Takeaways from Tallahassee — Top 10 votes for small business

Blue Tally Takeaways (1)
Lawmakers had to break from GOP leadership to get top marks from NFIB.

Mom ‘n’ pop warriors

Six lawmakers proved themselves to be the strongest supporters of small business this term, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

NFIB on Wednesday released its Voting Record scorecard for the 2021-22 term. Sens. Jason Brodeur and Ileana Garcia and Reps. Jason Fischer, Blaise Ingoglia, Spencer Roach and Jayer Williamson — all Republicans — earned perfect scores on the 10 bills NFIB says were most important for small businesses. Another 16 Senators and 67 House members voted in NFIB’s direction 90% of the time.

“Florida remains very friendly toward its small businesses, in big part because so many of our legislators own or have owned a small business,” NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle said. “They truly understand the challenges our members are dealing with, issues like supply chain disruptions, worker shortages, and soaring inflation.”

Blaise Ingoglia got special honors from NFIB. Image via Colin Hackley.

Among those scoring 90% were Senate President Wilton Simpson, Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo and her expected successor, Sen. Ben Albritton. On the House side, Speaker Chris Sprowls and Speaker-designate Paul Renner also voted with NFIB 90% of the time.

Sen. Linda Stewart was the only Democrat to hit 90%.

Sen. George Gainer and former Rep. Cord Byrd, who is now Secretary of State, each scored eight out of nine because they missed one vote.

To earn perfect scores, lawmakers had to break from Republican leadership and vote against a tax administration bill (SB 1382), which NFIB said would have made it harder for small businesses to defend themselves in a tax audit. NFIB stood alone in their outside opposition to the legislation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill last month. He said it would have put an additional burden on small businesses on top of inflation and economic turmoil, which he blamed on President Joe Biden.

Brodeur, Garcia and Ingoglia earned perfect scores despite missing at least one of the 10 votes. However, Garcia was the only one of the three to miss the tax compliance bill vote, and she missed two others.

Meanwhile, Herrle made a special shoutout for Ingoglia, who is expected to be elected as a Senator in November.

“Representative Ingoglia chaired the House Commerce Committee and showed exceptional leadership by rallying other legislators to small business’ defense when the House debated the bad tax audit bill,” Herrle said.

In addition to the audit bill, NFIB called on lawmakers to vote twice in favor of COVID-19 liability protections. The organization also asked lawmakers to update the Right to Farm Act, set in motion a referendum to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission and more.

“You won’t find a more effective way to measure legislators’ performance than by examining their voting record,” Herrle said.

___

Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Aimee Sachs, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Abortion law back in place after appeal — Florida’s 15-week abortion ban is back in place after the state appealed a Circuit Court Judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional. Abortion providers and advocates seek to defeat the Republican-backed law (HB 5) by proving that it violates the right to privacy written in the Florida Constitution. Meanwhile, the Agency for Health Care Administration is gearing up for the law with rule changes that will ask all providers who terminate pregancies to electronically submit reports detailing the number of abortions they provide in a month and more.

DeSantis appoints Pete Antonacci as elections cop — The Governor appointed Antonacci to lead the Department of State’s Office of Election Crimes and Security. The office is the Department of State’s new outfit to investigate election crimes and voter fraud, a mission that has drawn consternation from Democrats and DeSantis’ critics. “Peter Antonacci has dedicated his career to serving the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “I am confident he will lead the Office of Election Crimes and Security with integrity and ensure that Florida’s elections are the most secure in the nation.”

Governor issues order on prescriptions — DeSantis issued an executive order that he said will bring more transparency into the role played by pharmacy benefit managers and whether they are the cause of increased prescription drug costs in the state. DeSantis expressed frustration that the Biden administration has yet offered its final approval to Florida’s Canadian drug importation program. The state has estimated the program could save Floridians between $80 million and $150 million. “Maybe they just don’t want to give Florida a win and that wouldn’t be surprising,” DeSantis said. “It may be that pharma has told them they don’t want this. But we’ve got to stop doing policy based on what pharma wants.”

Jack Latvala strikes deal in ethics probe — Former Sen. Latvala will be censured as part of an apparent settlement with the Florida Commission on Ethics that would appear to be the last chapter in the sexual harassment allegations first made public more than four years ago. The settlement includes the Commission’s advocate’s recommendation that the panel uphold that Latvala “corruptly used his official position” to “secure a special privilege, benefit or exemption for himself.” Latvala “admits he used poor judgment as part of a consensual 20-year relationship” with a lobbyist, which may have violated state law barring public officials from accepting “anything of value” in exchange for official action.

First Lady responds to fentanyl overdoses — Following a spree of deaths in Gadsden County this Fourth of July weekend, First Lady Casey DeSantis traveled to Quincy with a message of caution against illicit drugs. She hosted a roundtable with law enforcement and public health officials Thursday after a four-day period in which medical personnel in the rural county responded to 19 overdoses of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug. Officials there have attributed six deaths last weekend to fentanyl overdoses and another three deaths are suspected cases. The overdoses occurred less than two months after the Governor signed legislation to stiffen penalties on drug dealers (HB 95). However, that law will not take effect until October.

Sea of green

Florida finished the 2021-22 fiscal year with a record $21.8 billion surplus, according to DeSantis’ office.

The state has outperformed monthly expectations for more than a year straight. And Florida finished the 2021-22 year strong, with collections in May $742 million more than estimated and preliminary collections for June at $950 million above estimates.

“Despite the headwinds created by the Biden administration’s policies, Florida is in a strong fiscal position because we preserved freedom and kept our economy open,” DeSantis in a news release. “Our responsible policies have allowed us to make record investments to support our communities, promote education, protect the environment, and provide record tax relief for Floridians, all while building record reserves to protect the state against the reckless fiscal policies from Washington.”

Ron DeSantis is dreaming up a spending plan with the state’s surplus. Image via AP.

Speaking in Cape Coral on Friday, DeSantis said tourists and new Floridians are helping drive sales tax collections.

“Part of that is because we’ve had the state free and open,” DeSantis said. “We’ve done very, very well economically in terms of outpacing the nation in jobs, labor force, growth.”

The surplus includes $499 million for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund. Additionally, it reserves $15.7 billion in unallocated general revenue, $2.8 billion in unallocated trust funds and $2.7 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.

With the surplus dollars, DeSantis — who is seeking re-election in November — plans to roll out proposals for next year with priorities on education, infrastructure and tax relief.

Cooler heads prevail

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office has asked an HVAC company accused of misleading and ripping off customers to chill out — permanently.

Moody this week announced that her Consumer Protection Division filed a court action against Louis Bruno and his business, Bruno LLC, which does business under the names Bruno Total Home Performance and Bruno Air Conditioning.

Ashley Moody wants to ban this AC company from doing HVAC work.
Image via Colin Hackley.

Bruno and the company have been accused of using aggressive and deceptive sales practices, such as upselling customers on unnecessary HVAC systems and convincing them to ink opaque financing agreements that resulted in levies being placed on their homes. Many of the customers are senior citizens, some of whom are living on fixed incomes.

The court filing, known as a proposed stipulated consent judgment, would ban the company from doing HVAC business and using high-pressure, false or misleading sales tactics. It would also prohibit the company from forcing customers to sign a “non-disparagement clause,” which prohibits them from leaving negative reviews.

If the filing is entered by the court, some cash would change hands, too. It would secure $100,000 for eligible consumers who did business with the company, $1.3 million in alleged outstanding payments due to defendants that they will not seek from consumers, at least $100,000 in lien releases, more than $50,000 in refunds paid to consumers, $25,000 in attorney fees and $500,000 in suspended penalties.

“We are securing relief valued at more than a million dollars for consumers who were taken advantage of by alleged deceptive HVAC sales tactics,” Moody said. “This is an important resolution for hundreds of consumers, most of them seniors, who reported that they were preyed upon by the defendants.”

BOLO

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is recognizing “Military Consumer Month” with the launch of a new resource aimed at protecting service members from scams.

Military Consumer Month is a public awareness campaign spearheaded by the Federal Trade Commission. It traces back to 2013, first as Military Consumer Protection Day, and has since grown to a month-long education campaign throughout July.

The goal of Military Consumer Month is to prevent current and retired service members from falling victim to scams, such as “get rich quick” schemes and phony job offers that target veterans.

Nikki Fried wants scammers to stop targeting vets. Image via Colin Hackley.

“Florida is proud to be home to over 69,000 active duty military personnel, over 205,000 military retirees, and over 1.5 million veterans. Military members and their families endure great hardships to serve and defend our nation. Despite these sacrifices, there are those that would take advantage of these Floridians and their families through scams,” Fried said in a news release.

“My Department has fought against these scammers by enhancing the capabilities of our Consumer Services Division and actively investigating bad actors that use illegal and deceptive methods towards Florida’s military communities. While we have made great progress in protecting service members and their families from scams, we know there is still more work to be done.”

Fried announced that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which she oversees, has launched a web page with information on some of the common shakedowns used on members of the military and their families.

The page lists the warning signs for rental property scams, predatory loans, high-pressure sales tactics for insurance policies, and “no credit check” or “instant approval” auto loans that are laden with fees and hidden charges. Dating websites are also fertile ground for fraudsters, who target servicemembers by catfishing them and then asking for money so they can come visit or pay for a medical emergency.

Fried, who is running for Governor, closed with a message to scammers who target service members: “We will not allow for it and you will not get away with it. We will find out and find you, shut you down, and hold you accountable.”

Strong women

Fried also announced she has appointed Tracy Merlin, a 23-year veteran teacher in Broward County, to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

In recent years, Merlin has become a community activist for gun violence prevention, school safety and women’s rights. She spearheaded the campaign for Broward County Schools to include safe gun storage information for parents.

Tracy Merlin says she follows in the footsteps of other women. Image via Facebook.

“Now more than ever, it is essential to elevate the voices of women in our state,” Fried said in a news release. “In these unprecedented times, it is crucial to appoint members to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women that will be unapologetic champions of women’s rights and the common-sense policies needed to build safer communities for future generations of women. Tracy’s advocacy on behalf of our youth, both as an educator and as a community activist for gun violence prevention is a much-needed voice for our state and I am honored to have appointed her to serve in this important capacity.”

Merlin was born in Miami Beach and graduated from Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She attended the University of Florida and graduated with honors from the Pro-Teach Program with a bachelor of arts and master’s degree in elementary education.

Gun violence has been in the spotlight again after shootings in New York, Texas and now Illinois.

“We need to ensure the safety of our kids and communities,” Merlin said. “This is our final wake up call, we have been dormant as a state for too long. It is time for change.”

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is a nonpartisan board created in 1991 to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions and successes of Florida women and girls. The Governor, House Speaker, Senate President, and Attorney General all appoint four members for four-year terms while the Chief Financial Officer and Agriculture Commissioner each appoint three members for four-year terms.

Treasure trove

CFO Jimmy Patronis announced that his office returned more than $20 million in long-forgotten cash to Floridians last month.

The Division of Unclaimed Property, housed in the Department of Financial Services, serves as a lost and found for all manner of unclaimed assets, such as dormant bank accounts, unclaimed insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, uncashed checks, deposits, credit balances and refunds.

Jimmy Patronis says there’s still more than $2 billion waiting to be claimed. Image via CFO’s Office.

The division maintains an online database where Floridians can check out how many of their (or their family’s, friends’ and neighbors’) dollars are collecting dust in a government office building. It’s kind of like finding a $100 bill on the ground, except it was always yours and you don’t have to bend over to pick it up. And there are like eight of them right next to each other.

“With an average claim amount of roughly $785, that is real money going back into the pockets of Florida families and businesses. There is still more than $2 billion just waiting to be claimed and it only takes a few minutes to search with absolutely no cost to you,” Patronis said.

Miami-area residents were reunited with about $7.1 million last month, which was the most of any metro in the state by a mile — Tampa Bay was No. 2 at $4.5 million followed by Orlando at $3.2 million, West Palm Beach at $2.1 million and Jacksonville at $1.4 million. Other regions landed in the low- to mid-six figures.

The Division of Unclaimed Property has kept busy since Patronis took office in 2017, returning more than $1.7 billion, including a record-setting $388 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The CFO said the funds should help relieve some inflation-induced stress for those who got a check and encouraged those who didn’t get a slice of June’s $20 million prize pool to fire-up their nearest device and head to FLTreasureHunt.gov.

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

University of North Florida Board of Trustees — DeSantis named Clarence “Steve” Moore to the UNF Board of Trustees on Friday. Moore is a resident of Saint Johns and the President of Vestcor. He is currently serving on the Duval County Research and Development Authority and was previously an Assistant Dean of UNF’s Coggin College of Business. Moore earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from UNF.

Board of Auctioneers — The Governor appointed four new members to the board late Friday. Donald Cotton, of Cantonment, is a Realtor with ERA Old South Properties and a U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Auctioneers Association and is a member of the National Auctioneers Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Auburn University. Stan Crooks, of Lake Worth, is the President of Auction America and a two-time past President, Hall of Fame recipient, and an active member of the Florida Auctioneer’s Association. Crooks is also a member of the National Auctioneer’s Association and the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees. Ransom Hartman, of Palm City, is the owner of Ransom R. Hartman, LLC. He is a licensed auctioneer and a member of the National and Florida Auctioneer’s Associations. Hartman earned his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Illinois State University. Pamela Steele, of Tallahassee, is the Human Resources Manager of Acumera and previously served on the Leon County Commission’s Value Adjustment Board. She earned office system technology and medical transcription certifications from Tallahassee Community College.

Battle of the booths

It wasn’t a surprising move, but the decision to allow the 15-week abortion ban to set in drew outcry from Democrats.

Last week, Circuit Court Judge John Cooper in Leon County declared the abortion ban unconstitutional. But his order halting the legislation while it works its way through the courts was put on pause when lawyers representing the state appealed his ruling.

The battle for abortion rights extends beyond the courts, says Lauren Book. Image via Colin Hackley.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book was one of the first to respond to the legal whiplash.

“Judge Cooper’s injunction to protect a woman’s access to healthcare lasted less than an hour before the state filed its draconian appeal,” Book said. “There is a battle waging in Florida and across the country to fleece citizens’ freedoms under archaic, conservatively stacked Constitutional interpretations.”

During the Legislative Session, Book led impassioned opposition against the proposal. She shared her personal story and made unsuccessful attempts to carve out exceptions for survivors of rape, incest and human trafficking.

With a plea similar to one made by Biden, who on Friday asked Americans to “vote, vote, vote,” Book urged Floridians to head to the polls.

“This battle is not just in the courts, but in the voting booths. It is critical for every single eligible voter to exercise that right and create a tidal wave of support for pro-choice Democratic candidates this November — because radical Republicans will not stop until abortions are fully banned and women are left without the freedom to control their own bodies.”

Welcome aboard

House Speaker Chris Sprowls is appointing Shumaker Advisors lobbyist Alan Suskey to the Florida isfFor Veterans Board of Directors.

Established by the Legislature in 2014, Florida is for Veterans aims to attract veterans to move to Florida and encourages businesses to hire exiting service members by promoting initiatives such as DOD SkillBridge, a federal program that trains veterans for post-military careers.

Alan Suskey served in the U.S. Army for eight years and did two tours in Iraq.

“As a Veteran himself, Alan knows firsthand the unique challenges of leaving the military and transitioning to civilian life,” Sprowls said in a news release. “Alan is known for his energy and heart to achieve the mission — having him on board is a key step and asset in making Florida the best place for Veterans to live.”

Suskey served in the U.S. Army for eight years, including two year-long tours in Iraq. He has received eight Army Commendation Medals, the Valorous Unit Award, and was named the U.S. Army Europe “Soldier of the Year” in 2002.

“It has been my honor to serve our country and a true privilege to have this new opportunity to give back to our military members. During my time in the Army, I worked alongside some of the most dedicated, committed, and intelligent people. They were able to operate under extreme conditions and stress. I know that our Veterans have so much to contribute to our community, and I look forward to helping them find success in their next roles,” Suskey said.

After leaving the military, Suskey began working in the political realm, first as a military aide to former U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. He later entered lobbying, building a successful firm that merged with Shumaker Advisors in 2021.

Canine influencers

In honor of afternoons spent lounging in the sun and the officers who do it best, the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is kicking off its “Dog Days of Summer” social media campaign.

The agency’s campaign, which will run through Aug. 11, will celebrate the K-9 members and their handlers. FDLE has K-9 units across the state that primarily work in electronic and explosives detection.

Aida Limongi and Rocket are one dynamic duo getting their time in the limelight. Image via FDLE.

The expression “dog days of summer” dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans and references the stars, particularly Sirius, also called Alpha Canis Majoris or the Dog Star. Ancient Romans believed Sirius contributed to the sun’s heat and thus referred to this extremely hot period as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.”

One pup who will be honored over the next few weeks is Rocket. He joined FDLE in November after a career change from a service dog to an electronic detection K-9.

Rocket is assigned to FDLE’s Tallahassee Regional Operations Center and assists with search warrants, victim interviews and demonstrations. Rocket is assigned to Special Agent Aida Limongi and the Cyber Crimes Squad but is able to assist with searches for any squad or law enforcement partners.

If you’re begging to check out Rocket and other four-legged officers, follow the Dog Days of Summer on social media at @fdlepio on Twitter or on Facebook at FDLEpage.

Hurting, healing and stability

Seventy percent of Florida crime victims report experiencing at least one symptom of trauma following their experiences and ongoing unaddressed trauma can be particularly acute for repeat victims.

To turn hurt to healing, Moody awarded a $2.3 million grant to Thriving Mind South Florida which is using the grant to fund a pilot program called “Trauma Recovery Network.”

Thriving Mind South Florida has been active in their community. Image via Facebook.

This Trauma Recovery Network pilot project is modeled after a program called Trauma Recovery Center which was developed by Dr. Alicia Boccellari at the University of California at San Francisco. Boccellari and the National National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers will work with Thriving Mind South Florida to get trauma-informed quality services to residents of Miami-Dade County who are impacted by violence and systemic inequities.

“For the first time, we are able to conduct assertive outreach in trauma centers and emergency departments to connect crime survivors and family members to supportive services and evidence-based trauma treatment in their home community,” said Dr. Steven Proctor, program director for the Trauma Recovery Network.

Megan Hobson, who was caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting in Miami at age 16 and had to undergo numerous surgeries in order to walk again, also will work with Thriving Mind South Florida on the pilot program.

“This program can play a key role for survivors like me and communities harmed by violent crime because we have the opportunity to greatly improve mental and emotional health, reduce the likelihood of victims becoming victims again and keep families intact,” she said in a prepared release. “Addressing trauma is a critical missing piece in strategies to stop the cycle of crime and will create safer communities.”

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice has more than 60,000 members who have been victimized by crime, including 8,000 Florida members. The group has been lobbying the Florida Attorney General to fund the initiative for the last five years.

Moody was the first Attorney General to earmark the federal funds for the pilot program.

“Through this breakthrough model, clinicians and community leaders can work with victims of crime to transform their hurt into healing and stability. These services will save lives and make Florida safer. We thank Attorney General Moody and Thriving Mind South Florida for their critical support as we work to strengthen our communities and lift up victims during their time of need,” said Aswad Thomas, National Director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, with over 8,000 members who are crime victims in Florida.

Landline fees

Landline customers’ monthly surcharge won’t go up this year, staying at 10 cents for another 12 months.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) on Thursday approved the annual budget for Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc. (FTRI), which administers the Florida Relay System that provides telecommunications access to Florida citizens who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

 

There’s less income for relay system, but fewer people are using them anyway.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Florida law requires the PSC to approve FTRI’s annual budget. FTRI’s approved 2022-23 budget expense totals $3.96 million. The PSC increased FTRI’s proposed budget by more than $208,000 to account for a recent rise in relay service expenses. This budget reflects lower revenues due to reduced access lines and an 11% decrease in operating expenses due, in part, to COVID-19 challenges.

“As in past years, reported numbers show a downward trend in relay service call volumes,” PSC Chairman Andrew Fay said in a news release. “Today’s approved budget positions FTRI to operate within a changing telecommunications industry and research new technologies for efficient long-term planning.”

Through trained operators and specialized equipment, the Florida Relay System facilitates telephone calls around the clock, allowing Florida residents who require relay services to connect and communicate with anyone anytime. As the communications industry offerings continue to expand, traditional relay users are transitioning to Internet, video and wireless options. Sprint Communications Company is the current provider for the system.

FTRI, a non-profit, contracts with 20 nonprofit regional distribution centers to distribute equipment and provide training. For information on obtaining Florida Relay System equipment, call FTRI at 1-800-222-3448 (Voice) or 1-888-447-5620 (Text Telephone/TTY) or visit www.ftri.org.

Good pick

The State Parks Foundation is praising the Department of Environmental Protection’s recent pick to lead the Division of Recreation and Parks.

DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton on Friday announced that Chuck Hatcher will drop the word “Acting” from his title and become the full-on Director of DRP.

Hatcher has twice served as Acting Director since joining DRP in 2016 and during his current stint, which started in November, he has overseen the opening of two new properties in the Panhandle and hit key milestones at others.

Chuck Hatcher says directing DRP is his dream job.

State Parks Foundation President Tammy Gustafson was quick to praise the hire.

“The Foundation congratulates Chuck on being named Director and recognizes his significant contributions to the division,” she said. “Working closely with Chuck and other division leadership, we have accomplished important projects that enhance visitor experiences at Florida’s award-winning state parks. We look forward to the continued strong partnership and successes ahead in the years to come.”

The Foundation noted that under Hatcher state parks have continued setting new records for revenue and reporting “remarkable” attendance numbers.

In a DEP news release, Hatcher said directing DRP is his dream job.

“Florida’s state parks, trails and historic sites are made up of amazing natural and cultural resources, as well as amazing people. I am grateful to Secretary Hamilton for trusting me to lead this team,” he said.

Happy retirement

After nearly 30 years leading The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, Doug Sessions is retiring.

Sessions wrote a letter to staff and supporters of the organization this week announcing he would leave the organization at the end of 2022 and reflecting on his decades of service at the organization, which tests and supports programs to improve the lives of Florida children.

“The past 28 years as President and CEO of the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. Just as all good things must come to an end, the time has come for me to retire, and I will do so at the end of 2022,” he wrote.

Doug Sessions has been relentless in his advocacy for children and families.

He thanked program managers, staff, donors, advocates, allies, and provider agency professionals for each doing their part to support the organization and said he was “honored and privileged to have worked with so many quintessential professionals” during his career. He also says he sees a bright future ahead for the organization.

“Come January 1, 2023, I am confident the Ounce of Prevention Fund will not miss a beat in continuing its important work of supporting Florida’s most vulnerable children and their families. I am equally confident that, under new leadership, the organization will achieve even greater heights over the many years to come,” he wrote.

Sessions has been described as a “relentless” advocate for children and earlier this year was recently recognized with the Chiles Children’s Advocate Award. The award, named for former Gov. Lawton Chiles and his wife, Rhea, is presented each year to a Floridian who has dedicated extensive time, philanthropic effort, and advocacy on statewide issues affecting the status and well-being of children, youth, and families.

Kudos

Orlando attorney Jennifer Slone Tobin has been elected to Shutts & Bowen’s Executive Committee.

Tobin is co-chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group and is board certified in real estate law. She joined the century-old firm in 2002.

“Jennifer has been an integral asset to the firm as a real estate attorney, leader and mentor,” said Shutts & Bowen Managing Partner Jack McElroy. “We look forward to her leadership on the Executive Committee and believe she will reinforce the firm’s culture of teamwork and its focus on diversity and inclusion of all.”

Jennifer Slone Tobin has been elevated to Shutts & Bowen’s top circle after two decades at the firm.

Tobin currently sits on the Advisory Board of the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Real Estate Center, is a past Board Chair and long-time board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and has served multiple years on Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board.

She has also been a member of the Executive Council of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar for more than a decade.

“I’m honored and humbled to be elected by my peers to serve on the Executive Committee with a group of prestigious and talented professionals,” she said. “My predecessors have forged a commitment to our clients, our workforce, and our community that is unparalleled, and I intend to fully continue that commitment.”

Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yay

In the dog days of summer, it’s not unusual to see political candidates on the stump campaigning in the sweltering heat.

Members of Florida State University’s Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy Program (MAAPP) are offering an opportunity for university students and residents to meet the slate of candidates for Tallahassee City Commission and to raise money for the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Animal Therapy Program. To date, the group has collected nearly $3,000 in proceeds for the cause.

Mark your calendars for the pawfect event.

Dubbed “Pups and Politicians,” the event on Thursday will include formal candidate introductions followed by a happy hour meet and greet.

At press time, David Bellamy, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3; Jeremy Matlow, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3; Mayor John Dailey, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 4/Mayor; Kristin Dozier, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 4/Mayor; Michael Ibrahim, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 4/Mayor; Whitfield Leland III, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 4/Mayor; Shelby Green, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 5; Adner Marcelin, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 5; and Mary Mitchell, candidate for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 5 had confirmed their attendance at the event.

If the candidates don’t excite you, come and meet the therapy dogs that will also be hanging out.

The FSU MAAPP degree is designed for those who seek active careers in a range of political fields from lobbying to fundraising to political communications to grassroots organizing. Established in 2001, more than 500 people graduated from the program to date.

Capitol Directions

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — We thought Stephen King knew not to feed trolls, but he must’ve written Cat’s Eye during one of his cocaine benders.

Salon — Down arrow — Ugh, go ahead and say it: “Fake news!”

Gavin Newsom — Down arrow — Take the 10 East, switch over to the 405 North then take the 5 until it dumps you out on J Street.

FDACS — Down arrow — Ain’t no rule that says a dog can’t shoot a giant African land snail with a proton pack. But there should be.

DEM — Down arrow — This isn’t eBay. If you make a bid, you have to pay.

Renatha Francis — Crossway arrow — She lied on her Supreme Court application and botched a family court case. … Anyways, when’s the swearing-in ceremony?

Pete Antonacci — Up arrow — We’re starting to buy into the “Forrest Gump of Florida politics” narrative.

Fentrice Driskell — Up arrow — Coming soon: A direct-mail ad featuring a pic of her next to the VP.

Jack Latvala — Crossways arrow — He’s facing censure and a public reprimand … but he pretty much censured himself four years ago.

Employ Florida — Down arrow — A thought exercise: How will the people who run the site file for unemployment?

Geographic Solutions — Down arrow — You know you’re boned when the IT guy’s plan is turning it off and turning it back on.

Dana Young — Up arrow — No more pit stops in the hellhole known as Charlotte Douglas? One ticket to London, please!

Duke Energy — Up arrow — Here’s a shocker: If you fight power, you’ll lose.

Aventura ALF — Down arrow — If the Jax obit guy’s dad was alive, he’d send him here.

GEO Group — Down arrow — “Significant noncompliance” is an insignificant allegation, it seems.

UCF Eng. Dep’t — Down arrow — The greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity … the rest write 1,500-word anti-racism statements for college departments. Stop WOKE has a silver lining after all.

AC — Up arrow — Every summer, we remember why we have a statue of John Gorrie in Washington.

ACC — Down arrow — When FSU and Clemson leave, can we start calling it the “Almost Competitive Conference” again?

African snails — Down arrow — All the meningitis of your freshman dorm but none of the fun.

Judge Joseph Hatchett — Up arrow — It took an act of Congress, but the federal courthouse in Tally will bear his name.

Staff Reports



#FlaPol

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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories