Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.14.16 – The days after

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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.

BULLETIN: “On Thursday, the President will travel to Orlando, Florida to pay his respects to victims’ families, and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest: “We will have more information on the President’s trip in the coming days.”

THE SOUL OF ORLANDO by Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Through the tears, the eyes of Orlandoans speak to each other now of shared pain, loss, deep sadness, disbelief — and support.

The eyes meet, and there is an instant and undeniable bonding. We look at each other, and we know. We’re in this together: our flesh, our blood, our very lives; with the possibility that someone we know, was ruthlessly, meaninglessly, terrifyingly, tragically attacked when a man entered a nightclub with guns and shot and shot and shot.

It’s personal here.

This is so unexpected.

Not the attack. I think every American wonders now if they’ll be in that school or theater or office or post office or church or nightclub when that guy, heavily armed and bent on horror, enters. We all knew it could happen here. The sad truth is, it was no surprise.

What is so unexpected is the widespread phenomena we’re witnessing of ordinary Orlandoans speaking to each other through those eyes, past the tears, with that look that says, we’re in this together.

Orlando is a city built with moving vans. Last year my good friend and former Orlando Sentinel colleague Kevin Spear, one of the best writers I know, set out in search of the Soul of Orlando. I didn’t think he’d ever find it. But he thought he did, in the remarkable diversity and endless refreshment of newcomers. Kevin figured the city motto ought to be, “So, where are you from?”

We’re from here now, baby, Orlando, the City Beautiful. The City Sad.

And that soul, yeah, it’s here. How else could a simple nod make strangers feel like brothers? We’re in this together.

Yes, Orlando is a city of theme parks and hotels and restaurants and all kinds of touristy things. They’re not for Orlandoans. They’re where Orlandoans work. That maid in the hotel: she might be from Puerto Rico. She might have lost her son Sunday morning. And if so, when she’s done making beds, she’ll go home to her little house in Azalea Park and cry. That waiter in the restaurant: he might be from a small town in Arkansas. He might have lost his partner or spouse Sunday morning. And if so, after he’s done serving $30 steaks to conventioneers on expense accounts, he’ll go home to his bungalow in Thornton Park and cry. That Cinderella: she might be an actress from Chicago. She might have lost her best friend Sunday morning. And if so, when she’s done smiling for pictures with a hundred more children, she’ll go home to her apartment in Dr. Phillips and cry.

With luck, their neighbors, the bank tellers and office managers and appliance salesmen whom the out-of-towners will never meet, will come over with casseroles or bottles, hugs and tissues. They all are bound by the Soul of Orlando.

So America, just talk to us like were humans, not votes. We’re just flesh and blood, as you can see.

The talk from the local leaders, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Police Chief John Mina, Sheriff Jerry Demings, Orlando LGBT Center Director Tim Vargas, the Rev. Nancy Wilson, Imam Muhammad Musri, Commissioners Patty SheehanTony Ortiz and all the others, when they’re talking about what they really want to talk about, it’s about Orlando togetherness, love, community.

It’s not just words. It’s balm, from one Orlandoan to another.

Some other people already are making the Pulse nightclub massacre about issues such as radical Islamic terrorism, the need for gun control, open carry, immigration, hateful things about gays, red meat for the partisan base, and, ultimately, elections.

To them, we Orlandoans say, with no due respect whatsoever, STFU. More politely, that means, stop. Please. And the lieutenant governor of Texas can go to hell.

America, we just need you to give us a moment.

Let us grieve for a while before you make it about whatever it is you want to make it about.

This is a community mourning 49 dead, 53 wounded, and more than a million hearts with holes in them. It’s a lot of partners and spouses, family and friends, co-workers and neighbors. And it’s the rest of us grappling with whom we can help, and in the meantime, how we can address these holes in our own hearts. A nod’s a good start. A hug. A tissue. A shared cry.

And we know it won’t end there. Maybe for the first time, for the worst possible reason, we know. We are Orlando.

We’re in this together.


BY ELECTING PRO-GUN POLITICIANS, WE ARE THE ALLY OF HOME-GROWN TERRORISTS via Martin Dyckman of Florida Politics – What fools we are. What willful, stubborn, persistent, incurable fools. Even as you next pose like a prisoner with arms raised or stand still for a TSA officer to wand you, some terrorist with massacre in mind could be walking into any gun shop and walking out with the means to carry it out. That’s what Mateen did last week in Florida, where no permit is needed to buy or possess any firearm other than a machine gun. Florida allows even an AR-15 or its equivalent. The bigger question, though, is how many more Americans must die en masse, in nightclubs and restaurants and movie theaters and churches and schools, in as few seconds as it takes to read the sentence, before we learn to prohibit the sale and possession of such weapons of mass destruction? How many more terrorists will we arm? … the NRA and its associates in the gun lobby are indeed the allies of ISIS and of every other terrorist individual or organization, whatever its roots, where hatred is harbored against Americans because of their faiths, their origins, their race or their nationality, or where mental illness inspires inchoate rage. And we — you and I, fellow citizens, are also terrorism’s allies, however unwilling or unwitting me may believe we are. We are terrorism’s allies so long as we submit to electing people to public office who are so stupid, selfish and cowardly that they would rather enact the insanities of the gun lobby than take reasonable and necessary steps to avert mass murder. There is no sound reason why any private citizen needs semi-automatic weapons, especially not AR-15s.

JIHADI WANNABE SHOOTS UP ORLANDO; OBAMA BLAMES US via Tom Jackson of Florida Politics – Once again, a great city that rightly prides itself on multicultural tolerance has been shredded by a fanatical hater whose worldview is rooted in seventh century mysticism and hero worship. Yes, I know. Among one-point-six-billion Muslims, only a statistically tiny portion are truly bad actors. But even if it’s only 1 percent, that’s a whole lot of radicalism for one small planet to manage. Along those lines, it’s darn near impossible to manage that which you refuse even to identify. Alas, such is President Obama’s M.O. Once again the moment came upon him to make plain the war forced upon us, and once again he dashed to a nonsense prescription — we require more extensive regulation of inanimate objects — while aggressively ignoring the jihadi in the room. What drivel. What insidious misdirection. Yes, we had a so-called “assault weapons” ban once upon a time, and the country didn’t collapse. Should we reinstate it? Only if we think meaningless flourishes will solve the raging trouble at hand. Studies indicate the ban made virtually no difference in gun crime. Bad dudes merely switched weapons of choice. Wait. The president wasn’t finished. There was an outrage ahead. Besides guns, Obama’s blame fell on, well, us. Really. Because, after all, in the president’s assessment, we all are denizens of the swamp that produced the execrable Mateen. “We need to demonstrate that we are defined more — as a country — by the way [the victims] lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.” This blame-shifting is indefensible, even monstrous. A feverish Islamist extremist inflamed by ISIS acts on orders laid out plainly in sharia law and espoused by respected Muslim holy men, and Obama tells us to check our consciences.

ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB SHOOTER JUST USHERED TRUMP INTO THE WHITE HOUSE via Roger Cohen of The New York Times – Aged 29, Mateen is the Gavrilo Princip of the early 21st century, the young man who ripped up an old, decaying political order. Like the 19-year-old Bosnian Serb nationalist whose bullets ignited World War I, Mateen has set a spark to a time of inflammable anger. Of course, these somber imaginings may prove to be no more than that. Mateen has not yet changed the world; he may never. But there is no question that the largest mass shooting in U.S. history comes at a time of particular unease. In both the United States and Europe, political and economic frustrations have produced a groundswell against the status quo and an apparent readiness to make a leap in the dark. Washington and Brussels have become bywords for paralysis. Trump and “Brexit” represent action — any action — to shake things up. They are, to their supporters, the comeuppance smug elites deserve. That he shot revelers in a gay club suggests once again that Islam and sexuality constitute a particularly combustible realm. Liberal Western sexual mores are the most troubling affront to a certain strain of Islam. The resultant confrontation incubates explosive violence. It is poisonous to blame all the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims for this crisis of their religion. It is, however, also dangerous to ignore or belittle the potency of ISIS ideology, the core role it has played in recent violence from Paris to California, and the link between that ideology and the broader crisis of Islam. The favored phrase of the Obama administration in addressing this scourge — “violent extremism” — is vague to the point of evasive meaninglessness. Yes, jihadi terrorists are “violent extremists” but calling them that is like calling Nazism a reaction to German humiliation in World War I: true but wholly inadequate.

WILL ORLANDO DRIVE US FROM OUR CORNERS? via E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post – Even before President Obama spoke Sunday afternoon, there were declarations of great certainty that he would attribute the massacre to guns and not “Islamism” — and would therefore feed support for Trump. Trump did not disappoint … It is no day for partisanship, but how could Trump even think of using a moment of national trauma and mourning as an occasion to tout his own genius — or to reach sweeping conclusions on the fly? … But it’s entirely true that those of us who have long believed that our scandalously lax national gun laws make sickening slaughters inevitable had predictable reactions of our own. Why can we never include a reappraisal of our weapons laws as part of democracy’s arsenal of responses to terrorism and mass violence? Why are those who tout themselves as being the toughest among us in calling out terrorism inspired by Islam so timid as soon as any plausible answer is labeled “gun control”? We gain nothing by arguing about which form of moral revulsion is superior or more appropriate. We set ourselves back by responding to an act of violence against Americans who are gay by turning on Americans who are Muslim. The only appropriate response to Orlando is solidarity harnessed to intelligent determination. So far, no body count, however repulsive, has forced us to abandon our ideological cul-de-sacs. The dead on the floor of a nightclub cry out to us.

— “After Orlando, divided we mourn” via Michael Gerson of The Washington Post

— “An Orlando America doesn’t know” via Michael Grunwald of POLITICO

— “The Dalai Lama: Why I’m hopeful about the world’s future” via The Washington Post

— “Donald Trump’s exploitation of Orlando” via David Remnick of The New Yorker

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DID A DELAY IN POLICE RESPONSE GIVE SHOOTER MORE TIME? via Lisa Marie Pane of The Associated Press – The decision by law enforcement to hold off on entering the Pulse club – where more than 100 people were shot, 49 of them killed – immediately raised questions among experts in police tactics. They said the lessons learned from other mass shootings show that officers must get inside swiftly – even at great risk – to stop the threat and save lives. “We live in a different world. And action beats inaction 100 percent of the time,” said Chris Grollnek, an expert on active-shooter tactics and a retired police officer and SWAT team member. Authorities in Orlando say the situation changed from an active-shooter scenario to a hostage situation once gunman Omar Mateen made it into one of the bathrooms where club-goers were hiding. He first had a shootout with the off-duty officer at the club’s entrance. Then two other officers arrived and the firing continued. Experts say there’s a big difference between responding to a lone gunman and a shooter who has hostages. In active-shooter situations, police are now trained to respond immediately, even if only one or two officers are available to confront the suspect. In a hostage crisis, law enforcement generally tries to negotiate. Once in the restroom, Mateen called 911 and made statements pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said … That’s when the shooting stopped and hostage negotiators began talking with him, the chief said. “We had a team of crisis negotiators that talked to the suspect, trying to get as much information as possible, what we could do to help resolve the situation … He wasn’t asking a whole lot, and we were doing most of the asking. “We had a team of crisis negotiators that talked to the suspect, trying to get as much information as possible, what we could do to help resolve the situation … He wasn’t asking a whole lot, and we were doing most of the asking.”

ORLANDO FIRE REFUSES TO RELEASE PULSE INSPECTION via Noah Pransky of WTSP – Among the many issues that will be scrutinized in the Orlando shootings is how many options clubgoers had to escape from the Pulse nightclub as Omar Mateen shot more than 100 people, with dozens of others held hostage. 10Investigates … looked into how well emergency exits were inspected and maintained at the club. But Orlando’s fire marshal said Chief Roderick Williams ordered staff not to turn over public records …  An apparent violation of Florida state law.

TWEET, TWEET: @MDixon55: @FLGovScott had first call with Obama Administration official at 6:30.


ADAM PUTNAM SAYS ORLANDO KILLER PASSED ALL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR STATE LICENSES, INCLUDING MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Mateen  successfully received two security guard licenses from his agency and renewals because he passed every check under Florida law. “All of the normal safeguards, all of the normal checks, were completed, and there was no disqualifying offense to prevent the individual from obtaining his license,” Putnam said. “He was fingerprinted, he successfully completed the application, had a criminal background check — there is nothing in that record that would have disqualified this individual, who was a U.S. citizen, who had a clean criminal record, who underwent a background check and mental health screening, from receiving those licenses.” Putnam’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates security guards. Mateen held “D” and “G” licenses with the state, meaning he was a licensed security guard and licensed to carry a firearm. The licenses were valid through 2017.

— “Putnam’s agency refuses to release shooter’s gun records” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO

ON 9/11, THE ORLANDO SHOOTER’S CLASSMATES MOURNED. SOME SAY HE CELEBRATED. Via William Wan and Brian Murphy of The Washington Post – At a high school in Florida, students watched the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV. When the second hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center’s south tower, the class sat in stunned disbelief. But one student, a classmate recalled, “started jumping up-and-down cheering on the terrorist.” That was sophomore Omar Mateen, according to one of the accounts from former students in Stuart … remembering 9/11 and the reaction by the student who, nearly 15 years later, would carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The recollections of Mateen’s actions could not be independently verified, and the memories could be clouded by the years that have passed. But similar versions were detailed in separate interviews. As the snapshot in time, the recollections appear to offer yet another stitch in the wider tapestry of Mateen’s life and views before Sunday’s rampage, which included his pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State during a call to police during the standoff. In an interview, Robert Zirkle, then a freshman at Martin County High School, said he saw Mateen excited and making fun of how America was being attacked on 9/11. “He was making plane noises on the bus, acting like he was running into a building,” Zirkle recalled. “I don’t really know if he was doing it because he was being taught some of that stuff at home or just doing it for attention because he didn’t have a lot of friends.”

INVESTIGATORS LOOK AT POSSIBLE DISNEY TRIP BY ORLANDO SHOOTER via Sandra Pedicini and Bob Drogin of the Orlando Sentinel – The FBI is seeking to determine whether Mateen … scouted out other gay venues or other potential targets — including properties associated with Walt Disney World, according to a senior U.S. law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. Agents believe he visited those locations in recent months, but cannot say for certain he was evaluating them as potential targets, the official said. A Disney manager who requested anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak told the Orlando Sentinel a Magic Kingdom manager told him that Mateen had been at that theme park in April. He did not know the purpose of Mateen’s visit or whom he was with. Disney referred questions to law enforcement. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which provides law enforcement services to Disney, said in an email “we have no public record of the shooter being in our system.”

ORLANDO KILLER’S FATHER: GOD, NOT HUMANS, SHOULD PUNISH GAYS via Louis Nelson of POLITICO – In a video posted to Facebook just one day after his son Omar Mateen opened fire at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Seddique Mir Mateen said “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” and that it is “not an issue that humans should deal with,” according to CBS News. The video, like others on the father’s Facebook page, was not recorded in English and was no longer publicly available … The suspected gunman’s father is the host of a show on an America-based satellite TV station geared toward Pashtun Afghans who reside in the U.S. and Europe. Most Taliban members in Afghanistan are Pashtun, and an Afghan intelligence source told CBS that Seddique Mir Mateen’s show often features pro-Taliban and anti-U.S. rhetoric. Seddique Mir Mateen said he did not know what motivated his son to carry out the attack against the nightclub and added that he was saddened by his actions during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, according to the report.

BEFORE ORLANDO MASSACRE, KILLER OMAR MATEEN VISITED PARENTS ONE LAST TIME via Ben Montgomery, Samuel Howard and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times – Hours before Mateen attacked an Orlando nightclub … leaving 49 dead and 53 wounded, he did something not out of the ordinary for him: He stopped by his parents’ house to visit with his father … Seddique Mateen, 59, said nothing about his son seemed amiss during that Saturday visit. “It was just a normal day of life for him,” the father said … “I didn’t notice anything. Not a single thing wrong.” The younger Mateen, a security guard at the nearby PGA Village neighborhood, was dressed in his beige uniform … Seddique Mateen assumed his son was on his way to work. Witnesses later would describe Omar Mateen as wearing beige clothing when he walked into the crowded Pulse nightclub on S Orange Avenue in Orlando, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol, and committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. On Monday, after federal agents had finished searching his home, Seddique Mateen sat in his living room and grieved for his son’s victims, and for his son. At the same time, he condemned Omar Mateen’s actions and said he cannot forgive him for what he did. Seddique Mateen said he wishes that he had noticed some sign, that he could have stopped his son before it was too late. “I wish there was something I could have done differently,” the father said. “I don’t know why he did what he did.”

WITNESS: OMAR MATEEN DRANK ALONE AT PULSE BEFORE ATTACK via Gal Tziperman Lotan , Paul Brinkmann and Rene Stutzman of the Orlando Sentinel – At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said … they had seen Omar Mateen there before. “Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said. Smith … saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times. “We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” When asked about those sightings, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he had no information. Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app. They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m.Sunday, an hour before the shooting began. Cord Cedeno and Chris Callen are other Pulse customers who …  had seen Mateen in the nightclub. Callen said he had witnessed violent outbursts by Mateen. “It was definitely him. He’d come in for years, and people knew him,” Cedeno said.

ORLANDO SHOOTER WAS GAY, FORMER CLASSMATE SAYS via Lawrence Mower of the Palm Beach Post – The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically. “We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used. He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.


— “Orlando nightclub shooting: Read about the victims” via Andrew Gibson and Charles Minshew of the Orlando Sentinel

EQUALITY FLORIDA RAISES $1.6 M ON GOFUNDME PAGE FOR ORLANDO SHOOTING VICTIMS via Keith Morelli of Orlando Rising – Equality Florida, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, has raised more than $1.6 million over a single day in a GoFundMe account set up Sunday for the survivors and families of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando over the weekend. Equality Florida, which is based in Tampa, set up the fund Sunday and by late Monday morning had amassed nearly $1,684,000 of a $2.5 million goal from about 42,000 people and the numbers were growing each minute. “Funds raised on this page will be going directly to the victims and families affected by the horrific shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub,” the website says. “Equality Florida is working with local organizations, who are also helping to raise funds, to ensure the money is distributed properly. Thank you for the support.”

FAMILY, FRIENDS MOURN CHRISTOPHER SANFELIZ, 24, FIRST KNOWN TAMPA VICTIM OF ORLANDO’S PULSE SHOOTING via Anna M. Phillips, Alli Knothe and Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times – Sanfeliz, a 24-year-old Tampa bank employee remembered by a former classmate as “the most positive guy I’ve ever known,” was identified as one of the people killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting … friends and family said … “He (was) a wonderful person and this is such a tragedy,” said Mike Wallace, a close family friend. “He was cut down in his prime.” After hearing news of the nightclub massacre … Wallace and Sanfeliz’s father, Carlos Sanfeliz, traveled to Orlando, arriving about noon, Wallace said. The father’s phone “was blowing up” with people calling about his son … They had not heard anything from Christopher. Christopher had told family members earlier in the weekend he and a group of friends planned to go to Pulse. Sanfeliz’s family spent the day at the hospital in Orlando … They waited hours for any news about whether Sanfeliz had been admitted. When the hospital released the names of its patients, Christopher Sanfeliz was not among them. As those names were read, “people were crying hysterically,” Wallace said. “It’s really something awful to go through.” Realizing Christopher’s fate, they returned to Tampa Sunday evening and received official notice at about 7 a.m. Monday when a Hillsborough County deputy arrived at Carlos’ doorstep, Wallace said.

FRIENDS: SARASOTA MAN KILLED IN ORLANDO SHOOTING WAS ‘JOKESTER’ via Dale White and Carlos Munoz of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Al Ferguson received a text message, including a video, from Edward Manuel Sotomayor about 20 minutes before a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Sunday morning. Sotomayor was asking Ferguson to join him … “We talked back and forth, and his partner was outside,” according to Ferguson … when the shots broke out Eddie texted him that he was hiding and that he was OK … He told him not to come back in the club and go to the house. Eddie texted him again about 20 minutes later saying he was safe. “That was the last he heard from Eddie.” The 34-year-old Sotomayor was the first person identified Sunday by the city of Orlando as a victim of the Pulse shooting. Ferguson is owner of Owner of ALandChuck Travel, a gay travel agency in Sarasota, where Sotomayor worked as the national brand coordinator … Friends of Sotomayor expressed concerns throughout much of the day because they knew he had been at Pulse the previous night but did not know his condition or whereabouts. “He’s (his partner) probably received 1,000 messages from all over the planet,” Ferguson said. “The outpouring of sadness and condolences has just been overwhelming. “It’s a tribute to how — he was in his 30s — he accomplished so much. He was so talented … it’s heartbreaking this could be snuffed out.”

LUIS VIELMA: THEMEPARK WORKER WAS ‘TRUE FRIEND’ via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel – An attraction operator at Universal Orlando, Vielma always went above and beyond for the park’s guests — and his friends. “He was always a friend you could call,” said Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal. “He was always open and available.” Vielma, 22, posted on social media about going to Pulse the night he died, Boesch said … dozens of friends mourned his death on social media. The last publicly posted photo on his Facebook profile shows a group of young people posing in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom with the caption “True friends who become family.” Vielma held several roles at Universal, said Boesch, including running the former Disaster! attraction and, most recently, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, posted a message on Twitter about Vielma’s death … “Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal,” Rowling wrote. “He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying. #Orlando” Bill Davis, president and chief operating officer of Universal Orlando, said in a statement via social media that “we are deeply saddened over the loss of our Team Member. We are working to support his friends and colleagues here at Universal Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with Luis, his family, and all the victims of this tragedy.”

— “Groups offering to rescue pets affected by Orlando shooting” via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel

BILL NELSON SAYS HATE CALLS ARE POURING IN via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Nelson told the U.S. Senate that hate calls are pouring into his Orlando office about the Pulse nightclub massacre and Nelson implored that America has got to find a way to unite. Nelson, an Orlando resident who spent most of the past two days at the Orlando command center, said it didn’t start out that way. On Sunday all the calls to his Senate office were from Orlandoans, expressing grief and shock and looking for outlets to offer comfort. And that, he said is the spirit he sees in Orlando, seeking to both grieve and heal at the same time. “That’s been quite a contrast to the 95 percent of the hundreds and hundreds of calls that the Orlando office has received today,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of those calls have been hateful” … it has been inundated with more than 600 calls, “most not from Orlando,” full of hate, mostly toward Muslims, sometimes toward gun control advocates, occasionally toward gays. “What does that say about us as a nation? Will we in fact heal? What does it say about us as a nation deep inside?” Nelson wondered. “Where have we lost the teachings in almost all the major religions clearly in the holy scriptures of the Old Testament, clearly in the New Testament, and also in the Quran? And you’ll recognize these words if I say it in the Old English. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

ST. PETE TO BOOST PRIDE SECURITY, BUT WON’T BE DETERRED IN CELEBRATING THE LGBT COMMUNITY via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – “We’ll be increasing security and reaching out to other law enforcement agencies at the state and local level,” said St. Pete Police representative Yolanda Fernandez. “We’re also asking citizens — if you see something, say something.” Fernandez said specifics on security plans aren’t finalized yet, and while more details may emerge in the nearly two weeks before Florida’s largest Gay Pride celebration, the agency won’t be disclosing all of its security plans. “If [residents know,] the bad guys do, too,” Fernandez said. The agency plans to utilize as much as possible scheduling changes to minimize overtime, and if there is collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigations or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, those agencies would absorb their own costs. Any substantial increase in cost would likely only occur if there were an incident at the Pride event.

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FIERY DONALD TRUMP, SOBER HILLARY CLINTON AT ODDS OVER ORLANDO ATTACK via Julie Pace, Jill Colvin and Lisa Lerer of The Associated Press – Trump vowed to impose a broad ban on immigration from areas of the world with a history of terrorism and suggested some Muslims in the United States are turning a blind eye to unfolding plots, as he outlined an aggressive response to the deadly attack in Orlando. Clinton … was more measured in her own remarks, warning that demonizing all Muslims for the actions of a few would only benefit extremist groups. She pointedly blamed American partners in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — for not stopping terror funding emanating from their countries and called for tougher gun control legislation in the U.S., including outlawing assault weapons like one used by the Orlando shooter. “I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said. Though she drew implicit contrasts with Trump, she never mentioned him by name, saying “Today is not a day for politics.” Trump clearly disagreed, criticizing Clinton harshly and often. The two candidates’ dramatically different proposals — as well as their contrasting styles — underscored the clear choice Americans face in the November election. Democrat Clinton’s vision builds on President Barack Obama’s campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and expands on his gun control executive orders, while Republican Trump is calling for a drastically different national security posture. Though the Orlando shooter was born in the U.S., Trump continued to propose sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration rules as the cornerstone of his anti-terror plan. Clinton said such proposals would only make it more difficult for law enforcement to work with Muslim communities.

‘DEEPLY IMPACTED’ BY SHOOTING, MARCO RUBIO RECONSIDERS RUN FOR SENATE RE-ELECTION via Amy Sherman and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Rubio, who for months had said he will not seek reelection to the Senate for the term that expires in January, told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt … that he had “been deeply impacted by” the Orlando shooting and was reconsidering the leadership role he could have to target terror. “I think when it visits your home state, when it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country” … Rubio denied that he was reconsidering his future explicitly from “a political perspective,” but said “it most certainly has impacted my thinking in general, at least, about a lot of things … My family and I will be praying about all of this,” he added. “And we’ll see what I need to do next with my life with regard to how I can best serve.”

— “What will Marco Rubio do?” via Marc Caputo and Kevin Robillard of POLITICO

HARRY REID HITS MARCO RUBIO AFTER ORLANDO ATTACKS via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – Reid bluntly attacked Rubio for his votes on gun control legislation, suggesting that the Florida senator’s voting record is out of step with his constituents as Rubio mulls whether to run for reelection. The Senate minority leader said that Rubio’s votes against an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and barring people on a terrorism watch list from buying firearms could hurt his reelection chances in Florida, where 49 people were killed in an Orlando nightclub Sunday morning. Rubio said … he is considering where he can be “most useful” to the United States in the wake of the attacks in his state. “How can the junior senator from Florida — who all of a sudden is again interested in running for reelection — how can he speak of running for office again when he voted to let potential terrorists buy assault weapons and explosives? That is how he voted,” Reid said on the Senate floor. Rubio had “better reconsider his gun votes. He voted against background checks, assault weapons ban, against limiting the size of ammunition clips.”

EMAIL INSIGHTS: CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA CALLS ON NATION TO STAND UP TO RADICAL TERRORISM via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In an email to supporters … the lieutenant governor said called the shooting at an Orlando nightclub an act of terrorism, and called it a sober reminder that “terrorists will not think twice about coming after the United States … We must work as a nation to completely and wholly eradicate ISIS and the evil they stand for,” said Lopez-Cantera … “We as a nation must stand up to the radical terrorism that threatens our way of life, we as a nation must come together to have hope in a horrible time, and we as a nation must pray for Florida.” Lopez-Cantera told supporters he spent time in Orlando with Gov. Scott, and said the “sense of community and love we are seeing is proof that we are a resilient people.”

TODD WILCOX TO FOCUS ON NATIONAL SECURITY DURING STATEWIDE TOUR via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – In a statement, the Orlando Republican said campaign tour was part of a “previously scheduled series of events.” … “As we approach this historic election, we must examine the context of our current U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy within which our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are serving …The unspeakable act of terror in my hometown this weekend remains on the forefront of concern this week for all of us and my hope is that this previously scheduled series of events serves as an opportunity to have thoughtful dialogue with Veterans, GOP activists, community leaders, concerned Floridians and business owners about the impact our nation’s foreign policy has on our safety and security here at home.” Wilcox kicks off the statewide tour with stops in Tampa and Pensacola. On Thursday, he’ll attend a breakfast in Pensacola, before traveling to Tallahassee and Amelia Island. He’ll spend the final day of the tour in Jacksonville.

WILCOX URGES ACTION TO DEAL WITH ISIS via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – For Wilcox, the Orlando shooting hit close to home. He lives 15 miles away south from the nightclub where 49 people were killed, and 53 more were injured … “It was just gut wrenching to see what happened” … “Orlando represents the largest single terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 and the single largest mass casualty shooting,” said Wilcox during a stop in Fort Myers … “Whether it’s inspired or directed, it really doesn’t matter. The root cause is ISIS … We have to take this war to the enemy, and I really think we need to go after them,” he said. “We need to declare war on ISIS, and use every pillar of American power to destroy this enemy.” Wilcox has already put forth part several suggestions to combat ISIS. Following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, Wilcox outlines a plan to take action to eliminate ISIS. That proposal included leading a coalition of Middle Eastern countries to create a standing army of 200,000 conventional troops to “destroy and occupy ISIS controlled territory” in Syria and Iraq. It also called on the United States to provide command and control, intel, and support for the coalition’s efforts. Wilcox said the United States can use its cyber power to shut down ISIS’ “cancerous social media marketing machine,” and use the United States’ economic power to cut off revenue streams. But he also said allies in the Middle East need to step up and begin to “take back their religion.”

CORRINE BROWN, ALAN GRAYSON CALL FOR BAN OF ASSAULT WEAPONS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Brown, whose Jacksonville-based 5th Congressional District stretches to Orlando and includes the site of the Pulse massacre scene, said her office is in discussions with that of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, to work up a bill of their own to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons. Grayson’s office said he would work on writing his own bill to do so shortly after he returns from Orlando later this week. Grayson’s Orlando-based 9th Congressional District comes within a couple of miles of including the Pulse nightclub and is likely home to many of the victims. “Today I call on my colleagues in the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, to ban assault rifles permanently,” Grayson said in a statement.

KATHY CASTOR SAYS SHE’S WEARY OF HAVING MOMENTS OF SILENCE IN GUN TRAGEDIES WITHOUT ANY ACTION TO FOLLOW via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “I’m pretty tired of having moments of silence without action, and without a plan to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening again,” Castor told reporters at a news conference inside the Stetson University of Law building in Tampa. Castor began her remarks by saying this is just the beginning of what she said will be “an unbearable week” for the people in Orlando. “There is too much hateful dialogue in this country and I think we’ve got to do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again,” she said. Like most Democrats on Capitol Hill, Castor supports gun control legislation that hasn’t been able to break through in the Republican-led Congress, even after similar gun massacres in Newtown, Connecticut; San Bernardino, California; Tucson, Arizona; and Charleston, South Carolina in recent years. She mentioned support for a bill that remove the loophole that allows terrorists (or suspected terrorists) to purchase a firearm, and reviving the ban on assault weapons that the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried to pass in 2007. She later admitted it’s not certain that if those bills were already law whether it would have prevented Omar Mateen from going on his shooting spree.

CARLOS GIMENEZ CALLS RAQUEL REGALADO CAMPAIGN EMAIL ‘REPREHENSIBLE’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez said it found it reprehensible that Regalado, his opponent, used the shooting in Orlando — which left 49 people dead and 53 people injured — “as an opportunity to raise money for her campaign and a pretext to attack me … That is just wrong and undignified, and I call on her to retract that email and issue a public apology … With victims still yet to be identified and survivors recovering in hospitals, our thoughts should be with them – not on our political pursuits. Meanwhile, the people of Miami-Dade County, and I as their Mayor, will continue to find ways to respectfully support Orlando.” Regalado sent an email to supporters Monday afternoon calling for action following the shooting. In the email, Regalado said there needed to be an “open and meaningful dialogue on how to curb gun violence, and especially the access and use of semi-automatic weapons.” She also criticized Gimenez, saying he needed to “reinstate the special units he dismantled in 2014 and support our Miami-Dade County Police … One of the reasons I am running for mayor of Miami-Dade is because we need someone who will build up our police force, not tear it down,” she said the email, at the bottom of which was a button encouraging readers to support her campaign. Gimenez, a former firefighter and fire chief, said there is “a time to politic and a time to lead.”

GWEN GRAHAM: I WANT TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “I realize that my heart and my head are leading me toward running for governor, that that’s really what I should focus on after I finish my term in Congress,” Graham said … The one-term congresswoman from Tallahassee said she wants to return to the governor’s mansion where she spent her high school years while her father, Bob Graham, served eight years governing Florida, from 1979-87. Graham said she wanted to return Florida’s government to the kind her father ran. She is not seeking re-election to Congress — redistricting made her district overwhelmingly Republican — so her term in Congress ends in January. She stopped just short of announcing that she is actually running. She said she will finish her term in Congress first, and cautioned that anything can happen between now and then. “Life, you never know,” she said. But Graham made it clear that if nothing happens to change her mind, she surely wants the job.

MIAMI BEACH MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE IS ONE TO WATCH FOR FLORIDA’S 2018 GOVERNOR’S RACE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – [Bob] Buckhorn‘s biggest obstacle to the governor’s mansion may not be the economic fortunes of the Big Guava over the next couple of years or even the millions of campaign dollars already banked by his I-4 corridor neighbor … Adam Putnam. His biggest obstacle may be the mayor of a much smaller city more commonly associated with spoiled brat celebs captured on camera by TMZ than for spawning strong statewide candidates. Miami Beach Mayor Levine … and fellow leaders of this community at ground zero for rising sea levels have been earning international attention lately for their ambitious, $400 million campaign to prevent Miami Beach from becoming another Venice, Italy. It included building dozens of pumping stations, raising roads and sea walls, and upgrading the stormwater system — and raising residents’ stormwater fees by about $7 a month. Levine in many respects sounds like Buckhorn. They share pro-business and populist instincts. Both come from the more centrist Bill Clinton wing of the Democratic party, and are longtime supporters of the Clintons. But Levine happens to be close friends with the former president, and has traveled with him across the world. And where Buckhorn … has spent most of his career working in government and politics, Levine is a product of the private sector. Miami Beach does not have a strong mayor form of government, with a city manager running day-to-day operations and the mayor having just one of seven votes. But allies and critics alike tend to describe him as a strong mayor largely setting the agenda.

— “Ken Sukhia nabs Jeff Sessions endorsement in CD 2” via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

SHARON MERCHANT DECLINES SD 30 RACE, LEAVES RONALD BERMAN NO CHALLENGE IN GOP PRIMARY via Florida Politics – “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to run for the Senate this election cycle,” Merchant said in an email … “This is such a difficult decision. As much and I want to serve, family and business commitments simply must come first.” The Palm Beach County Republican, who served in the House during the 1990s, said not to count her out of running in the future and that when the seat comes back up in the 2018 cycle she will “strongly consider running.” The newly redrawn SD 30 isn’t particularly favorable for Republicans, especially during presidential election years when Democrats are more likely to make it to the polls.

DAVID RICHARDSON WILL CONTINUE RE-ELECTION BID, WON’T SEEK STATE SENATE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – State Rep. David Richardson … won’t jump in the race for a now-open state Senate seat representing coastal Miami-Dade County. In a statement … Richardson said he’s “humbled and honored by the many calls encouraging me to consider a run in the now open Senate District 38,” but he’s “committed more than ever to earn my re-election in (House District) 113 and continue to serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives.” The District 38 seat became open last week, after longtime Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis announced her political retirement. Richardson, a two-term state House member, praised Margolis for her service. While Richardson filed for Senate early last year, redistricting affected the boundaries of Miami-Dade’s various Senate districts. Richardson acknowledged that factored into his decision, saying: “The newly drawn SD38 is vastly different from the previous SD 35.”

$1.9 M RAISED SINCE FEBRUARY 1 IN CONTESTED MIAMI-DADE SENATE RACES via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Current Miami Republican Sens. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Anitere Flores raised almost $600,000 between them in May alone in their bids for re-election in newly redrawn districts … that’s not counting lucrative help that’s starting to pour in from an arm of the state party, which would like to keep as many Republicans in the Senate as possible. Because of redistricting, several Miami-Dade County seats are in play in November. Democrats see an opening to win potentially a few more seats in the Senate and narrow the Republican’s 26-14 majority. But despite fielding competitive candidates, Democrats are falling behind in the fundraising game … through May, Republican state Senate candidates together have raised three times as much as the Democrats across three of Miami-Dade’s four competitive races. That’s a valuable advantage because the cost to advertise on radio and TV in Miami is among the most expensive in the state. Meanwhile, the most recent dynamic in the District 40 contest isn’t clear yet … Rep. Frank Artiles continues to build up his war chest in District 40, but Democrats now have a primary to worry about in August. Artiles raised almost $135,000 in May and had $345,300 in cash on hand, as of May 31 … Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard … Relatively weak fundraising hauls earlier this spring prompted a primary challenger: former state representative and Miami-Dade School Board member Ana Rivas Logan …In Miami-Dade’s fourth competitive race — for District 38, a strongly Democratic district — not much money had been raised by the six Democrats who had declared as of May 31: Only $37,400 altogether. But expect that to change, since sitting Sen. Gwen Margolis dropped out last week.

–“Flores leads Andrew Korge in internal campaign poll” via the Miami Herald

— “Leslie Jean-Bart continues to lead HD 14 money race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at***

SUPREME COURT COULD REPRIMAND JUDGE OVER ‘UNDIGNIFIED CONDUCT’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A panel of the Judicial Qualifications Commission had recommended a public reprimand, mentoring and stress management classes after Circuit Judge John Patrick Contini was brought up on judicial conduct charges last year. The court issued an order to Contini … “to show cause, on or before July 5, why the recommended action should not be granted.” He was accused of sending a document on how to argue for lesser sentences to an assistant public defender without giving a copy to prosecutors. Contini himself is a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. When they sought to disqualify him from pending criminal cases because of an appearance of bias, he rejected the request and lashed out against them, making “disparaging, demeaning remarks” … Contini later admitted making an “improper communication,” and “exhibiting discourteous, impatient, undignified conduct.” He only challenged “the propriety of his ruling on the State’s disqualification motion, and the appropriate discipline.” Though he’s practiced law for 31 years, Contini was only elected judge in 2014 and on the bench since January 2015 … He was assigned felony matters and given a hefty docket of more than 1,000 cases. After the document incident, he brushed aside as “legally insufficient” a request to disqualify himself, the report says.

SHANNAN DUNAWAY SCHUESSLER PROMOTED TO TOP IN-HOUSE LOBBYIST FOR FDOT via Florida Politics – Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold tweeted Monday that he appointed Schuessler as Legislative Affairs Director. She has been FDOT’s deputy L.A. director since last year. “Great member of the team!” Boxold tweeted. Before joining the department, she was a legislative coordinator for Lewis, Longman & Walker, according to her LinkedIn page. She’s married to Pierce Schuessler, the Tallahassee-based aide to Sen. Tom Lee, the Tampa Republican who most recently served as the Senate’s budget chief. She’ll serve as “primary liaison to the Legislature, Cabinet members, and the Florida Transportation Commission (FTC) concerning policy matters; and overall coordination of department involvement in Legislative, Cabinet and Commission matters,” FDOT spokesman Dick Kane said. In a separate statement, Boxold said, “Shannan is a talented and dedicated member of the team, responsible for many of our success with the Legislature. In fact, her tenacity and commitment to getting the job done was directly responsible for securing approval of the department’s legislative package this year.”


Tajiana Ancora-Brown: Department of Revenue

Brian BallardWilliam TurbevilleWansley Walters, Ballard Partners: Housing Trust Group

Robert Beck, Adams St. Advocates: Aging True

Angela Dempsey, PooleMcKinley: Florida Power & Light Company

Christopher Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: PC Public Affairs; The Sabre Companies

Scott McCoy: Teenie Hutchison

Jerry Lee McDanielMonte Stevens III, Southern Strategy Group: Non-Secure Programs, Inc.; Appriss

Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: Florida Supportive Housing Coalition

Glenn Sutphin Jr.: Department of Veterans’ Affairs

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Attorney Ron Book, who serves as Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust Chair, will speak to young professionals at the new Overtime series, hosted by nextgen for Chapman Partnership. Overtime is a quarterly, distinguished speaker series featuring Miami’s top leaders in discussions about community issues and leadership opportunities. Event begins 6 p.m. at Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center Carnival Tower, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. It is free to all nextgen members; $20 in advance for guests, $35 at the door. To RSVP click here.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA  Condolences and solidarity are pouring in from around the globe after a gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando killing at least 50 in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, he recaps the events as they unfolded which first caught the attention of international media. Gomes talks with news director Jill Roberts for WQCS, the NPR station for the Treasure Coast who found herself camped outside the Fort Pierce apartment of Omar Mateen, the suspected shooter who was killed by police following his attack. Mateen and his family lived along the Treasure Coast. Gomes also talks with Bob Poe, former state Democratic Party Chair and candidate for Central Florida’s 10th Congressional District, about his decision to reveal he is HIV-positive. Poe, 61, said he was diagnosed with HIV 18 years ago but tells Gomes how he struggled to come to terms with his own fear and stigma with regard to the virus that causes AIDS.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Josh Aubuchon, Foyt Ralston, and Drew Piers.

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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