Sunburn for 10/20 – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the firm best known for smart, strong and strategic counsel across the diverse and ever-changing media landscape: October 20 is a prominent day for popular music-related events associated with Florida. On this date in 1977, three members of legendary Jacksonville-based Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed when their airplane crashed in Mississippi during a failed emergency landing attempt. Thirteen years later, in 1990, three members of the notorious Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew were acquitted of obscenity charges after performing from their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be at a Hollywood club. The album had been the subject of an obscenity determination by a Broward County judge and objections from then-Gov. Bob Martinez, and the controversy spurred album sales of more than 2 million copies. Still, it’s Free Bird that fans still cry out for from cover bands across the land.

Now, on to the ‘burn…

CDC AGREES TO HELP FLORIDA PREPARE FOR EBOLA, SORT OF via Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald

The federal Centers for Disease Control agreed Saturday to some — but not all — of Gov. Scott’s Ebola-related requests.

The CDC will hold a conference call with Florida hospitals next week on best practices, Gov. Scott said Saturday. The organization has also given Florida the green light to spend about $7 million in federal grant funding on protective suits for health care workers.

“The CDC indicated that we will receive formal approval next week, but based on this preliminary approval, we have already begun using these funds to enhance our Ebola preparedness efforts,” Scott said in a statement.

The governor is still waiting on the CDC to contact passengers on a plane that stopped in Fort Lauderdale after carrying a nurse who was later diagnosed with Ebola.

He also has yet to receive 27 of the 30 Ebola testing kits he requested.

“With a population of more than 19 million people, tens of millions of tourists, and numerous ports and international airports, we must ensure Florida can rapidly test any future patients who have the potential for Ebola,” he said.

The conference call with Florida hospitals will take place Monday at 3:30 p.m.

The call will provide “guidance for proper use of Personal Protective Equipment, safe handling of medical waste and effective clinical strategies within the hospital setting.”

HOW IT’S PLAYING: EBOLA FLORIDA EDITION

Orlando SentinelIn Broward, Gov. Scott demands better Ebola response from feds – The governor … fell short of calling for an outright travel ban … said travel restrictions from Ebola-plagued African countries … “makes all the sense in the world.” Palm Beach PostHow local nurses deal with Ebola fears – This week in Tampa a group of nurses lay down on a sidewalk, shoulder to shoulder, and conducted what they called a “die in” to bring attention to the emerging issue and their needs. Tampa TribuneCDC sets Ebola training call for Florida hospitals – … in a tight race for re-election against former Gov. Crist, (Scott) has been critical of the CDC’s response … repeatedly stressed measures he’s taking to prevent a possible crisis in Florida. Miami HeraldCDC responds to Florida’s requests for help with potential Ebola outbreak – still waiting on the CDC to contact passengers on a plane that stopped in Fort Lauderdale after carrying a nurse … later diagnosed with Ebola. Palm Beach PostScott says CDC offers help to Florida on Ebola – “Our health care workers need to hear directly from the CDC on what happened in Dallas that allowed Ebola to be transmitted to two nurses, and what can be done to protect our health care professionals in Florida who are on the front lines.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy will host a roundtable discussion about efforts to respond to the Ebola virus. West Palm Beach City Hall, 401 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. 2 p.m.

GOVERNOR SAYS CHILD ABUSE DEATHS HAVE GONE DOWN, REPORTS SHOW DEATHS JUST KEPT OFF THE BOOKS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

In Lake County, a disfigured 2-month-old whose mother did not want him is left alone in a motel room for 90 minutes, and is later found smothered. His family had been the subject of 38 prior investigations by the state’s child welfare agency.

In Santa Rosa County, child welfare authorities allow a “chronic and severe” drug addict to bring her newborn home, though her two older children had been removed from her care for their safety. Eighteen days later, the mother takes an unprescribed Lortab painkiller and places her baby next to her in bed. The child is found dead.

And in Polk County, a mother leaves two toddlers alone in a “kiddie pool” — and returns to find her 1-year-old daughter face-down in the water. Her 2-year-old son later discloses he pushed his sister down while she was crying. He now suffers nightmares.

The children, who all perished last year, are tragically bound by more than death: Even as the Florida Department of Children & Families has promised greater openness, the three fatalities, and dozens of others like them, have never been counted among the state’s victims of fatal abuse or neglect.

No state can protect every child who is born to troubled, violent or drug-addicted parents, and even youngsters for whom child protection administrators make all the right choices can sometimes fall victim to unforeseen circumstances. To ensure that state social service agencies learn from mistakes, the federal government requires that states count and investigate all child fatalities that result from abuse or neglect.

But except for abiding by a new state law that required DCF to create a website listing all child fatalities, Florida has continued to undercount the number of children it fails.

“Nothing has changed,” said former Broward Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. James Harn, who supervised child abuse investigations before retiring when a new sheriff was elected last year. “Some day, somebody will say ‘let’s just stop the political wrangling.’ Here’s what you’ve got to do: Just tell the truth.”

UNDER RICK SCOTT, DEP UNDERGOES DRASTIC CHANGE via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times

In January, Gov. Scott stood in front of a room full of Department of Environmental Protection employees and praised their hard work.

One accomplishment Scott singled out: making it easier than ever to obtain a permit for filling in wetlands, pumping water out of the aquifer or pouring pollutants into the water and air.

When Jeb Bush was governor, it took an average of 44 days for the DEP to approve a permit. Cutting that to two days means it’s now as easy to get a pollution permit from Scott’s DEP as it is to buy a Coke from a vending machine, said Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney who’s now in charge of the Florida chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Scott, running for re-election, has promised that in his second term he would be the greenest governor the state has ever seen, because “Florida’s natural beauty is a big reason why this is the best state in the country to call home.”

He recently unveiled a $1 billion plan for buying land for preservation, cleaning up springs, restoring the Everglades and saving the Indian River Lagoon, without saying where the money would come from. And he says he’ll push for tougher enforcement of environmental regulations.

But Scott’s first term was focused less on tough regulation and more on helping businesses get what they want and avoid penalties for wrongdoing. Former employees say Scott made wrenching, drastic changes in the agency that’s supposed to protect the state’s environment — changes the likes of which the DEP has never seen.

In the past three years the Scott administration has: Slashed funding for the DEP and the five water districts; laid off veteran DEP and water district employees, including Everglades scientists; put the DEP in the hands of people connected to the industries the agency regulates; and emphasized helping industries avoid fines instead of prosecuting polluters.

DAYS UNTIL THE ELECTION: 15

ECONOMIC MALAISE CLOUDS GOVERNOR’S RACE via the Associated Press

By many measures, Gov. Scott should have a strong case for a second term as governor.

Elected four years ago, the former businessman reduced taxes, cut regulations and recruited businesses to help revive the economy. Florida is bouncing back, and Scott is claiming credit for adding 613,000 jobs and trimming unemployment to 6.1 percent.

But along this stretch of central Florida, a crucial swing-voting area, the numbers are little more than an abstraction to middle-class voters who see a tepid turnaround.

That’s a main reason that Scott and incumbents from both parties are struggling to keep their jobs more than five years after the recession ended.

Polls show Gov. Scott neck and neck with Crist, who is promoting what he calls a “fair shot” agenda for the middle class.

“We need to be doing better than we’re doing, and we aren’t doing better because of Rick Scott,” Crist said. “Frankly, we’re in a stall and a squeeze right now.”

In Florida, the official number of unemployed residents, 590,000, is down from about 1 million in January 2011, when Gov. Scott took office. That figure does not include 700,000 others who have dropped out of the labor force or are working part time but would prefer a full-time job. The state’s broader “underutilization” rate of 13.9 percent is among the highest in the nation.

“We may have experienced a recovery,” said Christopher McCarty, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, “but things don’t look quite like they did five years after any other recession.”

ADS INFINITUM: A RACE TO BOTTOM, AND FLORIDA VOTERS CAN’T WAIT FOR ADS TO STOP via Steve Bousquet and Marc Caputo of theMiami Herald

For the past year, living in Florida has meant having Gov. Scott and Crist as constant and mostly unwanted companions. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam. About $83 million since March.

For months, TV viewers have been forced to withstand a seemingly endless barrage of vicious ads from Scott and Crist as they try to trash talk their way to the Governor’s Mansion, 30 seconds at a time.

Scott and Republicans have spent $56.5 million on ads and Crist and Democrats have spent $26.5 million. Scott has bought far more ads in Tampa Bay than anywhere else: It’s the biggest TV market in Florida and Crist’s home base.

Using data from broadcast stations and the Florida voter file, 0ptimus has concluded that Tampa Bay viewers have seen the most negative ads from Scott about Crist, with 95 million impressions since Sept. 1.

That means a Scott ad has been seen in whole or in part 95 million times across the Tampa Bay TV market.

In a first-of-its-kind race where both candidates have been governors, voters say the two men have cheapened and demeaned the high office they seek. Their total lack of mutual respect is magnified by the fact that they refuse to address each other as “governor” and instead use “Rick” and “Charlie.”

Many ads contain outright falsehoods, such as Scott’s ad in which an investor claimed he was “swindled” by Crist (he wasn’t) or Crist’s ad that claims Scott invoked the Fifth Amendment in a deposition to avoid jail time for fraud (it was an unrelated legal dispute).

All those ads have clearly accomplished one thing: Scott and Crist are among the least-liked candidates for statewide office in Florida history.

RACE FOR GOVERNOR IS ABOUT MORE THAN A FAN, AS THE FOCUS TURNS TO VOTER TURNOUT, ISSUES via Matt Dixon of theNaples Daily-News

During the debate, Florida’s gubernatorial race got its moment. More specifically, it got what has been dubbed “fangate.”

Crist wanted to use a fan during the debate. Gov. Scott said that was against the rules and initially would not take the stage. The brief suspense — broadcast statewide — was resolved when Gov. Scott finally strolled on stage and the debate went on as planned.

The moment ultimately might be the race’s most memorable, but it’s important to remember there is a lot of race left.

Debates matter, and debate gaffes can resonate with voters. But with both campaigns spending millions of dollars each week, there will be a lot of action over the final 15 days.

What it means is both campaigns need to execute perfectly to turn out voters. The CNN poll had fewer than 20 percent of voters willing to change their minds moving forward. It’s now less about changing minds, and more about making sure voters vote.

Although it’s early, vote by mail — or absentee ballots — offer a snapshot of those early turnout numbers.

So far, about 700,000 voters have cast ballots by mail, with Republicans up 14 points. The GOP is notorious for outpacing Democrats in absentee ballots, a fact Gov. Scott’s campaign touted in a memo.

… BUT CAN WE KEEP PLEASE TALKING ABOUT FANGATE?

FIRST POST-FANGATE POLL: CRIST 45%, SCOTT 43% 

Crist now holds a slight lead in the latest survey from St. Pete Polls, 45 to 43 percent among those sure of whom they are voting for governor. When factoring in those respondents who say they are leaning to either Gov. Scott or Crist, the race is a one point affair, with Crist at 45 percent, Scott 43 percent.

Such close numbers suggest “Fangate” has had little effect on voters’ thinking. But these new numbers must be judged against St. Pete Polls survey before the debate: That poll, taken Oct 8-11, had Scott leading Crist 45 to 44 percent.

It would appear that Scott’s performance on Wednesday cost him two or three critical points.

No, but yes, in other words.

Diving into the impact of Wednesday’s debate, a surprisingly high percentage of voters said they watched the debate. Of those who said they watched the debate, 38 percent believe Crist “won” the debate, while 25 percent think Gov. Scott performed better. Thirty percent of voters thought neither of the candidates won the debate.

Asked if the delay of the debate because of the electric fan at Crist’s feet hurt Gov. Scott, Crist or both, 41 percent of Florida voters think it hurt Gov. Scott, while 20 percent think it impacted Crist. Twenty six percent of respondents think it was a plague on both Gov. Scott’s and Crist’s houses.

SEVEN MINUTES OF TERROR AS A FANGATE PANELIST via Rosemary Goudreau of the Sun Sentinel

As one of the three panelists asking questions at Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate, the only rule I knew was that each candidate had one minute to answer each question, with a 30-second rebuttal. That was it. Oh, except if we thought they didn’t really answer the question, we could point it out and ask for an answer.

But we knew something was amiss as we prepared to take the stage for the second live debate between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist at Broward College’s recently remodeled Bailey Hall in Davie.

As we waited in the wings, the producer of the show, Liz Roldan, told us there was an issue about Charlie Crist having a fan. Liz reminded me of Holly Hunter in the movie “Broadcast News,” so when she said there was nothing she could do about that fan, I knew there was nothing we, the moderators, could do either.

Now the pre-show was starting and our names were being called to take our seats. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Crist sitting on a stool, waiting to take the stage.

In that moment, we, the panelists, were focused on our questions. We’d been deluged with suggestions from people across the state passionate about what’s happening in Florida. It wasn’t easy for me and my colleagues — Eliott Rodriguez, news anchor of Miami’s CBS4, and Frank Denton, editor of the Florida Times-union in Jacksonville — to winnow our list to the allotted 13. We wanted to ask not only the questions of the day, but the questions of our times. But as Holly Hunter reminded us, this was live TV and we only had an hour.

The moment we sat down, an agitated Scott campaign adviser approached us. He showed us a copy of the agreed-upon debate terms, which said no electronics, including fans, could be used. He asked repeatedly: “Are you going to enforce the rules?”

I said the only rule I knew was one minute, one minute, 30 seconds.

EARLY BALLOT RETURN NUMBERS as of 10/15 (courtesy of St. Pete Polls): 687,204 Total ballots returned: 332,329 Republican 48.4 percent; 237,578 Democratic 34.6 percent; 117,297 Independent 17.1 percent.

MIAMI HERALD ENDORSES CRIST here.

ORLANDO SENTINEL ENDORSES CRIST here.

SCOTT GIVING HIMSELF $20M? via William March of the Tampa Tribune

The Gov. Scott campaign is not denying reports that Gov. Scott is putting $20 million of his own money into the closing days of his re-election campaign.

The report, based on unnamed sources, comes from the political blog of Brian Crowley, long-time political editor for the Palm Beach Post, now a free-lancer and public relations consultant and one of the state’s best-connected political observers.

Crowley’s sources, who he says include both Democrats and Republicans, put the figure for Gov. Scott’s contribution variously at $20 million or $22 million.

The money supposedly is going to the Republican Party of Florida. If so, it wouldn’t be reported publicly until Oct. 31, four days before the election. So far, expense reports for the party, the Scott campaign and Gov. Scott’s independent committee, Let’s Get to Work, show no sign of any such contribution.

But it comes as the Scott campaign reportedly is making huge ad buys in the closing days of the campaign, with Crist is showing a razor-thin lead in most polls.

The state GOP reserved a huge, $6.3 million ad buy for the past week, after spending $5 million the week before; Democratic strategists say they expect the numbers to go up in the final two weeks before the election.

The Tampa market got $1.5 million of this week’s $6.3 million ad buy, enough for 3,620 “gross ratings points” in TV time. That means a typical viewer could expect to see the ads 36 times; in the past, political experts have said 1,000 gross ratings points was a saturation buy.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Crist will kick off the start of early voting in Pinellas County today as he joins supporters in casting his vote for the 2014 general election in St. Petersburg. 501 1st Ave. North. 9 a.m. Crist’s running mate, Annette Taddeo will cast her ballot at the Coral Reef Library, 9211 Coral Reef Drive, Miami.9 a.m.

ALAN GRAYSON’s MESSY DIVORCE GETS MESSIER via Mike Schneider of the Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson’s messy divorce is getting messier, at least when it comes to his house.

Court papers filed by his estranged wife, Lolita, claim that the Democratic congressman failed to pay for repairs for the 5,300-square-foot Orlando house where she is living with their four children. The roof is leaking, broken windows are allowing rain to get inside and the house has a significant mold problem because of the moisture, Lolita Grayson said in the papers filed at the Orange County Courthouse.

She also said the congressman cut off her credit cards, even though he has been the sole financial provider during their 24 years of marriage.

Lolita Grayson’s attorney, Mercedes Wechsler, said in an interview that the home’s condition was “horrible.”

Alan Grayson’s attorney, Mark NeJame, said the congressman from Orlando was providing for his family, spending more than $10,000 a month on the home’s mortgage, child support, utilities and household expenses. Besides the four younger children living at home, the couple has an adult child in school and he is paying the tuition, NeJame said.

“If she is a poor housekeeper, that’s her issue, not his,” NeJame said. “For her to slant it in such a way that he is not providing his fair share is wrong and untrue.”

The accusation on home repairs is only the latest salvo between the millionaire congressman and his estranged wife in contentious divorce proceedings that started at the beginning of the year.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Adam Putnam will launch the “Florida Grown” bus tour crisscrossing Florida through Election Day. Putnam will join state Rep. Erik Fresen, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, Jeb Bush Jr. and Miami-Dade County REC Chair Nelson Diaz from 8-9 a.m. at 890 SW 57th Avenue in West Miami. Later, Bush, Diaz and GOP candidate Daniel Diaz-Leyva will be at Maximo Gomez Domino Park from 10-10:45 a.m., 801 SW 5th Avenue in Miami.

TWEET, TWEET: Word from atop @FloridaGOP to House incumbents w/ easy races: “No saving $$ for next cycle. Spend it now to help @ScottforFlorida.”

SHAWN HARRISON WIDENS HD 63 FUNDRAISING LEAD OVER MARK DANISH Full blog post here

Republican former state Rep. Shawn Harrison widens his fundraising lead against incumbent Democrat Rep. Mark Danish in House District 63, one of Hillsborough County’s most hard-fought races.

Harrison added $33,805 from Oct. 4-10, with another $8,900 in staffing support from the Republican Party of Florida. His fundraising total now sits at $198,191.

After a massive advertising spend for the reporting period — including more than $55,000 to the Vero Beach-based David Millner Group – Harrison has a little more than $30,000 in the bank.

During the same weeklong period, Danish took in less than 40 percent of that collected by his GOP opponent: $13,305 in donations, for $132,342 overall.

With only $153 in expenditures for Oct. 4-10, Danish’s total spending clocks in at $92,716, leaving him with $36,626 on hand.

HD 65 HOPEFUL CHRIS SPROWLS CONTINUES OUTPACING CARL ZIMMERMAN IN FUNDRAISING Full blog post here

First-time Republican candidate Chris Sprowls continues his fundraising lead over Democratic opponent Democratic Rep. Carl “Z” Zimmerman in House District 65.

Sprowls added $30,570 from Oct. 4-10, as well as another $8,315 in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida for “polling.” In the weeklong period, he also spent just over $5,000.

To date, the Tarpon Springs native has raised $267,421. With more than $206K in expenditures to date, the Sprowls campaign is entering the final weeks of the General Election with $62,539 on hand.

During the same period, Zimmerman raised $8,720, and spent $22,781, mostly for cable TV ad buys. The incumbent’s total now stands at $114,001. After spending a total of $91,290 to date, Zimmerman’s war chest is at nearly $23,000.

BILL YOUNG II ADDS $24K, LARGE ON-HAND LEAD IN HD 68 Full blog post here

House District 68 GOP candidate Bill Young II had a solid fundraising run from Oct. 4-10, adding another $24,300, for $175,864 so far in his effort to unseat incumbent Democrat Rep. Dwight Dudley.

Young also received nearly $11,000 of in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida, for staffing and “in-voter contact.”

After spending $111,627 in expenditures to date, Young still has a commanding $64,236 cash-on-hand.

In the same reporting period, Dudley recorded $15,480, maintaining a slight fundraising lead over Young with $193,775. To date, he has total expenditures of more over $175K, and has a war chest of only $18,765 entering the last three weeks of the general election.

KATHLEEN PETERS CLAIMS TRICKERY AFTER EARLY MORNING ROBOCALLS via Geoff Fox of the Tampa Tribune

It was 4:34 a.m. Sunday, and a ringing phone woke Sarasota resident John Ganas from a peaceful sleep.

Given the hour, Ganas thought the call might be an emergency. In the dark, he stumbled over his dogs to get to the phone. Besides having his number on a do-not-call list, Ganas said people aren’t supposed to receive robocalls between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Ganas was not the only person to receive such a call, supposedly from Kathleen Peters’ campaign, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday.

A St. Petersburg Republican seeking her second term in District 69, which covers southwest Pinellas County, Peters said she received angry emails from residents in Brevard, Hernando, Orange, Pinellas and Sarasota counties on Sunday, all complaining about early morning robocalls that she said her campaign did not authorize.

While Peters said that she and opponent Scott Orsini, a Democrat, have not done negative campaigning, she characterized the robocalls as “campaign trickery.”

Mark Hanisee, who chairs the Pinellas County Democratic Committee, said that neither Orsini nor the Democratic party had anything to do with the robocalls.

Peters said that many of those who received early morning calls were Republicans, although those registered under no party affiliation and a few Democrats also were called.

Peters contacted Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and said she plans to contact the State Attorney’s Office.

AFTER BITTER PRIMARY, JULIO GONZALEZ BURIES THE HATCHET via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

After surviving the nastiest, most expensive Republican primary battle in the state for a seat in the Legislature this year, few would blame Julio Gonzalez for carrying a bit of grudge against those who had fought him.

After all, it included hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on negative ads in Sarasota County that questioned Gonzalez’s loyalty to the GOP and accused him — a doctor — of wanting to destroy Medicare.

But Gonzalez is not only saying that he harbors no ill will, he’s helping raise money for state Rep. Ray Pilon who played a key role in encouraging Venice Republican Richard DeNapoli to run against Gonzalez in first place.

Gonzalez said he’s not happy that Pilon backed DeNapoli over him, but has come to understand that in politics there are countless reasons why someone might support one person over another.

During the campaign, DeNapoli said Pilon was an important voice in encouraging him to run for a state House seat that covers all of Venice and North Port.

Gonzalez said he’s spoken with Pilon at length since, and it’s just better for the area’s delegation to the Legislature if they all work together and not let the campaign nastiness linger.

Pilon said he has immense respect for Gonzalez for being able to get beyond the primary. He added that it was never a personal issue that caused him to support Gonzalez’s opponent, and that if he had to do it over again, knowing how ugly the race got, he likely would have stayed out of the primary.

Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks. We provide voice, data, video, cloud and managed services to businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to large, multi-site organizations. With our privately-owned, leading edge, all fiber network we ensure reliability, flexibility, and accountability.  We’re available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re locally-based. Not many other providers can say that. Bright House Networks for Business – your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services.

DANIA CASINO & JAI ALAI AND MAGIC CITY CASINO STRIKE A DEAL Full blog post here

Owners of the Dania Casino & Jai Alai announced Friday a $12.5 million deal with West Flagler Associates, which owns the Magic City Casino in Miami and has a limited partnership in the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track.

The deal between the Ondiss Corp and WFA is expected to close on or before Dec. 10.

Dania Entertainment Center holds the casino and Jal Alai pari-mutuel licenses. Ondiss owns 77 percent of DEC and will acquire the remaining 23 percent later this month. It will then sell 25 percent interest in DEC to WFA.

The attorney for Ondiss asked the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to grant conditional approval to the WFA deal since both parties are current permit holders.

The Ondiss Corp began acquiring control of the Dania casino and fronton by purchasing a majority interest in DEC in 2013. The corporation was formed by a group of Argentine investors and owns nearly 30 casinos in Argentina. The four principals listed on state documents are Guillermo M. Ardissone, Ricardo O. Benedictor, Hector J Cruz and De Achaval Federico, all of Buenos Aires.

YOU DON’T SAY — GOOD HEALTH INSURANCE A PERK FOR STATE EMPLOYEES via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat

The state’s employee-insurance costs and benefits have remained so good that the plan is one reason for the “double dipping” that got some conservative Republican legislators so upset a few years ago. Many retirees found that paying the full cost of their continued insurance was so great, they had to go back to work — for the state or somewhere — just to get by, depending on Medicare eligibility or family circumstances.

The annual open-enrollment period for the state employee group insurance plan starts at 8 a.m. Monday and runs to 6 p.m. Nov. 7. For employees or retirees thinking about making changes, there is a series of “benefit fairs” in major cities, starting tomorrow and running through Nov. 5.

NEW LOBBING REGISTRATIONS

Keith Arnold, Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Good Wheels, Inc.

Brian Ballard, Sylvester Lukis, Ballard Partners: PHL-Areliano Construction Co.

Sarrah Carroll, Southern Strategy Group: SAS Institute, Inc.

Jeff Littlejohn, Florida Engineering Society; Florida Ports Council

Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: Marine Industries Association of South Florida

Clark Rogers, Department of Revenue

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Automated Health Systems, Inc.

TWEET, TWEET: @ChristinaOn3PR: In TPA for @FloridaMedical  @FMA_PAC mtg. Over $2.4M raised for candidates! #winning

CONTEXT FLORIDA: CLEAN POWER PLAN, AMENDMENT 2, TALLAHASSEE AIRPORT AND TERM LIMITS

On Context FloridaSamantha Stratton of the Florida Retail Federation sees one issue bubbling to the surface: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan. In its current form, she says the Clean Power Plan eventually will increase energy costs for homeowners and businesses. According to Barney Bishop, a Context Florida column by United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara challenging arguments opposing Amendment 2 have answers that were misleading or just plain wrong. For those who live in Florida’s capital city, Andrew Skerritt notes that one routine complaint is the airport: Flights are too expensive; it is just hard getting anywhere from there. City officials are trying to change the narrative, if not the flight path of Tallahassee Regional Airport. The term limits initiative that Florida voters put into the Constitution in 1992 has become one of the costliest mistakes in Florida history, says Martin Dyckman.  Voters deserve an opportunity to fix it, and there are ways.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

TALLAHASSEE IN HEATED COMPETITION FOR “AMERICA’S UGLIEST ACCENT” Full blog post here

Gawker presents its latest version of America’s Ugliest Accent, uniting the country to determine which part of our grand nation has the most “disgusting vocal squalor” and the “least listenable” accent.

Previously, an earlier round featured Boston, Baltimore, LA, and Chicago, each with a regional accent favored by prominent hometown heroes.

The latest round offers additional linguistic litter, whether you like it or not.

Four accents – Scranton (No. 2 seed) vs. New Orleans (No. 15) and Tallahassee (No. 10) vs. Minneapolis (No. 7) – may not clearly be as stereotyped as those in Round 1, but they all have what can loosely be described as “charm.”

In the case of Tallahassee, Gawker uses it as a stand for the entire Florida Panhandle Florida — which is designated “a true, and truly ugly, Southern American English accent.” Having a mix of the Florida cracker accent (known by many as “Florida mush mouth”) and an African-American Vernacular, it is as Southern as they come, rivaling the slack jaw of a Texan.

Those who imitate residents of the South often will resort to the Tallahassee twang.

Gawker lists former PR Week reporter (and current Gawker staffer) Hamilton Nolan as a notable Tallahassee accent, with the typical sentence as: “Y’all wanna trah this pin to wrahte to yer mama?”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rick Lindstrom.

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