Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn for 6.9.16 – Answering the questions

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.


In the months leading up to an election, candidates are asked to fill out dozens of questionnaires detailing their positions. The surveys — which come from organizations like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Agriculture Coalition — can act as an educational tool for the candidates, and in many cases are a key part of the vetting process for organizations across the state.

“I think they’re a very good thing,” said Steve Vancore, a Democratic political consultant. “I know for most, it’s aggravating and annoying. But constituency groups deserve to be represented.”

Florida Politics reviewed more than a half dozen questionnaires sent to candidates this election cycle. Some asked questions about a candidate’s stance on public education, gun rights and abortion. Others tried to gauge the candidate’s knowledge on a particular issue, like agriculture and apprenticeships.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 61 question survey was one that several political insiders pointed to when asked for examples of a well-done questionnaire. The survey — which is sent to first-time candidates in January — asks candidates questions that fit within the Chamber’s Six Pillars, the framework used to accomplish the organization’s mission.

“We view it as part of the education of the candidate,” said Marian Johnson, the executive director of the Florida Chamber Political Institute.

But that education may mean candidates have answer a few questions more likely to be on a dating website or an application for a car loan. The Florida Credit Union Association, for example, wants to know if a candidate is “a member of a credit union.”

And before the Florida Agriculture Coalition has this query for candidates before it dives into questions about agriculture: “Who is the political figure — historical or contemporary — that you admire most? Why?”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

DAYS UNTIL: Federal candidate qualifying closes – 15; State candidate qualifying closes – 15; Domestic absentee ballots go out in primary – 47; Early voting begins in primaries – 72; Primary elections – 81; Deadline to register to vote in Primary Election – 53; Deadline to register to vote in General Election – 124; Absentees sent in General Election – 117; Early voting begins in General Election — 142; General Election – 152.

LENNY CURRY: ‘MARCO RUBIO SHOULD RUN FOR RE-ELECTION’ via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – One compelling reason, said Curry, is personal for the mayor. Rubio “stood by some of Jacksonville’s most vulnerable people” in his recent actions on behalf of the residents of Eureka Garden. And, notes Curry, Rubio took action on behalf of Eureka Garden residents “when running for president,” doing the “right thing by Jacksonville,” and not trying to exploit it for a “press hit” … “He’s consistent,” Curry said of Rubio, and a “trusted conservative,” someone Curry has known for seven years and counting. “I plan on letting him know we need him in the Senate,” Curry continued. “I’m going to call him and tell him. He should run; there’s no question in my mind.” Urging Rubio to run is no reflection on the other candidates in the GOP field, whom Curry said he believes are “qualified” and could be successful in the Senate. But the realpolitik is real.

CARLOS BERUFF DOESN’T THINK HIS GOP SENATE RIVALS ARE ‘WORTH DEBATING’ via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Beruff … skipped what was supposed to be the first political forum featuring all five Republican candidates running to replace Marco Rubio … He told a Sarasota TV station the next day that he never intended to show up. “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.” Except the event organizer said Beruff’s campaign had confirmed its attendance back in April. “‘You already committed to me — in April. And I know you committed to me first,'” Margi Helschien, president of America First, said she told a Beruff staffer when he told her last Tuesday that the candidate had a scheduling conflict. The staffer didn’t tell her what the conflict was — only that it was a “private” matter (but not one involving his family, according to Helschien). Asked by ABC 7 if he planned to debate his opponents at some point, Beruff suggested none of them — [ToddWilcox, Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly — were good enough to face him. “Is it important for you to debate your Republican challengers?” reporter Alan Cohn asked. “When there’s somebody worth debating,” Beruff responded. “At this point, I don’t think there is any.” He dismissed Lopez-Cantera, Jolly and DeSantis as “true career politicians.”

ZIKA MAY INFECT SENATE RACE AS MONEY TO FIGHT VIRUS LAGS via Steven Dennis of Bloomberg — Republicans running to fill Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat bragged at a dinner in Boca Raton, Florida, last week about opposing red-light traffic cameras and trying to impeach the Internal Revenue Service commissioner. The one thing they didn’t mention was the Zika virus, which could loom large in the November election. Florida, the ultimate swing state in the race to determine control of the White House and Senate, is on the front lines of the mosquito-borne virus, which has swept through South America and the Caribbean, leaving a trail of birth defects.  Zika may still be on the fringes of the state’s politics, but it could become the sleeper issue of the election. Officials waging war against the virus are already running short of money, even on the edge of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. “You come here because you are safe,” said Terry Torrens, who is in charge of mosquito control in Florida’s Osceola County, which borders Walt Disney World and has appealed for $900,000 to cover spray trucks, backpacks and personnel. “I need more staff and I need more resources.” Officials throughout Florida are trying to stave off Zika before it can scare away some of the 105 million people who visit the state each year. But additional funding has been held up by a dispute within the Republican-led Congress.

PAM BONDI’S $25,000 DONALD TRUMP CHECK DRAWS ETHICS AND BAR COMPLAINTS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Bondi’s political difficulties deepened when a Massachusetts lawyer filed three separate formal complaints, claiming that her acceptance of a $25,000 check from Trump violate the state ethics code, the election laws and the Florida Bar’s rules of professional conduct for attorneys. All three complaints cite Bondi’s solicitation of the donation at a time when her office was reviewing one or more consumer complaints against Trump University, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s now-defunct real estate academy. The complaints were filed by J. Whitfield Larrabee III, a Brookline, Massachusetts lawyer whose website describes him as “a trial lawyer working to hold powerful corporations and wealthy insurance companies accountable to ordinary people.” Larrabee’s ethics complaint does not accuse Bondi of violating a specific statute. It says the complaint “is for ethical violations related to her solicitation of campaign contributions from Donald Trump and her acceptance of a $25,000 campaign contribution from a Trump-related charitable foundation at a time when her office was considering joining an investigation of the New York attorney general of Trump University and related entities.”

BILL MCCOLLUM SAYS TRUMP UNIVERSITY CONCERNS NEVER REACHED HIM via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “I never heard any complaints coming to me personally through my staff or otherwise at the time I was in office,” McCollum, who served from January 2007 through January 2011, told the Tampa Bay Times. McCollum said such complaints would have fallen to the economic crimes unit to look into and that it never reached him. “Without knowing anything more, it’s unfair for me to speculate,” he said when asked if the allegations of fraud concerned him. In one internal exchange, an official in McCollum’s economic crimes unit was asked about Trump University. “Never heard of it,” the official wrote to a colleague, adding, “(and glad I didn’t go there).”

BONDI’S CHIEF OF STAFF LEAVES FOR PRIVATE SECTOR via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Chief Deputy Attorney General Tyler Cathey is leaving Bondi‘s office for the private sector … A Bondi spokesman says Cathey’s job change was “decided in early April.” He declined to name the firm in Tampa …  Cathey also served as chief of staff. He’s been with Bondi for two and half years. “Serving her and the state of Florida in this capacity has been an honor … General Bondi has provided steadfast leadership over the entire agency, never wavering from the oath she took to defend our state constitution. It was a privilege to help lead her administration.” Now, Deputy Attorney General Trish Conners is acting chief deputy and General Counsel Kent Perez is acting chief of staff.

— “A formal complaint — Attorney General Pam Bondi scammed me” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

— “Bondi tries to defend herself in Trump case … and fails” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

RICK SCOTT’S POLITICAL COMMITTEE HAS $12.5 M IN THE BANK via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – … a huge war chest for a governor unable to run for re-election due to term limits. Scott is widely considered a likely 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate, and those rumors have only been fanned by the fact that term limits have not slowed his political activity. In May, Scott’s political committee — Let’s Get to Work — raised $145,000 and spent just under $60,000 on things like fundraising and political consulting. One of his newest additions is Cavalry Strategies, LLC., a firm started by Melissa Stone, who served as campaign manager for Scott’s 2014 re-election bid and his chief of staff from late 2014 until March of this year. Let’s Get to Work paid the firm $24,000 in May.

— “Scott to recruit businesses in Louisiana” via the Associated Press

AFTER 9 YEARS SENDING PRAYERS TO JERUSALEM, CHARLIE CRIST’S PAPERWORK MISSING THIS HURRICANE SEASON via Ariana Figueroa of the Tampa Bay Times – For centuries, visitors to Jerusalem’s Western Wall have stuck prayer-filled notes into the crevices of one of Judaism’s holiest sites. In 2007, then-Gov. Crist did the same: “Dear God … please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie.” No hurricanes made landfall in Florida that year. Over the next nine years, Crist had a prayer note delivered to the Western Wall before each hurricane season. And for nine years, hurricanes stayed away from Florida. But this year Florida might have a problem: Crist hasn’t filed the paperwork for the 2016 hurricane season. The Congressional candidate said he has been unable to send his annual request for divine intervention to the Old City. This week, Florida was drenched by Tropical Storm Colin. Coincidence? Ominous warning? Just another June in Florida? Crist doesn’t see any link between the tropical storm and this year’s missing request. Of course, he’s never claimed credit for keeping hurricanes at bay. “I give that to God,” he told the newspaper in 2009. “But it’s nice.”

JACK LATVALA: RUN FOR RE-ELECTION, DAVID JOLLY, AND BEAT CRIST via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Latvala has become a big fan of Jolly — He, [KathleenPeters, and a bunch of other prominent Pinellas Republicans are hosting a fundraiser for Jolly’s Senate campaign in Clearwater — and he’s adding his voice to those urging Jolly to for another term in the U.S. House rather than the Senate. “He has immersed himself in Pinellas County,” Latvala said. “He has been an outstanding congressman in the mold of Bill Young.” Latvala is also convinced Jolly can beat likely Democratic nominee Crist, even with the district re-drawn to heavily favor a Democrat. The veteran political consultant has paid for the polling that shows that, he said. “Multiple polls, actually, because we didn’t believe it the first time,” Latvala said. Trump actually narrowly leads in some Pinellas polling, he said, and could be a big help to Jolly. “There are people that don’t normally vote – people in places like Lealman, places like Pinellas Park, that are whipped up by Donald Trump, and those are people who will vote for David Jolly over Crist. The main criteria, Latvala said, is who will do the most good for Pinellas County. “As he moved up the ladder, what has Charlie Crist ever really done for Pinellas County?”

AFTER SHAKEUP, ANNETTE TADDEO HIRES NEW FINANCE DIRECTOR via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The new finance director is Erin Jarbo, according to Taddeo’s new campaign manager, James Stretch. Jarbo last worked in the same job for Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state senator who won a Democratic congressional primary in April. A new communications director hasn’t been hired yet, but Taddeo said it will be Gricel Gonzalez, a former local Univision reporter who handled Spanish-language media for Taddeo in 2014, when she was Charlie Crist‘s running mate for Florida governor.

ROB BRADLEY POLITICAL COMMITTEE, CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT COMBINE FOR $83K MAY via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Bradley’s Senate District 7 includes Clay, Alachua and Bradford counties. He faces no opposition in the 2016 election. The real action was on the political committee side, where “Working for Florida’s Families” raised $76,000, the bulk of it from three donors. The “Florida Jobs PAC,” an adjunct of the Florida Chamber, donated $30,000 to Bradley’s PAC. Disney Worldwide Services ponied up $25,000. And Fidelity National Financial gave Bradley’s PAC $10,000. Bradley’s PAC, in total, has raised $549,525 and has just over $334,000 cash on hand. Bradley’s campaign account raised $7,500 in new money in May, $5,500 coming from the insurance industry to Bradley, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee. In May, Bradley spent $15,712,69, the bulk of it on direct mail and advertising.

MORE REDISTRICTING DRAMA: JOSEPH ABRUZZO, KEVIN RADER SWAP RACES via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Sen. Abruzzo and state Rep. Rader… are switching races less than three weeks before Florida’s candidate qualifying deadline. Abruzzo, a senator since 2012, announced today that he’s scrapping his campaign for the newly drawn District 29 Senate seat and will instead run for the House District 81 seat held by Rader. Rader announced that he will abandon his bid for a third House term in District 81 and will instead run in Senate District 29, which includes Boca Raton and its western suburbs, Wellington and Belle Glade. The maneuver comes 16 days before Florida’s June 24 deadline for candidates to submit paperwork and pay filing fees to secure their places on the 2016 ballot.

MARIA SACHS WON’T RUN FOR RE-ELECTION via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Sachs, a Delray Beach Democrat and lawyer, said she has formed a nonprofit organization called the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and plans to focus her attention on this work. “I have the opportunity to do this, and I know I cannot serve two masters,” Sachs said. “This is important work. And I know what it takes to run a good campaign.” Sen. Joe Abruzzo said he was swapping districts with Rep. Kevin Rader with each man planning to file for the other’s seat by the June 24 end of candidate qualifying. Sachs said that development, announced just hours before she announced her decision, didn’t change her mind. But she acknowledged having done polling on her re-election chances and added, “I know I had a good chance of winning … But I had planned to serve only two more years. This would mean running again this year and you know, I think 10 years is enough,” she said.

RIVAL CALLED ‘HAITIAN’ WANTS DEMOCRATIC ACTION AGAINST STATE SEN. GWEN MARGOLIS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – One of the rivals whom Margolis referred to as “Haitian” earlier this week said all five of Margolis’ opponents should unite to denounce her “ugly rant.” Former state Rep. Phillip Brutus also urged rallies to protest Margolis, who apparently called her opponents “three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer.” He further asked the city of North Miami to consider removing Margolis’ name from a local community center. Brutus wants Margolis to be denounced by Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The Miami-Dade County Democratic Party’s executive director has asked for Margolis to apologize.

ANITERE FLORES LEADS SENATE PACK IN LATEST FUNDRAISING via Florida Politics – She raised more than $250,000 last month between her campaign and political committee. “I am humbled and overwhelmed by the continued support our campaign has received, not only door-to-door in the community, but also by financial support within the region and our district,” Flores said. “Every dollar raised equates to direct voter contact and increasing our ability to get out our message and meeting our goals for our campaign. We are fighting for the future of our community, and I am grateful for the amazing support we have received.” Flores’ campaign raised the bulk of the money, with $153,000 in contributions last month compared to $100,000 for her committee, Floridians for Strong Leadership. The committee now sits with $257,850 on hand after $23,039 in expenditures last month.

RENÉ GARCIA: DONALD TRUMP’S STATEMENTS HIGHLIGHT HIS PROBLEMS WITH SOUTH FLORIDA HISPANICS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Garcia … says it is “demeaning” that Trump questioned the objectivity of a federal judge based, in part, on his Mexican ethnicity, comments that underscore the problems Trump will have in Hispanic-rich South Florida. “These demeaning words seek to divide the county among racial lines, and that is simply contrary to the American values that have made our country great,” read the statement from Garcia, who later [said] he was unsure if he could vote for Trump.

DEMOCRATS HENRY LIM AND CLINT CURTIS BATTLE SHARPLY IN HD 47 DEBATE via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Lim and Curtis made clear … that House District 47 voters have a clear choice between someone not eager to compromise and someone who thinks it’s the best way for Democrats to be effective. The two paired off in the first of two debates focusing on education and the economy, hosted by the Young Democrats of Orange County, at the Barry University School of Law in Orlando. In the second debate, House District 48 Democrats Alex Barrio and Amy Mercado found less to disagree about though both pushed their distinct personalities, Barrio as a seasoned Tallahassee veteran, Mercado as a mother and businesswoman. Lim got more of the applause from a crowd of about 100, and won a straw poll afterwards. His differences with Curtis were more on legislative tactics and strategy than on policy. And it’s possible neither of them get the nomination, because there is a third major candidate, Beth Tuuro of Orlando, who did not attend the event. The trio are set to take on state Rep. Mike Miller … for a seat that has gone back and forth between the parties in recent elections.

HD 60 CANDIDATE REBECCA SMITH ANNOUNCES RAISING NEARLY $200K IN MAY — MOST OF IT FROM HERSELF via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – [Smith’s campaign] will report $199,428 collected in the month of May … That includes contributions from supporters totaling $33,900, along with a contribution by Smith of $165,528 to her own campaign. The new report now brings her total cash raised since announcing her candidacy in March to over $312,000, with $287,000 cash on hand. Smith is running against Tampa civil engineer Jackie Toledo in the GOP primary …  Last month, Smith defeated Toledo 72-28 in a straw poll of that race at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee.

DANE EAGLE POSTS $37K IN MAY FUNDRAISING IN HD 77 via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – The second-term lawmaker brought in $37,575 from more than 50 contributions during May … Those included 18 contributions of $1,000, the legal maximum for state legislative campaigns. Among those were checks from Rep. Dana Young‘s political committee, his own “Conservative Coalition for Florida’s Future” committee, Koch Industries, and the law and lobbying firm Becker & Poliakoff. The haul brings Eagle‘s fundraising totals to $113,461 for the 2016 cycle, with nearly $38,000 of that remaining on hand.

HOLLY RASCHEIN RAISES MORE THAN $44 K FOR HD 120 RE-ELECTION BID via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – Raschein had one of her best fundraising periods to date, taking in more than $44,000 in May … brings her total fundraising haul to $253,477. The Key Largo Republican is running for a third term … Top donors in May included Disney Gift Card Services, Disney Photo Imaging and the Celebration Company. All three of those organizations gave Raschein $1,000. She also received $1,000 donations from Marathon Aviation Associates, Banana Bay Resort and Automated Healthcare Solutions. Raschein spent $14,851 in May, and has spent $83,080 since opening her re-election campaign account. She has more than $170,000 cash on hand.

WILD WEST? COURT ASKED TO ALLOW FLORIDIANS TO OPENLY CARRY FIREARMS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – In arguments in which the term Wild West was freely tossed about, Eric Friday, attorney for Florida Carry, said the state’s almost 30-year-old concealed weapons law should be tossed out by justices. Almost 1.8 million Floridians have such permits — the most of any state. Friday told the court that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment doesn’t stop states from regulating the use of weapons. But the concealed weapons law crafted by the state Legislature creates an illegal intrusion. “What they’ve done here is they’ve taken it a step beyond just regulating the manner to bear arms,” Friday said. “They’ve actually denied the right to bear arms until a person seeks and obtains government permission.” Friday compared the infringement on the Second Amendment to the outrage that would be sparked if a law was created to make photojournalists obtain a permit to get a camera, what he said would prove a clear violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. “Yeah, but I don’t think journalists’ cameras kill people,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said.

JUSTICES CONSIDER CHANGE TO LAWYER-PAY RULES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Justices considered a change to the rules governing the state’s attorneys on how they can get paid … at issue are “the legal needs of people who win settlements in personal injury or wrongful death cases but then find themselves faced with medical liens” … Such plaintiffs may get settlements or verdicts of large cash awards, then be faced with unpaid doctor or hospital bills. A lien is a legally enforceable demand for payment of a debt. The question then is how to handle paying those bills, and who should pay to suss them out. The proposed rule “spells out that the lawyers who represent such clients on a contingency fee basis must also handle resolution of all ordinary and straightforward health care liens.” Only when a lien “is so complex,” the new rule says, that a specialist can be used and the client charged an additional fee.

SUPREME COURT TO TAKE ON CLAIM BILL PROCESS via Florida Politics – The justices today hear argument from a law firm seeking to get paid. Searcy, Denny, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley helped Aaron Edwards’ family get a claim bill passed for him in 2012. The legislation directed Lee Memorial Health System to pay $15 million “of its own funds” to Edwards for his care. He was born brain-damaged in 1997 because of medical malpractice there, his suit says. But a provision in the claim bill says the “total amount paid for attorney’s fees, lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to the claim may not exceed $100,000.” The firm says that’s unconstitutional and refers to the “contingency fee contract” between the firm and Edwards’ mother for attorney fees of 25 percent.

JOHN LEGG TO ACCEPT FSBA AWARD HE REJECTED IN 2014 via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Two years ago … Legg rejected the Florida School Board Association’s Legislator of the Year award, calling the organization “hostile” to school choice … the FSBA plans to again honor the retiring chairman of the Senate Education Committee for his key role on public education issues. This time, Legg plans to accept. “It was very kind of them to offer it again,” said Legg … who over the years wrote much of the state’s most consequential education legislation. “I’m very honored, very grateful.” He turned down the recognition in 2014 as the school boards association joined a lawsuit challenging the state’s tax credit scholarship program. He said the group was seeking to limit the “customization in education” that children and families deserve. The FSBA later dropped out of the lawsuit … Legg argued that the lawsuit was a “black eye” to the FSBA, which he said has much more important issues to address. “Since they dropped that lawsuit, they’re a great organization.”

A FLORIDA MOURNED via Kathleen Parker – I was born not far from here in Winter Haven when the biggest tourist attraction in Florida was Cypress Gardens, then the water-ski capital of the world. We lived directly across the lake, which was big enough to produce whitecaps as thunderstorms rolled across the water. In those days, you were part of, not separate from, the moist, worm-rich earth and lakes that swarmed with alligators, water moccasins and so many fish you could hardly drop a line without pulling one up. Doubtless visitors today to these now-manicured parts would rather tolerate the buzz of the leaf blowers soon to shatter the still-dark silence than anticipate making eye contact with the hideous moccasin, his gaping, cotton-white maw a terrifying invitation to death.  Not I. Not ever. Snakes were part of an ordinary day before Walt Disney decided that Central Florida was the perfect location for a pretend universe. There was nothing here, after all, but citrus groves as far as any eye could see. But in my hometown, citrus was king, queen, the jack of spades and the one-eyed joker … All this is long gone, pushed south by developers and cooler temperatures that conquered the citrus belt … Gone, too, are the groves that provided endless entertainment and cover for make-believe cities and wars invented by children who couldn’t yet dream of computers or mobile phones. Gone are the spoiled grapefruit we plucked from the ground and lobbed as juicy grenades that left their giggling targets sticky with Vitamin C and pulp.

JUDGE RULES ON ROLLING HILLS LANDFILL CASE via Thomas St. Meyer of the Pensacola News-Journal – An Escambia County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Escambia County in its motion for permanent injunctive relief and for assessment of civil penalties against South Palafox Properties, Attorneys for the former operator of the defunct Rolling Hills Construction and Demolition Recycling Center filed in April for summary judgment in an environmental suit filed by the FDEP. Judge John Miller released a 24-page document on the ruling. The Circuit Court ordered that South Palafox perform remediation of the groundwater contamination at Rolling Hills landfill, complete full and proper construction of the remedial action system in accordance with the FDEP-approved action plan, and remediate all surface water quality exceedances to regain compliance with the surface-water criteria under the Florida Administrative Code. The company is ordered to comply within 60 days in each instance.

OMITTED DOCUMENTS SHOW CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF BROWARD HEALTH OFFICIALS via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida — Top employees at Broward Health shielded information critical of Chief Compliance Officer Donna Lewis from the panel of commissioners charged with overseeing the south Florida hospital system. A 93-page Compliance Program Review, produced in 2014, was provided to the board last month, but did not include a set of critical observations made by a health care consulting firm that conducted the external audit of the department. The additional documents — including copies of two evaluations and a draft letter stamped “confidential and privileged work product” — were provided to commissioners on Sunday by Rocky Rodriguez, the chairman of Broward Health’s board.

PERSONNEL NOTE: STEPHEN LAWSON HEADING TO DBPR via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – He’s departing as communications director for Enterprise Florida for the same job at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation … He starts at DBPR next week, replacing Chelsea Eagle. Eagle departs in the wake of a high-profile battle with POLITICO Florida over the release of depositions and other material related to the state’s legal fight with the Seminole Tribe of Florida over gambling. Lawson, an expert in “rapid-response” PR, had his work cut out for him at EFI, the state’s public-private economic development organization.

VOTE ON FAMU PRESIDENT’S CONTRACT SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union — A decision on whether or not to extend the contract of Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum has been added to the agenda for Friday’s meeting of the school’s board of trustees. Mangum’s agreement with the university ends in April 2017, but her contract requires trustees to make a decision on whether or not to extend or renew it by June 30. An attorney representing Mangum had been working with the trustees’ attorney to try to iron out an agreement to delay the contract talks for at least 45 days, but no agreement was reached. So the debate is now scheduled for Friday, and the room is expected to be full of faculty, students and alumni. The FAMU Alumni Association has been asking members for weeks to travel to Tallahassee to attend the meeting, calling it a matter of great importance to the future of the state’s only public historically black university. “Advocating for FAMU forever,” its flyer says. As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,166 people had signed a petition backing Mangum and saying she should remain FAMU’s leader.

APPOINTEDJeffrey Welch to West Orange Airport Authority.

APPOINTEDJeff Andrews to the Union County Board of County Commissioners.

APPOINTEDPhilip Griffitts, Jr. to the Bay County Board of County Commissioners.

APPOINTEDCarolyn “Renae” Allen and Robert C. Brannan III to the Florida Gateway College District Board of Trustees.

APPOINTEDJames Williams to Big Cypress Basin Board.

APPOINTEDSusan Caron and Joe Conrado to the Indian River State College District Board of Trustees.

APPOINTEDJeffrey Welch to West Orange Airport Authority.


Emily Buckley, Jones Walker: alliantgroup

Dianne Wagner Carr, Diane Carr Consulting: Bank of America Corporation

Vicki Gervickas: Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce

Jerry Lee McDaniel, Southern Strategy Group: 3M Company

Christine Nicole McKinnell: Florida Ports Council

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) hosts its Florida Retailer of the Year event 11:30 a.m., at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg. FRF will recognize Lisa Mergelfrom Kanvas Spa & Boutique in Tallahassee as the 2016 Florida Retailer of the Year. Kristin Keen of Rethreaded in Jacksonville and Debbie Farah of Bajalia International Group in Winter Park will be recognized as Outstanding Retail Leaders during the ceremony. The Vinoy is located at 501 5th Ave. NE. in St. Petersburg.

FLORIDA FIRMS LAND $2 MILLION FROM SPACE FLORIDA, PARTNER via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel – Four Florida companies have landed research money from a Space Florida partnership to push projects related to space and tech projects. Oviedo’s Simiosys, Jupiter’s CadW Therapeutics and Scripps Florida, Kennedy Space Center’s Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Merritt Island’s Vision Engineering Systems landed parts of the $2 million award. Space Florida provided $1 million to the overall award, with the other $1 million coming from the Israeli Business Development Agency.

FLORIDA MAN CHARGED AFTER CALLING 911 OVER LACK OF VODKA via NBC 6 Miami – A southwest Florida man was charged after authorities say he called 911 because his girlfriend wouldn’t buy him vodka. Jack Means is facing a misdemeanor charge of misusing 911 in an incident that happened Monday night, Collier County Sheriff’s Office officials told NBC 2. “Uh sorry. It’s not what I’d call a true emergency, but it’s the same b-s,” he told the dispatcher in the 911 call. It’s unknown if he’s hired an attorney.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Ambassador of Tallahassee, Jay Revell.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top