Peter – Florida Politics

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Capitol vs. capital

This week, an extra 10 cities, including Tallahassee, were officially tacked onto a lawsuit challenging a state law that gives the Legislature the sole authority to regulate firearms and ammunition.

The original lawsuit was filed in April by several South Florida cities frustrated at their inability to further restrict guns through acts of the local government. The amended complaint hasn’t changed; it takes arms with the statute in part because it imposes stiff penalties for local officials who disregard it — a provision unlike any other pre-emption law, the amended suit alleges. The statute’s language, the lawsuit claims, has had “a chilling effect” on local officials.

Tallahassee is joining a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s authority to regulate guns. Marion Hammer calls it ‘political.’

What’s significant about the new complaint is the addition of the capital city to the list of plaintiffs. Not only does it illustrate the contrast between state and local government, but the city is also headed by Mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s seeking the Democratic nod to lead the state.

Gillum gave us a statement on the matter this week, calling the law Draconian and saying local officials have been “bullied.” He added: “We will not sit idly by and allow them to handcuff local democracy, and we look forward to the Court finally addressing the clear unconstitutional nature of these laws.”

Though the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer was quick to call Tallahassee’s addition to the suit a political move.

“What do you expect from city officials who have a candidate for Governor, Andrew Gillum, as their Mayor? For Tallahassee it’s not about the capital city, it’s about politicking,” Hammer said.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Drew WilsonDanny McAuliffeJim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Bondi takes on opioid makers — Attorney General Pam Bondi this week brought forth a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The suit alleges manufacturers used front organizations and opinion leaders to promote false messages about opioids, and that distributors failed under state law to take action against high order volumes. “We are in the midst of a national opioid crisis claiming 175 lives a day nationally and 15 lives a day in Florida, and I will not tolerate anyone profiting from the pain and suffering of Floridians,” said Bondi. She said the suit “seeks to hold some of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in this crisis.” Defendants named include opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma L.P., Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cephalon, Inc., and Allergan plc, and opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., McKesson Corporation and Mallinckrodt LLC.

Democrats force poll on Special Session for education — Members of the Legislature this week were asked: “Should a special session of the Florida Legislature be convened for the purpose of addressing public school funding?” The move was spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Shevrin Jones, of West Park, Nicholas Duran, of Miami and Carlos Guillermo Smith, of Orlando. The lawmakers claimed that base allocations to school funding amounted to 47 cents, while Republican leadership has touted a $101.5 increase. In a news release, Duran and Jones claimed that lawmakers were blindsided by provisions in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which excludes some school money from districts that opt out of a plan to arm non-teacher personnel. To reconvene, the poll must find support from three-fifths of the Republican-led Legislature. Lawmakers have until Thursday to respond.

Greyhound owners sue over amendment — The Florida Greyhound Association filed a lawsuit this week challenging the state’s placement of a proposed greyhound racing ban on the 2018 ballot. The suit alleges the language and ballot summary …… fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to minicasinos.” The proposal was brought to the ballot via the Constitution Revision Commission. Should it (Amendment 13) pass with 60 percent voter approval, the state allows other gambling activities to occur at dog tracks, in lieu of greyhound racing. A top ban proponent, however, told Florida Politics the suit is “dead on arrival.”

Counties plead for ballot security money — With elections imminent, county ballot offices are growing impatient with the state because it has yet to file necessary paperwork that would give ballot controllers access to funding approved by Congress to make elections more secure, Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times reported this week. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told Bousquet, “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating. This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.” Officials have said they need the funding, which amounts to $19.2 million for the Sunshine State, “to harden systems against threats, improve technological security and better educate voters,” wrote Bousquet. The state recently announced it will hire five cybersecurity consultants to work with elections offices across the state.

Judge now has ‘no smoke’ case — A Leon Circuit Court judge is primed to make a decision on whether a statute ban on smoking medical marijuana is constitutional. The issue centers around a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2016 that permitted the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Backed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, the ballot language did not detail the methods by which patients could use marijuana. When crafting statutes during the following 2017 Legislative Session, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott prohibited smoking the drug. At the trial this week, Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby claimed the smoking ban is “entirely consistent” with the state’s role to regulate public health, citing safety concerns of smoking pot—- as opposed to vaping or ingesting it.

Scott medals Florida Veterans in Marianna

Gov. Scott visited the National Guard Armory in Marianna this week, where he presented 89 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award.

Spotlighted in the ceremony was U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher L. Gilley, a Florida Army National Guard Veteran who has served under several state missions, most recently during the state’s Hurricane Irma response. Gilley was also deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Rick Scott visits the National Guard Armory in Marianna this week to award 89 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal.

All Florida residents who are currently serving or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, or the U.S. Reserve Forces are eligible for the Governor’s Veterans Service Award.

During his tenure as Governor, Scott has awarded the medal to nearly 14,000 veterans.

Scott announces $616 million Irma recovery ‘action plan’

Gov. Scott announced this week that the Department of Economic Opportunity had submitted a plan that would see Florida use $616 million in federal disaster recovery funds to build new affordable housing and provide grants to severely impacted businesses.

“Even before Hurricane Irma made landfall, we began working with the federal government to express the diverse needs our state would face following a storm of this magnitude and how best to address those needs,” Scott said. “Since the storm, we have worked tirelessly alongside community and business leaders to build stronger communities that are better prepared for future disasters. I’m glad that DEO submitted this plan to help families in our state.”

Federal rules on the Community Development Block Grant require 80 percent of the funds head to the hardest-hit areas in the state, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development lists as Brevard, Broward, Collier, Duval, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Polk and Volusia counties, as well as certain ZIP codes in Bradford, Clay, DeSoto and Flagler counties.

“We are thankful to these communities for their commitment and partnership to determine the best way to use this funding to make a difference across the state. We are committed to helping Floridians recover, particularly families who do not have the resources to rebound as quickly after a disaster,” said DEO head Cissy Proctor.

Bondi awards Orlando cop with Officer of the Year award

Lieutenant Scott Smith, one of the Watch Commanders who responded to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, was recognized this week as Attorney General Pam Bondi’s 2017 Officer of the Year.

Pam Bondi with Orlando police officer Lt. Scott Smith.

According to a news release from Bondi’s office, Smith led a police team into the nightclub and returned fire at the then-suspected shooter Omar Mateen, who was killed.

“Florida has some of the best and bravest law enforcement officers in the world, and I am honored to be able to recognize these heroes through our annual law enforcement awards,” said Bondi. “We cannot thank these officers enough for the sacrifices they and their families make daily to protect our communities and keep us safe.”

Upon accepting the honor, Smith told WCTV that to succeed, officers should like what they do: “Enjoy serving the public and helping people and that what it comes down to. It comes down to that desire to help people.”

Among the other law enforcement nominees also recognized by Bondi: Jeff BatzSchiefer SBucklesDon Cannon, Wolfgang Daniel, Justin FerrariSandra Marquez and Julio Torres.

Opioid outside counsel

Bondi assigned some of her office’s top attorneys to her racketeering lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, but also reached into the private bar.

Outside counsel on the case includes Cliff Curry, a trial lawyer from Brandon who’s been active in GOP politics, including service in the 2000 and 2004 George Bush and Dick Cheney campaigns.

Brandon attorney Cliff Curry (center) of the Curry Law Group.

Also assisting is Rich Newsome of Orlando, whose firm handles product liability cases. He served on the 5th District Court of Appeals Judicial Nominating Commission under Jeb Bush, and is a past president of the Florida Justice Association. He had a hand in the big Takata exploding airbags litigation.

Additional outside counsel includes Drake Martin of Seaside, who helped negotiate the BP oil spill settlement; and Adrien “Bo” Rivard of Panama City, a Scott appointee to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Knocking on Citizens door

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is trying to bring the public into his campaign to force disclosure of lobbying targeting Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s property insurer of last resort.

Patronis wrote to Citizens executives earlier this month, serving notice of his campaign for “transparency” for the organization. He wants the state-sponsored company to deliver options during the next Cabinet meeting.

Now he’s keeping up the pressure via his “Weekly Rundown” newsletter.

Patronis observed that Citizen insures more than 440,000 policyholders who have a stake in the company’s dealings with “special interests.”

“Transparency ensures accountability. That is not up for debate,” Patronis wrote.

The week in appointments

State University System Board of Governors

Fred Salerno, 74, fills a vacant seat on the board for a term effective immediately and ending Jan. 6, 2019. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. Of Hobe Sound, Salerno is a longtime veteran of the telecommunications industry. He is a former chair of the board of trustees for the State University of New York.

Quote of the Week

“You cannot underestimate Rick Scott. He’s methodical … He’s like a bald (Energizer) bunny. He never stops. He’s got the message. If I were Bill Nelson, I’d be worried.” — John Morgan, on the race for U.S. Senate.

Florida Highway Patrol partners for ‘Click It or Ticket’

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) joins law enforcement and highway safety partners in participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign that continues through June 3.

Drivers will see increased education and enforcement on buckling up to help motorists avoid serious injury and death, a news release out this week said.

FHP troopers are participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” highway safety campaign.

“FHP is committed to raising awareness and educating the public: Not wearing a seatbelt is deadly,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “FHP will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to ensure everyone’s safety on Florida’s roadways.”

In 2017, more than 600 people that chose not to wear their seat belt were killed in a vehicle crash. FHP reminds everyone that Florida law requires the use of seat belts by drivers and passengers in the front seat and all children under the age of 18 in the front or back seat of a motor vehicle.

General safety tips include “Buckle up, every time,” “Obey all speed limits,” and “Don’t drive distracted.”

Smith dubbed ‘Champion of Equality’

For his continued advocacy on behalf of the LGBT+ community, Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith was honored this week with the Champion for Equality Award from the LGBT+ Center’s 6th Annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast and Awards.

Smith, who is openly gay, said he was “extremely humbled to be recognized by an organization that has done incredible work in our community.” The District 49 representative referenced the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando saying, “During our darkest moments, The Center served as a hub for rapid response, inclusion and compassion.”

Carlos Guillermo Smith is an ‘up-and-coming LGBTQ elected official who is driving equality forward.’

The Center celebrates 40 years of operation this year.

Awards also were presented to Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Blue Star and Sam Singhaus, also known as “Miss Sammy.”

Smith is running for re-election in 2018 but does not yet have an opponent. He leads the Legislative Progressive Caucus in Tallahassee and is known for pushing ambitious left-leaning ideals in the Republican-led Legislature.

DOC announces cost-cutting deal to treat HCV

The Florida Department of Corrections announced this week that it’s teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Merck to treat inmates with chronic Hepatitis C infections.

“Inmate health services is a key constitutional responsibility of the Department, and we are pleased to enter this agreement with Merck and align our treatment with the evolving standard of care that is recognized nationally for HCV. This agreement will help us treat and prevent the spread of this disease, provide savings to Florida’s taxpayers and address this growing public health issue,” said Corrections Secretary Julie Jones.

The multiyear agreement comes after Jones sent a letter to pharmaceutical companies in November asking for “innovative solutions” in treating the disease, which is spread by contact with infected blood – most commonly by sharing needles – and treated via antiviral medications.

“In order to reach the goal of eliminating chronic hepatitis C, we believe it is part of our responsibility to work with government, health care providers and the community as a whole to help break barriers and increase access to care for populations that may be disproportionately impacted by HCV,” said Merck executive director John Schwind.

Stewart names ‘School-Related Employee of the Year’

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced this week that Stephanie Melton is Florida’s 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year.

For the past 10 years, Melton has worked as a Behavioral Health Assistant at W.E. Cherry Elementary School in Clay County, her alma mater. She was one of five finalists for the annual award recognizing education support personnel, and in addition to the pat on the back, she’ll take home a $10,000 check. The other finalists will receive $6,500.

Congrats to Stephanie Melton of W.E. Cherry Elementary School in Clay County. (Image via Facebook)

“I am thrilled to recognize Stephanie Melton as the 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year,” Stewart said. “Working full time while pursuing a degree in Education has not stopped her from finding time outside of the school day to help her students and their families. Her passion for meeting students’ individual needs is obvious, and she is truly deserving of this honor.”

Melton also got props from her boss’ boss, Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis, who said Melton “represents the core values of our school district and is an exemplary educator,” and that she is “honored to work alongside” her.

Ken Detzner adds to National Register of Historic Places

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week that a trio of Florida properties has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The three buildings making the grade: Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Archer, The Eugene Knotts House in Yankeetown, and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Locomotive #1504 in Jacksonville.

The historic Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Archer.

“These three historic resources listed on the National Register demonstrate the care Florida’s citizens have taken to protect some of the state’s valuable historic treasures,” Detzner said. “From a surviving wooden nineteenth-century church, a mid-century modernist house and a World War One-era locomotive, Florida continues to add more historic properties to its diverse collection of National Register honorees.”

The Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Historic Preservation oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida. Nationally, the list is maintained by the National Park Service and includes districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that have been identified and documented as being significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

Jax lawmakers present check to YMCA

Fernandina Beach Sen. Aaron Bean and Jacksonville Rep. Kimberly Daniels helped land $250,000 in funding for youth programs at the Johnson Family YMCA in Northwest Jacksonville and this week they handed it over.

“The YMCA is consistently a leader in advocating for Florida’s youth by providing programs that positively impact their lives and give them the opportunities needed to succeed,” Bean said. “This funding will allow the YMCA to increase programming for at-risk adolescents in the most underserved areas of Jacksonville, which will truly change lives and benefit our entire community.”

Aaron Bean, Kimberly Daniels present a $250K check in state funding to the Johnson Family YMCA.

Daniels added that the funds will help a facility between two crime hot spots in Jacksonville.

“The youth in these neighborhoods will benefit from the program expansion, and I am excited about what is ahead for our community,” she said.

On hand with Bean and Daniels for the oversized check’s presentation were YMCA of Florida’s First Coast CEO Eric K. Mann, the YMCA’s Metropolitan board of directors and its senior leadership team.

“The new Teen and Pre-Teen Centers at the Johnson Family YMCA are an investment in our youth,” said Mann. “We are grateful that our state leaders understand the importance this funding will have in helping the Y ensure that every child has the opportunity to envision and pursue the best possible future.”

Workers’ comp costs rising moderately

A survey found moderate growth in the cost of workers’ compensation claims in Florida — but the findings don’t reflect 2016 Florida Supreme Court rulings that insurers fear could drive up costs.

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s CompScope Benchmarks cover 2011 through 2016. It found 3 percent to 5 percent growth per year in medical payments per claim, indemnity payments and benefit delivery expenses.

Ramona Tanabe, testifying to Congress on behalf of the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute.

The survey compared Florida with 17 other states and found that it fell somewhere in the middle.

“Upcoming CompScope studies will monitor the impact of the 2016 state Supreme Court decisions on Florida’s workers’ compensation system with more mature data after the rulings,” said Ramona Tanabe, the institute’s executive vice president and counsel.

The rulings at issue struck down both a mandatory attorney fee schedule for workers’ compensation cases and the state’s 104-week cap on temporary total disability payments.

Many happy returns!

Happy birthday to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which turns 25 this year. The Legislature created the official reinsurance pool after Hurricane Andrew caused more than $10 billion in residential losses — vastly more than was thought possible.

Insurers had collected a mere $1 billion in premiums that year.

The Florida Hurricane CAT Fund is a quarter-century old.

The storm bankrupted at least 10 insurance companies. Those that survived threatened massive policy nonrenewals, cancellations or to abandon Florida altogether. Large, national insurers did mostly take their leave.

By 2006, a state task force concluded that the fund had served as the “cornerstone for market recovery and catalyst for attracting new companies and additional new companies to Florida.”

Additional innovations included the creation of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to serve the residual storm insurance market, and encouragement of Florida-based insurers to serve the market.

Meanwhile, newcomers continue to pour into vulnerable regions. A seven-county coastal swath extending from Palm Beach to Charlotte counties realized 55 percent population growth between 1990 and 207 — adding 2.6 million people.

Policy think tank unveils podcast series

The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank, is the latest entity to join the ever-growing podcast realm.

Titled Pundits on the Porch, JMI began working on the series a few months ago to go live with four episodes in May. Guests include like-minded influencers like Fox News contributor and political editor of Guy Benson. The podcast is hosted by JMI President and CEO Dr. Bob McClure and Vice President of Policy Sal Nuzzo.

Neal Dunn is the latest guest on the new James Madison Institute podcast series.

In an episode recorded with Congressman Neal Dunn, McClure said the style of the show would be to get “beyond cable news, what it’s really like in the halls of Congress.”

Dunn helms the largest geographical district East of the Mississippi River, stretching from Panama City all the way to the Ocala area. He told McClure and Nuzzo that the most common message he hears from constituents is, “Get the government off my back … Everything you’ve got in Washington, just give me less of it.”

The other two episodes available from the podcast launch are with guests Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Mary Katharine Ham, an editor at large of Hot Air, contributing editor to Townhall Magazine, a senior writer at The Federalist and a CNN contributor. Episodes are available for free on iTunes and JMI’s podcast page.

Chamber releases Caloosahatchee River video

The eighth installment of the Florida Chamber’s Securing Florida’s Water Future video series focuses on a natural resource located on the southwest Gulf Coast of Florida: the Caloosahatchee River.

A news release from the Chamber said stakeholders and governments are working on unique strategies to combat the effects of man-made changes to the Caloosahatchee watershed and the effects of heavy rainfall.

To watch the video, click the image below:

In the video, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett calls for moving residential septic tank owners onto a centralized system, which he says would require state funding to “try to offset those homeowner costs.”

“A typical septic tank will put out about 60 milligrams per liter of nitrogen through a drain field, we’re trying to get one or less into the estuary,” Bartlett says.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With 6 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.”

State workers recognized for productivity

Florida TaxWatch this week honored approximately 750 state employees for their innovation in the workplace.

The nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog doles out the Prudential Productivity Awards annually to highlight and reward workers who reduce costs and improve services for taxpayers in the Sunshine State.

“State workers rarely get recognized for their dedication to making sure Florida continues to be the best state in the country for years to come,” said Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida TaxWatch wants to ensure that the taxpayers notice the contributions of these hardworking stewards and that state employees get the praise they deserve.”

Florida TaxWatch Director of Communications Chris Berry announces the winners of the Prudential Productivity Award. (Image via WFSU)

TaxWatch has recognized state employees for nearly 30 years and it estimates that awarding winners’ achievements has resulted in an around $10 billion worth of added value in the state.

The Prudential Productivity Awards are brought to workers via a partnership with the state, Florida TaxWatch and the Council of 100.

This year’s diverse pot of winners include people like Brady HarrisonAdam NeuseAndrew WilliamsLaura Bollmann, and Ryan Mulvey of The Florida Park Service GIS Team in the Department of Environmental Protection, along with others like Karen WattsElaine Mathews, Dr. Dawn CAllicockNoreen Nickola-Williams and David Klater of the Florida Department of Health’s HPV Vaccinators – Cancer Eliminators Team.

FSU grad student named Ford Foundation Fellow

A graduate student studying psychology at Florida State University was awarded this week the distinguished 2019 Ford Foundation Fellowship.

The student, Keanan Joyner, is one of just 70 to be selected to participate in the coveted fellowship. Awarded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the three-year scholarship gives students a $24,000 stipend each year.

Keanan Joyner, graduate student in the FSU Department of Psychology. (Image via FSU/Bruce Palmer)

“It’s pretty special,” Joyner, who plans to be an academic clinical scientist, said. “The Ford fellowship is an absolutely great program. I believe in their mission. I see the need to diversify academia however I can. Receiving external funding from such a prestigious program will definitely help me advance my career.”

Joyner’s research focuses on substance-related addictions, specifically, the relationship shared between reward sensors and substance abuse. The secure funding, he said, means he can focus more on his academic research.

Joyner claims to be the “only black man” in his department. He said in a news release that he looks forward to networking with other minorities at the Ford Fellows Conference as part of his award.

FSU film students forging Tally-to-Cannes pipeline

Two Florida State film students are finishing up one of their best weeks ever – presenting one of their projects at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Tyler Knutt and Nicholas Markart, both seniors in FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts, jetted over to the French film festival to present their documentary, “Peacekeeper,” which focuses on the human impact of the controversial oil pipeline between North Dakota and Illinois completed in 2017.

FSU students Nicholas Markart and Tyler Knutt were invited to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in the south of France to screen the documentary ‘Peacekeeper.’

Knutt and Markart are two of five FSU film students who made the trip to the renowned festival this year.

“Going to the Cannes Film Festival is absolutely mind-blowing,” said Markart. “It feels kind of crazy because if you ask any film student about their chances of getting a project into Cannes, it would seem like a pipe dream.”

That dream looks like it’ll continue for the duo, who are riding high after learning “Peacekeeper” – which they produced in their sophomore year – has been nominated for a 2018 BAFTA Award.

“To have this recognition as a filmmaker is extremely rewarding and very humbling, but it’s also gratifying to know we’re getting this story out to a much larger audience,” Markart said. “It’s very emotional to know that the people we met, who felt they didn’t have a voice, are now being heard internationally.”

City of Tallahassee prepping for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is just around the corner, and the City of Tallahassee is encouraging residents to learn and prepare at a June 2 event.

The fourth annual “Build Your Bucket” disaster preparedness expo will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Florida Fairgrounds and include information and activities for all ages.

Tallahassee bore much of the brunt of Hurricane Hermine in 2016.

The main event will see attendees drop by booths to learn about local resources for surviving and recovering from disasters and pick up supplies to add to their buckets. The Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross will also be on hand leading “Pillowcase Project” workshops where children can learn how to stay safe in an emergency.

Attendees can also get an up-close look at a variety of emergency response vehicles during “Touch-a-Truck.” Confirmed for the event are autos from the fleets of the Tallahassee Fire Department, Leon County Emergency Medical Services and the Salvation Army.

Drug mix-up at Tallahassee Publix sparks lawsuit

A Tallahassee woman is suing the Publix supermarket chain after she said she was mistakenly given an antidepressant medication instead of a pain drug.

Queen Fields filed suit this week in Leon County Circuit Civil Court, saying she suffered “bodily injury,” “disfigurement,” and “mental anguish.” She seeks over $15,000 in damages.

Shopping at Publix was not a pleasure for Queen Fields.

Her complaint said she thought she was picking up an anti-pain prescription for Tramadol in August at the pharmacy in the Publix on the corner of Capital Circle and Crawfordville Road.

Instead, she was given – and presumably took – a prescription for another customer for Wellbutrin, used to treat depression, her suit said. The complaint doesn’t say how long she took the wrong drug before noticing the mistake.

Fields is represented by Tallahassee attorney David Burns. Publix policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

Southside sidewalks, streets to get facelift

The City of Tallahassee said southside residents can expect new sidewalks on Putnam Drive and a smooth, freshly paved ride on S. Meridian Street in the coming months.

“These projects are just two more examples of the many infrastructure enhancements the City is making across the entire community,” City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “Whether on foot, bike or four wheels, these efforts will provide Southside residents with increased mobility and safer travels throughout the area.”

Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson. (Image via Tallahassee Democrat)

The first phase of the Putnam sidewalk projects is underway, and the city expects it to be complete by September. Workers will begin on phase two early next year. Crews have also started prep work ahead of repaving the stretch of Meridian from Van Buren Street to Paul Russell Road and the first asphalt is expected to go down May 28.

As with any project, drivers will have to deal with lane closures while crews are on the job – in this case, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Weather permitting, the work will be done by mid-August.

Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.18.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Ella Joyce has her big dance recital this weekend (she’s performing in six (!) numbers), so forgive me for this brief topper. I need to push out today’s edition of Sunburn and go help Michelle prepare for the festivities.


@RealDonaldTrump: Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History … and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!

—@JoePerticoneBill Nelson, who sits on the Finance Committee’s subcommittee on international trade, just told me he doesn’t know what ZTE is …

@RobertMaguire_: Rep Mo Brooks — who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee — says that rising sea levels are caused not by climate change but from … … wait for it….. … rocks falling in the ocean

@RepLoisFrankel: 64yrs ago #SCOTUS ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional in #BrownvBoard. Great progress has been made but the road to equality is long&we must keep fighting so all kids, regardless of race, gender or background, have access to quality education&a chance to succeed.

—@RepStephMurphy: JUST IN: @USArmy selected #Orlando as the new HQ for its initiative to merge live, virtual & gaming domains into a single, state-of-the-art training environment for soldiers. The new HQ will support dozens of jobs & demonstrates Orlando is the world leader in this area.

@CHeathWFTV: Florida fails to fund DOC (again) and is now shocked that DOC doesn’t have enough money.

@Aronberg: Positive news from Delray Beach: 79% decrease in opioid overdose deaths (19 vs. 4) in the first 4 months of 2018, compared to the same period last year

—@AGlorios: Doesn’t anyone know that the only place malls are still cool is Dubai?

—@MikeGrunwald: I wrote a book about natural Florida’s transformation into a mall so the American Dream news is a bit on the nose

@SharkeyJeff: Sharkey’s restaurant in the capitol is following suit and eliminating plastic straws in addition to our biodegradable cups and containers … all good for Florida


Solo: A Star Wars Story premiere — 7; Memorial Day — 10; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 22; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 24; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 25; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 27; Father’s Day — 30; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 35; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 41; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 51; MLB All-Star Game — 60; Deadline for filing claim bills — 75; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 75; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 76; Start of the U.S. Open — 101; Primary Election Day — 102; College Football opening weekend — 104; NFL season starts — 111; Future of Florida Forum — 131; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 158; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 159; General Election Day — 172; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 272; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 291.


Man firing shots and ‘spewing’ about president inside Trump National Doral shot by police” via Doug Phillips of the Sun Sentinel – A man who was firing shots, waving an American flag and ‘yelling and spewing some information about President Trump’ was shot and wounded by police early Friday at Trump National Doral, the golf and spa resort owned by President Donald Trump in northwest Miami-Dade. The shooting … happened about 1:30 a.m., Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said during a pre-dawn news conference … These officers did not hesitate for one second to engage this individual who was actively shooting in the lobby of the hotel,’ Perez said. … During the incident which played out quickly an officer from the Doral Police Department was hurt, but not from gunfire. He was taken to a hospital with a possible broken bone, officials said.

Greyhound owners sue over proposed dog racing ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The group that represents Florida’s greyhound owners and breeders is suing to keep a proposed constitutional amendment to rid the state of dog racing off the November ballot. The Florida Greyhound Association and its president, James Blanchard, filed suit Thursday in Leon County Circuit Civil court against the Department of State, which include the Division of Elections, and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Among other claims, the suit says the ballot title and summary ” … fail to inform voters that its passage would essentially expand gambling by allowing pari-mutuel facilities in Florida to convert to minicasinos.” The amendment, one of eight by the Constitution Revision Commission, would allow other gambling activities such as card games to continue at tracks after dog racing ends. The suit asks for a court order preventing the division “from placing Amendment No. 13 on the ballot for the November 2018 General Election.”


Nelson files bill to force more FEMA aid for displaced Puerto Rican families” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Nelson’s office said the bill would require FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program as a means to extend aid for those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria through February 2019. “This administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico,” Nelson said in a statement. ” … These displaced families are American citizens who desperately need our help. We have a responsibility to help them, just as we would want to be helped if we were in their shoes.” When activated, the Disaster Housing Assistance Program offers rental assistance for up to 18 months after the declaration of a disaster. It has been used before after hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita.

Happening Saturday — Gov. Scott speaks at the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 North 50th St., Tampa.


Must-do for Florida’s midterm candidates: A stop in Puerto Rico. Or three.” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Holding political office in Florida increasingly requires trekking to Puerto Rico, the former home of a growing number of Florida residents. More than a million Puerto Ricans already lived in the state before the hurricane, and another 56,000 joined them in the first six months after Maria, according to an estimate by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York. Perhaps not all of them will stay, much less vote: Puerto Ricans have tended to cast ballots less reliably than other Florida Hispanics … Candidates down the ticket are also adopting the island’s cause. State Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach, a Democratic candidate for Congress, this month spent 48 hours on what he called a “listening tour” of the island. He is running in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which is nearly 72 percent Hispanic and largely Cuban-American. His campaign research, however, revealed that about 25,000 Puerto Ricans live in the district, he said, so Richardson felt a trip to the island was in order.

Bill Nelson in San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of many office holders to visit the island, the former home of a number of new Florida residents. (Image via Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times)

Chris King backs Orange County children’s initiative” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — King weighed in on an Orange County local issue, saying the push for a children’s trust fund fits in for his call for sweeping criminal justice reform in Florida. A coalition of children’s advocates is pushing this year to get a children’s services independent taxing authority, like those found in other Florida metropolitan cities, created through a ballot initiative this November. King joined former state Rep. Dick Batchelor, chairman of The Children’s Trust of Orange County committee, former Orange County chair Linda Chapin, businessman Harold Mills, and the Rev. Derrick McRae of the Experience Christian Center to argue that the initiative is a criminal justice reform issue. “I am on day three of a massive trip around the state talking about criminal justice reform. It is deeply, as Dick said, deeply interconnected to the issues of the children’s trust,” King said.

Philip Levine’s social media blocking haunts Florida gubernatorial campaign” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Philip Levine blocked a Twitter critic back when he was mayor of Miami Beach and got sued. Now it’s starting to haunt the Democrat’s bid for governor of Florida and threatens to paint him as a thin-skinned bully. First, Twitter accused the city of threatening its officials as part of a legal strategy to keep Levine from being deposed during his campaign for governor. Then, Levine’s top adviser had to take the stand on his behalf this month and admit the former mayor blocked Twitter comments he didn’t like, setting the stage for a potentially precedent-setting case concerning social media and government censorship. In the coming weeks, the likely Democratic frontrunner faces the prospect of a deposition in the case, which also raises broader questions about his temperament and his mayoral legacy.

Levine expands communications team — The Levine for Governor campaign expands its communications team with the addition of Deputy Communications Director William Miller and Hispanic Media Coordinator Guillermo Perez. Miller served as the campaign’s Communications Coordinator since the campaign’s inception and previously served Hillary for America as Press Assistant for the South Florida region. Perez currently serves as a Communicators Coordinator in Levine senior adviser Christian Ulvert’s firm, EDGE Communications, where he has been since the start of 2018. Previously, Perez served as a Press Intern in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and for U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Ron DeSantis: Sorry Adam Putnam, but Trump is solidly behind me” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis, banking on Trump’s endorsement to help him win Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary against Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, is not worried that Trump could wind up staying on the sidelines. Vice President Mike Pence and others, according to The New York Times, have been urging the president not to take sides. “There’s clearly worry in Putnam’s camp about the role he will play, but I would stay tuned on that. I mean the idea that anyone is telling Donald Trump what to do is just not accurate,” said DeSantis, adding “there’s a good chance” Trump will campaign for him.

New Putnam ad blames ‘liberal elites’ for college debt, pushes vocational training” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s also a continuation of Putnam’s attack on so-called “liberal elites,” who this time he blames for pushing students into college debt and degrees that don’t lead to jobs. “Liberal elites look down on people who work with their hands,” Putnam said. “College is not the only path to success, and it’s OK to say it.” The ad was paid for by Florida Grown, Putnam’s political committee. Vocational training for trade jobs is the cornerstone of the “Florida Jobs First” agenda Putnam introduced in Riverview. To view the ad, click the image below.

Assignment editors — Putnam will deliver remarks at the Broward County Lincoln Day Dinner, 7 p.m., Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, 1881 SE. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale.

Happening Saturday — The Villages Democratic Club will hold a forum for gubernatorial candidates, with expected guests KingLevine and Gillum10 a.m., Savannah Center, 1575 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley of Zolfo Springs will speak at the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club luncheon, 11:30 a.m. Eastern, EVEN Hotel Sarasota — Lakewood Ranch, 6231 Lake Osprey Dr., Sarasota.

Assignment editors — State Rep. Sean Shaw gives a legislative update and explains why he is running for Attorney General at Café con Tampa, 8 a.m., upstairs at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

John Ward releases first TV ad in CD 6 campaign — The ad, titled “American Made,” highlights Ward’s service to his country in the U.S. Navy and steadfast commitment to the Constitution. “An unbreakable Constitutional conservative, Ward stands with President Trump, fighting to take our country back from the swamp,” the ad says. “Made in America, John Ward for Congress.” Ward’s ad will run throughout Florida’s 6th Congressional District with a substantial six-figure buy. The veteran and businessman is seeking the seat vacated by Ron DeSantis’ bid for Florida governor. To view the ad, click the image below.

—“Scott Sturgill endorsed by Family Research Council” via Orlando Rising

After allegation of ‘exposure,’ Kristen Rosen Gonzalez faces defamation lawsuit” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former Miami Beach City Commission candidate Rafael Velasquez has filed a defamation lawsuit against congressional candidate Rosen Gonzalez, after she accused Velasquez last year of exposing himself to her following a dinner. Velasquez confirmed the filing with a post on Twitter. In a statement on the lawsuit, Velasquez calls the Rosen Gonzalez accusations a “cheap political ploy,” saying she made the claims “to influence a close election and thrust her own congressional campaign into the middle of a discussion about sexual harassment and abuse, thereby manipulating the media to gain notoriety and sympathy as a champion of the #metoo movement.” The allegations were first made by Rosen Gonzalez in October of last year. She says the two were together after a dinner when he began aggressively flirting with her before exposing himself. “He started to get really abusive, to say, ‘I know you want it,’ ” Rosen Gonzalez said. “And then he exposed himself.”

Donna Shalala set to skip debate at her namesake student center” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — This marks the second time in a week Shalala declined to attend a debate among Democratic primary candidates. Shalala said she had a scheduling conflict, barring her from showing up at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Coral Gables, where the first debate was held. However, organizers of that debate say Shalala did commit to attending, only to back out eventually. It was later confirmed that she skipped out on the debate to attend a film screening. Current state Rep. David Richardson, one of Shalala’s primary opponents, is calling her out for missing Saturday’s debate at her namesake student center at UM, where she served as president.

The Democratic debate at the Donna Shalala Student Center will be missing one candidate … Donna Shalala.

“With Shalala endorsement, EMILY’s List hits trifecta in Miami congressional races” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – EMILY’s List, the largest Democratic group supporting women candidates, endorsed Shalala in one of the party’s most coveted congressional seats, marking the first time it has three solid candidates in each of the Republican-held U.S. House seats in Miami. The group’s support of Shalala … isn’t too much of a surprise because Shalala helped found EMILY’S List in 1985. Since then, the group says it has raised more than $500 million to ensure that more women who support abortion rights won office.

Miami Lakes mayor endorses Manny Diaz in SD 36” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The mayor of Miami Lakes says he’s backing Diaz in the race for Senate District 36. Mayor Manny Cid becomes the fourth Miami-Dade mayor in recent weeks to endorse Diaz, following the mayors of Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, and Doral. Diaz has represented House District 103 since 2012, but now has his eyes on the Senate. Cid says Diaz’s time in the House shows he’s ready to make the move: “Manny was an effective state representative, and there’s no question that he will be an outstanding state senator.”

—“Bobby Olszewski picks up I-Drive Chamber endorsement” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

—“Big get: Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri backs Jamie Grant’s re-election to Florida House” via Florida Politics

Happening today — Political commentator and former presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the Orange County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Social hour begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:45 p.m., Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista.


Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will attend the 9th Annual Puerto Rican Summit to discuss steps Florida has taken to help those displaced by Hurricane Maria, 8:30 a.m., Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at sea world, 10100 International Dr.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will announce April job numbers at 10 a.m., El Meson Sandwiches, 6622 Eagle Watch Dr. in Orlando

Amid election cyberthreats, counties plead with state for more money” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida election supervisors say they want access to some of the $19 million in federal election security money Congress approved for all 50 states nearly two months ago. But the state doesn’t yet have the money, and election officials say they’re growing impatient. “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating,” said Supervisor Mark Earley in Tallahassee’s Leon County. “This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.” Congress included $380 million in a 2018 budget bill and in March directed the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to distribute the money to states. Trump signed the budget bill on March 23. “The EAC is releasing this money quickly so that the grants can have an immediate impact,” the commission said on March 29. The money will help counties “immediately begin system upgrades.” Elections officials are looking locally for money now, preparing next year’s budgets to present to county commissioners.

Florida CAT fund healthy, but council contemplates doomsday scenario” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund has reserves enough to easily cover its Hurricane Irma liabilities — as much as $300 million in excess of its $17 billion statutory liability limit. But what happens if a major storm — or a swarm of them — wipe out the fund’s assets? It might have to demand emergency assessments of a broad array of policyholders. Council staff stressed during an advisory council meeting Thursday that they were talking really-bad-case scenarios. But it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, chief operating officer Anne Bert said. “We certainly faced that in 2006, because we wiped out the CAT Fund in ’04 and ’05,” she said. “It’s not the worst. The worst would be if we didn’t have any pre-event bonds,” Bert said. Still, “This one’s pretty bad.” The fund floats those “pre-event” bonds as a contingency against disasters.

The Florida CAT Fund council contemplates a ‘worst-case scenario.’

NRA appeals judge’s decision against pseudonyms in Parkland lawsuit” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The National Rifle Association is appealing a federal judge’s ruling against shielding a plaintiff’s name in its litigation against the state’s new school safety and mental health law. The NRA filed a notice of appeal Thursday to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, court dockets show. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker earlier this week turned down the association’s request to use a “Jane Doe” pseudonym for a 19-year-old Alachua County woman. She’s been portrayed in court documents as seeking to remain anonymous due to fear that public exposure could result in “harassment, intimidation, and potentially even physical violence.” In late April, the NRA filed a motion to add “Jane Doe” as a plaintiff to the lawsuit, which contends the age restriction in the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act “violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding adult Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Before massacre, Nikolas Cruz threatened to shoot his brother over a jar of Nutella” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — It happened a few months earlier, when their mother brought home the groceries. Nikolas snatched a jar of Nutella, unscrewed the lid, scooped out the gooey contents with his unwashed hand then licked his sticky fingers. Then he dipped into the jar again. Appalled at Nikolas’ manners, Zachary pushed or slapped the jar out of his hands. Nikolas charged upstairs, grabbed a long gun out of his bedroom closet, descended the stairway, sat down, loaded the firearm and pointed it at his brother in front of their horrified mom, according to Zachary. Nikolas had the much closer relationship with their mother, Lynda, Zachary said. His supposed favored-son status did not prevent Nikolas from threatening their mom. He recalled one blistering episode. “Nik got his AR-15 and put it to my mom’s head,” Zachary said of the September incident. Portions of Nikolas’ psychiatric file, obtained by the Miami Herald in March, portray a young man who exhibited frequent and extreme mood swings. His attitude would brighten for weeks at a time, then darken into anger and paranoia. Zachary can attest to that: “He was mentally ill, and in hindsight, his actions were a cry for help.”

Student gets no relief and pot appeal” via the News Service of Florida — An appeals court refused to scuttle drug-related charges against a student who lived in a Florida State University dormitory where a police officer responded in 2016 because of a complaint about loud music and “marijuana fumes wafting,” as one judge described it. The case centered on arguments that the student, identified as S.S. because he was a 17-year-old minor at the time, was not responsible for marijuana found in a Mason jar in a common area of the townhouse-style dorm unit. A roommate testified that S.S. had not used the marijuana. The police officer said five young men were in the townhouse when she responded. S.S. was charged with possession of cannabis and paraphernalia but sought to have the charges dismissed. A Leon County circuit judge rejected the request and found S.S. guilty of the charges but withheld adjudication of delinquency and sentenced S.S. to three months of probation. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with the refusal to dismiss the charges. Appeals-court Judge Scott Makar wrote an 11-page concurring opinion, concluding that S.S. could be subject to a “constructive possession charge” because he was in a common area of the townhouse where the marijuana was in plain view.

Task force OKs $1.3 million in grants to advance military” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A state task force on Thursday approved grants worth nearly $1.33 million for projects designed to support military installations and preserve Florida’s reputation as the most military-friendly state. They included land and easement buys neighboring the Avon Park Air Force Range and Camp Blanding; development of a Bay County innovation center to advance amphibious warfare; and support for efforts to lure the MQ-9 Reaper drone wing to Tyndall Air Force Base, also in Bay County. The programs are designed to help the state adjust as advances in technology revolutionize defense strategy, potentially rendering the military programs that comprise the state’s second-biggest economic driver obsolete. “Our operations here are being devalued,” said Sen. Doug Broxson, the Pensacola Republican who chairs the Florida Defense Support Task Force. “We’ve got to do a better job of communicating that to our members in the Legislature,” he said. “The people that represent this group are the eyes and ears of 20 major installations that are telling us what’s important to them.”

Pensacola Republican Doug Broxson chairs the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

Citrus agency counts on bigger crop next year” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — As the Florida Department of Citrus starts to patch together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the department is projecting that revenues will increase by just over $400,000 through upticks in orange, grapefruit and specialty-fruit production … However, a continued decline in the forecast for the ongoing growing season forced the Bartow-based department to once again squeeze its current operating budget. This time the Citrus Commission, which oversees the department, had to cut $137,866 from the just over $17 million operating budget. Department officials said they were able to make the cuts by shifting $122,352 from reserves, with the remainder from general revenue service-charge changes and medical research.

Supreme Court backs regulators on FPL project” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Rejecting arguments by the Sierra Club, the state Supreme Court unanimously backed a 2016 decision by utility regulators to approve a rate agreement for Florida Power & Light. The Sierra Club challenged part of the wide-ranging agreement that dealt with replacing what are known as “peakers” — generating units that are used at times of high customer demand and during emergencies such as storms. In the rate agreement, FPL sought to recoup costs of replacing decades-old peakers with larger, more-efficient units. In October 2016, FPL and three other parties, including the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents customers, reached a settlement agreement on major rate issues, including the peaker project. The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utility rates and projects, later approved the agreement. But the Sierra Club, which opposed the settlement, challenged the commission’s decision at the Supreme Court. The Sierra Club argued, in part, that FPL had not been required to consider alternatives, such as solar energy, to meet peak demands.

Two years after it swallowed 215M gallons of polluted water, Mosaic sinkhole finally corked” via Craig to an of the Tampa Bay Times — Nearly two years after a massive sinkhole opened at Mosaic’s Mulberry phosphate processing plant, a company spokeswoman says it has been sealed at last and will be completely filled by the end of May. The state Department of Environmental Protection has approved demobilizing the deep drilling and grouting equipment used to fill the chasm “since the sinkhole now is sealed in accordance with the consent order requirements,” said Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron … All that’s left is some cosmetic work, Barron said. “We’re currently working to fill the upper portion of the cavity, close the opening and level the surface,” she said, predicting that would be done in the next two weeks.

Nation’s largest mall wins Miami-Dade approval as county backs American Dream Miami” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In a 9 to 1 vote, county commissioners approved changing Miami-Dade’s growth plan and zoning designations to allow Canadian developer Triple Five to create an even larger version of its current signature property, Minnesota’s Mall of America, in Northwest Miami-Dade. With six million square feet of retail and entertainment space, American Dream Miami predicts 30 million visitors a year and about 70,000 vehicle trips in and out of the property, roughly equivalent to some of the busiest stretches of the Dolphin Expressway. Triple Five still faces significant hurdles before it can start construction on a project it has said will cost roughly $4 billion to develop. It must obtain a string of permits from the county after clearing regulatory milestones, including environmental mitigation, sewage capacity and water use. The company can’t proceed without Florida and Miami-Dade implementing about $200 million worth of roadway improvements, with only a portion of the costs coming from Triple Five. Triple Five also has to line up commercial loans to build the 175-acre project at a time when traditional malls are under siege from the rise of online shopping.

Miami-Dade County Commission gives preliminary approval for the American Dream megamall.

Fallen trees from 2016 storm in Tallahassee result in lawsuit — A Georgia-based tree company is suing over an unpaid $25,000 bill for grounds cleanup at the Capital City Country Club and golf course in Tallahassee after 2016’s Hurricane Hermine. TreeXpert this week sued the City of Tallahassee, which owns the property, and Integrity Golf Company, which had operated the facility. The company’s complaint said it did “tree removal, cutting and clean-up services,” for which it never received payment. A contract was inked in October 2016 after Hermine rolled through the capital in early September of that year. The suit seeks the $25,000 plus interest, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees. A request for comment was sent to a city spokeswoman.

Assignment editors — The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association open the NFL and Medical Cannabis Conference, the first of its kind to merge two controversial and popular topics, connecting traditional western medicine and medical marijuana in a professional, educational environment. The conference begins 9:45 a.m., Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 NW. 72nd Ave. in Miami. Contact Savara Hastings, or (321) 917-3212.

Happening Saturday: NAACP, Airbnb launch national initiative in Miami — Miami Gardens will be the first site of the national initiative between the two organizations. Residents are invited to attend the launch at the Betty T. Ferguson Complex, 3000 NW. 199th St. from 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. to learn about opportunities to serve as ambassadors for their communities, participate in Airbnb’s local Experiences program, and have the opportunity to sign up as a host. Joining the NAACP and Airbnb for the event will be Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who recently assumed the presidency of the African-American Mayors Association.


The survivors-turned-advocates of Parkland aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

They’re capitalizing on the anti-gun violence momentum that’s ensued since the Feb. 14 tragedy, reports Kimberly Hefling of POLITICO, by setting up “community conversations and a high school voter registration drive in their push to keep their gun control movement alive ahead of the November midterm elections.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas students Emma González and David Hogg recently announced their plans at the Education Writers Association conference at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Parkland survivors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg. (Image via Getty)

Mark your calendar: The first community conversation is June 15 in Chicago. And Hogg said the organizers are pushing for a high school voter registration drive May 29.

Bipartisanship: At the event, Hogg “expressed frustration that House Speaker Paul Ryan has not scheduled a vote on legislation to bolster background checks for gun buyers.” But, he sees a “bipartisan path” toward passing reforms that view and treat violence as a health epidemic.

Education works: González noted how everyone’s surprised at the efficacy of MSD activism: “People sent us to high school so that we can learn stuff, and then are amazed that we paid attention.”


Florida to receive $84.5 million in federal disaster aid” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida will receive $84.5 million in new federal aid to help schools recover from Hurricane Irma, and to defray costs associated with reopening campuses, including some that were closed for weeks after the storm. The department previously announced Puerto Rican schools will receive nearly $600 million, while $89.4 million is slotted for the Texas Education Agency, $14.4 million is designated for the California Department of Education and $13 million will go to the U.S. Virgin Islands. States and territories are to use the money for assistance to districts, charter schools and private schools for expenses associated with restarting school operations after the disasters … “We will continue to work closely with Commissioner Stewart and Governor Scott to ensure students and teachers have the resources they need now and in the future,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement.

What Gaston Cantens is reading — “Sugar policy won’t change as part of Farm Bill as House rejects amendment” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The Sugar Policy Modernization Act amendment would have eased import quotas on foreign sugar and eliminated government bailouts of the sugar industry. The vote was 278-137, with U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Palm City Republican, voting to eliminate sugar price supports … “After decades of brutal water issues, the status quo must change,” Mast said. “That’s why today I voted in favor of securing the environmental future of our community.” Another proposal to change U.S. sugar policy, called the Zero-to-Zero plan, also died because it never was filed as a Farm Bill amendment. It would have eliminated price supports, but banned imports from countries that have them, such as Brazil and Mexico. The House is scheduled to vote on the Farm Bill Friday. The Senate is expected to debate its own version of the Farm Bill later this summer.

What Matt Gaetz is reading: Congressional committee approves medical cannabis protections in appropriations spending bill” via The National Cannabis Industry Association — The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on Thursday approved a measure to “renew protections for state medical cannabis programs when the current spending budget expires in September.” The amendment was introduced by Rep. David Joyce, an Ohio Republican. It prevents the Department of Justice from using any resources to target medical cannabis patients or providers who are in compliance with state laws … U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opposed any form of marijuana legalization, though his boss, President Donald Trump, has indicated sympathy to its medical use.

Warriors meet: The Warrior Caucus, a bipartisan group of U.S. House members who served in combat, met Thursday with Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to discuss improvements at the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Daniel Ruth: Don’t run government like Rick Scott ran his business” via the Tampa Bay Times — Scott holding himself up as a paragon of savvy business acumen is a bit like Sonny Corleone claiming to be an expert in anger management. It was Scott who was forced out as CEO from his own company, Columbia/HCA, before it was fined $1.7 billion by the federal government for what was at the time the largest case of Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. It was also Scott who claimed his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times during a deposition in an unrelated legal matter. And now this chap is lecturing voters about running government more like a business? What business is he referring to? Enron?

NRA heroism: Disparaging Parkland kids’ anti-gun campaign as ‘civil terrorism’” via columnist Fred Grimm in the Sun Sentinel — “They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism,” Oliver North complained to the Washington Times in a May 9 interview. North, the newly anointed president of the National Rifle Association, described how the NRA has been the object of a social media campaign led by young student survivors of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre. The Parkland students convinced retail chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling assault weapons. “We love these kids and their rallying cry ‘Enough is enough.’ It got to us,” Dick’s CEO Edward Stack told The New York Times. Walmart quickly followed suit. “This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” North said. It’s a bit startling, comparing the civil rights movement to the NRA’s uncompromising push to utterly deregulate guns, even military assault weapons. But North’s complaints fit nicely with the NRA’s great motivation device, the dissemination of mendacious paranoia.

Melissa McKinlay: Palm Beach County, on front line, is taking action” — On Sunday, there was an editorial in The Palm Beach Post … indicating the [hurricane] conference program does not mention climate change or sea level rise mitigation. Although tide hazards are relatively new, and some of the short and long-term effects are not fully apparent, Palm Beach County and its municipalities have taken critical steps to help protect their communities. Climate change effects of rising sea levels will lead to increased high-tide flooding commonly referred to as “king tides” and stronger, more frequent hurricanes. This recent reality underscores the need for critical infrastructure funding so that the basic service of security can be reliably delivered to our citizens. Recently passed federal budget items included full funding to expedite these dike repairs. We are grateful to senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for securing funds. Currently, the county has submitted nine projects to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reduce the effects of sea-level rise and king tides in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.


Appointed — Fred Salerno to the Board of Governors of the State University System.

Amy Hass named UF vice president and general counsel — University of Florida President Kent Fuchs announced Thursday that, following a national search, Hass has been selected as vice president and general counsel. Hass has served as interim vice president since July 2017 and joined the UF Office of the Vice President and General Counsel in 2006. Before joining the University, Hass was a litigator with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in Atlanta and New York. While in private practice, Hass represented financial services companies and individuals in a wide range of government enforcement proceedings, civil litigation, white collar criminal defense, arbitrations and internal corporate investigations. She graduated with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Furman University. She is a member of The Florida Bar and the State Bar of Georgia.

Former state official Lisa Edgar pleads ‘no contest’ Edgar, the former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, has pleaded ‘no contest’ in a case stemming from an alleged drunk-driving hit and run last April. She had been set for jury selection Friday. But court dockets accessed Thursday showed she instead pleaded out earlier this month to “reckless driving, reduced from DUI.” Leon County Judge Layne Smith withheld adjudication, meaning he made no formal finding of guilt, and ordered her to serve six months on probation, complete 75 hours of community service, and “continue counseling.” Last February, Edgar resigned as director of the Florida Park Service after less than two months on the job, citing “an immediate family emergency.” Edgar was a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, the panel that regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, and had been a deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Former state parks director Lisa Edgar leads no contest. (Image via Getty)

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Rosanna Manuela Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe County

Michael Corcoran, Jeffrey Johnston, Anita BerryMatt BlairAmanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Feeding Tampa Bay

Nick Iarossi, Megan FayRon LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Absolute Defense, George Hackney d/b/a Trulieve

Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: IOA Re

Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Kumballistic


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: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with WMNF reporter Mitch Perry, political consultant April Schiff, attorney Rochelle Reback and Darryl Paulson, Professor Emeritus USF-St. Petersburg.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on the opioid crisis and legislation in Florida amid holding pharmaceutical companies responsible. Joining Walker-Torres are Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, and Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: State Rep. Jay Fant discusses his bid to become Florida Attorney General. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by Congressman DeSantis about Republican gubernatorial opponent Putnam.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guest is Nathaniel Glover Jr., president of Edwards Waters College and a former Jacksonville Sheriff.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will talk about Florida’s 27th Congressional District, interviewing two of the Republican candidates for the seat. Also, a discussion of the presidential election in Venezuela.


When the latest chapter of the Star Wars saga, Han Solo spinoff “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” hits theatres next week, it could be defined by its bumps in production — something emblematic of Lucasfilm’s troubles thus far in recapturing a decades-old classic.

The delayed release of “Solo” resulted from Lucasfilm replacing former directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord with legend Ron Howard to shift the “tone” of the movie, Associated Press’ Jake Coyle reports from the Cannes film festival this week, where executives premiered the movie to boost global awareness.

It’s been a rough road for ‘Solo.’

And “beneath the billions of dollars in box office and merchandise, there are hints of a growing existential crisis in the far, far away galaxy as it gets further and further removed from Lucas’ original vision.”

Balance: Each new Star Wars film has in some way faltered in attempting to capture the sound, tone and voice of the original trilogy while making a distinct impression on the series. For “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” writer Lawrence Kasdan — who’s still involved in the production — that’s the reason Lord and Miller didn’t fit the bill.

Early reception: Reviews are “tepid,” with an initial 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and many unhappy with Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Hans Solo, who of course was made famous by Harrison Ford.

The political angle?: There shouldn’t be one, according to Kasdan. “What drew me to it was there was this guy who walked into the cantina, a gunslinger with a great sidekick.”

— ALOE —

Disney’s Magic Kingdom now serving alcohol at all restaurants” via Lily Rose of Fox News — Crystal Palace and the Plaza Restaurant will be serving an assortment of alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. The Crystal Palace, which hosts a Winnie the Pooh and Friends character buffet, will offer three different kinds of beer, a cider, multiple wine offerings, and a mimosa made with Domaine Ste. Michelle bubbly. The Plaza Restaurant offers much of the same, though their signature cocktail is a sangria made with Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc, pineapple juice, spice, and fruit.

The Magic Kingdom gets a little more magical … with booze now served at all the park’s restaurants.

FSU still exploring all options for football facility upgrades” via Wayne E. McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — One option is to renovate the Moore Athletic Center, which is connected to Doak Campbell Stadium and has housed the football program since the 1950s. The other option is for FSU to build a new stand-alone football facility, which has become a trend among major college football programs … “We’re getting our first look at the feasibility study and are starting to digest that a little bit,” FSU’s Senior Associate Athletics Director for Governance and Compliance Jim Curry told the Tallahassee DemocratFSU football coach Willie Taggart made it very clear Wednesday morning during ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island that he wants a new stand-alone football facility. Taggart referred to a renovated Moore Center as a Band-Aid to reporters, and made his case for the new facility during the interview.

Happy birthday to a slew of Florida politicos, including Rep. Mike Miller, future St. Pete City Councilmember Robert BlackmonBrooke Bustle of Florida Tax Watch, Ana CeballosTrevor Mask, and Michael Wickersheim.

Last Call for 5.17.18 — 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

Note from Washington: The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved a measure to “renew protections for state medical cannabis programs when the current spending budget expires in September.”

That’s according to a news release from The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), which bills itself as “the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S.”

The amendment was introduced by Rep. David Joyce, an Ohio Republican. It prevents the Department of Justice from using any resources to target medical cannabis patients or providers who are in compliance with state laws.

As of April, “30 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida is one of the states.

Selling marijuana is still a federal crime, but an initiative begun under the Obama administration suggested federal prosecutors not pursue people, particularly ‘the seriously ill and their caregivers,’ who distribute and use medical marijuana in compliance with an existing state law.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opposed any form of marijuana legalization, though his boss, President Donald Trump, has indicated sympathy to medical use.

Evening Reads

U.S. has spent $2.8 trillion on terrorism fight, study finds” via Jessica Donat of The Wall Street Journal

Must-do for Florida’s midterm candidates: A stop in Puerto Rico. Or three” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times

Union-funded super PAC set to give Bill Nelson first round of TV ad support” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Ron DeSantis: Sorry Adam Putnam, but Trump is solidly behind me” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Adam Putnam promotes voc-ed, bashes ‘liberal elites’ in new ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

‘Millions of dollars committed’: Patrick Murphy enters new phase of bipartisan bid with David Jolly” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Chris King backs Orange County children’s initiative” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez now faces defamation lawsuit” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

All Children’s Hospital now under federal review” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times

Two years after it swallowed 215M gallons of polluted water, Mosaic sinkhole finally corked” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“As the text reads, ‘The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of Florida.’ If the members of the Florida Greyhound Association disagree with this premise, they are free to vote ‘no’ in November.” — Kate MacFall, Florida State Director of The Humane Society of the United States, on a lawsuit seeking to block a dog-racing ban from the November ballot.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Board of Dentistry will meet at 7:30 a.m., Four Points by Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown, 316 West Tennessee St., Tallahassee.

The Forensic Interview Protocol Task Force, which works on issues related to forensic interviews of children suspected of having suffered abuse, will meet at 9 a.m., Embassy Suites Orlando, 8978 International Dr., Orlando.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is slated to release April unemployment figures at 10 a.m.

Denise Grimsley, a Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, will speak at a luncheon of the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., EVEN Hotel Sarasota-Lakewood Ranch, 6231 Lake Osprey Drive, Sarasota.

The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida will start a conference, continuing through Sunday, at 6:30 p.m., Hippodrome Theatre, 25 S.E. Second Place, Gainesville.

Political commentator and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain will speak during the Orange County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Social hour begins at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7:45 p.m., Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista.

GOP candidates for Governor Putnam and DeSantis are expected to be among the speakers during the Broward County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner. That’s at 7 p.m., Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, 1881 S.E. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale.

Looking Ahead

The Villages Democratic Club will hold a forum for candidates for governor, with King, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum expected to take part. That’s at 10 a.m. Saturday, Savannah Center, 1575 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages.

Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, will speak during the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday. Reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 North 50th St., Tampa.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.17.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Good Thursday morning. Here is the latest from Adams Street:

First quarter reports are in for Florida’s lobby firms, and Ballard Partners again topped the list after reeling in as much as $6.3 million in compensation between its legislative and executive lobbying clients during the first three months of the year.

Ballard, which topped all firms in 2017 compensation, was one of governmental affairs firms reporting at least $1 million in lobbying compensation for the January through March reporting period, which included the whole of the 2018 Legislative Session. Those top-6 firms are the same, and in the same order, as the top-earners list for 2017.

Florida lobbyists report their pay in ranges for each client, except those that pay more than $50,000 a quarter. The top-end of those ranges show Brian Ballard and the 19 other lobbyists at the Park Avenue firm took in nearly $3.4 million for legislative work and $2.9 million on the executive side.

Second on the list was Southern Strategy Group, which pulled in as much as $5.3 million in earnings from its 200-plus principals – the longest client sheet of the $1 million-per-quarter club.

Capital City Consulting shows up in the No. 3 spot with earnings of as much as $3.85 million, while Ron Book’s three-person operation showed top-end earnings of $3.4 million. That includes a whopping 10 range-busting clients on the legislative side, four of which paid into the six-figures for representation.

Also in the million dollar club is No. 5 firm Greenberg Traurig, which brought in $1.66 million for its efforts before the Legislature and $1.17 million pushing policy in front of the Governor and Cabinet. GrayRobinson rounded out the list with as much as $2.45 million in earnings for the quarter, with $1.65 million of that sum coming in from its legislative clients.

First on #FlaPol – Former state Rep. Marti Coley Eubanks has joined the lobbying-consulting team at PinPoint Results, the firm announced.

Coley Eubanks had been governmental relations director for Nemours Children’s Health System Florida.

“Marti is an awesome addition to our team,” said Robert Beck, partner of PinPoint Results, in a statement. Her “character, professionalism, work ethic and experience are top tier. She will be an integral member of our PinPoint team.”

Added Coley Eubanks: “I look forward to being a part of the PinPoint Results team and working together to achieve our client’s goals and priorities through a committed team of professionals.”

She served 2005-14 in the Florida House, rising to Speaker Pro Tempore in her final two years in the Legislature.

Coley Eubanks was widowed after the March 2005 death of her husband, the late Rep. David Coley, whose place she took in the House after a special election. She is now married to Bennett Eubanks, whose company owns filling stations in north Florida.

“During her legislative service, Coley Eubanks was known for her untiring advocacy for education, children’s issues, cancer research and economic development initiatives,” the firm’s press release said.

She began as an English teacher, teaching on the middle school, high school and college levels, and worked at Chipola College in Marianna for more than 20 years.  


@SenBillNelson: There are still 1.3 million vehicles with deadly Takata airbags on Florida roads today. That’s unacceptable. And that’s what I told the president’s nominee to lead the agency in charge of this massive recall earlier today.

@CarlosCurbelo: Why are so many self-proclaimed House conservatives working so hard to block an #immigration debate on the House Floor which would include consideration of the bill they support and @realDonaldTrump’s pillars proposal? What do they fear?

–@MDixon55: Want to run against Scott? Bring your checkbook. And your friend’s checkbook. And their friend’s checkbook. And the checkbook of the guy you just met.

–@Publix: As one of the largest employers in the state of Florida, and with the majority of our stores and our corporate headquarters located here as well, we have a significant interest in our home state. As the hometown candidate, Publix has supported Commissioner Putnam since he ran for the state House of Representatives.

@ChrisKingFL: Florida’s next Governor can’t be afraid of taking bold stances on tough issues. It’s Yanny.

@Fineout: Ok @BascomLLC folks you got me. Was totally unaware that there is a Florida Agricultural Crimes Intelligence Unit

@Fineout: .@PamBondi also on Wednesday hinted that she will soon reveal plans for her future. “I’ll be announcing my decision very soon,” said Bondi. It won’t be another election: “I’ve always said I’m not going to run for office again.”

@TravisJHutson: I had the pleasure to sit on Health Policy with Chair @DanaYoungFL. She was an instrumental part of leading the charge against the opioid crisis.


Deadpool 2 release — 1; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 8; Memorial Day — 11; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 23; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 25; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 26; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 28; Father’s Day — 31; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 36; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 42; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 52; MLB All-Star Game — 61; Deadline for filing claim bills — 76; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 76; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 77; Start of the U.S. Open — 102; Primary Election Day — 103; College Football opening weekend — 105; NFL season starts — 112; Future of Florida Forum — 132; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 159; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 160; General Election Day — 173; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 273; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 292.


John Morgan on Richard Corcoran: Don’t go to your own ‘ass kicking’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Orlando attorney Morgan told reporters Wednesday that he supported the decision of his friend, outgoing House Speaker Corcoran, to end his bid for the Governor’s Office before it even formally started. Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, last week endorsed Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam, currently term-limited as Commissioner of Agriculture … “I told him it’s all about money,” Morgan said in Tallahassee, before a trial in his lawsuit over the state’s medical marijuana smoking ban. “The question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up .. If I knew I was gonna get beat, I wouldn’t like to go to my own ass kicking.”


Rick Scott rolls out new Spanish language campaign ad, spends $3.2M on air this week” via Florida Politics — “Cambiar,” a Spanish language ad running in South Florida, spotlights Scott’s efforts in job creation, with citizens extolling his efforts. Among the kind words from various speakers: “Rick Scott has created more opportunities in Florida … There are more jobs in Florida thanks to Rick Scott … As a veteran, I’m very grateful to Rick Scott. He has created jobs and he’s put people back into the labor force, and that’s why I support him.” Scott for Florida has spent $3.2 million on ads this week, and $8 million since the Governor entered the race. This week, Scott has rolled out an ad per day. Click here to view the new Spanish-language ad.

John Morgan says Bill Nelson in  ‘dogfight’ against Scott” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Morgan said Scott has the financial means, work ethic and message to knock Nelson from the seat he has held since 2001. “I think Sen. Nelson is in for a dogfight,” Morgan told reporters at the Leon County Courthouse. “He’s a methodical Eveready bunny — a baldheaded Eveready bunny who just never stops.” But Morgan also believes Scott will be held responsible for the months of delays and faulty regulations in the rollout of the expanded medical marijuana law that took effect about a year ago. Implementation was left up to the Florida Department of Health, which Scott’s office oversees. “You couldn’t f— up this bad unless it’s intentional,” Morgan said, later adding, “You’ve got tens of thousands of people who are willing to pay out of their own pockets to get this medication but they can’t, and you do nothing about it.” “It’s malicious,” said Morgan, who himself toyed with the possibility of running for governor this year but decided against it.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott hosts a roundtable with members of the South Florida Cuban Community in advance of Cuban Independence Day, 9:30 a.m., American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, 1200 Coral Way, Miami.


Gwen Graham disputes ad attacking her, explains pipeline vote” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Graham said she voted for a controversial oil pipeline despised by environmentalists because it was the best option for the environment and protecting Florida from rising sea levels. Graham was asked about her support for the Keystone XL pipeline, designed to move oil from Canada through the U.S. to Gulf Coast oil refineries. It was championed by Republicans, business groups and labor unions, and opposed by most Democrats and environmentalists. “I am an environmentalist. I was born an environmentalist. I will die an environmentalist. I love everything that Florida provides in its natural resources,” she said. She sought to turn the criticism into a plus. “It wasn’t easy, and I knew I would take a political backlash. But you know what? I think you have to have political courage to do what you think is right.”

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King will join longtime children’s welfare advocate and former state Rep. Dick Batchelor to call for the creation of a Children’s Trust for Orange County. News conference begins 10 a.m., Orlando Public Library Cypress Room, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will speak at the Florida Agricultural Crimes Intelligence Unit seminar, 9 a.m. Eastern, Lakeside Inn, 100 Alexander St. in Mount Dora.

Scoop –Frank White puts another $1.25 mil of own money behind A.G. bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – White has boosted his campaign with another $1.25 million in self-funding according to a source close to his campaign. The cash infusion brings White’s cash on hand up to $3.3 million. That total includes $1.5 million he used to bolster his campaign shortly after it launched in October. The move gives White a more than $1.7 million hard-money advantage over his leading rival in the Republican Primary, former circuit court judge Ashley Moody. She had $1.45 million in her campaign account heading into May. … White may be signaling that he plans to hit the airwaves hard … possibly even before the qualifying period begins in mid-June.  … Self-funding spends the same as money raised the hard way – Philip Levine has effectively bought a ticket to the top of the four-way Democratic Primary for governor by dumping millions of his own money into running ads. The same could be said for Gov. Scott in his 2010 campaign. … White could also be treating the massive amount of self-funding as a strategy to spark interest from donors, who so far have been more keen on sending checks to Moody.

Sean Shaw endorsed by three state attorneys” via Florida Politics — The endorsements came in from Dave Aronberg of the 15th Circuit, Jack Campbell of the 2nd Circuit and Andrew Warren of the 13th Circuit. Each cited a different strong point in their statements backing the Tampa Democrat’s bid to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi. “He has a proven track record as a fearless advocate for consumers and a financial watchdog for Florida taxpayers,” said Aronberg, also a former state Senator. Campbell’s endorsement invoked Shaw’s “proven track record” of fighting to keep children safe. Warren added, “Floridians deserve a truly independent watchdog committed to ensuring equal protection under the law, and they will have that when Sean Shaw is elected Attorney General.”

Neil Combee unveils second wave of Polk endorsements — New endorsements for Auburndale Republican Combee in his bid for Florida’s 15th Congressional District include state Senator and former Florida state House Representative J.D. Alexander, former State Attorney Jerry Hill, former Polk County Commissioner and former Mayor of Auburndale Jack Myers, former Polk County Commissioner Jerry Carter, former Lakeland City Commissioner Don Gifford, and former Polk County Commissioner and member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District Paul Senft. These endorsements join a growing list of supporters like state Reps. Ben Albritton, Mike LaRosa and Josie Tomkow, former state Rep. John Wood, Mayor Tim Pospichal of Auburndale, and Mayor Joe LaCascia of Polk City.

Audrey Gibson backs Daphne Campbell over Jason Pizzo in SD 38” via Florida Politics — “Today I formally endorse the campaign of Sen. Daphne Campbell in her re-election bid for the state Senate. As a vocal and caring member, Sen. Campbell has worked tirelessly representing the people of Miami-Dade County with thoughtfulness and high standards. I have worked closely with Sen. Campbell and know that she will continue to be a strong voice for the residents of District 38,” Gibson said in a news release. Gibson’s endorsement comes a little over three months before voters decide whether Campbell, who moved from the House to the Senate in 2016, gets another term in the northeastern Miami-Dade seat. Pizzo, a Miami attorney, has had his name down to challenge Campbell since shortly after her election last cycle. He was the second-place finisher in the six-way primary for the seat two years ago, and around the start of the year he began campaigning in earnest with a message of “building bridges in what is Florida’s most diverse state Senate district.”

Winter Springs Commissioners endorse David Smith for HD 28 — Republican Smith has added endorsements from Winter Springs Commissioners Kevin Cannon and Ken Greenberg in his bid for House District 28, the Seminole County seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Jason Brodeur. Cannon says: “David’s military service, leadership experience, listening skills and temperament will enable him to serve as a very effective Representative for our community in the Florida Legislature.” Greenberg adds: “It’s David’s business experience and conservative values that make him the best person to represent the people of Seminole County. He has without reservation, my full support.” Also running for the seat is Democrat Lee Mangold.

Happening tonight:

Colleen Burton 2018 Campaign Kick-Off 5.17.2018

Save the date — Treasure Island Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters is hosting a South Pasadena wine tasting reception Tuesday, May 22, supporting her bid for Pinellas County Commission District 6. Co-hosts include Pasadena Mayor Max Elson and Commissioner Gail Neidinger. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at Pasadena Liquors & Fine Wines, 1100 Pasadena Ave. S. and South Pasadena. RSVP with or (727) 434-0221.

Save the date — Democratic state Rep. Matt Willhite is hosting a kickoff reception Wednesday, May 30, for his re-election campaign for House District 86. The event begins 5:30 p.m., Beauty and the Beeeef in the Wellington Mall, 10300 Forest Hill Blvd. #239 in Wellington. RSVP with Kay Cook at (571) 235-0318 or


Clerks ‘appreciate’ Scott funding requests, but want permanent fix to gun background check gap” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Nearly 20 percent of mental health records are entered late into a background check database, a delay state law enforcement officials acknowledge could lead to someone with a known mental illness buying a gun. Local court clerks, who are responsible for entering mental health records into the database, say they have staffing shortages. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had asked for $95,000 from DOJ to fund an additional staffer in the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts office, one of the state’s busiest, to focus on this issue, but after being informed of the long-running problem last week, Scott has asked that FDLE boost that request to $1 million. “We appreciate Governor Scott’s acknowledgment and support,” said Franklin County Clerk Marcia Johnson, who is president of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers. “Unfortunately, funding shortages at the state level have led to this request and we are counting on federal dollars to shore up our resources before a tragedy occurs.”

“Rock you like a…”: Gov. Rick Scott attended the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Palm Beach County on Wednesday.

AHCA, health plans huddle over Medicaid challenges” via the News Service of Florida — Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior is meeting with 12 managed-care companies that filed petitions with the state last week, as he tries to dissuade them from legal fights over the state’s decisions to award five-year Medicaid contracts that could be worth up to $90 billion. Mallory McManus, an AHCA spokeswoman, forwarded a schedule that showed Senior, Medicaid director Beth Kidder and three other staff members expected to meet with three companies: Aetna Better Health, which is challenging the state’s decisions in eight Medicaid regions; Magellan, which is challenging decisions statewide; and Prestige Health Choice, a plan that is partially owned by insurance company Florida Blue and is challenging decisions in nine Medicaid regions.

More cities to join challenge to gun-law penalties” via the News Service of Florida — An additional 10 municipalities have joined a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law that imposes strict penalties on local governments and officials who violate a restriction on regulating guns and ammunition. The lawsuit was filed last month in Leon County circuit court by 10 South Florida communities and numerous local officials, and an amended complaint was filed that added 10 municipalities and more officials. The additions were Boca Raton, Surfside, Tallahassee, North Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, St. Petersburg, Maitland and Key Biscayne. The case is rooted in a decades-old law that gives the state power to regulate firearms and ammunition and “pre-empts” the ability of local governments to approve such regulations. In 2011, the Legislature approved stiff penalties for local governments and officials who violate the state pre-emption law, including potential removal from office and fines.

Smoke ’em? Judge will decide on puffing medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – It’s now up to a Tallahassee judge whether the Legislature overstepped when it outlawed the smoking of medical marijuana. Attorneys for the state and patients who want to smoke the drug squared off in a Leon County courtroom Wednesday before Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. She didn’t immediately rule after the close of evidence, but could issue a decision as early as tonight, if previous experience holds. The issue was whether lawmakers’ ban on smoking runs counter to the constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis, spearheaded by Orlando attorney and entrepreneur John Morgan, that was approved by voters statewide in 2016. The highlight was plaintiff Cathy Jordan, a Manatee County woman who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, uses a wheelchair and struggles to speak. She testified she’s been smoking marijuana since the late 1980s: “I figured, ‘what the heck, what’s it gonna do, kill me?’ “

Surterra Wellness setting up shop in Largo” via Florida Politics — The new venue, located at 10761 Ulmerton Road, is the company’s third in the Tampa Bay region and eighth in the Sunshine State. Other locations include Miami Beach, Orlando, Deltona, Pensacola and Tallahassee, with a Jacksonville location on the horizon. Surterra’s launching the new “Wellness Center” with a grand opening event, set to run from 10 a.m. to noon, where locals can stop by and have their questions on medical marijuana or Surterra’s product line answered, or to simply mingle with other attendees. Directions to the Largo MMTC are available on the Surterra website, as is an offer for new customers to receive $50 off their first purchase if they’re a registered medical marijuana patient.

First on #FlaPol –Aramis Ayala will seek non-monetary bail in nonviolent, low-risk crime cases” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Ayala contends that the state’s law on bail is not being followed. The result, she said, is too many people who are not flight risks or threats to the public are sitting in jails awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to post bail. “We want to make certain we are not perpetuating a debtor’s prison,” she told Florida Politics. Her new policy, which she said she will initiate on June 1, would have her office seek recognizance releases for residents of Orange or Osceola counties who are arrested for a list of nonviolent offenses including possession of small amounts of cannabis, driving while license suspended, disorderly conduct, and loitering, provided there is no reason to presume the suspects are flight risks. Further, the new policy would seek pretrial releases without monetary bail for local residents arrested for most other nonviolent offenses, presuming there is no reason to think of them as flight risks.

Assignment editors — Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce will deliver the keynote address at the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce 70th Annual Dinner, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Dr. in Naples. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., Wilson will speak at 7:30 p.m.


School districts across the Sunshine State are being watched as they weigh decisions for the next year against the backdrop of the massacre in Parkland. 

In Brevard, Caroline Glenn of Florida Today reports, Superintendent Desmond Blackburn announced his resignation Monday, which some speculate could be tied to his involvement in developing the PROMISE program, a Broward County diversion initiative under scrutiny after revelations that the confessed Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz had been assigned to it. 

But in a follow-up story, Glenn writes that Blackburn has since denied those rumors. 

‘Not true at all’: Blackburn said the rumors were false, pointing to his next job as CEO at national California-based education nonprofit New Teacher Center, which he said contacted him for the position in December during a national search. 

What’s more: To replace Blackburn, Glenn writes, the Brevard County School District “is leaning toward hiring an internal candidate,” rather than conducting a national search. 

Meanwhile: Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene was named as a finalist for the Duval County Superintendent post, according to Samantha Putterman of the Bradenton Herald. 


Donald Trump’s statements get scrutiny in DACA appeal” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO Florida — Disparaging remarks Trump made about Latinos and Mexicans surfaced at a key appeals court hearing on the Trump administration’s bid to end the program protecting so-called DREAMers — immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. As a three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel considered whether to lift an injunction ordering the federal government to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Judge John Owens repeatedly raised the question of whether racial bias played a part in the Trump administration’s decision to wind down DACA. Owens formulated his questions in constitutional terms, asking about “equal protection” claims, but a lawyer for DACA recipients jumped at the chance to talk about Trump’s inflammatory statements. “The president both before and after he took office referred to individuals from the very countries they’re coming from as drug dealers, as druggies, as criminals, as bad individuals,” said Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel.

Robert Mueller sends subpoenas to consultant for Roger Stone super PAC” via Darren Samuelsohn of POLITICO — Special counsel Mueller has issued a pair of subpoenas to a social media consultant who worked on Stone‘s pro-Trump super PAC during the 2016 presidential campaign. An attorney for Jason Sullivan, a Republican consultant based in Southern California, confirmed that his client received the subpoenas in recent days for both documents and his testimony before the Mueller-charged grand jury in Washington. Sullivan said in an interview that he worked for Stone’s Committee to Restore America’s Greatness during the final four months of the 2016 White House race, assisting the pro-Trump group with social media strategy namely around Twitter … Stone’s super PAC reported making two payments of $1,500 payments to Sullivan in July and August 2016. “All I can say is no collusion,” Sullivan said. He added that he did not know Stone before working on his super PAC. Sullivan’s social media company, Cyphoon, is also listed in FEC records as working for two unsuccessful House GOP congressional candidates in Texas during the 2018 midterm cycle.

John Rutherford named to House Appropriations Committee” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican who chairs the committee, announced that Rutherford was coming on board. Rutherford replaces former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania who resigned his seat at the end of last week. “We are in the midst of a very aggressive and busy appropriations season. With the retirement of one of our great Subcommittee Chairmen, Charlie Dent, we needed to bring a new member on board, and have made additional changes in Subcommittee leadership as well,” Frelinghuysen said. “We welcome Rep. John Rutherford to the Committee, and I look forward to working closely with him over the next weeks and months to complete all 12 Appropriations bills in the House, and to fulfill our fiscal commitments to the country and the American people.”

Brian Mast named to House Veterans Affairs Committee” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to serve our veterans on the Veterans Affairs Committee,” Mast said in a statement. “Our first-of-its-kind office in the West Palm Beach VA has resulted in more than 100 new cases that we’re taking a look at to help veterans in our community and being on this committee will give me an even better platform to advocate for my fellow veterans.” Mast didn’t deny the rumors last week, saying only “it is an honor to be considered to serve my fellow veterans and their families at the highest possible level.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to Trump administration: Bring home Americans held by Iran” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ros-Lehtinen called to secure the release of five American hostages held by Iran, following the release last week of hostages held by North Korea. Ros-Lehtinen made the plea in a speech on the House floor, saying the time for talk from the administration is over. All five captives were detained or imprisoned before Trump’s election. But Ros-Lehtinen says their release still deserves the president’s attention. “The White House has said this is a priority, to release all unjustly detained persons in Iran,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “President Trump spoke about how this would not happen if he were president. So it is time for President Trump to make that a reality.”

Joe Gruters quizzed about train safety as he seeks appointment to Amtrak board” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Gruters and two other individuals nominated by Trump for transportation-related appointments were questioned by members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation in Washington. Safety is a pressing issue for the train service after a series of recent crashes. Gruters pledged in his opening statement that “safety will be my top priority.” Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, recounted the “horrific” Amtrak train derailment last year that killed three people during a trip from Seattle to Portland. Cantwell asked Gruters to help ensure Amtrak has a system called “positive train control” in place by the end of the year. The PTC technology can slow trains automatically. “PTC is an important technology,” Gruters said. “I think it’s the most important issue facing Amtrak and it needs to be the baseline, needs to be the standard.”


John Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves” via the Tampa Bay Times — The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of students. It was a cynical and senseless plan that gave the appearance of action by the Legislature while, in reality, dumping all the responsibility on school districts and law enforcement agencies. And that’s why it’s looking so chaotic on the local level today. Officials are forced to choose between taking cops off the streets and resources out of the classroom, or else risk accusations of not doing enough to protect students. Meanwhile, lawmakers are nowhere to be found. It’s a sweet gig if you don’t mind living without a conscience.


Ron Book tends to get his way in Miami-Dade, but this time it’s a no” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade commissioners unanimously rejected county Book‘s request for a waiver to represent pet stores that had pushed state lawmakers to block local regulations of puppy sales. The 12-0 vote represented a rare rejection for Book before the commission, which has consistently waived term-limit and residency requirements to allow the powerful lobbyist to remain the volunteer head of the county’s homeless board. Near the end of the 2018 legislative session, he requested a waiver for him and two lobbyists to represent a group tied to the Petland pet-store chain while also being paid by Miami-Dade County. The waiver came as Petland sought state legislation that would have blocked local governments like Miami-Dade from regulating puppy sales, pursuing the kind of pre-emption of county lawmaking that Miami-Dade commissioners routinely fume about when discussing Tallahassee.

Humana makes changes in capitol” via the News Service of Florida — Humana and Jon Bussey, who served as its regional director of corporate affairs, have parted ways. Humana Director of Corporate Communications Mark Mathis confirmed the separation, saying the company made a decision last year to “restructure our Tallahassee government affairs team to align with new business strategies.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Bussey was the health insurance company’s principal representative before state executive, legislative and regulatory bodies, including departments of insurance as well as state health and Medicaid agencies, in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina. In the profile, he said he was responsible for providing strategic support on policy, political, public-sector procurement and regulatory matters, including commercial, long-term-care, Medicaid and Medicare and specialty insurance products.


Some say Uber is in a rut, but its new CEO is still — quite literally — aiming for the skies. 

In a recent Verge story, writer Andrew J. Hawkins catches up with Dara Khosrowshahi, the 48-year-old former CEO of Expedia who replaced the ridesharing company’s ousted CEO Travis Kalanick last year. 

“Khosrowshahi has focused on two things: apologizing for the sins of his predecessor .. and making a series of deals to grow Uber beyond app-based ride-hailing.” Those “deals” include plans for Uber to manage an airborne fleet as early as 2023. 

Pilot: Early tests should be running by 2020. “We’re building a road map to mass adoption … this hopefully is not just going to be a product for the rich or the ridiculously rich, but this is actually going to be a product that’s going to be available to a significant number of urbanites …” 

Money?: Uber lost $4.5 billion in 2017. But large companies and startups are the ones fueling airborne innovation. “We are not a company that owns our cars. Our driver partners own the cars. So we don’t expect to be using capital to manufacture these vehicles.” 

Risk: Aviation, according to Khosrowshahi, is one of the safest modes of transportation. “We’re hoping to develop this product and move it to scale at faster development cycles than aviation is used to. But we don’t want to make a trade-off in safety. We are working with authorities who understand safety in the aviation field in a way that no other transportation mechanism does.”

— ALOE —

It’s invasive and filled with bugs. It’s also pretty, and now Key West’s official tree” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — The new official tree of Key West: The Royal Poinciana, known for its fiery orange-red blooms that dapple across the island this time of year with their wide-spreading branches. The Royal Poinciana has its problems and its detractors, but it also has a strong fan base in Key West, where locals and tourists enjoy its beauty. “My parents loved this tree. My grandparents loved this tree,” said Mayor Craig Cates, who presented the item to the City Commission. “The whole idea is to preserve the tree and encourage people to replant this tree.” A couple of residents turned out at the meeting to argue against making the Royal Poinciana an ambassador of Key West. “You prune these trees and unlike most trees, they are prone to get termites right where you prune them,” said Robert Herndon, who opposed bestowing the tree with the honor.

Netflix’s next act: Feeding the service with its own movies” via Lisa Richwine of Reuters — The streaming service is on track to release at least 86 Netflix original films in 2018, the company told Reuters. That exceeds the scheduled output of the top four traditional studios combined, as well as Netflix’s previous record of 61 films last year. The aggressive strategy is aimed in part at addressing complaints that the service’s movie library is stale, an issue likely to be exacerbated by Walt Disney Co’s decision to stop supplying Netflix with new films for its U.S. customers in 2019. Buying movies from other studios also has become more expensive as streaming competition has intensified. Having more of its own films is paying off, Netflix said. The company told Reuters that the 33 Netflix films released so far this year have been watched more than 300 million times by more than 80 million account holders worldwide. That’s an average audience of more than 9 million viewers per film.

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. The park will rotate beer offerings throughout the summer starting off with SeaWorld’s very own Mako Red Ale. Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling and more will also be featured throughout the summer. Busch Gardens, which is owned by the same parent company, announced last month that it would offer free beer May 1 through Aug. 5 in the Tampa theme park.

Whole Foods shoppers in Florida first to get Amazon Prime discounts” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — While Amazon — which owns Whole Foods — plans to unroll the Prime discounts across the country by the summer, Tampa Bay and the rest of Florida can get 10 percent off sale items and exclusive deals starting today. Deals lasting until May 22 include 40 percent of one-pound packages of strawberries, $10 off per pound of Halibut steaks and buy-one-get-one sparkling water. To get the Whole Foods discounts, Amazon Prime members can download the Whole Foods app to show at the register or give the cashier their phone number.

Happy birthday to lobbyist turned state House candidate Karen Skyers.

Last Call for 5.16.18 – 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

Supporters of the proposed ban on greyhound racing have landed a top dog: Republican political consultant and lobbyist Marc Reichelderfer has joined the team.

Reichelderfer, president of Landmarc Strategies, will serve as a Senior Advisor to the “Protect Dogs–Yes on 13” campaign, the organization announced Wednesday.

He’s worked for a bevy of Florida lawmakers, including former Sen. and now FSU president John Thrasher and Sen. Aaron Bean, to name two. And he was the “resident guru” on Attorney General Pam Bondi’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Bondi, a member of the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, supports Amendment 13, which would outlaw the racing of dogs and wagering on such races. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

“There are few big races that this guy is not somehow a part of,” SaintPetersblog once wrote of Reichelderfer.

“This is long overdue,” Reichelderfer said in a statement. “We have seen overwhelming support from voters wanting to end dog racing. I’ve been a part of the effort to protect greyhounds in Florida for nearly 20 years. It’s exciting to be a part of this winning campaign.”

The campaign also announced it had chosen Deno Seder Productions of Maryland for its “media production, strategic counsel, and messaging.” The firm has worked on successful animal welfare campaigns and ballot measures in 11 states, including a 2008 initiative that outlawed greyhound racing in Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, the campaign said it had hired the firm of Trippi Norton Rossmeissl. The Democratic-aligned team worked on Doug Jones’ U.S. Senate victory in Alabama, the “first Democrat to win the U.S. Senate in Alabama in 25 years,” the group noted.

Evening Reads

Russia meddled with goal of helping Donald Trump, Senate Intel Committee says” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Top Dem presidential hopefuls audition for 2020” via Edward-Isaac Dovere of POLITICO

John Morgan: ‘If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried’ ” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida

Publix clarifies: We support Adam Putnam, not the NRA” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott earmarks federal Hurricane Irma block grant for housing, infrastructure” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

Scott says he can’t strip ex-Parkland deputy of pension” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Clerks ‘appreciate’ Scott funding request, but want permanent fix to gun background check gap” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Judge hears patients’ challenge to state ban on smoking medical marijuana” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

TECO to be target of criminal probe if this Democrat is elected Attorney General” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

College may not be worth it anymore” via Eileen Shell of the New York Times

Quote of the Day

“Enough is enough. Let’s stop the politics. Let’s let these people live.” — John Morgan, speaking after Wednesday’s trial on his lawsuit to allow the smoking of medical marijuana in Florida.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works to protect and enhance military bases, will meet at 9 a.m., Residence Inn Marriott Tallahassee, 600 West Gaines St., Tallahassee.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will participate in the Manatee Fraternal Order of Police’s Memorial Service. That’s at 9 a.m., First Baptist Church of Bradenton, 1306 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton.

Florida TaxWatch will host the Prudential Productivity Awards program, which honors state workers who reduce government costs and improve services. That’s at 10 a.m., Florida TaxWatch, 106 North Bronough St., Tallahassee.

The Gulf Consortium Board of Directors, which works on issues related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is scheduled to meet in Bay County. That’s at 10 a.m. (Central time), Edgewater Beach Resort Conference Center, 520 Richard Jackson Blvd., Panama City Beach.

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

With the annual hurricane season ready to start June 1, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Advisory Council will meet to discuss issues including claims-paying capacity. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Hermitage Centre, 1801 Hermitage Blvd., Tallahassee. Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525. Code: 7135858151.

A “Governor’s Veterans Service Awards” ceremony will be held in Jackson County. That’s at 2 p.m. Central time, National Guard Armory, 3645 U.S. 90 West, Marianna.

Newly elected Sen. Lori Berman, a Lantana Democrat, will hold an office-opening event. Berman, a longtime House member, was elected in an April 10 special election in Palm Beach County’s Senate District 31. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Children Services Council Building, 2300 High Ridge Road-Suite 161, Boynton Beach.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, will take part in the annual “Motor Officer of the Year” ceremony in Volusia County. That’s at 6 p.m., Duff’s Original Buffet, 2667 North Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach.

Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, will deliver the keynote address during the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce 70th Annual Dinner. The dinner begins at 5:30 p.m.; Wilson is scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. That’s at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Drive, Naples.

Rep. Dane Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican, will discuss the 2018 legislative session during a dinner meeting of the Republican Women of Cape Coral, Federated. That’s at 6 p.m., Personal Touch Banquet & Catering, 1530 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral.


Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.16.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Chris King is making his move.

King, who consistently polls behind at least two of the four other Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the 2018 election, is airing a new 30-second ad Wednesday in television markets peppered across the state.

The ad demonstrates the King campaign’s ability to capitalize on momentum; the spot follows just one day after the candidate unveiled an ambitious, progressive and multi-faceted criminal justice plan — which attracted the attention of some of the state’s largest media outlets.

King’s ad is set to air in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Panama City and West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce television markets.

The ad opens with a waiter asking a politician if he’d like more sugar. The politician responds, “Yes, of course!” And the waiter fills the politician’s cup with an excessive amount of sugar.

Then, in a voiceover, King is heard saying, “It’s the same old politics. Big Sugar buys influence in Tallahassee and pollutes our environment.” When he enters the frame, he says, “I’m Chris King and I won’t take a dime from them.”

The message is intended to highlight King’s sugar-free stance, which he declared almost immediately after entering the race. All of the Democratic candidates have since announced they would not take money affiliated with the sugar industry. Former Congresswoman GwenGraham, however, received $17,400 from what’s been described as ‘big sugar,’ but donated that money to the Indian Riverkeeper and Redlands Christian Migrant Association and pledged to not take any more money from the sugar industry.

The rest of the ad is made up of calls for progressive policies, including the expansion of Medicaid, funding for affordable housing and making community college and public trade school free.

“If you want new leadership and fresh ideas,” King says at the end of the commercial. “I’m ready to fight for you.”


@RealDonaldTrump: Can you believe that with all of the made up, unsourced stories I get from the Fake News Media, together with the $10,000,000 Russian Witch Hunt (there is no Collusion), I now have my best Poll Numbers in a year. Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!

@GwenGraham: Ramadan Mubarak to all of our friends observing the month of #Ramadan across Florida!

@MarcACaputo: After (Gina Haspel) nomination was assured by other Democrats, Nelson pulls a Nelson

@DavidHogg11: Guess I’ll be getting my chocolate chip muffins elsewhere from now on. Common @Publix (re: it’s support of Adam Putnam)

@JThalji: For the last time people there are more #pubsub options than just chicken tenders.

—@PaulMyberg: Nick Saban to @GeorgeSchroeder on UCF’s national title: “I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything. But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it.”

@AdrienneLaF: This is amazing. “The Oxford English Dictionary includes about 150 quotations from [Tom] Wolfe’s writings, and in many cases, he is the earliest known source for words and phrases that have worked their way into the lexicon.”


Deadpool 2 release — 2; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 9; Memorial Day — 12; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 24; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 26; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 27; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 29; Father’s Day — 32; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 37; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 43; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 53; MLB All-Star Game — 62; Deadline for filing claim bills — 77; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 77; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 78; Start of the U.S. Open — 103; Primary Election Day — 104; College Football opening weekend — 106; NFL season starts — 113; Future of Florida Forum — 133; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 160; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 161; General Election Day — 174; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 274; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 293.


Florida sues drug industry for addiction crisis” via John Kennedy of the Gatehouse Capital Bureau — Attorney General Pam Bondi sued opioid manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, claiming the addiction crisis coursing through the state stems from the industry’s “strategic campaign of misrepresentations” about painkilling medication. Officials charge that the drug companies violated consumer protection laws by falsely downplaying the risk of addiction while promoting the benefit of opioid use. Pasco County — where the lawsuit was filed — joined neighboring Pinellas County in 2016 in having the state’s highest number of oxycodone deaths, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Along with Purdue Pharma, other manufacturers named include Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon and Allergan. Opioid distributors sued by Florida are Amerisource Bergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp. and Mallinckrodt LLC.

“We want to send a strong message that this is not right,” Bondi said Tuesday. “We can’t put a monetary value on loss of life.”


Bill Nelson to vote for Donald Trump’s CIA Director pick” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Nelson announced he will vote for Gina Haspel to lead the nation’s foreign intelligence arm … Haspel will likely be confirmed by the U.S. Senate later this week after about a half-dozen Democrats who, like Nelson, are running for reelections in states won by Trump, said they would vote for her. Nelson’s announcement comes after he met one-on-one with Haspel on Tuesday. The former deputy CIA director’s nomination has come under scrutiny from some Republicans and Democrats over her connections to torture while she worked overseas during the George W. Bush administration. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Nelson’s likely opponent in November, called on Nelson to divulge his stance on Haspel last week and criticized Nelson for “slow walking” her nomination.

Gina Haspel gets the reluctant nod from Bill Nelson.

Nelson files financial disclosure as Scott waits until late July” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Nelson, who earns $174,000 as a senator, draws a state pension from his time in the Legislature and as a state treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal, a post he was elected to in 1994. He reported property valued between $1 million and $5 million in Brevard County (where he draws an agriculture exemption) as well as another undeveloped plot worth up to $500,000. In 2017, Nelson sold a number of IRA holdings and purchased mutual funds. According to a 2015 report from, Nelson had a minimum net worth of $1.3 million and a maximum of $6 million.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will visit two Jewish day schools to highlight the $2 million for security funding in the state budget. The News conferences are 10:45 a.m., Torah Academy of Boca Raton, 3881 NW 3rd Ave., Boca Raton, and 4 p.m., Chabad Naples Jewish Community Center, 1789 Mandarin Road, Naples.


AP, Fox News launch new exit polling project” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — AP VoteCast will combine traditional, probability-based polling with an online, opt-in survey of voters in targeted states. It will measure the preferences and opinions of those who have or will cast ballots in this year’s midterms, and also non-voters about why they chose not to turn out. The project is being launched in conjunction with Fox News — with both news organizations abandoning the embattled model of in-person exit polling that has dominated election nights for decades. “It’s sort of been a constant search to get the right approach and the right methodology to get the best results on Election Day,” said David Scott, AP’s m managing editor.

If Mike Pence wants to keep Trump out of Fla. gov. primary, he should show him this story” via Florida Politics — Vice President Pence is reportedly putting his thumb on the scale for Putman over Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary for Florida governor. There is an easy way to do it … simply show Trump this POLITICO Florida story — “DeSantis rented condo owned by campaign donor after redistricting.” Once redistricting moved DeSantis out of his old district — and after a failed 2016 bid for U.S. Senate — he needed quick action for his re-election bid to Florida’s 6th Congressional District, a seat DeSantis held since 2012. As Matt Dixon notes: “DeSantis decided to move into a Flagler County condo whose owners include Kent Stermon and Matt Connell, both executives at Total Military Management … a third-party relocation service for U.S. military personnel.” Total Military Management is a longtime registered congressional lobbyist for defense-industry issues. Federal records show Sterman and Connell, along with a super PAC associated with the company, gave DeSantis’ campaign almost $60,000 for his congressional campaign.

If Mike Pence wants Donald Trump to cool on Ron DeSantis, it’s easy to do.

Hispanic group kicks off voter registration campaign in Florida” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — In Venezuela, Samuel Vilchez Santiago’s parents were political activists prosecuted by the government in part for their work registering voters. Santiago was at Ana G. Mendez University for the kickoff of UnidosUS’s “Power of 18” nonpartisan voter registration drive, aimed at registering 50,000 new voters in Florida by October and 100,000 nationwide. UnidosUS … is the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the nation and has previously conducted registration drives out of its Orlando and South Florida offices in 2016. This year, though, the focus is on young would-be voters, with about 880,000 Hispanic U.S. citizens turning 18 every year, according to UnidosUS. By 2024, that number will be 1 million. The thousands of evacuees from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria … have also increased the number of eligible voters in Florida. Puerto Ricans, as U.S. citizens, can register to vote immediately.

Chris King says his ‘bold and progressive’ plan as governor now includes abolishing the death penalty and legalizing recreational marijuana” via Mitch Perry of WMNF — Labeling it as “incredibly bold,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate King unveiled a criminal reform package on Tuesday that included a call to end the death penalty and full support for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Florida. The boldest issue that King is taking on is his call to eliminate the death penalty, which historically Florida voters have supported, though recent polls indicate that stance is changing, at least in more urban areas. “I recognize that this is probably not the politically smart thing to do,” he admitted. King is also now also calling for the legalization of marijuana, a policy change from a month ago, when he essentially punted the issue when it was discussed during a gubernatorial debate in Tampa … As is the case with his argument in abolishing the death penalty, King noted the disproportionate rates of people of color who get cited for smoking pot vs. whites.

Tide’s a-rolling: Democratic candidate for Governor Chris King kicked off his statewide “Turning the Tide” tour in St. Petersburg by laying out his policies, including reform of Florida’s criminal justice system. Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw also attended.

Assignment editors — King takes his “Turning the Tide” tour on criminal justice reform to Brevard County. At 7:30 p.m., King will be at the Viera Government Center Building C, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Melbourne.

Personnel note: Meredith Beatrice joins Putnam campaign as communications director — The former spokeswoman for the Constitution Revision Commission will next handle communications for Republican Putnam’s campaign for Governor. “He’s one of Florida’s great leaders and I’m excited to join the team,” Beatrice told Florida Politics. She starts Monday. Amanda Bevis retains her role as senior communications and policy adviser. “We’re proud to continue building our team with strong professionals who know Florida and we’re glad to have found the right person,” she said. Beatrice previously was a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner before joining the CRC. She got her start in politics as an intern for GOP U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Assignment editors: Putnam continues his ‘Florida Jobs First’ tour. At 3 p.m., he’ll be at VOXX Automotive, 2351 J Lawson Blvd., Orlando.

Assignment editors: Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will speak at the Walton Republican Women Federated Luncheon. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Cantina Laredo, 585 Grand Blvd., Miramar Beach.

TaxWatch stumps for property-tax cap on November ballot” via Florida Politics — Asked for a 30-second ‘elevator speech’ on why voters should choose ‘yes’ for Amendment 2 in November, Florida TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro didn’t blink. “If you don’t vote ‘yes,’ either you or your neighbors will see massive tax increases and great deal of property tax dissatisfaction … anger even, if we see property taxes jump by 20 percent,” he said Tuesday, at a news conference in Tallahassee. The proposed constitutional amendment by the Legislature would cap property tax hikes at 10 percent on properties that don’t have a homestead exemption, such as vacation homes, apartment complexes and undeveloped lots. “If approved, the amendment removes the scheduled repeal of such provisions in 2019 and shall take effect Jan. 1, 2019,” according to the ballot summary. Voters passed a non-homestead 10 percent tax cap in 2008.

New ad targets Brian Mast’s vote to repeal Obamacare” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad by liberal advocacy group “Floridians for a Fair Shake” has taken aim at Republican U.S. Rep. Mast and his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The ad, titled “Richest,” focuses on the effect the repeal would have had on older Americans, allowing them to be charged up to five times more for health insurance than other age brackets … “Congressman Mast talks a good game on health care, but his voting record belies his words,” said Bill Sauers, an advisory committee member of Floridians for a Fair Shake. “We’re exposing his real record — that he’s collecting obscene amounts of cash from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and in exchange, they get to gouge aging Floridians.”

Click on the image below to watch the ad:

NRCC, DCCC exchange shots in South Florida congressional race” via the Sunshine State News — Carlos Curbelo is now running for a third term and the Democrats have their eyes on taking him down. While he does face a primary from retired Navy officer Demetries GrimesDebbie Mucarsel-Powell, who ran for the state Senate two years ago, is the favorite in the Democratic primary. That being the case, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) took aim at Mucarsel-Powell at the end of last week. The NRCC featured an article from The New York Times on how a group of Democrat donors in New York was bundling campaign donations to candidates in close races. Curbelo, who faces a primary challenge from teacher Souraya Faas, drew fire from the Democrats … The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) noted that Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, who is running for the U.S. Senate, asked to be removed from Curbelo’s immigration reform bill to help DREAMers. Despite that, Curbelo’s PAC is backing McSally in her Senate race.

— “South Florida congressmen endorse Tina Polsky in HD 81 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Polk Democrat Robert Doyel gets the unthinkable: party support” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Former Circuit Judge Doyel, a Winter Haven Democrat and candidate for Senate District 22, is receiving what no other Polk County Democrat has received in more than two decades: support from his state party. No Democrat from Polk County — the historic home of three Democratic governors and four U.S. Senators along with one speaker of the House and three Senate presidents in the 20th century — has served in either chamber of the Florida Legislature since 2000. This year, Doyel is receiving support and the party has marked his race against incumbent state Sen. Kelli Stargel as viable. He noted he had his campaign up and running several weeks before state party interest. Doyel has support from the state party, the Florida Senate campaign committee, and several noted consultants.

Robert Doyel is the first Polk Democratic candidate in two decades to get state Party backing.

Bernie Fensterwald withdraws from Senate race” via the Tampa Bay Reporter — Fensterwald explained his decision in a statement: “Approximately 10 months ago, I undertook a quixotic journey to become the next Florida State Senator from District 16. I believed that I had a narrow path to victory over Ed Hooper in November and I was gaining traction … Over much of this time, I heard rumors that certain anonymous, well-funded establishment Democrats sought an alternate candidate who they felt had a better chance of victory than I. Last Wednesday [May 9], those rumors became reality. After consulting with family, friends and supporters, I have concluded that I no longer have any discernible path to victory.” Fensterwald’s departure from the race leaves Democrat Amanda Murphy and Republicans Hooper and Leo Karruli in contention.

It’s abundantly clear who is supporting Carrie Pilon’s SD 24 bid” via Florida Politics — A deep-dive into her campaign finance report reveals that most of Pilon’s support is coming from one specific constituency — trial lawyers. For its first reported month, Pilon’s campaign touted raising $104,433 between the campaign account and an associated committee, Moving Pinellas Florida. Not mentioned … of the $54,433 raised by the campaign, over 70 percent of that was directly from trial attorneys and associated organizations. And Moving Pinellas Forward received just a single $50,000 contribution — from “Florida for All, Inc.,” a well-known pass-through for trial attorneys and out-of-state Democratic activists. Another clue to who is the source of her support is on the invite for the campaign kickoff event; the host committee is a large group of current and former attorneys.

—“Manny Diaz campaign crosses $500K mark in contributions” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Local mayors stand with Jason Pizzo for SD 38 — Pizzo, a former prosecutor running in the Miami-Dade area Senate District 38, announced the endorsements of several local mayors: Enid Weisman of Aventura; Bal Harbour Assistant Mayor Seth Salver; Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Stephanie Bruder and Vice Mayor Joshua FullerMac Glinn of Miami Shores; Beth Spiegel of North Miami Beach; Surfside Mayor Daniel Dietch and Vice Mayor Daniel Gielchinsky; former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. “It’s time we have fresh leadership in Tallahassee fighting for our community, instead of their self-serving interests,” Pizzo said in a statement. “As we grow our coalition of support, I’m thankful to have the support of area mayors who recognize a need for a new direction, and I look forward to continuing our service to the people of Miami-Dade County.” Pizzo faces incumbent State Sen. Daphne Campbell in the Democratic primary.

Happening tonight:

Light fundraising month for Orange County’s unopposed House incumbents” via Florida Politics — Contributions were sparse in April for five Central Florida lawmakers who are still unopposed in their re-election 2018 bids — Democratic state Reps. Bruce AntoneKamia BrownJohn CortesAmy Mercado and Carlos Guillermo Smith. Of the five, Brown posted the best report last month. She showed $5,485 in contributions, which brings her to-date fundraising total past the $20,000 mark as she goes for a second term in Orange County-based House District 45. Behind Brown were Mercado and Smith, who represent neighboring Orange County-based districts.

—“David Smith maintains tenfold lead in HD 28 race” via Orlando Rising

—“Tracey Kagan tops HD 29 Democratic field with first finance report” via Florida Politics

—“Bob Cortes cracks $100K raised for HD 30 re-election” via Florida Politics

Save the date — Republican Nick DiCeglie hosts a fundraising reception Wednesday, May 30, in his bid for House District 66. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 111 Central Ave.

Ray Rodrigues draws second Democratic foe” via the News Service of Florida — House Majority Leader Rodrigues of Estero faces a second Democratic opponent as he runs for a final term in the Florida House. Fort Myers Democrat David Benjamin Bogner opened a campaign account in Lee County’s House District 76, according to the state Division of Elections website. Bogner joined Fort Myers Democrat Neilson Cross Ayers, who opened an account last week.

Parkland parents who lost kids are running for school board” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Ryan Petty, a telecom and technology entrepreneur, said he wants to help restore the Broward County School Board to its proper function as an oversight body for the administration, saying he thinks that has been lost. He is running for an at-large seat on the board, while Lori Alhadeff is running in the district that includes the city of Parkland, where Stoneman Douglas is located. “We’ve dedicated ourselves to change a system that would allow somebody like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks,” said Petty, referring to the 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student whom police have identified as the shooter. Petty’s daughter Alaina and Alhadeff’s daughter Alyssa were two of 14 students and three school officials killed.


Assignment editors: Attorney General Bondi will present the 2017 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in Tallahassee. That’s at 10 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room, The Capitol.

A decade after scandal, Ray Sansom plots comeback” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — It has been nearly a decade since former Florida House Speaker Sansom resigned amid allegations that he misused his office to steer tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to a friend and a local college. Sansom, 55, relinquished his power as speaker, a step believed to be without precedent in state history. He stepped down in 2009 and returned to the Panhandle after a scandal that derailed the House for two years. Now the only legislative leader in modern times to resign from office is planning a possible comeback thanks to an antiquated system in which most county school superintendents in Florida are chosen by voters. Sansom confirmed he may run for Okaloosa County school superintendent in 2020. He said he will make a decision several months from now.

The return of Ray Sansom.

Nursing home records dispute ratchets up” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — An embattled Broward County nursing home has accused the Florida Department of Health of not properly complying with a judge’s order to turn over public records. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled to hold a hearing on arguments by attorneys for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills that the department should be held in contempt in the records dispute … The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has faced months of scrutiny and a state move to revoke its license after residents died following Hurricane Irma. The Sept. 10 storm knocked out the nursing home’s air-conditioning system, creating sweltering conditions that led to the evacuation of residents on Sept. 13. Authorities have attributed 12 deaths to the problems at the nursing home. Court documents have not spelled out why the nursing home wants the death certificates, but Lewis last month said the death certificates are public records and should be provided by the state.

All Children’s never told state about needle left in baby” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital broke Florida law by failing to tell regulators about two serious medical errors, according to a state report. The report … contradicts statements by the hospital last month that it notified the “right regulatory agencies” when mistakes were made by its heart-surgery unit. AHCA also cited the hospital for failing to tell the parents of one patient about an object left in their child after surgery. Last month, the hospital’s CEO, Dr. Jonathan Ellen, told the Times that the Heart Institute had experienced a string of “challenges.” But … he said: “If we found something that went wrong, we would notify our board, we would notify the right regulatory agencies, we would look at our processes.” The hospital later said that leaving a needle smaller than 10 millimeters is allowed under its policies … Under those circumstances, the hospital did not believe it was required to report to AHCA, it said at the time.

Spin ’em: Jacksonville race track appeals slot machine denial” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — In another gambling case that could reach the state Supreme Court, a Jacksonville casino is appealing the state’s ending of its quest for a slot machine license. Jacksonville Kennel Club, which does business as bestbet, filed a notice of appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) turned down its slots application last month. The department regulates gambling through its Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering. Any addition of new slots also is opposed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which pays the state millions each year for the exclusive right to offer slots at its casinos outside South Florida. Moreover, a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November would require the statewide approval of voters before any expansion of gambling — and its backers say the measure would have retroactive effect.

FPL customers to get refund after Matthew charges” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida Power & Light has reached an agreement to refund $27.7 million to customers, in part because of an “over-recovery” of costs following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The agreement, announced between the Juno Beach-based utility and the state Office of Public Counsel, still needs approval from the Florida Public Service Commission, which could sign off next week. The Office of Public Counsel represents consumers in utility issues. FPL said if the deal is approved, a one-time refund would be applied to customer bills. For a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month — a standard benchmark in the utility industry — the credit would amount to $3.18. The refund is tied to $316.5 million that the power company charged customers following the powerful October 2016 storm that ran northward along the East Coast without making landfall in Florida.

Inside Mosaic’s search for corporate real estate in Tampa” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The phosphate giant’s real estate search is in the preliminary stages, and office space across the county is in the running, Ben Pratt, Mosaic’s vice president of corporate public affairs, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “We are considering downtown Tampa as well as our existing office buildings in FishHawk and Highland Oaks,” Pratt wrote. Pratt said the size of Mosaic’s Florida headquarters is to be determined, though it’s rumored in commercial real estate circles to be looking for 30,000 square feet. In Minnesota, Mosaic’s corporate headquarters is in a suburban office park, where 150 employees work in 73,987 square feet … Mosaic isn’t yet saying how many people will work in the Tampa headquarters. At 200 square feet per employee — a rough estimate used by commercial real estate brokers — 150 people would require about 30,000 square feet. In the Tampa Bay region, 30,000 square feet is a sizable office lease.


Republican state Rep. Gayle Harrell recently lost her husband of 53 years.

In a column published in Sunshine State News, writer Nancy Smith, a close friend of Gayle and the late James Harrell, gives readers insight to just how strong the couple’s pairing was.

Backing each other in their individual endeavors, Smith writes the Harrells were always “selflessly, faithfully, tirelessly there.”

Gayle and Dr. James Harrell

Local hero: James Harrell was one of Stuart’s first doctors, “a true local hero in a small community that needed as many as it could get during its developing years.”

Struggle, triumph: Medical problems plagued James Harrell, and he underwent a kidney transplant 16 years ago — “enough time to see his four children grow up and the birth of his eight grandchildren.”

Touching text: Sent from Gayle Harrell to Smith, one text reads, “He was my rock and No. 1 supporter. He used to say that for years I was Dr. Harrell’s wife, but he was so happy to be Rep. Harrell’s husband.


Florida delegation holds hearing on oil drilling” via the News Service of Florida — VISIT FLORIDA President Ken Lawson and Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien, commander of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, are among scheduled panelists for a Florida congressional delegation hearing on drilling off the state’s coasts. Also scheduled to appear during the hearing in Washington are Mark Alderson, executive director of the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program, and Ken Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute. The hearing comes amid continued debate over plans by the Trump administration to allow oil and gas drilling in federal waters off various parts of the country. The issue involves waters beyond the nation’s outer continental shelf — a jurisdictional term describing submerged lands 10.36 statutory miles off Florida’s West Coast and three nautical miles off the East Coast. Thursday’s one-hour hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Marco Rubio files financial disclosure” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — For the second consecutive year, it does not include income from book sales (which Rubio used in part to pay off student loans). Rubio earned at least $1 million for his 2012 memoir “An American Son.” He has several bank accounts and college savings plans, plus a 2015 mortgage between $500,001 and $1 million. His wife earned income from a consulting business, JDR Events, but Rubio was required to show that it was more than $1,000.

Israel honors Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at independence celebration” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ros-Lehtinen was one of 70 Americans honored by Israel, as the country celebrated its 70th year of independence Monday night. South Florida’s Ros-Lehtinen was one honoree at a ceremony at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Accompanying the designation was a video address from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he had high praise for the longtime GOP congresswoman. “I’ve known Ileana for many years. She’s outstanding,” Netanyahu said. “I don’t think Israel has ever had a better defender. I don’t think the truth has had a better defender.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was honored by Israel on the 70th anniversary of independence.

Prosecutors fire back at Corrine Brown on disputed juror” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Prosecutors are asking a federal appeals court to uphold former Congresswoman Brown’s conviction in a charity scam, blasting her arguments that a juror was improperly dismissed because he said the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty. In a 62-page brief filed last week in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prosecutors said a district judge acted properly in replacing the juror with an alternate and disputed that the decision violated the religious rights of the man, identified in court documents as Juror No. 13. “The decision to remove a sitting juror is a significant one that justifiably warrants careful, albeit deferential, review by this (appeals) court,” the document said. “The district court’s decision here handily withstands that review. The court took this issue very seriously and removed the juror only after having carefully considered whether that juror would be able to follow the court’s instructions and decide the case based on the evidence. And the court did so only after having concluded that the juror’s decision — that he had been told by the Holy Spirit, before deliberations had even begun, that Brown was not guilty of all 24 charged crimes — was not based on the juror’s evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence.”

Builders’ plea to Congress: Rebuild Florida’s national parks infrastructure” via Florida Politics — Construction, engineering, and contracting firms urged Congress on Tuesday to begin paying off the $262.2 million maintenance backlog in Florida’s national parks. Organizations including the American Institute of Architects, the Florida Engineering Society, and Florida Transportation Builders signed an open letter marking “Infrastructure Week” — an effort by similar groups and labor unions to promote investment in national construction projects. “Rebuilding and fixing the National Park System will help to employ thousands of American workers, support continued tourism and economic development in hundreds of park gateway communities, and ensure that our national treasures are preserved for generations to come,” the letter says.

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii join Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for a news conference with supporters of the Burn Pits Accountability Act, 10 a.m., House Triangle, U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.


Joe Henderson: Voices of reason needed in gun debate” via Florida Politics — But the National Rifle Association likes to say it represents all law-abiding gun owners by protecting their Second Amendment rights, so it became a bit of a deal when the NRA’s new president, Oliver North, said the organization is facing “civil terrorism” from protesters. “They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said in a recent interview with the Washington Times. “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing. We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.” He’s right. There wasn’t that “kind of thing.” There were lynchings. Just saying … Somewhere, somehow, voices of reason have to emerge in this debate. So, the question I have for you, gun owner, is simply this: How many of you will raise your hand and become that voice?

Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — The Supreme Court reached the correct legal conclusion. The 6-3 opinion found unconstitutional a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling, concluding the federal government had not chosen to regulate it and improperly interfered with the states’ right to regulate it themselves. Fortunately, the timing of the Supreme Court opinion should give Florida some breathing room. The Legislature is not in session, and legislative leaders could not agree on a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe that would have opened the door to a special session. It wouldn’t be politically prudent for state lawmakers to rush to Tallahassee for a special session on sports betting this close to the election. Second, there is an opportunity for Florida voters in November to make clear they want the direct authority to make decisions on casino gambling.


Personnel note: League of Women Voters of Florida announces hires — Stephanie Owens will be the League’s full-time Political Director. Owens most recently served as lobbyist for the League during the 2018 legislative session and the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission proceedings. She held senior official positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Also, Lisa Calleja is coming on as Operations Director. She will oversee the day-to-day operations of the state League office as well as its voter registration and education efforts. Calleja’s career includes ten years with HD Supply Waterworks, a nationwide distribution company.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Megan Fay, Capital City Consulting: MiMedx Group

Marty FiorentinoJoseph MobleyMark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: St. Johns County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller

Kenneth GrangerDean IzzoScott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Qualtrics

Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: The Florida House Experience

Jennifer Kelly: Suwannee River Water Management District


— ALOE —

Crab claws put on pause — Stone crab season closed Tuesday, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. That means yesterday was the last opportunity to harvest those tasty claws — at least until Oct. 15, when the season reopens. Claws will still be available commercially, so long as they were entered into inventory ahead of today’s deadline. According to FWC, the five-month closure coincides with the peak of the species’ spawning season. Stone crab traps must be removed from the water within the next five days.

End of an era for THE PLAYERS Championship in May” via Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press — THE PLAYERS Championship, which has all the trappings of a major except public recognition as one, ended its 12-year run being played in May. Webb Simpson set or tied four records, one of which drained the former swamp of drama the TPC Sawgrass can deliver in any month. The idea behind moving to May was to give golf a big event every month starting with the Masters in April, to have better weather and more daylight, and to present a great chance at firm, fast conditions. This year’s edition was a mystery. Even without any rain, the course was never on the edge. With minimal wind, at least by Florida’s standards, the scores were unusually low. At one point in the final round, Jason Dufner made a birdie to break out of a 10-way tie for third by reaching 12-under par. There were 1,754 birdies for the tournament, breaking by 136 birdies the record from 1996.

Webb Simpson took apart the best field in golf at THE PLAYERS Championship.

New monorail fleet in the works? Disney World denies rumors” via Jim Hayward of the Palm Beach Post — Bob Gurr, an 86-year-old Disney legend who was hired by Walt Disney in the 1950s, appeared to confirm recent rumors during a question-and-answer session at the end of a panel discussion near Orlando on April 28. Later, however, Disney indicated that there are no immediate plans for new trains. The current fleet of 12 monorail trains at Disney World has been in service since 1989. Disney World’s futuristic monorail trains have come under scrutiny after several recent incidents that suggest they may be nearing the end of their lifespan. The resort is in the midst of many large construction projects — including theme park additions, hotel expansions, and the Disney Skyliner, a gondola-based transportation system.

What Marc Caputo is reading — “Twitter is going to limit the visibility of tweets from people behaving badly” via Alex Kantrowitz of BuzzFeed News — Twitter announced a massive change to the way its conversations will work, evaluating not just the content of individual tweets, but the way users behave more broadly on the service. Twitter will now use thousands of behavioral signals when filtering search, replies, and algorithmic recommendations. If it believes you are trying to game its system, or simply acting like a jerk, it will push your tweets lower down. It’s the biggest update so far in the company’s push to create healthier conversations. Among the signals Twitter will use: whether you tweet at large numbers of accounts you don’t follow, how often you’re blocked by people you interact with, whether you created many accounts from a single IP address, and whether your account is closely related to others that have violated its terms of service. The push is meant to get out ahead of problems that might normally result in an abuse report under the existing system.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Bobby Payne, journalist Kate BradshawMatthew Ubben, and Rick Watson.

Last Call for 5.15.18 — 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

Mosaic Fertilizer, the world’s largest phosphate mining company, announced it had won at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming a judgment in its favor.

The plaintiff, Rhonda Williams of Tampa, had sought over $60 million in damages from the company, which also operates in Florida, in a “toxic tort” suit. She lives three miles from Mosaic’s Riverview plant.

“Williams alleged that toxic substances emitted from (the) factory … caused or exacerbated various medical conditions from which she suffers, including pulmonary hypertension, obstructive pulmonary disease, and other lung and non-lung-related conditions,” the opinion explained.

But a trial-court judge wouldn’t allow her expert witness testimony, her “only evidence as to general and specific causation,” and granted Mosaic’s request for a summary judgment, which allows parties to win without a full trial.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the appellate court this week agreed with the lower judge, saying her expert’s analysis was “deeply flawed.”

The federal courts follow the Daubert standard, named after a court case, in deciding whether to admit expert testimony. Daubert is scientifically strict and usually requires a kind of ‘mini-trial’ before an expert can appear in front of jurors.

Mosaic was represented by a litigation team led by David Weinstein, who chairs Greenberg Traurig’s national environmental and toxic tort practice.

Evening Reads

Pam Bondi files lawsuit against five large manufacturers of opioids” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

AP, Fox News launch new exit polling project” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO

Hispanic group launches voter registration drive in Florida via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida

Donna Shalala’s opponents needle her for skipping candidate forum” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

It’s abundantly clear who is supporting Carrie Pilon’s SD 24 bid via Florida Politics

NRCC, DCCC exchange shots in South Florida congressional race” via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

A decade after scandal, Ray Sansom plots comeback” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Nursing home records dispute ratchets up” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

All Children’s never told state about needle left in baby” via Kat McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times

Twitter is going to limit the visibility of tweets from people behaving badly” via Alex Kantrowitz of BuzzFeed

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want Alyssa’s life to be in vain. I’m doing this because I don’t want another parent to go through the pain and anguish that I have to go through every day.” — Lori Alhadeff, mother of the late Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Alyssa Alhadeff, on running for the Broward County School Board.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The annual Florida Coastal Management Program will begin in Pinellas County, with speakers expected to include Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. That’s at 8:30 a.m., Edge Hotel, 505 South Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach.

The CareerSource Florida Board of Directors will meet at 8:30 a.m., World Golf Village Renaissance Resort, 500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine.

The Board of Education will meet and consider a series of issues, including the designation of KIPP New Jersey and Democracy Prep Public Schools as “hope operators.” That’s at 9 a.m., Pinellas County School Board office, 301 Fourth St. S.W., Largo.

The Florida Citrus Commission will meet at 9 a.m., Florida Department of Citrus, 605 East Main St., Bartow.

The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer-service hearing on a proposed rate increase in Monroe County for K W Resort Utilities Corp. That’s at 9:30 a.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.

Circuit Judge Karen Gievers is slated to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a state ban on smoking medical marijuana. It begins at 10 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.

Attorney General Pam Bondi will present the 2017 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in Tallahassee. That’s at 10 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room, The Capitol.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto will join the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida and treatment providers and law enforcement to announce a donation of Deterra Drug Deactivation Pouches to the United Way of Lee County by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. They “safely dispose of unused medications to deactivate drugs, thereby preventing drug misuse and protecting the environment,” a press release explained. That’s at 11 a.m., United Way-Lee County, 7273 Concourse Dr., Fort Myers.

Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will speak at the Walton Republican Women Federated Luncheon. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Cantina Laredo, 585 Grand Blvd., Miramar Beach.

The Criminal Justice Estimating Conference will hold what is known as a post-session “impact” conference. That’s at 1 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam continues his ‘Florida Jobs First’ tour. At 3 p.m., he’ll be at VOXX Automotive, 2351 J Lawson Blvd., Orlando.

Democrats Lee Mangold and Darryl Block, running for Seminole County House seats, will take part in a meet-and-greet event. Mangold is running in House District 28, which is an open seat, while Block is trying to unseat Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, in House District 29. That’s at 7 p.m., Celery City Craft, 114 South Palmetto Ave., Sanford.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.15.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

A mother and father of two unrelated students slain in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting will announce runs for two separate seats on the School Board of Broward County at a news conference on Tuesday.

Lori Alhadeff, mother to the late Stoneman Douglas student Alyssa Alhadeff, is expected to enter the race for the District 4 post, which oversees the forever-changed Parkland high school. Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina Petty in the Feb. 14 shooting, is expected to run for the countywide At-Large Seat 8.

The seat sought by Lori Alhadeff is held by Abby M. Freedman and is on the ballot in 2018. Freedman, though, has yet to file for re-election. Nathalie Adams had filed to run for the seat, but she’s since withdrawn, according to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections website.

Ryan Petty will compete against Seat 8 incumbent Donna P. Korn and challenger Elijah Manley.

A news release sent out Monday afternoon alerted media that Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty would make a joint announcement at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday outside of the Broward County Governmental Center in Fort Lauderdale.


@Netanyahu: I met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Senatorial delegation led by Lindsey Graham, and a Congressional delegation led by Joe Wilson. Today is an historic day that constitutes a milestone in the history of our people, our state, and our alliance.

@RosLehtinen: Woweee!! What an amazing honor to have been selected by @Israel as one of the 70 Americans who have made a unique contribution to the one and only #Jewish state.

—@RepCurbelo: We owe it to our service members, and their families, to better help them transition back to the civilian job market. #BATTLEact I intro’d w/ @RepStephMurphy is a positive step forward in achieving that goal & I’m glad to see it was included in the #NDAA we’ll be considering soon

@Fineout: So even though @richardcorcoran shot down the Corcoran to the Supreme Court tidbit last week it got circulated by “insiders” this morning. Any insider who knows Corcoran would know the idea of him taking a job where he would have to suddenly be silent is antithetical to who he is

—@JimRosicaFL: First text of the day: “Odds on which Florida legislator files first sports betting bill?”

—@MichaelSpag: And that is a wrap on wildfire season 2018! It got rough there for a bit but didn’t quite match last year thanks to more frequent cold fronts in April and this early start to the rainy season. Still a few dry spots on the detailed map but they will be eliminated soon.


Deadpool 2 release — 3; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 10; Memorial Day — 13; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 25; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 27; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 28; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 30; Father’s Day — 33; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 38; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 44; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 54; MLB All-Star Game — 63; Deadline for filing claim bills — 78; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 78; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 79; Start of the U.S. Open — 104; Primary Election Day — 105; College Football opening weekend — 107; NFL season starts — 114; Future of Florida Forum — 134; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 161; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 162; General Election Day — 175; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 275; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 294.


Gambling ruling not a winning ticket in Florida” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — A U.S. Supreme Court decision viewed as a major win for the gambling industry opened the door to sports betting in states across the country, but Florida almost certainly won’t be one of them — at least for now … The decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, a case the state of New Jersey brought as a challenge to a law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, found that a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting is unconstitutional. As the Supreme Court considered the case, some states filed legislation to authorize lucrative sports betting in anticipation of the federal law being struck down. But in Florida, two major obstacles — a ballot initiative and the need for a special legislative session — stand in the way of joining states such as Mississippi and Pennsylvania, which have cleared the decks to allow gamblers to bet on professional and collegiate sports teams as soon as the NFL season begins in the fall. A proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot will allow Florida voters to decide if they want to control decisions about gambling, something now largely left up to the Legislature. If Amendment 3 passes, voters statewide would have to sign off on future gambling expansions. Sen. Bill Galvano, who has been a lead negotiator on gambling issues for several years, said the high court ruling won’t have an immediate impact on Florida, where sports betting is illegal. “The ruling does not automatically change the gaming landscape in Florida,” said Galvano. “I believe it will create more interest in pursuing some types of sports betting, on behalf of the pari-mutuels as well as the (Seminole) tribe and some independent entities. But all of that is overshadowed by the pending constitutional amendment, which may create tremendous obstacles for any type of sports betting to come into the state.”

Bill Galvano says the SCOTUS ruling on sports betting will not have an effect on gambling in Florida.

Joe Henderson: Cover your ears, the sports betting debate is about to begin” via Florida Politics — Here’s a little something to consider while Floridians work this out: Sports wagering in our state will continue whether it’s legal or not. It always has. It always will. The amount of money already wagered on sports is staggering, and most of it is done illegally. Forbes estimated that $93 billion — with a B — was ILLEGALLY wagered on college and pro football in 2015. Against that backdrop is a little thing called Amendment 3 that will in front of voters in November. It basically says that it passes, any future expansion of gambling would have to be approved by voter referendum. That almost assuredly will include sports wagering. Here’s where the noise will be the loudest.


Bill Nelson hits Rick Scott for Israel trip as potential storm threatens Florida” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “Scott is in Israel instead of minding the store at home,” Nelson said in a campaign email, referring to Scott’s presence at the controversial opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. “With a threat swirling in the Gulf, Rick Scott is using taxpayer dollars to promote his campaign, proving once again, he has abandoned his job as governor,” Nelson said. The National Hurricane Center has been monitoring an area of low pressure for potential development into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, with possible danger to the Panhandle. Scott’s campaign hit back quickly, with campaign director Ryan Patmintra calling Nelson’s accusation “highly insensitive and diminishes the global importance of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — not to mention to many Floridians.” “Is this really coming from a man who has been on 32 taxpayer-funded junkets over his half-century in office?” Patmintra said of Nelson.

While Rick Scott is in Israel, Bill Nelson is blasting him on storm preparedness.

Spotted: Nelson in this Washington Post story, Trump’s improved standing, energized GOP voters worry Democrats” — After months of confidence that public discontent with President Donald Trump would lift Democrats back to power in Congress, some party leaders are fretting that their advantages in this year’s midterms are eroding amid a shifting political landscape. Driving their concerns are Trump’s approval rating, which has ticked upward in recent weeks, and high Republican turnout in some recent primaries, suggesting the GOP base remains energized. What’s more, Republicans stand to benefit politically from a thriving economy and are choosing formidable candidates to take on vulnerable Democratic senators. One of their biggest sources of anxiety is the Senate race in Florida, where some Democrats fear that three-term Sen. Nelson has not adequately prepared to defend his seat against Gov. Scott, a well-financed former businessman hand-picked for the race by Trump. Scott and Nelson are close in early polls. “I’m concerned about the race. I think everybody is,” said Ione Townsend, the Democratic Party chair in Hillsborough County, home to Tampa. Townsend said it will “be hard to compete” with Scott’s money.

Rick Scott releases new Spanish language ad aimed at Puerto Rico community” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The ad, “Presente,” starts off with footage of Gov. Scott walking in the April 28 Florida Puerto Rican Parade. In the 30-second spot, for which no information was yet available on spending or the ad buy, Floridians Jeannie Calderin and Kelvin Valle talk about the Florida governor’s response to Hurricane Maria and his economic record. “I’m supporting Gov. Rick Scott because the truth is that when Puerto Ricans needed the help, he was the first to be there,” Calderin says in the ad. Valle says Scott “has created jobs and he’s put people back into the labor force, and that’s why I support him.” To see the ad, click here.


Is Mike Pence keeping Trump from getting involved in Florida’s governor race?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The New York Times published a story on Vice President Pence‘s growing role in shaping the Republican Party heading into the 2018 elections … Apparently, he also encouraged Trump in April to stay out of Florida’s Republican primary for governor: “Pence weighed in to deter Trump from intervening aggressively in the race for governor of Florida. The president had endorsed Representative Ron DeSantis, a vocal defender of Trump and critic of Robert Mueller on Fox News, in a December tweet, and privately told DeSantis to expect a joint appearance this spring … Mr. DeSantis faces a contested primary against Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and a former House colleague of Pence. After allies of Putnam appealed to the vice president, Pence — along with cautious White House aides — argued against further meddling in the race … Trump has yet to appear with DeSantis.”

It’ll play well on Fox: Republican Congressman and candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis attended the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem Monday. DeSantis was “recognized for his work in helping establish the symbolic diplomatic site,” his campaign said.

Under fire, Gwen Graham walks back talk of David Jolly as running mate” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Graham walked back her statement that she would consider a Republican running mate for governor by saying Monday that she would pick a Democrat who shares her values. “For lieutenant governor, I will choose a Democrat who reflects my progressive values: a woman’s right to choose, supporting public schools, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding health care with a public option, and passing bold gun safety legislation,” Graham wrote. But Graham sounded more bipartisan last week when she appeared on the Strange Days podcast in Miami and specifically mentioned former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican who served with her in the House in 2015 and 2016, along with Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is mulling a bipartisan bid with Jolly as well. During the show, host Fernand Amandi asked if she would “consider a split ticket? Would you consider a Republican for lieutenant governor if it fit the criteria that you thought were good for Florida to unite Floridians?” After POLITICO reported her remarks Monday, the backlash against her began, especially from Andrew Gillum supporters. Before POLITICO ran its report, Graham’s campaign did not deny she was considering Jolly as a possible running mate and sources familiar with discussions between the two say his name has been specifically mentioned as part of an internal conversation about a bipartisan ticket, as she indicated in the Strange Days podcast.

—“Andrew Gillum supporters hanging onto every word Gwen Graham says” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Andrew Gillum using airport parking perks for campaign travel” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Since launching his campaign for governor last March, Gillum has used his free city airport parking pass 96 times — almost twice a week between March 2017 and April 2018. That’s almost four times as much as Gil Ziffer’s 26 uses and Curtis Richardson’s 24 uses of the parking pass. … Those uses include entry and exit to the parking lot at Tallahassee International Airport. … Most of the visits were for travel related to Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign, not official city business. But there’s no policy regulating the use of the airport-issued card. “The mayor’s kept up a robust travel schedule during his gubernatorial campaign, including trips to South Florida, and he’s used the parking system as the current rules allow,” campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said. … Using a city perk for campaign-related activities doesn’t look good, said Ben Wilcox, research director for the nonprofit watchdog group Integrity Florida. “Nobody likes it when public officials get a free pass when other members of the public don’t benefit.” … Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County Republican Party, said it’s another example of Gillum using public resources for his own political gain.

Andrew Gillum is leaning heavily on airport perks for campaign travel.

Assignment editors — Democratic candidate for Gov. Chris King will kick off a statewide “Turning the Tide” tour on criminal justice reform. At noon, King will be at the Enoch D. Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. At 7 p.m., he talks with the North Pinellas County Democratic Club, Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, 1134 Douglas Ave. in Dunedin. At 8 p.m., King addresses the Pinellas Young Democrats, Pinellas County Democratic Party office, 2250 1st Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine speaks with members of the St. Petersburg chapter of AFSCME District 37 West Coast Retirees at their annual picnic, 1:30 p.m., War Veterans Memorial Park, 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg. Later, Levine attends the screening of “Political Animals,” a new documentary about the 2012 Pets Trust initiative. Screening begins 7:30 p.m.; Levine speaks to attendees at 9:15 p.m., Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.

Adam Putnam says Florida must fix talent gap to keep jobs” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — “Florida needs to change the conversation surrounding career and technical education and realize the launchpad for the American dream is not built only on a four-year university degree,” said Putnam in an advance copy of remarks he made at campaign stops in Tampa and Panama City. “Students should not be told the only pathway to success is a college education, and they shouldn’t be forced into student loan debt for a degree they can’t use.” Putnam’s decision to focus on vocational education is a reflection that education is expected to be a top issue during this year’s wide-open race for governor. Putnam’s proposal calls for expanding apprenticeship programs for students and the types of technical education offered in high schools such as computer coding. He also wants students to be able to earn college credits for their vocational education, similar to Advanced Placement classes. Putnam also wants businesses to have more say on what types of courses are offered and make it easier to certify people to teach vocational and technical classes.

—“Sean Shaw clears $300K on hand for Attorney General bid” via Florida Politics

Joe Biden endorses Nancy Soderberg” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “I’ve known Nancy for three decades since she first started her work in the Senate,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a lifelong public servant who has served at the highest levels of government. … She’s been tested, and she’s delivered.” Soderberg, a former ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under President Bill Clinton, is running as a Democrat in District 6, which includes Mount Dora and Volusia County. The seat is open because DeSantis decided to run for governor earlier this year. “I’m supporting Nancy because she’s a problem solver and will fight for the values of the 6th District: growing the middle class, creating jobs you can raise a family on, ensuring every family has access to affordable health care and every child can get an affordable education,” Biden said. “She has the knowledge and experience to make a difference and get things done for the people of the 6th District.”

Joe Biden gives the thumbs up to Nancy Soderberg.

—“Judson Sapp lands trio of endorsements for CD 3 bid” via Florida Politics

Ross Spano rolls out Polk, Hillsborough endorsements in CD 15 race — State Rep. Spano announced a dozen endorsements in his campaign for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, including numerous current and former elected officials from CD 15. Joining Rep. Sam Killebrew’s previous support of Spano’s campaign are Rep. Jake Raburn and former Rep. Rich Glorioso. The campaign also announced endorsements from Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, former State Attorney Mark Ober and Polk County Commissioners George Lindsey and John Hall. Local endorsements are Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, Plant City Commissioner Bill Dodson, former Plant City Mayor Randy Larson and former Plant City Commissioner Billy Keel.

Wilton Simpson committee tops $182K in April” via the News Service of Florida — The committee, known as Jobs for Florida, had $2.36 million on hand as of April 30. Among its contributions in April were $25,000 from Florida Power & Light, $25,000 from a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC and $20,000 from Duke Energy … If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, Simpson is in line to become president after the 2020 elections. He also is running for re-election this year in Senate District 10 and had raised $411,335 for his campaign as of April 30.

Happening tonight — Attorney Carrie Pilon holds her official campaign kickoff in her bid for Senate District 24, 6 p.m. at the Flying Boat Brewery Company, 1776 11th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. The guest list includes Betty CastorRene Flowers, state Sen. Audrey GibsonBill Heller, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, former St. Pete City Councilmember Karl Nurse, current Councilmember Darden Rice and more.

—“Keith Perry kicking off SD 8 campaign May 24” via Florida Politics

—“Doral mayor backs Manny Diaz in SD 36 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Nick Duran dominates April fundraising on his path to a second term” via Florida Politics — Duran raised nearly $40,000 last month between his campaign and political committee, Leadership for Miami-Dade. That leaves Duran with over six-figures on hand going into May, the last month of fundraising to be reported before Florida’s mid-June qualifying deadline for state candidates. Duran’s likely Republican opponent, Rosy Palomino — who he comfortably defeated in 2016 — raised just over $1,000, which has been roughly her average fundraising over the last three months of reporting. Palomino’s cash-on-hand at the end of April leaves her with barely enough money to pay the $1,800 filing fee due in June.

 —“Tracie Davis stocks away cash for primary clash with Kim Daniels’ former aide” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics


With a farm industry still reeling from Hurricane Irma’s devastation and another potentially dangerous hurricane season ahead, candidates for Agriculture Commissioner are making disaster-relief commitments to Florida growers.

The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner asked each candidate what they’d do to make Florida’s “food chain more resilient before future natural disasters.”

Turner got responses from state Sen. Denise Grimsley, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman and Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter.

Grimsley: The Sebring Republican wants to build up the State Agriculture Response Team to the point that it’s working with local officials, “developing best practices, offering mitigation cost-share programs when appropriate, and routinely investing in equipment and supplies staged specifically for disaster response.”

Caldwell: The North Fort Myers Republican touched on storm prep and relief, but also brought up citrus-greening. He called for research and development on crops that fared better against the disease than others.

Troutman: The Winter Haven Republican “speaks of a need to strengthen roads, rails and ports, while fortifying utilities and keeping workers safe so they can quickly return to work.”

Porter: The Democrat called for proactivity in the Cabinet post. Not just with hurricanes, but with “fruit fly infestation that hit the agricultural community and floods and cold snaps.”


State braces for rank, flooding” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Division of Emergency Management and Gov. Scott issued advisories about a severe weather system developing in the Gulf of Mexico that could bring rain and flooding to parts of the state. The system is getting extra attention as it has potential to develop into a subtropical or tropical storm and comes as the state prepares for hurricane season, which begins June 1. The National Hurricane Center said it anticipates the system to produce widespread cloudiness, showers and thunderstorms across much of Florida and southeastern Georgia.

Scott wants $1M from feds to fix Florida’s long-running gun background check loophole” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Under the state’s current system, staff shortages have led to up to 17 percent of mental health records entered late into a state database used to do gun background checks. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement admits this could lead to someone getting a gun who has a disqualifying mental health issue. Scott initially said that clerks should “prioritize their resources to resolve this issue as required by law,” when asked about the issue last week, but now he wants more federal money to boost staffing levels. FDLE already plans to request $94,880 to fund a pilot program with the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts office, but Scott wants them to increase the request to $1 million to fund up to a dozen pilot programs. The money would help fund an additional position to process mental health records. Clerks offices are the local officials charged with processing the mental health records.

Assignment editors — Attorney General Pam Bondi is scheduled to make a “major announcement” about combating the national opioid crisis, 2 p.m., Riverside Recovery Center, 4004 North Riverside Dr., Tampa.

Judge denies anonymity in NRA suit against gun law” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A federal judge has denied the National Rifle Association’s request to shield a plaintiff’s name in litigation against the state’s new school safety and mental health law. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Sunday turned down the NRA’s request to use a “Jane Doe” pseudonym for the 19-year-old Alachua County woman, (who feared) “harassment, intimidation, and potentially even physical violence.” AG Bondi had opposed the move, saying the woman’s desire for anonymity was not justified … While acknowledging that false names may sometimes be used in litigation, the judge cited federal court rules that complaints “must name all the parties,” and referred to case law that lawsuits are “public events” and that the public has a “legitimate interest in knowing all of the facts involved, including the identities of the parties.”

Marion Hammer, NRA get a legal smackdown in the “Jane Doe” privacy case.

Advocates, lawmakers scramble to restore funding for DOC re-entry programs” via John Haughey of — The Florida Department of Correction’s (DOC) unexpected announcement that it will slash contracts for substance abuse and mental health re-entry services by more than 40 percent has spurred demands that Gov. Scott and legislators take action to prevent the cuts from being implemented July 1. Among suggested options: A special session, using state reserve funds, negotiating a truncated contract with the DOC’s health care provider and convening a joint legislative commission authorized to make between-session budget decisions. In addition to cutting re-entry and post-release mental health and substance abuse programs, the DOC is also eliminating $20 million from its operations budget. If the cuts are implemented, 66 contracts held by 33 community providers, ranging from $38,000 to more than $3 million, will be cut or eliminated July 1, according to the DOC. Advocates maintain the cuts undermine the state’s $50 million effort to combat the opioid crisis.

Flags ordered at half-staff for Highlands County deputy — Gov. Scott has ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday to honor the Highlands County sheriff’s deputy killed on duty May 7. Deputy William J. Gentry Jr., 40, had served with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office for nine years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Gentry was shot and killed “while responding to an animal abuse call … Gentry went to the suspect’s home, a convicted felon who lived next door … As he stood at the front door the suspect opened fire, shooting him in the head. The 69-year-old subject was taken into custody.” Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Highlands County Courthouse in Sebring, Sebring City Hall, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office in Sebring, and the Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset.

Deputies: videotape, text messages, surveillance indicate Hernando County Commissioner paid for sex and allowed others to at his Spring Hill home” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Last November, months before a domestic incident at his Spring Hill house turned the spotlight on Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, a sheriff’s deputy was parking out front, investigating what appeared to be prostitution. During the surveillance, several men walked into the residence on Tiburon Avenue with Valerie Surette, a woman living there, and closed the garage door, according to the investigative report. A mattress leaning against the wall was pulled down, apparently so she could conduct a sex-for-money “transaction,’’ the report said. The men left 11 to 23 minutes later, one handing Surette money in full view of the officer. The surveillance, prompted by neighbors concerned about the traffic and short stays, is detailed in the latest documents released by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office regarding Nicholson. He was suspended by the governor on April 26 after deputies arrested him on one count of running a house of prostitution and two counts of prostitution.

Trauma drama continues as new law challenged” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Nicklaus Children’s Hospital filed a challenge in Leon County circuit court seeking an injunction to block a section of the law that would allow a competitor, Kendall Regional Medical Center, to operate what is known as a Level I trauma center. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital “is likely to suffer irreparable harm because any final approval of Kendall’s Level I status, and the significant damage flowing therefrom, cannot be undone,” attorneys for the facility wrote in the lawsuit. The filing added that “given the importance of trauma centers, Florida’s regulation of a unified trauma system should place the needs of trauma victims and citizens over private corporate interests.” With Kendall upgraded to a Level I trauma center, the lawsuit contends that pediatric patients will be diverted to Kendall instead of going to Nicklaus. The children’s hospital argued that the portion of the new law is unconstitutional because the Legislature didn’t follow proper procedures when passing what Nicklaus contends is a “special law” or a narrowly targeted local law that benefits Kendall Regional Medical Center.

A crane operator working on the FIU bridge left the deadly scene — in his crane” via Nicholas Nehamas, Charles Rabin and Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — No one seemed to notice when a large white crane that had been working at the doomed Florida International University bridge lurched away down Tamiami Trail shortly after the span collapsed. Here is what is known: Police don’t seem to believe the crane man fled the scene or caused the collapse, which independent engineers suspect was the result of structural and design flaws. They say the unidentified operator drove the crane a short distance away and stuck around to offer help — but for how long isn’t clear. Within minutes of the bridge coming down … the crane’s operator jumped out of the cab to untie a strand of caution tape that police coming from nearby FIU and Sweetwater had quickly anchored on the machine as they rushed to save lives. Then he started up his rig and rumbled west down Tamiami and out of sight. A lawyer for George’s Crane — which rents hydraulic cranes as large as 170 tons — offered an explanation to the Herald. Far from fleeing, the operator needed to move the lumbering contraption out of the way, said the attorney, Bryant Blevins. Rescuers had shown up right away.

Official: Lyft drivers at Disney World can join union” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled about 60 drivers who pick up Disney World guests using the Lyft app can be represented by the Teamsters local in Orlando. The Lyft drivers are Disney World employees who earn extra money by driving guests around the resort that is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco. Disney had argued that the Lyft driver jobs couldn’t be covered by a union since the Teamsters waived their right to represent any workers not mentioned in its five-year contract. But regional NLRB director David Cohen wrote in his decision last week that the waiver doesn’t apply to the “Minnie Van” drivers since the Lyft job didn’t exist when the contract was negotiated.

“Minnie Van” Lyft drivers at Disney can now unionize.

Eight months later, Irma is still spreading misery in Keys canals and Florida Bay” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald — Eight months after Irma slammed into the Florida Keys … only a fraction of the debris in more than 500 canals has been removed … Sustainability Director Rhonda Haag told the South Florida Water Management District governing board on Thursday … Only 16 canals and about 3,000 cubic yards of debris have been cleared, Haag said, leaving an estimated 97,000 cubic yards of awnings, roofs, downed trees, RVs, broken docks and other debris blocking canals not only for boats but manatees and other marine life. … “It’s a complicated process, which is why the canals were not cleared after Hurricane Wilma,” Haag said. “But now with Irma, this is countywide and we cannot afford to let the debris sit in the canals. We absolutely cannot.” … [FEMA] officials had initially agreed to provide additional money to clean canals … but only to about six feet to make them navigable for boats. After county officials objected … FEMA workers agreed to go deeper to more than 16 feet. … FEMA has also said it will only pay to remove debris left by Irma, further complicating the cleanup. “The physics of it don’t make sense,” board chairman Federico Fernandez complained. “To a native Floridian, it doesn’t seem practical or effective for how the federal government addresses our needs to get back on our feet.”


It’s been just shy of eight months since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, and now its inhabitants anxiously await another potentially catastrophic storm season.

Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times reports the Army Corps of Engineers is set to depart the island territory Friday, leaving thousands of Puerto Ricans in the dark and many with an unstable power supply.

In Las Piedras, Mazzei writes, the power is intermittent. One source tells her, “If a little bit of wind blows through, we will lose power.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is set to leave Puerto Rico this week. (Image via DOD)

PREPA ready?: According to Puerto Rico’s nonvoting Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, the island’s utility is not prepared for another hurricane season.

Emergency management: FEMA sources tell Mazzei they’re learning and are “better positioned to respond.” But, “There is reason for skepticism: Local emergency managers are still meeting with key members of the private sector, like fuel distributors, to hash out hurricane plans.”

Dry runs: A series of exercises — including a “mass-casualty catastrophe” simulation — are planned for later in May. An exercise in mid-June will simulate a “full-scale disaster.”


Assignment editors — Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at the International Republican Institute’s freedom dinner and awards ceremony, honoring U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Rubio’s remarks begin about 7:15 p.m., The Willard Intercontinental (Grand Ballroom), 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW in Washington D.C. The speech will be live-streamed here.

Florida delegation holds hearing on oil drilling” via the News Service of Florida – VISIT FLORIDA President Ken Lawson and Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien, commander of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, are among scheduled panelists for a Florida congressional delegation hearing on drilling off the state’s coasts. Also scheduled to appear during the hearing in Washington are Mark Alderson, executive director of the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program, and Ken Milito, director of upstream and industry operations for the American Petroleum Institute. The hearing comes amid continued debate over plans by the Trump administration to allow oil and gas drilling in federal waters off various parts of the country. The issue involves waters beyond the nation’s outer continental shelf – a jurisdictional term describing submerged lands 10.36 statutory miles off Florida’s West Coast and three nautical miles off the East Coast. Thursday’s one-hour hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Gus Bilirakis in The Washington Post on “Congressional challengers [who] use bill backed by drug companies against incumbents” — Congress approved legislation in 2016 that hampered the Drug Enforcement Administration’s enforcement efforts against the opioid industry, which is spurring many candidates with a personal stake in the crisis to run for office. Bilirakis co-sponsored the bill. He held between $4,000 and $60,000 in Rite Aid stock, financial disclosures show, and accepted $77,500 from drug distribution and pharmacy companies. Chris Hunter is a first-time candidate vying for the Democratic nomination to face Bilirakis in the fall. He is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who is hitting hard at Bilirakis’s support of the legislation … In a statement, Bilirakis said he has since been working on a bill to rewrite the law and plans to “push it through the legislative process as quickly as possible.”

Former federal prosecutor Chris Hunter is preparing to blast Gus Bilirakis on his drug bill vote.

Florida Chamber leads delegation of job creators to D.C. — The Chamber is taking its advocacy efforts to Washington, D.C. this week, “emphasizing the importance of international trade, infrastructure and targeted tax reforms,” it said in a Monday news release. Its delegation includes “business leaders from across the state, representing small businesses and the state’s largest employers, and will include meetings with Florida’s Congressional Delegation, federal agencies and foreign dignitaries.” The “D.C. Fly-In” is occurring while the nation’s capital celebrates National Infrastructure Week and falls on the heels of the Florida Chamber’s reinforced undertaking of its long and steady infrastructure and growth leadership efforts through the Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition.

NFIB launches new brand, website — The National Federation of Independent Businesses unveiled a new brand and updated website that “reflect both its 75-year history of blazing paths and its commitment to advocating on behalf of small businesses,” a Monday news release said. The new brand and website launch as NFIB prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in June. The organization, which has fought for the interests of small business on some of the most high-profile debates nationally and in the states, most recently celebrated a milestone victory during tax reform when it secured small business tax relief, including a provision in the tax code that provides a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businesses. The new brand and updated website can be found at


Florida set to lose out on millions if census citizenship question stands” via Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rene Garcia for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As elected officials representing the Miami-Dade County area, we know that Census 2020 is a high stakes operation for the Sunshine State, with the final count set to have a significant impact on our pocketbook and political clout in our nation’s capital for years to come. Opposition to a citizenship question that has not been tested in modern times has been widespread and swift among leaders from both Republican and Democratic Administrations, with two U.S. Commerce Secretaries, Carlos Gutierrez and Penny Pritzker, and six former Census Bureau Directors already voicing serious concerns over the addition. The state of Florida stands to lose out on millions of dollars in federal funding and as many as two additional congressional seats if the census question on citizenship moves forward and depresses response rates.

The false promise of term limits” via Jamelle Bouie of Slate — It’s ironic, but true, that the easiest play for any aspiring lawmaker is to run against Washington. It works if you’re new and it works if you’re a veteran of political life. It even works if you’re openly corrupt. Trump called for term limits in his presidential campaign, and Florida Gov. Scott is doing the same as he makes his bid for Senate. But there’s a problem: Term limits won’t deliver you to this promised land of functioning government. Term limits exacerbate all the worst features of American governance while improving little about our candidates or elections. The quality of lawmaking goes down, the influence of lobbyists goes up, and public-spiritedness erodes even further. In actual practice, term-limiting congresspeople is a cure far worse than the disease. Fifteen states have term limits on their legislatures, giving us a chance to compare performance. The results are unambiguous. “Term limits weaken the legislative branch relative to the executive. Governors and the executive bureaucracy are reported to be more influential over legislative outcomes in states where term limits are on the books than where they are not,” concludes a 2006 study on the subject.


Florida Public Service Commission applications now being accepted — The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council announced Monday it’s accepting applications to fill two upcoming vacancies on the Public Service Commission. Terms are expiring for Commissioners Gary F. Clark and Julie I. Brown, both on Jan. 1, 2019. “Applicants must be competent and knowledgeable in one or more fields which include, but are not limited to: public affairs, law, economics, accounting, engineering, finance, natural resource conservation, energy, or another field substantially related to the duties and functions of the Commission,” a news release said. The annual salary for a PSC member is now $132,036. Gov. Scott will make the selections, subject to Senate confirmation. An electronic copy of the application packet is here. Completed applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12. Late applications will not be considered.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Ralph Arza, Mountain Moving Strategies: QuaverMusic. Com

David Bishop, Solaris Consulting: Jackson County School Board

Ron BookKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Dezer Development

Robert Boyd, Sachs Sax Caplan: Zaner-Bloser

Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Adjusters International Consulting

Paul MitchellMonte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: The Florida House Experience, Spring Venture Group

What Eileen Stuart is reading — “Phosphate giant Mosaic is moving its headquarters to Hillsborough County” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Mosaic Company will move its corporate headquarters from Minnesota to Hillsborough County … the company intends to move all its senior executives and their related functions to the new location once it’s determined. The Fortune 500 phosphate mining company currently headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota. Mosaic already has its largest domestic presence in Florida, including in Tampa. The company employs 3,000 Floridians and another 3,000 contractors. The company’s 2017 economic impact in Florida included: $465 million in payroll; $307 million in capital expenditures; $41 million in land reclamation; $28 million in county tangible and real estate taxes; $40 million in state severance and sales taxes; $1.1 million to United Way organizations in Florida.

— ALOE —

SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica opens Ray Rush slide propelled by water jets” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Ray Rush, a new slide with an open-air halfpipe that resembles a manta ray, opened a day earlier than expected. It’s the first in Florida to combine enclosed tube sections, a giant sphere and a drop into an open-air halfpipe, according to SeaWorld. Ray Rush is a 60-foot-tall, four-person raft slide that includes water jet launches. The height requirement is 42 inches. Ray Rush encompasses three slide elements in rafts that seat up to four riders. First, riders will be launched with powerful water jets designed to propel the rafts into the first of several enclosed tube sections. Next, riders enter a giant translucent sphere, rocking back and forth as waves of water swirl around them. Finally, riders will drop into the attraction’s signature element, an open-air halfpipe that resembles the shape of a manta ray.

SeaWorld’s Ray Rush opens a day early.


Last Call for 5.14.18 — 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

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana say the state’s arguments are “backward.”

Their attorney, Jon Mills, last week filed an opposition to a motion for summary judgment, set to be heard before Wednesday’s scheduled trial before Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial. If Gievers decides not to grant summary judgment, she’ll hear the case without a jury.

Lawmakers approved and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law implementing legislation for the 2016 constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis, but that law does not allow medicinal marijuana to be smoked. Mills says the amendment’s definition of marijuana implicitly includes the smokable kind.

The amendment “does not ‘require’ the Legislature to act to enable patients to seek treatment. The constitution itself specifically authorizes patients with debilitating medical conditions to seek treatment in consultation with a physician,” Mills’ filing says. The ban on smoking conflicts with that; therefore it’s unconstitutional, he says.

And “by incorporating a specific definition into the constitution, the electorate precluded modification of that definition,” Mills added. Voters approved the amendment by 71 percent.

But the plain language of the amendment “refutes” Mills’ contention, Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby countered in a subsequent filing.

“Nowhere does the text … state that smoking must be permitted,” she wrote. “Nor did the ballot title or summary — which, under Florida law, is the information universally made available to voters about the amendment — indicate a smoking requirement. The Legislature’s exclusion of smoking as a permissible form of medical use, therefore, cannot be said to be in conflict with the amendment.”

John Morgan, of Morgan & Morgan law firm fame, bankrolled the amendment and is behind the current lawsuit, which seeks a declaratory judgment that the smoking ban runs counter to the amendment’s language.

The plaintiffs include the Florida for Care organization and patients Levy County’s Diana Dodson, a cancer patient; and Manatee County’s Cathy Jordan, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease. The named defendant is the Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Evening Reads

Donald Trump’s improved standing, energized GOP voters worry Democrats” via Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post

Mike Pence is trying to control Republican politics. True aides aren’t happy.” via Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times

Marco Rubio criticizes Trump’s about-face on Chinese company ZTE” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

How the congressional baseball shooting didn’t become the deadliest political assassination in American history” via Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa of BuzzFeed News

#MeToo in the statehouse: At least 16 men are gone, but the harassment culture isn’t” via Jen Fifeld of Stateline

Supreme Court strikes down federal anti-sports gambling law, gives states go-ahead to allow betting on sports” via The Associated Press

Adam Putnam says Florida must fix talent gap to keep jobs” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press

Sean Shaw clears $300K on hand for Attorney General bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Court upholds ‘Stand Your Ground’ shift” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Advocates, lawmakers scramble to restore funding for DOC re-entry programs” via John Haughey of Florida Watchdog

Quote of the Day

“One need only look to the harassment suffered by some of the Parkland shooting survivors to appreciate the vitriol that has infected public discourse about the Second Amendment.” — U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, regarding the NRA’s case against the state’s new gun and school safety law.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Elections Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.

Florida TaxWatch will hold a news conference to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would make permanent a limit on increases in property-tax assessments for non-homestead property. The proposal, which was placed on the November ballot by the Legislature, will appear as Amendment 2. That’s at 10 a.m., Florida Press Center, 336 East College St., Tallahassee.

A funeral service will be held for Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, who was fatally shot in the line of duty. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to attend the funeral. That’s at 11 a.m., Highlands News-Sun Center, 781 Magnolia Ave., Sebring.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine speaks with members of the St. Petersburg chapter of AFSCME District 37 West Coast Retirees at their annual picnic. That’s at 1:30 p.m., War Veterans Memorial Park, 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Duke Energy Florida will hold a public meeting in Polk County about plans to build a new transmission substation at the utility’s Osprey Energy Center and two 230-kilovolt transmission lines. The transmission lines would extend from the Osprey power plant to the utility’s Kathleen substation and Haines City East substation. Duke said the routes of the lines have not been determined. That’s at 4 p.m., Nora Mayo Hall, 500 Third St. N.W., Winter Haven.

Susie Busch-Transou, co-owner of Tri-Eagle Sales, and Cathy Steen, the chief operating officer of Grayton Beer Co., will speak during a “Women in Beer” event held as part of American Craft Beer Week. That’s at 5 p.m., Hearth & Soul, 1410 Market St., D1, Tallahassee.

A fundraising event is scheduled for Tommy Gregory, a Republican running in House District 73 in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, will not run again in the district because he is seeking a Senate seat. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court, Sarasota.

The Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee and local Democratic clubs will hold a debate for candidates in Congressional District 27. Democrats hope to pick up the seat, which is open because of the upcoming retirement of longtime Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. That’s at 6 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 7701 S.W. 76th Ave., Miami.

The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer-service hearing on a proposed rate increase in Monroe County for K W Resort Utilities Corp. That’s at 6 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.

Republicans Greg Steube and Julio Gonzalez, who seek to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, are expected to take part in a NOVA Republican Club forum in Sarasota County. Steube is a state senator, while Gonzalez is a state House member. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Nokomis Community Center, 234 Nippino Trail, Nokomis.

Levine will also attend the screening of a new documentary, Political Animals, about the 2012 Pets Trust initiative and will speak briefly afterward at a roundtable discussion. That’s at 7:30 p.m., Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.

State lobbyists face a Tuesday night deadline for filing reports outlining their compensation from Jan. 1 through March 31. The period included the annual legislative session.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.14.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

It’s a favorite issue of most conservatives, especially evangelical voters: Israel. And Gov. Rick Scott, now running for U.S. Senate, continues to embrace it.

The Naples Republican, in advance of a planned visit, proclaimed Sunday as Florida’s Celebration of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, “recognizing the close relationship between Israel and Florida,” a press release said.

Ivanka Trump at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. She is in Israel this week for the official relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Image via Twitter)

And he’ll be there today for the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, marking Scott’s third official visit to Israel. The most recent was in December 2017, that’s when he “expressed his full support of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

“Israel regards Jerusalem as its ‘eternal and undivided’ capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state,” the BBC reported. “Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with decades of U.S. neutrality on the issue and put it out of step with most of the international community.”

Added PolitiFact: “The policy change stems from a 1995 law mandating the embassy be moved to Jerusalem by 1999. However, out of worry that the move would destabilize peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama signed waivers to suspend the move.”

And Time has reported that “polls show most Americans oppose moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem — 63 percent in one recent national poll. But evangelical Christians, who overwhelming supported Trump in the 2016 election, back the move, although more narrowly, with 53 percent supporting it in the same poll.”

Last night, Scott was slated to attend a dinner with the Friends of Zion Museum honoring the opening of the Jerusalem embassy. And the morning of the opening, Scott was scheduled to attend a breakfast hosted by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

To read his proclamation, click here. To view video of the governor at the Western Wall expressing his support, click here.


—@MarkSharpeFL: I’ve known John (McCain) for over 20 years. I served on the Forrestal & watched videos of him escaping a burning jet amid explosions. Vietnam did not break him & while he is no saint nor always right — no one is tougher in life or facing death

—@MarcoRubio: Remember when several groups & the @NYT attacked me for pointing out the potential role of school discipline policy in #Parkland tragedy? But now evidence grows by the day that the shooter should have been dealt with long before that horrible day.

—@VixtoriaClark: I would like to point out that at 2:44 in #ThisIsAmerica the music stops, then starts up again at 3:01. That my friends is 17 seconds of silence for Marjory Stoneman Douglas. I love this man.

—@MarcACaputo: Specifically, @CarlosGSmith has all but said that @FLGovScott did not respond to Pulse in the same way he did Parkland because the Pulse victims were by and large LGBT

—@Fineout: A couple of times @FLGovScott admin has warned me that they would send out a “Setting the Record Straight” on a story I was working on. My response: Make my day.

—@MDixon55: The active conflating of super PAC and “dark money” is real. Dark money is from groups whose donors you can’t see. Super PACs are controversial, but report their donors. You can see donors for every group that gave the $4.5m in ‘outside money’ for Graham/against Southerland

@MiamiAbel: Lower salaries, ever-increasing rents, packed roads. Meanwhile they tell us projects like the American dream will make a diff when it hires 14k people making way below the cost of living. Miami’s not sustainable for everyday Miamians and that’s before even considering SLR.

—@MiamiSup: How could anyone justify reducing funding to one of America’s Best schools? @nwsa‘s Spring Dance Concert was one of the finest dance programs I have ever seen. Powerful works by some of today’s best choreographers like Robert Battle and Ohad Naharin.

—@TJStaple: The @FloridaMedical family sends our heartfelt condolences to @Gayle_Harrell & her family on the passing of Dr. James Harrell. He was always by Gayle’s side and was her biggest supporter!

—@RichardCorcoran: This is the first game in years of a #GoBolts series that I haven’t been invited to the game. Weird. I can’t figure out why.


Deadpool 2 release — 4; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 11; Memorial Day — 14; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in St. Petersburg — 26; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miramar — 28; Time Warner/AT&T merger ruling — 29; 2018 FIFA World Cup begins — 31; Father’s Day — 34; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 39; Florida GOP Sunshine Summit starts — 45; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 55; MLB All-Star Game — 64; Deadline for filing claim bills — 79; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debate — 79; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in Miami — 80; Start of the U.S. Open — 105; Primary Election Day — 106; College Football opening weekend — 108; NFL season starts — 115; Future of Florida Forum — 135; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 162; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 163; General Election Day — 176; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 276; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 295.


Adam Putnam to announce vo-tech program for Florida” via the Associated Press – Putnam plans to make announcements in the Tampa area and Panama City on Monday. He says that if Florida is going to continue job growth, it needs to better prepare students who don’t pursue a four-year college degree to get jobs in trades. Part of the proposal is to create apprenticeship programs for students, and to allow them to earn professional certification in trades while in high school. Students would also be able to gain college credits for vocational training, similar to Advanced Placement classes.


Opening month of Florida’s U.S. Senate race a tale of contrasts” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — One of the nation’s most watched, and potentially the biggest-dollar race of the 2018 election season has been a tale of contrasts in its inaugural weeks — with Scott all but shuttering the governor’s office to campaign and Bill Nelson keeping a much lower profile. “I think the governor is realizing that he has to get out there and define himself as a candidate before his opponent does that to him,” said Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican Party chairman, and a lobbyist in Washington and Florida. Scott, whose own jet gets him around Florida, made 30 campaign stops in the campaign’s opening month while pulling in $3.2 million in three weeks — the same amount Nelson collected the first three months of 2018. While Scott apparently is putting state government on autopilot, Nelson’s Senate demands will keep him in Washington — except for weekends, an August recess and two weeks before the November election.

Bill Nelson, Rick Scott U.S. Senate race is a study in contrast.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will attend the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, after attending a breakfast hosted by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Last week, Scott declared Monday as Florida’s Celebration of Israel’s 70th Independence Day.


Paul Ryan says Donald Trump will be an asset for Republicans” via Scott Bauer of The Associated Press — Ryan thinks Trump will be an asset to GOP candidates this fall in states like Wisconsin that he narrowly won, even as he warned fellow Republicans that a “blue wave” could wipe out advancements made during his presidency. Ryan addressed about 600 people at the Wisconsin Republican convention, his final one after 20 years in office. Ryan told reporters later he doesn’t think controversies surrounding Trump are resonating with voters in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. “The president is strong in these states,” Ryan said. “He’s an asset. … Whether I’m running around southern Wisconsin or America, nobody is talking about Stormy Daniels. Nobody is talking about Russia. They’re talking about their lives and their problems. They’re talking about their communities, they’re talking about jobs, they’re talking about the economy, they’re talking about national security.”

A surge of women candidates, but crowded primaries and tough races await” via Kate Zernike and Denise Lu of The New York Times — More than half the female candidates for House and Senate seats are challenging incumbents, who historically almost always win; there were far more wide-open races in 1992’s so-called Year of the Woman, which doubled the number of women in Congress. A large percentage of the women now running for open seats are in districts that favor the other party. And many female candidates are clustered in the same districts, meaning many will be eliminated in this spring and summer’s primaries. But there has also been a similar surge in the number of men running — meaning that women still make up less than a quarter of all candidates running for the House of Representatives, up just slightly from the last election cycle. Another difference between 1992 and 2018 is in the kind of women who are seeking office. In 1992, more candidates had held some kind of lower office — even Patty Murray, who became an emblem of that year as the self-described “mom in tennis shoes,” had been a state legislator in Washington.

Angie Chirino, a Republican running for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is one of a surge of women running for office in 2018.

“Gwen Graham considers David Jolly for running mate” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Graham said she would consider  Jolly as a Florida gubernatorial running mate, a move that opens her to criticism from a progressive rival, and that contradicts her own campaign and supporters who had said a bipartisan ticket isn’t legal in the state. Graham, who has been under attack from Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and his supporters for not being progressive enough, told the Miami-based Strange Days Podcast last week that she wanted “someone who can help me govern” and called Jolly a friend. An anti-Trump Republican who had served in the U.S. House with Graham in 2015 and 2016, Jolly was first mentioned as a possible running mate for yet another former Democratic member of Congress from Florida, 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, whose allies want him to run for governor this year. Graham said she might pick Murphy as well.

Personnel note: Philip Levine names two deputy campaign managers” via Florida Politics — West Coast area director Jocelyn Mund is moving up to the deputy campaign manager position for Tampa Bay, and former SEIU political director Alex Ring would fill the same role for South Florida. Before joining Levine’s campaign, Mund managed outreach and public events for the St. Petersburg area in her role as Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s deputy finance director. Ring’s background includes the SEIU job and three years as the legislative assistant to Dania Beach Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne during his first stint in the House.

Spotted — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis on Fox News’ Justice with Jeannie Piro from Israel ahead of the historic opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Assignment editors: Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam plans “policy announcements” at two campaign stops today, the start of a two-week statewide tour. The first is 10:30 a.m., Ring Power Corporation, 10421 Fern Hill Drive, Riverview. The second is 2 p.m. (Central time), Eastern Shipbuilding, Nelson Street Shipyard, 2200 Nelson St., Panama City.

Happening today — State Rep. Matt Caldwell speaks to Lee Republican Women, Federated. The North Fort Myers Republican is running for Agriculture Commissioner. Event begins at 11:15 a.m. with a social hour, followed by lunch, Pinchers-The Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 West First St., Fort Myers.

Kristen Carlson hires campaign pro for CD 15 race” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Carlson of Lakeland was the very last candidate to enter the Democratic Primary for Congressional District 15, but it appears she has hit the ground running. Last week she hired veteran Tallahassee political activist Conor Hurley as her campaign manager. Hurley has already moved to Lakeland for the duration and is helping set up the main headquarters. At 31, Hurley has already had a full ticket of campaign experience. He worked with Kendrick Meek’s campaign for the U.S. Senate, served as campaign manager for Sen. Dick Blumenthal’s 2016 re-election and a stint as executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party. “I took this job because Kristen is the best choice and has the experience necessary,” he said.

Jeff Brandes qualifies for 2018 ballot by petition — Brandes submitted 3,925 signatures by May 9, now verified by the Department of Elections. That was 642 more than needed to qualify. The St. Petersburg Republican seeking another term in Senate District 24. “We’re building a strong grassroots network and seeing broad support throughout the district, from St. Petersburg to Seminole, Largo and the Beaches,” Brandes said in a statement. “As we knock on doors and talk with voters, we’re excited to see our message of lower taxes and common-sense solutions resonate with concerned Pinellas County residents.”

Margaret Good maintains strong fundraising in effort to defend key swing seat” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Good hauled in $62,605 in April to defend the House District 72 seat she won in a nationally-watched special election in February. She now has $82,711, compared with $17,619 for GOP challenger Ray Pilon, a former Sarasota state House member who raised $11,009 in April. Having raised large sums for her special election victory, Good appears on track to keep up her strong fundraising in the race for a key swing seat that Trump carried. In neighboring District 73, the GOP primary between Lakewood Ranch business owner Melissa Howard and Sarasota attorney Tommy Gregory already is shaping up to be a big money affair.

Margaret Good is showing robust financing in her bid to keep the HD 72 seat.

Republican emerges for Broward House seat” via the News Service of Florida — Davie Republican Joseph Anthony Cruz opened a campaign account this week in Broward County’s House District 98, which became open when Katie Edwards-Walpole decided against seeking re-election … Most of Broward County has long been a Democratic stronghold, and the District 98 race has drawn Democratic candidates Andrew DolbergElaine GellerMichael Gottlieb and Stephen Korka. Gottlieb had a fundraising edge as of April 30. He had raised $37,318 and loaned $50,000 to his campaign.

Norman Braman supports Francis Suarez’s strong-mayor initiative” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami Mayor Suarez has so far funneled $100,000 of leftover cash from last year’s mayoral campaign into his strong-mayor ballot initiative this year. Through a petition, Suarez wants to get a referendum on the November ballot that would ask voters if they want to transform Miami’s municipal government and make him the city’s top administrator, a strong mayor who would run the city’s day-to-day operations, making recommendations on the awarding of city contracts and overseeing public projects and employees. Campaign finance reports for March and April show Suarez’s mayoral political committee, Miami’s Future, gave the strong-mayor committee, Miamians for an Independent and Accountable Mayor’s Initiative (MIAMI), $50,000 each month. Miami’s Future still has about $1 million in the bank. The next biggest contributor is a notable name in the realm of strong mayors — auto magnate and philanthropist Braman. Braman cut a $25,000 check to the committee in April. Braman told the Miami Herald he isn’t supporting Suarez specifically so much as he is supporting the concept of a strong mayor.


Pam Bondi’s opioid lawsuit? Some of Florida’s top lawyers won’t touch it” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – Bondi has spent months searching for a law firm to take on the opioid industry. But she’s not getting any help from an 8-year-old state law that caps the fees for lawyers she hires. Because of the cap, some of the state’s top lawyers didn’t bother to apply to represent Florida in a potential lawsuit against opioid makers and distributors. “I would never apply for that position or that task, and I don’t know any of the top-tier lawyers that would,” said Steve Yerrid, a Tampa-based trial lawyer who was part of the “dream team” of lawyers who took on big tobacco for Florida in the 1990s, winning $11.7 billion for the state. The 2010 law, pushed by then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, capped contingency fees for private lawyers hired by the attorney general at $50 million. It was in part a reaction to $3.4 billion that the dozen “dream team” law firms took home from Big Tobacco.

Lawmakers’ hobbies amuse and confuse on social media” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — From karaoke to ballroom dancing to ice sculpting, the hobbies of Florida’s legislators are legion. A Florida Politics reporter recently noticed and tweeted that Rep. Carlos G. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, listed but one “recreational interest,” karaoke, on his legislative info page. That sparked a number of responses on social media last week … Sun-Sentinel reporter Dan Sweeney chimed in: “You guys have cracked open a never-ending font of amazement. Reviewing the recreational interests of state reps is kind of a hobby of mine,” he tweeted. “ … I’d also point you to the ballroom dancing of @ColleenLBurton and the ice sculpting of @JoeGruters.”

Ralph Massullo gives legislative wrap-up at chamber luncheon” via Michael Bates of the Citrus County Chronicle — Given the cultural climate following the February shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a school resource officer would have to follow students around from the time they leave for school in the morning until they get off the bus in the afternoon to ensure their safety, state Rep. Massullo told members of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce … There can be SROs in every school, but what happens when the student leaves school and gets on the bus? he asked the crowd. What about students who participate in fundraisers? Massullo said various reasons have been attributed to the school violence problem: mental health, the breakdown of the family, increased social media and technology expansion. Unless society gets to the root of the problem, “what we’re doing is just working around the edges,” he said.

Ralph Massullo (center) believes we must do more to tackle the problem of school violence.

Behind lovely facade, allegations of slaps, bites, rapes, rats — and a horrific death” via Carol Marbin Miller and Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — William James Lamson was born with a devastating form of autism that caused him to obsessively and explosively strike himself. Caregivers at the Carlton Palms Educational Center were told to keep a football-like helmet on Lamson’s head to protect him from the blows. But there was no one to protect Lamson from his caregivers. When the Mount Dora police were called to investigate Lamson’s death on March 1, officers were told the 26-year-old “was a self-harmer and was constantly banging his head.” Authorities were led to believe that Lamson’s neurological demons had finally won the battle being waged in his brain. But a police report offered significant grounds for skepticism: Investigators “did not observe any blood in his bedroom,” the report said. Nor did they see “any obvious injuries.” Lamson’s death now is a manslaughter investigation. And sources with knowledge of the case say the young man, called “Willie” by his family, died of asphyxiation — not head trauma. “We thought it was a place that would take care of Willie, and we were grateful. It was the only facility licensed to provide the level of care these individuals needed,” David Lamson-Keene, Lamson’s uncle, said of the Lake County institution where Lamson died. “But there were so many outcomes that were horrific outcomes, and those are just the ones we know about.”

Feds: FL inspectors didn’t ensure hundreds of problems at nursing homes corrected” via Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne of the Naples Daily News — The Florida agency responsible for overseeing nursing homes failed to ensure that owners corrected hundreds of problems that put patients at risk, according to a federal audit. The analysis showed dozens of Florida nursing homes repeatedly scored poorly in inspections with frequent violations for nearly five years, yet they continued operating with little risk that regulators would shut them down. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General audit, published in April, shed some light on that problem. The audit found that the AHCA wasn’t even verifying that nursing homes corrected problems after state inspectors cited them. The AHCA failed to obtain or retain evidence that nursing homes corrected problems for 18 of the 100 sampled deficiencies cited by state surveyors, the report says. Instead, it relied on facilities to self-report that problems were corrected, but it did not always require any evidence to back up the claims.

Before ALF owner’s arrest on abuse charge, sisters tried to sound alarm” via John Pacenti of the Palm Beach Post — Long before Bhoodram “Ken” Parsaram was arrested on elder abuse charges last month, sisters Mary Steffen and Joan Stanton tried to sound the alarm that not all was right with the assisted living home the Wellington man owned and managed. Their parents, Richard and Elizabeth “Betty” Weber, ended up at Parsaram’s six-bed ALF in a suburban West Palm Beach neighborhood in 2013 after a judge determined they could no longer care for themselves and placed their care and finances under a professional guardian. The sisters complained to the Department of Children and Families at least three times about the ALF that was managed by Parsaram and his wife, Bidjma “Bibi” Parsaram. The complaints ranged from an unexplained injury to Betty Weber to the quality of the food to the smell of urine emanating from the furniture. They also complained to the Agency for Health Care Administration, which inspects ALFs and nursing homes. They complained to the courts. They wanted their parents back in the couple’s Lake Worth home. Their concerns were dismissed as unfounded.

Court sides with contractor in ‘AOB’ case” via the News Service of Florida — A panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned a circuit judge’s ruling that had been in favor of Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Insurance Co. The Hillsborough County case stemmed from a pipe bursting in 2012 in the home of Homeowners Choice policyholder Richard Prager. Prager hired B&M Clean, LLC, and Nicon Construction, Inc., to provide water and debris removal and other services. Prager also assigned the insurance benefits to the firms — a process in which the firms pursued payment from the insurer. Both firms eventually sued Homeowners Choice, arguing they had not been fully paid under the policy … A circuit judge granted summary judgment to Homeowners Choice on the Nicon Construction claim, finding that Prager had assigned all the benefits for the loss to B&M Clean. But the appeals court said the circuit judge too narrowly interpreted language in the assignment of benefits. “In finding that Mr. Prager had no further interest in the claim to assign to Nicon, the trial court isolated a phrase in the assignment rather than viewing it in the context of the entire agreement,” said the decision, written by appeals-court Judge Patricia Kelly and joined by judges Morris Silberman and Susan Rothstein-Youakim.

Info used to combat AOB abuse triggers lawsuit over ‘secrets’ ” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Details of insurance claims gleaned for the ongoing battle against assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse are “trade secrets” that should be shielded from public view, a new lawsuit says. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. recently filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court against the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), seeking to block it from complying with a public records request … Similar suits are filed every year, generally, after an interested party has filed a records request seeking to use “open source intelligence,” or public records, to gain a business advantage on its competitors.

Happening today — The Florida Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will protest for an overhaul of voting-rights laws, as well as programs addressing poverty. Protest begins 2 p.m., The Capitol.

Florida to monitor Broward election chief after judge finds ‘unlawful’ ballot destruction in Wasserman Schultz race via Marc Caputo of POLITICO –  The elections supervisor in Florida’s second-most populous county broke state and federal law by unlawfully destroying ballots cast in U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz‘s 2016 Democratic primary, a judge ruled Friday in a case brought by the congresswoman’s challenger who wanted to check for voting irregularities. In light of the ruling, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration — which has expressed concerns with how Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes has handled the case — told POLITICO that he’s reviewing the judge’s order and will have her office monitored. “During the upcoming election, the Department of State will send a Florida elections expert from the Division of Elections to Supervisor Snipes’ office to ensure that all laws are followed so the citizens of Broward County can have the efficient, properly run election they deserve,” Scott’s office said in a written statement. Snipes and her lawyer, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, did not return an email from POLITICO for comment, though a consultant working on the office’s behalf confirmed its receipt. Snipes’ predecessor was removed from office by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Senate for botching the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Gay-rights movement seeks help from Central Florida conservatives” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — GOP officials that included Orange County commissioners, state legislators and county mayoral candidates gathered at a downtown Orlando restaurant to hear from a group dedicated to fighting discrimination against LGBT workers. “Folks who are working hard, playing by the rules, paying taxes, should not be arbitrarily terminated at their place of employment if they’re found to be LGBT,” said Patrick Slevin, project manager of Conservatives on the Right Side of Equality. The Orlando event was CRSE’s fifth in Florida, branching out from Miami-Dade to Tallahassee and now to Central Florida. The group is supported by the SAVE Foundation of Miami-Dade County, one of the state’s oldest nonpartisan LGBT advocacy groups. The idea of conservatives backing LGBT rights “is very near and dear to us,” said co-founder Tony Lima. “We know a lot of conservatives want to end discrimination, but they don’t have a forum to exchange ideas and gain insight.”

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary losing water; scientists wonder why” via Greg Stanley of the Naples Daily News — Even through all the decades of new houses , even as canals were sloppily dug and roads hastily built by high-pressure property salesmen, even as agriculture grew and wetlands were steadily paved over, nothing seemed to greatly change the water levels in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. But in 2000 and 2001, the water began disappearing, researchers Shawn Clem and Mike Duever found. Over the past 18 years, the swamp has been getting the same amount of rainfall as it always has. It fills to its capacity during the wet months. But as soon as the rains stop during the dry season, the standing water and ponds that should be receding slowly are instead sucked away rapidly. In most recent years, the swamp has been completely dry for months. Researchers at Corkscrew now are racing to find out what is causing the water loss, and what the dry spells mean for the future of the wildlife, environment and aquifers there, and in Collier County as a whole.


A dead deputy and a felon on probation: shooting raises questions about the cost of budget cuts” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Joseph Ables had been on probation since 2016 for aggravated battery, was classified as a “Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern,” and had what the Florida Department of Corrections described as “a clean probation record.” But when Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry arrived at Ables’ Lake Placid home to investigate complaints that the 69-year-old had shot a cat, the officer was shot in the head. Gentry, 40, died the next day, but questions remain as to how Ables got a gun. Police said he had a history of violence toward police, so why wasn’t he being more carefully watched by probation officers? Could higher scrutiny have made a difference? And did the department’s decision to scale back visits because of staff shortages and budget cuts play a role? It is not clear whether probation officers could have caught any warning signs that Ables could turn violent against Gentry, but the agency, which has been chronically underfunded by Gov. Scott and state legislators for years, has eliminated hundreds of probation officers’ jobs in the last decade. The officers point to a policy at the agency that allows some offenders to mail in their own probation reports, significantly reducing home and office visits by probation officers.

How did Joseph Edward Ables, the suspect in the shooting of Deputy William Gentry, manage to get a gun?

Women fear potential return to prison. State blames budget for cuts to community treatment programs” via Jessica De Leon of the Bradenton Herald — Women who have undergone mental and substance abuse treatment for the behaviors that help land them in prison, fear having to return to prison after being told by Florida Department of Corrections officials that a transition center program would be closing because of budget cutbacks. The women at Bradenton Bridge got the news during a surprise visit on May 1 from officials with the Department of Corrections. Women say they were told that they could have to return to prison as a result. Now women are speaking out, fearing what might happen if the program is cut as has been proposed. “My fears,” said one woman who asked not to be named, “depression and getting lost back in the system and not being able to get back into the work-release.”


Schools’ culture of tolerance lets students like Nikolas Cruz slide” via Megan O’Matz and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The culture of leniency allows children to engage in an endless loop of violations and second chances, creating a system where kids who commit the same offense for the 10th time may be treated like it’s the first, according to records and interviews with people familiar with the process. The Sun-Sentinel obtained Cruz’s discipline records, reviewed discipline policies and found: Students can be considered first-time offenders even if they commit the same offenses year after year. The district’s claim of reforming bad behavior is exaggerated. Lenient discipline has an added PR benefit for the district: lower suspensions, expulsions and arrests along with rising graduation rates. The forgiving attitude goes beyond the schools’ controversial Promise program, the target of considerable public scrutiny for enabling students to avoid criminal charges for misdemeanor offenses.

School district shuts down information after Stoneman Douglas shooting” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward school district’s repeated, emphatic — and it turns out, false — statements that Nikolas Cruz had not been in a controversial disciplinary program fit a pattern of an institution on the defensive and under siege. Facing significant legal and political exposure over the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the district has tried to keep information from the public and put out untrue and misleading statements, frustrating parents who say this is the time for maximum transparency … It flatly refused to issue any records regarding the shooting to the news media, in a possible violation of the state’s open-records law. Superintendent Robert Runcie has blocked critics, including parents, from his Twitter account … The worst came last week when Runcie acknowledged that his forceful denials that Cruz had been involved in the Promise program, which is intended to provide an alternative to the arrest of students for minor offenses, were wrong. The district had repeatedly dismissed as “fake news” suggestions that Cruz was in the program.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie (center) has shut down any information about the Parkland shooting. 

Dad finds purpose seeking accountability for girl’s death in Parkland school” via Alexi Cardona of the Naples Daily News — Ask Andrew Pollack what his life was like before Valentine’s Day, and he’ll say he used to be blessed. His youngest daughter, Meadow Pollack, was a high school senior planning to attend Lynn University, a private school in Boca Raton. The 18-year-old was looking forward to celebrating her final high school milestones — prom and graduation. But she never made it to those milestones. Meadow was one of 17 students and teachers gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School … “Part of me died with my kid,” Pollack said recently in his Coral Springs home. Since Feb. 14, Pollack has become a man on a mission. He has a new purpose: holding accountable every person and system that failed his child and the loved ones of 16 other families. “It’s my way of honoring my daughter,” Pollack said. “It’s what she would have wanted. I can’t just let her die in vain.”

Mutual admiration as Parkland students celebrate milestones” via The Associated Press — Samantha Fuentes, one of the Parkland school shooting survivors who gave emotional speeches at the March for Our Lives in Washington, has something to celebrate: Three months after the attack, she says “My face is finally shrapnel free!” … “Regardless of the fact I look like I lost a fight, inside, I’m winning in a way. I’ve been struggling so hard to love my face again, thank you for all your support,” she tweeted. Fuentes is among the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who have made a point of reaching out to other young shooting survivors as they campaign for gun controls. She was honored with a Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN, the literary and human rights organization, for representing “an inclusive group of young people” in that effort. Some of her classmates met in Miami with James Shaw Jr., the man who grabbed the hot muzzle of an AR-15 and wrestled it away from a gunman who killed four people and injured four others at a Waffle House in Tennessee. They too shared photos on social media, expanding a mutual admiration society. “I met one of my heros today,” Shaw tweeted below his picture with Emma Gonzalez.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Samantha Fuentes.

Why won’t local governments fund extra school security? Look to a memo” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In a 6-1 vote, the Manatee County Commission decided not to increase its share of funding for school resource officers during the next academic year, despite a state mandate for increased school security following the Parkland massacre. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and city police agencies said they would no longer split the costs of providing security to schools. If you are wondering why the agencies, which generally have cooperated in the past, are taking such stances, you might not need to look any further than a May 2 legal opinion drafted by the Florida Sheriffs Association’s legal counsel. The four-page document, which is circulating throughout the state, argues that the Legislature put school districts — not law enforcement — on the hook for the expenses of guarding the schools. “It is apparent the Act requires school districts to fund any general appropriations shortfall either through reallocating funds under their respective budgets or accessing their reserved funds or raising their millage rates,” association general counsel Wayne Evans wrote.


Matt Gaetz amendment would enhance spending for Gulf Test Range” via the NWF Daily News — The final House Armed Services Committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, completed Thursday, included a $41.9 million increase for the military test ranges, Gaetz’s office said. “The Gulf Test Range provides approximately 120,000 square miles of overwater airspace spanning the coast of Florida’s First Congressional District,” the news release said. “It is used for high altitude, supersonic air combat training, as well as air-to-air missile testing, drone targeting, hypersonic weapons testing, and space launches. Additionally, the Air Force Special Operations Command, the 96th Test Wing, the 33rd Fighter Wing, and others all train on the Gulf Test Range.”

Matt Gaetz brings home the bacon.

Neal Dunn’s bill helping veterans with opioids gains traction in Congress” via the Sunshine State News — Dunn’s proposal helping veterans suffering from opioid abuse is building steam on Capitol Hill as the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee passed his “Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act” without opposition. Dunn’s bill would direct the VA secretary to connect VA doctors and health care providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) which track prescribing data for patients prescribed drugs like oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone to relieve pain. The PDMPs identify and alert of abuse patterns in patients, a key step to stopping widespread abuse of the drugs, which are dangerous in part because of their highly addictive properties. VA doctors consult the state-based PDMPs before prescribing opioids to veterans, some of whom have suffered injuries while fighting wars overseas.

Assignment editors — Congresswoman Kathy Castor joins Eric Newman, president of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. to announce support for the last remaining cigar factory in Tampa. The Food and Drug Administration has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to reconsider regulation of premium cigars and is soliciting public comments through June 25. News conference begins 1:30 p.m. at the outside steps of J.C. Newman Cigar Co., 2701 N 16th St, Tampa.


Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gives Tallahassee an earful” via Joe Henderson for Florida Politics — While Buckhorn decided against running for governor, he hasn’t ruled out taking the No. 2 spot on a Democratic ticket if he is asked. I talked to him about that recently. The most telling thing Buckhorn said was that he would only agree to seek the lieutenant governor’s job if he felt he had a chance to really contribute to policy. I’ve known him a long time. He doesn’t have the kind of personality that would handle four years of ribbon-cuttings and Kiwanis Club speeches. In two terms as mayor, he was often on the business end of edicts from Tallahassee on issues that included attempts at gun control, so-called sanctuary cities, limits on the ability of cities to raise taxes, and even an attempt in the last Session for the state to pre-empt all local tree-trimming laws. As a No. 2, Buckhorn might flourish as an enforcer and be the advocate for local cities that mayors across the state say is needed. Would he do that? My guess is he would, if the right person asked, said the right things, and then let Buckhorn be Buckhorn.

Charter schools bring unprecedented accountability to public education” via Amy Banov for TCPalm — Contrary to statements made by charter school opponents, Florida public charter school teachers must be certified and evaluated like all other public school teachers. They are not district employees or members of teachers’ unions. Florida charter school laws include testing requirements and digital protocols, curriculum standards, open records laws and hundreds of other regulations. The charter school’s authorizer, generally the school district, collects an administrative fee and is responsible for compliance. If a charter school fails to provide adequate levels of student achievement, it can be closed. This is not true of district-run public schools, where failing schools often undergo school improvement and turnaround measures for years, subjecting generations of children to a subpar education.


Michael Cohen is getting the headlines, but another former Trump aide has made his mark lobbying for the likes of Alphabet and Tesla” via Brian Schwartz of CNBC — Shortly after Trump defeated Hillary ClintonScott Mason, a member of the campaign and Trump’s transition team, was hired as a senior policy adviser at Holland & Knight, a law firm that brought in a record amount of lobbying fees the year after the president’s victory. Mason told CNBC that his work with the Trump campaign was likely a factor in his getting hired at Holland & Knight. He said he believes he has helped his clients get their footing in the White House — not just because of his prior engagement with campaign officials, but also because the administration is open to working with businesses. In 2017, with Mason as a new member of the firm’s public policy and regulation group, Holland & Knight raked in $22 million, its most since 2009, President Barack Obama‘s first year in office, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mason, who worked in the government affairs office of hardware retail chain Lowe’s before he joined the Trump team, lobbied on behalf of Alphabet last year on two bills linked to autonomous vehicle safety.

Michael Cohen may be getting the headlines, but others have just as much pull with Donald Trump.

Ritch Workman hired by Palm Bay City Hall as special projects manager” via Rick Neale and Wayne Price of FLORIDA TODAY — His mission is to oversee a $4 million effort to make all city facilities more energy efficient, which ultimately will lead to saving money in utility costs. Workman served as business development director at Keiser University from 2014 until March when he was let go because of budget cutbacks. “I did project management for Keiser and really that was the favorite part of that job,” Workman said. “That type of work really is one my attributes, that I enjoy and do well.” Workman added: “At the end of the day, Palm Bay has decided to do the right thing, both for the taxpayer and the environment.” Workman earns $62,000 per year. Salary range for this position is $50,478 to $75,811

— ALOE —

Happening today — Chris Matthews, the host of the MSNBC show “Hardball,” speaks to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. Event begins 11:45 a.m., Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Cohen Pavilion, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.

MSNBC host Chris Matthews visits West Palm Beach.

Happening today — Political commentator Dick Morris will speak to the Palm Beach County Trump Club, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

Happy birthday from the weekend to our great friend, the handsome Brad Swanson (yeah, I just objectified him), as well as Bill Carlson and Jim Eaton. Celebrating today are Todd Reid and Susie Wiles. 

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