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Sunburn for 4.10.17 – Pulitzer Prize Day! On the road with Chris King; Jose Mallea raises $ in D.C.; Ballard’s $900K payday

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.

PULITZER PRIZES ANNOUNCED TODAY; WILL ANY FLA. NEWSPAPERS  TAKE HOME A TROPHY?

It should be a slow day and relatively slow week in the Capitol as lawmakers stick close to home for the Easter break. They’ll convene Wednesday and Thursday to pass each chamber’s respective budget, but other than that it’s the calm before the storm of the last three weeks of Session.

With this lull in the action, you can pay attention to the awarding of the Pulitzer Prizes, which will take place at 3 p.m. from Columbia University.

Pulitzers expert Roy J. Harris Jr. asks: With President Donald Trump‘s attacks against the media now a daily reality, “what will the winning journalism say about the press’ value to the public?” Harris also wrote his annual preview of the competition for Poynter. The big-ticket national prizes will likely be won by the New York Times and The Washington Post (look for David Fahrenthold to score for his coverage of Trump’s charitable history, or lack thereof.)

So, will any Florida-based newspapers win a Pulitzer?

The Tampa Bay Times has won 12 throughout its distinguished history, including two last year. However, I’m not readily familiar with any Times projects produced in 2016 that were awards bait. I mean, nothing like what it published on Sunday, “Why Cops Shoot.” Then again, restaurant critic Laura Reiley‘s investigation into where her local eateries were really getting their ingredients may be one of the best pieces of criticism EVER. Might the Pulitzer judges stretch a little beyond what typically wins to recognize her work?

The Palm Beach Post’s reporting on the community’s heroin crisis has garnered national attention and awards, including recognition for the ethical struggle involved in publishing the faces and stories of those who died from the epidemic. It would not be surprising to see the Post end up being a finalist for a Pulitzer, although the issue has not been wrapped up with a pretty little bow on top of it (newspaper reports, officials take concrete action, problem is mitigated) like other investigative series in competition.

Every story written by the Miami Herald’s Carol Marbin Miller probably deserves some sort of award and her Sisyphean effort to shine a spotlight on the horrors of the state’s child protective system deserves as much attention as possible, but since she did not win for her incredible work in 2014-15 on “Innocents Lost,” she may never win.

Leave it to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to be Florida’s best chance for snatching a Pulitzer. As Harris notes, a team from the SHT was a Ring finalist for “Bias on the Bench,” which detailed unequal treatment of black and white defendants in Florida. It was also  among the top American Society of News Editors honorees announced this past week.

Will the Herald-Tribune’s team of Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz and Elizabeth Johnson earn the highest honor in journalism. Tune in today to find out. The event is being livestreamed from the historic World Room of the journalism building at New York’s Columbia University.

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I THINK I DID MORE INVESTIGATING ON PAM BONDI-TRUMP U THAN STATE ‘INVESTIGATORS’ DID via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel – The state attorney assigned to decide whether Attorney General Bondi did anything wrong when she asked for and accepted $25,000 in campaign cash from Trump — after her office had been asked to investigate Trump University — declared that he found no evidence to say she did. Of course, there wasn’t much evidence the prosecutor actually looked for evidence either. In a five-page report, Fort Myers State Attorney Stephen Russell’s office does not cite a single interview his office conducted in the course of reviewing this case. Nor does it reveal any new evidence the media hadn’t already reported. Not only that — and this part is key — Russell’s investigation actually ignored key evidence that had already been unearthed. Instead, Russell’s report seems to try to substantiate a claim that Bondi has made before — that she didn’t know her office had received complaints about Trump U when she requested and took campaign money from Trump.

‘LET’S GET TO WORK’ POSTS OVER $600K IN CONTRIBUTIONS FOR MARCH via Florida Politics – The political committee behind Gov. Rick Scott recently listed its March fundraising on its website. The largest contribution was $100,000 from U.S. Sugar. Also ponying up was Southeast QSR, a Clearwater-based Taco Bell franchisee, with $50,000, and Comcast Cable with $25,000. Its biggest expenditure in March was more than $976,000 to On Message of Annapolis, Maryland for “media production.” The PAC has run TV ads in recent weeks to back up Scott’s defense of the Enterprise Florida economic development organization and VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing arm. Speaker Corcoran has criticized and tried to eliminate them as dispensers of “corporate welfare.” Scott says they help create jobs.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will honor Florida veterans during a ceremony at 9 a.m. the Bonita Bay Club, 26660 Country Club Drive in Bonita Springs.

ON THE ROAD WITH CHRIS KING, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay TimesKing, 38, an affordable housing executive and father of three from Winter Park, was on the trail just days after he launched his campaign with a hometown kickoff. He joins a diverse and wide-open field that includes … Andrew GillumGwen Graham and Philip Levine. He said Florida Democrats keep losing races for governor because they don’t articulate a vision and a message to voters, especially on economic issues. But the last two races were close — about 1 percentage point both times — so that while the losses pile up, his party is keeping within striking distance. King supports raising the minimum wage and restoring the voting rights of non-violent felons. He opposes the death penalty in most cases, saying it conflicts with his religious views, but that he would enforce the law as governor. “We need to limit its use,” King said. “I believe it’s a penalty in decline.”

TENSIONS REFLECT A REPUBLICAN ‘PARTY IN TRANSITION’ via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat –  This is an extraordinary time for the Republican Party. The November election maintained its grip on all branches of state government. Voters also delivered Washington to the GOP as well, increasing the influence of Florida’s Congressional Republican delegation and installing a kindred spirit of Gov. Scott in the White House. But once the celebration quieted, the pressure of governing opened a rift in the coalition … The split in Tallahassee became public and vicious two weeks before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. Corcoran rallied the House Republican Caucus at the trendy Edison Restaurant to go forth and eliminate Scott’s pet project Enterprise Florida. He called the economic development agency, which hands out tax credits and other incentives to businesses, an example of “corporate welfare.” Scott was said to be livid. He responded with a video depicting Corcoran as a “job-killing Tallahassee politician.” Scott and Corcoran are on opposite sides regarding whether a fiscally-conservative government provides business incentives. How the Scott v. Corcoran debate will influence the budget battle remains an open question.

SAY WHAT, MR. CALL? A savvy Capitol insider messaged: “I actually read a James Call piece. A piece in which he seems to suggest that the divide in Florida is somehow connected to Trump phenomenon. It’s not. Maybe they utilized some of the same bandwidth – but his piece misses the 2010 split between establishment and a self-funded candidate, the decision by Scott to bypass the party after they rejected his party chair, the fact that Corcoran-Scott dynamic got started last year. and any story that relies on MacManus and Pafford as its anchors …. deep breath.”

SHOT – ANITERE FLORES, ON THE EDGE OF A BLACK HOLE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Bright-eyed Flores — with that arresting smile, the bounce in her step and so much time, it seemed, to hear out all comers — entered the Republican Senate in 2010 with as much promise as I’d ever seen in a freshman. She was a breath of fresh air. Fast-forward to 2017 and so many are asking themselves, what happened? The promise is gone, say senators throughout her caucus. It’s been soured by … what? Ambition? Opportunity? A change of allegiance to principles perhaps she held all along but didn’t realize or reveal? They plain don’t like what they see anymore. Maybe it’s only jealousy on the part of senators left behind. Then again, maybe the heaped-on praise went to her head, who knows? The point is, when I ask GOP senators where Flores goes from here, when Negron’s gavel isn’t propping her up — I usually get a wry smile or a shrug or worse: an answer.

CHASER – FLORES’S LEADERSHIP AND ‘GUN-BILL FATIGUE’ DISARM LEGISLATURE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – When Flores declared, unprompted, a month ago that there were a lot of controversial gun-rights measures she wouldn’t support this year, the Miami Republican state senator truly set the tone for the Legislature’s gun debate in 2017. With the session half over, only a handful of the two dozen pieces of gun-related legislation proposed this year have been considered at all, and of those, only a couple have a viable path at actually becoming law. The House approved three such bills this week — two of which could likely be enacted this year, including highly divisive changes to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — but lawmakers in both chambers and from both parties predict those measures will be the only ones on the table for this session. Several attribute Flores — who is No. 2 in the Senate behind President Negron — as the reason. “I think the members — not just myself, but some others — we’re a little gun-bill fatigued,” Flores told the Herald/Times.

COMPROMISE WON’T BE SO EASY IN CHANGING ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Senate President Joe Negron … wants to hold the line and stick with the Senate’s more stringent version of SB 128, which would require prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” — before trial — why a criminal defendant cannot claim immunity from prosecution in use-of-force cases. Negron said he, personally, doesn’t want to accept the compromise language the House approved that sets the standard one step lower, to “clear and convincing evidence … I would rather have ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’” Negron said. “As I’ve said from the beginning, if the government wants to convict you of a serious crime and send you to prison, they should have the burden to prove that at every stage of the proceeding beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”

DANNY BURGESS: ‘ABSOLUTELY, THE INJURED WORKER IS A BIG CONCERN HERE’ via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The workers’ compensation fix that emerged from the House Commerce Committee last week was the product of hours — and hours — of testimony, debate and negotiations. We caught up with I&B chairman Burgess immediately following the Commerce vote and ducked into a hearing room alcove for a quick post-mortem. Q: Are you disappointed you couldn’t get the unions on board? The actual workers? There was a lot of discussion here that we never hear about the workers. A: I think you heard that from every stakeholder: Absolutely, the injured worker is a big concern here. You heard that in our committee (Insurance & Banking), too and from my own mouth. I believe our extension of indemnity benefits is definitely a step in that right direction. There’s no question that the injured worker is one piece of the heart of the balance of the grand bargain. Q: That’s the temporary total disability? A: Yes, from 104 to 260 weeks. — Yes! (He answered the roll call for the next bill on the agenda.)

ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM BY A FEW COULD COST EVERYONE via Ann Howard of The Capitolist – The Consumer Protection Coalition, (which is a self-described ” broad-based group of business leaders, consumer advocates, real estate agents, construction contractors, insurance agents and insurance trade groups”) says the complicated issue of Assignment of Benefits fraud  will literally cost everyone in the state, so they are taking the fight to directly to lawmakers for relief. “Make no mistake: If the Legislature fails to address the growing cancer of AOB for a fifth straight year, Florida’s hardworking families are the ones that will lose. Our leaders have crystal clear evidence that AOB fraud and abuse is threatening the affordability of homeownership for average Floridians. For lower-income families and those on fixed incomes, it could literally put the dream of homeownership out of reach,” said Dulce Suarez-Resnick, independent insurance agent in Miami. According to state-run Citizens Property Insurance, AOB fraud is hitting Citizens, hard.

COST OF TAX EXEMPTION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA WOULD BE MINIMAL via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference estimated the bill might reduce tax receipts, but not enough to notice — even when accounting for the non-state residents who would qualify for cannabis cards if the bill becomes law. “We felt like there might be a few snowbirds coming in, but we didn’t think that would be a lot,” said Amy Baker, director of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research. More telling would be CS/SB 406’s extension of medical marijuana use to people suffering “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as those enumerated, and for which a physician believes the use of medical marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. Bottom line: a “negative insignificant” revenue impact.

GREYHOUND ACTIVISTS JOIN FLORIDA’S GAMBLING FIGHT via Alexandra Glorioso of News-Press.com – There’s GREY2K, a national advocacy group with less muscle but no less fight championing the cause of greyhounds. This year’s battle over gambling offers the greyhound group a rare opportunity to accomplish its goal: eliminate dog racing now held to justify card games in Florida. Some Republicans say GREY2K could benefit this year from the intricate chess game of ideology, lawsuits and special interests, and successfully disconnect greyhound racing from card games. “It would completely depend on the details,” said [Mike] La Rosa. But he acknowledged, it’s “something that could be discussed.” [Bill] Galvano said he was not interested in taking La Rosa up on a slot machine-live-events trade but did call greyhound racing a “dying industry.” About GREY2K, he said, “They are effective, but it’s an easy sell.”

PRIVATE NONPROFIT, FOR-PROFIT UNIVERSITIES COULD SOON GET REGULATORY RELIEF via William Patrick of FloridaWatchdog.org – Bad press, combined with federal rules and regulations disproportionately targeting the higher education alternatives, have taken their toll on nonprofit and for-profit universities in recent years — but that could soon change. For-profit and private nonprofit colleges and universities offer career-building options separate from traditional public universities … regulatory change is afoot. In February, Arthur Keiser, chancellor and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser University, was named chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. The committee will make recommendations to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — a noted Florida education reformer — regarding accreditation and institutional eligibility for federal student financial aid.

***Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reduce prescription drug costs and protect Florida consumers, employers, unions, and government programs from high drug prices. PBMs will save Floridians $43.4 billion over the next decade. Learn more at DrugBenefitSolutions.com.***

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: CFO Jeff Atwater will present the annual Florida Fire Service Awards during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol. The annual ceremony recognizes members of the fire services community who have shown excellence in their profession.

CONGRATS: The Florida Osteopathic Medical Association announced this week that Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Aaron Bean is its 2017 Legislator of the Year. FOMA said the annual award goes to a lawmaker that has proven their support for osteopathic medicine and the delivery of quality health care to the citizens of Florida. “I am beyond honored to be FOMA’s 2017 Legislator of the Year,” Bean said. “As a longtime advocate for health care issues and a former chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee, I understand how important it is to be constantly working to improve our health care and adopt treatment, prevention and alleviation advancements that benefit all Floridians.”

MOVING ONLydia Claire Brooks is no longer a legislative assistant for Rep. Loranne Ausley, per LobbyTools. She now has three district secretaries: Jessica Lamb, Shane Roerk, and newcomer Mark Hodges.

REST IN PEACE: FRANK ATTKISSON KILLED IN BICYCLE-CAR CRASH via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Former Osceola County chairman, Florida state representative, and Kissimmee Mayor Attkisson was killed when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a car … Attkisson, 61, was riding on Kissimmee Park Road near St. Cloud around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when his bike was struck from behind by a car driven by 26-year-old Kristie Jean Knoebel of St. Cloud … The crash is being investigated. Attkisson was transported to Osceola Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Republican served a long political career that began on the Kissimmee City Council in the early 1990s and included a stint as Kissimmee mayor from 1996-2000. He served in the House of Representatives from 2000-2008, when he was term limited out. In 2010, he ran for and won a seat on the Osceola County Commission, and two years later was elected the commission’s chairman. However, he lost re-election in 2014.

ABORTION AGAIN AT ISSUE IN LATEST CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW HEARING via Florida PoliticsAnti-abortion activists took to the microphone early and often at Friday’s Constitution Revision Commission hearing in Boca Raton. The 37-member panel, which convenes every 20 years to review and rewrite the state’s governing document, is now on a listening tour, holding public hearings around the state. A series of speakers Friday, as they had at previous hearings, urged the commission to amend the constitution to undo a 1989 Florida Supreme Court decision striking down as unconstitutional a state law that required parental consent before a minor can get an abortion. Several complained that the constitutional provision at issue, the right to privacy, was misconstrued to apply to abortion rights instead of a right to “informational privacy” against the government.

An estimated 500 Floridians made their voices heard at the most recent meeting of the Constitutional Revision Commission at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.

PRAYERS OVER A PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM ARE A FLORIDA FIXTURE via Florence Snyder for Florida Politics

In the 1960s, “morning announcements” at Miami Crestview Elementary School were served up with a side order of morning Scriptures.  The daily Bible readings skewed heavily New Testament, and the Jewish kids always dreaded spring, with its Easter ham-handed swipes at “Christ-killers.”

It was confusing, unsettling, and sometimes downright scary. Somehow, we managed to weather it without help from the ACLU.

We got all the help we needed from our teachers. Whatever the administration might be pushing on the public address system, the faculty had time, in those days, to pay attention to the children in front of them. There were fewer Test Police and Helicopter Parents. Teachers knew by the end of the first week of school what they could and could not expect of us. They had the flexibility to peel off children teetering on the brink of boredom and throw them into a “resource group,” where they learned about Malthus and Marx. Karl, not Graucho. They gave extra time to those who needed extra support.

At Easter, and all year long, the Jewish kids—-along with the children of Christians and atheists—had help from parents, as well. We learned how to go in to other people’s homes and houses of worship for simple meals and special occasions and join hands and bow our heads as our hosts gave voice to their traditions.

These lessons in respect served us as we outgrew Miami and our circles expanded to include Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, and others whose beliefs were not represented in north Dade County in the years before Joe Robbie brought football to town and a stadium to our neighborhood.

Respect for those who invite you into their lives is always pleasing to any God with whom anyone has ever had a personal relationship. Grabbing the microphone in the principal’s office to proselytize to a captive audience of elementary school children is just abusive showing off.

Last week, a self-described “constitutional conservative” used her public address system at the Constitution Revision Commission—a microphone that belongs to 20 million Floridians— to pray to her god, her way.  It’s not very respectful thing to do, but it’s probably an excellent indication of where this Commission is coming from, and where it’s planning to go.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: WHO NEEDS STRONG, INDEPENDENT COURTS? WE DO. via Florida Politics – It’s a paradox in America’s ongoing experiment with self-government that we depend on the weakest branch of government to defend us from the more powerful ones. The Founders gave a lot of thought and ink to this. Writing in the Federalist, Alexander Hamilton pointed out that the judiciary would always be “least dangerous” to the public’s freedoms because it would be “least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.” The courts have no police or troops of their own, no power to make laws but only to review them, no control over even their own budgets. It would be their job, though, to protect against abuses of power by the president or the Congress. When you see one of those branches going after the courts, like the hotheads in the Florida Legislature at the moment, consider whose ox they’re really trying to gore: yours … The Legislature largely ignored you, to put it politely, and tried to hide the evidence of its skullduggery by hiding behind such phony excuses as “legislative privilege” and “trade secrets.” All that took time, nearly three years in fact, but the court eventually, and rightly, ordered up new maps for the state Senate and the congressional districts … Remember who needs strong, independent courts. You do.

PAT NEAL: BUSINESS RENT TAX STIFLES FLORIDA’S ECONOMIC FUTURE via Florida Politics – The business rent tax is the only state-sanctioned sales tax on commercial leases in the entire country and Florida is the not-so-proud holder of that title … Due to this burdensome tax, Florida businesses shell out more than $1.7 billion every year to the state. As a result, our state economy dramatically suffers in the form of suppressed job growth and economic activity. Luckily, Gov. Scott is committed to cutting this tax on hardworking small-business owners and budding entrepreneurs. The governor has repeatedly made cutting or abolishing this tax one of his top priorities for numerous years as part of his commitment to creating jobs for Florida families. Recently, he has hit the road advocating for a 25 percent cut in the tax –  a move that could save Florida businesses more than $400 million per year and reduce prices for Florida consumers. The business rent tax places a disproportionate burden on small businesses and startups that do not have the capital to purchase bigger office space, hire new employees or expand to other locations. All of this creates a chilling effect on many of Florida’s more than 2 million small businesses.

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REPUBLICAN BOBBY OLSZEWSKI FILES TO RUN FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 44 SEAT via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsOlszewski, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the Orange County Commission, filed for the house seat that will be vacated by state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, who is not running again. First, Olszewski rounded up a strong list of supporters, including 30 local elected officials, mostly from western Orange County. Two other candidates already have filed for that seat, including Republican Usha Jain of Orlando, who also ran unsuccessfully last year for the Orange County Commission, and Democrat Paul Jason Chandler of Orlando, a newcomer as a candidate.

HD 66 HOPEFUL BERNY JACQUES STARTS STRONG, RAISES NEARLY $30K IN MARCH via Mitch Perry of Florida PoliticsJacques raised $29,740 in March, the first month of fundraising after launching a 2018 bid for Pinellas County’s House District 66. Contributors to the former Pinellas County Assistant State Attorney’s campaign include former Jeb Bush staffer Slater Bayliss, GOP fundraiser Brent Sembler, local Republican heavyweight Jim Holton, Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chair Mike Griffin and Fritz Brogan, former Executive Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Rick Scott. Jacques also picked up an endorsement from another local Pinellas County official, Largo City Commissioner Jamie Robinson.

HAPPENING TODAY:

PERSONNEL NOTE: GINGER DELEGAL SELECTED AS FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR via Florida PoliticsVirginia “Ginger” Delegal is one step closer to becoming the next Florida Association of Counties executive director. Delegal had been selected by the FAC Executive Committee in February, and confirmed by the Board of Directors last week. She has been interim Executive Director since Feb. 9. President Kathy Bryant and Immediate Past President Barbara Sharief now will begin final contract negotiations with Delegal. The contract, when complete, will go before the Board for final approval … She is married to Mark Delegal, currently a partner with Holland & Knight.

APPOINTED: Sara Gaver to the Florida Rehabilitation Council.

REAPPOINTED: Paul Wilson to the Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.

BALLARD PARTNERS SIGNS $900K CONTRACT WITH THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC via Megan Wilson of The Hill Ballard Partners, a firm connected to Trump, has signed its first foreign government as a client: the Dominican Republic. The Florida-based company helped Trump win the state in the presidential election and recently opened a K Street office to expand its business to Washington. The Dominican Republic signed a one-year contract with the firm worth $900,000, according to disclosure reports filed with the Justice Department. The contract does not list specifics about what the firm, founded by longtime Florida lobbyist and fundraiser Brian Ballard, will be doing for the country.

MIAMI-DADE MAYOR’S SON JOINS COREY LEWANDOWSKI LOBBY SHOP via Marc Caputo of POLITICO FloridaCarlos Gimenez Jr., former consultant for Trump and the son and namesake of Miami-Dade’s mayor, is joining the lobbying shop run by the president’s former campaign manager, Lewandoski, as it drums up business in one of the nation’s most dynamic metropolitan areas. Gimenez said he joined the newly founded firm, Avenue Strategies, to focus less on lobbying and more on strategic consulting and business development for clients in Florida and Latin America. “We’re not just representing any client,” Gimenez, a 40-year-old attorney from the Miami-area, said. “We represent those who would further the interests of the Trump Administration and the American people.” Asked what interests those would be, Gimenez quickly said: “bringing back jobs and manufacturing to the United States.”

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: City of South Daytona

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting: QlikTech, Inc.

Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group: Roche Surety and Casualty Company, Inc

Lindsay Erin Raphael, Corey Staniscia, Tripp Scott: The Balmoral Condominium Association, Inc.

Trey Traviesa, Strategos Public Affairs: SAI Interactive, Inc. d/b/a Thinking Media; Study Edge

SPOTTEDMarty Fiorentino at Omarosa Manigault‘s wedding and reception in Washington, D.C. at Trump International Hotel. She married Pastor John Allen NewmanFiorentino has taken a stint at the USDOT to work alongside Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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FSU RETIREMENT TRIBUTE TO VP MARY COBURN DRAWS HUGE CROWD AT WESTCOTT via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat – For the past 14 years, Coburn has helped chart the course for nearly everything involving FSU students – opening new residence halls, resolving issues of Greek life, addressing issues of free speech, consoling parents who have lost a child and promoting diversity and civility on campus. She’s done it all. Coburn is retiring as of May 19. She will take a sabbatical this summer and return to teaching this fall. Her successor is expected to be named next week. Coburn’s tenure at FSU actually started in 1981 in student development, rising to associate dean from 1994 to 2005. She left from August 1995 to January 2003, to become vice president for student affairs at Tallahassee Community College under President T.K. Wetherell. She returned to FSU after Wetherell assumed the presidency in 2003 to become vice president of student affairs.

HYPERLOOP ONE EYES 26-MINUTE MIAMI-ORLANDO ROUTE FOR TUBE TRAIN via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel –  … as one of 11 new alternatives. The Hyperloop initiative was created by billionaire Elon Musk; it hopes to connect cities at speeds similar to, or faster than, air travel at a much cheaper cost, eventually. The Orlando route was included in a recent announcement without much detail about who proposed it. Last January, teams of students from UCF submitted ideas for the local route. Hyperloop is a fledgling concept, having been introduced in 2013 by Musk, who shortly thereafter left the project to focus on his other businesses. Hyperloop One met policymakers and transportation experts in Washington D.C. … where it introduced 11 routes that had been pitched.

PAGING SPEAKER CORCORAN – HARBOR BRANCH FOUNDATION SUES FAU IN ‘HOSTILE TAKEOVER’ OF $68 MILLION via Conrad deFiebre of TCPalm – The nine-year marriage of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and Florida Atlantic University is on the rocks amid a lawsuit accusing the university of a “hostile takeover” to seize control of the foundation’s $68 million endowment … it’s a big-bucks battle over a world-renowned research facility often described by FAU’s president as the university’s “crown jewel.” Lawyers for the Fort Pierce-based institution’s foundation said without intervention by the St. Lucie County circuit court, Boca Raton-based FAU could divert Harbor Branch Foundation funds away from its charitable charter’s mission of marine research and state requirements for its administration of millions in specialty license plate money. “We don’t know what FAU would do if they got control of the endowment,” said Harbor Branch Foundation attorney Joseph Galardi. According to his legal filing, FAU in 2015 began trying to use endowment funds for purposes not approved by the endowment’s independent board.

TAMPA RELEASES ‘TAMPA TOGETHER: STATE OF THE CITY’ VIDEO — The city of Tampa has released a five-minute video highlighting Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s “State of City” speech. Buckhorn, who announced earlier this year he won’t run for governor in 2018, can’t run for re-election again because of term-limits, but used his address to unveil several initiatives, including one called Autism Friendly Tampa. “I came here not to do little things but to do big things; to leave this city in better shape than it was given to me, to prepare Tampa for its next chapter to give hop to the least, and the last and the lost, to empower our neighborhoods, to invest in the infrastructure of opportunity, to make this city the place in America where the best and the brightest want to be,” he said. “I don’t know about you, Tampa, but I intend to finish strong.” Click the image below to watch the video.

DISNEY SEEKS PATENT FOR INTERACTIVE ‘HUMANOID’ ROBOTS via Ashley Carter of Orlando News 13 – The robots would “move and physically interact like an animated character.” The soft-body robots would be used to provide “interactive guidance or entertainment in stores and amusement parks,” according to the patent application. Since the robots would be interacting with park visitors, especially children, the inventors are making safety a priority. “To physically interact with children, the inventors understood that the robot should be soft and durable,” the filing stated. In order to achieve this, the robots would be comprised of multiple body segments and interconnecting joints. Each segment would have a “fluid-filled void” that could sense pressure (i.e., a hug from a child or collision) and adjust how the joints operate.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Jeff Atwater, Emily Duda Buckley, Matt Carlucci, Jesse Phillips, and Alli-Liby Schoonover. Celebrating today with a Budweiser is Jose Gonzalez. Also celebrating today is Jeremy Branch.

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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