Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 7.13.17 – On the road with Phil Levine; Bill Nelson’s Q2 numbers; Jack Latvala’s pledge; Latest on SD 40 & HD 44 special elex; Geeking out on Dunkirk & #GOT

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Phil Levine is getting a lot of mileage out of his deal to be a satellite radio show host this summer.

The Miami Beach mayor who’s raising money and organizing for a possible Democratic gubernatorial run insists his SiriusXM Radio show being tapped now on a rambling bus tour of Florida has nothing to do with politics, but rather with sharing the real spirit of Florida with the satellite service’s listeners.

A barefoot python hunter in the Everglades, a cigar roller in Tampa, a sponge harvesting family in Tarpon Springs, rocket launch “pad rats” at Kennedy Space Center.

And in Orlando Wednesday, Levine met with OnePulse Foundation Board Chairman and lawyer Earl Crittenden to interview him about how the gay nightclub massacre June 12, 2016, affected Orlando. And they met at Orlando’s new soccer stadium, the city’s newest good-feeling monument.

Miami Beach Mayor (and radio host) Philip Levine talks with OnePulse Foundation Board Chair Earl Crittenden for “A Day in the Sun,” a statewide bus tour and five-part audio documentary for his weekly SiriusXM radio show.

But this has nothing to do with running for governor, said Levine, whose political committee All About Florida already has $4 million [including $2.3 million from his personal fortune,] more than any of the official Democratic candidates has been able to raise.

“I’m enjoying meeting unique Floridians who truly shape our state, from all walks of life, from all geographical areas of the state. I think what it does is it gives myself, and even our listeners on SiriusXM even a greater understanding of what makes up this truly unique state of Florida,” Levine said.

The five-day bus tour, with his name splashed on the side, includes some of his political committee staff, but also a radio audio engineering team rolling to 22 stops in five days, from Miami to Pensacola.

“I don’t look at this as anything political,” he said. “This really truly is for our listeners. Of course, I’m getting educated at the same time. But It’s all about Florida. It’s all SiriusXM listeners. It’s not about politics. There’s no politics being discussed. There are no politicians being interviewed.”

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Gov. Scott hasn’t officially said he is running for the U.S. Senate, but with just over a year until the primary it seems as though the mere thought Scott jumping into the race has cleared the field.

Adam Smith with the Tampa Bay Times reports that even though the Naples Republican hasn’t publicly confirmed he is going to challenge Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in 2018, he has already scared away credible challengers. That’s likely because, as GOP consultant Brian Burgess told Smith, “nobody sane wants to run in a primary against Scott because he’s just going to bury them.”

While Smith notes that Scott doesn’t have “sky-high popularity, great charisma nor keen political instincts,” he does have three of the most important assets any statewide candidate can have “money, money and money.”

As Smith notes, here’s some of the things working in Scott’s favor if … OK, when … he decides to get in the race:

— Scott starts out with virtually universal name recognition, which in a massive state like Florida would cost millions upon millions of dollars in TV ads for most candidates. Despite his long history in the Sunshine State, Nelson isn’t as well-known, and would have to hustle to boost name recognition.

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott highlighted pay raises in the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget for Florida’s sworn state law enforcement officers, correctional officers and state employees.

— Sure, Scott is worth beaucoup bucks, but he is also a major money raiser. He’s OK with spending hours dialing for dollars, which many top-tier candidates aren’t. Since January he has raised more than $3 million for Let’s Get to Work, his state political committee. He also launched a super PAC, New Republican, led by Melissa Stone, his former campaign manager and chief of staff.

— Scott’s deep pockets could come into play at any moment. As the governor proved in 2010, when he first ran for office, he is willing to cut a check for his own campaign. And that, Smith points out could be what is scaring off potential rivals more than anything else.


Bill Nelson raises $2.1M in second quarter — Sen. Nelson’s campaign announced Wednesday it will report raising more than $2.13 million in the second quarter of 2017. The second quarter fundraising haul comes after the campaign raised $2.1 million in the first three months of the years. According to numbers released by the campaign Wednesday, Nelson received more than 25,000 donations from nearly 21,000 individual contributions during the three-month period. That’s up, according to the campaign, from 4,500 donors who contributed to Nelson in the first three months of the year. Nelson, according to the campaign, has more than $5.1 million in the bank.

Disney donates big in early days of governor’s race” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – The Walt Disney Co. is betting big on Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the early days of the 2018 race for governor but also is backing other potential GOP hopefuls considering the race. Since 2015, Disney has given $400,648 to Florida Grown, a committee supporting Putnam, but has also donated $70,000 to a committee run by state Sen. Jack Latvala and $35,000 to a new committee set up by House Speaker Richard Corcoran … Latvala and Corcoran have both said they are seriously considering runs. Apart from Disney, other large companies such as U.S. Sugar Corp. and Duke Energy have given to Putnam, Corcoran and Latvala’s committees, as well.

“Gwen Graham now taking on Adam Putnam over drilling” via Florida PoliticsGraham is now making offshore drilling an issue in the race, calling out Putnam for not opposing President Trump’s efforts “to expand drilling off Florida’s beaches.” “Representing the Gulf Coast in Congress, I saw the long-lasting negative effects the BP oil spill had on our state’s economy,” she said in a statement. Graham represented the state’s 2nd Congressional District in 2015–17. “It cost us jobs and hurt real Floridians,” she said. “Can you imagine a spill closer to our coasts? Banning drilling off our beaches is vital to our military, economy, and environment.

Jack Latvala pledges to raise $50K over next six months to Florida GOP” via Florida Politics — The Clearwater Republican took to Twitter on Wednesday to say he plans to raise $25,000 to the Florida GOP in both the third and fourth quarter, for a total of $50,000 in the final six months of 2017. … On Wednesday, Latvala, who is mulling a 2018 gubernatorial bid, tweeted that Ingoglia called him to ask for money for the state party. After he read the party raised the lowest amount in decades, Latvala wrote that he decided to do his part. “I’m stepping up,” he tweeted. “$25K this quarter. $25K next quarter. Challenge others to match.

Tweet, tweet:

Tallahassee man shuts down web names aimed at Democratic candidates” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel – Until Wednesday, when you typed in, or, your browser took you to the webpage of Putnam. Putnam campaign officials say they didn’t do it, and they don’t know Joe Mizereck, the man who registered the web addresses. Mizereck said he is just a fan of Putnam having some fun with potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates. But after being interviewed, he took down the sites, and now they’re for sale. “I thought it would be best for everyone,” he said, adding none of the campaigns asked him to shut down the sites. He guessed the three Democrats were likely candidates for the governor’s seat and purchased the domains for about $9 apiece.

Panhandle House delegation backs Matt Caldwell for Ag Commissioner — Rep. Caldwell announced he received unanimous support of House members from Florida’s Panhandle. Caldwell’s campaign announced that Reps. Brad Drake, Clay Ingram, Mel Ponder, Frank White, Jay Trumbull, and Jayer Williamson were throwing their support behind his bid to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2018. “I am excited and truly humbled to receive endorsements from an exceptional group of leaders in the Florida Panhandle,” he said in a statement. “I hope to have the opportunity to serve the people of the great State of Florida as the next Commissioner of Agriculture and it is with God’s blessing, and the outpouring of support we have received, that our campaign will be successful.” The campaign billed the endorsements as the first wave of Panhandle endorsements. 

Transgender Jacksonville vampire fiction writer running for Congress” via Jenna Bourne Action News Jax – She’s running for the seat currently held by Republican Representative and former Sheriff John Rutherford. Monica DePaul is an adjunct English professor at University of North Florida … “No one like me has ever run in this area before,” said DePaul … She was also the first transgender Florida delegate at the Democratic National Convention last year. “Going to the convention and just seeing how – for lack of a better term, how dumb it was, just listening to the same thing over and over again,” said DePaul. DePaul is running for Congress in 2018 as a Democrat, but she said voters should not expect her to toe the party line. A video game and anime enthusiast, DePaul has authored two novels about vampires. DePaul is an unconventional candidate, but she thinks that’s just what Washington needs.

Jacksonville’s Monica DePaul, a transgender woman, has filed to run for Congress against incumbent John Rutherford. She’s an adjunct English professor at the University of North Florida and writes vampire novels.

Nancy Soderberg files for Ron DeSantis’s seat” via Greg Giroux of Bloomberg – Former United Nations Ambassador Soderberg filed as a Democratic challenge in Republican DeSantis’s 6th Congressional District. Soderberg, a former deputy national security director to President Bill Clinton and aide to former Sen. Edward Kennedy, lost a 2012 race for the state Senate. National Democrats are targeting the district, which Trump carried by 17 points.

“Stephanie Murphy raises $410K in Q2” via Florida Politics — The first-term U.S. Rep’s campaign will report raising more than $410,000 in second quarter of the year, according to POLITICO’s Morning Score. She ended the first quarter, according to federal campaign reports, with $256,688 cash on hand.

Carlos Curbelo campaign reports $1.1 million cash on hand, $705,000 raised in second quarter” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – The cash keeps flowing for Curbelo … Curbelo’s campaign announced that the second term Republican from Miami raised $705,000 during the most recent fundraising quarter from April 1 to June 30. The Republican has $1.1 million cash on hand with 15 months remaining until the 2018 election, according to his campaign. Curbelo’s fundraising haul ranks among the best for House members of both parties. After the first quarter of 2017, Curbelo ranked 32nd nationally among all House members and challengers in money raised.

Dennis Baxley draws Republican primary challenge in SD 12” via Orlando RisingKeasha “Kay” Gray filed for the Ocala-area seat in 2018. Gray runs an Ocala multimedia corporation called TBNB Inc. She elementary ‎education in college and worked as an educator before becoming a stay-at-home mother who home-schools two of her four children. In 2013, Grey founded TBNB, a certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise. The company is the home of Black on Black Records, family-friendly Rainbow Heart Productions, and TBNB Television, an online television network designed for girls … TBNB also provides media, advertising and consulting services to government entities. Grey served on the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission in 2016.

Spotted at a fundraiser for Sen. Dana Young at Kingfish in The Big Easy: Patrick Bell, Jose Gonzalez, Jon Rees, Richard Reeves, Greg Smith, Alan Suskey, Kyle Ulrich, Cameron Yarbrough.

Charlotte officials back Ben Albritton in SD 26 — Several Charlotte County officials, including Rep. Mike Grant and former state Rep. Ken Roberson, have endorsed Ben Albritton in his bid to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley in Senate District 26. “I have worked with Ben and know his integrity and commitment to doing public service the right way,” said Grant. “With Ben in the Florida Senate, his constituents can be confident they have someone in Tallahassee who will always put their best interest first.” Albritton’s campaign announced Grant, Roberson, county Commissioners Ken Doherty, Joe Tiseo and Bill Truex, and Punta Gorda Mayor Rachel Kreesling have thrown their support behind Albritton. “Charlotte County is fortunate to have such fine men and women in public service,” said Albritton. “I am honored to have their support, and I look forward to working with them on policies that will strengthen families and our economy.”

In Miami Senate race, mailer says Donald Trump endorsed Jose Felix Diaz — but read the fine print” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald — A mailer in a Miami Senate race says that Trump has only backed one of the candidates, but voters will have to read the fine print to figure out when Trump supported state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. It appears that Trump supported Diaz in his previous bids for state house years before Trump’s successful bid for president. “Only one candidate in Senate District 40 has been endorsed twice by Donald Trump,” states one side of the mailer, showing a photo of Trump and Diaz smiling together giving the thumbs up sign.  The other side of the mailer states “Jose Felix Diaz supports Donald Trump” and shows a photo of Diaz, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The mailer displays a note written by Trump on an invoice: “Jose — Good Luck — we are all proud of you — you will win!” If you read the fine print of the invoice, it shows a date of June 2012. State campaign finance records show that Trump donated $500 to Diaz’s house race in July 2012 (as well as an earlier race in March 2009.)

Flip Florida calls Jose Felix Diaz position on the Affordable Care Act “Pepi-Dismal” — (T)he Jeff Clemens-led initiative, is targeting Rep. Diaz over his position on the Affordable Care Act. In a fundraising email this week, the group said Diaz has consistently voted to undermine the federal health care law and cut healthcare to millions of people. “His longstanding opposition to Medicaid is so nauseating, it makes you want to bathe in Pepto-Bismal. You can say its Pepi-Dismal,” reads the email. “In short, if you have anyone in your family that ever gets sick, injured, dead or similarly afflicted, this is not a guy you want as your State Senator.” The email goes on to ask supporters to donate to Flip Florida so it can communicate to undecided voters in Senate District 40; donate again; and “donate a third time if you’re really keen on this whole thing and want to have someone in the Senate who thinks more like you do than Donald Trump.

Miami-Dade Mayor drops out of Diaz fundraiser” via David Smiley of the Miami HeraldCarlos Gimenez has dropped his support for the campaign of Diaz over what he says is his disgust with the tenor of the Republican primary for the special Senate District 40 election … the county mayor has withdrawn as the “special guest” of Diaz’s July 18 Biltmore event due to back-and-forth attacks between the campaigns of Diaz and former Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla. Gimenez, who tapped Diaz de la Portilla to help with his underdog 2011 mayoral campaign, will not support any campaign … “He believes that the tone of that particular race has been unnecessarily negative and will not be endorsing any candidate in that primary.”

AFL-CIO backs Annette Taddeo in SD 40 — The Florida AFL-CIO has endorsed Taddeo in Senate District 40. “The members of the South Florida AFL-CIO were proud to recommend to our State Federation a full endorsement for Annette and now we are ready to move forward in the primary campaign and beyond,” said Andy Madtes, president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, in a statement. “Florida’s labor movement knows that she will fight every day for working families in the Florida Senate. This is an important election and we are proud to join her efforts to deliver a strong victory for the families in senate district 40.” Taddeo faces Ana Rivas Logan in the July 25 Democratic Senate District 40 primary. 

HD 44 special election money race has three $50K candidates, John Newstreet leading” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsNewstreet, president and chief executive officer of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, reported raising $67,379 including in-kind contributions … He also reported spending $20,026, with most of that going to campaign consultants at Millennium Consulting and Synergy Campaign Solutions, both of Orlando. Winter Garden businessman Bobby Olszewski, a former Winter Garden city commissioner, reported raising $54,330, including in-kind and a $1,000 personal loan he gave his campaign. He spent $6,699, with most of that going to himself and consultants at Strategic Trade Management of Tampa and Your Brand Voice of Orlando. Orlando businessman Bruno Portigliatti reported raising $51,012 including $25,000 from himself and at least $7,000 from his family and his family businesses. He spent $12,791, with $3,742 of that going to EM Campaigns of Tallahassee.

Republican primary candidates for HD 44 debate at the monthly Orlando Tiger Bay Club meeting (from left): Dr. Usha Jain, an emergency clinic medical director; John Newstreet, CEO of the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce; Bobby Olszewski, a former Winter Garden commissioner and Bruno Portigliatti, executive vice president of Florida Christian University.

What Mike Ertel is reading –Local elections officials trying to convince some registered voters to stay registered” via – Fears about data breaches and identity theft – or flat-out aversion to what many perceive as a Big Brother-ish information gathering activity – continued even as a representative of the commission told state officials not to provide the voter data previously requested. The Lee County Supervisor of Elections has received a handful of calls and several emails regarding this specific issue … A couple of people came in the main office Monday to remove themselves from the voter rolls … they are telling callers that the Secretary of State is releasing only the information that is already available under the Florida Public Records Law, Chapter 119 of Florida Statute. They will not release driver’s license information and Social Security numbers. They will not release any information that is exempt or confidential under Florida law, including certain information regarding law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, and victims of stalking a domestic violence. While many voters were aware of the situation “long before the presidential commission” … the recent focus on Trump’s efforts to gather voter data have made people even more upset. Voters aren’t the only ones who are riled, however. County elections officials are also ticked off.

Robert Stuart talks about compassion and community service” via Terry Roen of Orlando RisingStuart is executive director of the Christian Service Center for Central Florida and is running for his fourth term as city commissioner for the District 3 seat in Orlando: “As a member of the Orlando City Council, my service through the Center reminds me that the decisions we make have a lasting impact on every part of our community, especially the ‘least of these.’ I believe that a community can be defined by how we treat our most vulnerable, and so each decision I make is tempered with this thought. For us to be a great community, we must address issues like attainable housing, poverty, unemployment and transportation for all. With that in mind, I was honored to help in the formation of ‘Orlando Blue Print,’ an initiative that includes the training and hiring of low-income and formerly homeless individuals for the building and operation of our downtown venues.”


Spotted: Florida in a Brennan Center for Justice report looking at partisan bias resulting from gerrymandering abuses in battleground states. The report found just seven states — including Florida, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania — account for almost all of the bias. It also found court ordered modifications to maps — which Florida, Texas and Virginia underwent — have “reduced, but not entirely curbed these states’ partisan bias.”

Report: Florida students face higher barriers to learning outside school compared with nation” via Annika Hammerschlag of the Naples Daily News – The Teacher & Principal School Report found Florida educators are more likely to report inadequate access to the internet and other learning resources outside school than educators from other states. The report, the first of its kind conducted by Scholastic, surveyed roughly 5,000 pre-K to 12 teachers and principals nationwide, including 250 from Florida. Florida teachers cited poverty, lack of access to English language learning support, and family and personal crises as some of the major factors impeding learning outside school. Other factors included lack of mental health and other health care services, going to school hungry and homelessness. Fifty-six percent of Florida teachers reported a lack of family involvement in student learning versus 48 percent nationwide.

Pam Bondi settles consumer complaints against three rental car firms” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Attorney General Bondi announced an out-of-court settlement with three major rental car companies that were targets of complaints by consumers about being charged excessive fees at “cashless” toll booths in Florida. Bondi said Avis, which also owns Budget and Payless rental car companies, have agreed to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose that it charges customers $3.95 a day to consumers who rent their cars and who encounter toll booths that allow only electronic payments. An announcement from Bondi’s office said the three companies also must disclose on their websites and in online reservation paths and at the rental car counter the fee and how consumers can avoid it. For years, rental car companies have charged fees to their customers who rent cars and drive on toll roads but who can’t or don’t pay tolls because they only accept electronic payments, such as with a transponder on a car’s windshield. The complaints have escalated in Florida as the state has increased the number of all-electronic toll roads.

The battle between AIRBNB and hotels is getting dirty — and FIU is caught in the middle” via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald – In April, leaked documents from an American Hotel and Lodging Association board meeting revealed a detailed national campaign to curb the growth of the short-term rental industry. Miami, one of the top cities in the country for Airbnb, was listed as a critical market. Also mentioned in the five-page document was Florida International University, one of four universities in the country working on research the association planned to use in its anti-Airbnb campaign … FIU’s research on safety and security in the hospitality industry would “support our fundamental argument about the harms that short-term rental companies pose to consumers and communities, and provide data to buttress testimonial campaign.” Meanwhile, Airbnb was working on a campaign of its own, funding a watchdog blog, the Checks and Balances Project … to investigate the hotel industry’s campaign against home sharing (Airbnb would not say how much it gives the blog in funding). “New documents raise question of what role hotel lobby’s chair played in Penn State pay-to-play scheme,” a recent blog entry headline reads, referring to a pair of Pennsylvania State University studies funded by the hotel association about the growth of full-time short-term rental operators.

“Orange production up a bit, latest estimate shows” via Florida PoliticsSqueeze ’em while you got ’em: Florida’s orange crop “increased slightly while grapefruit production held steady,” the Florida Department of Citrus announced Wednesday. That news is according to the final forecast for the 2016-17 season by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. “The July report projected the state’s orange crop increased by 200,000 boxes to 68.7 million for the 2016-17 season,” a news release said. “The grapefruit crop held steady at 7.8 million boxes.”

“Tallahassee hands over 90,000 pages to feds over CRA deals” via Florida PoliticsA spokeswoman Wednesday said the city of Tallahassee and its Community Redevelopment Agency has turned over thousands of pages’ worth of material regarding the FBI’s investigation of the CRA’s business deals. Two grand jury subpoenas went out last month seeking information, which spokeswoman Alison Faris said took staff “more than 100 hours” to gather, including “emails, reports, applications, financial data, and other documents.” … The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in north Florida are looking into redevelopment projects that involve the agency. A lawyer with knowledge of the investigation told Florida Politics he expects charges to be filed “in the next few months.”

– “First CRA meeting since FBI probe came to light nixed” via Jeff Burlew and Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat

– “Nick Maddox recalls ‘strange’ meeting with ‘Mike Miller’” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat


John Morgan and Ray Rodrigues spar over future of smokable medical marijuana” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News On Monday, Florida House Majority Leader and primary sponsor for the bill to regulate Florida’s medical marijuana industry Rodrigues, took a swipe at Morgan’s newly-filed lawsuit to allow smokeable medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Citing studies showing smoking is an ineffective way to ingest the drug, Rodrigues said the majority of Florida voters don’t support recreational medical marijuana — and neither does he. Under Florida’s new medical marijuana law, vaporizing, edibles and oral capsules are some of the ways patients can ingest cannabis, but smoking is prohibited. When Amendment 2 author John Morgan caught wind of the comments, he wasted no time firing back, addressing Rodrigues directly in a series of tweets … “Your constituents will need #MedicalMarijuana more than most,” Morgan wrote. “I’m fighting for them while you’re fighting against them.”

Legislators quietly dish no-bid, $3 million contract to private prison group” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – In March 2016, legislators approved $330,000 for The Geo Group to operate a pilot program to be run at Blackwater Correctional, using the ideas [DOC Secretary Julie] Jones said [Abe] Uccello had developed for Florida’s state-run prison system. This year, lawmakers expanded the program to $3 million, with the money going exclusively to four of The Geo Group’s five private prisons in Florida — Bay, Moore Haven, South Bay and Blackwater — “for the provision of enhanced in-prison and post-release recidivism reduction programs.” “They got it with no competition and no guarantee of performance,” said Rep. David Richardson, who has been a critic of the state’s failure to determine if the private prisons are saving tax money as required by law. Geo Group spokesman Pablo Paez said he wasn’t aware of Jones’ concerns about the company appropriating Uccello’s “white paper.” He said the company has been using the “Geo Continuum of Care” term since 2010, trademarked the idea in 2011, is financing the program at its Graceville prison with its own funds, and was “transparent” in its request for the $3 million.

Tech funders, startups already feeling sting of state budget cuts” via Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald – The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research was slated to receive $5.5 million to provide seed funding to startups. That was one of the $409 million in local items vetoed last month … The Florida Institute bridges early funding gaps for companies spinning out of Florida-based universities and research institutions by matching investments up to $300,000 … The result has been more than 4,000 jobs paying an average salary of $76,000 … The idea is to build tech companies that stay in Florida and create high-paying jobs, said Jackson Streeter, CEO of the Institute. The Institute was not the only tech casualty of the line-item vetoes. Startup FIU was slated to receive $1 million to help fund its new campuswide entrepreneurship program that includes several accelerators, including one focused on technology being developed. Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway, also a campuswide and community accelerator, was slated to receive $1.2 million to help fuel its young program. “Hopefully we will soon be back in the business of Florida innovation and getting companies formed with Florida technology and keeping them in the state,” Streeter said.

“Keith Perry demands Alachua County let him buy Camp McConnell – or he’ll sue” via Cleveland Tinker of the Gainesville SunPerry has threatened to sue the Alachua County Commission if it does not sign over to him the contract to purchase Camp McConnell, a 211-acre property near Micanopy … Perry, accompanied by Patrice Boyes, a Gainesville-based land-use and conservation real estate attorney, asked the commission to give him the right to purchase the land from the YMCA for the $1.03 million bid the county secured at an on-site auction June 22. The first-term Republican senator from Gainesville, who owns a roofing business, claims the county did not follow its own rules in deciding to make the purchase.

Mike La Rosa, Neil Combee and John Cortes defend attacks on VISIT FLORIDA” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Republican state Reps. La Rosa and Combee and Democratic state Rep. Cortes described surviving a 2017 Legislative Session and Special Session that Combee declared had “a lot of Republican-on-Republican violence” and Cortes said was no fun for Democrats. But La Rosa pointed out that in the end, after the Special Session, Floridians got what they needed. In the end, the Florida Legislature gave VISIT FLORIDA what it and Gov. Scott wanted, $76 million, but both Republicans and the Democrat representing parts of Osceola County in the Florida House said that was not before they and the House leadership extracted accountability and transparency assurances and reforms. That crusade ended with full funding during the Special Session, but the message had been sent, Combee said.


Promoting civility and practicing the Golden Rule every day” via Charlie Crist for The Hill Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, in partnership with KRC Research, recently released a report on the state of civility in America. It found that incivility has reached “crisis levels” in our country. These findings, sadly, are not surprising. Particularly disappointing was that a majority of Americans believe incivility in our politics encourages general incivility in society, which deters citizens from engaging in public service. Incivility can lead to intimidation, threats, harassment, cyberbullying, discrimination and violence … To try and disrupt this troubling trend, we have put forward bipartisan legislation, H. Res 400, creating a National Day of Civility. It’s one small way to give this issue greater attention and spark greater awareness in communities across the country, and in Washington. The bill has overwhelming bipartisan support, introduced with the backing of nearly every member of our 50 plus person freshman class. As public officials, we have a responsibility to lead by example.

The Herald recommends Annette Taddeo, Jose Felix Diaz in state Senate District 40 primaries” via the Miami Herald – Former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla is a non-starter. He refused to be interviewed by the Editorial Board … The candidates agree on many issues affecting the district, traffic chief among them. [Lorenzo] Palomares is a staunch believer in free enterprise and its ability to improve Floridians’ quality of life. But Diaz has a more practical outlook, along with solid legislative experience. For instance, he sponsored bills to give immigrant children medical coverage through KidCare and cosponsored successful legislation creating a tax exemption for homes with solar panels. Diaz is the strongest candidate. Taddeo … remains the stronger candidate here. She has been chair of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade, vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and committeewoman for the DNC. While both candidates know the district well, Taddeo is better versed in overall state issues, which is important. She knows policy and, unlike [Ana] Rivas Logan, her commitment to the Democratic Party is clear. Taddeo has earned this chance to serve.


Donald Trump’s Italy ambassador is Florida man, former GOP finance chair” via Kristina Webb of the Palm Beach PostTrump will nominate a Florida resident and former Republican Party finance chair to be his ambassador to Italy … Lewis Eisenberg of Vero Beach also will be nominated as Trump’s ambassador to the tiny Republic of San Marino, a position Eisenberg will “serve concurrently and without additional compensation” … The former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey served on Trump’s inaugural committee, and donated more than $35,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Patrick Murphy named chairman of new Future Forum Foundation” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald –… a new political nonprofit group aimed at “better identifying solutions to the challenges facing millennials in our economy, across society and in government.” The Future Forum Foundation … is an off-shoot of the U.S. House Future Forum caucus, which was founded two years ago and is comprised of 26 of the youngest Democratic members of Congress. Registered as a 501(c)4 organization, the new Washington D.C.-based foundation is what’s often referred to as a “dark money” group that will not have to disclose its donors … the foundation declined to share the exact source and amount of its initial funding but said the dollars “are coming from a mix of private individuals and businesses.” Murphy, one of the first millennials elected to Congress, said in a statement: “Now is the time for the next generation of leadership to step up and take the lead.”

“Ethics panel could approve ex-Rick Scott official’s consulting work” via Florida PoliticsCan Melinda Miguel, formerly Gov. Scott’s inspector general, do consulting work involving a nonprofit doing business with the state’s child-welfare agency if she worked on a whistleblower’s report against that same concern? Yes, according to a staff recommendation of the Florida Commission on Ethics released Wednesday … She asked for the opinion because she wants to do consulting for a foundation that works on foster care and child welfare issues. The project at issue includes an “assessment” of Our Kids, the nonprofit that provides child services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties under agreement with the Department of Children and Families. But Miguel was concerned about a potential conflict because she “played a role in 2011 in issuing a final whistleblower’s report” against Our Kids.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Gregory Black, Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart: United States Sugar Corporation

Timothy Meenan, Karl Neis Rasmussen, Meenan PA: The Everglades Foundation, Inc.


SEC faces strong challenges as college football’s top dog” via John Zenor of The Associated Press –When LSU’s Ed Orgeron matter of factly declared the SEC as “the best conference in the United States,” he was mostly preaching to the choir in the league’s backyard. But the Southeastern Conference’s once-undisputed status as college football’s top league is facing strong challenges from both the ACC and Big Ten despite Alabama’s best efforts. The Crimson Tide certainly remains formidable as ever, if not invincible, at the top. Beyond that, there’s plenty of uncertainty — and in some cases mediocrity — in a league that won seven straight national titles from 2006-12. The Big Ten finished with four teams ranked in the Top 10 in the final AP poll. The league did go 3-7 in bowl games … the difference comes down to the head coaches. The ACC has national championship coaches in Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, along with ex-SEC head men Mark Richt (Miami) and Bobby Petrino (Louisville). What is concrete: The ACC held the upper hand last season. That league went 10-4 against SEC teams and won four of five postseason games.

Why Hollywood should pay attention to ‘Dunkirk’” via David Sims of The Atlantic – The biggest, and most successful, bet in the last 10 years was made on 3-D movies—reviving a gimmick from Hollywood’s golden age … But even that approach is beginning to falter. Despite an increase in 3-D releases, the box-office market for that particular upcharge is falling as 3-D has gone from being a special experience to a perfunctory feature for every blockbuster. But this summer brings another potential savior from cinema’s yesteryear—the wide release of the director Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk on 70-millimeter film. Dunkirk, which runs 106 minutes, was entirely shot on large-format film and will be released in 70-mm projection in 125 theaters around the country—the biggest such release in decades. It’s a major gamble on an old-fashioned way of shooting and projecting movies, one that was standard for epics like Lawrence of Arabia but has long since passed into near-oblivion as theaters transferred to digital-projection formats.

Happy birthday to Ballard Partners’ Sylvester Lukis, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, and Sean Pittman‘s better half, Audra.


Did a Game of Thrones star just confirm a favorite fan theory?” via Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair – HBO is playing a bit coy when it comes to Jon Snow’s dad. Cast members like Isaac Hempstead-Wright were still out there last year after the finale, saying things like: “We still are pretty clueless as to the father, I think. And at this stage, it could even be Ned. There could be a Cersei and Jaime thing going on there.” But nobody seemed to have told Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau that hints about Jon Snow’s dad are off limits. While explaining to Jimmy Kimmel last night why Coster-Waldau told the host that Jon Snow was dead in advance of Season 6, the actor who plays Jaime Lannister reasoned: “Well Jon Snow is dead. Jon Stark-Targaryen has risen from the dead.” This casual re-naming of Kit Harington’s character would seem to confirm the most popular theory: that Jon’s father is Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, aka Daenerys’s dead brother … Yep, the Mother of Dragons is also an aunt. Sadly, Coster-Waldau’s comment doesn’t dispel the other bonkers Jon Snow parentage theory going around, i.e., that the mad king Aerys Targaryen is actually Jon’s father.

Yes, Game of thrones has a horse mistress. And yes, she’s a badass” via Daniel D’Addario of Time magazine – A medieval world relies on horses — and the woman who’s trained them. Camilla Naprous is horse mistress for Game of Thrones; part of the stunt horse company The Devil’s Horsemen, she provides the equine component of a show that increasingly hinges upon great horseback battles. Q: In season 5’s “Battle of the Bastards,” were all 100 working? How did you accommodate them all? “Yes, they are, because they’re also doing lots of other movies at the same time. They’d just got off Exodus, the Ridley Scott movie. ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was great. If we have over 30 to 40 horses, we stable everything on the location, so we cut down on the horses’ time that they work.” Q: When you say you’ve gotten more toys to play with — does that just mean more horses? “Yes! A lot more horses. Because VFX is coming more and more into our world, on average if you do a battle, you get 50, 60 horses and they can add on for the rest. It was nice they actually said, let’s get 100 … Let’s challenge the feature films. And I think it’s great, and that’s what TV is doing so well. TV’s taking over where the movies aren’t.”

– “A complete guide to the religions of Game of Thrones” via Beth Elderkin of Gizmodo

– “’Game of Thrones’: The forces of House Targaryen, ranked” via Josh Wigler of the Hollywood Reporter

– “A psychologist diagnosed ‘Game of Thrones’ characters as if they were his patients — here’s what he came up with” via Madeleine Sheehan Perkins of Business Insider

– “Game of Thrones season 7 premiere photos released” via James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly

A scene from the first episode of the 7th season of Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen approaching the throne at Dragonstone.



Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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