The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Wednesday invited “communities across Florida to submit proposals for three grant funding opportunities for the upcoming fiscal year,” according to a press release.
The department “is committed to using our resources and tools to help all Florida communities and their residents flourish,” DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said in a statement. “These programs help communities strengthen infrastructure, enhance business development and improve their residents’ quality of life.”
The programs in question are:
— The Competitive Florida Partnership Grant, a two-year program that “provides technical assistance and support to rural areas seeking to improve their communities through an asset-based economic development strategy.”
Communities qualifying for the Competitive Florida Partnership Grant include all rural Florida counties and their municipalities, or rural municipalities in an urban county.
The Competitive Florida Partnership provides grant funding and staff support in the first year of the program. In year two, communities continue to receive technical assistance from DEO and may be eligible for additional grants. It began in 2013 to help rural communities meet their goals with expert support and additional resources that may be otherwise unavailable.
Competitive Florida Economic Development Project Grants are available to all counties and municipalities to help the community learn more about local assets and economic conditions, and develop a specific local project. Grant awards range from $5,000 and $15,000.
Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants are available to all counties and municipalities for one fiscal year. Regional Planning Councils may also be eligible for projects at a regional scale that include more than one county. Projects seeking grant funding must be completed by June 1, 2018. Typical grant awards will be between $25,000 and $40,000 per project.
Proposals must be received by the department by June 23, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.
For more details on the Competitive Florida program go here, and for more information on DEO’s technical assistance efforts, click here.
A reinvention of the transportation project formerly known as TBX began Wednesday night.
A crowd of approximately 150 people from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties gathered at the Bryan Glazer Jewish Community Center in West Tampa for the grand opening of Tampa Bay Next, the new name for what continues to essentially be the same project — the Tampa Bay Express, the $6 billion plan from the Florida Department of Transportation whose most contentious feature included 90 miles of toll lanes to existing free interstate highways.
But that’s not what Wednesday night was all about.
“Tonight is more about listening,” said Andrea Henning with Collaborative Labs, an organization affiliated with St. Petersburg College that works on executing strategic planning sessions and solving problems.
The audience was then separated into 20 separate small groups tasked with determining the common needs and problems in a transportation system. In many ways, it was similar to the outreach meetings that the sponsors of the ill-fated Go Hillsborough transit plan conducted back in 2015.
“What does success look like for our region?” Henning asked. “How do we get there?”
For all the discussion of this “reboot” as a way of starting over in coming up with a transportation plan the community can buy into, express toll lanes remain an option the FDOT is considering, but not necessarily in areas where Tampa transit activists are most concerned.
That would be the downtown interchange area just north of downtown Tampa on I-275, as well as the Westshore interchange.
“That’s all under re-evaluation,” says Danielle Moran, program consultant for FDOT on the Tampa Bay Next project. “FDOT is doing exactly what everybody asked them to do last year. They have slowed down the pace of the project to wait for the results of the Transit Feasibility plan.”
Also known as the “premium transit plan,” that study recently came up with five transit routesthat are being considered a “starting point.” It will continue deep into 2018.
In an effort to be inclusive, officials from various local transit agencies were invited to the meeting, because FDOT officials say that if they’re going to build a transportation system that accommodates regional mobility, then local concerns also need to be addressed.
Some members of the public thought they would hear about specific plans, but Henning and Moran shut down that talk early on.
“This is a response for a broader conversation,” Moran said. “If you have specific questions about concepts and other options, we can set up a time to get together.”
Among the major themes emanating from the study groups last night were to put all forms of transportation on the table; to work on reducing bottlenecks around I-4; putting infrastructure in place before specific communities grow and not afterward; to have responsible land use; think about urban freeway removal, and yes, a proposal to eliminate toll roads.
“We kept on coming back to a sense of urgency, we didn’t want to have to wait, and we’re curious about how this gets paid for,” said Karen Schwarz, who added that a personal pet peeve was bus stops that didn’t have shade.
Although TBX critics didn’t seem convinced that FDOT has turned over a new leaf, Moran insists that Tampa Bay Next isn’t just a name change.
“This is a change to the approach to the program and people think we’re here to sell a project right now, we are not here to do that,” she said. “This is your chance to be part of a solution, to come to the table with ideas. We hear a lot about what people want and don’t want. This is acting to determine what do we want as a community.”
Moran elicited boos when she explicitly told the audience that “express lanes are one of the options on the table.”
“We’re happy to talk to you about the other options, but tonight is about building consensus.”
With express lanes on the table, though, true consensus might not be possible. No construction is expected to begin until at least the end of 2019.
Collaborative meetings will continue (almost daily) in parts of the Bay area over the next few weeks. A schedule is available here.
Much has changed during Bill Nelson’s tenure as an elected official.
As National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Katie Martin observes in a recent email, campaigns are nearly unrecognizable today compared to 1972 when Nelson first arrived in the Florida Legislature.
Since then, Martin says America has seen nine presidential administrations, the first woman in space, and the rise (and fall) of Britney Spears in her journey from pop superstar to a breakdown, recovery, and re-emergence as a Las Vegas lounge act.
In other words: Nelson has been around a long, long time.
While political campaigns have certainly changed, one important thing has not — calling out someone when they are wrong.
With that, Martin tries to understand Bill Nelson’s silence on controversial comments made by Sally Boynton Brown the Florida Democratic Party’s new executive director.
As reported by the Miami New Times, Boynton Brown said that in the time and place Democrats are in now, it is “very hard” to get low-income voters excited about “issues” such as single-payer health care; the problem is these very same people are “not voting.”
The New Times also notes: “[Boynton Brown] said that taking money from large corporations … could somehow be a good thing … and that the ‘relationship’ created when gigantic corporations give thousands of dollars to political candidates can somehow make it easier for politicians to push back against corporations when they are ‘raping our country.’”
That leads Martin to ask: Why has Nelson, only statewide Democratic officeholder, not yet weighed in?
Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
A programming note: Sunburn is taking a holiday Friday, Memorial Day, and next Tuesday. Barring a call for a special session, Sunburn will return Wednesday.
By then, we will be in Paris. Accordingly, I wanted to share with Sunburn readers one story about how some Americans abroad pay tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers.
In a small town just outside Paris, at the end of every May, a pair of red, white, and blue flags are raised honoring the connection between France and the United States.
Both flags – that of the United States and France – celebrate Memorial Day, a reminder to the citizens of Suresnes (population 50,000) of how America and Americans had stood for its enduring friend and ally, France.
Suresnes is home to the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial – 7.5 acres of sacred space commemorating World War I and II. In the Cemetery are 1,541 graves of World War I service members, as well as two dozen graves of unknown World War II soldiers, including a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters.
As the Cemetery overlooks the City of Lights, fallen soldiers serve as silent sentries over Paris.
Every year, the Suresnes Cemetery – not as well-known as its Normandy counterpart – joins the entire town in observing Memorial Day, a holiday not usually celebrated in France.
Organized by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Cemetary, and the city of Suresnes welcome both American and French visitors, in a tribute that includes local and regional authorities and veterans.
All are there to give praise to the American military service members who afforded a full measure for liberty.
Prayers are followed by speeches celebrating the distinction of American service members, giving gratitude for their service and the lives paid to the French people.
While not an official holiday – French workers do not get that Monday off – many celebrants will visit Sunday to offer remembrance. Yet the juxtaposition of a Memorial Day ceremony, in a cemetery overlooking Paris, highlights the profound bond of blood between two old friends – France and the United States – joined by war and a desire for peace.
Much has been said in both the United States and France about the U.S. military. And while there may be much to disapprove about government policies, often those critics target the same men and women who serve honorably, those who put lives on the line to allow us all the freedom to criticize our government.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***
— MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THESE LOBBYISTS AND ASSOCIATIONS —
Summertime is here — well, almost.
While Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces, the holiday also marks the unofficial start to summer. And for many people, that means it’s time to start thinking about summer vacation.
A record number of Floridians are expected to travel this weekend, with more than 2 million expected to take to the road, sky and water for a weekend getaway.
Planning a last-minute getaway? Maybe AAA’s legislative lobbying team of Chris Dudley, Paul Mitchell, and Monte Stevens with Southern Strategy Group; and Jennifer Wilson with Adams and Reese can help you get aTripTikto help plan your trip and make sure your membership is up-to-date before you hit the road this weekend.
With millions of people flying into (and out of) the Sunshine State on a regular basis, Airlines for America, the trade organization representing the principle U.S. airlines, tapped Fred Baggett, Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Leslie Dughi and Fred Karlinsky with Greenberg Traurig to represent its interests before the Florida Legislature.
Once you get to your destination, you’ll need a place to stay. If you want some tips about where to stay, you might want to check with the Marriott International’s legislative lobby team of Slater Bayliss, Al Cardenasand Stephen Shiver with The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners; and Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Brittany Finkbeiner, and Cari Roth with Dean Mead.
If you’re looking for a place with a homier feel, a vacation rental might be more your style. Brian Bautista with Impact GR; and William Rubin, Amy Biscgelia, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, and Heather Turnbull with The Rubin Group might be able help you find the perfect beach rental at Airbnb. Or you can check in with Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick and Timothy Parson with Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, and Ron Pierce and Natalie King with RSA Consulting for some tips on how to find a good place using HomeAway.
Want to avoid an encounter with law enforcement while you’re out and about, but don’t want to turn down that cocktail? Aaron Brand, Cesar Fernandez, Kasra Moshkani, Brad Nail, and Stephanie Smith with Uber — or one of the members of the transportation technology company’s team of über lobbyists — might be able to walk you through how to call an Uber at the end of a long night.
Love the water? It’s probably too late to book a cruise for this holiday weekend, but with three of the top cruise ports in the world located in Florida, you’ll surely be able to find a ship setting sail soon. TheCruise Lines International Association legislative lobby team of Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Carol Bracy, David Browning, Nelson Diaz, and Matthew Forrest, and Sylvester Lukis with Ballard Partners; and Edgar Castro with Southern Strategy Group might be able to give you some suggestions about the best time to set sail.
Whatever you do this weekend, make sure to remember the real reason for Memorial Day. While the holiday commemorates those who have died in service to the country, it’s still fair to give a shout out to Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion? Bill Helmich with Helmich Consulting represents the Florida departments of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“The hangover: Rick Scott vetoes ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ bill” via Florida Politics– Saying it could hurt job creation, Scott vetoed a contentious bill that would have removed the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Scott filed his veto letter of the measure (SB 106) on Wednesday night, his deadline to act on the bill. It would have removed the 82-year-old requirement, enacted in Florida after Prohibition, that hard liquor be sold in a separate store. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in the Sunshine State.
Independent liquor store owners and other opponents flooded the Governor’s Office with thousands of emails and petitions against the bill. Scott was careful to explain his position in his veto letter, balancing his concerns over jobs with the desire of big businesses that sorely wanted him to approve the legislation … “I have heard concerns as to how this bill could affect many small businesses across Florida,” he wrote. “I was a small business owner and many locally owned businesses have told me this bill will impact their families and their ability to create jobs.”
— “We applaud Governor Scott for saving hundreds of Florida small businesses that employ thousands of Floridians, while at the same time keeping safeguards in place for minors,” ABC Fine Wine & Spirits CEO and President Charles Bailes.
— “We have made tremendous progress in the last four years, and there is a clear momentum in Florida for this common-sense approach to liquor sales. While Governor Scott ultimately chose to veto Senate Bill 106, we look forward to working with state leaders in the future to finally put an end to this outdated, Prohibition-era law.” said Michael Williams, a spokesman for the group Floridians for Fair Business Practices, which supported the repeal.
Bill watch – Two more bills were delivered to the governor:HB 457 on “terrorism and terrorist activities,” creating statewide crimes for terrorist acts, and HB 865 for the Department of Transportation. Among other things, it mandates a study of the boundaries of the Department’s seven districts and how much it would cost to create another district for the Fort Myers area. He has until Thursday, June 8 to act on the latest bills. As of midday Wednesday, 72 bills awaited action by the governor.
Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will sign highlight job growth and sign legislation that will benefit Florida families and businesses at 10:30 a.m. at 3Cinteractive Corp., 750 Park of Commerce Blvd. Ste. 400 in Boca Raton.
“Adam Putnam calls for special session on medical marijuana” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn’t finish earlier this month. “I think that it’s important for the elected officials to have done their job during the regular session,” he said Tuesday. “Since they didn’t, I think a special session is in order.” … “I think for a constitutional amendment’s implementation, it’s important for the elected officials to do it, not the bureaucrats at the Department of Health,” Putnam said.
“Amendment 1 lawsuit may rev up after Session” via Florida Politics – A lawsuit over the state’s environmental funding under a new constitutional amendment is expected to resume now that the annual Session is in lawmakers’ rear-view mirror. An array of environmental advocacy groups had filed suit over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The constitutional change, approved by voters in 2014, mandates state spending for land and water conservation … Advocates — including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club — sued the state in 2015, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate. But the legal action had been put on hold earlier this year by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson. He cited a state law that allows litigation to be suspended during a Legislative Session and up to 15 days after the conclusion of one.
Assignment editors – Miami-Dade public schools to host town halls on Legislature’s K-12 spending plan beginning 6 p.m. at Miami Senior High School, 2450 SW 1st Street in Miami, and at 7:30 p.m. at Miami Beach Senior High School, 2231 Prairie Avenue in Miami Beach.
“New DEP secretary says there’s no conflict in political side businesses” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state’s top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying groups, many of whom sought to influence the administration’s policy or advance the governor’s political fortunes. Before he joined the governor’s office, Valenstein was director of legislative affairs for the nonprofit Everglades Foundation from August 2011 until December 2012. But while Valenstein was holding each of these policy jobs, his wife was also operating two political consulting and polling companies that Valenstein started: Campaign Facts, LLC and Voter Opinions, LLC. Each catered exclusively to Republican candidates, advocacy groups and political committees. But the week before Valenstein started with the governor’s office … he named his wife, Jennifer Barnhill Valenstein, the registered agent for both firms and removed himself from the corporate paperwork. The companies continued to operate and, between June 2010 and April 2017, they received $942,117 in payments for political consulting, legal and polling work.
“By this time school is about to end around the state, and the governor has usually acted on a new state budget,” writes Fineout. “But as we have seen this isn’t an ordinary year as Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans continue their all out public feud over spending and legislative priorities (or asCorcoran puts it – a fight for the soul of the party.)”
Even though the new fiscal year starts July 1, Fineout notes the Legislature hasn’t sent the budget to the governor yet. Since Scott became governor, the longest the Legislature waited to deliver the budget was 2012 when it took 28 days. But as Fineout noted, that was a redistricting year so lawmakers went into session early and “actually delivered it in early April.”
The delay in getting the budget has people wondering whether Scott will veto it. He has “publicly thrown out the possibility he may veto the entire budget to register his displeasure.” And school district officials, as Fineout explains, have called on the governor to “veto the main appropriation that goes to public schools.”
Another layer of complexity, lawmakers could send Scott the budget, but hold back big bills, like a massive education bill that has drawn “fierce criticism and support across the education spectrum.”
“That’s important because that bill includes more than $400 million – including money for the contentious Schools of Hope charter school proposal and money for teacher bonuses,” wrote Fineout.
— JOE GRUTERS MAKES HIS PICK —
Gruters is backing Rep. Paul Renner to be House Speaker in 2022-24. The Sarasota Republican said while he thinks everyone in the running for the position would do a great job, he felt Renner is the best person at this time. Gruters said he’s decided to make his position known because he didn’t want to give anyone false expectations or lead any candidates on. “Like all my votes in the Legislature, I am committing to the person who I think is the best to lead our class,” he said in a message.
Freshmen House Republicans are scheduled to meet on June 30 to select their class leader and, assuming the GOP maintains its control of the Florida House in the next decade, the likely House Speaker for the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions.
… Gruters’ backing could be a sign of good things to come for Renner, a Palm Coast Republican first elected to the Florida House in a 2015 special election. Gruters, the longtime chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, was an early supporter of Gov. Scott, a little known Republican candidate for Governor back in 2010. … He was also an early supporter of President Donald Trump.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Jeff Clemens endorses Andrew Gillum for Governor — The Gillum campaign announced Wednesday that Clemens, the Senate Democratic Leader-designate, has endorsed Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement, Clemens called Gillum a “bold leader whose vision will transform Florida.” “Andrew will prioritize the people we serve, not the privileged few who have had their way in Tallahassee for decades,” said Clemens. “Strong values like top-flight education for every child, an economy that works for workers as well as small business owners, and healthcare that protects the vulnerable by covering Floridians with pre-existing conditions.” Gillum is one of three Democrats currently vying to replace Gov. Scott in 2018. “It’s an honor to receive Leader Designate Jeff Clemens’ endorsement. He is a true champion for Florida’s working people, and as a former Mayor, he knows the critical importance of building strong communities everywhere in Florida,” said Gillum in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to build an economy that serves all Floridians – not the special interests.”
“RaquelRegalado casts herself as Ros-Lehtinen’s political heir” viaPatricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — As she mulled a run for Congress, Regalado was nagged by a question she said was posed to her again and again that might not usually be asked of male candidate. “The first question that I was asked was, ‘How are you going to be a mother and a congresswoman?'” Regalado said Tuesday at a women-centered Miami Young Republicans event where shekicked off her candidacy. “I think it’s sad that we’re in a place where people still ask those questions.” With that, Regalado, a former Miami-Dade County School Board member, portrayed herself as the political heir to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the retiring GOP congresswoman Regalado is hoping to replace. Regalado didn’t explicitly draw the line between her nascent candidacy and Ros-Lehtinen’strailblazing political career. But it was clear that, as the most prominent Republican woman who’s filed for the Democratic-leaning 27th district, Regalado plans to campaign as a politician cast in Ros-Lehtinen’s centrist mold.
“Does Alex Diaz de la Portilla know he’s filed for the wrong race?” via Ann Howard of The Capitolist – On May 3, 2017, he filed to run in the Senate District 40 race, as part of the 2018 general election. But if he wants to run in the Senate District 40 special election, he’s in the wrong race. The Division of Elections says they’ve not received a request from Diaz de la Portilla to amend the paperwork. The division updates that information immediately. Multiple messages to Diaz de la Portilla and his campaign were not returned.
“Unconventional Green Party candidate Shawn Mathis Gilliam files for HD 58 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – As a member of an alternative, third party, Gilliam‘s worldview and ideology are not easily explained; it could make it hard to break through with voters in House District 58. A recent convert to the Green Party, he does not agree with their stance in support of medical marijuana, saying its effects are too negative for the body. While raised as a Christian, Gilliam converted to Islam “about three Ramadans ago.” He says in some respects he’s quite conservative. He’s pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage. “I would like to present a bill making the Islamic Nikah (marriage contract) a legally binding contract for marriage and any other religious marriage contract that is legally binding between the husband and wife if it pertains to religious affiliation,” he said in a follow-up email. He’s also anti-fluoride in the water, and in an email statement, said that he favors polygamy. ‘Islam recognizes Poligomy [sic], and I would like to get that legal in our state as well,” he writes.
Assignment editors: Sally Boynton Brown, the newly appointed president of the Florida Democratic Party, will speak at the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual “Grassroots Awards Celebration” at 6 p.m. at Celebration Gardens, 1871 Minnesota Ave. in Winter Park.
“Image matters more than truth (but don’t say that!)” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat – The new chief of the Florida Democratic Party has had to apologize for telling the truth. She shockingly failed to use sufficient euphemism when telling a euphemistically titled group of party activists that emotions, rather than issues, get voters to the polls. Sally Boynton Brown, addressing the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County, knew she was treading into a sensitive area. Then she said, “I believe that we’re in a place where it is very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters who are not voting.” She did not say that poor people — whose lack of turnout last fall probably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency — are too dumb to understand issues, or that they vote on emotion alone. But that’s how some Democrats heard it. But what she said was right. A couple of things, before we get to whether issues matter to voters. First, Brown bears the new title “president” of the Florida Democratic Party, which sounds like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce. Second, the fact that Democrats have a “progressive caucus” is a big reason that they keep losing elections. The Republicans don’t have a conservative caucus. They are a conservative caucus.
“Miami Beach mayor’s race heats up with email attacks” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – The two most prominent candidates hurled accusations and insults at each other in a series of emails … questioning each other’s ethics and records of public service. Dan Gelber, the former state legislator and federal prosecutor who is running for his first municipal government position, traded jabs with Michael Grieco, a criminal defense attorney and current commissioner. With the election still about six months away, it’s already getting ugly. An email blasted out Friday by Gelber’s campaign touted the results of a poll that found he was ahead of Grieco after the voter is provided biographical information on both candidates. Then the poll taker told the voter being questioned that Grieco may be tied to a political action committee that has raised money from city vendors and lobbyists — a controversial and, in some cases, illegal fundraising tactic under the Beach’s unusually strict campaign finance laws … Grieco fired back in his own email blast with the subject line “Dishonest Dan.” He rips the poll, accuses Gelber of lying and denies involvement with any PAC.
— STATEWIDE —
“President’s budget proposal would end Amtrak services in Florida” via WCTV – The proposal cuts funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes, which includes all three routes in Florida. It would also hinder ongoing efforts to restore service in Florida’s Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast. The president’s budget would eliminate all three routes in Florida, including: The Auto Train, which runs daily from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford; The Silver Meteor, which runs daily from Miami to Orlando to New York; The Silver Star, which runs daily from Miami to Tampa to Orlando to New York.
“Zika hit Florida months before infections found, study says” via Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press – Zika began spreading in Florida mosquitoes about three months before infections showed up in the Miami area last summer, and the virus likely was carried in by travelers from the Caribbean, new research suggests. Mosquitoes there started picking up the virus from infected travelers as early as March last year, according to scientists who examined genetic information from samples from about 30 people with Zika as well as from mosquitoes. It wasn’t until July that Florida health officials said they had detected a local infection – the first in the U.S. mainland. Mosquitoes spread Zika by biting someone who’s infected, then biting another person. The bugs may have been causing infections in Miami as early as March, too, said researcher Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But there were likely few cases before July, and it’s not clear any of them sought treatment, he said. Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects in babies.
“Pam Bondi says charities she helps aren’t required to register with state” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi’s office this week responded to a lawsuit claiming she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Deputy Solicitor General Jonathan L. Williams, writing on Bondi’s behalf, said in part that some of the organizations criticized by Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith aren’t “require(d) … to register (with the state) before receiving contributions from governmental entities.” Rather, they need to register as charities if they plan to “solicit,” or ask for, charitable contributions, Williams added. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee ordered Bondi to show why he shouldn’t find for Smith, giving Bondi 40 days to respond. Williams’ response came on the 40th day.
“Florida reaps $1.6 million from settlement with Johnson & Johnson” via Florida Politics – Florida was among 43 states that sued the company and its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. subsidiary, alleging that they misled consumers into believing that they’d manufactured the medications in FDA-compliant facilities. In a consent decree … J&J agreed to pay $33 million to the states and to improve internal and marketing controls. The company pleaded guilty in 2015 to selling liquid medicines contaminated with metal, and agreed to pay $25 million to the federal government. According to the complaint, J&J’s McNeil-PPC Inc. subsidiary marketed over-the-counter drugs as complying with federal Good Manufacturing Practices between 2009 and 2011 when not all of its plants met those standards. That noncompliance was the equivalent of selling adulterated medicines, the document says. That document cites recalls in 2009 and 2010 of drugs including Tylenol, Infants and Children Tylenol, Benadryl, Rolaids, Motrin and Zyrtec.
“Craig Waters: Florida’s courts lead in use of social media” viaFlorida Politics– Long seen as the quietest branch of state government, Florida’s state courts have emerged in the last year as a national leader in social media use. In fact, we are leading the nation with 20 out of 26 court divisions using Twitter to reach the public right now. That’s an astounding number … The goal is simple. It’s not enough that courts do justice. They also must make sure people see justice being done.
“Thanks to beer, over 160,000 have jobs in Florida” via Joe Ruble of WDBO – A new study shows America’s beer industry contributes more than $21.6 billion to Florida’s economy. It also supports 160,706 jobs in the state, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute, a trade association for brewers. “America’s beer distributors are proud to provide nearly 135,000 jobs with solid wages and great benefits to employees at more than 3,000 facilities, located in every state and congressional district across the country. Independent beer distributors generate significant economic contributions in their communities through local business-to-business commerce, investments in local infrastructure and capital assets and tax revenue,’ said NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser. Brewers and beer importers directly employ 64,745 Americans.
— MOVEMENTS —
Hospice care providers honor former AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek – Florida hospice operators have bestowed their Outstanding Public Service Award upon Dudek, the former head of the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association cited her “decades of dedicated public serve and her commitment of assuring the highest quality of hospice care for Florida residents.” Dudek started at the state agency in 1992, ending with a six-year stint as secretary, before leaving to handle health care affairs for Greenberg Traurig. “In each regulatory role Liz held, she matched stride with Florida’s hospice providers and played a key role in contributing to what has long been the state with the most comprehensive hospice services offered in the nation,” Association president and CEO Paul Ledford said.
New and renewed lobby registrations:
Ivette Arango, Brett Bacot, Marnie George, Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Timothy Stanfield, Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: 100 Black Men of Tallahassee; Tech Care X-ray, LLC
Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: City of Lakeland; Twin Creeks Development Associates, LLC, a Florida limited liability company
— ALOE —
“Florida’s Memorial Day travelers expected to top 2 million” viaDewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Just more than 2 million Floridians are expected to travel during … Memorial Day weekend. So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Florida are up 17 percent, compared to the same period last year, said Vicky Evans, assistant vice president of travel sales development for AAA — The Auto Club Group.
“More people to travel this Memorial Day, says AAA” viaNancy Trejos of USA Today — More people will get away this Memorial Day weekend than have in the past 12 years, with 39.3 million U.S. travelers expected to take to the road, skies, rails and water, according to a forecast released Wednesday from auto club AAA. That represents an increase of 1 million more travelers — 2.7% — this year than last Memorial Day weekend. It represents the third consecutive year that U.S. travelers have been on the move for 50 miles or more over this holiday weekend. … Most of the travelers — 88.1% or 34.6 million — will drive to their destinations. That is an increase of 2.4% over last year despite higher gas prices. Most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. The national average price for a gallon of gas on Wednesday is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year.
Spotted: Photographer Phil Sears photos in a travel feature for The New York Times about Florida.
“Orlando top destination in the world for Memorial Day” viaTerry Roen of Orlando Rising — The City Beautiful will receive the lion’s portion of the 39.3 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend. Orlando was the number one U.S. city in the top five, followed by Rome, London, Dublin and Vancouver. Seattle, Las Vegas and New York City ranked 6, 7 and 8, while Honolulu took the number 10 spot behind Paris. … The travel forecast is great news for Central Florida, where both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are launching new attractions during the Memorial Day Weekend. Universal’s new water park,Volcano Bay, opens May 25 followed by Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar on May 27.
Happy birthday this weekend to Reps Julio Gonzalez and Mel Ponder, Richard DeNapoli, Arron Gober, Mike Fischer, Marion Johnson, Alex Setzer, Clark Smith, Craig Waters, and our friend – a great Floridian – Christian Ziegler.
“In the official trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7, the end is coming” via David Canfield of Slate – We finally have our first full look at Game of Thrones’ seventh season. The official trailer feels especially doom-and-gloomy (yes, even for this show), as the HBO epic approaches its long-awaited climax. Season 7 will consist of an abbreviated seven episodes, before the eighth and final installment premieres next year. It’s all about preparation for the final battle to come: Cersei (Lena Headey) gathering her army for the coming challengers, Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) hitching his wagon to Sansa (Sophie Turner) as his “last hope,” and Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) surprisingly returning to action after having been banished. Then there’s Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), ready to assume the throne she has sought since the series’ beginning: “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she asserts. “And I will.” As the trailer fades to black, we hear an ominous official declaration: “The Great War is here.”
Rasmus led off the seventh with another home run and Souza, who came into the game in an 8-for-67 slump, followed with his second of the game and seventh of the season.
Nolasco gave up five runs on seven hits, including three homers, in six innings. He has given up 16 homers this season.
Trout doubled in his first two at bats, giving him 409 extra-base hits, tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for second-most among players through their age-25 season. Thirty of Trout’s 52 hits this season have been for extra bases.
Pujols needs three more homers to become the ninth player to reach 600 homers, and 12 more to tieSammy Sosa for eighth all-time.
Evan Longoria became Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in walks when he drew his 543rd from Nolasco in the third.
Angels: Closer Huston Street (right lat strain) and RHP Matt Morin (neck tightness) threw perfect innings in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake. Morin struck out two.
Rays: RHP Diego Moreno (right shoulder bursitis) was placed on the 10-day disabled list and RHP Ryan Garton was recalled from Triple-A Durham. … RHP Tommy Hunter (right calf strain) could be reinstated from the disabled list in the next few days.
Angels: RHP Daniel Wright (0-0) will replace RHP Alex Meyer as Thursday’s starter against Tampa Bay. Manager Mike Scioscia is hopeful that Meyer, who went on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with mid-back stiffness, will return next week.
Saying it could hurt job creation, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a contentious bill that would have removed the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods.
Scott filed his veto letter of the measure (SB 106) on Wednesday night, his deadline to act on the bill. It’s the first veto of a bill from the 2017 Legislative Session.
It would have removed the 82-year-old requirement, enacted in Florida after Prohibition, that hard liquor be sold in a separate store. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in the Sunshine State.
But independent liquor store owners and other opponents flooded the Governor’s Office with thousands of emails and petitions against the bill.
Scott was careful to explain his position in his veto letter, balancing his concerns over jobs with the desires of big businesses that sorely wanted him to approve the legislation.
“Since becoming governor in 2011, I have repealed almost 5,000 regulations to reduce unnecessary burdens on Floridians,” he wrote. “From the day I took office, I have been committed to eliminating regulations that impose duplicative and unnecessary requirements on Florida’s citizens and businesses.
“I carefully reviewed this bill and I have met with stakeholders on both sides,” the governor added. “I listened closely to what they had to say and I understand that both positions have merit.
“Nevertheless, I have heard concerns as to how this bill could affect many small businesses across Florida. I was a small business owner and many locally owned businesses have told me this bill will impact their families and their ability to create jobs.”
For example, Kiran Patel, who owns liquor stores in Melbourne and Palm Bay, told lawmakers earlier this year that if the proposal became law, “we are finished … There’s no way we can even compete with” big box stores, which will “put pallets and pallets” of booze out in the open.
AmitDashondi, who owns liquor stores in Brevard County, said his customers had been rooting for a veto.
“They love their independent liquor stores,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday night. “We know our customers by name. That’s not going to happen in big, corporate stores. They know how to take your money, and that’s it.”
Most recently, Costco had joined Wal-Mart, Target and others in one last push to get Scott to sign the bill, known by the nickname “whiskey and Wheaties.”
“Requiring retailers to segregate spirits into a separate store is outdated, discriminatory and unnecessary in a modern marketplace,” said JayHibbard, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council, which supported the bill. “Florida consumers want the same convenience of one-stop shopping that consumers in most states enjoy. We encourage the Legislature to make this a priority in the next session.”
There was last-minute lobbying on the measure: Scott’s public schedule for Tuesday shows he had taken a call with Wal-Mart U.S. President and CEO Greg Foran, and met in Tallahassee with ABC’s CEO and Chairman Charles Bailes III.
“Thanks to Gov. Scott, we now have the opportunity to keep our doors open and keep our Florida workforce going strong,” said Rory Eggers, president of the Florida Independent Spirits Association, in a statement.
Added Bailes: “We believe he made his decision based on what is best for the State of Florida. We applaud the governor for saving hundreds of Florida small businesses that employ thousands of Floridians, while at the same time keeping safeguards in place for minors.”
The bill passed both chambers on close margins: 21-17 in the Senate and a razor thin 58-57 in the House. Also, five House members who missed the vote voted ‘no’ after the roll call.
Among other things, the bill would have required miniature bottles to be sold behind a counter and allowed for a 5-year phase-in. It further called for employees over 18 to check customers’ ID and approve sales of spirits by cashiers under 18.
Members of Tampa’s political, business, media and activist communities weighed in Wednesday on the surprising news that Tampa will host the Super Bowl in February 2021.
The announcement was unexpected, particularly after the NFL snubbed a local bid last year to host the big game in either 2019, 2020 and 2021.
But major rainstorms in Southern California throughout the past year delayed construction of a new stadium for the L.A. Rams and Chargers, forcing the NFL to choose a new town for the 2o21 spectacle.
“The construction delays in L.A. are not uncommon for projects of their size, so it’s kind of lucky for us,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “But I think this is more than luck. We’ve done this before.”
Lopano was still working in Dallas when Tampa last hosted the Super Bowl in 2009.
In addition to being shut out last year, Tampa also lost out to Minneapolis, New Orleans and Indianapolis as one of three finalists in fall 2013 to bid for the following year’s Super Bowl.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that unlike sports commissions, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission has always seen the value in bidding for major events even when it appears that other cities are going to win.
Hagan believes that philosophy allowed the city to be better positioned when the next opportunity to bid a major event occurs and that’s what led Tampa to get the chance to host the third national college football playoff championship this past January.
“We knew for sure that college football that Dallas was getting the first one,” he said, “but yet we put our best package forward, and although we didn’t get that one, we ended up getting the third, mainly because of the strong bid that we made on the initial game.”
“Most cities don’t do that,” Hagan added. “They don’t go through the effort.”
Tampa hosted four previous Super Bowls, but this is the first in 12 years. Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik said the controversial Community Investment Tax that passed in 1996 for the $169 million to finance Raymond James Stadium had proved the test of time.
“Taxpayers are getting a good return on the investment that they decided to make 20 years ago,” he said.
They are still paying for it, however.
Last month, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced details of the third phase of over $150-million renovation project to Raymond James Stadium. Enhancements include an 18,700 square-foot home locker room — three times the size of the current one — more than 60,000 square feet of total lounge space in the West Stadium Club, 178 new 4K video monitors in the West Stadium Club and a 10,000 square-foot retail team shop to sell exclusive merchandise.
While the city will look dramatically different from when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, in 2021, it should look different from how it does now.
“You’re going to have, obviously, a lot more residential in the heart of the city,” Turanchik said. “It’ll be exciting to see what comes out of Channelside. St Petersburg is booming. We’ll have a water ferry system that connects some of these points together. It’ll be a very different place.”
Tampa attorney and 2016 County Commission candidate Brian Willis agrees that taxpayer investment, along with local leadership, is the reason Tampa is getting the game.
“With another big event, transit and bike and pedestrian safety will be keys for visitors and locals,” he says. “That’s why we should work right now to make sure all of our neighborhoods get a permanent boost by preparing for 2020 with leadership and real taxpayer investment focused on our neighborhoods. This is another win for Tampa Bay. It will have a lasting impact if we use it as a catalyst to work together on the bigger picture.”
For East Tampa community activist Dianne Hart, the first thing going through her mind after reading Wednesday of the Super Bowl return to Tampa is how the African-American population will get an opportunity to take advantage of the economic impact coming to the region.
“I’m out in the community, and the community was not that happy the last time that we had a Super Bowl in our city,” she says of what happened in 2009. “A lot of people did not know how to get involved early enough. There’s opportunities for everybody to make money, so I just want to try to follow it a little closer this time to ensure that we have people in the right places.”
City Councilman Frank Reddick agrees with Hart, saying that while the jobs will only be short-term, he hopes that “this is an invitation for minorities to participate in the process and be rewarded with some jobs and opportunities that will bring in millions of dollars into this economy.”
La Gaceta editor and publisher Patrick Manteiga pointed out that there were definitely winners and losers economically who emerged from the 2012 Republican National Convention.
“There was a party atmosphere with the attendees of the RNC, but some parts of the city didn’t share in that partying,” he said.
Security concerns will undoubtedly be a primary concern, as they are at all major events held in the U.S.
Referring to this week’s terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in England, Manteiga said: “You hope that things don’t devolve over the next few years to where hosting these things start to look like the RNC, where you’ve got empty blocks that surround the stadium because of security concerns.”
Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez remembers the security that permeated Tampa during the second Super Bowl held here in January of 1991, shortly after the Gulf War had begun, America’s first serious military intervention since the Vietnam War. “Sometimes I think these big events are the safest places you can be at, ” he said.
Tampa International Airport will look different in 2021. The current interior construction that has been going on over the past year will be done, with new restaurants and shops up and running. And the new rental car facility will be up and running (the entire master plan for the airport won’t be completed until 2026).
Food Not Bombs activist Dezeray Lyn was detained by Tampa Police for attempting to feed the homeless the weekend before last January’s NCAA college football championship.
Lyn called the event another “priority crisis for the city.”
“One being that in advance of these high-profile events, the city launches into erasure mode and enacts processes of city beautification which mean the issues of houselessness and hunger are invisibilized by displacement,” she said. “The second being that the city then profits multimillions and fund appropriation doesn’t divert in any meaningful way typically to programs that change or better the circumstances of those most struggling in our community. In short, the red carpet will roll out for tourists, while the impoverished community will either remain the same or be worse off for it.”
Former County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said: “The direct economic value is probably a wash — but the branding & opportunity to promote our economic hubs — from Vinikville to Innovation Place & Westshore is invaluable. “
USF journalism professor Wayne Garcia called the Super Bowl an event for the “one percent,” but conceded that it’s fun and will bring the community together. But Garcia doesn’t want to hear about what an economic boom it will bring to the Tampa Bay area.
“True economic development comes from real investment: in targeted and supported public education, in infrastructure and in focusing on new industries to develop. A Super Bowl doesn’t help any of those things. This state and its lawmakers have consistently turned solely to tourism and real estate as the engines of our Florida economy,” he said.
A lawsuit over the state’s environmental funding under a new constitutional amendment is expected to resume now that the annual Session is in lawmakers’ rear-view mirror.
An array of environmental advocacy groups had filed suit over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The constitutional change, approved by voters in 2014, mandates state spending for land and water conservation.
The amendment, which needed a minimum of 60 percent to pass, got a landslide of nearly 75 percent, or more than 4.2 million “yes” votes.
Advocates—including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club—sued the state in 2015, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate.
But the legal action had been put on hold earlier this year by Circuit Judge CharlesDodson. He cited a state law that allows litigation to be suspended during a Legislative Session and up to 15 days after the conclusion of one.
The 2017 Session ended on May 8, and the 15-day ‘stay’ ended Tuesday.
David Guest, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, said they’re now awaiting a response from the state.
“We’ll see what they say,” said Guest, also the retired Tallahassee-based managing attorney of Earthjustice, a San Francisco-based nonprofit environmental law firm. “There are specific statutory accounting requirements regarding exactly how much is spent on land management, public access, and restoration projects.”
He contends that total is $310 million less than what the Legislature should have spent money on. “Then the question is, where’d it go,” Guest added. “They spent it on something else.”
One suit targeted the Legislature; another went after the agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Dodson later consolidated the suits into one action.
Amendment 1 requires state officials to set aside 33 percent of the money from the real estate “documentary stamp” tax to protect Florida’s environmentally sensitive areas for 20 years. The mechanism to do so is through the Florida Forever conservation program.
Florida Forever regularly received upward of $300 million annually after it became law in 1999, but those expenditures were dramatically reduced after the recession hit a decade ago.
Zika began spreading in Florida mosquitoes about three months before infections showed up in the Miami area last summer, and the virus likely was carried in by travelers from the Caribbean, new research suggests.
Mosquitoes there started picking up the virus from infected travelers as early as March last year, according to scientists who examined genetic information from samples from about 30 people with Zika as well as from mosquitoes. It wasn’t until July that Florida health officials said they had detected a local infection – the first in the U.S. mainland. Mosquitoes spread Zika by biting someone who’s infected, then biting another person.
The bugs may have been causing infections in Miami as early as March, too, said researcher Kristian Anderson of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But there were likely few cases before July, and it’s not clear any of them sought treatment, he said.
Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects in babies.
Anderson said it likely took mosquitoes biting 30 to 40 infected travelers to produce the outbreak that flared last year in Florida. Most of the 256 cases reported in the Florida outbreak did not occur until late summer, he added. Health officials declared Miami-Dade County clear of continuing Zika infections by December, though isolated infections have continued, including this year.
Texas is the only other state that had homegrown Zika cases last year. All the other Zika cases in the U.S. have been connected to travel to areas with recent large outbreaks, mostly to South America and the Caribbean.
Zika that spread in Florida mosquitoes mainly came from the Caribbean, the genetic information studied indicated. About 3 million travelers arrived in Miami from the Caribbean during the first half of 2016. About 2.4 million of them came on cruise ships, but it’s not clear that cruise ship passengers were the main spark in the Florida outbreak, Andersen said.
The Florida research was one of three papers on Zika published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The two others concluded there was a lag of six to 12 months between Zika’s arrival and its detection in Brazil in 2015 and other parts of South America.
Screening efforts using new technologies – if developed further – could change that, wrote the University of Arizona’s Michael Worobey, in an editorial accompanying the Zika articles.
“We should be detecting such outbreaks within days or weeks” and not months or years, he wrote.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.
Florida’s share of a settlement with Johnson & Johnson over adulterated over-the-counter drugs will exceed $1.6 million, Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Wednesday.
Florida was among 43 states that sued the company and its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. subsidiary, alleging that they misled consumers into believing that they’d manufactured the medications in FDA-compliant facilities.
In a consent decree dated Wednesday, J&J agreed to pay $33 million to the states and to improve internal and marketing controls. The company pleaded guilty in 2015 to selling liquid medicines contaminated with metal, and agreed to pay $25 million to the federal government.
According to the complaint, J&J’s McNeil-PPC Inc. subsidiary marketed over-the-counter drugs as complying with federal Good Manufacturing Practices between 2009 and 2011 when not all of its plants met those standards. That noncompliance was the equivalent of selling adulterated medicines, the document says.
That document cites recalls in 2009 and 2010 of drugs including Tylenol, Infants and Children Tylenol, Benadryl, Rolaids, Motrin, and Zyrtec.
“When a consumer purchases over-the-counter drugs, they should be able to trust that the medication is produced in a safe facility,” Bondi said in a written statement. “Thanks to collaborative multistate efforts, this settlement will help us better protect consumers buying OTC drugs across the country.”