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Sunburn for 5.25.17 – Remembrance

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

A programming note: Sunburn is taking a holiday Friday, Memorial Day, and next Tuesday. Barring a call for a special session, Sunburn will return Wednesday.

By then, we will be in Paris. Accordingly, I wanted to share with Sunburn readers one story about how some Americans abroad pay tribute to the nation’s fallen soldiers.

In a small town just outside Paris, at the end of every May, a pair of red, white, and blue flags are raised honoring the connection between France and the United States.

Both flags – that of the United States and France – celebrate Memorial Day, a reminder to the citizens of Suresnes (population 50,000) of how America and Americans had stood for its enduring friend and ally, France.

Suresnes is home to the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial –  7.5 acres of sacred space commemorating World War I and II. In the Cemetery are 1,541 graves of World War I service members, as well as two dozen graves of unknown World War II soldiers, including a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters.

Rows of marble headstones are seen in front of the chapel at Suresnes American Cemetery in France.

As the Cemetery overlooks the City of Lights, fallen soldiers serve as silent sentries over Paris.

Every year, the Suresnes Cemetery – not as well-known as its Normandy counterpart – joins the entire town in observing Memorial Day, a holiday not usually celebrated in France.

Organized by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Cemetary, and the city of Suresnes welcome both American and French visitors, in a tribute that includes local and regional authorities and veterans.

All are there to give praise to the American military service members who afforded a full measure for liberty.

Prayers are followed by speeches celebrating the distinction of American service members, giving gratitude for their service and the lives paid to the French people.

While not an official holiday – French workers do not get that Monday off – many celebrants will visit Sunday to offer remembrance. Yet the juxtaposition of a Memorial Day ceremony, in a cemetery overlooking Paris, highlights the profound bond of blood between two old friends – France and the United States – joined by war and a desire for peace.

Much has been said in both the United States and France about the U.S. military. And while there may be much to disapprove about government policies, often those critics target the same men and women who serve honorably, those who put lives on the line to allow us all the freedom to criticize our government.

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Summertime is here — well, almost.

While Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces, the holiday also marks the unofficial start to summer. And for many people, that means it’s time to start thinking about summer vacation.

A record number of Floridians are expected to travel this weekend, with more than 2 million expected to take to the road, sky and water for a weekend getaway.

Planning a last-minute getaway? Maybe AAA’s legislative lobbying team of Chris Dudley, Paul Mitchell, and Monte Stevens with Southern Strategy Group; and Jennifer Wilson with Adams and Reese can help you get a TripTik to help plan your trip and make sure your membership is up-to-date before you hit the road this weekend.

With millions of people flying into (and out of) the Sunshine State on a regular basis, Airlines for America, the trade organization representing the principle U.S. airlines, tapped Fred Baggett, Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Leslie Dughi and Fred Karlinsky with Greenberg Traurig to represent its interests before the Florida Legislature.

Once you get to your destination, you’ll need a place to stay. If you want some tips about where to stay, you might want to check with the Marriott International’s legislative lobby team of Slater Bayliss, Al Cardenas and Stephen Shiver with The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners; and Pete Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Brittany Finkbeiner, and Cari Roth with Dean Mead.

If you’re looking for a place with a homier feel, a vacation rental might be more your style. Brian Bautista with Impact GR; and William Rubin, Amy Biscgelia, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, and Heather Turnbull with The Rubin Group might be able help you find the perfect beach rental at Airbnb. Or you can check in with Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick and Timothy Parson with Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, and Ron Pierce and Natalie King with RSA Consulting for some tips on how to find a good place using HomeAway.

Want to avoid an encounter with law enforcement while you’re out and about, but don’t want to turn down that cocktail? Aaron Brand, Cesar Fernandez, Kasra Moshkani, Brad Nail, and Stephanie Smith with Uber — or one of the members of the transportation technology company’s team of über lobbyists — might be able to walk you through how to call an Uber at the end of a long night.

Love the water? It’s probably too late to book a cruise for this holiday weekend, but with three of the top cruise ports in the world located in Florida, you’ll surely be able to find a ship setting sail soon.  The Cruise Lines International Association legislative lobby team of Brian Ballard, Bradley Burleson, Carol Bracy, David Browning, Nelson Diaz, and Matthew Forrest, and Sylvester Lukis with Ballard Partners; and Edgar Castro with Southern Strategy Group might be able to give you some suggestions about the best time to set sail.

Whatever you do this weekend, make sure to remember the real reason for Memorial Day. While the holiday commemorates those who have died in service to the country, it’s still fair to give a shout out to Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion? Bill Helmich with Helmich Consulting represents the Florida departments of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


“The hangover: Rick Scott vetoes ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ bill” via Florida Politics Saying it could hurt job creation, Scott vetoed a contentious bill that would have removed the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Scott filed his veto letter of the measure (SB 106) on Wednesday night, his deadline to act on the bill. It would have removed the 82-year-old requirement, enacted in Florida after Prohibition, that hard liquor be sold in a separate store. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in the Sunshine State.

Independent liquor store owners and other opponents flooded the Governor’s Office with thousands of emails and petitions against the bill. Scott was careful to explain his position in his veto letter, balancing his concerns over jobs with the desire of big businesses that sorely wanted him to approve the legislation … “I have heard concerns as to how this bill could affect many small businesses across Florida,” he wrote. “I was a small business owner and many locally owned businesses have told me this bill will impact their families and their ability to create jobs.”

— “We applaud Governor Scott for saving hundreds of Florida small businesses that employ thousands of Floridians, while at the same time keeping safeguards in place for minors,” ABC Fine Wine & Spirits CEO and President Charles Bailes.

— “We have made tremendous progress in the last four years, and there is a clear momentum in Florida for this common-sense approach to liquor sales. While Governor Scott ultimately chose to veto Senate Bill 106, we look forward to working with state leaders in the future to finally put an end to this outdated, Prohibition-era law.” said Michael Williams, a spokesman for the group Floridians for Fair Business Practices, which supported the repeal.

Bill watch – Two more bills were delivered to the governor: HB 457 on “terrorism and terrorist activities,” creating statewide crimes for terrorist acts, and HB 865 for the Department of Transportation. Among other things, it mandates a study of the boundaries of the Department’s seven districts and how much it would cost to create another district for the Fort Myers area. He has until Thursday, June 8 to act on the latest bills. As of midday Wednesday, 72 bills awaited action by the governor.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will sign highlight job growth and sign legislation that will benefit Florida families and businesses at 10:30 a.m. at 3Cinteractive Corp., 750 Park of Commerce Blvd. Ste. 400 in Boca Raton.

Adam Putnam calls for special session on medical marijuana” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn’t finish earlier this month. “I think that it’s important for the elected officials to have done their job during the regular session,” he said Tuesday. “Since they didn’t, I think a special session is in order.” … “I think for a constitutional amendment’s implementation, it’s important for the elected officials to do it, not the bureaucrats at the Department of Health,” Putnam said.

Tweet, tweet:

“Amendment 1 lawsuit may rev up after Session” via Florida Politics – A lawsuit over the state’s environmental funding under a new constitutional amendment is expected to resume now that the annual Session is in lawmakers’ rear-view mirror. An array of environmental advocacy groups had filed suit over the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, also known as Amendment 1. The constitutional change, approved by voters in 2014, mandates state spending for land and water conservation … Advocates — including the Florida Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club — sued the state in 2015, saying lawmakers wrongly appropriated money for, among other things, “salaries and ordinary expenses of state agencies” tasked with executing the amendment’s mandate. But the legal action had been put on hold earlier this year by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson. He cited a state law that allows litigation to be suspended during a Legislative Session and up to 15 days after the conclusion of one.

Assignment editors – Miami-Dade public schools to host town halls on Legislature’s K-12 spending plan beginning 6 p.m. at Miami Senior High School, 2450 SW 1st Street in Miami, and at 7:30 p.m. at Miami Beach Senior High School, 2231 Prairie Avenue in Miami Beach.

New DEP secretary says there’s no conflict in political side businesses” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state’s top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying groups, many of whom sought to influence the administration’s policy or advance the governor’s political fortunes. Before he joined the governor’s office, Valenstein was director of legislative affairs for the nonprofit Everglades Foundation from August 2011 until December 2012. But while Valenstein was holding each of these policy jobs, his wife was also operating two political consulting and polling companies that Valenstein started: Campaign Facts, LLC and Voter Opinions, LLC. Each catered exclusively to Republican candidates, advocacy groups and political committees. But the week before Valenstein started with the governor’s office … he named his wife, Jennifer Barnhill Valenstein, the registered agent for both firms and removed himself from the corporate paperwork. The companies continued to operate and, between June 2010 and April 2017, they received $942,117 in payments for political consulting, legal and polling work.

Actual press release: “FWC uncovers major alligator violations in long-term covert investigation” via Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


In the latest post on his blog “The Fine Print,” Associated Press reporter-extraordinaire Gary Fineout takes a look at some of issues still lingering in the capital city.

One of the issues Fineout tackles in his post — titled “Out of the House and into a Mansion? … and other Tallahassee bubble news” — is the question of the budget and bills we’re still watching. As Fineout points out, Memorial Day weekend is “sort of the end of session.”

“By this time school is about to end around the state, and the governor has usually acted on a new state budget,” writes Fineout. “But as we have seen this isn’t an ordinary year as Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans continue their all out public feud over spending and legislative priorities (or as Corcoran puts it – a fight for the soul of the party.)

Even though the new fiscal year starts July 1, Fineout notes the Legislature hasn’t sent the budget to the governor yet. Since Scott became governor, the longest the Legislature waited to deliver the budget was 2012 when it took 28 days. But as Fineout noted, that was a redistricting year so lawmakers went into session early and “actually delivered it in early April.”

The delay in getting the budget has people wondering whether Scott will veto it. He has “publicly thrown out the possibility he may veto the entire budget to register his displeasure.” And school district officials, as Fineout explains, have called on the governor to “veto the main appropriation that goes to public schools.”

Another layer of complexity, lawmakers could send Scott the budget, but hold back big bills, like a massive education bill that has drawn “fierce criticism and support across the education spectrum.”

“That’s important because that bill includes more than $400 million – including money for the contentious Schools of Hope charter school proposal and money for teacher bonuses,” wrote Fineout.


Gruters is backing Rep. Paul Renner to be  House Speaker in 2022-24. The Sarasota Republican said while he thinks everyone in the running for the position would do a great job, he felt Renner is the best person at this time. Gruters said he’s decided to make his position known because he didn’t want to give anyone false expectations or lead any candidates on. “Like all my votes in the Legislature, I am committing to the person who I think is the best to lead our class,” he said in a message.

Freshmen House Republicans are scheduled to meet on June 30 to select their class leader and, assuming the GOP maintains its control of the Florida House in the next decade, the likely House Speaker for the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions.

… Gruters’ backing could be a sign of good things to come for Renner, a Palm Coast Republican first elected to the Florida House in a 2015 special election. Gruters, the longtime chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, was an early supporter of Gov. Scott, a little known Republican candidate for Governor back in 2010. … He was also an early supporter of President Donald Trump.


Jeff Clemens endorses Andrew Gillum for Governor — The Gillum campaign announced Wednesday that Clemens, the Senate Democratic Leader-designate, has endorsed Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement, Clemens called Gillum a “bold leader whose vision will transform Florida.” “Andrew will prioritize the people we serve, not the privileged few who have had their way in Tallahassee for decades,” said Clemens. “Strong values like top-flight education for every child, an economy that works for workers as well as small business owners, and healthcare that protects the vulnerable by covering Floridians with pre-existing conditions.” Gillum is one of three Democrats currently vying to replace Gov. Scott in 2018. “It’s an honor to receive Leader Designate Jeff Clemens’ endorsement. He is a true champion for Florida’s working people, and as a former Mayor, he knows the critical importance of building strong communities everywhere in Florida,” said Gillum in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to build an economy that serves all Floridians – not the special interests.”

Raquel Regalado casts herself as Ros-Lehtinen’s political heir” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — As she mulled a run for Congress, Regalado was nagged by a question she said was posed to her again and again that might not usually be asked of male candidate. “The first question that I was asked was, ‘How are you going to be a mother and a congresswoman?'” Regalado said Tuesday at a women-centered Miami Young Republicans event where she kicked off her candidacy. “I think it’s sad that we’re in a place where people still ask those questions.” With that, Regalado, a former Miami-Dade County School Board member, portrayed herself as the political heir to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the retiring GOP congresswoman Regalado is hoping to replace. Regalado didn’t explicitly draw the line between her nascent candidacy and Ros-Lehtinen’s trailblazing political career. But it was clear that, as the most prominent Republican woman who’s filed for the Democratic-leaning 27th district, Regalado plans to campaign as a politician cast in Ros-Lehtinen’s centrist mold.

Does Alex Diaz de la Portilla know he’s filed for the wrong race?” via Ann Howard of The Capitolist – On May 3, 2017, he filed to run in the Senate District 40 race, as part of the 2018 general election. But if he wants to run in the Senate District 40 special election, he’s in the wrong race. The Division of Elections says they’ve not received a request from Diaz de la Portilla to amend the paperwork. The division updates that information immediately. Multiple messages to Diaz de la Portilla and his campaign were not returned.

Unconventional Green Party candidate Shawn Mathis Gilliam files for HD 58 race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – As a member of an alternative, third party, Gilliam‘s worldview and ideology are not easily explained; it could make it hard to break through with voters in House District 58. A recent convert to the Green Party, he does not agree with their stance in support of medical marijuana, saying its effects are too negative for the body. While raised as a Christian, Gilliam converted to Islam “about three Ramadans ago.” He says in some respects he’s quite conservative. He’s pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage. “I would like to present a bill making the Islamic Nikah (marriage contract) a legally binding contract for marriage and any other religious marriage contract that is legally binding between the husband and wife if it pertains to religious affiliation,” he said in a follow-up email. He’s also anti-fluoride in the water, and in an email statement, said that he favors polygamy. ‘Islam recognizes Poligomy [sic], and I would like to get that legal in our state as well,” he writes.

Assignment editors: Sally Boynton Brown, the newly appointed president of the Florida Democratic Party, will speak at the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual “Grassroots Awards Celebration” at 6 p.m. at Celebration Gardens, 1871 Minnesota Ave. in Winter Park.

Image matters more than truth (but don’t say that!)” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat – The new chief of the Florida Democratic Party has had to apologize for telling the truth. She shockingly failed to use sufficient euphemism when telling a euphemistically titled group of party activists that emotions, rather than issues, get voters to the polls. Sally Boynton Brown, addressing the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County, knew she was treading into a sensitive area. Then she said, “I believe that we’re in a place where it is very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters who are not voting.” She did not say that poor people — whose lack of turnout last fall probably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency — are too dumb to understand issues, or that they vote on emotion alone. But that’s how some Democrats heard it. But what she said was right. A couple of things, before we get to whether issues matter to voters. First, Brown bears the new title “president” of the Florida Democratic Party, which sounds like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce. Second, the fact that Democrats have a “progressive caucus” is a big reason that they keep losing elections. The Republicans don’t have a conservative caucus. They are a conservative caucus.

Miami Beach mayor’s race heats up with email attacks” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – The two most prominent candidates hurled accusations and insults at each other in a series of emails … questioning each other’s ethics and records of public service. Dan Gelber, the former state legislator and federal prosecutor who is running for his first municipal government position, traded jabs with Michael Grieco, a criminal defense attorney and current commissioner. With the election still about six months away, it’s already getting ugly. An email blasted out Friday by Gelber’s campaign touted the results of a poll that found he was ahead of Grieco after the voter is provided biographical information on both candidates. Then the poll taker told the voter being questioned that Grieco may be tied to a political action committee that has raised money from city vendors and lobbyists — a controversial and, in some cases, illegal fundraising tactic under the Beach’s unusually strict campaign finance laws … Grieco fired back in his own email blast with the subject line “Dishonest Dan.” He rips the poll, accuses Gelber of lying and denies involvement with any PAC.


President’s budget proposal would end Amtrak services in Florida” via WCTV – The proposal cuts funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes, which includes all three routes in Florida. It would also hinder ongoing efforts to restore service in Florida’s Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast. The president’s budget would eliminate all three routes in Florida, including: The Auto Train, which runs daily from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford; The Silver Meteor, which runs daily from Miami to Orlando to New York; The Silver Star, which runs daily from Miami to Tampa to Orlando to New York.

Zika hit Florida months before infections found, study says” via Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press – Zika began spreading in Florida mosquitoes about three months before infections showed up in the Miami area last summer, and the virus likely was carried in by travelers from the Caribbean, new research suggests. Mosquitoes there started picking up the virus from infected travelers as early as March last year, according to scientists who examined genetic information from samples from about 30 people with Zika as well as from mosquitoes. It wasn’t until July that Florida health officials said they had detected a local infection – the first in the U.S. mainland. Mosquitoes spread Zika by biting someone who’s infected, then biting another person. The bugs may have been causing infections in Miami as early as March, too, said researcher Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But there were likely few cases before July, and it’s not clear any of them sought treatment, he said. Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. It can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects in babies.

Pam Bondi says charities she helps aren’t required to register with state” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Bondi’s office this week responded to a lawsuit claiming she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Deputy Solicitor General Jonathan L. Williams, writing on Bondi’s behalf, said in part that some of the organizations criticized by Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith aren’t “require(d) … to register (with the state) before receiving contributions from governmental entities.” Rather, they need to register as charities if they plan to “solicit,” or ask for, charitable contributions, Williams added. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee ordered Bondi to show why he shouldn’t find for Smith, giving Bondi 40 days to respond. Williams’ response came on the 40th day.

Florida reaps $1.6 million from settlement with Johnson & Johnson” via Florida Politics – Florida was among 43 states that sued the company and its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. subsidiary, alleging that they misled consumers into believing that they’d manufactured the medications in FDA-compliant facilities. In a consent decree … J&J agreed to pay $33 million to the states and to improve internal and marketing controls. The company pleaded guilty in 2015 to selling liquid medicines contaminated with metal, and agreed to pay $25 million to the federal government. According to the complaint, J&J’s McNeil-PPC Inc. subsidiary marketed over-the-counter drugs as complying with federal Good Manufacturing Practices between 2009 and 2011 when not all of its plants met those standards. That noncompliance was the equivalent of selling adulterated medicines, the document says. That document cites recalls in 2009 and 2010 of drugs including Tylenol, Infants and Children Tylenol, Benadryl, Rolaids, Motrin and Zyrtec.

“Craig Waters: Florida’s courts lead in use of social media” via Florida Politics – Long seen as the quietest branch of state government, Florida’s state courts have emerged in the last year as a national leader in social media use. In fact, we are leading the nation with 20 out of 26 court divisions using Twitter to reach the public right now. That’s an astounding number … The goal is simple. It’s not enough that courts do justice. They also must make sure people see justice being done.

Thanks to beer, over 160,000 have jobs in Florida” via Joe Ruble of WDBO – A new study shows America’s beer industry contributes more than $21.6 billion to Florida’s economy. It also supports 160,706 jobs in the state, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute, a trade association for brewers. “America’s beer distributors are proud to provide nearly 135,000 jobs with solid wages and great benefits to employees at more than 3,000 facilities, located in every state and congressional district across the country. Independent beer distributors generate significant economic contributions in their communities through local business-to-business commerce, investments in local infrastructure and capital assets and tax revenue,’ said NBWA President & CEO Craig Purser. Brewers and beer importers directly employ 64,745 Americans.


Hospice care providers honor former AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek – Florida hospice operators have bestowed their Outstanding Public Service Award upon Dudek, the former head of the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association cited her “decades of dedicated public serve and her commitment of assuring the highest quality of hospice care for Florida residents.” Dudek started at the state agency in 1992, ending with a six-year stint as secretary, before leaving to handle health care affairs for Greenberg Traurig. “In each regulatory role Liz held, she matched stride with Florida’s hospice providers and played a key role in contributing to what has long been the state with the most comprehensive hospice services offered in the nation,” Association president and CEO Paul Ledford said.

FHPCA’s President and CEO Paul Ledford, Greenberg Traurig’s Director of Healthcare Affairs Liz Dudek, Hope HealthCare Services President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith, Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care Hospice President and CEO Chuck Lee.

New and renewed lobby registrations:

Ivette Arango, Brett Bacot, Marnie George, Michael Harrell, Paul Hawkes, Jim Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Timothy Stanfield, Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting: 100 Black Men of Tallahassee; Tech Care X-ray, LLC

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: Archer-De Moya JV

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: City of Lakeland; Twin Creeks Development Associates, LLC, a Florida limited liability company

— ALOE — 

Florida’s Memorial Day travelers expected to top 2 million” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Just more than 2 million Floridians are expected to travel during … Memorial Day weekend. So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Florida are up 17 percent, compared to the same period last year, said Vicky Evans, assistant vice president of travel sales development for AAA — The Auto Club Group.

— “What to read before your Florida trip” via Concepcion De Leon of The New York Times

More people to travel this Memorial Day, says AAA” via Nancy Trejos of USA Today — More people will get away this Memorial Day weekend than have in the past 12 years, with 39.3 million U.S. travelers expected to take to the road, skies, rails and water, according to a forecast released Wednesday from auto club AAA. That represents an increase of 1 million more travelers — 2.7% — this year than last Memorial Day weekend. It represents the third consecutive year that U.S. travelers have been on the move for 50 miles or more over this holiday weekend. … Most of the travelers — 88.1% or 34.6 million — will drive to their destinations. That is an increase of 2.4% over last year despite higher gas prices. Most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015. The national average price for a gallon of gas on Wednesday is $2.34, 11 cents more than last year.

Spotted: Photographer Phil Sears photos in a travel feature for The New York Times about Florida.

“Orlando top destination in the world for Memorial Day” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — The City Beautiful will receive the lion’s portion of the 39.3 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend. Orlando was the number one U.S. city in the top five, followed by Rome, London, Dublin and Vancouver. Seattle, Las Vegas and New York City ranked 6, 7 and 8, while Honolulu took the number 10 spot behind Paris. … The travel forecast is great news for Central Florida, where both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are launching new attractions during the Memorial Day Weekend. Universal’s new water park, Volcano Bay, opens May 25 followed by Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World of Avatar on May 27.

Happy birthday this  weekend to Reps Julio Gonzalez and Mel Ponder, Richard DeNapoli, Arron Gober, Mike Fischer, Marion Johnson, Alex Setzer, Clark Smith, Craig Waters, and our friend – a great Floridian – Christian Ziegler.

In the official trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7, the end is coming” via David Canfield of Slate – We finally have our first full look at Game of Thrones’ seventh season. The official trailer feels especially doom-and-gloomy (yes, even for this show), as the HBO epic approaches its long-awaited climax. Season 7 will consist of an abbreviated seven episodes, before the eighth and final installment premieres next year. It’s all about preparation for the final battle to come: Cersei (Lena Headey) gathering her army for the coming challengers, Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) hitching his wagon to Sansa (Sophie Turner) as his “last hope,” and Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) surprisingly returning to action after having been banished. Then there’s Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), ready to assume the throne she has sought since the series’ beginning: “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she asserts. “And I will.” As the trailer fades to black, we hear an ominous official declaration: “The Great War is here.”

Sunburn for 5.24.17 – Florida offers #PrayersforManchester; TaxWatch ready to carve turkeys; Liquor wall standing or falling?; New candidates for A.G. and in CD 27; Tampa awarded 2021 Super Bowl

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

The deep bellow of the fog horn cried out every five minutes during the Disney Magic’s late-night approach into Dover, England. The shining white cliffs are still not visible from even the top deck.

In the wake of Monday evening’s bombing, Prime Minister Theresa May has placed Britain on the highest level of alert, deploying troops throughout the country. The impact was immediately apparent as we sailed into port. A near-flotilla of light military vessels protected our entrance, as if Mickey Mouse were a visiting head of state. The tension was palpable as we disembarked, with one security officer saying yesterday was the hardest day he’s ever had at work.

But England prevails. That’s the takeaway after visiting Stonehenge, that inexplicable, ancient ring of standing stones. On this day, perhaps like few others, Stonehenge was more than just a mystical tourist attraction. It was a powerful reminder that this land — this country — has been here and will be here for millennia. The deplorable actions of an evil few cannot change that.

With a history spanning 4,500 years Stonehenge has many different meanings to people today. It is a wonder of the world, a spiritual place and a source of inspiration.

I’ll be honest — and this isn’t to make a global event about our little family — we’re a little worried about visiting London next week, especially after the PM warned that another terrorist attack is “imminent.” Yet, there may not be a more important time recently to be here.


“Donald Trump calls terrorists ‘evil losers’” via F. Brinley Bruton and Amy Perrett of NBC News —President Donald Trump branded those responsible for the deadly suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert and other terrorist attacks “evil losers” on Tuesday. “So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers,” he said in Bethlehem while standing next to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. “I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term, they would think that is a great name.” He added: “I will call them, from now on, losers because that’s what they are: losers.”

Ariana Grande concert explosion: Singer checks in with Boca friend” via Leslie Gray Streeter of the Palm Beach Post — Dennis Lambert, songwriter of “We Built This City” and other songs, has known Grande since she was a little girl growing up in Boca Raton. Grande and Lambert’s daughter Misha are close friends. “No sooner had I heard the first reports when my daughter Misha called to say she was in touch with Ari and all of her people are safe and unhurt,” Lambert said. “They really don’t know yet exactly what happened and the news reports remain unclear. We’re all relieved the Ariana and her troupe are fine. On the other hand it’s another reminder of the perils that we are all exposed to in this crazy world we live in.”

Ariana Grande back home in Boca Raton after concert bombing via the Palm Beach Post

“FSU: Students at London Study Centre safe following Manchester bombing” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Students studying this summer at Florida State’s London Study Centre are safe following Monday night’s explosion in Manchester at the end of a concert by Ariana Grande. Manchester is a little more than 160 miles from London where the FSU students are based. “All International Programs participants based at the London Study Centre have been accounted for and encouraged to confirm their safety with their loved ones,” FSU spokesman Dennis Schnittker said. “Florida State University does not have any International Programs located in Manchester, nor do we have any reports of any students traveling independently to Manchester at the time of yesterday’s horrific incident at the Manchester Arena. Our condolences go out to those affected by this tragedy.”

A British flag is seen next to flowers after a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, Tuesday. Photo credit: AP.

Florida leaders react to the Manchester bombing:

— Gov. Rick Scott: “(First Lady Ann Scott) and I continue to pray for the 22 innocent lives lost in the senseless act of hate and terror in Manchester (Monday) night. Florida stands with the British people.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio: “Our prayers are with the people of Manchester.”

— Rep. Charlie Crist: “My thoughts and prayers are with Britain and the families impacted by this horrific act in Manchester.”

— Rep. Carlos Curbelo: “Praying for the people of Manchester.”

— Rep. Val Demings: “Standing with and praying for Manchester today.  Another cowardly attack against innocent people.”

— Rep. Ted Deutch: “Tonight in #Manchester, enormous amounts of horror, grief, and pain. From America and beyond, we join you in sympathy, outrage and resolve.”

— Rep. Neal Dunn: “Leah and I send our sincere condolences to the British people as they respond to another heinous act of terrorism. The events in Manchester remind us again that these vicious killers will consider any target, even a crowd of teenagers and children at a music concert. We stand with resolve alongside our British friends in the face of this threat.”

— Rep. Alcee Hastings: “I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Manchester. As England’s law enforcement continues working to establish the full details of this horrific attack against innocent children and families, the American people stand side-by-side in grief, anger, and resolve. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the city of Manchester and all of England as they come to terms with this terrible atrocity.”

— Rep. Al Lawson: “Our thoughts and prayers are with #Manchester and the United Kingdom for all the victims of tonight’s attack. Such sad news.”

— Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “As I am writing yet another statement expressing horror and condolences after another inexplicable terror attack, I feel the angst and anger of a mother who has sent my children off to a concert just like last night’s in Manchester. The terror attack that apparently targeted innocent young people was a truly despicable act committed by cowards. As Americans, we are heartbroken and horrified by this mass murder of young adults and even children, but make no mistake: our resolve to make our world a safer one for our children is only strengthened, and our commitment to working with our British ally in pursuit of that goal remains unshakeable. Our thoughts are now with the victims, their families and all the people of Manchester. And while many facts are still unknown, Americans will not waver in seeking justice and standing up against the hate that motivates such heinous crimes. And we will never let these pretenders who hold themselves out as the only true defenders of Islam to be recognized as anything more than what they are: murderers.”

— Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera: “Horrible and senseless. We mourn those lost and pray for swift justice.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: “Terrorists who take the lives of innocent people are nothing but cowards & they must be brought to justice. My prayers to Manchester.”

— Democrat Gwen Graham: “As a mom, my heart breaks. Praying for the children and families, parents and grandparents in Manchester.”

— Democrat Andrew Gillum: “Deeply saddened by #Manchester tonight. Prayers to the families affected & the UK.”

— House Speaker Richard Corcoran: “My deepest sympathies and prayers for strength go out to the victims, parents, & families of the terror attack in the U.K.”

— Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Sen. Debbie Mayfield: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls: “Our hearts are with the families of those killed in #ManchesterArena last night. May we unite together to eliminate terror.”

— Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: “My prayers go out to those in Manchester, as a Father of 2 little girls, I can’t imagine what these families are going through.”

— Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry: “Outrage!!–Manchester terrorist attack. Tears & prayers for the victims and families.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Florida TaxWatch is offering its annual serving of “budget turkeys” 11 a.m. Friday at the group’s downtown headquarters on Bronough Street.

These turkeys are not Thanksgiving staples, but “individual appropriations that circumvent a thoughtful and thorough budget process,” says the group’s website.

“The organization identifies budget turkeys to promote transparency in public budgeting, encourage meaningful legislative review of all appropriations and facilitate checks and balances within the budget process,” the nonprofit group declared in a news release.

Florida TaxWatch president Dominic Calabro, with a stuffed turkey, speaking at a 1990 news conference in Tallahassee.

Being called a turkey “does not signify a judgment of a project’s worthiness. Instead, the review focuses on the Florida budget process, … to ensure that all appropriations using tax dollars are subject to scrutiny.”

In 2013, one such “turkey” was $4 million budgeted for Pinellas County to help pay for a sequel to “Winter’s Tale” – the movie about the Clearwater Aquarium’s star attraction, Winter the Dolphin, which has a prosthetic tail.  

Another example of the biggest turkey was identified in the following year’s state budget: $12 million earmarked for the Port of Tampa Bay’s gantry crane project.

Florida TaxWatch Vice President of Research (and resident budgetary turkey expert) Kurt Wenner will serve as master of ceremony for the Friday event.

More information on budget turkeys can be found here.


Labor unions call on Rick Scott to veto education bill — Fight for Florida, a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations, has released a new ad calling on the governor to veto a massive education bill (HB 7069), calling the measure “bad for taxpayers and bad for Florida families.” The 30-second spot will be distributed digitally and is expected to run extensively in Tallahassee during the bill signing and veto period. “Our public school children, teachers and education staff professionals are already severely underfunded,” said Rich Templin, representing the coalition, in a statement. “This so-called ‘Schools of Hope’ bill will further starve public schools of much-needed resources. It’s plain wrong. It’s wrong for students, teachers and our public schools and wrong for Florida.” The bill not yet been set to Scott, but has been met with criticism from public school supporters in recent weeks. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

Senate President Joe Negron said Tuesday he stands by HB 7069: “I support the bill. I support efforts for the state to give more parental choice in public education. I support the initiatives that are in that bill,” the Stuart Republican told POLITICO Florida on Tuesday.

— “Fate of program for disabled children rests with Gov. Scott” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press 

Time growing short for Scott to decide ‘whisky & Wheaties’ bill’s fate” via Florida Politics — A history of alcoholism in Gov. Scott’s family will inform his decision about whether to sign the “whiskey & Wheaties” bill, which would tear down the wall of separation between hard liquor and other goods. … “I’ve had family members who have had the challenge of alcoholism. It concerns me. As I review the bill — I think I have to be finished sometime tomorrow on it — I take all those things into consideration.” Scott said he was scheduled to talk to representatives of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — one of the big-box stores supporting the bill — and ABC Fine Wines & Spirits — which is opposed. Scott still wasn’t prepared to say whether he would veto the state budget approved by the Legislature during an extended session this month. “I’m going to review my options,” he said.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will highlight job growth 3:15 p.m. at the Honeycomb Company of America, 1950 Limbus Ave. in Sarasota.

Scott, Cabinet OK $8.5M for land conservation in Okeechobee, Highland counties” – Scott and Cabinet members agreed to an $8.5 million deal to conserve land owned by ranchers in Okeechobee and Highlands counties. The purchase is through the Florida Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. About 4,200 acres in Okeechobee County and just over 1,000 acres in Highlands County will go to improve the quality of water flowing to Lake Okeechobee from the north through the purchase of easements, stopping future development while allowing existing landowners to continue using the property for agriculture and ranching. Part of the acquisition is Okeechobee County’s Triple S Ranch, just west of Fort Pierce and part of the Kissimmee River basin. Triple S has been owned by the Scott family since 1948. The Highland County parcel has been owned by the Hartt family since 1939. Water from that land empties into Arbuckle Creek and into Lake Okeechobee. After the deals, about $11 million will still be available in the current fiscal year, which ends June 1. In the upcoming 2017-2018 budget, lawmakers funded the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program at $10 million.

Pam Bondi on Sunshine exemption sealing criminal records: what about sex offenders?” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Approved unanimously by lawmakers last month, SB 118 would require clerks to seal more than 2.7 million criminal records and hundreds of thousands of arrest records for individuals who were found not guilty, acquitted at trial, had charges against them dropped or dismissed, or weren’t charged after being arrested. That would effectively prevent people from knowing whether someone was arrested or charged with a crime when they ultimately aren’t convicted in a court of law. “What concerns me about this — just as a career prosecutor: Sex offenders,” Bondi told reporters. “I think some of those cases are very important, to be able to know about the past and the history. That does concern me … We all know how difficult it is to convict a sex offender, and if they have a case again in the future, I think it’s important for people to be able to know about that. Those are the ones that concern me the most.”

Old news: “Atwater exit awaits budget action” via the News Service of Florida on Tuesday; Michael Moline of Florida Politics wrote “Jeff Atwater sticking around as CFO until state budget is nailed down” on May 10.


“Why’s Bondi raising money? Not to run for office, she says” via Michael Auslen of the Times/Herald — Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she’s not considering a run for another public office. In early April, Bondi’s fundraising engine started back up, bringing in more than $82,000 to her political committee, called Justice for All. It raised questions about the aspirations of a Republican attorney general who can’t seek reelection and who has already declared she would not run for governor in 2018. Asked Tuesday if she was gearing up for another public office, Bondi said, “No. No, I’m not. Not right now, I’m not.” … “The newest rumor I heard today is that I want to be sheriff of Hillsborough County,” she said to reporters. “I do not want to be sheriff of Hillsborough County, seriously. We’ll see, but I need a political committee to continue when you all have political questions to ask me.”

“Adam Putnam plays down aides’ departure from his campaign for Governor” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam suggested that the departure of two key aides from his campaign for governor was no big deal. “You’re always adjusting and modifying as you move forward,” Putnam said, adding that he wished both ex-staffers well. … “This is a grassroots movement, and I’m very excited about the team that we have, and I wish the team members who have moved on to other things the very best.” Campaign manager Kristin Davison was relieved of her duties Monday. Political director Jared Small also exited the campaign.

Andrew Gillum campaign launches “Doctors for Gillum” — The grassroots coalition started by Florida healthcare professionals to help Floridians understand the stakes healthcare and the Obamacare will play in the election, according to Andrew Gillum’s campaign. The group is made up of Dr. Michael Katin, the medical advisor to the American Cancer Society unites of both Lee and Charlotte counties and the president of the AFROC (Association of Freestanding Radiation Oncology Centers); Dr. Annette Pelaez, a Tampa native who has been practicing obstetrics and gynecology in the Miami area since 1989; Dr. Jean-Philippe “J.P.” Austin, the former medical director at Christie Clinic Association in  Champaign, Illinois now with 21st Century Oncology; Dr. Larry Pierre, the president and CEO of the Greater Miami Health and Education Training Center; and Dr. Lisa Wildcatt, a pediatrician and the lead physician of the Riverview office at Pediatric Associates of Tampa Bay. “As doctors, we have dedicated our lives to providing patients with quality healthcare, and under his proposal, more Floridians will have the security of access to the care they need to survive,” the coalition said in a joint statement provided by the Gillum campaign. “We look forward to working with Mayor Gillum and Florida’s policymakers to help make these protections the law in Florida.”

“Three Tampa Bay lawmakers line up behind Gwen Graham for Governor” via Mitch Perry of SaintPetersBlog — St. Petersburg-based state Sen. Darryl Rouson, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice and Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez are endorsing the former congresswoman, the Graham campaign announced Tuesday. “I’m honored to have the support of these Tampa and St. Petersburg leaders who are working every day on issues Floridians care about,” she said in a statement. “As governor, I will work with them to protect our environment, create opportunities for all, and reform Florida’s criminal justice system.” Rouson said in a statement that Graham “understands criminal justice reform, protecting voting rights and creating jobs are paramount issues to our community” and has the “passion, experience, and fortitude to make our streets safer, reform our criminal justice system and restore voting rights to the 1.5 million Floridians currently disenfranchised.”

Ryan Torrens files to run for Attorney General — The Hillsborough County Democrat opened a campaign account Monday, and is the first Democrat to throw his hat in the race to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits, in 2018. Torrens is the owner of the Torrens Law Group, and focuses on foreclosure defense and consumer protection litigation. Before striking out on his own in 2012, he worked as an independent consultant on the federally-mandated Independent Foreclosure Review Project. A fifth-generation Tampa native, Torrens received his bachelor of arts in government and world affairs from the University of Tampa. He graduated from George Washington University Law School. Jacksonville Republican Jay Fant has also filed to run for Attorney General.

Raquel Regalado joins race to fill Ros-Lehtinen’s congressional seat” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The former Miami-Dade School Board member told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that she’s “all in” after spending the last several weeks meeting with political committees and Republican leaders in Washington. The 42-year-old mother of two and self-described “compassionate Republican” believes she’s the type of moderate candidate capable of holding the Democratic-leaning 27th district for the GOP next year. “Even though the Democrats are saying this seat has to go to a Democrat because independents will lean to a ‘D,’ I disagree,” she said. “I think the majority of people believe it will be better to have a Republican in the room than a Democrat out in the hall.”

Raquel Regalado expects to have at least three GOP primary opponents for the seat: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Brun Barreiro and former Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall. Photo credit: AP.

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 —  LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for House and Senate in 2018. Democrat Tyran Basil has filed to run for House District 27. The 26-year-old has an associate degree in accounting from Seminole State College of Florida and works in technical support for Frontier Communications. He’ll face the winner of the Republican primary between Rep. David Santiago and William McBride. Democrat Lee Mangold is vying to replace Rep. Jason Brodeur in House District 28. Mangold earned his doctorate in computer and information security from Northcentral University, and owns a Central Florida-based cybersecurity company called Goldsky Security. He will face Republican David Smith. Brodeur can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Three Republicans — Cocoa Beach Mayor Tim Tumulty, Tyler Sirois, and Pat O’Neil — have filed to run run in House District 51. Tumulty ran in 2016, but lost to Rep. Tom Goodson. He currently works as a math and physics teacher at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School. Sirois is the executive director of the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, and has worked with the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office in the past. Goodson can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Shawn Mathis Gilliam is challenging Rep. Dan Raulerson in House District 58. Gilliam is running as a member of the Green Party. Republican Andrew Vargas has switched his candidacy to House District 114. He will now face Republican Jose Pazos, a Marine veteran who owns a management firm. Both men are hoping to unseat Democratic Rep. Daisy Baez. Vargas had previously filed to run in House District 119.


John Morgan ready to bet big on medical pot” via the Tampa Bay Times – In a series of emails with the Miami Herald, Morgan said he intends to plunge up to $100 million into “the right opportunities.” He also acknowledged that he’s interested in owning a stake in a state-licensed dispensing organization, though he said he’s not yet invested in any cannabis companies. “I am prepared to invest significant monies in this industry and I plan to,” he wrote. “I have learned a great deal about the miracles of marijuana over the last five years. And what better person than me to be involved?” But are Morgan’s financial interests influencing his public positions? Was his political investment a down payment on a bigger business plan? Absolutely not, says Morgan. But speculation has swirled for years.

— It’s important to note that this story about Morgan’s financial interests popped ONLY AFTER on Monday raised pointed questions about the trial lawyer’s financial ambitions.

Administrative judge says 2 farms should get medical pot licenses” via The Associated Press – Division of Administrative Hearings Judge John Van Landingham ruled on Tuesday that Plants of Ruskin and Tornello Landscape/3 Boys Farm are equally qualified to receive licenses, but if the state’s Department of Health would approve only one, then it should go to Tornello/3 Boys. Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton said they are reviewing the order and in the process of determining their next steps. There are currently seven distributing organizations. This was the last of the administrative challenges since the five original licenses were decided in December of 2015. Two additional were awarded last year due to either settlements or an administrative ruling.

First on #FlaPol – “Tom Delacenserie taking over Kentucky Lottery” via Florida Politics Delacenserie, the outgoing secretary of the Florida Lottery, is getting a pay raise to become the new president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery. Delacenserie, who submitted his resignation to Gov. Rick Scott last week, will be paid $204,000 a year. His current Florida state salary as agency head is $141,000. He was confirmed by the Kentucky Lottery’s board of directors on Tuesday, according to a press release. His first day is June 5. “I’m very much looking forward to joining one of the premier lotteries in the country,” Delacenserie said in a statement.

Florida Hurricane Cat Fund ready for storm season” via The Associated Press – Estimates prepared by Raymond James show the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund will have $17.6 billion available this year. This marks the second year in a row that the fund has more money than it would need to pay out if storms racked the state. The financial health of the fund is important because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if the money runs out. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.” The fund has grown because Florida has avoided major hurricanes since 2005.

Joe Henderson: FDOT’s Tampa Bay transit plan has new name, but really needs new ideas” via Florida Politics – The Florida Department of Transportation wanted to attack the problem with a plan called Tampa Bay Express, or TBX. I’ll simplify: It called for building more roads, including 90 miles of highway people would have to pay tolls to use. A lot of people hated that idea and they raised such a ruckus that FDOT finally punted and came up with Plan B. It still leaves open the idea of more toll roads, including express lanes across a rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. So, what’s different about this plan? Er, um … it has a new name! Tampa Bay Next. Other than that, it seems like basically the same ol’ sow’s ear, which is upsetting for FDOT officials to hear.

“Leon County approves historic Airbnb tax agreement” Airbnb announced the passage of a tax agreement with Leon County that will allow the platform to collect and remit taxes on behalf of its local hosts. With the tax agreement in place, the County will be able to fully capitalize on more people visiting and staying longer through home sharing. Effective July 1, Airbnb will automatically collect and remit local taxes for all Airbnb bookings in the county, making the process seamless and easy for both Airbnb hosts and local government. “The agreement represents an investment in the long-term success of Leon County’s tourism and economic development efforts,” Leon County Commission Chairman John E. Dailey said … Leon County now represents the 39th Florida county where Airbnb will collect and remit local tourist development taxes (otherwise known as the bed tax).

OR Conversations: Belvin Perry Jr. discusses his law career” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – “I had spent nearly 25 years as a judge and 11 years as an assistant state attorney. That is total 36 years of public service. I believe in the Jim Brown school of thought; that is to go out on top and on your own terms … I enjoyed every moment I was a judge, so moments more than others. I gave everything that I had in being a judge and I left nothing on the table. I treasured the trust that the citizens of this great community gave me when they elected me judge. I don’t miss being a judge, but I sometimes miss the public service.”

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

— ALOE —

What Bob Buckhorn is reading – “Tampa to host 2021 Super Bowl” via ESPN – NFL owners, responding to inclement weather that has delayed the opening of a new stadium in Los Angeles, voted unanimously Tuesday to instead award Tampa the Super Bowl in 2021. Los Angeles will host the Super Bowl one year later, in 2022. The Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium will host Super Bowl LV, which was originally scheduled to be played at the $2.6 billion facility in Inglewood, California, that will be shared by the Rams and Chargers.

Loggerhead sea turtle returns home on World Turtle Day” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Local rescue teams released a loggerhead sea turtle to Sebastian Inlet … The sea turtle was found floating in the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce in January. It was missing its left front flipper and covered in barnacles with damage on its shell. The turtle weighed 218 pounds and had eaten several sand dollars, which were creating blockages in its intestines. The turtle was given medication and fluid therapy and the blockage was removed at SeaWorld Orlando. The loggerhead weighed in at 230 pounds when it was returned to its ocean home by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

A 230-pound loggerhead turtle found floating in the Indian River Lagoon near Fort Pierce in January was returned to the ocean Tuesday by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Happy birthday to one of the best people in The Process, Ashley Ross.

Sunburn for 5.23.17 – #PrayersforManchester; To veto or not veto; Trouble in Adam Putnam world; Josh Cooper is a world champ!

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

A somber good morning from the decks of the Disney Magic, which is sailing into the Isle of Portland and, as we learned late last night, a nation rocked by the deadliest terrorism episode to strike Britain since the 2005 London transit bombings. That the attack took place at a concert performed by Ariana Grande, who grew up before our eyes as a member of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, has only served to further shake-up some of my fellow passengers.

At least 22 are dead, some adolescents, and more than 50 are injured.

Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after an explosion Monday. Police says there are “a number of fatalities” after reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England.

And, yet, as we cross the English Channel into this place (Dover) and at this time (days away from the 77th anniversary of the ‘Miracle at Dunkirk’), there is no doubt that our English brothers and sisters will, as they always have, endure and prevail.

On some days, it’s just a slogan on a mouse pad or T-shirt, but today, we will all do our best to ‘keep calm and carry on.’


Could Attorney General Pam Bondi soon be drawn into the never-goes-away issue of what is (or isn’t) illegal gambling?

According to FlaglerLive, the Bunnell City Commission in Flagler County could soon ask for an opinion from her office on the legality of electronic instant bingo machines.

Shamrock Bingo, as was the non-profit Flagler Cats before it, have been fighting being labeled as a gambling hall, specifically “operating slot machines in violation of state law,” as the website says.

The bingo parlor at the heart of the issue is located in the Atlantis center in Bunnell.

In 2013, lawmakers generally outlawed Internet cafes, a sort of strip mall casino. Florida now prohibits any “device or system or network of devices” that plays like a slot machine.

The question is how close are instant bingo machines to slot machines.

Legislation filed this year would have allowed certain veterans’ organizations to “conduct instant bingo” using Class II gambling bingo-style slot machines. It died before Session’s end.

The bingo hall’s lawyer, “conceding the complexity in state law, … suggested either to have the city write an ordinance … or ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter,” the site reported.

“Even if the attorney general finds the machines legal, the city would not necessarily be under obligation to allow the machines,” it added.

The city commission voted to “seek out” an attorney general’s office opinion, pending a memo from the bingo hall’s attorney “of a more detailed rationale for electronic bingo’s legality.”

Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray said the office had not yet received a request as of Monday.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


If Rick Scott vetoes public school budget, here’s what happens” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – A Scott veto would make him the toast of Florida educators — for the moment, anyway — and how could Democratic politicians or the teachers’ union fault him for demanding more money for schools? But Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the two main architects of this budget, won’t like being portrayed by Scott as secretly plotting to punish innocent children, so it’s a safe bet that tensions in Tallahassee would get worse. Maybe a lot worse … if Scott is willing to go that far, why not go all the way and veto the whole thing?

His sweeping veto would remind people who’s in charge, and if Republicans try to override his veto by two-thirds votes (likely in the House, less likely in the Senate), Scott has a new reason to campaign against “those politicians in Tallahassee,” one of his favorite sound bites. Words matter in politics. Scott has spent weeks traveling the state on a “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour, criticizing every aspect of the Legislature’s budget. How can he now possibly sign a budget he has spent so much time condemning? For the governor, it will soon be put-up-or-shut-up time. If Scott doesn’t veto the budget, what’s he been fighting for?

Op-ed – “Vetoing HB 7069 would hurt special needs children” via Lee Anne McGee for the Lakeland Ledger – Our youngest daughter, Emily, is 13 and in fifth grade. She has autism. She struggles with reading and speaking, and like many kids with autism, needs to work on social skills. We found a small, private school that specializes in reading. We applied and qualified for the new Gardiner Scholarship, which is already helping 7,500 students with special needs. We thought we were set. But suddenly, everything’s in limbo. State lawmakers included an additional $30 million for the Gardiner Scholarship this year, enough to help Emily and more than 2,000 other newly qualified students. But House Bill 7069, the bill that includes the bump in funding, is at risk of being vetoed. Some groups want Gov. Scott to kill the bill because of other provisions they claim will hurt students. But if they succeed, there’s no doubt students like my daughter will be hurt. Maybe Emily would do fine in a big, public middle school. Maybe she’d toughen up. Maybe she’d be forced to progress faster on her social skills. But the opposite is also possible: that she’d be teased and bullied for being a little bit different. We don’t want to take that chance. The school we’ve picked out aims to help its students socially as well as academically. Building confidence is part of its mission.

LIBRE Initiative urges Scott to sign education bill — The national, conservative organization, kicked off a bilingual direct mail campaign Monday. The campaign targets voters living in 18 districts, including those living in districts represented by Speaker Corcoran, Rep. Manny Diaz, and Rep. Michael Bileca, President Negron, Sen. Bill Galvano, and Majority Leader Wilton Simpson

Mailers paid for by the Koch brothers-aligned LIBRE Initiative thank lawmakers for voting in favor of the wide-sweeping education bill and encourage Floridians to call Gov. Scott to sign the bill into law.

“A better education has the power to change the trajectory of a student’s life and build stronger communities across the Sunshine State,” said Cesar Grajales, the LIBRE Initiative’s coalitions director, in a statement. “We urge Gov. Scott to quickly sign this bill and remove unnecessary barriers to new charter schools so our students don’t have to remain stuck in schools that are failing to provide a quality education.”

Assignment editors – Miami-Dade public schools host town halls on the Legislature’s K-12 spending plan at 6 p.m. at Miami Palmetto Senior High School, 7460 SW 118th St. in Pinecrest and at 7:30 p.m. at John A. Ferguson Senior High School 15900 SW 56th St. in Miami.

Sorta related Facebook status of the day:


Bill watch – Gov. Scott was sent all 31 of the local bills that passed this Legislative Session. He has until Tuesday, June 6 to act on these. They include HB 647, which would dissolve the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. Eighty-six bills are now on his desk.

Cabinet meets today – The Governor and Cabinet meet to hear reports from state departments at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room. Among the issues to be decided include the selection of a new Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. Noah Valenstein, currently the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, is the only candidate slated to be interviewed for the position.

Eric Eisnaugle makes departure official – The Republican from Windermere announced his resignation would come on the last day of the 2017 Legislative Session to accept an appointment to Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals, but delayed the actual departure until late last week. With his now official resignation — spelled out in a letter last Thursday to Speaker Corcoran — Eisnaugle officially opens the way for the Florida Division of Elections and Gov. Scott to set dates for special elections in House District 44, covering western Orange County.

— POT, INC. — 

Was it actually John Morgan who had financial conflicts in marijuana implementation?” via Florida Politics – Morgan was at his Trumpiest earlier this month when he took to social media to savage his longtime aide-de-camp, Ben Pollara, over the failure of legislation implementing medical marijuana this Session … The ugly, public split … has left many observers asking what the real story was behind the breakup.

When asked directly, John acknowledged a business plan to acquire an existing grower, but when asked for more details he demurred, with a cryptic, barely-denial denial. The ownership structure of existing medical marijuana license holders is shrouded in secrecy — so public records won’t answer the question.

But here’s what we do know about Morgan’s connections to Florida’s authorized marijuana distributors: The Morgan-Pollara rift began on the last week of session, when Morgan called Pollara on three-way with Jake Bergmann, CEO of Surterra, one of the seven license holders. Representing Surterra is Michael Corcoran, the Speaker’s brother, who Morgan has described as a friend. Their other lobbyist is Billy Rubin, someone who Morgan has known since college.

The Morgan-Bergmann-Pollara call concerned the very issue that doomed medical marijuana this Session: retail caps. This issue divided medical marijuana interests into two camps: the “cartels,” i.e., existing licensees; and the “Have Not’s,” those that wanted access to the Florida market.

John hinted to — but stopped short of outright saying — that he was looking at potentially investing in or purchasing one of the current license holders.

Now all the above is highly circumstantial … but certainly suggestive.

Consider this final point: John is a capitalist. His bread and butter might be the law business, but this guy owns an advertising firm, billboards, hotels, amusement parks and has all sorts of other entrepreneurial ventures. Think about the pitches that come across his desk daily … consider how many of those over the past few years must have been marijuana related.

Meanwhile… “Drug Free America Foundation wants marijuana Special Session via Florida Politics – The Drug Free America Foundation is adding its voice to those calling for a Special Session on Medical Marijuana Implementation, according to a press release. “It is critical that our leaders call a special session to complete the unfinished business of implementing Amendment 2,” said Calvina Fay, executive director of the Foundation. “Moreover, it is short-sighted to think that the lack of legislation to implement Amendment 2 will stop the marijuana industry from operating.”


Florida Democratic Party announces staff changes – Stephen Bittel, the chairman of the state party, announced several key staffing changes, including the promotions of Roosevelt Holmes and Johanna Cervone, Monday.

Bittel Holmes has been promoted to the state party’s political director, while Cervone has been promoted to the organization’s director.

Other staff changes announced Monday:

— Georgette Brammer will serve as deputy finance director.

— Amir Ahmadiavin will serve as a communications specialist.

— Erika Ann Grohoski Peralta will serve as a field specialist.

Adam Putnam’s campaign endures first shake-up” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In an unexplained campaign shakeup, Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign parted ways with its newly named campaign manager and political director. The departure of campaign manager Kristin Davison and political director Jared Small came as a surprise following Putnam’s well-covered and expertly staged 10-day, 22-stop bus tour through Florida.

— Throughout Monday, Republicans began buzzing with word of internal divisions between Davison and Bevis, who worked for Putnam before the campaign, that led to the shakeup.

— Davison has a hard-charging style that didn’t mesh with the more feel-good nature of Putnam’s longtime circle of advisers and supporters, according to Republicans familiar with the dispute.

>>>Bottom-line question: Why did Putnam — who has built a genuine brand as ‘fresh from Florida’ — hire an out-of-state political operative to manage his campaign in the first place?

More than 600 backers joined Putnam for Suwannee Valley BBQ — Putnam wrapped up his 10-day, 22-city bus tour the same way he started it: with a barbecue. More than 600 people attended grassroots BBQ at the Gaylard Family Farm in O’Brien on Saturday, according to the Putnam campaign. “This is the heart and soul of the state of Florida,” said Putnam in a statement. “Hardworking families who have a lot going on this Saturday came out and brought their children out here to join our movement. This is what this campaign is all about. It’s a grassroots, conservative movement.” 

Supporters from all over Florida came to welcome Adam Putnam off the bus after 10 days traveling through the state. On the menu was BBQ chicken, green beans, potatoes, rolls, and ice cream.

Julian Castro backs Andrew Gillum for Governor — Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro has endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the race to replace Gov. Scott in 2018. Castro, who served as the Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, said Gillum has “worked hard to achieve his own dreams — and he’s worked just as hard to ensure that Floridians from every walk of life can achieve theirs.” In a statement provided by the Gillum campaign, Castro, who served as the mayor of San Antonio before becoming HUD Secretary, continued: “When Andrew is Governor, he will fight so that every child in Florida has the opportunity to grow and succeed in the Sunshine State. He is the candidate Democrats can best trust to stand with the courage of conviction, even when it’s not politically convenient.” Castro and Gillum will host a fundraiser in South Florida on June 3, according to Gillum’s campaign.

Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Bob White jumps into gubernatorial race” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – White, who also leads Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida (RLCCEF) and the founder of the Liberty Catalyst Fund (LCF) which works “to educate voters on issues of liberty, freedom, constitutional integrity and limited government” and “promote candidates that demonstrate a commitment to these principles and oppose candidates that do not,” has been active in recent months, opposing Scott’s call for more funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. “I’m running for Governor because I love Florida. I’ve been a Floridian since the day I was born. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,”

White wrote in an open letter to Floridians announcing his candidacy. “I grew up in Polk County, in the heart of the Florida citrus industry …  the reality is that times have changed. Florida is now the third largest state in the nation and is experiencing every advantage and disadvantage that kind of population growth inevitably brings. Growth presents opportunities and challenges. We need a government in Tallahassee that embraces the opportunities and rises to the challenges! Sadly, that’s not what we’ve been getting. I aim to change that.”

Best story of the day –Veteran Tallahassee shoe shiner files for gubernatorial run” via Troy Kinsey of Bay News 9 – Running up the middle … is an unassuming entrant who’s been walking the Capitol’s halls of power longer than any of his opponents: Tony Knox, a veteran shoeshiner about to mark his 30th year servicing the footwear of governors, legislative leaders and lobbyists. Knox filed to run for governor as a no party affiliation candidate last week. With no party, no political experience and no campaign funds – not yet, anyway – he would appear to be an underdog, multiple times over. However, over the course of thousands of shoe shines, he argues he’s learned more about state government than anyone else in the race, and he has a campaign platform he predicts will resonate with voters. “As Governor Knox (would) say, ‘I’m going to roll up my sleeves and teach you how to work,'” Knox said, in a riff on Scott’s ‘let’s get to work’ slogan. “I have a vision for the state that, No. 1, you’ve got to go to work. And the way you go to work is you shut down anything free for able-bodied people.”

Jose Felix Diaz to resign from House as part of SD 40 bid” via Florida Politics — The Miami Republican sent a letter to the Division of Elections on May 17 resigning from the Florida House effective Sept. 26. Diaz, who is running in the special election to replace Frank Artiles in Senate District 40, sent similar letters to Gov. Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Scott announced earlier this month the dates for the special election to replace Artiles, who resigned in April after he made national news after he accosted two black colleagues at a private club in Tallahassee. The special primary election is July 25, with a special general election on Sept. 26.

— Gov. Scott on Monday signed an executive order calling for a special election to fill the House District 116 seat being vacated by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. The special primary is scheduled for July 25, with the special general on Sept. 26 — the same days as the special Senate District 40 primary and general elections.

“Fourth Republican enters HD 44 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican businessman Bruno Portigliatti announced his candidacy for what will be a special election this summer for House District 44 in the Orlando area. The 29-year-old Orlando resident is chief executive officer of Excellence Senior Living, a developer of luxury assisted living facilities for seniors, and executive vice president of Florida Christian University, a global online university. He also helps manage real estate enterprises for his family’s Portigliatti Group LLC. He enters a race that already features Republicans Bobby Olszewski of Winter Garden, John Newstreet of Orlando and Dr. Usha Jain of Orlando. The Democrats are running Paul Chandler of Orlando.


Justices reject Florida appeal over death penalty” via the Associated Press – The Supreme Court has left in place a lower court ruling that said imposing a death sentence in Florida requires a unanimous jury. The justices on Monday turned away an appeal from Florida officials seeking to overturn the ruling last year from the state’s highest court. The Florida Supreme Court had struck down a newly enacted law allowing a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 out of 12 jurors recommend it. That ruling concluded that Timothy Lee Hurst — convicted of a 1998 murder at a Pensacola Popeye’s restaurant— deserves a new sentencing hearing.

“Hackers may have names of thousands of Florida gun owners” via the Associated Press – The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Monday they had discovered a data breach of the online payment system that processes payments for applications and permits. Agriculture Commissioner Putnam has ordered a review of the department’s cybersecurity measures. State law enforcement is investigating the breach, which authorities suspect originated from overseas. The agency stated that no financial information was obtained.

— The department also warned that the breach may have revealed the social security numbers of 469 customers. The agency plans on offering free credit protection for one year to these individuals.

KPMG breaks ground on global training center: Announces new jobs” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Gov. Scott came to town to welcome the $400 million KPMG global training center, which will join other corporate giants in one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. KPMG CEO Lynne Doughtie announced that the firm is bringing in an additional 250 jobs during the next three years to Florida in an expansion of their global tax and audit business. That’s in addition to the 80 new jobs that will be needed to run KPMG’s Learning, Development and Innovation Facility in Lake Nona. “It’s a big day in our state,” said Scott, who gave Doughtie an award for bringing more jobs to Florida. “Every job is important to a person, and these 330 jobs will change lives.”

Rick Scott makes like he knows how to use a shovel at the groundbreaking of KPMG’s new 55-acre facility in Orlando.

I-395 signature bridge standoff is political palanca at its best” via Elaine deValle of Political Cortadito – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his pals on the County Commission are trying to sell us a bridge. Not just any bridge. His buddy’s bridge. Recent hand-wringing over the selection of a firm to design and build an iconic, new signature bridge over Biscayne Boulevard along I-395 has cast a spotlight on just how Gimenez uses the office of county mayor to benefit his friends and family members. The beneficiary this time (again) is Pedro Munilla, who is cousins (or something) with the mayor’s wife and CEO of Munilla Construction Management … MCM was one of five firms that bid on the $800 million “signature bridge” project, in partnership with Fluor Enterprises. But it was ranked second by a Florida Department of Transportation selection committee after a process that has taken, on and off, about 25 years. Archer Western/De Moya was ranked first. One week later, Gimenez wrote a letter asking the FDOT, which is providing $600,000 and overseeing the project, to delay the contract so that the county could weigh in (read: so that Munilla can get a second chance). And he’s using some of his pocket commissioners, like Sally Heyman — well, to be honest, the Munillas write a lot of checks — to try slow the process down.


The latest on Ballard Inc. via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida– Trump’s longtime Florida lobbyist, Ballard, has expanded his practice globally and just signed a $1.5 million contract with the government of Turkey, which will be represented by the firm’s new big hire, former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler. Ballard Partner’s Turkey contract comes on the heels of two other international clients signed by the firm: A March 6 $900,000 contract with the Dominican Republic and an April 1 $240,000 contract with the Socialist Party of Albania, the ruling party in the Balkan nation. “I’m excited about the firms growing international practice and look forward to working with this important US and NATO ally,” Ballard, who still speaks to Trump on occasion after representing the Trump Organization for years in Tallahassee, said in a brief written statement. The contract with Turkey is the firm’s highest profile foreign client and could be its most controversial amid unrest in the nation under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Josh Cooper, the Swinos big winners at World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest — Cooper, the founding partner of Strategic Information Consultants and a competitive barbecue chef, and his competition BBQ team The Swinos took home first place in the “exotic” division for their Oscar-style, bacon wrapped bison center cut filet at the World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest during Memphis in May. The team also took home sixth place in the seafood division, 13th in the chicken division, and 19th in the mustard sauce division, said Cooper in a message. Cooper, who is set to compete on MasterChef when it premieres May 31, was joined by David Lee, a partner at Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and a few others.

Josh Cooper celebrates his win for his entry in the “exotic division” of the World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest.

Personnel note: Jerry Parrish joins FloridaMakes board – The industry-led nonprofit “aimed at strengthening the state’s manufacturing sector” announced the addition. Parrish is the chief economist and director of research for the Florida Chamber Foundation. In that role, he is the lead on TheFloridaScorecard. org, an online database that provides Florida leaders and local stakeholders with the data needed to measure progress. He is also responsible for conducting in-depth analyses on economic trends, Florida’s industry clusters and on solutions to help secure Florida’s future. He has many years of experience in management roles at international manufacturing companies.

On this week’s edition of The Rotunda —  On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, both Gov. Scott and former Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll share a strong support for President Trump. Despite their connection, Carroll tells Gomes she has still not heard a word from Scott following her first resignation, but she would accept Scott’s apology when or if he decides to give one. Carroll also talks with Gomes about Trump’s first official trip abroad as president, and she compares her missteps with the press to Trump’s battle with “fake news.” Gomes also talks Greenberg Traurig Government Law & Policy Director, Leslie Dughi about how the insurance industry fared during Florida’s 2017 Legislative Session.

Happy birthday to our friend, Rob Johnson, of The Mayernick Group and Kevin Reilly.

Sunburn for 5.22.17 – Decision time for Rick Scott; Speaker’s race drama; Phillip Levine floats indy run; Fla Dems circular firing squad; Laura Lenhart’s new gig

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from the Promenade Bar on Deck 3 of the Disney Magic. Current location is 46.20.36 N, 10.42.59 W. Course is 48 degrees. The nearest land is Brest, France. On Saturday, we visited the Azores, which is simply one of the most beautiful places on this Earth. The highlight of the exclusion was taking a 4×4 along the rim of the dormant volcano overlooking Lagoa das Sete Cidades – two small, ecologically different lakes connected by a narrow strait.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Lagoon of the Seven Cities.

The legend of how Lagoa das Sete Cidades came to be (which some believe finds its origins with the fall of Atlantis) is worth reading. It’s a day at sea before arriving Tuesday in the Isle of Portland, home to Stonehenge.


Gov. Rick Scott has some decisions to make this week.

Should he he codify a prohibition against shark finning established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and OK a proposal making it easier for cottage food operations to sell and accept payment for goods over the internet? And will this be the week he finally pulls out his veto pen?

The Governor has until Tuesday to act on nine bills, including a bill (HB 185) to provide foster families free annual passes to Florida State Parks; and legislation (HB 711) that reduces state vessel registration fees for vessels equipped with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon. Scott needs to act on eight more bills — including a bill (SB 18) to compensate Victor Barahona $3.75 million in an abuse case that took the life of his twin sister, Nubia — by Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Scott is applauded as he speaks in the House of Representatives for the joint session on opening day of the 2017 Florida Legislative Session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.

Scott also needs to act on a bill (SB 106) that would remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods by Wednesday. The oft-referred to “whiskey and Wheaties” bill passed by slim margins in the House and Senate, and opponents to the measure have spent weeks urging the Naples Republican to veto the bill.

With so many people lining up against the bill, it remains to be seen whether Scott will act on the bill. Opponents, including independent liquor stores, are calling the proposal a job killer, something that could sway Scott, the “jobs” governor, to pull out his veto pen.

So, what will it be: With he sign it into law, veto it or just let it become law without his signature?

Tick tock, Gov. Scott.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will attend a groundbreaking at 10 a.m. for KPMG Learning, Development and Innovation Facility on Lake Nona Boulevard in Orlando. He’ll then highlight job growth at 2 p.m. at  Sunoptic Technologies, 6018 Bowdendale Avenue in Jacksonville.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


“Is the Florida Legislature broken?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald: It was 9 p.m. on the night after the Legislative session was supposed to have ended and Sen. Tom Lee got a phone call. ‘What have you done?’ asked a former chairman of the board of governors for the University of South Florida.

The Republican from Thonotosassa and former Senate president who had helped broker negotiations with the House over a K-12 education reform was perplexed by what he heard. He had no idea that Senate President Joe Negron had consented the day before to making it harder for USF, Lee’s hometown school, to become the state’s third ‘preeminent’ university by imposing strict new graduation standards. The changes were part of a budget deal Negron had reached with House Speaker Richard Corcoran the day before, and, while it was pivotal to resolving the impasse that had sent the session into overtime, it could cost USF millions of new dollars each year. …

So began the fallout over what has become another controversial ending to a legislative session in which the House speaker and Senate president exploited a loophole in the rules and dictated the terms of 15 take-it or leave-it policy bills that would be subject to no amendments. As legislative leaders lurched from representative democracy to autocratic control, the strategy raises questions about whether the system on which the Florida Legislature is built is flawed or broken.

>>> To answer Mary Ellen’s question, no, the Legislature is not broken. Her story is only the latest example of her letting her bias seep into her reporting. She doesn’t like conservative Republican policies and she frames her reporting from that perspective.

Most of public wants veto of HB 7069, Gov. Scott’s office indicates” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – By a margin of at least 3-to-1 so far, Floridians are telling Gov. Scott they want him to veto a controversial $419 million K-12 public schools bill House Republicans pushed through at the end of session, according to information requested from Scott’s office … In the 10 days since lawmakers approved HB 7069, the state’s Republican governor has been inundated with roughly 10,000 emails, phone calls, letters and petition signatures urging him to either sign or reject the bill. Both sides have been vocal, but the cries from the opposition — advocates of traditional public school — have been greater in number so far, based on tallies provided by Scott’s office.

Rick Scott on schools bill: ‘If people want to get involved, get involved’” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Scott said he had not yet heard that two charter schools in Hialeah were offering parents an incentive in exchange for letters supporting a massive K-12 public schools bill. “I was not informed somebody was doing it that way, but if people want to get involved, get involved,” said Scott, who added that he encourages constituents to engage with elected officials. Asked more broadly for his take on HB 7069, Scott said he wants “to make sure every child has the opportunity to get the education they deserve, whether you go to a traditional public school or a charter school.” Scott has not yet given any inkling as to his plans for vetoing parts or all of the budget.

Neither HB 7069 nor the main budget act have yet reached Scott’s desk. Once they do, he’ll have 15 days to either sign them, veto them or let them become law without his signature.

All aboard the gambling gravy train” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – It wasn’t their intention, but Florida Supreme Court justices’ Gretna decision sure started the engine on the Legislature’s 2018 gravy train. When the high court affirmed that the Legislature, not the voters, have the authority to decide whether pari-mutuels can add lucrative games … All of a sudden, it’s Happy Hour for President Negron, House Speaker Corcoran, Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala, House Government Accountability Chair Matt Caldwell, not to mention the next President and Speaker waiting on deck — in fact, any legislative leader chasing cash for a higher-office run in 2018. Gaming interests are the gravy train. Period. Gambling bills die so legislators and lobbyists can resurrect them, inviting the roar of special-interest campaign donations for their political committees in an election year. At the end of the session, when lawmakers fail to enact anything, the gravy train turns from a train into a cruise to nowhere.

Big-box chains, others make one last push for ‘whiskey & Wheaties’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Costco now is joining Wal-Mart, Target and others in one last push to get Gov. Scott to sign a bill to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Their Floridians For Fair Business Practices coalition released a tranche of letters sent to Scott encouraging him to OK the legislation (SB 106) … They also include representatives of Whole Foods Market, the Distilled Spirits Council and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. It could be an uphill fight—as of Wednesday, the Governor’s Office reported 2,649 emails opposed to the bill and 315 supporting, as well as 3,245 people who signed a petition against the bill. The office also took 177 calls against and 123 for, and 569 printed letters opposed and seven letters in favor—all from pro-bill coalition members, spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.

Susie Plakon honored for role in passing HB 883 for memory disorder clinic” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Plakon, wife of state Rep. Scott Plakon, was honored Thursday for inspiring HB 883 for the creation of a memory disorder clinic at Florida Hospital – a victory for a woman who is herself battling Alzheimer’s disease. The Florida based hospital unveiled a plaque declaring, “Florida Hospital proudly honors Susie Plakon for her courage and inspiration to help pass HB 883. The Maturing Minds Clinic was created to address the growing need for care of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” … “That was a really nice moment this morning,” said Scott Plakon.


A majority of GOP freshmen met this weekend at a Central Florida law firm to discuss the 2022 Speaker’s race.

Held at Vose Law Firm in Winter Park, the meeting gave members in attendance a chance to hear from four likely candidates — Reps. Byron DonaldsRandy FineJamie Grant, and Paul Renner — ahead of a June 30 vote to decide the class leader. The meeting, according to a House member present, was called by Rep. Bob Rommel, a Naples Republican, who wanted to have a candidate forum ahead.

— Each candidate was given 15 minutes to speak, before the floor was opened up to questions from members.

— Matt Dixon reported that Reps. Frank WhiteJayer WilliamsonAlex MillerJackie ToledoErin Grall and Don Hanhfeldt were not in attendance.

— The class agreed to vote by secret ballot, and a proposal to knock out the lowest vote-getters if more than two candidates are running, essentially survivor-style balloting, appears to still be under consideration, according to a House member in attendance.

— Some members indicated Grant and White, who was believed to be considering a run for Speaker, could be in trouble because of what has become known in the caucus as “text-gate.”

— Speaker Corcoran told Dixon he did not believe the meeting violated the Republican caucus rules. “While I was not in Orlando, my expectation is that the members of the freshman class conducted themselves In a manner consistent with the letter and spirit of our Republican Conferee rules.”

Bottom line: Grant and White need lock themselves in a room until they determine which of them has the best chance to be Speaker.


“Patrick Murphy raises cash, but undecided about political future” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Former U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy has continued to raise campaign cash amid speculation about his political future, but he says he’s made no concrete decisions. “I want to stay involved to do what I can to stay involved and help like-minded Democrats,” Murphy told POLITICO Florida Thursday. “I miss public service, but I don’t miss the House much, especially with Trump and all.” … Despite uncertainty about his political future, Murphy has again started raising money for PEM PAC, a political action committee that uses his initials as its title. The committee has not raised any money since the 2016 election cycle ended, but is again sending fundraising emails.

Adam Putnam, Jack Latvala make public appearances in Pensacola” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal – Putnam met with small-business owners … at Dog House Deli in downtown Pensacola. Meanwhile,  Latvala told the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club during a lunch at Skopelos at New World Landing that he was considering stepping into the governor’s race and would make a decision by August. “I’m leaning in the direction of running,” Latvala told the News Journal after the lunch. “But I have some other people I want to talk to before I decide and go out on the road and meet with people.” Both Latvala and Putnam said they were unhappy with the cuts to education spending that passed the Legislature during the 2017 session. “I feel 95 percent positive the governor will veto that bill,” Latvala said. “I’ve asked him to veto that bill. Then we start over with the House on the defensive because it’ll be their priority that got beat.”

Shot – Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times reported over the weekend that a political committee the Clearwater Republican runs was to meet on Treasure Island with a group of top political consultants.

Chaser – A source going to the dinner described the dinner as “no big deal” and just a dinner with Latvala and five of his consultants and employees.

The real story – Senator Latvala’s mother passed away peacefully Saturday night and the dinner, whatever its purpose, was canceled.

Adam Putnam hosted a roundtable discussion with small businesses in Pensacola. Later, he greeted supporters in Destin and headlined the Jackson County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner.

Philip Levine opens door to running as independent for governor” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Maybe Levine was just trying to be provocative, earn a little extra attention as he mulls a run for governor. Maybe he was just spitballing an unlikely idea before the Tampa Tiger Bay luncheon … But the Miami Beach Mayor and close friend of Bill Clinton said he is keeping the door wide-open to running for governor as an independent candidate. “There’s one assumption that you made there – that somehow if I ran for governor I would be a Democratic governor,” Levine, a Democrat, responded when asked how he would work with a GOP-dominated Legislature. “Too much is about Democrat and Republican. It needs to be about the people. … Maybe possibly it’s time we do something different.”

— Levine has been one of the biggest Democratic fundraisers and donors in the state, but he describes himself as a “radical centrist” and noted that successful mayors usually don’t govern based on partisanship but on getting things done.

— Key Levine quote: “I’m a Democrat right now, and I hope that I stay in the Democratic Party. I love the Democratic Party. But you know what’s interesting? I actually like the Republican Party, and I like a lot of Republican ideas, and I like a lot of the people in the Republican Party as well. I think that’s where we need to go as a country – and start in a state like Florida and make that decision that we’re going to change and do it the right way.”

Simone Marstiller considers run for Attorney General” via John Lucas of the Capitolist – Calling it her “dream job,” the former 1st District Court of Appeal Judge says she is “weighing her options” for a possible candidacy for Florida Attorney General. “I am a public servant at heart and am exploring ways to continue serving the State of Florida,” Marstiller said. “But I’m not at a decision point yet.” The Tallahassee Republican began her legal career working for the state in 1996 in various legal capacities after graduating from Stetson University College of Law. In 2001, she was named assistant general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush. After leaving to work as general counsel and later interim secretary for the Department of Management Services, Marstiller returned to the Governor’s Office to serve as deputy chief of staff for Bush and later as the state’s chief information officer. Marstiller is no stranger to the Office of Attorney General. Former Attorney General Bill McCollum appointed her associate deputy attorney general in 2007. Three years later, while serving as the executive director of the Florida Elections Commission, Gov. Charlie Crist tabbed Marstiller to serve on the 1st District Court of Appeal. She served on the appeals court for six years.

“Daisy Baez leaves Democratic race for Florida Senate” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — State Rep. Daisy Baez’s short-lived candidacy for the Florida Senate came to end Friday, doomed politically by a crowded Democratic primary and the likelihood that she’d be attacked as a carpetbagger. Baez dropped out of the race for Senate District 40 just 19 days after it began, citing her ailing mother’s deteriorating health. “My life today is a direct reflection of my mother’s decision to immigrate to this country and work multiple jobs to ensure that I could live the American Dream,” Baez, who is Dominican-American, said in a statement. “Just after announcing my intention to run for the Florida Senate, my mother’s health deteriorated and it became clear to me that spending time with her now is of the utmost importance. As her daughter, caring for her is my number one priority. Therefore, I will not pursue a campaign for the Florida Senate.”

Robert Asencio won’t run in SD 40 either — Asencio announced  he would not be throwing his hat in the race to replace Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. While Asencio called the special election a “tremendous opportunity,” he said he needed to be “cognizant of the fact (he has) only recently been elected to state office.” He went on to say there are many critical issues in the Florida House he wants to tackle. “Despite having passed several bills in the House as a freshman and the overwhelming support to run for Senate, I am dedicated to this office and to fighting for the people of House District 118,” he said in a statement. “This is my community, my home, and I am proud to continue to serve as their Representative in the Florida House.”

“Scott Boyd declines HD 44 race, backs John Newstreet” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – The special election race for Florida’s House District 44 became clearer Friday morning when former Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd said he has decided to not run and will back Republican John Newstreet instead. “Solid guy, absolutely the best qualified individual for this position,” Boyd declared of Newstreet in a message to Newstreet, the chief executive officer of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, entered the race Thursday, challenging former Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski for the Republican nomination.

Bobby Olszewski fundraisers set for Orlando, Miami in HD 44 racevia Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

“Citing ‘assault on home rule,’ Kathleen Peters won’t seek fourth term” via SaintPetersBlog — Citing Tallahassee’s battle against home rule, Treasure Island Republican Kathleen Peters has decided against a fourth term in the Florida House, opting instead to seek the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission. “After the legislature launched an all-out assault on local government and home rule this year,” Peters said in a statement. “I found myself reflecting on my community priorities and where I feel I can have the greatest impact. … After long consideration, I have decided to change course and run for County Commission, District 6.” A former mayor, Peters was initially elected to House District 69 in 2012, representing Gulfport, South Pasadena, and several South Pinellas County beaches. She had campaigned on reforms to the Florida mental health system and repairs and improvements to Pinellas County’s failing sewer system.

More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018 — LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates filed to run for House and Senate in 2018. Republican Brigitte Smith, a longtime nurse and Army veteran, has challenged Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone in House District 22. Smith unsuccessfully ran for Marion County Commission in 2016. Stone was first elected in 2012. Democrat James Schulman has filed to replace Rep. Michael Bileca in House District 115. Schulman is the co-founder and managing partner of The Found Gen, a Coral Gables-based marketing firm. He joins Republicans Vance AloupisCarlos Gobel, and Carmen Sotomayor in the race to replace Bileca, who can’t run again because of term limits. Republican Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck, a lawyer at Miami-based Palomares-Starbuck & Associates, has filed to run in the special election to replace Artiles in Senate District 40.


Marco Rubio has little to say about Donald Trump, but a lot about the media” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Florida senator, who turns 46 next weekend, was considered a possible nominee for President of the United States less than 15 months ago, but he’s now just a sideshow in the circus that is the Trump presidency, and he’s getting frustrated about it. Speaking at the Pinellas County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Rubio touted his bill to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs … gaining some momentum in the Senate. He said it simply wasn’t sexy enough, without mentioning why the national press is so focused on what Trump has been saying and tweeting, and what his staff is telling the press every day. “It’s not being posted because nobody clicks on those stories, because the stories that get all the clicks are the stories about something controversial and explosive,” he said, adding that, “I’m not here to beat up the press but just because somebody told you something doesn’t mean that’s what happened.”

Spotted: Florida GOP Chairman and state Rep. Blaise Ignoglia in the Oval Office for a meeting of Republican swing state party chairs with President Donald Trump

Andrew Gillum takes swipe at top FDP staffer as campaign eyes anti-establishment lane” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Gillum issued a blistering statement hammering Florida Democratic Party President Sally Boynton Brown for her remarks this week about the Democratic party base in Florida. Brown said that “this is not going to be popular, but this is my belief of the time and place we’re in now: I believe that we’re in a place where it’s very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters that are not voting.” Responding, Gillum said that “for too long, we’ve been guided not by principle but by the so-called politically practical — a belief that we need to avoid issues, sprint to the center, and be a blank slate that shirts with the wind. … That’s why we keep losing.” When asked about Gillum’s statement, Boynton Brown, who was hired in April from the Idaho Democratic Party, issued her own statement apologizing. She said she did “not articulate” her thoughts correctly. “I apologize for my comments and I in no way meant to demean voters in Florida,” she said. “Issues are the backbone of our democracy and the Democratic Party.”

Cue the Democratic circular firing squad:

— “Analysis of the Sally Boynton Brown Controversy” via Sean Phillippi of the Florida Squeeze

— “The Democrats Elitism and Obsession With Identity Could Kill the Party’s Chances For Revival” via Kartik Krishnayer of the Florida Squeeze

— “Sally Boynton Brown, Rich AND Poor Democrats care about issues” via Leslie Wimes for Sunshine State News

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

Gainesville considers renaming Corrine Brown transit center” via The Associated Press – Gainesville city leaders are considering removing the name of former U.S. Rep. Brown from a transit facility in the town following her conviction on federal fraud charges … the Gainesville City Commission considered whether to remove Brown’s name from a Regional Transit System facility, but decided to consider the move at a later meeting. Brown helped secure federal funding for Regional Transit Center in Gainesville, and the facility was named in her honor.

Did panel members’ Facebook chat about reservoir break Florida Sunshine law?” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – Facebook conversations about a proposed Lake Okeechobee reservoir appears to violate Florida’s sunshine laws because it involved three members of a South Florida Water Management District advisory board …  Nyla Pipes of Port St. Lucie, Newton Earl Cook of Tequesta and Mikhael Elfenbein of Englewood — all members of the Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) — talked to each other about the reservoir in posts, comments and replies on Pipes’ Facebook page in April and May. Only a court can decide whether they broke the law, “but this definitely appears to be a violation,” said Barbara Petersen, head of the First Amendment Foundation … “If they’re talking back and forth about an issue, that’s a meeting; and by law, it has to be announced beforehand and be open to the public.” They can express their opinions on social media, she said, but “they just can’t talk with each other on Facebook about commission business.” State law forbids two or more members of an elected or appointed board from discussing matters that may come before them for action outside of a public meeting that has been announced in advance. The law includes advisory panels like the advisory commission; and according to a 2009 Florida Attorney General’s opinion, it includes Facebook conversations.

Officials worry about drug overdoses at hurricane shelters” via The Associated Press – Local officials are raising concerns about drug use at hurricane shelters, saying they aren’t equipped to care for addicts, unaccompanied minors and others with other medical needs. Nearly 16,000 people in nine counties from Indian River to Miami-Dade evacuated to shelters during Hurricane Matthew. Six evacuees seeking refuge at a Delray Beach high school during Hurricane Matthew overdosed on drugs as the dangerous storm approached South Florida. Bags brought to shelters by evacuees are typically not searched. In another county, a bus full of teenagers from a residential addiction-treatment center was left at an American Red Cross-run shelter without adult oversight. “Many of the people from sober homes came with supervision, but some came and were just dropped off,” Delray Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Kevin Saxton, [said]. “There were witnesses seeing people shoot up.”

“Tobacco decision cheers one former judge” via Takeaways from TallahasseeA U.S. appeals court ruling that federal law doesn’t bar smokers from using a landmark Florida Supreme Court decision from proving damages gave a smile to one former Florida judge … The appellate decision included a 226-page dissent from Judge Gerald Tjoflat … That had former 1st District Court of Appeal judge Simone Marstiller (mentioned above as a possible AG candidate), now in private practice, tweeting, “#DissentsIWontBeReading.” … In 2010, Marstiller wrote the opinion in a case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) that was “the first so-called ‘Engle progeny’ case to reach a district court of appeal following the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Engle v. Liggett Group.” Marstiller’s holding: “We find the trial court correctly applied Engle and Mrs. Martin produced sufficient independent evidence to prove RJR’s liability for her husband’s death.”


First on #FlaPol – “Tom Delacenserie to resign as Florida Lottery Secretary” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Delacenserie is resigning effective the beginning of June… The move was confirmed by the Governor’s Office, which provided a copy of his resignation letter. The letter did not mention his plans but Delacenserie wrote that he “enjoyed all of my 17 years with the Florida Lottery but none more than the time spent under your leadership.” Delacenserie has overseen the growth and escalating sales of Lottery products, leading to the “strongest start ever to the final quarter of the fiscal year, with record sales for the month of April totaling more than $528 million,” a recent press release said. The Lottery’s profits go into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which among other things pays for Florida Bright Futures Scholarships.

“Jon Wheeler to retire as 1st DCA clerk” via Florida PoliticsWheeler, clerk of the Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeal, will retire this October, the court announced Friday. The 73-year-old began as the court’s clerk in December 1990, the third person to hold the position. The court was one of the original three state appellate courts created by the Legislature in 1957; until then, the state Supreme Court handled all appeals. The job is daunting: The 1st DCA is “one of the largest appellate courts in the country both in terms of number of judges (15) and number of cases filed annually (6,011 in 2014-15),” and its “geographical jurisdiction (32 counties in north Florida) is the largest in the state,” its website says. “I’ll be trying to spend some time with my wife (of 51 years, MaryLynn,) after spending all my time in my profession,” said Wheeler, a licensed attorney, in a phone interview. “I need to give back to her.”

Appointed – Nicole Attong and Patricia A. Lipovsky to the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Ralph Arza, Mountain Moving Strategies: Lincoln Marti Community Agency

Leonard Collins, Broad and Cassel: U.S. Submergent Technologies

Personnel note: Laura Lenhart joins Frontier Communications — Lenhart will serve as head of government and regulatory affairs operations for Florida, the company announced last week. “We are delighted to welcome Laura as a strong addition to the Frontier team,” said Allison Ellis, Frontier’s senior vice president for regulatory affairs, in a statement. “As we continue to execute our growth strategy in Florida, Laura’s regulatory and government affairs expertise will be a valuable asset in ensuring that state and local policies continue to encourage investment in and expansion of critical telecommunications products and services.” Lenhart previously worked as a public affairs strategist at the Moffitt Cancer Center for nearly three years and as the governmental affairs coordinator for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. She has both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University. Lenhart will be based out of Tampa.

— ALOE — 

Congrats to Mackenzie and Taylor Biehl on their weekend nuptials. Michelle and I were sorry to have missed the wonderful occasion.

Mackenzie Hellstrom and Taylor Biehl.

Fans thankful to see ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ a final time” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – This weekend, the most famous American circus ends its 146-year reign as one of the world’s biggest big tops. Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, announced in January it would take its final bow this year. On Saturday afternoon, under cloudy skies, fans streamed into the Nassau Coliseum in suburban New York to pay their last respects to the iconic show. “I am sad that it’s going to be over,” said Melissa Angevine of Walton, New York. She and her husband drove four hours with their two kids Saturday to see the show “It’s a pastime that no longer anybody gets to enjoy anymore, unfortunately. Everybody’s in their tablets and not really going out and seeing different kinds of entertainment anymore.” Saturday evening’s circus was an extravaganza of big cats, motorcycle stunts, clowns performing death-defying stunts, ice skaters, buckets of popcorn and Mongolian contortionists — and that was just the first half of the show. “I’m becoming an adult today,” said 46-year-old Heather Greenberg, of New York City. “I can’t go to the circus with my daddy anymore.”

This weekend, the Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Circus ended its 146-year history as an iconic live circus extravaganza. Fans attended one of the Ringling Bros. final performances Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

SeaWorld Orlando to develop new Sesame Place land by 2022” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising –Orlando provides a prime opportunity for the family-friendly addition, which will be a renovation of Shamu’s Happy Harbor play area. SeaWorld admission and revenues have been on the decline since the release of the documentary “Blackfish,” which criticized the park’s care of its animals. The new land is an attempt to boost those numbers. “We share Sesame’s goal of educating and entertaining generations of children, and the extension of our partnership furthers SeaWorld’s mission to provide guests with experiences that matter,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld … “We are thrilled to be able to grow the presence of Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S. and help our company diversify its brand portfolio and expand into new areas.” The new license agreement extends SeaWorld’s 37-year partnership as Sesame Workshop‘s exclusive theme park partner in the United States through 2031, with a second Sesame Place theme park scheduled to open no later than mid 2021 in the U.S.

Happy birthday belatedly to U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Speaker Tom Feeney, William Arnold, James Blair, Matt Brockelman, Matt Mitchell, Tampa Councilman Mike Suarez, and Steve Uhlfelder. Celebrating today is Rep. Dane Eagle and the amazing Eileen Stuart.

Sunburn for 5.19.17 – No slots for you! No money for you, elex supervisors! HD 44 spec. election heating up; Scott Plakon did what?

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from Cove Cafe on Deck 9 of the Disney Magic. The WiFi is strong here and so is the coffee, which is much needed after a late Pirate Night. Current location is 36.40.65 N, 31.30.78 W. Course is 80 degrees. The nearest land is Horta. The ship is 286 nautical miles from Ponta Delgado. It’s our sixth straight day at sea — the last before our first excursion.


Senate leadership’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Gretna racetrack slot machine case yesterday brings to mind a scene from the 1997 flick, “Cop Land.”

Poor Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) is practically begging NYPD internal affairs investigator Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) to reopen the IA case into corrupt cops who control his sleepy New Jersey town just across the Hudson River.

De Niro’s character ain’t having it: “Listen … I offered you a chance when we could have done something, I offered you a chance to be a cop, and you blew it! You blew it.”

Lawmakers blew it this year when they missed an opportunity to finally wrap their arms around gambling in the state and pass a major overhaul.

But in the Bizarro World that is the Capitol, Senate President Joe Negron and Sen. Bill Galvano, the presumptive president for 2018-20, don’t see it that way.

Senate President Joe Negron confers with Sen. Bill Galvano during a budget conference in the Knott Building Friday, May 5, 2017 at the Capitol. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

Indeed, Thursday’s decision denying slots to Gadsden and other counties that passed local slots referendums “upheld the authority of the Legislature to determine the future of gaming in Florida,” their statement said.

Yes, the same Legislature that suffers from a history of fail when it comes to gambling. Every year, lawmakers tee up some gambling law overhaul, and every year it dies.

Including this year, when the Senate wouldn’t back down on its insistence that slots should be expanded to pari-mutuels in counties that approved them in referendum votes. The House, under the leadership of Speaker Richard Corcoran, opposed such a move.

The statement also took pains to pay homage to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has a gambling deal that could have allowed them to reduce or eliminate payments to the state if their exclusive right to offers slots outside South Florida was broken.

“The Legislature now has every opportunity to shape gaming policy for our state in a manner that respects both the authority of local referendums and the ongoing relationship with the Seminole Tribe, without the underlying concern that a court ruling could suddenly upend productive negotiations,” Negron said.

Added Galvano, also president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States: “This confirmation of legislative authority removes a significant obstacle in our negotiations with the Seminole Tribe, providing clarity that as we move forward the Legislature, rather than the Courts, will determine what expansion looks like and where it takes place.”

That is, unless a proposed constitutional amendment gets on the ballot that would give voters exclusive control of gambling expansion in the future. But that’s another story.

For now, guys, you had the chance. You blew it.

“Florida Supreme Court rules against Gretna track, slots expansion” via Jim Rosica of Florida PoliticsA unanimous Florida Supreme Court ruled against a North Florida racetrack seeking to add slot machines. The 20-page decision, released Thursday, means that gambling facilities in Gadsden County’s Gretna and in seven other counties that passed local referendums allowing slots also will not be able to offer them. In doing so, the court upheld a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that agreed with state gambling regulators who denied the track a slots permit. In sum, the ruling comes as a loss for the state’s pari-mutuels and a win for gambling expansion opponents. If it had gone the other way, the decision might have led to the single biggest gambling expansion in the state.

Gretna considering its next move via Creek Entertainment spox Sarah Bascom: “We are disappointed the Florida Supreme Court did not agree with our interpretation of the law and because of this ruling, we are now unable to create new jobs. We are considering our options on how to proceed.”

No Casinos gets to crow via John Sowinski: “We scored a partial victory with this ruling today and intend to score a complete victory with the Voters in Charge initiative in 2018. The people of Florida should have the final say on whether or not to legalize casino-style gambling. Our state’s history shows that without this bright line, the result will be more of what we have been seeing in recent legislative sessions – gambling interests will continue spending unprecedented sums on lobbyists, lawyers and campaign contributions in an attempt to turn Florida into the next Atlantic City.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will announce April job numbers and highlight job growth at 1 p.m. at LATAM Airlines, 6500 NW 22nd St. in Miami. Scott is then scheduled to present Cuban dissidents Sirley Avila Leon and Pedro Corzo with the “Governor’s Freedom Award” at 5:30 p.m. at The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, 1200 Coral Way in Miami.

Bill watch – Thirty-seven bills were sent Thursday to Gov. Scott, including HB 141 on craft distilleries, HB 299 on the Central Florida Expressway Authority, and HB 6515, a claim bill related to FSU football player Devaughn Darling, who died in 2001 during preseason training. The Governor now has till June 2 to sign or veto them, or let the bills become law without his signature. Counting Thursday’s measures, Scott now has 55 bills on his desk.

House Speaker hopes Governor won’t veto controversial education bill” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Corcoran visited the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation and said he was hopeful the bill will survive Scott’s veto pen. “I haven’t spoken to him, but I don’t know, there’s still a lot of time,” said Corcoran after a meeting at Florida International University. “Hopefully it’ll go well.” The massive K-12 public schools bill, which drew sharp criticism from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents … is part of the 2017-18 budget. It includes a $234 million bonus package for most teachers and some top principals and a $140 million “Schools of Hope” program to help struggling traditional public schools and bring in private charter schools to give parents in these areas an alternative. “I know a lot of these superintendents, they’re good guys, but I wish they would focus more on not building $20 and $40 million Taj Mahal buildings,” Corcoran said. “What’s more important than beautiful buildings is beautiful minds, and this bill is about building beautiful minds. And to the extent that they can cut those buildings down in size and take that money and pour it into the classroom, which is what this bill does, I would love to have their support.”

Richard Corcoran: Miami lawmaker ‘crashed against gates of hell’ by supporting schools bill” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Miami Democratic Rep. Roy Hardemon had an unlikely and influential ally showering him with praise in his legislative district: Speaker Corcoran. “He [Hardemon] doesn’t care who’s got power. He doesn’t care what the status quo is. He doesn’t care whether he gets elected,” Corcoran said in brief remarks onstage for the groundbreaking of the Liberty Square redevelopment project, with Hardemon at his side. Hardemon was the only Democrat in either the House or Senate to vote in favor of HB 7069. “He doesn’t fear. What he cares about is his community,” Corcoran said, before touting a key provision of HB 7069 that’s meant to help neighborhoods like Liberty City.

Talk about a nothing burger story – “Corcoran’s brother is lobbyist for marijuana grower opposing dispensary caps” via Michael Auslen and David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times – Surterra, one of Florida’s largest medical marijuana growers, is banking on opening 55 dispensaries in the next five years as part of a plan to bring in more than $138 million in sales by 2021 … To push its agenda in Tallahassee, Surterra hired three lobbying firms this year. One of their lead lobbyists is Michael Corcoran, brother to House Speaker Corcoran …

— Corcoran says he was never once lobbied by his brother on the marijuana bill.

— Asked if he ever had a conversation with his brother about the caps, Corcoran was blunt: “No. Nope.”

Money quote from the Speaker: “Why don’t you write about how Richard killed the gaming bill and his brother has a gaming client? Why don’t you write about how Richard took it to the hospitals and his brother has a hospital client? … I don’t care who lobbies me. I’m going to always do the right thing and damn the consequences.”

Election experts begged lawmakers for new tool to fight voter fraud, but got nothing” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Ignoring pleas from county election experts across the state, lawmakers ended the 2017 session last week without passing a law that would improve the reliability of voter rolls by making it easier to find voters who are registered to vote in Florida and another state or who are registered in Florida and died in another state. “It’s a shame, with all of the concern about the accuracy of the voter rolls,” said Chris Chambless, supervisor of elections in Clay County and president of a statewide supervisors’ association. Their priority was a three-page bill to let Florida become the 21st state to join a national compact known as the Electronic Registration Information Center or ERIC. The bill breezed through the House without opposition, then stalled and died in the Senate.

Carlos Guillermo Smith, Amy Mercado say special session needed to end cannabis legal limbo” via Scott Powers via Orlando Rising – “We are here because 71 percent of Florida voters approved the constitutional right to medical canabis. But we also are here because unfortunately once again Tallahassee politicians have thwarted the will of the people and they have refused to implement Amendment 2, medical cannabis,” said Smith, of Orlando. “They should be ashamed … While the out-of-touch, old-fashioned, conservative majority in Tallahassee continues its hand-wringing over whether or not cannabis is actual medicine… or whether they can actually get over themselves and listen to the voters, qualified patients are dying, qualified patients are waiting,” he continued. “And there is no question that the governor, the Senate president of the senate and the speaker of the House need to be leaders and officially call for a special session and demand that the Legislature implement the will of the voters immediately.”

“Florida League of Cities slams telecom bill” via Florida PoliticsThe Florida League of Cities on Thursday asked Gov. Scott to veto a measure it says will “deprive cities of their authority to regulate the use of public rights of way.” The bill (HB 687), sponsored by St. Cloud Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa, pre-empts to the state the regulation of telecommunications companies putting “small wireless facilities in rights of way.” Such equipment, including antennas and related equipment, can be as big as a kitchen refrigerator. “The bill may leave local governments minimal ability to control the aesthetics of their public rights of way, but it effectively hands significant control to the wireless industry,” League Executive Director Mike Sittig said in a press release.

Sean Shaw bill for 2018 would stop raiding of Sadowski Housing Trust Fund” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Shaw says he will file legislation … to block what has become an annual ritual of the Legislature, even if the likelihood of the bill’s passage is dubious. “I’m willing to dedicate one of my six slots to that, just to have the discussion,” he says, referring to the rule that House members can only file six bills in a legislative session. The Sadowski funds come from a locally collected doc stamp on real estate sales transactions that is sent to the state. Seventy percent of that is sent back via the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) to all 67 counties, based on population, to primarily aid low-to-moderate-income residents with buying a home. The other 30 percent goes to the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL), which the state uses as an incentive for developers to build affordable apartments. Last year, lawmakers took $200 million out of the trust, cutting Scott’s original proposal of almost $240 million. The year before, the Legislature allocated $175 million of the $255 million that should have been spent on affordable housing. “The Sadowski Fund isn’t the only one that gets swept,” Shaw said. “It’s the one that means the most to me, but there are tons of funds that get swept into general revenue that are taken for specific amounts of money.”

Polk County commissioners snub local legislators” via John Chambliss of the Lakeland Ledger – Who needs Tallahassee? In a slight directed at local legislators, Polk County commissioners voted 5-0 … to not have the annual Polk County Day in the Capitol. The proposal was made by County Commissioner Todd Dantzler, who added in the motion that county commissioners will not ask for a joint legislative-delegation meeting before the session begins. The vote comes after a session in which legislators supported a broader homestead exemption. It will give voters the opportunity to increase the property-tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. But if it passes, cities and counties may be forced to cut services, raise taxes or a combination of both.


Here are the biggest financial backers of candidates running for Governor in 2018” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Adam Putnam’s Top 5: $605,000 – The Voice of Florida Business; $587,060 – Florida Power & Light; $550,000 – Florida Jobs PAC, a committee run by the Florida Chamber of Commerce; $525,000 – Associated Industries of Florida PAC; $465,000 – U.S. Sugar Corporation and South Central Florida Express Inc. Chris King’s Top 5: 1,062,000 – Chris King; $179,000 – Paul Morgan, a principal with King-founded Elevation Financial Group; 166,000 – David King, Attorney and Chris King’s father; $47,000 – Thomas Beck, accountant from Winter Park; $25,000 – Debbie Lawton of Winter Park. Gwen Graham’s Top 5: $250,000 – Graham for Congress campaign account; $50,000 – James Finch, former NASCAR racing team owner and construction company owner; $50,000 – Michael Singer, founder of the Temple of the Universe, a yoga and meditation center outside of Gainesville; $50,000 – Wayne Hogan, Jacksonville attorney and 2002 candidate for Congress; $25,000 – Five donors gave this amount. Andrew Gillum’s Top 5: $100,000 – George Soros, billionaire financier; $50,000 – Norman Lear, television producer and writer; $50,000 – Alex Soros, philanthropist; $50,000 – Tarra Pressey, Palm Beach Gardens; $45,000 – Attorney Sean Pittman, his law firm and investment company he runs.

Joe Abruzzo backs Andrew Gillum for Governor — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced Thursday scored the endorsement of former state senator and current Rep. Joseph Abruzzo in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. “Only a few times in a generation do we have the opportunity to elect a leader like Andrew Gillum. He brings the integrity, experience, and energy to ignite the Democratic base,” said Abruzzo, who serves as the House Democratic Whip, in a statement. As Democratic House Whip, I can attest that Andrew has worked with the Democratic Caucus and will be ready to lead as Governor from Day One. He is the Democrat in this race who can rebuild our economy so that it works better for everyone in Palm Beach County and the Sunshine State.”

Third Gainesville City Commissioner endorses Gillum — City Commissioner David Arreola has endorsed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Arreola joins Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe and Commissioners Adrian Hayes-Santos and Harvey Ward in backing Gillum. “I’m proud to add my voice to the growing chorus of local leaders in Gainesville and Florida who endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor,” said Arreola in a statement. “Mayor Gillum, a native of Gainesville, has shown us that fresh approaches to governing are just what Florida needs to move forward.”

Op-ed you won’t read in Sunburn –John Lewis endorses Gwen Graham, and that means what?” via Leslie Wimes for the Sunshine State News. Is Wimes’ job simply to dog the moderate, electable Democrat in any race where Republicans feel threatened?

— “Adam Putnam pitches ‘Florida exceptionalism’ in Jax Beach” via Florida Politics

On the road, Adam Putnam and his son, Hughes, stopped at Dreamette in Jacksonville for shakes and freezes.

Assignment editors: Putnam will continue his 10-day, 22-city bus tour with a small business roundtable at 9:50 a.m. (CST) at Dog House Deli, 30 South Palafox Place in Pensacola. He’ll then attend a meet-and-greet with supporters at noon (CST) at Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer, 210 Harbor Boulevard in Destin. He’ll wrap up his day at 6 p.m. (CST) at the Jackson County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Graceville Civic Center, 5224 Brown Street in Graceville. Putnam will wrap up his 10-day bus tour on Saturday at noon at the Suwannee Valley Grassroots BBQ at Gaylard Family Farm, 7182 240th Street in O’Brien. Media interested in attending the BBQ should email by 8:00 p.m., May 19.

Assignment editors: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will speak at noon at Tampa Bay Tiger Bay Club at the Chester H. Ferguson Law Center, 1610 N. Tampa Street in Tampa.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

Matt Caldwell was in Kevin Sweeny’s territory on Friday:

Ryan Yadav mulling Democratic run for AG” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — The Winter Park attorney said this week he is contemplating a Democratic run for Florida attorney general. “I have recently been contacted by people throughout the State encouraging me to run for Attorney General in 2018. I am seriously considering the venture and will make a decision over the summer,” Yadav declared in a message to “Based upon my qualifications, trial experience, and fire in the belly — If I run I will win!” Yadav ran unsuccessfully last year for the House District 30 seat. Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes won re-election, beating him, 53 to 47 percent.

Now we have a race – “Kissimmee chamber chief John Newstreet enters HD 44 contest” via Scott Powers of Orlando RisingNewstreet, chief executive officer of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce and a former aide to U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Marco Rubio, announced he’s entering the House District 44 race going to a special election this summer. “I believe I’m prepared and qualified to successfully champion the conservative values that will grow our economy, strengthen our schools, keep our taxes low, cut job-killing regulations and protect our Second Amendment rights.” Newstreet enters a race in which former Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski had established himself as the early front-runner, even before Republican state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle resigned early this month to take an appointment from Gov. Rick Scott as a judge on Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals.

Legislative hopefuls eye 2018 — LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates have filed to run for state House and Senate races in 2018. Democrat Ryan Rossi has filed to replace Rep. Bill Hager in House District 89. Rossi is a sales associate with William Raveis Real Estate Mortgage & Insurance, and studied political science and international relations at Florida Atlantic University. Hager, a Republican, can’t run again because of term limits. Democrat Stephanie Myers has joined the race to replace Rep. George Moraitis in House District 93. Myers is the director of the Broward County ACLU and a member of the Broward Progressive Caucus. She joins Jonathon May, who has already announced a run. Moraitis can’t run again because of term limits. In House District 109, Democrat Cedric McMinn has thrown his hat in the race to replace Rep. Cynthia Stafford. McMinn is a former Miami-Dade Democratic Party official and worked as an outreach director for former Gov. Charlie Crist. McMinn joins former state Rep. James Bush III in the Democratic primary. Stafford can’t run again because of term limits. LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ also reports Libertarian Spenser Garber has dropped his bid for House District 3. Garber was challenging Rep. Jayer Williamson, who will still face Democrat Preston Bartholomew Anderson in 2018.


Scott doesn’t let politics get in way of investing in firm that believes in climate change” via Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog – When Scott ran for Governor in 2010, he told a reporter he wasn’t convinced that global warming was real. In 2015, the Scott administration was reported to have told state employees to lay off using ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ in official communications. Today, the governor’s office dodges questions about Scott’s position on the use of those terms, saying instead, “Governor Scott is focused on real solutions to protect our environment.” Still, the ultra-wealthy Scott hasn’t let his politics get in the way of making money. Through first lady Ann Scott, the governor has a substantial financial stake in a sizable mosquito control company that recently declared on its Facebook page that “mosquitos will only get worse thanks to #climatechange and ‘#globalwarming.”

Florida’s hurricane fund remains strong heading into season” via The Associated Press – Estimates prepared by Raymond James show the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund will have $17.6 billion available this year. This marks the second year in a row that the fund has more money than it would need to pay out if storms racked the state. The financial health of the fund is important because the state can impose a surcharge on most insurance policies to replenish it if the money runs out. Some critics have called the surcharge a “hurricane tax.” The fund has grown because Florida has avoided major hurricanes since 2005.

Citrus budget would restore tax cut” via Kevin Bouffard of the Lakeland Ledger –The first draft of the 2017-18 Florida Department of Citrus budget proposes eliminating a 3-cent tax abatement, getting a chilly reception from members of the Florida Citrus Commission. Executive Director Shannon Shepp told the commission, the department’s governing body, the 3-cent tax increase per box of juice oranges and grapefruit represented the end of a “tax abatement” commissioners agreed to a year ago. The First draft gave the commission a chance to discuss the budget in public. A final budget, which may or may not include the elimination of the abatement — what some see as a 43 percent tax increase — will be proposed in October.

Mute Constitution Revision Commissioners hear from Tampa Bay” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – People asked for less gun control and more. Open primaries to empower nonpartisan voters. A change to the constitution’s privacy clause so that it no longer thwarts abortion restrictions, and no change to that clause. They asked for protections for black bears and protections for public schools against charter schools siphoning money away. They asked for more transparency from the CRC, which is still grappling with how much to embrace Florida’s Sunshine Laws, more solar power, and less opportunity for expanded gambling. The commissioners remained mostly mute throughout the evening, many of them quietly pecking away on their laptops and phones as the testimony continued. Chairman Carlos Beruff was particularly hostile to occasional applause from the audience at the start, so the crowd — seemingly dominated by progressive-leaning citizens — waved green cards when they heard something they liked and a red card for something they disliked.

Floridians make their voices heard at Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa.


School choice will lift up black community” via T. Willard Fair for USA TODAY – We know that far too many black children are sitting in classrooms where they are not learning. We know their schools have fewer resources. We know their teachers, on average, are less qualified. We know expectations for these children are set lower than the expectations for students in more affluent suburban schools. This reality is what led me, along with other civil rights leaders, to go in a different direction — to advocate for giving parents the power to pursue better options for their children. I saw the devastating impact that powerlessness had on the black community in the 1950s and 60s. And I see that same dynamic at play for black parents today. Once we were told where we could live and work, play and pray, eat and gather. I find it no more acceptable that today we are told where our children can go to school. Give them the power, and give them options from every sector of education — be it public or private.

What Michael Van Sickler is reading –Editorial: Terrible budget for public education deserves Scott veto” via the Palm Beach Post – Scott should use his power. Because there’s plenty concerning education in the $82.4 billion budget to dislike.  The last time a budget offered so small an increase in overall funding for public schools (just 1.2 percent), it was 2011-2012 and the state was pulling out of the recession. Palm Beach County schools, like others in the state, is to get just one-third of 1 percent more in per-student funding. For another year, look for Florida near the bottom in state rankings. The budget also clips $25 million from the state colleges, like Palm Beach State College. That’s hardly wise at a time when more adults are heading to school for long-delayed degrees or job retraining. There’s more bad news in the accompanying “Schools of Hope” bill (HB 7069), mashed together behind closed doors … with no input from educators or the public. The measure, a Corcoranfavorite that barely passed the Senate, allocates $140 million to entice out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies to set up shop near struggling traditional public schools, theoretically to give kids a better chance to succeed — theoretically, that is, because the record on charter school performance is mixed.


Scott Plakon shares Facebook post from neo-Nazi site, insists he had no idea what it was” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The headline may have been funny, even in a bipartisan way: “Breaking: FBI Uncovers Evidence that 62 Million Trump Voters are All Russian Agents.” But the source and the link embedded in a Facebook post Plakon shared Wednesday night was neo-Nazi and white supremacist. When alerted that he shared a link to a notorious neo-Nazi site, Plakon expressed shock, immediately took down the post, and declared that he had no idea. He said never followed the link on his own Facebook post, and he said he had never looked at the site before he was alerted … “Wow,” he said after glancing at the site, “First, I apologize to those that were offended by my careless post. Second I detest and condemn the disgusting ideas that are represented by that site.” The site, run by Andrew Anglin, is universally described in mainstream media as a neo-Nazi, white-supremacist site that specializes in sending out memes and trolls throughout social media. Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center declared the site to be “the top hate site in America.” “I had no idea,” Plakon insisted.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***


Scoop from the decks of the Disney Magic –Office of Insurance Regulation veteran Belinda Miller announces retirement” via Florida Politics — Belinda Miller, a stalwart of Florida’s insurance regulation efforts since 1985, will retire on July 2, but plans to keep her hand in the industry via consulting work. “I’m going to retire from the state,” Miller said during a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s just time. I’ve been there a long time, so I’m going to play a little bit.” She expects to do some work for Celtic Global Consulting, the firm former Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty set up after he left office last year. …  She was a candidate to replace McCarty, but the job when to David Altmaier. …  Not getting the top job had nothing to do with her departure, Miller said. “I’m happy that David is the commissioner,” she said. “He is very good. I worked with David for maybe nine years now. We have a good team. I hate to leave that group of people. They’re wonderful.”

Top Latino political group hires former FDP political director” via Maxwell Tani of Business Insider – Latino Victory Project, a top Democratic group backing Latino candidates and progressives, is staffing up as it prepares for the 2018 midterm elections … the group announced it hired Mayra Macias, the former political director at the Florida Democratic Party, to head up the organization’s political operation as it begins launching affiliates in states like Georgia, New York, Arizona, and Florida, which have large Latino populations disproportionate to Latino representation in government. “This past election cycle showed the country the power of the Latino vote and the potential to grow this electorate,” Macias said in a statement. Founded in 2014 by actress Eva Longoriaand Democratic National Committee treasurer Henry Muñoz III, the group recently refocused as a progressive organization after initially casting itself as more middle-of-the-road, occasionally backing Republican candidates. But following the 2016 election, the group decided that the leaders of the Republican Party were openly hostile to policies that would benefit Latinos.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Jon Costello, Gary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: 3M and Its Affiliates

Mercer Fearington, Clark Smith Southern Strategy Group: 3M and Its Affiliates

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting: TmaxSoft

Rebecca Roman, Adams St. Advocates: DataLogic Software

— ALOE —

A history of Ringling Bros. circus, soon to close forever” via The Associated Press – The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is drawing to a close this weekend after 146 years of performances and travel that at times have been marred by tragedy and celebrated in film, but also constant. The circus has its roots in a spectacle that began two decades before the U.S. Civil War, equal parts freak show, zoo and museum. Traveling performances began in 1871, and 10 years later it officially became the circus that generations grew up watching. It has evolved over the years, most recently with its decision to retire its elephant acts.

What Twitter’s privacy changes mean to you” via The Associated Press – Twitter was already tracking users. For example, if you visited a webpage that had an embedded tweet or a button to share something on Twitter, you could be tracked and targeted. With the changes, Twitter expands the pool of people it can track and lets the company collect more data about those people when they are visiting sites around the web. In addition, Twitter will no longer honor the “Do Not Track” option that let people say no to being tracked by the likes of ad and social networks. Many such networks no longer honor that option anyway. Polonetsky said Twitter had been “one of the rare prominent brands that respected Do Not Track.”

Happy birthday to Sens. Daphne Campbell, Greg Steube, and Kathleen Passidomo.

Sunburn for 5.18.17 – Pam Bondi raising $$$; No word yet on special Session; Richard Corcoran’s op-ed; The secret Disney land deal

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from the deck of the Disney Magic. The weather is now much more north Atlantic than tropical. Current location is 35.17.14 N, 39.16.13 W. Course is 80 degrees. The nearest land is Santa Cruz des Flores. The ship is 672 nautical miles from Ponta Delgado. It’s our fifth straight day at sea, but our mood is buoyed by the fact that today is Pirate Night.


Attorney General Pam Bondi had a good April, at least when it came to fundraising.

State records show Bondi raised $72,500 for her political committee, Justice for All, during the one-month fundraising period. The committee, which posts fundraising numbers on its website, has already raised $10,000 this month.

The numbers aren’t earth shattering. In fact, they barely rank among the Top 10 fundraising hauls the committee has reported to the state since 2013. But here’s why $72K in 30 days is notable: The April haul marks the first time in more than a year the committee has raised any money.

Dear Pam: What are you raising money for?

The committee, state records show, hasn’t raised any money since January 2016, when it reported raising $53,000. Prior to that, it reported sporadic fundraising throughout much of 2015 and late 2014.

Bondi, who won re-election with 55 percent of the vote in 2014, can’t run again in 2018 because of term limits. An early supporter of President Donald Trump, many speculated Bondi would leave her post early to join Trump administration. But none of the obvious jobs panned out, leaving many to wonder what comes next for Bondi.

While Bondi has said she won’t run for governor, the attorney general’s post has been a launching pad for gubernatorial bids in the past. And Bondi remains one of the most popular Republicans in the state.

According to a February survey conducted by Associated Industries of Florida, 54 percent of Republicans approved of the job she was doing as attorney general. She had the third highest approval rating at the time, behind only Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.

It’s unclear what sparked the sudden surge in fundraising, but Bondi did secure some big-name contributors in April. Top contributors included Florida Phosphate Council; the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, and Mosaic Global Sales. The committee ended the month with $222,587 cash on hand.

“Bondi wants to protect ‘military consumers’ ” via Florida PoliticsAttorney General Bondi on Wednesday announced a new consumer protection program “that will serve the unique needs of our military and veteran communities and directly assist with consumer protection-related issues.” The Military and Veterans Assistance Program (MVAP) is Bondi’s “most recent effort to spread awareness of and stop deceptive business practices affecting military service members, veterans and their families,” according to a press release. “Florida has more than 90,000 active duty and reserve military members and more than 1.5 million veterans,” she said in a statement. “To the men and women who have put on a uniform to protect our country, we will continue to do everything we can to protect you from these scammers.”

Stop f*cking with Pam, A**hole – “Bondi faces accused stalker in court” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times – When William Norman Wilkes first banged on her door at 3 one morning, Bondi said she thought he was a different stalker she has dealt with — a man from another state who thinks she can remove a chip from his brain. “When I called 911, I said, ‘My stalker is trying to get in the house,’” Bondi said, “because I thought he was someone else at the time.” But Bondi, flanked in court by statewide prosecutors Nick Cox and Rita Peters, said she didn’t know Wilkes. She said he showed up twice at her home and later sent her text messages expressing appreciation for her “physical attributes.” She has since learned that they attended the same high school. After Wednesday’s hearing, Bondi said Wilkes was taken to a mental health center in Tampa. He was cleared to leave days later, before he began sending text messages to Bondi through Facebook Messenger. “The system failed me and it failed him,” Bondi said.

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“Civil rights icon John Lewis endorses Gwen Graham” via Florida Politics — In a statement, the Georgia Democrat said Graham is the only Democrat for governor who has the passion and commitment, the track record and the leadership skills to stand up, speak out, protect our priorities, and get things done.” Graham marched with Lewis and President Barack Obama across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, joined him and other House Democrats in a sit-in to demand commonsense gun safety, and co-sponsored legislation to protect voting rights while in Congress. “Gwen is a champion for the progressive values so many of us share, and I am proud to give Gwen Graham my strongest endorsement for Governor of Florida,” said Lewis.

Assignment editors: Adam Putnam will continue his 10-day, 22-city bus tour with an “Up & Adam” breakfast at 8 a.m. at Tasty’s Fresh Burgers and Fries, 710 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach.

Adam Putnam supporters gathered for an “Up & Adam” breakfast at Wilke’s 14 Bones BBQ in Vero Beach.

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Matt Caldwell releases first campaign video — Caldwell, who formally launched his bid for Agriculture Commissioner on Monday, released a video explaining why he was running for the statewide office. “Running for office was about a choice,” he says in the 2 minute and 30 second campaign video. “I could sit idly by and shake my fist at the television screen or I could get out there and I could fight for what I knew right and just.” In the video, the North Fort Myers Republican urges supporters to help us get our message out to all 20 million Floridians in all 67 counties.” Click on the image below to watch the video.   

“Denise Grimsley introduces herself to Tampa Republicans” via Mitch Perry of SaintPetersBlog —The Sebring Republican used her stop in Tampa to introduce herself to local Republicans and explain why she’s the best candidate to succeed Putnam as Agriculture Commissioner. Like Putnam, she’s a fifth-generation Floridian, but unlike him, she had an entire career outside of politics before being elected in 2004 to represent Highlands County in the Florida House. Grimsley spent 17 years in the health care field. She also spent time as a citrus grower and rancher when she took over for her ailing father at the Grimsley Oil Company. “When I did that, I started seeing how government impacted our day-to-day life,” Grimsley told the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee, which gathered at the River at Tampa Bay Church Tuesday night. Before that, she said, she had little interest in the workings of government.

“In Tampa, Jay Fant says House ‘out of whack’ for zeroing out funding for Enterprise Florida” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — The Jacksonville Republican was back in Tampa, where he once again registered his disagreement with House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the House vote to zero out funding for Enterprise Florida. Speaking to the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee, he said he gets along well with Corcoran … but disagrees with how the House handled the budget in relation to Enterprise Florida. “If I sound critical of the House’s approach in this method, then I am,” said Fant, who is running for attorney general. “We have education, health, transportation, many good programs that occur in our budget, and if we jeopardize it over a food fight over a meaningful smaller, legitimately debatable item, then I think we’re out of whack, and I think we need to come back and find a compromise, not jeopardize our funding from the state.”

“Audrey Gibson draws 2018 opponent” via Florida Politics — Lucretia Fordyce, a write-in candidate, has filed to run against the veteran Democratic senator and chairwoman of the Duval County Democratic Party. Fordyce, a customer service rep and an Army veteran, bills herself on her Facebook page as a “national recording artist and an author.” Among her books: Dare to Be a Diva in Bella Mafias.

Three Democrats now running to replace Janet Cruz in HD 62 — Michael AlvarezCarlos Frontela, and John Rodriguez have all thrown their hat in the race to replace Cruz in House District 62. Rodriguez served as Cruz’s first legislative aide; while Frontela is a businessman. Alvarez is a Marine veteran and a party activist who works for a local roofing company. Cruz, the House Democratic Leader, can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Two Democrats file to replace Lori Berman in HD 90 — Boynton Beach Commissioner Joe Casello and Adriana Gonzalez have filed to replace the Lantana Democrat in House District 90. Casello was first elected as a city commissioner in April 2013, and was re-elected in March 2014 to a three-year term. Gonzalez is a partner at Gonzalez & Cartwright PA, and an executive board member of the Palm Beach County Justice Association Berman can’t run for re-election because of term limits.


Bill watch – Gov. Scott was presented with one bill on Wednesday — HB 7109, the tax cut package. He has until Thursday, June 1 to sign it, veto it or let it become law without taking action.

Senate Democrats are ready to block override – under right circumstances” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Senate Democrats are prepared to work with Gov. Scott to block an override of a veto if he rejects the sweeping education reform bill pushed by House leaders in the final days of session and sold as a take-it or leave-it budget deal, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon [said]. “We have to have a reason to override,” Braynon said, referring to his Democratic colleagues. “It would depend on what the veto message looks like and if his vetoes include a bunch of things that matter to Democrats, then we’re not going to override. We’re willing to come back and work.” The Senate would need 26 votes to override the governor’s veto and, with Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala openly suggesting he would support a veto, plus the three Republican senators who voted against the bill, the numbers won’t add up if the Senate Democrats hold most of their 15 members.

“Still no decision from Joe Negron on marijuana Special Session” via Florida Politics – Senate President Negron has yet to decide to join House Speaker Corcoran in calling for a Special Session on medical marijuana implementation, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Negron, a Stuart Republican, is still “in the process of having discussions with senators in response to the memorandum he sent last Thursday,” Katie Betta said in an email. Negron had sought input from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to guide state Health regulators on the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.

— “Darryl Rouson wants lawmakers to take medical pot into their own hands” via the Miami Herald

Who dropped this oppo file? – “A tale of two homes: Does Miami lawmaker live in district she represents?” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Rep. Daisy Baez doesn’t appear to live in the House district she represents, a possible violation of the Florida Constitution that could haunt her Florida Senate candidacy. Her residence continues to be a prim Coral Gables house with a stack of her old campaign yard signs leaning against one of the porch walls … Baez wasn’t inside – but her two rescue dogs, Oso and Coco, were. So was her campaign team, working around the kitchen table. Baez was expected back a couple of hours later. The home is in House District 112. Baez, a Democrat, represents House District 114, whose boundaries begin about half a mile away. Florida requires lawmakers to live and vote in the districts they represent by Election Day. For Baez, a freshman, that was Nov. 8 of last year.

Assignment editors – Lawmakers and advocates will host a news conference and rally outside the Orange County Department of Health (DOH) office, 832 W. Central Blvd. in Orlando, to demand immediate action on medical cannabis, and continue calls for a special legislative session to pass an Amendment 2 implementation bill. News conference from 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Richard Corcoran:Don’t believe hyperbole, hysterics from budget critics” via Orlando Rising – If you can believe it, one newspaper even argued that Gov. Scott should veto the budget because it offered kids in failing schools hope, and because voters shouldn’t be able to choose another $25,000 homestead exemption on their property taxes. … I wish I were joking but I’m not. … From funding to clear out the backlog of sexual-assault testing kits to fully funding the KidCare program, to making feminine hygiene products tax exempt, this budget is tough on waste, generous to our kids, and prioritizes real people. For some, however, this wasn’t enough. It is this exact same logic and thinking that has put this country $20 trillion in debt and enriched insider elites at the expense of the hard-working, play-by-the-rules majority of we the people.

Gary Fineout fires back via @Fineout: Much was made this session about university budgets and how projects were rolled up before budget was sent to @FLGovScott … Guess what? $120 million for Florida’s 12 universities – with set amounts for each school – was rolled up into the overall SUS budget

Jason Fischer: “Our kids deserve hope” via Florida Politics – Over the past few days, many district superintendents and other defenders of the struggling status quo have attacked HB 7069, a bill focused on reforming and improving K-12 education. The notion that this bill will gut public education or undermine public schools is hogwash. Instead, it provides the reform and disruption our K-12 education system desperately needs. HB 7069 does several positive things: boosts K-12 funding to a record high $24 billion; rewards teachers and principals with bonuses; reduces standardized and computer testing; expands school choice access for special needs and virtual school students; implements mandatory recess for early grades; and provides the needed funding and incentives to attract nationally-proven charter school networks to Florida.  The bill also rewards Florida’s 165,000+ hardworking teachers and principals with bonuses for the next three years, ranging between $800 and $6,000, based on eligibility, placing more dollars directly in the pockets of our educators. What the bill does not do is cut funding to traditional public schools. Duval County will see an $8.3 million boost overall or $16 per pupil increase in funding.


Because we were first to tell you Mike Dew was a shoo-in to get the top spot at the Department of Transportation. Doubters noted that Dew was not on a list of recommendations to go to Gov. Scott—but then, surprise, he was added back on Wednesday. Did we also mention we were first to say Noah Valenstein would be the next Department of Environmental Protection Secretary? Again, on Wednesday, he was the only applicant—mirabile dictu—to be granted an interview at next week’s Cabinet meeting. Tell a friend: Look on the right-hand side of our main page to subscribe to SUNBURN and all our other newsletters.


Marco Rubio calls for patience in Donald trump issues” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Rubio on Fox & Friends: “I’m not saying the news articles are wrong. I’m not saying that they are right,” he said. “I’m saying that they raise an allegation, we have an obligation to look into them, but before we form opinions and advocate for action, we need to know what the facts are.” Any advice for the White House? “There is a value to convention … If the White House became more systematic in its approach to scheduling and messaging and the like, they would avoid some of the friction that you’re now seeing.”

“2,100 wildfires have burned in Florida this year” via the Associated Press – Ag. Commissioner Putnam said that more than 127 active fires were burning in Florida as of Tuesday. Putnam says drought conditions and high wildfire danger will continue for some time since May is traditionally one of the driest months of the year in Florida.

State will exhaust budget for agriculture conservation easements by year’s end” via Florida Politics — The state would run out of money to buy agricultural conservation land easements by the end of 2017 under the budget approved by the Legislature, the head of the Florida Forest Service said Wednesday. The service asked for $50 million and got $10 for the Rural & Family Lands Protection Program, land program administrator John Browne told aides to Gov. Scott and the Cabinet. Combined with about $11 million for the current fiscal year, that would leave around $21 million for easement acquisition, Browne said. “So you’ll see easements at least until the end of this calendar year. After that, it’s kind of questionable,” Browne said. … Scott and the Cabinet have two acquisitions on their May 23 agenda — $7 million on 4,177 acres of the Triple S Ranch in Okeechobee County, and $1.5 million in state and federal money for 1,034 acres of the S.Y. Hartt Ranch in Highland County.

“Seminoles’ Jim Allen suggests putting Florida casinos up for bid” via Nick Sortal of the Miami Herald – Allen suggested that any expansion of commercial casinos in Florida should involve a competitive bidding process, rather than simply adding slots at more racetracks, reported James Kilsby for Gambling Compliance, the only media covering the event. “In my opinion and on behalf of the tribe, if the state wants to enhance revenue from gaming, then run a process … and attract great companies like Steve Wynn’s, like MGM, like Station [Casinos], Penn National Gaming, like LVS,” Allen told delegates at the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) spring conference. “If we’re going to do it, then let’s do it right. … “Obviously our preference is for the Seminole Tribe to continue to enjoy our semi-exclusivity… and we’re happy to put billions into the state,” Allen added. “But if the state is at the point where they don’t want to do that, then we’re happy to move on.”

What Jack Cory is reading – “Greyhound owners sue to strike down Seminole County greyhound ordinance” via Florida Politics – Two racing dog owners are trying to strike down a county ordinance regulating greyhounds. Scott Bennett and Jimmy Goodman, in a suit filed in Seminole Circuit Court on Tuesday, say the local law—the only known one of its kind in the state—is preempted by Florida gambling statutes covering racing dogs and is thus “unenforceable.” They said they “have incurred, and will continue to incur, licensing fees that are otherwise not required by state law” and “subject to ongoing harm including inspections and potential fines from the County.” Their suit also says the ordinance was drafted by GREY2K USA, which bills itself as a “greyhound protection organization” and has long been an antagonist to racing dog breeders and owners. “The legal claims made in this lawsuit are flawed, and will be rejected,” said Carla Wilson, vice chair of the Committee to Protect Greyhounds, a political committee that backed the ordinance. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyer-lobbyist and former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who also represents the Florida Greyhound Association. Lawmakers considered but did not pass a bill this year banning the use of steroids on greyhounds. The Seminole County ordinance does not address steroid use on dogs.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

UM researchers find new way to measure hurricanes: ‘gravity waves’” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald – Gravity waves are produced when air moving around the atmosphere gets pushed from one place to another. In a hurricane, those waves can come in quick, short bursts as powerful thunderstorms around the storm’s eye wall swish air up and down like a plunger in a toilet bowl. Scientists have long known they exist, measuring them in the stratosphere about 20 or 30 miles from a storm. Now, for the first time, University of Miami scientists have ventured into the heart of the storm, measuring the waves where they start. And early indications suggest wave power relates directly to storm power. “The waves are generated in the eye wall, where all the energy is released,” said David Nolan, who reported the findings with colleague Jun Zhang in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “That’s why we think it’s telling us what’s going on with the storm. It’s like noise from the engine.”

What Kevin Sweeny is reading – “St. Augustine residents voice concerns over increased tourism” via Ethan Calloway of News 4 Jax – Even on a Tuesday afternoon, the streets of downtown St. Augustine are packed with cars and the sidewalks full of pedestrians. But those signs of a tourism boom in America’s oldest city aren’t sitting well with everyone. “I know it’s a good thing for the economy as a whole, but as far as quality of life, it’s definitely getting a little — you know, there are some days where you just have to bite your lip and just shake your head and keep right on going,” resident Gerard Shannon said. He said the presence of the tourists is much more noticeable, and not always in a good way. “People (are) ending up on scooters in spots that you would be surprised,” Shannon said. “I mean, you’ve got to look both ways to cross the sidewalk sometimes around here, and never mind the cars — they can end up almost anywhere.”


Appointed – Gary Wendt to Board of Trustees, Florida Polytechnic University.

“Florida TaxWatch announces winners of 2017 Prudential Productivity Awards” via Florida Politics – TaxWatch gave 203 awards to “state employees and teams from across the state for … cost savings ideas across state government,” according to a press release. “State workers are critical to the functions of Florida’s government and hardly get the praise and honor they deserve for a job well done. This program has ensured that the taxpayers are noticing the contributions of hard-working state employees,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. The program encourages state agencies “to work together to replicate the savings across state government. Since 1989, thousands of individuals, teams, work units and partnerships have produced more than $9 billion worth of added value as a direct result of award winners’ achievements and the replication of those achievements, the group said. The full list of winners and more about the program is here.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Stacy Arias, Christopher Dudley, Jerry Lee McDaniel, Jim Smith, Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: 3M Company and Its Affiliates

Susan Goldstein, Susan Goldstein Consulting Inc.: CannaPharmacy Sciences, LLC

— ALOE —

The secret Florida land deal that became Walt Disney World” via the Miami Herald – On May 27, 1965, the Miami Herald published this headline: “Giant land deal near Orlando revealed.” But the buyer and the plans were a mystery. “A Miami law firm working with $5 million in cold cash has quietly engineered one of the biggest Florida land deals in years,” the story went on to report. So, what would the 30,000 acres be used for? Speculation focused on an atomic energy lab. Another guessed “Disneyland East.” As we all know by now, Walt Disney was secretly assembling the land for what would become Walt Disney World in Central Florida. In November 1965, he announced plans for the theme park. Six years later, the Magic Kingdom opened … The success of the Magic Kingdom led to a frantic scramble by developers to create competing theme parks in Central Florida. Circus World, Boardwalk and Baseball, Marco Polo World, Stars Hall of Fame and Splendid China opened but later failed. Among the parks proposed but never built were Bible World, Hurricane World and Little England.

Walt Disney World under construction near Orlando in Central Florida, on July 7, 1971. At center is the amusement park’s Cinderella Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Photo credit; Associated Press.

Happy birthday belatedly to President Toni Jennings. Celebrating today is Rep. Mike Miller, Trevor Mask, and my man, Mike Wickersheim.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.17.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from the deck of the Disney Magic. Current location is 33.44.05 N, 47.45.65 W. Course is 79 degrees. The nearest land is Santa Cruz des Flores. The ship is 1099.7 nautical miles from Ponta Delgada.


It’s time to talk about rules.

Nearly two months after the Constitution Revision Commission first convened, the Rules Working Committee will meet at 11 a.m. at Hillsborough Community College to begin hash out rules governing the 2017-18 commission.

The eight-member committee — made up of Tim Cerio, Brecht Heuchan, Don Gaetz, Carolyn Timmann, Tom Lee, Rich Newsome, Arthenia Joyner, and Roberto Martinez — has been tasked with identifying where “there is consensus and where improvements can be made,” according to an April 12 letter to CRC members. Once they’ve completed that task, changes to proposed rules will be submitted to the full commission for their consideration. CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff has said he hopes the rules finalized by early June.

The proposed rules have already caused some heartburn. The 37-member Constitution Revision Committee held its organizational session in March, but didn’t adopt rules after several members raised concerns that the proposal could dilute public input.

Watchdog groups — including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Florida Consumer Action Network, and the Florida AFL-CIO — have criticized the proposals, sending letters to commissioners and speaking out during public meetings across the state. In a recent letter, 16 groups warned of “the potential for leverage and influence over commission members” and an “unclear track for approval of proposals.”

So will their concerns be taken under consideration? Only time will tell. Members of the public will be allowed to weigh in on the rules during Wednesday’s meeting, but those wishing to speak better get their early. Due to the time needed to deliberate the rules, the public comment section of the meeting is scheduled to go from 11 a.m. to noon.

The Rules Working Committee meets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry Campus in the DSTU Auditorium, Room 111, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd in Tampa. Can’t make the meeting? It will be live-streamed on

— “Powerful state panel needs public credibility” via the Sun-Sentinel editorial board

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Jackie Schutz Zeckman named Scott’s chief of staff — The Naples Republican announced Tuesday that Schutz Zeckman will serve has his chief of staff beginning July 1. She’ll replace Kim McDougal, Scott’s current chief of staff, who is departing to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

“Jackie has been on my team since my first year in office and has done a great job leading my communications efforts and conveying my vision of Florida as the best destination for families and businesses. Along with her work on my communications team,” said Scott in a statement announcing the promotion. “Jackie was an integral part of my reelection efforts and has continued to be a trusted advisor in all aspects of implementing our agenda for Florida. I have full confidence that she will do an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff.”

She joined Scott’s communications team in 2011, after nearly two years with CoreMessage. She worked her way through the ranks, serving as deputy press secretary and press secretary, before she was named the governor’s director of communications in 2014.

— 4 politicos who benefit from JSZ’s promotion:

> Melissa Sellers Stone, who will be able to continue to control the Governor’s Office from afar.

> Mat Bahl, who as Richard Corcoran’s chief of staff will continue to play chess while Scott’s office plays checkers.

> Brian Burgess, who now has his best source in the Governor’s Office with the best job in the Governor’s Office.

> Cory Tilley, who can rightly brag about working for him being a stepping stone to bigger and better things.


Florida school boards: Education bill ‘substantially flawed,’ ‘unworthy’ of Rick Scott’s approval” via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Add the Florida School Boards Association to the growing list of groups calling for a veto of HB 7069, the mammoth $419 million K-12 public schools bill Republican lawmakers unveiled and passed in the final days of their annual session. In a letter to Gov. Scott, the FSBA — which represents 64 of the state’s 67 elected county school boards — calls the bill “substantially flawed and unworthy of your approval to be enacted into law.” “One of our many objections to the bill is that, during a legislative session when leaders proclaimed to be the epitome of transparency in the legislative process, this massive bill was cobbled together behind closed doors,” wrote FSBA executive director Andrea Messina and FSBA president Tim Harris, a Polk County School Board member. “Because the bill was unveiled so late in the process, there was no realistic opportunity for members of the public and, by their own admission, some members of the legislature to even read the bill in full, let alone carefully evaluate its contents and repercussions,” they said.

“Thousands of acres of conservation easement on Cabinet aides’ agenda” via Florida Politics — The Triple S Ranch lies 15 miles north of Lake Okeechobee — a 7,000-acre cattle operation, relatively untouched by development, within the recharge zone for the Kissimmee River. Rare and endangered species, including a Florida panther, wander its streams and cypress swamps. On Wednesday morning, aides to Gov. Scott and the Cabinet will peruse a proposal to buy a conservation easement on 4,177 acres of the Okeechobee County property, for close to $7 million. The deal is scheduled to go before Scott and the Cabinet on May 23. … The Florida Forest Service has rated the property Tier One for easement acquisition under the Rural & Family Lands Protection Program, intended to keep valuable agricultural lands free from intensive development — and also to protect historical and environmental treasures.

The other ‘Derrick McGhee’ to give invocation at next Cabinet meeting – When the invocation is given at next week’s Florida Cabinet meeting, it won’t be Tallahassee lobbyist Derrick McGhee doing the honors, but his 11-year-old son, Derrick McGhee II. McGhee, with the Johnson and Blanton firm, said he had gotten a call from the Cabinet office asking if his son would be interested. McGhee, who was Gov. Rick Scott’s legislative affairs director, also is pastor of Tallahassee’s Bible Based Church on Woodville Highway. Young Derrick is active in the youth ministry. “I asked him; he was not pressured at all,” McGhee told Florida Politics. “He’s excited to do it.”

“Lobby firms bring in more than $35.7M in first quarter” via Florida Politics — The Top 5 earners during the three-month period were Ballard Partners, Southern Strategy Group, Ronald L. Book PA, Capital City Consulting, and Greenberg Traurig. Ballard Partners and Southern Strategy Group led the pack in the first quarter, reporting median earnings of more than $2.4 million and $2.3 million respectively. Book’s firm reported median earnings of more than $2 million in the first three months of 2017. Capital City Consulting reported median earnings of more than $1.6 million; while Greenberg Traurig reported media earnings of more than $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2017. GrayRobinson, which reported more than $1.1 million; The Rubin Group, which reported $936,000; Floridian Partners, which reported $935,000; Johnson & Blanton, which reported $910,000; and Metz Husband & Daughton, which reported $882,000 rounded out the Top 10 earners during the first quarter of 2017.

New and renewed lobby registrations

David Childs, Hopping Green & Sams: Farmland Reserve

Erik Kirk, PooleMcKinley: San Felasco Nurseries, Inc.


– “Adam Putnam brings ‘Florida first’ tour to Altamonte Springs” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

Assignment editorsAdam Putnam will continue his 10-day, 22-city bus tour with a meet-and-greet at 1 p.m. at the Rohan Recreation Center, 850 Kristine Way in The Villages. He’ll then head to Jacksonville Beach, where he’ll attend a grassroots meet-and-greet at Angie’s Subs, 1436 Beach Boulevard.

“Three Leon County officials endorse Gwen Graham for Governor” via Florida Politics — Leon County Commissioners John Dailey and Kristin Dozier, and Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Tabitha Frazier have endorsed Graham for governor, her campaign announced Tuesday. In a statement, Graham said she was “proud to have the support” of the local leaders, and pledged to support “elected officials on all levels to diversify our economy, invest in our schools, and protect our land and water.”

Welcome to the world: 

“Jose Felix Diaz deletes photo of himself with Donald Trump to prep for state Senate run” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times  – if you supported Trump during his rise to power, you don’t get to wash that stink from your résumé. We’re looking at you, Miami State Rep. Diaz. Now that Diaz is officially gunning for a promotion and running for state Senate, the lawmaker has conspicuously scrubbed his Twitter page of an infamous photograph with himself and the Donald. On Jan. 19, 2017, Diaz tweeted out a photo of himself locking hands with Trump at an inaugural party. The tweet got a fair amount of press: “Just ran into the first guy who ever fired me,” Diaz tweeted. “The next president of the United States @realDonaldTrump #Apprentice #POTUS #ElPresidente” But now, the tweet and photo are both scrubbed from Diaz’s Twitter page. It’s not clear exactly when the photo was removed, but as of May 15, Twitter lists the post as “deleted,” and the post is no longer showing up on websites where it had previously been embedded.


Florida Supreme Court to rule on legality of red-light camera program” via Celia Ampel of the Daily Business Review –The high court accepted a case challenging Aventura’s red light camera program after two appellate courts seemed to disagree on whether Florida municipalities can legally allow private companies to review traffic images and choose which ones to forward to police. In the Aventura case, the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled the program was OK as long as police officers actually reviewed the record in deciding to write a ticket, rather than just accepting the company’s call. But an earlier Fourth DCA opinion found Hollywood’s red light camera program unlawfully delegated police power to third-party vendors. The Florida Supreme Court did not believe the decisions conflicted; attorneys for Aventura argued the facts in the two cases differed significantly. But the justices agreed to take the case because the majority of them accepted the Third DCA’s assessment that it was a matter of great public importance.

Assignment editors: Hispanic business and civic leaders will discuss the economic contributions of immigrants in the Palm Beach area and the need for immigration reform during an event at 10:30 a.m. at Don Ramon Cuban Restaurant & Social Club, 7101 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Roly Marante, with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Lazaro Mur, an attorney with the Mur Law Group; Juan and Dina Rubio, the owners of Don Ramon Cuban Restaurant; and Andre Varona, the former CEO of the Palm Beach Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are expected to speak.

Stalking pythons: Carlos Lopez-Cantera joins Everglades hunt” via The Associated Press – South Florida Water Management District spokesman Randy Smith says Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera went hunting with one of 25 hunters hired to kill pythons on district property … Tom Rahill and Lopez-Cantera brought in a 15-foot-4-inch python. It was the 96th python caught by the district’s hunters since March 25. Rahill leads the “Swamp Apes” program taking veterans on hunts to remove invasive animals from the Everglades. The district is paying $8.10 an hour in a python-killing pilot program ending June 1.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera: Python Hunter – Florida’s Lt. Gov. was one of 25 hunters hired by SFWMD to kill pythons in the Everglades. Lopez-Cantera brought in a 15-foot-4-inch python, the 96th caught by the district’s hunters. Photo credit: Twitter.

“Despite lack of deal, Seminole Tribe still paying state millions” via Florida PoliticsThe Seminole Tribe of Florida has given the state of Florida another multi-million dollar payday. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported that the tribe paid $19.5 million in gambling revenue share on Monday … That money includes revenue share from banked card games, specifically blackjack … It has Vegas-style and other gambling at seven casinos around the state, including Tampa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, but has blackjack only in Tampa and Hollywood. Monday’s deposit brings the total amount paid by the Seminoles this year to $97.5 million, DBPR spokesman Stephen Lawson said. The cut of the money from blackjack, however, is being “administratively segregated” in the General Revenue Fund until the Tribe and state come to agreement on renewed rights to offer blackjack in Florida.

How profitable will medical-marijuana shops be? Very, says confidential pitch for investors” via David Smiley and Michael Auslen of the Miami Herald –A private equity firm’s confidential pitch deck … shows that only days ago Surterra Florida was seeking investors to buy a $10 million minority stake while also arguing against limits on the number of retail outlets any licensed operator can open. Some potential investors were lured with projections that show Surterra grossing $138 million in sales by 2021 thanks largely to the operation of 55 retail outlets — nearly four times the cap desired by the Florida Senate. The numbers may not be exact, as both Surterra and The Costera Group warned that neither company verified or authorized the projections. But the sensitive documents shed rare light on an industry shrouded in secrecy and show how much money is riding on how — and whether — the state regulates the number of medical marijuana retail outlets following the passage of Amendment 2.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

“George Sheldon, under fire in Illinois, also faces questions at home” via Florida PoliticsSheldon, a former Florida official now facing an ethics inquiry as director of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services, also ran into a spot of trouble at home this week. Property records show Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families in 2008-11, claimed a homestead exemption on his Tallahassee house while he was living and working in Chicago. He also was listed as “delinquent” on paying his Florida Bar dues, according to its website … He sent a copy of a lawyer’s opinion letter saying, in part, “mere absence for a protracted period of time is not of itself sufficient to establish abandonment of homestead.” … Also Tuesday, a Bar spokeswoman told that Sheldon “is no longer fee delinquent.” “His fees are current and he’s paid the reinstatement fee of $150,” the Bar’s Karen Kirksey said. He is, however, still listed as “not eligible to practice in Florida” because he had not yet returned a required form, she added.

FDOT selects Archer Western-de Moya for I-395 Revitalization” via Julie Caputo of Miami’s Community Newspapers –… and construct an iconic “Bridge for the Ages” that will redefine Downtown Miami and its connection to Miami Beach. When designing this bridge, Archer Western – de Moya Team had three primary goals in mind: 1) Alleviate the extreme traffic problems on I-395; 2) Connect the Overtown community with the Biscayne Boulevard and Downtown neighborhoods, and 3) Provide an iconic bridge that will be a signature for Miami. To accomplish these goals Archer Western – de Moya went above and beyond in their planning process. As a result, the Archer Western – de Moya design was voted #1 unanimously over other competitors in the area of traffic benefits by FDOT. The multi-arch “Miami Fountain of Light” design of the bridge, itself, will be like no other in the world and will serve as signature for Miami worldwide.

— ALOE —

It hasn’t been this hot in Florida to start the year since 1895, report says” via Samantha Putterman of the Tampa Bay Times – According to a climate report by the National Centers for Environmental Information, Florida recorded the hottest average temperatures for the first four months of the year since 1895. On April 29 and 30, for example, Tampa observed its highest and second-highest daily highs on record for the month, reaching 96 and 95 degrees. And Florida is only one of 14 states, stretching from the southwest to the mid-Atlantic, that experienced record-breaking temperatures in the first period of 2017, according to the NOAA report. January-April 2017 also unveiled the second-warmest average temperatures for the United States overall, falling closely behind 2012. The scorching temperatures come amid Florida’s most active wildfire season since 2011, the report states. The searing conditions prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency April 11.

“Fresh off Atlantic City deal, Seminole Tribe now adding Hard Rock in Canada” via Florida PoliticsThe Seminole Tribe of Florida, which recently bought the former Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, is expanding its Hard Rock gambling and entertainment brand to Canada. A Tribe spokesman on Tuesday said that the Seminoles had won a bidding process to open a Hard Rock Casino in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. The deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., pending final approval by Canadian authorities, includes an investment by Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings Limited, a Canadian horse racing concern. “This is a crucial first step towards a larger strategic vision of our world-class brand’s expansion efforts in Ontario and throughout Canada,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming CEO, in a statement.

Happy birthday to Rep. Bobby Payne, Becker Poliakoff’s Karen Skyers.

SalterMitchell launches ‘Fluent in Floridian’ podcast — The podcast launched Tuesday, with SalterMitchell releasing episodes featuring interviews with Florida State University President John Thrasher, Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper, Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith, and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime senior advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush. “News is consumed so quickly now that it’s become hard to get to know our leaders and understand their motivations, so we’ve created a show that allows listeners to hear more than simply soundbites,” said Chris Cate, the podcast’s host and the senior public affairs director at SalterMitchell. “Fluent in Floridian is conversational, much like NPR’s Fresh Air, except we’re talking to Florida’s top leaders, innovators and influencers about their backgrounds and visions for our state.” Episodes are available on, or you can subscribe on Apple podcasts or on your Android devices.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.16.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning, especially to the lobbyists: At 11:59 last night was the deadline to submit 1st quarter compensation.

The latest reports, covering January-March, will capture roughly the first half of the 2017 Legislative Session. Many firms have already turned in theirs, and are posted on the state’s Florida Lobbyist website.

State law requires lobbying firms to report revenue, but it only requires them to do so in general ranges, not in precise amounts. Here’s a smattering:

Capital City Consulting posted $1 million in revenue, helped by a number of big ticket clients, including the Everglades Foundation ($30,000-$39,999), and insurers CIGNA ($20,000-$29,999) and Aetna ($40,000-$49,999).

Also reporting $1 million was lobbyist Brian Ballard’s Ballard Partners. Clients Tampa General Hospital, Uber, and slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology each helped move the needle at $40,000-$49,999 each.

Democratic operative Steve Schale’s Schale Communications put up $50,000 to $99,999 in total compensation, in part from clients AT&T, Mosaic Fertilizer and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, each at $10,000-$19,999.

At the opposite end of the lobbying pay scale was Capitol mainstay Barbara DeVane, longtime lobbyist for the Florida National Organization for Women. Her sole client paid somewhere between $1-$9,999, her report shows.

And veteran progressive influencer Karen Woodall reported $1-$9,999 each for the Florida Center for Fiscal & Economic Policy and Southern Poverty Law Center.

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“Kim McDougal to depart as Rick Scott’s chief of staff” via Florida PoliticsMcDougal is leaving as Gov. Scott’s chief of staff effective July 1, according to a Monday press release. McDougal, who’s been in the position since April 2016, “will be pursuing opportunities in the private sector,” the release said. “Over the last year, Florida had its fair share of tragic events including two hurricanes, the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub, and the shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport,” Scott said in a statement. “During these tough events, Kim has led my team through crisis and helped ensure we did all we could to help Florida families during these dark hours” … McDougal was Scott’s fifth chief of staff since his 2010 election, following, in order: Mike Prendergast, Steve MacNamara, Adam Hollingsworth, and Melissa Sellers (now Stone).

— Flashback from Florida Politics in March 2016: “Capitol veteran Kim McDougal selected as Rick Scott’s next chief of staff.”

— Tweet, tweet: @MDixon55: And the EOG’s transformation into a total campaign arm is complete.

— The announcement about McDougal’s departure caught many lobbyists and lawmakers off guard, especially coming so soon after the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. “I wasn’t aware that she was going to make this departure. I’m disappointed that she is,” Sen. Bill Galvano told The News Service of Florida.

— Neither Scott nor McDougal gave any indication she is leaving because of the Governor’s legislative problems this Session.

I think Brian Ballard is wrong when he argues  there wasn’t ‘much a staff person could have done’ to deal with Scott’s issues vis-a-vis the House; didn’t Scott and McDougal turn down a blockbuster deal (offered by Carlos Trujillo) that would  have given the Governor a much betterresult than the one he ended Session with? McDougal’s job is to convince Scott to take that deal.

What does it say about the vaunted Florida Capitol Press Corps that no outlet, including this one, had an advance warning about Mcdougall’s departure? Some suggest the Scott administration’s aversion to the media is the reason the press knows so little about the Governor’s thinking and way of doing business, but Donald Trump isn’t very fond of the D.C. media and it seems like every day there is a tick-tock process story offering insight into how The White House operates. There’s very little of that kind of reporting in Tallahassee.

The question now for McDougal is Ballard Partners or Southern Strategy Group?

Brian Burgess of The Capitolist writes that Jackie Schultz is in line to succeed Mcdougall. But that could also be a case of Burgess doing a big favor for one of his key sources. Not that it matters; the people in charge of Rick Scott’s administration will continue to be political consultant Curt Anderson of On Message and Melissa Stone, his former Chief of Staff.


In feud with House over tourism money, Rick Scott hints at big education vetoes” via Marc Caputo and Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – Scott dropped his strongest hint yet that he would veto a controversial education budget bill — and perhaps additional K-12 spending — because he doesn’t like how the GOP-led Legislature funded schools and tourism marketing. “This budget was done in secret. … I didn’t get to see anything until the end,” Scott said, noting he could veto the entire budget or parts of it as well as specialty types of legislation called “conforming bills.” As a likely candidate for U.S. Senate next year, Scott has used the fight over tourism marketing to campaign across the state, raise his profile and bash the “politicians in Tallahassee” — fellow Republicans, including House Speaker Corcoran — whom he labels job-killers for underfunding the Visit Florida agency. But if Scott wants to force Corcoran and the Legislature to the table to negotiate, he can’t veto the section of the budget that funds Visit Florida because then it would remain un-funded. Instead, Scott might veto education items that are chief priorities for Corcoran, who might run to succeed Scott in 2018, and force the Legislature to reconvene in a special session.

Jack Latvala was by Scott’s side when he made these comments via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – … “Wasn’t my call, or we’d still be sitting in Tallahassee today,” Latvala said. “I’m hopeful that the governor will exercise his prerogative, will call us back to Tallahassee and will make us do the right thing for economic development in Florida and for education in Florida.”

— What the Gov’s office is reading:As legislators cut job incentives, Tampa leaders fight perception Florida’s closed for business” via Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times

“Florida Family Action to followers: Tell Scott to veto ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ ” via Florida Politics – The group “is a cultural action organization that is a completely separate sister organization of the Florida Family Policy Council,” led by conservative morals activist John Stemberger of Orlando. It sent a ‘call to action’ email Monday, saying in part that the measure “would increase access to hard liquor which is likely to increase consumption, especially by alcoholics, teenagers, and others at-risk” and “hard liquor should not be sold on the shelves of ‘family-friendly’ stores,” such as Wal-Mart and Target. At last count, there were 2,572 emails, 173 phone calls and nine letters opposed to the bill. The legislation would allow retailers to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. Opponents—including independent liquor stores—are calling the proposal a job-killer and asking Scott to veto it. The governor has till May 24 to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. His office has said Scott will “review” the legislation.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will attend the ribbon cutting of Anheuser-Busch’s expanded Metal Container Corporation manufacturing facility in Jacksonville. Event begins 10:15 a.m. at Anheuser-Busch, 1100 Ellis Road North in Jacksonville.

State, districts look to scuttle ‘opt out’ case” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The State Department of Education and school districts are asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject an appeal in a case filed by parents opposed to standardized tests — an issue that involves what is known as the “opt out” movement … The dispute stems from parents who told third-grade students to put their names on a standardized test, then refuse to answer questions. A Leon County circuit judge issued a decision last year that seemed to support the “opt out” movement. But the 1st District Court of Appeal in March overturned that decision, prompting the parents to take the case to the Supreme Court. They argued, at least in part, that lawsuits should have been filed against the school boards in their home counties, rather than in Leon County. But in a brief filed last month, an attorney for the parents pointed to the statewide issues involved and said litigating the issues in different counties would “create judicial chaos because, in this case, no less than six separate trial court jurisdictions and three district courts will be required to adjudicate claims that share identical issues of law.”

Richard Corcoran: Federal government needs to act now; mosquito season is here” via Florida Politics – As we enter into the warm summer months, the threat of another outbreak is looming. That is why I have and will continue to urge the federal government to quickly authorize new strategies that can be used to both curb the spread of the virus and prevent additional outbreaks. I believe we should be taking a multi-faceted approach to put an end to the threat of Zika. This must include spraying programs, education awareness efforts, and the search for a vaccine. But more importantly, we must also look at new and science-based solutions that can control the growing population of disease-carrying mosquitoes in Florida. One example of the technology I’ve advocated for is the Oxitec genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquito. When it is released into the wild, it doesn’t bite, it doesn’t transmit disease, but does transmit a self-limiting gene that makes its offspring die before reaching adulthood. This technology is being used successfully in some countries already. If we had it available in the U.S., many expectant mothers might have one less thing to be anxious about.

Not sure what this is all about:

Assignment editors – Lake Worth Democrat Sen. Jeff Clemens will give a speech to the the Rusty Gordon LGBTA Democratic Caucus of Palm Beach County. Event begins 6:45 p.m. at the Compass GLCC, 201 North Dixie Highway in Lake Worth.


Ron DeSantis for Governor? Don’t rule it out” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Sources very familiar with the thinking of DeSantis note that he is looking at a run for the state’s top job, with a decision to be made late in the summer. Were he to run, he would be a very serious candidate for the job — posing an existential threat to Putnam, as DeSantis could very quickly own the space to Putnam’s right. DeSantis, who was far and away the strongest fundraiser in the GOP primary race for Senate in 2016 (ended when Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election), has some advantages that others lack. Among them: name identification, as Team DeSantis asserts that the nationally-known Northeast Florida congressman has better name id than either Speaker Corcoran or Sen. Latvala. As well, DeSantis has $3M at his disposal already; were he to enter the race, that war chest would grow quickly. However, no decision is imminent — yet.

Spotted: Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, in a New York Times story on “Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead.” Gillum, the story says, “has offered himself as a candidate of the left.”

Assignment editors – Adam Putnam will host an “Up & Adam” Breakfast for supporters from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Wilke’s 14 Bones BBQ, 1500 US-1 In Vero Beach. RSVP here: Later, Putnam will hold a meet-and-greet from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Eastmonte Civic Center, 830 Magnolia Dr. in Altamonte Springs. RSVP here:

675 miles and counting: Adam Putnam bus tour highlights – Putnam kicked off week two of a 10-day, 22-city bus tour through Florida with an “Up & Adam” breakfast in Riviera Beach … Putnam hit the road to visit grassroots supporters, small businesses, veterans, and first responders throughout Florida and to learn about the opportunities and challenges that they face. Putnam has already covered 675 miles from Polk County to Tampa Bay to Southwest Florida and then the Heartland.

Putnam-linked committee takes in $235K in first five days of May” –  Florida Grown  brought in at least $235,000 In the first five days of May, according to the committee’s website. Before that, the committee had nearly $8.24 million on hand. Contributions in May include $100,000 from A. Duda & Sons, Inc. of Oviedo, and $50,000 from a committee supporting the phosphate industry. Remaining May fundraising will be reported to the state in June. Putnam opened his personal campaign account May 1.

“Matt Caldwell makes it official ” via Florida PoliticsState Rep. Caldwell formally announced his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner in an event that was livestreamed on his Facebook page. “I’m thrilled to kick off my campaign with all of you in my hometown,” he told the crowd at Sun Harvest Citrus in Fort Myers … The Republican Caldwell burnished his conservative bona fides, which he said “puts a bull’s eye on your back every single day,” mentioning his support of term limits, tax cuts, but also “the needs of our environment and our farmers.” He also talked about the importance of gun rights and Cabinet duties: The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the issuance of concealed weapon licenses, and the commissioner sits on the Florida Cabinet with the state’s governor, attorney general and CFO. “With your help, and God’s blessing, we will come out ahead next year,” Caldwell said.


Tourists still coming to Florida in record numbers” via The Associated Press – Gov. Scott …  [announced] 31.1 million people visited the state during the first three months of the year. That’s a 2.5 percent jump over the same time period in 2016. Nearly 113 million tourists – most of them from the U.S. – visited last year. Scott, however, will warn that potential cuts to Florida’s tourism marketing agency could doom continued growth. State legislators recently voted to cut funding to Visit Florida by 67 percent.

— Airbnb Florida director Tom Martinelli was one of the first to congratulate Gov. Scott on yet another record-breaking quarter for Florida’s tourism industry: “On behalf of Airbnb Florida and our 35,000 Florida hosts, we congratulate Governor Scott and the Visit Florida team for infusing economic development and jobs through increased tourism. We are so proud to have contributed to this progress, having welcomed a record-setting 657,000 guests in Q1 via our home sharing platform, representing 69% growth over Q1 2016. Governor Scott has our commitment that we will continue doing our part to grow the pie and help elevate Florida’s brand as a global, family-friendly tourism destination.”

“DOH orders sales stopped on cannabis product” via the Associated Press – The Department of Health on Monday ordered a Quincy-based dispensary to quit selling a medical cannabis product that could potentially be broken down and made into pot that can be smoked. Trulieve began selling its first whole-flower cannabis product meant for vaping last week at five retail dispensaries and through home delivery. The buds in the Entourage Multi Indica vaporizer cup, however, could also be used in joints, pipes or bongs. The Department of Health authorized Trulieve to sell sealed vaporizer cups containing marijuana. However, Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax said in a cease and desist letter to Trulieve that the mesh caps can be removed with minimal effort and cannot be reattached.

Trulieve’s Kim Rivers: “We were surprised by the letter, but are immediately and completely complying with the department’s wishes while evaluating our options.”

How religious mania changed the Corrine Brown jury” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Speculation about what a discharged juror (“Juror 13”) said in a closed-court session in the trial of Brown can now end, as a transcript of the session was released … Juror 8, the juror who complained about the comments — relating that the discharged juror spoke of “higher beings” saying that Brown was guilty — kicked off proceedings in closed court by registering concerns. The discharged juror had made such comments on the first day of deliberations and did not reiterate such comments … However, “Some of the jurors are concerned that that’s affecting his — his decision,” Juror 8 said. The discharged juror, for his part, didn’t reassure the feds: “I told them that in all of this, in listening to all the information, taking it all down, I listen for the truth, and I know the truth when the truth is spoken. So I expressed that to them, and how I came to that conclusion … I told — I told them that — that I prayed about this, I have looked at the information, and that I received information as to what I was told to do in relation to what I heard here today — or this past two weeks.” The juror’s tipster? “My Father in Heaven.”

Pam Bondi to convene human trafficking council in Tampa – The AG announced she will call a meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking on Tuesday (May 16) at 1:00 p.m. Bondi chairs the 15-member council that “builds on existing state and local partnerships working to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking,” a release said. The meeting will be held at the Tampa Law Center of the Stetson University College of Law, 1700 North Tampa St. in Tampa.

Watchdogs critique Constitution Revision Commission’s proposed rules” via Florida Politics — Proposed rules for the Constitution Revision Commission could let members deliberate in secret, limit public participation, bottle up ideas in committee, or bog down debating proposals with little support, government watchdog groups warned Monday. Sixteen organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Florida Consumer Action Network, and unions, including Florida AFL-CIO, critiqued the proposed rules in a letter to the commission’s rules committee. “Transparency and a clear set of ground rules are essential to the credibility of the CRC. As members of the Rules Working Group, you have an opportunity to enhance public confidence in the work of the CRC,” the organizations wrote. They warned of “the potential for leverage and influence over commission members” and an “unclear track for approval of proposals.”

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

With the All Aboard Florida lawsuit dismissed, what’s next for the Treasure Coast?” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm – A major chapter in the Treasure Coast’s fight against All Aboard Florida ended when a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the legal challenges to the passenger railroad filed by Martin and Indian River counties more than two years ago. All Aboard Florida praised Judge Christopher Cooper’s decision as a “thoughtful review” of the law, and emphasized it still fully intends to run passenger rail between West Palm Beach and Orlando. But Martin and Indian River counties had a very different take on the court decision. Having the case dismissed is, in fact, a definitive victory in preventing Brightline service through the Treasure Coast, according to county officials and attorneys. Steven Ryan, Martin County’s outside legal counsel, said the counties’ cases were dismissed because All Aboard Florida’s financing plan changed, and that change only occurred because of the counties’ efforts. “You have to say we’re winning, because they don’t have the bonds,” Ryan said. “We got exactly what we sought. The case has been an enormous victory for us.”

Assignment editors – The State Board of Education will meet in Miami-Dade County; agenda includes performance-funding reports on Pensacola State College and Polk State College. Meeting begins 9 a.m. at Miami Senior High School, 2450 S.W. First St. In Miami.


“George Sheldon now taken to task by hometown paper” via Florida PoliticsSheldon‘s hometown newspaper now has weighed in on the former Florida politico, putting in newsprint the latest ethics woes of the now-director of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services. The Tallahassee Democrat, with help from the Chicago Tribune’s estimable reporting of the last few weeks, documented Sheldon’s travails as head of Illinois’ DCFS. The lede, by the nearly 20-year Democrat veteran Jeff Burlew: “George Sheldon, a well-known figure in Florida politics who took over Illinois’ troubled child welfare agency in 2015, is embroiled in ongoing state ethics probes and facing scrutiny over contracts given to past campaign donors and consultants.” Sheldon, a Democrat who lost a challenge to incumbent GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2014, was secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families from 2008-2011 under then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

On this week’s edition of The Rotunda — The wait continues as Gov. Scott reviews the Legislature’s $82.4 billion state spending plan. Despite passing a balanced budget, why is Florida still $9.9 billion in debt? On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Truth and Accounting, a nonprofit that aims to educate taxpayers on government finances, releases the first analysis of Florida’s latest financial report showing each taxpayer would have to cough up $1,600 to help pay the bills. Gomes interviews Truth in Accounting founder, Sheila Weinberg. Also, what’s next for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown?

Appointed – Randy Schwartz to the Florida Real Estate Commission. Samuel Garrison to the District Board of Trustees, St. Johns River State College. Dr. Peter A. Wish and John Stafford to the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. David “Hunt” Hawkins and Thomas “Mac” McGehee to the District Board of Trustees, Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Reappointed – Francisco Pines to the Florida Citrus Commission.

Personnel note: Florida Virtual School gets a new president — The next president of the Florida Virtual School is Jodi Marshall, a veteran academic and administrator. She replaces Ronald Blocker, effective July 1, the school’s board of trustees announced. Marshall joined the school as a 10th grade English teacher in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become executive vice president for business and academic affairs. The state-sponsored school offers online courses to public, private, and homeschool students.

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

Spotted at the 21st annual Phil Galvano Classic at the Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch: Sen. Aaron and Abby BeanLaura Boehmer, Sen. Rob BradleyChana CannonDean and Ellen Cannon, Speaker Richard CorcoranAlex Diaz de la PortillaMarty FiorentinoNichole GarganellaEd HooperRon LaFace, Sen. Jack LatvalaFrank and Tracy Mayernick, President Joe NegronTeye Reeves, Sen. Darryl RousonNancy Texeria and Katie Webb.

Spotted at this past weekend’s Mom 2.0 conference: Salter Mitchell’s Chris Cate, up for an award for his podcast, The Parent Normal.


Extensive Enterprises Media is up for three major journalism honors from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards.

EEM’s INFLUENCE is among three finalists for best magazine single issue, up against the Sun Sentinel’s City & Shore Magazine, and Mirror Magazine.

Peter Schorsch is a finalist for best blog writing for his “SaintPetersBlog,” along with finalists from the Sun Sentinel’s “The Eat Beat Blog,” and the Tampa Bay Times‘ “The Buzz.”’s Scott Powers is a finalist for best blog in-depth writing, along with two entries from Florida Bulldog.

Winners will be announced at a later date.

— ALOE — 

“Anheuser-Busch introduces the Office Bud-e” via Florida Politics – Don’t tell Matt Dixon, but the King of Beers is rolling out what it calls the latest in “bev tech”: a “smart, hassle-free beer refrigerator designed to enhance any office kitchen or common space,” according to a press release. Big Beer keeps rolling after its loss this Legislative Session in trying to get a free beer glass bill passed. Alas, for now, the Bud-e is only available in the Metro New York and Chicago areas. But oh, what a beer cooler it is (holds up to 180 bottles!), running on the ‘internet of things.’ It uses “vending machine-like sensored springs and a simple wi-fi connection to monitor the quantity of beers in stock at any given time.” It’s free to lease, but of course one has to stock it with A-B beers (Stella Artois, anyone?) … Is this available for home offices too?

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Government scientist from DC wins Miss USA title” via Regina Garcia Cano of The Associated Press – Kara McCullough, a scientist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has been crowned Miss USA. McCullough, who represented the District of Columbia in the decades-old pageant, was born in Naples, Italy and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I love science,” McCullough said after the event. “I look at this as a great opportunity to … get to experience worldwide culture, as well as just having the opportunity to be impacted by so many children, hopefully in the math and sciences.” This year’s top five finalists were asked questions that touched on the pros and cons of social media, women’s rights and issues affecting teenagers. McCullough was asked whether she thinks that affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege. She said it is a privilege. “As a government employee, I’m granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs.”

Marvel Universe LIVE!: Superheroes save the day in new show” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – For the first time, fans of Marvel comic book characters can see their favorite superheroes in one place in this live show, which will tour the U.S. and Canada through 2019. This is Feld Entertainment’s first new show since announcing the end of its iconic Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Feld Entertainment, the show’s producer, says audiences will be treated to characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and the Avengers, as they defend the universe from evil. Among the villains: Nebula, Loki, Yondu and Green Goblin. All of the fan favorites are showcased, too: Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Wasp, Hulk and Black Widow. Captain America rides a motorcycle. Note to parents: there will be lots of explosions and grand battles to engage the 3-to-10 age set. “It’s sort of our modern Aesop’s fables. They’re the heroes of our time. Even though they have these unlimited powers, they are always fighting for what’s right and for what’s good,” [show director JamesHadley said. “That’s the message that’s important now. Even when it looks like they’re not going to succeed, they just keep pushing.”

Stone crab rebound continues as catch nears 3 million pounds” via Thomas Becnel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The end of stone crab season marks the second year of a rebound with a harvest of about 3 million pounds of claws valued at $30 million. “This year, the preliminary data through April was that we’re approaching 2.5 million pounds,” said Ryan Gandy, a research scientist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. “So, we’re on track for this season to be pretty close to last year.” That estimate surprised Karen Bell at the A.P. Bell Fish Company in Cortez. “I think we had a better year this year,” she said. “This was a good year. It was pretty steady. One of the holidays, we didn’t have much — Christmas or New Year’s, I forget which one.”

Happy birthday to Matthew Ubben and Rick Watson.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.15.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Lawmakers may not be sending “formal responses” to Senate President Joe Negron’s request for “ideas” on medical marijuana implementation, but they are taking to Twitter.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, tweeted last Thursday: “We crafted a patient-centered #MMJ bill that delivers safe medicine to sick Floridians. It’s 95% done. Let’s finish the job! #SpecialSession”

Last week, Negron sought input from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to implement the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.

Lawmakers failed to come to agreement on a bill related to the medical cannabis constitutional amendment passed in 2016. Just over 71 percent of statewide voters approved the measure.

As of Friday, Senate spokeswoman LaQuisha Persak said there had been no “other formal responses.”

There were, however, tweets.

On Wednesday, Bill Galvano — Bradenton Republican and Senate President-designate for 2018-20 — had tweeted: “I agree with @richardcorcoran. I support a special session to address medical marijuana implementation.”

Speaker Corcoran last week called for a Special Session during WFLA-FM radio’s “The Morning Show with Preston Scott.

“I do believe and support the notion that we should come back and address and finalize dealing with medical marijuana,” Corcoran told Scott. “Does that mean a special session?” Scott asked. “It would, absolutely,” Corcoran said.

Jeff Brandes is the latest Florida lawmaker to call for Special Legislative Session on medical marijuana implementation. The St. Pete Republican wants “ample time for public input, to implement the will of the voters, so that patients and entrepreneurs alike may access the marketplace.”

Others chiming in on social media for a Special Session include Sens. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican; Travis Hutson, an Elkton Republican; and Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who also penned the only “formal response” as of Friday.

But let’s not forget the overriding reality: Nobody wants to come back before Memorial Day weekend, despite Negron telling reporters a special session theoretically could take place as early as this week.

Theories are easy; governing is hard.

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Rick Scott asks Donald Trump administration to extend protection for Haitians” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott has pressed the Trump administration to back off on timeline that could result in the deportation of thousands of Haitians, many living in Florida. Scott raised the issue in a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “Temporary protected status” for Haitians expires in July and they could be expelled in January. “The secretary has not made a decision on TPS for Haiti,” spokesman David Lapan[said]. “He and Gov. Scott did have a conversation about the program and the secretary listened to the Governor’s points about his desire for DHS to extend TPS.” About 50,000 Haitians have been allowed to live in the U.S. following the 2010 earthquake. The TPS program has been extended several times but now faces another deadline. The Trump administration has been examining the criminal backgrounds, but Lapan says that won’t be used to make a final decision about TPS.

Scott signs Lake Okeechobee bill in former critics’ territory” via Isadora Rangel of TC Palm — Standing in front of people holding signs that read, “Thanks Gov., you saved our farms,” Scott signed Senate Bill 10 at John Stretch Memorial Park on the southern bank of the lake, between Clewiston and Belle Glade. The park is about halfway between Lee and Martin counties, which receive the brunt of polluted excess lake water during the wet season. The park is adjacent to the Miami Canal, which might be used to direct water into the proposed reservoir. Scott already had signed the bill privately May 5. Some Treasure Coast activists said they wished the governor had signed Senate Bill 10 in Martin County, which is ground zero for discharges into the St. Lucie River, but are happy he signed it anyway.

Rick Scott visits Lake Okeechobee ahead of a ceremonial bill signing of SB 10, which authorizes a reservoir to collect runoff south of Lake O.

Scott at SB 10 signing: I am committed to dike rehabilitation” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News — Over the last several weeks, Scott has bonded with Glades farmers who fought to keep their towns and their lifestyle whole — and who live in the shadow of the deteriorating Herbert Hoover Dike. It’s a part of the Everglades’ infrastructure he remains determined to put on a fast track toward reconstruction. In his remarks, Scott said, “To have the opportunity to sign SB 10 and focus on how we are going to get storage south of the lake — that’s a big deal and long term, it is going to be a big opportunity. But every day we have to think what we are going to do next — that’s why it’s very important to me that we get the Dike fixed.”

Even after SB 10, enviro-lobbyists vow to wage ‘war’ on Florida farmers” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — Senate Bill 10 is widely celebrated as a carefully-crafted solution designed to alleviate water storage problems that have led to algae bloom in coastal estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee. A compromise was ultimately struck that delivered what environmentalists wanted, without taking farmland. But even though the final version of the bill still delivers on what environmental activists all said would provide the relief they seek — a massive water storage reservoir of up to 360,000 acre feet of water, located south of the lake — extreme activist groups like and Friends of the Everglades … are already admitting they aren’t satisfied with a “momentous victory.” The activists want more. BullSugar recently sent an email to its supporters vowing to continue the fight … Compromise isn’t part of the vocabulary for elitist, extremist, environmentalist organizations. To protect their waterfront homes, they will continue to pursue the destruction of South Florida’s agriculture communities with religious fervor. Peaceful coexistence isn’t an option.

Scott should veto this deplorable budget” via Perry Thurston for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As lawmakers, we are sent to Tallahassee with only one job that’s mandated by the state constitution: pass a balanced budget by the end of the annual 60-day legislative session. We barely did that, and it’s debatable if what we approved passes muster with our constituents. The Florida Legislature shouldn’t use the budget to undermine public schools and community colleges, to carve out special deals for special interests or pick winners and losers in the property tax valuations so that a favored few will pay less taxes while a majority suffer from less services. Yet, that’s what happened in Tallahassee, thanks to Speaker Corcoran who pushed dramatic policy changes into so-called “conforming bills” that are now hard-wired into the state budget. Give the Speaker credit. He held the session hostage until he received the Senate’s consent. The new spending plan is now in the hands of Gov. Scott, who is no fan of Corcoran’s and has hinted that he might veto the whole budget and call lawmakers back to the capitol for a special session. I urge the governor to do just that. Florida can’t afford what the speaker is selling.

Editorial: Gov. should veto bill that seals millions of criminal records ” via the Tampa Bay Times on, SB 118, cruised along for weeks with a narrow focus. Then the legislation exploded into something entirely different, and nobody noticed. Sen. ed one new paragraph last month shortly before the Senate unanimously approved his bill … requiring that Florida automatically seal all criminal history records of a minor or an adult arrested for a misdemeanor or felony when the prosecutor does not file charges, the charges are dismissed before trial, or the person is found not guilty at trial and all appeals are exhausted. There is no individual review of the record, no discretion, no exceptions and no limits on how many times the same person could have records sealed … That’s 2.7 million public files wiped out. This is not just a serious concern for the media. This should alarm anyone who runs a business, considers a new venture with someone they don’t know well, hires a landscaper at home or seeks a baby sitter for their children.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will announce Florida tourism numbers for the first quarter of 2017 at a 9:15 a.m. news conference at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail in Miami. Media must park inside the Jungle Island parking garage found at the front entrance of the park. Please enter through the park’s main gate and park staff will be available for guidance to reach the news conference location.

Proposed Florida law would steer federal money away from poor students, districts say” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — With just 30 lines of text in a 278-page education bill, Florida lawmakers moved last week to significantly alter how schools and districts receive and use federal Title I funds, which provide extra educational resources to poor children. If signed into law by Gov. Scott, the measure would spread the money to more schools, including for the first-time charters, and reduce the amount available for district-level initiatives such as summer school. It further would cap the percentage schools may use for parent involvement programs at a level lower than what many schools currently spend. The proposals are unprecedented in Florida, and unwelcome to school district leaders. Proponents might like the idea of having the federal money “follow the students” into schools, said Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins, who oversaw federal programs in his district before taking the top job. But “this language is going to hurt the students that need (added support) the most,” he said. “This just really ties our hands.”

Florida House ‘sets the record straight’ in new video — The House has released a 2-minute and 30-second video to explain a sweeping-education bill passed on the final day of the 2017 Legislative Session. The video aims to highlight the bill, and aims to “set the record straight” when it comes to several provisions. “Recently, your Florida Legislature passed transformational and sweeping educational reform,” a narrator says in the video. “While we did that, the rumors and gossip started to fly, just like back in school. So class is in session, and it’s time to set the record straight.”

Joe Gruters bucks party line on state budget” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — It’s one of the biggest votes of the year. Loyalty is expected. Bucking party leadership and rejecting the spending plan is a risky move for any lawmaker. But that’s exactly what freshman GOP state Rep. Gruters did last week. Gruters voted against the budget because it included Speaker Corcoran’s proposal to eliminate the taxpayer-funded business incentives doled out by Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, and cut funding for Visit Florida, the tourism promotion agency. Gruters consistently has opposed the Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida cuts, voting against Corcoran’s proposal early in the legislative session. After defying leadership on such a high-profile issue, none of Gruters’ priority bills got a hearing. Continuing to oppose Corcoran and his allies could make Gruters a pariah, but he decided to double down anyway.

Texts: Fire station funding another budget fight waged behind closed doors” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The fire station funding battle was between state Sen. Denise Grimsley and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, both Republicans who wrote their chamber’s government operation’s budget. At the end of session, it was their job to handle early budget negotiations over House and Senate disagreements on that $1.9 billion budget. Like most other areas of the budget, the final touches on the portion overseen by the two was almost exclusively hammered out behind closed doors. The subcommittee Ingoglia and Grimsley led held four public budget negotiating meetings totaling just 16 minutes. In none of the five meetings were any specific issues or sticking points discussed, and, in most, taking roll call for the 23-member subcommittee was more than half the meeting. In another example of closed door budget fights … text messages that showed a behind-the-scenes scramble as lobbyists worked to secure funding for a water storage program supported by politically-influential agriculture corporations.


Citizens Insurance CEO helped his boss sell his business, then got $100,000 in raises” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Citizens chief executive Barry Gilway confirmed he acted as a go-between for Christopher Burr Gardner, who was trying to sell his longtime Winter Park insurance agency, and a Chicago businessman who became its buyer. According to emails … Gilway sent Gardner’s contact information to Rick Gulliver, president of HUB International Limited, a Chicago insurance brokerage. “Thanks — calling Chris today,” Gulliver wrote Gilway two days later. Gilway said he and Gulliver became close associates nearly two decades ago when he was in charge of insurance operations for Zurich Canada. Gilway had more than four decades of senior level insurance industry experience when he joined Citizens in 2012. “This is called Networking 101,” Gilway. “I don’t think I did him any favors. All I did was make an introduction. It should be of no concern.” Three months later, in January 2015, Gardner, who as the board chairman of Citizens is listed as Gilway’s supervisor, approved a $50,000 pay increase for Gilway. That brought Gilway’s annual salary to $500,000 a year. Gilway received another $50,000 raise six months later, bringing his salary to $550,000.

“Leave Syria, visit Florida? Tourism agency makes error” via Gary Fineout of The Associated PressFlorida’s tourism marketing agency was forced to sign a new contract after a newspaper pointed out it hired a firm to advertise to potential Syrian tourists … VISIT FLORIDA CEO Ken Lawson signed a $14,000 contract with a German advertising firm back in March that included Syria and nine other Middle Eastern countries. President Donald Trump included Syria on a list of countries covered by a temporary travel ban. A spokesman for the agency blamed the mistake on someone cutting and pasting a list of Middle Eastern countries into the contract. After The Naples Daily News asked questions, VISIT FLORIDA signed a new contract Wednesday that listed only Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“Transportation board settles on three for next FDOT head” via Florida PoliticsThe list of names to be the next secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation is down to three. The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, interviewed five applicants Thursday and is set to recommend three to Gov. Rick Scott. They are Richard Biter, a former assistant secretary of the transportation department; Phillip Gainer, FDOT’s District Secretary for northwest Florida; and Florida Transportation Commissioner Ron Howse. The panel will officially vote to recommend those candidates next week. More than 120 people had applied for the open position, created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

Lyft sharpens attack strategy to battle Uber in coveted South Florida market” via Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald — Lyft, the feisty archrival of Uber in the ride-hailing wars, is sharpening its attack strategy to go after more market share nationally and in South Florida. Nationwide, Lyft has seen new user activations rise 60 percent since news about sexual harassment claims, a #deleteUber movement, a trade-secret lawsuit, a Justice Department probe and executive departures hit ride-hailing titan Uber and its embattled CEO in the past couple of months. In South Florida, its largest and fastest-growing Florida market, Lyft ridership has grown more than threefold since 2014, said Sam Cohen, general manager of Florida for Lyft.

Body farm for researchers and detectives opens near Tampa” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press — Officials broke ground on the Adam Kennedy Forensics Field, a five-acre patch of land north of Tampa. It’s the seventh such facility in the nation and the first in Florida’s subtropical environment. Officials in Florida hope their farm, to be used at first by detectives and forensic anthropologists at the nearby University of South Florida, will draw scientists from other countries and grow to be the largest in the world … Dr. Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF, predicts that by studying how bodies react in Florida’s sweltering humidity, more evidence will be preserved and breakthroughs made in real-life-cases. The research also would benefit other countries with subtropical and tropical climates, she said. Bodies are obtained by donation. The first four will be buried next week, and in January, Kimmerle and other researchers will hold a course for detectives on exhumation. Later, other bodies will be exposed to water and buried during different seasons to determine how different factors affect decomposition and evidence. After the bodies are studied, the skeletons will be cleaned and preserved and made available for future research.

No dice: Miami Beach commission moves to ban casinos” via The Associated Press — The city’s commission voted unanimously for two preliminary ordinances banning casinos or any other gambling facility on the island. Commissioners will take a final vote July 26 … city leaders decided to push the ordinances after the state Legislature considered granting a new gambling license for South Florida. That plan eventually fell through Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine says the resort city has no need for casinos and cited opposition from operators of the annual Art Basel fair, which draws art lovers from around the world. There are also concerns about more crime, traffic and addiction to gambling.

Comedian Samantha Bee throws weight behind Florida felons’ voting rights” via Kate Payne of WFSU — Bee of the TBS show Full Frontal sat down with Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Meade is behind a proposed ballot initiative that would automatically restore civil rights to felons … “In Florida, felonies can be things like buying weed, tampering with an odometer or disturbing a lobster trap. So basically Spring Break,” Bee joked. “And once you lose your rights, it’s nearly impossible to get them back.” Bee set up a new website for audience members to download and sign the petition if they’re Florida voters. For those who can’t vote in the state, Bee joked folks can mail it to a grandparent who is.


The North Fort Myers Republican will formally launch his 2018 Agriculture Commissioner campaign at 11:15 a.m. at Sun Harvest Citrus, 14601 Six Mile Cypress Parkway in Fort Myers. chatted with Caldwell ahead of his announcement about what he learned from his 2008 Senate District 27 bid, what prompted him to run for statewide office, and what distinguishes him from the rest of the 2018 hopefuls. On what lessons he’ll take from his SD 27 run: “Certainly it’s not ever going to be the same running in a district versus a state, but even then, as a novice, I appreciated that the seat was a real microcosm of Florida. It was basically a 50-50 seat, with a slight Democratic registration advantage. It had urbanized downtowns, it had cattle ranches and citrus groves, it covered part of Lake Okeechobee, and it had ocean on each side. It was quite literally a snapshot of every kind of venue you’ll encounter in the state of Florida. You had to learn to campaign in different environments. You always want to remain true to who you are and what your values are and what your goals are, but you do have to make sure you communicate and meet people where they’re at, and with such a diverse district, it was one of those educational lessons for sure.” On running for office: “Here’s an opportunity, from my perspective to keep pursuing the issues that I think are important, the ones I’ve had a chance to focus on and shape the policy outcomes. That’s what I’m always going to be looking to do, to be effective. … The God’s honest truth is, this gig takes a lot of a personally and certainly commands a lot from their family. A few years ago with those special sessions, I was gone 42 weeks of the year. To me, running for higher office is really a waste of time if you don’t have a real commitment to make a difference, to have issues and challenges you want to tackle. Just running for office because it’s cool or a nice title, I’ll never understand it. It’s just way too much of a personal investment and a sacrifice as part of a family to just to it for the popularity sake. You have got to want to do this gig because you think you can make a difference.” On what distinguishes him from other candidates: “Ultimately, that’s a question for the voters to decide. What I can commit to and offer is that I have a deep-rooted investment in the state of Florida. This is not about titles or the opportunity to put something on my resume. I honestly don’t care if someday my gravestone says anything more than ‘husband and father,’ that’s the only real job that I worry about being successful in my legacy. But this is really, to me, a chance to serve. You look at the things I’ve been able to work on over the last … seven years in the process and I think it demonstrates my ability to work with challenging issues, to work with a bipartisan coalition of folks, to work with folks across the aisle, to come together on some pretty tough things.”

North Fort Myers Republican Matt Caldwell kicks his bid for Agriculture Commissioner into high gear with an April fundraising haul of more than $412K.


Adam Putnam criticizes state budget deal during Sarasota stop” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Putnam, who had input on the budget as the state’s current agriculture commissioner, said during a stop in Sarasota that “I certainly have some concerns about the budget and how it was done.” Putnam was alluding to the fact that the final budget deal was largely negotiated behind closed doors, leading to criticism from Scott and others about a lack of transparency. Scott is particularly incensed that lawmakers eliminated funding for the economic incentives doled out by Enterprise Florida, and reduced the tourism promotion dollars awarded to Visit Florida. Asked about those cuts after his speech to the Sarasota GOP, Putnam said: “when you take job creation for granted it slips away.”

Assignment editors: Adam Putnam will continue his 10-day, 22-city bus tour Monday with an “Up & Adam” Breakfast at 8 a.m. at Rafiki Tiki Riviera Beach Marina, 190 E. 13th Street in Riviera Beach. He’ll then head to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 2301 SE 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale.

Gwen Graham gets backing of Amy Mercado, Lori Berman, Barbara Watson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Mercado, vice chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said in a news release issued by Graham’s campaign that the congresswoman “stood up for our shared values in Washington … She voted to defend Obamacare, co-sponsored legislation to raise the minimum wage, and worked to protect Florida’s environment,” Mercado continued. “She has the courage to fight for our priorities and the experience to get things done.” … “It showed me she cares about every student, regardless of their ZIP code or background. After years of Republican attacks on our public education system, we need a governor who will end high-stakes testing and the current system of demoralizing school grades,” Watson said.

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Look who’s shaved and ready to be a state Senate candidate:

Save the date: Florida Foundation for Liberty is hosting a fundraising reception for Rep. Paul Renner Thursday, May 25. Reception begins 5:30 p.m. at The River Club, 1 Independent Dr. #3500, in Jacksonville. RSVP to Katie Ballard at (954) 803-3942 or

“Daniel Webster endorses Bobby Olszewski in HD 44 race” via Florida Politics — Webster represented the area of HD 44 in southwest Orange County for decades, as a member of the Florida House, the Florida Senate, and a member of Congress, until congressional redistricting forced him to move a few miles into Lake County to run in another district in order to stay in Congress. His endorsement gives Olszewski’s campaign another shot of steam as other potential Republican candidates, including Will McBride and Scott Boyd, contemplate jumping into what will be a short campaign season. Olszewski, a former city commissioner in Webster’s former hometown of Winter Garden, also received the endorsement of former Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, to go along with dozens of endorsements from local officials in western Orange. “Bobby is a man of faith and a true conservative who truly sacrifices his time, treasure, and talents to serve west Orange County. He will be a great advocate for all of us in Tallahassee and I fully endorse his candidacy,” said Webster in a statement.

“David Rivera banks another $110,000 for April” via Florida PoliticsFormer state representative and congressman David Rivera banked $110,750 last month toward his 2018 run for House District 105, campaign finance records show. The April take follows a $100,000 loan. Rivera is looking to replace term-limited state Rep. Carlos Trujillo in the Republican-leaning district. His only competitor, Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez, collected $36,800 for April, bringing her total to $51,425.


AppointedJoel Schleicher and Rebecca Smith to the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Joyce Brancato to District Board of Trustees, College of Central Florida. Dr. Sarvam TerKonda, Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos and Dr. Robert London to the Florida Board of Medicine.

Personnel note: Mike Sole appointed to fish and wildlife commission” via Florida Politics — Sole served at DEP from 2007 to 2010, then went to work for Florida Power & Light Co. and NextEra Energy, where he has been vice president for environmental services. He succeeds Charles Roberts III for a term ending Aug. 1, 2021.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC: Trafelet Brokaw & Co., LLC

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting: WeatherSTEM

Lobbyist compensation reporting deadline — Compensation reports are due for the first quarter of 2017, Jan. 1 through March 31.

Spotted — At a Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association reception at the Key West Country Music Songwriters Festival: Adam BabingtonMelanie BeckerJim DaughtonCarol DoverNicole GarganellaAndy Palmer, Sen. Kathleen PassidomoKirk PepperHolly Raschein, Sen. Wilton Simpson and Marlene Williams.

Happy birthday to once (and future?) candidate Eric Lynn.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 5.12.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, A.G. Gankarski, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica. received three honors in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Awards, highlighting the best journalism of 2016 throughout 10 states of the southeast United States.

I would have never thought when I launched my local political blog that one day we would be competing with the major traditional news organizations, especially in categories like business reporting.

Congrats to:

Martin Dyckman who received a second-place award for online serious commentary for his columns exploring the problems with Florida’s death penalty laws.

Jim Rosica who received a third-place award for online business reporting for his stories on gambling in Florida.

Scott Powers who received a third-place award for online political reporting for his stories on Central Florida politics.


The enduring image of Corrine Brown the day she was found guilty of 18 counts in her fraud trial was not the congresswoman in the courtroom, where she was stoic.

Rather, it was afterward.

Wearing a slightly-out-of-season dress and jacket, Brown was walked to a waiting black Mercedes coupe. Parting a phalanx of cameras and microphones like Moses parting the Red Sea, it was her last public act of transfiguration.

Yet no miracles await a former congresswoman nailed on all but four of the 22 counts she faced.

Brown, on way to a phalanx of guilty verdicts, was rolled on and betrayed by co-conspirators … all of whom said they couldn’t tell Corrine no; she was queen of the whole One Door for Education scheme.

Brown’s lawyer, Orlando barrister James Smith, once more put on his game face for the press, saying the game wasn’t over …  this was just the “first quarter” … more motions would be filed.

Maybe. It’s an open question as to how much more lawyerin’ Brown can afford, given she had to sell her beach house to pay her defense.

Also a given — she will soon enough be without her congressional pension.

The trial was tough to watch – Brown’s defense dug in their heels in an attempt to find some small sliver of plausible deniability. Common sense obliterated that.

If Brown hadn’t worked these donors first, would they have given to One Door?

Also tough to watch – people at the trial. With many of the daily regulars, there was a randomness at best and a sordidness at worst; a generally unhygienic lot gleeful in wanting to watch Corrine Brown get what they thought was coming to her. That is,  until they realized that they were watching a deadly-dull trial about “pass-through” checks and tax omissions and elisions, with donor testimony having all the color of product warranties.

Now Queen Corrine is deposed, once and for all.

Indicted by a grand jury in July, Corrine Brown was convicted of 18 of 22 separate criminal counts Thursday.

Jacksonville lost Brown’s Congressional seat, possibly once and for all, as well. And the Corrine Brown machine – with all of its messiness – that’s gone too.

What’s left? A Duval Democratic Party that doesn’t win much, lacking a single charismatic figure who can draw crossover votes.

Corrine is gone, likely headed to prison, with no successor, no heir.

It is an ultimate tragedy, perhaps, one with effects that could very well outlive Corrine Brown herself.

— “Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown violated the public trust, the honor of her position, and the integrity of the American system of government when she abused one of the most powerful positions in the nation for her own personal gain. She shamefully deprived needy children of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have helped with their education and improve their opportunities for advancement, and she lied to the IRS and the American public about secret cash deposits into her personal bank accounts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco. “The Department of Justice is committed to fighting corruption and fraud wherever we find it, at all levels of government, regardless of their power and influence.”

— “Former Congresswoman Brown chose greed and personal gain over the sacred trust given to her by the community that she served for many years,” said acting U.S. Attorney Steven Muldrow. “These guilty verdicts underscore our Office’s resolve in holding public officials at all levels of government accountable for their actions. In this case, former Congresswoman Brown stole money that was donated on the false premise of helping further the educational goals of underprivileged children.”

How the Brown verdict is playing: Florida Times-Union, Corrine Brown convicted of 18 felonies, faces decades in prison – “The verdict came three days after closing arguments in a trial where Brown was painted as living the high life on cash that aides secretly deposited in her bank account after passing it through other accounts.” CNN, Former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown convicted of fraud scheme – “The Justice Department said Brown and two co-conspirators solicited more than $800,000 in donations for the One Door for Education — Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund … frequently from individuals and companies Brown knew through her congressional position. One Door was not a registered nonprofit and most of the money went to their own pockets or was spent on lavish events in Brown’s honor.” Orlando Sentinel, Corrine Brown found guilty on fraud and tax-evasion charges – “’Brown violated the public trust, the honor of her position, and the integrity of the American system of government when she abused one of the most powerful positions in the nation for her own personal gain,’ Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.” First Coast News, Corrine Brown stoic leaving court after being found guilty of fraud, corruption charges – “Brown kept uncharacteristically silent … she respected the justice system and the jury, but intended to file motions to begin the appeal process. She maintains her innocence.” POLITICO, Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown convicted of federal fraud charges – “As reporters shouted a few questions at her, she kept silent as she kept moving arm-in-arm with her pastor and family members toward the car. Some yelled ‘we love you Corrine.’” News 4 Jax, Lawmakers, supporters react to Brown’s conviction – “They couldn’t give her the courtesy or decency to come out the back door. Come on, she built this place. She named it. It’s a damn shame in Jacksonville today we have no decency, no respect for black life in this city.” NPR, Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown Convicted Of Stealing From Phony Charity – “Attorney James Smith told reporters, ‘I still have a lot of work to do on this case,’ referring to the sentencing phase and the motion he plans to file for a new trial … sentencing phase could take 90 days or longer.”

Tallahassee Democrat editorial board questioning vindicated by Brown convictions via Florida PoliticsSkip Foster, the newspaper’s publisher, tweeted on Thursday: “Looks like, Ms. Brown, it was appropriate for us to ask you about that at our editorial board meeting after all.” Last August, “the indictments were the first question when the three Democratic candidates for the 5th Congressional District met with the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board,” the paper explained in a story about the meeting. Brown rose “from her chair, approached the camera recording the interview and stopped in front of her questioner. ‘These are the things that Congresswoman Corrine Brown did. I gave 22 scholarships. It’s important you know that. I gave 22 scholarships. So don’t ask me something that I don’t have any control over. Ask me what Corrine Brown has done,’ ” she said, according to the story. Brown lost the race to current Congressman Al Lawson of Tallahassee.


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Rick Scott-led PAC tackles education, economy in digital videos — New Republican launched two videos this week when it announced Gov. Rick Scott would head up the organization. The first ad, dubbed “If You Open Education,” addresses ways to change the education system. “Our old, closed education system is failing our children, and our country is falling behind” a woman is heard saying in the minute-long video. “It’s time to open up education, to open up opportunity for everyone.” The second video talks about opening up the economy, by getting rid of outdated regulations. Click on the images below to watch the videos.

First on #FlaPol – “Airbnb opens Florida political committee” via Florida Politics – Airbnb, the online marketplace that allows people to find and rent vacation homes, has formed a political committee in Florida, state campaign finance records show. “People versus the Powerful” was formed April 6 for the purpose of  “supporting or opposing statewide, legislative, multi-county and local candidates,” according to its statement of organization. … For the committee’s first month of existence, the San Francisco-based company seeded it with $1 million. It has yet to make any expenditure, save for about $30 in bank fees, according to reports.

“Adam Putnam fundraising panel notches over $800,000 for April” via Florida PoliticsThe political committee of Republican gubernatorial candidate Putnam posted more than $800,000 in contributions for the month of April, the state’s campaign finance website shows. Florida Grown reported $809,156 in fundraising and $276,479 in expenditures for the month. That brings the committee’s total take since its February 2015 formation to $11.3 million in contributions. It also spent nearly $3.1 million, records show, for a cash-on-hand amount of about $8.2 million. Putnam, the sitting Agriculture Commissioner, announced his candidacy Wednesday in his home of Polk County.

– “Why Adam Putnam starts his campaign as a big favorite” via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times

Assignment editors: Putnam will attend a firefighter appreciation breakfast at 10 a.m. at Greater Naples Fire Rescue Station 73, 14575 Collier Blvd. in Naples. From there, he’ll head up to Fort Myers to take part in a grassroots meet-and-greet at Buckingham Farms, 12931 Orange River Boulevard. Putnam will continue his 10-day, statewide bus tour Saturday with an “Up & Adam” Breakfast at 9 a.m. at the Royal Palm Room at the Inn on the Lakes, 3101 Golf View Road in Sebring. From there, he’ll go to Okeechobee REC Shotgun Shoot and Lincoln Day Dinner at 2 p.m. at the OK Corral Gun Club, 9449 NE 48 th Street in Okeechobee. Media interested in attending the events on Saturday must email by 8 p.m. Friday to register.

— Not that our writing isn’t riddled with misspelings (get it?), but for a campaign that is spending $80K a month on consultants, shouldn’t Putnam’s first message have been perfect?

Jack Latvala ‘month or two away’ from deciding on Republican bid for governor” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – A day after Putnam kicked off his Republican bid for governor with a large rally that underscored his front runner status, state Sen. Latvala, said he’s “leaning” toward entering the race for governor but won’t make a final decision until June or July. “We’re still a month or two away” from a decision, Latvala said. “I’m leaning in the direction of doing it but I just got out of a very intense job for the last 10 weeks.” Latvala, the Senate Appropriations chairman, was a key figure in the legislature’s crafting of an $83 billion budget that was approved Monday night. He faces term limits in 2018. If he decides to run for governor, Latvala’s Florida Leadership political committee has about $3 million in cash on hand.

Possible gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine engaged and awaiting child” via Joey Flechas of the Miami HeraldLevine recently got engaged to Caro Murciano, a real estate agent and younger sister of television actor Enrique Murciano. Levine has never been married before. The couple are expecting. The mayor [said] these changes in his personal life only bolster his motivation as he considers a run. “Becoming a husband and father will be one of the greatest highlights of my life and reinforces my determination to make our children’s future secure and bright,” he said. Levine has yet to commit to a run [for governor].


Larry Sabato moves Carlos Curbelo’s CD 26 race to ‘Toss-up’” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Bad news for Curbelo, Brian Mast, and other Florida Republicans in vulnerable congressional districts in 2018 who voted for the American Health Care Act. Sabato‘s “Crystal Ball” ratings downgraded Curbelo’s chances … Sabato had CD 26 as “leaning Republican,” but now shifted it to “Toss-up.” Mario Diaz-Balart‘s position in Florida’s 25th Congressional District was also downgraded slightly, going from “likely Republican” to “leaning Republican.” Diaz-Balart also voted for the AHCA. On the Democratic side … three congressional seats maintain a “leans Democratic” outlook — Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 27th District, and Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th District. The other seat is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen‘s seat in Florida’s 27th District.

Quelling candidacy chatter, Alberto Carvalho vows to remain Miami-Dade schools’ chief” via Patricia Mazzei and Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – Speaking at an awards ceremony for the Education Fund, a local schools nonprofit, Carvalho vowed to remain schools chief this year, next year and for years to come … The comment seemed to address his own acknowledgment last week that he was being courted to replace Miami Republican Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. Carvalho, an independent who has never run for public office, could have mounted a formidable candidacy, given his broad popularity and name recognition. But he sounded reluctant to run even last week, when Florida Democrats were abuzz about his potential candidacy. And he has since spoken to school board members, including one, Lubby Navarro, who said Carvalho was clear he wasn’t running … Carvalho’s promise to stick to his job was met with resounding applause.

“After strong start, Ed Hooper raises just $640 in April for Senate bid” via Florida PoliticsHooper, the former Republican state representative and Clearwater city commissioner, posted just over $600 in April after two consecutive months of five-digit fundraising. Hooper, aiming to replace term-limited Jack Latvala in Senate District 16, put up only $640 in contributions and showed $20 in expenditures for the month. That’s after bringing in more than $25,000 and $24,000 for February and March, respectively. Hooper, however, still has no opposition for the seat, which covers much of north Pinellas County.

Ana Rivas Logan is in for Frank Artiles’ Florida Senate seat” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Former state rep. Rivas Logan is the third Hispanic Democratic woman to announce her candidacy, after state Rep. Daisy Baez of Coral Gables and businesswoman Annette Taddeo. The difference, Rivas Logan said, is that she’s already won elections in parts of Artiles’ Southwest Miami-Dade County district. Her name recognition will help her in the quick-turnaround special election, she said. “It’s not about who can win a primary,” she said. “It’s about who can flip the seat blue.”

Dwight Bullard backs Annette Taddeo in SD 40 — The former state Senator has thrown his support behind Taddeo in her Senate District 40 bid. “Annette is someone that has been a part of our greater South Dade community for many years; she has stood up for us and will stand up for the community and it’s interest in Tallahassee,” he said in a statement. “I’ve seen elders, pastors and stalwarts of the community encourage Annette to run.  I join them in my support of Annette as the candidate we want to represent our community in the Florida Senate.” Taddeo announced she was running for the seat earlier this week, and the Division of Elections said it received her paperwork Thursday and was processing it.

Annette Taddeo, seen here with former state Sen. Dwight Bullard, announced Thursday she had gotten Bullard’s endorsement to run for Frank Artiles’ now vacant Senate seat. Artiles resigned last month after his profanity- and racial-epithet filled tirade against two sitting black senators at Tallahassee’s Governors Club.

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“Race to replace Jim Boyd gins up big numbers” via Florida PoliticsContributions for candidates in the race to replace House District 71’s Boyd topped $115,000 for April. Will Robinson, a Bradenton Republican, bested Sarasota Republican James Buchanan for the month, pulling in a whopping $97,600 to Buchanan’s $15,300, records show. And Bradenton Democrat Randy Cooper put up $2,210. Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, is term-limited, having been first elected in 2010.

Miami Republican Vance Aloupis hoists $31,150 in April via Florida Politics Aloupis’ second finance report shows a fundraising slowdown to $31,150 in April from just over $103,000 in March. But the Miami Republican, vying to replace the term-limited Mike Bileca in House District 115, still eclipses the competition for the seat, which has raised a total of $250 among three candidates. All of Aloupis’ reported contributions for April are $1,000 or under, including $500 from Florida East Coast Industries.

“Jose Mallea raises over $34,000 in April for HD 116 seat” via Florida PoliticsMallea, a Miami Republican, is running to replace current Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. Campaign finance records show he posted $34,240 in contributions for April, coming off a $55,276 haul for March. Mallea, the owner of JM Global consulting, ran Sen. Marco Rubio’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2010. He also was chief of staff to former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. Republican Daniel Anthony Perez, the only other declared candidate in the race, raised $17,325 in April, for a total of $89,516.


Rick Scott wraps up latest visit to Washington” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – … with a visit to the Department of Homeland Security, part of his embrace of the Trumpadministration. Scott popped in for a visit with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to talk water issues. But Scott’s visit to Washington — the latest in a series since Trump was elected — also had political aims. Scott yesterday attended a Republican Governors Association breakfast. That evening he hosted a dinner with political reporters to unveil a national Super PAC. Afterward, Scott went on Fox Business.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will ceremonially sign a bill (SB 10) that helps protect the environment by authorizing the building of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee at 10 a.m. at the Miami Canal-John Stretch Park, 47000 State Road 80 in Lake Harbor.

— “Everglades activists worry new reservoir deal doesn’t go far enough via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times 

“Joe Negron seeks guidance on medical marijuana” via Florida PoliticsWithout using the words “Special Session,” Senate President Negron is seeking “ideas” from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to implement the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Negron sent a memo Thursday, released by his office, saying he “believe(s) we should consider the best way to meet our constitutional obligation to implement Amendment 2.” Lawmakers failed to come to agreement on a bill that would implement the medical cannabis constitutional amendment passed in 2016 … “It was our mutual obligation to work together in good faith to find a principled middle ground on this important issue,” Negron wrote. “…Please feel free to contact me with your ideas on how to achieve this objective.”

Florida for Care: Urge lawmakers to support special session — Florida for Care, the advocacy group pushing for the implementation of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment, is encouraging supporters to call and email senators and representatives to tell them to “urge leadership to call a special session that implements Amendment 2, provides strong patient access, and allows competitive, free market to serve patients.” “Pick up the phone,” wrote Ben Pollara, in the email to supporters. “Your elected officials are listening.”

Editorial: Legislature needs special session on medical marijuana” via the Tampa Bay Times – Amendment 2 … is considerably less popular with state lawmakers. That explains why the legislative session ended with no agreement on implementing the amendment, leaving sick Floridians in limbo and major policy decisions to be hashed out in court. House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron — or Gov. Scott — should call lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session to pass a comprehensive bill making medical pot reasonably accessible to patients across Florida. By failing to pass a bill, the Legislature abdicated its duty to the Department of Health and the courts. With no law on the books, implementation falls next to department regulators, which does not bode well for patient access. Medical marijuana could soon become a billion-dollar industry in Florida affecting hundreds of thousands of patients.

“Budget line item only for Jewish schools raises some questions” via The Miami Herald – Legislators — both Republicans and Democrats — were eager to comply with a request to help secure Jewish schools following months of news reports showing children and adults evacuating from schools and other places in response to threats in Florida and other states. But the line-item in the budget has raised some questions about government dollars earmarked to help schools serving just one religion. Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida’s legislative counsel, told the Miami Herald that while responding to violent threats made against religious minorities is extremely important, the budget item raises constitutional questions.

Misunderstanding, panic show importance of water storage funds to landowner lobbyists” via Bruce Ritchie and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In the hours immediately after talks between House and Senate negotiators over environmental spending broke down, one lobbyist sent a text message to a House appropriations subcommittee chairman saying, “Tell me I shouldn’t be panicking.” At the root of the lobbyists’ fear was the mistaken idea that the program was being zeroed out. But the misunderstanding and panicked text messages show how important the program is to agricultural corporations and their lobbyists who must shepherd millions of dollars in taxpayer spending to a program that benefits their clients. It also shows how lobbyists and lawmakers were still very much working behind the scenes in a session that was supposed to be more open and transparent under House Speaker Corcoran.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Leslie Dughi, Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: Oliver Wyman

ICYMI: Lori Berman announces Palm Beach County Commission bid — The Lantana Democrat announced Thursday that she filed the necessary paperwork to run for District 2 of the Palm Beach County Commission. “I know the district and I know the issues,” said Berman, “I’ve made it a point to know what is going on locally on a variety of issues from homelessness to sober homes, from economic development to the agricultural reserve.  I can be a consensus builder on the commission and focus on helping our residents be successful.” First elected in 2010, Berman can’t run again in 2018 because of term limits. She will continue to serve in the Florida House until the end of her term.


FPL’s offer: $185 million to get Vero Beach out of the electric business” via Colleen Wixon of TC Palm –  Florida Power & Light Co. has offered $185 million for the city’s entire electric system … The offer includes paying the city $36.6 million — $20 million in cash; money toward employee pension liabilities and to rent the Vero Beach power-plant substation; and an additional $20.4 million to release the lien on the city’s utility bonds. FPL would pay $108 million to the Florida Municipal Power Agency to get Vero Beach out of the statewide electric cooperative of municipalities. FPL also would pay $20 million to cut the city’s ties with the Orlando Utilities Commission, which sells Vero most of its electrical power. Mayor Laura Moss declined to comment on FPL’s offer, adding that she has asked other City Council members to avoid discussing specifics before a special City Council meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Orlando is the No. 1 destination in the U.S.” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Visit Orlando announced that a record 68 million visitors came to Orlando last year, making it the No. 1 destination in the United States. “Orlando’s visitation number represents the emotional connections we make with millions all over the world,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “The love they show us never ceases to inspire us and led us to launch a yearlong campaign about two important words: thank you.” To mark the occasion, Visit Orlando achieved a Guinness World Records title by gathering 3,144 handwritten thank you notes from local attractions and hotels to mail to visitors that supported the Orlando destination. The cards will be mailed to visitors that used Visit Orlando’s social media channels, destination websites and member programs.

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

Publix ties for No. 1 in customer loyalty survey” via Bill Bortzfield of the Florida Times-Union — Lakeland-based Publix, and Wegmans, based in Rochester, N.Y., tied for No. 1, with each receiving a 77 percent score in the survey’s customer loyalty index. Trader Joe’s came in second with 76 percent. Publix was found to have the cleanest stores and fastest checkouts. It was ranked highest for specialty department service and was a close second to Trader Joe’s for cashier courtesy. Wal-Mart landed at the bottom of all categories in the survey but one.

What Taylor Biehl and Jeff Sharkey are reading –Tesla opens Florida pre-orders for solar roof” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times – The Palo Alto, California, company opened Florida pre-orders for its residential solar energy material called “Solar Roof,” as well as a cost estimator. The roofing material will cost a hefty $21.85 per square foot, perhaps five to six times the cost of putting on an asphalt shingle roof. The tiles are made of tempered glass and take about a week to install. Tesla is also offering what it says is the industry’s best warranty: “The lifetime of your house or infinity, whichever comes first.” A $1,000 deposit is required to pre-order.

— ALOE —

Florida retailers expect record breaking Mother’s Day in 2017” via Florida Politics – According to the Florida Retail Federation (FRF), consumers will spend more than ever on gifts for Mother’s Day this year, reaching $23.6 billion. The state’s leading retailer trade association expect a whopping $186.39 per mom on average this year, up from last year’s $172.22 average. A review from the National Retail Federation, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, show per-person spending in 2017 will be the highest in the survey’s 14-year history. Estimates say shoppers will spend $5 billion on jewelry, $4.2 billion on special outings such as dinner or brunch, $2.6 billion on flowers, $2.5 billion on gift cards, $2.1 billion on clothing, $2 billion on consumer electronics, and $1.9 billion on personal services. The most significant increases from last year are in jewelry spending, which is up 19 percent, and personal services, up 15 percent.

Disneyland was born on paper over a marathon weekend in 1953” via Sandy Cohen of The Associated Press — Tomorrowland was originally going to be called World of Tomorrow. Frontierland was Frontier Country. Lilliputian Land never became a reality at Disneyland. And no one could have foreseen a “Star Wars” land opening in 2019. Walt Disney spent a marathon weekend in 1953 brainstorming ideas for the new family amusement park he envisioned called Disneyland. There would be a train station and an old-fashioned Main Street square. The park would have a princess castle and a pirate ship, maybe even a rocket. Disney wanted to get investors on board, so he described the various elements he imagined to artist Herb Ryman, who translated them into a hand-drawn map — Disneyland’s first. That original concept art could fetch as much as $1 million when it goes up for auction next month, auctioneer Mike Van Eaton said.

In this April 28, 2017 photo, art dealer Mike Van Eaton stands next to a hand-drawn map from 1953 that shows Walt Disney’s original ideas for Disneyland. Photo credit: AP.

“Universal booking rooms for its newest value resort” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — Universal Orlando is taking reservations for its new Aventura Hotel, which offers views of Islands of Adventure and its new Volcano Bay water park. Although the hotel doesn’t open until August 1, 2018, Universal is enticing guests with prices as low as $97 a night, along with a $100 dining credit, if seven nights are booked. There’s a $50 dining credit available for stays of four to six nights. Prices start at $116 a night. … Aventura guests will get early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but they won’t be on the water taxi line or get the Universal Express Unlimited access that is restricted to the resort’s original three hotels: the Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific. Bus transportation will be available to the parks or guests can walk on the resort walkway to CityWalk and the parks.

Universal Orlando is now taking reservations for Aventura Hotel, scheduled to open August 1, 2018, Universal is enticing guests with prices as low as $97 a night. The hotel will offer a view of Islands of Adventure and the new Volcano Bay waterpark.

Happy birthday to our friend, Brad Swanson.

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