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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.16.18  

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

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

As usual, veteran columnist and Florida Politics’ own Joe Henderson puts the right to President Donald Trump’s wrongheaded attacks on the Fourth Estate:

“The job of the free press is to find out stuff the public needs to know, make sure it’s accurate, and then share that information with the people.

“A lot of times the mission means upsetting the powerful and those who support them. These days, it means enduring taunts of ‘fake news’ and people who believe reporters deliberately publish fiction designed to destroy, in this case, Trump and his administration.

“To some, the ‘media’ is even a faceless, soulless agent of the deep state out to ruin the country, but it is none of those things. It is the firewall that protects democracy from the scoundrels and con artists.”

Here’s the payoff: “So, that’s why Florida Politics has joined with newspapers, online outlets, and other media around the country to denounce what The Boston Globe has called a ‘dirty war against the free press.’ ”

As The Blaze explains, news outlets across the country “have agreed to participate in a national campaign orchestrated by Marjorie Pritchard, the deputy managing editor at The Boston Globe.

“The campaign will galvanize opinion writers and editorial boards to unite against President Trump’s attacks on the media … “Pritchard’s campaign (is) titled, ‘We are not the enemy of the people.’ ”

Read more of Henderson’s column here. And here are highlights from other outlets:

— Opinion editor Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register says it’s not “Attack Trump Da.” “We agree that media outlets should avoid being drawn into a feud against the president over this issue or any other,” she said, adding that they can defend the First Amendment “while remaining true to the journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness and objectivity.”

— Colleen McCain Nelson, the editorial page editor for the Kansas City Star, says editorial boards across the McClatchy chain — like the Miami Herald, the Charlotte Observer and the Idaho Statesman — are being encouraged to publish one editorial: “We want to underscore for our readers that McClatchy journalists are in fact delivering real news every day, holding government officials and institutions accountable.”

— The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

— In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.”

— The Fayetteville, N.C. Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath. … Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants.”

A free press needs you” via The New York Times editorial board — Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period. These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.

Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy” via the Tampa Bay Times — Trump attacks the media that provides fact-based, independent journalism and holds the powerful to account in communities around the nation. Trump calls journalists “the enemy of the American people.’’ He regularly refers to “fake news’’ and the “fake news media.’’ Those assaults by the president cannot be brushed aside as theatrics, particularly when some of his strongest supporters embrace them and copied by politicians in Florida and elsewhere. That’s why the Tampa Bay Times joins more than 200 newspapers throughout the nation Thursday in a rare, coordinated response to Trump’s systematic effort to discredit journalists and independent news gathering. A free press builds the foundation for democracy. Citizens depend on honest, independent media for accurate information they need about their government, their elected leaders and their institutions. That is just as important in Tampa Bay and communities across the nation as it is in Washington, and the Times takes that responsibility seriously … our goal is to inform readers and make a difference in our community. Far from being enemies of the people, we live in the same neighborhoods as our readers, eat in the same restaurants and shop in the same stores. Our kids attend the same schools, we get stuck in the same traffic jams, and we worry about hurricanes hitting home.

Trump and the enemies of the people” via David Remnick of The New Yorker — Nearly every day, Trump makes his hostility clear. He refers to reporters as “scum,” “slime,” and “sick people.” They are cast as unpatriotic — “I really think they don’t like our country,” he says. They are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” Trump has smeared critical news organizations as “fake news,” a term gleefully adopted by PutinBashar al-Assad, and other autocrats who are delighted to have their own repressive reflexes endorsed by an American President. Trump has threatened to sue publishers, cancel broadcast licenses, change libel laws. He betrays no sense of understanding, much less of endorsing, the rudiments of American liberty. By casting the press as an “enemy,” Trump is not merely joining a long list of Presidents who have bristled at criticism. He goes much further than his predecessors, including paranoiacs like Richard Nixon … Trump’s rages are public. They are daily. And they are part of a concerted effort to undermine precepts of American constitutionalism and to cast his lot with the illiberal and authoritarian movements now on the rise around the world.

Counterpoint — “America’s newspapers just played right into Trump’s hands” via Jack Shafer of POLITICO Magazine — A spectacle will unfold as 200 or more editorial pages will heed the call sounded by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard to run editorials opposing Trump’s unrelieved press-bashing. Most journalists agree that there’s a great need for Trump rebuttals. But this Globe-sponsored coordinated editorial response is sure to backfire: It will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him. When the editorials roll off the press, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month. His forthcoming speeches almost write themselves: By colluding against me, the fake media proved once and for all, that they are in cahoots with the Democrats and have declared themselves to be my true political opposition.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Redistrict: After today’s changes, @CookPolitical rates 37 GOP-held seats as Toss-Ups or more vulnerable (Lean/Likely Dem), nearly double the 20 we counted in January.

@NateSilver538: A fun forecasting factoid is that if you forecast the Democrats to win the House and Republicans to win the Senate, you’re probably going to be wrong on at least one of those forecasts. On the bright side, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be wrong about both.

@ScottforFlorida: I’m happy to welcome Princess Madeleine and her family to Florida! Just more proof that our state is the best place in the world.

@KevinCate: I know @Twitter doesn’t vote, but if it did, @AndrewGillum would win by a lot. He’s up to almost 11 million ORGANIC impressions in the last 28 days.

@SenBillNelson: The oil industry is reportedly pushing a new plan to drill closer to Florida’s coast. We’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to let them take away the military’s testing & training range in the Gulf. We’re not going to let them drill closer to Florida’s beaches.

@FLPhoenixNews: Former Fl Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottcamp (now oil industry PR guy) told reporters today that 2010 BP oil spill “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.” Um … what??

@Foswi: Gov. Scott put a career prosecutor in the bench who happened to be the daughter of one of his go-to litigators. Don’t blame South Florida for this. It has enough problems.

@Fineout: New head of Fla’s Office of Safe Schools says all 67 sheriffs in Florida have said the same thing: Not enough funding was provided by #FLLeg when it passed the school safety bill

@MDixon55: Been an “anal bleaching,” diploma-faking-to-the-point-the-university-had-to-chime-in kind of week in Florida politics. How’s your state doing?

@TheRickWilson: This is the highlight of my professional life. I’ve just been given the numbers for the August 26th, 2018 New York Times Book Review rankings. #EETD is #1 in hardcover+ebook total sales. It is #3 in hardcover sales.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Early voting, mail ballots top 700,000” via the News Service of Florida — More than 26,000 people have voted early in counties where the option is already available, while nearly 700,000 have returned vote-by-mail ballots, according to numbers posted by the Florida Division of Elections. Early voting has started in 18 of the 67 counties. Of the 26,318 people who had voted early, 13,340 were Democrats, and 11,288 were Republicans. The rest of the people going to early-voting sites were registered without party affiliation or with third parties. Counties were allowed to begin early voting Monday, and all counties are required to offer it starting Saturday.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 11; Primary Election Day — 12; College Football opening weekend — 14; Labor Day — 18; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 21; NFL regular season starts — 21; First general election mail ballots go out — 37; Future of Florida Forum — 41; FSU vs. UM football game — 51; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 68; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 69; General Election Day — 82; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 96; Black Friday — 99; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 103; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 180; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 201; 2020 General Election — 810.

— TOP STORY —

Oil companies ask Florida lawmakers to unlock offshore drilling” via Ben Lefebvre of POLITICO — The effort, which would potentially bring oil rigs as close as 75 miles to Florida beaches, comes just seven months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke promised that the state was “off the table” for offshore drilling. And it could complicate Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, whose opposition to drilling off the coast has been a main theme of his decades in Congress. But the expansion would aid Trump’s effort to increase U.S. oil and gas production, in what he calls a bid for American “energy dominance.” Energy lobbyists and trade associations believe Zinke left some wiggle room in his comments, and they are trying to persuade Florida lawmakers to sign on to possible compromises, including allowing drill rigs to operate up to 75 miles off the state’s Gulf Coast, lawmakers and industry sources said. That would be down from more than 200 miles under an existing drilling moratorium.

— FIRST IN SUNBURN —

Meanwhile … Jared Moskowitz endorses Gwen Graham — State Rep. Moskowitz, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and outspoken leader for gun safety, said in his endorsement: “As students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to begin a new school year, we must not be afraid to talk about the pressing need to pass additional common-sense gun safety. This issue is just as important today as it was on February 14 … In the days after the shooting, Gwen came to Parkland to show her support for the students, for our community and for common sense gun safety. I am proud to support her today because I know she has what it takes to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and implement universal background checks.”

Happening tonight:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Poll commissioned by unnamed group shows Philip Levine with slight lead on Graham” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Tom Eldon, who would not say who paid for the numbers. It has Levine up 30-28 over Graham among those who say they have already voted, and 31-24 with those who expressed a high degree of interest in Democratic primaries. The poll, which used a 600-person sample and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, has Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum coming in third and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene coming in fourth among both groups. The poll is contrary to some recent public polls that had Graham leading the primary field. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Graham up seven percentage points, including winning the past three publicly released polls of the race. Levine had not won a poll included in that average since mid-June when he led the field by two percentage points.

Assignment editors — Levine will visit early voting sites in Miami Beach and Tampa, 12 p.m., Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach; 4:30 p.m., Cyrus Green Center, 2101 East Dr., Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa. Later, Levine will speak at the Political Salsa 2018, hosted by the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, 8 p.m., Acacia Banquet Hall, 1865 N Ecknolockhatchee Trail, Orlando.

Here’s what we would have asked if Andrew Gillum didn’t scrap the editorial Board Q&A” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — The list of questions we had prepared for Gillum was similar to those the other four Democratic candidates for governor answered (even Greene, who entered the race in its very late stages, found time to sit down with our editorial board). We would have asked Gillum about his proposed $1 billion corporate tax increase. His views on the environment. The impact of his $15 minimum wage on employment. Where he falls on the ideological spectrum. And other general policy questions. Then, as we did with the other candidates, we would have tailored questions to his campaign. Admittedly, this particular candidate provides the most fodder for our questioning, partly because he has a long, detailed record as mayor of the city whose name appears on our flag. And partly because, to be perfectly frank, the mayor has been a bit of a lightning rod during his tenure.

Gillum puts progressive ‘chance’ ad on TV” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gillum is launching his “Chance” commercial — citing progressive causes from gun control to abolishing and replacing ICE, ending “Stand Your Ground” to impeaching Trump … The TV buy will be limited, as is Gillum’s campaign fund, with an initial five-figure purchase to place the commercial on TV in West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa … The campaign seeks to tie in with the Tallahassee mayor’s rallies set for Friday in Tampa and Orlando with progressive Democratic lion U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 

Hospitality union launches ad bashing Graham on megamall” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida’s major labor union for hospitality workers, UNITE HERE, is launching a new television and internet commercial attacking Graham over her family’s involvement in the American Dream Miami megamall. The 30-second spot, “Mega Mall Millionaire Gwen Graham,” from the union’s political action committee, charges that she has a $14 million stake in her family company, which is selling land for the controversial mall being planned in Miami-Dade County. “While Gwen and her family make millions, Florida will be stuck with poverty wage jobs, endangered wildlife, and massive traffic congestion,” a narrator charges in the ad. And it charges that would be happening even though she is campaigning on improving wages and protecting the environment.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 

Can a billionaire’s private school become a model for public education in Florida?” via David Smiley and Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Billionaire developer Greene is an unconventional Democrat running an unconventional campaign for Florida governor. So, naturally, his ideas on how to change Florida’s vast public education bureaucracy stem from an unconventional place. Standing in a former West Palm Beach car dealership that he converted two years ago into a schoolhouse, Greene explains how the future of Florida’s schools lies in shrinking class sizes, replacing letter grades with detailed evaluations and adopting the latest technologies. After all, he says, those are some of the reasons The Greene School is a model for the rest of the state. “It’s not that difficult to make changes in education,” Greene says matter-of-factly — even though he was so underwhelmed by the state of Palm Beach County schools two years ago that he went ahead and built his own.

Assignment editors — Greene will be in the Orlando and Sarasota areas for campaign events: 9 a.m., breakfast with local leaders of the Jewish community, Roth Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland; 12:30 p.m., lunch with church leaders, Chef Eddie’s Restaurant, 595 W. Church St., Orlando; 4 p.m., private event at the Mote Marine Lab, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota; 5:15 p.m., Lido Key Beach walk, 400 Benjamin Franklin Dr., Sarasota; 6 p.m., Hispanic Democratic Caucus meet-and-greet, Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine, 4141 S. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota.

Democrats tell Florida mayors they support local rule” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — Businessman Greene, former U.S. Rep. Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Levine all told the Florida League of Mayors they support “home rule” — the idea that cities should have more power to regulate activities within their borders. Over the last two decades, Republicans have controlled both the Legislature and the governor’s mansion and have banned cities from enacting ordinances in several areas, including guns, the minimum wage and plastic containers. All criticized the Legislature and Gov. Scott for not fully funding a law enacted after February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre that requires all public schools have at least one police officer, armed guard or armed staff member on campus whenever they are open. Millions of those costs have fallen to school districts and cities. The two Republican candidates, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Democratic businessman Chris King were invited to speak but had scheduling conflicts.

Outlier: New poll has Florida GOP gubernatorial primary in statistical tie” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — New polling has Putnam in a statistical dead heat with DeSantis in Florida’s GOP gubernatorial primary, numbers contrary to recent polling that has had DeSantis pulling away. The poll has DeSantis ahead by 2 points, 40-38, which is within the margin of error, with 16 percent of the poll’s 558 likely Republican primary voters undecided. That’s well within the poll’s 5.2 percent margin of error. “It seemed as if [DeSantis] had all the momentum, and this race was all over but the shouting, as they say,” University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett told Orlando’s My News 13, which commissioned the poll. “But it appears that it actually much closer.”

Adam Putnam meets with Panhandle-area law enforcement at 98 Bar-B-Que in Santa Rosa Beach.

Assignment editors — Putnam hosts a North Florida grassroots breakfast, 8:30 a.m., The Landing Family Restaurant, 3445 US-90, Lake City.

GOP governors sink money into Florida ads” via the News Service of Florida — The Republican Governors Association funneled $2.45 million into the state … The association sent the money Aug. 2 to Florida Facts, which was formed in July as what is known as an “electioneering communications organization.” Also on Aug. 2, Florida Facts paid $2.25 million to California-based Target Enterprises, LLC for placement of television ads and other services. Florida Facts also paid $100,000 to Maryland-based OnMessage, Inc., a media and consulting firm that has done work for outgoing Gov. Scott. The Florida Facts organization shares a Washington, D.C. address with the Republican Governors Association, records show

Ashley Moody wins new round of straw polls — Republican Attorney General candidate Moody notched three more straw poll wins: the Tampa Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob, and the DeLand Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance Political Hob Nob. Moody also won the South Lake County Hob Nob the day before. “As former judge Ashley Moody travels the state, her conservative message is resonating with Republicans and business leaders across the state as evidenced by the overwhelming number of straw polls won at the local and regional levels,” said campaign manager Nick Catroppo. “Whether at Republican executive committees, Hob Nobs, political rallies or chambers of commerce, when Ashley Moody’s name is on the ballot, voters support her years of experience as a business attorney, prosecutor, and judge in her bid to become Florida’s next Attorney General.”

Ryan Torrens strikes back, sues Sean Shaw for libel” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Democratic candidate for Attorney General Torrens has countersued primary opponent Shaw for libel, saying Shaw injured his “reputation in the legal profession and as a candidate for public office.” Shaw sued first last month to have Torrens kicked off the ballot, alleging the Tampa lawyer only qualified to run because of an “illegal campaign contribution” to pay the qualifying fee. Torrens later said it was a self-loan — his wife had written the check from their joint account. Torrens lodged the counterclaim in his answer to Shaw’s complaint, filed Tuesday in Leon County Circuit Civil court. Both men are lawyers. “By erroneously raising these false claims (in his lawsuit), my opponent falsely and frivolously challenged my integrity as a professional and as someone aspiring to public office, and that of my wife,” Torrens said in a statement.

Nikki Fried lobbying, GOP donations questioned by activists in Agriculture Commission primary” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — At various points from 2012 to 2016, Fried was registered to lobby for HCA, the hospital chain founded by GOP Gov. Scott that paid a $1.7 billion fine to settle Medicaid fraud allegations under his watch. She also was registered for Walt Disney Co., which liberal activists have bashed for paying low wages to employees; Dosal Tobacco, Duke Energy and other companies. “They say you’re defined by the company you keep, and Nikki Fried has long chosen to keep company with the rich and powerful over workers,” said Fred Frost, Florida campaign lead for the Communications Workers of America. “As someone running in a Democratic primary at a moment when we need real Democrats now more than ever, she has some real explaining to do about how her past choices and what they say about her values in a year where we need a blue wave in deeds and not just words.” Fried, 40, is a Broward County resident who lobbied for the Colodny and Fass law firm, which has dozens of clients in the corporate world. She says she was a junior lobbyist at the firm, which registers all of its lobbyists for all its clients.

—“Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel endorse Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Realtors plow money into property tax measure” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Realtors put another $500,000 into an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would extend a property-tax cap for commercial and other non-homestead properties, according to a finance report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Florida Realtors contributed the money to a political committee known as Amendment 2 is for Everybody, bringing to the total contributed by the group to $1.56 million. The Legislature placed the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

As deep-sea drilling issue bubbles, ‘explore offshore’ to make affirmative case” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The American Petroleum Institute believes there’s a case to be made for expanding offshore drilling. And API offshoot “Explore Offshore,” billed as a “bipartisan coalition,” is poised to make that argument. The group, rolled out just hours after POLITICO reported an industry interest in drilling within 75 miles of shore, has some star power associated with it. Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson is national co-chair. State co-chairs are likewise known quantities, in former Puerto Rico Sen. Miriam Ramirez and former Florida Lieutenant Gov. Kottkamp. Kottkamp and Ramirez both offered enthusiastic advocacy for drilling, with Kottkamp noting the importance of lobbying local elected officials.

Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

Greg Steube leads Julio Gonzalez by 23 points in new CD 17 poll” via Florida Politics — The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found the first-term state Senator with a 39-16 percent lead over Venice state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, with 5 percent favoring Charlotte County activist Bill Akins and 40 percent undecided. The survey also measured name ID for Steube and Gonzalez, and found the former was known by nearly four-fifths of voters in the district and was seen favorably by a margin of 41-17 with the remainder not offering their opinion. About three-quarters of voters were familiar with Gonzalez, an improvement of 28 points since July 16, but his favorability has risen along with his recognition. He was underwater 19-33 in favorability.

Website calls Republican Congressional candidate a ‘criminal,’” via Meryl Cornfield of the Sun Sentinel“The website ‘javiermanjarresforcongress.com‘ isn’t what you’d think. It’s an attack on Republican Congressional candidate Javier Manjarres paid for by the committee of one of his primary opponents, Nicolas Kimaz. The site claims Manjarres is a ‘criminal’ and an ’embarrassment to the party.’ Manjarres, who runs the conservative blog Shark Tank, has been involved in several court cases but has never been convicted of a crime. In fact, the charges — including attempted murder — were dropped by prosecutors or the court.

Democrats eager for a blue wave admit Carlos Curbelo is beating them” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — With two-and-a-half months until Election Day, polling from Republicans and Democrats shows Curbelo with a lead over his likely Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in a district that Hillary Clinton won by more than 16 percentage points over Trump, and Curbelo isn’t running television ads yet. A poll released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization that seeks to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives, shows Curbelo with a seven-percentage-point lead over Mucarsel-Powell among 500 likely voters. The DCCC touted their poll, which was conducted a month ago, by arguing that the race became tied after voters heard basic biographical information about Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell.

Dana Young endorsed by Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce” via Florida Politics — “Senator Dana Young has the full endorsement of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and its statewide membership,” said Julio Fuentes, founder and president of FSHCC. “Senator Young’s leadership has benefited not just her constituents in her Tampa district, but Floridians across the state. “Our chamber is very selective when it comes to endorsing candidates for office, but in Senator Young’s case, we were impressed with how she represented a diversity of interests and diversity of people,” Fuentes continued. “Dana Young has our support for re-election to the Florida Senate. We look forward to working with her on behalf of thousands of Hispanic business owners across the state.”

Save the date — Young fundraises in her re-election bid to Senate District 18. Wednesday, Aug. 22, 5 p.m., Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club, 1601 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa. Information/RSVP with Kristin Lamb at kristin@FLFStrategies.com or (850) 339-5354.

Mike Alvarez rolls out new digital ads in HD 62 primary” via Florida Politics — Tampa Democrat Alvarez has launched a new digital ad campaign that contrasts his record against that of his chief rival in the Democratic primary for House District 62, School Board member Susan Valdes … one half of the ad featuring a full-color shot Alvarez and a caption saying he “hired people from our own neighborhoods,” and the opposite half featuring a red-tinted picture of Valdes and a caption saying she “fired people to protect her political career.” The Alvarez campaign said the Valdes portion of the ad relates to a lawsuit filed by a former Hillsborough Schools employee who said she was fired after refusing to go along with an effort by Valdes’ to get one of her friends a district job. The Alvarez campaign also highlighted Valdes’ role in closing the school district’s construction department to avoid questions on shoddy work performed by campaign donors she steered contracts to.

Tampa Democrat Mike Alvarez’s new digital ad campaign that contrasts his record against that of Susan Valdes.

New poll: Nick DiCeglie trouncing Berny Jacques in HD 66” via Florida Politics — The new survey out of St. Pete Polls found DiCeglie, also the chair of the Republican Party of Pinellas County, with 44-30 percent lead over Jacques, the first-in candidate in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern. Quite a few of those polled, 42 percent, say they’ve already sent in their ballots. Among that crowd, DiCeglie’s lead inches up to 51-34, with the balance undecided. The remaining 58 percent of voters — those who plan to vote but haven’t done so yet — still favor DiCeglie, though by a tighter margin.

Happening today — The League of Women Voters of Lee County hosts a candidate forum in House District 79 with Republicans Matthew Shawn Miller of Alva and Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers, who are competing in the primary to replace term-limited state Rep. Matt Caldwell. The forum begins 6 p.m., North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers. The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Mark Lipton of North Fort Myers.

He was an H.S. band director; she was a student. Then they got married. Now he’s running for Pasco School Board” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Before Kenneth Mathis launched his candidacy for the Pasco County School Board, he was under investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a student while serving as the band director at Land O’ Lakes High School. A review of Mathis’ personal file reveals he was under investigation in 2015 after a new teacher hired by the district told officials she’d had an inappropriate relationship with Mathis. Amarilys Barbosa was a member of the high school band from 2003-2007, the same period Mathis served as band director. Mathis told investigators the relationship between the two never turned physical until years after she graduated. However, uncovered messages exchanged by the two reference an intimate relationship dating back potentially to her time in high school. On Dec. 6, 2012, the two discussed a maturation of their current relationship in a lengthy online conversation, which included one revealing exchange: Barbosa: “I think we needed the four years apart to get us where we are now … I just didn’t feel this way the first time around.” Mathis: “Was I your sex toy?” Barbosa: “Sometimes I felt that way”

— ENDORSEMENT ROUND-UP —

Expanding on its slew of endorsements released on Saturday, the Miami Herald editorial board is recommending Levine as the Democratic option for voters on Aug. 28 because “he will be an assertive and clear-eyed leader for South Florida” as well as the entire state.

In the Republican primary, the South Florida newspaper is backing DeSantis, noting that Republicans “can vote with confidence that he will represent their interests.”

In state Senate District 38, the Herald is supporting Democratic challenger Jason Pizzo in his quest to unseat incumbent Democrat Daphne Campbell, writing the election gives voters a chance to “tell this compromised politician [Campbell] that her time is up.” In the Democratic primary for SD 36, the Herald is backing Julian Santos “for the financial experience in state government that he brings.”

In the battle for state House District 89, The Palm Beach Post is recommending Democrats pick Ocean Ridge Mayor James Bonfiglio, noting “he would raise teachers’ salaries by taxing legalized marijuana and sports betting.” The Post is backing Matt Spritz for the Republican nod in the same race, citing his belief that “constituents want action on the opioid crisis, beach renourishment and business issues including property taxes and the commercial real estate tax.”

— HATERS GONNA HATE —

A majority of Republicans think the media is the “enemy,” according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Of the Republicans surveyed, 51 percent agreed “the media is the enemy of the people rather than an important part of democracy.” The GOP respondents were the only ones to feel that way, with 31 percent of the same sample dissenting.

Meanwhile, a broader swath of American voters (65 percent) indicated that the “media is an important part of democracy.”

Impending doom? Trump’s criticism of the media concerns 44 percent of American voters, according to the same poll. They believe it could “lead to violence.” Fifty-two percent did not feel the same way.

Bipartisan fretting: Democrats felt the criticism could lead to violence 76 — 21 percent. Republicans vice versa 80 — 14 percent.

Twitter-in-chief: “American voters say 66 — 26 percent that Trump should stop tweeting from his personal Twitter account,” according to Quinnipiac. “Republicans are divided as 44 percent say tweet and 47 percent say stop.”

— STATEWIDE —

Cost to protect Rick Scott rises to $2.5 million” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Protecting Gov. Scott cost the state $2.5 million last fiscal year, up from $2.3 million the year before. That’s according to a new report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The combined cost to guard the governor, First Lady Ann Scott, their family, and the Governor’s Mansion and grounds was roughly $3.25 million in 2017-18, up more than a quarter-million dollars from 2016-17 ($2.99 million). The Annual Report of Transportation and Protective Services also shows individual costs for 37 protective details for “visiting dignitaries.”

Scott and wife invested in parent company bidding on Tampa high-speed rail” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Scott said in June he believes a high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa is a good idea and, in a quiet testament to his confidence in the project, he and his wife last year invested at least $3 million in a credit fund for All Aboard Florida’s parent company, Fortress Investment Group, according to recently disclosed financial documents. The Scotts’ investment in Fortress Secured Lending Fund — the credit and lending division — produced at least $150,000 in income last year, according to Rick Scott’s 2018 federal financial disclosure report. He was required to file the report last month to run for U.S. Senate.

State urges justices to allow dog racing measure” via the News Service of Florida — Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a 44-page brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to allow a proposed ban on greyhound racing to go on the November ballot. The brief urged justices to overturn a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who said the proposed constitutional amendment included misleading language and should not go before voters. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Aug. 29. “This (Supreme) Court has long maintained that the amendment process is ‘the most sanctified area in which a court can exercise power,’ and a proposed amendment should be submitted to the electorate unless its ballot language is ‘clearly and conclusively’ defective,” Bondi’s office said in the brief. “Because the ballot language at issue in this case fully informs the electorate of the proposed amendment’s chief purpose and is not misleading, Florida’s voters have a right to consider its merits and cast their vote.”

SunPass customers can see toll charges in account in real time” via Jessi Minneci of WFLA-AM — The Florida Department of Transportation cleared the backlog of transactions caused when the vendor Conduent failed to transition customers to a new centralized system properly. The agency says it fined Conduent nearly $800,000 in damages. Later this week, FDOT will announce the process for SunPass users to get reimbursed for overdraft fees caused by Conduent’s failures.

Florida Board of Education supports funding flexibility as it discusses budgets” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Though they wondered where they might find the money for any added expenses, board members stressed the need to increase teacher salaries to keep them in the schools and fight back a growing shortage. They also noted the importance of meeting the full price tag schools face as they work to become more secure, as mandated after the February school shooting in Parkland. The actual numbers seemed elusive, several on the board observed. They asked for more detailed information, so they could home in on a figure to ask lawmakers to target. And then they should get out of the districts’ way, and let them make decisions, they suggested. “Flexibility is something we should have for districts,” said vice chairman Andy Tuck, a former Highlands County School Board member.

State audit: Ineligible kids get private-school scholarships anyway” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Some Florida students who weren’t eligible for private-school scholarships got the money anyway, due to “human errors” and outdated information used to calculate awards, a new state audit shows. The nonprofit Step Up for Students, Inc., acknowledged concerns and made a variety of fixes, in part saying that “appropriate corrective actions were taken with individual team members,” according to responses provided in the audit released earlier this month by Florida’s Auditor General office. The auditor general report concluded that Step Up “over awarded” scholarships by about $420,000 for 248 students in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In other words, “If done correctly, those kids would have received $420,000 less over the two-year period,” said Patrick Gibbons, public affairs manager at Step Up. Another 32 students receiving scholarships were “under awarded” by $53,589, according to the auditor general report.

Parkland students start school year with tightened security” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Some say they still won’t feel protected despite $6.5 million in security enhancements, including 18 safety monitors, new classroom locks, and upgraded video surveillance. All the students wore lanyards with IDs around their necks as they walked past a heavy police presence, in what has become their new normal. Volunteers greeted them with German shepherds, and a helicopter hovered overhead as a throng of media watched from across the street. Three school resource officers, three security specialists, and a dozen campus monitors will be on patrol. They’ll be keeping watch at new fences and gates at the beginning and end of the school day, keeping out all but staff and students wearing ID badges. At Stoneman Douglas, the tributes to victims have been removed, replaced with a single statue of an eagle hugging a heart.

Students arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on the first day of school.

With vacation rentals now legal in Orlando, city offers amnesty period to rogue listers” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new city ordinance took effect essentially legalizing vacation rentals in the City Beautiful. And now the city is trying to get the word out that rogue property owners who had been illegally running vacation rental homes have an amnesty registration period through October 1 to become legit under the new law. The new city ordinance requires full registration, an issue that’s been at the heart of state debates at the Florida Legislature the past three years, where proponents of vacation rentals have been pushing for rollbacks of local ordinances specifically targeting them, while cities and counties have argued they should have the ability to self-govern. Orlando’s law also applies within all residential zoning districts, but only for properties that are rented for 30 days or less; provided that the leased portion of the home is 50 percent or less of the total number of bedrooms in the residence, that there is only one booking at a time and that the owner lives on-site and is present when hosting guests. Orlando charges $275 for an initial registration fee. The city has opened a beta website for online registrations and information on rental homes.

Mayor to female commissioner: You make a living off anal bleaching. It’s a #MeToo moment, she says” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — When Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London said “sphincter bleaching is a very up and coming business,” during the City Commission’s budget discussion, he may have been right. But whether he thought anal bleach had anything to do with public safety budgets — the topic being discussed — remains unclear. Why London thought it relevant, much less appropriate, to accuse a female commissioner of making her living from bleaching her own anus is even more baffling. “Was it getting my sphincter bleached, is that what I earned my income for?” London said to Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub, as the two exchanged personal attacks. “No that would be you.” … “Even if I was doing that for a living, that’s not appropriate,” Lima-Taub said. “For the sitting leader of a city to speak this way was completely inappropriate.”

— INCONVENIENT TRUTH —

The red tide plaguing Florida’s Gulf Coast isn’t an anomaly — it happens almost every year.

But this time around, it looks pretty bad, as evidenced by the images of fish, manatees, sea turtles and dolphins washing up on shore.

Could it be linked to climate change? In a new Washington Post storyAngela Fritz points to the affirmative.

Rising sea levels: Fritz notes the phenomenon linked to warmer global temperatures creates more shallow, warmer water along Florida’s coast. “As places such as Tampa, Miami and Charleston, S.C., lose shoreline, the ocean gains more shallow, warm water along the coast, and a larger area of highly favorable breeding ground for algae.”

More fuel: Increased CO2 levels gives plants and algae more power. Fritz writes, “Rapid growth is possible with higher levels of CO2, ‘especially toxic blue-green algae that can float to the surface of the water,’ according to the EPA.”

But: The “main culprit” of the algae blooms, Fritz contends, is “allowing nitrogen-rich material such as fertilizer to run off into natural water sources.”

— HAPPENING TODAY — 

Rick Wilson to come home for book signing at Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — GOP strategist Wilson from 6 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. will be at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee to read from, discuss details and sign copies of his new nonfiction work, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.” Wilson, a regular guest for cable news and radio broadcast networks known for his fiery rhetoric, could attract a large crowd. Sally Bradshaw, owner and operator of the Midtown Reader, told us, “based on feedback, we’re expecting it to be a crowded event.” Calling Wilson “bright, clever and provocative,” Bradshaw said his popularity transcends the political spectrum because he’s a “truth teller.” A Tallahassee resident, the event could be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, as he’s been busy racking up national media appearances. Released last week, “Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever” is a comprehensive and disparaging dissection of American politics in the age of Trump as told by a lifelong conservative, prolific Republican ad man and early leader of the ‘Never Trump’ movement.

— OPINIONS —

Martha Haynie: Adam Putnam, Frank White should rescind endorsements from anti-LGBT hate group” via Florida Politics — Putnam’s campaign has come under fire over his support from the National Rifle Association … Now that he has accepted the endorsement of the anti-LGBT Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), Putnam can add “proud hate group sellout” to his resume. White, a Republican candidate for Florida Attorney General and anti-abortion hard-liner, was also endorsed by the FFPC after receiving an A+ on their legislative scorecard. His acceptance of FFPC’s endorsement is tantamount to declaring legal war on LGBT Floridians and a woman’s right to seek an abortion. The FFPC and its leader John Stemberger have a long history of attacking the LGBT community with false claims and junk science. The Florida Family Policy Council is an offshoot of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group whose “specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.” And with the acceptance of FFPC’s endorsement, Putnam and White aren’t just declaring themselves opponents of abortion — they’re making clear that as Governor, Florida’s entire LGBT community would be treated as second-class citizens.

Carol Dover: Take action to protect Florida’s tourism industry” via Florida Politics — Our state’s largest industry is in danger as a result of the algal blooms caused when the federal government releases water from Lake Okeechobee into our rivers and estuaries. Gov. Scott has taken incredible steps in securing millions of dollars in state funding for repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike and billions for Everglades restoration projects. But the bottom line is that Gov. Scott, the SFWMD and Floridians cannot stop the algal blooms or minimize the damage to our environment and economy on our own. The federal government must take immediate and decisive action to help Florida. The federal government should immediately fully fund their half of the state-federal partnership for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. To date, the state has contributed more than $2.3 billion, but the federal government has contributed only $1.3 billion … the plan is still sitting in Congress, waiting on approval. Without Congressional approval, this key project is on hold, and the Lake Okeechobee discharges continue.

— MOVEMENTS —

Florida Virtual School hires law firm to investigate complaints; general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher resigns” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — FordHarrison, a labor and employment law firm, was hired to make sure FLVS complies with the state’s whistleblower’s act, which protects public employees from retaliation if they report wrongdoing at their workplaces. FordHarrsion, which had some preliminary discussions with FLVS officials, in a letter to the chairman of the school’s board of trustees said the school is “in receipt of multiple employee complaints, which if substantiated,” might be within the scope of Florida’s whistleblower’s law. “FLVS must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of the allegations and take appropriate action,” the letter said. That same day, the board also accepted Kruppenbacher’s resignation. When asked about the investigation, Kruppenbacher said, “I’m not commenting at all about the virtual school.”

Florida Virtual Schools general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher makes a hasty exit.

Personnel note: Devin Galetta now deputy comm’s to CFO Jimmy Patronis” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Galetta now is deputy communications director to Chief Financial Officer Patronis, reporting to Anna Alexopoulos Farrar … Galetta started at the Department of Financial Services when he was still in college at Florida State University, working as an administrative assistant, according to his LinkedIn page. He later became a Marketing and Communications Specialist there, before leaving in 2014. Galetta also has been Assistant Director of Media, Communications, and Marketing for FSU Libraries. He also was the state Health Department’s Media and Marketing Manager before a brief, recent run as the agency’s interim communications director.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Oscar Insurance Company of Florida

RJ Myers, Suskey Consulting: Innocence Project

Drew Preston: Associated Industries of Florida

Shireen Sackreiter: Accenture

— ALOE —

Floridians are leading the call for an NFL boycott, study shows” via Florida Politics — According to a new study from SportsBetting.ag, the offseason has done little to placate the most vocal among that crowd, many of whom live in the Sunshine State. The online sports betting outfit found more than 75,000 geotagged tweets calling for a boycott — they sussed them out through the presence of hashtags such as #BoycottNFL, #BoycottTheNFL, and #BoycottNFLsponsors — and plotted them on a map of the United States. The final results showed Florida had the highest volume of boycott-related tweets, with Maine, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada rounding out the top-5.

Weekend hours for Capitol’s observation deck?” via WCTV Eyewitness News — Tallahassee resident Scott Sutor says the Florida Capitol’s 22nd floor, known as the Observation Deck, should be open on weekends. Currently, the entire Capitol building is only open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sutor wrote a letter to Gov. Scott on August 7, hoping to get the hours changed. In it, he says: “So that visiting family and friends will be able to see the beautiful view from the 22nd floor … A lot of people come here on the weekend, either for a sporting event, a convention, anything. If they want to go to the Capitol on the weekend, (they can’t) today. Maybe in the future,” he said. Sutor says it would benefit tourism in the capital city, as well as make it more convenient and enjoyable for residents and visitors.

Jack Dorsey says he’s rethinking the core of how Twitter works” via Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin of The Washington Post — Dorsey said he was experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers.” He also expressed openness to labeling bots — automated accounts that sometimes pose as human users — and redesigning key elements of the social network, including the “like” button and the way Twitter displays users’ follower counts. “The most important thing that we can do is we look at the incentives that we’re building into our product,” Dorsey said. “Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do — and I don’t think they are correct anymore.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to:

That’s right; it’s Robert “Hawk” Hawken‘s birthday.

Also celebrating today are Matt Choy, the City of St. Pete’s Ben Kirby, and Rockie Pennington.

Last Call for 8.15.18 — 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

No, a Skokie, Illinois-based company that bills itself as America’s “leading bitcoin ATM operator” hasn’t had a change of heart about coming to Florida.

The backstory: GPD Holdings LLC, which does business as CoinFlip, earlier this month filed a request with state financial regulators.

It sought what’s known as a “declaratory statement” on whether a “bitcoin ATM operator is required to register as (a) state money transmitter” under state law.

Then, on Monday, it withdrew the request. But that was only “to edit it,” a company representative said Wednesday.

Cryptocurrency is online money, “decentralized digital currency beyond the reach of banks and governments,” as Fortune magazine once defined it. Bitcoin is perhaps the best-known cryptocurrency.

It relies on a network of users to log and verify transactions without oversight from a central authority. But it’s that same decentralization and lack of oversight that can lead to fraud.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in June rolled out a re-election campaign platform that includes “regulating and rooting out fraud” in the cryptocurrency market.

Later, he announced Ken Lawson, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, as his new “cryptocurrency adviser.” The role is an unpaid consulting position; Lawson remains full-time at VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s public-private marketing tourism agency.

GPD Holdings operates cryptocurrency ATMs throughout the Midwest and in California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina, according to its website.

Evening Reads

Democrats eroding GOP’s turnout edge in midtermsby Steve Shepard of POLITICO

From super rich to debt-ridden, Florida candidates reveal net worth” via Diane Rado of The Florida Phoenix

Poll commissioned by unnamed group shows Philip Levine with slight lead on Gwen Graham” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Poll: Republicans give Ron DeSantis a slim lead over Adam Putnam” via Erin Murray of Spectrum News 13

Labor union launches ads targeting Gwen Graham over the American Dream megamall” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Democratic race for Attorney General gets bogged down in lawsuits” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Virtual School hires law firm to investigate complaints; general counsel Frank Kruppenbacher resigns” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel

At Stoneman Douglas, anxiety and hope come with first day of school” via Susannah Bryan of the Sun Sentinel

Judge blasts Sun Sentinel for publishing confidential information in Parkland school shooting case” via Rafael Olmeda of the Sun Sentinel

New videos of FIU bridge collapse released — with clear view of workers’ actions” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald

Ex-judge loses legal fight against Bar, JQC officials” via the News Service of Florida

A mayor accused a female commissioner of bleaching her butthole. Her response: #MeToo” via Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald

Seminole commissioners unanimously reject controversial River Cross project” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“It was Gov. Scott who worked to have Florida taken off the table for oil drilling.” — Rick Scott for Senate spokeswoman Lauren Schenone, commenting after oil interests launched a new PR push for offshore drilling.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam will join supporters for a North Florida “grassroots breakfast.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., The Landing Family Restaurant, 3445 U.S. Route 90, Lake City.

Enterprise Florida will hold two in a series of trade seminars directed toward small and medium-sized firms seeking to do business in the Dominican Republic. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, 1101 Channelside Dr., Suite 210, Tampa. Also, 2:30 p.m., 800 North Magnolia Ave., Suite 1100, Orlando.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will update estimates of general revenue, which play a key role in funding schools, health programs and prisons. The conference periodically updates the estimates, which lawmakers use in making budget decisions. That’s at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works to protect and expand military installations in the state, will hold a conference call. That’s at 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-800-501-8979. Code: 1869945.

The League of Women Voters of Lee County is hosting a candidate forum in state House District 79. That’s at 6 p.m. North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers.

The Florida Democratic Party’s “Rural Tour” is stopping in Citrus County. That’s at 6 p.m., George Washington Carver Center, 555 NE 3rd Ave., Crystal River.

New Florida Vision PAC is hosting a texting event “to reach voters through their phones” for the Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Buffalo Wild Wings, 20505 S. Dixie Hwy., Cutler Bay.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.15.18

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

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

Two years ago, the little girl pictured on the left entered Pre-K. Today, she heads to Kindergarten. And our hearts will never be the same.

Ella’s such a big girl now, so aware of her surroundings and the world at large. She amazes us with her curiosity … her bravery … her compassion … her intelligence.

I suppose we’re no different than any parents who have stopped and wondered: How did we get so lucky to have this amazing child enter our lives?

That’s what we’ve found ourselves doing again and again this summer. Whether it be at a fancy dinner or just hanging around the kitchen, this fierce young woman never ceases to dazzle us.

But now, she’ll be gone for as much of the day as she will be awake at home. That hurts our hearts.

At our wonderful, dare I say idyllic, little school, there is a “Boo Hoo Breakfast” for all of the parents of Kindergarteners. The school bulletin reads, “This casual gathering is a great way to get connected with your fellow Kindergarten parents and share a few tears or a few cheers!!”

I don’t know about the cheers. But if anyone wants to know who the couple in the corner is with tears streaming down their faces, that will be Michelle and me.

Boo Hoo Hoo indeed.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@PeterStrozk: Stunned and humbled by the extraordinary outpouring of support already received from thousands of fellow everyday citizens taking time to fight for our country and our shared American ideals. Thank you.

@PBump: How would the board of a company react if the CEO told them that he hadn’t fired an unqualified employee who was disliked by coworkers because the employee constantly praised him?

@LearyReports: Most expensive Senate race in the U.S.: Florida ($40.5 million in ads so far) Most expensive gubernatorial race in the U.S.: Florida ($88.6 million) – Per Advertising Analytics, published by NBC News.

@CahnEmily: Inbox: Sanders is campaigning for Andrew Gillum in #FLgov. Another silly decision given that Gillum is in third and unlikely to win, which will just hurt Bernie’s political capital more

@SenRubioPress: I welcome the decision of @UofNorthFlorida to close its Confucius Institute. There is growing & well-founded concern about these Chinese Communist Party-funded Institutes. I continue to urge other FL universities to follow suit.

@RepTedDeutch: 6 months ago today, students fled in horror as a gunman killed 17 people & injured 17 at MSD. Since then, grieving families have honored their loved ones’ memories by fighting for safer schools & student-survivors have inspired a movement. Our community remains proudly #MSDStrong

@BillGalvano: As incoming Senate President of the third-largest state in the nation – a bellwether for others – I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end here. Some issues simply must transcend politics. The safety of our children is one. We cannot be complacent, or think our work is done – we must continually review existing policies and encourage new ideas to keep our students safe. Florida’s experiences and reforms should be shared and exported to other states. 6 months later, as millions of students begin a new school year, we cannot help but reflect back on that heartbreaking day. As we do, we can mark this moment as a time when grief galvanized action, and we were not immobilized by our differences. #NeverAgain

@Conarck: Flagler sheriff celebrates incarcerating record numbers of people in his county. Reminder: the vast majority of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime yet and would not be there if they weren’t poor.

@BrettDoster: Honorable and smart move by Melissa Howard. She just saved her and her allies massive pain and emotional embarrassment over the next 10 days. Congratulations on the primary win @TommyGregoryFL.

@RyanB1001: So I type CentralFloridaPolitics.com into my browser and what do I get? A #Russian webpage! Don’t tell me there’s no Russian interference in #Florida! They’ve taken over Central Florida Politics!

— LATEST VOTING FIGURES —

Who added more Florida voters — Republicans, Democrats or NPAs?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Florida’s electorate has grown more Hispanic and less partisan since the 2016 presidential election, new voter registration statistics from the Florida Division of Elections show. The number of Florida voters who register with minor parties or with no party affiliation has increased 4.2 percent since 2016 while Democratic registrations have dipped 0.8 percent and Republican registrations have increased 1 percent. Democrats in Florida and elsewhere have touted a ‘blue wave’ backlash against President Donald Trump in this year’s midterm elections, but the party has seen a minor ebb in registrations in Florida.

Analysis: Democrats get registered voter gains in South Floridavia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Democrats are pushing to flip two, three or even four seats from South Florida Republicans this November. And updated voter roll information shows that in three of those four districts, Democrats earned net gains from the GOP in terms of voter registration changes from 2016 to 2018. Surely party vote share ahead of the August primaries doesn’t tell the whole story. But if it has any predictive value, Democrats should be feeling better than their GOP counterparts overall in these major races that could help decide control of the U.S. House.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 12; Primary Election Day — 13; College Football opening weekend — 15; Labor Day — 19; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 22; NFL regular season starts — 22; First general election mail ballots go out — 38; Future of Florida Forum — 42; FSU vs. UM football game — 52; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 69; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 70; General Election Day — 83; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 97; Black Friday — 100; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 104; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 181; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 202; 2020 General Election — 811.

— TOP STORY —

Conflicts of interest cloud Frank White’s Attorney General bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics – As Republican Frank White’s campaign for Attorney General heads into the final two weeks of the primary, questions arise on how the longtime auto executive will handle oversight of his own industry. Since the Attorney General’s office received more than a dozen complaints against auto magnate Sandy Sansing‘s chain of auto dealerships, where White is general counsel and chief financial officer, criticism will likely grow. … Alan Jay Wildstein, chairman of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, put out a special alert to organizations members saying White’s candidacy marks an “historic opportunity” to elect the first car dealer to serve as Attorney General in state history. “In his role as one of our chief regulators, he will be available and knowledgeable on industry affairs and statewide policies impacting dealers,” Wildstein wrote. And later in the piece: “Supporting Frank would have obvious advantages for every dealer in Florida due to the myriad of challenges facing the industry today.” The call to action went into no great detail about said challenges. But a look at complaints filed against various Sansing companies through the Attorney General’s Office may offer a glimpse at potential conflicts that may arise for White.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott on Bill Nelson: ‘If he does have classified information how did he get it?’” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Gov. Scott on Tuesday continued to question the motive and origin of Sen. Nelson‘s vague warning over Russian hacking. “If he does have classified information how did he get it? I don’t think he’s entitled to it, and why would he release it to a reporter? … If it’s not true, then why didn’t he just come and say it’s not true?” Scott said after a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee. “From my standpoint, we’re in the middle of a primary election, people are voting, absentee ballots are out, early voting has started in some places and people need to know the facts. And I don’t think he’s been transparent.” There is still no word from the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI in response to a letter Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent Friday asking for any information about Nelson’s claim, despite Detzner setting a Monday deadline. Nelson has stuck by his comments … He attributed that warning to the heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee but has not elaborated. Those officials have neither confirmed nor contradicted Nelson and said Florida needs to be cognizant of threats. Sen. Marco Rubio, also a member of the committee, has echoed that.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Assignment editors The Florida League of Mayors, in coordination with the Florida League of Cities and Leadership Forum, will hold a forum for the Democratic gubernatorial candidates. That’s at 2 p.m., The Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 South Ocean Dr., Hollywood.

Bernie Sanders to rally for Andrew Gillum this Friday” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics – The Gillum campaign announced late Tuesday that the Senator from Vermont will join Gillum at two rallies on Friday — less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 primary. The first of the rallies is set to take place in Tampa, where Sanders and Gillum will speak to voters at 11 a.m. in Armature Works — Gathering Room. In the afternoon, the two will head to Orlando for a 2 p.m. rally at the CFE Arena at UCF. Sanders endorsed Gillum at the beginning of the month, christening him as the progressive option for Florida voters.

Andrew Gillum passes again on Democrat editorial board meeting with governor candidates” via Jeffrey Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat– Mayor Gillum has opted not to meet with the Tallahassee Democrat’s editorial board, making him the only Democratic candidate for governor to forgo an appearance. Gillum was scheduled to come before the editorial board on July 31, but his campaign canceled hours before the event for an unspecified scheduling conflict. Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s campaign spokesman, promised in an email that day to reschedule. He again vowed to reschedule in a follow-up call with the Democrat on Aug. 9. But after another call and email from the Democrat, Burgan emailed on Monday to call it off. He didn’t offer an explanation. “Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to reschedule, and I understand you have deadlines to meet,” he said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get this set back up for us.” Democrat Executive Editor William Hatfield emailed Burgan back … “So disappointed – personally but also for the many voters that use these interviews to help learn more about the candidates and issues.”

Assignment editors Gillum will campaign across South Florida: 11 a.m., AARP Miami Chapter monthly meeting, Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami; 12:45 p.m., Kings Point Democratic Club, 7620 Nob Hill Road, Tamarac; 6 p.m., Gillum for Governor volunteer rally, 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 8 p.m., live national Sirius XM radio interview with Joe Madison on “The Black Eagle.”

Jeff Greene insight into Donald Trump: ‘Weird, narcissistic, nutcase” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – … the billionaire Democrat running for Florida governor, was unsparing Tuesday in his criticism of another billionaire who went into politics, President Donald Trump. “I can’t stand this guy. I mean I never liked the guy when I first met him,” Greene said. “I would be at my table, and he would come over all the time,” he said, explaining that Trump didn’t engage in normal conversation. He said Trump wouldn’t engage with his fellow billionaire, instead addressing a regular comment to Greene’s wife. “He would always like point to me and say ‘your husband is really smart’ and then he’d walk away or say ‘beautiful wife,’ and I was thinking ‘This guy is weird.’” Greene said. “This is a guy who is unwilling to engage in any kind of conversation, he is so insecure.”

Jeff Greene puts more money into Governor’s race” via the News Service of Florida – Greene loaned another $4.35 million to his gubernatorial campaign in late July and early August, bringing the total to more than $22 million, according to a new finance report. Greene, a billionaire investor, had loaned $22.45 million to the campaign as of Aug. 3 and had received $2,315 in contributions. The campaign had spent $22.43 million, the report shows.

New Philip Levine ad about disabilities, ‘heart’” via Scott Powers of the Tampa Bay Times – With one television commercial, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is managing to highlight his own efforts to help people with disabilities, bash President Trump for mocking them, and accuse Gov. Scott of being heartless. The new 30-second TV commercial “Sabrina” launching today, also offers a counter to Democratic rival Gwen Graham’s announcement that she’s won the endorsement from the Democratic Party’s Disabilities Caucus. The ad focuses on a woman named Sabrina Cohen, a Miami-area advocate for people with disabilities and founder of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation. She explains a car accident took away her ability to walk when she was 14, and she praises Levine for his efforts when he was Miami Beach mayor, and calls him someone with “heart.”

Adam Putnam to head out on ‘Florida First’ campaign tour” via Florida Politics – The Putnam campaign for Governor on Tuesday announced a “statewide tour of Florida with at least one stop planned in every major region of the state” … “Over the next two weeks I will be making stops in communities across our great state and sharing my vision to make Florida the launchpad for the American dream,” Putnam said … The Florida First statewide tour will kick off Wednesday and continue through Saturday, Aug. 25. Planned stops include, but are not limited to Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City, Lake City, Winter Park, Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Fruit Cove, Clearwater, Brandon, Dade City, Bradenton, Sarasota, North Port, Moore Haven, West Palm Beach, Miami, The Villages, Sanford, and Temple Terrace.

Putnam says Ron DeSantis has ‘no working knowledge of our state’ — It’s becoming increasingly likely that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, not Putnam, will be the GOP nominee for Governor in the fall. And Putnam has had it with the Trump-backed Congressman. In filter-free rant Tuesday, Putnam repeated his attack that DeSantis’ campaign is “being run out of a TV studio” before going on a tirade highlighting what he says is a lack of preparation for the job he seeks. … DeSantis “really has no plan, no vision, no agenda, no knowledge, no working knowledge of our state. And it would be tragic to have the CEO of the third largest state being, doing on the job training during the first two years.” … Putnam is joined by a few others who have made similar public assertions, though they aren’t his fellow Republicans — they’re the news outlets he’s largely kept at arm’s length during his campaign. As one major paper put it, “DeSantis shows little understanding of state policy or of the challenges facing this state.” Meanwhile, Team DeSantis has moved to making major campaign hires as it preps for the general election.

Bob Buckhorn eager about lieutenant governor’s race. If he’s tapped, Reddick would take mayor’s seat” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Mayor Bob Buckhorn is sounding more and more like a serious candidate for lieutenant governor, especially when he speaks about the prospect himself. “There’s nobody who has the track record that is as good as mine,” Buckhorn said in an interview Tuesday, speaking of progressive causes like LGBT issues, the environment, unions and family leave, while also noting his history of working across the political aisle. A Buckhorn candidacy also raises the prospect that he’ll be leaving the mayor’s job in September, eight months before his term ends — elevating City Council Chairman Frank Reddick to the position and giving Tampa its first African-American mayor. “It would be good for the city to bring about the diversity that we all talk about,” he said. “And it may encourage other African Americans to seek the office.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

New Sean Shaw ad highlights push for gun control legislation” via Ryan Nichol of Florida Politics – The 15-second spot echoes Shaw’s previous promises to reform the state’s approach to gun violence as Attorney General. Shaw said he would not defend the state’s current pre-emption policy on local gun laws and would challenge federal immunity for gun makers, courtesy of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. He has also proposed a gun violence task force to be installed on day one of his stint as Attorney General.

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Assignment editors Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will attend AgNet Media’s Citrus Expo at 8:30 a.m., Lee Civic Center, 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers. She’ll also be at the Citrus and Agriculture Industry Celebration, 5:30 p.m., Florida Gulf Coast University Alico Arena, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway East, Fort Myers.

Former Supreme Court justice challenges constitutional amendments” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead is challenging six proposed constitutional amendments on grounds they violate voters’ First Amendment rights. Anstead, who served on the Supreme Court 1994-2009, on Tuesday filed a petition … against Secretary of State Detzner, Florida’s chief election officer. The court did not immediately accept jurisdiction but later Tuesday asked Detzner to respond to the petition “no later than 5 p.m. (next) Monday.” Anstead is challenging six of the eight amendments placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), because each one “bundles independent and unrelated proposals in a single ballot question.”

Marsy’s Law effort gets $6M boost” via the News Service of Florida – A national group seeking to pass a Florida constitutional amendment that would expand crime victims’ rights has provided another $6 million infusion to the campaign. The California-based Marsy’s Law for All Foundation contributed the money July 30 to the Marsy’s Law for Florida political committee, according to a newly filed finance report. That brought to $24.35 million the amount the foundation has sent to the committee. Supporters of the proposal, which has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” argue it would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including the right to be notified of major developments in criminal cases and the right to be heard in the legal proceedings. The proposed constitutional amendment is part of a broader national movement that stems from the 1983 death of a California woman, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend.

Florida Amendment 8 challenge stems from policy disagreement, not wording problems, secretary of state argues” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times A special counsel to the state Attorney General’s Office contends that an effort to remove Amendment 8 from Florida’s November ballot fails to meet the “heavy burden” required to interfere with the “sanctified” amendment process. The League of Women Voters has argued that the proposal, which includes three education-related matters, has a misleading title and summary, and fails to inform voters of its true effects. The amendment seeks to impose school board term limits, embed civics education in the constitution, and allow lawmakers to establish an alternate public school authorizer that is not subject to school board oversight. “Amendment 8 suffers from none of these defects, and this Court should reject Plaintiffs’ attempt to interfere with the amendment process, which attempt stems primarily from their disagreement with Amendment 8 as a matter of policy,” wrote attorney Blaine H. Winship, representing the secretary of state’s office.

Justices agree to decide ballot fight on county offices” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed to take up a challenge to a proposed ballot measure that has drawn opposition from some counties. The appeals court pointed to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices. Challenges filed in Leon County circuit court argued that the ballot language and summary were misleading and that, as a result, the proposal should not go to voters.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Greg Steube hits Julio Gonzalez for touting non-existent Rick Scott endorsement” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gonzalez has been pushing an online ad backing up his campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District that features Scott praising the Republican lawmaker and insinuating Gonzalez is his pick in the primary race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney. … If it weren’t clear enough by the lack of endorsement-style language, the Associated Press puts to rest any lingering doubts: “Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schultz, said Scott hasn’t endorsed in the race.” … Steube campaign seized on the misrepresentation in a Tuesday campaign email hammering Gonzalez. “Gonzalez … has been falsely touting the support of Governor Rick Scott in an effort to boost his failing campaign,” the email read, citing the AP report. … “This is the latest attempt to mislead the voters from a campaign that is desperately trying to revive itself,” said Alex Blair, Steube’s campaign manager. “…they are trying to mislead voters about Governor Scott’s support.” … Team Steube then alleged the ad was a violation of a state law that says it is illegal to claim an endorsement without the written permission of the person or organization.

New endorsements signal Al Lawson momentum in re-election bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Lawson continues to demonstrate momentum as early voting continues in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, with two key endorsements conferred upon him Tuesday. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Lawson, calling him a “strong supporter of women’s health and … a dedicated advocate for Planned Parenthood health centers and the people they serve.” He also received the backing of the Florida Times-Union, the hometown paper of Lawson’s primary opponent, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. The paper lauded Lawson’s “no-drama approach,” saying there’s “no compelling reason” for Jacksonville voters to “abandon the incumbent.”

Spotted: Carlos Curbelo inThe five most competitive House races in the midterms” via Axios – The 2018 midterms battlefield is changing every week, and this list shows the uphill battle Republicans will face if they want to keep control. There are a lot of close races, but these ones are especially close, and some haven’t gotten the attention that analysts say they deserve … Florida’s 26th district: It went for Clinton by 16 points in 2016 despite keeping Republican Rep. Curbelo in office for the last four years. A majority of the district’s residents are Hispanic, and both Curbelo and his likely Democratic challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, have Hispanic heritage.

Retailers recommend George Gainer for re-election” via Florida Politics — The political arm of the Florida Retail Federation is backing Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer in his bid for a second term in Senate District 2. … “Senator Gainer’s knowledge of what it takes to run a small business as well as his support for retailers during his time in the Senate are just two reasons we’ve chosen to endorse his campaign,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We look forward to him continuing to work in support of Florida’s business community and the retail industry in his return to the Florida Senate.” … The FRF nod comes after Gainer’s re-election bid had already picked up an endorsement from the Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional trade association. … Gainer faces Fort Walton Beach Democrat Mary Jeanne “Gigi” Gibson in the general election for the Republican stronghold.

Assignment editors The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) will host a press conference to announce its endorsement of Republican Dana Young’s re-election to Senate District 18. That’s at 10 a.m., La Teresita Restaurant, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.

Chip LaMarca says his numbers poke holes in Democrats’ HD 93 poll” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics The campaign of Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca hit the House Victory polls for being based on an online tally compiled by a company that’s only been around for a year. It’s end result: Democratic contender Emma Collum with a 2-point lead over LaMarca, a Republican, in House District 93. A live dial poll of 300 respondents conducted by Voter Opinions and sponsored by a pro-LaMarca political committee showed LaMarca with a 6-point lead over Collum. More recently, another live dial poll of commissioned by the Republican Party of Florida and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates showed LaMarca’s lead expanding to 9 points over Collum.

House candidate Terry Power lives in $500K home but applied for food stamps” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – The Republican who’s challenging state Rep. Jamie Grant for his House District 64 seat lives in a $500,000 home but applied for food stamps, according to recent tweets. The account known as Enforce Current Laws (@FirstWivesFirst) revealed the information. For his part, Power said he had been blocked by the same account. “If it’s anything related to my ex-wife re-opening my divorce two days after I filed for the Florida House, I’ll be litigating the matter in court, not in the media,” Power told one of our reporters. But Power reportedly was denied food stamps “b/c his income was too high.” Moreover, Power’s ex-wife has moved for contempt proceedings against him related to their divorce.

Florida Medical Association PAC endorses Matt Spritz – FMA PAC, “Florida’s leading advocate for electing pro-medicine candidates to office,” on Tuesday endorsed Spritz, a Republican, in his bid for House District 89. “We worked with Matt as a legislative aide on the opioid legislation this past session and look forward to continuing working with him on health care issues as a member of the Florida House,” said FMA PAC President Dr. Mike Patete. HD 89 includes parts of Palm Beach county. It’s an open seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Bill Hager, a Boca Raton Republican. Spritz graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Emory University in 2005, after which he attended NYU Law School.

Anthony Rodriguez wins Central Florida endorsements for HD 118via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Rodriguez, a Kendall business owner and Republican candidate for House District 118, has earned the support of several current House members as he tries to oust sitting Rep. Robert Asencio. The Republican Delegation of Central Florida announced its support of Rodriguez, running unopposed in the HD 118 GOP primary. The group is made up of state Reps. Bob Cortes, Scott Plakon, David Santiago, Danny Burgess, Jason Brodeur, Bobby Olszewski, Rene Plasencia, Mike LaRosa and Jennifer Sullivan.

Activists launch effort to light a spark for medical marijuana” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics Florida medical marijuana activists announced the formation of a new money group aimed at legalizing the drug for medicinal use nationwide. The organization, called “Empowering Wellness,” was formed in part by longtime Florida activists Eric Stevens and Ben Pollara. The pair worked on Florida’s medical marijuana campaigns in both 2014 and 2016. The group was formed as a coalition of more than 30 state and national organizations which support federal legalization. “Empowering Wellness is going to do whatever we can to help move the needle forward on medical marijuana policy in Washington, D.C., and here in Florida,” Stevens said. 

— STATEWIDE —

State debt reduction called ‘sea change’ ” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida –Florida has reduced debt that helps finance initiatives like roads, schools and environmental projects by more than $7 billion over the past eight years, according to a new report from the state Division of Bond Finance. The debt amount dropped from $28.2 billion in July 2010 to $21 billion through June 30, Ben Watkins, director of the bond finance agency, told Gov. Scott and Cabinet members Tuesday. That represented a 25 percent reduction. The debt reduction, which came as Scott pursued a policy of limiting state borrowing, was “unprecedented,” Watkins said, because it reversed a long-term trend of annual borrowing by the state.

Assignment editors Gov. Scott will join Florida manufacturers to highlight the Manufacturers Association of Florida’s endorsement of his campaign for U.S. Senate. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Florida Machine Works, 86412 Gene Lassere Blvd., Yulee; and 3:35 p.m., Eco Glass Production Corp., 9101 NW 87th Ave., Medley.

State launches investigation into SunPass failures, fines contractor $800K” via Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 – Florida’s Office of Inspector General will launch an investigation into the state’s SunPass failures … The state also announced the first fines to contractor Conduent: $800,000 for damages. “I’m going to continue to hold the FDOT accountable, and I know they’re holding the vendor accountable,” Scott said. FDOT also announced Tuesday its massive backlog of tolls – which reached nearly 200 million in July – has finally been cleared. But major customer service problems continue to linger due to unexpected and inexplicable charges on some accounts.

How America’s foreclosure capital (Ft. Myers) came back from the dead” via Lydia DePillis of CNN Money – Whenever he wants to see his old house, Nezam Juman walks to the edge of his waterfront property and peers around the river’s bend. Juman worked as a mortgage originator. In 2007, the housing bust hit like a bomb going off, and all of a sudden nobody was buying. It was a fate that befell one out of ten homeowners in Lee County. The county had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country between 2008 and 2013 … In one zip code, 42% of properties went into foreclosure. But nothing can keep Florida down for long. Unlike rust belt towns that saw their already-weakened industrial bases snuffed out in the recession, Florida’s drivers are warm winters, the beach and low taxes.

This is why Mike Carroll is leaving –Mother of girl killed in Miami Beach previously investigated by DCF” via Amanda Batchelor of ABC 10 – The mother of a 3-year-old girl who was killed last week in Miami Beach was previously investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, a DCF spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday. According to the DCF report from August 2017, someone reported that Skylar Hartley‘s mother was using heroin. The DCF investigation was soon closed with no signs of substance misuse. Now, a year later, the boyfriend of Skylar’s mother is being held in jail without bond on accusations that he killed the little girl last week. “The tragic loss of Skylar is heartbreaking and our condolences are with her loved ones,” DCF Secretary Carroll said in a statement. “DCF has opened a child death investigation and will conduct a thorough review of the prior investigation which closed with no indicators.

— LINES IN THE SAND —

The beach woes in Walton County continue. 

Now, beachgoers and vendors in Destin are battling over shore access. This follows the kerfuffle caused by HB 631, which resulted in some members of the public being asked to leave beaches in the county or face possible trespassing charges. 

Writes Annie Blanks for the Northwest Florida Daily News, “What’s more, beach chair vendors are increasingly testing the limits of the beach-going public, in some cases violating city ordinances by putting their chairs too close to shore and restricting people from sitting in front of them.” 

The law: “Beach vendors shall not block or impede in any manner the right of pedestrian access seaward of a line 20 feet above the mean high water line.” 

The breach: Vendors peddling beach chairs “are increasingly setting up well within the 20-foot space,” writes Blanks. She notes that there also have been reports of similar vendors setting up shop in off-limits areas. 

Impact?: The aggressive nature of the vendors could lead to fewer tourists opting to visit the shores of Destin. Writes Blanks, “With the city’s public beach accesses only a few dozen feet wide at best, and with beach chair vendors bullying members of the public off the beaches they likely have a legal right to be on, elected officials fear they are facing a crisis as the battle over the beach becomes more and more personal.”

— PROBLEMATIC SOLUTION —

When landmark opioid legislation moved through the 2018 Legislative Session, some doctors — specifically those who dealt with trauma patients — expressed worry that patients who needed scripts could be hurt by new mandatory limits. 

But now that the law is active, others in the medical profession are feeling some of the negative effects. 

Notes the Orlando Sentinel, “Almost all medications that are classified as Schedule II through V drugs, including steroids; anti-seizure medications; stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin and ADHD medications; Ambien and Xanax are included in the law.”

Understanding: Doctors who don’t prescribe opioids don’t have to worry about prescription limits, but they do have to update a prescription drug monitoring database. “Local health systems have launched massive education campaigns for their staff and patients about the new law, emphasizing mostly limitations on opioid prescriptions, to prepare the patients for what they should expect when they see their doctors.”

Numbers: One surgeon told the Sentinel he estimates a “$750 loss because of the patients he can’t see” as a result of spending time updating the database. 

Skepticism: “The laws do service to reduce opioid prescription, but the ultimate goal is to reduce overdose deaths and laws like HB21 are unlikely to do that,” said Dr. Joanna Starrels, associate professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

— OPINIONS —

America’s debt has exploded. Why does no one care?” via Robert Rubin in the Washington Post  Substantive fiscal policy work is essential, but all the good policy thinking in the world won’t matter unless the politics works. Without good politics, the policies won’t be implemented. And the politics of fiscal discipline have not been effectively addressed by too many of those who are deeply concerned about our country’s economic future — including me.

Lessons From Parkland shooting: School safety must transcend politics” via Bill Galvano in Newsmax – … [N]othing in my life prepared me for the experience of visiting the crime scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just 48 hours after the shooting occurred – imagining the terror, consoling the grieving, knowing that something had to be done, and it was for us to figure it out – fast. Florida’s 60-day legislative session was past the midpoint when the horrendous shooting occurred. The incredibly courageous, articulate, and intelligent young people who endured the shooting quickly channeled their grief and anger into advocacy and action. Their lives will be forever changed, and not just by the tragedy, but by the life lesson that raising your voice matters. At a time when many young people are cynical about whether our political institutions and the machinery of our government can effect change in polarized times, they saw it happen before their very eyes and they were part of it.

— LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Chris Carmody, Christopher Dawson, Katie Flury, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: City of Groveland, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections

Christopher Coker, Coker Consulting: Palm Beach Habilitation Center

Georgia Lorenz, Seminole State College of Florida

Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: City of Hollywood

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Indian Trail Improvement District

— ALOE —

Tampa to host 6th annual Florida Autonomous Vehicles Summit” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The summit runs November 27-28 at the Marriott Waterside Tampa. It showcases the latest autonomous vehicle technology including completely self-driving cars, shuttle and even large trucks as well as semi-autonomous vehicles equipped with things like lane assist and real time traffic information. It also feature electric vehicles. As the Tampa Bay region faces mounting transportation issues including constant congestion in key corridors and an overall lack of transit access, local elected officials and thought leaders are looking to the future of autonomous vehicle technology as a possible answer to what has proven to be a daunting problem. “The world is moving to shared, electric, and self-driving. The implications of this shift will have profound impacts on both government and industry,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes …  “The Florida Automated Vehicles Summit provides Florida’s policy makers and transportation leaders to interact with experts in this field.”

We need this in Florida – Kiwi’s robots deliver food to hungry Berkeley students” via Brian Heater of TechCrunch – The robots have become a familiar sight to anyone who’s spent any time on the U.C. Berkeley campus recently. Unlike countless hardware startups, who spend years incubating and iterating products, Kiwi’s team couldn’t wait to take to the east bay to test their product in a real world setting. According to cofounder and CEO Felipe Chavez Cortes, the company has already fulfilled more than 10,000 orders with its team of delivery ‘bots. It’s a differentiator in an increasingly crowded world of delivery robots, for whom testing on city sidewalks has presented a host of issues. In December of last year, San Francisco went so far as banning delivery ‘bots from city streets for fear of a robotic sidewalk takeover.

Happy birthday belatedly to the smartest person I met last month, Gary Hunter of Hopping Green & Sams. Celebrating today is one of my Top 5 favorite Pinellas County Commissioners, Ken Welch.

Last Call for 8.14.18 – 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

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday again hammered U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on his claims that Russian agents had hacked the election systems of “certain counties.”

Scott spoke to reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

“The only conclusion I have is: One, if he does have classified information, how did he get it? I don’t think he’s entitled to it. And two, if it’s not true, why didn’t he just say it’s not true?”

Nelson, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee, has declined to elaborate. He previously told reporters that details bolstering his accusations are “classified.”

That wasn’t good enough for Scott, his GOP challenger in this year’s Senate race.

“…We’re in the middle of a primary election,” the term-limited governor said. “People are already voting … They need to know the facts. I don’t think he’s been transparent.”

But Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout soon leaned in that others in Congress also didn’t deny what Nelson has said, including his fellow U.S. senator from Florida, Republican Marco Rubio.

Fineout then pointed out that Scott’s administration did its own cybersecurity analysis following the 2016 election “that was confidential, that no one has ever seen.”

Scott responded to the first point only: “My understanding is (that) we reached out to Homeland Security and the FBI, and they said they don’t know of anything.”

Evening Reads

1. “Spending in Florida’s marquee political fights hits $129 million” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

2. “How an environmental catastrophe could decide Florida’s U.S. Senate race” via Alexander Sammon of the New Republic

3. “In bid for Governor, Ron DeSantis touts Navy Gitmo experience. But what did he do there?” via Emily Mahoney and Howard Altman

4. “Chris King, despite trailing in polls, isn’t slowing down as primary nears” via Gray Rohrer of Orlando Sentinel

5. “Conflicts of interest cloud Frank White’s Attorney General bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

6. “Can Democrats win these Florida congressional seats?” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

7. “Former Florida Chief Justice challenges Amendment 8, five others as unconstitutionally bundled” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

8. “In wake of fake degree scandal, Melissa Howard withdraws from state House race” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

9. “Miami’s worst candidate releases world’s best campaign ad” via Tim Elfrink of Miami New Times

10. “SunPass investigation launched into problems; fines issues to contractor” via Noah Pransky of 10 News

11. “Florida’s orange crop is bouncing back from bugs and a hurricane” via Marvin G. Perez, Fabiana Batista, and Justina Vasquez

Quote of the Day

“I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race.” — Melissa Howard, a now-former candidate for House District 73, who last week posted a photo of herself with a phony diploma after being accused of lying about getting her degree.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The State Board of Education will meet and discuss issues such as turnaround option plans for schools in DeSoto and Marion counties. After the meeting, board members will take part in a workshop focused on issues such as the Department of Education’s strategic plan and budget. That’s at 8 a.m., Renaissance Orlando Airport, 5445 Forbes Place, Orlando.

Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will attend AgNet Media’s Citrus Expo and the Citrus and Agriculture Industry Celebration. That’s at 8:30 a.m., Lee Civic Center, 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers, and 5:30 p.m., Florida Gulf Coast University Alico Arena, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway East, Fort Myers.

Enterprise Florida will hold one in a series of trade seminars directed toward small and medium-sized firms seeking to do business in the Dominican Republic. That’s at 9 a.m., Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, 1801 N.E. Sixth St., Pompano Beach.

Gov. Scott will join Florida manufacturers to highlight the Manufacturers Association of Florida’s endorsement of his campaign for U.S. Senate. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Florida Machine Works, 86412 Gene Lassere Blvd., Yulee; and 3:35 p.m., Eco-Glass Production Corp., 9101 NW 87th Ave., Medley.

The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) will host a press conference to announce its endorsement of Republican Dana Young’s re-election to Senate District 18. That’s at 10 a.m., La Teresita Restaurant, 3248 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa.

Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum will campaign across South Florida: 11 a.m., AARP Miami Chapter monthly meeting, Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami; 12:45 p.m., Kings Point Democratic Club, 7620 Nob Hill Road, Tamarac; 6 p.m., Gillum for Governor volunteer rally, 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 8 p.m., live national Sirius XM radio interview with Joe Madison on “The Black Eagle.”

The Able Trust, which works to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities, will award a grant to Easterseals Florida to help support its Hospitality Training Program of the Palm Beaches. That’s at 11 a.m., Easterseals Igoe-Amar Center, 213 South Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

The Florida League of Mayors, in coordination with the Florida League of Cities and Leadership Forum, will hold a forum for gubernatorial candidates. That’s at 2 p.m., The Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 South Ocean Dr., Hollywood.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.14.18

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

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

Good morning. Let’s begin the day with two scoops.

(Yes, that is a weird gif, but it works!)

The first is a big get for the Gwen Graham campaign.

Fresh off a nod from Jimmy Buffett, Graham is following up with an endorsement of a different sort, though no less impressive: former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.

“For too long, too many Floridians have been left behind by their governor and the politicians in Tallahassee. Our communities have been forgotten, our voting rights have been attacked and our civil rights weakened,” Joyner said. “Enough is enough. In 2018, we are going to reverse the trend and elect a Democrat who will fight for all Floridians — and that governor will be Gwen Graham.

Joyner served in the state Legislature for 16 years beginning in 2000, though her impressive CV includes becoming the first black attorney in Polk County, the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County and the longest practicing black female lawyer in Florida history. … “Senator Arthenia Joyner is a living legend and trailblazer. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Florida families — and it is an honor to have her support,” Graham said.

The second scoop is veteran communications pro Stephen Lawson is joining the Ron DeSantis campaign.

From “rapid response director” on Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 campaign, to Enterprise Florida, to the to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to VISIT FLORIDA, Lawson has worked in several positions quite a bit over the last four years.

On Monday, he made another jump: Communications Director for DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign.

DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold made the announcement Monday evening, saying that the campaign would be making a load of hires ahead of the Aug. 28 Republican primary contest, where DeSantis holds a major polling advantage and is eating away at the cash advantage of his lone opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“I’m proud to have a seasoned communications professional like Stephen join our team as our campaign continues to build momentum,” Herold said. “Stephen’s experience helping reelect Governor Scott shows he knows how to communicate a strong, conservative, winning message to voters across Florida. We look forward to continuing to share Ron’s vision for making Florida the best state in the country as its next Governor.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

@BrianStelter: Even with all this media attention, Omarosa’s book still has not cracked the top 10 on Amazon’s best-selling books page. Right now it’s at #17… Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ is at #11, and it’s not out for another month…

@Fineout: Before campaign stop in Gadsden County @SenBillNelson says he will likely meet with SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the next 2 weeks. Still has not made up his mind. Says he votes for who he thinks “will enforce the law.”

@Scott_Maxwell: Now I love me some @JimmyBuffett I have the 2-disc “Meet me in Margaritaville” in my car & Landshark in the fridge. But man, with his recent guv endorsement track record (McBride, Sink, etc.), it’s more like “Why Don’t We Get Endorsed … and Get Screwed.”

@AnaCeballos_@Adamputnam‘s political committee weekly campaign finance report shows he has raised a little over $54,000, the lowest weekly total since the 2018 election cycle began.

@MDixon55: Dems (more than one) have been sending these emails all cycle not realizing the degree to which reporters giggle at the idea of spox people (spoxes?) telling them how to ask questions

@CarlosGSmith: Some relief for the fam of #MarkeisMcGlockton, but the fact his murderer was able to use ‘Stand Your Ground’ to avoid arrest for so long is absurd. We all know he’s still gonna try to use SYG as a get outta murder free card to avoid trial.

@SShawFL: Neither of the two major Rs running to replace Scott, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Ag Comm. Adam Putnam, commented on the arrest, nor did current Attorney General Pam Bondi or the two R candidates vying to succeed her, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and Ashley Moody…

@MarcACaputo: This isn’t to say the law is perfect. But part of the problem in this Stand Your Ground case is the Tampa Bay Times favorite sheriff just so happened to share its incorrect bias against the law and didnt charge the shooter. But the prosecutor today set that straight by charging

@MearKat00: To every Floridian who is standing on a street corner waving a campaign sign in 1000° weather with 110% humidity… I salute you.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 13; Primary Election Day — 14; College Football opening weekend — 16; Labor Day — 20; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 23; NFL regular season starts — 23; First general election mail ballots go out — 39; Future of Florida Forum — 43; FSU vs. UM football game — 53; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 70; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 71; General Election Day — 84; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 98; Black Friday — 101; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 105; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 182; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 203; 2020 General Election — 812.

— THIS IS WHY DEMOCRATS LOSE —

Democrats more positive about socialism than capitalism” via Gallup Attitudes toward socialism among Democrats have not changed materially since 2010, with 57% today having a positive view. The major change among Democrats has been a less upbeat attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47% positive this year.

— “Democratic socialism is a scam” via Giancarlo Sopo for Quillette

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Where is Bill Nelson?” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Nelson (did) several events in the Panhandle (Monday), we’re told, after initial publication of this item. The campaign says Nelson was doing ad production work on Friday and Saturday. Nelson has remained out of public view since raising alarms about Russian hacking last Wednesday. His campaign isn’t responding to reporters and Nelson hasn’t commented except for a statement released from his Senate office just before 5 p.m. Friday. “I and several of my Senate colleagues are trying to make sure Florida officials are aware of the ongoing Russian threat so they take the steps necessary to safeguard our elections. It’s unfortunate that some Florida officials would try to use this issue for personal, political gain,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s narrow lead with Florida Latinos worries Democrats” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida Nelson holds a narrow 44-41 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott among Latino voters in Florida’s Senate race, according to a new poll that’s raising fresh concerns among Democrats that the incumbent is in a dicey position with a core group of voters he needs to carry by bigger margins. The poll of 400 Florida Hispanics, commissioned by a coalition of Democratic-leaning Latino outreach groups, showed Scott topped Nelson among Cuban-American voters, who tend to vote Republican, by 24 percentage points. But Nelson’s advantage over Scott among voters of Puerto Ricans, who tend to vote Democrat, was smaller: 7 points. For Democrats, those numbers are a problem for Nelson because a Republican who wins as much of the Hispanic vote as Scott is taking usually wins statewide in Florida. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the survey by 40-33 percent. Still, they say, there’s time. But it’s running out.

Jobs, jobs, … endorsed: Gov. and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Scott nabbed an endorsement from the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) at an event in Pensacola

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz to campaign with Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s top two Trump supporters in Congress will campaign Saturday alongside Rep. Jim Jordan, who is making a push to be House speaker. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is running for re-election, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Trump-backed candidate for governor, will make three stops in the Panhandle: Pensacola, Navarre and Destin. They’re calling it the Freedom Tour. Jordan has been embroiled in a controversy over whether he knew about sexual abuse of Ohio State wrestlers by a team doctor while he was an assistant coach there years ago. Jordan denies knowing anything. Last week, former wrestler Mark Coleman told CNN he no longer stands by his previous statement that Jordan must have known.

Happening today  DeSantis and CD 27 hopeful Bruno Barreiro will speak during a meeting of the Miami Young Republicans,  6:30 p.m., Cubaocho Museum, 1465 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.

Adam Putnam pushes ‘Florida First’ message in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Putnam is out with a new TV spot, pushing his “Florida First” message as the GOP primary race for Governor nears a close. The 30-second ad, titled “God’s Country,” features several iconic images of the state as Putnam narrates what he views as the strengths of the state. “In Florida, anything is possible,” Putnam begins. “We launched a man to the moon. Our beaches bring the world to our doorstep and our farms feed the nation. The sunshine is bright in Florida because this is God’s country.” Putnam then pivots to his vision for Florida under his leadership. “Together we’ll make Florida the launchpad for the American Dream, cutting taxes and keeping government out of our way; ensuring our kids are career-ready; and attracting new industries. For me, it will always be Florida First.”

Gwen Graham seeks Parrothead vote with Jimmy Buffett endorsement” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Graham is going after votes in Margaritaville: Musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett says he’s backing Graham’s gubernatorial campaign. The campaign announced the endorsement by Buffett on Monday. “Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first,” Buffett said in a statement. “She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State. “She’ll protect our precious natural environment, ensure we have strong public schools and affordable health care. It’s been too long since we have had a Governor for all the people.” Buffett has been a staple in Florida since moving to Key West in the 1970s.

Philip Levine: Jeff Greene attacking me because he doesn’t have a record” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Levine on Monday said television stations should take down an “absolutely wrong” attack ad from the campaign of Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene. But he wouldn’t say if he would sue stations that don’t remove them. “We’ve got to get through this primary,” Levine said. “We want to win the primary. I want to win the governorship and we’ll deal with it at that point.” Levine sent a cease and desist letter to the television stations airing the campaign commercial. Greene’s campaign yesterday defended the ad.”We never claimed the images were from Biscayne Bay,” Greene spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren told the Miami Herald. Levine responded: “There should be truth in advertising.” “Unfortunately when you don’t have a record, and you want to tear someone else’s record down, but you’ve actually never done anything in that field and you resort to tactics that are untruthful and borderline fraudulent,” Levine said.

Assignment editorsLevine will be visiting political “hob nobs.” The event is 4:30 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St. A Lakeland event is 6:30 p.m., Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Road.

Matt Caldwell’s gun rights ad draws NRA rebuke” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida – An NRA-endorsed candidate for agriculture commissioner is “retooling” an ad after the gun-rights group said he made a “mistake” in assigning a failing grade to a primary opponent. Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s longtime Florida lobbyist, requested that the endorsed candidate, Matt Caldwell, apologize for the ad against Republican primary opponent Denise Grimsley. Caldwell’s campaign recently sent out a print ad that assigned to Grimsley a “D” grade … But the gun-rights group … actually gave Grimsley, a state senator from Sebring, a grade of “B” that year, according to Hammer. “In order to avoid confusion, I asked my team to retool the ad this weekend, but we will not back down from the clear contrast between ourselves and our opponents when it comes to defending the Second Amendment,” Caldwell said in the statement.

Denise Grimsley announces more endorsements – The Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner on Monday added to her list of backers from the Legislature. They now include Sens. Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Anitere Flores, George Gainer, Rene Garcia, Dorothy Hukill, Debbie Mayfield, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel, and Reps. Sam Killebrew, Cary Pigman, Elizabeth Porter, Charlie Stone and many former lawmakers, including former House Speakers Allan Bense, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul and H. Lee Moffitt. “With my diverse background raising cattle, growing citrus, helping people, running a business and managing a budget, paired with my dedication to solving problems that face Florida, I know I am the most qualified and best candidate in this race, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue my work serving Floridians as their Commissioner of Agriculture,” Grimsley said in a statement.

Felons’ rights drive gets major financial boost” via the News Service of Florida – A political committee leading efforts to pass a constitutional amendment about restoring felons’ voting rights received nearly $7 million in contributions during a week-long period in late July and early August, a new finance report shows. The committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy raised $6,988,054 from July 28 to Aug. 3 and had almost $7.1 million in cash on hand at the end of the period. The largest contribution, $3.4 million, came from the American Civil Liberties Union. But the committee also received six-figure checks from nine donors across the country. The proposal, which would require approval from 60 percent of voters to pass, comes after years of political and legal fights about restoring the rights of felons who have served their sentences.

Ballot measure on county offices goes to Supreme Court” via the News Service of Florida – The 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday forwarded the dispute to the Supreme Court, pointing to a “question of great public importance” that it said needs “immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The dispute stems from a proposed constitutional amendment that the state Constitution Revision Commission placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. The measure, known as Amendment 10, would make the five local constitutional offices — sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, clerk of the court and property appraiser — mandatory and require elections for the offices in all 67 counties. It would also prohibit charter counties from abolishing or modifying those offices. While it is somewhat unusual for the appeals court to quickly pass cases to the Supreme Court, it took a similar step last week in a dispute about a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at banning greyhound racing at Florida dog tracks.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Al Lawson leads Alvin Brown by 22 points, according to new poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — If the election in Florida’s 5th Congressional District were held today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson would cruise to victory, according to a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday. A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with opponent Alvin Brown at 28 percent. The balance of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.6 percent. … Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort. … Among those who already voted (13 percent), Lawson is up 52-42; among those yet to vote (87 percent), Lawson’s lead balloons to 49-26. … The winner of the primary election will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Darren Soto gets nurses’ backing – National Nurses United, the nation’s largest registered nurses organization, endorsed the Orlando-area Democratic congressman on Monday. Soto is seeking re-election to his 9th Congressional District seat. He was described in the organization’s press release as someone who “embodies nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

Neil Combee takes lead in CD 15 Republican primary, poll shows” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Combee isn’t leading by double digits, as a recent poll commissioned by his campaign showed, but he does have an outside the margins lead in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. … According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Combee has the support of nearly 36 percent of likely primary voters followed by Dover state Rep. Ross Spano at 30 percent. … Combee’s 6-point lead mainly comes from running up the score among the two-thirds of Republicans who said they plan to vote but haven’t cast their ballot yet. Among the third who have already voted, his lead over Spano shrinks to 36-35 percent … Spano’s slippage compared to past polls can likely be attributed to the “mild cardiac event” he suffered late last month … though he’s recovered, the health scare kept him grounded from campaigning for at least a week during the critical leadup to primary Election Day. He has since come back to the campaign trail at full force, announcing his first 30-second TV spot on Friday.

Julio Gonzalez releases video deposition in malpractice case” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau Gonzalez, an orthopaedic surgeon, is not personally named in the suit and initially opposed release of the deposition in the case involving John Green, a patient who died in 2015. Green’s widow, Ruth, is suing the Orthopaedic Center of Venice and Dr. Tracy Ng for alleged malpractice after her husband suffered an infection and died following treatment for a broken arm. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on the case over the weekend and Gonzalez – in releasing the deposition – blasted the paper for coverage and accused his Republican primary rival, state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota, of planting the story.

Labor unions back Lauren Baer in CD 18via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics – Baer is touting a series of endorsements from labor unions as she continues to campaign for Brian Mast‘s seat in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Baer already earned the backing of the AFL-CIO Florida chapter. Now, at least eight other unions have thrown their support behind the Baer campaign. Those organizations range from local to international representation and show strong support of Baer’s campaign as she competes with former Navy JAG Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination. “At a time when workers’ rights are increasingly under assault, I am proud to have the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO and a growing list of unions, representing workers from every segment of the economy,” Baer said.

Spotted: CD 18 candidate Pam Keith inFemale veterans run for US Congress in record numbers to solve America’s ‘leadership crisis” via The Daily Telegraph of London – Keith defended troops who were court-martialed … The candidates are part of a new wave of female veterans who want to be on Capitol Hill after the 2018 mid-terms in November. Currently just four of the 535 sitting senators and congressmen are women who served in the military. But in this cycle no fewer than 32 have ran for office … For Ms. Keith, a 49-year-old former naval lawyer, having a military background could help women political candidates smash through the stereotypes that still hold sway today. She spent much of the 1990s as a naval judge advocate, defending sailors who were facing everything from expulsion to discrimination cases. Now running for Florida’s 18th district, she hopes her background can avoid the gendered slurs that Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential candidate, faced in 2016.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Internal poll gives Robert Doyel a 5-point lead over Kelli Stargel in SD 22” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Retired Circuit Judge Robert Doyel has the largest competitive edge of any of the six Republican-held Senate seats specifically targeted by the Florida Democratic Party, according to a recent internal survey. … FDP’s internal poll numbers show Doyel has a higher name recognition in his district than any other Democratic Senate candidate in a targeted race at 54 percent … The internal survey also shows Doyel with a 5-point advantage over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, 45-40 percent, giving him the heretofore largest lead among the six contested races… The Winter Haven Democrat is running for Senate District 22, which covers northern Polk County and southern Lake County. … In addition to SD 22, the state party is targeting Gainesville-based SD 8, Pinellas and Pasco-based SD 16, Tampa-based SD 18, St. Petersburg-based SD 24 and Hialeah-based SD 36.

Jeff Brandes up big in first SD 24 poll since Lindsay Cross tagged in” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics – Knocking off St. Pete Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes was always a long shot, and the first measure of the race since Lindsay Cross subbed in for Carrie Pilon shows those slim chances dwindling further. According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Brandes has the support of nearly 39 percent of Senate District 24 voters, giving him a better than 2-to-1 lead over Cross, who was the pick for an even 19 percent of those polled. With 42 percent of voters undecided, there’s room for growth for both candidates. Brandes is a known quantity to 59 percent of SD 24 voters, and they find him favorable by a margin of 39-20. Cross, meanwhile, is known by just 27 percent of the district and those who offered their opinion gave her a somewhat lukewarm 21-16 favorability rating.

Orange Republicans pick George Chandler to run in HD 48” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Chandler, 62, of Orlando, is the county Republican’s choice as the replacement candidate for Scotland Calhoun, who initially filed in June to run for the post but withdrew two weeks ago after officials learned she is too young to qualify, not turning 21 until next spring. If all goes well, Chandler will enter the Nov. 6 election battle with incumbent Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando. The latest voter registrations show the district is strongly Democrat: 47 percent of registered voters are Democrats; 17 percent are Republicans … He is a real estate agent, and a former officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and for the U.S. Department of Justice, who had, as a young man, served in the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry.

— “LGBTA group endorses Karen Skyers for HD 61” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Melissa Howard admits to lying about degree but says she won’t quit race” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Howard admitted Monday that she lied about having a degree from Miami University, apologized and declared she intends to stay in a race that has drawn national attention after it came out she was displaying a fake diploma and had gone to great lengths to deceive people about her college credentials. “I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation,” Howard said in a statement. “It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on.” Howard did not address the question about how she obtained a diploma stating she has a degree in marketing from Miami University, a degree the school doesn’t even offer. Howard’s admission means there is now no question the diploma is a fake, but it’s unclear who forged the document.

FMA PAC endorses Michael Grieco in House District 113 – The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) Monday endorsed the Democrat in his race for HD 113. “Grieco has a proven record of working hard for his constituents and we look forward to working with him to enhance and improve health care for Florida patients,” said Dr. Mike Patete, FMA PAC President. Grieco said, “As the son of an MD and a longtime member of both the Mount Sinai and Nicklaus Children’s Hospitals Foundations, I promise to not let the medical community down in Tallahassee.” HD 113 is in Miami-Dade County. It’s an open seat currently held by state Rep. David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat running for Congress.  

Happening tonight:



— ALGAE CRISIS —

Gov. Scott declares state of emergency because of red tide outbreak in Southwest Florida” via Chad Gillis of the News-Press – The declaration will provide funding and resources for Sarasota, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee … A strong red tide has lingered along the Southwest Florida coast since October, at times stretching from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. It has killed manatees, hundreds of sea turtles and an untold amount of fish measured in the millions of pounds. Lee County will receive $900,000 in grants for cleanup, bringing total red tide grant funding for Lee County to more than $1.3 million. Mote Marine Laboratory will receive $100,000 to help with animal rescues and VISIT FLORIDA will receive $500,000 to create an emergency grant program to help communities promote tourism. Biologists and scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also will be available to assist in cleanup and animal rescue efforts, according to a news release by the governor’s office.

A hurricane may be only way to get rid of red tide, expert says” via Nicole Rodriguez of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The killer menace, which has turned the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico into a soft-drink brown hue and transformed pristine white sand beaches into ghastly graveyards of rotting sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whale sharks in recent weeks, doesn’t look like it will loosen its grip on the area, scientists say. A major weather system — such as a hurricane — could potentially rid Southwest Florida of the persistent bloom … The tropics, however, remain quiet, and U.S. forecasters say the Atlantic hurricane season may be less active than they previously predicted, thanks to cooler waters in the Atlantic Ocean, stronger wind shear and drier air — all factors that suppress storms.

— STATEWIDE —

Economists find good news for schools, bad news for Medicaid via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – State economists on Monday found millions of extra dollars for the state’s public schools, but also a $29 million shortfall in takings from tobacco taxes and a landmark legal settlement with the tobacco companies. The Revenue Estimating Conference projected that $128.4 million would remain unspent at the end of this fiscal year … That means the Legislature will start out in the black when setting school spending priorities for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, said Amy Baker, coordinator for the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. On the other hand, the outlook for Medicaid — the primary recipient of the tobacco money — “is not good news. It’s showing that they actually have a projected hard deficit,” Baker said.

Happening today – The Florida Elections Commission will consider a proposed legislative budget request and a legislative recommendation, 9 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

How prosecutors decided to charge Michael Drejka, shooter in controversial stand your ground case” via Kathryn Varn and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times – The case is likely to hinge on whether Drejka did, in fact, have reasonable fear for his life when he shot McGlockton, who had shoved him to the ground upon seeing Drejka yell at his girlfriend. The first filing offers a window into why prosecutors believe Drejka did not have reason to pull the trigger, noting his “confrontational” approach and the distance between him and McGlockton, who had turned away when Drejka pulled out his gun. As investigators continued looking into the case, they heard from another man, Richard Kelly, who said Drejka had threatened to shoot him in the same parking lot over the same handicap-reserved spot months before. They also learned of two police reports, which did not lead to any arrests but involved people accusing Drejka of showing a gun in road rage incidents.

— MEET CRUMP —

Six years ago, he represented the parents of Trayvon Martin. Today he’s advocating for those who were close to Markeis McGlockton, the man gunned down in Clearwater last month.

Attorney Benjamin Crump is described by peers as “the real deal” when it comes to advocating for civil rights, both in the court of law and the court of opinion.

“Ask people who know him best, and they will tell you Crump’s ascension is rooted in a moral conviction to vigorously oppose racial injustice,” writes Dan Sullivan for the Tampa Bay Times.

Spotlight: When Crump takes a case like Martin’s or McGlockton’s, he wages two fights. “Ben realized that there are two courtrooms,” another attorney tells Sullivan. “And he knew that the media can be used to force the courts to do something.”

Sharpton’s words: “I thought when we lost Johnnie Cochran, in my lifetime we’d never see the likes of that again,” Sharpton said at a recent rally with Crump. “But I’ve been all over the country and Benjamin Crump is the Johnnie Cochran of our generation.”

Worth noting: At the rally Sullivan attended, he observed, “Some fans bore the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But not all of them. Some instead carried a picture of Crump.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Immigration cases tossed in fallout from high court ruling” via Amy Taxin of The Associated Press – Immigration courts from Boston to Los Angeles have been experiencing fallout from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that has caused some deportation orders to be tossed and cases thrown out, bringing more chaos to a system that was already besieged by ballooning dockets and lengthy backlogs. Since the decision was issued in June, immigration attorneys have been asking judges to throw out their clients’ cases. Some immigration judges have refused to issue deportation orders for immigrants. And in a recent case in Washington state, a Mexican farmworker had an indictment for illegally re-entering the country tossed out. It isn’t clear how many people’s immigration cases could be affected. Some immigration judges have denied attorneys’ requests, but others in states including Tennessee, New Jersey and California have granted them.

New coalition plans seven-figure campaign aimed at Puerto Rican voters” via Ed O’Keefe of CBS News – Critics of the Trump administration’s response to the hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico last year are launching a seven-figure campaign to mobilize displaced Puerto Rican voters ahead of the midterm elections – and planning big demonstrations in New York and Florida to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. The events are part of a new project launched by the Latino Victory Project (LVP), a liberal group that supports Latino Democratic political candidates and works to register and mobilize Latinos to vote, and Power 4 Puerto Rico (P4P), an upstart organization that has spent the last year working to draw more attention to the stunted recovery on the island.

Marco Rubio looks for his place in Trump’s Republican Party” via Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press The once-rising star used to be criticized for being in too much of a hurry, but now he’s hunkered down in the Senate with nothing, it seems, but time. … [P]eople who have observed Rubio during his career see a more mindful, even liberated, politician who no longer carries the weight of being “The Republican Savior,” as Time magazine once called the charismatic young son of immigrants. Instead, the 47-year-old is keeping his head down and doing the grunt work of governing, answering head-on the criticism that he was more flash than substance as a candidate.

Spotted: Rubio inA Tea Party movement to overhaul the Constitution is quietly gaining steam” via Time – Most supporters of a convention of states say the process is necessary for states to wrestle power back from Congress and the courts … The Constitution notes that three-quarters of all states must ratify any amendments proposed at a convention … Republican skeptics mainly worry that gun rights enumerated in the Second Amendment could come under siege. Democrats are concerned largely about how constitutional tinkering might affect issues like abortion and immigration … On the other side, the movement for a convention of states has won major endorsements from Republican leaders and conservative personalities across the country, including … Rubio, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Assignment editors – The Marion County Children’s Alliance and the Marion County Heroin/Opioid Task Force will host an opioid crisis roundtable, with special guest U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Marion County Sheriff’s Office Jail/Visitation Administration Building, 3300 NW 10th St., Ocala.

— OPINIONS —

Joe Henderson: What’s reasonable? ‘Stand Your Ground’ trial may provide answer” via Florida Politics – Under the heading “justifiable use of force,” it says deadly force is permissible if a person “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” But state Sen. Dennis Baxley, a long-time champion of gun rights and the NRA, told Politico, the law uses a “reasonable-person standard. It’s not that you were just afraid.” I imagine Drejka’s attorney will have a different take. A “reasonable person” might conclude Drejka was scared out of his wits. And the twist to SYG now is that prosecutors will have to prove that wasn’t true, no matter what the video shows or seems to show. That is exactly what backers of that law had in mind when they pushed it through the Legislature in 2017.

— MOVEMENTS — 

Personnel note: Amanda Gorman joins Adams St. Advocates – The Tallahassee-based governmental affairs and business development consulting firm announced her hiring on Monday. Most recently, Gorman was at the Department of Management Services in the Legislative Affairs office. Before that, she was a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Scott’s re-election and later served nearly three years in his administration. The Tallahassee native is a graduate of Florida State University with a master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Affairs, with a focus in Philosophy. Claudia Davant, president of Adams St. Advocates said “Amanda’s impressive background and experience in both the government and private sectors will tie in nicely with the forward-thinking advocacy services we offer our clients.”

— ALOE — 

Happy birthday to John Konkus and Meredith Stanfield.

Last Call for 8.13.18 – 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

The Florida Elections Commission will consider a “recommended final order” that Brian Pitts’ Justice-2-Jesus organization be stripped of its political committee status.

The matter is on the agenda for the panel’s Tuesday meeting in Tallahassee. Pitts is a longtime legislative critic, well known in The Process for his appearances at committee meetings over the years.

Records show Pitts asked for a hearing after the Division of Elections’ decision “to cancel Justice-2-Jesus’s registration as a political committee for failing to pay a civil penalty.” That was for not filing campaign finance reports.

An administrative law judge in January 2016 found “willful violations of the Florida Election Code,” imposing a $7,000 fine that still has not been paid.  

Because of that, “the Commission concludes that the Division may proceed with final cancellation … of Justice-2-Jesus,” a draft order reads.

Meantime, Pitts recently returned to Twitter after a seven-month hiatus. He told Florida Politics back in March that multiple cases of legislative misconduct had taken a toll on him, and “it was time for a sabbatical.”

Pitts, who chairs the St. Petersburg-based committee, has told commissioners in a filing he can’t pay the penalty and disagreed with the commission’s recommendation in his usual all-caps style.

“OF COURSE WE DO NOT AGREE … IN LIGHT OF THE FACTS, EVIDENCE AND LAW ON THE MATTER,” he said.

The committee hasn’t raised a cent since 2008, when it took in $1,150. That money is the group’s only funds, which it’s still sitting on. It reported no other contributions since 2007, and no expenditures.

Evening Reads

1. “Rick Scott issues emergency order on Red Tide algae bloom” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

2. “Report of election site hacking rankle Florida officials” via the Associated Press

3. “An 11-year-old changed election results on a replica Florida state website in under 10 minutes” via Michael Regan of PBS

4. “‘Where’s the blue wave?’ Voter data show Florida Democrats aren’t surging” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

5. “Democrats make big gains in Seminole, Osceola and Orange; Republicans flip Volusia and Polk” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

6. “Ron DeSantis: I’ll kick Adam Putnam’s keister in South Florida” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

7. “Adam Putnam’s cash dries up as gubernatorial star fades” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

8. “Bob Buckhorn or Shevrin Jones for Gwen Graham’s Lieutenant Governor” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

9. “Matt Caldwell’s gun rights ad draws NRA rebuke” via Dara Kam and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

10. “‘Dammit Dana’: Janet Cruz slams Dana Young over lead in schools” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

11. “House candidate Terry Power lives in $500K home but applied for food stamps” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

12. “Melissa Howard apologizes for lying about degree, will stay in race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

13. “Toyota dealership inspired by #MeToo likely discriminated against men, state says” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first. She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State.” —Jimmy Buffett, in a Monday endorsement of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will take up a series of issues at a regular meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

The Florida Elections Commission will take up numerous issues, including a proposed legislative budget request and a legislative recommendation. That’s at 9 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Enterprise Florida will hold one in a series of trade seminars. That’s at 9 a.m. Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza, Coral Gables.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will visit the Pride Center in Wilton Manors, attend a district office opening in Coral Springs and take part in a Moms Demand Action town hall on gun violence. That’s at 10 a.m., Pride Center at Equality Park, 2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors. Also, office opening at 4 p.m., Coral Springs City Hall, 9500 West Sample Road, Coral Springs. Also, town hall at 6:30 p.m., Marriott-Heron Bay, 11775 Heron Bay Blvd., Coral Springs.

The Florida Development Finance Corp. Board of Directors is slated to meet and receive presentations from Classical Preparatory Charter School, Inc. and Waste Pro USA, Inc. That’s at 2 p.m., 156 Tuskawilla Road-Suite 2340, Winter Springs. Call-in number: 1-646-741-5292. Code: 1114882779.

Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will be visiting political “hob nobs.” A Tampa event is 4:30 p.m., Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St. A Lakeland event is 6:30 p.m., Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Road.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Congressional District 27 candidate Bruno Barreiro are slated to speak during a meeting of the Miami Young Republicans. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Cubaocho Museum, 1465 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 8.13.18

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

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

The story of the weekend is not one of fake news, but of a fake diploma.

House District 71 candidate Melissa Howard is being accused of lying about graduating from college and using a fake diploma.

Miami University in Ohio told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Howard attended the school but never graduated. The school also says the diploma she produced is counterfeit, saying it doesn’t match those issued in 1994.

Her educational background was first questioned last week by the website Florida News Online. She called the accusation false and said she went to Ohio to get the diploma at her mother’s house. After she posted a photo of the diploma, the website took down its story, but the university then said her claim was false.

Florida News Online is a relatively new site and is published by David Bishop, a familiar name to anyone who has followed Florida politics over the last decade. He’s currently a lobbyist for a handful of clients and is still on the payroll of former Sen. Jack Latvala‘s political committee.

Before that, he was a deputy secretary for the Florida Lottery. And before that, he had the unenviable job of directing communications for then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

That Bishop’s Florida News Online scooped POLITICO Florida, Florida Politics, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and the rest of Florida’s political media on what may the down-ballot story of the 2018 election cycle is a testament to the ever-changing shape of the news and information landscape.

As a matter of fact, I thought our outlet — which on Friday had acquired the letter from Miami University debunking Howard’s education credential — was so far ahead on this story that we could let the story wait until Saturday morning.

However, by the time I tweeted out what I thought were the latest updates on this story (including the fresh angle that Howard’s husband, Ian, had had a “cardiac event” on Friday night), Bishop had beat us to the punch.

Bishop texted me Saturday morning that he appreciated #FlaPol giving him the credit for the story. But how could I not? I remember when SaintPetersBlog.com was the new kid on the block, fighting with the rest of the press corps for appropriate credit for the stories we broke.

And just to show you how much life has a way of coming around full circle, guess who was the senior legislative staffer who in 2010 signed off on my first application for a Capitol press badge?

That’s right: David Bishop.

Prominent Republicans call on Howard to quit race amid degree scandal” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Former Manatee County GOP Chair Donna Hayes, who helmed the party for a decade and has endorsed Howard’s opponent, said Sunday that Howard should immediately withdraw from the race. “That’s a very deceptive falsification that she made,” Hayes said, adding: “It makes the Republican Party look very loose and look like they have no principles.” Former Manatee County Commissioner Jonathan Bruce also urged Howard to quit the race. But the Republican Party of Sarasota put out a statement that did not condemn Howard’s actions and indicated she would have the party’s support if she wins the primary. “We’re not prepared to comment on the House 73 primary at this point in time,” the statement said. “We will let the primary process complete on Aug. 28. We look forward to supporting the nominee after the primary.”

— “What if Melissa Howard still wins?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@dlb100b: I’ll be on @GMA tomorrow morning between 7-7:30 discussing the Melissa Howard fake diploma story.

–@RealDonaldTrump: Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi. She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!

@AlexBurnsNYT: If you’d told me a year ago that a trial lawyer who’s famous on TV would be running against Trump in 2020, making this case verbatim, I would’ve guessed Gov. @JohnMorganESQ of Florida

@DavidFrum: Obama/Bush/Clinton/ etc. would have already visited California, toured as near disaster as feasible. Press conference in Sacramento w governor. National attention to those who have lost homes, etc etc etc. Trump might as well borrow Melania’s “I dont care Do U?” jacket

@DWSTweets: This somber anniversary is a time to honor the life of Heather Heyer and spread some of the love that she preached. We can never be silent in the face of bigotry and hate.

@Fineout: @AndrewGillum finally gets public matching money to help with his campaign for governor. Gillum on Friday got a check for more than $436k. Don’t know why he did not seek to get the money when it first became available. So far taxpayers have given $4.5 million to 9 candidates

–@RosemaryOHara14: Unlike the other three candidates, you don’t get the sense that @denisegrimsley sees the job of Agriculture Commissioner as a steppingstone to higher office. Rather, it speaks to her core.

@GusCorbella: Sad state of affairs at the @AMCTheatres at the “Centre of Tallahassee.” Dirty, messy concessions, bathrooms in disrepair. Hope the new movie theaters popping up around town will give them some competition and get them to straighten up and fly right.

@MearKat00: If you listen very closely, you will hear the sound of the earth crying because soon humans will be selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes again.

@IdrisElba: my name’s Elba, Idris Elba.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Early voting begins in some counties – Early voting for the Aug. 28 primary elections begins today in some counties before going statewide on Aug. 18. Among the counties where early voting will start Monday is Miami-Dade, the most heavily populated in the state.

Assignment editors — Gubernatorial candidate  Andrew Gillum and Miami-Dade leaders Councilwoman Felicia Robinson, Councilman David Williams, Commissioner Betty Ferguson, and School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon will kick off the first day of Early Voting in Miami-Dade County. That’s at 6:45 a.m. North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St, Miami Gardens.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 14; Primary Election Day — 15; College Football opening weekend — 17; Labor Day — 21; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 24; NFL regular season starts — 24; First general election mail ballots go out — 40; Future of Florida Forum — 44; FSU vs. UM football game — 54; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 71; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 72; General Election Day — 85; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 99; Black Friday — 102; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 106; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 183; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 204; 2020 General Election — 813.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott demands Bill Nelson back up claims that Russia hacked Florida voting systems” via Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times — Cryptic comments from Nelson this week alluded to a secret Russian plot to tap into Florida’s election systems. “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state, and they now have free rein to move about,” the Democratic senator told The Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday. He declined to elaborate or offer any proof. A day earlier, he had described details as “classified.” On Friday, Scott … accused his opponent of scaremongering and demanded that he back up his claims with evidence. “Either Bill Nelson knows of crucial information the federal government is withholding from Florida election officials, or he is simply making things up. So far, no one seems to know what Nelson is talking about.” … before Nelson’s comments, there had been no indications of any successful meddling this year. … Nelson’s comments prompted worried voters to contact some of the state’s 67 elections supervisors. … “Everyone wants to know what we’re doing to secure the elections,” said Paul Lux of Okaloosa County, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. He noted that Florida voters cast paper ballots, and the attempted 2016 breaches targeted voter registration databases, not election tallies.

Scott left St. Lucie River without meeting with the public so he could campaign” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – There were no “security concerns” that kept Scott from addressing the public or media on a toxic algae boat tour of the St. Lucie River Friday, his office admitted Friday evening. Instead, there were “timing issues,” his staff said. Scott was scheduled to be in Tampa in two hours for a campaign event in his election bid to unseat Nelson. “Due to timing, the governor was unable to speak with media as he did when he toured the algal blooms in the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers in July,” spokesman John Tupps said in an email to TCPalm. “He remains focused on this problem.” … Before Scott’s office admitted what a staffer called “an honest mistake,” a former Treasure Coast congressman had stronger words during a news call organized by the Florida Democratic Party. “If you are uncomfortable about a situation and know you are wrong about something, you probably don’t want to answer questions on it,” Democrat Patrick Murphy said, referring to Scott’s gutting of the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District. … A spokeswoman for Scott’s campaign said Democrats are overreacting. “Leave it to the Democrats to focus on the governor’s schedule instead of real solutions to improve our environment,” Press Secretary Lauren Schenone said.

Scott rules Florida’s airwaves, but Bill Nelson is about to respond” via Ledyard King of USA Today – After months of being overpowered on the Florida airwaves by Scott, Nelson is about to start punching back. The Democrat and his political allies have reserved about $42 million in broadcast, cable and satellite television ad buys in the state’s 10 markets from August through Election Day—more than twice the $17.4 million Nelson’s side spent on TV spots prior to August. Scott and independent groups supporting him so far only have $18.3 million queued up for the general election campaign. But by November, he is expected to be outspending Nelson by a wide margin. “It’s the Scott playbook,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate campaigns for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “We saw him do it in two gubernatorial contests. There’s no reason to think he’s going to shift strategies at this point. And despite the help Nelson will get from outside groups … they’re not going to be able to match him dollar for dollar.”

Assignment editors — Scott will join Florida manufacturers for an announcement. That’s at 9:45 a.m. Central time, Threaded Fasteners Inc., 3839 Hopkins St., Pensacola.

— FRESH POLLING —

New poll shows Michael Waltz breaking away in Republican field — A new survey from St. Pete Polls, conducted Aug. 10, shows Fox News personality Michael Waltz is the pick for 40 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, which covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast from southern St. Johns County to New Smyrna Beach. Following in a distant second was businessman John Ward at 21 percent support with former state Rep. Fred Costello taking third at 16 percent. The remaining 23 percent were unsure which of the three candidates would get their vote. Ward’s massive lead held firm among the 23 percent of Republicans who said they had already voted in the election, as well as the 77 percent who said they hadn’t cast their ballot yet but planned on doing so. The trio are running to succeed current CD 6 Congressman Ron DeSantis, who is running for Governor. The St. Pete Polls survey had a sample size of 528 and a margin of error of 4.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Gayle Harrell leads Belinda Keiser 48-26 in fresh SD 25 poll — Despite being massively outspent by Keiser University vice chancellor Belinda Keiser, a new poll shows state Rep. Gayle Harrell with a commanding lead in the Republican primary for Senate District 25. The St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Aug. 8, found Harrell with 48 percent support among voters who said they had either already cast a ballot or that they planned to vote in the Aug. 28 election. Keiser, who has juiced her campaign with $925,000 in candidate loans, was the pick for just 26 percent of those polled, with a slightly higher share saying they were still unsure which of the two candidates they would vote for. … Another piece of good news for Harrell: Voters who know about her tend to like her. About 51 percent of Republicans offered their opinion on the term-limited state representative, handing her a plus-13 in favorability. … Keiser, the poll found, holds a double-digit lead when it comes to name ID, but there weren’t too many fans of the Broward Republican. Of the 65 percent of Republicans who gave their opinion, she scored a minus-16 in favorability.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Ron DeSantis adds another $1M as Adam Putnam’s money machine slows to a crawl” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – DeSantis, whose chances surged following an endorsement from President Donald Trump, brought in more than $1 million between July 28 and Aug. 3. Putnam, meanwhile, brought in $191,901. DeSantis’ cash mostly came in from this time around, with his campaign receiving $399,031 and his affiliated political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, adding $635,100. Putnam’s comparatively anemic campaign haul included an $81,170 matching funds disbursement, nine max checks and just over 300 contributions overall. Both the campaign and committee reports are tiny compared to the numbers Putnam has pulled down throughout most of his campaign. The last time Florida Grown raised less than $54,250 was the week before the Election Day 2016, when Putnam was not on the ballot.

Happening today – DeSantis, joined by Republican Attorney General hopeful Ashley Moody and Ag Commish candidate Mike McCalister, will likely attend a meeting of the Palm Beach County Trump Club. That’s at 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

A GOP candidate denounced Trump’s comments about sexually assaulting women and insulting Gold Star parents. Now he’s paying for it” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post

Jeff Greene plays instigator as Florida’s Democratic primary for governor gets ugly” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – The relative kumbaya that was the Democratic primary for Florida governor is dead and buried … After spending much of June and July promoting a softer image from the one he portrayed during his 2010 U.S. Senate run, Greene has pivoted since absentee ballots went out late last month and thrown his millions into attacks against Gwen Graham and Philip Levine. Greene, who’s poured more than $18 million of his own money into his campaign, spent the past week blasting Graham on TV over her connection to the American Dream Miami mega-mall. On Friday he took aim at Levine, unleashing a commercial across the state that attacks the former Miami Beach mayor’s sea-rise platform by comparing his city’s vaunted flood pumps to open sewers … The ad stretches and misstates some of the facts, and led Miami Beach’s top administrator to issue a rushed memo Friday explaining that the city “does not have sanitary sewer outfalls to Biscayne Bay” … Levine’s campaign began running its own statewide commercial highlighting Greene’s flattering statements about Trump following his election as president. … “They’ve hit rock bottom and they’re starting to dig,” said Steven Vancore, a Democratic strategist who is not involved in the governor’s race.

Biscayne Bay is a ‘latrine,’ Greene says. But the images he points to are from Russia” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Levine’s campaign expects to challenge a new “misleading” attack ad that uses stock footage of polluted waters from around the globe to question the former Miami Beach mayor’s environmental record. The commercial, paid for by Greene’s gubernatorial campaign, begins by comparing an image of Greene’s opponent — “This is Philip Levine” — to an image of Biscayne Bay — “This is a latrine.” Unflattering newspaper headlines then flash on the screen as especially putrid images of polluted water are seen in the background. The problem, Levine’s campaign points out, is that those images are not from Biscayne Bay. Christian Ulvert, a senior Levine adviser, slammed what he called a “false narrative” being perpetuated by Greene, and said the campaign expected to challenge the commercial with TV stations. He said using foreign images to prove a point can potentially mislead voters.

Greene not likely to drop out” via Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix — It isn’t likely that Greene will get out of the race for Florida governor, despite demands from the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women, which is expressing concern by allegations in a 2013 police report. The recently-surfaced report obtained by CBS Miami states that a former hotel cocktail waitress in Palm Beach told police she was “smacked on the arm” by the owner – Greene – who asked her to turn the music down. … “I haven’t seen any indication that he (Greene) is even acknowledging it,” said Florida NOW president Terry Sanders. … Greene’s spokeswoman, Claire VanSusteren, said on Twitter that “this is a coordinated attack on Greene over political ads he ran on Graham’s poor environmental record. Nothing more, nothing less. The police report speaks for itself. No injury, no sex, no violence, no fighting words.”

Assignment editors: Chris King is holding a fundraising reception. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Acropolis Greek Taverna, 3023 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Frank White ad sees sheriffs tout him as a ‘conservative we can trust’” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics —  Attorney General candidate Frank White is rolling out a new TV ad Monday saying he, not fellow Republican Ashley Moody, has a record county sheriffs can trust. The 30-second ad, titled “Florida Sheriffs Support Frank White,” apes a recent ad by Moody by bringing in some backup from the county sheriffs who have endorsed his campaign — Moody, a former circuit court judge and prosecutor, has the support of 90 percent of Republican county sheriffs and current Attorney General Pam Bondi, which she touted in an ad released last week. Thanks to studio magic, White’s handful of sheriff backers produced the same effect in the new spot. Click here to watch the ad.

Denise Grimsley adds dozens of local endorsements for Ag. Commish bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – Grimsley expanded her list of backers in her statewide bid for Agriculture Commissioner with a bulk endorsement from three dozen local elected officials from all corners of the state. The additions came in from mayors across the I-4 corridor, from Temple Terrace to Melbourne; school superintendents stretching from Gulf to Hendry; tax collectors in from the Panhandle to the Treasure Coast; school board members from Duval on one end of I-10 to Okaloosa on the other; county clerks spanning from Suwanee to Martin; and county commissioners from the Florida-Georgia line in Baker to Miami-Dade. … In addition to those 34 pols, Grimsley added another pair to the already well-stocked quiver of county sheriff endorsements: Hamilton County Sheriff J. Harrell Reid and former Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton. For those keeping score at home, that makes for 36 sitting county lawmen.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Disney, Seminoles sink $10 million into gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida – Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida continue upping the ante as they try to pass a constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. Disney and the Seminole Tribe each contributed $5 million on July 30 to the political committee Voters In Charge, which is leading efforts to pass the constitutional amendment in the November general election, according to a newly filed finance report. The committee had about $20 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 3.

Casino stakes anti-Amendment 3 group with $525K” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – The political committee fighting against a proposed constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion brought in $525,000 from the parent company of Miami’s Magic City Casino. The committee, Vote NO on 3, received the check from West Flagler Associates on July 31. That stack is the only contribution the committee has reported since it was formed early last month. Vote No on 3 spent nearly all of that cash shortly after the it cleared by way of a $523,600 radio buy through Miami-based IGT Media Holdings on Aug. 3.

Seriously, who cares? –Mike Huckabee endorses Florida’s proposed greyhound racing ban” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — The former governor of Arkansas, who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, submitted his official endorsement Wednesday afternoon through the campaign website, said Carey Theil, executive director of national anti-dog-racing group GREY2K USA. … The campaign announced last week an endorsement — first reported by Florida Politics — by Lara Trump, daughter in-law of Republican President Donald Trump. The city of Hallandale Beach, which sits in the deeply Democratic Broward County, voted unanimously Aug. 1 to offer its endorsement. The Hallandale Beach resolution formalizing the endorsement notes a statewide survey by McLaughlin & Associates predicting the ban will receive support from 70 percent of voters if it appears on the November ballot.

— “7 questions with Lindsay Cross, the Democrat running for Florida Senate District 24” via Cathy Salustri of Creative Loafing

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge ‘seriously’ considering a state Senate bid” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Desloge said Friday his gut is telling him to run for the Florida Senate, but his mind isn’t there yet. “I’m not opening a campaign account, I’m not announcing or anything, but I’m getting enough questions from people who say, ‘Are you interested in this?’ So I want to let people know I’m seriously leaning that way,” Desloge, a Republican, told the Tallahassee Democrat on Friday … Rep. Loranne Ausley …  already has filed to run for the Senate District 3 seat currently held by Sen. Bill Montford, who is term-limited in two years. “Desloge is definitely the strongest Republican candidate who could run,” said Matt Isbell, Democratic political consultant and owner of MCI Maps, which analyzes voting trends and results for candidates.

House candidate Anna Eskamani featured in the ‘The Atlantic’ magazine” via Xander Peters of Orlando Weekly – The story, which highlights young progressive candidates across the country, touches on how the 2018 midterms helped harvest a new generation of leaders out of progressive groups and community organizations nationwide, and how they’re now stepping up and running for office. Harkening back to the 2010 midterms, The Atlantic’s David Graham compares the potential 2018 Democratic blue wave to the Tea Party’s run almost a decade ago, in which the conservative movement managed to capture the U.S. House and control of 20 state legislative chambers. From The Atlantic:  Eskamani is 28, the same age as the newly minted progressive star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like Ocasio-Cortez, who cut her teeth as an organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, Eskamani is not a political newcomer.

Vito Sheeley fined for sloppy financial record” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State House candidate  Sheeley this month got slapped with a fine from the Division of Elections for sloppy financial reporting. The St. Petersburg Democrat blamed the issue on a transition to a new campaign treasurer but doesn’t believe the hiccup will deter his attempt to defeat incumbent state Rep. Wengay Newton this month in state House District 70. … “I was going through a situation where a new treasurer wasn’t up to date on what to file,” Sheeley told Florida Politics … Bureau of Election Records Chief Kristi Reid Willis sent a letter outlining that records due to the state on July 13 did not get filed until July 30. Sheeley was fined $748.45, a levy he must pay from personal funds and not his campaign account. … Newton said voters should take note of the oversight. “Somebody wants to represent you in Tallahassee with $88.7 billion in taxpayer resources and money,” Newton said, “but he can’t even keep a campaign account straight.”

— EDITORIAL ENDORSEMENT ROUND-UP —

The Miami Herald released its list of primary endorsements on Saturday. Republican top-ballot picks include DeSantis for Governor, Moody for Attorney General and Matt Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner. Top-tier Democratic picks from the newspaper include Levine for Governor, Sean Shaw for Attorney General and Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner. Read the endorsement list in its entirety here.

The Palm Beach Post editorial board recommends voters back Graham in the Democratic primary for Governor “for her principled, pragmatic approach that will be indispensable in working with a Republican-dominated Legislature to produce laws and policy that work for all Floridians.” In the Democratic primary for Attorney General, the Post recommends Shaw for his “wide experience.” In the Republican primary for Attorney General, the Post recommends Moody, “who appears to be better at keeping her eye on the ball when it comes to how the AG’s office can best serve Floridians rather than President Donald Trump.” In Congressional District 20, the Post recommends Democratic primary voters pick incumbent Alcee Hastings, writing that “Hastings remains one of the key voices for Democrats in Congress on issues ranging from immigration to foreign affairs to health care.”

The Sun Sentinel is backing Fried in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner, noting Fried is “high-energy, focused and solutions-driven.” On the Republican side of the Ag Commish race, the Sentinel is backing Grimsley. Calling her “the next Pam Bondi,” the Sentinel is recommending Republican voters pick Moody in her bid for Attorney General. On the Democratic side, the Sentinel recommends Shaw.  In the Democratic race for CD 22, the Sentinel recommends voters pick incumbent Ted Deutch. On the Republican side, the Sentinel recommends Javier Manjarres, “a flawed but savvy political operative who makes his living producing a blog called Shark Tank.”

— GOOD TO BE THE QUEEN —

According to the data gurus at FiveThirtyEight, women are having greater success than men in Democratic primaries this year.

Data collected on Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate, House and Governor show that “women have won 65 percent (90 of 138) of decided open Democratic primary races featuring at least one man and one woman.” Though that’s excluding races featuring a Democratic incumbent.

Authors at FiveThirtyEight note that the women sampled on average have more experience than their male counterparts, which could help explain the data, although, “even looking only at candidates with previous experience as elected officials, women are still outperforming men.”

Race?: Twenty-four percent of nominees were identified by FiveThirtyEight as nonwhite. But, “nonwhite candidates had a winning record of 28 percent in open Democratic primaries.”

LGBTQ?: The win rates for LGBTQ candidates and candidates who did not disclose their sexual orientation have so far been nearly identical.

Military?: “In open Democratic primaries so far this year, veteran status doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in how a candidate performs.”

— STATEWIDE —

On the side of power: Attorney General Pam Bondi stands immediately to the right of President Donald Trump after discussing prison reform with governors and state attorneys general at his New Jersey golf club last week.

Good riddance – Mike Carroll quits as head of Florida’s child-welfare agency” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Carroll, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), will quit his post effective Sept. 6, Gov. Rick Scott‘s office announced Friday. “Mike embodies the ideals and mission of the Department … and has devoted nearly three decades to improve and change the lives of Florida’s vulnerable children and families,” the governor said in a statement. “Mike’s tenure as secretary is the longest in DCF’s 21-year history,” he added. Carroll was appointed in December 2014. “Many of these kids have cracks … they’re broken, they’re in pieces,” he once told a Senate committee. “We’re charged as a state agency to put those pieces back together. And we aren’t always able to do that. And that’s the most tragic thing about our work.”.

FDLE closed Jack Latvala case without gathering new info” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — Documents released this week in the now-closed investigation into the sexual harassment and corruption claims against Latvala show that state investigators did not expand their review beyond the information provided to them by the Senate, stopping short of interviewing new witnesses or soliciting additional documents before they cleared the veteran lawmaker of wrongdoing. Leon County State Attorney Jack Campbell chose not to file corruption charges against Latvala, 66, on July 26, after receiving the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report … The state agency spent six months reviewing the evidence, questioning Latvala and McLeod under oath, and delaying release of its findings to address last-minute questions by Campbell’s office. … The report noted that no other witnesses came forward voluntarily to corroborate [LauraMcLeod‘s allegations but, the documents show, FDLE also did not subpoena witnesses … the FDLE report excluded several text messages McLeod provided … “We could have talked to other people, that’s true, but there was nobody we needed to talk to to further clarify the issue,” [Campbell] said. “I was very comfortable with the information.” … But, Campbell said, he was limited by the narrowly drawn state law … “I leave it to the Legislature whether they want to make sexual harassment a crime,” he said. “Right now, the only thing we’ve got is bribery.”

State has spent $2M on legal bills for medical marijuana” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – As it defends a slew of cases over medical marijuana, the state of Florida has spent close to $2 million on outside lawyers. Nearly all of that went to one firm. Records reviewed last week show at least $1.9 million approved by the Department of Health (DOH) going to two law firms – mostly Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli, but also Shutts & Bowen … Meantime, medicinal cannabis advocates – including Orlando attorney John Morgan – have called on Gov. Rick Scott to drop appeals of cannabis-related rulings that went against the state. That includes a case that Morgan backed, challenging the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.

School districts defying hazy rules on the use of medical marijuana for students” via Keona Gardner of TCPalm – School districts across Florida continue to defy state law with their policies of banning students’ use of physician-recommended medical marijuana. Districts in Brevard, Collier, Indian River, Lee, Martin and St. Lucie counties, for example, say they simply are complying with federal law, which still classifies all marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational, an illegal drug. Florida Statutes require every school district to write a policy for how it will allow administration of medical marijuana. At the same time, the Florida Constitution … exempts schools from providing “any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana.” “State law doesn’t trump federal law,” explained Mitchell Teitelbaum, general counsel of the Manatee County School District, who has led workshops on the issue for the Florida School Boards Association and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

“Judge sides with Florida GOP in absentee ballot dispute with Broward County” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The declaratory injunction, ordered Friday, prevents Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes from opening the mail-in ballots in secret or before the county’s three-member Canvassing Board meets to determine the ballots’ validity. The board can begin meeting on Monday to handle absentee ballots, more than 75,000 of which have been cast in Broward ahead of the Aug. 28primaries. … The ruling is the second major loss for Snipes’ office in court this year. In May, a judge criticized her office for breaking the law by destroying ballots too soon in the 2016 congressional primary between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova. Snipes earlier won a federal case concerning voter-roll maintenance. Broward has nearly 1.15 million voters, second only to Miami-Dade’s voter population of nearly 1.4 million.”

Justices block execution in Miami-Dade murder” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court has indefinitely put on hold Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Death Row inmate Jose Antonio Jimenez, convicted of killing a 63-year-old woman nearly 26 years ago in Miami-Dade County. A unanimous order by the court, issued Friday evening, did not give a reason for granting the stay of execution requested by Jimenez’s lawyer, Marty McClain. …  In a motion for a stay of execution filed this week, McClain raised several issues, including the fact that he discovered 80 pages of records related to the investigation into the Oct. 2, 1992, death of Phyllis Minas that the North Miami Police Department had not previously provided to Jimenez’s lawyers. McClain was first given access to all of the records — more than 1,000 pages — on July 30, just two weeks before his client, who maintains his innocence, was scheduled to be executed. … “Mr. Jimenez has found, to his mind, surprising and downright shocking information contained in the previously unseen notes,” McClain wrote in a five-page motion filed in Miami-Dade County circuit court Friday. “It appears that the notes of Detective Ojeda, the lead investigator, and Detective Diecidue if not lied, endeavored to deceive when they were deposed by Mr. Jimenez’s trial counsel.”

In South Florida, $2.1 million no longer makes you ‘wealthy.’ Here’s the new benchmark” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald – In its latest Modern Wealth Index study, brokerage giant Charles Schwab found that area residents now say it takes $3.1 million to be considered “wealthy.” That’s up from South Florida’s 2017 benchmark, which was placed at $2.1 million. To be considered financially comfortable in 2018, South Florida respondents said, takes $1.5 million. (That question was not asked last year.) Nationally, Schwab respondents said it takes $2.4 million to be considered wealthy, and $1.4 million to be considered financially comfortable. The 2018 study, which surveyed approximately 500 South Florida residents in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro region, found that only 42 percent of respondents feel “financially stable.” Fifty-eight percent said they live paycheck-to-paycheck. Both are about even with Schwab’s national averages.

— ALGAE CRISIS —

Blue-green algae bloom in St. Lucie River 10 times too toxic to touch, DEP tests show” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – A blue-green algae bloom in the St. Lucie River estuary contains toxins 10 times the level considered hazardous. The Aug. 2 sample taken at Central Marine on the river’s north shore in Stuart contained the toxin microcystin at a rate of 110 parts per billion, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The only bloom with a higher toxicity so far this year was sampled July 5 at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, the conduit for Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River. That sample contained microcystin at a level of 154.38 parts per billion. Microcystin, a common toxin produced by blue-green algae, can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested and rash or hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled.

‘It’s like a bad nightmare’: Florida water crisis slams wildlife, hurts businesses” via Chad Gillis and Laura Ruane of the Naples Daily News – A particularly strong red tide has gone from lingering to lethal in the past two months, killing hundreds of sea turtles, manatees and likely a whale shark. Beaches have been largely empty in recent weeks, and the local economy is feeling the strain. But how long will those impacts from this red tide last, and what will the coming tourism season look like? More than 3 million people used paid lodgings in Lee County last year, with occupancy rates and rental charges peaking during winter high season. Chris Davison is vice president/general manager at the Gulf-front Island Inn on Sanibel … he estimated he’d lost $125,000 in canceled reservations since July 29. Is Davison worried about high season? “Absolutely.”

Meanwhile …Rising seas, rising prices… rising risks” via Dinah Voyles Pulver of GateHouse Media – As Scott Yurchison shows potential buyers waterfront properties on the Atlantic Ocean or Indian River in New Smyrna Beach, the real estate agent fields questions about amenities, schools and nearby services. He rarely gets a question about rising sea levels. … most clients aren’t asking how high the nearby waters might rise before their 30-year mortgage is paid off. “People are asking. Is everybody asking? No,” said Yurchison. “In our society today, people don’t look long-term.” … Waterfront property listings can’t keep up with the demand in Miami Beach, even though the city is spending hundreds of millions to stem the incoming tide by raising streets, installing pumps and building better sea walls. … Similarly, county property appraisers across the state from the Panhandle to Daytona Beach said they haven’t seen any downward trend in waterfront prices or values. … “Realistically, I don’t think people are going to be taking this seriously until water is up around their ankles,” Volusia County property appraiser Larry Bartlett said. … At a speech to a regional association for responsible development last year, Bartlett invited his listeners to imagine what will happen in the community when people realize, “Wow, we’ve got to get out of here because the water is just staying.” The response? “Crickets.”

— SURVIVING PARKLAND —

Although the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter is in custody, the damage is far from done.

Kyle Laman, 15, was fortunate to survive the shooting, but it still haunts him. He is reminded of the massacre daily from the scars on his foot where he was shot.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan and photojournalist Matt McClain spent some time with Laman and his family after the tragedy. In a new feature, they depict the Laman family’s struggle to return to normalcy.

The injury: Kyle walks today, although the privilege was nearly taken away from him. “The bullet severed the major vessels that carry blood to the foot, as well as his tibialis anterior tendon, which contracts to lift the foot off the ground. Had it struck any deeper, it would have hit bone and ‘exploded his foot.’”

Camera shy: Kyle dissents from some of his high profile classmates, and isn’t seeking a spotlight in the aftermath. “I like guns,” he tells WaPo. “I like shooting at things. But, like, targets. Not people.”

Compelled to testify: Amid the Laman family’s desire to bring back the status quo, Kyle will likely need to give witness testimony at Nikolas Cruz’ trial. “I want him to die,” he tells WaPo.

— OPINIONS —

State leaders culpable in algae crisis” via The Gainesville Sun editorial board —While focusing on job creation, Gov. Rick Scottforgot that Florida’s natural environment is essential to its economy. He is learning that lesson the hard way during the state’s ongoing algae crisis. Red tide now spans more than 100 miles of Florida’s Gulf coast, killing marine life and sickening coastal residents and visitors … At the same time, blue-green algae is causing similar devastation from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers … the green slime coating waterways is nothing short of an environmental catastrophe. The response by Gov. Scott, who is now running for the U.S. Senate, is to belatedly throw money at the problem and shift the blame. He wants voters to forget that during his two terms in office, the state has fought federal water protections and slashed funding for its own environmental and water-management agencies. …  the state has taken a hand-off approach to regulating the pollution from farms, fertilized home lawns and faulty septic tanks that are fueling the problem. … To be sure, Scott isn’t solely responsible for worsening environmental problems in Florida. … It is incumbent upon voters to educate themselves on the candidates’ environmental records before casting ballot in upcoming elections. Voters must elect officials who make environmental protection a priority long before devastating algae blooms force the issue

John Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana” via the Tampa Bay Times – Time after time, the courts have said Florida overstepped its authority by limiting the intent of the constitutional amendment. In the most recent case, a circuit judge said on Aug. 2 that lawmakers erred by trying to limit the number, and organizational structure, of dispensaries. Of course, none of this is surprising. Medical marijuana is a billion-dollar industry, and there is no way that lobbyists and politicians were not going to get a thumb on the scale. Back when the Legislature was first drawing up these rules, Sen. Jeff Brandes … warned his colleagues that they were stifling the marketplace and inviting litigation. “The Legislature has got to get involved because this issue is too important to have all of these questions sitting out there,’’ Brandes said. “There are a lot of people who thought medical marijuana would be available in a certain manner when they voted, and it hasn’t turned out that way.”

Gary Yordon: Start of football season brings back memories — good and terrifying” via the Tallahassee Democrat –This was no ordinary season. For the first time in the history of college football, a coach would be wearing a wireless microphone. I was a producer at WFSU-TV and the guy who came up with this big idea. Bowden was the perfect person to pull off such an ambitious project. He was charming, funny and brilliantly colloquial. Then Auburn happened. Bowden tried fake punts, trick plays, anything to plug the leak. Nothing FSU did worked. Not because they weren’t well designed plays. Everything FSU did for those five minutes failed because the Auburn coaches heard every play Bowden was calling. It seems our new technology was broadcasting Bowden on FM radio. On 94.6, to be exact.

— MOVEMENTS —

Tom Rooney throws his hat in the ring for Palm Beach County judge” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News – Five-term Congressman Tom Rooney, who surprised Republican Party leaders by announcing in February he wouldn’t run for re-election, has applied for a county judgeship in Palm Beach County. … Rooney and 31 other applicants are scheduled to interview with the Judicial Nominating Commission Aug. 27. The JNC then will send, at most, six names to Gov. Rick Scott and the governor will make the final decision for appointment. … In a telephone interview Friday, Rooney, 47, told Sunshine State News, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, trying to prepare for life after Congress. And then a few weeks ago this vacancy came up. … I think it would be a great fit for me,” he explained. “I love being in court. I used to be a prosecutor. I thought about joining a law firm, but I like the autonomy of being a judge.”

Judge will soon reach decision in challenge to Gov. Scott’s City Council appointment” via Christopher Hong of Florida Times-Union – A judge said on Friday that he will soon make a decision on the legal challenge of Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial appointment of Terrance Freeman to replace City Councilman Reginald Brown, who was suspended after being indicted on federal fraud charges. Attorneys for Brenda Priestly Jackson, a local attorney who filed a lawsuit that argues Freeman cannot legally serve on the council because he wasn’t a resident of the Northwest Jacksonville district when Scott appointed him, argued their case before Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace III. Jackson’s suit says that Freeman’s term began the day Scott appointed him last month, and that Freeman, a Republican who owns a home in Mandarin, hadn’t fulfilled the requirements necessary to claim residency in the mostly Democratic district. Brown, along with every other council member to represent the district, is a Democrat. Freeman’s attorneys have asked Wallace to dismiss the case, saying it should be up to the City Council, not a court, to decide whether he’s eligible.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian BautistaJames McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Amanda Bowen, Nancy D. Stephens & Associates: American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Fenestration Manufacturers Association

Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: HealthSmart Holdings

Georgia McKeown, Johnson & Blanton: City of Oak Hill

Will McKinleyErik Kirk, PooleMcKinley: General Dynamics Information Technology

Diana Padgett: Florida School Nutrition Association

Craig Schorr: AllianceBernstein

— ALOE —

Parker Solar Probe launches from Cape Canaveral” via Marco Santana and Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel –United Launch Alliance sent the $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe into the night sky, setting it on a voyage that will bring it within 3.8 million miles of our Solar System’s star at the highest speeds ever attained by a human-made device. The Delta IV Heavy lit the sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on time at 3:31 a.m., engulfing the launch pad with flames as it slowly took flight. Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old retired University of Chicago physicist whom the probe has been named after, said he was excited after watching his first in-person launch. “All I can say is, ‘Wow, we are in for some learning for the next several years.’ ”

The best meteor show of the year is coming to a sky near you” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald – According to NASA’s meteor expert Bill Cooke, the fireball-rich Perseids are on the way, with best viewing on the nights of Aug. 11-13 this year, he told Space.com. The Perseid meteor shower is an August treat every year because the Earth passes through a trail left by the 16-miles-wide comet of dust, ice, rock and organic material called the Comet Swift-Tuttle … The Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest solar system object to pass close to the Earth repeatedly, according to NASA. How large? According to NASA, twice the size of whatever killed off the dinosaurs. But don’t worry. The Comet Swift-Tuttle isn’t going to crash into the Earth any time soon, if at all, NASA says.

Happy birthday from the weekend to Rep. Matt Caldwell. Celebrating today is the great, brilliant Erika Donalds.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Charter chalks a win

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Charter chalks a win

The Leon County School District suffered a bruising defeat this week when an appeal panel unanimously recommended the state overturn the county’s decision to block a new charter school from setting up shop in the county.

The Charter School Appeal Commission, composed evenly of traditional public and charter school representatives, recommended the State Board of Education reject the county board’s previous denial of Tallahassee Classical School. The proposed charter now has the green light to operate.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna faced a ‘bruising defeat’ over a new charter school. (Image via Tallahassee Democrat)

The School Board blocked the proposed charter earlier this year, fearing the school would further exacerbate the issue of segregated student populations in the county.

But the appellate panel found that the district did not provide enough substantial evidence to turn down Tallahassee Classical.

The county initially argued the proposed charter’s plans for student recruitment — particularly for enrolling students with disabilities and getting a student body representative of the district’s demographics — along with its tentative transportation plan were not suitable.

But the panel unanimously agreed that each concern raised by the county was not well-founded, essentially determining the school board’s concerns were baseless. Tallahassee Classical has contended that the board blocked the school for political reasons.

In a brief interview after the hearing, Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna told Florida Politics the district’s initial rejection of Tallahassee Classical likely raised awareness of the issue of segregation, if nothing else.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t fighting for traditional public schools, and I always will,” Hanna said. Adding that if — or when — the school begins operating in the county, he said the district will “welcome (it) into our community.”

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Danny McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, Michael Moline and Peter Schorsch.

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

Take 5

State seeks to substantiate ‘hacking’ claim — After Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters this week that Russian operatives have “penetrated” election systems in Florida, Secretary of State Ken Detzner penned a letter to Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, requesting knowledge of the alleged hackings. Nelson, when speaking with a Tampa Bay Times reporter, said his knowledge of the hacks stemmed from the committee. In the letter, Detzner wrote that the state has no current information supporting Nelson’s claim. Counties this week finalized submissions requesting federal election security grants to beef up election systems. The awards were approved by the state Joint Legislative Budget Commission and Gov. Rick Scott in July.

Judge strikes parts of pot law — A Tallahassee judge ruled this week that major provisions in a 2017 law implementing medical marijuana are unconstitutional. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson struck the law’s following requirements: Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers grow, process and sell own marijuana; limits on the number of marijuana providers that can be licensed by the state; and special categories of licenses. The challenge, raised by Florigrown, a company that was denied the chance to become a treatment center, sought a request for a temporary injunction, although that was denied. “The denial of the request for a temporary injunction will allow the department to continue to work to implement the law so Floridians can have safe access to this medicine,” said Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton. State Sen. Rob Bradley, the budget chief and chief architect of the law, said, “I’m confident that our appellate courts will uphold (its) constitutionality.”

Supreme Court to weigh dog racing ban — The Supreme Court unanimously agreed to consider whether a proposed amendment to end greyhound racing can appear on the ballot in November. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys opposing the ban, argues the proposal, known as Amendment 13, should be kept off the ballot because it would be misleading to voters. In July, a Tallahassee judge sided with the attorneys. The state appealed the lower court ruling last week, and both parties requested an appellate court allow the case to ‘pass through’ to Supreme Court consideration, noting that time was of the essence: Mail-in ballots must, by law, be sent to voters by Sept. 22. An appellate court agreed this week to allow the Supreme Court to take up the case, and the high court accepted it a day later. Justices have scheduled arguments for Aug. 29.

Early voting ballots mount — Just more than half a million Floridians already have voted ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election, and Republicans appear to be leading the pack. Of the 510,155 ballots returned by Friday morning, 238,051 came from registered Republicans, with Democrats returning 198,631, according to data published by the state Division of Elections. Independent voters returned 71,507 as of the same date and voters belonging to other parties sent back 1,966 ballots. In total, 925,192 have been mailed out to Democrats, 836,223 to Republicans, 446,124 to independents and 9,965 to third-party voters.

‘Stand Your Ground’ session fails — A Democratic push to reconvene the Legislature to workshop Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law fell short this week after not gaining enough support between members of the state House and Senate. The call for a special session was sparked by the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Pinellas County law enforcement did not pursue charges against the shooter, saying he acted within the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law. Democratic members called for lawmakers to be polled on whether they should return to Tallahassee to revisit the controversial law. Although lawmakers had until noon Friday to vote on the special session, it became clear that the three-fifths support threshold could not be met Thursday. Republicans overwhelmingly opted not to return to the capital city. Between the state House and Senate, 77 members voted against the idea, with 48 voting in support. Thirty-one members did not respond to the poll, nor confirm receipt, according to data recorded by the Florida Department of State.

Scott tours algae-plagued area; offers more aid

Gov. Scott toured the St. Lucie River Friday, following-up immediately afterward by announcing an additional $700,000 is coming to help Martin County handle an ongoing toxic algae outbreak.

According to the Governor’s office, that money is coming from a $3 million grant approved after he declared a state emergency over the algae crisis in July.

On the water: Senate President Joe Negron (at left) joined Gov. Rick Scott on the St. Lucie River to see the algae outbreak caused by Lake Okeechobee water releases by the feds.

Scott was joined on his tour by retiring state Senate President Joe Negron, of Stuart. Last month, the Governor toured the algae-affected Caloosahatchee River on the west coast of the state.

Earlier this week, Scott announced an additional $400,000 would be heading to Lee County to clean up impacts related to red tide, for $1.1 million in grant funding.

“I am using my executive authority to provide additional funding to allow communities in Lee County to better clean our waterways,” Scott said in announcing the money for Lee. “We will continue to implement real solutions to help our local communities deal with both the algal issues caused by federal water discharges from Lake Okeechobee and this year’s red tide bloom. I encourage more local governments to apply for this important funding.”

New state land honors veterans

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expressing the state’s gratitude toward wounded vets with a large chunk of state land that will bear the name “Purple Heart Tract.”

Putnam made the announcement Tuesday, which was National Purple Heart Day. The tract is a 4,500-acre portion of the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest.

“As Americans, the brave men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces have secured our freedom and liberty,” Putnam said.

The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) hosted its 3rd Annual Purple Heart Day Banquet this week in the historic Fort Harrison.

“More than 1.9 million service members have been wounded or died defending our country, and this Purple Heart Tract is one way we can appreciate our nation’s heroes and honor them in perpetuity.”

The tract is designated as part of the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s trail program. Established in 1992, the program seeks to honor award recipients with transportation routes and monuments.

The news accompanied Putnam’s hosting of the second-annual Operation Outdoor Freedom Purple Heart Day event at Camp Prairie. The camp provides “guided hunts, fishing trips, canoe tours and other outdoor recreational activities free of charge.”

Scam targets Florida Blue customers

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is warning Floridians of a current telemarketing scam that appears to be disproportionately targeting seniors covered under Florida Blue.

According to a news release, Blue Cross and Blue Shield customers nationally have filed several complaints about scammers peddling “experimental pain relief cream” instead of pain medication.

The callers are allegedly prompting consumers to hand over information about their identity. In some cases, the scammers also are attempting to fraudulently charge Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their “bogus” creams, according to Patronis’ office.

“Florida residents are most likely to report being the target of fraud and identity theft,” Patronis said in a statement. “Anyone that provides prescription medication to you without a medical doctor directly involved in your personal care is committing fraud.

“Preying on seniors and some of our most vulnerable population is shameful, and we must do everything possible to warn Floridians about this scam.”

Instagram of the Week

FAU students who lost the opportunity to walk on stage and collect a diploma when a “credible threat” caused Tuesday’s ceremony to be canceled took part in special commencement ceremony at FAU’s Kenneth R. Williams Administration Building Thursday afternoon, August 9, 2018. They included: 1) 81-year-old Nicoletta Sorice, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Language and Linguistics. “Nicoletta has inspired her fellow Owls with her passion for learning and her enthusiasm for life,” FAU President John Kelly said. 2) Natasha Taimkij, 26, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. “You can tell they really care about their students,” she said of FAU officials. 3) Ripu Kunwar, who is seen posing for a photo making the “owl eyes” sign with FAU President John Kelly. Kunwar earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geosciences. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post) #bocaraton #palmbeachcounty #fau #graduation #graduate #diploma

A post shared by The Palm Beach Post (@pbpost) on

Amendment 8 heading to court

The state Constitution Revision Commission this spring decided to put a proposal on the November ballot that would impose eight-year term limits on school-board members and would require the Legislature to take steps to better promote civic literacy in schools.

Sounds simple enough.

But next week, Tallahassee Circuit Judge John Cooper will hear arguments about whether he should block the proposal, known as Amendment 8, from going on the ballot because of a dispute about another part of the measure.

The League of Women Voters of Florida filed a lawsuit seeking to block Amendment 8. The group contends ballot language doesn’t adequately inform voters that one part of the proposed constitutional amendment is designed to open the door to more charter schools in the state.

Erika Donalds is defending Amendment 8, which is headed to Circuit Court.

The growth of charter schools, which are public schools typically operated by private groups or companies, has spawned numerous political and legal battles in recent years.

But Constitution Revision Commission member Erika Donalds, a Collier County school board member, defended the proposal during a debate in April. She said the revision would allow the Legislature to offer more educational choices, such as charter schools, to students and their families.

“The Legislature should not be encumbered by unfair and antiquated constitutional language that has been used to block parental choice and protect the education monopoly,” she said.

Cooper is scheduled to hear arguments on Friday.

School lunch guidelines announced

Income eligibility standards for free and discounted school lunches for the upcoming school year have been released.

Announced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services this week, the federal income guidelines apply to the entire country and are valid until June 30, 2019.

The matrix is ordered by income and household size. For example, to be eligible for reduced-price school meals, a household of four could not have a yearly income of more than $46,435. For free meals, the same size household’s income cannot exceed $32,630.

According to FDACS, each school should have a copy available to go over with interested parties. The guidelines also can be found here.

State encourages Floridians to review coverage — before it’s too late

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and CFO Patronis are reminding citizens to double-check their insurance policies as the peak of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season approaches.

Jimmy Patronis wants your family to be secure; check your hurricane insurance policy, now.

“We are almost 30 days from the one-year mark since Irma, and this should serve as a reminder that flood policies typically take 30 days to take effect,” Patronis said. “Now is the time to review your current insurance policy and get flood insurance if you don’t have it.

“Remember, flooding isn’t just a coastal concern but a statewide issue.”

Patronis has been working with OIR to expand private flood insurance. Between June 2017 and March, eligible private flood insurance providers in Florida increased from 20 to 26, a 30 percent jump from the previous reporting period, according to OIR.

Saying “complacency is not an option,” Altmaier advised: “Floridians must review their insurance policies, understand their coverages, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure they are adequately covered.”

State recognizes Main Street Bartow

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week that Main Street Bartow in Polk County is the August 2018 Florida Main Street Community of the Month.

The Florida Main Street Program, administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, encourages economic development via historic preservation initiatives that facilitate the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns.

Communities that participate in the program are eligible to receive the designation, which recognizes development achievements.

“Main Street Bartow is an exemplary program,” said Secretary Detzner. “With one of the longest standing Main Street programs in Florida, downtown Bartow continues to thrive with constant growth, investment and additional businesses moving to the area.”

“There is a lot happening in our downtown,” said Bartow Main Street Executive Director Linda Holcomb. “More new businesses have moved in recently, and several are in the process. We have also seen an increase in attendance at our downtown events.”

Old Polk County Courthouse, Bartow. (Photo via the Florida Department of State.

Teacher rally set for next Sunday

As K-12 educators across the state gear up for incoming students, two South Florida lawmakers will host them and interested parties at the Red for Education Teacher Rally Aug. 19, the Sunday before the first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Miami-Dade County.

Announced in June by Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, and Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran, the rally is set to take place at the Betty T. Ferguson Community Center in Miami Gardens.

Guest speaker: Broward County Public School Superintendent Robert Runcie.

A number of politicians are expected to attend, including all five Democratic candidates for governor: Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Andrew Gillum, Chris King and Philip Levine.

In announcing the event in June, Rep. Duran said: “In our fight to improve Florida’s education system, it is essential that we provide a venue where teachers, students, parents, and the rest of the community can gather together to request better efforts to ensure our public schools are equipped with the adequate resources to provide high-quality education for all our children.” \

“Our schools are being starved out by these poorly thought out mandates and dangerous funding levels,” said Rep. Jones. “We will not continue to tolerate this blatant disregard for the growing needs of Florida’s schools.”

Howard to lead FMA

The Florida Medical Association has installed Dr. Corey L. Howard as its 142nd president.

Howard, the founder of Howard Health & Wellness in Naples, has been active in leadership at FMA since 2007. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

New FMA President Dr. Corey Howard.

“We congratulate Dr. Howard as he takes the helm as President of the Florida Medical Association,” said FMA CEO Timothy J. Stapleton. “His strong leadership and demonstrated advocacy for our physicians, patients and issues will further strengthen the FMA as Florida’s premier voice of medicine.”

FMA, which acts as the advocacy arm for physicians and medical professionals in the Sunshine State, boasts “more than 22,000 members on issues of legislation and regulatory affairs, medical economics and education, public health, and ethical and legal issues,” according to its website.

Howard officially assumed the presidential post last week during FMA’s annual meeting at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. Dr. Ronald F. Giffler is president-elect and will assume Howard’s position next year.

Reminder: Crab trap closures underway

The first of two scheduled 10-day blue crab trap closures in August began Friday.

That means recreational and commercial blue crab traps should be removed from specified state waters along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, those waters include “Brevard through Palm Beach counties from Aug. 10-19, and from all state waters from the Georgia-Florida line through Volusia County Aug. 20-29.”

Closed: The first 10-day Florida crab trap closure begins this week.

The St. Johns River system waters are excluded in both of these closures.

FWC conducts these closures to “identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water,” according to the agency. Closure lengths are subject to change.

Lost or abandoned crab traps are dangerous to underwater ecosystems because they can continue to trap — and kill — fish and crabs when gone unchecked. They can also damage habitats and interfere with boating traffic. While the closures are ongoing, fisherman can still collect crabs “with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps,” according to FWC.

FSU Student Bar wins top award

For the seventh time since 2008 and the second consecutive year, the Florida State University College of Law Student Bar Association (SBA) received the National Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Law Student Division.

The award, honoring the best SBA in the nation, is also known as the SBA of the Year Award and was presented at the ABA annual meeting in Chicago.

From left: incoming SBA President Cecilia Orozco, 3L Representative Brandon Sapala, Vice President Hillary Thornton.

“It recognizes the efforts of an SBA organization to create a better environment for law students and a more positive image of the legal profession,” a news release said. “Top law schools from around the nation competed for the award.”

During the 2017-2018 academic year, SBA’s programming included a Mental Health Week, a Diversity Week and a panel discussion on alcohol awareness to provide information on resources available to law students and lawyers.

Students were also able to network with attorneys and judges and to give back to the community through SBA events, such as the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, raising more than $1,600 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

“We are thrilled that the work of our Student Bar Association has again been recognized at the national level,” said Dean Erin O’Connor.

Social media campaign honors lineworkers

To celebrate Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day (Aug. 26), the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) and Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) will recognize lineworkers from around the state this month in a new social media campaign called “Celebrating our Hometown Heroes.”

Photos and biographical information about lineworkers from Florida’s 34 public power communities will be featured on both organizations’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

Florida Lineworker Appreciation Day goes social.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing the “Celebrating our Hometown Heroes” graphics, creating their own social media posts about their experiences with lineworkers and using the hashtags #ThankALineman, #LineLife and #LineworkerAppreciationDay.

“Lineworkers are the front lines of reliability,” said Jacob Williams, FMPA General Manager and CEO. “The work they do requires incredible skill, focus and commitment to safety. We created this campaign to show how much we appreciate the work they do.”

Public power lineworkers not only serve their own communities but have volunteered to serve others across the state and country.

“Hurricane Maria was incredibly destructive, leaving Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands almost completely without power for months,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director.

“Our lineworkers immediately answered the call for help, traveling to the Caribbean to assist, many of whom stayed for months at a time and were away from their families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s this kind of selflessness and sense of duty that our lineworkers exhibit every day on the job.”

Call before you dig

Happy National 811 Day! On Aug. 11, regulators at the Florida Public Service Commission are reminding everyone to call 8-1-1 before digging any holes in the ground, to avoid damaging buried power or gas lines.

Remember, call before you dig!

More than 20 million miles of utility lines are buried underground nationally, and digs can cause damage practically everywhere, ranging from backyards to major construction sites, PSC Chairman Art Graham warned.

In fact, it happens every six minutes.

“Calling 811 has the potential to reduce frustrating service outages while saving time, money, and, most importantly, lives,” Graham said. “No matter how large or small the project, we urge you to call 8-1-1 first.”

Solar company wins PSC’s OK

A second solar energy company has won Public Service Commission approval to offer equipment leases to customers in Florida.

The commission concluded that Vivint Solar Developer LLC’s 20-year, fixed-payment, residential solar equipment lease does not constitute not a retail sale of electricity.

In other words, the company doesn’t qualify as a public utility, subject to PSC oversight.

Vivint Solar Developer is the second solar energy company to get approval from the PSC.

“As solar becomes more affordable and therefore more attractive to residential customers, the PSC supports ways to continue to ‘prime the pump’ for renewable energy adoption,” PSC Chairman Art Graham said. “This (decision) helps provide more residential solar options for Florida’s ratepayers.”

Sunrun Inc. secured a similar PSC clearance in April.

Some content this week provided by The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

Capitol Directions

 

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.10.18

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

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

ICYMI: “Divided we prosper — in Tallahassee, at leastby Peter Schorsch via Tallahassee Democrat — The gift ban may be good government, but it’s bad for … business. And what’s really been bad for Tallahassee business is one-party rule.

Downtown Tallahassee — the heart of Florida’s political body — is dead. It’s so dead that the closest high-end restaurant — one that features a steak named after a local lobbyist — closed its doors.

It’s so dead that the city closed off an entire block of Adams Street and that doesn’t seem to have messed up anyone’s way to work.

With elections for Florida Governor, Cabinet members, and the Legislature in less than three months, what the good people of Tallahassee should be praying for is … gridlock.

That’s right, the answer to the prayers of so many Tallahassee businesses is divided government.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida is doing a fantastic job and has my complete and total Endorsement! Tough on Crime and Borders, Ted was really helpful on Tax Cuts. Vote all the way for Ted in the upcoming Primary — he will never let you down!

@VP: The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best & bravest will be called to deter & defeat a new generation of threats to our nation. The time has come to establish the US Space Force.

@CahnEmily: Resolved: SPACE FORCE must always be capitalized, because SPACE FORCE is super exciting!

@MarcoRubio: I urge my fellow Floridians in #BrowardCounty to vote for @rpetty for School Board. No one has worked harder or will be a more effective advocate on the issue of school safety. I have seen firsthand his passion & drive. He was a driving force behind

@BallardFirm: Follow @BallardWeather for real-time weather updates from the heart of Downtown Tallahassee! The WeatherSTEM system will provide a source of downtown weather conditions even in the event of widespread power and/or internet outages.

@Jack: I think Twitter is the closest thing we have to a global consciousness. And I believe the world needs that right now.

@ChrisLatvala: Almost 46,000 Pinellas voters have cast a ballot thus far. 46% of them have been from Republicans and 38% from Democrats. #BlueWave

@NewsBySmiley: Only took the City of Miami 11 months to respond to my records request from September regarding documents related to the tower cranes that fell in Hurricane Irma

@Blaskey_S: Update: @DaphneCampbell called the police on me for “threatening behavior” at this event. Last time I checked, asking questions at a public forum was allowed. Don’t worry guys, cops didn’t think the complaint was credible.

@justice2jesus: We’re off to month of primary elects sadly with no statesmen in sight, only politicians. There is a big difference. Service vs. selfish

@GNewburn: Florida decided radical criminal justice transparency actually wasn’t all that radical, and now we have a model for the rest of the country. This one’s going to spread everywhere, and it’s entirely to @ChrisSprowls’ credit.

@PollackHunter: I am so proud that the Parkland families were able to come together on an issue today to show we can be united and work together to defeat @browardschools August 28th by electing new board members. The news conference worked out great.

@Scott_Maxwell: YOU ARE SUCH A SOCIALIST PUPPET!! #MAGA AND BENGHAZI!! AND GRUBER AND BILL AYERS!! AND #MAGA AGAIN, YOU PINKO SNOWFLAKE!! (Sorry, the @orlandosentinel turned off its online-comment section yesterday … and I was feeling nostalgic.)

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

— DAYS UNTIL —

Start of the U.S. Open — 17; Primary Election Day — 18; College Football opening weekend — 20; Labor Day — 24; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 27; NFL regular season starts — 27; First general election mail ballots go out — 43; Future of Florida Forum — 47; FSU vs. UM football game — 57; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 74; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 75; General Election Day — 88; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 102; Black Friday — 105; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 109; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 186; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 207; 2020 General Election — 816.

— TOP STORY —

Florida wants to help bullied kids — unless they’re gay” via Rebecca Klein of HuffPost — A new anti-bullying program in Florida sounds so good on paper. The first of its kind in the nation, it gives public money to kids who have been victims of bullying and helps them attend private school. The only problem is, not all victims are welcome. For some private schools participating in the program, LGBTQ students need not apply. The Florida Hope Scholarship Program, a voucher program launching this school year, gives up to around $7,000 to individual students who have reported instances of bullying to help them attend a participating private school. However, a HuffPost analysis of private schools that have signed up to participate in the program shows that many of these schools enact their own form of state-sponsored bullying ― by refusing to admit LGBTQ students or outlining punishment for students in same-sex relationships. Nearly 70 schools had signed up to participate in the program … Of these schools, at least 10 percent have zero tolerance policies for LGBTQ students.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Bill Nelson too old for office, GOP super PAC suggests” via News Service of Florida — A Washington-based super PAC backing Republican Senate candidates dispensed this week with what had been more subtle campaign hints aimed at U.S. Sen. Nelson’s age. In a news release titled “Bill Nelson Tragically Forced to Admit His Memory Is Failing,” the Senate Leadership Fund pointed to Nelson saying a day earlier that he couldn’t recall a 2010 letter he wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about delaying the implementation of water-quality standards for Florida lakes, springs and other waterways. “It’s time for Bill Nelson’s caretakers to keep better tabs on the Senator’s whereabouts and public statements so that he is not embarrassed into admitting he’s no longer dealing from a full deck,” Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said.

The Senate Leadership Fund released a new video of a recent “NBC Meet the Press Daily” segment, which points to a pair of “unforced errors” from Nelson. One error was Nelson criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for asking the EPA to hold off on higher water quality standards — a position they both shared. Later, the three-term Senator said he “didn’t recall doing that.” Nelson also later claimed “the Russians penetrated some Florida voter registration systems,” but providing no proof to back up a major accusation. Meet the Press Daily host Chuck Todd said that in this Senate race, a prime opportunity for the Republicans to pick up the seat, Nelson needs to play “error-free ball” against Scott.

To view the video clip, click on the image below:

Ken Detzner questions Nelson’s claim of election hacking” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida Secretary of State Detzner wants clarification from the U.S. Senate on Nelson’s comments to reporters that Russians have “penetrated” some voter-registration systems. Detzner sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr requesting that federal officials share with his agency any “relevant, classified information about current and potential threats.” “Additionally, if you, Senator Nelson or any federal agency, government official or elected official has information that verifies that ‘the Russians are in Florida’s elections records,’ I urge immediate transparency and cooperation in sharing that information so that we can take action to protect our elections,” Detzner wrote. Detzner said he’s been advised by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that they had no information backing Nelson’s claim.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Will Parkland parents sway Florida governor race with endorsements?” via the Miami Herald — Despite standing alongside political figures at rallies and public appearances, Parkland activists have for the most part avoided endorsing any particular candidates for office, even those who have supported them since the beginning … the strategy has largely been to endorse policy over policymaker. Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver — the parents of two students who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — broke that mold as they appeared in TV ads for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, the first ads in the race to feature Parkland parents. “I decided not to stay out of it,” said Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among the 17 students and faculty killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. “I know he is committed to an issue that is more important to me than anything.”

Ron DeSantis has list of 9 running mates, considers pre-primary pick” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The congressman’s shortlist, provided anonymously to POLITICO by two top Republicans connected to the campaign, include three Spanish speakers, four people of color, four women, two former prosecutors, a sheriff and two appointees of Gov. Rick Scott, whose management style DeSantis likes. DeSantis’ spokesman, Brad Herold, would neither confirm nor deny the names on the list. But he acknowledged the campaign is already looking past the primary against Adam Putnam, who has steadily trailed DeSantis in polls after President Donald Trump endorsed the congressman and then held a rally for him last week in Tampa.

Five-year-old police report surfaces against Jeff Greene” via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – A former cocktail waitress at Jeff Greene’s West Palm Beach resort said the billionaire, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, “smacked her on the arm” to get her attention because the music at the hotel was too loud, according to a 2013 police report obtained by CBS Miami. … According to the incident report, the episode allegedly occurred on December 28, 2012, at approximately 5 pm at what was then known as the Omphoy Beach Resort. The waitress, Lisa Ann Thomas, who was 24 at the time, “said Jeff Greene walked up to her and `smacked her on the arm’ and said, `can you turn down the music.’”

Claire VanSusteren, communications director for the Greene campaign, issued the following statement: “It’s unfortunate that the Republicans are bringing such a non-story into the political bloodstream in an attempt to weaken Jeff’s campaign. As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day.” … “Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas,” the statement continues. “The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume. As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume. As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken. Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”

Chris King launches ‘fearless’ bus tour — Democratic gubernatorial candidate King is launching his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, where he will lay out the stakes of this election. “With less than three weeks until Floridians head to the polls, we’re hitting the road to speak hard truths about Florida’s broken criminal justice system and troubled history of institutional racism,” King said. “In our state, there are laws and policies designed intentionally or indifferently to create a different set of opportunities for communities of color —— and until we recognize that and address them, Florida cannot truly thrive.” Tour stops include Escambia, Bay, Leon, Duval, Alachua, Marion, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Osceola and Orange counties.

Get on the bus: Chris King launches his “Fearless for Florida” statewide bus tour, stops planned in 20 counties.

Assignment editors — Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will campaign with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, 2 p.m., 646 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Sean Shaw promises task force on gun violence ‘on day one’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Shaw, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, said if elected he will convene a “statewide gun violence working group” on his first day in office. He made the announcement at a Thursday news conference. “Your voices will be heard,” he said, standing outside Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Plaza-level office in the Capitol. He was flanked by members of Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group. “Your concerns will be addressed,” he added. “And I’ll take action.”

Patrick Murphy endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner” via Florida Politics — The attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist picked up another endorsement for bid in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner on Thursday, this time from former Congressman Patrick Murphy. “I’m supporting Nikki because I know that she is dedicated to promoting the Democratic values we share like protecting Florida’s environment and natural resources, standing up for consumers, and ensuring our state’s agriculture industry has a dependable partner in the Cabinet,” Murphy said. Murphy represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District from 2013 to 2017. He’s been on the sidelines since 2016, when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican U.S. Sen Marco Rubio’s re-election bid. He joins former state CFO Alex Sink and 21 Democratic members of the Florida Legislature, among others, in backing Fried’s primary bid.

For Fried, cannabis a key to the AG race — and public policy” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida Politics caught up with her in Jacksonville, just hours before two heavyweights, John Morgan and Alex Sink, were to host an Orlando fundraiser for her. Fried noted that this “institutional support” is “tremendous,” from “leaders … beacons in the party,” especially Morgan, who has been “so instrumental to the passage of medical marijuana” in Florida, and who backs a cannabis adult-use legalization amendment in 2020. We stayed on the cannabis subject for some time, with Fried making the most explicit argument any statewide candidate has about the connection of cannabis policy to myriad other systemic issues in the state. Fried notes that Christian Bax, Gov. Scott‘s point man for implementing cannabis policy, seemed purposefully inept. “Christian … not a good bureaucrat by any stretch of the imagination” seemed to be “taking orders from Gov. Scott,” Fried said.

Assignment editors — Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley will address the Florida Realtors Convention, 12:30 p.m., Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

Trump bump for Ted Yoho, as President endorses North Florida Congressman” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Yoho scored a key endorsement on Thursday in Republican primaries, that of President Donald Trump. … Yoho, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus with Trump’s chosen gubernatorial candidate, Ron DeSantis, is running for his fourth term in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District — an inland North and Central Florida district running from Orange Park to Ocala. … he is up against Republican insurgent Judson Sapp in the primary … As of the end of June, Yoho had over $430,000 on hand, comparing favorably to Sapp’s $133,012 bankroll. Trump’s endorsement may not move the needle in this race, which has had no indication of being particularly close; however, rest assured the President will find a way to take credit for victory.

Nancy Soderberg releases first TV ad in District 6 race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The ad, “Hurdles,” highlights “the obstacles Soderberg overcame, both in her national security career and her battle to keep health care after being diagnosed with a pre-existing condition,” her campaign said in a statement. The ad cites her work as Deputy National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton, which included negotiating peace in Northern Ireland and counterterrorism. “I helped bring Northern Ireland’s opposing sides together to secure peace,” Soderberg says in the ad. “I was one of the first to say, ‘Let’s get bin Laden.’” She also talks about being denied health insurance because of her diabetes. “Let’s bring both parties together to deal with hurdles like unaffordable health care, protecting Social Security and Medicare. Hurdles don’t faze me. I’m about solutions.”

To view “Hurdles,” click on the image below:

Poll puts Neil Combee up big in CD 15 primary” via Florida Politics — The Strategic Government Consulting poll, conducted Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, the Auburndale Republican is the pick for 31 percent of primary voters while Dover state Rep. Ross Spano, who had a double-digit lead in an early July measure from St. Pete Polls, is in a distant second place with 17 percent support. The other three GOP contenders — Lakeland contractor Sean Harper, Brandon agribusinessman Danny Kushmer and Lakeland mental health practitioner Ed Shoemaker — showed up in the low single digits. Despite the strong showing for Combee, two-fifths of Republican voters said they were still undecided three weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election.

Kayser Enneking pitches health care experience in first TV ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gainesville physician Enneking, a Democrat, started hitting TV with a new ad backing up her campaign to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. The ad features footage of the anesthesiologist in operating rooms, waiting rooms and living rooms while pitching her as a candidate who can bring health care solutions to Tallahassee. … “Health care in Florida is in crisis. Politicians had years to fix this, but nothing’s gotten better. It’s time to try something different.” … Enneking, outfitted in scrubs, takes over after the intro. “I never thought I would get into politics. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people,” she says. “I’ve decided to run for the state Senate because we need someone who can fix our health care system, defend our environment and protect our public schools.” … Enneking is the leading Democrat running for SD 8, which covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. … the district is a top target for both parties in the fall.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Daphne Campbell keeps calling the cops on reporters” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — Today, she pulled another classic Campbell move and called the cops on Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey for “threatening behavior,” which apparently amounted to asking Campbell questions in public. Blaskey, who has reported critically on Campbell and recently nailed the state senator for likely living outside her district, had been covering a debate today between Campbell and Jason Pizzo. Blaskey tweeted that the cops, naturally, didn’t find Campbell’s claim even remotely credible. That’s at least the second time in recent months the state senator has dialed 911 to report journalism in progress. Earlier this year, Campbell called Miami Shores Police because Rise News reporter Rich Robinson was filming her in public. Miami Shores police also found that Robinson had done nothing wrong.

—“Florida Senator knew I was a journalist doing my job. She called the police anyway” via Rich Robinson of RiseNews.net

Campbell continues to claim nonexistent endorsement from Aventura pol” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Campbell lists Aventura City Commissioner Robert Shelley (whose name is misspelled in her materials) on a campaign flyer issued to voters in Senate District 38. You can see his face among a list of others who have endorsed Campbell’s campaign. The problem is: He’s backing her opponent Jason Pizzo in the SD 38 Democratic primary. And this isn’t the first time Campbell has made this claim. It turns out both the Pizzo and Campbell campaigns had received a signed letter from Shelley’s office indicating his support. After contacting Shelley directly, he said the letter to the Campbell camp must have been sent in error, and that he was actually endorsing Pizzo.

No word if Daphne Campbell called 911 after this interview.

Happening Saturday — Democrat Bobby Powell will hold a canvassing event in his re-election bid for Senate District 30, 9:30 a.m. — 4 p.m., 2715 N. Australian Ave., Suite 103, West Palm Beach.

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, has opened his own Florida fundraising panel to support pro-marijuana candidates and influence legislation. Clarity PAC was officially registered Wednesday as a nonprofit corporation and political committee, state records show. Its mission: “To advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic.” It hasn’t yet posted any contributions or expenses. Among its backers: Tampa strip club mogul, free speech fighter and medical marijuana patient Joe Redner.

All For Transportation launches sales tax referendum campaign, plans 7-figure fundraising goal” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — As of Thursday, the group has 89 days to convince voters there is enough incentive to improve transit and transportation in the county to warrant a tax hike. The group didn’t say what the campaign fundraising goal is but said it would be more than organizers raised for Greenlight Pinellas in 2014. That transit referendum failed, despite raising more than $1.1 million. The increased funding would pay for road improvements including congestion relief and traffic calming, road safety and improved transit access. The group has a steep climb. Hillsborough voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal in 2010 and the issue tanked at Pinellas polls in 2014.

Mailer slams GOP candidate for posing with a smiling Obama. But he’s a wax Obama.” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — It comes from an anonymous committee that’s sending mailers attacking Todd Marks in his Republican primary race against Aakash Patel in the race for Hillsborough County Commission District 7. The mailer shows a photo of Marks with Charlie Crist, now a Democratic Congress member but a Republican governor when it was taken. There’s also a photo of Marks with someone the mailer calls “Barrack Obama.” That would be Barack Obama, but if you look closely, you can tell it’s actually a wax figure. When he stopped laughing, Marks told the Tampa Bay Times he had posted the photo on his Facebook page after a visit to a Las Vegas wax museum and denied he’s friends with Obama — in wax or in the flesh.

Todd Marks is getting heat for appearing next to a wax Obama. (Image via the Tampa Bay Times)

— EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENT ROUND-UP —

In the statewide race for Agriculture Commissioner, the Palm Beach Post editorial board is backing the two female candidates in both primaries. In the Republican race, that’s Grimsley, “who brings the most varied background and who outlines the most detailed plans,” according to the Post. For the Democrats, that’s Fried, who “brings energy, intelligence and a bevy of fresh ideas.”

Sun-Sentinel editorial writers recommend Republican voters in Congressional District 23 back Carlos Reyes, calling him the “best suited to challenge” incumbent Democrat Debbie WassermanSchultz. In the Democratic primary for CD 20, the paper is backing incumbent Alcee Hastings, noting his troubled past but adding, “We find his behavior lamentable, and an embarrassment, but not so egregious that we deny him the endorsement we believe he has earned.” In CD 24, the paper recommends Democratic voters pick incumbent Frederica Wilson, calling her an “an able and energetic representative.”

— STATEWIDE —

Gov’s office gloomy on slot tax revenues — The Seminole Tribe of Florida is adding 1,300 slot machines at Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel & Casino, and economists at the Governor’s office say the platoon of new one-armed bandits will yoink slot jockeys away from their usual haunts — the pari-mutuels that pay state taxes. In all, Gov. Scott’s office estimates the new fruit machines will lead to a $29.9 million dip in slot tax revenues. That’s would be a major dip from the $196 million in slot tax revenues expected for the current year. While most at the revenue estimating conference expected some loss from the new slots, some at the revenue estimating conference said those figures were likely too pessimistic. Office of Economic and Demographic Research coordinator Amy Baker said the expansion is “not going to come anywhere near this impact.” While the Seminoles don’t pay slot taxes, they do make millions in payments to the state in exchange for the exclusive right to offer casino-style games statewide. When it comes to slot machines, the Seminoles have exclusivity outside the borders of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Casino firm sinks money into fighting gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — The operator of Miami’s Magic City Casino has spent $525,000 on trying to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the future. West Flagler Associates, Ltd. contributed the money July 31 to a political committee known as Vote NO on 3 … That was the first contribution to the committee, which formed earlier in July. The report also shows the committee paid $523,600 last week to IGT Media Holdings Inc. for a radio ad. The proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear as Amendment 3 on the November ballot, has been backed by millions of dollars from Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Seminole Tribe of Florida bans plastic straws in its state casinos” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Seminole Gaming, the tribe’s gaming arm, announced its Florida casinos will no longer offer plastic straws beginning Sept. 1. Effective the same day, Seminole-run casinos will eliminate plastic takeout bags in favor of paper ones. “Seminole Gaming has a long history of sustainability programs, and we are pleased to add more earth-friendly straws and to-go bags to the list,” said Tracy Bradford, senior vice president of purchasing, in a release. “As the gaming operation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming is proud to help make a difference in conscientious sustainability practices — it’s the right thing to do.” Customers can request “durable, earth-friendly” straws instead, Seminole Gaming said. The no-plastic-straw policy applies to all six of the tribe’s Sunshine State casinos, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

Marine life are literally choking on discarded plastic.

State moves forward on marijuana licenses — Health Department officials will hold a workshop Aug. 17 to take input on the application process for new medical marijuana licenses. The workshop, announced Thursday, will deal with one license earmarked for a black farmer who was a member of litigation dealing with discriminatory lending practices and four other licenses for applicants seeking entry into the state’s highly restricted market. A new law required health officials to give preference for two licenses to applicants who own facilities that were used to process citrus, the subject of at least one lawsuit. Because of litigation regarding the citrus preference, the department is holding off on accepting applications for the remaining two licenses. The measure requires health officials to grant four licenses after at least 100,000 eligible patients have enrolled in a statewide database, a benchmark that was recently surpassed.

Families of Parkland victims call for entire Broward School Board to be replaced” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The families of several victims of February’s shooting in Parkland made their boldest call for action yet Thursday, asking for the entire Broward County School Board to be replaced in elections later this month. “The current school board has failed to properly prepare the county’s 234 schools for the upcoming school year,” said Tony Montalto, a member of the group Stand With Parkland that was created in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Montalto’s daughter Gina was one of 17 people killed in the attack. “The constant reversals of policy positions continue to leave our county’s students and teachers at risk and clearly show there is no unified plan to keep them safe,” Montalto added.

Hillsborough school district didn’t reveal lead findingsvia The Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County School District didn’t tell parents for more than a year that it was discovering high levels of lead in some schools’ drinking water, a Tampa Bay Times investigation found. The district announced the results last week — three days after the Times began asking teachers and principals whether they knew about the lead levels in their classrooms. By then it had ignored for 16 months federal recommendations that said it should disclose the testing. It still hasn’t released the vast majority of test results, including more than 70 tests showing lower levels of lead that researchers say still can be dangerous for children.

In Belleair shore, beach owners don’t even want sea turtles trespassing” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — In the tiny but affluent Pinellas town of Belleair Shore, the question of beach access has sparked a somewhat different dispute. Instead of just humans, some Belleair Shore residents want to give sea turtles the boot too. Town Commission members are complaining about spotting marked sea turtles nests on their beachfront land — nests that they said had all been put there, without permission, by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “They relocated 400 eggs onto private property and didn’t tell us,” Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman said in an interview. “We learned about it by going out and seeing all these roped off areas on private property.” David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, suggested the two commissioners may want to check their property deeds — and also their math. Before moving any nests to Belleair Shore, he said, his turtle team reviewed county property records to ensure they were on public land. “We’re not trying to violate someone’s property rights,” Yates said.

Cities, counties look to prevent bear-human conflicts” via the News Service of Florida — Collier, Lake, Marion, Seminole, Volusia and Walton counties and the cities of Apopka and Mount Dora have collectively applied for $935,181 from the “BearWise” funding program, which has $500,000 available for grants. “This funding will help residents secure their trash and eliminate the primary reason why bears spend time in neighborhoods,” David Telesco, who leads the commission’s Bear Management Program, said in a prepared statement. The grants are expected to be awarded in October. A preference in the selection process is that a community enact a “BearWise” ordinance, which requires residents and businesses to bear-proof trash containers. Lake, Orange, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties have enacted such ordinances, while Apopka is in the process of enacting an ordinance. If enacted, Apopka would join Fort Walton Beach as the only municipalities in the state with such an ordinance. With roughly 4,000 black bears estimated to live in Florida, the Legislature designated the money for the fiscal year that began July 1.

SunPass problems: Lawmaker calls for removal of FDOT secretary” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — As a flood of backlogged SunPass charges are pushed onto customers’ accounts, creating a flood of customer service problems, one state lawmaker is asking the governor to remove FDOT Secretary Mike Dew for his “lack of accountability and transparency” regarding the 70 days of SunPass disruptions. State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott after she says Dew ignored a series of three letters she had sent dating back to July 17. Scott has also failed to indicate how he would hold his own department responsible, or what kind of penalties the state may impose on the two contracting firms hired to supervise the project, HNTB and Atkins.

— ALGAE CRISIS —

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will tour the St. Lucie River and areas where there are algal blooms caused by the harmful federal water releases from Lake Okeechobee. He will also announce additional funding for impacted areas, 8 a.m., Sunset Marina and Anchorage, 615 SW. Anchorage Way, Stuart.

Toxic blue-green algae blooms in St. Lucie River targeted by Martin County” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Martin County plans to start two algae-fighting projects — one to get rid of blooms and one to keep them from reaching the St. Lucie River — as soon as Monday. By Friday, the county expects to receive a $700,000 state grant, part of $3 million set aside for algae cleanup assistance to counties affected by the blooms. “I don’t think we’ll need that much,” said John Maehl, Martin County ecosystem manager, “but we want to make sure we have enough money to get us through the end of the rainy season. I expect we’ll be getting discharges for a while.” To get rid of blooms in confined spaces such as marinas: Boats use nets to concentrate the bloom, and then vacuums — either on a boat or on shore or both — suck the algae into large bags in roll-off dumpsters; the bags will have filters to allow water out but keep the algae mass and toxins inside; once the water is no more than 30 percent of the volume, the bags are hauled to a landfill by the contractor.

Red Tide is spreading through Southwest Florida. (Image via Andrew West/The News-Press)

What travelers should know about Florida’s red tide outbreak” via Nancy Trejos of the Naples Daily News — What is being called the worst toxic algae bloom in years has been killing turtles, manatees, dolphins, and other marine life. It is also creating respiratory and gastrointestinal issues for humans. Many of Florida’s popular west coast beaches from Tampa Bay to Sarasota to Naples are practically deserted as the red tide emits toxic gases. Larry Brand, professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, says it’s difficult to tell why this particular outbreak has been so bad, but Hurricane Irma last year and a particularly rainy fall and winter have contributed to the outbreak. Brand says it is also hard to predict how long the outbreak will last but that it will most likely go through the rainy season, which can extend into November. His advice … “If people want to go to the beaches, go to the east coast.”

Nelson, Scott play blame game with red tide, toxic algae” via Evan Donovan of WFLA — Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are playing the blame game with Florida’s current devastating environmental issues. States are responsible for regulating their waterways, and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper Andy Hayslip said there’s no doubt Florida isn’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely, we are seeing a lack of enforcement on behalf of state regulatory agencies,” said Hayslip. Nelson said Wednesday the blame rests squarely on Gov. Scott. “Gov. Scott signed a law that abolished the periodic inspection of leaking septic tanks. Now you put all that together, and ultimately that’s what you’re gonna get.” On Thursday, Gov. Scott’s campaign fought back. “It’s ridiculous for Bill Nelson to try to blame Gov. Scott for an issue that’s been neglected by the same federal government Nelson has been a part of for decades,” said Lauren Schenone, Scott’s campaign press secretary.

— D.C. MATTERS —

What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits” via Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina of the Miami Herald — “The first thing that people need to know is that there isn’t a final proposal that we have seen yet,” said Mark Greenberg, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), based in Washington D.C. The official proposal would require a period of time for comments and discussions, and could take months to go into effect, he said. “For anyone who is currently considering applying for citizenship, it is important to understand that there is not a new rule, that the standards have not changed and, while the government is considering making changes for the future, they are not in effect now,” Greenberg said. An NBCNews report said legal immigrants could be denied permanent residence and citizenship if they or their relatives have received any public assistance through programs such as Obamacare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — or tax credits. If approved, the new policy would redefine what is considered a “public charge” as well as the criteria that government officials must follow in order to make decisions on immigration status.

If Donald Trump succeeds in his latest plan to scale back legal immigration, it will take a while to go into effect. (Image via Time)

Remaining counties file for federal elections security grants” via Florida Politics — The last of Florida’s 67 counties now have submitted applications for federal election security grants, which qualify them to receive $14.5 million on top of the $19 million already secured, Gov. Scott announced. “As we approach the 2018 election season, there is nothing more important than ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections,” the governor said in a written statement. Scott announced approval of the initial 49 grant applications in July. The announcement came one day after Sen. Nelson asserted that Russian operatives have breached elections systems in some counties ahead of the midterm elections. He did not identify which ones, and elections officials have said they could not confirm Nelson’s claim.

Trump’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint hasten local newspapers’ demise” via Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser of The New York Times — Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin, the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents. Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day. “We’re all paying a huge price,” Skip Bliss, publisher of The Gazette, said of the tariffs’ effect on the industry. “I fear it’s going to be a very difficult time. I think there’s probably going to be some casualties.”

— OPINIONS —

Jeremy Ring: Setting the record straight on business background” via Florida Politics — Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight. I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t. I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations. I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility. I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients. I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies. Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t. Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty. Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.

— MOVEMENTS —

Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker backs driverless vehicle technology” via Bill DeYoung of StPeteCatalyst.com — Baker has been added to the Advisory Board of California-based Coast Autonomous, a company that makes experimental, self-driving electric vehicles for cities looking to ease their mass transit woes. “Cities matter,” Baker said in a statement released by Coast. “We are at the beginning of an enormous wave of change that will improve the daily lives of people living in cities around the world. Properly focused on the pedestrian, self-driving vehicles will make cities more user-friendly, safe, comfortable, productive and interesting.” Baker is Coast’s Senior Advisor on Urban Deployment. The shuttle system, he predicted, “will be the future of autonomous technology.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Lighthouse Health Plan

Kevin Cabrera, Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: Tom Thumb Food Stores

Dean Cannon, Kim McDougal, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services

Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: ThoughtSpot

Chris Dudley, James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Tallahassee Corporate Center C/O Hall Investments

Scott LaGanga, Kristin Parde: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: F. Philip Blank

— WEEKEND TV —

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 affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with La Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga, Tampa Bay Times Government and Politics editor Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Caitlin Johnson and Jeff Lukens, vice chair of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Board.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Will discuss financial literacy and whether it should be a mandatory part of the school curriculum. Joining Walker-Torres are State Sen. David Simmons; state Reps. Kamia Brown and Byron Donalds; Tom Eisenhuth, financial advisor, vice president of The Flagship Group; Anna Ryan, Education Director, M.Ed., Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay; and Ashanti Lee, student, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the latest from Tallahassee with Spectrum News reporter Troy Kinsey; Agriculture Commissioner candidates David Walker and Nikki Fried. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about the deficit.

Sunday Morning Politics with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): State Rep. Dr. Julio Gonzalez, who is running for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, and state Sen. Darryl Rouson, on the effort to change Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon will speak with businessman DeVore Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and Rick Mullaney, of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the race for Florida Governor; the powerhouse roundtable will take on the week’s news.

— ALOE —

Happy birthday to defender of the greyhounds (as well as Dayton’s boss), Mr. Jack Cory. Also celebrating today is sharp Dem, Josh Karp, and CFO candidate Jeremy Ring. 

Last Call for 8.9.18 — 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

The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign announced endorsements Thursday from 25 Florida veterinarians and five Florida veterinary clinics.

“Common injuries for greyhounds to experience while racing includes spinal, neck and limb fractures,” said Dr. Sy Woon of Royal Palm Beach. “Further, state records show that a gentle greyhound dies every three days at a Florida racetrack.

“To end this unnecessary suffering, I am asking my friends, family and my clients to vote ‘yes’ on 13.”

Joining them were nine musicians, artists and authors, including singer-songwriter Henry Gross, the campaign said.

According to his bio, Gross is a “founding member of the doo-wop revival group Sha Na Na who left to go solo, releasing what became his solid gold single “Shannon” in 1976.

The campaign is promoting passage of Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission.

The measure would outlaw wagering on live dog racing in Florida. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

A Tallahassee judge ordered the measure struck from the November ballot after a legal challenge from greyhound owners and breeders, but that ruling is on a fast-track appeal at the state Supreme Court.

Evening Reads

Nothing bodes well’: Lackluster election results spark debate over Donald Trump’s midterm role” via Bob Costa and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post

Blue wave? As Florida primary ballots are mailed in, Republicans more engaged via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Facing Bill Nelson’s warning, Homeland Security says it hasn’t seen ‘any new compromises’ by Russians” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Greene says he sold his oil, energy investments as feud with Gwen Graham escalates” via David Smiley and Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

Sean Shaw promises task force on gun violence ‘on day one’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

For Nikki Fried, cannabis a key to the AG race — and public policy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Donald Trump endorses Ted Yoho ahead of Florida primaries” via Max Greenwood of The Hill

Three candidates pursue Republican dream of ousting Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Congress” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

‘They should be fired:’ Parkland parents call for gutting Broward school board” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald

Florida county tries unconventional approach to deal with massive teacher shortage” via CBS News

Quote of the Day

“There is no accountability. There’s no leadership. We don’t want this to happen to other schools. We don’t want this to happen to any other children.” — Parkland parent Max Schachter, whose son Alex was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, calling for the entire Broward County School Board to be replaced in this year’s election.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which is helping spearhead a proposed constitutional amendment to restore felons’ voting rights, will start a two-day conference. The proposed amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 4, would automatically restore the rights of most felons after they have served their sentences. That’s at 9 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

The Florida Department of Children and Families will help host a meeting that is part of an effort to better coordinate behavioral-health services. The meeting is an outgrowth of an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Scott that called for better collaboration with law-enforcement agencies. That’s at 10 a.m., Redlands Christian Migration Association Building, 551 West Cowboy Way, LaBelle.

Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Denise Grimsley will speak at the Florida Realtors convention. That’s at 12:30 p.m., Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. will join Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine in a Central Florida canvass. That starts at 2 p.m., 646 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.

State candidates and political committees face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Aug. 3.

Looking Ahead

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which is helping spearhead a proposed constitutional amendment to restore felons’ voting rights, will continue a two-day conference. The proposed amendment, which will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 4, would automatically restore the rights of most felons after they have served their sentences. That’s Saturday, 9 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is expected to raise money during an event at a private residence in Leon County. That’s Saturday, 2 p.m., 1333 Peacefield Place, Tallahassee.

Florida Republican Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is expected to be among the speakers during the Lake County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner. That’s Saturday, 6 p.m., Lake Receptions, 4425 North Highway 19-A, Mount Dora.

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