Staff Reports - 4/63 - SaintPetersBlog

Staff Reports

Rowdies, Fury FC play to scoreless draw in Ottawa

The Tampa Bay Rowdies couldn’t have asked for a better start to Saturday afternoon’s match against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place.

Until the assistant referee intervened, anyway.

Justin Chavez appeared to give the Rowdies a lead in the fourth minute, heading home a Michael Nanchoff corner kick, but the goal was called off due to the positioning of Leo Fernandes, who was standing in front of Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving and may have shielded his vision from an offside position.

It was the closest either team came to scoring in a match that ended 0-0.

“I thought we scored a pretty decent goal that was ruled out,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It was a great header by (Chavez) and I don’t really think Leo made any attempt to play it, but the referee made his decision. … Their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves, but overall, it’s a good point on the road in a difficult place to play and really difficult conditions.”

Just a minute after Chavez’s non-goal, the Rowdies (4-2-2 (W-T-L), 14 points) were back on the attack, with Darnell King feeding Leo Fernandes for a hard shot from inside the box, which was saved by Fury FC (1-3-2, 6 points) goalkeeper Callum Irving.

After the early flurry, Tampa Bay didn’t create much more in the match, being held to a 0-0 draw on a soggy afternoon in the Canadian capital city. Each team managed just two shots on target.

Rain fell throughout the match and neither team quite figured out how to connect passes on the wet turf and click offensively.

Tampa Bay was without one its most influential attacking players, with Joe Cole ruled out of the match during pregame warmups with a hamstring injury.

“He had a little hamstring injury, hopefully nothing too severe,” Campbell said. “We try to give him every opportunity to be involved because he’s such an important player for us, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be today and he missed out.”

The clean sheet was Tampa Bay’s fifth in eight matches to start the season.

“I think there’s a lot of positives to take out of this performance today as we build toward playing Louisville next weekend,” Campbell said.

Up next, the Rowdies return home to host Louisville City FC at Al Lang Stadium for the first time on Saturday, May 13.

Caution Summary
Rowdies: Georgi Hristov – 18th minute
Rowdies: Justin Chavez – 29th minute
Rowdies: Darnell King – 33rd minute
Fury FC: Michael Salazar – 63rd minute

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1) –
GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Marcel Schäfer; M Justin Chavez, Martin Vingaard; M Michael Nanchoff (Alex Morrell 87′), Georgi Hristov, Leo Fernandes (Martin Paterson 78′); F Deshorn Brown.

Fury FC (3-4-3) – GK Callum Irving; D Shane McEleney (Eddie Edwards 8′), Ramon Martin Del Campo, Kyle Venter; M Jonathan Barden, Lance Rozeboom (c), Sergio Manesio, Aron Mkungilwa; F Michael Salazar (Jamar Dixon 74′), Steevan Dos Santos, Ryan Williams (Sito Seonane 61′)

Florida Chamber and allies unload on Senate for skipping AOB reform this year

The Legislature stiffed the Florida Chamber of Commerce on one of its top priorities this year — abuse of assignment of benefits agreements, or AOBs.

The Chamber isn’t hiding how it feels about that.

“Florida’s hardworking families should remember this – the Florida Senate chose to side with anti-consumer special interests, instead of stepping up and protecting consumers from an AOB loophole that has attracted plaintiffs’ attorneys like gold rush miners,” Chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley said in a written statement shortly after the House and Senate adjourned Friday.

“Their failure to act means homeowners will be forced to spend more on property insurance in the coming year, and home ownership will become less affordable for many Floridians,” Ousley said.

An AOB bill (HB 1421) passed the House this year, but the Senate version, which was much friendlier to the trial bar, never made it to the floor.

It was the fifth year the insurance industry pressed for AOB reform. The topic was Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier’s top priority. Gov. Rick Scott was on board. Much of the business community, too.

The chamber issued statements from other members of its Consumer Protection Coalition:

Cam Fentriss, Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association: “There are many roofing firms in our association who see the abuse that is occurring out on the streets and know it needs to end. We really believed this was the year that true reforms would be passed, but the cottage industry that profits from AOBs somehow carried more weight with senators than did consumers.”

Logan McFaddin, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America: “We sincerely thank the House for making AOB reform a priority and sending a bill with common-sense reforms to the Senate. As we approach another hurricane season, it’s unfortunate we were unable to pass reform legislation in the Senate to protect hardworking Floridians.”

Liz Reynolds, Southeast Region for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos: “The House worked to develop a compromise bill and passed it in plenty of time to work with the Senate, but the Senate did not engage on the issue. Without reform, consumers will continue to be taken advantage of by scam artist vendors and lawyers, and insurance rates will continue their upward march in response to exponentially rising claims costs. ’Hurricane AOB’ will rage on.”

Dulce Suarez-Resnick, Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies: “For many lower-income Floridians and those on tight budgets, AOB abuse may literally put the dream of home ownership out of reach. The affordability and availability crisis is already rocking Miami Dade – in another few months, Broward and Palm Beach counties can expect to feel that same crunch. Given these facts, it is hard to understand why the Senate failed to pass meaningful reforms this session.”

Senate confirms Justin Senior, Celeste Philip

On Friday, the scheduled last day of the 2017 legislative session, the Florida Senate confirmed Gov. Rick Scott‘s picks to run the state’s health care agencies.

The Senate approved Justin Senior to head the Agency for Health Care Administration and Celeste Philip to lead the Department of Health as Florida’s Surgeon General.

The Florida Medical Association issued a statement Friday applauding the selections.

“The Florida Medical Association is committed to ensuring every Floridian receives the best medical care possible, which is why we are so pleased Dr. Philip and Mr. Senior have been confirmed by the Florida Senate today,” said FMA President David J. Becker, M.D.

“They both bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that are integral to promoting good health and developing strong relationships among stakeholders, so residents are educated and empowered to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

“The Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration are fortunate to have two champions for excellence in patient care at the helm.”

Added FMA CEO Timothy J. Stapleton: “Florida Medical Association would like to congratulate Dr. Philip and Mr. Senior on their well-deserved confirmations today … We thank them for their commitment to protecting and advocating for the highest level of health for all Floridians and are confident that under their leadership, our state will continue to improve the equity and access to quality health care.”

How pink became sine die tradition in Tallahassee

Pink is what distinguishes the last day of Florida’s Legislative Sessions.

Lobbyists, consultants, former lawmakers and observers, clad in pink outfits, roam the Capitol hallways during the session’s final hours.

Pink is the tradition for Capitol veterans to pay tribute to the late lobbyist Marvin Arrington.

“Marvin was here for a long time, and he had a tradition of wearing a pink sports coat on the last day of Session,” said Wayne Malaney, who lobbies for newspaper publishers.

In 2002, Arrington succumbed to a heart attack in a parking lot a block north of the Capitol. It was the Monday of the last week of session for that year.

By the time people realized he was in crisis, smoke from the spinning of his car tires filled the downtown area.

“Marvin wore pink carnations and no one serving today was here when Marvin was, but those who remembered him by wearing pink,” said Keith Arnold, who served in the House in the 1980s and 1990s and now lobbies.

The last day of the 2002 session, Arrington’s son, Reynolds, and nephew, Patrick, showed up at the Capitol wearing Arrington’s trademark pink jackets. Joining them are more than 100 lobbyists sporting pink: carnations, jackets, shirts, all responding to Reynolds’ request to remember his dad with a display of pink.

“Anyone that’s man enough to wear pink at your age is man enough for us to listen to,” former Speaker James Harold Thompson said to the Orlando Sentinel.

People observe traditions for a variety of reasons. They are a tool to keep up predictability in a changing world, to create self-identity for a group within a larger society and serve to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next.

“I wear a hideous pink jacket for Marvin; he was a great guy, a wonderful man,” Dave Ramba said. “His son comes for the final day and we as a community watch out for him, he was just 13 years old when he lost his father. We’ll all be wearing pink carnations.”

Marvin Arrington’s father, C. Fred, served in the Florida House in the 1950s and Marvin would tell friends he grew up at the Capitol. Among lawmakers, their staff and journalists he was known as a “white hat,” an honest broker of information.

For some Tallahassee politicos wearing pink is a statement of values.

“We respected him greatly for his intellect and honesty,” said Steve Schale, who knew Arrington while working for Rep. Doug Wiles. “And my way of paying homage to the way I think we are supposed to treat this business as advocates is to wear pink for Marvin Arrington.”

Seeing pink at the Capitol on Session’s final day, to paraphrase Artis Whitman, is a visual reminder of how each generation takes nourishment from earlier ones, giving knowledge to those who comes after.

Or, then again, Ramba may be right: It’s a hideous fashion statement but a fun way to remember a “great guy and wonderful man.”

Lobbyists wear their pink, in honor of Marvin Arrington, an insurance lobbyist with an affinity for pink who died during the last week of the 2002 Session, on the fourth floor Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Photo by Phil Sears

Renewable-energy tax break bill headed to Rick Scott

The Florida Legislature has passed a bill that will give a renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties with solar installations.

The measure (SB 90) was sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday after passing the Senate unanimously. If signed into law, businesses that install solar panels to their properties would not have to pay additional property taxes from the increased value of adding such devices.

“The voters of Florida spoke loud and clear in support of an expanded solar market in the sunshine state,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes in a statement. “Reducing property taxes on solar and renewable energy devices will bring more solar energy to Florida. The unanimous support of the legislature shows that we are dedicated to expanding the share of renewables in our energy portfolio, and I am excited to continue to advocate for energy reform.”

The bill , sponsored by Brandes in the Senate and Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues in the House, carries out a decision by voters last year to extend a tax exemption already provided to residential properties. The tax break would be in place for the next 20 years.

“Tourism is Florida’s leading industry. Visitors and residents alike, will benefit from the energy savings resulting from the passage of this legislation,” said Richard Turner, general counsel and vice President of government Relations for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The hospitality industry is excited to support our lawmakers’ smart policies that promote sustainability and diversify our energy grid.”

The final version of the bill is viewed by those in the solar industry as a more consumer-friendly approach than what had been initially proposed.

_The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Tom Lee quietly files unfriendly amendment affecting Uber, Lyft

State Sen. Tom Lee on Wednesday filed an amendment for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles bill that would regulate the operations of ridebooking services like Uber and Lyft.

The language would prohibit local governments and governmental bodies, including airport authorities, from cutting deal with “transportation network companies” (TNCs) to operate exclusively in their jurisdictions.

The amendment for the bill (HB 545) also prohibits agreements “that provides disparate treatment” to any TNC.

The prohibitions wouldn’t “apply to contracts existing on July 1, 2017,” nor if any deals resulted from “a competitive solicitation process.”

Requests for comment were sent to Lee, who was in a Senate floor session Thursday morning, and to spokespeople for Lyft and Uber.

Also this session, Lee called for an independent audit of the Tampa International Airport‘s expansion project, saying there are too many unanswered questions about how the airport is being run. Airport officials said they’d welcome any audit.

Updated 11 a.m. — The Senate temporarily postponed the bill after Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala warned against overpacking the transportation bill.

Lee had first said he wanted to “ensure the free market we were trying to set up under the original bill.” That refers to the TNC regulatory bill passed this session.

That bill’s sponsor, St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, then said he was “deeply conflicted” over the language because it didn’t address taxi companies.

Finally, Latvala warned: “Just keep loading it up and there will be no highway safety or transportation bill this year. I’ve seen it, over and over and over again,” he said.

“The merits of Sen. Lee’s amendment — we could probably talk the rest of the day about it,” Latvala added.

“One thing I do believe is that …  taxi companies and transportation networks ought to be treated equally. If this amendment doesn’t provide that, then we shouldn’t adopt it.”

Uber spokesman Javi Correoso said the company “thanks Senator Lee for his support in creating a permanent home for Uber in Florida.”

But, he added, the amendment “can limit access to airports and seaports by requiring a burdensome bidding process that taxi companies and other vehicle for hires would not be subject to.

“In addition, the amendment would eliminate the practice of innovative pilot programs where the ridesharing industry has worked with public entities to create transportation options for hard working, lower income residents traveling back after late night work shifts.”

Budget deal includes no money for Florida Forever

The Senate accepted the House offer on the agriculture and natural resources portion of the budget, agreeing not to set aside any money for Florida Forever in 2017-18.

The $3.6 billion plan zeros out funding for land acquisition. Sen. Rob Bradley said the budget includes $13.3 million — $5 million of which is recurring dollars — for the St. Johns River and Keystone Heights Lake. Bradley called it a “huge win for the region and particularly the Keystone Heights lake,” saying with the recurring dollars there “is money to finance the project.”

The offer also included $13.3 million for beach recovery and $39.9 million for beach projects, on top of the $10 million base budget.

But the offer zeroed out funding for land acquisition.

“In 2014, Floridians made one simple demand of the Legislature: protect our remaining natural areas from bulldozers and build more neighborhood parks for our families. By zeroing out Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust, this is now the third year in a row that politicians in Tallahassee have thumbed their noses at voters,” said Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement. “To say that we are disappointed would be a gross understatement. And to the millions of Florida’s conservation voters I say: set up appointments to welcome your legislators back home next week and give them an earful.”

Sen. Jack Latvala said the funding was sacrificed to the House demand for a larger rainy day fund, now at $1.2 billion.

“As the father of Florida Forever, as the person who passed that bill, I’m obviously disappointed to have a year when I’m Appropriations chairman and not be able to fund it,” he said. “But it you look at the totality of our budget, and look at what we’re doing for Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, springs, Lake Apopka, the St. Johns River, beaches … I believe you’re going to probably find there’s more money in this budget for the environment than we’ve had in a long time.

This story has been updated to reflect corrected funding amounts for St. Johns River and Keystone Lakes.

Agency for State Technology reorganization plan moves forward

The House on Wednesday accepted the Senate’s budget language to reorganize the Agency for State Technology.

“The House initially pushed for a complete overhaul of the state’s IT services, which included replacing the agency, but late in the budget negotiations a deal to keep the agency while making changes emerged,” Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools reported.

Proviso language includes the appointment of a “chief data officer.”

Jason Allison resigned as head of the agency and the state’s Chief Information Officer in February. He joined the Foley & Lardner law firm as a “director of public affairs” in the Tallahassee office.

The Agency for State Technology, which replaced the predecessor Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, was created by lawmakers in 2014. Allison was appointed its head that Dec. 9. He was paid $130,000 a year.

In January, a report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman’s office laid out a laundry list of security and other problems at the relatively new agency.

Among the audit findings were that “access privileges for some AST users … did not restrict (them) to only those functions appropriate and necessary for assigned job duties or functions.”

Also, some “accounts remained active when no longer needed and some … inappropriately allowed interactive logon, increasing the risk that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of AST data and IT resources may be compromised.”

The AST also failed to “review user access privileges for the mainframe, open systems environments, and the network domains,” kept an inaccurate “inventory of IT resources at the State Data Center,” and “State Data Center backup tape records were not up-to-date and some backup tapes could not be located and identified.”

Marco Rubio D.C. office to make several personnel changes, new hires

Marco Rubio is announcing several new promotions and staff hires in his Washington, D.C. office.

Lauren Reamy, a member of the Florida Senator’s staff since 2015, has been promoted to Legislative Director. Robert “Bobby” Zarate will lead Rubio’s foreign policy team after joining the staff as a Senior Foreign Policy adviser in December 2016, and Matt Wolking has been promoted to Senior Communications adviser and Press Secretary.

In addition to the promotions, Olivia Perez-Cubas is rejoining the Senate office as Communications Director after previously serving as Press Secretary on the Senate staff, and Wes Brooks is joining as a legislative assistant for energy, environment, agriculture and trade issues.

“I’m grateful for everything Sara Decker, Alex Burgos, and Jamie Fly helped us accomplish in my first term, and for all of their hard work. I wish them the very best in their new endeavors and know they will be very successful,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to welcome the new staff and look forward to the work our new team will be doing to help serve the people of Florida and pursue an important and meaningful legislative agenda in my second term.”


Lauren Reamy — Legislative Director

Reamy has served as Rubio’s deputy legislative director and professional staff member on the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, as well as advising the senator on energy, environment, agriculture and trade issues. Before that, she was director of government affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America, managing a portfolio that included international trade and economic issues. Earlier in her career, she served six years as a professional staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, serving under former Chair Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and former Ranking Members Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Reamy is a graduate of the University of Florida and a native of Davie, Florida.

Robert “Bobby” Zarate — Senior Foreign Policy adviser

Zarate previously served as national security adviser to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, leading the senator’s efforts to oversee the Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman Iran sanctions laws, and to persuade Congress to appropriate and authorize full funding for IRON DOME and other U.S.-Israel missile defense programs, and to advance the bipartisan Combating BDS Act of 2016. Before the Senate, he served as policy director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (2011-2014); legislative assistant for foreign affairs to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska (2009-2011), successfully leading Fortenberry’s effort to enact the Help Haitian Adoptees Immediately to Integrate Act of 2010 (Help HAITI Act); legislative fellow on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade (2009); and research fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (2006-2009). Zarate earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago.

Olivia Perez-Cubas — Communications Director

Olivia began her career as a news writer at WSVN, the FOX affiliate in Miami. She first joined Rubio’s Senate office communications team as an intern and quickly became a full-time staffer. She was tapped to move to Rubio’s presidential campaign on Day One, where she served as Media Director, booking Rubio and managing his press schedule. She was Press Secretary for the 2016 re-election campaign and spent much of her time traveling the state with Rubio. Olivia is rejoining the Senate office as Communications Director. She is a graduate of Florida State University and was born and raised in Miami, Florida.

Matt Wolking — Senior Communications adviser and Press Secretary

Wolking has worked in Congress for more than five years, serving in communications roles for U.S. Representative Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, and Chair Trey Gowdy of South Carolina at the House Select Committee on Benghazi before joining Rubio’s staff. Earlier in his career, he was Executive Producer of Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated political talk radio show. A native of Kentucky and graduate of Patrick Henry College in Virginia, Wolking interned for Tennessee Republican Sen. Fred Thompson’s 2008 presidential campaign and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Wes Brooks — legislative assistant

Born and raised in Miami, Brooks has handled Florida Congressman Brian Mast’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee portfolio as well as agriculture, Coast Guard, energy, environment, fisheries and water resources issues. He earned a Ph.D. in Ecological Science and a Certificate in Government and Politics from Rutgers University, where he authored 18 peer-reviewed scientific research papers on topics including invasive species, citizen science, science education, environmental economics and tropical dry forest restoration. Brooks also holds bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Political Science from Duke University. He was named an Emerging Public Policy Leader in 2011 by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and was selected as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate STEM Fellow in 2013 before joining Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s staff in January 2014. Wes is also an alum of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Foreign Policy Fellowship and Cybersecurity Fellowship programs.

Andrew Gillum picks up Broward County endorsement

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has picked up his first Broward County endorsement.

Gillum announced Wednesday that Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness has endorsed his 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement released by the Gillum campaign, Holness said Gillum has worked “tirelessly to lead Tallahassee in the right direction.”

“Andrew Gillum will work for increased prosperity for all Floridians by strengthening Florida’s economy, creating high-paying jobs and will build an advanced educational system by investing in early childhood and K-12 initiatives,” he said in a statement.” “Broward County and Florida deserve a champion in the next Governor and Andrew is the right choice at the right time. I am proud to endorse Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor.”

Gillum, one of three Democrats currently running for governor, said he was proud to have Holness’ endorsement.

“We must address the persistent economic challenges that have plagued us for generations and gotten worse under Governor Rick Scott,” he said in a statement. “Dale has been at the forefront of the critical fight to create jobs, increase wages for working families, and provide access to affordable housing. As Governor, I look forward to bringing it home for Broward County.”

Democrats Gwen Graham and Chris King and Republican Adam Putnam are also running.

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