Staff Reports - 7/49 - SaintPetersBlog

Staff Reports

Mystery website urges Scott to name Anitere Flores chief financial officer

A privately registered website is urging Gov. Rick Scott to name Sen. Anitere Flores to replace Jeff Atwater when he resigns as the state’s chief financial offer at the end of the coming legislative session.

“Ask Gov. Scott to stand with working class Floridians and appoint Flores as our next CFO!” the site, http://www.flores4cfo.com, urges.

Flores told POLITICO Florida, first to report about the site, that she was surprised by the website and was focused on doing her existing job.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers website lists the Flores website’s administrator as private.

Atwater announced on Feb. 10 that he would leave office to become vice president for strategic initiatives and chief financial officer at Florida Atlantic University.

Flores, a Republican from Miami, chairs the Banking & Insurance Committee and is vice chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. The state CFO regulates insurance agents and, with the governor and rest of the Cabinet, oversees the Office of Insurance Regulation.

“Help Support a Proven Champion!” the website says. “Let Gov. Scott know that we want Flores to keep standing up to special interests like big sugar, monopoly utilities, and the insurance companies as our next CFO!”

The site includes a button to push to send Scott an email, and gives his office telephone number.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Personnel note: Alan Suskey adds Rob Fields to his burgeoning firm

Rob Fields, a former state technology official, is joining Suskey Consulting as Vice President of Government Affairs, the firm announced Monday.

Fields, a state government veteran, was Chief Information Officer for two state agencies, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

He also has been a “government affairs consultant for Fortune 500 and other various technology companies,” according to a press release.

“Rob has an established record as a thoughtful leader and business partner,” firm principal Alan Suskey said. “I could not ask for a better partner to be part of our efforts as we continue to grow and meet our client needs.”

​“I am really excited to join Suskey Consulting and expanding the excellent level of service to our clients,” Fields added.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Jack Latvala saves Showtime Speedway from wrecking ball for Gateway Expressway project

After more than 50 years in Pinellas County, Clearwater’s Showtime Speedway and Dragstrip was spared the wrecking ball this week, thanks to State Sen. Jack Latvala.

The Clearwater Republican announced Friday he has secured assurances from the Florida Department of Transportation that the speedway and dragstrip will not be closed.

At one point, the FDOT – which owns the land off Ulmerton Boulevard – plan to close the quarter-mile track and dragstrip to make room for the $705 million Gateway Expressway project connecting Bayside bridge and Interstate 275.

Formerly known as Sunshine Speedway, Showtime Speedway opened in 1960. The land was purchased by the state in 2004 for $20 million.

“Showtime Speedway and Dragstrip are a part of Pinellas County’s history and the state’s racing history,” Latvala said during a news conference. “Drivers from NASCAR legend Bobby Allison to David Reutimann have come through here and families have enjoyed evenings at the track for decades.”

Latvala also pointed out the employment opportunities, adding he was “happy to say the future of this local institution is no longer in doubt.”

Gateway Expressway will move forward, he said, with a new road running along the western edge of Showtime.

Showtime track operator Bob Yoho praised the move: “Racing is a family sport and the Showtime Speedway family is grateful to the Senator for stepping up to make sure racing has a future in our community. When Sunshine closed down it put a lot of people out of work and over the last five years, the momentum’s been building.”

“Now that the track is truly back,” Yoho said, “we can start planning for the long-term.”

Located at 4550 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, the track’s current entrance is on the west side of the facility off 126th Avenue N.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Lisa Edgar steps down from state parks post

Lisa Edgar has resigned as director of the Florida Park Service after less than two months on the job, citing “an immediate family emergency.”

Edgar notified Gary Clark, the Department of Environmental Protection’s deputy secretary for land and recreation, in an emailed note Thursday.

“Gary. Thank you for the opportunity to work for you and the Florida Park Service. It has been an honor. Unfortunately, an immediate family emergency requires my full attention. As such, I regretfully must resign at this time,” Edgar wrote.

“I wish continued success to you and the agency.”

The Tallahassee Democrat appears to have been first to report the development. A DEP spokeswoman forwarded Edgar’s email to Florida Politics.

Daily activities at the agency will be split between two Park Service assistant directors.

Edgar, a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, previously was deputy secretary of DEP. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush first appointed her to the PSC in January 2005. Edgar decided not to seek another term on the PSC and was replaced by water use engineer Donald Polmann of Dunedin.

Edgar had replaced Donald Forgione, who, after six years with the agency, was re-assigned to Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville.

“From my time at DEP and as a frequent visitor of our state parks,” Edgar said in a statement. “I’ve seen first-hand the high caliber of the Florida Park Service team. I look forward to working with this team to continue to achieve the Florida state parks mission to provide resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources.”

She switched jobs around the first of the year, saying she wanted to further use her “regulatory and governmental experience.”

The Florida Park Service manages 174 state parks, trails and historic sites, and has more than 1,000 park service employees and 29,000 volunteers.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Florida Bank insiders shafted minority investors in sale to IberiaBank, suit says

Minority investors in a Tampa Bay-area bank are accusing the board and other insiders of shafting them by manipulating share values before the bank’s sale to a Louisiana firm.

Tampa-based Florida Bank Group – the holding company operating under the name Florida Bank – received millions in federal Troubled Asset Relief Program TARP funds after losing $137-million between 2007 and 2013.

Florida Bank, originally the Bank of St. Petersburg, had been operating since 1985, and now has nine offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, as well as 13 offices throughout Florida. Robert Rothman was Florida Bank’s president and CEO, later replaced by Susan A. “Susie” Martinez.

TARP is the federal program set up by Congress in 2008 to stabilize banks holding large amounts of bad loans.

James Lewis Wilkes II and Timothy Charles McHugh are the namesakes of Tampa-based law firm Wilkes & McHugh, a Tampa-based law firm founded in 1985. The firm is most noted for suing nursing homes for negligence. Wilkes & McHugh also operate offices in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arizona.

When Florida Bank announced a private placement of additional stock in 2013, several investors – including Wilkes and McHugh – said they “could not conceive of chasing good money after bad.”

In late 2014, the Tampa Tribune reported that Florida Bank Group was to be acquired by Louisiana-based IberiaBank Corp. for $90-million. After the deal had been finalized in early 2015, Martinez was named IberiaBank’s Florida regional president. Rothman stayed on as board chair.

In a breach-of-fiduciary-duty suit filed Feb. 13 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, the plaintiffs – Wilkes, McHugh, firm attorney Bennie Lazzara Jr. and his wife, Joyce – claim they didn’t know that Florida Bank’s 2013 private placement, another in 2011, as well as incentives and other stock programs were designed to maximize shareholdings of the bank’s directors and officers.

The suit also accuses the bank of diluting holdings, so that bank insiders could make a killing in the sale to IberiaBank. Plaintiffs claim that in 2013, the private placement alone increased the number of outstanding common shares from 21-million to 212-million, with most of them acquired by insiders.

The plaintiffs also allege nearly a dozen bank insiders including CEO Martinez and chair Rothman put their own needs ahead of those outside minority investors, which they say lost a considerable amount of money in the sale.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Jeff Brandes goes mobile; to hold mobile office hours Monday

State Sen. Jeff Brandes is going mobile.

The St. Petersburg Republican announced Friday he will be holding mobile office hours Monday in St. Pete Beach and St. Petersburg.

In a statement, Brandes says his mobile office hours will allow constituents an extra opportunity to meet with him and discuss issues in the community.

Brandes’ mobile office hours are open to the public; no appointment is necessary.

Monday, Feb. 27
TIME: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Regatta Room, University Student Center
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
200 6th Ave. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Monday, Feb. 27
TIME: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce
6990 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Brandes serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Charlie Crist filing for divorce after less than 9 years

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is getting divorced less than nine years after becoming the first Florida governor in 42 years to get married while in office.

Crist spokesman Kevin Cate said the congressman filed papers Friday seeking to divorce his wife Carole, who he proposed to in 2008 after a 10-month romance. He was a Republican governor at the time.

Their St. Petersburg wedding was a grand event with an exclusive guest list of political elite and celebrities.

The couple stayed together through his switch from Republican to independent to Democrat and his unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

The former Carole Rome was a New York businesswoman and socialite when the couple met. She is Crist’s second wife. He married his college sweetheart in 1980 and divorced less than a year later.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Tampa pizzeria shot at by UberEats driver now faces eviction

A Tampa pizza shop shot at by an UberEats driver in January is now facing another attack — eviction over unpaid rent.

New Port Richey resident Amy Abdallah, 38, is the co-owner of Crusty’s Pizza. In late 2015, Amy and her husband Tony Abdallah agreed to lease a commercial property to operate Crusty’s  at 6607 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa.

Fredrika Lundgren is listed as the landlord. Records also suggest Tony Abdallah could be the same person as 39-year-old Ahmed El Sayed Abdallah.

The five-year lease was agreed to last through the end of 2020.

But according to a lawsuit filed Feb. 7, the Abdallah’s have not paid rent since June 2016, with an accumulated $15,868.

Lundgren seeks to evict Crusty’s and collect the unpaid rent.

An eviction notice is only the most recent problem facing Crusty’s.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, Tony Abdallah had sent away an UberEats driver who arrived at Crusty’s “under the influence.”

Furious, the driver allegedly shot at least five rounds at the building with a BB gun, which the Tampa Bay Times described as “narrowly missing the couple’s 18-year-old daughter doing prep work in the kitchen.”

“It was very traumatizing,” Abdallah told Fox 13 News. “My husband asked him, ‘Do you have a heating bag to carry food in?’ and he became very angry and started screaming profanities.”

The driver then drove away, returning later to shoot two more times into Crusty’s front window, also hitting an adjoining Korean restaurant.

“I’ve never met someone who got so angry and cussed so much, not being able to deliver pizza,” Abdallah said.

Uber told reporters they suspended the unidentified driver.

Although Fredrika Lundgren is the plaintiff in the past due rent complaint, the attached lease identifies her as the landlord. Per the Hillsborough County property appraiser, the listed property owner is Paul Stephenson, Lundgren’s husband.

Addresses for both Stephenson and Lundgren are in Albia, Iowa.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Francisco Gonzalez

Personnel note: Francisco Gonzalez leaves James Madison Institute

Francisco Gonzalez, formerly Vice President of Advancement for The James Madison Institute, has left the organization after nine years.

He’s been named the Director of Philanthropy for the National Review Institute, the parent organization of National Review magazine, founded by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Gonzalez, who will continue to reside in Orlando, starts Feb. 27, He’ll further NRI’s mission with supporters across the country. He says he wrote a blog post last week that revisits his 9 years at JMI.

“While I am departing JMI, my loyalty to its mission will remain strong as it continues the legacy and vision of our great founder, Dr. J. Stanley Marshall,” Gonzalez said. “As a Floridian who believes in limited government and free-market principles, the success of JMI remains important to me and to this great state.”

He added: “I look forward to working to help NRI spread its mission, support its talent, and strongly promote conservative intellectual ideas at a very pivotal time for our country.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

In op-ed, Rick Scott still swinging against GOP opposition to incentives

Gov. Rick Scott has released an opinion column on the “Florida House playing politics with Florida jobs” one day before a House panel discusses killing Enterprise Florida, VISIT FLORIDA and many business incentive programs.

Scott’s office emailed the Op-Ed to news media Monday afternoon. The House Appropriations Committee meets Tuesday to consider  a bill that would eliminate the agencies.

The email calls out by name Republican House members “who just last year supported Gov. Scott’s efforts to increase funding at Enterprise Florida,” including Jason Brodeur, Travis Cummings, Bill Hager, Larry Metz, Holly Raschein, and Charlie Stone.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has called such use of public money “corporate welfare.”

The op-ed as released is below:


The Florida House of Representatives has decided to push legislation to undo economic development funding in Florida and defund our state’s tourism agency.  A House panel voted for this job killing legislation two weeks ago and the House Appropriations Committee will be voting on it tomorrow.

That’s correct, many of your elected members of the Florida House have decided their top priority this year is to eliminate funding for Florida’s economy.  They want to eliminate Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

They say that they don’t want government intrusion in the free market. Of course, there is government financing in the areas of healthcare, transportation, education, housing, and social services. But, they have decided to try to totally eliminate funding for the one area where we can easily show a major return on the investment of your tax dollars – jobs are being created by more companies moving to our state, and our tourism industry has recruited a record-breaking number of visitors over the last few years.

Even more absurd, the politicians in the Florida House who already voted for this bill say they don’t necessarily want to abolish these programs but instead want to advance a “conversation” …meaning they voted for something they don’t support. This is hypocrisy at its best, and these are the kind of games I came to Tallahassee to change.

I ran for Governor to fight this sort of politics and bring common sense from the business world to our government.  The plan has worked, as Florida has added more than 1.26 million new jobs.

Many politicians spend a lifetime in government, and they simply don’t have any understanding of how business actually works. These are the facts that confirm the negligence of eliminating our jobs and tourism agencies generating jobs:

— Before I came into office, state incentives were often awarded before goals, like job creation, were met.

— But, today Florida companies only receive economic incentives after an independent third-party audit proves stringent requirements are met, including proven job growth and wage requirements to ensure a great return on investment for Florida families.

— This means NO MONEY is given as “corporate welfare” because no money can be awarded until contract requirements like jobs are created.

— Because of our economic development programs, several companies like Hertz, Northrup Grumman, and Blue Origin — to name a few — have located or expanded in our state to create thousands of jobs.

The Florida House likes to rely on inaccurate information to push their narrative of “corporate welfare,” by highlighting the failed deal of Digital Domain.

Let’s look at the facts: EFI recommended that the state not fund Digital Domain.  Ironically, politicians in the Florida Legislature chose to ignore EFI’s recommendation and circumvented EFI’s strict process in 2009 by funding the failed project FROM THE LEGISLATURE.

Both Visit Florida and EFI have made mistakes over the years.  In both cases, we have made changes to ensure transparency of taxpayer dollars and brought in new leadership.  That is what you do in business; you make changes and get it right.   But what you do not do is close up shop.

If the House were to succeed with ending economic development and tourism programs in Florida, the small and rural communities in our state would be hurt the most. Canceling our statewide program would hurt those areas in Florida that would truly be revitalized by a new job creator in their community.

Just last week I traveled the state and met with business owners who are devastated that there is even talk of abolishing these programs.  Many job creators rely on EFI and Visit Florida and said they would not be able to keep their doors open if it weren’t for their help.  No job is expendable to the families they employ.

Coming into this job after a lifetime in business, I knew I would have to learn to tolerate some aspects of politics, and I would have to endure lectures from people who do not know the first thing about creating jobs. But, I cannot allow thousands of Floridians to be denied jobs and opportunities in our state just so a few in elected office can get headlines for their campaign for higher office.

Our economy is booming. Our economic development and tourism programs are some of the best in the nation when it comes to getting a positive return on investment. I will continue to set the record straight on the politics the Florida House is playing and fight for the Florida families who expect their government officials to bring them more opportunity, not less.

This is no time to stand still. In business, you are either moving forward or you are moving backward.  The Florida House is currently planning to take our state backward.  I will fight to stop them, and so should you.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons