Sunburn for 5/15 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

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IF YOU READ ONE THING — FACTORY JOBS FLOW BACK TO AMERICA by Don Lee of Tribune Washington Bureau  

U.S. factory payrolls have grown for four straight years, with gains totaling about 650,000 jobs. That’s a small fraction of the 6 million lost in the previous decade, but it still marks the biggest and longest stretch of manufacturing increases in a quarter century. …

Over the last decade, Chinese labor and transportation costs have jumped while U.S. wages have stagnated. … The boom in natural gas production … has led to a 25% decrease in gas prices in the U.S., contrasted with a 138% increase in China … And the rise of online commerce has made local control of supply chains more important.

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FEARFUL OF OFFENDING SCOTT, COUNCIL OF 100 CANCELS SCOTT SPEECH via Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

he Council of 100 has canceled former Gov. Charlie Crist’s scheduled speech on Thursday morning, which he had planned to give just hours after his political opponent and successor, Gov. Rick Scott, appeared.

The reasons for the cancelation are unclear, but sources familiar with the incident say the business group felt nervous about the political ramifications of upsetting the current incumbent at the council’s Spring General Membership Meeting in Orlando.

The council’s president and CEO, Susan Pareigis, didn’t return calls, a text message or an email. Spokespeople for Scott couldn’t be reached, either.

When asked for comment, Crist spokesman Kevin Cate confirmed that the Democrat’s 11 a.m. speech was canceled and suggested it was done with Scott in mind, as one council member privately told The Miami Herald.

“It’s unfortunate that Rick Scott is apparently using every ounce of political pressure he has left to stifle healthy dialogue about the future of our state. He is clearly scared of the People’s Governor and the people’s will coming in November,” Cate said in a statement.

Crist still plans to attend the meeting — all former governors are members — and at least one member of the council privately said that he hoped the decision to block Crist from speaking would be reversed.”This is a non-political organization,” a member said.But it’s the first time the organization, or Florida, have seen a governor’s race pitting an incumbent against his predecessor.

FLORIDA’S FIRST LADY INVESTS QUIETLY IN INVESTMENT FIRM THAT MIRRORS GOVERNOR’S OLD COMPANY via Dan Christensen of BrowardBulldog.org

Ann Scott doesn’t talk publicly about where she invests the many millions of dollars in assets her husband, Gov. Scott, has transferred to her since his election in 2010. She doesn’t have to because Florida’s public officials, including the governor, are not required to disclose a spouse’s assets.

But Securities and Exchange Commission records reveal one place she’s sunk a lot of money is an obscure “family” investment firm that boasts $160 million under management and operates using the online name Scott Capital Partners.

Scott Capital looks a lot like a corporate doppelganger of Richard L. Scott Investments, the governor’s private equity firm where he made millions for himself and his family putting together big-money investment deals.

SEC records show that three men who worked for Gov. Scott when he ran Richard L. Scott Investments now operate Scott Capital, which describes itself using the same three-sentence paragraph once used by RLSI. Scott Capital’s online portfolio boasts more than a half-dozen large investments actually made years ago by RLSI.

LAWSUIT CHALLENGES SCOTT’S USE OF BLIND TRUST via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

The Florida Supreme Court was asked Wednesday to overturn a state law used by Gov. Scott to place his multimillion dollars in assets in a blind trust rather than submit to full financial disclosure.

The lawsuit was filed by Jim Apthorp, a former chief of staff to late Gov. Reubin Askew, instrumental in developing the state’s “Sunshine Amendment,” which included financial disclosure requirements for elected officials. Attorney in the case is Talbot ‘Sandy’ D’Alemberte, a former Florida State University president.

Scott won approval from the state’s Commission on Ethics in 2011 to put his holdings in a blind trust, steered by money managers independent of the governor. The state Legislature two years later approved a measure allowing such blind trusts to be used as a form of state-required, annual financial disclosure for elected officials.

“The Sunshine Amendment requires that things be revealed; blind trusts require that things be concealed,” Apthorp’s petition to the court says. “It would be absurd to conclude that the latter is an adequate substitute for the former.”

Scott has $72 million in investments managed in the blind trust by Hollow Brook Wealth Management, a New York investment advisor.

TEACHERS UNION ASKS SCOTT TO VETO SCHOOL VOUCHERS BILL via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

The statewide teachers’ union is asking Gov. Scott to veto a bill that would expand Florida’s school voucher program.

The Florida Education Association, which has about 140,000 members, sent its request to Scott on Wednesday.

Among other things, the bill (SB 850) creates partial scholarships open to students in higher-income families in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

That “diverts public money away from our public schools and provides it to private and religious schools with little oversight or accountability,” said the letter, signed by FEA vice president Joanne McCall.

The voucher language was added to an unrelated education bill and passed out of the Legislature largely along party lines on the final day of this year’s legislative session.

Previous efforts toward voucher expansion died in the same session, but proponents kept trying to revive it.

Florida’s voucher program is handled by Step Up For Students, a nonprofit group in Tampa.

Once the bill hits Scott’s desk, he has 15 days to sign or veto it, or it becomes law without his signature.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: LG IN SW FL TODAY via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Three months after becoming Florida’s lieutenant governor, Republican Carlos Lopez-Cantera is making his first stop in Sarasota County today.

Lopez-Cantera is scheduled to speak to the Republican Club of South Sarasota County starting at noon at the Venice Gardens Civic Association, 406 East Shamrock Blvd., Venice.

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PRO-MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT INITIATIVE GROUP HAS MONEY EDGE via Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times

If money is going to determine the outcome of Florida’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana, proponents continue to pile up a significant edge. Reports to the state Elections Division show that amendment sponsor United for Care pulled in $226,735 in April contributions, from 308 donors.

The Drug Free Florida Committee, an opposing PAC funded in March with a $100,000 donation from St. Petersburg developer Mel Sembler, did not receive any April donations.

Most of United for Care’s April donors gave $25 or less, but New York philanthropist Henry van Ameringen kicked in $100,000. Nearly another $80,000 came from people or companies with apparent aspirations to commercial pot growing or distribution, including $1,500 from a Miami company that sells cigarette paper rolling machines.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, United for Care’s main financial backer to date, gave no money in April, but he has previously said he expects to underwrite several million dollars in pro amendment advertising, leading up to the November vote.

United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said April marked the group’s 3,000th individual donation, which indicates “the broad public support which medical marijuana consistently enjoys in Florida.”

FIRST IN SUNBURN: Watch for the “No on Amendment 2” campaign to begin today with the unveiling of a video and website.

ROMANO COLUMN: EPIC FAILURE DESCRIBES DEMS HANDLING OF CD 13 RACE

Somehow, in a largely purple district, Democratic leaders maneuvered so slowly and ineffectively that David Jolly will essentially run unopposed eight months after winning by less than two points.

Now, to be fair, there are some extenuating circumstances that contributed to this goof parade. (Even if contributing and excusing are two different things.)

For instance, Alex Sink did not do Democrats any favors. There were 52 days between her loss to Jolly in the special election and the deadline for filing for the November election. Sink burned 35 of those days before announcing she wouldn’t run again.

The Democratic Party had already invested a ton of time and money in Sink in the build up to the March 11 election, so it made sense to give her the first crack again. But leaders should have been working a lot harder behind the scenes once it became clear that she was not going to be eager to jump right back onto the campaign trail.

With the clock suddenly a factor, they tried recruiting Obama administration adviser Eric Lynn and state House Rep. Dwight Dudley, but both decided the time wasn’t right.

“It’s always flattering to have people talking to you about doing an ever-bigger job,” Dudley said. “But I felt like I still had unfinished work trying to repeal the utility tax, and I didn’t want to make Duke Energy happy with the idea that I might move on.”

There was also the clumsy and foolish way local Democrats handled the brief candidacy of the Rev. Manuel Sykes, no matter how much of a long shot he would have been.

Not to mention the complete lack of vetting when it came to quasi-Democratic candidate Ed Jany, whose campaign didn’t survive the scrutiny of a single Tampa Bay Times story that raised questions about his resume.

But those are mere details. Humiliating, humbling and infuriating details, but details nonetheless.

The greater issue is how Democrats found themselves in this bind in the first place.

Where is the next generation of candidates? Where is the vision? Where is the leader who has the first clue how to defeat Republicans in a state that tilts slightly left?

This can’t be excused as a mere blunder. It is much larger than that. It is substantial, and it is alarming.

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APPOINTED: Rebecca Vaccariello to the Collier County Housing Authority.

DEFENSE ISSUES DISCUSSED

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works to protect Florida’s military installations and missions, is scheduled to meet. Hampton Inn and Suites, 2855 N.E. Ninth St., Homestead. 9 a.m.

MIXED RESULTS AS FLORIDA LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR HIGHER EDUCATION CHANGES via Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times

Though the Legislature declared that Florida’s community colleges cannot add any new four-year degree programs for a year, the moratorium likely won’t do much in the long run to curb the popular programs.

The state Board of Education agreed to spend the next 14 months reconsidering how they approve programs. But it didn’t commit to cutting back.

“We’re very proud of our bachelor degree programs; we’ve had great success with them,” said Randy Hanna, chancellor of the community college division.

The moratorium is one of numerous higher education measures the Legislature enacted, ranging from in-state tuition for veterans and undocumented immigrants to considering another engineering program. Some await Gov. Scott’s signature; some already have his backing.

Florida’s public colleges, which traditionally did not go beyond two-year degrees, awarded 5,009 bachelor’s degrees in 2012-2013, almost double the number from two years prior. The new four-year programs were supposed to focus on meeting the needs of local employers, not duplicate university offerings.

But now 24 colleges offer a total of 175 degree programs.

Sen. Joe Negron, the powerful budget chief, said the colleges are overstepping their bounds.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE DAY: “South Florida Community Commemorates Armenian Genocide”

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GRAYROBINSON CELEBRATES EXPANSION WITH ORLANDO OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT

Law firm GrayRobinson is celebrating the expansion of its Orlando offices with an open house on Thursday, May 15.

The event begins 5:30 p.m. at the 301 East Pine Street, Suite 1400, in Orlando. More information is available at 407-244-5697 ext. 8971. Complimentary parking in the parking garage across the street.

POLITICOS GO IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS TO COOK — AND DISH via Anthony Man of the South Florida SunSentinel

For fans of politics, there’s a pinch of CNN. For foodies, there’s a dash of Cooking Channel. For devotees of both, there’s a Florida-grown blend that outfits some of the state’s most prominent politicians in aprons and arms them with knives or whisks.

“Live with Lori: Political Food for Thought,” has featured the president of the Florida Senate, the speaker of the Florida House, two likely candidates for governor in 2018, and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, one of the state’s most conservative Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, gets her turn at cooking and conversation.

Wasserman Schultz and host Lori Halbert make mustard sauce for Florida stone crabs and key lime pie, while they talk about immigration reform and funding cancer research, plus the congresswoman’s family and how women in politics juggle their responsibilities.

Halbert said too much of what people think they know about politicians is a warped perspective perpetuated by reality shows. “This show is really about the guest,” she said. “The food is a component of it. But it’s really about getting the guest to relax and be human.”

The host is a former town council member in Indialantic in Brevard County. In 2010, she lost a contentious Republican primary contest for state House of Representatives, and came away from the experience unhappy about the lack of civility in current-day politics. She thinks the system has devolved to the point where it’s “dehumanized politicians.”

SAVE THE DATEKATHLEEN PETERS TO HOLD FIRST POST-SESSION FUNDRAISER FOR HD 69 CAMPAIGN Full blog post here

The event is Thursday, May 29 beginning 6 p.m. at the home of Charles and Kathryn Scott, 7004 South Shore Drive S. in South Pasadena.

The freshman Republican from South Pasadena is running to keep her seat covering the beaches areas of Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, Gulfport and St. Pete Beach. She faces Democratic attorney Scott Orsini and Randy Taylor of the Libertarian Party of Florida.

TWEET, TWEET: @Jason_Garcia: Bit of personal news: I’ll be leaving the Sentinel at the end of the month. Have accepted a job as a writer at Florida Trend magazine.

UPDATE YOUR FEEDLY: The Palm Beach Post‘s Post on Politics is moving — to a new address. To follow the weird and wonderful world of state, national and Palm Beach County politics, visit postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com

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CONTEXT FLORIDA: HURTFUL SPEECH, INTRANSIENCE, MENTORS AND PERSONAL ATTACKS

On Context FloridaNathan Holic asks if we as a society are so disconnected from reality by our easy and safe Internet vitriol that we no longer imagine people reacting in real time when we say something truly hateful and hurtful. American intransigence in the 1860s kept us from finding a collaborative path to do the right things without picking up guns.  Unless we stop the 2014 model of American intransigence, Linda Cunningham says that we may find ourselves once again killing to make a point. Take Stock in Children scholarships are a statewide program that matches mentors with students from poor families. Shannon Nickinson talks of two such students that take every chance they can get to tell their stories in praise of the program that made college possible for them. Ed Moore notes that we are immersed in personal attacks and derogatory politics, so much so we cease to focus on the content of the policies espoused by potential office holders.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

FLORIDA MAN SAYS HE STABBED FRIEND, DOG OVER LAST BEER 

A central Florida man says he stabbed a friend and his dog over the last can of beer.

While waiting at the Marion County jail to make a court appearance Tuesday, Daniel Trent told the Ocala Star-Banner that he stabbed Mark Durham in self-defense Sunday night.

Trent is charged with second-degree murder. He says he argued with Durham over the last can of Natural Ice, after they had finished two cases of beer. Trent says Durham grabbed a knife from Trent’s kitchen and cut Trent’s hand.

That’s when Trent says he grabbed the knife and stabbed Durham in the stomach and chest. He says Durham then told him to stab his beagle.

A judge ordered Trent held without bond.

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.