Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 5.1.17 – Ros-Lehtinen’s domino; Budget notes galore; FPL f’d on fracking bill; Sharon Day’s new job

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.

Before we dive into the still-up-in-the-air state of budget negotiations, we have to acknowledge the domino which fell in South Florida Sunday…

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN TO RETIRE FROM CONGRESS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami HeraldRos-Lehtinen, the dean of the Florida legislative delegation and the first Cuban American elected to Congress, is retiring at the end of her term next year, saying it’s time to move on after more than 35 years in elected office. “It’s been such a delight and a high honor to serve our community for so many years and help constituents every day of the week,” the Miami Republican told the Miami Herald … “We just said, ‘It’s time to take a new step.’” Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected November to Florida’s redrawn 27th District, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton’s biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country.

WHY I’M RETIRING FROM CONGRESS. A MESSAGE FROM ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN on Florida Politics – After more than three-quarters of my adult life in elected public service more than 38 years by the next election — I am confident that my constituents would extend my term of service further should I seek to do so. But, we must recall that to everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven. The most difficult challenge is not to simply keep winning elections; but rather the more difficult challenge is to not let the ability to win define my seasons. This is a personal decision based on personal considerations; I will not allow my season in elected office be extended beyond my personal view of its season, simply because I have a continuing ability to win. We all know, or should know, that winning isn’t everything. My seasons are defined, instead, by seeking out new challenges, being there as our grandchildren grow up, interacting with and influencing public issues in new and exciting ways.

TWEET, TWEET: @KKondik: RATINGS CHANGE: FL-27 goes from Likely R all the way to Leans D now that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is retiring


In: Scott Fuhrman, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Michael Hepburn

Mentioned: Bruno Barreiro, Jose Felix Diaz, Rene Garcia, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Jimmy Morales, David Richardson, Jose Javier Rodriguez, Ken Russell, Marc Sarnoff

SUNBURN FACT OF LIFE: With CD 27 open in 2018 and a special election for SD 40 to occur later this year, it’s the Christmas season for South Florida politician consultants.

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The fate of this year’s gambling bill is being held hostage to passage of a homestead exemption increase, sources told Sunday night.

Publicly, lawmakers have been saying that progress on omnibus gambling legislation was taking a backseat to the 2017-18 state budget talks.

The Conference Committee on Gaming hasn’t met since last Thursday. The Senate is largely for some expansion of gambling in the state; the House wants to hold the line.

Behind the scenes, however, House leadership made a conscious decision to put gambling on hold until the Senate moved on the House’s priority bill, an increase in the state’s homestead exemption that would effectively result in a property tax reduction.

Even if passed, the measure creates a constitutional amendment that still has to be approved by 60 percent of voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

It’s on the Senate floor for a vote Monday afternoon.

“Everyone is on pins and needles on lots of issues waiting for that vote,” said one veteran lobbyist. “Everything melts down if the Senate doesn’t pass it.”

But the measure is bitterly opposed by many Democrats and local governments, who say cutting taxes means less money to fund critical local services like police and fire. It wouldn’t affect taxes to fund local public schools.

But House Speaker Richard Corcoran and his lieutenants made clear that the gambling bill “and a whole lot of other stuff” will suffocate and die without passage of the exemption measure.

“Session comes to a halt without the homestead bill,” one consultant said.

Signals from the Senate of how badly it wants a gambling bill this year have been mixed.

Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican and likely Senate President for 2018-10, has long been the chamber’s point man on gambling.

At the first conference meeting, Galvano said he did not “want to raise anybody’s expectations,” at the same time adding that “inaction (on gambling) is not an option.”

Neither he nor state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican and Galvano’s House counterpart in the Gaming conference, responded to a request for comment.

The night before the Monday vote, a gambling lobbyist sent a text, saying things were “scary … I’m nervous.”


It was a roller-coaster ride of a budget conference this weekend, culminating with AP reporter Gary Fineout doing his best impression of running hurdles to get to House budget chair Carlos Trujillo.

And more unanswered questions percolated earlier Sunday.

Will further budget negotiations, which needs to be hammered out by Tuesday to be voted on Friday, be open to the public (and reporters and lobbyists)?

“You would have to ask the presiding officers,” Trujillo said Sunday night.

Um, ‘k. So much for the most transformative and transparent Legislative Session ever.

Perhaps Speaker Corcoran will lock Senate President Negron in a cigar smoke-filled room to get what he wants.

(We kid. But Corcoran does like a good cigar.)

Still, what about a multiplicity of other issues going into the last week of the 2017 Legislative Session?

On environmental funding, Trujillo said Sunday, “There’s still a lot of work to be done … We were struggling through it in the subcommittees.” There was some breakthrough with the Senate accepting the House’s offer on water projects.

But that left, well, pretty much the rest of the agriculture and natural resources budget up to the leaders of each chamber. “We’ve spent two days on what in essence is a fool’s errand,” Sen. Rob Bradley said in disgust the day before.

And Rep. Jamie Grant slogged into one budget conference this weekend with a dejected look. “I’m just trying to keep AOB from blowing up,” he said. His assignment of benefits bill passed the House but faces a rocky road in the Senate.

It would tighten requirements for contractors to report claims to insurance companies and establish a graduated scale for determining whether contractors holding these agreements qualify to recover litigation expenses from carriers.

Monday’s schedule holds a three-hour Senate Appropriations meeting in the morning and a five-hour floor session in the afternoon. Welcome to Day 55.


HOSPITALITY MONEY STILL IN PLAY, CONTRA REPORTING – We don’t want to quibble with our friend Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, but his reporting that “House and Senate budget writers have agreed not to move a marketing program from Visit Florida to the state’s top regulatory agency” is not accurate. According to Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, this is one of the issues that is being bumped to legislative leaders. See video of those comments here. We’re not saying that the $1 million for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association for a “coordinated marketing, media and events program to promote the Florida hospitality industry” will make it into the budget, but the issue is not closed out.

LEGISLATORS AGREE TO SMALL BOOST FOR SCHOOLS via The Associated Press – House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to increase regular public school spending by $241 million. That amounts to about a 1.2 percent increase in money for each student. Republicans have defended the small increase by pointing out that they are setting aside money in other education programs, such as one aimed at helping students in failing schools, or giving bonuses to select teachers. House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negronreached a sweeping budget deal behind closed doors that includes spending $200 million on “Schools of Hope.” That’s Corcoran’s ambitious plan to shift students from chronically failing schools to charter schools run by private organizations.

AFTER OUTCRY, LAWMAKERS SCRAP PLANS TO FULLY SLASH GRANT AID TO ‘MOONLIGHT’ ALUMNI’S SCHOOL via Kristen Clark and Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – After continued budget talks, House and Senate leaders agreed late in the day to give $500,000 to New World School of the Arts in the 2017-18 budget. That would still represent a cut of $150,000 in funding from this year — about a 23 percent deduction — but it’s drastically more than what could have happened: Losing the grant entirely. Lawmakers said the school failed to tell the Legislature how the grant dollars were spent, which was why the House and Senate both originally proposed eliminating the grant. Later, the Senate — through an amendment by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores — proposed giving New World $20,000, resuscitating the project for budget negotiations. Threats to the school’s state grant funding sparked public outcry when news of the Legislature’s plans spread Friday. But House and Senate chairmen in charge of K-12 public school spending said Saturday morning those complaints had little to do with their change of heart.

CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW PANEL MONEY BECOMES A ‘BUMP ISSUE’ via Florida PoliticsThe House and Senate is seemingly at odds over whether to pay for the Constitution Revision Commission. A Sunday spreadsheet that came out of the first 2017-18 state budget conference chairs meeting of the day had a line item for the commission, which meets every 20 years to review and revise the state’s governing document … The spreadsheet shows that the Senate offered to fund the commission with $2 million; the House offers nothing … “We are continuing to watch this and support what the governor included in his budget,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

DURING BUDGET TALKS HOUSE, SENATE AGREE TO ADD MEDICAL MARIJUANA STAFF — The Office of Compassionate Use will get nine more positions under a budget agreement reached over the weekend. House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to fully fund the Department of Health’s request for $785,000 to add more personnel. The request would provide funding for three environmental specialists, four government operations consultants, a senior attorney and an administrative assistant. The Health Care Appropriations conference committee could not, however, reach an agreement on how much to set aside to fund the agency’s request for increased litigation costs. The House funded the entirety of the $2.8 million request, while the Senate’s offer was $800,00. The question of litigation funding was “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

BUDGET CHAIRMEN SAY THEY ARE CLOSE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS BUDGET via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The main budget chairs both said they were very close to an agreement on the government operations segment of the budget at their final meeting Sunday afternoon. The House made an offer on the budget spreadsheet that includes funding line-items for the Agency for State Technology, while the Senate made an offer on language for technology reorganization.

HOUSE ACCEPTS SENATE’S HIGHER ED BUMP OFFER WITH OPERATIONAL SUPPORT FOR COLLEGES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Rep. Trujillo Sunday afternoon accepted the “bump” offer on college and university project funding presented by Sen. Latvala. The offer included operational support for several state colleges Latvala earlier Sunday identified as “sticking points” in negotiations. Latvala Saturday made an offer for capital outlay funding for universities and colleges that was not agreed upon by the budget chairs. That list will now go to Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran.

— “UCF clinic for PTSD cut as lawmakers close in on budget” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

LORANNE AUSLEY BLASTS RICHARD CORCORAN FOR ‘EMPTY PROMISES’ ON BUDGET TRANSPARENCY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – She’s joining Gov. Scott and some news media in criticizing the budget process and budget agreements being struck behind closed doors by Corcoran and Senate President Negron. During the environmental conference subcommittee meeting, Ausley … asked for an explanation of the differences between the House and Senate budget offers. But she was told by state Sen. Rob Bradley, who was the subcommittee chairman, that an explanation would be provided at the next meeting, which has not been scheduled. The House and Senate agreed during the meetings to provide no funding to the Florida Forever conservation lands program. Ausley, who served in the House from 2000 to 2008, told reporters afterward that the lack of explanation during the meeting was different from when she previously was a legislator. And she later issued a statement quoting Corcoran as saying, “No longer will we have to tolerate last-minute appropriations being stuck into our budget with little or no public scrutiny.”


CORCORAN’S LATE-NIGHT TWEET ABOUT SCHOOL RECESS BILL POINTS FINGER AT RICK SCOTT via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald Corcoran offered a curious statement shortly after midnight Saturday: It’s not lawmakers who have a “problem with recess” — it’s Gov. Scott. Corcoran made the remark in a tweet with no additional explanation, and he wouldn’t explain himself … “Recess moms” were immediately perplexed by Corcoran’s mystery tweet, which was in direct response to a question from a parent advocating for daily school recess. Scott has not declared a public position on the recess bill, nor as he done so on most other bills pending before the Legislature. “I have no idea what that tweet means,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told the Herald/Times Saturday morning. “We have continued to say that we will review it if it passes.”

CORCORAN PULLS PLUG ON FPL FRACKING BILL FOR SESSION via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – “After thorough vetting and discussion, we just had  too many reservations about the issue and the potential consequences,” Corcoran said in an email. “In addition, the notion that Florida ratepayers would pay for out-of-state energy production was not in the best interests of the people of Florida.”

MIAMI FIRM INVOLVED IN ANTI-HAZING PROGRAM DID NOT DETAIL USE OF $1 MILLION FROM STATE via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Records provided by Educational Management Services of Miami show the company’s use of more than $645,000, including payments to lobbying firms, airfare for trips around the state and a stay at an Orlando resort hotel. Educational Management Services was created by Fausto Gomez, a lobbyist, and is run by his wife, Alina Gomez, out of the Miami office that also is used by the lobbying firm … Fausto Gomez resigned from the company in February …  The EMS documents were provided in response to a demand by House Speaker Corcoran, who sought details about how the taxpayer money was spent after lawmakers placed it inside Florida Polytechnic University’s budget. Corcoran asked the university and the company to submit invoices, emails, contracts and audits. Lawmakers gave the anti-hazing program $3 million. In 2015, FPU received a $1.5 million line-item clearly outlined in the state budget. The next year, lawmakers added another $1.5 million inside the university’s budget without identifying it specifically but informed FPU that the program should receive the hidden money tacked on to its budget.

A SENATOR SAID A FLORIDA SLAVERY MEMORIAL WOULD ‘CELEBRATE DEFEAT.’ LAWMAKERS ARE FURIOUS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – House Democrats and members of the legislative black caucus are offended and irate after a conservative Senate committee chairman said the reason he didn’t hear a bill to create the first slavery memorial in Florida was because he didn’t want to “celebrate defeat” … “I would rather celebrate overcoming the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse; I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse,” Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley [said] … “I have a discomfort about memorializing slavery. … I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery.” His comments came as the House voted unanimously that day — with roaring applause — to build the Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee. Despite the House support, the proposal stalled in the Senate because Baxley had what another senator described as a “philosophical objection” to the concept. Baxley — the chairman of the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee who is known for his conservative positions and supporting symbols of the Confederacy — never scheduled a hearing because he said a memorial recognizing slavery would be too negative.

HOUSE VOTES TO PUNISH ‘SANCTUARY CITY’ OFFICIALS via The Associated Press – The House approved a strict ban on so-called sanctuary cities that punishes local officials who resist federal efforts to deport immigrants living in the country illegally. Republican lawmakers supported the proposed legislation, which passed on a 76-41 party-line vote, over the objections of Democrats who called the bill an “anti-immigrant” effort beset by constitutional hurdles … Under the proposed ban (HB 697), local officials would be fined up to $5,000 for each day the “sanctuary city” policy remains in effect. Also, any county elected official, such as a sheriff, would face suspension or potential removal from office for supporting such policies. Under the bill, it would be a violation to not honor a federal immigration request, which entails local jails holding detainees past their scheduled release to give immigration authorities more time to pick them up and deport them. Opponents argue this could open the state up to litigation.

SENATE COMMITTEE STYMIES BILL TO LIMIT JOB GUARANTEES TO HIGHLY-RATED FLORIDA TEACHERS ON ANNUAL CONTRACT via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – A bill to bar Florida school districts from guaranteeing teachers on annual contract an additional year of employment if they earn a strong evaluation unexpectedly stumbled Friday in its final committee before full Senate consideration. The Senate Rules Committee voted 6-6 against the measure, casting doubt on SB 856 as it otherwise appeared headed to approval. The Florida House adopted a companion measure (HB 373) three weeks ago. Proponents cast the initiative as a simple clarification to 2011 law, in which the Legislature said any teacher hired after July 1 of that year could receive only a one-year contract. That ended the practice of professional services contracts, which some likened to tenured job protection. Dozens of districts negotiated around the rule by agreeing to extend by one year the employment of any annual contract teacher who gets a rating of “effective” or better, and has no disciplinary issues.

BILL SEALING CRIMINAL RECORDS HEADING TO GOVERNOR via The Associated Press – The House voted 118-0 to pass SB 118 … sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Steube, sets up a process where certain records are sealed once the opportunity for appeals has expired. Automatic administrative sealing of records of adults and minors charged with felonies or misdemeanors can occur if a prosecutor or state attorney decline to file charges, all charges were dismissed before trial or the person charged was acquitted or found not guilty. The First Amendment Foundation opposed the bill and said it would apply to cases like Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman. It passed the Senate 34-0.

POLICE LINEUP STANDARDS BILL HEADED TO GOV. SCOTT via The Associated Press – The House voted 117-1 for a bill (SB 312) that would require law enforcement agencies to use the lineup standards to avoid eyewitness mistakes that could lead to wrongful convictions. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement encouraged agencies to adopt the standards, but agencies aren’t required to do so. The current guidelines suggest lineups be conducted by an administrator who does not know the suspect in order to ensure impartiality. Also, witnesses should be told that suspects may or may not be in a photo or in-person lineup and that they are not required to make an identification.

LEGISLATURE APPROVES WIRELESS DEREGULATION BILL via Florida Politics – The Legislature last week sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott to free the proliferation of 5G wireless technology from local government interference. The bill (HB 687) says local governments “may not prohibit, regulate, or charge for the collocation of small wireless facilities in the public rights-of-way,” except as otherwise specified. The measure was supported by telecommunications concerns. Others, including the Florida League of Cities, raised concerns about taking away control from municipalities. It would apply to antennas “inside an enclosure of no more than 6 cubic feet,” a staff analysis said.

HOUSE VOTES TO STRIP AWAY LOCAL REGULATIONS OF VACATION RENTAL HOMES via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The House approved House Bill 425 63-56, essentially re-instituting a 2011 ban on cities or counties imposing any ordinances that would treat vacation rental homes any differently from any other house, condominium unit or apartment in their communities. The vote came after more than an hour of passionate debate between those who, like the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike La Rosa, believe that the heart of the matter is property rights, a person’s freedom to make money off his property; and those who, like Rep. Sam Killebrew, believe it’s a matter of home rule, for cities and counties to decide what is best for their communities. “I think we’ve heard enough of hypothetical circumstances, of ridiculous ordinances. I just want to close with a very simple question, a very simple thought: Is it possible to have too much freedom?” La Rosa inquired in closing. “Is this a referendum on that freedom? If it is, then I’m OK with that.” The companion measure, Senate Bill 188, has cleared all its committees.

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HAPPENING TODAY – SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MEETS — The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the House’s nearly $300 million tax cut proposal when it meets at 8 a.m. in 412 Knott. The proposal, among other things, creates a sales tax exemption for diapers and feminine hygiene products; provides an annual sales tax holiday for veterans; creates a 10-day back to school sales take holiday; and reduces the sales tax on commercial real estate. The committee is also expected to consider a bill aimed at making changes to the state employee health insurance plan.

​ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will attend Fleet Week at Port Everglades at 8:45 a.m. at Port Everglades Berth 21, 1833 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: At 10:45 a.m., First Lady Ann Scott will kick off the Seventh Annual Summer Literacy Adventure at the Florida Governor’s Mansion, 700 N. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will hold the first in a series of workshops about opioid use in the state. Workshops begin 3 p.m. at the West Palm Beach Police Department, 600 Banyan Blvd. in West Palm Beach.


AS EYEBALL WARS PEAK, OPTOMETRISTS SEEK DESPERATE, LAST-MINUTE BUZZER BEATER via Peter Schorsch for Florida Politics – Last week, HB 1037 stalled in the House Health and Human Services Committee after it had appeared there were not enough votes to pass. The companion bill, SB 1168, has never been heard in the Senate. Now, lobbyists for optometrists – numbering an even dozen – may be looking to get the controversial bill passed by attaching it to some sort of health care legislative train. HB 1037 met with widespread condemnation by more than two dozen high-profile health organizations, as well as receiving somewhat tepid support in the House – struggling with slim margins in each committee stop – taking the shot may not be worth the risk. This bill should rightfully face death in committee – as it should be for something so unpopular – instead of making a part of a larger health care train, only to have the whole thing die in the Senate anyway. The clock is ticking, why waste everyone’s time? Best to pick another battle, one with a better chance of success. Hopefully, as sine die approaches, so will the end of this horrible, dangerous train wreck of an idea.

MARTIN DYCKMAN: FLORIDA NEEDS ANSWERS ON DEATH PENALTY DISCRETION via Florida Politics – The courtroom at the Florida Supreme Court seats 164, which may not be enough for all the attorneys, organizations and individuals who have intervened in the unprecedented case of Aramis Ayala v. Rick Scott. Despite the extraordinary interest, this case is not going to decide whether the death penalty is as error-prone, financially wasteful and as altogether counter-productive as Ayala correctly insists. Florida needs answers to those questions, but capital punishment is one of those issues where precious few politicians care to be confused by facts. It’s one of the most significant arguments the court will ever hear. Florida prosecutors make perhaps tens of thousands of judgment calls every year: What crime to charge? What crime not to charge? What plea to accept? They have even more power than the judges in deciding who goes to prison and for how long. Should a governor be able to supersede one of those decisions simply because he doesn’t agree with it? Carried to an extreme, that makes him a dictator.

PAUL DAVIDSON: FLORIDA SENATE NEEDS TO ACT ON AUTO INSURANCE REFORM via Florida Politics – One year ago, I was riding my bicycle down A1A. Out of nowhere, a woman driving a 1988 LTD hit me going 45 miles per hour. The force of the collision sent me flying 60 feet … The driver who hit me carried the mandated minimum $10,000 in bare-bones PIP insurance. Unlike 48 other states, Florida has no requirement for drivers to carry bodily injury coverage. What did that mean for me, the victim? It meant I had to figure out how to pay the $350,000 health care bill created by an accident I didn’t cause … What upsets me is there were no consequences for the woman who hit me. It’s as if carrying bare-bones PIP insurance provides a free pass for irresponsible drivers who hurt other people. It’s really a policy change that’s needed to help people like us who could become victims of Florida’s outdated PIP insurance system and have to pay dearly because of the irresponsibility of others. Lawmakers have an opportunity to change this by passing legislation to repeal PIP and replace it with a requirement that drivers carry bodily injury insurance at $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident. The Florida House has already passed a good proposal to make this happen. The ball is now in the Florida Senate’s court.

PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS WINS THE DAY IN HOUSE SHORT-TERM RENTALS DEBATE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – In the end, in a House of Representatives where Republicans dominate, private property rights were always going to win. But the vote that passed HB 425 was close … 63-56, and will stop local governments from cracking down on short-term vacation rentals because they don’t like them. The win was a victory for online companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, which contract with homeowners to rent out their vacant homes in mostly resort locales. Under HB 425, only cities with vacation rental ordinances on the books before 2011 would be allowed to keep them. Bill sponsor Rep. Mike LaRosa pressed his conservative advantage: “Is it possible to have too much freedom?” he asked. “And is this a referendum on that freedom? If it is, I’m OK with that.” He said local governments shouldn’t be punishing the responsible majority of property owners for the potential wrongs of a few.

DARRYL PAULSON: GROVELAND — FLORIDA’S LEGACY OF HATE via Florida Politics – On July 16, 1949, seventeen-year-old Norma Padgett claimed that her husband Willie was assaulted and she was raped by four black males near Groveland, Florida. Groveland is located in Lake County in central Florida. The Padgett’s told Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall that they had left a dance and their car stalled. The four blacks — Walter Irvin, Sam Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — supposedly offered to help, but then assaulted Willie Padgett and kidnapped and raped his wife, Norma. In Groveland, there were doubts that Norma Padgett had been raped. Only 17, she had fled to her parents after several beatings by her husband, Willie. On the morning after the rape, Norma was seen outside a restaurant near Groveland. The restaurant owner’s son drove her into town and said she did not seem upset and never mentioned being raped. In April 1950, the St. Petersburg Times published an investigative report concluding that it was physically impossible for Greenlee to have been at the crime scene … The U. S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 1950 … Four innocent black men suffered grievously for a crime they never committed. Thomas was killed by a vigilante posse, and Shepherd was killed by Sheriff McCall. Greenlee also spent a decade in prison, and Irvin also spent two decades in prison for a crime they did not commit. On April 27, the Florida Senate passed a resolution apologizing to the families of the four black men who the Senate said were “victims of racial hatred.” I am sure they are comforted in their graves.

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SHARON DAY SAYS DONALD TRUMP OFFERED HER A JOB IN WHITE HOUSE, MUM ON DETAILS via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Republican Party of Florida National Committeewoman Day, who has been with the Florida GOP since 2004, said she would provide more information about the job “at a later date.” … “I have been offered a position within the White House administration,” Day told the audience at the RPOF spring quarterly meeting at the Tampa DoubleTree Hotel. Although she was not at liberty to divulge any details about the position, Day did elaborate, quipping: “We have gone through more vetting, and they know more about me than I know about me.” Day recently stepped down from her role as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, a position she had held since 2011. She’s served on the Executive Committee of the Broward County Republican Party since 1994, and in 1996 was elected as state committeewoman for the county party.

ADAM PUTNAM PROMISES AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM THROUGH FOCUS ON FLORIDA TO RPOF IN TAMPA via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State NewsPutnam hasn’t said he’s running for governor — yet — but he continued to stoke the fire of his rumored gubernatorial bid to a group of Republican Party faithful … Florida, Putnam said, was the apple of conservatives’ eyes, with a Republican governor, Cabinet and GOP-controlled state legislature. “We are the envy of the nation for conservative values and a conservative approach to governing the third largest state in the nation,” he said. Around the room, orange and green koozies emblazoned with Putnam’s political committee name and the signature Florida orange filled the tables. Despite Florida’s successes, Putnam said there was no room to let up. “Complacency is not a part of our vocabulary,” he told the crowd. “Candidates matter. Values matter. Grassroots is king.”

BUDGET GROUP DEMANDS ACTION ON ANDREW GILLUM’S EMAILS via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – A conservative budget watchdog group has asked City Manager Rick Fernandez to take disciplinary action over Mayor Gillum’s use of city staff and city resources for campaign and political activities. Recent published reports “clearly and unambiguously show that the Mayor’s office staff has violated many provisions” of the city’s personnel policy, J. Russell Price of Budget Hawks said in an email to Fernandez and forwarded to Gillum and the four city commissioners. “Unfortunately, the office has become an entity that more resembles a political sweatshop narrowly focused on promoting the Mayor’s personal political ambitions,” Price said. Budget Hawks is a group of fiscally conservative residents who have fought against city budget and tax increases.

DAVID RIVERA IS HANGING OUT IN FRANK ARTILES’ OLD SENATE OFFICE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Former U.S. Rep. Rivera appears to be testing out the digs of a state legislative office that he might seek to occupy one day soon. Rivera, a Republican, was seen casually hanging out in the Capitol office of former Sen. Artiles — socializing and bantering with a handful of people who appeared to be Artiles’ remaining legislative staff and others. One of Artiles’ legislative aides, Alina Garcia, used to work for Rivera when he was a state House member from 2000-2008. Rivera’s name has been floated as a potential candidate to fill Artiles’ vacant seat, representing District 40 in Miami-Dade County.

FORMER CIRCUS PERFORMER CHALLENGING VERN BUCHANAN via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-TribuneCalen Cristiani can do some remarkable things on a trampoline … It was a tough life, though, and Cristiani gave it up a few years ago after nearly two decades of touring with his family’s circus act. Now he’s hoping to have a second act in a profession where his skills as a showman could come in handy. Cristiani, a 27-year-old Manatee County Democrat, is challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan … in Florida’s 16th Congressional District … This is Cristiani’s first run for public office, but he has some campaign experience; he volunteered for former President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 during a break between circus tours. Addressing economic inequality is Cristiani’s central concern. He supports progressive economic policies, such as a $15 minimum wage and free tuition at public colleges and universities.

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DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY IS MONDAY via FloridaPolitics: The department seeks a replacement for former Secretary Jim Boxold, who resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm. Among those who previously submitted applications is Richard Biter, one of two unsuccessful finalists for the top job at Enterprise Florida. He’s also a former assistant secretary of the department, and has been an administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Florida Transportation Commission, the department’s advisory board, will interview applicants and nominate three candidates for Gov. Scott’s consideration.


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Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Gentry & Associates LLC

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America

Mike Haridopolos, Mike Haridopolos: Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar

Jonathan Kilman, Paul Lowell, Foley & Lardner: Preferred Medical Plan, Inc

Erik Kirk, PooleMcKinley: Studer Community Institute, Inc

TOASTING RICK WATSON — The Construction Coalition will host a cocktails to honor Watson, the long-time lobbyist for Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Governor’s Club. Watson, who first came to Tallahassee as a lobbyist in 1983 for what he “thought would be two months,” is retiring from lobbying at the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. “It’s been a great run and I’ve enjoyed working with you in the process,” he said in an email. Watson won’t be retiring completely, though. Gov. Rick Scottrecently appointed him as the Franklin County Tax Collector, and Watson has said he plans to run for the post in 2018.

— ETC. —

FLORIDA STATE RB DALVIN COOK ENTICES VIKES TO ‘TAKE A SWING’ via Dave Campbell of The Associated Press – The Vikings traded up seven spots to the 41st overall pick Friday night and snagged Cook, the Florida State star whose stellar college career came with off-the-field questions. They sent one of their fourth-round selections to Cincinnati to move ahead in the second round and get Cook, Adrian Peterson‘s long-term replacement. “He was just too talented of a player not to take a swing,” general manager Rick Spielman said … The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Cook was an All-American last season as a junior and totaled 38 touchdowns over the last two years for the Seminoles. He averaged more than 138 yards rushing per game over his final two seasons. “You’ve got to accept things as a man, and I just was waiting my turn,” Cook said.

WALT DISNEY WORLD PLANS TO DEPLOY DRIVERLESS SHUTTLES IN FLORIDA via Russ Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times – The company is in late-stage negotiation with at least two manufacturers of autonomous shuttles – Local Motors, based in Phoenixand Navya, based in Paris …  the company plans a pilot program later this year to transport employees in the electric-drive robot vehicles. If that goes well, they said, the shuttles would begin transporting park visitors sometime next year. Currently, there are no plans for driverless shuttles at Disneyland in Anaheim … The reason is unclear, but Florida puts few restrictions on driverless vehicle deployment, while California is overhauling regulations that have been criticized by industry as unnecessarily heavy handed.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Rep. Don Hahnfeldt and Sen. Gary Farmer. Celebrating today is Stephen Lawson and Sarah Rumpf.

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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