Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.
DOWN GOES TED CRUZ
Donald Trump said he couldn’t believe it, and really, who can?
The New York City real estate magnate became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday night, smashing Ted Cruz by over 15 percentage points in Indiana (with 80 percent of the vote in), prompting Cruz to drop out of the race.
Speaking from Trump tower in midtown Manhattan, Trump becomes the first nominee for the GOP who never ran for office before this election cycle since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.
In a relatively humble speech, Trump refrained from lashing out too much, though he did throw some barbs at his likely Democratic party opponent Hillary Clinton. He was uncharacteristically ungracious towards Cruz.
“Just so you understand, Ted Cruz, I don’t know if he likes me or doesn’t like me, but he is one hell of a competitor,” Trump said. “He is a tough, smart guy–and he has got an amazing future. He’s got an amazing future, so I want to congratulate Ted.
“I know how tough it is, it’s tough,” he continued. “I’ve had some moments where it was not looking so good and it’s not a great feeling and so I understand how Ted feels and Heidi and their whole beautiful family.”
Trump spoke approximately a half hour after Cruz announced to the world that his run for the presidency was over.
“From the beginning I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz said, with his wife Heidi by his side. “Tonight I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.”
“With a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”
It was a rough day for Cruz, a rough week, and a rough few weeks, as Indiana was the seventh consecutive election in the presidential cycle.
Cruz’ desperation became evident in the past week, making a “deal” with John Kasich and naming Carly Fiorina his vice-presidential nominee.
Cruz never said the words “Donald” or “Trump,” much less say anything about whether he would back him in the general election in his concession speech.
Trump is not the last man standing, however.
Kasich is staying in the Republican race despite losing Indiana, according to a campaign memo sent out Tuesday night.
“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,”read the memo from Kasich chief strategist John Weaver. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”
Kasich has only won one contest, his home state of Ohio. He is currently in fourth place in the delegate race, even though only two candidates are still seeking the nomination. Marco Rubio, who left the race in March, still has more delegates than Kasich.
Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders upset Clinton, keeping his movement new life as Clinton slowly continues to move closer to the nomination. With 80 percent of the vote in, Sanders was leading Clinton by more than six percentage points.
It doesn’t change the delegate math much, however, with Clinton still in a solid position to take the nomination.
Clinton certainly didn’t put much of an effort into the Hoosier State . While Sanders devoted three days to campaigning in Indiana and spent more than $1 million on ads, Clinton ran no ads and spent only one day in the state.
“For the past several weeks, the corporate media has counted us out of this election,” Sanders said in a fundraising email late Tuesday night. “The political and financial establishment of this country have been vocal in their desire for us to go away. To get in line. Today, the voters had another idea.”
The next Republican presidential contests will occur on May 10, when the Nebraska primary will award 36 delegates, and the West Virginia primary will award 34.
The next major Democratic primary occurs the same day, when West Virginia will award 37 delegates.
FLORIDA GOP REAX: “The Florida GOP would like to thank Senator Cruz for his spirited effort during the Presidential primary and keeping the focus where it should be…on the Constitution. We look forward to him continuing to defend that cherished document, as well as our freedoms, in the U.S. Senate”
— @DavidRutz: Best, deepest Republican field in recent memory….wiped out one-by-one by the host of Celebrity Apprentice.
— @PoliticoKevin: So Carly Fiorina joined the campaign just in time to lay everyone off?
— @TheRickWilson: On the upside, I don’t have to defend Ted Fucking Cruz any longer.
— @MacStipanovich: No. Not one vote from me or my kin, and not one dollar that might help elect Trump. #NeverTrump.
JOHN KASICH NOT QUITTING via POLITICO – Kasich is staying in the Republican race despite losing Indiana, according to a campaign memo sent out Tuesday night. “Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans,”read the memo from Kasich chief strategist John Weaver. “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.” The memo even claimed a victory of sorts, saying Kasich has secured Indiana delegates who will support the Ohio governor at “a multi-ballot convention.”
NUMBER OF THE DAY: 18. That’s Marco Rubio‘s delegate lead on Kasich. H/t Henry Jackson.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path.” – Cruz
DONALD TRUMP FAR BEHIND IN PREPARING FOR GENERAL ELECTION via Steve Peoples and Jill Colvin of the Associated Press – Trump has so far ignored vital preparations … has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He’s sent few people to battleground states compared with … Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign. … The billionaire’s aides [said] they’ll tap into the resources of the party’s establishment – the [RNC], above all … That’s even as he rails daily against his party’s establishment as corrupt. “Our ability to run a different type of campaign against Hillary Clinton in a general election is unique to the success that … Trump has shown in the primaries,” said Corey Lewandowski.
IS TRUMP FOR REAL ABOUT RICK SCOTT AS VICE PRESIDENT? via Michael Mayo of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Trump, headed toward the Republican nomination with the highest unfavorable ratings ever seen among a major presidential candidate at 65 percent, has mentioned Scott as a possible vice president. This would be like tuberculosis picking leprosy as a running mate. Scott is one of the least popular sitting governors, scoring 48 percent unfavorable (and 38 percent favorable) in a recent poll. Scott has won two terms, but failed to capture more than 50 percent of the vote in each election. In a weird way, the polarizing Trump might view that as a positive. His counterintuitive campaign doesn’t seem concerned with winning any popularity contests. He keeps bulldozing his way to the general election with all the subtlety of a stink bomb in a perfume shop. Trump said he wants someone who can help with legislation and who is “well-respected” on Capitol Hill. That would make Scott a curious choice, because Scott hasn’t gotten along with his own Republican-dominated Legislature, has often failed to get major agenda items through Tallahassee and doesn’t have any D.C. experience.
MARCO RUBIO AS TRUMP’S VP? SOME CAN DREAM via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Trump’s blockbuster night in Indiana got the political class buzzing about a running mate, and Rubio was frequently named. Yes, the former candidate who made small penis jokes about Trump and was tagged by Trump as “Little Marco.” The Rubio who has declared, “I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president.” The Rubio who always keeps an eye on the future and is widely assumed to be pondering another run for president. Rubio also appears to have clout in the #NeverTrump crowd, though he personally did not join the movement.
But that didn’t stop the chatter Tuesday night on Fox News, social media and among political writers. There wasn’t much to go on but Rubio, who never endorsed Ted Cruz, had seemed to warm to Trump — or at least the idea Trump would be the nominee — and would be an attractive VP pick, given his Hispanic background and foreign policy knowledge. “I have no intention of being vice president,” Rubio said recently on Univison. “I have said it clearly. And I’m always looking for a way to serve the nation, but I don’t believe that it will be as vice president and I’m really not seeking it, I’m not requesting it and it won’t happen.”
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DOWN GOES THE TAMPA TRIBUNE
TAMPA BAY TIMES PURCHASES TAMPA TRIBUNE via Susan Taylor Martin and Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s largest newspaper … purchased the Tampa Tribune from Revolution Capital Group, saying it intends to create one financially secure, locally owned daily newspaper in the Tampa Bay region. Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash announced the purchase at the Tribune headquarters in downtown Tampa … Starting Wednesday, Tribune subscribers will receive the Tampa Bay Times at their homes. The Times also will be available in retail locations where readers purchased the Tribune. The Times said it will carry all the advertising scheduled for both papers and honor all Tribune subscriptions and advertising contracts … The Times has news and advertising operations in downtown Tampa and Riverview and has produced a distinct Tampa edition of the newspaper since expanding into Tampa in 1987. Because the papers have duplicate operations in most areas, Tash said there would be job losses at the Tribune. He did not specify a number but said it was likely to be at least 100. The current full-time staff is about 265. Tribune staffers who are not retained by the Times will continue to be paid for 60 days. “Whatever is the number of jobs that is lost now pales in comparison to the number of jobs that have been lost already in newspaper publishing generally, because of the economic pressures that have been upon us,” Tash said. “It’s also smaller than the number of jobs that would be lost if this kind of unstable situation had continued … these are newspaper people. We take no pleasure in any hardship that is upon them now, and we will be as supportive as possible during this transition for them. I know it’s an anxious time.”
FLASHBACK TO MY “5 BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR 2016” COLUMN: “One of the major Florida newspapers will cease daily publication in 2016. There are just too many cars on the street for the horse-and-buggy to remain in existence. Just as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune cut staff and went to putting out a hard-copy three days a week, so will one of the Sunshine State’s daily newspapers, many of which are still struggling to adjust to a digital environment. Which newspaper will make the change? It’s hard to say, although it’s a wonder how the Tampa Bay market supports two major dailies.”
FORMER WORKERS, LOCAL LEADERS REFLECT ON TAMPA TRIBUNE AFTER ITS SHUTDOWN via Bruce Ritchie and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Gil Thelen, former publisher and president of The Tampa Tribune, hadn’t heard the news Tuesday that his old newspaper had been shut down, bought out by the rival Tampa Bay Times. “Wow,” he said. “I will react on a gut level — it’s dreadful to see the Tribune go. It’s been a stalwart in the Tampa community for over 100 years. For it to be gone is just hard to fathom.” “Sad to hear that the Tribune has been bought by the Times,” tweeted Rep. Dana Young, a Republican from Tampa. “The Trib is such a long-time part of Tampa history.”
— “History notes the scrap, heart and camaraderie of the Tampa Tribune” via Patty Ryan of the Tampa Bay Times
THE LOSS OF THE TAMPA TRIBUNE IS DIFFICULT FOR A FORMER RIVAL via Gary Shelton of Florida Politics – No one will find joy in the death of the Tampa Tribune. Those were good people fighting the good fight for their readership. Yes, I’m a longtime Times guy, but my heart goes out to the other side today. Those were people with children, too. Those were people who cared about their product, too. No one should be hard-hearted enough not to feel for those who worked for the Tribune. There is a sadness to the death of a newspaper that trumps even victory. I grew up in newspapers. I spent 25 years at the Times. I still have my first column sig in what is called hot type. Today, I think about Martin Fennelly, the fine sports columnist for the Trib. I think of Roy Cummings and Ira Kaufman and Roger Mooney and Eric Erlandsson and the rest of them. I think of Joe Henderson, the former sports writer now turned local columnist. Of Tom Jackson. Of Joanne Korth. Of Joey Johnson. Oh, I have loads of friends at the Times, too, and I hope this means they are somewhat more secure in their jobs than they were. It isn’t an easy time. But when you look at your doorstep today, a doorstep that may be emptier than yesterday, lift your cup for a newspaper that died young. Walk proudly, guys.
TWEET, TWEET: @StPetePolls: One thing for sure with @TB_Times absorbing @TBOcom is that @SaintPetersblog just became A LOT more important to #TampaBay as a news source.
TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: I remember 20 years ago when I was hungry for a job and the Tampa Tribune editor was a jerk to & didn’t hire me. Well, I’m still reporting
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AUGUSTUS SOL INVICTUS SAYS HIS U.S. SENATE CAMPAIGN HOUNDED BY ANTI-FASCISTS THREATENING VIOLENCE, FBI via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Florida’s wannabe Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate claims he is being pursued by anti-fascist groups targeting him for violence, while the FBI is also after him for possible prosecution. Yet he continues to actively campaign, giving fiery speeches both in Florida and elsewhere when he is invited, from Vancouver and Washington to Chicago. Invictus began a Florida speaking tour in Orlando Monday night in front of a tiny audience, perhaps no more than a dozen people not including his family. He also has scheduled speeches or candidate meet-and-greets in the next few days in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Gainesville, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Miami. And he is doing so partly in secrecy, only revealing the locations of his speeches at the last hour, to vetted invitees, because he says he fears violence from anti-fascist groups at his appearances. He claims he has received death threats, and alleges that after an informal meet-and-greet in a Portland, Oregon bar in March, one of his supporters was jumped by a mob waiting outside and struck with a two-by-four as Invictus waited for a police escort to get out of the bar. He also claimed during his Orlando speech that one of his campaign volunteers left and confessed, via text to him, that he had been secretly gathering information on Invictus for an FBI file, possibly for a racketeering prosecution. All of it feeds into the image Invictus fosters as the self-described “most dangerous Libertarian in America” — someone martyred by both liberals and the media. Some of it may be real.
ADAM HASNER URGES FLORIDIANS TO BACK CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA IN SENATE RACE via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In an email to supporters … the former House Majority Leader said keeping a majority in the U.S. Senate is “just as important” as the presidential preference primaries and that the race is “too important to ignore.” “My good friend Carlos Lopez-Cantera is the only candidate who has the ability to win in the primary as well as the general and help us keep this seat in Republican control,” said Hasner in the email. “And I hope you will join me in supporting him.”
U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Republican Carlos Beruff will be in Sarasota. Lopez-Cantera will be in Bonita Springs. Republican Todd Wilcox will be in Manatee County.
JORGE LABARGA, OTHER JUDGES QUALIFY FOR MERIT-RETENTION ELECTION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Labarga and a raft of other appellate judges have already qualified to run for this year’s merit-retention election. 1st District Court of Appeal (Tallahassee): Ross Bilbrey, Susan Kelsey, Lori S. Rowe, Kent Wetherell, Bo Winokur, Jim Wolf. 2nd District Court of Appeal (Lakeland):John Badalamenti, Marva L. Crenshaw, Nelly N. Khouzam, Matt Lucas, Robert Morris, Stevan Travis Northcutt, Samuel Salario Jr., Craig C. Villanti, Douglas Alan Wallace. 3rd District Court of Appeal (Miami): Edwin A. Scales, Linda Ann Wells. 4th District Court of Appeal (West Palm Beach): Cory J. Ciklin, Dorian K. Damoorgian, Jonathan D. Gerber, Robert Marc Gross, Spencer D. Levine, Melanie G. May. 5th District Court of Appeal (Daytona Beach): Jay Cohen, James A. Edwards, Brian Lambert, Vincent G. Torpy Jr. Qualifying for state offices began noon Monday and will continue until noon Friday.
LAKE RAY TO RUN FOR CONGRESS, CHALLENGES FORMER SHERIFF IN GOP PRIMARY via The Florida Times-Union – After U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw’s abrupt announcement last month that he would not seek re-election, Ray, a civil engineer whose time in Tallahassee was marked by a strong interest in logistics and manufacturing issues, immediately expressed interest in the seat. He is vacating his state House seat because of term limits. Ray announced his candidacy through a live-feed video on his Facebook page. As he prepares to face off against an opponent who has the capability of raising big money, Ray is counting on his long history as an elected Jacksonville official to carry the day with voters. He is the president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association and the chairman of the Duval County Republican Party.
WITH ERIC LYNN OUT, CONGRESSIONAL PATH OFFICIALLY CLEARED FOR CHARLIE CRIST via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – After… Crist, a former governor and powerhouse in the party, announced he was running for an open Pinellas County congressional seat, it was largely expected his path to Washington would be cleared of any real primary challenge. On Tuesday, that’s what he got. After taking several weeks to try and figure out a new plan, Democrat Eric Lynn announced he is getting out of the race to run in a Democratic primary for state House.
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DENNIS BAXLEY TO POST ANOTHER SIX-FIGURE HAUL IN SD 12 FOR APRIL, CAMPAIGN SAYS via Florida Politics – “We are very grateful for the tremendous support that we are receiving,” Baxley said. “I can’t wait to keep fighting in Tallahassee for our conservative values of freedom, family, and faith, and I look forward to getting that message out to more and more voters across District 12.” Baxley’s campaign said it brought in more than $173,000 in April, and that an additional $30,000 or so had been raised by his committee, Floridians for a Strong Economy.
— “Jackie Toledo receives enough signatures to qualify in HD 60” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics
— “Bob Graham endorses Ben Diamond for Florida House” via Florida Politics
NICK DURAN ANNOUNCES OVER $60K IN 1ST MONTH OF HD 112 CAMPAIGN via Florida Politics – … putting him ahead of the other four candidates in the race. Duran’s campaign said it brought in $60,786 during April, and barring significant expenditures that figure should put him in front of the previous money leader, Republican Michael Davey, and the other three candidates in the race. The April numbers should make Duran, the director of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the de facto frontrunner in the Democratic Primary race as neither of his primary challengers is especially popular within the Miami-Dade County district.
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FLORIDA ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE via FloridaHealth.gov – As of Tuesday, three new travel-related cases were reported; one in Miami-Dade County, one in Palm Beach County and one involving a pregnant woman. Of all the cases in Florida, three people are still exhibiting symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the Zika virus last between seven to 10 days. There are now 102 total cases in Florida: Miami-Dade (40), Broward (15), Palm Beach (7), Orange (6), Alachua (4), Lee (4), Osceola (4), Hillsborough (3), Polk (3), Brevard (2) and a single case each in Clay, Collier, Santa Rosa, Seminole and St. John’s and seven cases involving pregnant women. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant are strongly suggested to postpone travel to Zika affected areas. If you have been to a country with local transmission of Zika, you should abstain from unprotected sex. Florida residents and visitors should protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing, and covering windows with screens. Florida currently has the capacity to test 6,552 people for active Zika virus and 1,276 for Zika antibodies. Zika illness is generally mild with a rash, fever, and joint pain. CDC researchers have concluded that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other birth defects. The FDA released guidance regarding donor screening, referral and product management to reduce the risk of transfusion transmission of Zika virus. Additional information is available on the FDA website.
ADAM PUTNAM PREPARES STATE LAB FOR ZIKA VIRUS TESTING – The Commissioner of Agriculture on Tuesday said the state’s Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory is now prepared to test mosquitoes for Zika. “Florida leads the nation in the number of travel-related cases of Zika, and our climate makes us a hotbed for mosquitoes,” he said. “Protecting Floridians and visitors from Zika requires widespread coordination and engagement at every level. As we continue to support the Florida Department of Health and local mosquito control programs, we will make every weapon in the arsenal available in this fight.” The news came on the same day that the Department of Health confirmed three more travel-related Zika cases. That brings the total to 102 cases in Florida. Of Tuesday’s new cases, one was in Miami-Dade County, one was in Palm Beach County and another involved a pregnant woman. Researchers with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Zika causes microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is deformed, and other birth defects. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.
PATRICK MURPHY CALLS FOR EMERGENCY FUNDING TO COMBAT ZIKA AS FLORIDA REACHES 100 CASES – With the number of reported Zika cases in Florida now over 100, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy doubled down on his call for Congress to act to combat this virus. Murphy is a co-sponsor of H.R. 5044 … to provide $1.9 billion in emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus. This new legislation reflects the president’s request to Congress earlier this year, which Murphy strongly supported. In addition to cosponsoring H.R. 5044, Murphy also supported the Adding Zika Virus to the Food and Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher Program Act that recently passed the House. Additionally, Murphy joined fellow Florida Congressman Curt Clawson to introduce a legislative package that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases. Most recently, Murphy visited Scripps Florida to meet with their Zika research team and met with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent the virus. efforts to prevent the virus.
CONTROLLING ZIKA MOSQUITOES MAY BE ‘LOST CAUSE’ via Liz Szabo of USA TODAY – With the prospect of Zika spreading the continental U.S. this summer, experts say the country must map exactly where the species lives and urgently rethink its standard operating procedures for controlling mosquitoes. Protecting Americans from Zika virus is critical. The virus causes devastating birth defects and is strongly linked to a variety of serious neurological conditions, including a form of paralysis called Guillain-Barre syndrome. “There is no good method for killing these mosquitoes that’s being used on a widespread basis,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. Recent efforts to kill the Aedes aegypti, which also transmits the viral diseases dengue and chikungunya, “don’t give us much reason for optimism,” said Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “In the near term, it’s a lost cause.”
JUDGE: NURSERY MAY BE ABLE TO PURSUE MEDICAL POT LICENSE UNDER NEW LAW via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – An administrative court judge is leaving open the possibility that a third nursery in Northeast Florida can receive a license to grow and dispense medical marijuana. In an order Judge R. Bruce McKibben said Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses cannot challenge the licenses given to Chestnut Hill Tree Farm and San Felasco Nurseries. However, McKibben said the Jacksonville nursery can pursue approval of its own application under a new state law. The new law allows dispensing organization to grow full-strength medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. Those dispensing organizations are also expected to be responsible for the products if a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for other medicinal purposes passes in November. Thus far, San Felasco is the only nursery to win its challenge. In February, McKibben ruled the Department of Health wrongly disqualified San Felasco … In his order Monday, McKibben said that a “clear reading of the new law is that both Chesnut and San Felasco have now been approved as dispensing organizations” in the Northeast region. McKibben goes on to say that both organizations’ licenses have been “approved without further review.” “Loop’s now finds itself in the position of being unable to challenge the approvals of Chestnut and San Felasco as dispensing organizations in the Northeast region,” wrote McKibben in his order.
AMID LAWSUITS OVER INMATE PROGRAM CLOSURE, BROWARD SHERIFF FIRES BACK AT STATE OFFICIAL via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Inmates are suing Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones, who blames the Broward Sheriff’s Office, while Sheriff Scott Israel says he’s “really disgusted.” That’s the tangled web that arose as Broward Bridge inmates sued to stop the Department of Corrections from shutting down the prisoner re-entry program in Pompano Beach. Jones called the Sheriff’s Office’s decision in February to stop transferring prisoners for the Department of Corrections a danger to public safety. “This action, or rather inaction, has resulted in a serious public safety issue which further motivates the Department to resolve the issues surrounding the current location of our probation offices,” Jones said in a statement. Israel fired back: “I make every decision in the best interest of public safety … I’m really disgusted by her comment that we are not doing things in the interest of public safety.” Israel argues that, quite the opposite, it was deputies spending so much time on prisoner transfers that was the real public safety issue. “I cannot continue year after year, month after month, day after day to strip the city of Lauderdale Lakes by having them transport for DOC. That’s abundantly unfair and unsafe for that city,” Israel said.
STATE RECEIVES JUST ONE LETTER SUPPORTING RETREAT FROM ANTI-DISCRIMINATION RULES FOR LGBT FOSTER CHILDREN via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – When the state first proposed to backtrack from new rules banning discrimination and controversial conversion therapies for LGBT foster children in group homes, the response from Florida’s gay rights groups was loud. The result: More than 50 people appeared at a public hearing to protest the change, and 700 submitted a written comment to the Department of Children and Families opposing it. Equality Florida sent more than 500 form letters on behalf of people — so many emails with the exact same message that they got caught in DCF’s spam filter. And 10 Democratic members of Congress weighed in, as well. DCF officials received just one letter backing their proposed action. “We are very much interested in becoming foster parents in a few years when our children are a bit older, but would find it very disconcerting to have to worry about possibly being accused of bullying a foster child simply by practicing our faith!!” wrote Michael and Marysol McDonald of Naples. “Thank you for listening to us and doing something very reasonable, i.e., changing unreasonable and totally unnecessary language used by DCF.”
LISA EDGAR WILL NOT SEEK 4TH TERM ON PSC via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Edgar announced that she’s not seeking a fourth term on the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities. The deadline to apply for her seat on the commission was 5 p.m. Tuesday. “For the past 12 years, I’ve been honored and humbled to work on complex regulatory issues, finding ways to accomplish what’s best for the public good,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to applying my regulatory and governmental experience as I pursue new endeavors and other career opportunities.” Edgar, 52, said she will serve until the end of her current four-year term next Jan. 1. She did not say what her next move would be.
— “Jeffrey Bragg, unsuccessful applicant for insurance commish, applies for PSC post” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald
TAMPA HOUSE REPUBLICANS NOT BULLISH ON INCENTIVES IN 2017 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I don’t see much opportunity in next two years for the funds,” opined outgoing Pasco County GOP state Senator John Legg. “Looking at the political structure of where people are dug in on the issue. I think there is some common ground that can be reached on restructuring tax cuts and other incentives, but, to be direct, I would say that the $250 million that guv requested, the House money is not going to be getting into the Legislature in the next two years I would venture to say.” That’s probably a safe assumption, as Land O’Lakes Appropriations Chair Rep. Richard Corcoran will become Speaker of the House in 2017. Corcoran has used the Americans for Prosperity approved phrase “corporate welfare” in deriding Scott’s intentions on using cuts cash and tax breaks in return for jobs. “I’m one who thinks that’s OK when we’re talking about several hundred million dollars’ worth of taxpayer money,” said Safety Harbor Republican House member Chris Sprowls about the failure of the Legislature to support Scott’s goal.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: “Connected Futures from Alaska to Florida,” Florida Atlantic University’s third Sea-level Rise Summit, takes place today through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, 2301 SE 17th St., in Fort Lauderdale. The summit will bring together sustainability professionals from the private sector — including insurance companies, realtors, architects and developers — who will join leading scientists, decision-makers and members of the public sector.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY LEGALIZES UBER, RIDE SHARING SERVICES via Liane Morejon and Victor Oquendo of WPLG Miami – The county commission passed a bill legalizing Uber, Lyft and other similar services with a 9 to 2 decision… Over the past two years [they] have operated illegally in Miami-Dade County. It’s a plan that Mayor Carlos Gimenez supports. Yep, I’m in favor of legalizing Uber and Lyft with some regulations,” he said before the vote. “But I want also to put cabs and Uber on a level playing field.”
FSU STUDENT REPS: NO HEADDRESSES AT SEMINOLES GAMES via the Associated Press – Florida State University’s student government has passed a resolution discouraging Seminoles fans from wearing Native American headdresses at games. The Student Government Association approved the nonbinding, formal opinion by a 27-4 vote on April 20 asking the university’s administration to consider adding the wearing of headdresses as a violation of the student code of conduct. The SGA said it passed the resolution because many of the headdresses worn at athletic events are representative of other tribes, in particular Plains tribes like the Sioux, and not the Seminoles. Part of the resolution reads that the Senate “does not condone the wearing of headdresses because it inaccurately depicts the culture of the Seminole Tribe.”
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU ON THIS STAR WARS DAY via Megan McCluskey of Time magazine – Every year May 4, Star Wars fans everywhere celebrate the franchise by wishing each other a galaxy far, far away-themed greeting: “May the fourth be with you.” A play on the phrase, “May the Force be with you,” the saying has sparked an unofficial holiday known as Star Wars Day that has become an annual occasion for people to celebrate their love for the saga. While every May 4 is a special one, the recent release of The Force Awakens and anticipation for the upcoming Episode VIII and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promise to make this year’s day particularly exciting. Star Wars: Force for Change, the series’ official charity organization, is returning to Disney Parks … meaning fans will be able to purchase Rogue One shirts — the first products released for the new movie — to benefit UNICEF Kid Power. In addition, the makers of Star Wars: Battlefront — a popular video game based on the films — are offering a free four-hour trial of the game … And, as always, those who are just looking for a laugh can follow #StarWarsDay on Twitter for a live stream of all the May 4th puns and memes that are being tweeted throughout the day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend Dave Aronberg (why not him for governor in 2018?) and Candice Ericks.