Sunburn for 8/29 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

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BIDEN TO TALK COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY AT UCF via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Vice President Biden will deliver a speech on college affordability at the University of Central Florida on Sept. 5.

The speech comes after President Obama last week outlined a rating plan for colleges in an attempt to push down costs.

CHUCK TODD UNLOADS ON THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE

NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd told The Laura Ingraham Show that the NSA surveillance story was the single story that has been a “political debilitation to the president.”

He added that “this story more than anything else has cemented Obama as just another Washington politician, defending the status quo… And particularly with voters under 40, that’s where he’s taken the hit.”

Todd also said that he finds Obama’s refusal to engage with the press and specifically White House correspondents “very frustrating.”

Said Todd: “This is a very controlling West Wing when it comes to press access.”

Todd said that Obama had almost dismissed White House correspondents altogether: “It’s been three and half years since he’s sat down with a Washington correspondent from a major network. He won’t do it.”

IRS CONTROVERSIES AID TEA-PARTY RESURGENCE via The Wall Street Journal

After being marginalized during the 2012 election season, the tea-party movement is gaining traction thanks to the fallout following revelations the Internal Revenue Service targeted some conservative political groups for special scrutiny. 

The controversy has helped the tea party’s image, according to polls, which found that 51 percent of Republicans had a positive view of the movement in June, up from just 42 percent in January. Already, some establishment Republican heavyweights, including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander are gearing up to face tea-party primary challengers.

NO REPUBLICANS AT MLK ANNIVERSARY EVENT

Though many top Republicans were invited to speak at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “March on Washington,” not a single one accepted the invitation. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush cited health problems but top congressional leaders stayed away.

Despite all the talk of “rebranding” the Republican Party in the wake of their 2012 election defeat, it seems like most GOP officials aren’t really interested.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME ON IMMIGRATION REFORM via Politico

Fall’s fiscal fights have lined up in a way that could delay immigration reform until 2014, multiple senior House Republican leadership aides tell Politico, imperiling the effort’s prospects before the midterm elections.

Immigration reform isn’t certain to die if it slips into 2014, some in GOP leadership say. But major progress must be made in 2013 as it would be too difficult for the House to chart a course in 2014, an election year.

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RIGHT-TO-WORK LAWS RELATED TO POSITIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN U.S. STATES via contributor Karen Cyphers

Right-to-work laws have an overall positive impact on the economy of states that adopt them, according to a study released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.   The study measured each state’s economic performance based on annual growth rates in employment, inflation-adjusted personal income, and population growth. The data span a 64-year period beginning in 1947, following federal changes that allowed states to give workers the choice of whether to support unions as a condition of employment.  The study also controlled for factors within states that may be correlated with economic growth.

The researchers found that from 1947 through 2011, right-to-work laws increased average annual employment and real personal income growth by 0.8 percentage points, and average annual population growth by 0.5 percentage points in a state, all statistically significant differences from growth rates in states without these laws.  Florida is among the 24 states with a right-to-work law.  Article 1, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution preserves the right of employees to bargain collectively through labor organizations, but makes clear that “the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged” based on labor union participation.

SINGLE … WITHOUT CHILDREN via Emily Badger of The Atlantic

 American households have changed a lot over the past 40 years, but no change has been more dramatic than the rise of people living alone. The proportion of single-member households stood at just 17 percent in 1970, but today that figure clocks in at 27 percent, a change coinciding with a drop in the share of homes with a married couple and kids. The Census Bureau highlights that the sinking rates of married households is largely because of people delaying when they decide to marry and have children. In sum, the average size of the American household has fallen from 3.1 people per roof to just 2.6 today. 

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EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT FLORIDA POLITICS IS WRONG, RIGHT? via Gary Fineout of the Fine Print

Three years ago when then-candidate Rick Scott was hopping around the state in the frantic days before the GOP primary he acknowledged that he thought this was his moment to seize. Giving a nod to the Tea Party energy and overall dissatisfaction with politicians that year Scott said it would have been hard for someone like him to get elected at any other time. It would come out later, much later, that before jumping into the race for governor that Scott had contemplated running for U.S. Senate but concluded it would be hard to go up against Marco Rubio. But what that should reinforce to anyone is that Scott can be very methodical, very calculating in the way he approaches everything.

… Right now what’s interesting is how both sides – Democratic and Republican – have a quiet confidence.  Yes, they say – oh, it will be tough race, it will be a close race  – but here’s why we will win.  More here.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: Gov. Scott will make a jobs announcement at Boeing. 6601 N.W. 36th St. Virginia Gardens, FL 33166. 9:45 a.m.

GOVERNOR DIRECTS STATE TO INVEST $90 MILLION TO BOOST WATER FLOW TO EVERGLADES AND PROTECT ESTUARIES

Among the most critical components of Everglades restoration is increasing water flow into Everglades National Park.  A major step toward accomplishing that need was taken today with the announcement by Gov. Rick Scott of a $90 million state commitment for the bridging of a 2.6 mile segment of Tamiami Trail.  These funds, to be matched by federal dollars, will replace the road’s current berm with a bridge so that water north of Tamiami Trail can flow into the Everglades rather than run off into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.  

The completion of this project will mean benefits beyond those significant to Everglades restoration. This bridge will aid in the reestablishment of historical seasonal water depths and flooding durations that aid the survival of fish and wildlife, and will give water managers greater flexibility in dealing with Lake Okeechobee water levels and system wide flood protection.  Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto, Joe Negron and Garrett Richter, and Representatives Matt Caldwell, Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen, Matt Hudson, Kathleen Passidomo, and Ray Rodrigues, commended Gov. Scott and his water team for this project decision. 

GOV. SCOTT: RELOCATION OF NATIONAL AIR CARGO HOLDINGS HQ TO ORLANDO

Gov. Scott announced Wednesday that National Air Cargo Holdings, Inc., a global cargo logistics provider, and its subsidiary, National Airlines, has relocated its headquarters and airline offices to Orlando. The two year project will create 105 new jobs and $875,000 in capital investment to the community.   The company will occupy more than 25,000 square feet in the Citadel II building at 5955 T. G. Lee Boulevard, taking the entire fifth floor.  For the short term, National is utilizing temporary space on the second floor of Citadel II while awaiting completion of its offices upstairs. 

SCOTT PROMISES ACTION AFTER EDUCATION SUMMIT via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

During the summit, a small group of politicians, school superintendents, teachers and members of education advocacy groups debated everything from what kind of test should be given students to how to evaluate teachers.

They came up with a long list of suggestions, such as expanding grades by adding “pluses” and “minuses” and changing some of the scores used on standardized writing tests.

Now it’s up to Scott to decide which recommendations should be followed.

“It’s really up to the governor now,” said Joanne McCall, vice president of the Florida Education Association. “He put us together and said he wanted to hear what we had to say. We’ll see if he does anything.”

Scott quickly pledged to carry out some of the suggestions through either executive orders or by pursuing new laws during the 2014 session.

“The discussion and ideas generated this week will guide our future decisions and steps we will take,” Scott said in a statement.

The Scott administration, however, did not say which ideas it may be willing to follow. And before the governor makes any decision, he’s planning to have a private dinner meeting Thursday with former Gov. Jeb Bush – the architect of the state’s current system – to discuss education.

WHERE’D SCOTT GO? via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Can you imagine former Gov. Jeb Bush calling an education summit and then giving it a miss?

That’s what Rick Scott did this week — stoked the fires for a strong, four-pronged concentration on state standards, state standard assessments, school grades and teacher evaluations. But he never showed his face.

Why?

My guess is this: He thought he would get good press for his education initiatives by hosting a splashy summit at the start of a new school year. But his tea-party base gave him a world of stick about Common Core State Standards. So, instead of using the dias at the event to stand up for a strong education reform that better prepares students to cope with tomorrow’s challenges, he bails. Skips the whole event.

If somebody or somebodies in his administration or his campaign gave the governor that bad advice, he should have tied them up and left them in a meat locker. Shame on them.

CONTEXT FLORIDA COLUMN FROM SEN. JEFF CLEMENS: WHY CHARLIE CRIST NEEDS PEOPLE LIKE ME Blog post here.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist doesn’t really need me, specifically. But there’s no question he needs people like me: forward-thinking elected officials with progressive credentials and a record fighting against many of the very concepts that Chain Gang Charlie built his reputation on a decade or two ago.

… (H)is record on rock-solid Democratic issues like equal opportunity, health care, women’s rights, and education is murkier. Like most elections in swing states, the governor’s race in 2014 will be a turnout war. Will core Democratic constituencies warm to Crist in time to mobilize the grassroots efforts that Barack Obama was able to use in 2012?

To do so, leading progressive notables around the state, such as former Sen. Dan Gelber, Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, and potential future mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Kriseman will be the kinds of voices that core-constituency Democrats will be itching to hear from.

These kinds of intelligent Democratic stalwarts have earned the trust of the grassroots organizers because they have been in the trenches and remained largely true to the cause.

So it is likely that in order to tap into that reservoir of passion that left-leaning activists bring to the table, Crist will need validation.

CRIST WILL HEADLINE MARION CO. DEMOCRATIC DINNER

Crist will headline the Marion County Democratic Party’s fifth annual “Proud to be a Democrat” fund-raising dinner on Sept. 8 at the Hilton in Ocala, as the calendar creeps toward October and his anticipated declaration as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.

Sally Smith of the Marion Democratic Party says about 200 tickets have been sold, and the ballroom’s capacity is 340. The dinner will be preceded by a silent auction and cocktail hour. Tickets are $50.

EMAIL OF THE DAY: “363 Days” from gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich. Really, it’s less than a year until the Primary?

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APPOINTED: Megan Dempsey to the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.  

APPOINTED: Timothy Koenig and Anne O’Bannon (reappointed) to the Florida Keys Community College District Board of Trustees.

APPOINTED: Randall Reid (reappointed) to the Hillsborough Community College District Board of Trustees.

APPOINTED: Joy Korman to the University of North Florida Board of Trustees.

LITTLEFIELD JOINS BRISE AND GRAHAM ON PSC SHORT LIST via Mary Ellen Klas of The Miami Herald

Two sitting members of the Florida Public Service Commission and a former lawmaker who had a short tenure on the commission are among six finalists who will be considered by Gov. Rick Scott for two upcoming openings on the utility regulatory board.

Commissioners Ronald Brise and Art Graham, whose terms expire in January, are seeking re-appointment to the seats. They made the short list after the Public Service Commission Nominating Council interviewed candidatesWednesday in Orlando.

The two positions attracted 23 applicants, with the list whittled to 11 last month. 

Scott has 30 days to make the appointments once the recommendations reach his desk.

Brise, a former state House member, and Graham, a former Jacksonville City Council member, were both appointed to the commission by former Gov. Charlie Crist in July 2010 and reappointed by Scott. Brise is the current the commission chairman.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time Scott will be asked to consider Littlefield.

Littlefield, who spent nearly eight years in the state House, was appointed to the PSC by former Gov. Jeb Bush in September 2006 but was replaced by Crist in January 2007 shortly after being sworn in. Crist contended Littlefield was not consumer-friendly enough.

Several tea-party groups unsuccessfully urged Scott to return Littlefield to the commission last year, imploring the governor to replace Commissioner Lisa Edgar, who faced criticism that she did not adequately represent ratepayers. Scott reappointed Edgar.

POLICY NOTES

Supreme Court Opinions: The Florida Supreme Court is expected to resume its regular weekly opinion releases after a break. 11 a.m.

Elder Affairs: The Department of Elder Affairs Advisory Council is scheduled to hold a conference call to receive an update about the state’s shift to managed care for Medicaid beneficiaries who need long-term care. Also, it will receive an update about the long-term care ombudsman program. 2 p.m.. Call-in number: 1-888-670-3525. Conference code: 962-076-0613.

Economic Club of Florida: Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times/Times Publishing Group, speaks to the Economic Club of Florida at 12:10 p.m. at its meeting in rooms A2-A3 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. His remarks are titled “What the Pulitzer Prizes Reveal about American Journalism.” Buffet line opens at 11:15 a.m. More information here

Citizens Property Insurance Corp’s Claims Committee: To hold a teleconference from 2 to 4 p.m.. Teleconference details: 1-866-361-7525; Conference ID: 5219676193#. The agenda and meeting materials here.

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TELEMEDICINE ADVOCATES CONVENE IN JACKSONVILLE AND PREP FOR A 2014 PUSH via contributor Karen Cyphers

If you live in California, Kentucky, Texas or 18 other states, and want to consult with a physician that you cannot get to in person, your insurance will cover a virtual visit.  Medicaid enrollees in 41 states have similar options, sparing unnecessary commutes or enabling patients and their primary care physicians to reach specialists.  Coverage for telemedicine is not guaranteed in Florida, but two state legislators have their sights set on changing that.   Representatives Mia Jones and Cary Pigman, M.D., hosted the 2013-2014 Florida Telemedicine Public Symposium on Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, where dozens of speakers and guests gathered to discuss new ways for people to access health care.   The two also announced that they will co-sponsor a bill during the 2014 session that would require Medicaid and private insurers to reimburse providers who treat patients using telemedicine.  

Also attending the conference were several members and staff of the Florida Medical Association, including Mayo professor and FMA Board of Governors member Floyd Willis, MD, who led a panel discussion on telemedicine.  

“The FMA understands that telemedicine offers tremendous potential to not only increase patients’ access to physician services, but also make follow up visits and consultations more convenient for patients,”  said Timothy J. Stapleton, FMA EVP. “It is important that physicians are paid for providing telemedicine services just like they would be paid for an office visit. We look forward to working with lawmakers and all interested parties to make Florida the national leader in the use of new, innovative medical technology.” 

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DANA YOUNG CAMPAIGN KICKOFF ON SEPT. 17

Rep. Dana Young’s re-election campaign for House District 60 will be kicked off on Tuesday, September 17 with a reception hosted by Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, CFO Jeff Atwater, Speaker Will Weatherford, and Speaker-Designate Crisafulli.  Young’s hosts also include a spate of 17 state and local leaders, and 43 others from her district.  

Join Young and her team from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club. 

REP. DANE EAGLE ENDORSES RICHARD DENAPOLI IN HD 74

In his run for House District 74, businessman and Republican Party stalwart Richard DeNapoli earned the primary endorsements of State Rep. Dane Eagle on Wednesday.

In endorsing DeNapoli, Representative Eagle said,  “Richard DeNapoli is the kind of energetic, idea-driven, problem-solving leader we need in the Florida Legislature. Richard’s experience is as deep as it is broad. As a prosecutor, Richard helped protect our kids and seniors. As a small business owner, Richard understands the struggles Florida families face in tough economic times. And, as a financial planner, Richard helps seniors secure their retirement. I look forward to serving with Richard and working together to secure a better future for Florida families.”

FUNDRAISER SET FOR REPS. BRODEUR AND WORKMAN

Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli, and Chairmen Richard Corcoran and Jose Oliva invite you to a fundraising reception benefiting the re-election campaigns of Reps. Jason Brodeur and Ritch Workman.  Join them onMonday, September 23, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the Governors Club Board Room.

MAJOR FUNDRAISER AT DISNEY’S SPLITSVILLE ON SEPT. 9

The Southern Strategy Group joins Crisafulli, Corcoran, and Oliva in hosting a fundraising reception to benefit the re-election campaigns of eight House Republicans: Jason Brodeur, Neil Combee, Tom Goodson, Gayle Harrell, David Hood, Mike La Rosa, Larry Metz, and David Santiago.  Join them on Monday, Sept. 9, at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney.  

Other hosts include Disney, the Florida Medical Association, FP&L, Florida Transportation Builders Association, Brian Jogerst, Mosaic, Pennington PA, and Poole McKinley.  

A VIP reception will be held from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. followed by a general reception from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

OPEN SOUTH FLORIDA HOUSE RACE GETS MORE CROWDED AS BEN SORENSEN JOINS DEM PRIMARY via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

A new candidate has jumped into the increasingly crowded Democratic primary to replace term-limited Rep. Joe Gibbons in representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Tallahassee. Ben Sorensen, a businessman, pastor, community activist and officer in the Navy Reserve, filed to enter the race as a Democrat at the end of last week.

Sorensen joins former North Bay Village Mayor Joe Geller, Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Alex Lewy and teacher John Paul Alvarez who are seeking the Democratic nomination to replace Gibbons. Whoever emerges in the Democratic primary in 2014 will be a heavy favorite to head up to Tallahassee. No Republicans are currently running for this seat which represents a solid Democratic district.  

Sorensen will have to play catchup in the money chase as some of his rivals have a solid head start. Geller had around $74,700 on hand at the end of June. Lewy had around $33,200 on hand at the end of June. At the end of June, Alvarez had around $10,700 on hand.

REP. LARRY AHERN ENDORSES CHRIS LATVALA IN HD 67

Chris Latvala announced the endorsement of Rep. Larry Ahern.

“I am happy to endorse my friend and fellow conservative, Chris Latvala, for the Florida House. He is an active member of our community and has been involved in our party for years as a volunteer, activist, and former Young Republican President. He has the experience needed as a Legislative Aide to be an effective member of our Legislative delegation and I look forward to serving with him,” said Rep. Ahern, who  joins Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Rep. Ed Hooper in endorsing Latvala. 

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FLORIDA MEDIA NEED TO CRANK UP COVERAGE OF WATER CRISES via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Two governors, two viewpoints, one disappointing job covering the story of the day. Why did Florida choose to sue Georgia two weeks ago, the day after federal authorities declared the Apalachicola oyster fishery a resource disaster area? Duhhh … We dunno! But how come Florida Gov. Rick Scott said negotiations between the states have broken down and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said, wait a minute, I thought we had a deal? We don’t know entirely, but probably we should by now, according to a thought-provoking story out Tuesday in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a bimonthly magazine for journalism professionals.

Author Susannah Nesmith’s analysis wasn’t brutal, but she said the story a reader gets depends very much on which state he lives in. Unless he was reading from one of the larger papers — one that still has an honest-to-goodness environmental reporter who could give the basic argument of each state — he was knee-deep in “hometown politicians … allowed to frame the discussion.” On each side of the border, the CJR points out, the best coverage came, perhaps, from The Tampa Bay Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL PUBLISHER, TOP EDITOR BOTH TO ‘RETIRE’

In a big management shake-up last week, Pensacola News Journal Publisher Kevin Doyle and Executive Editor Richard Schneider announced their retirements at a staff meeting, the paper reports.

The paper also confirmed reports from Gannett Blog that 10 other employees had been laid off, including the controller. Those reports had predicted Schneider would announce this departure.

The PNJ‘s weekday circulation is 34,780, and Sunday is 51,746, according to the March 31 AAM report.

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KEVIN HOLZENDORF APPOPINTED TO THE JTA via David Bauerlein of Jacksonville Times Union

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown this week appointed Kevin Holzendorf to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority board, subject to City Council approval. Holzendorf worked in the administration of Mayor John Peyton from 2004 to 2011, including as director of the information technologies department. He currently works in the Jacksonville office of Southern Strategy Group. He will replace Steve Diebenow.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson, Ballard Partners: Vitaver & Associates

David Griffin: Cell Antenna Corp.

NINE ADAMS AND REESE’S FLORIDA ATTORNEYS NAMED TO 2014 EDITION OF BEST LAWYERS

Nine attorneys from Adams and Reese’s Florida offices have been named to the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, all selected and voted on by their peers and the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. They include Sarasota’s Thomas dart; St. Pete’s David Bernstein, V. James Dickson and Richard Malchon; Tallahassee’s H. Lee Moffitt; and Tampa’s Robert Boos, Marilyn Mullen Healy, Donald Mihokovich, and Lynn Welter Sherman.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Nancy Watkins —  the woman behind, well, almost everyone in Florida politics AND a gracious, welcoming host.

ROCK BY THE SEA CHARITY EVENT RETURNS TO ST. GEORGE ISLAND WITH BATTLE OF THE BANDS & THE 4TH ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT

Rock by the Sea returns to St. George Island, hosting its 1st Annual Battle of the Bands in conjunction with the 4th Annual Rock by the Tee golf tournament the weekend of September 5-7, 2013.

Rock by the Sea events benefit Camp Sunshine Programs for Children with Cancer, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and Panama City’s Anchorage Children’s Home.

The Battle of the Bands will take place September 5-7 at Harry A’s restaurant, including musicians from around Florida who will battle their way to the top each night.  The golf tournament will take place on September 7 at St. James Bay Golf Resort in Carrabelle.  It will be organized as a modified Florida scramble with prizes being awarded for first through third place and the potential to win a $10,000 hole-in-one prize. This tournament is a First Round Qualifying Tournament for THE BIG TOURNAMENT.  Golfers of all experience levels are encouraged to register online at the Rock by the Sea website for the charity tournament.

To buy tickets, please go to www.RockbytheSea.org

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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.