Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.
OPPOSITE AND EQUAL REACTIONS
Going on seven years, the most consistent storyline in Florida politics — beyond the sheer craziness of #FloridaMan — is the linked, often inverted fates of Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist.
When Rubio is up, as he was at the end of Election Day in 2010, Crist was down. When Rubio’s stock plummeted in 2012-13, Crist’s was on the rise as he changed parties and snapped pictures from the White House.
Once again this year, what Rubio has done has created an opposite-and-equal reaction in Crist.
Rubio not running for re-election to the U.S. Senate created the open seat for U.S. Rep David Jolly to throw his hat in, thereby opening the door for Crist to win Jolly’s seat in Congress.
Now, with candidate qualifying underway, there is intense pressure on Rubio to reconsider his decision not to run. Whatever Rubio decides, this process is already having an impact on Cristworld, as Jolly is being urged by many GOP leaders to do his own reconsidering about running in Congressional District 13.
Here are five things I think about the opposite-and-equal movements of Rubio, Jolly, and Crist.
1. I’m back in the camp that says Rubio will not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.
2. Jolly is one of the best new members of Congress we’ve seen; too bad he didn’t like campaigning
3. Doesn’t Jack Latvala have better things to do than screw with Charlie Crist?
4. The Republicans opposing Crist are the same ones who lost backing Bill Foster over Rick Kriseman in 2013
5. Crist will narrowly defeat Jolly
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DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 14; State candidate qualifying closes – 14; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 46; Early voting begins in primaries – 71; Primary elections – 80; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 52; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 123; Absentees sent in General Election – 116; Early voting begins in General Election — 141; General Election – 151.
HAPPENING SATURDAY: Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump returns to Florida for an 11 a.m. rally at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St. in Tampa.
MARCO RUBIO: I STILL BELIEVE DONALD TRUMP CAN’T BE TRUSTED WITH AMERICA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS CODES via John McCormack of the Weekly Standard – One month after announcing his support for Trump, Rubio still believes that the presumptive GOP nominee is unfit to be commander-in-chief. “I stand by everything I said during the campaign,” the Florida senator told THE WEEKLY STANDARD … when asked if he still believes Trump cannot be trusted with access to the country’s nuclear weapons codes. During the campaign, Rubio said that Trump was “dangerous” and that we must not hand “the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.” Asked if his support for Trump is now unconditional or if it’s possible Trump could do something to lose Rubio’s vote, Rubio declined to discuss the matter. “I don’t have anything new to add from what I’ve already said. I’ve talked about it all week long,” he said. “I just don’t have anything new to add to the campaign. When I’m here in the Capitol I’m trying to focus on my work,” Rubio said. “Now I’m focused on [things] like Zika. Write a story on Zika.”
MIKE MURPHY: I EARNED LESS THAN $1 MILLION via Nick Gass of POLITICO – Mike Murphy‘s efforts leading the pro-Jeb Bush Right to Rise super PAC did not net him millions, or even $1 million … “God, I wish. You know, the truth is I’ve taken so much press crap over that, I kind of thought, ‘God, I should have paid myself a lot more’ — jokingly,” Murphy told CNBC’s John Harwood in an interview … “The way our money worked is, there were always concerns early about donors in the super PAC world of ‘What’s the governance?’ You know, how is the money, kind of the budgeting, done? One of the reasons Jeb tapped me to run the super PAC was to be a cheap bastard with the money,” Murphy said. “And that’s why the calls I’m getting from donors, mostly, overwhelmingly, are, ‘My God, I just got a refund. I’ve been giving political money for 20 years and nobody’s ever managed their cash in a way that, if things didn’t work out, I got a significant refund check here.’ The idea I made millions of dollars is absolutely ridiculous.” Asked if he made less than $1 million, Murphy said, “Yes, I did. Personally, definitely less than $1 million.”
On Bush’s campaign: “You know, once the debates started and it was clear that Jeb’s style, which would lend itself very well to a president of the United States or even a general election candidate, was the opposite of what they were looking for in the primary — I mean, when Trump said low energy, what he was really saying was too polite, too civil, too many big words. Jeb’s not built for the stupidest campaign in the world.”
On Trump advisors Paul Manafort and Tony Fabrizio: “The problem is they’re like Charlie Manson’s fox trot instructors. Yeah, they could teach him how to dance. But he’s too busy trying to cut their heads off, because he’s insane. So they can add the noise of a campaign. But it’s ultimately all about Trump. And Trump’s favorite thing to do is rent a hall, read the crowd, tell them what they like to hear, and then get on his plane and watch himself on cable.”
MURPHY TRADED DONATIONS FOR FAVORS, COMPLAINT ALLEGES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – A progressive blogger in Los Angeles is ratcheting up criticism against … Murphy over his ties to political donors who benefit from a visa program that Murphy has supported. Howie Klein, of the partisan “Down With Tyranny” blog … filed identical complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Federal Elections Commission alleging that Murphy “violated federal law and House (ethics) rules by accepting campaign contributions in exchange for co-sponsoring legislation sought by a contributor.” Klein and contributors to his blog have been routinely critical of Murphy’s bid for U.S. Senate and highly supportive of his main primary opponent … Alan Grayson … whose campaign Klein has encouraged his readers to donate to. In a statement … Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen didn’t specifically address Klein’s accusations but said the complaints were politically motivated.
ALAN GRAYSON SHOULD DONATE ‘AFRICAN SLAVE LABOR PROFITS,’ OPPONENT SAYS via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Patrick Murphy‘s campaign says his primary opponent Grayson should donate to charity any profits Grayson or his children made from previous investments in a company that operated in Eritrea — an east African country whose government leaders, a United Nations commission now says, have committed “crimes against humanity.” Bloomberg Politics reported back in February that Grayson’s children invested in — and profited from — a Canadian company called Nevsun that operates a gold and copper mine in Eritrea. The country is accused of using “forced labor via the national service program to help build the mine,” Bloomberg reported. Grayson told Bloomberg at the time: “I didn’t know, I couldn’t have known, and I did nothing wrong, nor did my children” and that “if I had known, then I would have divested.” (The family ultimately did divest from Nevsun.) Nonetheless, Murphy’s campaign chastised Grayson then for the investment and renewed its call for Grayson to donate the money his family made. Why now? “While it’s barely a surprise to those who know his character, it is truly unconscionable that Alan Grayson refuses to donate this money to charity,” Murphy campaign manager Josh Wolf said in a statement. “If Congressman Grayson has any sense of decency, he will donate every penny of his profit from the suffering of innocent people.”
PATRICK MURPHY ASKS WHEN WILL FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES UN-ENDORSE DONALD TRUMP via Florida Politics – In an email … Murphy wonders if his Republican counterparts would even contemplate backing away from Trump after his comments that many people — both Republicans and Democrats — considered racist. Where do the “brave” Florida Republican Senate candidates stand, Murphy asks. “They are either timidly standing by or silently enabling Trump’s racism, and Florida voters deserve better” … “It is time for Florida Republicans to take a cue [from Mark Kirk] and un-endorse Donald Trump and his racist rhetoric,” said Murphy Campaign Communications Director Joshua Karp. “Donald Trump has the wrong priorities for our state and the GOP Senate candidates should do what’s right and stand with Florida’s diverse families. As Patrick has already said, ‘enough is enough.’”
TODD WILCOX TELLS CARLOS BERUFF: ‘MAN UP’ via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Wilcox unleashed a torrent of criticism on Beruff … going so far as to question Beruff’s manhood in a lengthy open letter to Beruff entitled “Man up” … “I am a decorated combat veteran who has twice led men into battle in defense of your freedom and liberty. You see, where I come from, real men stand up and face their opponents with honor and integrity … Next time you want to make excuses for hiding from Florida voters, keep your misguided estimation of my ‘worth’ to yourself.” The letter is in reaction to comments Beruff made on Sarasota TV last week — when Beruff explained why exactly he skipped what was supposed to be the first political forum featuring all five Republican candidates running to replace Rubio in the U.S. Senate. “I was never gonna go, so I don’t understand what happened,” the Manatee County developer told ABC 7. “I had a conflict, and I didn’t go. That’s all there is to it.”
BERUFF SAYS SENATE OPPONENTS HAVE NO FOREIGN AFFAIRS EXPERIENCE, DESPITE VETERANS IN GOP RACE via Florida Politics – Beruff believes his extensive travel overseas, talking to people and living Cuban history “every day” gives him sufficient experience in foreign affairs for the U.S. Senate. The Manatee County homebuilder and first-time candidate also blasted his Republican opponents for lacking experience in foreign affairs, despite two military veterans are also in the race to replace Marco Rubio. In an interview last week with Pensacola News Radio 1620 AM, Beruff said that “none” of his opponents “have experience of any magnitude” in foreign affairs. Beruff’s comment was an apparent knock on the two veterans in the race — Congressman Ron DeSantis, who served in the Navy, and former Special Forces commander and CIA veteran Todd Wilcox. The exchange … has the novice politician claiming to have foreign policy experience because he had the “opportunity to travel quite a bit” and “spent weeks there talking to people.” According to the transcript, Beruff boasts that by way of visits to Egypt and Turkey, he has seen Middle East problems “with his own eyes … And at the end of the day, I’d been to Israel. I understand, I’ve been to Egypt. I’ve been to Turkey. I understand some of the Middle East problems because I have been there and spent weeks there talking to people.”
SPOTTED: DeSantis on the Newsmax list of “The 25 hardest working members of Congress” – Even before he got to Congress, onetime Yale baseball team captain and U.S. Navy veteran DeSantis demonstrated what associates call near-superhuman capacity for work. As a first-time candidate in 2012, he raised more than $1.1 million — almost all by his telephoning and asking people — and beat five other Republicans in the primary. A Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he has been a House point man on issues ranging from taking a harder line with Putin’s Russia to trying to thwart the Iran agreement.
U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be in Jacksonville for a town hall meeting. Wilcox will be in Kentucky, where his campaign said he will be inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame.
NEW ANTI-POT VIDEO CLAIMS AMENDMENT 2 ALLOWS ‘5,000’ MARIJUANA SHOPS IN FLORIDA via Florida Politics – Opponents of the measure say the Sunshine State could soon be swamped with more pot shops than McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Starbucks combined. That’s the message from a new video — titled “5,000” — produced by the Vote No on 2 campaign, which claims that if Amendment 2 passes, the door could open for as many as 5,000 marijuana dispensaries across the state. “Amendment 2 backers are trying to scam Floridians into thinking this amendment would not lead to rampant marijuana access,” said Vote No on 2 Campaign spokesperson Christina Johnson in a statement. “The fact is, at least 2,000 pot shops would pop up in Florida, but that number could be even higher … marijuana legalization proponents have admitted publicly that Amendment 2 could lead to as many as 5,000 pot shops taking root in our state.” … “It will be up to the Florida Legislature and local governments to determine how many retail facilities will be allowed to serve the patients of our state,” said Bianca Garza, spokeswoman for United for Care, which supports Amendment 2. “We hope to work with elected leaders to ensure that patients are served appropriately and that city and county law enforcement agencies are comfortable with the medical marijuana facilities in their communities.”
BOB POE: ‘I HAVE HIV’ via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Poe, a Democrat running in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, said he struggled all year trying to decide whether, when and how to come out to voters and the public that he is HIV-positive … he said he just could not live with himself keeping it secret any longer. Poe said his personal struggle included an encounter he had with a woman he met while he was canvassing on Orlando’s west side. She confided to him that she had just been diagnosed with HIV and thought she received a death sentence. Poe said he assured her she did not have a death sentence, that with early intervention and treatment she could live a long, healthy life. But he didn’t tell her about himself. He didn’t yet have that courage. Until now.
JEFF MORAN DINGS LAWYERS, LOBBYISTS IN FIRST DIGITAL AD via POLITICO – “Stop me if you have heard this one before: Two lawyers and a lobbyist are running for Congress,” Moran says in the video, set in the custom car shop he owns in High Springs. The retired police officer is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat that Democrat Gwen Graham is vacating … His comment about lawyers and lobbyists refers to his primary opponents —Neal Dunn, who has been a registered lobbyist for the Florida Medical Association, as well as attorneys Mary Thomas, who worked in Scott’s administration, and Ken Sukhia … Moran is also seen as a long shot candidate who will … Focus on the fact he has never been involved in the political process. “I’m Jeff Moran, and I too am running for Congress,” he says in the one-minute ad. “And I’m not a lawyer or a lobbyist.”
DANIEL WEBSTER GOES UP WITH FIRST TV AD IN HIS BATTLE TO WIN CD 11 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The ad, called, “Getting Things Done,” highlights Webster’s battle to fix the nation’s capitol, and he says, return power back to the people. “Want to know why Washington is broken?” Webster asks in the ad, which begins with a shot of him driven a slightly beat-up pickup truck. “Because they’re blinded by power, paralyzed by politics, and they put their needs over ours. That’s why I took on Speaker of the House John Boehner, to get the House in order. By setting priorities, demanding transparency, and empowering every member to get things done.” Webster angered Boehner last year when he put himself up a candidate to challenge the now former House Speaker. He was the favorite of the Freedom Caucus in the GOP House, but ultimately lost out to the consensus favorite, Paul Ryan.
FRANCIS ROONEY STARTS AD SPENDING IN CD 19 via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Rooney, the Republican fundraiser-turned-
GWEN MARGOLIS WILL RETIRE FROM THE FLORIDA SENATE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – After a distinguished 40-year career in public service, Margolis … will retire from the Senate when her term is up in November. The announcement came abruptly … less than four days after Margolis, 81, came under fire in media reports across the state for disparaging and racist references she made particularly about three of her five competitors in the SD 38 race. “It’s reprehensible that three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer think that they have the right to run against me,” Margolis told the Sunny Isles Democratic Club monthly meeting … Witnesses confirmed she went on to refer to Anis Blemur, Phillip Brutus, and Daphne Campbell four more times as “those Haitians.” Teacher Don Festge, who attended the meeting and is running in the CD 38 Democratic primary, outed Margolis in a Facebook posting … Wrote Festge, “She … looked at me and said, ‘I’ve been in office for over 40 years, what does some teacher know about Tallahassee and how to run the Senate?’ As she was ending her talk, she said, ‘I have unlimited funds and I’m going to spend every penny and I’m NOT going to lose to those three Haitians or some teacher or lawyer.’ The entire room was in shock …” Margolis made no reference to her comments in her statement to the press.
MIKE CLELLAND ADDS ANOTHER $97K, WIDENS LEAD IN SD 13 PRIMARY RACE via Florida Politics – The former state representative announced he raised $19,000 for his campaign account and $78,000 for his political committee, “Common Sense for Central Florida,” though he has not yet released his complete report for May. Since filing for the seat in January, Clelland has taken a commanding lead over his primary opponents, former Rep. Linda Stewart, and former Orange County School Board member Rick Roach. At the end of April, Clelland had about $167,000 on hand in his campaign account and another $220,000 on hand for his committee.
MY TAKE: PALM BEACH COUNTY, IRV SLOSBERG AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING VOTING MACHINE via Florida Politics – Now that Slosberg is contemplating a run for the state Senate, local chatter about a 16-year old matter is making the rounds once again. We all remember the 2000 presidential election and the razor-thin victory by George W. Bush over Al Gore. We also remember hanging chads, recounts, ballot punch cards and the famed Votamatic machines … We also recall that ground zero was Palm Beach County. And there was this race for the state House of Representatives where the winner also squeaked out a victory – by a razor-thin margin. His name was, and is, Irv Slosberg … [Who], it turns out, was in possession of a Votamatic voting machine, a machine he should NOT have been anywhere near … he at first denied having the machine in his car. But after police began an inquiry, he changed his story and admitted to having it in his possession … What the heck was a candidate doing with a voting machine in his car? Were ballots missing? Could that machine have mattered in the House race? Could it have mattered in the selection of the President of the United States? Did Irv Slosberg cause the election of George Bush? Highly unlikely. Extremely unlikely. Kind of silly actually. It’s an old, cold case and one that will never be resolved. But it will be a narrative in a potential Florida state Senate race nearly 16 years after the fact. Oh, Palm Beach County.
DANA YOUNG CROSSES MILLION-DOLLAR RAISED MARK IN BID FOR STATE SENATE via Florida Politics – Young raised $166,700 for her campaign and another $115,785 for her committee for a total of $282,485 raised in May … across more than 300 contributions, including nearly 100 contributions for the campaign maximum of $1,000. Her committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” reached its total with 35 contributions. On the donor roll last month were Disney, the GEO Group, Anheuser Busch, Capitol Insight and RAI Services, each of which chipped in $10,000. Expenditures were also kept to a minimum, with the campaign spending about $17,500 for an on-hand total of $409,000 heading into June and the committee spending about $6,300 for a total of $616,700 on hand. The $1 million war chest gives Young a better than 10-to-1 advantage over her lone challenger, Democrat Bob Buesing, who posted $101,883 in May contributions.
FEDS: REGGIE FULLWOOD MOTION THAT DIVISION OF ELECTIONS WAS NOT DEFRAUDED IS ‘MISGUIDED’ the A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Fullwood filed a motion recently saying he could not be charged with defrauding the Division of Elections in his 14-count federal trial for 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of failure to file federal tax returns. This week, federal prosecutors disagreed. “Defendant’s motion is misguided. It is premature, it is an incorrect statement of law, and it incorrectly conflates the “honest services” fraud standards with the more routine wire fraud standards. Accordingly, the United States respectfully requests this Court to deny Defendant’s motion,” claimed the prosecution. The feds say evidentiary rulings must be preserved until trial, according to case law and precedent, to consider “foundation, relevancy and context.” If the court honored Fullwood’s ruling, argue the federal prosecutors, the court would be “making evidentiary decisions without a full picture” of the prosecution’s case. The prosecution also takes issue with Fullwood’s interpretation of wire fraud statutes, saying the statute requires no identification of the “panoply of possible victims.”
CHRIS SPROWLS GETS A DEMOCRATIC OPPONENT IN HIS BID FOR RE-ELECTION TO HD 65 via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Bernie Fensterwald, a Dunedin-based Democrat, filed paperwork in Tallahassee to run against Republican Sprowls … Sprowls, first elected in 2014 and on a fast track to House leadership, has raised over $168,000 to date in his bid for re-election to the seat. He also has a separate political committee, “Floridians for Economic Freedom.” That organization raised $122,000 in May and had about $297,000 on hand. Fensterwald is currently retired after a career as an attorney, though he says he’s still somewhat involved in a self-storage company. He says the No. 1 thing that motivated him to file against Sprowls was the Palm Harbor Republican’s vote for a fracking bill in the last legislative Session. Although he says fracking is unlikely to occur in Pinellas county, “that we would even think about threatening the environment” was enough to compel him to get involved.
HD 68 CANDIDATE BEN DIAMOND ANNOUNCES THAT HE’S RAISED OVER $100,000 IN MAY via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Diamond announced [he] had raised over $100,000 in his first full month of fundraising in May — with $75,752 of that into his direct campaign committee. An additional $30,000 went into “Protecting Pinellas Families,” a political committee associated with Diamond’s campaign. Campaign officials say that’s more money raised in a single month this election cycle than any other Democratic House candidate. Diamond, who began his campaign on April 25 of this year, raised $28,366 in the six days before his first fundraising deadline for the month of April. He’s now raised over $130,000 in just 37 days.
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RICK SCOTT TALKS ZIKA WITH HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIAL via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times – Newly appointed state Surgeon General Celeste Philip and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera also attended the meeting. Scott has spent the last several weeks raising concerns about the mosquito-borne virus, which is spreading across South and Central America and the Caribbean. The Republican governor recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for more than 5,000 Zika preparedness kits, spraying equipment and mosquito traps, as well as funding for more city and county mosquito control workers and an expanded outreach program. So far, 172 people in Florida have been diagnosed with Zika, including 38 pregnant women, according to the state health department. All had recently traveled to countries where the virus is prevalent.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will hold a ceremonial bill signing for SB 1534 at 10:30 a.m. at the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, 75 S. Ivanhoe Blvd. in Orlando. The bill provides funding for housing projects to serve the homeless, people with unique abilities, and disabled veterans. Scott will then attend the 18th annual Summit on Disabilities at 7:10 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive in Orlando.
CRITIC OF PAM BONDI-DONALD TRUMP LINKS WANTS OUTSIDE COUNSEL TO INVESTIGATE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The Boston lawyer who filed Bar, elections and ethics complaints against Bondi now wants Gov. Scott to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Bondi’s ties to a Trump foundation. “Because Attorney General Bondi cannot investigate herself, there is a need for an independent and impartial inquiry,” wrote J. Whitfield Larrabee of Brookline, Massachusetts, in a letter to Scott.
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN ANOTHER PART OF WORKER’S COMP LAW via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled unconstitutional part of the law that “cuts off disability benefits … to a worker who is totally disabled and incapable of working but who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement,” or in other words, the person cannot heal any further. That cutoff “is unconstitutional … as a denial of the right of access to courts,” said the opinion by Justice Barbara Pariente. That’s because “it deprives an injured worker of disability benefits under these circumstances for an indefinite amount of time — thereby creating a system of redress that no longer functions as a reasonable alternative to tort litigation,” it added. Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented, saying they reject the argument that a limit in law “on the period of eligibility for temporary total disability benefits violates the right of access to courts.” [The] decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg amounted to the second in a one-two punch against the state worker’s comp regime, mandated to pay workers who get hurt on the job.
APPELLATE DECISION MAY NOT AFFECT NORTHWOOD CENTRE CASE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – An appeals court said the Department of Corrections isn’t liable for breaking a lease Brevard County because the rent money wasn’t in the state budget. That sounded like it could take the legal steam from another ongoing dispute between owners of a Tallahassee office complex and several state agencies who bolted on their master lease … Scott, in the 2016-17 state budget, approved stopping lease payments to Northwood Centre as of July 1, the start of the next fiscal year. The state is moving 1,500 workers from several agencies to new buildings. The owners filed suit. Critics called the complex a “biological hot zone” after inspectors found 10 pounds of bat feces in the ceiling above the desk of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Ken Lawson. Mold and more animal droppings were also discovered. But Jon Peck, a spokesman for Northwood Centre, said “there are substantial differences in the facts of the two cases and this ruling doesn’t change the merits of our argument against the state’s action.” A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a trial court’s granting of summary judgment in a case by a landlord who rented office space to the Department of Corrections in Brevard County. Summary judgments allows parties to win a case without a trial.
WHOSE CELLPHONE WAS RINGING IN THE SUPREME COURT? (YES, HIS) via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – During oral arguments … a cellphone began chirping while Justice Barbara Pariente was speaking. Chirp, chirp, chirp. The ringing sound was loud and clear, so it had to be very close to Pariente’s microphone. The justice who sits directly to Pariente’s left is Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, and as the court called a recess, the chief accepted responsibility for the unwelcome noise. “I never bring the phone to court — never,” Labarga was heard saying on an open microphone. “I bring it one day and this happens.”
AFTER $6 BILLION IN CUSTOMER LOSSES, STATE OKS PLAN TO REDUCE UTILITY HEDGING via William Levesque of the Tampa Bay Times – Floridians are poised to lose another $560 million in 2016 as the state’s investor-owned electric utilities continue to lose big at the poker table by hedging their purchases of natural gas. That would mean nearly $6.6 billion in total losses since 2002, and $1.38 billion since the start of 2015 alone. The state Public Service Commission took the first tentative step Thursday to reduce the financial carnage and approved a plan by Florida’s electric utilities to cut their hedging by 25 percent. They rejected a call by critics to end hedging altogether but said they could revisit the issue later in the year. “While I think we all would have appreciated more robust changes to further minimize customer risk, this is at least a fair start,” said Commissioner Art Graham. “It’s a prudent first step.” In a hedge, a utility agrees to buy a volume of fuel in the future at a fixed price. If the price rises later, the utility wins. But if it falls, the utility — or more specifically its customers — loses. But with natural gas prices falling for much of the last decade, hedging has proven to be a reliable money loser.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Nicole Fried, Igniting Florida: Florida Compassionate Growers
Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Supportive Housing Coalition
Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: General Assembly Space
Joel Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: Braman Management Association
William Rubin, Christopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: Cultural anthropologist Dr. Rosalyn Howard on ongoing efforts to preserve the legacy of Sarasota’s African-American community.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS Miami: Former Florida Gov. and U.S Sen. Bob Graham.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Columnist and former Sen. Paula Dockery, former Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder, FloridaPolitics.com reporter Mitch Perry, and Tampa Bay Times reporter Ben Montgomery.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Democratic state Senate candidate Judge Rick Roach, a preview of Tuesday’s final big presidential primaries, and Common Ground with Alex Sink and Chris Ingram. Plus, PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim made by Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton’s support among women.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon, Steve Vancore, and Florida League of Cities Executive Director Michael Sittig.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, former Mayor Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney, and JAXPORT board chairman John Newman.
REVIEW: SEAWORLD’S MAKO, OPEN TODAY, FULL OF HIGH SPEEDS AND WEIGHTLESSNESS via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times – The hype surrounding the hypercoaster Mako opening Friday at SeaWorld has been breathless, just like the riders who got a sneak preview of the coaster … “Hypercoaster” means there are no loop-de-loops, just high speed (73 mph) and that weightless feeling you get when G-forces send riders up out of their seats as Mako roars down the other side of the hill. It is tall, it is fast, and it is a very smooth ride when you haven’t been lifted out of your seat in nine designed moments of airtime … If you want an even bigger thrill … try the very back where the whip of the trains lift riders higher out of their seats, held in only by that puny lap harness. While this coaster puts SeaWorld at the top of the thrill-seeker food chain, the attention to detail and story-telling make the realm stand out in its strong call for conservation. The area around the new Shark Wreck Reef at SeaWorld is eye-catching. At night it’s even prettier, with shimmering lights and strobes.
HAPPY 40TH BIRTHDAY to my good friend, Nick Iarossi.