Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 3.24.17 – Death penalty politics; Red-lighting RLCs; Mickey’s taxes; Bob Cortes says ‘no’

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, Jim Rosica, and Scott Powers.


In January, new Denver District Attorney Beth McCann reaffirmed her campaign promise on an extraordinary policy: There would be no death penalty cases in her district under her watch.

The reaction?

Virtually nothing.

“I think our community is a lot different from Orlando,” McCann said in an interview with FloridaPolitics.

Indeed, Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala became a political pariah a week ago when she made a similar pronouncement for her Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, with most Republicans and a few Democrats blasting her and many calling for her ouster.

Nationally, the latest annual tracking poll by Gallup, in late 2016, found that 60 percent of Americans support the death penalty and 37 percent oppose. That’s the closest gap since Richard Nixon‘s first term as president, but still a solid majority in support. A Pew tracking poll shows identical trend lines, though a much tighter gap in 2016 – 49 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed. But again, death penalty wins.

Yet region by region, state by state, sometimes even district by district, nothing suggests that the blowback Ayala is getting in Florida and Central Florida is at all common.

One key difference between Ayala and McCann – both Democrats – is that McCann campaigned on a no death penalty promise. But it wasn’t that hard for her to do. Two of three candidates took that position. There hasn’t been an execution in Colorado in 12 years, and statewide there are only three people on death row.

Even Aurora, Colo., movie theater mass murderer James Holmes – tried in the neighboring Arapahoe County – was given life without parole.

“I think it’s the climate in our state. In Denver, politically, the death penalty is not very popular,” McCann said. “So it’s a very different situation.”

Florida polling is all over the place. Polls by the Palm Beach Post and by Public Policy Polling both found majorities preferring life imprisonment without parole – Ayala’s position. But polls that have asked if people support the death penalty have shown majorities saying yes.

That leads Robert J. Smith, director of the Fair Punishment Project, a death penalty opposition group at Harvard, to argue that people do not support the death penalty as much as politicians.

The biggest indicator, Smith argues, is that the actual use of the death penalty has plummeted in the past two decades. At least in practice, prosecutors, judges, and, most importantly, juries, are just not that into it anymore, he suggested.

“In the 1990s, there were 315 death sentences in 1994 and 1996. Last year in America there were 30,” Smith said.

In Ayala’s circuit, under her predecessors Jeff Ashton and Lawson Lamar, there was one death sentence in Orange County and none in Osceola County between 2012 and 2016, Smith said.

“I think you’re going to see that politics is going to change… going to catch up to that,” he said.

— “This is about deception, not the death penalty” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

— “The unlikely movement that could finally kill the death penalty in the U.S.” via Hanna Kozlowska of Quartz

MANY OFFER SUPPORT FOR AYALA DECISION ON DEATH PENALTY via Valerie Boey of Fox 35 News – Christine Henderson of Equal Justice USA says, “We stand with you State Attorney Ayala.” Rev Dr. Russell L Meyer of Florida Council of Churches says, “Justice is not about taking life. Justice is about helping life deflourish.” Organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Equal Justice USA and Florida Council of Churches, say Ayala was right not to seek the death penalty in the Markeith Loyd case. Investigators say Loyd killed his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon, her unborn child and Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton. Meyer says, “We want to say to every other State Attorney in the state of Florida, be just as brave in the name of God.”

BLACK LAWMAKERS BASH RICK SCOTT FOR REMOVING ARAMIS AYALA FROM MARKEITH LOYD CASE via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – “Governor Scott’s hasty response to State Attorney Ayala’s announcement set a dangerous precedent and is a slap in the face of the voters who carried her into office,” said Sen. Perry Thurston … chairman of the Black Caucus. “In this way, [his] order operates as little more than an unfettered and uninformed power grab by the governor’s office over a difference of opinion.” He asked Scott to rescind his order removing Ayala, the state’s first African-American state attorney. But the governor refused. “Governor Scott stands by his decision to assign State Attorney Brad King to prosecute Markeith Loyd after State Attorney Ayala refused to recuse herself,” Scott spokeswoman Kerri Wyland wrote in an email. “As Governor Scott has continued to say, these families deserve a state attorney who will aggressively prosecute Loyd to the fullest extent of the law and justice must be served.”

SEMINOLE CLERK EMPLOYEE FORCED OUT OVER ARAMIS AYALA ‘HUNG FROM A TREE’ COMMENTS via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – A Seminole County Clerk of Courts employee resigned after posting on social media that Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala “should be tarred and feathered if not hung from a tree.” … “Maybe SHE should get the death penalty,” Stan McCullars, the office’s assistant finance director, wrote in Facebook comments beneath an Orlando Sentinel story about Ayala’s decision not to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases. Grant Maloy, the Seminole County Clerk of Courts and Comptroller requested McCullars’ resignation after an investigation, and McCullars agreed to step down. He had been on administrative leave with pay since Monday.

RICK SCOTT DOUBLES DOWN ON DECISION TO REMOVE AYALA FROM MARKEITH LOYD’S CASE via Jason Kelly and Field Sutton of WFTV 9 ABC – Scott said he’s committed to fighting for the death penalty in murder suspect Loyd‘s case. “What doesn’t make sense to me is, one, that you should always fully prosecute the law,” he said. “That’s what all of us expect out of our elected officials.” Scott said that Loyd’s case is so egregious that it demanded his intervention. “This case in particular, it’s just horrible,” he said. As for other cases, Scott said he’s still looking into his options.

SPEAKER: SUSPEND PROSECUTOR WHO NIXES DEATH PENALTY via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – Richard Corcoran said that Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala was “violating the constitution” because she is not even considering the death penalty. Capital punishment is authorized under the Florida Constitution. Corcoran added that if Florida lawmakers had the power to impeach Ayala, they would already be doing so. Gov. Scott removed Ayala from a high-profile police murder case last week after she announced her decision against the death penalty. Ayala argues Scott has overstepped his bounds and filed a motion in response, asking a judge to let her present her argument in court.

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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will announce February jobs numbers at 10 a.m. at Bealls Inc. at E.R. Beall Center, 700 13 th Avenue East in Bradenton. From there, he’ll head to Pompano Beach where he’ll attend “A Rick Case Habitat Community” celebration at 12:30 p.m. at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

SPEAKER: SCOTT’S FOCUS ON ENTERPRISE FLORIDA IS MISDIRECTED via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott should spend less time talking about Enterprise Florida, and more seeking reform of the workers compensation system and assignment of benefits abuse, if he really cares about protecting jobs, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday.“We’re talking about a tremendous amount of bandwidth going to Enterprise Florida, going to Visit Florida,” Corcoran told reporters. … “If I was to give encouragement to the governor, I’d say: ‘Go keep traveling. Start talking about workers’ comp and assignment of benefits, which have far more effects than Enterprise/Visit Florida on jobs,” Corcoran said. “How can you just be silent on what really will hit jobs — really will cost people dramatic increases, homeowners and businesses? And he’s focused on $100 million that has little if not zero impact on jobs,” he said.

SHOT: “Carlos Beruff already playing calendar games with Constitution Revision Commission” via Peter Schorsch on Wednesday

CHASER: “…(W)hen you have such a once-in-20-year august body dealing with something that is of the highest impact, which is our Constitution, and you only have a limited number of members, 37, and immediately the first action is to disenfranchise one-sixth, I don’t think that’s a good start,” Speaker Corcoran on Thursday.

SPEAKER MOVES EYEBALL WARS CLOSER TO HOUSE FLOOR; DOCS SAY OPTOMETRIST TESTIMONY ‘PATENTLY FALSE’ via Florida Politics – Florida’s “Eyeball Wars” between ophthalmologists and optometrists could soon be spilling onto the House floor … Speaker Corcoran removed HB 1037 — a controversial bill to allow optometrists to perform surgery, among other things — off the agenda of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee … one of 12 bills removed from Appropriations under Rule 7.18(c) because they had “no fiscal impact.” The move has raised the alarm of Adam Katz, president of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, who felt the appropriations hearing would represent his organization’s best shot at defeating the bill. In the bill’s earlier stop — the House Health Quality Subcommittee — testimony did not sit well with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which makes Corcoran’s procedural move even more disturbing. Dr. Mark Michels, board member of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, pointed out several misleading and inaccurate accusation made during testimony from optometrists and their representatives. “I cannot stay silent when the process is used by others to perpetuate falsehoods, especially when those falsehoods could endanger patients.”

JOE NEGRON WOULD ‘PREFER’ TO USE GAMBLING MONEY IN BUDGET via Florida PoliticsSenate President Joe Negron wants to use gambling money sitting in the state’s treasury for spending next year, but said it won’t spell disaster if lawmakers can’t. The Stuart Republican, speaking to reporters after Thursday’s floor session, said he was “optimistic” that the Legislature will finally pass an omnibus gambling overhaul that includes a renewed blackjack agreement with the state’s Seminole Tribe. Despite ongoing litigation over its right to offer blackjack, the Tribe continues to pay gambling revenue share to the state, nearly $40 million for just the first two months of this year. That money (is) expected to total $306 million this year.  

NEGRON: ‘WE CAN STILL MOVE FORWARD’ ON RESERVOIR PROPOSAL via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Negron said his proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir is making “tremendous progress” despite criticism from Marco Rubio whose backing would be key to gaining federal support. Negron’s proposal in Senate Bill 10 appears to be on life support after Rubio told the conservative Shark Tank blog that building the 60,000-acre reservoir would create “ghost towns” for farming communities. “I believe he is very committed to coming up with a solution to the issue,” Negron said. And he said he shares Rubio’s concerns about residents living south of the lake. “And as we are crafting this bill, we are certainly going to take those into account,” he said.

CUT TO CORPS COULD THROW COLD WATER ON EVERGLADES RESTORATION EFFORTS via Ledyard King of USA TODAY – Supporters of Everglades restoration are worried Trump’s proposal to slash $1 billion from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget next year could derail hard-fought progress on Florida’s massive, decadeslong water project. As part of a budget outline … the White House proposed an array of cuts designed mainly to help pay for a military buildup and a border wall with Mexico without raising taxes. Among the proposals is a 16 percent reduction to the Corps of Engineers. Its funding would drop from $6 billion this year to $5 billion in 2018. The proposal doesn’t offer any more details on what projects it would recommend preserving or eliminating. The administration is not expected to release more information until at least May.

HOUSE VOTES TO BAR USE OF RED LIGHT CAMERAS TO MONITOR INTERSECTIONS via Florida Politics – The Florida House voted Thursday to ban the use of red-light cameras to enforce traffic laws in the state. The vote on final passage went 91-22. Supporters argued the cameras don’t save lives and have become money-makers for vendors, some of them located out of state. “It has become less about public safety and more about revenue,” said Larry Ahern, the Seminole Republican who presented the bill. … Although the cameras had their defenders. South Pasadena Republican Kathleen Peters noted a more than 50 percent decrease in accidents at intersections.

HOUSE VOTES TO STEER MOST BP OIL SPILL SETTLEMENT MONEY TO THE PANHANDLE via Florida Politics – The Florida House voted unanimously Thursday to direct two-thirds of the $400 million the state is due from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster to the worst-affected counties in the Panhandle. HB 7077 requires 75 percent of all payments that Florida receives from the settlement agreement between the five gulf states and BP be transferred from the general fund to the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund. “This disaster took money out of the hands of families and hard-working small businesses in the Panhandle,” said Jay Trumbull, a Panama City Republican who was one of a number of Panhandle House members who spoke in favor of the legislation. “I am excited today that we are now enduring this money will be put back in the hands of the people hurt most. The vote was 112-0.

RELIGION IN SCHOOL’ BILL MOVES PAST HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – A bill that would allow school administrators to pray in public schools throughout the state if students initiate those prayers … HB 303 … unanimously passed the House Education Committee … The measure would violate the decades-old federal provision separating church and state, and may likely be challenged at some point. The only concern from members of the committee seemed to come from Rep. Rene Plasencia, who wondered if there was a provision to prevent “satanic” groups from being allowed to express their rights. Plasencia is a former teacher. Rep. Kimberly Daniels, co-sponsor of the bill, said it didn’t, but cited that six other states in the country had passed such measures without incidents involving so-called satanic groups.

VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOTS FIX PASSES HOUSE via Florida Politics – A bill that would let voters fix mismatching signatures on their vote-by-mail ballots so they can be counted has passed the House of Representatives. The House approved the bill (HB 105), sponsored by House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa, by a unanimous vote of 113-0 on Thursday. It would require supervisors of elections and their staff to allow voters to turn in an affidavit to cure any signature discrepancies until 5 p.m. the day before an election. They would need to present a driver’s license or other state ID.

— “Bill banning teacher annual contract guarantees passes House education panel” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Nursing education regulations sent to House floor” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

— “Wilton Simspon, Richard Corcoran tell PSC it is of ‘utmost importance’ residents get to express concerns during proceedings” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

HOW WAL-MART’S DECISION TO LEAVE MIDTOWN PLAYED INTO A DARRYL ROUSON VOTE via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Senate’s vote on the so-called “whiskey to Wheaties” bill was a tight one, narrowly passing 21-17. One of those no votes, Sen. Darryl Rouson …  proves that all politics really are local. On Jan. 20, Rouson called a late-afternoon hearing at his downtown St. Pete office to try to change the minds of Wal-Mart officials who chose to close its Midtown store. That store has been a linchpin in efforts to redevelop the low-income, predominantly black community. A troubled lease agreement convinced Wal-Mart officials to leave its location at the Tangerine Plaza in January. When Rouson found out that Wal-Mart was leaving, he was so upset, he said he wanted to vandalize the store. Instead, he asked Wal-Mart to stay during that Jan. 20 meeting. No dice. Fast forward to Thursday, when big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart were asking to sell liquor on their shelves next to beer and wine … He also doesn’t think making it easier to consume whiskey would help his constituents. But that it was Wal-Mart who could potentially benefit? Rouson said that would be hard for him to defend back home after the grocery store left Midtown.

BILL WILL HELP FOSTER CHILDREN GET DRIVER’S LICENSES via The Associated Press – Children in foster care would get help obtaining a driver’s license and auto insurance under a bill unanimously passed by the Senate. The bill would make permanent a pilot program that began in 2014. The program reimburses foster parents or children for driver’s education, license fees and insurance. The idea is to help children in state care become more independent. The cost of the program is $800,000. A House bill has cleared three committees with unanimous votes and is ready for a vote by the full chamber.

FLORIDA COASTAL COMMUNITIES COULD SOON BAN PLASTIC BAGS via Ana Ceballos of The Associated Press – The Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation gave the measure its first-round approval … gifting a small victory to those who have fought for similar legislation to pass since 2013. The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Gary Farmer, said coastal communities with fewer than 100,000 residents would be eligible to establish pilot programs between January 2018 and June 2020 to regulate or prohibit the use of disposable bags in their municipalities. If passed, the law would not allow local governments to add special taxes or fees to plastic bags, and it would require officials to track data on the regulation’s impact.

‘SAFETY VALVE’ WANTED FOR MANDATORY-MINIMUM DRUG LAW via William Patrick of – According to a new policy brief by the James Madison Institute …  there are 2,310 inmates serving mandatory minimum prison terms in Florida for hydrocodone and oxycodone trafficking offenses. Not all of them are in for selling pills. Florida’s tough drug laws, passed in 1999, were meant to punish drug dealers. But mandatory sentencing for hydrocodone and oxycodone — ranging from three years to life in prison — can be triggered by as few as 27 hydrocodone pills, or 14 oxycodone pills … Under the law, illegal possession of small amounts of the pills is considered drug trafficking. A safety valve provision would allow judges to exercise discretion when sentencing individuals in cases where Florida’s mandatory sentences don’t fit the crimes. “Safety valve legislation neither eliminates the underlying mandatory minimum sentencing law, nor does it require judges to sentence offenders below the minimum term. It is a narrowly tailored exception for certain offenders and under certain circumstances,” the brief says.

***Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Jason Brodeur are 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 and Rep. Brodeur that you support them and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at***

STATE SENATOR’S FRIENDS GOT $1M FROM FLORIDA, BUT THEIR FIRM FELL SHORT OF GOALS via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – State Sen. Aaron Bean helped Florida Psychological Associates, based in Fernandina Beach, receive $1 million hidden in the Florida State University College of Medicine budget after one of his friends who own the business discussed ways the lawmaker could help promote and expand the project to other states, emails and records show. Records from the Florida Department of State show the psychological evaluation business is owned by longtime Bean friends John and Catherine Drew. The Drews billed FSU’s medical school $590,193 from July to February after completing 6 percent of the screenings it had promised in exchange for the state money. As of February, the project, which checks young people for early signs of mental illness, screened 241 schoolchildren. It should have completed 3,800, according to a copy of a contract Florida Psychological Associates CEO Catherine Drew signed with FSU. Despite that performance, a questionnaire Drew completed for the Senate, to receive another $1 million in next year’s budget, made no mention of delays.

MICKEY VS. THE TAX MAN: DISNEY, UNIVERSAL FIGHT TAX BILLS via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – To cut tax bills in the tens of millions of dollars, the specialists at Orlando’s famous theme parks have employed methods from the creative — placing cows on undeveloped land and claiming an agricultural exemption — to the traditional — negotiating or appealing to a county board. Over the past couple of years, however, such tactics aren’t quite doing the job: Property assessments and taxes have jumped — and so has the number of lawsuits the theme parks and other businesses have filed against Orange County’s property appraiser. That’s Rick Singh, who was re-elected to a second four-year term last fall despite the thousands of dollars in donations park officials gave his opponent. In lawsuits filed last year, the theme parks said Singh’s office had failed to use proper appraisal methodology. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts issued a statement describing increased assessments on some of its properties for 2015 as “unreasonable and unjustified” … they have spoken loudly with their wallets. Groups affiliated with all three companies gave $19,000 to Singh’s Republican opponent. Singh, a Democrat, got only $5,000 from the groups.

WITH HELP FROM INVESTOR-RICK SCOTT, SABAL TRAIL NATURAL GAS PIPELINE LOOKS TO OPEN IN JUNE via Joseph Mann of – The $3.2-billion project, called Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, is a joint venture among Houston-based Spectra Energy Partners, a major owner of pipelines and storage facilities that is now part of Enbridge Inc., a Canadian energy firm; NextEra Energy (parent of Florida Power & Light) and Duke Energy. FPL and Duke plan to use Sabal Trail’s natural gas to generate electricity in their Florida power plants. Construction on Florida’s third major gas pipeline, which will run about 516 miles through Alabama, Georgia and Florida when completed, began in September 2016. The line also has two gas compression plants, one at each end, and plans to build three more by 2021 … the governor owned a stake in one of the pipeline partners, Spectra Energy, and that he apparently still owns shares in the company through a blind trust.

***There are two gambling bills in the Florida Legislature. One holds the line; One is a massive expansion. WATCH to learn more.***

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

DAVID RICHARDSON ASKS GOV. TO USE EMERGENCY POWER TO TAKE CONTROL OF WOMEN’S PRISON IN GADSDEN COUNTY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Richardson asked Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility. In a letter … Richardson asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security, and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.” Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat and retired forensic auditor, has been on a one-man mission to force change in Florida’s troubled prison system. After several surprise inspections in the last month with investigators from the Department of Corrections and the state’s Office of the Chief Inspector General, he concluded the Gadsden prison faces “significant inmate health and safety concerns” and management has repeatedly retaliated “against inmates for discussing matters with me.”

FIVE CHILDREN USED CANDLE FOR ‘LIGHT AND HEAT’ AFTER CHILD WELFARE WORKER IGNORED CALLS FOR HELP via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics – A sub-contracted case manager with the Florida Department  of Children and Families was arrested for falsifying information in regard to the well-being of children living alone … Vanessa Arias, 33, was arrested for lying on safety reports. “The department has no tolerance for any individual compromising their integrity and, thereby, potentially jeopardizing the safety of a child,” said Jessica Sims, a spokeswoman for DCF “We immediately investigated Ms. Arias upon receiving these allegations and referred this case to law enforcement soon after.” Arias is accused of knowingly stating erroneous information in records she had visited the home of five children in Kissimmee, roughly 22 miles south of Orlando, when in reality she had not, and further, didn’t return more than a dozen phone calls made from one of the children trying to notify her of their plight.

GIRL IN FACEBOOK LIVE HANGING WAS PRESCRIBED DRUG WITH SUICIDE WARNING via Carol Marbin Miller, David Neal and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald – When a Miami psychologist examined Naika Venant in June 2015, she found a “depressed, angry and fearful young girl” who thought often about death and dying. “She expects people to abandon and betray her,” the psychologist wrote. Terilee Wunderman diagnosed Naika with “significant depression,” and post-traumatic stress disorder, and recommended that she see a specially trained therapist to mend her broken psyche. Wunderman also warned against filling the 12-year-old with pills, because the medication she was taking “sometimes can cause the side-effect of depression.” During the next 18 months, however, Naika’s doctors reached for the prescription pad again and again, increasing the dose of an ADHD medication, and adding another drug, Zoloft, records indicate. The antidepressant comes with a critical warning: an increased risk of suicide in children. Naika had been prescribed both drugs when she took her own life Jan. 22, hanging herself in the bathroom of her foster home while streaming the suicide on Facebook Live. The Zoloft dose had been doubled Dec. 8, records show.

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

DAYS UNTIL: Major League Baseball Opening Day – 9; NFL Draft – 34; 2017 Legislative Session Sine Die (Maybe) – 41; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 41; FSU vs. Alabama football game – 162; Election Day 2017 – to 27; Star Wars: Episode VIII/The Last Jedi opens – 265; First Day of 2018 Legislative Session – 289.

INSIDER POLL: WILL CORCORAN RUN AGAINST SCOTT? FOR GOV? FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL? via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – How do these folks see Corcoran‘s future? A whopping 74 percent expect the Land O’Lakes Republican to run for governor in 2018, 14 percent expect he will wind up running for attorney general, 6 percent said senator and 4 percent predicted he will run for Senate. And Scott? Conventional wisdom among Florida’s political elites is virtually unanimous. Ninety-nine percent of our Insiders expect the 64-year-old governor to run for the Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson, and only one in four expect he would face a serious challenger.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Former Rep. Gwen Graham will address the Escambia County Democrats at their annual dinner at 6 p.m. at Skopelos at New World, 600 S. Palafox Street in Pensacola.

BOB CORTES PASSES ON RUN FOR CONGRESS SAYING ‘NOW IS NOT THE TIME’ via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – Cortes announced that he would not be running for Florida’s 7th Congressional District in 2018, citing the work still needed to be done for the House 30 District he currently represents … Cortes slammed progressive politics that he says “over-promise and never deliver” and a big reason for the current troubles on the island of Puerto Rico, which has led to a major exodus of Puerto Ricans from the island to Central Florida. Cortes doesn’t forget about incumbent Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in his remarks adding … “She has shown an immediate inclination to fall in lockstep with her caucus leadership in Washington instead of truly representing the people that elected her.”


APPOINTEDAntonett Munchalfen and Michelino Nibaldi to the Florida Barbers’ Board.

APPOINTEDRonald Lieberman to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

REAPPOINTEDVijay “Vic” Narang to the Board of Commissioners, South Broward Hospital District.


Jason Allison, Foley & Lardner: Cisco Systems

Brian Bautista, Impact GR: NRG Energy

Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority

Ron BookKelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Gannett Media Group

Christopher Dudley, Southern Strategy Group: NRG Energy, Inc.

Kenneth Granger, Capital City Consulting: Pure Storage, Inc.

Cynthia Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: Multistate Assoc. Inc. o/b/o Consumer Technology Association

Ashley KalifehRon LaFace, Capital City Consulting: The Travelers Companies, Inc.

William RubinHeather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority

Matthew Sacco, The Rubin Group: Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority; Insikt, Inc.

Larry Williams, Larry Williams Consulting: Flourish Now


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Dr. Ed James will speak with Sarasota County Sherriff Tom Knight and Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Al-Muta Hawks about the concept of rightful policing.

Facing South Florida on CBS Miami: Host Jim DeFede will bring on former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush to talk about the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Guests on this week include 10 News’ Allison Kroph,’s Mitch Perry, Strategic Solutions of Tampa founder April Schiff and Tampa attorney and former Citizens Advisory Committee member Brian Willis.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will chat with Bob McClure of Tallahassee-based think tank The James Madison Institute.

This Week in Jacksonville on Channel 4 WJXT: Host Kent Justice will talk with at-large Jacksonville City Council member Tommy Hazouri about pensions.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Jason Unger. Celebrating today is ace photog Brian Blanco, our friend Glen Gilzean, Karen Giorno, and Giancarlo Sopo. Early birthday wishes to two great women, Sara Clements and Brittany Dover.

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

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