We’re trying not to get emotional as we count down the hours until Jenna is no longer with us. Of course, we imagine she already has a beautiful bottle of bubbly on ice. Sunburn will miss her contributions when she is gone. Still, judging by today’s edition, the rest of the #FlaPol team is ready to step up to the plate, especially Scott Powers, who is crushing it with his coverage of the HD 44 special election (read below for one of us scoops). But no matter what, we’ll miss our Jenna. Be sure to drop her a line today or tomorrow to let her know how much you’ll miss her.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
AFP-FL to host summer town hall series with Ron DeSantis — Americans for Prosperity-Florida is scheduled to hold “Un-Rig the Economy” town hall meetings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in August and September to talk with activists about the current situation in Washington, D.C. and energize them for what’s to come. The AFP-FL team will be joined by local leaders and members of the federal affairs team to discuss the need to enact comprehensive tax reform. Rep. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to join AFP-FL at each of the town hall events. DeSantis, who is believed to be mulling a 2018 gubernatorial bid, is expected to discuss how Congress can act to fix the tax code.
“We hope the rest of the Florida delegation will join Congressman DeSantis in fighting back against the current rigged tax system by joining our effort to pass pro-growth tax reform,” said Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL, in a statement. “Americans want a system that’s based on simplicity, efficiency, equitability, predictability, and creates no new burden on taxpayers. We want to speak directly to Floridians who want to help fix our broken tax code.” The summer town hall series kicks off on Aug. 24 with a town hall in Miami, followed by a town hall scheduled on Sept. 19 in Fort Lauderdale and Sept. 28 in Orlando.
“Adam Putnam, Jack Latvala sound similar theme — aimed at Rick Scott’s record” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — In recent trips to small-town Florida, Putnam and Latvala … sounded a similar theme: that amid all the boosterism about new jobs, much of the state has been forgotten. The message seemed aimed squarely at Gov. Scott.
- “Latvala held a ‘fact-finding’ meeting in Blountstown Friday for about 75 local business and political leaders and began by citing a Florida Chamber Foundation report that 36 of 67 counties have lost jobs since 2007, before the Great Recession began (the Times/Herald reported on the numbers). In other words, the economic rebound has bypassed much of the state and rural Florida is in worse shape now than before Scott took office in 2011.
- “Putnam said rural economic development has to be a bigger priority. He faulted Enterprise Florida for not meeting with people in small towns where its members ‘can go see what their struggles are.’”
Marty Kiar endorses Andrew Gillum — The Broward County Property Appraiser has thrown his support behind Gillum’s campaign for governor. In a statement Tuesday, Kiar said he was endorsing Gillum because he knows Gillum will “fight every day for us. Whether it’s protecting and expanding access to affordable health care, confronting the climate change crisis, or reinvesting in our public education system, Andrew will be a champion for hardworking Floridians.” Gillum faces Gwen Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, and Chris King, an Orlando businessman, in the Democratic primary. “Marty Kiar is a dedicated public servant that has tirelessly advocated on behalf of revitalizing Florida’s public school system and investing in early childhood education,” said Gillum in a statement.
Assignment editors: Gillum will speak address Netroots Nation, the largest annual conference of progressive in the nation, at 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree St. NE in Atlanta. The speech will be live-streamed on Facebook here.
“Pols flock to Possum Festival. Why? Jeb Bush and Gwen Graham explain” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — In Florida, one of this state’s oddest traditions is for aspiring gubernatorial candidates to travel to the Wausau Possum Festival, pick up a possum, dangle it by its tail and pose for the camera. Why? Because this is Florida. I was struggling to understand this tradition. So I turned to one of the men who helped make it famous — Bush. Bush has been a proud possum-dangling politician for years. Back in 1998, he posed with his possum — which the politicians actually “win” by bidding on them — and then went on to win the governor’s race as well. See the power of the Possum Primary? Only, after he won his possum, Bush had a problem. “I bought the possum and, for some reason, held on to it,” he said, “until we got out of town and we dropped it into the woods.” Gwen Graham remembers attending her first one as a teenager when her father, Bob, was running for governor. Along the way, she picked up possum pointers, like always trying to win the very first possum auctioned off. Why? “Because if you’re not first, you’re last,” she said.
Matt Caldwell raises more than $108K in July — Rep. Caldwell raised more than $108,000 toward Agriculture Commissioner bid in July. His campaign announced the North Fort Myers Republican raised a combined $108,275 — $43,275 for his official campaign and $65,000 for his political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell — in July. The campaign and political committee will report nearly $878,000 cash on hand. “Since announcing our bid, we have worked relentlessly every single day to share our conservative message and build our grassroots campaign,” said Caldwell in a statement. Since January, Caldwell has raised more than $1 million, his campaign said.
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AAN calls on Carlos Curbelo to act in new ad — The American Action Network’s Middle-Class Growth Initiative is calling on Rep. Curbelo to “keep fighting for tax reforms” in a new 30-second spot. The advertisement, called “Laid Off,” is part of a $2.5 million ad campaign running on cable and in 24 congressional districts. The advertisement features a former metal worker who, according to the American Action Network, was laid off because his employer couldn’t keep up with foreign competition. “There are millions of middle-class Americans just like Albert who had the dignity of a good-paying job and the ability to provide for his family until our tax code failed to keep up with foreign competition,” said AAN Executive Director Corry Bliss in a statement.
Click the image below to watch the ad.
— “Democrats on Carlos Curbelo: ‘His town hall schedule doesn’t exist’” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald
Save the date:
Annette Taddeo ties Jose Felix Diaz to Trump in first SD 40 ad — Taddeo is out with her first ad in the Senate District 40 general election, and is using the 30-second spot to link the Republican to President Trump. In the ad, paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Taddeo says Diaz supports “Trump’s every move.” Taddeo also uses the spot to promise to “fight for better schools and lower health care costs.”
Click the image below to watch the ad.
“Lawsuit seeks to invalidate Paul Chandler’s HD 44 candidacy, could jeopardize whole special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — The complaint, filed in Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit by Charles Hart of Windermere against Chandler, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, alleges that Chandler voted in Missouri in November, which would make him a Missouri resident last year, ineligible to run for state office in Florida this year If a judge agrees with that allegation and strikes his candidacy, the move would leave Democrats without a candidate for the Oct. 10 general special election. There also are no qualified write-in candidates. The four Republican candidates are the only others qualified. That could mean that the Republican primary election — with early and mail-in voting already well underway — could be challenged. That’s because with no non-Republicans running in October, the primary would have to be opened to all voters, which it was not.
“Bobby Olszewski TV ad highlights positions in HD 44 Republican primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, dubbed, “Vote Bobby O,” the commercial begins with brief footage of President Ronald Reagan, as a narrator declares, “Republicans want a leader who will get things done. Robert ‘Bobby O’ Olszewski is that conservative leader.” After the introduction, the commercial shows Olszewski with U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, who was the area’s congressman, state senator and state representative for decades before moving to Lake County to switch congressional districts in 2016, and the narrator notes that Webster endorsed Olszewski. The commercial then, in rapid fire, declares that Olszewski opposed tax and fee increases, stood up for prayer in public, opposes funding for sanctuary cities, seeks to cut regulations, and will “stop politicians wasteful spending” … “Conservative Republican Bobby O: Less talk, more action,” the narrator finishes.
“Anna Eskamani talks big-dream voters, school choice, business, running the causeway” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Your basic platform presents solid progressive-Democrat positions on public education, women’s rights, gun regulation, equal rights and health care. None of those has had much traction in the solidly-Republican Legislature. If that partisan makeup doesn’t change in the next election, how would you expect to define and measure effectiveness and success? “I would disagree and emphasize that there is a growing chorus across our state for more equitable policies that are proactive versus reactive. For example, supporting our public schools and empowering students, parents, and teachers are issues where I know we can find common ground across party lines. School choice, in particular, is important to me, and I refuse to leave behind parents who choose public school for their children, like my parents did for me. They deserve a high-quality experience too, and I intend to be an advocate for all families on an array of issues … To answer your question more directly: I measure success through identifying a social problem and building bridges to solve it.”
“John Dicks won’t run in HD 58 special election” via Florida Politics — Former Plant City Mayor Dicks said he won’t enter the race to replace Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson … and so far no big names have shown excitement at the opportunity to run in the Hillsborough County seat. “I consider public service to be both a calling and commitment and have been honored with the encouragement and support from so many. However, we have, right now, too many things going on in our lives (business, personal and family) to disrupt them for an unexpected and quick campaign,” Dicks said in an email. The special election currently has two Republican candidates, Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure, both of whom say they will qualify for the ballot via petition signatures. The lone Democrat in the race, Jose Vasquez, is a perennial candidate who was trampled by Raulerson last year, and even attempted — unsuccessfully — to challenge the election in circuit court claiming Raulerson’s candidacy was invalid because his notary had used “correction fluid” on his filing paperwork.
Save the date:
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“Lawmaker: Governor’s office broke promise to LGBTQs” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — When 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Florida in 2016, Gov. Scott publicly offered his sympathy to the victims’ families and the LGBT community. Behind the scenes, gay rights advocates say his staffers went a step further, promising to pursue an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state workers and contractors. More than a year later, no such order has been issued. The advocates believe the order has become even more important in the past couple of weeks as the U.S. Justice Department, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, filed court papers in a New York case saying that sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The law bans workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a gay Democrat, accused Scott of using the nightclub shooting to his political advantage. “Many political leaders used the tragedy at Pulse to leverage their own political careers and to make promises to our community that they could have delivered on but they did not,” Smith said at a recent forum for Orlando’s gay and Latino communities. A majority of the Pulse victims were gay Latinos.
“Higher pay sought for FHP troopers” via Jim Turner of the News Service Of Florida — Short about 200 troopers and seeking higher salaries to be more competitive with other law-enforcement agencies, the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is backing Gov. Scott‘s call to boost pay as part of an election-year budget plan. The department, which includes the Florida Highway Patrol, is proposing a more-than 10 percent increase in starting pay for troopers as part of a legislative budget request. State law-enforcement officers received a 5 percent pay raise in the budget that took effect July 1, and the new proposal would provide an additional increase in the fiscal year that starts in July 2018. Under the proposal, which doesn’t have an overall total amount attached, the annual starting pay would go from about $38,000 to $42,000. Under the plan, a trooper would earn $60,000, based on an “experienced-based incremental pay plan,” after 20 years.
“Greg Evers, Ritch Workman, others move ahead for PSC opening” via Florida Politics — Former lawmakers Evers, Rich Glorioso, Workman and current Rep. Tom Goodson were selected to be interviewed to replace Jimmy Patronis on the Florida Public Service Commission. Another noteworthy applicant, former state Comptroller and retired Marine general Bob Milligan, was shut out of the process, receiving no votes from the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, which met Wednesday in Tampa. The 84-year-old had said he was only interested in serving out Patronis’ current term, which is up at the end of 2018. Patronis stepped down to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida’s chief financial officer. Atwater left for a similar job at Florida Atlantic University … Also Wednesday, the council decided to interview Commissioners Ronald Brisé and Art Graham, who have re-applied for their seats; their terms are up at year’s end … The council ultimately will make its recommendations to Gov. Rick Scott, who will decide on the appointments. Interviews and a “final selection” for the three vacancies will be held next Thursday in Orlando. The council “shall nominate no fewer than three persons for each vacancy,” according to its rules.
CRC committee recommends proposed schedule — The Constitution Revision Commission’s Rules & Administration Committee on Wednesday decided to recommend several deadlines to the entire panel. The deadline for the public to submit proposed constitutional amendments would be Sept. 22, the deadline for commissioners to ask staff for “drafting” assistance would be Oct. 10, and commissioners’ own filing deadline for amendments would be Oct. 24, if approved by the full commission. A draft calendar released before the meeting, held in the Capitol, also shows CRC committee weeks starting in September, alternating with legislative committee weeks.
“In texts, Pam Stewart mocks charter school leader’s ‘creative’ test score ‘claim’” via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida — State education Commissioner Stewart, in a sardonic text exchange with a colleague, accused a prominent GOP donor who chairs a Jacksonville charter school chain of using misleading data to boast about students’ test scores … Stewart was critical of Gary Chartrand, a member and former chair of the state Board of Education who also heads the governing panel for KIPP’s three Florida charter schools. Chartrand, executive chairman of Acosta Inc., a Jacksonville sales and marketing firm, is a reliable campaign donor to Republicans, including Gov. Scott. In the texts, Stewart suggested Chartrand and the network’s executive director, Tom Majdanics, had been bragging that 41 percent of third-graders at KIPP VOICE Elementary School passed this year’s reading tests, when the figure was actually 35 percent.
“State approves two more marijuana licenses” via the News Service of Florida — … bringing to 11 the number of businesses licensed to grow, process and distribute medical marijuana … The Florida Department of Health gave the go-ahead to the Arcadia-based Sun Bulb Company and to GST Enterprises, which owns Eustis-based Treadwell Nursery. The businesses joined two other new medical-marijuana operations licensed last week and have 30 days to request authorization to begin cultivation. Approval for another firm, Jacksonville-based Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses, is awaiting court action … The recent round of medical-marijuana licenses is the result of a new law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients with debilitating conditions. The four new medical marijuana operators, along with Loop’s, were all involved in legal challenges after licenses were granted to other applicants in 2014. The new law also gives health officials until Oct. 1 to issue five more licenses.
— STATEWIDE —
“Cuts to drug treatment, mental health show Florida’s true colors” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — [Florida] ranked 49th or 50th in mental-health funding. Jails were our No. 1 mental-health providers. Many families, desperate for help, had nowhere to get it. Then there was the opioid crisis raging in Florida. People have been literally dying in the streets. Thousands of them, an average of 10 a day. … So Florida politicians vowed to take action. Now, I don’t know whether these politicians actually cared about all this death and despair — or whether they just worried the corpse count might get in the way of Visit Florida’s next ‘Must Be the Sunshine’ campaign. But they staged news conferences, talked tough, expressed sympathy and pledged to do better. That’s what they said anyway.
- Tuesday’s front-page headline, however, told a different story: Cuts to mental health care could leave thousands without help, advocates say.” The story went on to describe local agencies reeling from $28 million in cuts for treating mental health and drug addiction. As a result, treatment facilities all over Florida are making plans for layoffs, cuts and closings.”
- It all makes Scott’s recent PR tour — where he traveled from city to city, signing ceremonial copies of a bill that vowed to crack down on opioids — ring awfully hollow.
- The cuts caught mental-health and drug-treatment providers by surprise. They said legislators had personally promised support. They had witnessed the doe-eyed news conferences. They were played for fools. The politicians are now tripping over themselves to make excuses.
“Scott recruiting businesses in Tennessee” via the News Service of Florida — With little fanfare … A schedule released by Scott‘s office included an afternoon itinerary of “business development” meetings with Tractor Supply Co. in Brentwood, Tennessee, and with electronics company Griffin Technology and tire company Bridgestone Americas in Nashville … That contrasts with pre-travel announcements about past business-development trips to Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, California and Kentucky, states that all had Democratic governors at the time of the trips. As with Nevada, Tennessee has a Republican governor.
“Florida added 18,100 private sector jobs in July” via ADP — Florida trailed only Texas in the number of jobs produced last month. An estimated 16,500 service-producing jobs were created in addition to 1,600 goods-producing jobs. In collaboration with Moody’s Analytics, ADP produces the regional employment report that is often seen as a precursor to unemployment data released by the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
“The help Donald Trump promised hasn’t come. So this ‘dying city’ is determined to save itself.” via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post — Palatka, a city of 10,400 swaddled by potato farms and a paper mill that employs a small fraction of the workers it once did, is desperate for an economy to call its own. Abandoned by retailers that have moved out of their city, and disappointed that President Trump hasn’t yet delivered on his promise to restore economic opportunity to small communities, the people here say they don’t have much choice. The alternative would be to allow their beloved home to become the next example of a dying American small town. To help save it, some have started homegrown carwashes and small restaurants and bars selling craft beers. Others have worked with developers to build apartments downtown. And officials here are striving to turn the riverfront, a resource that is unique to their city, into a future hub for tourism and a draw for retirees.
“Florida Bay salinity levels down, but concerns remain” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Recent rainfall in South Florida has reduced salinity levels in Florida Bay amid concerns earlier this year that a drought could spark a summer sea grass die-off. Months of drought in 2015 contributed to hypersalinity in Florida Bay that caused a 40,000 acre sea grass die-off … During the 2017 Legislative Session,, supporters of an Everglades water storage reservoir said the project is needed to help prevent future sea grass die-offs, an argument state water managers disputed. Salinity levels over the past month have been going down, the South Florida Water Management District board was told last week. But those levels remain a cause for concern. “The salinities are still higher than we would expect at this time of year,” said Terrie Bates, director of the district’s water resources division. “So the bay continues to use additional fresh water flows.”
“City of Tallahassee releases audit of The Edison” via Mariel Carbone of WCTV — A report released by City Auditor Bert Fletcher shows that the owners of The Edison restaurant are “fulfilling most of their obligations to the city.” The audit was requested earlier this year by City Commissioner Scott Maddox following public concern over the status of the restaurant following a management shake-up. The audit states the primary objective was to “determine compliance by the City and a private entity, Cascades Holdings, LLC, with agreements executed by the two parties in connection with the renovations and development of a historic City electric building into a destination restaurant.” According to the audit, the City and Cascades Holdings have complied with most of the terms of their agreement. That includes Cascades Holdings paying its rent on time, spending a minimum of $1.548 million on the Edison’s buildup and startup costs, and operating and maintain the historic building.
“Morris Publishing sells The Florida Times-Union to GateHouse Media” via the Florida Times-Union — As part of a strategic restructuring to focus its business on lifestyle publications, property development and new business, Morris Communications Co. has signed an agreement to sell the assets of Morris Publishing Group, including The Florida Times-Union, to GateHouse Media … the price was $120 million. The transaction is expected to close Oct. 2. “We all will miss the Morris family and its steady oversight of our business for more than three decades, and its commitment to quality journalism,” said Mark Nusbaum, president of The Times-Union. Under terms of the sale, Nusbaum will continue in his role as publisher.
“Seminole Hard Rock collects $579 million — more than 8 racetrack casinos combined” via Nick Sortal of the Miami Herald — The Hollywood property’s haul for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, were more than $579 million — more than what the eight South Florida pari-mutuel casinos earned combined … the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Tampa does monster numbers, garnering $967 million; the Tampa casino has no competition in west-central Florida, where racetracks can’t offer slots. The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood was next, followed by Seminole Coconut Creek ($383 million). Even Seminole Classic Casino, the old bingo hall south of Sterling Road in Hollywood, bested the gambling revenues at every South Florida racetrack casino. Seminole Classic took in $163 million. The Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano led South Florida racinos ($143 million from slots, $10 million from poker). Figures reported to the state for 2015-16 show the tribe took in $2.3 billion, with projections for the year just ending, an increase of about $100 million.
“Wayne Rothbaum/Jeb Bush end Marlins pursuit; Derek Jeter, Jorge mas gain steam” via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald — The reason for Rothbaum’s decision to stop his pursuit of the team was not immediately clear, but an associate indicated he grew impatient with the process after bidding $1.17 billion for the team. His remaining investors — including Bush and Shoney’s CEO David Davidpour — could not go on without him because Rothbaum was the primary money man. Another of their partners, Massachusetts businessman Tagg Romney, previously left their group. Jeter added investors to his group in recent days and the Marlins are optimistic about his chances of having the funding necessary to buy the team, though two sources insisted he was still looking for money this week. Meanwhile, Mas has made progress in his attempts to put together an investment group but it’s unclear if he would be willing to outbid Jeter or meet the $1.2 billion asking price. Major League Baseball owners meet in Chicago next week, but it’s not yet clear if the Marlins will have a deal in place that’s ready to be voted on by other owners.
— OPINIONS —
“For Republicans, HB 7069 and constitution panel go hand in hand” via Teachers Association of Lee County president Mark Castellano for the Naples Daily News — The Republican leadership has come up with a new catchphrase to attempt to justify their blatant taxpayer-funded giveaway to for-profit charter school corporations: the money should “follow the student.” Except it doesn’t; it ends up in for-profit corporate accounts, while public school districts must subsidize charters in new and unprecedented ways beyond just student funding. As Tallahassee attorney Ron Meyer points out, the Florida Constitution calls for the state to create a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools that allows student(s) to obtain a high-quality education.” Meyer clarifies that the state is required “to fund a system, not the children.” He points out that this bill is “ripe for a challenge,” specifically a legal challenge, as has resulted with so much of the partisan education legislation since Scott took office … The proposed changes we can expect to see on the ballot in 2018 in relation to public education will be designed to give Republicans a free hand to privatize our public schools, increase public school tax funds going to for-profit charter corporations, legalize vouchers and continue to siphon funds out of public school districts’ coffers.
“Dominic Calabro, Bob Ward: without state workers, there is no Florida” via Florida Politics — Many Floridians only hear about a government employee when something has gone wrong at an agency. What is often missed are the thousands of hardworking individuals that make sacrifices daily to better the lives of some of the most vulnerable of our citizens. This includes teachers, law enforcement officers, corrections officers, the state park service, health care workers, and firefighters just to name a few. While a “state job” may seem like an easy task from the outside, without state workers, there is no Florida. It is often an unrecognized contribution despite the impact that it has on our lives and sometimes directly on theirs. Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Council of 100 recognize this, and for the last 29 years, have thanked innovative state employees who are truly embodying their role as workers of the taxpayers through the Prudential Productivity Awards program. Winners of the Prudential Productivity Awards are excellent role models for their colleagues and are true fiscal stewards of the hard-earned tax dollars of Floridians. The efforts of state employees often go unnoticed, but it is safe to say that they are the glue that holds the state together.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Joe Saunders back at Equality Florida as senior political director” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — Saunders, who along with David Richardson, became the first openly gay members of the Florida Legislature in 2012, is rejoining Equality Florida as its new senior political director. “I can’t think of a more important place to be in 2018 than Florida,” Saunders said in a statement. “Florida is poised to be the first breakthrough Southern state in the work to ensure LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination. As the largest swing state in the country, Florida will hold a defining role in the national response to the politics of Washington, and we have hugely important races for U.S. Senate, Governor, Congress and a chance to reshape our state legislature. My time working nationally has reinforced for me that Equality Florida is one of the smartest and most capable LGBTQ organizations doing this work. I’m excited to be back.”
Appointed — Lee Bouldin, Carlos Martinez and Jonathan “Ned” Hancock (reappointed) to the Florida Citrus Commission.
New and renewed lobby registrations
Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Edgenuity Inc.
Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: College of Central Florida Foundation, Inc.; Lighthouse Central Florida
Stephen Uchino, Anfield Consulting: Monroe County Board of County Commissioners
“Disney to offer two streaming services and end its movie distribution agreement with Netflix” via Daniel Miller and Meg James of the Los Angeles Times — The Walt Disney Co. will launch two Netflix-like streaming services — one for sports and another for films and television shows — in one of the boldest moves by an entertainment company to address the changing media landscape. The stand-alone subscription services would appeal to younger audiences who are turning away from traditional media and flocking to Netflix and other digital platforms. The ESPN service, which would be available next year, is expected to feature 10,000 sporting events annually, among them Major League Baseball games. The Disney-branded film and TV offering, set to debut in 2019, would include original content developed by Walt Disney Studios.
“Is a secret expansion coming to EPCOT?” via Donna Dickens of Uproxx — Disney historian and podcaster Jim Hill recently did an episode dedicated to what wasn’t announced at D23. This included an expansion to the U.K. pavilion at Disney’s EPCOT. Rumors have been swirling about the United Kingdom getting a face-lift for years, as the pavilion was originally slated to be larger than it currently is, but the deal fell through. Hill has heard rumblings that Mary Poppins is on her way after the sequel Mary Poppins Returns drops next year. The area, called Cherry Tree Hill, would be a glorified meet-and-greet for the Mary Poppins character, along with a version of the carousel from the original film … there’s a large chunk of unused land next to the U.K. Pavilion to build on, directly across from the main World Showcase foot traffic artery. Should Cherry Tree Lane be built there, it would have the added effect of alleviating clusters of guests and helping redistribute traffic flow.