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Sunburn for 01.20.17 – Inauguration Day

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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


… there’s never been a starker contrast between two presidents as there is Barack Obama and Donald Trump, remember that John Adams was so contemptuous of Thomas Jefferson that he left the White House in the middle of the night on March 4, 1801, refusing to attend the inaugural ceremony of the man who had vanquished him (h/t Larry Sabato). Democrat Samuel Tilden, who handily won the reported popular vote in 1876, was urged to lead an army into Washington to stop the “corrupt” handover of power by Congress to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. The long Herbert HooverFDR transition was a disaster that inflicted additional pain (such as loads of failed banks) on a suffering nation.

By these standards, Obama-to-Trump has been relatively smooth. In these hyper-partisan times, one is grateful for any hint of civility. Under difficult circumstances, both Obama and Trump have listened to the better angels of their nature. It may be too much to hope that this initial precedent will apply to the many battles on the horizon, but to the extent it can, we’ll all be better off.


Donald Trump enters the White House on Friday just as he entered the race for president: defiant, unfiltered, unbound by tradition and utterly confident in his chosen course.

In the 10 weeks since his surprise election as the nation’s 45th president, Trump has violated decades of established diplomatic protocol, sent shockwaves through business boardrooms, tested long-standing ethics rules and continued his combative style of replying to any slight with a personal attack — on Twitter and in person.

Past presidents have described walking into the Oval Office for the first time as a humbling experience, one that in an instant makes clear the weight of their new role as caretaker of American democracy. Trump spent much of his transition making clear he sees things differently: Rather than change for the office, he argues, the office will change for him.

 “They say it’s not presidential to call up these massive leaders of business,” Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis in December. That was after he negotiated a deal with an air conditioning company to keep jobs in the state, a move many economists derided as unworkable national economic policy.

“I think it’s very presidential,” he declared. “And if it’s not presidential, that’s OK. That’s OK. Because I actually like doing it.”

Even before he takes the oath of office, Trump has changed the very nature of presidency, breaking conventions and upending expectations for the leader of the free world.

Advisers who’ve spoken with Trump say the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star is aware of the historic nature of his new job. He’s told friends that he’s drawn to the ambition of Ronald Reagan, a Republican, and John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. He’s thinking of spending his first night in the White House sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, according to some who dined with him recently in Florida.

But Trump also views himself as a kind of “sui generis” president, beholden to no one for his success and modeling himself after no leader who’s come before. Trump has said he’s read no biographies of former presidents. When asked to name his personal heroes in a recent interview, he mentioned his father before replying that he didn’t “like the concept of heroes.”

“I don’t think Trump has a great sense of the history of the White House. When you don’t know your history, it’s hard to fully respect the traditions,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who recently dined with Trump and other guests at his South Florida club. “This is not somebody who brags about how many history biographies he’s read.”

“He’s somebody who brags about it as this is a big event and he’s the maestro,” he said.

That’s a shift that thrills his supporters, who elected Trump to shake up what they see as an unresponsive and corrupt federal government in the “swamp” of Washington.

Since winning the election, Trump has attacked Hollywood celebrities, civil rights icons and political rivals alike. He’s moved markets by going after some companies, while praising others.

He’s questioned the legitimacy of American institutions — appearing to trust the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the intelligence agencies he’ll soon oversee, engaging in personal fights with journalists as he assails the free press and questioning the results of the election, even though it put him in office.

And he’s lambasted the leaders of longstanding allied nations as he questions the post-World War II international order that won the Cold War and maintained peace in Europe for generations.

For Trump supporters, that no-holds-barred style is the very reason he won their votes. But for others in the country, it’s a type of leadership they’ve seen before and fear will spread.

There are signs that Trump’s actions are already changing the traditions of government in Washington, freeing lawmakers and other officials from long-respected practices of federal politics.

More than 50 House Democrats plan to boycott Trump’s inauguration ceremony, an unprecedented break with the bipartisan tradition of celebrating the peaceful transfer of power. While many Democrats were furious with the outcome of the 2000 election in which Republican George W. Bush defeated Al Gore after recounts and a Supreme Court ruling, they generally attended Bush’s inauguration ceremony.

“I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate,” tweeted Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman who’s bidding to head the Democratic National Committee.

Those who know Trump say the billionaire mogul delights in confounding establishment expectations, even as he craves approval from powerbrokers in New York and Washington.

“He was born with a chip on his shoulder, and he is very much the guy from Queens who looked across at Manhattan and envied but also to some degree hated the elites who occupied Manhattan,” said Michael D’Antonio, author of “Never Enough,” a Trump biography. “The way that he wants to disrupt institutions reflects this idea that the institutions haven’t embraced him.”

That’s a style that may work better for a CEO of a family corporation — who has little oversight from corporate boards or shareholders — than a president constrained by a system of checks and balances. Former Cabinet officials say the layers of government bureaucracy, myriad regulations and intricacies of Congress will challenge Trump’s style.

President Barack Obama, who’s offered Trump advice both publicly and privately, said he’s urged the president-elect to hold onto some of the traditions of the office.

“The one thing I’ve said to him directly, and I would advise my Republican friends in Congress and supporters around the country, is just make sure that as we go forward certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place,” said Obama, in a recent interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

But Trump’s supporters say it’s the institutions and Washington — and not the next president — that must change.

“Trump believes that he has a better understanding of how things work in the modern world than all of these so-called critics,” said Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser and former Republican House speaker, who has spoken with the president-elect about his presidency. “That’s who he is.


IN DC FOR INAUGURATION? Here’s everything you need to know — including parade and protest maps, concert schedules and events, courtesy of CNN’s Eli Watkins and Sophie Tatum.

SPOTTED: Ben Carson with Kelly Mallette, the right hand of lobbyist Ron Book.


Morning – Trump, Pence and their families are expected to attend services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, just steps from the White House. Afterward, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome Trump and his wife Melania to the White House for morning tea. The two couples will then travel together to the Capitol by motorcade.

9:30 a.m. – Inauguration ceremony begins on the west front of the Capitol with musical performances. Attendees will include members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, diplomats and the public. Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will attend, as will Trump’s election opponent Hillary Clinton. Former president George H.W. Bush is in frail health and will not be present. Sixteen-year-old soprano Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem. The Rockettes dance troupe will also be performing, at a time yet to be announced.

11:30 a.m. – Opening remarks. Religious leaders will offer the invocation and readings. Pence will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Noon – Trump will recite the oath of office, administered by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He will use president Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration Bible, as well as the Bible that Trump’s mother gave to him at his Sunday school graduation in 1955. Afterward, Trump will deliver his inaugural address.

12:30 p.m. – Ceremony ends. Afterward, in keeping with tradition, Trump and Pence will attend the Congressional Lunch in the Capitol.

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Inaugural parade. The newly minted president and vice-president make their way 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, trailed by some 8,000 parade participants. They will include members of all US military branches, as well as high school and university marching bands, equestrian corps, first responders, veteran groups and even a tractor brigade.

7 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Trump, Pence and their wives will make appearances at three official inaugural balls, two of which will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the other at the National Building Museum. A number of semi-official and unofficial balls also will take place throughout the city.

THE TRUMP INAUGURATION IS SHAPING UP TO BE WASHINGTON’S SMALLEST PARTY IN YEARS via Maura Judkis of The Washington Post – Every four years, the city comes alive with a flurry of unofficial celebrations, ranging from chummy state-society affairs to exclusive corporate shindigs to cash-bar mixers open to anyone … although it’s hard to predict the size of the crowds that will greet [Trump] at his public events this week, it seems increasingly clear that the after-hours revelry will be markedly muted. Not only is Trump hosting only three official balls — far fewer than his predecessors at their first inaugurals — but the spillover festivities appear smaller and fewer. Several of the city’s great halls are going unrented. Far fewer big-name celebrities are headed to town. And while many events are reportedly sold out, others are still looking to fill their rooms.

THE FORECAST WON’T BUDGE — RAIN SEEMS INEVITABLE FOR TRUMP’S INAUGURATION via Angela Fritz of The Washington Post – If you’re heading downtown for the swearing-in ceremony or the parade, the Capital Weather Gang suggests wearing warm clothes, a waterproof outer layer, and a poncho rather than an umbrella – the latter are prohibited by the Secret Service and will generally be more of a nuisance on the crowded National Mall. (Saturday will be 10 degrees warmer and there’s less chance of a drizzle.)

WILL DONALD AND MELANIA DANCE? PLUS, FIVE OTHER BIG INAUGURATION QUESTIONS. via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post – 1. Will the president and first lady dance at their inaugural balls? If they do, what song will they dance to? 2. Will the inauguration incorporate poetry? 3. How will the inaugural festivities incorporate Marla Maples and Ivana Trump? What about Tiffany Trump and Barron Trump? 4. What tone will the clergy giving invocations set for the day? 5. How will Trump interact with the former presidents and their wives — and Hillary Clinton, his general-election opponent — during the weekend? 6. What is Trump going to say in his address, and will it differ from the tone he set during the election?

— “I love Toby Keith. His decision to play Trump’s inauguration won’t change that.” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post

AL LAWSON SAYS ATTENDING TRUMP INAUGURATION IS HIS DUTY via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Lawson said members of Congress have customarily attended the ceremony regardless of whether they support the man taking the oath of office. “It’s not so much for anyone personally, it’s for the presidency of the United States of America,” Lawson said. “And I think that’s far bigger than anybody; bigger than Trump.” Lawson, the freshman Democrat whose district includes parts of Jacksonville, is not alone in his thinking. Most members of Congress are attending Trump’s inauguration, including other Florida Democrats like Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Val Demings and Rep. and former governor Charlie Crist.

GREAT READ – IN DONATED SHOES AND SUIT, A TRUMP SUPPORTER COMES TO WASHINGTON via Justin Jouvenal of The Washington Post – Shane Bouvet pointed to the towering grain silos near his parents’ home in this “little speck in America” and explained how he used to climb them to peer beyond the town’s tight confines. Bouvet, 24, knew then he wanted a life outside, but the prospects for the former night watchman and single father living paycheck to paycheck seemed dim before he improbably rose from delivering signs for Trump’s campaign to becoming its volunteer social media coordinator in Illinois. His work earned him an invitation to an inaugural ball near Washington … Bouvet piled into a car with friends … and began the drive to Washington to stay at a Days Inn in Arlington: “This is pretty much the biggest thing I’ve done in my life,” Bouvet said. “I don’t get out much.”

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GEORGE W. BUSH’S LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA IN 2009: THE COUNTRY IS ‘PULLING FOR YOU’ via Madeline Conway of POLITICO – “Very few have had the honor of knowing the responsibility you now feel,” Bush wrote to Obama on his inauguration day in a handwritten note on White House letterhead … “Very few know the excitement of the moment and the challenges you will face.” “There will be trying moments,” he continued. “The critics will rage. Your ‘friends’ will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead.”

OBAMA’S ELECTORAL LEGACY: AFTER 8 YEARS, WE GET A DONALD TRUMP via Darryl Paulson for Florida Politics – Whatever Obama may have achieved in public policy, it is that policy which is in great part responsible for setting “the post-World War II record for losses by the White House party” … However important the Obama policies may have been, it is fair to argue that those policies contained the seeds of Democratic losses. Politics is a strange beast. Six months ago, almost everyone believed the Republican Party was on its last legs, and the Trump nomination would doom them forever. Today the Republicans control all three branches of the federal government, and it appears that the Democrats are on life support. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

OBAMA COMMUTES 330 DRUG SENTENCES ON LAST DAY AS PRESIDENT via Josh Lederman of The Associated Press – With his final offer of clemency, Obama brought his total number of commutations granted to 1,715, more than any other president in U.S. history, the White House said. During his presidency, Obama ordered free 568 inmates who had been sentenced to life in prison. “He wanted to do it. He wanted the opportunity to look at as many as he could to provide relief,” Neil Eggleston, Obama’s White House counsel, said in an interview in his West Wing office. “He saw the injustice of the sentences that were imposed in many situations, and he has a strong view that people deserve a second chance.” For Obama, it was the last time he planned to exercise his presidential powers in any significant way. At noon Friday, Obama will stand with President-elect Donald Trump as his successor is sworn in and Obama’s chapter in history comes to an end.

‘HE HAS THIS DEEP FEAR THAT HE IS NOT A LEGITIMATE PRESIDENT’ via Michael Kruse of POLITICO – A group of Trump biographers offer predictions for how he will run the country … Tim O’Brien: “The whole thing has been a vanity show from the second he ran to the Republican Convention. I think we can expect to see the same on Inauguration Day. He’s been unable to find a clean division between his own emotional needs and his own insecurities and simply being a healthy, strategically committed leader who wants to parse through good policy options.” Michael D’Antonio: “[One] thing I think that we have overlooked as we see Trump trying to delegitimize others is what I suspect is a feeling he has inside that nothing he’s ever achieved himself has ever been legitimate. And even his election was with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. So, he has this deep fear that he is himself not a legitimate president, and I think that’s why he goes to such great lengths to delegitimize even the intelligence community.” Gwenda Blair: “When he’s awake at night, I don’t think it’s because he’s awed or concerned about the responsibilities on his shoulders. It’s because there’s somebody he wants to get even with and how are you going to do it.”

TRUMP’S ‘BEACHHEAD’ TEAMS PRIMED TO GRAB AGENCIES’ REINS AT NOON FRIDAY via Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook via POLITICO – At 12:01 p.m. Friday … Trump’s aides will deploy a team of temporary political appointees into federal agencies to begin laying the groundwork for the president-elect’s agenda while his nominees await Senate confirmation … While the transition team has been building the so-called beachhead teams for months, they are taking on outsize importance because few of Trump’s nominees will be confirmed by the time he’s sworn in.

TRUMP ON SUPREME COURT PICK: ‘I THINK IN MY MIND I KNOW WHO IT IS’ via Ariane de Vogue of CNN – “I think in my mind I know who it is,” he said at a leadership luncheon at his hotel in downtown Washington … “I think you’re going to be very, very excited.” Trump said he would be submitting a name from a list of 20 that he put out during the campaign. “I put out the list of 20, all highly responsible and highly talented, very talented judges … Replacing somebody that was somebody I had great respect for as an intellect, Justice (AntoninScalia,” Trump said.

@POTUS GETS A FRESH START WITH DONALD TRUMP INAUGURATION via Florida Politics — POLITICO Morning Tech reported … a plan is in place to transition all of President Barack Obama’s tweets from the @POTUS account to @POTUS 44, an “archived Obama-era version of the account. The account will retain all of the current followers, while also attaching those same followers to the account that gets handed over to President-elect Donald Trump. The White House issued a memo … outlining how it would transition the president’s social media presence. According to the memo, @POTUS will be made available to Trump and maintain its more than 11 million followers, “but start with no tweets on timeline.” The White House said the social media accounts of @WhiteHouse@FLOTUS@PressSec and @VP. On Instagram and Facebook, the memo explained, the incoming White House gains access to the “White House username, URL, and retain the followers, but will start with no content on the timeline.”

FIRST DAY GOAL? MAKE WHITE HOUSE FEEL LIKE HOME FOR TRUMP via Darlene Superville of The Associated Press – Trump and his wife, Melania, can thank the nearly 100 butlers, maids, plumbers, electricians and other staffers who maintain the private living areas of the White House. The crew will have just the hours between Trump’s swearing-in and the end of the inaugural parade to remove all traces of President Barack Obama and his family and make the Trumps feel at home. “I’ve called it, for years, organized chaos,” says Gary Walters, a former White House chief usher who oversaw the move in-move out process for four presidents. The “chaos” breaks out moments after the outgoing president and the president-elect depart the White House for the oath-taking ceremony at the Capitol. Moving trucks for each family are positioned nearby and are directed through tight security to the White House when they get the all-clear. Residence staff members are broken up into groups and given specific assignments. Some will pack the Obama family’s remaining items, and another group will carry them out to the truck. Other staffers will bring the Trumps’ things into the White House while still others unpack and put them in their designated places.

IVANKA TRUMP SAYS SHE WILL NOT BE FILLING IN AS FIRST LADY IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION via Lauren Effron and John Santucci of ABC News – Speculation that Ivanka Trump will fill in for incoming first lady Melania Trump started swirling after Trump transition sources said Melania Trump was not expected to move to Washington, D.C., until the spring, after her and Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron, finishes the school year. But Donald Trump’s elder daughter said those speculations were “an inappropriate observation.” … “There is one first lady, and she’ll do remarkable things.”

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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 14: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 21; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 23; Valentine’s Day – 25; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 46; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 53; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 105; Election Day 2017 – 290.

BILL NELSON NAMED TOP DEMOCRAT ON NEW SENATE CYBERSECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – U.S. Sen. John McCain  the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed … the ranking Democrat on it, announced Nelson’s new assignment … U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds … will chair the new subcommittee. Nelson stressed the importance of his new task, with his office pointing toward “Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election” and insisting “the new subcommittee will hold the administration accountable if they fail to adequately respond to a future attack.” Florida’s senior also played up his new assignment. “You can’t just sit on your hands and do nothing,” Nelson said. “If we’re going to deter our enemies from attacking us, we have to make it painfully obvious that the consequences are going to be so severe that they won’t want to do it in the first place.”

RICK SCOTT: RESULTS, NOT RATINGS, WILL MATTER FOR TRUMP via Susan Page of USA Today – “Ever since he won, there’s been a lot of politics,” Scott told Capital Download … “People ought to get past that. Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, whoever the president is, I would like that president to be successful. So I think we’ve got to unify behind the president.” Scott said what will matter in the end isn’t Trump’s current ratings — which are dismal by historic standards — but whether he delivers on what he promised during the campaign. “I think it matters if he does what he says he’s going to do,” he said. “I think he’s got to be very focused on getting results.”

SCOTT SUGGESTS ANOTHER OUTSIDER WITH BUSINESS BACKGROUND COULD PLAY WELL AS HIS REPLACEMENT via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Asked if another outsider candidate with a business background would be a good replacement as governor, Scott chose his words carefully, but made a case for someone in his mold. “I would like whoever the next governor is to really continue to focus on making sure we have the best economy. I’d like somebody who is going to focus on job creation,” he said.

LISA CARLTON, SEN. GREG STEUBE WEIGH RUN FOR AG COMMISSIONER via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Carlton, an attorney and fourth-generation rancher and citrus grower who co-owns and helps run a 12,000-acre Sarasota ranch with her family, is distantly related to [SteveCrisafulli and was not interested in challenging him for the job. But she started exploring a campaign when he bowed out. Steube‘s interest in the commissioner job may come as more of a surprise to outside observers. He’s a lawyer who does not come from a family with ties to the agriculture industry and was not known for agriculture issues during his six years in the House. Steube’s interest in the commissioner job may come as more of a surprise to outside observers. He’s a lawyer who does not come from a family with ties to the agriculture industry and was not known for agriculture issues during his six years in the House.

WANT A CHANCE TO SHAPE FLORIDA’S FUTURE? APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – [Today]  is the last day to apply to be a member of what might be one of the most influential groups assembled in Florida in two decades — the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. The unique panel has the power to put proposals directly on the 2018 midterm ballot to reform and update the state’s constitution, and shape Florida’s future. The list of applicants is long, and many have been carefully recruited by Gov. Scott, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and Florida’s top two legislative leaders. Those four men will make the appointments. Scott will appoint 15 members, including its chair. House Speaker Richard Corcoran …  Senate President Joe Negron … each have nine appointees. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga will appoint three members. Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, is automatically a member. As of Thursday, there were 258 applicants for the 37-member commission, and the list of applicants is chock full of current and former elected officials, and dozens of high-profile attorneys.

STATE APPEALS FEDERAL RULING ON SEMINOLE TRIBE BLACKJACK via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The 7-page “notice of appeal” to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was filed by Jason Maine, general counsel to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling. The filing did not preview any arguments the state intends to make to get the decision reversed. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in November had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Scott allowed select Florida dog and horse tracks to offer card games that were too like ones that were supposed to be exclusive to Tribe-owned casinos for a five-year period. The judge decided the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games because a blackjack provision in an agreement between the state and tribe expired in 2015.

SENATOR BEHIND GAMBLING EXPANSION WORKED FOR RESORT OWNERS via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – State Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican and attorney, has acknowledged that he did legal work for Turnberry Associates on a “commercial transaction” as recently as three years ago. Turnberry Associates is a real-estate development company that owns the famous Fontainebleau Hotel. In the past several years, the hotel has showered top politicians in the state and the Republican Party with more than $2 million in campaign contributions, including money that went to a political committee controlled by Galvano. Galvano last week released a major gambling bill that covers everything from legalizing fantasy sports to allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer craps and roulette at its casinos. The legislation, which will have its first hearing next week, also would allow the addition of slot machines in Miami-Dade County. Galvano said he has no plans to work again for Turnberry and he insisted his past work for them was not influencing how he crafted the bill.

COURT OVERTURNS THREE DEATH SENTENCES, INCLUDING COP KILLER’S via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Lancelot Uriley Armstrong was convicted of killing John Greeney, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy and Air Force veteran, during a 1990 armed robbery at a Church’s Fried Chicken in Fort Lauderdale. The jury voted 9-3 to sentence him to death and gave another man involved in the armed robbery a life sentence. Now, Armstrong, as well as Donald Otis Williams, convicted of kidnapping and murdering an 81-year-old woman in 2010, and William M. Kopsho, sentenced for killing his wife in 2000 after learning she was having an affair, will have new sentencing hearings. It’s possible they could still be sentenced to death, but they could also see their sentences commuted to life in prison.

STATE WON’T HAVE TO PAY PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S LEGAL TAB via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The health care organization had sought to punish the Agency for Health Care Administration by making it pay the group’s attorney fees after filing “administrative complaints … alleging violations of (its) license to perform abortions.” The state eventually “voluntarily dismissed the complaints,” according to the opinion. But an administrative law judge still ordered an evidentiary hearing on the fees question. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said that judge overstepped his bounds, “depart(ing) from the essential requirements of the law.” Citing case law, Judges Brad ThomasT. Kent Wetherell II and M. Kemmerly Thomas said he didn’t have authority to order a hearing “because the case was voluntarily dismissed” and thus Planned Parenthood can’t be considered a “prevailing party.”

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AUDIT SLAMS SECURITY, OTHER LAPSES AT STATE TECH AGENCY via Florida Politics – The report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman’s office … lays out a laundry list of security and other problems at the relatively new agency. Among the many audit findings are that “access privileges for some AST users … did not restrict (them) to only those functions appropriate and necessary for assigned job duties or functions.” Gee, no security problem there. Also, some “accounts remained active when no longer needed and some … inappropriately allowed interactive logon, increasing the risk that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of AST data and IT resources may be compromised.” I’m no expert, but that sounds downright dangerous.

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS REWRITING HISTORY, FRAUDULENTLY MANIPULATING DATA TO SELL LAND PLAN via J.P. Sasser for Florida Politics – It’s incredible how foggy some people’s memories are when it comes to past efforts to restore the Everglades, buy farmland and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Time and again, environmental extremists are quick to blame the sugar industry for every ill in the region, past, present and future, without any regard to science or the truth. And speaking of the truth and science, recently, they were caught by the South Florida Water Management District manipulating data to show a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is preferable to one to the north. The real science shows it is not … Floridians should be skeptical of this plan for a variety of reasons. Why is more land needed when plenty of land has already been taken? Recent revelations about the Everglades Foundation’s fraudulent manipulation of the modeling used to calculate their reservoir is another cause for concern. The Everglades Foundation’s fraud was called into question by a South Florida Water Management District scientist in a recent journal article where they were peddling more lies.

ALIMONY REFORM BILL FILED FOR 2017 via Florida Politics – Rep. Colleen Burton will try again to overhaul the state’s alimony law, filing a bill on Wednesday. The Lakeland Republican still aims to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed, after last year’s measure was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. The latest bill (HB 283), however, does not contain child custody provisions that garnered Scott’s disfavor in 2016. He disapproved of that legislation because it had the potential to put the “wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time-sharing,” his veto letter said. Family-law related bills have had trouble getting Scott’s signature even as lawmakers have tried for years to change the way Florida’s courts award alimony.

BILL WOULD FORCE CASE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS ON SUPREME COURT via Florida Politics – A bill filed in the Florida House would force the state Supreme Court to produce a yearly report on how many cases it’s finishing with opinions. It seems to go against the court’s official Latin motto, “Sat Cito Si Recte,” translated as “Soon enough if done correctly,” or even “Justice takes time.” … “The phrase indicates the importance of taking the time necessary to achieve true justice,” the court’s website says. Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters declined comment on the bill. The legislation (HB 301), filed by new Republican state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, would require the court to tally in detail “each case on the court’s docket … for which a decision or disposition has not been rendered within 180 days.” It then requires a “detailed explanation of the court’s failure to render a decision or disposition” in pending cases older than six months.

HOPING TO CURB POLLUTION, RANDY FINE BILL WOULD REQUIRE INSPECTION OF SEPTIC TANKS via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The Indian River Lagoon was revealed last year to have been polluted by human waste leaking from faulty septic tanks. The number of septic tanks in the area is unknown, but estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands combined in the five counties around the lagoon. Fine says he ran on four issues — solving the Indian River Lagoon problem, improving education, reforming the welfare state, and making Florida the best place in America to start, build and grow a business. This bill, called HB 285, would at least get started on the first one. “There is no question that leaky septic tanks are contributing to water quality challenges across our state, including in our beloved Indian River Lagoon,” he said. “This measure would begin to tackle this issue by ensuring that septic tanks are inspected as part of the suite of inspections that regularly take place during a home sale so that buyers are fully informed about the properties they are considering buying.”

SENATE BILL SEEKS TO REFINE MISSION OF FLORIDA COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – Filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill … the bill adds another plank to the Florida Senate’s ambitious higher education agenda for the coming Legislative session. The bill would underscore the role of community colleges: providing a lower-level education and awarding associate degrees and certificates that either transfer to universities or prepare students for the workforce. Expanding bachelor’s degree programs would be discouraged via a cap on upper-level student enrollment. Current programs would not change, and current bachelor students wouldn’t be affected. The bill would expand “2+2 partnerships,” the method through which state college students filter into state universities after completing certain requirements. Every state college would have to quickly implement at least one pathway agreement, which ideally get students to graduation day on a compressed timeline while saving money.

— “Kim Daniels files ‘religious liberties’ bill for public schools” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians. PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more.***

COURT QUESTIONS INSURANCE OFFICE’S CLAIM TO STATE FARM SALES INFORMATION via Michael Moline of FLORIDA POLITICS – A state appeal court panel appeared skeptical Thursday of the Office of Insurance Regulation’s arguments that trade-secrets protections don’t exempt State Farm Florida from having to turn over business information for public scrutiny. The judges wondered whether the plain language of the trade-secret exemption in Florida’s public records law doesn’t protect the information at issue — data about policies sold, not renewed or cancelled every month in every county. Elenita Gomez, a litigator in the insurance office, insisted that State Farm turned over the information regularly since 1999. It balked in 2014, when it began reselling property insurance in Florida following a hiatus. “What has changed to suddenly make a routine submission a trade secret, when it has never been a trade secret before?” … State Farm’s position would harm the state by denying regulators, the public and elected leaders access to complete data about the insurance market, Gomez said. … “Suppose you had an ice cream company and you came out with a new flavor every year, and you always made it public, you put it on the Internet, you said, ‘Look, we want everyone to have our recipe and have the opportunity to make this,” Judge Allen Windsor asked. “And one year you decide, ‘We have some new flavors and we’re going to protect these.’ You wouldn’t say that, by virtue of giving up the original recipes, that a new recipe wouldn’t be a valid trade secret,’ would you?”

FORMER FHCA PRESIDENT NAMED QA DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – Tampa’s Deborah Franklin, formerly president of the Florida Health Care Association, now will be its Senior Director of Quality Affairs, the organization announced Thursday. In her new role, Franklin’s focus will be to “pioneer initiatives and education programs that further FHCA’s pursuit of high-quality, person-centered care,” a press release said. “We are thrilled to have someone of Deborah’s skill and experience behind our ongoing efforts to ensure our profession’s highest standards,” FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed said. FHCA advocates for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and others who care for the elderly and people with disabilities, especially regarding getting paid by Medicaid.


Rafael Arza, Mountain Moving Strategies: City of Doral

Rana Brown, Ronald L. Book PA: City of Sunrise; Village of Palmetto Bay

Matt Bryan, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.

David Daniel, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Ringling College of Art & Design

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith: City of Archer; City of Gainesville; City of Kissimmee

Thomas Griffin, Smith Bryan & Myers: Florida Association of Counties; International Council of Shopping Centers; Motorola Solutions; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida; Ringling College of Art & Design; UAS Association of Florida; University of Florida Foundation

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates; Florida Rural Economic Development Association

Lisa Hurley, Smith Bryan & Myers: International Council of Shopping Centers; Motorola Solutions; Oracle America; Osceola Legislative Effort; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida; University of Florida Foundation.

Ashley KalifehRon LaFace, Capital City Consulting: School Board of Collier County

Seth McKeel, Southern Strategy Group: Peace River Center

Corinne Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Data Recognition Corp.

Jim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions; Professional Insurance Agents of Florida, Inc.; UAS Association of Florida, Inc.

Manuel Prieguez, Prieguez Solutions: ALF Holdings, Inc.; Dosal Tobacco Corporation; Fair Havens Center; Southwest Florida Enterprises

Ken Pruitt, The P5 Group: Palm Beach Aggregates, LLC

Mark Timothy Pruitt, The P5 Group: Alzheimer’s Community Care

Andrea Reilly Smith Bryan & Myers: Motorola Solutions, Inc.; Stellar Partners

Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Advancement Via Individual Determination

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: City of Key West; Weyerheuser Compan and its Affilates

Mac Stipanovich, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: CGI Technologies & Solutions; Southern Gardens Citrus Groves Corp.; Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery Corp.; Southern Gardens Citrus Processing Corp.

JEFFREY ROSEN URGES LAW STUDENTS TO CHANNEL THEIR INNER LOUIS BRANDEIS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – In a post-truth world, beset by fake news, in which people segregate into information bubbles impenetrable to unfriendly ideas, constitutional scholar Jeffrey Rosen finds inspiration in Louis Brandeis, the late justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Addressing students Thursday at the Florida State University College of Law, Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, called Brandeis “the greatest prophet of free speech and privacy” of the 20th Century. “Brandeis has faith that people, self-governing citizens, will take the time to educate themselves and develop their faculties of reason, and deliberate together and converge on some sort of common understanding of the facts and the truth,” he said. Rosen was in Tallahassee to present the keynote address to the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner, but dropped by to chat with the students first. … Brandeis is “very keen on the idea of using our leisure time to educate ourselves about facts,” and prepare ourselves for the duties of citizenship, Rosen said. “Is this too idealistic in this post-truth society?” Rosen wondered — one marked by Twitter mobs and social media distractions? “Speaking for myself, after a long day it may be more fun to watch cat videos than read industrial reports,” he said. “But Brandeis thinks it’s important. And it is important. Because we can’t be fully engaged citizens unless we do this.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, the great Jen Lux. Also celebrating today are Jim HorneChris O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times and Rick Oppenheim.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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