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.
OBAMA CAMPAIGN MACHINE REVVING UP TO ELECT HILLARY CLINTON via Josh Lederman of The Associated Press – With Obama‘s popularity rebounding, Democrats have been eagerly awaiting the president’s return to campaigning, and he’ll hold his debut event for [Clinton] in North Carolina. Yet campaign officials say just as critical to her success could be an Obama political operation that remains potent four years after his re-election, including deep troves of voter and donor information, and a corps of trained field staffers and volunteers that Clinton’s campaign is now co-opting. The crown jewel of Obama’s machine, an email list of supporters that included 20 million addresses in 2012, is now fully available to Clinton. That list had been closely held within an Obama campaign committee that still exists to pay off old debt. Democratic groups and even Obama’s Organizing for Action nonprofit had to rent the list for a hefty sum. Now a copy of that list, which helped propel Obama to record-breaking fundraising, is controlled by the Democratic National Committee, which can send emails at will without going through Obama’s campaign. For Clinton supporters, the handover of the email list is the clearest indication that concerns that sprang up after Obama’s re-election have turned out unfounded. In 2013, when Obama declined to transfer the list to the national party, some Democrats griped that he was holding out on his party by sequestering his most coveted campaign resources.
CRUNCH TIME FOR CLINTON’S VP CONTENDERS via Gabriel Debenedetti of POLITICO – Virginia’s Sen. Tim Kaine remains the odds-on favorite to get the job … But a divide has emerged among his backers between those who are confident he’ll be chosen and those who fear that all the favorable attention he’s gotten has been a head fake before Clinton chooses someone more surprising. … Clinton herself has specifically praised [Elizabeth] Warren behind closed doors.
CORY BOOKER NO LONGER DENIES BEING VETTED FOR VP via the Associated Press – Booker has said in recent weeks that it was flattering to be mentioned but that he wasn’t being vetted. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Booker now says “If you have a question like that, please direct it to the Clinton campaign.”
TOP TALKER — AN OPEN LETTER TO REINCE PREIBUS via Rick Wilson on Medium.com – Dear Reince … In a perfect world, a bold and effective party chairman with an eye to November and the future brand of the Republican Party would tell Donald Trump he’s had every chance under the Sun to improve and become more disciplined. A bold chairman would draw a bright line at his continued, deliberate, mindful flirtation with the darkest corners of the Internet. Private pressure does nothing; Trump is a creature of the media cycle and of celebrity. Now, your digital team can tell you a quick way to stop this without too much fuss; have Trump block the neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, overt racists and other scum who litter his timeline … You won’t, for fear of offending him. He won’t, for fear of offending his base. Under his “Taco Salad! I love the Jews! Look at my African-American!” bluster, he’s a crafty bastard who understands white resentment politics. They’re a feature, not a bug. They’re not part of his play; they’re his only play. What’s the worst case for you? He sends a mean tweet your way? He yells at you? He tells you that you won’t be Chairman again? (Spoiler; you’re not, no matter who wins.) … A smart chairman would leverage that anger to push Trump to conform to the basic norms of civilization and to run a more disciplined campaign. “Don, I’m doing everything I can to deal with them, but they’re not bending. Help me help you.” Instead, your mute assent empowers his narcissism and self-indulgence. You know this party is tearing itself apart because of Trump, and your continued public silence on his endless catalog of outrages isn’t some bold political strategy in the battle against Hillary Clinton; it’s smearing the GOP with the reek of his excreta for decades. At this rate, there won’t be an autopsy at the end of this cycle; it’ll be a funeral pyre and a going-out-of-business sale.
— “Americans can choose better than Trump ” via former Montana governor and RNC Chair Marc Racicot in the Washington Post
TALE OF 2 CONVENTIONS: WITH FEW POLITICAL ALLIES, DONALD TRUMP PLANS CELEBRITY CONVENTION via Steve Peoples of The Associated Press – Prospects include former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and longtime boxing promoter Don King. “I’m going to be involved, definitely,” said King, who lives in Cleveland and is a passionate supporter … “‘This is not going to be your typical party convention like years past,’ said Trump spokesman Jason Miller. ‘Donald Trump is better suited than just about any candidate in memory to put together a program that’s outside of Washington and can appeal directly to the American people” … When Hillary Clinton hosts her party at the Democratic National Convention the following week, she’ll face a different issue entirely: how to squeeze in the many popular, prominent Democrats backing her campaign. Along with Clinton and her eventual vice presidential pick, there are sure to be speeches from … Barack Obama … Joe Biden … Michelle Obama and, of course … Bill Clinton. There’s also Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the likely speakers, praised Trump’s plan to use his celebrity connections to reach a broader audience. … “My children are all going to be speaking: Ivanka, Tiffany, Don, Eric. They’re going to be speaking,” Trump … “My wife is going to be speaking at the convention” … Trump’s campaign has also been in touch with aides to chief primary rival … Ted Cruz, who has been trying to win a speaking slot. Other national leaders under consideration include former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorrisRodgers and Gingrich.
WHY DONALD TRUMP WON’T GET DUMPED IN CLEVELAND via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO – There’s one insurmountable problem: most of the people who could actually stop Trump from taking control of the party — the 2,472 convention delegates — won’t even consider it. That’s because convention delegates are not typical Republicans, GOP insiders say. Some are everyday, local Republican officials interested in the convention experience more than a political coup. Many are Trump backers brought into the political fold by the mogul. Others have been swept into national politics precisely to snub the GOP establishment. And others still are susceptible to that same establishment’s pressure to avoid a messy convention. These dynamics have left anti-Trump activists frustrated and stalled. Only a handful of convention delegates have publicly declared their intent to take on Trump in Cleveland. Dozens of others have [said] they’ll forcefully reject efforts to thwart Trump’s nomination. Their main reason: he won more votes than any of his rivals – more than 13 million – and played by the rules to do it. Those looking to dump Trump note that he actually earned less than half of all primary votes cast, but he won more contests and benefited from rules that deliver a disproportionate number of delegates to primary winners. What’s really killing the anti-Trump efforts, they argue, is a lack of a serious alternative.
TRUMP’S WOULD BE NO ORDINARY DEFEAT via Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal – How would Donald behave if he decides he can’t win and won’t throw good money after bad? Base-broadening campaigns require lots of paid TV to reach non-engaged voters and Trump skeptics, pummeling them with reassuring images suggesting that a Trump presidency would be OK … Trump not only is unwilling or unable to finance such a campaign. He evidently is unwilling to do what’s necessary to entice GOP donors to finance it on his behalf. This means GOP officeholders … can expect a constant headwind of inflammatory Trump statements designed to stimulate … free media coverage … Republican candidates … therefore become unwilling sharers of a high-risk Trump electoral wager, a gamble more likely to end in a Hillary landslide than a Trump White House. … Look for [campaign vendors to] quickly to cut off services rather than get stiffed in the inevitable Trump campaign bankruptcy filing. … [L]ikely, he will simply and cold-bloodedly toss the ball to the GOP, saying, in effect, “If you want to pay for some events or TV, I’m available. Otherwise I’m done.” The GOP would then have to shoulder the dual burden of propping up a minimally respectable Trump campaign while also distancing its down-ballot candidates from Trump … He might well decide to cover his retreat … with a flurry of lawsuits and conspiracy theories about a ‘rigged’ election. … The thing [Republicans worried about House and Senate majorities] should fear most: An autumn dynamic in which Trump believes the best outcome for him personally is one that does as much damage as possible to the long-run GOP cause.
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FLORIDA REPUBLICANS SIGN UP TO RAISE MONEY FOR TRUMP AND GOP via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – There’s several big Florida names on the list: Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, who previously backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio; Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli; former Florida International University President Mitch Maidique; former ambassador and current congressional candidate Francis Rooney; St. Petersburg developer Mel Sembler; former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland and state Rep. Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo … said party donors and staff asked him to take part. Trump, he added, “has a very good chance of winning the general election … He’s offering at least some solutions and discussing some of the biggest issues … Trump’s message is “resonating with the majority of the American electorate.” Trujillo added a caveat that not Trump’s “entire” message works for him: “I’ve never agreed 100 percent with anybody my entire life. I agree with Trump more than Hillary [Clinton]…. I think he could be a little more tactful in the way he says things.”
— “Top Rubio, Bush Backers Among Co-Hosts for Trump Hamptons Fundraiser” via Kevin Cirilli and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg Politics
TRUMP’S CHIEF FLORIDA STRATEGIST GETS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ROLE via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel – Karen Giorno … will serve as a senior adviser on the national campaign team, while continuing to oversee the state operation as Florida chief strategist. She joined the Trump campaign in October as Florida state director. In the March 15 primary, Trump overwhelmingly defeated U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio … who immediately dropped out of the presidential race. Trump won 66 of the state’s 67 counties. After the primary victory, Giorno was named Southeast regional political director overseeing multiple states. Previously, she worked in Florida Gov. Scott‘s administration and has been involved with almost every Republican presidential campaign in the last 25 years. In her new role, the Trump campaign said she would work on developing and executing strategy for the November election.
A LIGHTER SHADE OF BLUE: FLORIDA DEMOCRATS’ SHARE OF VOTER BASE CONTINUES TO SLIDE via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – “It worries me,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale … who said part of the problem lies with the party itself. “There has not been a sustained effort at voter registration,” Schale said. In Florida, the race between Republican Donald Trumpand Democrat Hillary Clinton will be the supreme test of both parties’ ability to get as many of their voters to the polls as possible, at a time when the Democrats’ share of the voter pool keeps shrinking, making the state a slightly lighter shade of blue. “We’re seeing the beginning of a wave,” said Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and a state representative … who considers Obama’s back-to-back Florida victories as outliers. “This is a pretty red state. We just happened to lose the past two presidential elections.” Both the Democratic and Republican parties in Florida have been weakened by a surge in voters opting to register with no party affiliation, or NPA. But a review of statewide registration data over the past decade shows that the expansion of the NPA pool of voters has been largely at the expense of Democrats. Republicans have withstood the NPA wave and its share of the electorate has remained relatively constant. The state’s ever-changing demographics to a more racially and ethnically diverse population should favor Democrats, especially in the urban centers of Tampa Bay, Orlando and South Florida. But those voters — young, Hispanic, African-American and new to Florida — are also more likely to register with no party affiliation. “There is some disconnect happening within the Democratic Party among voters who are traditionally part of our voting base,” Schale said.
HISPANIC GROWTH IN FLORIDA: WILL IT DETERMINE THE ELECTION? via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – The state remains a crucial swing state in the presidential sweepstakes but, since 2012, Florida’s electorate has changed in important ways — exacerbating the role of its growing Hispanic and elderly populations and potentially sowing seeds of a more disruptive revolution to come. The generational and ideological tensions that could emerge between the aging baby boomers, who data show have become more conservative and less trusting of government, and Florida’s increasingly diverse younger generations have the potential to make Florida a bellwether for the nation — again … the state grew by 1.46 million people from 2010 to 2015. Looking at ethnicity, Hispanics represent 51 percent of the growth. Looking at age groups, people 65 and older represent 46 percent of the growth. In five years, Florida’s Hispanic population grew 15 percent overall — six times more than non-Hispanic whites, and nearly twice as fast as blacks. More than a third of the growth — more than 610,000 people — occurred in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the epicenter of the state’s Hispanic population. But the fastest growth occurred in the counties along the I-4 corridor from Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties to Polk and Hillsborough, which saw its Hispanic population rise by 424,000. But to pollsters and political observers, the focus is on the potential impact of these demographic shifts in the November election. “Florida is the biggest swing state in the country, therefore it is the biggest swing state with an Hispanic population,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “It is no surprise there has been a substantial increase in the Hispanic population in the state. The question is, how many people are registered to vote and how many of them actually show up?”
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CD 2 CANDIDATES MOSTLY AGREEABLE BUT FUME ABOUT ‘GIVEAWAY GREG’ via Tom McLaughlin of NWFDailyNews.com – Congressional hopeful Brian Frazier was spot on when, seated beside five other Republican candidates at a forum to discuss issues, he informed attendees “you’re going to see we all agree on almost everything.” Frazier may have taken the boldest stand of the evening when he declared he, unlike those seated next to him, would fully support drilling in federal Gulf waters off Florida. “I would be for it. We need it,” he said. State Rep. Matt Gaetztermed himself “a never say never guy” on the subject of drilling. “It would be short sighted to say we will never extract another drop of oil,” he said. “We cannot sustain sending billions of dollars to countries that hate us.” State Sen. Greg Evers was the only congressional candidate to sit out the forum. A question arose about Evers’s controversial decision, a week after the Orlando massacre, to give away an AR-15 rifle, the gun used to kill 49 Florida residents. But a few also took an opportunity for a pot shot at Evers. Gaetz termed the senator “giveaway Greg” … “Giveaway Greg has voted to expand Obamacare and give driver’s licenses to illegals,” Gaetz said. “It’s not Greg’s giving away of guns that’s troubling me,” Gaetz said.
CHARLIE CRIST, NOTED FAN OF FANS, SHARES THOUGHTS ON ROBOT AIR CONDITIONERS via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times – We have a treat for Charlie Crist … Scientists are hard at work advancing the technology that cools us … engineers at the University of Maryland are developing a robot they’re calling RoCo, short for Roving Comforter, which they’re hoping will sense when a person is too hot and spring into action. The prototype looks like an upended vacuum cleaner rolling over to blast a dose of chilled air from its face hole. The target sales price is $60. We decided to give Crist a call to get his thoughts on the RoCo, and ask him how he prefers to stay cool these days: Would you use a personal robot that followed you and kept you cool? “Sure. Who doesn’t want to be cool? That sounds like it might be a little pricy compared to a fan though, I really have no idea what something like that would go for.” In the car, are you an air conditioning or a windows down kind of guy? “Oh, if it’s summer, it’s definitely air conditioning. Always air conditioning.” Have you ever used one of your fans to do that thing where you make your voice sound like a cool robot? “No, I haven’t ever done that.” I really recommend trying that one. “OK.” Is part of being cool, keeping cool? “Sure it is. I think so. It’s all about being comfortable. Being comfortable makes a big difference in a lot of things. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable?”
BOB POE CAMPAIGN MANAGER DEPARTS IN CD 10 RACE via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – Joshua Romero has left the operation for a position with the Hillary Clintoncampaign. “Josh helped put in place a winning campaign team and infrastructure, including a massive field program knocking on 1,000 doors per day,” said Campaign spokesman Franco Ripple. “Bob’s message of economic opportunity is connecting with voters. He’s grateful for Josh’s hard work, and wishes him great success on his new role with Hillary for America. Bob is pleased to share that deputy campaign manager Alicia Stallworth has been promoted to campaign manager, and will continue getting the campaign into position to win Aug. 30 and again Nov. 8.”
POE OPPONENTS QUESTION HIS ALAN GRAYSON FUND INVESTMENT via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel – Poe, a candidate for Florida’s 10th Congressional District in Orlando, was an investor in … Grayson‘s controversial hedge fund, which opponents say contradicts his pitch that he is a progressive political outsider. Poe said he invested $100,000 in the Grayson Fund in late 2012, before pulling his money out in early 2015, after the fund under-performed his expectations. He distanced himself from language contained in the fund’s marketing materials, which said the Grayson Fund would “capitalize on markets in turmoil due to economic, political or natural disasters” … “I never saw anything like that, and that was never how it was positioned to me … In a fund like this, you really don’t know and don’t have any input on what the fund is investing in.” Two of Poe’s Democratic opponents, Val Demings and state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, said his investment in the Grayson Fund raises questions about a candidate who has poured more than $1 million of his own money into his campaign. “He made his money a major part of this race and, because of that, I do think voters have a right to know the details” of Poe’s involvement with the Grayson Fund, said Demings, a former Orlando police chief. Thompson argued the investment and Poe’s big-spending campaign belie the argument that as a progressive Poe would be a champion of working people.
2018 WATCH – ADAM PUTNAM FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE, FLORIDA GROWN, RAISED $218 K IN JUNE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – That’s up from about $185,000 in contributions in May … Putnam’s committee released its figures early on its own website. The biggest contributor for June is Associated Industries of Florida PAC, which chipped in a healthy $100,000. Other big givers include FCCI Services Inc., an insurance concern and Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, with $25,000 each. June records also show the committee spent $25,000 on a “sponsorship” with the Republican Party of Florida.
DANA YOUNG PILES UP CAMPAIGN CASH via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – With the help of a $20,000 check from U.S. Sugar Corp. and $25,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Young has now boosted her campaign war chest for Tampa’s District 18 state Senate race to nearly $1.4 million. As of June 24, Young had raised $526,362 in her campaign account and $856,516 in her Friends of Dana Young political committee. Other big contributions for Young during May and June included $15,000 from USAA insurance company and $10,000 each from John Rood’s Vestcor Cos., Duke Energy, the Geo Group private prison operator, JM Family Enterprises auto dealership empire, Disney, a leadership PAC associated with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and the lobbying firm of former House Speaker Dean Cannon.
FRANK REDDICK IS BACKING BETTY REED IN SENATE DISTRICT 19 RACE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Reddick says he has somewhat mixed emotions because he’s friends with [Ed] Narain and [Darryl] Rouson, but stated that he’s known Reed for a long time, and said she asked for his support when she initially got into the race last year. “After she qualified last week, she called me again to remind me, and I didn’t want to damage my credibility and then not follow through,” he said. “I was shocked when Ed got into the race,” Reddick says. Narain asked for his support that day, Reddick says, but he told him that he had earlier committed to Reed, and if she stayed in the race, he would back her, which he is.
TWEET, TWEET: Looks like SW Fla is about to be awash in political ads. On 1 Ft Myers TV station alone in next wk @dropping 52 spots/23k
IRV SLOSBERG WRITES CAMPAIGN $120K CHECK, SPENDS MORE THAN HE RAISES IN JUNE via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Slosberg wrote his campaign a $120,000 personal check in June as he kicked off a state Senate bid … running for Senate District 31, which is currently represented by Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens … He had been running for re-election to his House District 91 before getting an itch to run for the upper chamber. He originally wanted to run for Senate District 29, in which he currently lives. That seat is held by state Rep. Kevin Rader. His decision angered Clemens, who … thought Republicans recruited Slosberg to run against him, a charge Slosberg denies. He also sent out fundraising emails to raise money off the fact that Slosberg does not currently live in the district he is now seeking to represent. “We now have a serious opponent in District 31 race for Senate,” read a fundraising email for Clemens. “Only he doesn’t seem to know where District 31 is.” Even with the $120,000 in personal money, Slosberg’s campaign has only $24,225 cash on hand.
MY TAKE: ANA RIVAS LOGAN POSTS A DISAPPOINTING NUMBER via Florida Politics – If you are taking on Team Negron you better suit up. You better do more than come with a good name and a nice resume. You better be able to raise dime. And with a short timeline, you better do so quickly. ARL (Hey, we call Jose Javier Rodriguez “JJR” and the lieutenant governor “CLC,” so why not?) needed to post up a respectable number. What’s respectable? First month … I’d say six figures at a minimum. Anything north of $100,000 keeps you in the game. A number below that begins to sow seeds of doubt. Rivas Logan just posted that she raised only $16,000 — $5,000 from herself. $16,000 is just not a good number. Rivas Logan is facing Andrew Korge in the primary who is sitting on a cool half-mil and is (we hear) already landing mail and has a field team knocking on doors and reports having already touched over 1,000. Bullard, also her primary challenger has, despite his repeated election foibles, twice on hand what Logan has raised total thus far. This race is far – very far – from over and we know a few weeks in campaign season can be an eternity. But for today, Ana Rivas Logan’s $16,000 looks tremendously weak.
MORE CAMPAIGN FINANCE STORIES FROM FLORIDAPOLITICS.COM
DEMS STRUGGLE TO FIND QUALIFIED CANDIDATES via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The Sarasota County Democratic Party has been raising significantly more money under its new chairwoman, Christine Jennings, and drawing top party leaders to the region. But when it comes to recruiting candidates, the results this year were mixed at best. The party put up a full slate of candidates for low-profile seats such as the hospital board and charter review board, and found a contender for one constitutional office. There also are credible candidates in two races for the state Legislature. But half a dozen Republicans running for countywide offices won without opposition recently when the qualifying period ended. More significantly, three of those races were for open seats, meaning the GOP did not have the advantage of incumbency. Jennings said she’s happy with the party’s overall recruiting effort this year but acknowledged some glaring deficiencies. “We’re in a building stage and I think that’s obvious to everyone,” she said. The biggest disappointment was not finding someone to challenge former Sarasota GOP Chairman Eric Robinson for an open School Board seat, Jennings said. Despite the county’s overall Republican leaning, Democrats are perceived to have a better chance in school board races, which officially are nonpartisan. Additionally, some viewed Robinson’s extensive political activities as a potential liability. But the District 3 seat encompasses a deeply red area of the county. Finding a qualified Democrat there proved difficult, Jennings said.
— “Rena Frazier gets the backing of Les and Gwen Miller in her HD 59 contest” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
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SUGAR INDUSTRY SILENT ON SUGGESTION OF LAND SEIZURE TO SAVE TREASURE COAST WATERS via Nicole Rodriguez of TCPalm – There was deafening silence from sugar executives … in the wake of Sen. Bill Nelson‘s suggestion the government seize their land to save Treasure Coast waters from algae blooms that are suffocating sea life and forcing people to wear masks because of the stench. Representatives of Florida Crystals did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment. Nelson, during a visit to view the thick toxic algae holding Treasure Coast waters hostage, said he supports using eminent domain to help restore the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water south, instead of sending it east and west, where the polluted fresh water is destroying local economies. A seizure of land south of the lake would allow water to follow its historical course south without wreaking havoc on the environment. When government uses eminent domain to acquire private property, it must go through a court proceeding to offer the owner what’s been determined as a fair price and prove it’s for the good of the public. Eminent domain cases can lead to lengthy lawsuits on land compensation … the federal government used eminent domain in the 1970s and 1980s to acquire 570,000 acres from 35,000- 50,000 private property owners in Collier and Lee counties for the Big Cypress National Preserve. St. John’s Water Management District in the late 1990s acquired approximately 9,000 acres of farmland north of Lake Apopka to save the dying body of water, and more recently Orlando exercised eminent domain for a planned MLS soccer stadium.
WATER DEBATE RUNNING THROUGH AUGUST 30 PRIMARY via Betty Parker of the News-Press.com – Almost every challenger in the Aug. 30 primary cites water as the major, if not only, issue. Incumbents are on the defense, recounting their responses to the situation after historic weather events and the ugly effects of lake water pouring down the river to the bays, beaches and Gulf. Algae blooms, muddy colors, fish kills — or no fish to catch, stinky beaches — the impact is too obvious, too often, and now too easily seen worldwide. The matter has moved beyond a few scientists worried about balancing salt and fresh water in the bays, although that’s still a concern. Now workers in the tourism and hospitality industry, Southwest Florida economic mainstays, are worried. Real estate agents are worried. Residents and potential newcomers drawn to Southwest Florida’s water-full lifestyle are worried. Some are angry, and not just a few. No one in or seeking elected office is surprised; there’s widespread agreement this is at the top of voter concerns. But whether it’s the only concern, or whether voters believe the people seeking their vote are adequately addressing the problem, is more debatable. “Trump and water. Those are the two things I hear about, everywhere I go,” said Chauncey Goss, a Sanibel councilman running for the congressional seat left open by Rep. Curt Clawson’s decision to not seek re-election. Lake discharges have affected Sanibel’s beaches and tourism; leaders there have been deeply involved in the issue for years.
DON’T BLAME THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS FOR OKEECHOBEE, EVERGLADES WOES via Nathaniel Reed for TCPalm – The Corps has no options. It must reduce the water level in Lake Okeechobee in case of a potential wet hurricane, common in even October like Hurricanes Wilma and Isaac. Before we collectively blame the Corps for the incredible damage that is being inflicted on our once productive waters, especially the remarkable recovery of seagrasses and inland fisheries since the Okeechobee flood gates were last opened in 2010, we collectively need a short history lesson and then a firm guide on how to stop these all too frequent environmental outrages. The great Everglades ecosystem has been brutalized by a number of thoughtless decisions. The private construction of Tamiami Trail by the Collier family to open up Naples to east coast tourists in the 1915-20s formed a dike preventing natural water flow from the northern Everglades marshes into what have become Everglades National Park and the great fishery of Florida Bay. Although there are gated discharge structures and culverts under Tamiami Trail, they allow a fraction of the excess rain water to flow south as the everglades system once functioned. Water is backed up throughout the Florida Everglades known as water conservation areas … It did not take any length of time for the Corps to realize that an overflowing Lake Okeechobee threatened the “suspect construction” of the Hoover Dike and that the two outlets — the St. Lucie Canal and the Caloosahatchee River — would serve as escape valves whenever there was excessive rainfall and a rising lake that could threaten the integrity of the Hoover Dike, especially on the south side, where farming communities had grown in size. With the connection to the Everglades now severed, the present day colonel of the Corps of Engineers and his staff have no options other than releasing billions of gallons of water that is polluted from years of agricultural back-pumping from the Everglades Agricultural Area and now large amounts of nutrients flowing down the Kissimmee and the other headwaters of the lake.
WHO’S TO BLAME FOR ALGAE MESS? EXPERTS SAY URBAN GROWTH, NOT LAKE O via Jennifer Sorentrue of the Palm Beach Post – Pollution from population growth and urban development — not water releases from Lake Okeechobee — is the primary cause of the foul-smelling slime turning many waterways in Martin County a bright blue-green, an expert in algae blooms said … Brian LaPointe, an expert in algae blooms and a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, questioned whether slowing the discharges would help much. He said septic tanks, sewage systems and other nutrient-laden pollutants have fueled the widespread algae blooms invading Martin County waters. “It is not the lake,” LaPointe said … “It is really the human activities on the watershed. The algae is just the ecological response to excess nutrients. Lake Okeechobee is easy to point your finger at, but the reality is that it is coming from many, many sources” … the South Florida Water Management District issued a news release that also made the same argument. The release, which included the headline “Myth versus Fact,” detailed the district’s response to the algae outbreak. The district said the idea that Lake Okeechobee is the sole cause of blue-green algae is a myth, adding that the blooms have occurred in years when there were no lake releases. “The nutrients and fresh water that can fuel growth of naturally occurring blue-green algae also comes from local stormwater runoff and septic tanks,” the district wrote in the release.
RICK SCOTT’S NET WORTH DROPS (AGAIN); BUT (YES) STILL VERY, VERY RICH via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Scott’s finances have roller-coastered since he first announced his candidacy and reported being worth $218 million in 2010. It’s hard to tell why his bank account tumbled again, since Scott keeps his assets in a blind trust. But there’s few signs of belt-tightening. He still owns a $15.4 million home in Naples, with a boat house valued at $123,375. His Montana get-away home is valued at $1.5 million. The governor also reported $16.6 million from investments. He doesn’t take a salary as the state’s chief executive. Scott’s net worth low point has been the nearly $83 million he reported at the end of 2011. Scott also has dug into his wallet in his effort to become Florida’s governor — and stay in the job. He spent $73 million of his family’s cash during his 2010 race as a first-time candidate and pumped a late-hour, $12.8 million into his 2014 re-election victory.
ENTERPRISE FLORIDA EXECUTIVE PAY INCREASED 75% IN 6 YEARS via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Leaders of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic partnership under scrutiny for overspending, increased their executive payroll by $600,000, or 75 percent, over six years, while only adding two employees … The total amount for executive salaries increased from $800,494 for seven positions in 2010-11 to $1.4 million for nine positions in May … Enterprise Florida spokesman Mike Grissom said past agency directors have maintained that Enterprise Florida’s public-private status protects specific salary information from public records laws that cover other state agencies. He did not cite an exception in state law, but said lawyers for the agency would offer their opinion on whether the salary information is public in the coming days. However, state law specifically requires Enterprise Florida to follow the same public records rules as other state agencies. Despite the refusal to release specific salary information, the totals and other information provided by the agency show former Enterprise Florida President Bill Johnson expanded the executive staff, adding a senior vice president and a chief of staff after he was hired in January 2015. Johnson also created another vice president position from an existing executive post … The salary increases began before Johnson took the job, the agency’s information shows. The total amount of executive salaries jumped to $1.5 million in fiscal year 2012-13, a $700,000, or 87 percent, increase from 2011 under former Enterprise Florida President Gray Swoope. Swoope reduced the salaries to $1.1 million before leaving in late 2014.
SHOT – FLORIDA CHAMBER WARNS OF INCREASING WORKER’S COMP RATES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A request to increase workers’ compensation insurance rates has now gone up to nearly 20 percent, stoking ire from the state’s business lobby … The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), an umbrella organization representing insurers, filed the request with state insurance regulators. It blames recent state Supreme Court rulings for the hike. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is warning such a rate hike would make Florida the costliest state for employers to buy workers’ comp insurance, mandated by states to pay workers who get hurt on the job. The bulk of the increase is blamed on two decisions of the Florida Supreme Court. One struck down a provision in state worker’s comp law limiting the time injured workers can get temporary disability benefits, saying such payments should last five years, not two. Another invalidated the law’s cap on legal fees as unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of due process. Justice Barbara Pariente authored both decisions.
CHASER – STATE ASKED TO OK NEARLY 20% RATE HIKE FOR BUSINESSES via The Associated Press – Florida regulators are being asked to approve a nearly 20 percent rate hike in insurance premiums paid by the state’s business owners to cover their employees. The organization that submits rate filings on behalf of insurance companies filed the request in response to a recent state Supreme Court decision. The high court in June struck down a law that limited payments to injured workers to two years. The National Council on Compensation Insurance is asking that regulators approve a 19.6 percent rate hike beginning Oct. 1. NCCI was already asking for a 17.1 percent rate hike when the court ruling on payments came out … The Office of Insurance Regulation will decide whether to approve or deny the rate hike.
HAPPY TOGETHER? THE TURTLES GET THEIR DAY IN FLORIDA SUPREME COURT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – Two of the founding members of the Turtles, the 60s band known for such hits as “Happy Together” and “Eleanor,” will get their day in court — the Florida Supreme Court — in a legal clash with Sirius XM Radio … ex-band members, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, who later toured as Flo & Eddie, will have their copyright claim for sound recordings reviewed by justices … Flo & Eddie have filed civil theft claims in California, New York and Florida over Sirius’ use of digitally broadcast pre-1972 sound recordings, arguing it has never paid any royalties to broadcast these songs. Under federal law, recordings created after 1972 are copyright protected. Sirius has sought to have the lawsuits dismissed, but federal courts in California and New York have sided with the musicians. A federal court in the Florida case ruled in favor of Sirius, with that ruling going to the 11th circuit on appeal. Court filings acknowledge that Florida law is unclear whether its copyright protections extends to pre-1972 sound recordings — a matter justices are being asked to decide.
FLORIDA ON TRACK TO BECOME FIRST STATE TO DEPICT AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN IN NATIONAL STATUARY HALL via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – The National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is home to a collection of 100 statues, two for each state. Not one African-American is represented, and only nine statues are of women. Florida may help to change this. Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights activist and educator, is the leading candidate to replace Florida’s statue of a Confederate general that has been part of the collection since 1922. Among those campaigning on Bethune’s behalf was Gainesville resident Telfred Cartwright. In his opinion, Bethune is just the type of self-motivated trailblazer that Florida should be honoring. He points out that she was able to start a school and gain national prominence during an era when black women had little political power. Cartwright and others who backed Bethune saw their work pay off last week when Bethune emerged as the committee’s top choice. She got unanimous support unlike the other two finalists: Publix founder George Washington Jenkins Jr. and Everglades activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Bethune also received 1,237 votes online, compared to the 418 and 270 votes that Jenkins and Douglas received, respectively.
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE WOULD MAKE IMPOSING STAND IN STATUARY HALL via Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times – Bethune‘s image would become the first African-American from a state in the statuary hall. Frederick Douglass represents Washington, D.C., and Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth are parts of special collections. I love the idea of Florida leading the way on this issue. I don’t like the idea of Florida leading national news … The algae bloom on the Treasure Coast stands as another sign we need to be better stewards. Florida is God’s gift to us, not ours to squander. I’m sticking with the Rays. The bad times always make the good times better. I’m still savoring that 2008 World Series trip. They will bounce back.
AS ZIKA FUNDS STALL IN CONGRESS, FLORIDA IS ATTACKING MOSQUITOES via Tony Pugh of the Miami Herald – More than four months ago, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funds to address the Zika threat through vaccine development, mosquito abatement, contraception and maternal care. Congressman Vern Buchanan … supports funding the full amount. But Senate Democrats recently rejected a $1.1 billion Zika bill from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Democrats didn’t like its funding level, nor that it would bar private family-planning organizations, including Planned Parenthood, from getting federal funds to provide Zika-related reproductive health services. In the absence of federal emergency funding, Gov. Scott has made $26.2 million in state funds available for mosquito surveillance and spraying, training for mosquito control personnel and other Zika preparedness services. So far, no Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which thrive in urban areas, have been caught in Bradenton, Palmetto or the swampy area north of Palmetto. But if the notorious ankle biters gain a foothold in a neighboring county or city that’s short on mosquito-control resources, the insects could easily breed their way into the Bradenton area … That’s why extra funding from Congress is so important. Helicopter and truck-mounted spraying in downtown Bradenton and Palmetto several weeks ago has cut the numbers of aegypti mosquitoes locally.
10 NEW TRAVEL -RELATED ZIKA CASES REPORTED IN FLORIDA via the First Coast News – There were 10 new travel-related Zika cases reported in Florida Friday, according to state health officials. The new cases involved two patients in Pasco County, two in Polk County, one in Charlotte County, one in Citrus County, one in Miami-Dade County, one in Orange County and two involving pregnant women, according to the Florida Department of Health. A third Zika case was reported in Duval County Thursday. The Florida Department of Health says that all cases reported in Florida have been travel-related. There were four new reported cases in Florida Thursday. The other three included one in Broward, one in Orange and one in Seminole counties. There have been 43 cases involving pregnant women and 203 that have involved non-pregnant women, according to the Health Department. Officials ask that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not travel to Zika affected areas – mainly the Caribbean, Central and South America.
LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools
Off and on: Randy Havlicak is no longer staff director of the House Judiciary Committee; he is replacing Joe Gillespie as senior staff director for the House Bill Drafting Service.
On: Don Rubottom is the new interim staff director for Judiciary.
On and Off: Clay White and Caleb Helpling have switched roles, where White is the new senior legislative analyst for the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. Helpling is the new senior legislative analyst for the House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
On: Carolina Castillo and Alexandra Rueckner are the new district secretaries for Republican Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami-Dade County.
Off: Leilani Delgado is no longer district secretary for Democratic Rep. John Cortes of Osceola County.
On: Teri Mitze became the legislative assistant for Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg of Palm Beach County.
On: Stephanie McMillon became the district secretary for Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Alan Williams.
Off: Chad Davis is no longer a legislative assistant for Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland.