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Sunburn for 2.14.17 – Happy Valentine’s Day

in Peter/Top Headlines by

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

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

HOW VALENTINE’S DAY BEGAN

The story goes that the Roman Emperor Claudius II imposed a ban on marriages in order to boost his army. Only single men had to enter the army, and too many men were dodging the draft by getting married. Valentinus, though, in an effort to protect the sacramentality of Christian marriage, performed secret marriages, and when he got caught he was sentenced to death. While he awaited execution, he was showered with notes from young couples extolling the virtues of love over war. (Looks like John Lennon didn’t invent the slogan “Make love not war” after all.) These notes, if they ever existed at all, were supposedly the first Valentines. Poor old Valentinus was executed in February 14th, 269, a bloody end for the saint of love.

I, of course, have two valentines: My wonderful wife, Michelle, and my happy, healthy and beautiful daughter, Ella. I love you both.

For those of you in the capital, the number for florist Elinor Doyle is (850) 222-1298.

VALENTINE’S DAY REMAINS A DAY OF DREAD FOR MANY AMERICANS via Rasmussen Reports – A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that just five percent of American adults consider Valentine’s Day one of the nation’s most important holidays. Most (59%) rank it among the least important holidays, while 33% say it’s somewhere in between. Twenty-one percent dread Valentine’s Day. Twenty-eight percent still say they look forward to it, showing no change from last year.  For half of Americans (49%), Valentine’s Day is a day they neither look forward to nor dread.

VALENTINE’S DAY FOR FLORIDA MAN – MAN TRIES TO RUN WOMAN OFF ROAD, THROWS DOG AT HER SO HE CAN TALK TO HER via Madison Fantozzi of the Lakeland Ledger – A Frostproof man is facing charges after trying to run a woman off the road to “talk with her at any cost” … Howard Van Sweringen, 41, is accused of pursuing 35-year-old Kristina Fuller, apparently ramming her vehicle several times and, at one point, throwing his dog at her. He was arrested at Lakeland High. “This is something you see in the movies or on TV,” Fuller said. “Now, it has happened to me.”

VALENTINE’S DAY NOT AS SWEET FOR FLORIDA RETAILERS; SPENDING EXPECTED TO DECREASE via Terry Roen of Florida Politics – For the first time in a decade, according to an annual consumer survey … Consumers plan to keep their budgets in check as they spend $10 less on gifts. Also, fewer people say they will celebrate the holiday this year. “The slight decrease in spending is understandable given the record-breaking pace Valentine’s Day spending had reached the previous 10 years,” said Randy Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation … “This day is still expected to mean significant revenues for Florida’s retailers as consumers shower their loved ones with gifts, flowers, candy, tickets to events and dinners at local restaurants.” The average consumer will spend $136.57 on gifts, down from last year’s record high of $146.84 but total spending nationally is still expected to reach a robust $18.2 billion, according to the National Retail Federation‘s annual survey.

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IF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP WROTE V-DAY CARDS via CNN:

HAPPENING OVERNIGHT – MICHAEL FLYNN, FIRED ONCE BY A PRESIDENT, NOW RESIGNS TO ANOTHER via the Associated Press – President Trump had been weighing the fate of his national security adviser, a hard-charging, feather-ruffling retired lieutenant general who just three weeks into the new administration had put himself in the center of a controversy. Flynn resigned late Monday. At issue was Flynn’s contact with Moscow’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak appear to have discussed U.S. sanctions late last year, raising questions about whether he was freelancing on foreign policy while President Barack Obama was still in office and whether he misled Trump officials about the calls.

AT MAR-A-LAGO, THE FESTIVITIES CARRIED ON AS TRUMP DEALT WITH NORTH KOREA via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – North Korea had launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, its first challenge to international rules since Trump was sworn in three weeks ago. The launch, which wasn’t expected, presented Trump with one of the first breaking national security incidents of his presidency. It also noisily disrupted what was meant to be an easygoing weekend of high-level male bonding with the more sobering aspects of global diplomacy. Sitting alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he’d spent most of the day golfing, Trump took the call on a mobile phone at his table, which was set squarely in the middle of the private club’s dining area. As Mar-a-Lago’s wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe’s evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN.

PATRICK PARK MAY GET TO REALIZE DREAM AS AUSTRIAN AMBASSADOR via Shannon Donnelly of the Palm Beach Daily News – Park is an avid fan of “The Sound of Music.” You might say he’s obsessed with it. “Really, I’ve seen it like 75 times,” the concert pianist/industrialist said. “I know every single word and song by heart. I’ve always wanted to live in the Von Trapp house.” Well, if he can’t live there, at least he’ll be close enough to visit. Park has received unofficial word from President Trump — well, as unofficial as a handwritten note saying “on to your next chapter, Ambassador!” Can be — that he is the president’s choice to be U.S. ambassador to Austria. The president said he thought it would be a good match for Park because it is steeped in musical culture … Park said he’s already started boning up in order to be ready if and when the call comes. “I had a chance to talk to the Swiss and Hungarian ambassadors at the Red Cross Ball and at the diplomats’ dinner the night before,” he said. “They want me to visit them in Washington, and the Austrian ambassador in Washington said he wants us to go for lunch. See? I’m already working!” First thing on his unofficial to-do list? “I’m flying to Vienna to check out the embassy, and then I’m going to Salzburg to see if the Von Trapp house is for rent,” he said, laughing. “And then I’m going to learn to like schnitzel and sachertorte.”

ICE SAYS IT DIDN’T CARRY OUT IMMIGRATION RAID IN PLANT CITY LAST WEEK via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said there was no activity, despite immigrant advocates saying otherwise — comments that were reflected in numerous news reports … “The incident the media reports are likely referring to was earlier this month and was part of a criminal search warrant,” ICE spokeswoman Tamara Spicer [said] … “As it is part of a criminal investigation pending federal prosecution, we cannot release further details.” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said ICE conducted sweeps in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City and arrested more than 680 individuals who “pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.” It’s possible the search warrant Spicer mentioned was conflated with the raids in Los Angeles, etc., but reports of blanket raids in Florida appear to be false.

MARCO RUBIO TOPS IN DONATIONS FROM TRUMP CABINET via Ledyard King of FLORIDA TODAY – No senator has received more of a campaign boost from Trump‘s cabinet nominees than Rubio, according to a watchdog group that tracks political donations. The Florida Republican and PACs supporting his candidacies for president and Senate have collectively received nearly $503,000 in financial contributions, an analysis from the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics shows. The vast majority of that came from newly installed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick. They have given $426,000 – $400,000 of that to the Conservative Solutions PAC that was backing Rubio’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for president last year.

RUBIO, NOT ELIZABETH WARREN, IS A FREE SPEECH HERO via John Hart of Forbes magazine – Yet, in the midst of the McConnell versus Warren drama another senator, Rubio, delivered a floor speech for the ages that dealt directly with the real issues at stake in this fight: “[T]he question here is one of the reasons I ran for this body to begin with. Maybe it is because of my background; I am surrounded by people who have lost freedoms in places where they are not allowed to speak. One of the great traditions of our Nation is the ability to come forward and have debates …” In his speech, Rubio was standing on the shoulders of giants. He clearly and brilliantly expressed our founder’s design for the Senate as a place where a free people could come up with the best solutions to the nation’s challenges. This sounds quaint today but our founders longed for a forum where policymakers could pursue truth or an understanding of “what works” beyond mere ideology or partisanship. Our founders were inspired by 2,500 years of political history.

TWEET, TWEET:

KATHY CASTOR CALLS SOME OF TRUMP’S ACTIONS ‘BENEATH THE DIGNITY OF THE OFFICE’ via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “President Trump is simply unprecedented,” the Tampa Democrat said to reporters following a news conference held at the USF College of Nursing George & Marian Miller Center for Virtual Learning. “His actions and demeanor are really beneath the dignity of the office. And I worry about young people and kids seeing that as an example of their president and Commander in Chief. Hopefully he’ll rein that in.” Castor says that the nature of Trump’s attempted ban on refugees and his “playing footsie” with Russian leader Vladimir Putin are actions that “really undermine our national security” … “So there are a lot of very serious issues, and you can’t blame our neighbors for being on edge, upset and wanting to be engaged,” she surmised.

DAVID JOLLY: ‘STOP COMPLAINING AND DO YOUR JOB’ via Rebecca Savransky of The Hill – David Jolly is urging President Trump to stop complaining and focus instead on serving the country. “He needs to stop complaining and do your job. Stop taking on fake news, stop taking on the judiciary, stop taking on senators, John McCain. Do your job,” Jolly said on CNN’s “New Day” … “You asked for this job. Stop complaining. Do your job, because Republicans should be proud to have a Republican president.”

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RICK SCOTT PLAYING BUDGET HARDBALL OVER REPEAL OF ETI, VISIT, MEMBERS SAY via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The governor’s office says the notion that it is tying the fate of House members’ pet projects to how they vote on legislation that would shutter Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida is “absolutely false.” … “The word ‘threat’ was not used, but the message was clear,” said a House member lobbied on the economic development reform bill. “It’s a pretty hardline approach so early in the process. If they want the House to work with them [governor’s office] in the future, they might want to rethink it.” For veteran political observers, a governor using his line-item veto pen as leverage to muscle policy priorities out of the Legislature is nothing new. But this year, it’s happening a month before legislative session even begins. It’s another in a growing list of palpable signs that the 2017 legislative session will be tense and filled with fights fueled by both philosophical disagreements and the political ambitions of powerful state politicians from the same party.

SCOTT VISITS TAMPA TO DEFEND ECONOMIC INCENTIVES, TOURISM PROGRAMS via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times – While Scott’s rallying cries were well supported by the many in the hospitality and economic development communities in Tampa Bay who showed up to listen … his message did not do much to soothe the fears many of them have about a future without Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. “Now is the time to call your representatives and senators and tell them how you feel,” Scott said to several dozen people who participated in a roundtable discussion at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. “I can veto a bill, but if they put no funding forward (for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida), I can’t help.”

— “Scott talks Enterprise Florida, visit Florida with SWFL business, community leaders” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

TWEET, TWEET: @Fineout: P.C. @The_News_Herald says in editorial Visit Fla. needs guidance “not gutting.” & hmm @jaytrumbull tells paper VF may not need to be killed … So @jaytrumbull – w @FLGovScott coming into his back yard to bash him and other House R’s – is now rethinking his vote to kill Visit Fla. … .@jaytrumbull is one of 5 House R’s who last yr voted for econ development bill who then voted to kill those same programs last week

JEFF ATWATER TALKS LEGACY via A.G. Gancarski of Florida PoliticsIn Jacksonville on Monday, CFO Jeff Atwater talked about the decision he made last week to step down later this year … Was he leaving too soon? Any ‘apprehension … second thoughts … or misgivings’ Atwater feels about leaving, he said, only has to do with … timing of the departure. ‘I hope I can leave a legacy,’ Atwater said. With challenges around the corner, expect that the governor will want someone as dedicated to ‘fiscal discipline’ as Atwater in the role. The question soon enough will become who that person is.

FIRST ON FLA. POLITICS – CHRIS KING MULLING RUN FOR GOVERNOR via Scott Powers – Winter Park businessman Chris King is mulling a 2018 Democratic run for governor in Florida, sources close to him said Monday. While not highly active in Central Florida political circles, King, president and CEO of Elevation Financial Group in Winter Park has been exploring prospects, with national consultants based in Washington D.C., of an outsider’s run with a mixture of liberal social and business-oriented views. The son of Marilyn and David King, the latter the Orlando lawyer who represented the League of Women Voters in its successful Fair Districts Amendments legal fights with Florida that forced the state to redistrict Senate and congressional seats, T. Christopher King, 38, runs a company that invests in and manages real estate.

PAUL PAULSON SEEDS STATE AG COMMISSIONER CAMPAIGN WITH $120K via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Paulson, a state committeeman with the Orange County Republican Party and 2015 candidate for Orlando mayor, entered the agriculture commissioner race in late December … New campaign finance reports posted by the Florida Division of Elections show he leanded  his campaign $120,000 in January. He also spent $32,000, with $18,000 of that going to BEAG Inc. political consulting in Maryland and the rest to J.M. Design of Winter Garden for printing. He did not report raising any other money. However, Paulson said he has hired a fundraiser and is using his personal money to get the infrastructure set up for a statewide campaign. “I don’t mind putting my money where my mouth is,” Paulson said.

JD ALEXANDER SUPPORTING DENISE GRIMSLEY’S BID FOR AG COMMISSIONER via Florida Politics – Not only is Alexander not running for Commissioner of Agriculture, he’s thrown his support behind state Sen. Denise Grimsley‘s bid for the office. Alexander, who was term limited out of the Florida Senate in 2012, is even hosting a “fundraising reception” for Grimsley at his Lake Wales home. The longtime lawmaker who spearheaded the creation of Florida Polytechnic University had been the subject of rumors that industry heads were pushing him to consider running for the statewide office. “I have been honored by several calls from agriculture leaders, but I am very happy spending time with my family and business associates,” said Alexander.

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RICHARD CORCORAN’S NEW TARGET: FLORIDA LOTTERY via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Corcoran plans to file a lawsuit against the Florida Lottery for signing a long-term contract for online games, including a new smartphone app, that costs nearly $700 million but would bind future legislatures, which Corcoran considers a violation of state law. … Because the Lottery is a state agency, a lawsuit will be seen as another frontal assault by Corcoran on Scott, who appoints the Lottery director. Here’s the news release saying the Lottery inked a contract through 2031 with International Game Technology (IGT) to provide games for a 13-year period through 2031.

STATE HOUSE DEMS ‘ENCOURAGED’ BY RICHARD CORCORAN’S PLEDGE TO INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – On SundayCorcoran told CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede the state could expect to see an increase in education funding. State Reps. Larry Lee, Jr. … and Shevrin Jones … issued a joint statement saying they were pleased Corcoran was making the commitment to teachers and the state education system. Lee serves as the Democratic ranking member on the House Pre K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee and Jones serves as Democratic Ranking Member on the Education Committee. “Ensuring every child has access to a quality public education has been neglected for too long when it should always be a top priority of this legislature,” they said. ” Now that the Speaker has made this commitment, I am hopeful that our committees will move away from looking at ways to cut education funding & instead begin to focus on giving our hardworking teachers a raise & increasing per-pupil funding to actually historic levels that take into account inflation.”

BILL WOULD SHAKE UP STATE WORKER HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS via Florida Politics – “Our current plan offers limited choices and lacks the price transparency needed for employees and their families to make cost-effective health care purchases,” bill sponsor Tom Lee said … “This bill incorporates modern, innovative models for delivering high-quality health care at lower costs that will empower state employees to decide what benefits make the most sense for them” … SB 900 would allow state workers to choose between bronze, silver, gold or platinum plans, depending on how many benefits they’d like to pay for. If a plan costs less than the state’s share of a worker’s monthly premium, the worker could stash the extra money in a flexible savings or health savings account, or buy extra benefits — or take the extra money as a pay increase. The measure would take effect in 2020.

BILL WOULD LET HOUSE IMPEACH PROSECUTORS, PUBLIC DEFENDERS via Florida Politics – State Sen. Greg Steube wants to add prosecutors and public defenders to the list of officials that the House of Representatives can impeach. The Sarasota Republican’s measure (SJR 904), filed Monday, would require a constitutional amendment that has to be passed by 60 percent of voters statewide. The state constitution now authorizes the House to impeach the “governor, lieutenant governor, members of the cabinet, justices of the supreme court, judges of district courts of appeal, judges of circuit courts, and judges of county courts” for any “misdemeanor in office.” Steube’s proposal would add “state attorneys and public defenders.”

RIDESHARING BILLS COULD PAVE THE WAY FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGES via William Patrick of FloridaWatchdog.org – On the same day an Uber- and Lyft-friendly ridesharing bill passed its first committee stop in the Florida House, state Sen. Jeff Brandes was presenting his vision of where he believes the transportation industry is headed. “We’re in a generational shift from the horse and buggy to the Model-T,” Brandes said at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee. The St. Petersburg Republican was the main presenter at a public event focusing on emerging transportation technologies. He’s also sponsoring legislation similar to the House ridesharing bill. If successful, the measures would create uniform insurance and background check requirements for participating drivers, and prevent local governments from issuing conflicting regulations. The reforms could be a first-step in a much larger sequence of changes. “The industry is evolving,” Brandes said. “Auto manufacturers, tech companies and all kinds of groups are working hard to get into this space.”

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REPORT POINTS TO PROBLEMS WITH AOBS, AND A WAY AROUND ONE PROPOSED FIX via Florida Politics – As the Legislature debates restricting attorney fees in insurance litigation involving assignment-of-benefits agreements, a tort-reform group has identified a way to circumvent that fix.  Attorneys could convince policyholders to file suit in their own name. A report, “Restoring Balance in Insurance Litigation,” released Monday by the Florida Justice Reform Institute, discusses that possibility in the context of what it called abuse of assignment-of-benefits, or AOB agreements, and of Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute. … The report that found 11 attorneys filed nearly 25 percent of all AOB cases between 2013 and 2016. … The report notes that Florida’s population increased by 26 percent between 2000 and 2016, but litigation against insurance companies grew by 280 percent.

UPHILL CHALLENGE AS FLORIDA RANCH OWNERS PUSH FOR EASEMENT FUNDING via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Driving through his family’s 8,000-acre ranch in southern Hardee County, David M. “Lefty” Durando points to where he expects bobwhite quail to be flourishing in the spring after the winter rains cause a green carpet of grass to grow among the palmetto bushes … Without financial incentives from the state to keep the land intact, Durando says houses — instead of trees, cattle and grass— would be growing there, or on his 12,000-acre ranch near the Kissimmee River. His Limestone Ranch along the Peace River in Hardee County previously was owned by Doyle Carlton Jr., son of the late Gov. Doyle Carlton. Durando is chairman of the Florida Conservation Group, which includes landowners pushing for the state and federal governments to provide more funding for “conservation easements,” which are payments to landowners to conserve their land rather than allowing development. And his group wants the legislature to provide $200 million for conservation easements, split equally between programs at the state agriculture department and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. But the group’s request appears to face an uphill challenge. Neither Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam nor Gov. Scott have requested as much as the groups want.

FLORIDA’S DRUG LAWS ARE GIVING ME A PAIN IN THE ASS via Darryl Paulson for Florida Politics – Changes in the Florida drug laws now require patients to see a certified pain specialist monthly in order to receive prescriptions for pain meds. Where 98 out of the top 100 doctors prescribing oxycodone resided in Florida in 2010, that number was zero in 2013. Florida had great success in closing the pill mills and eliminating much of the drug abuse that existed. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that individuals with chronic pain have a very difficult time getting their pain meds in a timely fashion. Pain specialists can write a prescription for a 30-day supply of pain meds. You can’t have your next prescription filled before you use your 30-day supply. The problem is that pharmacies, at least 25 percent of the time, do not have pain meds in stock. I visited my pain specialist last week and received my script for a 30-day supply to be filled Feb. 13. I went to five different pharmacies before finding one that would fill my prescription. It took almost two hours and driving over 25 miles in order to get the meds I was entitled to receive. There is enough stress with chronic pain; I do not need the additional stress of trying to find a pharmacy that will fill my prescription.

ORANGE COUNTY MOLESTATION CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED AFTER PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics –A split appellate court panel has thrown out the molestation convictions of an Orlando-area man, saying he was the victim of “egregious prosecutorial misconduct.” In a 2-1 opinion, a three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal last week vacated Marco Antonio Rodriguez’s convictions and remanded the case back to the Orange County Circuit court for retrial. He is now serving an 18-year sentence, records show. Judges James A. Edwards and Richard B. Orfinger also said Rodriguez’s case was compounded by his defense attorney’s “unexplained failure to object.” They admitted “the jury may have reached the proper verdict, given the evidence in this case,” but nonetheless found he was “denied a fair trial.” … “Appellant’s retrial is not just a ‘do over,’” they wrote. “The alleged victim, a child, will once again have to tell her story of familial sexual molestation to a judge and a second jury, while (Rodriguez) will once again be publicly accused and tried for sexually molesting a 5-year-old.

WEALTHY MIAMI BEACH EXECUTIVE CHARGED ANEW WITH BRIBING STATE HEALTH CARE REGULATORS via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald – Philip Esformes … prosecutors say, gave $5,000 to his right-hand man to be used to bribe a regulator to learn what the state knew about his vast network of skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities. Unbeknown to Esformes, the exchange of cash for inside information was videotaped by Esformes’ once-trusted friend, Gabriel Delgado. He had agreed along with his brother, Guillermo, to help investigators target the executive in the summer of 2015 after the brothers got into serious trouble with the feds themselves. Esformes, 48, the main defendant in a colossal $1 billion Medicare fraud case, has been held behind bars since July at the Miami Federal Detention Center as he awaits trial in federal court. Esformes’ defense attorney downplayed the latest allegation, maintaining his client is innocent and that the Delgado brothers, who pleaded guilty, are the real criminals.

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at protectflbusiness.com.***

MORE LEGISLATIVE HOPEFULS FILE TO RUN IN 2018, 2020 via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State elections records show dozens of members of the state House and Senate have filed to run for re-election in 2018, and several more are looking ahead to 2020. Sen. Dorothy Hukill … filed to run for re-election … Rep. Ben Albritton filed … to run to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley … who announced she’s running for Agriculture commission … House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Nunez has filed to run for Senate District 39 in 2020 … Sen. Victor Torres … Sen. Perry Thurston … Rep. Halsey Beshears … Democratic Reps. Clovis Watson Jr., Ben Diamond, and Matt Willhite have also filed to run for re-election.

SPOTTED at the Beer Industry of Florida’s fundraiser for Dana Young: Sen. Wilton Simpson, Slater Bayliss, Anthony DiMarco, Chris Hansen, Jeff Hartley, Fred Karlinsky, Seth McKeel, Marc Reichelderfer, Sydney Ridley, Stephen Shiver.

DESPITE RACIST FACEBOOK POST, PASCO GOP’S BILL AKINS WON’T RESIGN via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times – Facebook cleansed his social media page after The Washington Post revealed his postings to be filled with racist and erroneous stories and memes. One compared African-Americans to monkeys. Another repeated the conspiracy theory of passenger jet airlines spraying toxins. Akins, the secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, offered multple mea culpas in an interview … He is not sorry that he went to U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ town hall meeting in New Port Richey … nor that he tried to make a point about the Independent Payment Advisory Board he characterized as a “death panel’’ in the Affordable Health Care Act. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone’s sensibilities, but we need to sit down and act like adults and work for solutions rather than booing, jeering and catcalling,’’ he said about calling most of the 250 people in the room children. And the Facebook posts? “If I offended anybody by anything that they may have read, I’m sorry, but I am entitled to my opinion just as anyone else is.’’

***The quality of nursing home care is better in states like Florida that use a certificate of need process. You can help protect Florida’s most frail seniors by urging legislators to keep CON for Florida’s outstanding skilled nursing centers. Learn more from the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) here.***

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – Tuesday is Southern Day at the Governors Club with she-crab soup; remoulade slaw; seasonal green salad; traditional potato salad with bacon; fried chicken with whiskey BBQ sauce; herb roasted pork loin; macaroni & cheese; mashed potatoes; succotash; broccoli & cauliflower casserole, finished with a chef’s choice dessert.

A HEARING TEST FOR A BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN via the Tampa Bay Times – SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team has been caring for a rescued male bottlenose dolphin … The animal was brought to the SeaWorld Orlando Rehabilitation Center after being found stranded in Sanibel. Last week, SeaWorld’s veterinary team assisted a representative from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with a hearing test on the dolphin. NOAA conducts hearing tests on all stranded cetaceans to confirm their ability to hear and echolocate. Dolphins use echolocation to help them find food, navigate through their environment and socialize with other dolphins. The use of echolocation is crucial for their survival in the wild. The hearing test is a critical step toward the ultimate goal of returning him to the wild. The test showed the dolphin can hear and the team remains hopeful he will continue to improve. Since his arrival the dolphin has been eating on his own and has shown a steady increase in weight, important steps in the total rehabilitation process.

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.

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