Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes Monday’s eclipse so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.
The path of totality — where day briefly becomes night — will pass over Oregon, continuing through the heartland all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Those on the outskirts — well into Canada, Central America and even the top of South America — will be treated to a partial eclipse.
The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.
No tickets are required for this Monday’s show, just special eclipse glasses so you don’t ruin your eyes.
Some eclipse tidbits :
What’s a total solar eclipse?
When the moon passes between Earth and the sun, and scores a bull’s-eye by completely blotting out the sunlight, that’s a total solar eclipse. The moon casts a shadow on our planet. Dead center is where sky gazers get the full treatment. In this case, the total eclipse will last up to 2 minutes and 40-plus seconds in places. A partial eclipse will be visible along the periphery. Clouds could always spoil the view, so eclipse watchers need to be ready to split for somewhere with clear skies, if necessary.
What’s the eclipse path?
The path of totality will begin near Lincoln City, Oregon, as the lunar shadow makes its way into the U.S. This path will be 60 to 70 miles wide (97 to 113 kilometers); the closer to the center, the longer the darkness. Totality will cross from Oregon into Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and, finally, South Carolina. It will also pass over tiny slivers of Montana and Iowa. The eclipse will last longest near Carbondale, Illinois: two minutes and 44 seconds. The biggest cities in the path include Nashville; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina; Salem, Oregon; Casper, Wyoming; and just partially within, St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.
When’s the next eclipse?
If you miss Monday’s eclipse — or get bitten by the eclipse bug — you’ll have to wait seven years to see another one in the continental U.S. The very next total solar eclipse will be in 2019, but you’ll have to be below the equator for a glimpse. We’re talking the South Pacific, and Chile and Argentina. It’s pretty much the same in 2020. For the U.S., the next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. The line of totality will cross from Texas, up through the Midwest, almost directly over Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York, up over New England and out over Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.
“Can’t find the protective glasses to watch the solar eclipse? Go old school” via Blaine Friedlander of The Washington Post – The first rule of enjoying the eclipse is to never look directly at the sun, never look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars — unless these instruments have proper (emphasis on proper!) filters … even when most of the sun’s surface is blocked during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, the remaining, visible crescent is intensely bright and cannot be safely viewed without eye protection. Here are some old-school, low-tech ideas: Have the kids make their own cereal box solar eclipse theater. It’s a terrific way to capture the eclipse action and safe for viewing. You’ll need a cereal box, a piece of aluminum foil, tape and a small nail or pushpin. On a white piece of paper or white cardboard, trace the bottom of the box. Then, clip out the traced rectangle from the paper and put it in the bottom of the opened box. That’s your screen. Cut out two squares (1.5 inches should suffice) on the lid of the box and then tape the lid back together. For one square, cover the hole in foil and tape it down. Gently put a pushpin or small nail hole through it, as that is your lens. The smaller the hole, the sharper the projected image. When using your personal box theater, turn away from the sun — and let the sun’s rays shine through the tiny pin hole. Look through the other hole in the lid to see the eclipse action — during the eclipse you’ll see the moon biting a chunk from the sun.
“Can’t see the solar eclipse? Tune in online or on TV” via The Associated Press – For those not in the 14 states comprising the eclipse’s “path of totality,” here’s a look at some of the viewing opportunities online and on TV: “Eclipse of the Century“: CNN plans two hours of livestreaming, 360-degree coverage accessible in virtual reality through Oculus and other VR headsets beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. “Eclipse Over America“: The PBS science series NOVA is planning a quick turnaround on its eclipse documentary premiering Monday. Senior executive producer Paula S. Apsell said “Eclipse Over America,” which delves into why eclipses occur and what scientists can learn from them, will incorporate images of the event from across the country shot earlier that day. “Great American Eclipse“: The Science Channel will broadcast its live coverage from Madras, Oregon, from noon to 4 p.m. EDT, with commentary from educators and astronomers from the Lowell Observatory. “The Great American Eclipse“: David Muir will anchor ABC’s two hours of live coverage, with correspondents reporting from viewing parties across the country. NBC also plans live coverage, with Lester Holt hosting special reports at 1 and 2 p.m. EDT featuring correspondents reporting from Oregon, Illinois, Wyoming and South Carolina. Shepard Smith will break into typical broadcasting on Fox News Channel from noon to 4 p.m. EDT to update viewers on the eclipse and introduce footage from NASA and observatories around the country. “Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA“: NASA will offer hours of coverage online and on NASA Television beginning at noon Eastern. It plans livestreaming of the eclipse beginning at 1 p.m. EDT with images from satellites, research aircraft, high-altitude balloons and specially modified telescopes. “The Total Solar Eclipse”: The Weather Channel is kicking off its live coverage at 6 a.m. EDT and continuing throughout the day with dispatches from seven locations along the “path of totality.”
Absolutely worth the click: “Travel the path of the solar eclipse” via the Washington Post
Also worth the click: “See how the solar eclipse will look from anywhere in the world” via TIME
“During the solar eclipse, let’s not forget about the moon” via Joe Kunches of The Washington Post –There would be no eclipse if there weren’t another partner in this organization … what about the moon? The moon will be arranging itself in the prime position to allow us earthlings (actually, mostly us North American earthlings) this awesome spectacle. The perfect mix of lunar size and distance from earth is a key here. The moon looks to be the same size in the sky as the Sun (it’s 400 times closer, while being about 400 times smaller), so that makes the totality so spectacular. But don’t take that for granted — the moon is moving away from the earth by about an inch and a half per year. The day is coming when the moon won’t seem big enough to block out the whole solar disk. What are folks wearing those funny glasses going to do then? As Ginger Rogers partnered with Fred Astaire dancing on the silver screen — she did everything he did, only backward, wearing high heels — the moon is the uncelebrated partner in this duet. Let’s give it a nod in this celestial masterpiece.
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— CIVIL WAR REDUX —
“What are the 63 hate groups in Florida and are they dangerous?” via Jon McCarthy of FLORIDA TODAY – Those numbers come from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Alabama-based civil-rights organization. Here is what you might not have heard: More than a third of the hate groups identified are black separatists groups such as the New Black Panther Party or the Nation of Islam. So what defines a “hate group?” The SPLC website says, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are violent. Their activities can include “criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing,” SPLC says. Some worry that labeling an organization a hate group is a method of trying to limit offensive speech. But while some — if not most — hate groups may not be involved in violent or criminal activity, there has been a clear increase in hate-related violence in recent years, with Islamic jihadists and far-right wing supporters responsible for the vast majority of the deaths.
“Florida mayors join compact to ‘fight hate, extremism’ in wake of Charlottesville” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – A group of Florida mayors are joining the national effort between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League in response to President Donald Trump‘s statements on the violence in Charlottesville … 14 more Florida mayors added their names to the “Mayor’s Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry,” making 35 mayors in total throughout the state. Signatories include Andrew Gillum … Philip Levine and Bob Buckhorn. “It’s cities and mayors who are on the front lines if and when some of our national leaders refuse to stand up in the face of hate, America’s Mayors will, “said Buckhorn. “That’s why I joined mayors from across the country to stand unified against bigotry, hate and racism. We cannot allow this divisive rhetoric to continue, not in our city and certainly not from the highest and most powerful office in the world.”
>>>What would be a real story is if a major Democratic mayor DIDN’T SIGN the compact.
“Gov. Scott silent on what should happen with Confederate monument at Florida Capitol” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Rather than lead on the issue, Scott is deferring to state lawmakers and has remained silent on whether such monuments in Florida — and particularly the one at the Capitol — should be taken down. His office pointed to general remarks Scott had made two days earlier about how federal, state and local officials ought to “review” what should be done with Confederate monuments. “We need to go through a process where everyone comes together and has a legitimate conversation, then we go forward,” Scott had said. But Scott … has repeatedly declined to answer questions about what direction he wants elected officials in Florida to take: Whether monuments celebrating the Confederacy, such as the one at the Capitol, should be removed or kept, and why. “We’ll leave decisions about the Historic Capitol Museum up to the Legislature,” spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.
“Jax Chamber backs Confederate monument ‘inventory’; Anna Brosche modifies position” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – The Jax Chamber … did not call for removal of those monuments — as the Council President did … before seemingly walking back that position under fire this week. Chamber Board Chair Darnell Smith asserted that the Chamber “support[s] the effort to inventory all of Jacksonville’s public monuments and conduct a swift, honest and thoughtful look at who we honor, and more importantly, who is missing from our public landscape. Discussions should include how we heal wounds that may still persist from our past. Among those should be a consideration of how we memorialize our city’s history in public spaces, and will most certainly involve additional tributes to Jacksonville’s historical leaders.” Council President Anna Brosche called for an inventory of monuments, ahead of an “appropriate plan of action to relocate Confederate monuments, memorials and markers” and initially called for “legislation to move Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers from public property to museums and educational institutions.”
– “Matt Gaetz condemns Charlottesville violence, KKK during Pensacola visit; wants statues to stay” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News-Journal
“Putnam monument quietly avoids controversy — for now” via Jim Abbott of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Few visitors to the Putnam County Courthouse … offer as much as a glance of remembrance at the towering monument to Palatka’s Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War. It’s the kind of tribute that has become a lightning rod for controversy in some places in the wake of the tragic clash between neo-Nazis and other white nationalists and those protesting against them this past weekend in Charlottesville … That hasn’t happened in Palatka … The town is 46.3 percent white and 49.8 percent black … Yet some residents are concerned that tensions elsewhere might eventually surface in Palatka, roughly an hour northwest of Volusia County. Until now, Civil War preservation has never caused much fuss, locals say. There has been no public outcry about Palatka’s Confederate monument, said Stacey Manning, county attorney and interim county administrator. “We’re very diverse and we celebrate that diversity,” said Manning, who has worked in Putnam County for two years and previously held government jobs in Osceola and Volusia counties. “We have a lot of civic-minded individuals in Palatka who are very active in local government. They express their opinions in the right form. If they have issues, they come to county commission meetings.”
“Workers cover Confederate monument in downtown Bradenton with plywood” via Jessica DeLeon of the Bradenton Herald – Forty-eight hours before demonstrations are scheduled to take place in downtown Bradenton, the Confederate monument at the center of the controversy in front of the Manatee County historic courthouse was covered with plywood. Following a three-hour emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the Manatee County commission voted 6-1 in favor of covering up the Confederate monument to protect it in preparation for a protest and rally planned for Monday evening. It took more than four hours for four county building and development services workers to frame the monument with two-by-fours and then covered it with plywood. Bradenton’s Confederate monument, which has a Confederate flag etched on one side and the names of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee etched on the other sides, was unveiled in June 1924. The monument was erected by the Judah P. Benjamin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy after they got approval from the Manatee County Commission in March 1924.
“Eustis commissioner: donate your Confederate monuments to us” via Jason Ruiter of the Orlando Sentinel – Commissioner Anthony Sabatini is creating a stir with his proposal that the Lake County city welcome Confederate monuments that are being taken down around the country. “To any cities or counties that would like to donate their Confederate monuments to the City of Eustis, we will gladly accept and proudly display our nation’s history,” he posted on Facebook. Hours later, the city posted on its website that Sabatini’s comments “do not represent the Commission as a whole” and it “has taken no formal action regarding Confederate statues.” Commissioner Linda Bob, an African-American, said she was offended by the idea and would not vote to bring Confederate statues to the city of 20,000 that’s 35 miles northwest of downtown Orlando.
“House vandalized with racial slur” via Buster Thompson and Michael Bates of the Citrus County Chronicle – A black family is devastated but resolute after a racist slur was spraypainted across the side of their Citrus Hills home. Wife and husband Dayna and James White said they woke up at roughly 7 a.m. met by a Citrus County Sheriff’s Office public service officer, who arrived at their home on East Charleston Court to inform them that the words “NO N******” had been painted in red on their home. “He told us, ‘Can you please come with me, but brace yourself, I want to prepare you for what’s around the corner.’” Dayna White said. “And we looked up, and that’s where we saw, ‘No N******.’” “He kept apologizing, but it’s not his fault,” Dayna White said. Numerous county officials also denounced the racially charged graffiti, condemning those who painted it. Dayna White said her family never expected something like this to happen in Citrus Hills, where they’ve lived for almost three years, “or Citrus County, period.”
“Appointment of Confederate activist sparks diversity council chair to resign” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – The head of a Hillsborough County committee that promotes diversity resigned from the panel Wednesday after county commissioners named to the committee an advocate of Confederate heritage. In a letter to the county administration, council chairman Nestor Ortiz said he was “shocked by the decision” to appoint David McCallister, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Judah P. Benjamin Camp, to the Diversity Advisory Council. “Only four days after the Charlottesville tragedy and the continued and escalating national outrage and division on all sides regarding white nationalism did they decide to put a public southern confederacy advocate on this ‘DIVERSITY’ Advisory Council,” Ortiz wrote. “This body is meant to engage the incredibly diverse communities found throughout Hillsborough County that have historically been marginalized, disenfranchised and oppressed by individuals with values similar to Mr. Mcallister (sic) and his group.” McCallister is also a spokesman for Save Southern Heritage and has been a vocal advocate against removing a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Spotted: Andrew Gillum on MSNBC slamming Adam Putnam’s claim that he didn’t know about the Confederate monument in front of the Capitol.
Click on the image below to watch video of Gillum’s appearance.
“Private plane took Gillum to see top Dems, developer” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – A year before he filed to run for governor, Gillum flew to Tampa to discuss affordable housing with a developer on a private plane arranged by a local lobbyist. He also found time to meet with a couple big players in the Democratic Party. The Feb. 12, 2016, flight was arranged by Adam Corey on behalf of his client, Peter Leach, a Tampa-based affordable housing developer who had previously done business with the city and gave several generous donations to Gillum after their meeting. Before flying back to Tallahassee that same day, Gillum had lunch at the Capital Grille with former Gov. Charlie Crist, who was running what turned out to be a successful bid for Congress, and Alex Sink, former CFO of Florida who had run unsuccessfully for governor and Congress. “The mayor was invited by Peter Leach to a meeting at his office to learn about some of the work he was doing to advance wrap-around social services in schools and housing developments,” said Jamie Van Pelt, spokesman for the mayor. “While visiting Tampa the mayor also met with local political leaders before returning to Tallahassee.” The mayor paid for the Tampa trip out of his office account, which can only be used for official business related to his office.
“Gillum asks FBI to move ‘quickly’ with local investigation” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Gillum told reporters he has communicated with the FBI about the need for its investigation to conclude to avoid influencing the governor’s race or impacting community business. “My hope is that they will move quickly,” he said. “And frankly that is the message that we tried to communicate as best we can to the investigating authorities, that if it is truly the intention of the FBI not to have impact on elections …. then it is my hope and it has been our request that they move quickly to bring this thing to heel.”
“Democratic candidates vow to back anti-discrimination law” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Despite support from the business community, the legislation, known as the “Competitive Workforce Act,” has stalled in the Legislature in recent years. “If you elect me governor, you won’t have to wait any longer,” Gillum told the LGBTA Democratic Caucus, which represents the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “Florida is too big, too proud, too diverse a state for our politics to reflect an error of yesteryear, yesterdecade, yestercentury,” Gillum said during a caucus conference in Tallahassee … Chris King said passing the anti-discrimination law is both morally and economically right for the state. “I want to make sure everyone is comfortable here, everyone is safe here, everyone is protected here,” King said. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee said she would work to “stop discrimination in its tracks.”
Story you won’t read in Sunburn: “Democrat Phil Levine won’t attack Trump. Can he be Florida governor?” by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. This is the third article in as many months in which Smith attempts to anoint a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. How’d that work out for Andrew Gillum?
Assignment editors – Adam Putnam will join supporters for an “Up & Adam” breakfast beginning 9 a.m. at looped and’s buffet, 5299 E. Busch Blvd. in Temple Terrace.
First on #FlaPol – “Rick Scott: I will do ‘everything I can’ to ensure Jimmy Patronis stays CFO in 2018” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I’ve known Jimmy for a long time. I appointed Jimmy because I think he’s going to do a really good job as the CFO,” Scott said after a news conference touting July job numbers at a Honda dealership in Brandon. “He’ll have about a year and a half to be in office,” Scott added. “I know he’s considering whether he’s going to run or not. If he runs, I’m going to be a big supporter.” Officially, Patronis has not announced whether he’ll run next year.
“10th Circuit State Attorney Brian Haas endorses Ashley Moody” via Florida Politics – The campaign announced Haas’ endorsement last week. “I’m proud to endorse Ashley Moody to be our next Attorney General,” the chief elected prosecutor for Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties said in a statement. “It is clear to me that Ashley’s record of prosecuting violent criminals and drug traffickers, combined with her commitment to the rule of law and support of our law enforcement community makes her the right choice to be our next Attorney General.” The Republican Moody stepped down as a Hillsborough County circuit judge to run for AG. “I’m thankful for his endorsement and encouragement,” Moody said.
“In swing-state Florida, the 2018 congressional election has already begun” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Fifteen months before next year’s congressional midterm elections, political organizations are already involved in field operations, making calls to voters and knocking on their doors in what has become a never-ending campaign cycle … interns for Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to House Speaker Paul Ryan that two months ago opened an office in Carlos Curbelo’s swing 26th Congressional District and set out to help get the sophomore Republican re-elected. “The old model is stale and lazy — the old model being, ‘Let me raise as much money I possibly can find. Let me save it, and then I’m going to spend it all on television in the month of October’” of the election year, said Corry Bliss, the super PAC’s executive director. Ahead of 2018, Bliss said the super PAC has already opened 15 offices in priority districts across the country, with 15 more to come by the end of the year. The only other Florida office is in the 18th District, held by freshman Republican Rep. Brian Mast … Congressional Leadership Fund has pledged to spend $100 million over two years to try to keep the House under GOP control.
“Carlos Lopez-Cantera won’t run for Congress” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera has decided not to run for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in Congress, though he may seek another office in 2020. “We have decided that being a candidate in 2018 is not what’s best for our family,” Lopez-Cantera, who is married and has two young daughters, said in a statement. He pledged to remain involved in politics and suggested he could launch a future candidacy for an unnamed position. He’s considered a possible contender to become Miami-Dade County’s next mayor. “There is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to look for ways to be a part of the solution,” he said. “I may run for public office again, but not in 2018.”
“Two Democrats appear to lead challenge of Dennis Ross” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – Andrew Learned of Bloomingdale and James Gregory “Greg” Pilkington of Indian Lake Estates in Polk County. Both are first-time candidates while Ross is a former state House member in his fourth term as congressman from the GOP-leaning 15th District … Learned and Pilkington both say they’re running in part because of Ross’s support for GOP attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Learned, 30 and single, is University of Tampa graduate recently returned from overseas Navy deployments. He grew up in Valrico and runs a tutoring franchise there, Grade Power Learning. Learned had raised $22,289 through June, including $2,000 from himself. Pilkington, 54, is a business consultant, married with three grown children and a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. He has funded his own campaign so far with a $25,000 loan accounting for the $26,338 total raised.
“Politics, Miami-style: Senate race and cast Democrat as Fidel Castro apologist” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Democratic Senate candidate Annette Taddeo has denounced as false an explosive Spanish-language radio ad from Florida Republicans casting her as — wait for it — a tax-hiker, job-offshorer, Colombian-guerrilla sympathizer and Castro apologist. The ad reflects a tried-and-true campaign tack in Miami politics: paint your opponent as soft on Cuba, or soft on Communism. Particularly offensive to Taddeo is the suggestion that she wanted to “legitimize” the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Taddeo was born in Colombia and fled as a teenager after the FARC captured her father, an American military veteran, at the family ranch. “How dare my opponent, lobbyist Jose Felix Diaz, use our community’s painful history for political gain?” Taddeo said. “My father was kidnapped by the FARC and my family had to flee Colombia because of our safety.”
“David Smith talks simulation business, innovation in education, beaches” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – The last couple of legislative sessions have seen a widening schism between cities and counties wanting to protect home rule and the Legislature wanting to reign in what many see as excessive local regulation. Where do you stand in that debate? Smith: “I believe that the government closest to the people is almost always the best at governing a specific community. As a state legislator, my job will be to balance the needs of my constituents with the needs of all of Florida” … “To me, integrity means having a strong moral compass and doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. I think most people would agree that the political climate in our nation today is probably at an all-time low. Voters are well past simply being skeptical of their elected officials. In my own small way, I’m hoping to start turning this around.”
Save the date:
“Paul Chandler’s HD 44 campaign confident he’ll overcome residency challenge” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Chandler faces Republican Bobby Olszewski in the Oct. 10 special election to fill the vacant HD 44 seat to represent southwest Orange County. First, though, Chandler may have to overcome a lawsuit filed last week in Leon County challenging his qualification to run for office in Florida. Chandler has had a split residency between Missouri and Florida for years, and allegedly even voted in Missouri last year, but insists Florida has been his primary residence for years. The suit challenges that. His campaign calls the suit frivolous, more of a distraction than a concern. “We’re all confident that this is going to be a breeze,” said Chandler’s campaign Communications Director Joey Roulette. “But Paul is mainly focused on his campaign and running on the issues. This is a diversion from the campaign issues.”
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will highlight job growth at a 10 a.m. news conference at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Dr. in Fort Myers.
“Clock ticks toward deadline to resolve Lottery lawsuit” via Florida Politics – An Aug. 31 deadline looms for the House of Representatives and Florida Lottery to turn in a “status report” on their efforts to settle a lawsuit over a $700 million contract for new equipment. House spokesman Fred Piccolo said there had been no resolution, and that “negotiations continue.” Barry Richard, outside counsel for the Lottery, only said the case was still on hold. The 1st District Court of Appeal last month agreed to suspend the case while the sides work out their differences. “If the case has not been dismissed” by then, the parties have to report by the end of the month whether they see a “need for any further proceedings,” a docket order says. In March, Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers invalidated the Lottery’s 15-year deal with IGT (International Game Technology) for new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. It also provides for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network. House Speaker Richard Corcoran had sued, essentially saying the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the contract last year.
“House sets schedule for September committees” via the News Service of Florida – Major policy committees will be first up when the House starts holding committee meetings in September to prepare for the 2018 legislative session, according to a tentative schedule posted online. The House and Senate will hold committee meetings Sept. 12 through Sept. 14. The House’s tentative schedule indicates the Commerce Committee, the Government Accountability Committee, the Education Committee, the Health & Human Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee will hold the first meetings Sept. 12. The Appropriations Committee and the Ways and Means Committee are scheduled to meet on Sept. 14. Time also has been set aside during the three days for more than two-dozen other committees and subcommittees. The 2018 session will start in January.
“Jack Latvala files legislation to rework Florida beach aid” via Eric Staats of the Naples Daily News – The legislation, filed the same week the Clearwater Republican announced a bid for governor, would dedicate $50 million each year to Florida’s beaches and rework the state system that ranks communities’ beach projects for a share of the money. It also would refocus the state’s attention on inlets, a major driver of erosion, and require the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a three-year plan for beach repair. “I think there’s a lot of people would like to see it passed,” Latvala said. “If (House Speaker Richard Corcoran) heeds the requests he gets, they will get it done. Or if we don’t get it done, he’ll be responsible.”
“Bill would block use of food stamps for soda” via the News Service of Florida – The bill (HB 47) by Rep. Ralph Massullo … would direct the Florida Department of Children and Families to seek approval of a federal “waiver” that would allow the state to ban the use of benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to buy soft drinks. The program traditionally was known as food stamps.
“Florida Realtors announces 2017 Legislators of the Year” via Florida Politics – Sens. René García, Tom Lee, Kathleen Passidomo, Kelli Stargel, and Reps. Jim Boyd, Colleen Burton, Byron Donalds and Holly Raschein were presented with their awards during the Florida Realtors annual Convention & Trade Expo in Orlando. “Florida Realtors had a very successful session this year with multiple priority bills passing and key programs getting significant amounts of funding,” Florida Realtors President Maria Wells said. “Our members played an important role, but none of it would have been possible without these legislators.” She noted “the first-ever cut to the business rent tax” and “cap(ping) the fees community associations can charge for estoppel certificates.”
Happening today – State Sen. Aaron Bean will give a speech to the University of North Florida Student Government Senate at 7 p.m., UNF campus, 1 UNF Drive in Jacksonville.
Facebook status of the day via Sen. Bean:
— SICK —
The headline on this CNN story is sickening in itself: “Pediatricians say Florida hurt sick kids to help big GOP donors.”
- “In the spring and summer of 2015, the state switched more than 13,000 children out of a highly respected program called Children’s Medical Services, or CMS, a part of Florida Medicaid. Children on this plan have serious health problems including birth defects, heart disease, diabetes and blindness. The state moved the children to other Medicaid insurance plans that don’t specialize in caring for very sick children.”
- “… the data analysis the state used to justify switching the children is ‘inaccurate’ and ‘bizarre,’ according to the researcher who wrote the software used in that analysis.”
- “… the screening tool the state used to select which children would be kicked off the program has been called ‘completely invalid’ and ‘a perversion of science’ by top experts in children with special health care needs.”
- “… in fall 2015, a state administrative law judge ruled that the Department of Health should stop using the screening tool because it was unlawful. However, even after the judge issued his decision, the department didn’t automatically re-enroll the children or even reach out to the families directly to let them know that re-enrollment was a possibility.”
- “… parents and Florida pediatricians raise questions about the true reasons why Florida’s Republican administration switched the children’s health plans. They question whether it was to financially reward insurance companies that had donated millions of dollars to the Republican Party of Florida.”
- “‘This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it’s the children who suffered,’ said Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
— STATEWIDE —
“Officials: Slain officers didn’t have chance to return fire” via The Associated Press – A police officer died from his injuries Saturday, a day after his colleague was killed when a suspect fired at them during a scuffle while they were on patrol. The suspect was later arrested in a bar. Sgt. Sam Howard died at a hospital where he had been taken following Friday night’s attack in Kissimmee … Officer Matthew Baxter died Friday night, a short time after authorities say he was shot by 45-year-old Everett Miller. Miller faces a charge of first-degree murder for the killing of Baxter. During a patrol late Friday of a neighborhood with a history of drug activity, Baxter was “checking out” three people, including Miller, when the officer got into a scuffle with Miller. Howard, his sergeant, responded as backup, said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell. The officers didn’t have an opportunity to return fire. They weren’t wearing body cameras.
“Death penalty: Rick Scott yanks prosecutor from case of two slain Kissimmee police officers” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Scott issued an executive order replacing State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who oversees prosecutions in Orange and Osceola counties, with State Attorney Brad King of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties. Ayala, a Democrat, became Florida’s first black state attorney when she was elected in 2016. She declared this year that she will not seek the death penalty in any cases, leading Scott to remove her from 23 cases. Ayala challenged the governor’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court, where justices appeared skeptical of her arguments in June. “Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state,” Scott said in a statement. “In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”
“Court asks why it shouldn’t dismiss ‘pre-reveal’ appeal” via Florida Politics – An appellate court was on the verge of rejecting an appeal of a lower court’s decision that entertainment devices known as “pre-reveal” games are in fact illegal slot machines. Dockets at the 1st District Court of Appeal show that Gator Coin II—the Jacksonville company that distributes the games—was ordered to show “why this appeal should not be dismissed” because its filings weren’t in order. An attorney for the company, Bryan E. DeMaggio, responded in a 21-page court filing—including exhibits—that lawyers “inadvertently neglected” to file a copy of Circuit Judge John Cooper‘s final order, filed on July 10. DeMaggio further said they did not file the earlier order because it was “not … being appealed here.” He then attached a copy of Cooper’s final judgment. He said “the appeal should not be dismissed and the matter should be heard on the merits.” Dockets accessed Friday show that the court has not yet acted on the filing. Last month, Cooper reversed his previous ruling, saying he had gotten it “wrong the first time.”
“Fifty Florida schools apply for ‘Schools of Hope’ grant” via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – More than half of Florida traditional public schools eligible to vie for newly minted “Schools of Hope” grants submitted applications, the Florida Department of Education reported. The program was a late add-on to a House proposal that set aside millions of dollars to support the creation of new charter schools to serve communities where traditional schools have consistently performed poorly on state tests. Aiming to gain support in the Senate, where support for HB 7069 was shaky, bill writers added a provision to give $2,000 per student in added funding to up to 25 schools required to submit turnaround plans to the state. Of 90 schools that could apply, 50 did so. Polk County led the way with eight submissions, followed by Orange County with six. Hillsborough County, which had one of the highest number of “failing” schools in Florida, applied for three schools, as did Pinellas County. The State Board of Education is scheduled to select up to 25 grant recipients at its Sept. 13 meeting.
“Nearly 5,000 Florida students could get help from settlement” via The Associated Press – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit and settlement against Aequitas Capital Management, a private equity fund that purchased or funded $230 million in loans to students at Corinthian Colleges. Corinthian was a private college that went out of business in 2015 on allegations of fraud. Under the proposed settlement, Aequitas would forgive $183.3 million in loans or reduce the size of the loans. Approximately 41,000 students nationwide could be eligible for the settlement. Attorney General Pam Bondi said Florida’s share is expected to be more than $18 million.
“Olympic site selection rigged? Rich Miami man being investigated” via Emily Mahoney and Malu Gaspar of the Miami Herald – After the Olympic vote was tallied deciding Rio de Janeiro would host the 2016 summer games, the Brazilian city erupted in celebration as the government declared a state holiday and wild, bikini-clad parties flooded Copacabana beach. But that victory has recently been tainted by whiffs of scandal, with French investigators on the trail of a possible bribery scheme right out of the Panama Papers playbook — featuring a Russian bank account, British Virgin Islands-based holding company and a murky $1.5 million wire transfer three days before Rio was selected. One man caught in the crosshairs is a Brazilian national, shrouded in mystery … Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho — or “King Arthur,” as he is known in Brazil. He has intermittently lived in Miami for decades, shelling out millions for valuable properties and opening a slew of businesses, according to public records. But his life of luxury could be imperiled by ongoing, intensifying investigations.
“Conviction upheld in Tampa Bay terror plot” via the News Service of Florida – A federal appeals court upheld the conviction and 40-year prison sentence of a man convicted in a plot to carry out terror attacks in the Tampa Bay area as “payback” for the death of Osama bin Laden. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by a lawyer for Sami Osmakac, who was arrested in January 2012 in a hotel parking lot after loading a car bomb — non-functional because it was supplied by an undercover FBI agent — into the trunk of a vehicle. Before the arrest, Osmakac also had made a “martyrdom” video in a hotel room. “Osmakac said (in the video) that the attack was `payback’ for killing Osama bin Laden,” said Friday’s 44-page main opinion, written by appeals-court Judge Frank Hull and joined fully by Judge Stanley Marcus. “Osmakac also said that he was coming for American blood, that he had led a life of terrorizing non-Muslims, and that other Muslims needed to `wake up.’”
— OPINIONS —
“Joe Henderson: Let’s ask Speaker Richard Corcoran to spend some time in a sweltering classroom” via the Tampa Bay Times – You’ve seen and heard the stories about how air conditioning breakdowns created sweltering conditions in many Hillsborough County public schools. It is a sweaty, stinking, ongoing mess, and there is no quick fix … the bulk of Hillsborough’s more than 230 public schools are older buildings with cooling units that have reached the end of their usefulness. Your Florida Legislature keeps funneling public school dollars into private charter schools, so money to fix or replace failing systems is disappearing. Fun fact: Hillsborough schools receive $145 million less than they did seven years ago from a state fund that, among other things, helps pay for routine maintenance. Thank your Legislature for that. So, what to do — besides inviting Florida House Speaker Corcoran to spend a few days in a classroom where the temperature reaches the mid-80s or higher? Corcoran, remember, is Tallahassee’s No. 1 fan of charter schools and if you want to point a finger dripping with perspiration at the No. 1 culprit in this caper, he’s your guy.
“Water reforms empowering local communities” via Steve Crisafulli for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Last month in Fort Myers, state water managers joined scientists, environmentalists and representatives from agriculture in developing a plan to reduce excess nutrients flowing into the Caloosahatchee watershed. Years ago, such a meeting would have been happenstance. But thanks to the comprehensive water bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2015, meetings such as this one are about to become much more common … One of the law’s most sweeping reforms designates Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) as the pollutant control programs for each impaired watershed. Once in place, a BMAP mandates enforceable water quality improvement requirements for both urban and agricultural activities in the basin to help ensure nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are being reduced. This plan takes a “bottom-up” approach – the Department of Environmental Protection works with the water management districts, local governments and stakeholders, who work together to develop, implement, and enforce basin specific detailed plans specifically tailored to achieve water quality standards in each basin.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Gary Bruhn installed as president of Florida League of Mayors” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Bruhn, in his seventh term as mayor of Windermere, will serve a one-year term steering the group representing the interests of mayors and cities from throughout Florida. “Mayor Bruhn has been an active member of the Florida League of Mayors for many years and is ready to lead this organization,” FLM Executive Director Scott Dudley stated. “Mayors play a critical role in creating the quality of life our residents have come to expect from Florida’s cities and I look forward to working with Mayor Bruhn in his new role as president.” Bruhn is serving his fifth term on the FLM Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Florida League of Cities Board of Directors and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and serves on the Florida League of Cities Municipal Administration Legislative Committee.
“Personnel note: Richard Reeves departs GrayRobinson to start own firm” via Florida Politics – “I wanted to be out on my own again,” he said. “The opportunity to work with Dean (Cannon) was tremendous. He’s a great mentor and leader and friend.” Cannon, a former House Speaker (2010-12), formed Tallahassee’s Capitol Insight, where Reeves also worked. It then merged with GrayRobinson. His departure “was a friendly decision,” added Reeves, 46. He says he will continue to work with Cannon on projects that benefit their mutual clients. “Richard is a great friend and asset to us at GrayRobinson, so it is bittersweet to see him go,” said Cannon. “However, we are happy he is going to form his own firm and looking forward to collaborating with him in the future.”
“Top young professionals recognized as JMI Leaders Fellows” via The James Madison Institute – More than 80 of the state’s top young professionals are the latest recipients of The James Madison Institute’s Leaders Fellowship. This program, a yearlong endeavor promoting the growth and development of young leaders, features representation from five key regions in the state: Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and South Florida.
Appointed – David Compton, Jay Carlson, Charles Frank, David Gilson, Nanette Dean and Don Whitehead to the Florida building Commission.
Reappointed – Laura Raybin-Miller and Jose Basulto to the Board of Commissioners, South Broward Hospital District.
Happy birthday belatedly to Rep. Alex Miller, Mark Bubriski, Matt Florell, and Janell Hendren. Celebrating today is Caitlin Fishman.