Personnel note: Hill+Knowlton promotes Ron Bartlett

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a global PR and communications agency, has promoted Ron Bartlett to “general manager of Florida, overseeing the firm’s offices in Tampa and Tallahassee,” according to a press release.

Bartlett
Bartlett

Bartlett, a Tampa Tribune veteran who joined H+K in 2000, was most recently deputy general manager of Florida.

He also was senior vice president in charge of Florida’s public affairs team, working on legislative, regulatory and public policy issues, the release said. He succeeds Harry Costello, who becomes chairman of the firm’s Florida operations.

“Our clients in Florida and throughout the network have benefitted from Harry and Ron’s counsel and experience for decades,” said Beth Balsam, president and CEO of H+K U.S. “We’re pleased that will continue as Ron takes the helm of the Tampa and Tallahassee offices and Harry steps into this new role.”

Added Bartlett: “I am truly excited to lead a team that includes a terrific mix of highly seasoned, veteran communicators along with the best and brightest young professionals in the business.”

They include the recently-hired Kristen McDonald, who was communications director for the Florida House Republicans. H+K vice president Ryan Duffy was chief spokesman for former House Speaker Will Weatherford in 2012-14.

Alia Faraj-Johnson, a senior vice president who heads the firm’s Florida public affairs practice in Tallahassee, was Gov. Jeb Bush’s press secretary and communications director in 2002-07 and was later managing director of public affairs at Sachs Media Group.

Here’s more from the H+K news release:

With expertise in government, media relations and communications campaigns, Bartlett has worked extensively with insurers, hospitals, agricultural interests, corporations, government agencies and associations on a wide range of issues and crises.

Prior to joining H+K, Bartlett spent 20 years as a newspaper editor and reporter, including more than a decade at The Tampa Tribune, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for a series of investigative stories on the Florida Marine Patrol.

Bartlett has won several state and national public relations industry awards for his work, including a 2005 Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America for a campaign on behalf of 130 groups that won medical liability insurance reforms in Florida.

Bartlett received an MBA from St. Leo University and has a bachelor’s degree from Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey. He lives in Tampa.

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Auburn tag pledges surpass 4,000 mark

An effort to establish a Florida specialty license plate for Auburn University has passed the 4,000 mark.

According to the iwantmyfloridaauburnplate.com website, 4,018 people had turned in unofficial pledges as of Tuesday night.

New plates need 4,000 “pre-sales” before they can be produced. Supporters hope those filing pledges at the website will follow up with the state.

The plate has bipartisan backing: Democratic PR man Kevin Cate (Class of 2005) and state Rep. Jamie Grant (Class of 2006), a Tampa Republican.

Grant intends to file a bill next year to create an Auburn plate. If passed, that would add to the 123 specialty tags Florida now offers. It would be the first collegiate specialty tag for an out-of-state school.

“We take a moment to be proud of the Auburn Family here in Florida and recognize the impact that generations of Auburn alumni have made on our state,” Grant said in a statement.

“To have more than 4,000 Floridians, in two months, commit to buying an Auburn license tag sends a strong message that plenty of taxpaying residents consider this much more than ‘just another vanity tag,’ ” he added.

Specialty plates cost $15 to $25 a year above the standard registration fee. The money the tags generate goes to charities.

“Now it’s up to the Auburn Caucus to make sure they have the choice to buy the tag they want,” Grant said. “We’ll start exploring the most meaningful use of the revenue here in Florida and look forward to making this tag a reality.”

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Duke Energy Florida brings 17-acre Osceola County solar power plant online

Osceola County commissioners will celebrate the newest Duke Energy solar plant providing Central Florida consumers clean, renewable power.

The Osceola Solar Facility, owned and operated by Duke Energy, contains 15,000 solar panels and is roughly the size of 13 football fields. The plant, which officially began operation May 12, produces nearly 4 megawatts of carbon-free energy.

The solar plant will be honored at the Aug. 1 Osceola County Commission meeting, according to a Duke Energy news release. At 1:30 p.m., Duke Energy representatives and commissioners will hold an event to sign a commemorative solar panel.

The panel will be on display at the commission office at 1 Courthouse Square, Room 4700 in Kissimmee.

“As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease and the efficiency of panels grows, we’re increasing our investments in solar,” said Duke Energy Florida state President Alex Glenn. “It’s part of our ongoing strategy to offer clean energy and provide customers more options to use renewable energy.”

Advanced Green Technologies designed and built the solar plant on 17 acres next to an existing Kenansville Duke Energy substation.

“When you say Kenansville, people automatically think agriculture. Now they can think technology, too. Solar is a new type of ‘farming’ for my district — one with a positive environmental impact,” said Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. “Adding a renewable source like solar gives Duke Energy customers a more balanced energy mix and that’s more important today than ever before.”

The solar power plant is one of the preliminary stages in a long-term plan by the utility to install 35 megawatts of solar by 2018, providing 500 megawatts of solar energy in Florida by 2024. Construction is scheduled for completion in August at the 5-megawatt solar plant in Perry (Taylor County). That project will be officially announced and mid-October.

Duke Energy Florida is supplementing its own solar production by helping nearly 90 residential and business customers a month install solar panels, as well as develop a renewables service center to allow customers to interconnect. The company is also a variety of designs to promote solar generation in Florida.

The goal of such projects, like the Osceola and Perry solar plants, will help increase the usage of renewables. A single megawatt from the large-scale solar plants is equivalent to about 200 standard residential rooftop systems.

Duke Energy has spent more than $4 billion on wind and solar facilities in the past eight years, throughout 12 states.

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Twitter reports slowest quarterly revenue growth since IPO

Twitter Inc reported its slowest growth in quarterly revenue since going public in 2013 and frustrated investors yet again with a disappointing outlook for the current quarter.

The microblogging service operator’s shares fell 10 percent in extended trading with investors concerned about its expansion and role in the social media landscape as it faces intense competition from fast-growing competitors like Snapchat and Instagram.

The company’s second quarter revenue missed Wall Street estimates and the revenue forecast for the current quarter of $590 million to $610 million was well below the average analyst estimate of $678.18 million.

Twitter’s user base, however, modestly increased to 313 million average monthly active users in the second quarter from 310 million in the first quarter.

“Clearly, the turnaround is still a work in progress and the question of whether being a platform for a mass audience versus a niche audience needs to be answered,” said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.

The company, which has been struggling with flat user growth and lower spending by advertisers, is doubling down on efforts to attract users.

Under co-founder and Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, it is also working to better define its role in social media. This week it rolled out a video ad that showed it as the place to go for live news, updates and discussion about current events.

“We are a year into Dorsey coming back and there is really no end in sight of when it is going to start picking up to where investors are going to be happy,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on our priorities this quarter,” Dorsey said in a statement. “We remain focused on improving our service to make it fast, simple and easy to use.”

The company has also pushed further into live video and streaming and has signed deals with Major League Baseball and the NBA to revive user growth.

“The good news is these content deals could potentially make them a more attractive acquisition target for a media company looking to expand digital distribution,” Cakmak said.

Excluding items, the company earned 13 cents per share, topping the average analyst estimate of 10 cents.

The company’s net loss narrowed to $107.2 million, or 15 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $136.7 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose about 20 percent to $602 million, missing the estimate of $606.8 million.

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New survey shows 73% of Americans support Airbnb operating in their community

Support for Airbnb continues to grow.

New research released Tuesday shows 67 percent of Americans said they supported a sharing economy. That support grew to 74 percent among millennials, typically people between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

That support for a sharing economy bodes well for Airbnb, which found 50 percent of Americans nationwide said they had a favorable impression of the company. The survey — conducted by David Binder Research — found 9 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view; while 41 percent had no opinion.

The survey found that 58 percent of millennials had a favorable impression of the company, while just 7 percent had an unfavorable view. The survey found 35 percent of millennials had no opinion of the company.

A majority of millennials — 81 percent — said they efforts to allow Airbnb to legally operate in their community. The survey found 73 percent of all Americans supported allowing Airbnb to legally operate in their community.

Airbnb, a home-sharing tourism company, is growing in popularity across the country. The app-based, home-sharing service connects visitors with people who have homes or rooms available for rent by the night.

Earlier this month, the company reported it arranged services for 754,000 visitors in 16,100 private homes in Florida in 2015. Worldwide, Airbnb says more than 2 million hosts and 60 million visitors used the service.

The report found 66 percent of Americans though Airbnb was a good idea. That number grew to 76 percent among millennials.

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1 million Floridians signed up for ‘Do Not Call’ list

One million phone numbers now are on the state’s Do Not Call List, which restricts telemarketers and others from making sales calls to Floridians.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s office announced the news Tuesday.

Of those, 928,000 were added since “Putnam worked with the Legislature in 2012 to remove the fee to join,” according to a press release.

The list makes it “illegal for solicitors to call or text numbers on the state’s Do Not Call List, with penalties of up to $10,000 per violation,” the release said.

To get on the list, visit FreshFromFlorida.com, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Spanish speakers should call 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

Each subscriber can enter six phone numbers that will remain active on the list for five years, the release said.

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Hemingway (no relation) wins look-alike contest in Key West

For the first time in its 36-year history, a Hemingway has won a competition seeking the man who most looks like literary giant Ernest Hemingway.

Dave Hemingway was named the winner of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on Saturday in Key West, Florida. The winner said he is not related to the late author.

The contest, which attracted 140 entrants, is the highlight event of the annual Hemingway Days festival that celebrates the author’s legacy. It was held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was a frequent hangout of Hemingway’s during his Key West residency in the 1930s.

Hemingway, who won the contest in his seventh attempt, wore a wool, cream-colored turtleneck sweater similar to what the late author favored.

“Even though this sweater is really hot, it was part of my strategy,” he said. “And I think it worked really well.”

Like the author, Dave Hemingway said he likes to fish, to drink a little “and I like women. I like having a good time. I do feel like Ernest because I’m in the town he lived in so many years.”

The husband of celebrity cook Paula Deen – Michael Groover of Savannah, Georgia – finished in the top five for the second straight year. This is the sixth time he has participated in the contest.

 

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Tucker Duke’s founder busted on tax charges again

The former owner of the briefly popular and now-defunct Tucker Duke’s Lunchbox restaurant in Tallahassee was arrested Friday on felony tax evasion charges. 

Brian Cartenuto, 35, of Niceville, was booked on five counts of refusing to pay sales tax or file returns and one count of failing to remit sales tax between $20,000 and $100,000, court records show. 

He was released from the Leon County Jail on a $1,000 bond per count, records show. 

Cartenuto didn’t turn in roughly $23,000 in tax due from October 2014 to February 2015, according to a probable cause affidavit

Though Cartenuto has other Tucker Duke’s locations, the charges were connected to the Tallahassee operation, which closed permanently after a February 2015 kitchen fire.

He also was arrested on tax evasion charges last September in Okaloosa County, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. He has eateries in Niceville, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton, according to a website.

For a hot minute on Tallahassee’s restaurant scene, he ran the restaurant—billed as a “Southern-style burger gastropub”—at 224 E. College Ave. The arrest report said his landlord there was Southern Strategy Group, the capital’s premier lobbying firm. 

Cartenuto, a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary arts program, initially made a splash. He was billed as a culinary wunderkind with Food Network bona fides, including twice being a winner on Cutthroat Kitchen.” 

Matt Willard, Cartenuto’s Tallahassee-based attorney, could not be immediately reached. 

Department of Revenue employees had been in contact with Cartenuto since January 2015, trying to get him to pay the tax due, the report said. Cartenuto kept promising to file returns and pay his taxes “as soon as possible.”

Investigators later looking through his bank records found that Cartenuto “had enough funds in (his) account to pay … the taxes due during this period,” according to the affidavit.

An initial hearing in the case has not been set.

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Carol Dover: Florida’s summer job

School’s out for the summer and for many Florida families that means trips to our pristine beaches and world-class attractions, and, for some Florida youth, it also means finding that perfect summer job.

For teenagers, college students and other young people, a summer job gives them the opportunity to earn some money and learn important job skills that will make them successful now and in the future.  At the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, we are proud that many of our members provide those valuable summer jobs. Florida’s fantastic restaurants, hotels and attractions provide so many incredible learning opportunities. A great example is McDonald’s.

McDonald’s is leading the way in summer and youth hiring and, in fact, it is a peak hiring season for the company nationwide.  Based on this expected hiring trend in company-owned restaurants, McDonald’s anticipates that approximately 130,000 teens will be hired to work in McDonald’s company-owned restaurants and independent franchises between the months of June and August. Many of those summer hires are located right here in Florida. And, during the summer, McDonald’s U.S. restaurants hire nearly 30 percent more teenagers than any other period throughout the year.

As part of those summer jobs, McDonald’s is proud to offer tools, like world-class training that equips employees with valuable skills that will serve them well in life and wherever their careers take them – skills like teamwork, reliability, customer service, accountability and leadership. Starting at a McDonald’s restaurant can help take people where they want to go.

While summer hiring and youth employment initiatives by McDonald’s are impressive, the company is much more than that, as the organization is dedicated to helping their employees reach their full potential – no matter where they are on life’s journey.

To help maximize that potential, McDonald’s offers educational opportunities to put employees on the path to success through their Archways to Opportunity program, so now McDonald’s isn’t just a summer job, it’s also a summer school.  This unique program offers multiple opportunities that give people a chance to grow and learn, including access to workforce training, with the opportunity to earn college credits; college tuition assistance; help with finishing high school, allowing employee to earn a certified high school diploma; and, ultimately a path to a successful career.

Moreover, now, McDonald’s is expanding a 2015 benefit that helps their employees finish high school and afford college. Previously, those benefits were only available if an employee worked at a participating McDonald’s for nine consecutive months. Recognizing that some people work summers at their restaurants, McDonald’s recently announced that they are expanding the eligibility criteria so that returning employees who work a collective nine months in their local participating McDonald’s restaurant have an opportunity to receive tuition assistance for college or high school.

McDonald’s has proven time and again that it is truly not just about the quality food and beverages they serve, but that it is about the people that make up the organization.  So, next time you stop for a meal at McDonald’s, be it on your summer road trip or on your way to work, rest assured that you will be served by a crew member who is receiving job training, advancing their career or taking advantage of educational opportunities.

On behalf of FRLA, I am thrilled to support wonderful businesses, like McDonald’s, that provide great summer job opportunities for our youth.

___

Carol Dover is president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

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Tallahassee’s Press Center loses Hall of Fame photos to Poynter Institute

The times, they are a-changin’ at the Florida Press Center.

Since 1988, the tan three-story building in downtown Tallahassee has been the home-away-from-home for many of the state’s newspapers, wire services and television and radio stations. (It replaced another building torn down to make way for what is now downtown’s Kleman Plaza.)

But the Florida Press Association sold the College Avenue property in late 2014, saying it no longer wanted to be a landlord. The new owners soon added a lawyer’s office and a counseling practice to the tenant mix.

Even before the sale, the News Service of Florida vacated its space for another nearby building. Later, the First Amendment Association, the state’s open government watchdog, also moved to alternate offices in Tallahassee.

More recently, the Press Center lost two legacy tenants with the closing of the Tampa Tribune and its capital bureau, and the laying off of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s last remaining full-time capital reporter, Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Now, it’s also lost a chunk of history.

Bob Graham and Gwen Graham at the Press Center. Hall of Fame portraits can be seen in the background. (Photo: Amy Datz)
Bob Graham and Gwen Graham at the Press Center. Hall of Fame portraits can be seen in the background. (Photo: Amy Datz)

Gone are the portraits that hung on the walls of the building’s press conference room.

They depicted the members of the Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame, recognizing “individuals who have rendered outstanding service in the field of newspaper journalism in Florida.”

Among them are FLORIDA TODAY and USA TODAY founder Al Neuharth and legendary UPI Florida bureau chief Barbara Frye. The Capitol Press Corps’ scholarship program is named after her.

The photos were packed up and shipped to St. Petersburg, says Florida Press Association CEO Dean Ridings. 

“They are moving to their new permanent home at Poynter,” he said, referring to the nonprofit journalism education organization. The photographs also can be viewed online.

All is not lost for the press cred of the building, where not too long ago Pulitzer Prize winners like Lucy Morgan and Paige St. John trod its halls.

Last year, POLITICO Florida moved five reporters into empty space on the second story.

And the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau still maintains offices on the third floor, as does the Associated Press.

That means the walls will continue to echo the booming voice of AP scribe and press corps éminence grise Gary Fineout, perhaps for years to come.

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