Sunburn for 1/28 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***

HAPPY STATE OF THE UNION DAY!

PRESIDENT TO ASSERT UNILATERAL AGENDA

Obama’s State of the Union address tonight “will seek to shift the public’s souring view of his leadership, a challenge the White House sees as critical to shaping the nation’s policy direction over the next three years,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Obama will emphasize his intention to use unilateral presidential authority–bypassing Congress when necessary–to an extent not seen in his previous State of the Union speeches, White House officials said.”

GAUGING PRIORITIES BEFORE THE STATE OF THE UNION via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

So President Obama’s first speech scheduled for after tonight’s State of the Union is at a Costco, no doubt highlighting a company that liberals widely praise for providing decent wages and benefits, and still making a nice profit, in an economy where far too many other companies seem to consider decent wages and benefits not at all a priority.

That signals that the Democrats growing theme of economic fairness may be high on Obama’s SOTU priorities, but a new Pew Research Center survey finds the idea’s probably losing support as a priority among Americans since last year’s Pew’s “Top Policy Priorities Poll.”

The new Pew survey finds that “strengthening the economy” and “improving the job situation” still are Americans’ top priorities, held by 80 and 74 percent of Americans respectively, but both are losing ground since January 2013.

“Dealing with problems of the poor and needy” also has dropped significantly, down 8 points to 49 percent. They’re all down from 2009, the year of Obama’s first SOTU, as well.

Democrats still think the poor and needy need attention. In the latest survey, 64 percent of Democrats rated that as a priority, though that’s down 7 points from 2013. Only 32 percent of Republicans thought poor and needy should be a priority, down 14 points. Among independents, 48 percent called it a priority, down 5 points.

On the deficit question, 80 percent of Republicans still consider it a priority, 49 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents.

BLOG POST – WHY BOTHER? via Erick Erickson of RedState

“A thin skinned amateur who has been in office six years and still can’t grasp how to do his job will stand before an even more thin skinned Parliament of Whores and tell them he does not need them, while knowing he really does need them, while none of them truly want to be with each other, and all have lawyers ready to go bow before the black robed masters who’ll sit stone faced at the front of room knowing they really rule the joint.

“My only hope is that the Republicans grow a pair and start laughing uncontrollably when the President begins touting Obamacare, which you know he will do and which you know they will not. Paging Steve Stockman — here’s your moment.

“The State of the Union has become a pointless bit of laundry list stagecrap where everyone in D.C. gets to pretend they like each other and together will make magic before leaking how they hate each other and won’t get anything done worthwhile.”

SHOCKING – Many of the goals from last year’s speech did not come to fruition, reports Marina Koren of National Journal.

WORKING THE ANGLES TO GET #STATEOFTHEUNION NOTICED via Paul Farhi of the Washington Post

Here’s a photo of senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett typing something at her desk. … The photos, posted on the White House’s Instagram account, are supposed to give people an inside look at the ‘exciting and hectic week’ of preparations for the State of the Union, … as Jarrett puts it on Instagram. Now here’s White House chief speechwriter Cody Keenan … offering a ‘day in the life of’ account of writing the big speech. Keenan’s contributions: A blurry photo of a first draft of the speech and another of a folder marked ‘Presidential Statement.’ And here’s White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in a YouTube video …

After the speech, ‘dozens’ of administration officials will take questions about it in live chats on Twitter, Google + Hangouts and other social media … Obama will meet on Tuesday with anchors from the broadcast and cable networks (plus NPR, Univision and Telemundo).

TWEET, TWEET: @JordanRaynor: I love how The @WhiteHouse is using Instagram this year (turning over account to staff, using hashtags to tie together themes, etc.).

SOME REPUBLICANS TO GO OFF SCRIPT WITH SOTU RESPONSE via the New York Times

The protocol is staid and formulaic. The president addresses Congress on the State of the Union, then the opposition party’s designee follows with a reply. The choreography is tight, predictable and usually forgettable.

Not this year. The response, a once careful attempt at stagecraft fashioned under the close watch of party chiefs to be as uniform and on message as possible, has given way to political free agency.

The shift speaks volumes about politics today: the value placed on the individual brand over the larger organization, and the way social media and technology have torn down barriers to fame and influence.

U.S REP. JOE GARCIA INVITES MIAMI-DADE DREAM ACT STUDENT TO ATTEND SOTU Full blog post here

Garcia invited an undocumented student from Homestead as his guest for Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Mayra Rubio Limon, a college freshman at Miami-Dade College, will join the representative from Florida’s 26th Congressional District in Washington D.C. to hear President Obama’s address to Congress.

The Miami-Dade Democrat was one of the original sponsors of HR 15, the House’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. The measure would address border security, legalize undocumented residents and fix some legal immigration programs. Garcia spent the last several months pushing for change for people like Mayra.

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TREY RADEL RESIGNS

Radel resigned less than a month after he returned to Capitol Hill from a stay in rehab that followed his arrest for cocaine possession.

In a resignation letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, the freshman Republican said he feels he can no longer “fully and effectively serve” as a member of Congress in light of his “personal struggles.”

“Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences,” Radel wrote, “While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida.”

TWEET, TWEET: @crowleyreport: Is there irony in the fact that on the day Trey Radel resigns because of drugs, the Fl Supreme Ct approve medical marijuana ballot.

Florida Democratic Party spox Josh Carp: “Democrats are glad Trey Radel has taken the advice we gave him the day news of his arrest broke, and resigned his seat. Anyone with a moral compass would have resigned months ago.”

IN LOOMING REPUBLICAN DONNYBROOK TO REPLACE RADEL, SUPERPAC WARS WITH STATE GOP OVER ADS via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

In a sign of a tough party donnybrook, a Republican political committee and the state GOP are feuding over rival ads tied to the congressional race to replace Rep. Radel.

At the heart of the dispute: announced candidate Paige Kreegel, backed by the Values are Vital political committee, and state Republican Senate leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, who’s considering a bid for Radel’s seat.

Benacquisto is spending about $500,000 in state Senate campaign money on ads. Values are Vital countered with its own ads that calls her “bait-and-switch Benacquisto” for trying to boost her name ID and get around a federal ban on spending corporate money for congressional campaigns.

Last week, the Republican Party of Florida weighed in on Benacquisto’s behalf and told local TV stations to pull the “patently false” ads from Values are Vital. The committee, in turn, defended the spots and attacked RPOF.

The squabble is but the opening salvo in what’s set to be a tough and potentially vicious Republican Party intramural squabble. Gov. Rick Scott plans to call a special election now that Radel announced he’s quitting in reaction to the fallout over his cocaine bust last year.

SUNBURN EXCLUSIVE – BENACQUISTO IS TOP CHOICE TO REPLACE RADEL, POLL FINDS

A flash poll of a prospective special election has Benacquisto at 33%, Mack at 22%, Chauncey Goss at 15%, and Paige Kreegel at 10%.  Full poll results here.

RACE FOR CD 13

AT ST. PETE BEACH APPEARANCE, ALEX SINK CALLS DAVID JOLLY “TOO EXTREME” FOR PINELLAS REPUBLICANS via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing

Over the weekend, Alex Sink began airing ads assailing her CD13 GOP opponent David Jolly for his lobbying background. And she doesn’t intend to relent anytime soon.

“When I was serving you as your elected Chief Financial Officer in Tallahassee, fighting for protection of seniors against insurance scams, fighting to reduce budgets and find ways to eliminate government waste, my opponent was peddling his influence in the halls of Congress and hiring himself out to the highest bidder with his hand out,” Sink told several dozen supporters at a Pinellas County Democrats “Victory Fund Party.”

A short time after her speech, she told this reporter that she intends to stay on the offensive.

Jolly’s background as a lobbyist in Washington has been an issue ever since he entered the race in early November, with Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala making it clear he didn’t think Pinellas Republicans’ first choice to succeed Young should be a “D.C. lobbyist.”

But the only Republican to step up and challenge Jolly in the primary — state Representative Kathleen Peters — failed to make his past lobbying much of an issue.

But Democrats feel they have scored with the allegation that Jolly lobbied for offshore drilling interests. On a lobbyist disclosure form, Jolly had listed an energy independence proposal that supported offshore drilling as a subject of his activity, as noted by PolitiFact.

DIRECT MAIL ROUND-UP: See the latest piece dinging Alex Sink here.

FDP TO FLYER SENIOR CENTERS ON LOBBYIST DAVID JOLLY’S SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE RECORD

The Florida Democratic Party released a flyer highlighting why Pinellas seniors cannot trust Jolly on Medicare and Social Security, saying “Washington Lobbyist David Jolly: Wrong for Pinellas Seniors.”

FDP will distribute the flyer this week at senior centers and 55+ communities throughout Florida’s 13th Congressional District. It outlines Jolly’s record as a lobbyist for an extreme group that supports privatizing Social Security, as well as his comments in support of the Ryan budget that ends Medicare as we know it.

“Pinellas seniors just can’t trust Washington lobbyist David Jolly,” said Florida Democratic Party representative Joshua Karp. “Jolly praised the radical Ryan Budget that ends Medicare as we know it. He even lobbied for an extreme group that supports privatizing Social Security.”

“In Congress, an untrustworthy lobbyist like David Jolly would do what lobbyists always do in Washington – put special interests over Pinellas seniors and make the dysfunction even worse.”

JOLLY LOBBIED ON PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT, RECORDS SHOW via Kate Bradshaw of the Tampa Tribune

President Obama is expected to address income inequality in his State of the Union Address tonight. It’s been a divisive issue, especially when it comes to questions like whether the federal minimum wage should be raised, and whether women should by default earn the same salaries as men for for doing the same work.

Jolly … lobbied on behalf of conservative group Free Enterprise Nation on the Paycheck Fairness Act, records show. That act has to do with encouraging equal pay for men and women. The head of Tamp-based Free Enterprise Nation, Jim MacDougald, has said in cable news appearances that he does not believe government should not be able to decide how industry is run, and that the market is good at self-regulating.

This isn’t the only controversial issue Jolly has lobbied on – he’s had to defend his record on offshore oil drilling, Social Security and Medicare. He has said that he listed those issues on disclosure forms when they came up during discussion as a means of over-complying with disclosure laws.

Sink, meanwhile, said she supports wage equality.

“I am a strong and passionate supporter of equal pay for equal work,” she said in a written statement provided by her campaign.

VOTERS HAVE FLOOD OF CONCERNS IN HOUSE RACE IN FLORIDA via Susan Davis of USA Today

National political organizations may want to use a special election to fill the vacancy left by the late Republican Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young as a campaign lab to test 2014 election themes on health care and anti-Washington attitudes.

But on the ground here, the primary issue on voters’ minds is in their own backyard.

The potential for skyrocketing flood insurance premiums for homeowners under new regulations is having a dramatic effect on local politics – more than the debate over the Affordable Care Act or the personal attacks between the candidates.

Jolly is also campaigning on a proposal to create a new federal program for a disaster insurance program that would aggregate the risk by uniting states under a program that would cover regional needs.

In an interview, Jolly acknowledged that his position is at odds with leading members of the House GOP who want to eliminate the program, but said that he will bring “dogged advocacy” to the issue.

At a recent campaign event, Sink outlined her principles for flood insurance reform. She called for an immediate delay of rate changes, tax breaks for homeowners to make improvements to lower premiums, and a tougher approach to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the flood insurance program.

MAJOR SINK FUNDRAISER SET FOR JANUARY 29

U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer will attend a fundraiser honoring Sink at the Snell Isle home of Bloomin’ Brands CEO Liz Smith and her husband, Chip Newton.

The event will be Wednesday, January 29 beginning 5:00 p.m. at 501 Brightwaters Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Hosts include Home Shopping Network CEO Mindy Grossman, Bill and Jeanne Heller, Lindsey Jarrell, Craig Sher, Murray Silverstein, Lorna Taylor, Beth Houghton and Scott Wagman.

RSVP through this link or in-person by calling Brianna Jones at (727) 537-9148.

MEANWHILE … REPUBLICANS HOLD LEAD IN GENERIC BALLOT

A new Fox News poll finds Republican candidates hold a slim two-percentage point advantage when voters are asked about their preference for Congress, 43% to 41%.

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CHARLIE CRIST BETRAYED MITT ROMNEY BEFORE 2008 FLORIDA PRIMARIES, NEW DOCUMENTARY SHOWS via Terrence McCoy of the Miami New Times

If Charlie Crist wants to rid himself of the reputation that he’s a political chameleon, willing to do anything for personal advantage regardless of who it betrays or damages — a new documentary released over the weekend won’t help his cause.

In the Netflix documentary, Mitt, which daubs the fallen Republican presidential contender as a very human, self-effacing candidate who once described himself as “flawed,” it was Charlie Crist who took the biggest hit. Viewers watch as Romney and his family learn that Crist had capitulated on earlier promises to stay neutral and endorsed John McCain — just days before the 2008 Florida primaries.

Tagg, one of the innumerable Romney boys, took it especially hard. “Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral,” he says. “He talked to many people on our campaign and he promised them all he was going to stay neutral.

“And now he has announced he is going to endorse John McCain. Now it’s two days before the election. This is a big deal. It’s a tight race, and it’s probably enough to tip it in McCain’s favor.”

It did. John McCain took the contests with 36 percent of the vote, while Romney snared only 31 percent, and an anemic Rudy Giuliani hobbled in with 15 percent.

When Romney learned that Crist had lied to him, a look of grief came across his face. He looked down at the carpet, and his eyes glazed over. He was angriest that Crist hadn’t told him it was coming.

“You do something like this, you call and say, ‘Look, I made a decision,'” Romney said.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA GETS GREEN LIGHT FROM SUPREME COURT via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Supreme Court issued a divided, 4-3 opinion clearing the way for the proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the November 2014 general election ballot.

The decision is a win for Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who has largely financed the effort. It’s also a loss for Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican legislative leaders who argued before the court that the amendment was misleading.

The four-judge majority wrote the opinion was sufficiently clear in setting the boundaries for when doctors would be allowed to prescribe marijuana. For instance, Bondi and lawyers for Speaker Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz had argued the summary was misleading because it allowed doctors to prescribe the drug for “diseases” while the amendment itself discusses medical “conditions.”

The amendment summary says it would authorize “the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician.”

The actual ballot language defines “debilitating medical condition” as diseases such as cancer,glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C or “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

That could allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for anything, critics say.

But the four-judge majority — Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, Peggy Quinceand James Perry — rejected those arguments.

“We conclude that the use of ‘diseases’ instead of ‘conditions’ in the ballot summary will not reasonably mislead the voters,” the wrote.

On the losing side, Justices Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and Jorge Labargadisagreed, arguing the ballot title and summary “are affirmatively misleading because they obscure the breadth of medical issues that would qualify for medical marijuana by deceptively employing the term ‘disease’ and by failing to disclose that a physician need only believe that the benefits would likely outweigh the risks.”

They also argued the question was confusing for failing “to disclose the broad immunity that would be granted if the amendment passes and because they falsely imply that the use and possession of marijuana in accordance with the amendment would not violate federal law.”

Bondi said Monday in a statement that the decision was now up to voters.

“I encourage every Floridian to read the full amendment in order to understand the impact it could have on Floridians,” she said.

OTHER REAX

Crist: “This is an issue of compassion, trusting doctors, and trusting the people of Florida. I will vote for it.”

George Sheldon: “We need to quit devoting government resources to meddling in the lives ofpeople who are suffering and focus our resources on making life better and more productive for the citizens of Florida.”

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REAX

Sen. Bill Galvano: “I applaud Governor Scott’s continued commitment to Florida’s education system. From K-12, through higher education, our students deserve the best. I am confident with continued support from the state level, our students will be well prepared for future success.”

Senator John Legg: “Governor Scott recognizes that our economic future is tied to education, and he is proposing a very wise investment in the future of our state. It is important to support our teachers and students, from kindergarten through higher education, and I applaud the Governor on today’s historic announcement.”

Representative Marlene O’Toole: “I applaud the Governor for helping to improve Florida’s economy by bringing new jobs to the state, which, in turn, has increased tax revenues and allowed this level of investment in education.  An investment that produces higher graduation rates and better-prepared students is a smart one for the people of Florida.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant: “Rick Scott thinks he needs to begin this election year by rewriting his record. But Floridians remember Rick Scott’s record. Scott has consistently put corporate tax giveaways first and put the needs of Florida’s kids last. When they go to the polls this November, Floridians won’t remember this Governor’s politically motivated education budget. They’ll remember that when they needed this Governor’s help most, he ignored them.”

Florida Education Association’s Andy Ford: “The FEA believes the existing statutory policy mandates that involve Florida’s accountability system, its standards, its state and local assessments, implementation schedules, performance pay, material needs, technology and technology infrastructure will absorb this increase and much more.”

StudentsFirst: “Governor Scott is truly setting himself apart as a champion for children in our public schools,” said StudentsFirst Florida State Director Nikki Lowrey. “Great teachers are essential to providing a great education and Governor Scott’s proposal to fund schools at historic levels, and include funding for the professional development of teachers and principals, is the kind of leadership that will result in a better education for Florida kids. We look forward to seeing more details of his proposal and how these education dollars can have the greatest impact for students in the classroom.”

SCOTT SCHOOLS’ BUDGET BIG — BUT MAYBE NOT THAT BIG via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

Gov. Scott’s election-year education budget, unveiled Monday in Delray Beach, is touted as including record amounts of spending for Florida schools, colleges and universities.

What is Scott’s per-pupil funding for K-12 students?

The state’s all-time mark for per-pupil spending was reached in 2007-8, when then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a budget which included average, per-pupil spending of $7,126 for Florida’s roughly 2.7 million school kids.

The recession and budget cutting blew a hole in that figure. It dropped to a recent low of $6,217 in Scott’s first year as governor — when he cut school spending by $1.3 billion.

Since then, back-to-back years of billion-dollar increases in school spending have brought per-pupil spending back up. But this year’s average $6,776 remains $350 short of the record reached under Crist, now Scott’s leading Democratic opponent in this fall’s governor’s race.

Last year, Scott proposed a $1.2 billion boost in school spending, which would have increased per pupil spending by $412. But based on that math, the $542 million increase he recommended Monday is likely to bring per-pupil spending to just around $7,000 — still below the mark reached in the good times by his Democratic nemesis.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce “the second major component of his proposed $500 million in tax and fee cuts in the “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,” at Conway Ace Hardware,” according to a release. 10:00 a.m.

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$125 MILLION TO FIGHT CITRUS GREENING via Kevin Bouffard of the Lakeland Ledger

In the darkest hours of Florida’s eight-year battle against citrus greening, Congress has come through with its most substantial commitment yet — $125 million over five years to finance research against the ruinous bacterial disease.

The research money caps a four-year effort by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to create a long-term funding solution to attack greening, arguably the biggest threat to Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry in generations. It comes on top of $20 million for greening-related research in the recently approved 2013-14 federal budget obtained by Nelson and U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, whose district includes Polk County.

The research money comes as Florida citrus growers desperately search for new strategies against greening, which is blamed for unprecedented rates of pre-harvest fruit drop in the early months of the 2013-14 citrus season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has already shaved 8 percent off this season’s Florida orange crop forecast, now at 115 million boxes, because of pre-harvest drop and small fruit size, also attributed to greening-damaged trees.

TWEET, TWEET: @TomRooney: Great news for #Florida & anyone who drinks OJ

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Retail Association has reserved the Florida Press Center for a press conference on 10:30 a.m. to present their Holiday 2013 update. For more information contact Alia Faraj-Johnson at 850-222-4100. H/t to The Florida Current.

FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD TO FEEL PAIN OF CUTS via Howard Altman of the Tampa Tribune

One thing that has gotten lost in talk of military budget cuts is the impact on the Florida National Guard.

All services are looking at trimming personnel. The Army is proposing reducing the Army National Guard from nearly 350,000 members to 315,000, according to Florida National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. James Evans.

The savings from that, he says, look like they will be applied to readiness and modernization, not force structure.

The Army National Guard, says Evans, “has developed a proposal that meets the required budget reductions of the (Budget Control Act) while preserving a capacity and capability that can best respond to the needs of the nation, both abroad and at home. While there is no ‘good’ solution … the (Army National Guard) proposal recommends minimally acceptable reductions in military construction; facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization; readiness; training; schools; recruiting and retention and other areas. It also reduces full-time manning by nearly 9 percent.”

The bottom line here in Florida would be a nearly 10 percent reduction of the Florida National Guard from its current 10,000 members, says Evans.

FLORIDA SNOW? PANHANDLE SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR POSSIBLE ICE AND SNOW via The Associated Press

Schools, courts and government offices throughout the western Panhandle plan to close because of anticipated snow and ice.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the region. Forecasters say a mix of freezing rain and snow is expected Tuesday through Wednesday.

Schools in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties will be closed those days. Courts and many government offices also announced closures in advances of the wintery weather.

Officials in Florida’s two westernmost counties have declared local states of emergency, are preparing to spread sand on icy roads and bridges and have opened winter weather shelters.

PUSH TO BRING UBER CAR SERVICE TO MIAMI STALLS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Miami won’t be getting Uber, the digital booking service to summon luxury-car rides, any time soon.

The Miami-Dade County commissioner trying to deregulate the car-service industry to allow Uber and similar technology companies to compete here has shelved her legislation — for now.

Though she didn’t name them, Audrey Edmonson said opposition from Bruno Barreiro and Dennis Moss made it impossible for her proposal to pass an initial procedural hurdle.

Moss, who helped write the existing county regulations, chairs the transportation and aviation committee that would have had to approve Edmonson’s proposal before going to a full commission vote.

He fought the legislation, which would have lifted a cap on the number of luxury-car permits, brought minimum fares closer to those charged by taxicabs and eliminated a requirement that rides be arranged at least an hour in advance.

Barreiro, the committee vice-chairman, was particularly opposed to having an unlimited number of permits for limousines and luxury cars — the sedans dispatched by Uber. Miami-Dade now has 626.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez, an Uber proponent who has been trying to market the county as a high-tech innovation hub, called the delay “an embarrassment to the city.”

TWEET, TWEET: @LaurensKids: The Lauren’s Kids specialty license plate is officially IN PRODUCTION!!

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ON THE DEO, DELOITTE AND WHEN GOOD IT PROGRAMS GO BAD Full blog post here

For the past several weeks, there has been press hit after press hit on the Department of Economic Opportunity’s new unemployment compensation system website.

DEO had outsourced to Deloitte Consulting to revamp the website, and depending upon who you ask, the blame varies from Deloitte to DEO. One thing is for certain: the launch has been less than perfect.

Some say this is Deloitte’s failure, some say it is the nature of the beast with a project like this, some say policy changes have led to problems, while others say lack of training of state employees is the problem. Some folks just blame Rick Scott.

DEO and now Democrats have seized control of the situation and are using this to attack the governor.

It’s still not clear why someone hasn’t taken DEO by the neck and said: handle your dirty laundry behind closed doors and shut down this press nightmare!

Bashing the vendor that DEO hired does not help them, placing blame and making veiled threats of fines does not help get the system up and fully functional. What does work; however, is figuring out exactly what the problems are and creating a plan to fix them.

Here is my suggestion if the governor’s office, the Scott campaign and the DEO are interested – stop the blame game and just lock everyone in a room and hash out the fixes. People need their unemployment compensation benefits and Governor Scott cannot afford any more bad press.

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REP. AMANDA MURPHY TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING

Rep. Amanda Murphy  will hold a town hall meeting for constituents.  Centennial Park Library, 5740 Moog Road, Holiday. 6:30 p.m.

BROWARD LAWMAKERS, CITIES MEET

The Broward County legislative delegation is scheduled to have a workshop with the Broward League of Cities. Broward County Governmental Center, 115 South Andrews Ave., Room 430, Fort Lauderdale. 2 p.m.

REP. MATT HUDSON’S ALZHEIMER’S BILL IS A BIG, AWESOME DEAL via contributor Karen Cyphers

Every 68 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. One in every three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. It is the only top cause of death with no known treatments or cures. Alzheimer’s is the most costly disease to federal and state governments. To families, too. Federal dollars for Alzheimer’s fall dramatically short of funding studies the research community has queued up.

Florida Rep. Matt Hudson stepped up last week with a plan for Florida to change this. Hudson’s bill, HB 709, is a really big deal. It will provide for a competitive grant program for Alzheimer’s research, and include guidelines for memory disorder clinics and special needs shelters.

Want to help support Hudson’s efforts? Here’s how: TALK ABOUT IT.

Alzheimer’s carries a crippling stigma that stands in the way of momentum to address it. Hudson has taken the helm of easily the most important healthcare issue of our times. He is not fighting for this cause alone. The best way we can support him is to bring Alzheimer’s out of the shadows together.

Talk to your families and friends. Call your state legislators. Email the governor. Tell them that Alzheimer’s has touched you and that Hudson’s bill matters. For all the pains of sharing, our hope can grow that the next generations will be spared from the same.

JOE SAUNDERS SEEKS TO BOOST HEALTH ENROLLMENT

Rep. Saunders is expected to help host a health-care enrollment fair aimed at signing up people for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, 555 North Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando. 6 p.m.

SOME HOUSE MEMBERS CALL FOR STRONGER CRITERIA, MORE TRANSPARENCY IN FUNDING WATER PROJECTS via Bruce Ritchie of the Florida Current

Lawmakers waded through more than $280 million worth of funding requests for water projects during the 2013 session, and then watched Gov. Rick Scott veto about half of the money they eventually appropriated. Now, some House members say they want stronger criteria and a more open process for evaluating funding requests.

Members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee said last week the process for choosing which projects receive funding needs more criteria and transparency.

Rep. Ray Pilon, former director of governmental affairs at the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, said the House should make an effort to find out more information, including whether the proposed projects fit into regional water plans.

Rep. Steve Crisafulli, House majority leader, said during a Jan. 16 interview that he had not heard about concerns being raised by some House members. He said water projects provide services for small communities but he added that if they can’t defend the need for them, the projects shouldn’t be funded.

***Madison Social – Tallahassee’s Hottest Spot – is your location for lunch, happy hour, and dinner. Catering for your meetings are also available. For lunch service, complementary valet is available so you can leave the office and return within one hour. To see our menu, please visit here.***

GREAT FUNDRAISING EMAIL: “Here at the Al Franken Center for Innovation in Fundraising Emails, our scientists are working around the clock to develop new and exciting ways of asking you to donate some of your hard-earned cash. We’re really excited about some of the projects we’re working on: high-definition links, recursive ask strings, non-Euclidean fonts – to say nothing of the next-generation “extra asks” the P.S. guys are developing. But here’s the sad truth: The best way to motivate you to give is to tell you the truth – that this race is getting closer, and that we could be in trouble if we don’t hit our goals.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to my friend from the far-left, Justin Snyder.

SPOTTED at the Grammy’s on Sunday were uber lobbyists Gus Corbella and David and Melissa Ramba.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.