Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics

Peter Schorsch

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

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.15.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

“I haven’t made a decision about my (political) future,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters after this week’s Cabinet meeting in the Capitol.

That was in response to a question about whether he took “any lessons” from Democrat Doug Jones’ win against Republican Roy Moore in deep-red Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat.

Tuesday was the special election to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. Attorney General under President Donald Trump.

Jones, a federal prosecutor, bested Moore, a former judge accused of trying to date teens when he was in his 30s, by 1.5 percent of the vote.

Scott, term-limited as governor next year, is widely expected to challenge Democrat Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.

Did he think, he was asked, the majority of Alabama voters were swayed by the accusations of bad behavior against Moore, or was there something else at work?

Scott answered with his characteristic bob-and-weave move: “You can talk to pundits about what they think about it,” he said.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@LedgeKing: .@POTUS on @marcorubio threat to vote no on tax bill because child tax credit too meager: “I think he’ll get there. He’s really been a great guy, very supportive,” POTUS said. “I think that Sen. Rubio will be there, very shortly.”

@PeterBakerNYT: After leaving White House, Omarosa Manigault Newman tells @abcnews: “I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people.”

@Netflix: We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.

@MayorLevine: This shameful decision today by the @FCC and @AjitPaiFCC only serves to take power away from people all around the world, and place it in the hands of a few broadband providers.

@Fineout: For the record @FLGovScott said yesterday that he had not yet made up his mind on a run for U.S. Senate. … and it seems there was one reporter in the last few months who kept saying Scott running was not a done deal. … That said – Scott’s decision to not seek the chairmanship of @The_RGA was a signal that he was serious about mounting a bid. In other words, he could be too busy in 2018 to help get others elected

@MattGaetz: (on running for U.S. Senate if Scott doesn’t run): Absolutely not. I’d be begging @RepBrianMast to run. He’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.

@Jay_FantAshley Moody’s record must make her Clinton mentors proud. I bet they get together at fundraisers and giggle about her suit against @TheRealDonalTrump. The liberal force is strong with this one.

@PeterSchorschFL: Want to know when @FLSenate special master will release his findings in @JackLatvala case? Well, @politicofl’s holiday party is Friday night. And most of the @Fla_Pol team will be headed out of town on holiday excursions. So bank on Friday at 4:59 p.m.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***

— TOP STORY —

Marco Rubio to vote against GOP tax bill unless tax credit for working poor is expanded” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — “I understand that this is a process of give and take, especially when there’s only a couple of us fighting for it, the leverage is lessened,” Rubio said in the Senate. “But given all the other changes made in the tax code leading into it, I can’t in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase [the child tax credit], and there’s ways to do it, and we’ll be very reasonable about it.” Sen. Mike Lee, Rubio’s partner in pushing for the expanded child tax credit, is undecided on whether to support the Republicans’ final tax bill, according to a Lee spokesman. Rubio and Lee want to allow millions of families who pay payroll taxes but do not earn enough to pay income taxes to claim the expanded credit. The change they are now pushing would expand the credit by $80 billion over 10 years, a smaller change than they proposed for the Senate bill.

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

The Florida House Speaker who bashes special interests spends their money lavishly — and won’t apologize” via Adam C. Smith of The Tampa Bay Times — (A) big part of the cigar-loving House speaker’s war against special interests has involved taking and then spending their money to fly on private planes, dine at pricey restaurants and buy thousands of dollars worth of cigars. He makes no apologies, saying it’s all part of the fundraising process that ensures true, blue conservative Republicans control the Florida House of Representatives. “If you waste money in politics, chances are you don’t win campaigns, especially the tough ones,” the Land O’Lakes Republican said, brushing off questions about political spending that sometimes seem more in line with the Kardashians than with a champion of fiscal conservatism.

Jeff Brandes wants privacy despite Echo’s, Google Home’s listening” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — It’s time to deal with privacy in the age of Alexa, Sen. Brandes says. The St. Petersburg Republican has filed legislation to protect the expectation of privacy in the use of cellphones and other microphone-enabled household devices. The surge in sales of “smart speakers” like Amazon’s Echo, with its “Alexa” cloud-based voice service, and Google Home has caused some civil libertarians to express privacy concerns. Brandes’ measure requires law enforcement to get a warrant before searching communications and location data contained in such devices.

Dana Young, Jamie Grant seek high-tech transit options” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Sen. Young and Rep. Grant, Tampa Republicans, have filed legislation to divert $60 million from the Orlando-area Sunrail project and use it to foster high-tech transit projects in the Tampa Bay area and Miami. The money, to be matched by private or local government money, would be used to spur use of “emerging technology-driven solutions” which “will revolutionize transportation in ways unforeseen just a few years ago,” said a statement from Young. Those could include hyperloop trains, autonomous “rail buses” guided by roadway sensors, ride-sharing networks and autonomous vehicles — but not traditional bus or rail mass transit. “That’s where the future is headed,” Young said. The money won’t come until 2021, to avoid harming Sunrail, she said — $25 million each for Miami and the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority, and $10 million elsewhere.

‘Alternatively transporting’ to a location near you: From left, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, Rep. Jamie Grant and Sen. Dana Young announce filing legislation to create a “Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority.”

Offshore drilling ban clears constitutional review panel” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Offshore drilling for gas and oil would be banned under a proposal that cleared a Constitution Revision Commission committee on Thursday. The General Provisions Committee OK’d the proposal (P 91) on a 5-2 vote, though not after opposition from — unsurprisingly — petroleum industry interests. That piqued the ire of committee chair Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, who filed the proposed constitutional amendment … “I am not going to ask to TP this,” she said, referring to a temporary postponement, a procedure often used when a sponsor gauges a loss in support. “My job is to speak for the citizens of Florida … Let them have (offshore drilling) in New Orleans, let them have it in Mobile. We don’t need it here.”

School board term-limit proposal heads to full CRC” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — The proposed change to the state constitution would limit school board members to eight consecutive years in office — the same as Florida legislators. Commissioner Erika Donalds, who is sponsoring the proposal, said the change to the state constitution would better represent the “will of the people.” Those opposing the change, however, called it an unnecessary and unfair proposal that would “deploy a tool to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.” Ruth Melton, the director for the Florida School Board Association, said the measure is not necessary because school board elections are “nonpartisan” and only have “real people with real ideas” running for a seat.

Voters could decide tobacco, ‘certificate of need’ issues” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — A panel of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission approved separate proposed constitutional amendments that would alter how much money is set aside for anti-smoking programs and eliminate long-standing state regulations about the construction of hospitals and nursing homes. Florida receives money each year as part of a landmark 1997 multibillion-dollar settlement with tobacco companies. Part of that money is dedicated to anti-smoking programs, including an advertising and marketing campaign that currently receives $23 million a year. This requirement was put in the state constitution at the urging of anti-smoking and health groups in 2006 after legislators cut funding to the program … the commission’s General Provisions Committee also backed a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate “certificate of need” regulations for health care facilities. The proposal would prohibit the state from limiting the number of hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities for individuals with disabilities.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Corcoran committee continues raking in cash” via The News Service of Florida — After raising more than $750,000 in November, House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s political committee continued pulling in cash during the first week of December. Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC raised at least $113,000 from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5, according to a list of contributions posted on its website. Large contributions in early December included $40,000 from MHM Services, Inc., a Virginia-based health care company; $20,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, a political committee linked to Associated Industries of Florida; and $15,000 from the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch Companies, according to the website. Watchdog PAC raised $753,700 in November and had nearly $4.69 million in cash on hand as of the end of the month, a finance report filed with the state Division of Elections shows.

Jeremy Ring gets nods from mayors Buddy Dyer, Jack Seiler in CFO race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “With Jeremy, Floridians have a real opportunity to transform the way our State does business,” Dyer said in a news release. “His unique business background and his innovative approach combined with a real record of delivering higher paying jobs are exactly what Tallahassee needs right now.” Both Dyer and Seiler are, like Ring, Democrats. Ring faces Republican incumbent Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis heading toward the 2018 election. Patronis has over $1.15 million cash on hand. Ring has $113,000 cash on hand.

Gus Bilirakis backs Ed Hooper for Florida Senate” via Florida Politics — “I am excited to have a partner to work with in Ed Hooper. I know of few better prepared to work on the issues important to Tampa Bay area citizens. Ed has dedicated his career to public service, especially helping our first responders and heroic military servicemen and women,” Bilirakis said. “I look forward to working with Ed to ensure that our communities are the best places to work, live and play. I am proud to support him as the next Senator for Florida District 16.” Hooper touted the endorsement from Bilirakis as well as his fundraising numbers for November, which showed him with $60,000 in new money between his campaign and committee accounts.

Jason Brodeur continues to rake in cash for 2020 Senate bid via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Brodeur continues to rake in campaign finance money for his 2020 bid, raising $19,229 for his official campaign and another $35,000 for his independent political committee in November. Brodeur leads all Central Florida state Senate candidates even though the election he’s shooting for is three years away. He now has raised more than $196,354 in his campaign fund, with $123,352 left after expenses, and another $1.3 million raised in Friends of Jason Brodeur Political Committee, with about $300,000 in that bank account Dec. 1. He is aiming for the seat being vacated by Republican state Sen. David Simmons in Seminole County.

— STATEWIDE —

Health insurance sign-up deadline extended in Florida” via The Associated Press — Floridians have two extra weeks to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration shortened the enrollment period this year by six weeks. It was supposed to end Friday, but federal authorities granted Florida an extension due to the busy hurricane season. Florida has led the way in the number of sign-ups for years. Federal health officials say more than 1 million people in the Sunshine State have signed up so far this year. More than 4.6 million people have enrolled this year nationwide.

‘We decline’: Court tosses challenge to Rick Scott’s appointment power” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Saying the issue wasn’t ready for judicial review, the state’s highest court Thursday dismissed a challenge to Gov. Scott‘s power to appoint three new justices on his last day in office in 2019. In a 6-1 decision, the Florida Supreme Court said it couldn’t step into the controversy because the governor hasn’t taken any action yet. The three justices who are retiring and will be replaced took issue with the decision, though two of them agreed with the result. The third called Scott’s intentions “blatantly unconstitutional.” The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause filed the case in June. Their unstated concern was that Scott, a Naples Republican, would pack the court with more conservatives.

Pam Bondi’s Rod Rosenstein defense gets pushback during Sean Hannity interview” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “I know Rod. I’ve dealt with Rod, and I’ve only had completely ethical dealings with Rod,” Bondi said. The Hannity interview came the same day Rosenstein testified before the House Judiciary Committee following the release of text messages uncovered as part of the probe that showed FBI agents — now removed from the investigation — making negative comments about Trump. Bondi initially said that anyone who made critical comments of Trump should be “wiped off the case,” but at the outset of the interview did not call for an end to the Mueller investigation. Sebastian Gorka pounced on those comments, directly refuting Bondi. “I have to disagree with Pam,” he said. “It’s not about replacing individuals; it’s about dissolving the team,” he said. Bondi tried to strengthen her answer, calling for the dismantling of Mueller’s team. “Sebastian, you used much better words than I — that team needs to be dissolved,” she said. “I guess I’m holding out hope that Rod Rosenstein, after listening to him testify, that he is having that entire team investigated,” Bondi said.

Gambling regulators dealt blow in license dispute” via the News Service of Florida — Gambling regulators were wrong to try to take back a South Florida jai alai license they claimed was issued by mistake, an administrative law judge ruled this week. The issue surrounds what is known as a summer jai alai permit … Summer Jai-Alai Partnership, known as “Summer Partners,” decided to move its operations … Transferring from one county to another isn’t allowed, the regulators argued. But siding with Summer Partners attorney John Lockwood, Administrative Law Judge Robert Meale ruled Tuesday that nothing in law bans licenses from being relocated across county lines, so long as the operations stay within 35 miles of the original location of the permit. “A government agency cannot just take away a license because they changed their mind,” Lockwood said. The decision was the latest in a series of setbacks for gambling regulators.

Joe Redner’s Florigrown files mammoth medical marijuana lawsuit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An epic 238-page lawsuit filed by Joe Redner‘s Florigrown company — replete with references to Encyclopedia Britannica, ancient Roman medical texts and the Nixon White House tapes — alleges that the state is failing its responsibility to carry out the people’s will when it comes to medical marijuana. The complaint was filed Wednesday in Leon County Circuit Civil court … The latest action adds to the growing amount of litigation over medical marijuana, which has state lawmakers concerned it’s interfering with the department’s ability to process vendor licenses and patient ID cards, among other things … Florigrown, which had been denied the ability to be a medical marijuana treatment center, says the state is shirking its duties under the constitutional amendment passed last year that authorizes medical marijuana, and in regulating the drug under state law.

Fish, gunfire, blood and laughter: Details revealed in shark-dragging case” via Carlos Munoz and Tim Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — As the blacktip shark was caught and dragged toward the 22-foot Aquasport center console vessel anchored near Egmont Key in Hillsborough County, one of the four fishermen pulled out his phone to record a Snapchat video. The captain of the boat pulled out his .38 revolver and fired a round into the left side of the shark’s head, near the gills. Blood oozed into the water, and the shark tried to flee. All the fishermen could be heard on video celebrating and laughing. This video and many others obtained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during a four-month investigation into a viral video of a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed during the summer resulted in third-degree felony animal cruelty charges against three men — two from Palmetto and one from Bradenton. The charges are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

FSU head: No timetable to resume Greek life after frat death” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — John Thrasher says he will evaluate the suggestions of many groups and hopes to have more definitive ideas on how to proceed by the end of January. Thrasher suspended all Greek activities on campus Nov. 6, three days after the death of Andrew Coffey, a 20-year old junior who was a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi. Since Florida State’s announcement, Texas State, Ohio State and Michigan also have issued suspensions of Greek activities either due to a student’s death or incidents involving fraternities and sororities. Florida State’s fall semester concludes this week.

SpaceX finally sets maiden launch of Falcon Heavy: January” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Falcon Heavy, essentially three Falcon 9 rocket boosters together, is designed to be the most powerful rocket the world has seen since NASA retired the Saturn V in 1973. The Falcon Heavy is designed for both heavy-payload Earth orbit missions and deep-space missions, capable of reaching the farthest depths of the solar system. And like the Falcon 9 rocket, the Falcon Heavy was conceived as taking astronauts into space at one point. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has proposed using it for the company’s privately-run mission to get astronauts to Mars. SpaceX has not announced a specific date yet for the debut launch, which is being called a demonstration mission. But the company announced the blastoff is being targeted for January. Should weather permit, the rocket’s ascent should be visible through most of the Florida peninsula.

— VICE —

Times are changing, according to a recent Florida Trend report.

There are nuances in gambling, strip clubs, prostitution and bootlegging. With some of those nuances, perhaps there is a change in the collective attitude toward vices.

The four-part report also gives an interesting glimpse of black market activities in the state. But take note: While modern bootlegging might not hold a candle to what it was in the early 20th century, it’s still just as illegal.

— By the numbers: Arrests for prostitution in Florida dropped 82 percent between 2000 -2016. Between 1990 and 2016, gambling arrests fell 90 percent. Arrests for liquor law violations fell from 40,791 in 1990 to 7,829 in 2016.

— Florida Trend claims legal gambling has “all but driven out illegal gambling.” It also claims law enforcement agencies “tend to agree that the focus needs to be ongoing after pimps and human traffickers while getting prostitutes drug, job or other counseling.

— Racinos — facilities that allow betting on races and casino-type games — netted $545.95 million in 2016.

— CAPTURING PUERTO RICO —

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek feature story is one of the most detailed journalistic accounts of Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. It’s a must-read, especially as it’s being discovered that the crisis in Puerto Rico has not been reported to its fullest, deserving extent.

The writer had made two trips to Puerto Rico since the storm, traveling there a week after the hurricane made landfall, “when the sole focus of the relief effort was triage, and when everyone was trying to grade the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response in distributing food and water, tending to the wounded, and helping restore electricity,” and in November, when nearly everyone “agreed that the future of Puerto Rico depends on more than simply mending what Maria destroyed.”

The story jumps between spotlighting Orlando Gonzalez, a young featherweight boxer, and highlighting the unique rebuilding efforts taking place on the island. It also points out the contrast between natives and those who lived on the island because of Act 20/22, which aimed to turn the island into a tax haven for financial-services companies.

— An excerpt: “Puerto Rico’s isolation, the fragility of its infrastructure, its status as a dependent child of the U.S., its dire financial outlook — all of it would combine to make the island’s prospects for recovery far more challenging than those of places like Texas, or Florida, or even New Orleans.”

— Nearly three months after the storm, more than half the island is still without power. “Normality sporadically peeks out from it all — on a street with a string of working stoplights, in an air-conditioned hotel lobby — then quickly retreats, as if ungraspable.”

— Small-business advocacy group Centro Unido de Detallistas estimated around two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s small businesses have been closed since Maria, and up to 40 percent of them might never reopen.

— Following the storm, Gonzalez took daily trips to fill water jugs at the Ojo de Agua, a natural spring that was a principal water source for conquistadors in the 15th century.

— Gonzalez on what Puerto Rico needs: “Someone who’s educated and experienced and interested in making sure the people who live there get a fair deal.”

***Nursing home care is better in states with a Certificate of Need process, because it ensures seniors have access to the right type of care where in the areas they need it most. The best way to ensure a high-quality long-term care sector that balances the need for nursing home care and home and community-based services is to preserve Florida’s Certificate of Need process. That’s why everyone who cares about Florida’s elders should reject the Constitution Revision Commission proposal to eliminate Certificate of Need in Florida.***

— MOVEMENTS —

Ethics commission: Greg Steube had no conflict sponsoring bill written by his law firm” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Florida Commission on Ethics ruled earlier this month that there is “no probable cause” that Steube had a conflict when sponsoring 2013 legislation that was written by a member of his law firm because the bill was not specially crafted to benefit the firm. A report outlining the commission’s investigation appears to contain statements that are directly at odds with other publicly available comments, and show there was concern that Steube’s firm could benefit from the bill. But the commission decided there was no conflict and tossed a complaint filed against Steube. The proposal, which Steube sponsored as a member of the Florida House, set up a legal framework so that local governments could contract with private companies to help build infrastructure, a relationship known as a “Public-Private Partnership” — P3 for short.

— WEEKEND TV —

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: “How the Alabama African-American vote made Doug Jones a U.S. Senator” with political analyst Dr. Lawrence A. Miller.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include PolitiFact Deputy Editor Katie Sanders, legislative assistant Jason Holloway, independent journalist Joe Brown, a Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission members discuss which revisions to Florida’s constitution the public and lawmakers would like to see. Joining Walker-Torres are Carlos Beruff, CRC chair; commissioners Frank Kruppenbacher and Patricia Levesque; Dr. Aubrey Jewett, UCF Political Science professor.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Mayor Buddy Dyer discusses the development plan for Orlando through the next several years and into the coming decades, including whether the infrastructure can handle the projected growth; PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mayor Andrew Gillum from Tallahassee about the city’s carbon footprint under his leadership.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with Rabbi Jack Romberg.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean of Jacksonville, Kevin Doyle of Wexford Strategies and Dr. Michael Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg hold a weekly roundtable with newsmakers. Guests include Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch.

— ALOE —

Happening today: State Rep. Al Jacquet, state Sen. Bobby Powell and boxing promoter Don King are holding a turkey drive to members of the community in need. The drive starts 9 a.m. at Don King’s Jai Alai Fronton in Mangonia Park, West Palm Beach. The event is open to all members of the community and turkeys will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Don King’s Jai Alai Fronton in Mangonia Park is at 1415 45th Street, In West Palm Beach.

Happening today: Farm Share Biscayne Park food giveaway — State Sen. Daphne Campbell, Farm Share and U.S. Sugar are sponsoring a holiday food distribution from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 11400 NE 9th Court in Biscayne Park. The event, free and open to the public, is first come, first served. For more info, call (305) 493-6009.

Astronauts onboard the ISS will watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi, confirms NASA” via James Vincent of The Verge — Astronauts will be able to watch the new Star Wars in orbit a few hundred miles above the surface of the Earth using one of the laptops or projector onboard the space station. Space reporter Robin Seemangal tweeted the news last night, with a representative for NASA confirming the plans to Inverse. “[I] can confirm the crew will be able to watch it on orbit,” NASA Public Affairs Officer Dan Huot told Inverse. “Don’t have a definitive timeline yet. They typically get movies as digital files and can play them back on a laptop or a standard projector that is currently aboard.”

Mystery donor again drops gold pesos into Salvation Army’s red kettle” via Doug Phillips of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For the fourth consecutive year, the so-called “Coin Crusader” has dropped gold 1947 Mexican 50-peso coins into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of a store in Pompano Beach. The donations were made at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 1199 S. Federal Hwy. Two of the gold coins were discovered Wednesday, and another one was found Nov. 27, The Salvation Army of Broward County announced. In both cases, as in earlier years, the coins were wrapped inside a dollar bill.

Happy birthday to our friend, Ken Lawson.

Jacksonville Bold for 12.15.17 — #Duuuuval: The year that was

In the year-end edition of Bold, we look at the stories that shaped 2017.

A pension problem — with a solution that seemed impossible at the end of 2015.

A legendary politician sentenced to prison.

Northeast Florida politicians are moving toward leadership in the state Legislature.

Rights for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community — finally guaranteed in an ordinance.

A “stimulus budget.”

Reform of children’s programs.

A Council President the Mayor didn’t pick.

Last, but not least — the Jaguars return to relevance.

Happy holidays, and see you in 2018.

Buy now, pay later

Pension Reform: The biggest Jacksonville story of the year — by far.

The real work began soon after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took office. There was the “heavy lift” in Tallahassee, one that required Curry and allies to make the sale to the Senate and the House.

Lenny Curry got pension reform through, accomplishing what previous mayors didn’t.

From there, a referendum in 2016 — passed with 65 percent of the vote.

After that, the unions had to agree to terms — that was done, more or less, before winter 2017 ended.

Then, council approval — a fait accompli … after all, it wasn’t like those deals were going to be sent back to the table.

As CFO Mike Weinstein said, the savings add up to “$1.4B less out of the general fund over the next 15 years,” and “without that revenue” from the half-cent sales tax, the city would have “difficulty matching revenue to expenses.”

So that’s the reality.

Worth watching: how the city handles the out years, as savings from the pension reform are consumed by workforce raises.

Corrine Brown goes down

Former Rep. Brown had the worst year of her life. She was convicted on 18 counts related to the One Door for Education scheme. And then she received five years in prison — though she is fighting that sentence.

Judge Timothy Corrigan’s heart: Two sizes too small for leniency for Corrine Brown.

The sentencing essentially gave voice to the jury’s verdict, with Judge Timothy Corrigan noting that Brown’s comments were “reprehensible” at times, such as when she said the Pulse massacre happened because the FBI was too busy investigating her.

Brown got a sentence that reflected a spirit of “general deterrence,” a sentence “in the mainstream” of public corruption cases in recent years. In other words, the judge did not go easy on her.

“A sentence of probation for a member of Congress convicted of 18 counts would not be sufficient,” Corrigan said.

“The public had a right to expect,” Judge Corrigan said, that Brown would not “abuse public trust and responsibility … this was a crime borne of entitlement and greed … bad business.”

We shall see where the appeal leads, but the odds are good Brown will be in orange in a matter of weeks.

Audrey Gibson ascendant

In November, State Sen. Gibson won a narrow 8-7 vote of Senate Democrats to become Senate Democratic Leader Designate for the 2018-2020 legislative term.

Gibson will succeed current Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II when his term ends next November.

Sen. Audrey Gibson is one Duval legislator to watch, as she amasses power.

“I look forward to working with Caucus members on their priorities and ensuring their voices are heard on legislation impacting all Floridians.  I am also excited about bringing in new Democrat Senators to the Florida Senate to create a legislative balance in the Chamber,” said Gibson.

Gibson, meanwhile, may face a primary challenge from Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown.

We asked Brown what the case would be for running against a caucus leader, assuming Gibson doesn’t run against Lawson. And how he would match her fundraising and endorsements.

“All actions will be taken under consideration,” Brown said.

Time will tell if this challenge happens.

Rob Bradley helms appropriations

November also saw state Sen. Bradley move into the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The buck stops with Rob Bradley — at least regarding those coming through the Senate.

“I’m just focused on getting the job done with as little drama as possible. There’s been enough drama in politics lately. It’s time to just roll up our sleeves and get the job done,” Bradley said, noting that he’s not new to the appropriations game.

“I’ve spent a lot of my Senate career working in the Appropriations arena,” Bradley noted, “having chaired three different budget subcommittees.”

Bradley is already reaping specific benefits of his role; his political committee raised $124,000 in November — a record high for him.

As well, the region is poised to reap benefits this session, via priority environmental bills headed to Appropriations.

SB 204 approves spending at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on projects related to the restoration of the St. Johns River and its tributaries, as well as the Keystone Heights Lake Region.

SB 370 would mandate a $100 million minimum spend from Amendment One funds on the Florida Forever program. That number doubles the budget ask from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Paul Renner on path to Speaker

Along with Sens. Bradley and Gibson, Northeast Florida has hope in the House in the form of state Rep. Renner.

Paul Renner is still another NE Florida legislator to watch on the leadership track.

For the Palm Coast Republican, the path to winning June’s 2022 Florida House Speaker election in Orlando — with 16 votes in the first round — was not a sure thing.

But it’s a good thing.

State Rep. Clay Yarborough, the former Jacksonville City Council President who was one of those 16 Renner votes, noted that the outcome lined up with his count.

Yarborough saw “tremendous positives” for the region and the city both — positives that will be seen before 2022, as in the years leading up to Renner’s Speakership, he will be in “conversations with leadership,” and his “place at the table” will help him advocate for regional priorities.

The region, Yarborough said, can be “lining stuff up” that takes years to realize — a generational opportunity for Northeast Florida.

Considering state Sen. Travis Hutson — whose territory overlaps with part of Renner’s House district — is also in the leadership discussion, the region may be positioned to score wins, necessary as legacy costs and infrastructure burdens pile up.

HRO, at last

Valentine’s Day was especially happy for Jacksonville’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, for that was the day the Jacksonville City Council passed the Human Rights Ordinance.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri was among those leading the fight for LGBT rights.

The expansion would add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the list of protected categories under the ordinance, which ensures that people aren’t discriminated against in the workplace, the housing market, or public accommodations (restrooms, locker rooms, and so on).

Curry returned the bill to the city council without his signature; the bill is now law.

“As your Mayor, I promised to convene community conversations about discrimination. At the conclusion of those conversations, I exercised an executive action to implement a clear policy for City of Jacksonville employees and contractors. I said then and continue to believe additional legislation was unnecessary. But this evening, a supermajority of the City Council decided otherwise. This supermajority, representatives of the people from both parties and every corner of the city, made their will clear,” Curry said in a statement.

Despite all the drama leading up to it, there have been just two claims — housing discrimination — made since it passed.

There is, meanwhile, a movement toward a citizen referendum to repeal it. Time will tell if that goes anywhere.

Budget bonanza

The Florida Times-Union called Curry’s third budget, passed by the Jacksonville City Council in September, a “stimulus budget.”

It was, indeed, an infusion of capital into perpetually shorted departments — and the kind of political triumph Council could share.

A rising tide lifts all boats … and glasses.

A unanimous vote was cast for the city’s $1.27 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, one with $131M in capital improvements, and 100 new police positions.

There was a certain irony in the unanimous vote, given the fractiousness of the Finance Committee during August budget hearings — when members said they felt “targeted” by a poll from Sheriff Mike Williams’ political committee that said people wanted more cops on the street.

Curry built a political machine to get into office, and he did so even with many GOP officeholders backing his Democratic opponent’s re-election effort.

In the office are some of the best operators working the room — and he has become increasingly adept at giving Council members photo opportunities, the kind that allows them to take credit for something tangible happening in their districts.

And it is by no means clear that he will even face a challenge in 2019 — not bad, especially given the Democratic registration advantage in Dirty Duval.

Kids Hope, not Kids Hype

Jacksonville Children’s programs were reformed this year, with the Jacksonville Journey and Jacksonville Children’s Commission being rolled up into a new board — Kids Hope Alliance.

City Council was nearly united in support of Curry’s children’s program reforms.

The City Council debate was fractious, of course, with objections from Council President Anna Brosche and Finance Chair Garrett Dennis to the pace of pushing the legislation through and the need for a new organization at all.

Six of the seven board picks sailed through Council this week, with Brosche and Dennis voting against one who violated the in-county residency requirement that was part of the ordinance.

However, look for Brosche to be a factor going forward — she is slated to become the Council liaison to the board.

Brosche vs. Curry

The most interesting power play of the year has been the battle between Council President Brosche and Mayor Curry.

Lenny Curry and Anna Brosche have had a rivalry since she took the Council presidency.

Recall that Brosche beat administration ally, John Crescimbeni, in a pitched battle for the presidency in the spring.

Much of the noise from Crescimbeni supporters came back to the Council veteran being more “ready to lead” than third-year member Brosche, given his experience on the Council and in the VP role.

One interesting wrinkle in the race: what seemed to be a certain commonality among many of Crescimbeni’s supporters — primarily older, white males.

Did issues of youth, gender, and other demographic demarcations sway their positions?

“I certainly picked up on what you said … I had not picked up on it until you pointed it out,” Brosche added. “You pointed it out well in terms of the picture that was made. I didn’t necessarily reach that conclusion … at the outset.”

Brosche and Curry have clashed, both on her insufficiently optimistic read on pension reform, and her skepticism on the Kids Hope Alliance.

Expect that friction to be constant as long as both are in City Hall.

JAXPORT Puerto Rico relief update

A new message from JAXPORT Executive Vice President Roy Schleicher gives a December update on Puerto Rico relief efforts.

Thanks to the generous Northeast Florida donors, Schleicher says JAXPORT relief partners distributed 500,000 pounds of goods to more than 20 towns and municipalities throughout the island territory devastated by Hurricane Maria.

JAXPORT’s relief partners have distributed 500,000 pounds of goods to more than 20 towns and municipalities throughout Puerto Rico.

With roads and bridges still washed out or in disrepair, making moving large trucks difficult, many of these goods needed to be moved inland by small trucks and cars, going directly to those in need.

Donations also helped with transportation costs to send 13 full-sized shipping containers full of basics such as food, water, batteries and hygiene items from Jacksonville to San Juan. The JAXPORT shipment was over and above those from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government agencies, and did not include other relief containers organized and transported by groups outside of the JAXPORT-related network.

Residents of Northeast Florida and other areas gathered supplies in the containers, which were then sent to JAXPORT for shipment to Puerto Rico. All the supplies collected traveled to Puerto Rico via the Port of Jacksonville, the No. 1 commercial trade partner with the island.

Going forward, JAXPORT has begun discussions on the best way to continue Puerto Rican hurricane relief during the next stages of their recovery, seeing a need for support remains as the island rebuilds.

Again, Schleicher gives thanks for the donations, which put Jacksonville’s “unrivaled transportation and logistics know-how to work, quickly and efficiently,” to provide emergency aid when it was needed most.

“Along with my heartfelt thanks to all of you,” he says “I would like to specifically send my deep appreciation to [Haskell Co. CEO] Steve Halverson, who did not hesitate for a moment when asked if he could organize help for those suffering after the hurricane … Aqua Gulf Transport, Inc., Todos con Puerto Rico, TOTE Maritime and Trailer Bridge worked together to deliver hurricane relief supplies to Comerio, Puerto Rico. The town’s Mayor, Josian Santiago, and his wife received the container.”

Political preview Jacksonville: Media’s view of the 2018 Session

Members of the Jacksonville and Capitol Press Corps will offer a special preview of the upcoming 2018 Florida Legislative Session hosted by the Fiorentino Group, Tucker/Hall, and Rogers Towers.

Scheduled Friday, January 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. at The River Club, 1 Independent Dr., the exclusive, invitation-only luncheon will provide an opportunity to hear top Florida political journalists on what they see on the legislative horizon, with a chance for the audience to ‘turn the table’ and ask questions.

Panelists include Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times; Mike Clark of the Florida Times-Union; Matt Dixon of POLITICO; our own A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics and Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

Attendees will join Jacksonville business and community leaders for a complimentary lunch and insightful preview of the upcoming Legislative Session. Complimentary parking is available. Registration is at events.r20.constantcontact.com.

Jaguars matter

To close, some good news …

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a] guaranteed a winning season and b] are playoff bound.

No one doubts Blake Bortles now.

As someone who covered the team on game day for close to a decade of futility, it’s incredible to see one of the best defenses ever assembled in teal and black.

And Blake Bortles — who has taken his share of static — conquered the learning curve and has excelled, even with his top two wideouts on the shelf.

And Leonard Fournette — a little bit Jerome Bettis, a little bit Todd Gurley. The kind of sledgehammer that breaks opposing defenses’ wills.

This year, for the first time in too long, the Jaguars matter in December. And beyond.

To quote the great Jackie Gleason … “How sweet it is!”

Last Call for 12.14.17 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

A mysterious “memorandum of agreement” could end a lawsuit between the Florida Lottery and the House of Representatives over the agency’s $700 million contract for new equipment.

But that document, between the vendor and the Lottery, is still undergoing review and isn’t final, sources told Florida Politics.

Last month, lawyers filed a status report with the 1st District Court, saying the opposing sides “reached an understanding” but the “resolution may involve some final budget action by the Legislature and Governor for the next fiscal year.”

On Thursday, Lottery spokeswoman Connie Barnes declined to comment on the substance of the agreement, saying the agency’s “Division of Security is still reviewing and redacting information,” which then must be reviewed again by the Lottery’s legal department.

“This is a process in which they must be diligent and methodical in their review and redaction of any and all confidential information,” she said.

A spokesman for House Speaker Richard Corcoran had no comment.

The case is on appeal after Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in March invalidated the Lottery’s 15-year deal with IGT (International Game Technology) for new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets.

Corcoran had sued, essentially saying the agency went on a spending spree without legislative authority when it inked the contract last year.

Evening Reads

How a former sharecropper in an SUV helped drive Doug Jones to victory in Alabama’s Black Belt” via Connor Sheets of AL.com

Rick Scott wins fight over filling Florida Supreme Court vacancies” via The Associated Press

Pam Bondi’s Rod Rosenstein defense gets pushback during Sean Hannity interview” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Gambling regulators dealt blow in license dispute” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida

Report points to physician shortages in Florida” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida

Mas brothers join David Beckham bid in shake-up that sees top partner exit Miami MLS venture” via Michelle Kaufman and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald

Joe Negron to SFWMD: Lake Okeechobee reservoir should spread off state land if necessary” via Tyler Tredway of TCPalm

California poised to usurp Florida as the king of U.S. oranges via Marvin Perez of Bloomberg

Quote of the Day

“My job is to speak for the citizens of Florida … Let them have (offshore drilling) in New Orleans, let them have it in Mobile. We don’t need it here.” — Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, speaking for her proposal to ban gas and oil drilling off the state’s coasts.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights


Wake Up Early?

Rep. Al Jacquet of Lantana, Sen. Bobby Powell of Riviera Beach, both Democrats, and Don King are holding a turkey drive to help provide holiday meals for the needy. The event is open to all and turkeys will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. That’s at 9 a.m., Don King’s Jai Alai Fronton in Mangonia Park, 1415 45th St., West Palm Beach.

The Revenue Estimating Impact Conference meets to discuss a variety of taxes and fees and their contribution to money for the state’s budget. That’s at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Board of Accountancy will meet to consider enforcement proceedings including consideration of investigation officers’ reports, rules and other general business. That’s at 9 a.m., Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel & Conference Center, 4200 N.W. 97th Boulevard, Gainesville.

The Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council will hold a regular meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., 100 Festival Park Ave., Jacksonville.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum will address the Rural Economic Development Summit in St. Augustine. That’s at 9:45 a.m., World Golf Village Resort, First Floor, Room C, St. Augustine.

The Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, which was created by Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, continues to look at ways to help fund civil legal help for the poor and working poor. It will meet at 1 p.m., Hotel Duval, 415 North Monroe St., Tallahassee.

The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, a state interdepartmental collaboration and planning group, meets to discuss Children’s Week and Cabinet activities. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 201 East Park Ave., Tallahassee.

Candidates in a Dec. 19 special election in Hillsborough County’s House District 58 face a Friday deadline for filing updated campaign-finance information. The seat became open when former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican, resigned. The candidates are Republican Lawrence McClure, Democrat Jose Vazquez, Libertarian Bryan Zemina and no-party candidate Ahmad Saadaldin.

FMA using new software to boost healthcare cost transparency for patients

The Florida Medical Association is teaming up with a Sunrise-based tech company to help patients better understand the cost of medical care by swiping a card after an appointment.

The deal, announced Thursday, gives FMA doctors access to “ezVerify,” a software platform from Automated HealthCare Solutions that promises to identify patient-specific health insurance information in real time to provide patients a fixed dollar amount to expect to when their healthcare bills arrive.

FMA, a professional group that represents Florida’s medical and osteopathic doctors, said the partnership would be a “game changer” for its 22,000 members and the millions of Floridians who get their care from FMA providers.

“We are excited to work with AHCS and be at the forefront of bringing transparency to our valued physician members and their patients. We believe this technology and partnership will set the standard for transparency in patient/physician relationships,” said FMA CEO Tim Stapleton.

AHCS added that ezVerify takes the “unknown” out of the equation when it comes to out-of-pocket costs and is a surefire way to keep patients from being “unpleasantly surprised” when they receive a bill.

Dr. Gerald Glass, the CEO and Co-Founder of AHCS, said his company’s solution would “in a matter of seconds” allow patients to “fully and completely understand their insurance coverage and their direct financial responsibility.”

“In an age where insurance is complex, our transparency tool streamlines the process and removes the guesswork for patients and physicians.”

FMA and AHCS said the ezVerify partnership is just one of what they expect to be multiple joint projects to “improve the patient/physician experience and expand transparency across Florida’s healthcare system.”

GOP primary for Governor likely to be conservative vs. establishment matchup

While the Democratic field for Governor continues to swell, we’re seeing just the opposite happen on the Republican side. What was once a large crop of prospective candidates, has now boiled down to the classic “establishment” versus “conservative” matchup.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has long been the GOP favorite for 2018. He has put together exactly the kind of campaign that we all expected, raising impressive sums of money each month and putting together a veteran team of DC-based consultants.

Putnam, who announced his campaign nearly 18 months before the election, is leaning on his extensive political experience and disciplined campaigning to outlast and outwork any potential opponents.

On the other side of this coin are the conservatives: House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Both potential candidates share a principled-conservative philosophy, and they both would bring a background that would resonate with today’s conservative grassroots.

Now, if you watch Fox News, you’ve probably seen DeSantis — he has become a frequent guest. However, you’d think several weekly appearances on the most-watched channel of Republican primary voters would put DeSantis on their radar. It hasn’t. A recent poll from St. Leo University shows DeSantis bunched up with Corcoran in the low single digits. And if he were to get in the race, he would not be able to benefit from additional free media attention.

For either candidate to gain ground on Putnam, they’ll need to put together a serious statewide operation and raise real money. And while Corcoran has raised $5.5 million in six months, DeSantis has only been able to pocket $1.8, coming mostly from a small handful of six-figure donors.

So, when it comes to fundraising, DeSantis has yet to show any signs that he can put together a viable statewide campaign. For those whom may have forgotten, DeSantis ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, but like what’s unfolding today, he struggled to raise money, and his campaign never got off the ground.

Now, maybe it’s possible that President Donald Trump will get into a contested primary six (or seven) months before the election, backing an unproven candidate. Maybe that endorsement will bring in a few more big checks.

And then, maybe, DeSantis will be able to put together a serious campaign.

But after four or five postponed announcements for Governor, those “maybes” keep getting less and less likely. It’s hard to see a scenario where DeSantis pulls the trigger — and even if he did, it’s hard to see it ending up much differently than his failed 2016 Senate campaign. Of course, he may call an audible and jump instead into the Attorney General race, where he would be much more competitive.

Corcoran, on the other hand, has quietly built a formidable political operation. He is widely regarded as Tallahassee’s most disruptive legislator and one of the most consequential Republican Speakers of the House.

Of course, in some circles that’s praise; in others — mainly inside the Tallahassee bubble — he is an enemy of the state. He has picked a fight with every political heavyweight and special interest, ruffling a lot of feathers of the Republican donor class.

And even though he says he won’t decide until after the 2018 Legislative Session, which ends in March, his political committee, Watchdog PAC, has all the makings of a serious statewide campaign.

On top of the overall fundraising, Corcoran pulled in $752,000 in November. A number that outpaced Putnam’s PC’s $616,000, and was double that of DeSantis’ $380,000.

Finally, Corcoran’s political committee has attracted top political consultants, including Trump and Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s media consultants, Jamestown Associates, and has also begun staffing the organization with high caliber campaign operatives.

Right now, all signs point to a classic Republican primary duel brewing between the polished and well-established campaign of Putnam versus the disruptive, conservative insurgent in Corcoran. And while DeSantis may still get mentioned as a potential candidate, it’s merely a formality — because that duck won’t be quacking.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 12.14.17

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

While the Democratic field for Governor continues to swell, we’re seeing just the opposite happen on the Republican side. What was once a large crop of prospective candidates, has now boiled down to the classic “establishment” versus “conservative” matchup.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has long been the GOP favorite for 2018. He has put together exactly the kind of campaign that we all expected, raising impressive sums of money each month and putting together a veteran team of DC-based consultants.

Putnam, who announced his campaign nearly 18 months before the election, is leaning on his extensive political experience and disciplined campaigning to outlast and outwork any potential opponents.

On the other side of this coin are the conservatives: House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Both potential candidates share a principled-conservative philosophy, and they both would bring a background that would resonate with today’s conservative grassroots.

Now, if you watch Fox News, you’ve probably seen DeSantis — he has become a frequent guest. However, you’d think several weekly appearances on the most-watched channel of Republican primary voters would put DeSantis on their radar. It hasn’t. A recent poll from St. Leo University shows DeSantis bunched up with Corcoran in the low single digits. And if he were to get in the race, he would not be able to benefit from additional free media attention.

For either candidate to gain ground on Putnam, they’ll need to put together a serious statewide operation and raise real money. And while Corcoran has raised $5.5 million in six months, DeSantis has only been able to pocket $1.8, coming mostly from a small handful of six-figure donors.

So, when it comes to fundraising, DeSantis has yet to show any signs that he can put together a viable statewide campaign. For those whom may have forgotten, DeSantis ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, but like what’s unfolding today, he struggled to raise money, and his campaign never got off the ground.

Now, maybe it’s possible that President Donald Trump will get into a contested primary six (or seven) months before the election, backing an unproven candidate. Maybe that endorsement will bring in a few more big checks.

And then, maybe, DeSantis will be able to put together a serious campaign.

Continue reading an extended version of this op-ed by clicking here on Florida Politics.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Philip Levine committee launches new bilingual television ads – Former Miami Beach Mayor Levine’s political committee, All About Florida, is launching two new televisions ads in his bid for Florida governor – “Mom” and “Familia” – in English and Spanish respectively, featuring his mother Diane, his fiancé Carolina, his two step-kids, Mica and Beno, and their son Henry. In “Mom,” Levine’s mother expresses how Philip has made her proud by living a life guided by the values of hard work, empathy, and selflessness that she instilled in him as a child. In “Familia,” his fiancé speaks about Philip’s devotion to their family, and his drive to do the right thing for others. The two ads will air for several weeks in a vast majority of the state’s media markets.

Click on the image below to watch the ads:

Citrus Sheriff Mike Prendergast endorses Ashley Moody for Attorney General – “When the security of our community hangs in the balance, we want leaders with a proven track record of keeping our state safe. Ashley Moody has spent her career protecting Floridians and the rule of law. As a federal prosecutor, she fought alongside law enforcement to put criminals behind bars. Her strong commitment to ensuring justice is served is exactly what we need in our next Attorney General, and I proudly support and endorse Ashley Moody,” Prendergast said.

Jay Fant wants RPOF to disavow Moody in attorney general race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – State Rep. Fant wants the Republican Party of Florida to cut support for Moody, because her family once sued President Donald Trump and her father was a President Bill Clinton nominee for a federal judgeship. “During the first week of January, Florida Republicans will gather in Orlando for our annual meeting. I believe that it is in the party’s best interest that Ashley Moody, a closet liberal and Clinton ally who has sued Trump, be denied access to our meeting,” Fant wrote in a letter to RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia … Fant also asked Ingoglia to “discontinue RPOF’s indirect support of her campaign,” including in-kind support of the type she received in November when the party provided $23,000 worth of support staff and services. Ingoglia said he needed time to review Fant’s request.

>>>Ingoglia responds: “All Republicans running for statewide office are welcome to attend RPOF meetings. We will not, and should not, interject ourselves in the middle of primaries. Nor, should the RPOF become the arbiter of a candidates conservative credentials. If Rep. Fant thinks this will resonate with the electorate, then take it directly to the primary voters.”

>>>Christina Johnson, the spokeswoman for the Moody campaign, responds: “It is laughable that a candidate running to be Florida’s Chief Legal Officer would offer up such erroneous and egregious attacks on the proven record of a former and well respected federal prosecutor and circuit court judge. Ashley Moody is pro-Second Amendment and the only candidate who has supported Second Amendment priorities like Stand Your Ground in the courtroom. These are real world distinctions that matter to voters, and issues which Ashley Moody has shared with Republican activists across the state these last months and throughout her career. Not only is Ashley Moody a staunch supporter of our President, but she has secured the endorsements of those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the President’s campaign, including law enforcement officials and elected leaders across the state. We look forward to highlighting these conservative values at the January RPOF meeting.”

Reggie Brown considering primary challenge to Audrey Gibson” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – As first floated by Chris Hong of the Florida Times-Union via Twitter, Jacksonville City Councilman Brownis mulling a run for Senate … that was contingent on Gibson running for Congress — though a challenge to Rep. Al Lawson would seem to directly conflict with Gibson leading the Democratic Caucus this year. Florida Politics asked Brown about “possibly running against Sen. Gibson.” He didn’t shoot down that possibility. “All options are being considered,” Brown texted. “I’m reviewing the possibilities and will make a decision early January.”

Dana Young has now raised more than $1M for re-election bid” via Florida Politics – A broad range of supporters helped Young raise over $1 million between her state Senate campaign and committee accounts — with more than $100,000 in just the last month — according to new reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections. The Tampa Republican has now amassed a million-dollar war chest — of which $800,000 remains in on-hand cash — for her 2018 re-election bid, a robust fundraising prowess that is helping Young remain unopposed. She has served Florida Senate District 18 since 2016. Through her committee, Friends of Dana Young, Young added $75,500 in November, with another $21,000 going to her campaign. Among last month’s top donors to the committee include $12,500 from the GOPAC Election Fund — a nationwide group that seeks to support a “healthy roster of prepared and tested Republican leaders.” Heading into December, Young enjoys a significant cash advantage, with $658,579 on-hand for the committee and another $145,183 for her campaign account — $803,762 between the two.

HD 2 Republican Alex Andrade tops $50K in first finance report” via Florida Politics – Republican Andrade brought in more than $50,000 in his first month campaigning to replace Rep. Frank White in House District 2. Andrade took in $42,626 in contributions and put $10,000 of his own money into his campaign last month. After spending a little under $2,000 on fundraising, event expenses and travel reimbursements, he finished the month with $50,678 in the bank. Making the inaugural donor roll were a few other Andrades, each pitching in $1,000, as well as lobby shop Suskey Consulting, Orlando attorney Chris Dawson, Pensacola physician Sidney Clements and wife Katherine Clements and a handful of real estate and construction firms. Andrade filed to run for the Pensacola-based district early last month after White announced he would leave the House next year to take a crack at succeeding termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi.

First in Sunburn – Endorsements, money flow to Deede Weithorn in HD 113 race – Former Miami Beach Commissioner Weithorn earned the backing of Mayor Dan Gelber along with Commissioners Michael Gongora, Mark Samuelian, and Micky Steinberg in the race to replace outgoing Rep. David Richardson in HD 113. She has also unveiled endorsements from Cuban-American businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Paul Cejas, current North Bay Village Commissioner Andreana Jackson, and Former Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin. Weithorn, who has been running for the seat since July, is expected to close the year with approximately $60,000 raised into her campaign account.

Vance Aloupis has $200K banked for HD 115 bid” via Florida Politics – The leading Republican running to replace termed-out Rep. Michael Bileca hit the $200,000 mark in cash on hand last month … Aloupisadded $27,678 to his campaign account last month and spent just $1,360, putting his fundraising total at 220,312 and his cash on hand just $42 shy of $200K. “With contributions from more than 640 individual donors, the endorsement of incumbent Rep. Michael Bileca, and the continued dialogue with residents about the future of our community, our campaign is in a very strong position moving forward,” Aloupis said …  Aloupis, the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, faces Carlos Gobel, Rhonda Rebman-Lopez and Carmen Sotomayor in the Republican Primary.

— CRC IN FOCUS —

Pam Bondi explains why she won’t endorse dog racing ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The attorney general finally explained why she won’t publicly support a proposed ban on greyhound racing in Florida or any other constitutional amendment. Bondi sits on the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state’s governing document. But, as the state’s chief legal officer, she’s also “the one who has to review all of these (amendments) for constitutionality … before they go on the ballot,” Bondi told reporters after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.

‘Certificates of need’ could land on ballot” via Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida – Free-market advocates for years have tried unsuccessfully to convince the Florida Legislature to eliminate requirements for the state to approve the construction of new nursing homes and hospitals and the provision of new services such as organ transplants or pediatric open-heart surgery. Unable to get lawmakers to go along, supporters of eliminating the requirements now hope to accomplish their goal by convincing the 37 members of the Constitution Revision Commission that Florida voters should decide next year whether to repeal the so-called “certificate of need” requirements. The commission’s General Provisions Committee on Thursday will discuss a proposed constitutional amendment, filed by Commissioner Frank Kruppenbacher, that would eliminate CON requirements. The proposal would prohibit the state from limiting the number of hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, or intermediate care facilities for individuals with disabilities. As filed, the proposal wouldn’t limit the state’s ability to require certificates of need for services provided at the facilities, but Commissioner Brecht Heuchan has offered a potential change that would broaden the proposal to also include services.

Show ’em the money? Campaign financing repeal yanked by sponsor” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A proposal to repeal Florida’s system of public financing for statewide campaigns won’t make it into the state constitution, at least for now. Frank Kruppenbacher, the proposed amendment’s sponsor, withdrew it from consideration at Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Election committee. That was after representatives of progressive groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, uniformly opposed the idea (P 56). But Kruppenbacher, a CRC appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, said he instead will press lawmakers to think about reforming the system this year. The state spent over $4.3 million in the 2014 election cycle financing campaigns, according to records.

— STATEWIDE —

What the Governor’s Office is reading – “Florida lost 7,400 private sector jobs in November – The State of Florida lost 7,400 private sector jobs during the month of November, according to the ADP Regional Employment Report … Broken down by sector, Florida lost 4,200 jobs in the service industries and 3,100 jobs in goods producing industries … The select industry breakdown shows “Natural Resources/Mining and Construction” lost 4,600 jobs while “Professional and Business Services” lost 800 jobs … The report wasn’t all bad news: “Trade, Transportation and Utilities” saw a net gain of 2,100 jobs and the manufacturing industry added 1,500 … the ADP report, released monthly, uses in-house data to measure the change in regional and state nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Rick Scott orders new policies for state workers on reporting, investigating sexual harassment complaints via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida – Scott issued an executive order that he says will protect state employees from sexual harassment by improving the reporting and investigation of complaints, and by training all new employees on dealing with the issue in the workplace. “Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe and free from any form of harassment,” Scott said in a statement with the executive order. “We cannot tolerate sexual harassment at all in Florida.” … “In Florida, we stand with victims and against those who mistreat others,” he said. His executive order and remarks about not tolerating sexual harassment prompted reporters to pepper Scott — following the regular Cabinet meeting — with questions about his actions in dealing with a state senator’s recent complaints against Ritch Workman, a former state legislator and Scott’s nominee for the Florida Public Service Commission. State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto accused Workman of making “vulgar and inappropriate comments and gestures” at a charity event last year.

Scott mum on misconduct questions about appointee” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – “Workman did the right thing for his family,” said Scott, but when asked about his meeting said “I’m not going to comment on conversations I have with members of the Legislature.” Gwen Graham, a top Democratic nominee for governor, said “it’s outrageous and inexcusable if Governor Rick Scott knew his handpicked appointee sexually harassed a senator, yet did nothing about it. “Scott’s refusal to simply answer yes or no only compounds the outrage,” said Graham, who last week called for an overhaul of sexual harassment policies in Florida government. “On sexual harassment in any state government office, we need full transparency and zero tolerance.”

Court records shed light on Scott administration sexual harassment settlements” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – In one case a female Florida Department of Transportation worker was grabbed by the throat and beaten by her male supervisor. He was not fired. In another, a Department of Corrections worker was photographed fully nude by an inspector who erroneously told her photos of her naked body parts were needed to investigate an inmate complaint against her. In a third case, a female Department of Health worker was sexually harassed and later put on administrative leave. She was relocated after reporting the incident. These are snapshots of seven harassment settlements, mostly related to sexual misconduct, agreed to by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration since he took office in 2011, according to court documents obtained by Florida Politics.

Appeals court dismisses Florida school-funding lawsuit” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – For eight years, education groups and parents from two counties have pursued a lawsuit that contends a lack of funding for Florida’s schools has been damaging to minorities and students from poor families. The lawsuit has maintained that state legislators were flouting a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1998. But in its ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal maintained that the state constitution did not contain a way for judges to determine if Florida had violated its “paramount duty” to provide for a “high quality system of free public schools.”

Seminole Tribe now going after Jax ‘gambling parlors’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Tribe has filed suit against 25 operators of what’s called “electronic gambling parlors” in the Jacksonville area. The suit says they violate its deal with the state to exclusively offer Vegas-style games … The gambling parlors “infringe upon the Tribe’s right to substantial exclusivity in the operation of casino-style gambling,” says the complaint, filed by the Tribe’s outside counsel, Barry Richard of Greenberg Traurig’s Tallahassee office … “Most of these places don’t even offer internet access,” he said in a phone interview. “The games they offer are resident on an in-house server. We’re talking (electronic) blackjack, all other kinds of games. It’s just straight-up gambling. People are betting money to win.” The Seminoles seek a court order shutting down the parlors.

State backs land buy for Central Florida trail” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet agreed to spend $1.08 million for land that will help link to an ambitious bicycle and pedestrian trail planned to stretch across Central Florida, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The deal to acquire 35.2 acres to help complete the Shingle Creek Regional Trail – which includes areas in Kissimmee, Osceola County, Orange County and Orlando – was approved with little comment. Money to buy the land from Billie Yates, Cecil Todd Yates, Jody Ketchum-Koger, and the Derrick Koger Trust is slated to come from the state’s Florida Forever land acquisition program. The trail will serve as a north-south link to larger existing regional trails in Central Florida, including the West Orange Trail and the Pine Hills Trail Corridor, which are being put together as part of a 250-mile Coast-to-Coast Connector, envisioned as a winding course from St. Petersburg to the Canaveral National Seashore. The Department of Environmental Protection has targeted the completion of the connector for 2021, according to its website.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet Members celebrated Hanukkah.

Hearing postponed in black farmer marijuana case via the News Service of Florida – A Leon County circuit judge has moved to Dec. 28 a hearing in a legal dispute about part of a new state law that calls for issuing a medical-marijuana license to a black farmer. Judge Charles Dodson was scheduled to hear arguments on a request for a temporary injunction. But an online court docket said the hearing has been rescheduled to Dec. 28. Attorneys for Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City, filed a lawsuit in September challenging the law and are seeking an injunction. Smith alleges that the law is what is known as an unconstitutional “special law” because it is so narrowly drawn that only a handful of black farmers could qualify for the highly coveted license … the black farmer who receives a license would have to be a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter. The lawsuit said Smith meets the qualification of being part of the litigation about discrimination against black farmers. But it said he has not been allowed to join the black farmers association, effectively preventing him from receiving a license.

Happening today – State Sen. Dennis Baxley, state Rep. Stan McClain, Marion County Sheriff Chief Deputy Robert Douglas and Ocala Mayor Kent Gwinn will appear at Community Coming Together Day, hosted by the Florida Department of Corrections, Farm Share and the Florida Police Benevolent Association. The event will have free food, health care checks and employment aid from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Probation & Parole Office, 5640 SW. 6th Place, Suite 100, in Ocala.

It’s beginning to look a lot like … oh, you know: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam with Sigrid and Franco Camacho, owners of Bavarian Christmas Tree Farm, during Wednesday’s Capitol Christmas Tree Presentation Ceremony.

Sexual harassment is common, Miami Beach hotel workers say. Would panic buttons help?” via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald – The tourism town, where the majority of Miami-Dade’s estimated 11,500 housekeepers and other hotel workers are employed, may soon be the nation’s next city to enact laws aimed at protecting hotel workers from assault or improper advances by hotel guests. The Miami Beach proposal is modeled after mandatory practices in other cities, including Chicago and Seattle, that arm staff with panic buttons in case there is an incident. The portable panic buttons would be connected to hotel security or management, allowing them to act quickly if a worker is harassed or assaulted. The laws also create a framework for reporting incidents, including allowing workers to contact police, prohibiting hotels from firing workers who speak out and monitoring guests who act improperly toward staff.

— ASSIGNMENT EDITORS —

“Get Ready, Florida!” conference call to examine hurricane preparedness, future readiness –  Former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate, former state Sen. W. Lockwood (Locke) Burt, and others will take part in a media conference call as part of a new comprehensive, multifaceted campaign called “Get Ready, Florida!” Experts will discuss the “new normal” of the hurricane season that just ended, what was learned from it, and what to expect moving forward. The call, hosted by Sachs Media Group, will also announce results of a statewide poll and unveil a website that seeks to fill gaps in knowledge about hurricane preparation, as well as offer critical, life-saving information for all Floridians. Conference call begins 2 p.m. at (888) 392-4560; Access Code: 6629239.

***Nursing home care is better in states with a Certificate of Need process, because it ensures seniors have access to the right type of care where in the areas they need it most. The best way to ensure a high-quality long-term care sector that balances the need for nursing home care and home and community-based services is to preserve Florida’s Certificate of Need process. That’s why everyone who cares about Florida’s elders should reject the Constitution Revision Commission proposal to eliminate Certificate of Need in Florida.***

— OPINION —

Chikara Parks: finding a safe school is better than waiting for one” via Florida Politics – I considered myself Campbell Park Elementary family. Not only did four of my children attend this school, but I was so actively involved in mentoring students, volunteering and attending PTA meetings that I was often mistaken for staff. So, it was a surprise to me that my daughter Tanijah was bullied as long as she was. The adults, I promised her, would keep her safe. But they hadn’t. My kids have each had great teachers at Campbell Park, so I’m not sure why they or the principals weren’t able to put a stop to the bullying after several years. I recognize that students in this community come with their own set of baggage, but good teachers and a zero-tolerance policy couldn’t end the bullying. Thankfully, I qualified for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and enrolled Tanijah at Academy Prep of St. Petersburg. Academy Prep handles bullying issues immediately. Not only do I feel like I’m finally being heard, but I also know I’ve found a place where Tanijah will be safe. I think the Hope Scholarship is an awesome idea and I hope that parents take advantage of it.

— MOVEMENTS —

Ethics Commission dings Matt Shirk for pushing ‘Sober 101’” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Former 4th Circuit Public Defender Shirk took a hit from the Florida Ethics Commission last week in a closed session. But despite the finding of probable cause, it won’t matter much. “The Commission accepted the recommendation of its Advocate, finding probable cause,” read a press release … the commission “also decided to take no further action on the matter, unless he requests a hearing, due to the circumstances including Mr. Shirk losing his bid for re-election.” The complaint, filed by Jacksonville’s Thomas Duffy, asserted that Shirk contacted judges and court administrators on behalf of “Sober 101,” a company offering “substance abuse services.” Sober 101 reps also attempted a pitch — in a parking garage, at Shirk’s behest — to current PD Charles Cofer, who was a judge at the time. A grand jury judged Shirk as having indulged in “reckless behavior” in office, including asking female employees to shower with him. That same grand jury recommended Shirk’s resignation.

Appointed Chandra Hosler (reappointed), Andrea Cichon and Tiffany Bell to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.

News and renewed lobbying registrations:

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: The Paxen Group

Nicholas Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Ronald LaFace, Gerald Wester, Capital City Consulting: Applied Underwriters

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: Lodak Properties

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Sue Mullins, Evan Power, Ramba Consulting Group: Northwest Florida State College Foundation

Steve Rumsey: Pioneer Technology Group

Nancy Black Stewart: The Paxen Group

— ALOE —

Google top searches for 2017” via YouTube – For the United States, the “2017 Year in Search” is: Hurricane Irma, Matt Lauer, Tom Petty, Super Bowl, Las Vegas Shooting, Mayweather vs. McGregor Fight, Solar Eclipse, Hurricane Harvey, Aaron Hernandez and Fidget Spinner.

Where have the stone crabs gone? Shortage of Florida delicacy drives up prices” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald – Less than halfway through Florida’s lucrative stone crab season, traps are drying up, dealing another blow to a fishing industry still recovering from a beating delivered by a brutal Hurricane Irma. “Everybody’s feeling it,” said Walter Flores, owner of the Golden Rule Seafood in Palmetto Bay, which has been selling and serving stone crabs since 1943. Normally Flores starts taking orders for holiday crabs about now. But this year, he said, it’s first come, first serve. “We have them,” he said, “but you have to offer more money to get them. It’s almost a bidding war.” Medium claws that sold for about $19 a pound last year are now going for $26.99, he said. Large claws are pulling in $45 a pound.

Happy birthday belatedly to Dick Batchelor, Roger Chapin, Hayden Dempsey of Greenberg Traurig, and Nikki Fried. Celebrating today are Rep. David Santiago, Julie Ingoglia, Kyra Jennings, and Judge Terry Lewis.

Last Call for 12.13.17 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Term limits for school boards? The Florida Constitutional Revision Commission is eyeing the possibility of adding that to the state constitution.

On Thursday, a review panel will take up a proposal that would change the state constitution to say school board members who serve two terms — a total of eight years — are not eligible to run again.

Currently, there are about 330 school board members across 67 school districts in the state. Under the state constitution or current state law, there is no provision limiting the term of any of these members.

School board members are tasked with supervising public schools within the school district and determining the rate of school district taxes.

Commissioner Erika Donalds, appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, is sponsoring the proposal (P 43), which has similar language to the term-limit set for legislators, the governor, Cabinet members and U.S. representatives and senators.

Donalds is a school board member herself. She was elected to the Collier County School Board in 2014, and currently serves as the board’s vice chair.

Her proposal was unanimously supported by the CRC Education Committee, and now it heads to the Local Government Committee. If approved, it will head to the full CRC for a vote.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held at 1 p.m., in 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

Evening Reads

How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott orders new policies for state workers on reporting, investigating sexual harassment complaints via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida

Latest forecast shows more misery ahead for ailing citrus industry” via the News Service of Florida

Appeals court dismisses Florida school-funding lawsuit” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press

Insurer Citizens expects to get bigger after Irma” via the Palm Beach Post

7,500 complaints of price gouging during Irma. Just 1 business fined so far.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

State backs land buy for Central Florida trail” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Details of shark-dragging case revealed in criminal report” via Carlos Munoz and Tim Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Where have the stone crabs gone? Shortage of Florida delicacy drives up prices” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald

FPL opens $6 million Cat 5 storm center in Jupiter, one of 12 planned” via Marcia Heroux Pounds of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“Look at Washington, look at Congress, and how broken it is. But everybody keeps getting re-elected.” — Frank Kruppenbacher, member of the Constitution Revision Commission, in an interview after he withdrew his proposal to repeal public financing for statewide candidates.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The General Provisions Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider a proposal that would ban oil drilling in Florida’s coastal waters. That’s at 8 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Education Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will receive a series of presentations about education issues such as school start dates, high-performing schools and financial aid. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is expected to speak during a Greater Nassau County Chamber of Commerce lunch event. That’s at noon, The Pig Bar-B-Q, 450102 Florida 200, Callahan.

The Local Government Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will take up a series of issues, including a proposal that would lead to term limits for school board members. That’s at 1 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a hearing about a potential project to widen Interstate 10 from Interstate 295 to Interstate 95 in Duval County. That’s at 4:30 p.m., Florida Department of Transportation, Jacksonville Urban Office, 2198 Edison Ave., Jacksonville.

Andrew Gillum continues to lie, err, exaggerate about campaign size

Will Andrew Gillum ever learn?

Despite a PolitiFact ruling six months ago that showed the Tallahassee Mayor’s campaign lied about the number of its supporters, Gillum and his staff are continuing to mislead voters and the press about the size of this fledgling operation.

On June 9, the Gillum for Governor campaign said: “We’re excited to have more than 7,000 contributors, the most in the race, and we’re raising the resources to compete in all 67 counties.”

“Mostly false,” PolitiFact ruled the following week.

Yet, last week, speaking at Cafe Con Tampa, Gillum reportedly said: “I want you to know that we’ve got over 11 thousand — last I counted — individual contributors.”

And last month, Gillum campaign representative Geoff Burgan told a reporter, “We’ve got more than 11,000 online donors …”

Neither claim is true.

According to the latest public fundraising reports, posted yesterday, Gillum actually has less than 8,500 unique donors between his campaign account and political committee — placing him well behind Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham, who each have more than 10,000 supporters.

The once-rising star Gillum exaggerated the number of supporters while speaking to the audience about the viability of his campaign. The campaign has been in the red for the past seventh months — and had its worst month ever in November, raising only $52,475 and spending more than $100,000.

In addition to having more supporters, Graham — with significant name recognition — also enjoys a seven-point lead over Gillum, as shown by the latest polling from Associated Industries of Florida: Graham with 24 percent, Gillum at 17 percent.

And now Gillum has less than $500,000 between his campaign and political committee; if the current trend continues, it’s difficult to see how the candidate survives until Election Day.

And it’s even harder to see how he wins, especially with made up supporters on the campaign trail.

Lori Berman endorses Joe Casello as successor in HD 90

Lantana Democratic Rep. Lori Berman, who is running in the special election for Senate District 31, is joining a host of other Palm Beach County leaders in endorsing Joe Casello for the seat she currently holds in the House.

“I have known Joe for several years and I have been tremendously impressed by his work on the City Commission in Boynton Beach,” Berman said. “I know that he’ll be an effective legislator in Tallahassee and I look forward to working with him on the issues important to the people of Palm Beach County. I’m excited to endorse him in this race.”

In a press release touting Berman’s endorsement, the Boynton Beach Democrat also pointed to endorsements from Reps. Joseph Abruzzo, David Silvers, and Matt Wilhite, Palm Beach County Commissioners Mack Bernard, Mary Lou Berger, David Kerner and Melissa MacKinlay, as well as a handful of labor and civic organizations including the AFL-CIO and Florida Professional Firefighters.

“I’m humbled to have such a breadth of support – from those representing working families, to those representing businesses driving our economy, to elected officials at every level,” he said. “Now more than ever, I’m confident that we are in an extremely strong position to win this seat and continue fighting for the issues that matter most. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work immediately on everything from public safety to public schools to job creation.”

Casello is currently the only candidate filed to run for House District 90.

Berman is termed out in 2018 and Casello filed in May to replace her in the 2018 general. Through the end of November he had raised $26,460 including $5,000 in loans and had $22,706 on hand heading into December.

Prior to his election to the Boynton Beach Commission in 2013, Casello worked as a firefighter and a licensed electrical contractor. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

HD 90 covers part of Palm Beach County west of Interstate 95, including the communities of Boynton Beach, Seminole Manor, Atlantis and Lantana. It is a Democratic stronghold with 47,864 registered Democrats compared to 26,555 registered Republicans.

Joe Negron named ‘Champion of the Everglades’

Environmental group Audubon Florida presented Senate President Joe Negron with an award Tuesday recognizing his “steadfast leadership” in Everglades restoration.

Negron earned the “Champion of the Everglades” award for a bill he ushered through the legislature earlier this past session that mandated the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and prevent a repeat of the historic and harmful algal blooms that wreaked havoc on Florida waters in 2016.

Audubon Florida’s deputy director, Julie Hill-Gabriel, described the legislation as “an incredible victory” for the Everglades.

“President Negron helped secure a much-needed restoration project for America’s Everglades. His tireless efforts responded to an ecological crisis by garnering support for one of the most important wins for Florida’s environment in a decade,” she said. “We applaud President Negron for his commitment to protecting Florida’s environment for generations to come. It is with great excitement we name President Negron as a Champion of the Everglades.”

Audubon Florida said the award is reserved for “individuals who have gone above and beyond their call of duty to protect Florida’s water and wildlife in the River of Grass.” Past winners of the award include Nathaniel Reed and former Gov. Jeb Bush.

“Audubon Florida has been a strong partner in the ongoing effort to reduce and one day eliminate harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that destroy our environment and harm our economy,” Negron said. “I am honored to receive this award and look forward to working with Audubon in the future as we continue to closely monitor the implementation of Senate Bill 10 and other legislative efforts to restore and protect Florida’s environment and natural resources.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons