City regulation banning the transport of licensed, locked, and unloaded handguns to a home or shooting range outside city limits.
“Report says computer systems could hamper Census hiring” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — A report says the Census Bureau’s ability to recruit and hire hundreds of thousands of workers in time for next spring’s head count could be hampered by underperforming computer systems. A report released last week by the Office of Inspector General says a payroll system and an employment check system failed two phases of a test last July. Because of inadequate infrastructure or software inefficiencies, they were unable to perform at the scale needed to support peak recruiting for the 2020 Census. Solutions have been in the works, but the report questions whether there’s time to test them before next month, when the Census Bureau starts hiring up to 500,000 temporary workers in the federal government’s largest peacetime operation.
— 2020 —
“How black voters could help Joe Biden win the Democratic nomination” via Astead W. Herndon and Lauren Leatherby of The New York Times — Former Vice President Biden may lose the Iowa caucuses. But he is betting on strong support from black voters in Southern states and urban areas to help him accrue the 1,990 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. It might work. Think of it this way: Candidates gain delegates based on voting in both states and districts, which are Congressional districts in all but a few places. While Iowa and New Hampshire may generate political momentum for a winner because they vote first, the two states award very few delegates. By contrast, a candidate who is popular in California, Texas and predominantly black districts in the South could pick up big shares of delegates.
“Steve Bullock ends struggling presidential campaign” via Michelle L. Price and Matt Volz of The Associated Press — Montana Gov. Bullock announced Monday that he’s ending his presidential campaign. The two-term governor and former state attorney general tried to make the case that he was the best bet to beat President Trump because he was the only Democratic candidate to win in a state that Trump won in 2016. But he got a late start, announcing his candidacy in May and joining nearly two dozen other Democratic candidates competing for attention and campaign donations. “While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates,” Bullock said in a statement.
— THE TRAIL —
“Adam Hattersley to host political star-studded Congressional campaign kickoff party tonight” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Rep. Hattersley is hosting his official campaign kickoff party Tuesday as he seeks the Democratic nomination to take on Congressman Ross Spano in 2020. Hattersley’s kickoff will be at Strandhill Public, an artisan Irish Pub in Brandon, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.. Hattersley is running to replace Spano in Congressional District 15, which includes parts of east Hillsborough including Brandon and Riverview as well as parts of Polk and Lake counties. The host committee includes Sen. Janet Cruz, 11 state representatives and many local elected officials in the Tampa Bay area.
“Neil Combee files for Polk County Commission” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Former Republican Rep. Combee is running for the District 5 seat on the Polk County Commission. “Polk County needs a no-nonsense County Commissioner who can get to work for the people on Day 1. I will work every day to keep taxes low for our families and small businesses, give our Sheriff’s department and first responders the tools and resources they need to keep us safe, push to make critical infrastructure improvements and get Polk County moving in the right direction,” Combee said. If successful, his newest venture would be a sort of homecoming — Combee served on the Polk County Commission from 1988 through 2004.
— FOR YOUR RADAR —
“Orlando voters in District 6 will choose their next commissioner: Bakari Burns or Gary Siplin” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — A vacant seat on the Orlando City Council will be decided on Tuesday in a runoff election that promises to be a low-turnout affair. Voters in District 6, spanning southwest Orlando neighborhoods like Washington Shores and Holden Heights out to key commercial districts such as International Drive, the Mall at Millenia and Universal Orlando Resort will hit the polls deciding between Burns and Siplin. Burns, the CEO of Orange Blossom Family Health, received the most votes — 46% — in the general election last month but didn’t reach the majority needed to win the race outright. Siplin, the former state senator, received the second most with 39% of the vote, about 215 fewer than Burns.
— LOCAL —
“Alejandra Agredo, voice for Miami-Dade transit with influential audience, dies at 17” via Douglas Hanks and Bianca Padró Ocasio — Agredo, whose command of transit policy and wry takes on its failings and potential in Miami-Dade County earned the attention of government and nonprofit leaders, died Nov. 26, her father said Monday. She was 17. A well-known voice among Miami-Dade policy makers and advocacy groups involved in transit, Agredo used her Twitter feed to demand better from the county’s transportation system and showed up at city halls and county meetings to press her case in person. “This is truly sad news,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo, a 2020 candidate for county mayor, wrote on Twitter. “When having a conversation with Alejandra about transportation, transit or housing, I knew I had to be prepared.”
“Broward presidential library could cost taxpayers $2 million” via Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — Broward taxpayers are being asked to spend $2 million on a presidential library. Not for Trump, Barack Obama or any other U.S. head of state, but one that would house memorabilia and papers from dozens of presidents and prime ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean. Newly appointed Broward Mayor Dale Holness has been a leading proponent of the Latin American and Caribbean Presidential Library Center as part of an expanded Broward County Convention Center. He sees it as a way to promote cultural and economic ties to a region that has a significant population base in the county. Holness has placed an item on Tuesday’s commission agenda seeking $800,000 on top of $1.2 million “previously approved” by the commission.
“Port Canaveral gets ‘A’ credit rating, despite exposure to potential tourism downturn” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Port Canaveral has received an “A” rating tied to its recent borrowing, despite what ratings agency Fitch categorized as the port’s extensive exposure to potential downturns in tourism. The A rating is the third-highest Fitch provides, behind AAA and AA. Port Canaveral is the world’s second-busiest cruise port, based on passenger volume. Fitch’s A rating with a “stable” outlook for Port Canaveral is at the same level as its rating tied to PortMiami, the world’s busiest cruise port, and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the world’s third-busiest cruise port. Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray called the favorable review from Fitch Ratings “a strong endorsement of the port’s financial health and stability.”
“Will Santa Rosa County’s new land development have teeth? Or is it all just lip service?” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Santa Rosa County set out nearly a year ago to revise its land development code. The goal was to have the new land development code finished by October. But the county’s planning and zoning director, Shawn Ward, said what was originally a simple “editing” of the code has become a full-fledged revise and replace. Ward expects the revised land development code to be ready for initial review by the zoning board in March, and to be adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in April. Some key changes coming to the updated land development code include the definition of “heritage trees,” how many and what kind of signs you can have on your property, and building and sea wall maintenance regulations.
“Miami-Dade finally close to approving new courthouse, leaving budget problems unsolved” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — After years of arguing and false starts, Miami-Dade is a vote away from approving a new $267 million civil courthouse in downtown Miami with a project already linked to revenue shortfalls in county budget projections. Approving the winning bid would finally hand Miami-Dade a financial path to replacing a courthouse so old that it once housed a trial for Al Capone. Miami-Dade would get a larger replacement next door to the existing 1928 courthouse on Flagler Street, a historic building that continues to be burdened by maintenance issues, closed courtrooms and complaints of dated, cramped facilities.
— OPINIONS —
“‘Socialism is a GOP smear. Democrats have to fight back” via Andrew Gillum for The Washington Post — A few days after I became the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, the Republican nominee, Ron DeSantis, visited the historically Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana in Miami and read aloud, in Spanish, from a note card: ‘El socialismo sería un desastre para la Florida.’ Attack ads and targeted mailers soon followed. President Trump visited Florida three times to amplify the attacks, and his diatribes about the dangers of socialism were broadcast to every home in the state. The messages used in my race for governor will again dominate the airwaves here and elsewhere in 2020. It’s time to face a hard truth: We, as Democrats, have allowed it to happen. We have responded to this unfair attack with well-intended, but scattershot, defenses.
“Come on, Florida, make corporations pay their fair share of taxes too” via the Editorial Board of the Orlando Sentinel — When is a corporate income tax not a tax? When hardly anyone is paying it because Florida happily plays the role of a pawn for big business. Here in Florida, the state charges a 5.5% tax on corporate profits. Make a million bucks in profit and you pay $55,000 in taxes to pay for roads, health care, schools, prisons, so on. It should be straightforward. It isn’t, as a continuing series of deeply researched stories by Orlando Sentinel reporter Jason Garcia have illustrated over the past several weeks. Here’s the key takeaway so far: Loopholes in the state’s corporate tax law mean just 1 in every 100 businesses pays taxes on corporate profits. Yes, Florida has a corporate tax, and virtually no one pays it.
“‘Socialism’ is a GOP smear. Democrats have to fight back.” via Andrew Gillum for The Washington Post — A few days after I became the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, the Republican nominee, Ron DeSantis, visited the historically Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana in Miami and read aloud, in Spanish, from a note card: “El socialismo sería un desastre para la Florida.” Attack ads and targeted mailers soon followed. President Trump visited Florida three times to amplify the attacks, and his diatribes about the dangers of socialism were broadcast to every home in the state. The messages used in my race for governor will again dominate the airwaves here and elsewhere in 2020. It’s time to face a hard truth: We, as Democrats, have allowed it to happen. We have responded to this unfair attack with well-intended, but scattershot, defenses.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Former Morehouse College administrator joining FAMU as new CFO” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida A&M University has hired former Morehouse College administrator Alan D. Robertson as its new chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration. Robertson, a CPA, served as senior vice president for business and finance and CFO at Morehouse April 2013-November 2018. He most recently worked as a consultant for Morehouse’s Division of Business and Finance since leaving its CFO post. In January, he was named one of three finalists to be interviewed for the presidency of Bethune-Cookman University, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. Another candidate, E. LaBrent Chrite, got that job.
— ALOE —
“Patriotism is the theme of Christmas at the White House” via The Associated Press — Patriotism is the theme of Christmas at the White House this year. Melania Trump announced “The Spirit of America” as the theme in a late Sunday tweet that included a minute-long video of the Christmas decorations being unveiled Monday. The video shows the first lady walking through the public floor of the White House amid Christmas trees decked out with white lights. Mrs. Trump is seen sprinkling fake snow on a tree and adjusting roses decorating a fireplace. Mrs. Trump says in the tweet that “‘The Spirit of America’ is shining in the @WhiteHouse!” She adds that she’s “delighted to share this beautiful exhibit of patriotism for all to see.”
“Mike Fasano again partners with elected officials, businesses and farmers for latest holiday food giveaway” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pasco County Tax Collector Fasano and several other local elected officials are hosting the 25th Annual Farm Share Holiday Food Giveaway later this month. Fasano, along with Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, Property Appraiser Gary Joiner, Sheriff Chris Nocco, Sen. Ed Hooper and Reps. Ardian Zika and Amber Mariano, will hand out fresh food and meat for holiday meals Dec. 13 from 9-11 a.m. at Faith Baptist Church located at 9230 Ridge Road in New Port Richey. Most of the food being given away will be donated by local farmers.
“Weather is excellent for SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station” via Antonia Jaramillo of Florida Today — As launch day moves closer and closer, weather looks promising for Wednesday’s mission. Scheduled to liftoff at 12:51 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40, SpaceX is sending its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station with science experiments, crew supplies and hardware onboard as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program. Weather is currently 90% “go” for launch, as calculated by the U.S. Air Force. “The primary concern is higher surface winds lingering into the launch window Wednesday,” according to the 45th Weather Squadron.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to Sen. Keith Perry (check out his recent appearance on the He Said, She Said podcast here), Patricia Greene of Metz Husband & Daughton, and Carrie O’Rourke.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.