Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.15.16 – ‘This is my Orlando’

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.

THIS IS MY ORLANDO via Kelly Cohen, managing partner of the Orlando office of Southern Strategy Group

Seeing the coverage on TV versus being on the ground in Orlando is candidly a surreal experience. I still remain somewhat shocked when I see images from across the globe showing support for Orlando — the vigils, the monuments lit in rainbow colors, or when I read condolences or tweets from celebrities, prominent figures, citizens, and international communities all saying #PrayersforOrlando.

Is the Eiffel Tower really lit in a rainbow to honor us? Did 20,000 people gather in London chanting “Orlando, we have your back”? When I see it on TV or read about it in the national news, my brain tells me I must be confused, it must be somewhere else.

I feel stunned when I hear my city, my Orlando, being tied to the largest mass shooting in the U.S., ever. Wait, what? The deadliest shooting on American soil happened in my backyard.

Is this really happening? Is President Obama addressing the nation about my city? My community? I think there’s no way they’re talking about the Pulse I know — the Pulse I have been to many times dancing and laughing until I could dance and laugh no more. I think they must be confused, Pulse is only a few blocks from the backyard where I got married. Is that really possible?

I think to myself we love, respect and promote our LGBT and Hispanic communities, we pride ourselves on celebrating diversity and tolerance, there’s no way they could be subject to such a vicious attack.

Living through this is completely different. Everything happening here on the ground is my Orlando.

While we are deeply and profoundly hurt and heartbroken; while our eyes are swollen from the constant emotion and grief; while we literally feel the pain of the victims in our bones; while there may be small part of us that died inside when we lost those 49 beautiful souls and are haunted about the pain of those that we trapped inside or the families that lost so much — my Orlando remains unified, hopeful and focused on healing our community.

We have sprung into action doing anything and everything we can to help. We focus on the future. We give hugs to strangers, we bring supplies to people waiting in line to give blood, we huddle around our LGBT and Hispanic friends to help lift them up. And we thank our first responders, emergency caregivers and our leadership for their heroic actions.

Businesses and citizens are actively raising funds to help victim’s families, Pulse employees and others impacted. We are gathering, we are connecting, we are standing tall telling the world this tragedy will not define us. We will remain tolerant, diverse and joyful. This will be our finest hour. I could not be prouder. No one I know has let their grief inhibit them; instead it has motivated them to action.

This is my Orlando. A place where we love. A place where we still believe in Magic. A place where we unite. A place where we refuse to let darkness take over and only can see light. I love my home and the people in it — and I know together we will shine.

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DEEP RIFT BETWEEN RICK SCOTT AND PRESIDENT OBAMA LOOMS LARGER via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – As of late Tuesday, Scott was waiting for a reply to his request Monday to declare a state of emergency after Sunday’s massacre in Orlando. As the magnitude of the horror in Orlando became known, Obama reached out to “my good friend,” Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat, but Scott is still waiting to hear from the president. “No, he has not called. A staffer has called, but no, he has not called,” Scott said in a Fox & Friends interview Tuesday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Scott will be invited to the president’s arrival in Orlando on Thursday and that “hopefully” the two can talk. … Scott spoke by phone Monday evening with a senior adviser to Obama, Valerie Jarrett, about his request for aid. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said he was told it is “under review.”

ANDERSON COOPER GRILLS PAM BONDI ON WHETHER SHE’S A ‘HYPOCRITE’ ON GAYS via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Bondi‘s recent pledge in support of “our LGBT community” resulted in a live, on-air grilling from CNN anchor Cooper.”Do you really believe you’re a champion of the gay community?” Cooper asked during an interview in Orlando … Bondi announced Sunday following the Pulse nightclub shooting that “Anyone who attacks our LGBT community, anyone who attacks anyone in our state, will be gone after to the fullest extent of the law” … “I talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people here yesterday who are not fans of yours, and who said they thought you were being a hypocrite,” Cooper told Bondi. “You’ve basically gone after gay people, [you’ve said] in court that gay people, simply by fighting for marriage equality, were trying to do harm to the people of Florida,” Cooper said. “‘To induce public harm’ was the phrase I believe you used in court” … “When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put my hand on a bible and was sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Florida … That’s not a law, it was voted into our constitution by the voters of Florida. That’s what I was defending … I’ve never said I don’t like gay people,” Bondi said, raising her voice. “Do you worry about using language accusing gay people of trying to do harm to the people of Florida?” Cooper asked. “Doesn’t that send a message to some people who might have bad ideas in mind?” … “Anderson, I don’t believe gay people could do harm to the state of Florida,” Bondi said. “But you argued that in court,” Cooper responded.

MEDIA JOINTLY DEMAND RELEASE OF 911 CALLS via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Two dozen news agencies, including the Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel, have joined forces to demand the release of recordings of 911 callers frantically reporting a gunman on a deadly rampage at a gay nightclub just south of downtown Orlando … Omar Mateen‘s “cool and calm” exchange with a 911 dispatcher while he was carrying out the assault that left 49 dead and 53 injured is among the requested recordings. Mateen, 29, died in an exchange of gunfire with police. Citing an “ongoing investigation,” Orlando police have refused to release the tapes. “Even in critical and challenging times, transparency is important,” said a four-page letter to Orlando’s city attorney from media lawyer Rachel Fugate, of Thomas & LoCicero in Tampa. “It helps the citizens…have a better understanding of what transpired and try to come to grips with the horrific and unimaginable tragedy.” … “We’d prefer to release those tapes but we have to follow the law and the law is clear,” Orlando City Attorney Mayanne Downs said.

A NIGHT OF TERROR AT CLUB PULSE: ONE YOUNG WOMAN’S STORY via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – Patience Carter lay bleeding on the floor of the bathroom in club Pulse. She recalled looking into the stall next to her, and seeing bloody handprints on the wall and people draped over a toilet. Some were dead, others moaned in agony. She turned her head to see her best friend, lifeless. Then she heard the voice. “Where is it?” the man demanded when he heard a ringing cellphone. “Give it up.” She was safe now — reclining in a hospital chair, a white blanket draped over her lap and legs as she told her story Tuesday to a packed news conference at an Orlando hospital. Her words transported a rapt audience to the horrific moments of early Sunday, when a nightclub turned into a slaughterhouse. Carter, a 20-year-old Philadelphian, was visiting Florida for the first time, vacationing with her two friends. Her friends’ parents drove them to Pulse that evening after they saw it had five-star reviews on Google. When they walked in, they started chatting with others immediately. “We were just all having the night that we dreamed of,” she said.” It was the most beautiful bonding experience three girls could have on their first night on vacation.” At 2 a.m., just before the club was about to close, Carter tapped at her phone to order an Uber ride. “That’s when we started hearing the gunshots,” she said. Maybe, she thought, it was something the DJ was playing to get people to leave. “I was so confused” … And then, the unthinkable: The shooter entered the bathroom and sprayed bullets. Blood was everywhere. “At that point, we knew this wasn’t a game. This was very real. It was shock; we just went from having the time of our lives to the worst time of our lives in a matter of minutes.” Carter was shot in the leg, and tried to wedge herself into the next stall. She heard the shooter make a phone call to 911. He said he wanted America to stop bombing his country … “I really don’t think I’m going to get out of there,” she thought. “I made peace with God. Just please take me, I don’t want any more. I was just begging God to take the soul out my body.” But then, she was free. A SWAT team member picked her up and dragged her by the arms through the grass. Akyra, her friend, didn’t make it. She had just turned 18.

‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL:’ DRS. TELL HOW A QUIET NIGHT IN THEIR ORLANDO TRAUMA CENTER SUDDENLY TURNED GHASTLY via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times – The waiting room was empty … Unusual for the overnight shift, Dr. Kate Bondani thought to herself as she headed to the trauma bay at Orlando Regional Medical Center.Then a police car came screaming down Orange Avenue. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so quiet, thought Bondani. Dr. C.P. Smith, the on-call trauma surgeon, was in the call room, getting ready to close his eyes. He had already done four operations and admitted some 20 patients. But just as soon as he turned off the light, his phone rang. It was a resident trainee in the emergency room. “Come now.” There had been a shooting nearby, the resident said. Multiple victims were expected. In the emergency room, the team was already scrambling with victims from the Pulse nightclub, just four blocks away. Paramedics usually give them a heads up when multiple patients are coming. But tonight they had no warning. The first victim showed up within minutes — a man who needed surgery, but was alert. For a minute, a feeling of relief came over Bondani, one of several doctors who described the scene for the first time at a news conference Tuesday. Maybe the rest of the injuries wouldn’t be that bad, she thought. The next three people through the doors were in critical condition, and the patients kept coming after that. “It was like, another patient is here, another patient is here, another patient is here,” Bondani recalled. They came in ambulances, police cars, truck beds, so many they lined the hallway.

BUDDY DYER ANNOUNCES ONEORLANDO FUND TO HELP CITY AFTER SHOOTING via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The fund will support nonprofits helping victims and families, the LGBTQ, Hispanic, faith and other affected communities, finding the underlying causes of the shooting and any other needs, according to an email from Dyer …  So far, several huge donations have already bolstered the fund: The Walt Disney Co. donated $1 million, Darden Restaurants donated $500,000, The Orlando Magic donated $100,000, Jet Blue donated $100,000, and Mears donated $50,000. Also, donations from Disney employees will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Disney Employee Matching Gifts … The Central Florida Foundation will handle the distribution of funds.

OMAR MATEEN’S WIFE TRIED TO TALK HIM OUT OF ORLANDO ATTACK, SOURCES SAY via Pete Williams, Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst and Ken Dilanian of NBC News – Noor Zahi Salmantold the FBI she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said. She told the FBI that she once drove him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out. Mateen opened fire at Pulse early Sunday, leaving 49 dead and 53 injured. Twenty-seven victims remained hospitalized … Six were in critical condition … the death toll was still at risk of rising because one or two of those patients were “profoundly ill.” Authorities are considering filing criminal charges against Noor for failing to tell them what she knew before the brutal attack, law enforcement officials say, but no decision has been made. She is cooperating with investigators, several officials say.

COMPLAINTS, INVESTIGATIONS NOT ENOUGH FOR ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB SHOOTER TO LOSE HIS SECURITY JOB via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times – Long before Omar Mateen became the deadliest shooter in U.S. history, a former co-worker said he complained to supervisors about Mateen’s behavior, which included throwing things and denigrating women and minorities. Five years later, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office requested that Mateen’s employer, G4S Secure Solutions USA, permanently take him off a courthouse guard rotation after Mateen made what Sheriff Ken J. Mascara called “inflammatory comments.” The company immediately granted that request. Mascara said his department then alerted federal law enforcement, leading to an FBI investigation into Mateen that was deemed inconclusive. Still, G4S, a company with its own troubled history, allowed Mateen to keep working. In a statement released one day after authorities say Mateen killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, company officials denied they were ever told that Mateen lashed out physically and verbally. They said that because the FBI’s investigation into Mateen was closed in 2013, there was no need to take further action.

CLASSIFIED BRIEFING ON ORLANDO SHOOTING TURNS INTO GUN DEBATE via John Bresnahan of POLITICO – While little information that hadn’t been already reported in the media was released during the hourlong session, the officials did confirm that gunman Omar Mateen visited Pulse nightclub … and Walt Disney World in the weeks before the shooting, which unnerved some lawmakers. David Jolly said he left the closed-door session because it “devolved into politics” …”The first question was about gun control,” Jolly told reporters … “We will have an opportunity to arrive together at what the right policy is as a country … Shame on members of Congress who use a tragedy in Orlando to play politics. And that’s on both sides of the aisle. And shame on presidential candidates who do the same thing.” Other lawmakers, however, downplayed the idea of a partisan squabble during the meeting. FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen told the members about what federal investigators had uncovered so far about Mateen … Officials will give a similar briefing for the Senate.

LOCAL LAWMAKERS TO CALL FOR SPECIAL SESSION TO PREVENT SHOOTINGS via Gary Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – State Sen. Darren Soto … developed a plan to help prevent mass shootings like the Sunday morning massacre at Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando. Specifics on the proposal won’t be released until a Wednesday news conference, but he’ll be asking legislative leaders to call a special session to put it in place. “I’ve already been talking about a lot of the things that will be in the proposal,” Soto said. Also attending will be Sen. Geraldine Thompson, Rep. John Cortes and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. Although details of the proposal aren’t out yet, it could fall on deaf ears. Senate President Andy Gardiner … said he’s unwilling to call a special session for anything that doesn’t have substantial support in the Senate on an issue that is time-sensitive. He also suspects the proposal is a political stunt by Soto and Thompson, who are running for Congress this year.

MY TAKE: DARREN SOTO STANDS WITH THE NRA via Florida Politics – Scoring political points in the immediate aftermath of tragedy is nothing new … thanks to Soto, we already have one of our most egregious examples. Soto, who is currently running for Congress … will announce a thus-unspecified “tactical proposal to prevent future tragedies” and call for a special legislative session. Legislative leaders immediately slammed Soto’s call for a special session … Rather than working with community groups and leaders who have been at the forefront of gun control efforts in Florida, Soto has instead, seriously undermined them … In the wake of the Orlando shooting, Soto seems to be painting himself as a leader on gun control. In fact, the opposite is true. Throughout his ten-year-career in the Florida Legislature, Soto has consistently sided with the gun lobby — on everything from “Stand Your Ground” to “Docs vs. Glocks” and more. Soto even received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association as a state Representative and as a Senator. Make no mistake — politicians like Soto have helped create a toxic environment in which the gun lobby reigns supreme in our state. For 10 years, he’s sided with the NRA in Tallahassee. It’s worth asking: do we really expect he’d do anything different in D.C.?

REPORTER RETURNS TO COVER MASSACRE AT SITE OF COLLEGE JOB via Josh Replogle of The Associated Press – The call to my south Florida home asking me to grab my camera gear and hit the road came at 3 a.m. Sunday. I drove up the turnpike with tears rolling down my cheeks, traveling to cover an unspeakable tragedy unfolding in a place that helped me become the man I am today. Years ago, to help put myself through college, I was a straight man working at a gay dance club. That club was Pulse. As a cash-strapped college student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, I was more than willing to try something outside the box to earn good money. Taking that job selling shots of alcohol was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The gay community virtually adopted me and eased my college expenses with its generosity. It feels surreal to now be a member of the news media covering the massacre at Pulse. I’ve focused my camera on countless murder scenes and tragic stories, and I rarely get emotional. I use my lens to distance me and keep work separate from real life. But Pulse was a big part of my personal life, and it remains a big part of me eight years later. It shaped me. It made me a better person because it dissolved my ignorance of a community fighting for its rights. It showed me that community was full of people with big hearts who took care of each other and protected each other, too often when their own families had rejected them. That was the spirit of Pulse and of the gay community in Orlando — welcoming to everyone, even a straight man, a “breeder” like me.

MORE HORRIBLE NEWS FROM ORLANDO — ALLIGATOR ATTACKS 2-YEAR-OLD BOY AT DISNEY WORLD, RECOVERY EFFORT CONTINUES via Christal Hayes of the Orlando Sentinel — A 2-year-old boy who was attacked and dragged into the water by an alligator on the shores of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night was still missing early Wednesday morning. A press conference with Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings is scheduled for 6:25 a.m. Wednesday. Demings said Tuesday that rescue personnel had been actively looking for the child in the Seven Seas Lagoon for hours in a search and recovery effort but had not found him. They hoped to find him before daylight, he said. A dive team with sonar equipment was on standby — just part of a 50-person rescue team on the scene.

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HILLARY CLINTON HAS 12 POINT EDGE OVER DONALD TRUMP IN BLOOMBERG NATIONAL POLL via John McCormick of Bloomberg Politics – A new Bloomberg Politics national poll shows Clinton leading Trump 49 percent to 37 percent among likely voters in November’s election, with 55 percent of those polled saying they could never vote for the real-estate developer and TV personality. Most national polls in late May and early June showed a closer race, but they were taken before criticism intensified of Trump’s charge that a U.S. judge overseeing fraud cases against Trump University is biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Fifty-five percent of likely voters in the new poll said they were very bothered by those comments. One bit of positive news for Trump in the results is that he narrowly edges out Clinton, 45 percent to 41 percent, when those surveyed were asked which candidate they would have more confidence in if a similar attack to the one in Florida took place a year from now. The violence left 49 victims dead, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Fifty percent to 45 percent, Trump is also viewed as stronger among likely voters in combating terrorist threats at home and abroad.

CLC TO CFO? RON DESANTIS TO A.G.? ITS ALL IN PLAY IF MARCO RUBIO RUNS FOR RE-ELECTION via Florida Politics – Two … sources who have raised considerable money for both Rubio’s presidential bid and Lopez-Cantera’s U.S. Senate campaign and/or super PAC tell that were CLC to withdraw from the race in time for Rubio to qualify for re-election, there would be considerable support for Lopez-Cantera were he to run in 2018 for the statewide post of Chief Financial Officer. … With CLC taken care of, what about the other candidates who have been running under the premise Rubio would not seek re-election? … While some have speculated he would simply run again for his congressional seat, the rumor du jour is that if Rubio runs for re-election, Ron DeSantis will drop out and run for Florida Attorney General in 2018.

TODD WILCOX DEBUTS FIRST AD, TAKES AIM AT ISLAMIC STATE via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – The 35-second web spot, titled “Eliminating ISIS,” features his views on how to combat the terrorist group. “If we don’t take the fight to ISIS now, we’ll be fighting them here at home,” Wilcox, a former Special Forces commander, says in the ad. “We should use every pillar of American power to destroy ISIS — diplomacy to create an Arab coalition, Special Operations Forces to lead, equip, train and advise them and NATO to provide close air support, intelligence and logistics … ISIS can be defeated, but it requires American leadership and a real strategy to win.”

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Wilcox will be in Pensacola, Tallahassee and Amelia Island.

— “Francis Rooney rolls out endorsements from SWFL community leaders” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

THE LATEST MUSICAL CHAIRS IN PLAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA’S LEGISLATIVE RACES via Florida Politics – Andrew Korge may jump into the Senate District 40 race … would set up a three-way Democratic primary between Korge, Dwight Bullard, and Ana Rivas Logan. Korge is currently running in Senate District 39 and does not face a primary challenge. He is gearing up for a tough general election battle against Republican Sen. Anitere Flores …  A jump into nearby Senate District 38 would pit him against five other Democrats — Anis BlemurPhillip BrutusDaphne CampbellDon Festge and Jason Pizzo. Sen. Gwen Margolis dropped her re-election bid and announced she was retiring. His entry into the Senate District 38 … May put pressure on Pizzo to get out of the race or move to Senate District 39 to face off against Flores. If Korge moves districts, Flores would only face Sheila Lucas George, a no party affiliation candidate, come November. One question that would remain is whether Annette Taddeo would end her congressional bid and jump into the Senate District 39 race. The anticipated moves are just the latest string of changes … Rep. Irv Slosberg dropped his re-election bid and announced he was planning to run for state Senate in SD 29. He’ll face Rep. Kevin Rader, who announced last week he was running for Senate instead of re-election. Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, meanwhile, will run is House District 81. Rader currently holds that seat.

NEW POLL SHOWS DARRYL ROUSON WELL AHEAD OF BETTY REED AND ED NARAIN IN SD 19 CONTEST via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – St. Pete Polls shows Rouson leading in the three-way race with 23 percent support … Reed is in second place with 18 percent, and current House District 61 Representative Narain is at 11 percent. There is one caveat to the poll, says St. Pete Polls’ Matt Florell. “The geographical split is interesting in Senate District 19, with 25 percent of the population residing in Pinellas County and 75 percent in Hillsborough County,” Florell said. “But when it comes to the active Democratic primary voting population, Pinellas County jumps to a 41 percent share. Our poll had 43 percent of the respondents from Pinellas County, so it is a fairly accurate representation of who will vote in this primary race.” Still, such a split may favor Rouson, who lives in St. Petersburg. Rouson is term-limited out of his House District 70 seat this fall (which includes parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties in addition to Pinellas).

DAVE TROTTER DROPS DEMOCRATIC BID FOR ERIC EISNAUGLE’S HD 44 SEAT via Florida Politics – Trotter has dropped his bid for House District 44 with an open letter dated Monday to Florida Democratic Party Chair Alison Tant. In the letter, Trotter, a Canadian resident, urged the party to put up another candidate for the seat – and every other legislative race – “regardless of the likelihood of winning … Florida Democrats need to give all Floridians an option to vote against the policies supported by Florida Republicans,” he wrote. “Whether we win or lose, we need to give them a voice. Those who live in House District 44 are being deprived of that opportunity to vote against the degenerative and parochial views espoused by Florida Republicans … With this being the case, we are not doing our civic duty as a party … As of right now, I do not plan on paying the filing fee to run for the Florida House, Why? Because I will probably not be returning to Orlando in the next few months to seek the office that I am running for, and I personally cannot make the investment (with both my time and money) to make a serious run for the seat.”

BEV KILMER MAY NOT MEET RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS via Carol Kent Wyatt of the Washington County News/Holmes County Times-Advertiser – Former Representative Bev Kilmer will face incumbent Brad Drake in the Aug. 30 primary for a chance to vie against non-party affiliate candidate Jamey Westbrook for the District 5 seat … But it seems Kilmer may not meet residency requirements set forth by the state. The Florida Constitution mandates that a legislator be resident of the district from which elected and, as well as a Florida resident for two years before election. According to voting records, Kilmer voted in Jackson County in January, August, and November 2012 but voted in Collin County, Texas in March, May and November 2014. Kilmer first registered to vote in Jackson County in 2012, a registration which has remained continuously open since 2012. The Collin County, Texas Elections Office continued to list Kilmer on voter rolls until July 2015, and Jackson County election records show she voted in Florida’s March Presidential Preference election. Calculating on the date her Texas voter registration was canceled, Kilmer would not be eligible to run for Florida Legislature until July 2017.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: State Rep. MaryLynn Magar hosts a fundraiser in support of her re-election effort to House District 82. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at twisted tuna, 4290 Southeast Salerno Road in Stuart.

SAVE THE DATE: State Rep. MaryLynn Magar will hold a fundraiser Thursday, June 16, for her reelection effort in House District 82. Event begins 5 p.m. at the Beer industry of Florida offices, 110 South Monroe St. in Tallahassee. Also, state Rep. Holly Raschein will hold a fundraiser for her re-election effort in House District 120. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the home of Al and Margaret Gonzalez, 21180 SW. 36th St. in Homestead.

— “Ramon Alexander tops $150K in HD 8 fundraising, looks to take momentum into summer” via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

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PATRICK MURPHY INTRODUCES BILL TO PROVIDE RESOURCES TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO FILE THE SPREAD OF ZIKA via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Murphy has introduced the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act that would provide resources to state and local governments to help fight the spread of the Zika virus. The bill reauthorizes a lapsed 2003 mosquito-control program and provides $130 million each year for mosquito surveillance efforts. It also reauthorizes epidemiology laboratory capacity grants to support the work of state and local health departments to treat infectious diseases like Zika. The bill is a House companion to legislation introduced in the Senate last week by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and Maine Independent Angus King.

FLORIDA HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE ON MEDICAL POT — LONG ON JARGON, SHORT ON NEW INFO via Keith Morelli of Florida Politics – An update on the approaching availability of medical marijuana was rife with technical and legal language, but really broke no new ground other than to further emphasize the strictness of rules and regulations regarding the use of pot by patients with various medical problems. The main thrust delivered by Christan Bax, director of the Office of Compassionate Use, was that the transition to cannabis from contraband to a legitimate medical treatment is imminent. “This is the beginning of an ongoing conversation between the department, physicians, patients and other stakeholders,” he said during an informational webinar hosted by the DOH Tuesday afternoon. “There will be a great deal of specific information for patients and physicians, and we’re moving forward with this. “You can expect further information from the department,” he said. “The biggest department focus now is on communication,” he said. “We will do our absolute best to update you and to update you quickly over the summer. This will progress from a standstill — which is what it is now — to a fully functional thing … in a matter of months.”


Brian BallardWilliam Turbeville, Wansley Walters, Ballard Partners: Housing Trust Group

Thomas DeRita Jr., Jordan Connors Group: Robert Bench

Allyce HeflinJerry Lee McDaniel, Southern Strategy Group: Sogeti USA; Appriss, Inc

SAD – EX-MAILMAN DOUG HUGHES REPORTS TO MIAMI PRISON TO DO HARDER TIME THAN HE EXPECTED FOR GYROCOPTER PROTEST via Ben Montgomery of the Tampa Bay Times – For his brash act of telling the United States government that it has been corrupted by the influence of big money in elections, albeit by landing his gyrocopter on the green grass in front of the U.S. Capitol building, Hughes turned himself in to the Federal Detention Center in Miami, where he’ll serve four months of hard time. The former mailman from Ruskin maintained that he was worried about life in prison, but endured zero regrets. “I was prepared to die in the flight,” he said, “so I’ve already skipped the death sentence.” After pleading guilty to operating an aircraft without a pilot’s license, he expected to serve his time in a low-security joint. But the prison in Miami is categorized as “administrative,” and according to the bureau of prisons, such facilities are for “the detention of pretrial offenders; the treatment of inmates with serious or chronic medical problems; or the containment of extremely dangerous, violent or escape-prone inmates.” It’s that last part that worries Hughes, 62. “I don’t feel that the judge was unfair,” he said. “I do feel that the Bureau of Prisons sent me to the harshest prison they could send me to.”

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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