Sunburn for 6/6 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***



N.Y. Times, “6 A.M. EXTRA”: “ALLIED ARMIES LAND IN FRANCE IN THE HAVRE-CHERBOURG AREA; GREAT INVASION IS UNDER WAY: EISENHOWER ACTS – U.S. British, Canadian Troops Backed by Sea, Air Forces” … The Boston Daily Globe, “EXTRA” edition: “INVASION OPENS” … L.A. Times, “EXTRA!” edition: “INVASION! Allied Landings Begun in France, Eisenhower Says” … Santa Ana (Calif.) Register (“4th WAR EXTRA”): “ALLIES SMASH INLAND AFTER SUCCESSFUL FRENCH LANDING: Losses Are Far Less Than Expected as Nazis Fail With Vaunted Luftwaffe.”

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Jeb Bush is blowing away the hypothetical presidential field in South Carolina, a new Palmetto Poll shows.

From the polling memo: “The first Palmetto Poll of 2014, taken just before Democratic and Republican primary voters go to the polls on June 10, finds incumbents doing well, some unfamiliarity with candidates and issues, and an early insight into the 2016 presidential primary in the state.

“Republicans rule the roost in this red state, controlling all the constitutional offices and six of the seven congressional districts.

“The position of the state, as an early contest in the presidential primary season, means that state politics are also national politics. In 2016, South Carolina is again poised to exercise influence disproportionate to its size in the presidential primary. About half of the voters are undecided, but of those who have an inclination former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is leading the field.”


Gov. Scott abruptly called off a South Florida fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of real estate developer James Batmasian, a convicted felon who did time for federal tax evasion.

Batmasian pleaded guilty in 2008 to a felony charge of failing to pay the government $253,513 in federal taxes for employees at his company, Investments Limited. He was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by two years of supervised release, which is similar to probation.

The Florida Supreme Court then suspended his license to practice law. His law license was still suspended, making him ineligible to practice in Florida. The Florida Bar said that Batmasian hasn’t applied for reinstatement.

Though he’s a convicted felon, Batmasian, 67, is still a registered voter. After an inquiry about his status, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said she’d report it to the state to begin the process of removing him from the voter rolls.

Florida prohibits convicted felons from voting unless their rights are restored. Batmasian hasn’t voted since the March 2008 Boca Raton city election — five weeks before his guilty plea.

The Florida Democratic Party jumped at the chance to embarrass the Republican governor by using Batmasian as an excuse to bring up Scott’s background at HCA/Columbia, the hospital company he founded. Scott was ousted in 1997 amid a Medicare fraud investigation that resulted in $1.7 billion in fines.

NFIB ENDORSES RICK SCOTT FOR ANOTHER TERM via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

The state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced it was endorsing Gov. Rick Scott with its Florida chairman, Jerry Pierce, leading a “Small Business for Scott” group.

“Gov. Scott has spent the past four years fighting for small businesses, creating jobs, and finding ways to grow Florida’s economy,” said Bill Herrle, NFIB’s executive director in Florida. “He has proven that he understands the challenges small-business owners face day in and day out. He has dedicated himself to implementing business-friendly policies, getting government out of the way of business, and improving the business climate. His hard work, persistence and support have given small businesses a real opportunity to grow and thrive.

“As a result, our membership overwhelmingly supports Gov. Scott in his bid for re-election as governor of Florida.”


I am not a liberal, just a Florida Cracker. That is why I am voting for Amendment 1, the Water and Land Conservation Amendment.

I support Amendment 1 because, without raising new taxes, it will enhance sources of drinking water, manage fish and wildlife habitats, add and restore lands, protect beaches and shores and maintain state and local parks.

Amendment 1 requires that one-third of documentary-stamp revenues, generated from house and land sales, be used exclusively over the next 20 years for these purposes. Think of protecting the St. John’s River from more algae blooms, or our springs from choking further. Down south, think of Indian River Lagoon, or Everglades restoration.

Supporting Amendment 1 falls squarely in line with my belief that conservation is all about conservative values and ideas. Conservation is, by definition conservative. Republicans have a long tradition of it, nationally and in Florida. Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush were leaders. In Florida, Gov. Bob Martinez created Preservation 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush created a similar effort, Florida Forever. In Jacksonville, Mayor John Delaney led the way in local conservation, creating a legacy that will continue for generations. All Republicans, like me.

Amendment 1 is also about the practical reality that unless we take steps toward conservation ourselves, we cannot count on others — including lawmakers — to do it for us. Funding in this area has fallen off the cliff in recent years. Over the 20 years of the life of this amendment, Florida’s population will grow to 30 million. We act now, or we act never.

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APPOINTED: Charles Cross Jr. to the Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees

APPOINTEDMarilyn Pearson Adams and Robin Schneider to the Pasco-Hernando State College District Board of Trustees


Environmental groups say a coal-fired power plant along the Apalachicola River is leaking cancer-causing pollutants into the river.

The Earthjustice law firm announced it had filed a federal lawsuit in Tallahassee on behalf of environmental groups to stop the alleged leaks from Gulf Power Co.’s Plant Scholz near Sneads.

Coal ash typically contains toxic metals including mercury, cadmium and arsenic, according to state and federal agencies.

A lawsuit and the claims in it represent only one side in a legal dispute. A spokesperson for Gulf Power said there are no leaks coming from the ash-settling pond.

Members of the groups observed water seeping through a berm around the series of ponds and collected water samples in a discharge canal showing high levels of contaminants, Alisa Coe, staff attorney with the Earthjustice law firm in Tallahassee.

The plant was built in 1953. Gulf Power announced last year that it will close the plant by April 2015.

Coe said there isn’t enough information to know whether the leaks pose a threat to people who swim in the river, eat fish from it or eat oysters from Apalachicola Bay. She represents the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Apalachicola Riverkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance

SEMINOLE TRIBE WANTS TO BUY A BANK via Donna Gehrke-White of the South Florida SunSentinel

The Seminoles Indians are looking to get into the banking business.

The Seminoles, who have headquarters in Hollywood near the tribe’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, would be the first tribe in Florida to run a bank. Nineteen U.S. banks have majority Native American ownership, 11 in Oklahoma, according to South Florida bank analyst Ken Thomas and FDIC records.

There is only one in the South — Lumbee Guaranty Bank in Pembroke, N.C., with $319 million in assets — and federal regulators would welcome a second, Thomas said.

The tribe recently pursued merging with Fort Lauderdale’s Valley Bank, which has four branches in Broward County, according to applications submitted last month to the state and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

But Seminole leaders decided to pass on Valley Bank and continue to search for a more viable option. Federal regulators have determined Valley Bank was “significantly undercapitalized” and had ordered it in December to acquire more capital.

The Seminole have participated in a joint Native American venture for more than a decade in what became Denver-based Native American Bank, which now has more than $56 million in assets.

The Seminole tribe would now like to acquire a South Florida bank to provide better financial services to its members, Bitner said.


Urban scholars like to talk about “sprawl” — and its more favorable opposite, “compactness”. The spread of a city’s growth matters in a lot of ways. For example, researchers have found that residents in more sprawling regions get stuck with fewer transportation options, higher combined costs of housing and transportation, and lower economic mobility. Researchers have also suggested that residents in compact metro areas have “longer, healthier lives” — along with some indicators of this such as lower rates of diabetes, lower blood pressure, and fewer traffic fatalities.

And for the most part, it seems, Florida cities are growing in “smart” ways.  A new study has ranked Tallahassee as No. 1 in the nation for “best change in sprawl index” between 2000 and 2010. This means that Florida’s capital city has lead the nation – by leaps and bounds – in smart growth.

“When it comes to promoting compact growth between 2000 and 2010, Tallahassee laps the field,” writes Eric Jaffe for The Atlantic’s City Lab.

No doubt, Tallahassee has made concerted efforts in infrastructure planning, not to mention the fantastic redevelopment of downtown social areas like Gaines Street and the new Cascades Park. Bonita Springs, Fla., is at No. 3 in the nation for change in sprawl as well.

Previous research has listed Miami as No. 8 in compactness, nationally; and no Florida city is in the top 10 for sprawl. (Although, Tampa is noted for its “dismal” sprawl score, and for the fact that its residents spend about 56 percent of income on combined housing and transportation).

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The will-she-or-won’t-she-run speculation about Ellyn Bogdanoff continues.

Bogdanoff is considering a rematch against Sen. Maria Sachs who represents parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Due to redistricting the two lawmakers faced each other in a newly drawn left-leaning district in 2012 and Sachs won.

“Still meeting with folks,” Bogdanoff said in a text reply in which she didn’t commit either way.

Bogdanoff has attended some public events but hasn’t been a consistent presence at recent Republican meetings or events — she wasn’t at Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign gathering to promote small businesses at a Cuban restaurant in Oakland Park last week.

So far, Sachs has raised about $177,000 and spent $16,000 — that doesn’t include a fundraiser she held at the Tower Forum that listed multiple Democratic state legislators and local elected officials on the host committee. Though Bogdanoff would start her fundraising late by launching a campaign in June, she’d have the power of the Republican Party of Florida and her past connections as a longtime state legislator.

If Bogdanoff jumps in, this will be the most competitive legislative brawl in Broward with money from both state parties.


The event, which begins 8 p.m. Sunday June 22at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, is hosted by House Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli and Reps. Richard Corcoran Jose Oliva. Proceeds will benefit the House Majority 2014.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Kristin Lamb at (850) 222-7920 Ext. 1858, or email


Burgess is holding a campaign office grand opening starting 5:30 p.m. on June 18 at the Creekside Center, 35358 S.R. 54 in Zephyrhills.

Burgess, who serves as mayor of Zephyrhills, is running as a Republican to succeed term-limited House Speaker Will Weatherford to represent Pasco County and Dade City, Lacoochee, San Antonio and Crystal Springs.


State Rep. Ray Rodrigues has drawn a rematch of the 2012 Republican primary in his re-election effort for House District 76.

Fort Myers Republican Chauncey Solinger, who lost to a three-way contest to Rodrigues in 2012, opened a campaign account to run once again for the Lee County seat, according to the state Division of Elections.

St. James City Democrat Charles Messina also expects to enter the race. Records show Rodrigues leads in fundraising with $63,925 through April; Messina raised $875. The qualifying period for state races is June 16-20.

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A week after it was reported how the Florida Current was abandoning its efforts to offer free-to-the-public news coverage, the managing editor of the successor to the online news site has exited the company.

James Call, who only recently was elevated to replace the fired Bill Prescott, parted ways with John and Sarah Iarussi, the husband-and-wife owners of LobbyTools, the publisher of the Current and its subscription-only successor, “Legislative IQ.”

Unlike some of the other former employees of the Florida Current, Call is not going quietly.

“I guess my Catholic upbringing and Ohio State master’s didn’t mesh well with the corporate culture,” said Call when asked to explain why he thinks he was let go.

“I was told I was going to be kept on but I didn’t realize they meant only to the end of the week,” Call said. “I guess they needed someone to take out the trash and turn off the lights.”

Before Call was let go, veteran reporters Bill Cotterell, Gray Rohrer, Bruce Ritchie, and Arek Sarkissian were dismissed or did not have their contracts renewed. Reportedly, they have been replaced with a handful of recent college graduates who are staffing the desks at “Legislative IQ,” 

Sarah Iarussi said at the time that she did not view these personnel moves as downsizing, “rather we made the staffing changes necessary to further develop our subscription services – which are LobbyTools and the newly developed Legislative IQ.” 

Reportedly, a handful of recent college graduates are staffing the desks at “Legislative IQ,” which was described in a recent email to LobbyTools subscribers as “market-leading legislative data with policy and politics news.”

Despite the exodus of decades of journalism experience, the publishers of LobbyTools are promising that its “coverage will be even deeper” with Legislative IQ.

Call isn’t so sure about that.

“Despite my experience and education I don’t quite understand what they are trying to do,” said Call.  “I mean, how do you improve a written product by doing away with writers?”

#6 ON SSN’S LIST OF TOP LOBBYING FIRMS: Southern Strategy Group

Since its creation in 1999, Southern Strategy Group has risen to the top of the lobbying game — with five offices in Florida and even more in other Southern states, Southern Strategy Group ranks No. 7 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in the Sunshine State.

On Context Florida: Every four years soccer fans around the globe focus on the FIFA World Cup, writes Erin O’Flaherty, with billions of dollars have been poured into building stadiums – rather than focusing on infrastructure development – and workers’ lives have been lost in the process. Summer is right around the corner – that glorious time of year when parents and children take a break from life to concentrate on each other. However, Catherine Durkin Robinson notes that summer learning loss can be a problem, where performance falls about a month during the summer, and for lower-income students, it can be three months. Daniel Tilson says that university presidents should be special, but for the right reasons. This came to mind as Florida State University clumsily lurched along the road to picking a new president. Legally speaking, the charge facing former state Rep. Chris Dorworth is no more serious than attaching an invalid license plate to a vehicle, writes Peter Schorsch. Yet in the court of public opinion, the verdict facing Chris Dorworth is damning.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to former Senator Paula Dockery.

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.