Phil Ammann - 5/393 - SaintPetersBlog

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

Tampa Bay region marked for $33M in Florida TaxWatch ‘turkeys’

Florida TaxWatch, the nonpartisan government watchdog organization, served up its annual list of “Budget Turkeys,” naming almost $178 million in line-item projects part of the $82.4 billion budget passed May 8 by the Florida House and Senate.

For the Tampa Bay region, Florida TaxWatch targeted more than $33 million in local projects as individual line items added to the spending plans—usually last minute or in committee — without a thoughtful and thorough budget process.

The largest project in the region was Pasco County’s Interstate 75 and Overpass Road Interchange, priced at $15 million.

Hillsborough County had the lowest number of turkeys with three projects totaling $1,825,000; Pasco is the highest at $16,960,000 spread out over five projects.

For the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins July 1, TaxWatch listed 111 budgetary turkeys, suggesting around $177.8 million in savings. In total, the final budget contains more than 700 member projects, worth more than $600 million.

A “Turkey” label does not pass judgment on the project’s overall worthiness, does comment on the process. The purpose of the label is to make sure all projects using public funds are properly vetted.

“The result was that only a handful of projects made into the budget during conference. While falling short of the goal of no conference additions, this is still a very positive improvement, as projects being added in conference have become an epidemic,” the report says.

Even so, “with a few exceptions, committee hearings on member projects were pro forma, with very little discussion or debate,” the report continues.

Among the TaxWatch 111 ‘turkeys’ worth $117.8 million: An engineering building for Florida International University worth $10 million. A $500,000 rodeo facility in Arcadia. Local transportation projects valued at $81.5 million.

Individual Tampa Bay-area projects on the list include:

Pasco ($16,960,000)

– Pasco County Fair Association: $860,000

– Interstate 75 & Overpass Road Interchange: $15,000,000

– Parkland Roadway Stabilization: $250,000

– PD&E Study of Clinton Avenue Intersection Realignment at U.S. 98 and U.S. 301: $500,000

– U.S. 301/ReImagine Gall Boulevard, Zephyrhills: $350,000

Pinellas ($4,300,000)

– Great Explorations Children’s Museum: $400,000

– Education and Access to Performing Arts Program: $500,000

– Pinellas Suncoast Transit Auth – Memorial Causeway Busway Project: $1,000,000

– State Road 687 (3rd & 4th Streets) and 8th/MLK Streets downtown St. Petersburg-Preliminary Engineering Study to Convert One Way to Two-Way Street: $200,000

– Forward Pinellas Waterborne Transportation: $1,000,000

– Treasure Island Causeway Multimodal Improvements: $1,200,000

Hillsborough ($1,825,000)

– Big Brothers Big Sisters – Bigs Inspiring Student Success: $500,000

– Self Reliance Inc. – West FL Health & Safety for Seniors Pilot Project: $575,000

– Plant City Collins Street Improvements: $750,000

Polk ($10,000,000)

– Polk SC – Renovate Campus Chiller Plant System Phase I: $2,500,000

– Bartow Northern Connector, Phase II: $7,500,000

The group is calling for Scott to veto the items when he signs the budget, expected within the next week.

Among its recommendations, the report suggests making the new project vetting process permanent. It also suggests extra scrutiny for categories given to abuse, including economic development, housing and community development, workforce, and water projects.


Florida GOP operative, blogger teams up with Guccifer 2.0 for hacking dump

Political hacking wasn’t limited to just the Democratic National Committee in 2016; Florida was also part of the act.

Last year, a Republican political operative and part-time blogger from Florida asked for and received an extensive list of stolen data from Guccifer 2.0, the infamous hacker known for leaking documents from the DNC computer network.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Aaron Nevins, a former aide to Republican state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, had reached out to Guccifer through Twitter, asking to “feel free to send any Florida-based information.”

About 10 days later, Nevins received about 2.5 gigabytes of polling information, election strategy and other data, which he then posted on his political gossip blog

“I just threw an arrow in the dark,” Nevins told the Journal.

After setting up a Dropbox account for Guccifer 2.0 to share the data, Nevins was able to sift through the data as someone who “actually knows what some of these documents mean.”

Soon, the GOP consultant “realized it was a lot more than even Guccifer knew that he had.”

According to the Journal, the DCCC documents sent to Nevins “analyzed specific Florida districts, showing how many people were dependable Democratic voters, how many were likely Democratic voters but needed a nudge, how many were frequent voters but not committed, and how many were core Republican voters—the kind of data strategists use in planning ad buys and other tactics.”

In Thursday’s article, the Journal became the first media outlet to name Nevins as publisher of HelloFLA, which he said gets “at best about 100 readers a day.”

Before that, however, the person behind the blog was unknown in many circles in the Florida Capitol. Nevertheless, Nevins told POLITICO Florida it was “the worst-kept secret in Tallahassee.”

Despite his outing by the Journal. Nevins promises to continue publishing.

Nevins is still unconvinced the Russians were behind the Florida document dump. But if they were, Nevins said it’s not important since his and the hackers’ agenda is the same.

“If your interests align,” he told the Journal, “never shut any doors in politics.”

Rick Baker hosting first major fundraiser in mayoral bid

Former two-time St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is hosting the first official fundraiser kicking off his bid for a third term against incumbent Rick Kriseman.

The reception is tonight (May 23) beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Morean Center for Clay St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts District.

Baker, who served two terms as mayor from 2001-2010, officially filed paperwork for his campaign May 8, making the formal announcement on the steps of City Hall the next day.

On April 11, Baker supporters registered Seamless Florida, the political committee tied to Baker’s campaign. The committee’s name is a take on one of Baker’s books on governing.

RSVPs for the event are at, by contacting Rick Porter at (407) 849-1112, or with Gretchen Picotte at (407) 849-1112,

Morean Center for Clay is located at 420 22nd St. S. in St. Petersburg.

Tampa restaurants tussle over tagline ‘fresh, healthy, authentic’

B.T. Nguyen

A prolific Tampa restaurateur is accusing a nearby rival of piggybacking off her reputation by using the same tagline of “fresh, healthy, authentic.”

B.T. Nguyen, also known as Bach Tuyet Nguyen, is one of the successful restaurateurs in the Tampa Bay area. In 2015, the 53-year-old native of Vietnam, through her company BTZ LLC, opened “BT to Go,” her seventh restaurant concept.

BT to Go is at 3215 S. MacDill Ave., Suite L in Tampa.

According to a Tampa Bay Times restaurant review, BT to Go’s tagline “fresh, healthy, authentic …  is all those things. A stickler about ingredients: organic tofu, ground grass-fed local beef, Alaskan wild pink salmon. Finished dishes, many of which can be eaten at room temperature or with a quick zap in the microwave, have a wholesome, homemade quality, bright with fresh herbs and nuoc cham.”

Gengiz Khan Turkish Grill is a restaurant that also opened in 2015, moving to its current Tampa location — 3114 Bay to Bay Boulevard — in January 2017. Ergin Tek is its chef and owner.

In 2017, Gengiz Khan’s new location was “approximately two blocks away from BT To Go,” according to a lawsuit filed May 10 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. In addition, Gengiz Kahn  “erected a sign advertising its restaurant as ‘Fresh. Healthy. Authentic.’”

The suit claims that BT to Go has used the “Fresh. Healthy. Authentic” tagline since its opening in November 2015, and is accusing Gengiz Khan of trying to “trick” consumers into thinking the two eateries are affiliated, thereby boosting sales by way of BT’s reputation.

“On information and belief, GK chose to use the mark, ‘Fresh. Healthy. Authentic,” the suit says, “for its restaurant in anticipation that customers of BT To Go would believe that its restaurant is affiliated with BTZ’s restaurant.”

“Fresh. Healthy. Authentic.” has been adopted as the trade name and mark for Nguyen’s business, the complaint continues, and is “recognized as such by consumers” and is “famous” as defined by Florida Statute.

The suit says Gengiz Kahn has refused BT’s demands to stop using the phrase.

BT is asking the court for exclusive use of the tagline.


Heather Fitzenhagen highlights Session wins for Southwest Florida

State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen is offering her Southwest Florida constituents a list achievements of the 2017 Legislative Session, which ended May 8.

During the last two weeks of Session, the Fort Myers Republican said in an email that lawmakers spent a majority of time on House floor debating the state’s “Tax Package” and the upcoming budget, which is now on its way to Gov. Rick Scott for final approval.

“I am proud of the unified approach we took in the Florida House to solve important issues that affect everyday Floridians,” Fitzenhagen writes. “We helped to pass meaningful tax cuts, including an increase in the Homestead Tax Exemption, which is projected to save Floridians about $644.7 million.  Additionally, we protected our beaches and waterways and supported Florida’s future by voting to increase K-12 spending.”

Most importantly for Fitzenhagen, lawmakers fulfilled their constitutional requirement by passing “a balanced $82.4 billion fiscally responsible budget.”

Fitzenhagen then offered a brief glimpse of some of the budget that will directly benefit her House District 78, which covers Fort Myers, parts of Lehigh Acres and Estero.

In the Agriculture, Natural Resource and Transportation budgets, Fort Myers Billy’s Creek Restoration would get $775,000; Good Wheels, Inc. is slated for $225,516 for route scheduling software. The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida would get $400,000, and the Lee Board of County Commissioners UF/IFAS gets $74,319.

The City of Fort Myers Community Violence Reduction Initiative will also get $350,000.

As for higher education, the budget gives Florida Gulf Coast University $15 million for a new classroom and lab building, $1.5 million for a new Honors College and $1 million for new degree programs. FGCU’s WGCU public media station also would receive another $1.8 million for a transmission tower replacement.

Florida Southwestern State College gets $6.3 million For The final phase of renovations to the Lee County campus.

Other budgetary highlights include:

General Government Budget

Centennial Park Playground Equipment Replacement — $228,000
Fort Myers Gulf Coast Multi-Use Trail Feasibility Study — $600,000
McCollum Hall Preservation — $500,000

Health and Human Services Budget

Ft. Myers Salvation Army — $165,000
SalusCare (Lee Mental Health) — $750,000
Saluscare (Reach Institute Behavioral Health Services) — $442,709
Southwest Florida Autism Center    $62,000

Fitzenhagen also praised the budget for returning $1.3 billion to Floridians, which include a tax-cut package of back-to-school sales tax holiday, sales tax exemption for boat trailers for the Edison Sailing Center, a reduction in the business rent tax, among others (HB 7109).

As Chair of the Florida Legislative Women’s Caucus, Fitzenhagen also helped pass a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products.

Fitzenhagen also highlighted a few of the most important bills passed to help Southwest Floridians, including SB 10, the much-heralded bill establishing “options for creating additional water storage” south of Lake Okeechobee.  A priority of Senate President Joe Negron, the bill would allow for the construction of a water storage reservoir south of Lake O, to hold runoff water and help prevent algae blooms in nearby estuaries.

Another success was HJR 7105, which seeks to increase the Florida homestead exemption from nonschool property taxes by $25,000 in assessed value between $100,000 and up to $125,000.

“Voters deserve to decide to implement the extension and give homeowners this tax relief,” Fitzenhagen wrote.

Fitzenhagen also praised the passage of landmark ride-sharing regulation (HB 221), which creates a statewide framework companies like Uber and Lyft, creating a “more competitive and predictable marketplace to ultimately benefit consumers.”

Other bills include the Murder Witness Confidentiality (HB 111), creating a public-records exemption for identifying information about murder witnesses. Fitzenhagen also applauded the Newborn Screen Legislation (SB 1124), designed to ensure “all newborns are screened, tested, and diagnosed as early as possible; providing patients to the earliest access to lifesaving therapies, saving money and lives.”

Tampa Bay Rowdies defeat Toronto FC II on road

The Tampa Bay Rowdies unleashed a three-goal barrage in a span of 14 minutes in the second half to post a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Toronto FC II Friday evening.

Joe Cole, Martin Paterson and Darwin Jones scored goals between the 68th and 82nd minute to lift the Rowdies (6-2-2 (W-T-L), 20 points) into first place in the Eastern Conference for at least one night.

“I thought the players showed tremendous character,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It was a difficult first half for us, but the guys came in, we had a good chat at halftime, went back out and I thought we were absolutely outstanding in the second half. I think we thoroughly deserved the three points”

Toronto FC II’s Luca Uccello put the home team ahead in the 10th minute, besting the offside trap and then beating Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens one-on-one for a 1-0 lead.

It was just the second time this year the Rowdies have conceded the first goal of the match.

In previous matches, playing on the road, on turf and down a goal, the Rowdies may have wilted under the pressure.

Things were different Friday.

Before the first half ended, Tampa Bay began to tilt the field toward Toronto’s goal but couldn’t quite find the equalizer before the break.

In the second half, the Rowdies began to dominate.

Joe Cole pulled Tampa Bay even in the 68th minute, putting home a low cross from Darwin Jones, a goal that had been coming for a while.

Martin Paterson, coming off a midweek goal in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, entered the match in the 79th minute and scored exactly 21 second later, heading home a Neill Collins cross to put the Rowdies ahead.

“I’m delighted,” Paterson said. “(When I came on), I was very confident that we would create chances. I didn’t know if we would win, but I know we would create chances and it was up to us to put them away. If you watched the game, we had the clear-cut chances much more than them.”

Jones put the game out of reach for Toronto (1-3-5, 6 points) with a left-footed shot from outside the box that took a deflection before beating TFC II goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo.

“It feels good because it was a hard-fought game,” Jones said. “I felt from the beginning of the game that we were going to win it. Our second half performance was good.”

The win lifts Tampa Bay into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Charleston Battery, which plays on the road against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday night.

The Rowdies will be back on the road next week to take on the Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday night before returning home to face Saint Louis FC at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 27.

Scoring Summary
Toronto: Luca Uccello – 10th minute (Assisted by Sergio Camargo)
Rowdies: Joe Cole – 68th minute (Assisted by Darwin Jones)
Rowdies: Martin Paterson – 80th minute (Assited by Neill Collins)
Rowdies: Darwin Jones – 82nd minute (Assited by Joe Cole)

Caution Summary
Toronto: Brandon Aubrey – 45th minute
Rowdies: Marcel Schäfer – 59th minute
Toronto: Ben Spencer – 62nd minute
Rowdies: Neill Collins – 63rd minute
Rowdies: Michael Nanchoff – 87th minute

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1):
GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Luke Boden; M Justin Chavez (Michael Nanchoff 24′), Marcel Schäfer; M Darwin Jones, Joe Cole (c) (Martin Vingaard 87′), Georgi Hristov; F Deshorn Brown (Martin Paterson 80′)

Toronto FC II XI (3-5-1): GK Angelo Cavalluzzo; D Mitchell Taintor (C), Brandon Aubrey, Jelani Peters (Jeremy Onkony 46′); M Liam Fraser, Luca Uccello, Sergio Camargo (Brian James 75′), Oyvind Alseth, Ashtone Morgan (Ryan Telfer 61′); F Ben Spencer, Shaan Hundal.

Questions remain over St. Pete Pier’s estimated ‘return on investment’

This week, the City of St. Petersburg issued an economic impact report claiming the new St. Pete Pier — as part of its own district — would create $80 million in annual economic impact.

It would be “a complete return on investment in the first year of operation,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said in a news release.

That bold prediction caught the attention of WTSP’s Noah Pransky, who questioned some of the report’s findings.

To investigate, Pransky spoke with City Development Administrator Alan DeLisle, as well as the study’s author, Paul Lambert. Pransky also called on Victor Matheson, a Holy Cross economist, to review the report.

DeLisle said the $19,300 report was a “common tool” the city uses to make decisions on economic development. He also suggested the conclusions will help “disarm political opponents” of the Pier project, which is set to begin this summer.

Matheson expressed several concerns with the report, particularly with the assumption that the Pier would draw more than 200,000 tourists to add an extra night in Pinellas County.

Tourists are in Florida for sunshine and beaches, Matheson said, and while they may visit the Pier while in town, it’s unreasonable to call that spending “new income.” The money would be spent regardless of the existence of a new Pier.

Matheson also doubted the comparison of St. Pete’s Pier to Chicago’s Navy Pier and the Santa Monica pier.

“Who goes to Chicago just for the Navy Pier?” he asked.

Lambert’s study said the Pier district would create 102,000 new hotel room nights annually, as well as 1,080 full-time jobs throughout Pinellas County.

Many of assumptions were conservative, Lambert added, and the project should produce a major tourist attraction for the Tampa Bay region.

As for projected events at the Pier, questions remain as to whether other entertainment venues would suffer as a result — Tropicana Field, the Mahaffey Theater, Al Lang Stadium and other local concert venues.

Pransky suggests it is skeptical to believe the estimated $80 million economic impact would produce as much as $10 million in taxes annually, part of the claim that the Pier project would pay for itself in its first year.

Lastly, Pransky also questions the timing of the report — after many decisions on the project have already been made — wondering if it was politically motivated as the race for St. Petersburg mayor heats up.

Tom Rask suing Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri over Sunshine Law violations

Tom Rask

Pinellas County political activist and blogger Tom Rask is once again gearing up for battle.

Legality of a controversial post-evacuation re-entry permit program has led the Seminole resident and government watchdog to sue Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for violating public records law.

Rask is the 52-year-old editor of Tampa Bay Guardian, a website “founded on the premise that independent journalism is important for achieving accountability and good government.”

Rask is also well-known locally as a Tea Party activist, as well as a former Republican candidate for Pinellas County Commissioner.

Now, Rask is suing Gualtieri over the program that allows Pinellas County beach residents and business owners to return to the barrier islands after a storm evacuation.

In 2015, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office introduced Emergency Access Permits, a program seeking to prevent “looting and burglary” after a large-scale event – such as a hurricane – that require mandatory evacuation.

According to the Tampa Tribune, the EAP is “a hangtag identification system to allow drivers quick access to the islands after an evacuation.”

Under the EAP program, residents of beach communities would need to obtain and display a permit (provided at no cost) that would hang from the rearview mirror of a resident’s vehicle and be scanned “to verify your residency.” The program covers Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, St. Pete Beach, Tierra Verde and Treasure Island.

“We’re not just going to let anybody in,” Gualtieri told reporters at the time. “We don’t want people out there who don’t belong in the area.”

Rask’s Tampa Bay Guardian published articles questioning the constitutionality of the EAP program.

In the suit filed May 5 in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Gualtieri, who is also an attorney, communicated with the Guardian through several emails insisting, “there is no constitutional issue” with the program.

“The Barrier Island Re-Entry Program is voluntary and nobody is ‘required’ to obtain a permit,” the sheriff said.

Rask filed a public-records request with the PCSO in May 2016, seeking copies of any legal opinion, internal or external, concerning the constitutionality of its EAP program.

The suit claims that a month later, public records clerk Sabrina Creedon replied, saying that records concerning internal or external legal opinions about the EAP program were exempt from disclosure under Florida law.

Rask said that position was “misguided,” threatening legal action – and he is doing just that.

Arguing the requested public records are not exempt under Florida’s disclosure laws, Rask is seeking the release of all such records.

On the day of the filing, the Tampa Bay Guardian published an article about the lawsuit attributing the action to the Guardian, not Rask himself (Rask is listed as the sole plaintiff).

“The Guardian plans to file a series of lawsuits against local government agencies for violations of the Florida public records law and the Florida open meetings law, the so-called ‘Sunshine Law,'” the Guardian piece says. “Citizens’ rights to public records and open meetings which they were given lawful notice of are not simply statutory rights – they are rights enshrined in the Florida Constitution.”

Chris Sprowls looks back on successful legislative session

Now that the 2017 Legislative Session is in the history books (for the most part), Florida lawmakers are beginning to take stock. And Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls is no different.

Sprowls offers his own post-Session review, in an email to supporters highlighting some of his major legislative actions in the House over the past year.

At the top of the list is HB 221, the landmark ride-sharing legislation co-sponsored by Sprowls and recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The measure creates a statewide standard for companies like Uber and Lyft, which Sprowls says “ensures safety, convenience, and consistency.”

“I am proud of this bill because it guarantees that anyone in Florida has access to this convenient transportation option should they choose it, in addition to providing an extra source of income for many Floridians looking to make ends meet.

Inspiring Sprowls to bring the bill were conversations with Floridians “who love driving for rideshare companies,” particularly for its flexibility in work times — perfect for people such as single parents, veterans, college students and others.

HB 221 opens the market for ride-sharing jobs, as well as offering a “convenient mode of transportation for Floridians and vacationers alike.”

Most notably, this bill can be a template for ride-sharing bills across the country, Sprowls says.

Another legislative success were reforms to Florida’s death penalty statute, ensuring the state has a “working death penalty law.”

In October 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional — throwing the process into legal ambiguity, putting capital cases in a state of limbo.

Sprowls, a former state attorney, saw this legal instability as a disservice to all involved. HB 527 fixed the state death penalty statute, bringing the law in-line with Constitutional requirements.

Sprowls also introduced legislation to honor Officer Charles Kondek, killed December 2014 in the line of duty.

“Officer Kondek had a decades-long career serving our community,” Sprowls writes, “and it is only fitting that we rename a portion of Alternate 19 so that we always remember his service, sacrifice and legacy.”

The “Officer Charles ‘Charlie K’ Kondek Jr. Memorial Highway” is at U.S. 19A/S.R 595 between Tarpon Avenue and the Pasco County line in Pinellas County.

Sprowls was also among the lawmakers sponsoring a formal apology to the Groveland Four from the 1940s, as well as to the Dozier Boys who suffered torture and abuse at the Dozier School for Boys.

“It was an honor to have the families of the Groveland Four, and the remaining survivors of the Dozier School in Tallahassee a few weeks ago to hear their stories and witness the closure they have so long awaited,” Sprowls writes.

Other victories for Sprowls in the 2017 Session were in ethics and government spending reforms, including passage of sweeping ethics changes and a lobbying ban that is the strictest in the country.

Similarly, Sprowls takes sides in the fight over incentive program funding, touting his support for a state budget which puts an end to “state-funded corporate welfare.”

“Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers,” he writes, “and Enterprise Florida was using your tax dollars to subsidize the operations of large businesses.”

Sprowls, who is in line to be House Speaker in 2020-22, notes that Enterprise Florida has seen a $1.2 million increase in payroll without showing similar gains in job creation.

While Enterprise Florida was intended to be a public-private partnership, Sprowls says that it is indeed funded 90 percent by taxpayers.

“We as a Legislature are tasked with ensuring your hard-earned money is spent wisely and efficiently,” he writes. “Enterprise Florida’s use of your tax dollars was neither.”

Senate Democrats could help block budget veto override — with caveats

Senate Democrats are ready to work with Gov. Rick Scott should he veto the massive education reform bill pushed by House leaders in the final days of the 2017 Session.

Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reports that Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon is prepared to help prevent an override of Scott’s veto, under the right circumstances.

A chorus of voices are calling Scott to veto HB 7069 — as well as the entire K-12 budget.

If that happens, the 15-member Senate Democratic caucus will be crucial to preventing the Republican-controlled Legislature from overriding a veto.

“We have to have a reason to override,” Braynon told the Herald about his Democratic colleagues. “It would depend on what the veto message looks like and if his vetoes include a bunch of things that matter to Democrats, then we’re not going to override. We’re willing to come back and work.”

Twenty-Six Senate votes are needed to override the governor’s veto, and as Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala publicly saying he would support a veto — and the three Republican senators who voted against HB 7069 — Senate Democrats could very well prevent an override if the voting bloc holds firm.

“We’re not against funding VISIT Florida,” Braynon said. “If the Republicans ask for an override of 7069, we’re not going to do it. If they want an override of the whole budget, we will withhold our judgment on overriding until we see what happens.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons