Tampa Bay Archives - Florida Politics

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri backs Ed Hooper in SD 16

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is throwing his support behind Ed Hooper.

Gualtieri announced Thursday he was endorsing Hooper in the race to replace Sen. Jack Latvala in Senate District 16. Gualtieri said Hooper’s “real-world, first-hand insight” will serve him — and Florida voters — well in the Florida Senate.

“For as long as I’ve known Ed Hooper he has been a staunch supporter of our law enforcement and first responder community,” he said. “His background as a firefighter gives him a unique perspective on the daily sacrifices of our men and women in uniform who protect and serve our neighbors.”

Hooper, a former state representative and former member of the Clearwater City Council, said he was pleased to have “one of the most proactive, engaged Sheriffs in the country” on his campaign team.

“Sheriff Gualtieri’s passion for protecting citizens is on display each and every day. He is constantly in our neighborhoods and communities getting feedback from residents and engaging with his deputies to keep our streets safe and morale high,” said Hooper. “I’m grateful for Bob’s generous support, and I look forward to working with him here in Pinellas County and in Tallahassee.”

Latvala can’t run for re-election in 2018 because of term limits.

Pinellas GOP lawmakers ‘have no respect for open government,’ Times editor says

A top editor at the Tampa Bay Times fired back Wednesday after Pinellas legislators slammed the paper for calling them “Disciples of Darkness” because of transparency-related and public records measures passed this year.

“I understand why they are not happy,” Tim Nickens, the Times editor of editorials, wrote in an email. “They have no respect for open government, and Florida voters have strongly supported open government for decades. They also do not like it when they are held accountable for their own voting records.’’

A recent editorial criticized twelve Tampa Bay-area Republican House members for voting this year “to keep more public records secret and allow public officials to discuss the public’s business in private.”

“They all received D’s in a legislative scorecard on open government produced by the Florida Society of News Editors,” the editorial said. “Even those low grades are generous, because Florida’s government-in-the-sunshine laws would have been gutted if all of the terrible bills they voted for would have become law.”

On The Times’ dishonor roll are House members Ralph Massullo of Lecanto, Chris Latvala of Clearwater, Jamie Grant of Tampa, Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill, Larry Ahern of Seminole, Dan Raulerson of Plant City, Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor, Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills, Jackie Toledo of Tampa, Ross Spano of Dover, Amber Mariano of Hudson, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’Lakes.

The Times editorial focused on the House members because the Senate did not consider bills that would have allowed two public officials to meet in secret and would have closed searches for university and college presidents from public view.

The paper also has editorialized in praise of seven Bay area House members back in May for voting against a bill (HB 843) that would have allowed two members of any school board, county commission or city council to meet in secret to discuss public business without any public notice or record of what was said.

“That is a rare win for transparency and accountability in Tallahassee, and voters should check the scorecard,” read that editorial, which featured the photos of those lawmakers in the print edition.

“So it cuts both ways,” Nickens said.

But, at the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce’s legislative breakfast at Ruth Eckerd Hall, a disgusted Sen. Jack Latvala inveighed against the Times before an audience of several hundred.

“We wonder why there’s such nastiness in politics?” asked Sen. Latvala, who got a ‘D’ from FSNE. “We wonder why people have the attitude about politics, whether it’s national or whatever? It’s headlines and editorial like that.”

Latvala said his grade was based on just two votes, one of which was to protect murder witnesses’ identities from being publicly disclosed. “If I had to vote on that 100 more times, I’d vote yes 100 more times,” he said.

His son, state Rep. Chris Latvala, also deadpanned: “I will say something about the Tampa Bay Times. They have a very fine sports section,” giving a shout-out to the work of Tom Jones and Marc Topkin, before getting deadly serious.

“In the last couple of years they’ve called us immoral, and now, twice, they’ve insinuated we’re going to hell over policy positions,” the younger Latvala said.

Referring to the tensions in the body politic that saw the attempted assassination of Louisiana GOP Congressman Steve Scalise earlier this month, he said the Times editorial was “the height of hypocrisy.”

Sprowls said the “hyperbolic nature” of the piece “raised the toxicity level of politics,” and said that one of the bills he supported that got a poor rating from FSNE was the vote that Jack Latvala referred to regarding witnesses to a murder.

He said that the bill came to him in the House Judiciary Committee from Ranking Democratic Member Cynthia Stafford, an African-American from Miami.

She had told Sprowls, a former prosecutor, there are people in her community who are reluctant to go to the police and share knowledge of a crime “because they’re scared we’ve got robust Sunshine Laws that allow someone to get somebody’s home address—where they live—and go knock on their door and intimidate them as a witness.

“So the fact that anybody trying to be intellectually honest would say that is in any way a bad vote really shows the level of disconnect of that editorial article and reality,” Sprowls added.

Regarding that bill, the Times editorial said, “Keeping the names of murder witnesses out of public records will not make those witnesses safer, and there is no evidence of the need for expanded exemptions for public employees.”

Richard Corcoran’s agenda and style get bashed (and sometimes praised) by panel of Pinellas lawmakers

He wasn’t on the dais, but Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s policies and public comments were front-and-center when a panel of Pinellas lawmakers spoke Wednesday in Clearwater about the recently concluded legislative session.

Dubbed “the most interesting man in Tallahassee” in a recent Miami Herald profile, the 52-year-old Land O’Lakes Republican came into leadership last year with a firm and aggressive agenda, and achieved some major accomplishments in state government. And with a potential gubernatorial candidacy in the offing, opinions regarding his policies and legislative style were not in short supply from his fellow Republicans.

No one has been more critical of Corcoran’s tenure than the man who may be competing against him next year for the GOP nomination: Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala, who lashed out at Corcoran’s recent comments that state legislators are more responsive to Floridians than local governments.

“I think it’s probably one of the most ridiculous things that has come out of his mouth,” Latvala said to laughter and applause from the business-friendly crowd which gathered for French toast and sausage at Ruth Eckerd Hall. “And I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous things come out of his mouth.”

The event was sponsored by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and moderated by FloridaPolitics/SaintPetersBlog publisher Peter Schorsch.

Latvala went on to say that the people who run for local office generally raise money from the people that they will ultimately represent on a city council or county commission. Not true in Tallahassee, he said, where most lawmakers contributions come via lobbyists.

“A lot of our legislators – particularly our newer ones – have the attitude that somehow or another they know more than the same folks who elected them at the local level,” Latvala continued. “I’ve never had that attitude, and I never will.”

When reached for comment later in the day, Corcoran responded by saying that “our point was based on the beliefs of our founding fathers.”

“Every branch of government should stay in their constitutionally authorized lane,” Corcoran said..”When local governments try to ban our citizens from using Uber; raise taxes on its citizens every single year; force small businesses to pay an unsustainable minimum wage; strip our citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights, and lobby the legislature to try and stop them from giving homeowners a property tax cut, then they are out of their lane and, more importantly, completely out of touch with the will of the people.”

Corcoran’s determination to eliminate state funding for Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida, and a host of other economic incentive programs, including those targeting professional sports teams and the entertainment industry, created a virtual civil war amongst Florida Republicans in the first half of 2017. Ultimately, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida retained a substantial amount of funding, though EFI lost the bulk of its money for job incentives.

That proposal resulted in an intense ideological battle between Corcoran and Governor Rick Scott, who spent weeks traveling to the districts of House Republicans who supported the plan to defund the agencies.

“Unfortunately, the Speaker made a lot of people vote for that bill before he changed his mind and made his deal and then we had an about face and the end result was a decent bill,” said Latvala. “A lot of young House members were made to march the plank in their communities … just because of this ideological proposal from the House Speaker.”

Sitting right next to Latvala on the dais at the event was Seminole’s Larry Ahern, who was one of those House Republicans who supported Corcoran’s push to defundthose state agencies.

“No more does one corporation get all the benefits,” said Ahern of the final product. “Now it will be a better package for job training and creation throughout the state.”

South Pasadena Republican House member Kathleen Peters said she refused to “walk that plank,” and said she was quite vocal about not supporting it, before getting in her own dig at Corcoran.

“When I look at good leadership, I look at leaders who are not divisive, leaders who can see a problem and bring all the stakeholders together and come up with a good solution,” Peters said. “And that’s not what happened here in the beginning.”

Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls supported the controversial legislation.

“When the Quick Action Closing Fund, paid for by tax dollars, says to an out of state company like Wa-Wa we’re going to give you millions of dollars in taxpayer money to come and compete with homegrown Florida businesses, I’m offended by that,” he said. “We all should be.”

St. Petersburg Democrat Wengay Newton said that Corcoran crashed a House Democratic meeting one Wednesday to persuade some of the members to his cause to get rid of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

“He said I need you to stand with me,” Newton said in recounting that meeting. “That tells you right away that he didn’t have every Republican delegation in lockstep.”

Ultimately, 20 Democrats did support Corcoran on that vote.

Another controversial bill that Scott recently signed was House bill 7069, the education bill that includes the “schools of hope” plan for charter schools that was another pet project of Corcoran’s. The bill does many things, including add measures that force school districts to share construction money with charter schools and that create financial incentives for new charters to open and compete with low-performing public schools.

The bill was also a passion project of sorts for Chris Latvala, who spoke for so long about how important the legislation was that he was ultimately cut off by Schorsch.

Newton, like every Democrat in the Legislature, vehemently disagreed with the education bill.

“If you think that you’re going to be able to spend that amount of money on a charter school because they had some success somewhere else without bringing the people that’s providing that success and a government structure to the areas where you’re trying to implement it, it’s never going to work,” Newton said.

And speaking of education, the issue of USF being stripped of “preeminent” status in an education conforming bill near the end of session still rankles alumni and friends of the university. One anonymous audience member blasted Sprowls (scheduled to become Speaker of the House in a few years) on how could he let such a thing happen, or be so out of the loop as to not know it was about to happen.

While other members criticized the process, Jack Latvala said that USF officials were being too negative about how they fared overall this year.

“USF leadership is really good at the doom and gloom and highlighting the negatives, but what they haven’t told anybody was that USF got $42 million in new, additional operating money this year, as apart of the Senate’s various program to supplement higher education,” he said.”So it was one problem, but they got a lot of new money.”

The lawmakers were all asked who they believe their respective gubernatorial nominee will be next year. With many of the Republicans being loyal to Latvala, they opted not to weigh in, since he has not declared whether or not he’ll be a candidate.

Well, not everybody played possum. Ahern extolled the virtues of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who, as of today, remains the only major Republican to have entered the race.


In poll of St. Pete’s mayoral race, Rick Baker holds 5 point lead over Rick Kriseman

Former two-term St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker holds a five-point lead over incumbent first-term Mayor Rick Kriseman according to the first survey of St. Petersburg’s mayoral race since candidate qualifying.

And as much as the race is defined as a showdown of the two Ricks, it appears the race could be headed to a run-off in November.

Baker is at 44 percent, while Kriseman is at 39 percent. That’s a tighter margin than the May 17 St. Pete Polls survey which gave Baker a double-digit lead over Kriseman. (Of course, it’s somewhat a comparison of apples to oranges by putting a head-to-head poll up against a multi-candidate survey.)

But this survey includes the five tomato cans – Ernisa Bardwell, Anthony Cates, Paul Congemi, Jesse Nevel, and Momma Tee Lassiter – who qualified earlier this month to be on the same ballot as Baker and Kriseman.

There’s little chance any of these five candidates reach double-digits in the polls, much less win the race, but they are likely to keep Baker or Kriseman from reaching the terminal velocity necessary to escape a run-off.

Lassiter drew 3 percent support, while Cates, Congemi, and Nevel each received 2 percent support.

Nine percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.

Doing the math, so long as the tomato cans continue to receive a combined 9 or 10 percent of the vote and Baker and Kriseman evenly split the undecideds, the winner of the primary would fall just short of the 50 percent threshold necessary to avoid a run-off.

While the St. Petersburg race is non-partisan, Baker enjoys strong support from Republicans, with 68 percent of Republicans backing him.

Only 54 percent of Democrats back the “proud Democrat” Rick Kriseman.

It’s likely that black Democrats are the ones breaking Baker’s way. He received 38 percent of black voters support in this survey, while Kriseman received 36 percent.

There doesn’t appear to be a gender gap in this race as Baker is narrowly leading Kriseman with both men and women voters.

The poll also surveyed two of the City Council races.

In the District 2 race, in which Barclay Harless and Brandi Gabbard are squaring off, Gabbard has a 16 point lead (30 percent to 14 percent), although “unsure” dominates the field there.

And there’s a little bit of a surprise in District 4, where incumbent Darden Rice is facing political neophyte Jerick Johnston. Rice “only” leads him by 14 points, which is shocking giving Rice’s incumbency, fundraising advantage, and generally positive presence in the local media.

The poll was conducted June 27 and received 754 responses from registered voters in the city. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

Since leaving Congress, David Jolly has discovered a different view of the Affordable Care Act

When David Jolly defeated Alex Sink in the special election for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, his criticism of Obamacare was front and center of his campaign.

But the politics of health care have changed over the past four years, Jolly told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday night – and they certainly have for him. After losing to Democrat Charlie Crist in a redrawn CD 13 last fall, Jolly says his own personal circumstances had changed when he left office at the beginning of this year, and he was grateful that the Affordable Care Act was available to him and his wife as a “safety net.”

“On January 4th, I was a former member of Congress, unemployed with no health insurance and a pre-existing condition,” Jolly said on “The Last Word”.

“And while I ultimately chose a private sector plan, I also knew that in 2017 that Obamacare provided an exchange that was a safety net that wasn’t there before, and to be honest with you, if I had to rely on it, I knew it was there, and that’s why the politics of Obamacare in 2017 are different are different in 2013,” Jolly said. “I lost my doctor and I lost my plan in 2013 and I was angry about Obamacare and I ran for Congress, but in 2017, as an unemployed person with a pre-existing condition, I knew that Obamacare was there as a safety net if my wife and I needed it.”

The former Pinellas Congressman is hardly the only American to take a more positive look at Obamacare as the Republican Congress gets closer to repealing it.

Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51 percent of U.S. adults in support of the ACA, while 41 percent hold an unfavorable view. This is the first month that favorability has tipped over the 50 percent mark since Kaiser Family Foundation began tracking attitudes on the law in 2010.

Jolly says he is still considering a rematch against Crist in 2018, and will make his decision early next year.

You can watch the exchange below with Jolly, O’Donnell, and Vox.com editor Ezra Klein beginning at the 5:00 minute mark.

Ed Hooper earns Jack Latvala’s support to replace him

Jack has got Ed’s back.

Term-limited state Senator Jack Latvala is endorsing Ed Hooper as his successor in Senate District 16.

“We need someone to represent us in Tallahassee who is qualified, experienced, and a committed public servant who will always keep the citizens at the forefront of every discussion,” Latvala said. “Ed Hooper and I have worked together for a long time. He will follow through on the priorities for our area that I hold dear.”

A former firefighter who served four terms in the Legislature before being term-limited from the House, Hooper, 68, lost a contentious race in 2014 for the Pinellas County Commission to Democrat Pat Gerard, but since then has maintained a public profile.

During his final year in the Legislature, Hooper was chair of the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. He also received numerous “A” ratings from the Florida Chamber of Commerce Honor Roll, Florida Education Association, and the Florida Home Builders Association.

Throughout most of his political career, Hooper has been seen as a strong ally of Latvala, the veteran lawmaker he hopes to succeed.

“I am incredibly humbled to have the endorsement of Senator Latvala,” Hooper said. “Jack has been a political mentor and friend for years, and his support means a lot to me.”

Latvala has served twice in the Florida Senate, 1994-2002 and 2010 to the present. He currently chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and is considering a campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018.

Senate District 16 includes northern Pinellas and part of southwestern Pasco County.

Kathy Castor on Nancy Pelosi: No time to discuss a change of leadership

In the wake of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff‘s four-point lost to Republican Karen Handel in last week’s special election, there has been much hand-wringing among Democrats desperate to show that they’re building momentum going into the 2018 midterms.

Ossoff’s loss was the fourth special election to go to the Republicans in the first six months of the Trump presidency.

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan lamented the day after Ossoff’s loss, while New York Representative Kathleen Rice of New York told CNN the entire Democratic leadership team should go.

First and foremost, Rice and Ryan are referring to Nancy Pelosi, who has been at the head of the Democratic House leadership since 2003.

Pelosi has fought back tenaciously, saying she isn’t going anywhere, and she has a majority of supporters in her caucus, such as Tampa U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, who continues to stand by her despite the growing criticism of her tenure.

“This is the exact wrong time to be having this discussion because everyone needs to be focused on defeating this health care bill in the Senate this week,” Castor told FloridaPolitics when asked Monday morning in Tampa where she stood on the issue.

The calls among some Democrats to oust Pelosi have been ongoing for years as the Democrats have continued to lose seats in the House of Representatives. Those grumblings were loud after last fall, and reached a fever pitch way back in 2010 after the Republicans took back the House and the speakership from Pelosi.

At that time, Castor called the discussion “a distraction,”

While calling Pelosi “a strong leader,” Castor said Monday that “over the next few years, you’re going to see a change in the House leadership.”

One would think so. Pelosi is 77. Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer from Maryland is 78, while assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn turns 77 next month.

While some pundits and Democrats said that last week’s election was one that Democrats needed to show that they will have a big year against vulnerable GOP incumbents in Congress, others have noted that it was a district that has always been Republican.

“This is Newt Gingrich’s (former) district; (now-Health Secretary) Tom Price’s district. A first-time candidate. That was going to be a toughie,” said Castor, who made a campaign appearance for Ossoff.

In fact, Price defeated his Democratic challenger last November by 23 percentage points, and Georgia Six was Gingrich’s home district for more than 20 years. But it was also a district that is changing, and is now the 6th best educated congressional district in the country.

Trump narrowly won it by just 1.5 points over Hillary Clinton last fall, however.

“I thought it was a warning shot to the 70 other districts out there are more Democratic, or more independent than that one, you just watch,” said an ever-confident Castor about the Democrats chances of winning back House seats in 2018.

I’m not distraught over that at,” she said. “I’m more hopeful than anything.”

Kathy Castor says Trump administration is using alternative facts to explain Medicaid cuts in Senate health care bill

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is disputing the line being parroted by Trump administration officials that the GOP Senate health care bill won’t cut Medicaid costs by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“That’s untrue, because they propose to cut about $850 billion out of Medicaid over the next decade, and you simply cannot cut that far without damaging the health of our neighbors,” Castor told reporters Monday at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge located on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.

“That’s a fallacy,” Castor added. “It would have a devastating impact on our neighbors.”

On Sunday, two officials with the Trump administration denied the bill will severely cut Medicaid.

“These are not cuts to Medicaid,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC News’ “This Week.”

“It slows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars, because they’re closest to the people in need,” she told host George Stephanopolous.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Health Secretary Tom Price echoed Conway’s remark, saying that the Medicaid cut “all depends on what you’re comparing it to,” claiming it will be affected by how medical care costs change from year to year.

In fact, the legislation would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, starting in four years. It would also make deeper cuts to Medicaid by placing “per capita caps” on the program such that states will receive only a set amount of money for each recipient, no matter how much their care actually costs.

Unlike the House health care bill, the Senate bill appears to preserve coverage for pre-existing conditions by barring states from having the option to apply for a waiver. However, the Senate bill would allow states to apply for waivers so insurance companies could deny coverage for a list of Essential Health Benefits, including outpatient, mental health, maternity, and emergency room care, among others. Coverage of these benefits is guaranteed by the ACA. The House and Senate versions of the bills would change that.

“In states that choose these waivers, insurers could decide not to cover expensive cancer therapies,” said Heddie Sumpter with the American Cancer Society Action Network, one of several health care organization coming out in opposition to the Senate bill.

The opposition to the GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act is also providing great concern to some Latino organizations.

“Under the ACA, millions of Hispanic families across the country, and tens of thousands in Tampa have finally attained quality health care coverage that they would otherwise not be able to afford,” said Sylvia Alvarez with the National Council of La Raza, who said the Senate bill would provide just as much pain to Latinos as the earlier passed version in the House of Representatives.

Citing a study conducted by the national NCLR branch, Alvarez said between 2013 and 2015, the overall uninsured rate for non-elderly Hispanics in Florida declined from 29 percent to 19 percent. Among Latino children, she said the rate dropped from 14.4 percent to 8.5 percent during the same two-year period.

Castor said she can’t figure out why congressional Republicans — first in the House and now in the Senate, are going about eviscerating the Affordable Care Act in a way that won’t bring relief to many of their own constituents.

“I heard no one on the stump out there saying ‘we’re going to target kids, we’re going to target seniors and nursing homes and the disabled community for cuts, and that’s their campaign platform,” said the Tampa Democrat. “Instead they’re using this repeal and replace for the Affordable Care Act as a guise to go change the Medicaid program like never before.”

Castor said it was time for Republicans and Democrats to come together in Washington to fight against higher health care costs. “Nothing in the GOP Senate bill addresses the issue of higher costs,” she said, adding as she is

“Nothing in the GOP Senate bill addresses the issue of higher costs,” she said, adding, as she is wont to do, that Congress should work on reducing the price of prescription drugs.

Women’s Conference of Florida to hold leadership symposium in October

CEO and president of Women’s Conference of Florida, Arlene DiBenigno

This fall, a group of Florida’s professional business women will gather in Tampa to discuss and learn ways to take on strong leadership opportunities.

The 2017 Women’s Conference of Florida, now in its second year as the state’s premier professional symposium, is set for Oct. 26-27 at the Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina in Tampa.

Founded in 2015, the day-and-a -half Conference — which drew more than 1,000 attendees last year — will take on issues facing professional women through speakers, panel and roundtable discussions, exhibits, vendors and networking.

“This year, we look forward to expanding our statewide platform as we continue on our mission to address timely and relevant issues of importance to women in the state of Florida,” said Arlene DiBenigno, president and CEO of the Women’s Conference. “The true benefit of this event is that it harnesses the power of women together — engaging, empowering and encouraging each other.”

In 1998, DiBenigno worked for Gov. Jeb Bush as director of appointments for boards and commissions. It was during that experience, she was inspired to create the Conference.

“One of my duties was to try and identify different individuals that could serve on these boards and commissions and it seemed to me that every time I reached out to a woman who I thought was extremely qualified, who would serve well, the first response was ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I don’t really have the knowledge,'” DiBeningo told WUSF in 2016.

Speakers for the 2017 event will include:

Nely Galan, producer, author and former President of Entertainment for Telemundo. As the first Latina president of a major network, she owns of Galan Entertainment and is an Emmy Award-winning producer of more than 600 episodes of television in Spanish and English, including the hit FOX reality series “The Swan.”

Galan is the author of “SELF MADE: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way” and the founder of the nonprofit The Adelante Movement, which seeks to empower Latinas to become entrepreneurs. In 2008, she appeared on the first season NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” raising $250,000 for Count Me In, her charity for women entrepreneurship.

Jan Babiak is an independent director, board member of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and the Bank of Montreal. She is also on the board of GHD Group, an employee-owned, privately held, Australian-based engineering, architecture and environmental consulting firm.

Babiak previously served on the board of the Royal Mail, during which it listed on the U.K.’s FTSE 100. From 2010, until its sale in August 2012, she was Audit Committee Chair for Logica PLC, a then UK-headquartered FTSE 250 technology company.

Before starting her “portfolio career,” Babiak spent 28 years with Ernst & Young where she held the board and global leadership roles in cyber/technology security and risk services; climate change and sustainability services; and regulatory and public policy.

Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC’s “Today Show,” is an award-winning personal finance journalist, AARP’s personal finance ambassador, and the host of “Money Matters with Jean Chatzky” on RLTV. She is a longtime magazine columnist and the best-selling author of eight books. Her newest book, “Age-Proof,” written in partnership with Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer Dr. Michael Roizen, explains the link between health and wealth.

Chatzky recently launched Jean Chatzky’s Money School — online tutorials on topics like saving, budgeting, debt and retirement planning — that she personally teaches at JeanChatzky.com.

The inaugural Women’s Conference of Florida, held May 2016, featured keynotes from several big-name speakers: Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook executive and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times; and Cheryl Strayed, author of the #1 New York Times best-selling memoir “Wild.”

Presenting the Conference is Conversa, a Florida-based communications firm serving Fortune 500 clients, national and regional nonprofits, and small businesses.

For information and registration, visit wcoffl.com or contact Jennifer Dunn at jennifer@conversaco.com or (813) 579-2157.

Florida Sheriffs name Jack Latvala, James Grant, Chris Sprowls ‘legislative champions’ for 2017

Florida Sheriffs recognized several Tampa Bay-area lawmakers Thursday for “significant contributions to and support of good public safety policies” during the 2017 Legislative Session.

The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) named five legislators — including Clearwater state Sen. Jack Latvala and Reps. James Grant of Tampa and Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor —  for their “commitment to protecting the best interests of Florida citizens” and support of FSA initiatives.

In 2017, Grant had sponsored HB 7059, a prolific juvenile offender bill; Latvala sponsored SB 150, the Senate counterpart. Sheriffs praised Sprowls for supporting public safety throughout Session.

Other legislators as named as FSA Legislative Champions include Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton who sponsored HB 477, which sought to stem the heroin/Fentanyl epidemic. Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota sponsored SB 150 the Senate companion of the heroin/Fentanyl bill.

“The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to recognize these legislators for their commitment to public safety,” said FSA President and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. “We are grateful for Rep. Boyd and Senator Steube for their dedication and leadership in passing comprehensive legislation to address Florida’s heroin and Fentanyl epidemic.”

“This session, Senator Latvala and Rep. Grant made addressing the problem of a lack of accountability among repeat juvenile offenders a priority with the passage of the prolific juvenile offender bill (SB 7059),” said FSA Legislative Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “Sheriffs also greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Sprowls for working on this bill as well as numerous other public safety issues that had to be addressed throughout Session.”

Sheriffs also recognized 18 Senators — as well as Latvala and Steube — with the FSA Friend of the Sheriff Award, for legislation that would have a positive impact on public safety: Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Lauren Book, Rob Bradley, George Gainer, Bill Galvano, Rene Garcia, Denise Grimsley, Travis Hutson, Tom Lee, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Darryl Rouson, David Simmons, Wilton Simpson and Kelli Stargel.

 In addition, Reps. Jason Fischer, Joe Abruzzo, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Attorney General Pam Bondi were given the FSA Friend of the Sheriff Award.

Fischer had sponsored HB 721, which seeks independently elected sheriffs in all 67 Florida counties and Abruzzo advocated it in committee, s. Sheriffs applauded Corcoran for supporting public safety initiatives throughout Session. As her top priority, Bondi pushed for passage of a heroin/Fentanyl bill (HB 477) and was instrumental in moving it through the Senate.

“Without the aid of these important state legislators, and Attorney General Bondi, the Florida Sheriffs Association would not be able to serve the citizens of Florida to the best of our ability,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “On behalf of the entire Florida Sheriffs Association, I would like to honor these men and women for doing their part to help keep Floridians safe.”

Founded in 1893, the Florida Sheriffs Association is made up of sheriffs, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state.

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