Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
BREAKING: NEWBORN ELIZABETH ANN BLACK TO RUN FOR AG. COMMISSIONER IN 2050 – Metz Husband & Daughton lobbyist Greg Black and wife Melanie Black celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Elizabeth Ann Sunday — one day after her father’s birthday. This pre-Session bundle of joy is a wonderful present for the Black family and grandfather Robert Coker. Considering her family’s background, which stretches deep into Florida’s political and agricultural community, young Elizabeth Ann has decided to announce that, after careful thought and consideration, she will be a candidate for Agricultural Commissioner in 2050. Congrats to the couple and the future Commissioner!
RICK SCOTT VS. RICHARD CORCORAN
The battle over economic incentives rages on, and now the pollsters are getting involved.
According to a poll released Monday, 59 percent of Floridians said they favored using “tax dollars and other incentives to attract business to Florida.” The survey found 34 percent of respondents said they opposed using taxpayer money for incentives, while 7 percent either didn’t know or refused to answer.
The poll of 1,000 likely Florida voters was conducted by OnMessage Inc. for Let’s Get to Work, the political committee that backed Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial bids. So it’s unsurprising the questions — and in turn, the responses — have a pro-Scott slant. But the fact that Scott’s fight over economic incentive money with House Speaker Richard Corcoran is front and center, might be.
Respondents were asked to select a statement that came closest to their opinion of the Carrier manufacturing deal negotiated by then President-elect Donald Trump. According to the survey, 55 percent agreed with the statement that said, in part, “this is exactly the kind of thing we need our government to be doing, making it easier to grow jobs and stay in America.”
The rest of the respondents? Well, according to the polling memo, 37 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that read: “Others, like Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, say that it is wrong for government to provide this kind of assistance to businesses, and they call it corporate welfare.”
Corcoran has been an outspoken opponent of economic incentive dollars, particularly when it comes to Enterprise Florida. The House blocked a $250 million proposal for incentives for the agency in 2016, and is gearing up to block Scott’s $85 million proposal this year.
Scott has remained optimistic that his proposal will make it through the Legislature, saying in September he “couldn’t imagine anyone is going to vote against it.”
And Scott didn’t just use the poll to troll Corcoran over economic incentives, he also took aim at him over Visit Florida. Corcoran has had Visit Florida in his sights since a controversy involving the state’s tourism agency and Miami rapper Pitbull.
“We can continue to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize corporations receiving lucrative contracts and generous incentives, or we can spend our money on programs and policies that will improve the lives of everyday Floridians,” wrote Corcoran in a December op-ed about Visit Florida. “For me and many of my colleagues in the Florida House of Representatives, that’s an easy choice to understand.”
But according to the Let’s Get to Work poll, Floridians do not want to the Legislature to end funding for Visit Florida. The survey found 59 percent of Floridians said they opposed a proposal to end the state’s tourism agency; while 33 percent said they would support it.
That’s got to be good news for Scott, who has toured the state touting tourism numbers and singing the praises of the organization in recent years.
Here’s one more piece of good news for Scott, who is widely believed to be considering a 2018 U.S. Senate bid: 54 percent of Floridians say they approve of the job he’s doing as governor.
And just might be a number Corcoran might be interested in if he decides to run for Scott’s seat in 2018.
CORCORAN FIRES BACK: “I have great respect for Governor Scott and all he’s done to cut taxes and regulations to improve the business climate in Florida. But our policies in the House will be driven by principal not by polling. And one of our fundamental principles as conservatives is that government should not pick winners and losers in the market.”
CORCORAN: HOUSE WON’T OK LEGAL MONEY FOR DEP via Florida Politics – The House Speaker late Monday said his chamber won’t agree to hand over any more money for the Department of Environmental Protection to pay its legal bills until the agency gives a full accounting of what’s already been spent. Corcoran was reacting to the DEP’s request to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission for an additional $13 million to pay outside legal counsel in an ongoing court fight between Georgia and Florida over water use. The commission is scheduled to take up the request Tuesday. Coincidentally, DEP Secretary Jon Steverson resigned Friday and is going to work for one of the law firms, Foley & Lardner, that’s representing the state in the matter. Steverson is an attorney. “We won’t approve the money until an audit is done and we will pass legislation barring the revolving door from agency head to lobbyist/lawyer,” Corcoran said in a statement.
MORE ON THIS … LEGISLATORS QUESTION $98 MILLION LEGAL BILL, THEN HEAD OF AGENCY RESIGNS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Since 2001, the state has been billed $97.8 million on the water wars … and has spent $71.9 million to date. Nearly $54.4 million of it was spent in the last two years after Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and the court appointed a special master to resolve the dispute. Rep. Carlos Trujillo … the House Appropriations chairman who is himself a civil litigation attorney, said the numbers “struck me as excessive — as if the supervisors of the project lost control of the costs.” He asked Steverson to justify the expenses, asked for a detailed breakdown, including the names and hours of each attorney, as well as the cost of expert witnesses, and suggested the item may not be approved.
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DAYS UNTIL: Rick Scott Orlando Jobs Summit – 10: The Batman Lego Movie opens – 17; Pitchers & catchers report for Spring Training – 19; Valentine’s Day – 21; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 42; Florida Capitol Press Corps Press Kits – 49; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die – 101; Election Day 2017 – 286.
RICK SCOTT: DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENCY WILL BE ‘REALLY GOOD FOR OUR STATE’ via Florida Politics – “I think it’s going to be really good for our state,” said Scott after a jobs announcement in Naples … “I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure this is the state that everyone wants to live in, make sure you can get a good job, get your kids a good education and be safe.” An ardent supporter of the new president, Scott said he thinks Trump “is going to do what we’ve done” when it comes to jobs and the economy. He said he looks forward to working with the Trump administration to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will appear at a groundbreaking of the Four Star Firefighters new service operations with a ceremony beginning 1 p.m. at 1800 Brickyard Road E. in Midway. The site entrance is directly across from Anderson Columbia. Shuttles will provide transportation from the parking area to the groundbreaking site.
MARCO RUBIO VOTES FOR REX TILLERSON FOR SECRETARY OF STATE DESPITE RESERVATIONS via Ledyard King of USA Today – Rubio‘s vote for Tillerson turned out to be the deciding ballot on the Foreign Relations Committee, which voted 11-10 along party lines to send Trump‘s choice for secretary of state to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation. Rubio had expressed deep misgivings about Tillerson’s ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had cultivated and long and friendly relationship through his business dealings. He was concerned the former oilman “would pursue a foreign policy of deal-making at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of the defense of human rights and of democracy.” But Rubio said he voted for Tillerson out of deference to the new president and because filling the post is vital to advance America’s interests around the world.
TRUMP WAS RIGHT ABOUT ‘LITTLE MARCO’ ALL ALONG via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – By announcing he will vote to approve Tillerson for Secretary of State, the fittingly titled junior U.S. Senator from Florida proved he is compromised and cut down to size. As they say out West, he is all hat and no cattle … Rubio confirmed that all that bluster he directed at Tillerson about the human rights violations in Russia was just for show. Tillerson, of course, had extensive business dealings with Russia and Putin. In the hearing, Rubio pointedly asked Tillerson if Putin should be considered a war criminal. It was a tough question and made for a dandy sound bite, but the real bite would have been if Rubio had stood on principle instead of politics and voted not to confirm. Instead, he caved.
BILL NELSON TO OPPOSE REX TILLERSON, JEFF SESSIONS BUT BACK OTHERS via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Nelson said he’ll support Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary and Elaine Chao as transportation secretary.
NELSON: TRUMP FREEZE COULD HURT HURRICANE RESPONSE via James Rosen of the Miami Herald –Nelson expressed concern Trump’s federal hiring freeze will harm the government’s hurricane preparedness and response. “The National Weather Service’s around-the-clock forecasts save lives in Florida and around the nation,” Nelson said. “Failure to fill vital vacancies within the agency means those hands won’t be around when the monster storm hits. Not only would that be irresponsible, but it could put people’s lives at risk.”
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: WOMEN’S MARCH MOVEMENT IS A ‘SLEEPING GIANT’ via CBS Miami – Wasserman Schultz called the movement a sleeping giant. “I think what we have to make sure we do is that, that was not just a one-day event and I fully expect that it won’t be” … The congresswoman views it as an opportunity for the group to rally and have a strong voice in politics. “You have an opportunity to take the network of the millions of women who are connected via social media and the emails that have been collected all across this country,” she said. “The Women’s March on Washington has already begun 10 actions over the first 100 days and have now encouraged and sent an email to all of the marchers that they should contact their Senators, that they should talk about the issues that matter to them in that contact. They should express their strong opinion in opposition to Senators voting to confirm his nominees and that we’re not going away.” She says it’s a moment for the other side to listen closely.
CARLOS CURBELO, TED DEUTCH EXPAND CLIMATE SOLUTIONS CAUCUS via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – Curbelo and Deutch announced that five congressional freshmen — including Florida Republican Brian Mast — joined the caucus, bringing the membership up to 20 representatives, split evenly with 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. “We have a lot of work to do on this issue, and communities like mine in South Florida are counting on us to come together and have productive discussions about what we can do to mitigate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient,” Curbelo said. “Our bipartisan caucus is starting off the new Congress by expanding our membership and showing our colleagues that Republicans and Democrats can put partisan politics aside to work on climate change,” said Deutch. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehinten, a frequent ally of Deutch, is also a member.
DAVID JOLLY HIRES CHARLIE CRIST STAFFER FOR 2018 via Roll Call – (I)n a sign that the Florida Republican may be gearing up for a rematch in the 13th District, Jolly has hired a Crist staffer as a senior adviser for the 2018 cycle. Vito Sheeley worked as campaign outreach director for Crist’s congressional campaign and district director for the congressman for the 115th Congress, which has only been in session for about three weeks.
TWEET, TWEET: @MDixon55: Was odd announcement on its face. His camp saying being paid through “non-candidate committee” but will not give any other details … Say odd because it’s a former member who in the same breath says he needs staff, but also not committing to run in 18. Was just an odd look
ENTERPRISE FLORIDA’S NEW CHIEF DEFENDS THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM via Florida Politics – The new head of Enterprise Florida Inc. defended the organization Monday against complaints that it doesn’t raise enough private-sector money, saying a required one-to-one match of public and private dollars applies only to operating expenses. Chris Hart, who became president and CEO just weeks ago, cited the statute that created the economic development organization in 1996 during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism. “We do meet our private sector match,” Hart said. “That one-to-one match that’s been required since 1996 is met, as you look at the statutory guidelines.” The match does not apply to economic incentives paid to lure out-of-state businesses to Florida, Hart said — only to the organization’s core functions — international trade and development, including promoting the state as a place to do business; business development; and marketing. … Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez cited news reports suggesting that the taxpayers pick up as much as 90 percent of the Enterprise Florida budget. “This is the first time I’m hearing that economic-development incentives are not operating costs,” he said. “It seems like a new argument.” “There have been a lot of misperceptions, misconceptions,“ Hart said.
BILL GALVANO’S HIGHER-ED REFORM BILLS SAIL THROUGH SENATE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – Senate Bills 2 and 4, both introduced by Galvano, drew some concerns about how they might affect nontraditional and working students but little opposition, as Galvano assured committee members he shared and would be addressing those concerns. “The thrust of this bill is not to somehow put additional pressure on a student, or mess with the opportunities they have by putting additional requirements on what the students achieve,” Galvano … said of SB 2, which took up the bulk of the committee’s discussion and drew the most concern. The companion measure, SB 4, would create a program for universities to identify, hire and retain star faculty members, and establishes programs to improve quality and prominence of graduate programs including those for medicine, law and business. It drew little discussion before being approved.
BILL TO EXPAND JUVENILE CIVIL CITATIONS RAISES QUESTIONS ON OFFICER DISCRETION via Florida Politics – Miami Republican Senator Anitere Flores’ bill (SB 196) would mandate law enforcement officers to offer a civil citation for youths admitting to one of 11 separate misdemeanors … Flores introduce the bill to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice … Although each person in the seven-member committee indicated general support for the bill, some resistance came from St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, who said that while 94 percent of Pinellas County Sheriff Deputies did write up civil citations, 6 percent believed placing the juvenile under arrest was the best thing to do. “Why shouldn’t they be allowed to exercise their discretion?” he asked. Barney Bishop, with the Florida Smart Justice Alliance … said he had several issues with the bill as currently written. Like Brandes, Bishop said law enforcement should not be mandated to issue civil citations; he instead suggested incentivizing police chiefs and sheriffs to create department policies to encourage the maximum use of civil citations. The bill passed out of committee by a 5-2 vote. Brandes and Orange Park Republican Rob Bradley opposed it.
TAMPON TAX EXEMPTION CLEARS SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – “I think this is Sen. [Kathleen] Passidomo’s first bill” as a member of the committee, Sen. Jack Latvala said of his colleague, a Naples Republican elected to the Senate last year following service in the House. “What an interesting bill this is!” He asked what SB 176 — her tampon tax exemption — would cost state government. About $15 million annually, Passidomo said. Latvala: “Does the committee attorney, can they offer an opinion as to whether there’s any conflicts of interest from any members of the committee voting on this? We can’t vote on things where we have a personal financial impact.” Passidomo, cracking up laughing: “I can answer that for me. It wouldn’t affect me at all.” “I believe we’ve exhausted those questions,” chairman Bill Montford said at that point. The committee voted, 8-0, in favor of the bill.
DANA YOUNG FILES BILL TO BAN FRACKING ‘FULFILLING MY CONTRACT WITH VOTERS’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Young … wants the state to ban “advanced well stimulation treatment,” specifically hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing which use high pressure techniques to inject water into rock formations to extract oil and gas. … Young … said her views changed “as the fracking issue became front and center” in the campaign. “I learned more and it became an important issue, not only for my region but for our whole state,” she said. “I’m fulfilling my contract with the voters to get it passed.”
JARED MOSKOWITZ FILES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT VOTE via Florida Politics – Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, filed a resolution (HR 281) last week objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. “The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final-status issues or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement,” reads the proposed House resolution. “The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution undermines the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct, bilateral negotiations.” Moskowitz’s proposal will likely find bipartisan support in the Florida House.
BOB ROMMEL FILES BILL TO SHIELD COLLEGE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCHES FROM SUNSHINE LAWS via Florida Politics – House Bill 351, introduced by the Naples Republican, would create exemptions in Florida’s open records and open meetings laws. The proposal seeks to keep secret “personal identifying information” of applicants for president, provost, or dean of a state university or a Florida College System college. It would waive any public meeting requirements for meetings held by public bodies meeting to identify or vet such candidates, including interviews. Ultimately, in Rommel’s bill, the names of the finalists would be released before taking a final vote on the hire. But there is no clear definition of how those finalists would be determined.
— “Bill would make it illegal for people to block emergency scenes gathering personal property” via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics
— “Computer coding bill gets House companion” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
— “Legislature mulls closing FRS defined benefit plan to new cities” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
— “Michael Grant files bill to prohibit annual contract guarantees for school teachers” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times
— “Senate companion filed for controversial kratom ban bill” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
— “Senate to consider public school ‘religious liberties’ bill” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics
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HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The Senate Banking and Insurance committee will discuss motor vehicle insurance during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 110 Senate Office Building. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee is scheduled to take a bill sponsored by Sen. Latvala to create a presumption about firefighters who develop certain types of cancer during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 401 Office Building. Meanwhile, the House and Health Services Committee will get a report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability about Medicaid dental services during a meeting at noon in Morris Hall. The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will discuss two bills that could place additional restrictions on former lawmakers who become lobbyists after leaving office during a 2:30 p.m. meeting in 404 House Office Building. At 5 p.m., the joint legislative budget commission will take up issues related to state agencies during a meeting in 212 Knott.
SENATE PANEL TO HEAR BILL ALLOWING DONORS TO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER TO STAY ANONYMOUS – The Senate Community Affairs committee will discuss a bill (SB 7002) that would allow donors to publicly owned performing arts center to remain anonymous. State lawmakers in 2012 passed legislation allowing donors to these organizations to remain anonymous, exempting their information from public record laws. The proposed committee bill would extend that public record exemption beyond the five-year period outlined in state law. The Senate Community Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in 301 Senate Office Building.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Anitere Flores, and Reps. Larry Ahern and Ross Spano will discuss civil citation legislation during a press conference at noon outside the Senate Chamber on the fourth floor of the Capitol.
FACING RARE HOUSE IMPEACHMENT PROBE, JUDGE ABRUPTLY RESIGNS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Duval Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey III, the subject of an investigation over allegations that he made sexist and racially insensitive comments from the bench, abruptly resigned his Jacksonville-area judgeship on the eve of the start of a highly unusual impeachment investigation by the Legislature. Hulsey, 66, was already the focus of a probe by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for having allegedly called a female staff attorney a “bitch” and a “c—” and for saying blacks should “get back on a ship and go back to Africa.”… According to the formal complaint … he tried to influence what his judicial assistant would tell the JQC in its investigation. In all, Hulsey was accused of 18 separate violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and a violation of state election law, for claiming to have a number of endorsements without securing those endorsements in writing. Hulsey has disputed the allegations in filings with the Florida Supreme Court.
NORTHEAST FLORIDA LEGISLATORS TAKE DIFFERENT APPROACHES IN FIGHT FOR WATER MONEY via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – State Rep. Jay Fant and Sen. Rob Bradley both want Northeast Florida to receive a larger portion of water conservation money when the state budget is drafted later this year. But their approaches are very different. Fant … teamed up with a group that is doing more than demanding that more money is allocated for projects in North and Central Florida. The organization, called Stand Up for North Florida, is also attacking a $2.4 billion plan to clean up Lake Okeechobee in South Florida that is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron’s district. Bradley supports Negron’s plan and is the point person on making sure it gets funding as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for environmental projects. At the same time, the Fleming Island Republican filed a bill to require $35 million be set aside for projects that benefit the St. Johns River and its tributaries or areas near Keystone Heights Lake.
— “Negron’s plan to buy Everglades land is big government at its worst” via Leslie Dougher
FANDUEL CALLS ON FLORIDA FANS TO SUPPORT FANTASY SPORTS via Florida Politics – FanDuel, the national fantasy sports website, has sent a “call to action” email to its Florida users, asking them to contact lawmakers in support of their hobby … “A new bill has been introduced that would update Florida’s laws to recognize what we all know to be true—that fantasy sports are games of skill and should be kept legal for all eligible Floridians to enjoy,” (the email) says. A Senate committee on Wednesday is set to discuss a major gambling overhaul bill (SB 8) that, among other things, would expressly legalize fantasy sports play.
LATEST ON THE LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools
On and off: Charles Smith, previously district secretary for Broward County Republican Rep. George Moraitis, is now his legislative assistant.
On: Dennis Ragosta is the new district secretary for Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone.
On: Mikhail Scott has become the legislative assistant for Miami-Dade Democratic Rep. Kionne McGhee.
On: Nancy Bowers a new district secretary for The Villages Republican Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.
On: Rebecca Zizzo is district secretary for House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
On: Jack Harrington is the new legislative assistant for Miami-Dade Republican Rep. Michael Bileca.
Off: Janine Kiray is no longer legislative assistant to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.
Off: Constance Baker has stepped down as district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels.
On: Leota Wilkinson is district secretary for Palatka Republican Rep. Bobby Payne.
Off and on: John Love is no longer House administrative assistant for the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining. Lisa Larson has replaced Love.
On and off: Lindsey Locke is the new House administrative assistant for the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight. Locke replaced Michelle McCloskey.
On and off: Patricia Gosney is the new legislative assistant in the Tallahassee office of Broward Democratic Sen. Lauren Book. Joel Ramos has stepped down.
APPOINTED: Berny Jacques to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Civil Service Board.
GOVERNOR’S CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – Tuesday’s buffet offers a Southern theme with chicken noodle soup; spinach salad; seasonal green salad; tiger slaw; fried chicken; fried catfish & hushpuppies; scalloped potatoes; butter beans & ham; corn choux; and a chef’s choice dessert.
SEMINOLES JUMP TO NO. 6 IN AP TOP 25; GATORS 25th via Bob Sparks of SaintPetersBlog.com – For the first time since 1993, the Florida State Seminoles are the sixth-ranked team in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s basketball poll. The Florida Gators managed to stay in the top 25 despite two losses last week. Coach Leonard Hamilton’s 18-2 team vaulted four spots to claim the highest rank for any ACC team and their highest ranking in 24 years. Despite not losing, North Carolina remained in the ninth spot, watching the Seminoles leap over them. The Tar Heels beat the Seminoles in Chapel Hill January 14, Florida State’s only loss in their last 15 games. The Gators, meanwhile, fell from No. 19 to No. 25 after losses to No. 23 South Carolina on the road and to unranked Vanderbilt at home. Many felt the Vanderbilt loss would take them out of the rankings, but they barely hung on.
FSU STUDENT SEEKING HELP AFTER AIRLINE COMPLETELY TRASHED HER CELLO via the Violin Channel – A Florida State University music student has this week set up a Go Fund Me page in an effort to replace her cello – which was destroyed into pieces on a Jan. 9 United Airlines commute from Sacramento to Tallahassee … Carrie Miller is seeking $10,000 to replace the wrecked instrument. “United Airlines did not allow me to gate check my cello … there were no extra seats on the plane so I could not buy a seat for my cello … I couldn’t cancel my flight and was forced to check it through normal baggage procedures” … “When I got back to Tallahassee, my instrument was completely broken … not just parts of it … the whole instrument was in pieces as well as the case … this incident has been incredibly traumatic …” Carrie’s carbon fibre cello bow was also destroyed.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII NOW HAS A TITLE — THE LAST JEDI via Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly – When cameras started rolling last year on the eighth film in the Skywalker family story, writer-director Rian Johnson used the tongue-in-cheek working title “Space Bear,” and numerous rumors (most of them false) about the possible real title have circulated ever since. The title was announced Monday without any further explanation from Lucasfilm. There’s not much to analyze except that the second film in the trilogies (remember, casual fans, Rogue One is a stand-alone) usually tilts the balance of power toward the villains.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Scott Keeler of the Tampa Bay Times and Dana Cashin Loncar of Consensus Communications.