Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
Forget all those other end-of-year news story wrap-ups — what everyone really wants is a review of the wackiness that is Florida Man (and his lovely companion, Florida Woman). Our friends at Sachs Media Group know zany when they see it, and they didn’t let us down.
As they have done for several years, the sharp minds at Sachs teamed up with brilliant cartoonist Bill Day to highlight a list of the year’s top 10 news articles detailing crazy misadventures of Florida Man and Florida Woman.
From the guy who couldn’t live without his emotional support squirrel to the woman arrested for shoplifting while dressed as a turkey to the wife who chomped down on her husband after he changed the computer password, 2017 certainly had its share of goofy for Florida Man and Woman.
In the spirit of Florida’s never-ending election cycle, you’re even invited to vote on the best of the weird. Click here to see the gallery and cast your vote. Last year’s winning entry was the article headlined, “Florida man arrested for tossing live alligator into Wendy’s.” What will this year’s winner be? It’s in your hands.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @CarlosCurbelo: The people of
#Alabama put country first tonight by rejecting the disgusting Roy Moore. Congratulations to the Bannon wing of the @GOP for gifting a seat to @SenateDems in one of the reddest states. You have no future in our country’s politics. #AlabamaElection
— @FLMolly: I know “victory has many fathers” but
@TheRickWilson played a primary role in crafting the powerful messages that were seen on tv and digital media in the last days of this campaign…and he deserves a great deal of credit for the near- impossible outcome of this election.
— @TonyFabrizioGOP: It is clear that
@realDonaldTrump needs to get better political advisers. This disaster could have been avoided.
— @SenReneGarcia: To say that Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand “will do anything” for a donation is completely disrespectful as a Senator and more important a lady. If the President wanted to take a shot at her, he could [have] done it differently. This comment has no place in our political discourse.
— @RepDennisRoss: An open dialogue about how we can help children is good. But as an entertainer, @ignores details & opts for emotional arguments, while ignoring valid points from those who may even share his concerns. It’s too bad. The public misses an opportunity to learn.
— @Jay_Fant: Another reason why we can’t count on progressives to make our cities safe. This only makes me more determined to ensure that we END sanctuary cities in Florida.
— @Daniel_Sweeney: Fire drill in the middle of @presentation on nursing home bill at @ . “This is the FHCA at work!” he jokes
— @DPRK_News: US computer company Twitter launches “threads,” new feature allowing computer people to bombard one another with ever more useless drivel of no concern, as well as vicious slanders;
— @MomsDemand: Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of the underdog, and the triumph of light over darkness. This holiday season, we keep these principles in mind as part of our fight to end gun violence. Happy Hanukkah!
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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“Denise Grimsley proposes generator tax exemption” via the News Service of Florida — The proposal (SB 1246) is similar to a measure (HB 803) filed last month by Rep. Rick Roth, a Loxahatchee Republican. Both bills would create a sales-tax exemption for emergency-electrical equipment at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, with the exemption capped at $30,000. Scott’s administration moved forward with regulations after eight residents of a sweltering Broward County nursing home died Sept. 13, three days after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning system. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, however, have repeatedly raised concerns about the costs of installing generators and adding fuel supplies to meet the requirements.
“Jason Fischer proposes changes to current Florida law on autonomous vehicles” via Lobby Tools — HB 353, filed by Fischer, would change the current Florida law to no longer require a physical operator in some autonomous vehicles. The bill would also remove the current requirement for a person operating an autonomous vehicle to hold a driver’s license, and defines that the “autonomous technology,” not the person, is the operator of an autonomous vehicle that is in autonomous mode. The bill also provides that whether a human operator is physically present in the vehicle or not the vehicle is still required to have a system to safely alert a human operator in the vehicle if there is detection of a technology failure. This safety system must either allow the human operator to take control of the vehicle or, if there is no human operator present, be capable of bringing the vehicle to a complete stop. HB 353 must still be heard by two more committees before it can be taken up on the House floor.
“House legislation would bar agency-initiated public records lawsuits” via Lobby Tools — Legislation (HB 273) barring state agencies from initiating civil lawsuits against individuals that make public records requests passed its first committee unanimously in the final interim committee week before the start of the 2018 session. Under normal circumstances, a resident would make a request and may choose to bring a suit if an agency denies it. If the individual wins, the agency would cover the court costs and hand over the public record. But if the agency initiates, the individual is stuck with the costs even if they win the case. House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues said, “What we’re seeing is special districts, school districts and local governments in other states are using a response of filing a lawsuit as a tool to either not provide the public record or to intimidate people into not asking for public records for fear that they will be sued and get stuck with thousands of dollars of court costs.” Rodrigues told members of the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee Florida would be the first to prevent that action, just as it was the first to pass the Sunshine Law giving access to public records.
“ACLU promoting criminal justice reforms for upcoming Legislative Session” via Roberto Roldan of WUSF — Florida is one of only three states that allow prosecutors to have the only say if a juvenile suspect is tried as an adult. The American Civil Liberties Union, a part of the “No Place for a Child” coalition, is holding town halls about this practice and other juvenile justice reforms being considered in the 2018 Florida Legislative session that starts next month. Under current Florida law, even judges are unable to send a case to juvenile court once a child or teenager has been charged as an adult, said Michelle Morton, the juvenile justice policy coordinator with ACLU Florida. Supporters of the current system say that putting the decision in the prosecutor’s hands is efficient and is tough on crime. Morton told residents at a town hall Saturday in Tampa that more minors are sent to adult jail in Florida than anywhere else in the United States. She said doing so can restrict access to education and rehabilitation children would otherwise get in a juvenile facility.
Meanwhile … State OKs ‘Prince of Peace’ cross for Capitol – A second display for the 2017 holiday season has been approved for the plaza-level rotunda, says a spokeswoman for the Department of Management Services, the state’s real estate manager. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization, will put up a wooden “Prince of Peace” cross Dec. 15-22, according to the group’s application that was released Tuesday. A picture of the cross, which has been previously displayed in the Capitol, is here. A “brief ceremony” will be held at the cross at noon on Dec. 20, the application adds. The cross joins a winter solstice poster also approved for the same dates. Aside from traditional Hanukkah menorahs and Christian Nativity scenes, other displays in recent years have included two variations of a six-foot “Festivus” pole: One was made of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans; another was a rainbow-colored “Gay Pride” version topped with a disco ball.
— L’ AFFAIRE LATVALA —
“Senate sexual harassment legal wars mount amid calls for ‘ethical walls’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — Lillian Tysinger, the Senate aide who filed a whistleblower complaint against her former co-worker Rachel Perrin Rogers last week, filed a defamation lawsuit in circuit court against Perrin Rogers. her attorney, Tiffany Cruz, said: “We will absolutely file a counterclaim.” In a Dec. 6 letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Cruz also asked that he place an “ethical wall” around Negron’s chief of staff Cheri Vancura, whom Cruz accused of having a close personal relationship with Tysinger and Latvala and was afraid she would share information with them. Cruz said that Vancura asked Perrin Rogers to “befriend, mentor and assist Ms. Tysinger throughout the past year.” She also said that Vancura has “a close personal relationship with Missy Timmins, Senator Latvala’s former aide of many years who continues to be a close confidant of Latvala, and who has made statements with the intent to smear the reputation of any victim who does come forward.” Those letters and the call for security triggered Tysinger’s defamation complaint, said Marie Mattox, Tysinger’s lawyer.
“Senate spends $25K on outside attorneys for Latvala probe” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — In mid-November, Senate President Joe Negron hired a trio of attorneys from the GrayRobinson law firm to help him navigate the investigation into sexual harassment and groping allegations against Latvala, one of the chamber’s most powerful senators. Negron sought the help from the Orlando-based firm after the Senate general counsel, Dawn Roberts, recused herself from any involvement in the case, citing a potential conflict of interest because of her close association with Latvala over the years. Since the contract was signed Nov. 9, George Meros, who has represented embattled high-profile Republicans in the past, attorney Brian Bieber and attorney Allison Mawhinney have worked 46.8 hours. The attorneys charge an hourly fee, and according to the contract, their rates are $600 for Bieber, $550 for Meros and $345 for Mawhinney.
The single best column yet about L’Affaire Latvala — “I want answers before calling for Sen. Jack Latvala’s scalp” via Rosemary O’Hara of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — During his 16 years in the Florida Legislature, Latvala has struck me as gruff, dismissive and full of himself. He’s an old-school guy whose influence comes not only from knowing the history of the issues and the players, but from helping other politicians get elected — making money for his direct-mail marketing business along the way. I have appreciated that in a Republican-dominated legislature, he’s been a moderating force on some bad education and environmental proposals. But then he goes and votes for things like that terrible charter school bill last year. That said, I wonder if Latvala isn’t roadkill in the nasty business of Tallahassee politics. What Latvala is alleged to have done makes my blood boil, but I’m bothered by the drumbeat of calls for him to resign before he has had a chance to defend himself. My sense of fair play says it’s wrong to #BelieveWomen without even considering the other side. And I fear today’s course correction for how women are treated in the workplace will lose its legs if we try, convict and sentence someone without a fair hearing.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Ron DeSantis-aligned state committee signs retainers with high-dollar fundraiser, consultants — North Florida Republican Congressman DeSantis seems closer to a run for Governor, as a political committee that could be used for a statewide campaign raised about $400,000 and signed retainer agreements with both consultants and fundraisers. While “Fund for Florida’s Future” cannot directly coordinate with DeSantis as a federal officeholder, several movements give a possible insight into DeSantis’ future. Chaired by Jacksonville attorney Erika Alba, the committee has attracted several high-dollar donors that have supported DeSantis’ in the past, as well as aligning with fundraising and political consultants from earlier federal races. In December, the committee retained Macadamia Strategies, a Washington-based consulting and strategy firm that DeSantis used in 2016. The committee has used the firm recently, but the $10,000 retainer is the first sign of a long-term relationship. The committee also spent $10,000 on a “initial fee and monthly retainer” with HMB Strategies, a Tallahassee-based fundraising firm used in the past by Senate President Negron. In November, Fund for Florida’s Future received $250,000 from Bernard Marcus, the Home Depot founder who endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, the most significant nonfederal contribution the Boca Raton resident has given in Florida. Another $500,000 check came from Frederick Sontag, founder of Spring Bay Companies, a private equity firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, DeSantis’ hometown. Sontag was also a $500,000 donor to a super PAC supporting DeSantis’ unsuccessful Senate bid in 2016.
“Felons’ rights initiative tops $1.1 million in November” via the News Service of Florida — The political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy brought in $1,158,703 during the month and had raised an overall total of $4,073,395 … Last month’s total included $800,000 in contributions from Laurie Michaels, a Fort Worth, Texas, psychologist. Floridians for a Fair Democracy is proposing a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution. The committee needs to submit 766,200 valid petition signatures to get the measure on the 2018 ballot and had presented 495,455 as of Tuesday morning, according to the Division of Elections.
Sean Shaw is a future national superstar. His father was a legend. @SShawFL is a future legend. National money will pour into this guy.
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) December 12, 2017
First in Sunburn — Lori Berman joins lengthy list of elected, community leaders endorsing Joe Casello for HD 90 — Boynton Beach Commissioner Casello announced endorsements from an extensive list of high-profile labor and civic organizations as well as 16 current and former community leaders in Palm Beach County. Casello, the only candidate in the HD 90 race, is touting support from the AFL-CIO, the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Palm Beach County Firefighters Local 2928, the Boynton Beach Firefighters Local 1891, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council along with State Attorney Dave Aronberg; State Reps. Joseph Abruzzo, David Silvers and Matt Wilhite; Palm Beach County Commissioners Mack Bernard, Mary Lou Berger, David Kerner and Melissa MacKinlay; Vice-Mayors Justin Katz of Boynton Beach and John McGovern of Wellington; Commissioners Mitch Katz of Delray Beach and Shanon Materio of West Palm Beach; Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield; former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson; and former Greenacres Mayor Sam Ferreri. Berman, who is vacating the south-central Palm Beach County seat to run for the Florida Senate, said: “I have known Joe for several years and I have been tremendously impressed by his work on the City Commission in Boynton Beach. I know that he’ll be an effective legislator in Tallahassee and I look forward to working with him on the issues important to the people of Palm Beach County. I’m excited to endorse him in this race.”
First in Sunburn — Emma Collum unrolls new endorsements in HD 93 race — Collum unveiled a new wave of endorsements: State Sen. Gary Farmer, state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, and former Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl. “Emma has the passion and the right experience to be a strong and effective voice for Broward County,” said Jacobs, who represents House District 96. “I know that Emma Collum can best represent the values of our district, and will work to stop the radical agenda of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Tallahassee,” said Farmer, a longtime activist in Broward before his election to Senate District 34. “Emma Collum will be a great advocate for the residents of District 93, and I am proud to endorse her,” added Keechl. “She has the knowledge, the temperament and compassion to fight for our friends and neighbors in South Florida and around the state.”
“Brooke Renney to run Rob Panepinto’s Orange County mayoral campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Renney has led field operations for several campaigns, including Gov. Rick Scott‘s re-election campaign in 2014, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera‘s U.S. Senate campaign in 2016, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry‘s campaign. She’s also worked for the Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee and on the state of Republican state Sen. Tom Lee. “I am excited to have Brooke on the team leading our day-to-day campaign efforts. Brooke has a demonstrated record of success working on campaigns all over Florida,” Panepinto, a Winter Park businessman, stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “I am confident Brooke will build a top-notch organization that will carry us to victory in 2018.”
“International elections award winners: Australia, Ecuador, Ireland, Seminole County” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office has won an international award for elections, winning a first-place honor for reaching first-time voters, from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies’ International Electoral Awards. The award put the Seminole County office on the same stage as elections’ honorees from Australia, Ecuador, Ireland, Canada and Mexico, among other countries. The only other American elections’ office to win one of the awards was from Los Angeles. Seminole County won in the category of the First Time Voter Award, with honorable mentions being given to the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania, and The League of Young Voters of the United Kingdom.
Epilogue — “FEC dismisses latest legal arguments of David Rivera in lawsuit” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Federal Election Commission blasted the latest legal arguments of former GOP Rep. Rivera, who’s asking a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit that alleges he illegally made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to a 2012 House congressional candidate. The FEC says that, during the 2012 congressional primary election, Rivera funneled nearly $70,000 to Justin Lamar Sternad, a candidate working with Rivera and an accomplice to weaken his opponent, Democrat Joe Garcia. As part of the scheme, GOP operative Ana Alliegro worked as a go-between, helping coordinate with Sternad. The FEC says Rivera violated the Federal Election Campaign Act’s ban on making contributions in the names of others. In a motion to dismiss the FEC lawsuit, Rivera argued last month that the donations to Sternad were simply legal in-kind contributions. Rivera’s attorneys argued Sternad did not report Rivera as the donor, which could run afoul of election law, but that his client personally did nothing wrong. Rivera’s motion to dismiss the suit also contends that the FEC is not alleging that Rivera “either reimbursed third parties or provided funds to third parties” that went on to pay vendors that helped Sternad’s campaign. In its response, the FEC rejected Rivera’s arguments as irrelevant to the allegations raised in the lawsuit.
— DASH FOR CASH —
Relatively new Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has amassed nearly $650,000 — in one month — for his bid for a full term.
In doing so, the Gov. Scott appointee led the November fundraising pack for the three 2018 Cabinet races, as reported by the News Service of Florida.
Patronis’ only announced candidate, former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring, raised just $24,700 last month, leaving him with a combined $305,190 on hand — $100,000 of which came from a loan.
— Patronis’ big ones: Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance, $100,000; an Associated Industries of Florida PAC, $50,000; Windhaven Insurance Co., $30,000; United States Sugar Corp., $25,000; The Lewis Bear Company, a Pensacola beverage distributor, $25,000; and a Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, $25,000.
— The race for top cop: Pensacola Republican state Rep. Frank White banked nearly $195,000. Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody came in with about $116,000. Jacksonville Republican state Rep. Jay Fant grabbed just under $37,000. Dover Republican state Rep. Ross Spano entered mid-November and raised just under $9,000 in his campaign and over $12,000 in his PAC. Lone Democrat Ryan Torrens picked up just $9,158.
— Harvesting the cash crop: In the race for Agriculture Commissioner, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman leads with $2.54 million on hand ($2.5 million came from him). Troutman raised just $5,500 last month. Sebring Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley trails North Fort Myers Rep. Matt Caldwell, with Grimsley at just over $932,000 banked and Caldwell at more than $1 million. Caldwell brought in around $140,000 between his committee and campaign in Nov. Grimsley banked over $117,000. Democrat David Walker had raised just $5,230.
— STATEWIDE —
Assignment editors — Continuing a long-standing holiday tradition, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will present Florida-grown Christmas trees to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis beginning 8:30 a.m. outside of the Executive Office of the Governor, Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol. Every year, Florida growers harvest approximately 16,000 trees from more than 100 Christmas tree farms across the state.
“’Marsy’s Law’ push seeks equal rights for crime victims” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Tim Cerio, a commissioner on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, is pushing a proposal that would equate rights of victims and their family members with those of defendants and convicted criminals — provisions commonly known as Marsy’s Law. “The United States Constitution enumerates 20 distinct rights that are afforded to those accused or convicted of crimes,” Cerio said at a news conference on the proposal. “The victims themselves, family members they leave behind when a tragic loss occurs have absolutely no rights in our great document … Those who are thrust into the criminal justice system by the actions of others have (no rights).” Part of Marsy’s Law stipulates the welfare of a victim’s family and the victim must be considered when setting bail for the accused. There are other unique provisions in Cerio’s proposal, including protection of the victim’s dignity.
“Supermajority for tax hikes proposal clears sole CRC committee” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — A committee of Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission approved a proposal to require House and Senate supermajorities before increasing state taxes or fees. The Finance and Taxation Committee was the only committee stop for the measure, presented by Chair Fred Karlinsky. Karlinsky, the co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group, was a Scott CRC pick — and his remarks were straight out of the governor’s hymnal. Karlinsky cited “seven years of unprecedented growth” concomitant with tax cuts, before cautioning that a governor and legislature in the future may be less inclined to tax cuts. With that in mind, the supermajority proposal — as a bulwark against tax hikes.
“State exhausts special needs scholarship funding” via Travis Pillow of redefinED — Roughly 10,150 students are receiving Gardiner Scholarships this school year … the program has exhausted all the available funding for scholarships for the first time since its creation in 2014. An additional 1,270 students have been approved for funding, but have not been able to receive it. That’s according to figures from Step Up For Students, the largest nonprofit organization that helps administer the program. “We have definitely exhausted every last dollar, every last penny,” said Gina Lynch, Step Up’s vice president of operations. “There is healthy demand for the program.” The program allows families to pay for a wide range of education-related expenses, from therapy and homeschool curriculum to public school courses and private school tuition, for qualifying children with special needs. Families on this year’s waiting list will be next in line for funding for the 2018-19 school year, after the families who currently receive scholarships and want them renewed.
“Opening prayer dropped from county commission meetings after court ruling” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — Brevard County commissioners have dropped religious invocations from the start of their meeting agendas after a federal judge issued an injunction banning the county from continuing its long-standing practice. U.S. District Judge John Antoon II said the county’s invocation system violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution. As a result, county commissioners last week began asking for a moment of silence at the start of their meetings, instead of an invocation by a clergyman. Three organizations and five individuals sued the county over the invocation practice in 2015 after the County Commission declined to allow atheists, agnostics and other “non-theists” to be part of the invocation rotation.
“Florida’s orange production forecast to hit 73-year low after Hurricane Irma” via Kevin Derby and Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its latest projections for the 2017-2018 orange crop and downgraded Florida’s orange forecasts for December … 46 million boxes of Florida oranges will be produced this season, down 8 percent from November’s projections and 33 percent lower than last year. The December forecast numbers are the lowest since the 1944-1945 citrus production season of 42.2 million boxes. Early, midseason and Navel varieties in Florida are also in bad shape, as NASS projects 19 million boxes of those oranges this season — a drop of 10 percent from what was expected last month and a decrease of 42 percent from last year. Florida Valencia oranges are also down with the latest projections forecasting 27 million boxes, down 7 percent from what was projected last month and a decrease of 24 percent from last year.
“After Irma, what happened to all those complaints about scams?” — via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — In the weeks after Hurricane Irma forced the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history, thousands of angry consumers swamped Attorney General Pam Bondi with complaints of price gouging by hotels, gas stations, retailers and restaurants. Of 7,500 complaints, one has been settled for $25,000. Bondi’s office said it has 10 more open price gouging investigations, most involving gas stations and hotels. Bill Newton, deputy director of the Florida Consumer Action Network in St. Petersburg, said her bark is worse than her bite when it comes to tracking down scam artists.“Like everyone, we were bombarded with AG Bondi’s many ads before, during, and after the storms. We could not help question whether the ads were to mention her name or actually go after price gougers… It does seem like there should be more than one case.” The Miami Princess Hotel agreed to a restitution payment of $17,259, plus an additional $7,500 in civil penalties for a total of nearly $25,000. Bondi’s office said it received more than 14,000 calls and complaints
— FOR YOUR RADAR —
With Florida’s population expected to gain another 5.5 million residents by 2030 — 4-5 million of them new drivers — the Florida Chamber Foundation Transportation Summit examines how the state can prepare its infrastructure.
The daylong summit, held in Port Canaveral, included a new employer-to-employee education video produced by the Chamber Foundation that tells a tale of two Floridas: One of a state that does not invest in innovation and talented workers, and another where increased diversification strengthens Florida’s economy.
Why it matters:
— Florida has approximately 287,000 trade, transportation and utility jobs combined,
— 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and
— The global economy is expected to double in size over the next two decades.
“Preparing for Florida’s future is critical,” Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Dew told attendees. “2030 will be here before we know it. Florida’s projected to add 5.4 million new residents by 2030, and it’s important we continue to prepare and build the infrastructure that Florida will need to be successful.”
— Rep. Bob Cortes (@CortesBob) December 13, 2017
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Corrine Brown asks to stay out of prison until appeal complete” via Lynnsey Gardner and Francine Frazier of News4Jax — Attorney James Smith, who represents Brown, has requested a bond, pending appeal, which would allow Brown to stay out of prison until she exhausts her appeals. U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan allowed Brown, 71, to go home after imposing the five-year sentence and told her she would receive a letter in the mail specifying when and where she must report. He said that date would not be before Jan. 8. As part of the conditions of her release, Brown surrendered her passport last week. She was spotted dining out over the weekend at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Jacksonville. She has been free on bond since then and is hoping her good behavior will keep her out of prison as she fights for a new trial.
Florida Dem accused of sexual harassment gets support from Congress” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The phrase “I believe the women” has become a motto for lawmakers in the wake of career-ending sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken. But when sexual harassment allegations against South Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings from 2011 resurfaced last week, the reaction was different. “I believe him,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat. The 81-year-old Hastings denies the allegations and said he had no previous knowledge that taxpayer funds were paid out to Winsome Packer, a congressional staffer who worked for a commission that studies security and cooperation in Europe. Court documents show that he was removed from the sexual harassment lawsuit in 2012. Packer continued the lawsuit against the commission after Hastings was removed, and the payment was made in 2014, according to Roll Call … “If there is someone in the United States House of Representatives who can survive this, it’s Alcee Hastings,” said Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “My goodness, he’s been impeached by this body. Alcee Hastings, God bless him, he doesn’t care about … news cycles.”
“Carlos Curbelo calls on Congress to find a Dreamer solution this week” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Congress has less than three days to find a solution for Dreamers in order for it to become law by the end of the year, Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Curbelo said on Tuesday. He is hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can find a compromise for the 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who face uncertainly after President Donald Trump said he will cancel an Obama-era executive order known as DACA that allowed Dreamers to be protected from deportation. “We had very good meetings last night, three meetings,” Curbelo said. “… a lot of the like-minded Republicans and Democrats… There’s an obvious compromise out there, DACA fix and border security, but no one has proffered that compromise.”If congressional leaders fail to find a compromise in an end of the year spending bill, Curbelo said he will vote against the legislation that keeps the government running. Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she will do the same.
“South Florida prosecutors tell Congress how to help amid opioid crisis” via Ryan Van Velzer of the Sun Sentinel — Palm Beach County’s crackdown on abuse and fraud in the drug treatment industry caught the attention of Congress on Tuesday. Two top prosecutors linked to more than 40 arrests in South Florida testified before a House subcommittee. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg described illicit practices some businesses use to cash in on the influx of people coming to South Florida for drug treatment. Aronberg joined Palm Beach County Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson. Lawmakers asked witnesses about how to identify rogue operators and the role insurance companies play in paying for unnecessary care. They also asked for recommendations on what the federal government can do to better protect patients with substance-use disorders.“Patient-brokering abuses, regardless of whether the insurance is public or private, hurts patients and increases the cost of health care to everyone,” Johnson said. There were 5,725 opioid-related deaths in Florida last year.
— OPINIONS —
“Deborah Franklin: Protect Florida elders by keeping nursing home certificate-of-need process” via Florida Politics— The proposed amendment to our State Constitution would eliminate the Certificate of Need (CON) process for nursing homes, among others, and change that would disrupt the mission of continuing quality care in skilled nursing care centers. The CON process requires Florida’s Health Planning Councils to identify areas which have a need for additional beds. Facilities must document how they will meet those needs, either through new development or adding on to an existing center. Beds are awarded based on several factors, including a center’s quality outcomes and financial stability. The intent is to prevent an oversaturation of care facilities, so the taxpayers don’t end up subsidizing unused beds. If the CON repeal is enacted, it seems unavoidable that more seniors will be moved from home settings and into skilled nursing centers — a setting that is necessary for our most frail elders, but certainly not for everyone currently living in the less restrictive environment offered by home and community-based care. If it was your mother or grandmother, would you want her living in even the best nursing home before it was really necessary? Every Florida resident should take a significant interest in this issue, for the sake of their elderly relatives — and, someday, for themselves.
— LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS —
Pete Buigas, Buigas and Associates: United Home Care
Rosanna Manuela Catalano, Jerry Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: City of Key Colony Beach
Diana Ferguson, Rutledge Ecenia: State Voices
Stephanie Owens, Dolphin Strategies: League of Women Voters of Florida
Karl Rasmussen, Meenan: AHIP — America’s Health Insurance Plans, Asurion Insurance Services, MetLife
— ALOE —
“Best meteor shower of the year starts tonight” via David Fleshler of the Orlando Sentinel — The most spectacular meteor shower of the year will take place as Earth passes through the dust cloud of an asteroid and experiences a bombardment of debris traveling faster than any spacecraft. Clear skies are forecast for South Florida. The best viewing may be from the beach, since the meteors will appear to be coming from the northeast, and a dark sky, which is hard to find amid South Florida’s city lights, will make the meteors easier to see. The asteroid, a three-mile-wide rock called 3200 Phaethon, will remain a comfortable 6.4 million miles away. But its enormous debris cloud will create the annual event called the Geminid meteor shower, named for the apparent center of the shower in the constellation Gemini. “The Geminids offer slow, brighter than average meteors with some having hints of color, reds and yellows,” said Eric Vandernoot, astronomy and physics lab coordinator at Florida Atlantic University. “As for the best of the year, well, that often depends on the lunar phase at the time. This year’s Geminids are very favorable for viewing.”
“Sprint sells phone grips made from South Florida trees uprooted by Hurricane Irma to benefit storm victims” via Doreen Christensen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Crafted from South Florida trees uprooted by Hurricane Irma, the circular wooden disks, known as pop sockets, went on sale Tuesday at select Miami-Dade County Sprint stores for $5 to support the nonprofit The Miami Foundation hurricane relief fund … The grips, emblazoned with the words “Florida Strong,” attach to the back of any smartphone.
“Twitter makes tweetstorms and long threads an official part of its app” via Karissa Bell of Mashable — In yet another admission that 140 characters (or 280 characters) just isn’t enough for some people, today Twitter is introducing a feature that makes the so-called tweetstorm an official part of its service. The new feature is rolling out now (though it may take a few weeks to get to everyone) and it allows users to compose a thread of multiple tweets almost as easily as a single tweet, with a new “+” menu that allows you to link more than one tweet at a time. While tweetstorms have long been popular among power users, Twitter hasn’t always made composing threads easy on its end, despite efforts to make it simpler over the years. Now, not only will Twitter allow you to create tweetstorms right from its app and website, it will make it much easier to view lengthy threads with four or more tweets via a new “show this thread” option that will “unfurl” linked tweets.
Email I didn’t open: “Christmas Candy: Interactive map & WORST holiday candy” via Clair Robins, Content Strategist, CandyStore.com