Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn 10.21.16 — The surrogates are coming!

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.


Get ready, Florida.

Several big-name Hillary Clinton surrogates are scheduled to swing through the Sunshine State this weekend. There’s a bus tour with the Big Dog, rallies with the VP pick, and phone banks with Florida mayors.

The jam-packed weekend highlights the importance of Florida this (and every) presidential election cycle, and comes just days before voters start heading to the polls for early voting.

Early voting is scheduled to begin Monday in 50 of Florida’s 67 counties, including Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, and Orange counties. The early voting period is expected to draw out millions of Floridians, all hoping to cast a vote in important races up and down the ballot.

The campaign events this weekend are meant to encourage voters across the state “to take advantage of the start of in-person early voting,” according to the Clinton campaign.

According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump an average 4 percentage points in Florida.

Want to catch some campaign action this weekend? Don’t worry, there’s plenty to choose from.

Former President Bill Clinton will kick off a two-day bus tour in Orlando today. The possible First Hubbie will start the day with a speech to the Florida Education Association delegate assembly at 9 a.m. at the Rosen Center Hotel. From there, he’ll head to Jacksonville for an early voting rally at 12:45 p.m. at the Jacksonville Public Library, 303 Laura Street N. in Jacksonville.

The 42nd president will continue to make the case for his wife Saturday. He’ll start the day with a speech at 10 a.m. (CST) at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 705 E. 14th Ct. in Panama City. From there, he’ll head to Pensacola for a rally at 3:45 p.m. (CST) at the E.S. Cobb Community Resource Center, 601 E. Mallory Street.

Vice presidential hopeful Tim Kaine is also heading back to Florida, with public events scheduled for Sunday in Alachua and Orange counties. He’s expected to hold public events Monday in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

And several Florida mayors are participating in a “Mayors for Hillary” bus tour, which kicked off earlier in the week. Mayor Buddy Dyer and other mayors will phone bank for the Clinton campaign at 4 p.m. in Orlando, while Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe will attend volunteer training at 7 p.m. his town. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is scheduled to host a canvassing kick-off at noon in the Capitol CIty.

The Clinton campaign isn’t the only one pulling out all the stops before the start of early voting. New Florida Majority, a liberal group, is holding a press conference on Saturday with Diane Guerrero, one of the stars of Orange is the New Black, and female labor leaders to address the stakes of the election. The women, according to the organization, will all be wearing pageant sashes “decorated with many of Donald Trump’s infamous insults to women.”

As of Thursday evening, neither Trump nor Mike Pence, his running mate, are scheduled to campaign in Florida this weekend.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a member of Hillary Clinton’s Florida Leadership Council will be campaigning in St. Petersburg and Tampa as part of the statewide bus tour he is leading with Mayors for Hillary from across Florida and the U.S. At 11:45 a.m., the tour will stop at the Carter G Woodson Museum, 2240 9th Avenue South in St. Petersburg.

BARACK OBAMA IN MIAMI: SOON I CAN COME BACK FOR FUN via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Obama took the stage at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus … to talk about the Affordable Care Act. “Hello, Miami!” he said. “It’s good to be back at Miami Dade, one of my favorite institutions.” The president called his trip “one of my last visits here as president.” The friendly crowd booed, but Obama stopped them: “The good news is, once I’m no longer president, I can come more often!” he said. “When I’m out of office, I can come here for fun.” Obama gave shout-outs to MDC President Eduardo Padrón and U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch, all of whom were in the audience. Wasserman Schultz traveled from Washington with Air Force One. Some 650 people gathered for Obama’s speech, including 550 MDC Honors College students, according to the university.

PRESIDENTIAL TV SPENDING IN FLORIDA HITS A WHOPPING $81 MILLION via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Clinton and her allies have spent $58 million while Trump and team have poured in $22.7 million. Nationally, Team Clinton has spent $197 million and Team Trump $74 million, according to ad data reported by NBC News. Top 10 advertising markets:  1. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL: $26,868,457; 2. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, FL: $22,297,526; 9. West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL: $9,700,349. Ad spending in Florida’s U.S. Senate race is approaching $40 million.

STATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE —  WITH 19 DAYS TO GO, CLINTON’S LEAD IS BIGGER THAN EVER via Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelly of Sabato’s Crystal Ball — With less than three weeks to go, and all of the debates blessedly in the rearview mirror, Clinton is in a commanding position in the contest to become the 45th president. Clinton has taken a significant lead in national polling and is now up by about six to eight points in two-way and four-way presidential matchups in both the HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics averages. Her leads in the key states that would get her to 270 votes are in some instances smaller than that, but she has a healthy advantage in more than enough states to get her to an Electoral College majority, and smaller leads in states that she doesn’t need but Trump does, including big, typically Republican-leaning prizes like Florida and North Carolina. A few Obama states seem more tenuous for Clinton, including Iowa and Ohio … but if Clinton is up by a fair amount nationally these states get harder for Trump. Clinton’s embarrassment of Electoral College riches may well produce poverty for America’s presidential billionaire. … Our conclusion is simple. As we reassess our Electoral College ratings, we don’t think any new states are moving toward Trump at this point, and there are some surprising conservative places where he is registering very thin, soft support.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: First day of early voting – 8; Election Day – 17; First organizational session – 32; Thanksgiving – 34; UF versus FSU game – 36; Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 55; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 137.

NUMBER OF TURNED-IN VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS APPROACHES 900,000 via Florida Politics – As of Thursday, 886,473 ballots have been returned for the November general election. The exact tally was posted on the state’s Division of Elections website. That includes ballots to service members and others outside the country. Registered Republicans lead in voted ballots to Democrats by 369,528 to 356,661, a difference of 12,867. Other party and no-party voters have returned another 160,284 ballots to their local supervisors of elections. Lawmakers recently changed the name of such ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots from the traditional “absentee” ballots. The state’s website for vote-by-mail and early voting statistics is here.

STATE DOWN TO 21,000 NEW VOTER REGISTRATIONS TO VERIFY via Florida Politics – The Division of Elections on Thursday reported it had 21,016 voter registration applications left to verify from the recent extended registration period. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker extended the registration deadline one week to this Tuesday to allow those affected by Hurricane Matthew extra time to sign up to vote. Statistics suggest the division is pulling out the stops to verify applications as the beginning of early voting approaches, with 5,757 verified on Wednesday and early Thursday. The total number of verified applications resulting in new voters from the extra week is 51,047. The “Voter Registration Daily Activity Reports” website is here.

ELECTIONS PAPERWORK BUMPS UP AGAINST EARLY VOTING TIMELINE via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Thousands of residents who registered to vote within the last week might not be officially on the rolls when early voting begins Monday in Central Florida and most of the state. Due to the lag time in processing the thousands of forms that were submitted to the state after the voter registration deadline was extended because of Hurricane Matthew, those who haven’t been verified won’t be able to cast a regular ballot. A federal court judge denied a motion by the Florida Democratic Party to require registration forms to be processed by Sunday, the day before early voting starts in 50 out of the 67 counties, or allow unverified voters to present identification and be able to cast a regular ballot at the polls. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker had extended the registration deadline to Oct. 18 in response to a prior FDP lawsuit, but said Secretary of State Ken Detzner and state elections officials were responding to the order in good faith and nobody’s right to vote was being infringed. “There’s absolutely no evidence, not one scintilla of evidence before this court that Secretary Detzner is doing anything other than his job,” Walker said.

RICK SCOTT SAYS STATE IS WORKING HARD TO ‘MAKE SURE WE HAVE A FAIR ELECTION’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics — Gov. Rick Scott shot down questions about wide-spread voter fraud Thursday, telling reporters in Bonita Springs his expectation is that everyone will “do the right thing” come Election Day. “My goal is 100 percent participation and zero percent fraud,” said Scott. “There’s always bad apples out there, there’s always people trying to do the wrong thing, but we’re going to work hard every day to make sure we have a fair election.” Scott’s comments came one day after Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the results of next month’s election if he loses to Hillary Clinton. The New York Republican spent the days leading up to the third and final debate warning voters that the election would be rigged, a claim elections officials across the nation have denied. “We have a great Secretary of State that’s working hard, like I am, to make sure we have fair elections. We have 67 elected or appointed supervisors of election, and I expect all of them are focused on getting good, fair elections,” said Scott. “My expectation is everyone does the right thing. I think we have a process that works in our state.”

FLA. ELECTION OFFICIAL SUED OVER POTENTIAL ‘CATACLYSMIC’ MEDICAL-MARIJUANA BALLOT ERROR via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – A marijuana decriminalization group sued Broward County’s election supervisor for a potentially “catastrophic and cataclysmic” error that could endanger Florida’s highly popular medical-marijuana initiative at the ballot box. In one instance so far, a voter provided proof that the proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment 2 was nowhere to be found on her vote-by-mail absentee ballot … Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes – whose office has been criticized for two other printing snafus recently – acknowledged there might have been a “mistake,” but she told the newspaper that she doesn’t know how widespread the problem is and that she could find no evidence it happened with other voters. So far, more than 60,000 Broward voters have cast absentee ballots. Another 189,000 absentee ballots have been mailed to voters in the county but not yet returned. There are nearly 1.2 million voters registered in Broward. Broward – Florida’s second-most populous county – supported medical marijuana the most in 2014, when voters passed it by a margin of almost 159,000 votes. Though the measure received 57.6 percent support statewide at the time, it failed because state constitutional amendments need to pass with 60 percent of the vote in Florida. Recent polls have shown the medical marijuana amendment garnering 70 percent or more support this year.

U.S. SENATE TV AD SPENDING NEARS $40M, WITH MARCO RUBIO FAR OUTSPENDING PATRICK MURPHY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – A host of super PACs and political action committees have run roughly $18 million in ads for Rubio, which is on top of the $9 million spent directly by his campaign. Groups supporting Murphy have spent $5.8 million in ads, which is on top of the $4.2 million spent by the Jupiter congressman’s campaign. Murphy took a big hit when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled its remaining $6 million in airtime reservations, a move that came after the original TV ad buy was trimmed $4 million. The group spent $275,000 million in Florida so far this cycle. The advantage has allowed Rubio, a well-known incumbent fresh off a presidential bid, to maintain his huge advantage when it comes to name identification and have wider-scale control of the race’s narrative, which has in large part focused on reports that Murphy inflated his professional resume. Despite the large advantage on the airwaves, some recent public polling has shown the race to be tightening after weeks of Rubio with a comfortable lead. A Quinnipiac poll released this week has Rubio beating Murphy by only two percentage points, 49-47 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error.

MURPHY’S POLITICAL CAVALRY ARRIVES, IN THE FORM OF PRESIDENT OBAMA via Patricia Mazzei and Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Obama swaggered into Miami Gardens purportedly for Clinton, the potential sentinel of his White House legacy. He’s in an unusual position for a sitting president: He’s more popular than his selected successor, who’s more than eager for him to act as her most prominent stand-in, especially to African-Americans … So Obama did what he had to do. He ripped Trump for refusing to say during Wednesday night’s debate if he’ll accept the Nov. 8 election results — and for quipping Thursday in Ohio that he’ll accept the results “if I win.” “That is not a joking matter,” Obama told the capacity crowd of 2,800 at Florida Memorial University’s athletic arena. “I want everybody to pay attention here — that is dangerous. Because when you try to sow seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy. Then, you are doing the work of our adversaries for them.” … then, the president focused on the guy who needs his help most: Murphy, the U.S. Senate candidate who national Democrats have all but abandoned. Obama spent a surprisingly long chunk of his rousing speech contrasting Murphy — a Jupiter congressman still unknown to many voters in Miami-Dade, the county with the largest number of Democrats in Florida — with Marco Rubio. “Patrick Murphy, when he is your United States senator, he is going to be doing his work. In fact, unlike his opponent, he shows up to work,” Obama said. “Unlike his opponent, he didn’t walk away from Florida’s Hispanic community when the politics got tough: He fought for comprehensive immigration reform and a path of citizenship. Unlike his opponent, Patrick actually believes in science and the effects of climate change.”

MURPHY VOWS TO BE SENATOR ‘WHO ALWAYS WORKS FOR YOU’ IN NEW AD via Florida Politics — The 30-second spot — called “For You” and released Thursday — features a footage from Access Hollywood where Trump makes lewd comments about women, before showing footage of Rubio saying the state has “to make sure that Donald wins this election.” “No we don’t. Marco Rubio stands by Trump and failed to show up for Florida,” the Treasure Coast Democrat says in the advertisement. “Here’s what I believe in. Bringing people together and reaching across the aisle to getting things done, protecting Social Security, and building and economy that works for all of us. … I’ll be a Senator who always works for you.” Murphy has spent the past few weeks trying to tie Rubio to his party’s nominee. He spent much of Monday’s debate comparing the men, and has regularly called on him to denounce and revoke his endorsement of Trump. “Patrick Murphy has been in Congress for four years and has nothing to show for it, so he’s attacking Marco,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, Rubio campaign spokeswomen. “Marco is the only candidate who will act as a check and balance on the next president, regardless of who that may be.” Click the image below to watch the ad.

NORTH FLORIDA DEMOCRATS ROLL OUT VETERANS’ INITIATIVES via Florida Politics – A quartet of Democratic congressional candidates from north Florida – all veterans themselves – on Thursday “endorsed a platform of policies that will improve the lives of veterans and their families,” according to a press release. Steven Specht (1st Congressional District) is an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan. Walt Dartland (2nd Congressional District) is a former Marine Corps Major. Ken McGurn (3rd Congressional District) is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. Dave Bruderly (4th Congressional District) was a member of the Navy Reserves during the Cold War. The 1st and 2nd Districts have no incumbents running but are heavily conservative, with many vets and active service members who reliably vote Republican. In the 3rd District, GOP incumbent Ted Yoho is running for re-election in a district rated “solid Republican” by the Cook Political Reportsame as the 4th, although incumbent Ander Crenshaw is not running again.

BARACK OBAMA CUTS AN AD FOR CHARLIE CRIST IN CD 13 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – … in which he says the people of Pinellas County “have an opportunity this year to elect a public servant who always put the people first.” … “As governor, he worked with both parties to get things done,” the president adds in the commercial, as the visuals show Crist meeting with local residents. The ad superimposes graphics that say he’ll protect Social Security and Medicare, defend women’s health care and Planned Parenthood, and take care of military veterans. “Charlie needs your vote. Please stand with him. I know he’ll stand by you,” the president concludes. Click on the image below to view the ad.

NEW MAILER SLAMS CRIST ON ANTI-GUN POLICIES via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Don’t trust Crist to protect your Second Amendment rights — at least that’s what a new mailer circulating around Florida’s 13th Congressional District says. The mailer, which is hitting mailboxes in Pinellas County, warns voters that Crist doesn’t support gun rights and has a liberal agenda when it comes to the Second Amendment, backing an assault weapons ban, a size limit on ammunition clips and tougher background checks. People for Pinellas, a Super PAC supporting incumbent David Jolly, is responsible for the mailer. The flyer also contains quotes from a 2012 Miami Herald article where the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer took a whack at Crist for flip-flopping on gun control. “I’m not surprised that Charlie Crist is now joining the gun ban chant of anti-gun Democrats,” Hammer told the Herald. “Recently, Charlie Crist has been systematically turning his back on many things in which he has claimed to believe. He currently claims to be a deer hunter. I suspect that the only thing he has actually ever hunted is political office.” The NRA’s Political Victory Fund gave Crist an “F” rating this year, a grade which is reflected on the front of the bold orange mailer, juxtaposed next to a photo of a smiling Crist and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Things weren’t always this way for Crist, who at one point was a gun-toting conservative with close ties to the NRA. For years, Crist received the scores from the NRA that most conservatives in support of guns received. He voted strongly in favor of pro-gun policies. In 2006, Crist received the endorsement of the NRA and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida in his gubernatorial campaign.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP STEPS UP TO HELP CRIST BEAT DAVID JOLLY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times –The League of Conservation Voters has added Republican Jolly …  to their “Dirty Dozen” list, announcing a $200,000 mail campaign against him … The LCV and LCV Victory Fund said they are spending at least $1 million or more to defeat House candidates in the 2016 cycle. The six-piece mail campaign will target 60,000 households in the district where Democrat Crist is running to unseat him. The ads, LCV said, will highlight “Jolly’s terrible record of attacking critical clean air and water protections, as opposed to challenger Charlie Crist’s pledge to invest in clean energy and safeguarding the coastal resources of Pinellas County.” … “Jolly is a quintessential member of the Dirty Dozen, who used to lobby for fossil fuel special interests and is now doing their dirty work in Congress,” said LCV National Campaigns Director Clay Schroers. “They’ve spent tens of thousands to prop up his campaigns, while he’s voted to protect the billions they receive in taxpayer handouts. He’s voted their way, opposing investments in clean energy and critical clean air and water protections to protect their profits.” … “Rep. Jolly advocating for drilling off Florida’s coast shows just how totally out-of-touch he is with Pinellas County residents,” said Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters. “He’s selling out the health of our families, and our outdoor recreation economy, just so his oil and gas industry friends can protect their profits.”

IN NEW TV AD, CARLOS CURBELO CAMPAIGNS AGAINST DEMOCRATS—AND TRUMP: ‘FORGET THESE POLITICIANS’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Curbelo became the latest vulnerable Republican to take on his political party’s presidential nominee in a TV ad. “Forget these politicians,” Curbelo says in his new, 30-second commercial. “This election is about you.” Though Curbelo never mentions Trump — or anyone else — by name, the images on the screen show Trump and Clinton expounding on cable news. The Clinton screen then switches to show Curbelo’s opponent, Democratic former Rep. Joe Garcia. “Is this what we’re teaching our kids now — politicians from both parties bragging about offensive, crass behavior?” Curbelo says. The Trump side shows an “Access Hollywood” video of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women. The other side shows Garcia — an allusion to how Garcia was caught on tape questioning Clinton’s sex appeal (though Garcia never boasted about his remarks). “Degrading women,” Curbelo says. Click on the image below to view the ad.

SUPER PAC BEHIND CURBELO ISSUES NEW CLIMATE CHANGE AD via Florida Politics – The ClearPath Action Fund’s ad claims “extreme liberals are making false statements” about the first-term representative’s environmental record. “Carlos Curbelo puts South Florida and the environment first, and he has the record to prove it,” the narrator says. ClearPath is supporting more than a dozen other Republicans this cycle, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, though Curbelo is the only Florida lawmaker to earn the committee’s backing. ClearPath Action Fund was founded by conservative North Carolina businessman Jay Faison. The SnapAV founder has invested $175 million of his fortune into the fund, which aims to “accelerate conservative clean energy solutions.” The group said in an Oct. 13 press release it plans to spend more than $500,000 promoting Curbelo before Election Day, and earlier this week another super PAC pledged $80,000 of help for Curbelo in the form of a get-out-the-vote operation in CD 26.

ACCUSED OF HARASSING WOMEN, HOUSE CANDIDATE DENIES IMPROPER BEHAVIOR via Lawrence Mower of the Palm Beach Post – Robert Simeone, a first-time candidate for office chasing the state House District 85 seat, is quick to tout his 10-year experience as a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy. He’s also proudly advertising the fact he’s been endorsed by multiple women’s organizations, including the National Organization for Women. But while he was a deputy, Simeone was twice accused of harassing waitresses — one called him a “stalker” — and was suspended for two weeks for a late-night encounter with a third woman … Simeone, who has been married for 19 years, acknowledged that some of the incidents don’t look good. But he denied any improper behavior, saying the incidents were he-said, she-said encounters that came with being an aggressive police officer, and that in the end, they amounted just to policy violations. “Ten years in law enforcement, we’re going to have issues,” he said. “At the end of the day, I take full responsibility for any of the actions that I was found at fault for. … Do I regret doing things? I don’t really regret anything.” Simeone, a Navy veteran who left PBSO last year, now runs a drug treatment center. The Democrat is facing Republican Rick Roth for the seat that covers a wide swath of north and northwest Palm Beach County. The current seatholder, Pat Rooney, chose not to seek a fourth term.

***PRIDE Enterprises is a not-for-profit corporation that was statutorily designated in 1981 by the Florida Legislature to operate vocational work training programs inside state prisons and to provide job placement assistance for inmate program participants throughout the state of Florida. PRIDE operates 41 inmate training centers in 21 state correctional facilities. PRIDE fully funds its work programs and job placement/re-entry services from the sale of its products and services – all at no cost to Florida taxpayers. Visit to learn more about PRIDE Enterprises.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce jobs numbers at 10 a.m. at Uniform Advantage, 101 NE 3rd Ave, 20th Floor, in Fort Lauderdale.

METHAMPHETAMINE RING BUSTED IN VOLUSIA COUNTY, PAM BONDI ANNOUNCES via Florida Politics – … arresting 16 alleged participants and issuing arrest warrants for another nine … The Office of Statewide Prosecution worked with the Department of Homeland Security; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office; and other local police agencies in the investigation. “Meth is a highly addictive drug that can be deadly to users and wreak havoc on families and communities,” Bondi said. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal partners, this criminal organization funneling crystal meth into Florida is shut down.” She identified the ringleaders as Ryan Prouse and Christopher Tsikuris, saying the latter obtained large quantities of the drug out of state and brought it back to Florida for distribution. The charges include trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine and unlawful transportation of currency and sale of hydromorphone and methamphetamine. The other arrestees, ranging in age from 19 to 52, were from Bunnell, Daytona Beach, DeLand, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast and Port Orange.

‘THESE PEOPLE ARE DEVASTATED’: RECOVERY CONTINUES AS FEDERAL AID STARTS FLOWING TO THE COUNTY via Jared Keever of the St. Augustine Record – Hurricane recovery is nothing new for Leigh Levin. He has worked to clean out and repair homes in the aftermath of two of the country’s recent major storms. Over the last five days, he has been working on cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew. Levin said he purchased the four units, that sit on Fountain of Youth Boulevard just off State Road A1A south of Dondanville Road, with a partner about six years ago. “We own all four of these, and we had tenants here,” he said. “All of them are destroyed.” None of those tenants were around Tuesday. Most got their personal belongings out of the apartments last week, Levin said. While one older couple took the opportunity to get out of town and travel in their RV, others, he said, have had to find temporary housing. If dealing with a storm’s aftermath is anything new for those tenants, they may have found some comfort when the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared late Monday night that St. Johns County residents affected by the storm can apply for federal aid under the agency’s Individual Assistance Program. A major component of that program can come in the form of aid to help pay for temporary housing. Other aid can help pay for initial repairs to make a home livable again. The maximum amount available to a homeowner or a person displaced this year is $30,400. But FEMA spokesman Greg Hughes said that those applying should know before doing so that that figure is a number of available programs and people shouldn’t expect that they have that amount coming to them. “Very few people get up to that maximum amount,” Hughes said Tuesday.

SUPREME COURT: POLICYHOLDERS’ RIGHTS RESTRICTED AFTER INSURER GOES BROKE via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – State law limits a homeowner’s rights under a sinkhole policy once the insurer becomes insolvent and the claim goes to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, the Florida Supreme Court ruled … It doesn’t matter if the policy was issued before a statute constraining the association’s obligation took effect, Justice Charles Canady wrote for a unanimous court. “When obtaining an insurance policy, the policyholder obtains no vested right to a future government bailout if the insurer becomes insolvent,” Canady wrote. The Legislature created the Association, often referred to as FIGA, to pay at least a portion of any claim against an insolvent insurance company, the court said. Every company that sells insurance in Florida must share in these costs. The result, the court said, is “a limited statutory safety net for the insured.”

DCF RECORDS SHOW BABY’S DEATH; PARENTS FACE MURDER, ABUSE CHARGES via Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post – Tayla Aleman was born weighing a healthy 9 pounds. She died a year and one month laterweighing only 7, and bearing a diaper rash and a black eye. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner blamed her death on “extreme malnutrition.” The Florida Department of Children and Families called it “senseless and avoidable.” A grand jury ruled there’s enough to consider it murder. Tayla’s parents, Kristen Meyer-Aleman and Alejandro Aleman, are in the Palm Beach County Jail on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse … They both pleaded not guilty to charges at their first-appearance hearings Sept. 30. The couple’s 10 other children — the oldest now 15, the youngest born four months after Tayla’s death — are in DCF custody. On April 1, Meyer-Aleman, 43, found Tayla unresponsive after trying to feed her, the woman told officials. Rescue crews met her outside their Loxahatchee home as she held Tayla in a towel. Tayla died on the way to Palms West Hospital, rescue crews said … DCF had been following the Alemans since 2013. An internal review concluded “there were missed opportunities” to intervene. In response to Tayla’s death, the department has given case supervisors more authority to involve themselves when a child is at a high risk of being abused or neglected, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. The department has required more training for its workers as well.

DEO MERGER FURTHER DIMINISHES GROWTH MANAGEMENT, CRITICS SAY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The Department of Economic Opportunity is proposing a merger of two divisions in a move that critics say could further reduce state oversight of local government land use decisions. In 2011, the Legislature passed bills scaling back state oversight and eliminating the state’s growth management agency and shifting those community planners into the new DEO. In its 2017-18 budget request, DEO proposes consolidating its Division Strategic Business Development with its Division of Housing and Community Development, which includes state planners, into a new Division of Economic Development. “The proposal would seem to focus on further suppressing any notion that guiding responsible community planning is of any significance within state government,” said Craig Diamond, a former chief of state planning who now is a Sierra Club volunteer. “Whether we’d notice the difference relative to the minimal role the state has played under this governor would remain to be seen,” said Richard Grosso, a Nova Southeastern University law professor. “But the move would make it harder to re-invigorate a state planning role in the future.” And former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, a Democrat from Tallahassee who is seeking to return to the Legislature after an eight-year absence, said the proposal “does not seem like it’s a step in the right direction.” … DEO Secretary Cissy Proctor said the merger would allow for a more efficient delivery of services by “breaking down silos” that she said currently exist within DEO.

DOC RESPONDS TO VENDOR CONTRACT REPORT via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Florida Department of Corrections responded to POLITICO’s recent story claiming FDC used misleading information to change drug-abuse treatment for inmates … FDC stated: “POLITICO’s recent reporting on the Florida Department of Corrections falsely accuses the Department with providing misleading budget information and data.” … “In response to an expiring contract, that had no available to extension options, FDC was required to rebid the contract and issued a request for proposal inviting vendors in Orange County to continue partnering with the Department.” The release also says FDC will not modify contracts with private vendors “in order to protect a vendor’s profit margins.”… “Every action FDC takes is to serve Florida’s most challenging population and improve officer safety and well-being. Unfortunately, misleading information continues to be supplied by a private vendor protesting the Department’s decision to act in the best interest of inmates and offenders in Florida.”

TEACHER ANNUAL CONTRACT GUARANTEES GO AGAINST LEGISLATIVE INTENT, ORIGINAL SPONSOR SAYS via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – News that Pinellas County teachers recently won new annual contract protections for well-rated performance reinvigorated Pasco County teachers who have sought the same terms for three straight years. If Pinellas will guarantee employment for educators with “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, they reasoned, why can’t Pasco? The United School Employees of Pasco has delayed bargaining while pressing the issue in more public settings. Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning has insisted that districts shouldn’t be taking the step that Pinellas and others have adopted. “I don’t know how these districts are doing that, in light of what the Legislature intended when they did away with tenure,” Browning said. “If you were a professional service contract employee, you had certain protections. They said after this date there are no more professional service contracts for new employees.” The law currently defines “annual contract” as “an employment contract for a period of no longer than 1 school year which the district school board may choose to award or not award without cause.” Former state senator John Legg, an original sponsor of Senate Bill 6 in 2010, said Browning is “100 percent right. … The intent was very clear — No automatic renewals.”

APPOINTEDDanielle Brewer to the DeSoto County Court; Alexander Bokor to the Miami-Dade County Court.

‘BALLERS’ WILL STAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA, BUT WITH A CATCH via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald – “Ballers,” the HBO football comedy that is set in Miami and stars Dwayne Johnson as a former linebacker-turned-financial adviser, won’t be leaving South Florida despite the lack of state-funded tax incentives. But the network is leaving open the possibility to shoot at least part of the show elsewhere … Tonya Owens, vice president of media relations for HBO, the network said “The Florida film incentive was a key factor when deciding to set up the production of ‘Ballers’ in Miami. With the incentive no longer available, we have begun evaluating the best way to serve season three, including an option to remain in Miami. Whatever the final decision, we believe some component of the series will be shot in Florida.” … “Ballers” was one of the recipients of the $296 million program launched in 2010 by the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment designed to lure Hollywood TV and film productions to the state with tax incentives and subsidies. Intended to last six years, the money ran out in three. The Florida Legislature declined to replenish the funds of the tapped-out program earlier this year. According to the Office of Film’s 2014-2015 annual report, the first season of “Ballers,” shot over 64 days, received $6.7 million in state tax credits, which were redeemable only after shooting had wrapped and required 60 percent of the cast and crew come from Florida … “Ballers” is not a cheap production. Johnson’s salary alone is $400,000 per episode.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY this weekend to Sen. Nancy Detert and smart guys Tony Carvajal and John Sowinski.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top