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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 10.2.17

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

The panel that will recommend changes to the state’s governing document will finally get down to work this week.

The 37-member Florida Constitution Revision Commission meets today to start the process of evaluating proposed constitutional amendments.

One of their first moves likely will be to adopt the recommendation of its Rules Committee—because of the lingering disruption from Hurricane Irma—to extend the public deadline for turning in amendments to this Friday. The committee also recommended extending to Oct. 31 the deadline for proposed commissioner amendments.

The commission meets every 20 years and has the unique ability to place constitutional amendments directly on the 2018 ballot. It had received more than 1,400 constitutional proposals from the public, although its website on Sunday night listed only 628 proposals. Commissioners have filed ten proposals.

For a proposed amendment to advance, it must be nominated by a member and then receive support from at least 10 commissioners. Public proposals that gain the initial support of the commission will then be referred to one or more of the 10 committees that have specific jurisdictions, including education, taxes, the judiciary and elections.

Proposals that win majority votes in the committees will return to the full commission, where at least 22 members must vote in support to place a measure on the November general election ballot next year.

The commission “must complete its work by May 10, which is the deadline to submit its final report to the Florida Secretary of State,” its website says. Its ballot proposals must get at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS — 

@JoeNBC: Poor leadership would be hiding at a country club golfing while fellow Americans are suffering and dying. She’s not doing that. You are.

@MarcoRubio: Information received last night makes me hopeful @DeptofDefense surge in #PuertoRico will lead to noticeable progress in days ahead … Still many problems,hospitals of particular concern.But @DeptofDefense @USACEHQ will get things moving in right direction in #PuertoRico

@GrossDM: More US citizens live in Puerto Rico than live in the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska combined. I don’t see Congress lifting a finger

— @AlexConant: Situation in Puerto Rico reminds me a lot of mistakes made in 2005. Crisis built over days & was fed by lack of awareness … But biggest problem in retrospect was disconnect between Federal and state/local response … Trump publicly attacking mayor of San Juan is evidence that same factors are at play, but to an even worse extent. … Will be curious to see how Trump’s visit to PR on Tuesday contrasts with Bush going to New Orleans in 2005.

@AndrewGillum: Florida welcomes any and all displaced persons from Puerto Rico with open arms. You are, and always will be, welcome here in Florida.

@DavidJollyFL: Lest anyone thinks its tradition for the US President to present the trophy at the President’s Cup, Trump today became first POTUS to do so.

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— SOCIETAL COLLAPSE —

Acute shortages plunge the masses into survival struggle” via Robin Respaut of Reuters – For days now, residents have awoken each morning to decide which lifeline they should pursue: gasoline at the few open stations, food and bottled water at the few grocery stores with fuel for generators, or scarce cash at the few operating banks or ATMs. The pursuit of just one of these essentials can consume an entire day — if the mission succeeds at all — as hordes of increasingly desperate residents wait in 12-hour lines.

Puerto Rico could become a public health catastrophe” via Tomás Guilarte for the Miami Herald – In the days since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, conditions on the island continue to deteriorate and become a humanitarian and public health catastrophe that could rival the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The fact that the power grid failed creates many obvious problems and some that are not so evident. When the sewer system stops working, wastewater—aka human feces and urine—and seaborne bacteria contaminate the water supply. This leads to bacterial infections — such as cholera, dysentery, E. coli and typhoid — that can be disastrous … I urge Congress to consider that more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens are facing overwhelming odds, and effective management of public, environmental and mental health is crucial to preventing the spread of disease. Congress recently appropriated funds for FEMA to work on hurricane relief. But with three major hurricanes having wreaked havoc this summer, the money will surely be spent quickly and on the mainland. Additional funds must be earmarked specifically to stabilize and help Puerto Rico recover. With more than 40 percent of the island living below the poverty level, residents must also be able to evacuate without having to fully repay transportation costs to the federal government.

– “Puerto Rico’s exodus begins with a trickle into Orlando” via Francisco Alvarado of POLITICO

Lost weekend: How Donald Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria” via Abby Phillip, Ed O’Keefe, Nick Miroff and Damian Paletta of The Washington Post – As Maria made landfall Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.

— But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves. Trump jetted to New Jersey to spend a long weekend at his private golf club … Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis … Unlike what they faced after recent storms in Texas and Florida, the federal agencies found themselves partnered with a government completely flattened by the hurricane and operating with almost no information about the status of its citizens … Trump’s rosy assessment of the federal response has also contrasted sharply with the comments of federal officials on the ground. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who was named this week to lead recovery efforts, told reporters Friday that there were not enough people and assets to help Puerto Rico combat what has become a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the storm.

Destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. The aftermath of the powerful storm has resulted in a near-total shutdown of the U.S. territory’s economy that could last for weeks and has many people running seriously low on cash and worrying that it will become even harder to survive on this storm-ravaged island. Photo credit: Gerald Herbert.

Joining relief effort, Gwen Graham blasts Trump’s Puerto Rico response as ‘appalling’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Graham said that the world was witnessing “a failure of planning” for a deadly hurricane that was seen coming at Puerto Rico almost a week out. “Puerto Ricans are Americans and they deserve the same attention and response that the people of Texas has seen and what the people of Florida have seen. It’s appalling what this administration has done,” Graham said. “I don’t even have words for his tweets this morning,” referring to Trump’s tweets blasting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and charging that Puerto Rican workers were not helping with the relief effort, and that all was going well, despite what “fake news” media were reporting. “We need leadership. We need people are willing to have a moral high ground and do what’s right for every American, and he has not shown that leadership,” she continued.

What Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Biehl are reading –Tesla is sending battery packs to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico” via Dana Hull of Bloomberg – Tesla is sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels in an effort to help the battered island territory restore electric power … Some of the systems are already there and others are en route. The equipment is sorely needed, since the island remains largely without electricity more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20. The company has employees on the ground to install them and is working with local organizations to identify locations.

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— STILL RECOVERING —

Yellow wristbands, segregation for Florida homeless in Irma” via The Associated Press – In the storm’s wake, homeless people and their advocates are complaining that some of them were turned away, segregated from the others, denied cots and food, deprived of medication refills and doctors’ visits, or otherwise ill-treated during the evacuation. Many of the complaints have been blamed on misunderstandings, the sheer magnitude of the disaster, the crush of people needing shelter immediately, or inadequate state and local emergency planning. All told, a record 72,000 Floridians sought refuge from the hurricane in early September at nearly 400 shelters.

— The response varied widely by county. In Miami, over 700 homeless were picked up and taken to shelters. In Collier County, the sheriff sent officers into homeless encampments in the woods to bring people to a shelter. But in Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd warned that any evacuees with warrants against them and all sex offenders seeking shelter would be taken to jail. And in Volusia County, some officials were accused of turning homeless evacuees away from shelters without explanation. “Communities were all dealing with the fallout of not having very comprehensive planning in place to deal with this population,” said Kirsten Anderson, litigation director at Southern Legal Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm in Florida.

Mobile home residents without insurance in FL flood zones fall through the cracks” via Brett Murphy of the Naples Daily News – Much of Florida’s most vulnerable housing is in areas threatened by floodwaters, providing shelter to some of the state’s neediest residents who can’t afford insurance coverage to protect against flood damage, according to an analysis by USA TODAY … Among the findings: There are more than 5,200 mobile home parks in Florida. About one in five are in a high hazard flood zone. The three counties hit hardest by Irma’s storm surge have some of the highest concentrations of mobile home parks in susceptible areas: 82 percent of the parks in Monroe County, home of the Florida Keys, are in a flood zone; 74 percent in Collier; 48 percent in Miami-Dade. Eighty percent of Florida’s households don’t have flood insurance. Even in the two counties with the highest rates of coverage, Monroe and Collier, half of the homes aren’t insured. Two-thirds of Miami-Dade homes didn’t buy policies. Large numbers of residents in low-income counties are uninsured. Hillsborough County, with a median income that’s about half of the state’s wealthiest, has almost 500 mobile home parks, the second most in the state. But just 10 percent of households there are covered by flood insurance.

Irma left tons of tree debris. Relax, it’s getting picked up.” via Caitlin Ostroff and Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald – While many say the mounting debris has become an eyesore, cities and companies working hard to make the piles disappear have a message — relax. “Everybody wants everything done yesterday, but that is not reasonable,” Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said, standing near the pile of debris. “The storm was two weeks ago.” In the coming weeks and months, Hialeah expects to pick up the equivalent of three years of trash. More than 50 trucks, staffed with crews of eight or so, are slowly working their way through the city, house by house, for 12 hours every day. And it’s not as simple as sending a truck to pick up the mess … FEMA has a series of rules that municipalities must follow in order to be reimbursed for the cost of cleanup. These rules cover everything from who can pick up debris, where debris can be sent and measuring how much is picked up. The debris also has to be tagged, measured and mulched. If cities and counties stray from these rules, they won’t get reimbursed, meaning the municipality will front the bill, said Bruce Loucks, Cooper City’s city manager. In Miramar, that’s expected to be anywhere from $9 to $10 million. In Hialeah, it could be as high as $12 million.

Tweet, tweet:

The Florida Keys are back in business but far from back to normal” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Tourism is a $2.7 billion industry in the Keys, according to Monroe County estimates, as vital here as water is to a conch. It accounts for 60 percent of every dollar spent and employs more than half of the workforce. Many of those workers returned from evacuation to find their homes damaged or gone. For most, the recovery has just begun. Paychecks are sorely needed. So are hot meals and a place to sleep. Irma leveled entire neighborhoods, and the remnants are scattered everywhere — except U.S. 1. It took hundreds of hours to clear the highway. Visitors will soon drive from the Florida mainland to Key West, the iconic westernmost getaway. Businesses along those 113 miles are desperate for them to arrive. Are islanders ready? Do they have a choice? Key West, the crown of the islands, was up and running and ready. Other areas worried that islanders would have to choose between their lives and their livelihoods. Ultimately, it came down to this: How could they even stop people from coming?

Tweet, tweet:

Florida Keys launches $1 million emergency tourism campaign” via The Associated Press – The ad campaign promotes the theme “We Are 1,” referring to U.S. Highway 1, the Florida Keys Overseas Highway that runs throughout the Keys. It’s being supplemented by sales and public relations efforts to protect the winter tourism season. Officials say they recognize not all Keys tourism offerings have recovered but added the industry employs about half the Keys’ workforce, and it’s important to have cash flow in the economy. The campaign includes television, radio, digital, print and travel trade media in domestic markets. International markets include the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia.

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— THE TRAGEDY —

Democrats continue slamming Rick Scott after police say nursing home death toll reaches 12 victims” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Gwen Graham (has) filed a public records request with Scott’s administration seeking records related to the deaths. She is requesting all communications tied to the private phone number Scott gave to nursing homes and communications between his office, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families related to the deaths, which occurred at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills … Though there is an ongoing Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal investigation, the issue is already the subject of much partisan sniping. Democrats have incentive to go after Scott on anything tied to Irma because he has so far gotten high marks for how his administration handled the hurricane. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll Wednesday showed Scott’s approval rating at 57 percent, one of the highest since he took office, and the storm only helped.

Second challenge filed against generator requirement” – The Florida Assisted Living Association, which represents more than 500 facilities across the state, filed the challenge this week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings. The organization LeadingAge Florida, which represents nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, filed a challenge earlier in the week. At the direction of Scott, the state Agency for Health Care Administration and the state Department of Elder Affairs issued emergency rules to require generators after the deaths this month of residents of a Broward County nursing home that lost air conditioning because of Hurricane Irma. Under the emergency rules, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have 45 days to submit plans that would involve acquiring generators to ensure temperatures could be maintained at 80 degrees or cooler for 96 hours after losing electricity. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities would have to carry out the plans within 60 days . But industry officials contend it is unrealistic to expect that nursing homes and assisted-living facilities could add generators in such a short period of time. Both challenges also contend the state did not follow proper administrative procedures in issuing the rules.

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Rick Scott backs raise for juvy officers” via Florida Politics – Scott will recommend $8 million in pay raises to support officer recruitment and retention, a press release said. The state has more than 2,000 juvenile detention and juvenile probation officers. “Over the past six and a half years, we have taken aggressive steps to reform Florida’s juvenile justice system,” Scott said. “Florida’s juvenile detention and probation officers have the important responsibility of working with youth in DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) care, but they also have the unique opportunity to help change lives and redirect our youth to a successful path … I look forward to working with the Legislature during the upcoming session to pass this 10 percent pay raise, which will ensure DJJ can hire highly qualified and dedicated detention and probation officers to help our youth and keep our communities safe for years to come.”

Stage is set for a big court battle over Florida’s funding of charter schools” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Palm Beach County School Board members filed a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of one part of House Bill 7069. Another, potentially more far-reaching lawsuit with the backing of at least 14 other school districts — including Pinellas County — is still expected in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, charter school advocates are rallying their forces, too — vowing to fight in defense of HB 7069 in the courtroom and also on the political battlefield. Among the weapons they’re preparing: A coordinated public relations campaign highlighting school districts’ spending, and fielding — and funding — challengers to school board members statewide who face re-election in 2018 and who have been critical of HB 7069. There’s been talk for several months of the districts suing, but Palm Beach County’s filing in Leon County Circuit Court marked the first official court action by any district. The school district wants a Leon County judge to declare that aspect of HB 7069 unconstitutional and to stop the state DOE from implementing it. (The law requires school districts to start paying out the allotted money to their local charters in February.)

“Dana Young files ‘fantasy contests’ bill” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Sen. Dana Young has again filed a bill to exempt fantasy sports play from regulation under the state’s gambling laws. Young, a Tampa Republican, filed her measure (SB 374) Friday afternoon. She introduced similar legislation this past session. The bill for the 2018 Legislative Session would prohibit a fantasy contest operator from offering “contests based on the performances of participants in collegiate, high school, or youth athletics.” That was a concern of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), she said in a phone interview: “I thought it appropriate that it be in there, so we added it.” A House bill last session also would have excepted fantasy contests from regulation as gambling. Around 3 million Floridians say they play some sort of fantasy sports. In sum, “we’re just confirming that fantasy sports are not illegal,” she said.

Tweet, tweet:

’Punch you in the face’ tweet over NFL protests has some wanting to punch this lawmaker” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald – State Rep. Julio Gonzalez posted, “It’s not about disrespecting you. I just wanted to raise awareness of what happens when I punch you in the face. #StandForOurAnthem.” Within minutes, Dr. Gonzalez, a former member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, took his blows from the Twitter sphere: “I would love to see you try. I will DM you a place, chump.” “How about this: Come at me, bro.” “So a friend who lives in Ft. Meyers Florida said that he will gladly drive up and satirically slap the livin’ s— …” He said his tweet was not a threat to punch a kneeling football player or anyone else in the face. Rather, he says he used parallelism, with a hint of satire, to illustrate what he sees as an incongruous argument put forth by those who say kneeling during the anthem in protest is a way to bring awareness to social and racial injustice but that the action is not disrespecting the flag or the country. “If I tell you I’m not going to insult you by hitting you in the face to bring awareness you’re still going to be insulted by my hitting you in the face. That is the parallel argument,” Gonzalez said in a phone interview.

Ex-Florida House Page Program director convicted of trying to entice 14-yr-old girl” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat – Michael Chmielewski, 38, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee after a three-day trial. He faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. During “Operation Cupid’s Arrow” in February, undercover investigators interacted with people trying to engage in sexual activity with minors. Chmielewski responded to a Craigslist ad from an investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl named “Sara.” They talked for two days on a messaging app. Chmielewski discussed sexual activity with “Sara” and traveled to meet her in person. He was arrested upon arrival. The operation netted a dozen men — eight in the Tallahassee area. Chmielewski’s sentencing hearing is slated for Jan. 5.

— STATEWIDE —

“Pam Bondi to co-Host 2017 Human Trafficking Summit” via Florida Politics – The attorney general, along with the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families and the University of Central Florida will host the 2017 Florida Human Trafficking Summit today (Monday) in Orlando. The summit will bring together local, state and national leaders working to eradicate all forms of human trafficking. Throughout the day, profession-specific breakout sessions and training opportunities will be available to educators, law enforcement, the legal community, healthcare professionals, service providers and other attendees. The summit starts at 8:15 a.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Drive, Orlando. For more information about the summit, go to HumanTraffickingSummit.com.

“Bondi just saying ‘no’ to O.J. Simpson’s return to Florida” via Jim Rosica of Florida PoliticsO.J. Simpson won’t return to Florida if Bondi has any sway over his homecoming. The state’s Republican attorney general sent a 2-1/2 page letter to Corrections Secretary Julie Jones on Friday, saying she objected to Simpson’s return on behalf of the state. He previously lived in Kendall. Simpson’s lawyer also Friday said the former football star and celebrity criminal defendant will live in Florida following his parole from a Nevada prison where he’s been held the past nine years after a robbery conviction. He’d been sentenced to 33 years. Bondi mentioned an interstate agreement that allows states to deny relocation permission to parolees from other states … Bondi quoted Simpson as saying, “I could easily stay in Nevada but I don’t think you guys want me here.” “In light of Mr. Simpson’s history in California, Nevada and Florida … the same goes for the people of Florida,” Bondi told Jones.

Former football legend O.J. Simpson signs documents at the Lovelock Correctional Center, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Lovelock, Nev. Simpson was released from the Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada early Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Photo credit: Nevada Department of Corrections.

Tweet, tweet: @AP: Nevada parole official says O.J. Simpson plans to live at a home in the Las Vegas area for the foreseeable future.

What Richard Corcoran is reading – “Visit Orlando’s secrecy, conflicts may prompt subpoena” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – Now — with news of yet another secretive agreement surfacing — House Speaker Corcoran says he will make sure it stops. “It would appear Visit Orlando needs to find out the hard way that there’s no such thing as hidden spending agreements with taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Visit Orlando can turn over the information needed to the House or we can subpoena it. Those are their only two choices.” Yes, a subpoena … It looks like this agency — which gets $50 million a year in hotel taxes — has something to hide. Last week, I started asking questions about another secret — the amount of money Visit Orlando has paid local TV station Fox 35, whose general manager serves on Visit Orlando’s board of directors, for naming rights … to a weather camera. What does that mean? It means that when a WOFL meteorologist gives a weather report, he says: “This is the view from our Visit Orlando tower cam …” Obviously, the majority of the people who hear such a thing on an Orlando TV station don’t need to be encouraged to “Visit Orlando.” They’re already here.

From citrus to savior: Caulkins Water Farm to celebrate rebirth” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – George Caulkins III … president of Caulkins Citrus Co., whose grove suffered a slow and painful death by citrus greening, will experience a rebirth formally when he and his public partners celebrate a new beginning at Caulkins Water Farm. The water farm is a big deal generally – but especially for Martin County folks. It holds the promise of relief to the St. Lucie River and Indian River estuaries from deluges of polluted water – up to half of the water storage needed to reduce annual Lake Okeechobee discharges by 90 percent. As a pilot project started in 2013, the farm along Citrus Boulevard in western Martin County was 413 acres. The expansion to 3,200 acres now will allow an annual 35 billion gallons of water to be stored and treated on-site. Most of the focus in restoration planning has been on long-term solutions, leaving the estuaries at the mercy of incessant, polluted stormwater drainage and Lake Okeechobee discharges. That’s why SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks calls water farms “pieces in the puzzle.”

NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Voter registration website now online via Florida Politics – A new website — RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov — offers Florida residents another way to register to vote or update an existing registration, the state announced this week. It went live Sunday … Any Florida resident who is eligible to vote or is already registered to vote in Florida can use the site to submit an application, update an existing registration or pre-fill an application form to print and deliver to a Supervisor of Elections office. Users will need a Florida driver’s license or state identification (ID) card and the last four digits of their Social Security number to complete and submit the voter registration application electronically. Once an individual’s identity is verified and the application is deemed complete, a voter information card can be issued by the local Supervisor of Elections office.

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Save the date:

Early voting to begin for state House 44 special election” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Residents of the west Orange County district can vote every day until Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at three locations: the Southwest Branch Library at 7255 Della Drive in Doctor Phillips; the Orange County National Golf Center at 16301 Phil Ritson Way in Winter Garden; and the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office at 119 W. Kaley St. in Orlando. Republican Bobby Olszewski is facing Democrat Eddy Dominguez for the seat, which became vacant when former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle was appointed as a judge earlier this year. All ballots, however, list the name of former Democratic candidate Paul Chandler, who withdrew after the printing deadline. A vote for Chandler is considered a vote for Dominguez.

Tempers flare in House District 58 special election” via Florida Politics – The real nastiness began last week, when a series of mysterious flyers started appearing in East Hillsborough County mailboxes attacking Republican Yvonne Fry, a Plant City businesswoman. Fry faces fellow Republican Lawrence McClure in the race to succeed former state Rep. Dan Raulerson … Two mailers originated from Hillsborough County Conservatism Counts, an organization whose only recorded staff member is Ash Mason of Tampa, a former legislative aide and the SE Regional Director of the Christian Coalition of Florida. Although Conservatism Counts officially formed Friday, Sept. 22 … the committee apparently had enough resources to put together, print and send the mail pieces only three days later — the following Monday – timed to coincide with early voting. With such suspicious timing, Fry campaign consultant Brock Mikosky is nearly certain McClure’s camp is behind the attacks. An eight-second voicemail shows Mikosky venting his anger at Mason: “Fucking coward … Call me back. Stop hiding like a bitch.” Mikosky’s colorful tirade might be understandable — despite attacking a member of the Christian Coalition — considering the other recent mailers against his candidate, most notably from the “Ax the Tax,” headed by Doug Guetzloe, an Orlando-based political consultant and anti-tax crusader.

Four candidates qualify for District 72 state House race” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Democrats Margaret Good and Ruta Jouniari now will face off in a primary election Dec. 5. The winner will take on Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison Foxall in the general election Feb. 13. Good, Buchanan and Foxall qualified by collecting at least 305 valid petition signatures. Jouniari paid the $1,781.82 filing fee.

— MOVEMENTS —

Longtime AHCA general counsel exits” via the News Service of Florida – After more than five years heading the Agency for Health Care Administration’s legal office, Stuart “Stu” Williams has resigned to take a position as vice president for corporate development for Liberty Dental Plan of California. Bill Roberts, who has been serving as AHCA’s deputy general counsel, was introduced this week as interim general counsel at an agency meeting in Tallahassee. Williams’ resignation was effective Aug. 13. Williams served as AHCA’s general counsel for five years and five months. “It’s not a surprise I left. It’s a surprise I stuck around as long as I did,” he told the News Service.

Greenberg Traurig lobbying division listed in Best Lawyers – The law firm’s Government Law & Policy Practice was designated as “Top Listed” nationwide in the 2018 edition of Best Lawyers in America. The “Top Listed” designation is given to the firm that has the most listed lawyers in a particular location and practice area. The recognition is based exclusively on number of listed attorneys, according to Best Lawyers. In addition to the national designation, the firm’s Government Law & Policy Practice was also “Top Listed” statewide for California and Florida, as well as in the metro markets of Sacramento, California, and Tallahassee, Florida. “The firm’s bipartisan practice includes former elected officials, as well as former top aides and policy officials from the U.S. Congress, the Executive Branch, and various state governments,” a release said. “This integrated group of attorneys and professionals work together to provide clients with seamless representation in virtually any forum, including before the U.S. Congress and Executive agencies, as well as state and local government entities.”

New or renewed lobbying registrations:

Ivette Arango O’Doski, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: CGI Technologies & Solutions

David DanielJeff HartleyLisa HurleyJim NaffAndrea Reilly, Smith Bryan & Myers: Horizon Realty Advisors

Jodi Davidson, Colodny Fass: Feeding South Florida

Hayden Dempsey, Greenberg Traurig: Solix

Marc DunbarDaniel RussellJennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: Aptim Environmental & Infrastructure, SEACOR Holdings

Michael CorcoranJeff JohnstonAnita BerryMatt BlairAmanda Stewart, Corcoran & Johnston: Estate of Jean A. Pierre Kamel

Richard Fidei, Greenberg Traurig: Security First Insurance Company, Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Marty Fiorentino, The Fiorentino Group: Mattamy Homes

Nicole Fried: School Board of Broward County

Samuel Kerce: Department of Juvenile Justice

Bruce Kershner: Florida Swimming Pool Association

Terry LewisNatalie KatoLori KillingerMartin Lyon, Lewis Longman & Walker: Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Carlene Blunt

Joe McCann, Pittman Law Group: Palm Beach County Government

Mary McDougal, GrayRobinson: Christian Prison Ministries

Julie Padilla: Renovate America

Lincoln Quinton, NorthPointe: Dasher Technologies, ServiceNow

Steven UhlfelderToni Large, Uhlfelder & Associates: Sandata Technologies

Association celebrates Public Power Week via Florida Politics – The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), along with its 34 municipal electric utility members, will celebrate Public Power Week Oct. 1-7. Public Power Week is celebrated the first full week of October every year to help customers and stakeholders understand how they can better engage with their community-owned utility and benefit from all its offerings, according to a release. It’s especially meaningful this year as it comes on the heels of Hurricane Irma, which caused unprecedented damage and power outages in nearly every part of the state. In Florida, public utilities serve more than 3 million Floridians. “Public Power Week is all about recognizing the reliable, affordable electricity our members and public power utilities across the nation provide the people of their communities,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. It “gives us a chance to emphasize the benefits of having a locally-owned and locally-controlled electric utility that is maintained by family, friends and neighbors.”

Happy birthday from the weekend to Ryan BanfillMichael Cantens, Tracy Duda Chapman, Jason Gonzalez, Jason Holloway, Danielle Ochoa, Chris Schoonover, Vito Sheeley. Celebrating today are Bob Lotane and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

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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.

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