Ballard Partners’ tenure as the top-earning lobbying firm in the state continues, with an estimated $19.5 million in overall income last year.
With its recently filed fourth-quarter compensation numbers included, the firm founded by Brian Ballard raked in an estimated $10.7 million lobbying the Legislature and $8.8 million lobbying the Governor and Cabinet in 2019.
As Ballard maintained the No. 1 position, so too did The Southern Group hold on as the No. 2 firm in overall receipts.
The firm reports $8.4 million in legislative pay and another $7 million from the executive for a total haul of $15.4 million.
Coming in a strong third was Capital City Consulting, which closed out 2019 year with $12.5 million in pay. Their split also favored their legislative lobbying operation, which accounted for $7.5 million of the total. Executive lobbying earned Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace and the rest of the CCC team another $5 million.
Ron Book, PA, took No. 4 in overall pay, collecting just over $10 million. The ledger leaned heavily toward the Legislature, which provided $8.5 million of the annual score — good enough for second place among all firms if only legislative reports are considered.
There was a tight competition for fifth place, with Greenberg Traurig narrowly edging out GrayRobinson. Greenberg Traurig’s $7.85 million rake includes $4.75 million in pay for legislative lobbying and another $3.1 million for executive lobbying.
GrayRobinson rounds out the list with $7.68 million in earnings, a $500,000 increase over what Dean Cannon and the team snagged in 2018.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
It’s “Gator Day” at The Capitol, and University of Florida President Kent Fuchs will discuss taking over Florida Polytechnic, the backlash against higher education in the Legislature and his favorite FSU jokes.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— After passing new restrictions on abortion under the guise of parental rights, the Senate is facing another parental rights bill that’s working its way through committees that could force teachers and guidance counselors to out gay and lesbian students to their parents.
— One of the Governor’s priorities this year is cutting through the red tape for occupational licenses issued by local governments. But a bill doing that has stalled in the Senate.
— Despite a racy memoir and a history of sexually suggestive comments, Dr. Scott Rivkees is one step closer to being confirmed as the state Surgeon General.
— More than 3.5 million Floridians cannot vote in next month’s presidential primary, because they’re not in either the Republican or Democratic Party. But these NPAs — no party affiliation — can still vote if they change their registration by the end of the day.
— The latest from Florida man: A guy with a life-size Donald Trump cutout and a woman who took a bite out of a crime-fighter.
To listen, click on the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: Did you hear the latest con job? President Obama is now trying to take credit for the Economic Boom taking place under the Trump Administration. He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers … ever. Had to rebuild our military, which was totally depleted. Fed Rate UP, taxes and regulations WAY DOWN. If Dems won in 2016, the USA would be in big economic (Depression?) & military trouble right now. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) February 17, 2020
—@BrianStelter: Scoop: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist will release a new poll at 5 am ET Tuesday. This *could* be the poll that catapults Michael Bloomberg onto the stage of Wednesday’s #DemDebate.
—@JoePClements: Why would any Dem endorse anyone but the billionaire? You win if he wins office and you win if he loses office but becomes a useful friend.
—@SkylerSwisher: Florida Department of Health skips meeting on coronavirus.
—@BKirby816: For whatever reasons, the coronavirus is scaring the hell out of me, more than other threats of this nature have in the past. I feel we may not be prepared for it.
—@EducationFL: Great inspiration from American historical leader Frederick Douglass on the impact of education in the life of every person. We will continue working to ensure that every student, no matter their age or demographic, has the opportunity to CHOOSE their education.
—@Anitere_Flores: On this Presidents Day, a special thank you to the Presidents who entrusted me to lead on important issues and mentored me along the way. … @who gave me a seat at the table, [Andy] Gardiner who sought my advice on all policy ideas and goals, @ for your friendship over the years, and @ who truly made me his right hand. Thank you for your trust and unwavering loyalty.
—@AdamBonin: On this Presidents Day, my annual reminder that President John Tyler — during whose term Florida became a state and Texas was annexed (1841-45) — still has two living grandchildren.
— Thad Altman (@RepThadAltman) February 17, 2020
—@LMower3: Friends don’t let friends share WalletHub studies.
— DAYS UNTIL —
South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 1; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 1; Roger Stone’s sentencing — 2; Nevada caucuses — 4; “Better Call Saul” Season 5 premiers — 5; Suits for Session — 7; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 7; South Carolina Primaries — 11; Super Tuesday — 14; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 24; Florida’s presidential primary — 28; “No Time to Die” premiers — 48; Florida TaxWatch Spring Board Meeting begins — 57; TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards — 58; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 87; “Top Gun: Maverick” premiers — 129; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 146; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premiers — 150; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 157; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 182; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 188; First Presidential Debate in Indiana — 224; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 232; Second Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 240; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 247; 2020 General Election — 259.
— TOP STORY —
“On Presidents Day, Jeb Bush urges return to civility in politics” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Former Gov. Bush told a Presidents Day audience of investors and money managers that it’s time for a return to civility in the nation’s politics. And the man who was ousted early from the Republican primaries of 2016 gave a decidedly mixed review of the first term of Trump, who bruised him often on the campaign trail. During a speech and onstage interview with author Brant Pinvidic, Bush likened the role of the president to part prime minister, part king. He gave Trump good grades on the ministerial side, applauding his appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the strong economy. As for such “kingly’ duties as setting an example to which younger people can aspire, Bush found the president deficient.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Florida House issues subpoenas to 13 in nonprofit salary scandal, including former CEO” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The Florida House late Monday issued subpoenas to 13 current and former associates of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the state-funded organization under fire for paying its former CEO more than $7.5 million over three years. House Speaker José Oliva ordered the employees and board directors to appear before the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee on Monday, Feb. 24, for a day of questioning under oath. The House is investigating a massive compensation package given to Tiffany Carr, former CEO of the agency. Documents turned over to the House last week and obtained by the Herald/Times show she was allowed to accumulate and cash-in more than $5 million of paid time off while also receiving her salary, automobile allowance, and travel to and from her home in North Carolina.
“Senate won’t confirm Ron DeSantis’ nominee to be chief administrative judge” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing unspecified concerns, Sen. Ed Hooper said his committee won’t take up the confirmation of John MacIver, a seven-year attorney with virtually no experience in the courtroom. “I’ve talked to a lot of folks in the process, and there are a couple of areas where there was some concern,” Hooper said. “I just didn’t have a level of comfort bringing that confirmation forward, because that has my name on it.” … “I think it’s now between he and the governor’s office how best they want to go forward,” Hooper said. If DeSantis doesn’t reappoint him, MacIver will be out of the job. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré declined to say what the governor will do. “The governor will review the situation,” she said in a statement.
“Senate set to confirm controversial Surgeon General Scott Rivkees” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rivkees‘ long-delayed nomination continued, with the Senate Ethics and Elections committee unanimously approving of the Governor’s selection. This was the final committee of reference, setting up the confirmation for the Senate Floor. If confirmed, Rivkees will also serve as the Florida Department of Health Secretary. Rivkees faced scrutiny and tough questions in previous committee hearings, where concerns about a history of sexually suggestive comments and his intention to continue working at the University of Florida pushed some Democrats into opposition. Rivkees focused on the office’s accomplishments, combating opioids, Alzheimer’s disease, and hepatitis A, and vowing to carry the fight against the most recent coronavirus with “rigor and zeal.”
Continued my DOH statewide tour with Volusia County, where they highlighted their great dental program. In addition, Volusia County Health Department co-locates with the county for a variety of services, including human services, veteran services and soon a tag and title site. pic.twitter.com/B1S2N20T2X
— Jeanette M. Nunez (@LtGovNunez) February 17, 2020
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) February 17, 2020
“E-Verify plan could include agriculture industry” via the News Service of Florida — Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican sponsoring an E-Verify bill (SB 664), filed an amendment that would expand a proposed requirement for private businesses to use E-Verify, a federal electronic system that verifies the legal eligibility of new workers. The amendment would change part of the bill to undo an exemption that would be provided to the agriculture industry. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the carve-out for the agriculture industry last week at the request of Chairman David Simmons. Simmons said the exemption was an effort to “create something between the two extremes.” Ron DeSantis has made clear he wants to require all public and private employers to use E-Verify and does not support exemptions.
“Mike Hill: 2020 legislative record 0-7” via Rick Outzen of Rick’s Blog — Of the seven bills proposed by State Rep. Hill, only one made it out of a subcommittee. HB 21-to name the new Pensacola Bay bridge after “Chappie James”- did not get approved by the House State Affairs Committee. However, State Rep. Alex Andrade was able to get it amended to a committee bill. No committee has considered Hill’s other six House bills. No staff analysis has been done on any of them. The last event for each was for them to be read on Tuesday, Jan. 14. All six bills appear to be going nowhere.
“Johnston & Stewart donate expertise, dig in for ‘Markel’ grandparent visitation push” via Florida Politics — The act of moving nimbly is an art — one that the new Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies are showing themselves unusually adept. The most recent example: Halfway through Session Jeff Johnston and Amanda Stewart signed a new, pro-bono client — Justice for Dan, a group of friends of murdered FSU law professor Dan Markel, whose children and parents were cut off by his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, after authorities revealed she and/or her family were under investigation for orchestrating his murder, leaving his parents with zero options for recourse. Florida law provides no access to courts for grandparents in these situations. To complicate it more, there’s no easy statutory solution for providing grandparents with any rights even in terrible circumstances.
— RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS —
In honor of National Random Acts of Kindness Day, Attorney General Ashley Moody surprised a group of Tallahassee police officers, thanking them for their service. Moody brought doughnuts to the Tallahassee Police Department for a group of officers gathered for check-in.
“As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I know all too well the challenges and dangers Florida law enforcement officers face every day to protect their communities,” Moody said. “We should thank them for their service daily, not just on special occasions.”
Last year, Moody’s office created the “Back the Blue” award to support “the brave men and women of Florida law enforcement.” She encourages Floridians to consider “doing something nice for those who dedicate their lives protecting and serving others.”
The Back the Blue Campaign was established to highlight officers, citizens and organizations taking extraordinary steps to forging positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
To watch a video of Moody’s surprise gift, click on the image below:
— IT’S GREAT TO BE … —
Gator Nation will descend on The Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. for Gator Day in celebration of all things University of Florida. While the nation’s No. 7-ranked public university has much to tout, including a recent announcement of another record-breaking year in research spending, UF President Fuchs and the board of trustees are not content to rest on their laurels. UF continues its quest to achieve sustained recognition as one of America’s top-five public universities, as Gator Advocates will make that known to lawmakers.
Gators and supporters of the university can join the celebration at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Courtyard for a 4Rivers luncheon provided by the University of Florida Alumni Association (UFAA) and remarks from President Fuchs, Head Football Coach Dan Mullen and UFAA President Katrina Rolle beginning 11:30 a.m.
Interactive booths will also be set up all along the Plaza Level, including something Gator Caucus Chair Rob Bradley might appreciate: an orange juice tasting.
— LEGISLATION —
“Senate moves to require citizens initiative signatures from all congressional districts” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — A committee bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee (SPB 7062) proposes a citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution to require petition circulators to reach signature thresholds of 8% of all votes cast in the prior presidential election in all 27 congressional districts. They currently must meet the 8% threshold statewide in and least half of Florida’s congressional districts. The current rules allow petition gathers to focus petition drives in the state’s most populous areas such as Tampa Bay, Miami and Orlando, which could mean the petitions gathered wouldn’t be representative of the whole state. The proposed change adds an additional burden to petition drives by mandating groups to reach the 8% threshold in all Congressional districts, not just half.
“Senate bill to lessen sentences for nonviolent offenders draws sheriffs’ ire” via Gabrielle Arzola of Spectrum News — Florida’s current Truth in Sentencing Law requires inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences. Senate Bill 572 would reduce that serving requirement to 65% for nonviolent felons. Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells opposes the change, pointing to a 67% 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.”
“College athlete pay plan won’t include revenue sharing” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Before voting to back a controversial compensation bill (SB 646), members of the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee made clear they would reject a proposed amendment by Sen. Randolph Bracy that would have required colleges and universities to provide each college athlete a share of all ticket sales from the time when the athlete was in school. “If you look at the billions of dollars generated by these student-athletes, we should have a revenue-sharing model,” said Bracy. The proposal called for athletes to receive pro rata shares of 10% of ticket sales. When spread to all athletes, regardless of sport, it wouldn’t be “a grand scale of money” for each person, Bracy said before withdrawing his proposal.
“House to take up bill on domestic violence agency” via the News Service of Florida — Amid probes into spending by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the House is poised to take up a bill that would give flexibility to the Department of Children and Families to contract for services to help victims of domestic violence. The bill (HB 1087), sponsored by Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, would eliminate a legal requirement that the Department of Children and Families contract with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to manage domestic-violence programs. The House is scheduled to take up the bill during a floor session Wednesday afternoon.
“Senate committee advances strict turnaround school bill, calls for changes” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — State Sen. Dennis Baxley pressed his Senate Education Committee colleagues to advance his bill that would accelerate the time frame in which the lowest-performing schools on state tests can adapt and implement improvement plans. The bill (SB 1498) would require any school with one D or F state grade to create a turnaround model. Currently, a school would not enter that system unless it receives two consecutive D’s or one F. The bill then would give schools the remainder of their current year plus one more year to improve to a C or face either closure, conversion to a charter or turnover of its operations to an outside firm.
“Senate panel advances bill requiring more transparency from commercial airports” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously advanced a bill that would subject commercial airports to increased regulation despite protests from some airports’ representatives. Sen. Manny Diaz is proposing the measure (SB 1258), which earned bipartisan support in a 5-0 vote from the committee. A separate governing body typically oversees airports. The legislation would require more oversight from those bodies, with even more heightened requirements for large-hub commercial service airports. At issue was a condition that a board must vote and allow public comment on any contract more than $325,000. That number was previously set at $65,000. But a strike-all amendment approved bumped it up fivefold.
“Puppy mill preemption bill postponed — again — by Senate panel” via Florida Politics — Legislation for state-level regulation of pet stores (SB 1698) did not receive a hearing from the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The agenda for the committee was jam-packed, a tight period precluded discussion of the legislation. Whether that was a deliberate mechanism to kill the bill or not is likely a matter of conjecture, but the lack of hearing certainly didn’t make it stronger. This was just the first of three committees of reference for the bill from Hialeah Gardens Republican Sen. Diaz, a bad sign this late in the Session with committees already beginning to wrap up for 2020. The goal of the bill: to kill so-called “puppy mills.”
“Peer-to-peer car-sharing bill would level the playing field” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Peer to peer car-sharing platforms such as Turo and Getaround are kind of like an Airbnb for autos — app users can browse for something that fits their needs. That’s nearly identical to the process of renting a car. One difference is who owns the vehicle. Most rental car companies own fleets while peer-to-peer car-sharing companies profit by paying Florida car owners to allow their cars to be rented from their site. Peer-to-peer car-sharing platforms collect neither the sales tax nor the surcharge. The platforms argue those rules shouldn’t apply to them. A Florida law allows rental car companies to buy fleets of vehicles without paying the tax, saving them tens of thousands of dollars a year in upfront costs.
— TODAY IN CAPITOL —
Assignment editors — Sen. Jason Pizzo, Reps. Amy Mercado and Shevrin Jones will join Dignity Florida for a news conference in support of the Tammy Jackson Act (HB 1259/ SB 852), a bill named after a woman forced to give birth in solitary confinement last year, 12:30 p.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.
Assignment editors — Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA), Florida Sheriffs Research Institute and the Florida Police Chiefs Association will hold a news conference to share data and analysis on violent drug crime offenders as part of the Truth in Sentencing initiative, 9:30 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.
The House Select Committee on Research Institutions will hear presentations on potential foreign interference in research in Florida. House Speaker José Oliva ordered the committee after resignations at Moffitt Cancer Center due to connections with China, 9 a.m., Room 404, House Office Building.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meets to consider SB 664 from Sen. Tom Lee, which seeks to require employers to perform immigration checks through E-Verify, a federal database run by the Department of Homeland Security, 10 a.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets to consider SB 698 from Sen. Lauren Book, which seeks to change rules regarding sperm banks and fertility clinics, 10 a.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.
The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to consider SB 714 from Sen. Travis Hutson, which seeks to allow pharmacists to test and treat patients for influenza and streptococcus, 10 a.m., Room 412, Knott Building.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will meet to hear an update from the Florida Forest Service on timber and forestry recovery from Hurricane Michael, 10:30 a.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building.
The House Appropriations Committee meets to consider HB 6507 from Rep. Kimberly Daniels, which seeks $2.15 million in compensation for Clifford Williams, wrongfully incarcerated for 43 years in a Duval County murder and attempted-murder case, 11:30 a.m., Room 212, Knott Building.
The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 1092 from Sen. Aaron Bean, which seeks to set up a grant program to help fire departments pay for equipment that will prevent exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, 1:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.
The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 170 from Sen. Linda Stewart, which seeks to end the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual battery cases involving children, 1:30 p.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.
The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 70 from Book, which seeks to mandate panic-alarm systems installed in all public schools, 1:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.
The House Education Committee meets to consider HB 737 from Daniels, which seeks to mandate a daily moment of silence in public schools, 3 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
The House Health & Human Services Committee and the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meet to consider HB 763 and SB 1370 from Rep. Michael Grant and Sen. Gayle Harrell, respectively, which will require hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to survey staff members about patient safety. House Committee meets at 3 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building. Senate Subcommittee meets at 4 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.
The House Judiciary Committee meets to consider HB 7037 from Rep. James Grant, which seeks to put additional requirements on political committees to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, 3 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.
The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 1000 from Sen. Keith Perry, which seeks to improve safety at pedestrian crosswalks, 4 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.
The Senate Finance and Tax Committee meets to consider SB 1066 from Sen. Joe Gruters, which seeks additional requirements on local governments collecting impact fees, 4 p.m., Room 401, Senate Office Building.
— GOV. CLUB BUFFET —
Italian minestrone; mixed garden salad with dressings; artichoke and hearts of palm salad; pasta salad; deli board, tomato, lettuce, cheeses and breads; Ronnie’s fried chicken; grilled teres major of beef with hunter’s sauce; walnut breadcrumb crusted cod with lemon dill cream; buttermilk mashed potatoes; green beans amandine; medley of vegetables; chocolate Oreo mousse.
— SUNSHINE STATE PRIMARY —
“She’s Florida’s top Democrat. Who will she endorse?” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Nikki Fried is Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, a post that puts her in a powerful position as the presidential primary nears. The 42-year-old Agriculture Commissioner was the first Florida Democrat to win a statewide election since 2006. Fried’s win quickly drew her a political following and awarded her rising-star status among legions of Florida Democrats. Now she’s in demand from presidential campaigns. “I have spent some time with most presidential candidates, whether in person or on the phone and hearing their message of our country and listening to what is important to them,” Fried told POLITICO. “We have had four years of a very divisive administration, and I want to find the right candidate.”
First on #FlaPol — “Janet Long latest Florida backer of Mike Bloomberg” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — “Mike is someone who has for years practiced what he preached by initiating real, concrete change during his time as Mayor of New York City. Having executive experience running a city like New York cannot be minimized,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Long, a former member of the Florida House. “His focus, determination and true care for the City of New York proves that he is not only a qualified candidate for President but someone who can also take on the challenges our country faces and unite us in November.” “I’m excited to join a campaign focusing on issues that deeply matter to me and Floridians across the Sunshine State,” Long added.
Florida Dems’ PPP Fact of the Day via Juan Peñalosa — Today’s fact: While the Florida Democratic Party’s goal is 200,000 voter registrations by the launch of the General election — they are focusing on strategic registration, with the bulk of registrations occurring in swing legislative districts. The FDP has already registered enough voters to offset our 2018 margin of defeat in 4 state House seats.
— NEW ADS —
Bloomberg — “Difference”:
Bloomberg — “Greenwood”:
Bloomberg — “Justice”:
— MORE 2020 —
“Latino support for Donald Trump’s real” via Kristian Ramos of The Atlantic — Trump has done almost everything he can to anger Latino voters. And yet, his support among this crucial portion of the electorate remains surprisingly consistent. After the 2016 election, exit polls analyzed by the Pew Research Center showed that 28% of Latino voters supported Trump; today, 30% support him. This percentage may not seem high. But consider what the number means for the Democrats: Displeasure with the president over the past three years has not led to an increase in support for the opposing party. Democrats lost the 2016 election, with about 66% of the Latino vote. Today 65% of registered Latino voters who are Democrats have a favorable view of the party’s presidential candidates.
“Bernie Sanders breaks out of the pack” via David Siders of POLITICO — While few expect that Sanders can carry more than a third of the vote in Nevada, nearly everyone believes that will be enough to win in a field where the moderate vote remains splintered. It is becoming an urgent problem for those who want to prevent him from claiming the nomination. “He’s going to win with 28% of the vote. We’re not talking about him getting 50% of the vote,” said Andres Ramirez, a Nevada-based Democratic strategist and former vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus. “But the rest of the field is so fragmented, and he has his base locked, that he can continue winning just by holding onto his base.”
“Joe Biden, seeking revival, is counting on at least second place in Nevada” via Thomas Kaplan and Katie Glueck of The New York Times — Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz, convened a conference call with supporters. The campaign, Schultz made clear, was banking on finishing in at least second place in the upcoming Nevada caucuses, a contest that will offer the first major test of Biden’s assertion that he can uniquely assemble a diverse coalition. Left unsaid: Nevada will also show whether Biden, the former vice president, can revive his campaign after his first two finishes sent his national poll numbers plummeting, put his donors on edge, and jeopardized his standing even in his perceived firewall state, South Carolina.
“The cost of going after Bloomberg” via Jim VandeHei and Margaret Talev of Axios — Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them. They’re already struggling to catch up with Sanders in national support and campaign dollars. Turning their focus toward Bloomberg only complicates that task. There’s another risk, at least for the moderates: Weakening the one who may be best poised to stop Sanders, a democratic socialist, if they fail themselves.
“Bloomberg adds Capricia Marshall, top Hillary Clinton ally, to 2020 campaign” via Emily Smith of PageSix.com — Bloomberg has tapped DC-based Marshall, who was President Bill Clinton’s White House social secretary from 1997 to 2001. Under the Obama administration, she served as chief of protocol of the United States — a sensitive diplomatic position bearing the rank of ambassador — from 2009 to 2013. Before that, Marshall was a special assistant to Hillary when she was the first lady in 1993. In 2006, Marshall worked on then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s reelection and then joined her presidential campaign in 2008. In her role as a senior adviser, she led surrogate speakers and helped coordinate women’s outreach. She also appears throughout the new Hulu docuseries about Hillary.
“Bloomberg News’ dilemma: How to cover a boss seeking the presidency” via Michael Grynbaum of The New York Times — Bloomberg’s presence looms large for the 2,700 journalists at his financial data company. New employees receive a copy of his autobiography, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” and company guidelines prohibit coverage of his “wealth or personal life.” In 2018, Bloomberg told an interviewer: “I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me.” That policy proved awkward during Bloomberg’s three terms as Mayor of New York City and in his subsequent life as a billionaire philanthropist and political donor. Now it is bordering on untenable, according to interviews with half a dozen Bloomberg journalists who requested anonymity, citing fear of retribution from bosses who emphasize discretion.
“Pete Buttigieg’s next test: Winning over minority voters” via Thomas Beaumont of The Associated Press — The promise of his candidacy is colliding with the reality of the central question about his viability: Can he win among minority voters who form the critical foundation of the party’s base? That will be tested in Nevada, with a diverse blend of Latinos and African Americans, but especially in South Carolina, where two-thirds of the primary electorate could be black voters, the base that Buttigieg has struggled to attract. Buttigieg’s strategy is to earn a fresh look from black and brown voters by flashing his support in the first two contests, drawing on the validation of minority leaders who have endorsed him and leveraging the personal networks of his supporters. He faces a steep climb.
— STATEWIDE —
“The Republican Party asked Florida tax collectors for millions of email addresses. Why?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — If the tax collectors had complied, the Republican Party would soon have a valuable trove of personal information for millions of Floridians as it gears up for the 2020 election: A detailed database of many taxpayers’ emails plus the name, address and phone number tied to that email. The unusual nature of the request ultimately persuaded the state association representing all Florida tax collectors to get involved. An attorney for the association, Timothy Qualls, advised members not to comply, citing an exemption in state law specifically for email addresses used to send notices to taxpayers. After speaking with the association, the GOP operative planned to withdraw the request, Qualls told the tax collectors in an email.
“Florida pre-K graduates: 63 percent ready for kindergarten, state says” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Sixty-three percent of Florida youngsters who took part in a state-backed pre-K program tested ready for kindergarten when the school year began, according to data the state released. That percentage is a slight improvement from last year when 62% tested ready. And as in years past, 4-year-olds who took part in the state pre-K program were more likely to be ready for kindergarten than youngsters who did not. Overall, 53% of the children who started kindergarten in August in Florida’s public schools tested ready for classes, based on Florida’s early-literacy exam given in the first month of the school year.
“Hepatitis A cases climbed to 239 this year” via the News Service of Florida — Florida had 34 reported cases of hepatitis A last week, bringing the total number of newly reported cases this year to 239 as of Saturday. County health departments are playing a bigger role in the fight against hepatitis A, as they are now responsible for administering 57% of first-dose vaccinations in the state. Hepatitis A cases have increased in recent years, with a massive spike in 2019. The state had 3,397 reported cases last year, compared to 548 in 2018. State Surgeon General Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, issued a public health emergency Aug. 1 that warned about the spread of the virus and encouraged citizens to get vaccinated and wash their hands.
“Rising reinsurance costs presage ‘extraordinarily high’ property insurance rate hikes for Florida homeowners” via John Haughey of The Center Square — It took the Florida Legislature seven years to adopt a 2019 property insurance reform bill eliminating the “one-way” attorney fee provision in the state’s assignment-of-benefits (AOB) law. “AOB abuse” imposed a “hidden tax” on Florida’s 6.2 million property insurance policyholders, who had seen rates increase by an average of 36% between 2013-18, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Last spring, the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) adopted a wait-and-see posture in delaying annual June rate renewals, giving insurers until early 2020 to gauge the “impact of the bill.” But that expectation was muted by trepidation. “Loss creep” from 2017’s Hurricane Irma and 2018’s Hurricane Michael loomed. Despite AOB reform, Florida homeowners likely face insurance rate hikes in 2020.
What Brian Bautista is reading — “Airbnb reports tax collections exceeded $100 million in 2019” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — That total included $97.1 million in state sales taxes paid by Airbnb’s property clients, then collected by the internet marketing platform and remitted to the State Department of Revenue. The other $39.7 million was in local tourism taxes paid by the clients, collected by Airbnb, and paid to local counties. The combined total of $136.7 million in state sales and local tourism taxes paid through Airbnb compares with the $89.5 million that was paid by vacation rental homeowners through Airbnb to state or county coffers in 2018. And the 2018 totals marked a dramatic increase over 2017. Airbnb has been authorized since 2015 to collect state sales tax on behalf of its now 60,000 vacation rental home clients statewide.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“John Bolton issues plea that his upcoming book isn’t ‘suppressed’ by White House” via Vivian Salama of CNN — “I hope it’s not suppressed,” Bolton said, referring to the White House’s review of his book. He hoped what Trump has spoken to him in private will “become public someday.” When Bolton was asked about Trump’s tweets, he replied, “the tweets out there — I say things in the manuscript about what he said to me. I hope they become public someday,” referring to his book, which is the subject of a fight with the White House. The administration has argued much of the book can’t be published due to the sensitivity of the content. “He (Trump) tweets, but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?” he said, adding, “for now, I’m going to let it go.”
“Marco Rubio has concerns about proposed cuts to Virginia Class submarine program” via Florida Daily — Rubio joined U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Senate colleagues in raising concerns with Acting U.S. Navy Sec. Thomas Modly over proposed acquisition shortfalls in fiscal year (FY) 2021 for the Virginia Class submarine program, which could negatively impact both the United States’ undersea superiority and the submarine industrial base. The Navy’s FY 2021 budget request does not include funding for a tenth Block V submarine, which, as the Senators note in their letter, “directly contradicts the National Defense Strategy and inexplicably delays the Navy’s goal of reaching 66 fast-attack submarines by 2048.”
For your radar — Rubio’s office floated draft legislation on college athlete pay during a Capitol Hill meeting with higher education officials from nine Florida schools and the Sunshine State’s university system, POLITICO reports. That Thursday meeting, which included high-profile schools such as the University of Florida and Florida State University, signals movement in the nation’s slow crawl toward compensating college athletes, a track accelerated last year by California’s landmark law that lets NCAA players sign endorsement deals.
Assignment editors — Sen. Rick Scott will hold a media availability to talk about what is being done on the federal level to combat counterfeit goods from Communist China, 10:30 a.m., International Mail Facility, 11698 NW 25th Street, Suite 100, Miami.
“John Rutherford backs proposal helping law enforcement work closer with mental health providers” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — Rutherford announced his support for U.S. Rep. David Trone’s, “Crisis Stabilization and Community Re-entry Act,” which “would help law enforcement partner with mental health providers to provide incarcerated individuals community care as they transition back into society. This care includes medication-assisted treatment, community-level crisis response programs, and technical assistance to develop innovative training and treatment for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals who have a mental illness. Recidivism rates decline when we address the mental health challenges that place formerly incarcerated individuals at risk of reoffending,” Rutherford’s office noted. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Richard Blumenthal are championing the bill in the U.S. Senate.
Met with Gov. DeSantis last night to discuss protecting the independence of @NewCollegeofFL. Tallahassee’s plan to roll school into FSU is rash and misguided. Reminded the gov. of school’s special place in FL higher education system. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Stay tuned… pic.twitter.com/NOdC3XwpkF
— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) February 17, 2020
Assignment editors — Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Broward County Mayor Dale V.C. Holness; Glenn Wiltshire, Port Everglades Acting Chief Executive & Port Director; city and state elected officials will hold a news conference to celebrate the Port Everglades Navigation Improvements Project beginning with $29.1 million in funding under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FY 2020 Work Plan, 9:45 a.m., Port Everglades Cruise Terminal 25 rooftop patio overlooking U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale.
Happening today — U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will honor black community leaders as part of Black History Month, 5 p.m., Gould’s Community Center, 11350 S.W. 216th St., Miami.
— CORONAVIRUS —
“Sen. Tom Cotton repeats fringe theory of coronavirus origins” via Alexandra Stevenson of The New York Times — The rumor appeared shortly after the new coronavirus struck China and spread almost as quickly: that the outbreak now afflicting people around the world had been manufactured by the Chinese government. Speaking on Fox News, Sen. Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, raised the possibility that the virus had originated in a high-security biochemical lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. “We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there,” the Senator said, “but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all.”
“Coronavirus: Don’t worry, but be vigilant” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — No, the flu vaccine won’t protect from the new coronavirus rapidly spreading in China and showing up in isolated cases in the United States and elsewhere. But right now, the flu outbreak is real in the United States, and deadly, while the coronavirus still is nothing more than a possibility. So, people should get a flu shot, public officials told Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Murphy assembled a panel of to assess whether the coronavirus pandemic prospects, and the disease it causes now identified as COVID-19, are yet hitting Florida, whether Florida is vulnerable, local officials are ready, officials know what to expect, what the public should be thinking and doing and what Congress should be doing.
“South Florida employers should brace for the potential impact of COVID-19” via Andrew Gordon and Megan Coughlin of the Miami Herald — COVID-19 poses unique concerns for employers faced with the responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace for its employees per the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). With the threat of coronavirus, South Florida employers can take proactive steps to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace while at the same time having a strategic response plan ready in the event an outbreak does occur. South Florida employers should brace for the potential impact of COVID-19. Employers should continue to monitor information and guidance from the CDC, WHO, OSHA and other federal, state, and local agencies. Employment counsel can assist employers in navigating the rapidly changing situation and implementing a strategic response plan.
“Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus” via Ina Fried of Axios — Apple issued a rare earnings warning, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China. Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China. The company said in a statement that it expects slower revenue due to a combination of slower iPhone production in China and lower demand for Apple products within China. Apple stressed it sees the impact as temporary: “Outside of China, customer demand across our product and service categories has been strong to date and in line with our expectations.”
— MOTHER NATURE —
“Nursing home appeal rejected in Irma case” via the News Service of Florida — A South Florida appeals court has turned down arguments that the state improperly revoked the license of a Broward County nursing home where residents died after Hurricane Irma in 2017. A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Attorneys for the nursing home asked the court to find that an administrative law judge made a series of errors in recommending that the facility lose its license. But attorneys for the Agency for Health Care Administration contended in a brief that the nursing home’s “abject failure to meet its obligations as a licensed facility and the tragic consequences justify AHCA’ s decision to revoke its license.”
“Massive bird migration over Key West captured by weather radar” via Daniel Figueroa of the Tampa Bay Times — The field of birds was first detected around midnight and stretched over the island city, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologists said the radius of the flock measured at least 90 miles out from the center — but the actual size of the migration could have been much bigger. The migration is typical this time of year as more than 118 species of birds start returning to North America after wintering in Central and South America or the Caribbean. The birds often migrate at night — in flocks that range from hundreds of thousands to more than a million — because the night sky helps them find their way.
“Don’t look away. Look for the monster who killed this dolphin and make him pay” via Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald — The latest case happened near Naples, where the corpse of a male dolphin was discovered Jan. 30 with a deep wound on its snout. Biologists are trying to determine whether the fatal injury was caused by a bullet or a spear-like object. Photographs of the dead mammal are as infuriating as they are sickening. The lowlife who killed it obviously was poised at close range, probably on a boat. No arrests have been made in any of the cases, and the federal government is now offering up to $20,000 for information leading to criminal convictions or civil penalties. Anyone who does it shouldn’t be able to buy their way out. They belong behind bars.
— THE TRAIL —
“Conservative women’s group rolls out new GOP endorsements for 2020” via Julia Manchester of The Hill — Republican political action committee Maggie’s List endorsed 12 women running in House races across the country, marking the latest batch of endorsements for the group dedicated to electing Republican women. “The conservative female candidates got shellacked in the 2018 election. The MeToo movement really stepped in with EMILY’s List, and the full backing of the Democrat and liberal side supporting women to really make a mark in increasing their numbers in the current Congress to 106,” Jennifer Carroll, spokeswoman for Maggie’s List and a former Florida Lieutenant Governor, told The Hill. The group also threw their support behind Florida state House Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.
“Andrew Learned gains momentum in January fundraising” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Learned nearly tripled the amount of money spent In January over his two potential opponents in the November general election for Florida House District 59. Learned, a Democrat raised $11,055. Neither Republican in the race — Michael Owen and Danny Kushmer — raised more than $4,500. Owen raised just $4,070 in the month, including a $2,500 self-loan, while Kushmer raised $4,310. Even with the strong month, Learned trails Owen in total contributions. Owen has raised $82,498 while Learned has brought in just over $69,000. Kushmer trails with $40,190 raised as of the end of January. But the month might suggest a surge for Learned’s campaign.
Happening today — Republican Jason Miller will hold a fundraiser in his bid for Sarasota County’s House District 72, which opened after Rep. Margaret Good announced she was running for Congress, 6 p.m., Broadway Promenade Condominiums, 1064 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
— LOCAL —
“Deborah Clark stepping down as Pinellas Supervisor of Elections” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Clark has worked for the office for 42 years, nearly 20 as its elected supervisor. Clark’s last day on the job is March 31. What a tremendous honor it has been to serve the citizens of Pinellas County for 42 years, representing them as their Supervisor of Elections for almost 20 years,” Clark wrote in a letter to DeSantis. “Florida has been at the forefront of election administration during this period, and it has been a privilege to be part of such exceptional reform.” Clark said she’s looking forward to the next chapter of her life, which includes spending plenty of time with her husband and family.
“Broward may close schools to deal with low enrollment” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — About 30 Broward schools could close, combine with other schools or convert into a new type of facility as the school district looks for ways to deal with nearly half-empty campuses. Many of these schools are in the southern part of the county, from Hollywood to Pembroke Pines, where thousands of students have left for charter schools. Others are in the Fort Lauderdale area and have struggled with factors such as low student performance, outdated facilities, and aging neighborhoods. Most changes would likely take place in the fall of 2021, and district officials said affected communities would have opportunities to share their views in community forums and surveys before making any decisions.
“Telehealth kiosks a success in Bay County schools” via Florida Politics — The rise in counseling sessions comes after telehealth company Let’s Talk Interactive (LTI) installed dozens of kiosks and iPad portals in schools across the region, including those Bay Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, Jackson and Liberty counties. The portals were deployed last year, in conjunction with First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope for Healing initiative, the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) and Big Bend Community Based Care (BBCBC). They were funded through insurance, Medicaid and Medicare and grants available through BBCBC. The mental health teleportals were deployed quickly and with constant on-the-ground training, LTI is reporting a fourfold increase in child-focused therapy sessions since November.
— TOP OPINION —
“Dear Joe Biden: It’s time to drop out of the presidential race” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Mr. Vice President, you have served our nation with distinction for a very long time. It’s time to bow out with grace and dignity. Look at the facts. You didn’t just lose Iowa, you were shellacked. You were supposed to give U.S. Sen. Sanders a run for his money in New Hampshire, but you not only were forced to cede defeat days out, you ended up in a distant fifth place. Fifth! You received less than half the votes of the little-known Senator from Minnesota who came in third. And now your numbers in Nevada are beginning to cave which surprises exactly no one. And so now you are putting your hope in the South Carolina comeback?
— OPINIONS —
“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.
“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 film 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.
“Attracting film, TV production to Florida is good business for Sunshine State” via Paul Sirmons for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida wouldn’t be giving “millionaire moguls” money as Americans for Prosperity claimed. The “moguls” would be giving Florida their millions, investing their capital in Florida and spending on our workers, at our businesses — some of which are film-related and many that are not, like grocery stores, hotels, hardware stores, restaurants, clothiers, and more. AFP claims the program gives tax breaks. It does not. It‘s a modest rebate of actual expenses paid to Florida residents and businesses, and not a dime is paid until after the production has made all of its expenditures in Florida and proven it in an audit. Joe Gruters’ bill offers just enough to bring a steady stream of production back to Florida.
“This conservative New College alum urges the Legislature to dig deeper on ‘cost per student’ metrics before deciding school’s fate” via Karen Cyphers for Florida Politics — New College’s independence is being challenged — this time, by other state leaders who I have also worked with and admire, including state Rep. Randy Fine. Fine’s motivations for proposing to consolidate New College into Florida State University are well-intentioned and grounded in his desire to best serve the taxpayers of this state. His argument relates to the fact that small schools such as New College cost more to operate for their size. This is true — but it’s the WHY they cost more that matters. It will take a comprehensive analysis to determine whether consolidation would actually produce the economies that legislative champions are seeking.
— EARNINGS —
“RSA Consulting Group nears $1.8M in 2019 pay” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — With the firm’s fourth-quarter reports in, the annual earnings estimate stands at $890,000 for legislative lobbying and $880,000 for executive branch lobbying. Firms also mark down a range for their overall pay in each quarterly report. RSA’s reports show they earned no less than $800,000 last year, with a top end of nearly $2 million. Firm founder Ron Pierce and the team of Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs, Natalie King represented more than 60 clients in 2019, and many of their customers are tied to the Tampa Bay region. Their most lucrative contracts included the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, both of which paid $120,000 in fees last year.
“The Legis Group notches $1.2M in 2019” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Fourth-quarter reports from the firm show the team of Doug Holder, Rob Schenck, Patrick Bell, Mike Fischer, Susan Goldstein, and Dennis Green reeled in $345,000 to close out the year. The firm received most of that money lobbying the Legislature, with just $25,000 coming in for their efforts lobbying the Governor and Cabinet. Florida lobbyists report their pay in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Firms also list a range for their overall pay. The Legis Group’s executive branch reports fell in the bottom range throughout 2019. Of their legislative lobbying reports, three were in the $250,000 to $500,000 range while the fourth was in the $100,000 to $250,000 range.
“Strategos Public Affairs earns $2.1M in 2019” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Strategos Public Affairs collected an estimated $2.1 million in pay last year, according to newly filed compensation reports. The team of Adam Giery, Jim Horne, Nicholas Mortellaro, Orlando Pryor, Tara Reid and Trey Traviesa represented more than 30 clients, netting more than $1 million in legislative lobbying fees and another $1 million in executive branch lobbying fees. Florida lobbyists report their pay in ranges covering $10,000 increments. Florida Politics uses the middle number of each range to estimate overall pay. Firms also list a range for their overall pay. Half of Strategos’ legislative reports fell between $100,000 and $250,000 and the others fell between $250,000 and $500,000. It was the same split for the firm’s executive branch reports.
— ALOE —
“Mars 2020 rover arrives in Florida for final preps before summer launch” via Chelsea Tatham of WTSP — The newest rover landed last week in Cape Canaveral aboard a U.S. Air Force cargo plane. Assembly and tests of the rover began in 2018 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. As soon as the rover landed in the Sunshine State, it was taken to the same spacecraft facility that handled NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2011. Curiosity is currently on Mars, exploring the Gale Crater. Over the next five months or so, crews will conduct a final assembly and more testing before the Mars 2020 rover can be enclosed in its aeroshell for the last time. The current plan has the rover launching to Mars in early July aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
“At Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle is getting a makeover” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney’s iconic Cinderella Castle is getting a renovation and going gold this year, the company announced Monday. The improvements are scheduled to start in the next few weeks. They will run into summer as Disney plans to add golden trim and darken the turrets navy blue, according to Magic Kingdom Vice President Jason Kirk, who wrote a Disney blog post that showed a rendering. Disney does not plan to cover the castle or close it during the renovation process. The castle update comes as Disney prepares for the Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
“London to get world’s first Batman-themed restaurant” via Christian Sylt of Forbes — Called Park Row, after the area of Gotham City which is home to the caped crusader’s arch enemies, the 18,000 square feet venue will sit inside the basement of an Art Deco building right in the heart of London. It is set to offer an experience which is more like a dinner show than a trip to a typical restaurant. Guests will enter by descending into an area designed to look like Batman’s lair, the Batcave. From there, three bars and five very different dining environments await with prices starting at an average of $58 per person. Expect traditional British dishes in a library-like atmosphere at Pennyworth’s, which is named after Batman’s butler, Alfred.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to the First Lady of Education, Anne Corcoran, our new friend, Lynn Hatter, and WPLG’s Glenna Milberg.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.