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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.17.20

Who’s up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

Happy Presidents Day!

Last week, Florida Politics changed the national narrative by sponsoring and publishing the first poll of Florida’s Democratic presidential primary since the results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

SPP has become such a household name — at least in the households which live and die on political news — that its numbers are now part of the aggregators at FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics.

We’d like to do more polling of this race, especially since we ask those who have already cast a ballot who got their vote. But, as you know, good polling can be expensive.

So we’d like to see if there is any appetite for crowdfunding at least two more surveys from St. Pete Polls. To do so, we need to raise $2,500 to run a poll this week and two weeks after that.

Would you consider kicking in something to pay for that poll? If so, PayPal FP at We are setting a minimum contribution to this tip jar of $10, although we hope you will consider donating north of that. If we get enough money together, we’ll do the poll; if not, we’ll refund your money.

If you do put something in the kitty, we’ll include your name (if you want) in the stories about the polls. We’ll also — and perhaps more important — share with you the results of the survey the night before we publish the story (so long as you agree to keep the result confidential until we publish them.)

Thanks in advance for being part of this.


Voters are voting — According to the Florida Division of Elections, as of Sunday morning, Supervisors of Elections have 971,00 Republican vote-by-mail ballots; 135,051 have returned, 829,450 are outstanding, and 6,499 are unsent. As for Democrats, supervisors have a total of 1,056,586 vote-by-mail ballots; 71,828 have returned, 971,836 are outstanding, and 11,922 are unsent. With those categorized “Other,” 247,065 vote-by-mail ballots, 3,405 have returned, 43,456 are outstanding, and 200,204 are unsent.


Just off embargo — Florida CFO Alex Sink is endorsing Michael Bloomberg for President. “I believe Mike Bloomberg is the best candidate to win back America and restore honor to the Presidency,” said Sink. “With his experience and proven record in government and business, he will work to build an economy that works for all Americans. More than 40% of Florida families still live paycheck to paycheck. We need a President focused on higher wages, affordable housing, access to healthcare, and a clean environment.”



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@TimRunsHisMouth: It’s crazy … I never thought they’d hold the #DAYTONA500 at a [Donald] Trump rally.

@AnaNavarro: If @BernieSanders is the nominee, all we’ll hear is “Democrats want to turn America into Venezuela.” It won’t affect outcome in NY or VT, but it will affect Florida. It’ll cripple down-ballot candidates. Democrats, I plead w/you, think hard about the big picture and who can win.

@DanCrenshawTX: We really calling someone running on a campaign of more govt-run health care, lax immigration enforcement, & decriminalizing possession of all narcotics a “moderate?” Enough with “Pete the moderate.” Running two steps to the right of a socialist does not put you in the middle

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@BruceRitchie: 1000 Friends of Florida’s @janewestlaw tells NPR’s @floridaroundup that the 2020 Legislature is on a “rampage” of preemption bills, inc. plastic bag regulation. Regarding consumer choice?: “A sea turtle doesn’t have a choice about being starved to death,” she said. I’m up soon.

@JaredEMoskowitz: 2 years ago today, my 4-year-old was put in a closet by his teacher @jguttenbergot around the corner from #MSD. I will always be grateful. Her daughter Jaimie was killed with 16 others as she sheltered preschoolers. Today I was afraid to send him to school.

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—@BuzzFeedBenThis is great news; when @peretti started saying years ago that platforms would pay for news, everyone thought he was nuts


South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 2; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 2; Roger Stone’s sentencing — 3; Nevada caucuses — 5; “Better Call Saul” Season 5 premiers — 6; Suits for Session — 8; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 8; South Carolina Primaries — 12; Super Tuesday — 15; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 25; Florida’s presidential primary — 29; “No Time to Die” premiers — 49; Florida TaxWatch Spring Board Meeting begins — 58; TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards — 59; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 88; “Top Gun: Maverick” premiers — 130; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 147; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premiers — 151; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 158; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 183; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 189; First Presidential Debate in Indiana — 225; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 233; Second Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 241; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 248; 2020 General Election — 260.


In Florida, there are some things that are simply out of our control — like the weather.

On Sunday, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season was supposed to get underway, the biggest stock car event of the year at Daytona International Speedway.

The main highlight was Trump, who served as the race’s Grand Marshal and turned the 100,000-person crowd into a political rally, calling the race “pure American glory.”

“The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed, and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years,” Trump said.

Trump even became the first President to take a lap on the track, in a tricked-out armored presidential limo called “The Beast.”

Before the festivities, anticipation was high, as Air Force One made a dramatic entry with the President, Melania Trump and several VIPs, including U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, who posted a short clip from the presidential plane:

On the ground, political luminaries mingled with NASCAR stars in the lead-up to The Great American Race.

Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson with NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick.

Ultimately, the day failed to live up to expectations. The Daytona 500 was less than one pace lap from the green flag before raindrops began to fall. The planned green flag time of 3:05 p.m. was pushed back to 4:15 p.m.

After only 20 laps, a hard rain began to fall, forcing officials to postpone the race until 4 p.m. Monday.


Republican lawmakers launch petty, partisan raid on Nikki Fried’s ag duties” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Give Holly Raschein credit for candor: “Quite frankly,” said the sponsor of HB 5401, “the election of Ron DeSantis happened,” and that’s all the reason Republicans need to seize control of Florida’s Office of Energy (OE) from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Fried. Fried is the only statewide elected Democrat currently holding office. As a member of the Cabinet, she has been a thorn in the side of the Governor and his fellow Republican Cabinet members. Raschien’s bill is moving rapidly through the House and aims to bring the OE to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which is controlled by DeSantis. Fried is pushing back hard, denouncing the move as a partisan power grab and political payback.

José Oliva wants clean E-Verify bill” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — E-Verify exemplifies the kind of issue that Republicans are more comfortable campaigning on than legislating — and 2020’s Legislative Session illustrates that conundrum. Bills are alive requiring Florida businesses to use the federal employment verification system, albeit with more carveouts than last year’s Thanksgiving turkey. A requirement that employers use the E-Verify federal database to check the status of workers has been a top priority for DeSantis. However, DeSantis is not poised to get what he wants from the current legislation. House Speaker Oliva told reporters that he would like to see a clean, carveout free E-Verify bill. “I’m not sure that exempting certain industries is the right solution or sends the right signal.”

Jimmy Patronis weighed in on insurance association hire Patronis’ office asked the Florida Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association to delay hiring a new general counsel during the association’s Jan. 10 meeting, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. Patronis’ office said it wanted the delay so the CFO would have an opportunity to fill upcoming vacancies on the board. The ask took FLAHIGA by surprise, as they were unaware Brock Juarez, Patronis’ director of external affairs and appointments, had been listening in on the call. Board members weren’t receptive to the CFO’s request, ignoring it and voting unanimously to hire Meenan PA for the counsel job.

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Travis Cummings defends House affordable housing, land conservation budget positions” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — House Appropriations Chair Cummings is gearing up for the yearly ritual of budget negotiation with the Senate. One such controversial issue between the House and Senate budgets: the radically different dispensation toward the state’s land acquisition program. The Senate wants to slot $125 million to acquire environmentally sensitive lands; the House, just $20 million. “It is a start, and yes, we are far apart from the Governor and Senate. We own a bunch of land today and have to always consider the permanent expenditures to manage such lands. But, we look forward to engaging our senate partners during budget conference. There are no doubt some pristine areas in our state that are worthy candidates for Florida Forever funds,” Cummings noted.


House slated to take up parental consent requirement” via the News Service of Florida — The parental-consent issue (HB 265 and SB 404) is scheduled to be considered during a Wednesday floor session. The proposal has drawn heavy debate about whether lawmakers should place additional restrictions on abortions and the role of parents in helping teens decide whether to end pregnancies. It passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Feb. 6 in a party-line vote. It is almost certain to pass the House and be sent to DeSantis, who used part of his State of the State address last month to signal support for a consent requirement. Passage could lead to a legal battle, as opponents say the bill would violate constitutional privacy rights.

Senate bill to lessen sentences for non-violent offenders draws sheriffs’ ire” via Gabrielle Arzola of Spectrum News — Florida’s current Truth in Sentencing Law requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Senate Bill 572 would reduce that serving requirement to 65 percent for nonviolent felons. Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells opposes the change, pointing to a 67 percent drop in crime rates since the current law went into effect. “It really comes down to being held accountable,” says Wells. “You’re talking about several years being taken off that sentence.”

Nursing homes with serious violations could receive fewer inspections under Florida bills” via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News — Over the last three years, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration cited all three low-rated nursing homes with Class 1 violations — the most severe violations the agency can levy. By state law, AHCA was required to ramp up oversight, inspecting the homes every six months for two years. But that oversight would be cut back under two bills making their way through the Florida Legislature that would reduce inspections at problem nursing homes. As part of the legislation, AHCA would be required to do only one additional inspection at nursing homes after the agency cites them with a Class 1 or multiple Class 2 violations.

Holocaust education measure clears final House” panel via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — Brevard Republican Rep. Randy Fine is sponsoring legislation (CS/HB 1213) that would require the Florida Department of Education to give schools curriculum standards for teaching the subject in K-12 schools. The bill passed the House Education Committee without opposition. It also mandates that every school district and charter school also teach students about the state’s policy against anti-Semitism. The department would have to create a process for schools to annually certify and provide evidence of compliance with the Holocaust instructional requirements. They may contract with the Florida Holocaust Museum and other state or nationally recognized organizations to develop the curriculum and instructional material.

Randy Fine’s Holocaust education bill clears another hurdle in the House.

Puppy mill regulations set for Senate hearing” via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — Legislation to regulate pet stores (SB 1698) is set to be heard in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The legislation, sponsored by Hialeah Gardens Republican Sen. Manny Diaz aims to rid the state of so-called “puppy mills.” The bill needs to get a move on to clear both chambers in the final month of Session. Its House companion (HB 1237,) sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, has yet to be heard in committee. The bills seek to set a uniform standard throughout the state, allowing stores that play by the rules to keep their doors open and freeing them of the stigma brought on by shady operations.


 The Education Estimating Conference meets to discuss enrollment in prekindergarten through 12th-grade system, 9 a.m., Room 117, Knott Building.

The Senate Education Committee meets to consider SB 1634 from Sen. Kelli Stargel, which would create a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” on issues such as education and health care, 1:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meet to take up SB 774 from Sen. Diaz, which seeks public-records and public-meetings exemptions for university and college presidential searches, 1:30 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee meets to take up SB 646 from Sen. Debbie Mayfield, which allows Florida college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses, 1:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 1258 from Diaz, which seeks new requirements on commercial airports, 4 p.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee meets to consider SB 1284 also from Diaz, which would request a study by the Department of Environmental Protection and Florida International University on land subsidence and sinkholes and their impact on sea-level rise, 4 p.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meets to consider confirmation of Scott Rivkees as secretary of the Florida Department of Health and state surgeon general, 4 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee meets to consider SB 1606 from Sen. Keith Perry, which seeks to require the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to develop an online verification system for auto insurance, 4 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets to set the special-order calendar, 15 minutes after completion of committee meetings, Room 401 Senate Office Building.

Happening today — The Florida Coalition for Trans Liberation and the Florida National Organization for Women will join other groups for a news conference to criticize SB 1634, which seeks to develop a “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” 1 p.m., outside Room 412, Knott Building.


Florida deadline to register to vote, switch parties nears” via The Associated Press — Florida has closed primaries, which means anyone not registered as a Democrat by Tuesday will be unable to vote to choose the party’s nominee. Some areas, like Orange County, had extended hours to accommodate new registrations and party switches. Two million vote-by-mail ballots were also going in the mail. Early voting begins at the beginning of March and lasts through the weekend before the primary. But experts caution that sending a ballot in too early runs the risk of voting for someone who will have dropped out of the race by the time the Florida primary takes place.

Dem voters in Fla primary to wade through dropped out candidates on ballot” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — As if whittling down eight active presidential candidates isn’t enough of a chore, Florida Democratic Party voters will have another challenge: weeding out those who dropped out of the race. The names of 16 candidates will appear on Democratic voters’ ballots on March 17, the day of Florida’s presidential preference primary, and some municipal elections. But half those candidates had already “suspended” their campaigns as of Wednesday afternoon. A few more could drop out in the weeks before Florida’s primary. Yet there’s a distinct difference between suspending a campaign and withdrawing one’s candidacy. Technically, a campaign suspension doesn’t mean a candidate can’t receive votes.

Bloomberg opens new campaign offices throughout Florida” via The Associated Press — Scott Kosanovich, the campaign’s state director for Florida, said offices in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Sanford, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach opened on Saturday. The former New York Mayor already had offices in St. Pete, Orlando, and the Little Havana area of Miami. Shortly after Bloomberg opened his Tampa office, the Trump reelection campaign sent an email to the media, decrying Bloomberg’s “socialist agenda,” and attacked him on his views regarding taxes, guns and government policies. Bloomberg campaign officials say 10 additional offices will open in coming weeks, as will a statewide campaign headquarters in Tampa.

Mike Bloomberg is opening another seven new campaign offices in Florida, bringing the total number to ten across the state.

Bernie Sanders campaign opens first field office in Central Florida” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The Aloma Avenue space was the first field office in the Orlando area for the campaign, and the third Democratic presidential campaign office overall in Central Florida after U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former New York Mayor Bloomberg. But the Sanders office was unique, organizer Grayson Lanza said, in that it was entirely paid for and set up by volunteers — without any paid staff. “No other campaign has a volunteer-funded office in Central Florida or in general in Florida,” Lanza said. “It’s proof of concept. Bernie says, ‘How am I going to get this done? How are we gonna get all these great policies done?’ Mobilizing people. He’s not even in office right now.”

Former county Republican chairwoman registers as Democrat — to cast primary vote for Pete Buttigieg” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cindy Guerra, a former chairwoman of the Broward Republican Party, changed her party registration this week to become a Democrat. She said she did it so she could vote for Buttigieg in Florida’s Democratic presidential primary. There are two reasons. One, Guerra is impressed with Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who finished a close second in this week’s New Hampshire primary. “I find him very impressive. I do think he’s qualified.” The second reason: Trump. “I am not going to vote for Donald Trump — ever. I think Pete Buttigieg is far more qualified than Donald Trump. I think he’s far more intelligent. I think he is far more humane,” Guerra said. “We need a change.”

Florida Dems’ PPP Fact of the Day via Juan Peñalosa‏ — FDP held a Weekend of Action to register voters and explain what is at stake in the election of 2020. They organized over 250 neighborhood voter registration drives across the state Saturday and Sunday. Bonus Fact: In 2019, FDP completed 23,617 volunteer shifts and had 9,409 active volunteers who completed one or more shifts. In 2015, they only completed 2,988 volunteer shifts and had 1,073 active volunteers.

Tweet, tweet:


Biden — “For Them”:

Bloomberg — “Get It Done”:

Klobuchar — “Compassion”:

— MORE 2020 —

Donald Trump drives massive turnout in primaries despite token opposition” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — The massive turnout is a reflection of organic enthusiasm among conservatives and a sophisticated effort by Trump‘s campaign to rev up its get-out-the-vote machine ahead of the general election. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire ahead of voting, and the campaign flooded the two states with high-profile surrogates and launched a Facebook advertising blitz reminding supporters to cast ballots. The efforts are paying off, with Republicans turning out in historic numbers. Trump received more than 31,000 votes in the Iowa caucus, surpassing the 25,000 Democrats who turned out during Barack Obama’s successful 2012 reelection bid.

Even without opposition, Donald Trump is spurring massive Republican turnout.

Trump holds lavish fundraiser at Palm Beach billionaire’s home” via Meredith McGraw of POLITICO — The $10 million fundraiser, set in a grand dining room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, was the most expensive of his presidency so far, showcasing the continued support the president and the Republican National Committee are getting from top-dollar donors. According to an RNC official, approximately 40 people were expected to attend the fundraiser for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee benefitting the RNC and the Trump reelection campaign. Guests at the sprawling Nelson Peltz mansion included billionaire friends of the president like Marvel Entertainment’s Ike Perlmutter and sugar and real estate billionaire Pepe Fanjul. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Todd Ricketts, RNC finance chair, also attended.

Sanders is powered by a loyal base, but results in Iowa and New Hampshire show the movement has limits” via Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post — A core base of young, liberal and working-class voters inspired by the Vermont senator’s calls for a political revolution powered the self-described democratic socialist to an effective tie atop the Iowa caucuses and an outright win in this week’s New Hampshire primary. Yet the early returns show that Sanderss loyal army represents a limited slice of the party, accounting for just over a quarter of the vote in each of the first two states. And one of the central premises of his campaign — that it is built to activate legions of new voters and spur record turnout among young people — has not been realized.

Sanders steps up attacks on Mike Bloomberg at candidates event in Nevada” via David Weigel of The Washington Post — “Mayor Bloomberg, with all his money, will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout we must have to defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for, and enacted, racist policies like stop-and-frisk, which caused communities of color in his city to live in fear.” Those were the only comments made about Bloomberg, who is not competing in this state’s caucuses, during a gathering of Clark County Democrats. Other candidates largely focused on Trump, while the Senator spoke as if Bloomberg was his only real challenger for the Democratic nomination.

Bloomberg’s billions: How the candidate built an empire of influence” via Alexander Burns and Nicholas Kulish of The New York Times — In less than three months as a candidate, Bloomberg has poured more than $400 million, and rapidly counting, into the campaign. But that figure pales in comparison with what he spent in prior years, positioning himself as a national leader with presidential ambitions. An examination of Bloomberg’s philanthropic and political spending leading up to his presidential bid illustrates how he developed a national infrastructure of influence, image-making, and unspoken suasion that has helped transform a former Republican Mayor of New York City into a plausible contender for the Democratic nomination. If anything, his claim — and support among anxious moderates — has grown stronger with the ascent of the “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders in early voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Bloomberg in 2013: Civil libertarians and teachers union are like NRA ‘extremists’” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — The problem now that he’s seeking the Democratic nomination? In his final year as New York Mayor, Bloomberg compared two groups core to the Democratic base — a local faction of the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York City teacher’s union — to the NRA. At the time, Bloomberg had locked horns with the NYCLU over stop-and-frisk. The group vehemently opposed the policing tactic and was pushing legislation to make it easier for those targeted by it to sue the city. In the same video, Bloomberg laid out a defense of the policy, denying it was racially biased. Bloomberg’s 2015 description of the policy seems to contradict his remarks in the 2013 video.

Bloomberg campaign ad touts relationship with Barack Obama, despite complicated history” via Tarini Parti and Sabrina Siddiqui of The Wall Street Journal — The former New York City Mayor’s presidential campaign is airing an ad touting Bloomberg’s work with Obama — who has remained neutral in the crowded Democratic primary — on gun safety laws, education, and jobs for teenagers, with a voice-over from a speech Obama gave introducing him as a leader who can “bring people together to seek pragmatic solutions.” The strategy appears to be paying dividends. David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Obama, said he had even fielded numerous calls in recent days from political operatives and some elected officials asking if Obama had endorsed Bloomberg. “They certainly weren’t best buds,” he said. “It does speak to the power of Obama with Democrats. Everyone wants to have an ad like this.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Bloomberg is considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate, says Matt Drudge” via Lauren Hirsch of CNBC — According to Drudge, in such a partnership Bloomberg would change his official residence from New York to Colorado or Florida. The constitution suggests there may be limitations in both members of a presidential ballot residing in the same state. Jason Schechter, director of communications for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement to CNBC: “We are focused on the primary and the debate, not VP speculation.”

Pete Buttigieg — for cash: 10 fundraisers in two weeks” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — In addition to Buttigieg himself, his national policy director, Sonal Shah, a veteran of the Obama administration and Goldman Sachs, is hitting the road to headline events in Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, where donors are asked for up to $2,800 to become a “champion” and join in a “policy conversation” (some tickets can be had for as little as $54). And Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, is featured at another five events, with two stops in Wisconsin, two in Denver and one in Phoenix. The frenetic fundraising pace opens up Buttigieg to potential criticism from progressives that he is the preferred candidate of the wealthy.


DeSantis, Richard Corcoran: Florida leads the nation in AP exam participation” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — The College Board announced this week that Florida leads the nation when it comes to the percentage of graduates who took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam while in high school. A majority of Florida students who graduated high school in 2019—56 percent — took an AP exam, which offers the chance for college credit. “Once more, Florida’s students have demonstrated their serious commitment to education as they continue to place third in the nation in Advanced Placement (AP) test results,” said DeSantis.

Ashley Moody reverses course, grants reparations for wrongfully convicted Jacksonville man” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — The Florida attorney general’s office reversed course Saturday, announcing it was wrong to deny reparations to a Jacksonville man wrongfully convicted of murder. Already the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office, two circuit judges and special masters in the Florida Senate and Florida House had determined substantial evidence showed Nathan Myers and his uncle spent nearly 43 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit. A judge last summer granted Myers’ petition for reparations for his time in prison, but last month, the Office of Attorney General vetoed that court order. But a letter from the general counsel for the office’s Department of Legal Affairs said the office had no right to veto a court order.

Nathan Myers was 18-years-old when he and his then 34-year-old uncle, Clifford Williams, both went to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Image via News4Jax.

This Gables lawyer got an important state job 3 months ago. Why hasn’t he started yet?” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — At this point, it might be official: the Commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation is the most doomed position in Florida state government. In the last 20 months, Florida’s chief financial officer, Patronis, has forced out one commissioner under dubious circumstances. Then the Cabinet fired the man Patronis picked to replace him for inappropriate behavior. The new guy was hired Dec. 3, but he still hasn’t taken the job. Monday was supposed to be the start date for Russell Weigel, a Coral Gables securities lawyer, but an Office of Financial Regulation spokeswoman announced he wouldn’t be there. “The commissioner’s start date has been delayed,” spokeswoman Jamie Mongiovi said. “I do not have a new date at this time.”

Florida ‘red flag’ gun law used 3,500 times since Parkland” via The Associated Press — A 23-year-old man who posted on Facebook, “I don’t know why I don’t go on a killing spree.” A West Palm Beach couple who shot up their home while high on cocaine. A 31-year-old Gulf Coast man who pointed a semi-automatic rifle at a motorcyclist. All four Florida residents had their guns taken away by judges under a “red flag” law the state passed three weeks after authorities say a mentally disturbed man killed 17 people in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland two years ago Friday. The law, supported by legislators of both parties, has been applied more than 3,500 times since, with the pace accelerating during the last half 2019. Even so, an Associated Press analysis of the law showed its use is inconsistent, with some counties and cities using it rarely and others not at all.

Feds: Florida doctor stole $26M to fund political ambition” via Bobby Cania Calvan of The Associated Press — A federal grand jury unsealed a 58-count indictment alleging that Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson falsely billed insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, for work he did not actually perform. Investigators within the federal Department of Health and Human Services said that deGraft-Johnson claimed to have performed over a five-year period more than 3,600 atherectomies, a minimally invasive procedure that clears potentially dangerous buildup in arteries. In court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, prosecutors argued to keep the doctor in custody, asserting that he was a flight risk because his “ultimate long-term professional goal” was to one day become the president of Ghana.

Smooth sailing for Florida Maritime Partnership” via Florida Politics — To ensure the interests of what is the second-biggest state maritime industry in the United States of America are not neglected, the Florida Maritime Partnership continues to drum up support for the Sunshine State’s domestic maritime industry. A recent week saw the group in Tallahassee, walking in tandem with the Florida Ports Council as they too worked the halls of the Capitol. The meetings came fast and furious with stalwarts in both the legislative and executive branches. Of course, a hallmark of recent years in Tallahassee has been robust support for the industry, so awareness-raising visits have been key to many an initiative.


Few government contractors can coordinate a $7.5 million payday for three years of work.

So how did Tiffany Carr, who led the Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence, manage to orchestrate such a lucrative compensation package?

As noted by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald, it’s keeping a “carefully managed and compartmentalized information flow that had Carr at the center of a tightly-knit and devoted group of advocates.” Also, it helped that the organization’s lobbyists and overseers were kept in the dark.

Carr’s rise began under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, after Columba Bush visited a women’s shelter and saw the decadelong work Carr was doing “saving lives and protecting families.” Carr quickly rose in the Bush’s orbit, joining the board of directors of the agency’s foundation.

Tiffany Carr made it on Jeb Bush’s radar, which helped launch her (very lucrative) career.

“By 2003,” Klas writes, “Carr was rewarded with the rare and coveted status of being a sole source contractor, serving as the single clearinghouse for about $50 million in state and federal domestic violence funds each year.”

The Bush family helped Carr fundraise for the organization, and, in turn, she served as a campaign surrogate for Bush’s presidential campaign in 2016.

During that time, Carr stayed in charge of the coalition, though she later “barely set foot in the office.”

After stepping down in November, citing poor health, Carr remained connected to the organization — collecting two years of severance and compensation for life, health and disability insurance.

“She also used her carefully honed network to get information from legislative staff and officials at the Department of Children and Families, enough to inform board members what to resist when lawmakers demanded it,” Klas notes. “DCF is the state agency that deals directly with FCADV and is supposed to have an oversight role.

After a state Senator’s wife (who sat on the organization’s board) complained in 2012 about Carr’s salary, forcing an admonishment from Gov. Rick Scott, her pay structure changed to rely more on nonsalary compensation, as well as highly inflated paid personal time and extravagant bonuses for “exemplary performance.” By 2017, those checks for accumulated paid time off reached $700,000, $4.5 million in 2018, and $1.7 million in 2019.


Roger Stone knows Trump’s secrets. That’s why he’ll avoid prison” via Rick Wilson for the Rolling Stone — Stone deserved everything in the first sentencing memo. Every minute. He deserves to be dragged from the courtroom in shackles and issued his itchy, federal-prison poly-cotton orange scrubs. Karmically, he deserves it because he was one of Trump’s lifelong enablers. He was great at piling on a wounded victim (see Eliot Spitzer), but it was Trump who kept Stone afloat for decades. Of course, Stone likely won’t serve his full hitch, because Trump and William Barr know that without a pardon, Stone will squeal like a rat in a blender, proving that Trump lied to Robert Mueller and about the details of the Trump-Stone-WikiLeaks connections.

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2019, file photo, Roger Stone, left, with his wife Nydia Stone, leaves federal court in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Stone to serve between 7 and 9 years in prison after his conviction on witness tampering and obstruction charges. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Roger Stone knows too many secrets to go to jail.

The irrelevance of Marco Rubio” via Shay Khatiri of The Bulwark — Although Rubio calls himself a conservative, if you look closely at his time in the Senate — with all his flip-flops and failures, his shapeshifting and Trumpification — you’ll see that a more apt description of his politics is the quote attributed to the 19th-century French socialist Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin: There go the people; I must follow them, for I am their leader. Rubio was a failed candidate. He was also once a rising star. It is sad to see how he has proved to be petty, regretful, a dud of a legislator, and a flip-flopper. Lindsey Graham put it best, describing Rubio in 2016: I’m not saying that he would change his positions, but he would change his positions.

Amid bid for Appropriations Committee gavel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she helped raise $1M+ this cycle” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz says she helped raise more than $1 million this cycle for Democratic candidates as her party looks to keep control of the House in 2020. The fundraising push comes as Wasserman Schultz pursues the Chair position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which will open up following the November elections. More than $400,000 of that total has been raised for members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) Frontline Program. That program aims to identify vulnerable Democrats in tightly contested races in order to boost their resources during the campaign. The campaign says they raised more than $410,000 at a single DCCC event in Miami Beach in January. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at that event.

Proposed Medicaid changes draw bipartisan criticism” via the News Service of Florida — Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the federal agency has received more than 4,000 comments on a proposed Medicaid regulation that is taking bipartisan heat. “We are reviewing them carefully, and we understand that potential changes in Medicaid financing and payment can have significant ripple effects at the local level,” she wrote in a blog post. Verma, however, devoted most of the lengthy post to defending the proposed rules. “Alarmist estimates” that the rule would “suddenly remove billions of dollars from the program and threaten beneficiary access are overblown and without credibility,” she wrote.

PortMiami, Port Canaveral get federal funds” via News Service of Florida — A pair of Florida seaports received a combined $58 million for infrastructure improvements as part of federal grants issued to 15 coastal facilities on Friday. Port Canaveral was awarded $14.1 million to upgrade its cargo berth through the completion of several construction projects expected to improve resiliency from rising waters. PortMiami is getting $43.9 million for several infrastructure and resiliency efforts, and for the reorganization of its cargo containers, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. “The project will also construct a state-of-the-art fumigation and cold chain processing facility,” the release stated. DeSantis had announced he would join U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at PortMiami for the Friday afternoon announcement.


Escaping the coronavirus ‘petri dish’: Doctor, lawmakers seek evacuations from quarantined cruise” via Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond — Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe is leading a congressional letter calling on the federal government to bring those stranded on the ship back to the U.S. for testing. He also lobbied for evacuation during a call with health officials that included Arnold Hopland, a longtime friend of Roe’s who is stranded aboard the ship, where over 200 passengers have been infected. Hopland described the deteriorating medical conditions aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, warning officials that the crew has little medical training or ability to enforce key quarantine practices. Hopland described the deteriorating medical conditions aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, warning officials that the crew has little medical training or ability to enforce key quarantine practices.

Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe, M.D., wants the U.S. to rescue Americans under quarantine for coronavirus.

U.S. to evacuate passengers from coronavirus cruise” via Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — About 400 Americans are set to be evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Japan amid concerns about spreading coronavirus, the CDC confirmed. The State Department will lead the repatriation mission, which involves flying the Americans back to the U.S. and quarantining them on military bases in California and Texas. The decision represents an abrupt reversal in the U.S.’s approach to the coronavirus-afflicted cruise ship, which had been held at sea since Feb. 4 and quickly became the largest concentration of cases outside China.

Royal Caribbean makes changes to cruise itinerary due to coronavirus concerns” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — The unfounded fear that some Chinese passengers on a Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas cruise had contracted coronavirus resulted in the cruise line delaying the departure of that ship’s next cruise by three days and changing that cruise’s itinerary. The fallout from that decision meant the New Jersey-based ship had a shortened cruise this week and did not make a scheduled stop at Port Canaveral. Instead, the ship sailed from Port Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Bermuda, rather than sailing to Port Canaveral and the Bahamas. The cruise line offered passengers on the shortened cruise a variety of partial refunds and credits as a result of the itinerary change.


Community philanthropist Sandra Henry to challenge Stephanie Murphy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A Democrat has entered the contest in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, with community philanthropist and businesswoman Henry setting up a primary challenge for Rep. Murphy. Henry founded and heads the ReachBack Foundation in Lake Mary, a not-for-profit group that organizes drives to provide goods to needy people ranging from teachers to at-risk youth, as well as other services. On her foundation’s website, she describes herself as the owner of several businesses and as “a candidate that is in touch with and can relate to the needs of poor people.” She is a graduate of Jones High School in Orlando, and attended Valencia College, according to her Facebook page.

Vennia Francois swaps races to run in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Francois is switching her candidacy to Florida’s 10th Congressional District from Florida’s 7th Congressional District, seeking to take on U.S. Rep. Val Demings rather than be in the multi-Republican field targeting U.S. Rep. Murphy. Francois switches to CD 10 after the leading Republican candidate there, Kirk Troen, withdrew his candidacy earlier this month. That puts Francois in competition with Republican Angela Marie Walls-Windhauser, a perennial candidate for various offices, including for President this year. Francois, 46, was living in CD 7, in Seminole County. CD 10 covers Western Orange County. The U.S. Constitution requires members of Congress to live in the state they represent, but not necessarily the district.

Happening tonight:

Carpetbagger claims roil politics in paradise after candidate leaves Miami for the Keys” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — At the center of the controversy is candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez, vying to replace termed-out Republican Rep. Holly Raschein in Florida House District 120. In September 2018, fresh off a failed primary race for House District 115, Rebman Lopez changed her voter registration to a Key Largo residence in the posh and private Ocean Reef Club. The house — which is owned by a trust with Rebman Lopez as the primary beneficiary — is undergoing more than $500,000 in renovations which she says have rendered the home’s top floor temporarily unlivable. She dismissed suspicions raised by her opponents, calling one an “ambulance-chasing lawyer” and saying she’d made the change simply to “avoid any confusion whatsoever about my full-time residence in the Keys.”


Tweet, tweet:

Nikki Fried asks for FDLE investigation into Jacksonville officer-involved shooting” via Dan Scanlan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Agriculture Commissioner Fried now has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the use of deadly force in the Dec. 14 officer-involved shooting of former Florida A&M student Jamee Christopher Deonte Johnson during a traffic stop. Fried’s written request to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen came as Johnson’s family, the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, and others have publicly demanded such an investigation in recent weeks. As a member of the Florida Cabinet, Fried oversees FDLE with the Governor, Attorney General, and the Chief Financial Officer. She said lawmakers like Democratic state Rep. Ramon Alexander, who represents Gadsden County and parts of Tallahassee, have also called for state review of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

 “’The nerve of you’: Lawmakers appalled at way sheriff portrays man shot by deputy” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A lawyer for Dontrell Stephens is accusing the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office of lying to state lawmakers so it won’t be forced to pay $22.5 million to the West Palm Beach man who was paralyzed in 2013 when a deputy shot him. The allegations, which lobbyists for Sheriff Ric Bradshaw vehemently denied, surfaced as the Legislature enters the final, critical month of its 60-day Session. Instead of negotiating in good faith, attorney Jack Scarola said the sheriff’s office is stonewalling, misrepresenting how the shooting unfolded and vilifying Stephens to keep him from getting the money a federal jury in 2016 agreed he deserves. “It’s absolutely crazy,” Scarola said of the assertions Bradshaw’s lobbyists have made.

A year after day spa sex-for-pay crackdown, Robert Kraft and others still face charges” via Melissa Holsman and Will Greenlee of the Palm Beach Post — New England Patriots owner Kraft still faces prostitution charges nearly a year after he was arrested in a sweeping three-county sex-for-pay probe that involved police video recording hundreds of alleged sex acts by licensed massage workers. Initially announced as a potential human sex-trafficking investigation — assertions authorities later backed away from — the day spa crackdowns sparked a national debate over privacy rights and the government’s ability to secretly video record citizens, while in pursuit of criminal charges. Ultimately, prosecutors only leveled human trafficking charges against one spa operator in Vero Beach as part of a felony racketeering charge.


Pension agency questions about McClatchy’s largest lender threaten to slow bankruptcy process” via Kevin Hall and Ben Weider of McClatchy DC — The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which takes over pensions in the event of company distress, argued against a request by McClatchy and Chatham to move immediately to mediation. The judge delayed a decision on the mediation request. “We are not close,” Kimberly Neureiter, an attorney for the PBGC, told Judge Michael Miles. A nearly finished deal could be in jeopardy if the proceedings last longer than 60 days, when, under the company’s financing agreement with Encina Business Credit, McClatchy must choose which path to take as it proceeds — a sale or a modified restructuring plan, lawyers for McClatchy and Encina told the judge.

After McClatchy bankruptcy, reporter Julie Brown urges Americans to subscribe to local newspapers” via Clare Duffy of CNN Business — The shrinking presence of local news across the United States may be dividing the country, Miami Herald reporter Brown said Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources. “With these smaller newspapers drying up across the country, it is creating a collapse of local newspapers and local news and the kind of information (they provide) around the country,” said Brown, who is known for her reporting on accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. “Because there isn’t the number of voices and the number of local newspapers, (that) has contributed to the divisions that we’re experiencing around the country.” Brown’s comments come just days after the Herald’s owner, McClatchy (MNI), filed for bankruptcy, throwing the future of her paper and 29 others across the country into question.

How Norman Braman pushed anti-gambling law through City Hall and almost got his way” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Internal emails show that in September 2018, when auto magnate and staunch anti-gambling activist Braman sought an ally in Miami’s government, he turned to Mayor Francis Suarez, a beneficiary of $75,000 in campaign donations since 2018. He sent to Suarez’s private email account his opinion on the anti-gambling legislation, already placed on the city’s letterhead, with a request to simply have the planning director sign it and submit it as the official city recommendation. Suarez sent the paperwork to the private email of Emilio Gonzalez, the city manager. Days later, his memo showed up on the commission’s agenda. The law making it harder to open a gambling facility passed, sparking a lawsuit against the city from the casino’s owners.

Norman Braman was able to get his wording of an anti-gambling ordinance in front of the Miami City Council.

Hillsborough’s transportation tax is at risk. What about a backup tax?” via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times — Commissioner Les Miller will ask the board at its March 4 meeting to sign off on a plan to put a half-cent transportation sales surtax on the Nov. 3 ballot. That would be in case the state’s highest court strikes down the one-cent sales tax that 57 % of county voters passed in 2018. If passed, the half-cent tax would be levied for 30 years. It would bring in far less funding for needed transit, bike, pedestrian and road projects than the anticipated $280 million generated annually by the 2018 All For Transportation surtax. Miller wants to supplement the smaller payout by enacting an additional five-cent gas tax for 30 years, which is allowed under state law.

Dead on arrival: Tax for Broward seniors hits anti-tax wall in Tallahassee” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Call them generous, or simply liberals who love government programs, but time and again they have voted to raise taxes to address unmet needs. School construction? Sure. Higher teacher pay? Of course. With that track record, it’s hard to fault the logic of county legislators who hit on the idea of expanding services for a fast-growing elderly population by raising property taxes. The only hitch is that this small tax increase requires a vote of the people, and that means the Legislature must approve. Fat chance. No Republican in Tallahassee wants to talk about taxes, especially in an election year, and particularly if the idea is coming from deep-blue Broward. So it went nowhere. Halfway through the session, it’s dead.

Broward bidding process for county’s vending machines could leave plenty of money on the table” via Florida Politics — A vendor involved in the bidding process for a new slate of vending machine contracts with Broward County is raising questions over the county’s decision-making process in vetting those bids. The county is in the process of moving forward with a contract with Gilly Vending. But in a November email obtained by Florida Politics, one of Gilly’s competitors asserted the process should not move forward. The competitor argued Gilly “has submitted a materially unbalanced bid in an effort to unethically win the bid by providing a fictitiously higher amount specifically for machines that were addressed by multiple vendors as machines with low foot traffic or sales during the pre-bid meeting.”

Salacious divorce adds intrigue to Broward clerk election” via Fred Grimm of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Howard Forman, 74, the erstwhile clerk, has come out of retirement to challenge his ex-wife, Brenda Forman, the incumbent. Back in 2016, longtime Broward Clerk of Courts Howard Forman was succeeded by wife Brenda despite her lack of political experience, administrative skills, or even a college degree. What she brought to the election mattered more — Forman’s name and Forman’s clout. But just five months after her election, their marriage foundered in a sump of acrimony. It was an ugly breakup, including an ignominious tussle over money, with Brenda trying to wangle an appointment as her husband’s guardian, claiming poor Howard was slipping into dementia. A judge disagreed. Brenda, he ruled, was acting in bad faith.

Busted pipes spilled 211.6 million gallons of sewage in Fort Lauderdale waterways, roads since December” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A gut-wrenching amount of toxic sewage spilled into Fort Lauderdale waterways in the past few months alone: 211.6 million gallons. That’s enough to fill 320 Olympic-sized pools and scare even the most die-hard kayakers from getting into the water for a while. Mayor Dean Trantalis called news of the pollution caused by the city’s own pipes devastating. City officials are working with environmentalists to come up with an emergency plan to restore the waterways, but Trantalis warned it might take months for things to return to normal. He said he plans to discuss seeking help from federal and state agencies at the commission’s meeting on Tuesday.

Seminole Boosters selling Burt Reynolds Hall” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — A modest apartment complex owned by the Seminole Boosters since the mid-1980s, is being sold. But it will stay in the FSU family. Board members of the FSU Research Foundation, at a March 2 meeting, are expected to approve buying the property for $3.7 million from the Boosters. FSU’s Board of Trustees endorsed the purchase during its meeting Wednesday at the Turnbull Center. The board could OK the deal sooner via email.


Florida Democrats, don’t mail that presidential primary ballot” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — More than a million Florida Democrats have been sent their mail ballots for the March 17 presidential primary, but they should let those ballots sit on the hall table or the kitchen counter for a bit. The race for the Democratic nomination is too fluid for Florida Democrats to pick a candidate now who may not be competitive by Election Day. They should not waste their votes, and they should keep their eye on the goal: Backing the candidate who has the best shot at beating President Donald Trump in November. While Iowa and New Hampshire pride themselves on being the first to vote, those contests have provided little clarity and no clear front-runner.


Donald Trump’s NASCAR pales in comparison to Ronald Reagan’s days” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — If President Trump could somehow, someway reignite NASCAR’s sinking economy, it would, by far, surpass his presidential record on the surging U.S. economy. NASCAR’s economic downturn over the past decade is well chronicled with TV ratings, track attendance and corporate sponsorships plummeting to a point of panic throughout the sport. Love him or hate him, Trump’s appearance created a once-in-a-generation buzz that NASCAR hasn’t felt since President Ronald Reagan’s historic appearance in Daytona in 1984.

Florida’s domestic violence coalition abused the public’s trust” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — It’s a crime what passed for business as usual at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Where was the oversight? Where was the accountability? Certainly not from the organization’s board of directors, which in 2018 awarded the coalition’s former CEO, Carr, an annual salary of $761,560. It gets worse. Over the past three years, Carr’s compensation totaled more than $7.5 million from state and federal funds, the Miami Herald reported, including nearly $5 million for “paid time off.” Carr’s sweetheart deal entitled her to take 210 paid days off one year. Whenever did she work? Carr clearly was good at working her board.

If Legislature won’t abolish death penalty, it should at least study it” via the Editorial Board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Florida Legislature sometimes does well by doing nothing. House and Senate leaders are wisely passing up the Florida Supreme Court’s appalling invitation to let a divided jury send someone to death row. But neither is the Legislature doing what it should. It is time to repeal the death penalty, as all of Western Europe and 21 of the United States have done. Colorado is about to make it 22. Legislation filed by Rep. Joe Geller and Sen. Gary Farmer would abolish Florida’s death penalty for new defendants, adding no more to the 338 people already on death row. Regrettably, the 2020 session is half over with neither HB 6045 nor SB 938 having been heard. That’s shortsighted.

James Bush III: Inflicting pain on Florida’s most disadvantaged students is no way to make progress” via Florida Politics — At issue was a campaign to bully corporate donors into ending their contributions to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which serves 100,000 low-income students, most of them black and Hispanic. I have over 2,600 of them in my district alone — less than 1% are white, and their average household incomes are less than $22,000. The people behind this effort said they wanted to change policies they deem discriminatory against LGBTQ students at a small percentage of private schools. Companies have no say in where families choose to use the scholarships. I can understand impatience in the fight for freedom. But what I can’t understand is anybody who has convinced themselves that it is OK to use low-income kids as pawns.

Hey lawmakers: Let’s make 2020 the year when you stop looting Florida’s housing fund” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — We have no beef with more money for teachers and state employees. We’re glad House leaders are doing that. If they were dolphins we’d toss them fishes. But our state — particularly Central Florida — is in a housing crisis. Not a hyperbolic crisis, either. It’s real. Our region is one of the worst in the nation when it comes to available affordable housing. Entire families live clustered in hotel rooms, so vividly illustrated in the film “The Florida Project.” This is the year for the Senate and the governor to stand firm in their negotiations with the House. The Sadowski housing fund needs to be off the table. Find something else to barter with. Something that doesn’t deprive this state’s working poor of a place to live. The Governor, in particular, needs to put his foot down. If he lets a House sweep stand again, we can be pretty sure he was never serious about this.

Kae Hovater: As Florida grows, mitigation banking provides a way to preserve our natural wonders” via Florida Politics — Florida’s population continues to grow, now more than 21 million people strong and projected to keep climbing. Along with that growth comes the inevitable need to expand highways and other transportation links, build more homes, and create new shopping centers to offer the goods and services our residents need. That development can also bring unavoidable impacts to our precious natural resources. Fortunately for Floridians, we have a system in place to responsibly restore and preserve wetlands, streams, and wildlife habitat affected by our state’s growth and development. “Mitigation banking” may be an unfamiliar term for most people, but in fact, it is a successful approach that supports the delicate balance of economic development and environmental conservation from the Panhandle to the Everglades.

We’re eating Georgia’s dust when it comes to the film industry” via the Florida Times-Union Editorial Board — A movie set in St. Petersburg was shot in Savannah. A movie about Tampa’s Ybor City was shot in Georgia, which had to recreate the look of Ybor City. A movie set in part in coastal Florida was shot in Georgia. Why are Florida movies being shot in Georgia? Georgia has shot to the pinnacle of the movie and TV production industry with a brilliantly simple set of incentives. There is no cap, which makes sense. If an incentive produces results, why artificially turn down revenue for the state? And there is no sunset to the incentives, which reassures filmmakers that Georgia is serious.


Appointed — Dr. Karen Cole-Smith, Nancy Hardt, Dr. Margarita Labarta, Charles “Lee” Pinkosonto and Dr. Patricia Snyder the Children’s Trust of Alachua County Advisory Board.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brad Ashwell: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Angela Bonds, Chris Moya, Jennifer Ungru, Dean Mead: City of Clearwater, Conference of Circuit Judges of Florida, Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Florida Outdoor Advertising Association, Marriott International, Phantom Fireworks Showrooms

Mike Corcoran, Matt Blair, Corcoran Partners: Live Nation Entertainment

Daniel DeLisi: Hendry County Board of County Commissioners

Cesar Hernandez, Omni Public: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Jim Horne, Strategos Public Affairs: Florida Freedog

Michelle McGann, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe: DraftKings, FanDuel, National Basketball Association, PGA TOUR

Dawn White: Baptist Health South Florida

— ALOE —

Mary McLeod Bethune statue sculptor ready to start chiseling” via Eileen Zaffrino-Kean of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Nilda Comas, a 65-year-old master sculptor, was chosen from 1,600 artists nationwide to create a sculpture of Bethune that will stand for many decades inside National Statuary Hall, which is in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Comas, who will be in Daytona Beach next week to discuss the project at the Museum of Arts & Sciences, is up to the challenge. After being chosen for an Andy Warhol scholarship, she graduated cum laude with a master’s degree in fine arts from The New York Academy. She also attended the Accademia di Belli Arte in Carrara, Italy to perfect her techniques for sculpting marble.

Mary McLeod Bethune statue will soon start taking shape in stone. Image via Nilda Comas.


Celebrating this Presidents Day are Danny Rivera, Danny Shepherd, and Commissioner Bill Truex.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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