Staff Reports - 2/43 - SaintPetersBlog

Staff Reports

Personnel note: AT&T names Dan Pollock Regional Director of External Affairs

Dan Pollock joins AT&T as regional director of External Affairs for Central Florida.

In his new role, Pollock will work closely with leaders in Orange, Brevard, Seminole, Lake, Sumter and Marion counties on AT&T legislative and community efforts. He will be based in Orlando.

“Dan’s addition to our team is a big win for AT&T,” said Joe York, AT&T Florida president. “His proven track record in public affairs will help AT&T promote a business-friendly environment in Florida.”

Before joining AT&T, Pollock was president of Pollock & Associates, a Florida public affairs firm. His previous experience includes: Co-founder of TargetVote.com, executive director of the Florida Greyhound Tracks Association and chief Senate aide to former Sen. Tom Rossin.

Pollock is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, receiving a bachelor’s in political science. He is a volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida. Pollock has also donated time to the Chillum Adelphi Volunteer Fire Department and the Orlando Citizens Police Review Board.

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St. Pete City Council approves ordinance language and schedules March 2 public hearing ahead of Al Lang Stadium referendum

St. Petersburg City Council approved today ordinance language in the first step towards scheduling a May 2 referendum, which would allow residents of St. Petersburg to vote on giving City Council the authority to negotiate a long-term use agreement for Al Lang Stadium.

The use agreement, which can’t exceed 25 years, would allow Al Lang Stadium’s primary purpose to be the home field for a potential Major League Soccer team.

City Council also announced today, that they have set the public hearing date for Thursday, March 2, where St. Petersburg residents and business owners are invited to weigh in on the ordinance before Council votes on scheduling the May 2 special election.

Rowdies owner Bill Edwards will cover the entire cost of the May 2 election.

In a release, the Tampa Bay Rowdies said it appreciates St. Petersburg City Council for scheduling the Public Hearing and allowing the club to continue its aspirations of bringing another major league sports team to the city.

 

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House Speaker: ‘Zero’ chance Bucs get state money for stadium

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shouldn’t hold their breath for any state subsidy to renovate Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran told WTSP’s Noah Pransky in an interview there was “zero” chance his chamber will fund the pro football team’s $10 million subsidy request – and didn’t think the Senate would go along either.

The Bucs “applied under a statutory scheme put in place” that may be eliminated, he said. The team is the only professional team seeking money from the state this year.

Sen. Tom Lee, a Tampa Bay-area Republican, last month filed legislation to do away with a 2014 state program to provide revenue toward constructing or improving professional sports franchise facilities.

“The Sports Development Program was ill-conceived,” he said. “Professional teams are vying for taxpayer funds to pay for largely superficial facility upgrades, many of which are already in progress or completed. History has shown that team owners will make these investments without hardworking families having to foot the bill.”

Corcoran, an enemy of what he calls “corporate welfare,” agrees. This year, he’s looking to eliminate the public-private Enterprise Florida economic development organization and VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

“We shouldn’t be building stadiums or subsidizing billionaire owners of professional sports franchises,” he said. “It’s a multibillion-dollar industry. That’s just insane.”

The $10 million asked for Raymond James Stadium breaks down to $1 million a year for at least 10 years. And that’s just a fraction of the projected total costs for the renovations, pegged at a minimum of $120 million.

“We have an education system that needs improvement,” said Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican. “We have seniors who need a greater safety net. We have law enforcement and its needs. Those are the things we should be engaged in.

“Or just returning (money) back to taxpayers,” Corcoran added. “…Giving subsidies to billionaires and picking winners and losers is horrible public policy.”

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Marco Rubio to chair commission on China

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced Wednesday that he has been appointed chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and legal issues in China and submit an annual report to the president and Congress.

Rubio previously served as chair of the 23-member body, which includes nine senators, nine representatives and five senior administration officials appointed by the president.

“I am honored to continue leading the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and I remain committed to exposing the brutality of the Chinese government and the heroic efforts of brave Chinese dissidents,” Rubio said in a news release.

Rubio said the CECC’s political prisoner database contains more than 1,400 active cases of political and religious prisoners and that “the commission will shine a bright light on these abuses and press the Chinese government to change its behavior.”

Also Wednesday, the second-term Florida senator joined Sens. Bob Menendez, Lisa Murkowski and Amy Klobuchar in reintroducing a bill to create a national registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer

“Firefighters put their lives on the line each and every time they are called on to protect civilians from dangerous fires, making them susceptible to multiple health complications, including cancer,” the Miami Republican said. “I am proud to support a bill that aims to prevent and protect firefighters from deadly diseases.”

The registry, which failed to pass through the last Congress, would create a database of information submitted by health care providers on cancer incidence rates among firefighters and make that de-identified information available to researchers developing safeguards and safety protocols for firefighters.

In addition to the four senators announcing their support for the bill Wednesday, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Steve Daines and John McCain, as well as Democrats Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Jon Tester.

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Phillips Development and Realty closes on $70M Skyway Marina project

Phillips Development and Realty, LLC (PDR), a Tampa-based development firm, has officially closed Wednesday on over 9 acres of prime real estate in St. Petersburg’s Skyway Marina District.

The proposed 300+ unit multi-family, mixed-use development will be the first of its kind in this area.

The land, once owned by The Home Depot, has sat empty for years. Its potential is what has drawn Donald Phillips, managing director of PDR, to this land. “It is areas like this that we focus on. The Skyway Marina District is screaming for retail, luxury

“It is areas like this that we focus on. The Skyway Marina District is screaming for retail, luxury living and involvement from the St. Petersburg art scene” said Phillips. PDR will include a vibrant mural to mark the entrance to the District facing neighboring I-275.

PDR will include a mural to mark the entrance to the District facing neighboring I-275.

Local elected officials and neighboring homeowner associations (HOAs) have greeted Phillips’ $70m project with strong support.

State Sen. Darryl Rouson wrote in a letter to the community: “Mr. Phillips’ company is known to be a provider of achievable rental housing that is built with quality and consideration for the community at large.”

Rouson feels strongly that this project will bring great things to the area and spark a growth it deserves. The Senator reaffirmed his support of the development, emphasizing the “… overwhelming support for this project at all levels of the community.”

During the planning stages, Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote in a letter to PDR pledging the City’s “complete support of the proposed project by Phillips Development in the Skyway Marina District.”

As PDR’s team worked with the District’s planning committee, Kriseman stated: “The City has agreed to provide $1 million in public improvements adjacent to the site to directly enhance this project, recognizing that Phillips Development is the first developer to propose a major development in the District. This commitment is in addition to the $1.6 million expended or budgeted for public improvements that include gateway signage, landscaping, pedestrian lighting and banners, and bus shelters within the Skyway Marina District.”

PDR plans to construct more than 13,000 square feet of restaurant/retail space along with the area’s first “lazy river” and beach-style dining.

The proposed plan also includes close to 100,000 square feet of attractive, Class-A climate controlled storage space with the partnership of Jernigan Capital of Memphis, Tennessee.

The property is located at the southeast corner of US 19 and 30th Avenue South.

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Personnel note: John Kennedy now with FLORIDA Channel

More evidence that you can’t keep a good man down: Former Palm Beach Post capital correspondent John Kennedy is now The FLORIDA Channel‘s newest on-air reporter.

Kennedy (via Facebook)

“We are very pleased that John’s solid, well-tested reporting skills will continue to help Floridians understand the workings of state government and the decisions made in Tallahassee,” Beth Switzer, its executive director, said Tuesday. Kennedy started this week.

The New Haven, Connecticut native has been reporting in Tallahassee for decades; he also was the Orlando Sentinel’s Tallahassee bureau chief from 1998-2008.

“He is a very even-keeled, talented professional and a welcome addition to The FLORIDA Channel team,” Switzer added.

Kennedy had been let go by the Post just before Christmas last year as the newspaper shuttered its Tallahassee bureau in a refocusing on local coverage.

The FLORIDA Channel, based in the Capitol, “is a public affairs programming service funded by The Florida Legislature and produced and operated by WFSU-TV,” according to its website.

“It features programming covering all three branches of state government, and is Florida’s primary source for live, unedited coverage of the Governor and Cabinet, the Legislature and the Supreme Court.”

Kennedy, who was on deadline Tuesday and unavailable for an interview, will be a general assignment reporter.

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Accused unlicensed contractor sues Pinellas County Licensing Board over fine

A Brandon contractor is suing the county licensing board after being fined for performing home repairs without a license.

The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is the Largo-based independent agency that regulates construction contractors. The Board issues licenses, monitors insurance coverage, approves building codes and finds violators for noncompliance.

The board has recently been a target of a series of investigative articles by the Tampa Bay Times accusing the Board’s leadership of playing “fast and loose” with its disciplinary process and operations.

Various Pinellas legislators, as well as a Times editorial, suggested several reforms, ranging from naming a new director with an outsider to entirely dismantling the agency.

Claude W. Peterman III and Claude W. Peterman Jr. are manager and assistant manager, respectively, of Claude Peterman Construction. Although it incorporated in May 2015, as of Sept. 23, 2016, the company was administratively dissolved for failing to file an annual report.

On its Facebook page, Peterman says it provides: “Complete home remodels, new kitchen remodel, Bathroom remodels, Interior & Exterior painting, Tile, Laminate wood floors, Carpet.”

A search on the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) website shows no record of an active contractor’s license for Claude Peterman Construction.

Court records suggest Brandon resident Claude William Peterman III, 26, is the son of 62-year-old-Claude Peterman Jr.

With several short stints in Florida prisons, Claude William Peterman Jr. had been arrested in 2002 with a blood alcohol content well above the legal limit with the report saying it was his ninth DUI arrest. most recently Peterman served five months in 2014 for driving, despite his permanently revoked license, and a “fourth or subsequent” DUI, as well as an attempt to flee police.

On Nov. 23, 2014, Peterman was released from custody — about six months before he and Claude Peterman III launched Claude Peterman Construction.

An arrest report dated Jan. 6, 2014, shows Peterman Jr. identifying as self-employed in the remodeling business.

According to court records, Claude Peterman Construction did unspecified home-remodeling work in either 2015 or 2016 at a 2,963-square-foot, single-family Clearwater home at 2584 Deer Run E. The home was purchased in December 2016 by Edgar and Vanessa Sherlock. It was previously owned by We Buy Tampa Bay Real Estate LLC.

An investigation by Paul Roberts, the Board’s designated agent, determined that the company was unlicensed.

The ruling resulted in a $634 penalty from the Licensing Board dated Jan. 10, 2017. Costs include a $500 fine, investigative time, postage and other miscellaneous expenses.

In a Feb. 6 filing to the Licensing Board Administrative Special Magistrate, Claude Peterman and Claude Peterman Construction are appealing the fine. However, court documents do not indicate a reason why the fine should be revoked.

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Report: Robin Bernstein, other Palm Beach residents tapped for ambassadorships

Three Palm Beach residents with ties to Donald Trump are expected to be tapped for ambassadorships.

Gossip Extra reported Monday that the president has offered ambassadorships to Robin Bernstein, Patrick Park, and Brian Burns. All three, the website reported, were undergoing background checks this week.

Bernstein is a long-time friend Trump’s, and is the president of Richard Bernstein & Associates, a Palm Beach insurance company. She has a bachelor’s degree from American University and a masters of business administration from George Washington University.

A founding member of the Mar-A-Lago Club, Gossip Extra reported Bernstein is expected to become the ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

According to the site, Park could be in line to become the ambassador to Austria, while Burns is in line to become the ambassador to Ireland.

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Personnel note: Public strategy firm Mercury hires Brian Swensen as senior VP

Global public strategy firm Mercury is adding noted Republican political adviser Brian Swensen to its Florida public affairs team as a senior vice president.

Swensen comes to the firm following his role as deputy campaign manager for the successful re-election of Sen. Marco Rubio, the latest in a series of key political victories in Florida and Louisiana. He his tenure with Mercury began Jan. 19, 2017.

In his new role, Swensen will bring extensive experience in the political arena to provide solutions and winning strategies for the firm’s clients. He will be based in Mercury’s Miami office.

Mercury Florida, now in its fourth year of operation, is led by partner Ashley Walker.

“We are thrilled to welcome Brian, who is one of the leading political operatives in the Southeast region,” Walker said in a statement Tuesday. “Mercury continues to assemble the state’s most talented team of public affairs professionals, and the addition of Brian underscores our commitment to building Mercury into the strongest bipartisan consultancy in the nation.”

“I am excited to work with the incredibly talented team of strategists at Mercury to help address some of the most pressing policy issues facing many organizations and corporations today,” Swensen said. “The Mercury Florida team brings together the state’s top political advisers across party lines.  Nowhere else can you find such deep, diverse skills and experience, and a winning track record to boot.”

“As someone who prides himself on having a great work ethic and outside the box thinking,” he added, “I look forward to unleashing my unique skill set to shape strategy, solve problems, and create wins for our clients.”

Before joining Mercury, Swensen served as deputy campaign manager for Rubio’s re-election campaign, during which he built a political operation that benefited numerous campaigns up and down the ballot, while training and empowering the next generation of political leaders.

Previously, Swensen managed the successful campaign of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, which helped set the tone for Florida Republicans in the 2016 cycle.

Additionally, Swensen was a part of the Bill Cassidy for U.S. Senate campaign, where he led the political and grassroots operation. He served as political director for the Republican Party of Florida, and was victory director for Gov. Rick Scott’s winning campaign in 2010.

Swensen got his start in the political process at The Leadership Institute, a conservative nonprofit based in Virginia, after graduating from Florida International University in Miami.

Mercury provides a suite of services including federal government relations, international affairs, digital influence, public opinion research, media strategy and a bipartisan grassroots mobilization network in all 50 states. With a global presence, Mercury has U.S. offices in Washington, DC, New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Tennessee, as well as international offices in London and Mexico City.

Mercury is a part of the Omnicom Public Relations Group.

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Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round.

On and off: Tiffany Harrington has replaced Heather Williamson as House staff director of the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining.

On: Teri Cariota, formerly an aide to former Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, is now a legislative assistant to Miami Democratic Rep. Roy Hardemon.

On: Venusmia Lovely, formerly an aide to Sen. Dwight Bullard, is also a district assistant for Hardemon.

On: Natron Curtis is the new district secretary for Gainesville Democratic Rep. Clovis Watson.

Off: Melissa Ullery is no longer legislative assistant for Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer.

Off and on: George Fossett is the new legislative assistant for Miami Gardens Democratic Sen. Oscar Braynon. Previously, Fossett served as district secretary for sunrise Democratic Rep. Katie Edwards.

Off and on: Patrick Steele replaced Riley Baldree as legislative assistant for Melbourne Republican Sen. Debbie Mayfield.

On: Marilyn Barnes returned from retirement to become legislative assistant for Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Bill Montford.

On: Debra Booth is the new legislative assistant for Kissimmee Democratic Sen. Victor Torres.

On: Paula Rigoli is now district secretary for Delray Beach Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

On: Luis Callejas, previously district secretary, is now legislative assistant for Miami Democratic Rep. David Richardson.

On: Lindsay Graham is now district secretary for Orlando Republican Rep. Mike Miller.

On: Sharon Stewart is the new district secretary for Vero Beach Republican Rep. Erin Grall.

On: Nadie Charles is now legislative assistant and Elizabeth Casimir is district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

On and on: Rebecca McLaughlin is legislative assistant and Kathy Johnson, who was previously district secretary, is now legislative assistant for Orlando Republican Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

Off and on: Charles Smith, who was previously district secretary, is now legislative assistant for Fort Lauderdale Republican Rep. George Moraitis.

On: Dennis Ragosta is the new district secretary for Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone.

On: Mikhail Scott is now legislative assistant for Cutler Bay Democratic Rep. Kionne McGhee.

On: Nancy Bowers is the new district secretary for The Villages Republican Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

On: Rebecca Zizzo is district secretary for House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

On: Jack Harrington is legislative assistant for Miami Republican Rep. Michael Bileca.

Off: Janine Kiray is no longer legislative assistant to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

Off: Constance Baker is no longer district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels.

On: Leota Wilkinson is district secretary for Palatka Republican Rep. Bobby Payne.

Off and on: John Love has stepped down as House administrative assistant for the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining. Lisa Larson is replacing love.

Off and on: Lindsey Locke is replacing Michelle McCloskey as House administrative assistant for the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight.

Off and on: Patricia Gosney is replacing Joel Ramos as legislative assistant in the Tallahassee district office for Democratic pro tem leader Sen. Lauren Book.

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